Lehman Brothers

5

Bobby didn’t know how to feel, he felt a sense of pride that his brother wanted to work with him, but he knew Ace. Ace wasn’t cut out for the kind of work he did, it was dangerous and he didn’t know if he wanted his brother involved. 

In all honesty, Bobby wasn’t exactly proud of what he did but if it meant he could provide for his family then he didn’t care. he loved his brother but he wasn’t sure his brother could handle doing what he did… he needed time to think about it. 


Ace sat there in silence, he knew better than to argue with his big brother. There was no one he looked up to more than Bobby, he didn’t care that what Bobby did was sort of illegal, Ace had never met a better man than his brother, and there was no one else he would rather work for.

Call For Papers: November 1st

This September will be the 150th anniversary of the publication of Volume I of Karl Marx’s Capital. It will also mark 9 years since Lehman Brothers went under, ultimately resulting in the international financial crisis from which we are still trying to recover.

In the years since the height of the crisis, Marx’s work, and especially Capital, has been thrown back into public discourse. Many of us have been radicalized in this atmosphere, coming to believe that the capitalist mode of production is inherently unstable and crisis-prone, and that no amount of regulation or de-regulation can save it from itself. In this sense, the Marxian critique is still important, and is perhaps more relevant now than it ever was.

But we are more than critics, and it is also important to reflect on the history of struggle and practice. For this reason, we must reckon with the Russian Revolution at its centenary. Its outcome has been particularly influential on socialist movements around the world, and we cannot ignore it.

In particular, we are well aware of the polarizing nature of the Soviet legacy, but as editors and Marxists we are committed to open discussion and interested in responses from leftists of all factions to the so-called Soviet question.

In the next issue of ΔMagazine, we are looking for submissions that deal with both topics.

Examples of acceptable themes include:

  • crisis theory
  • histories of Capital and capitalism
  • reflections on the Russian Revolution and the Soviet impact on global socialism
  • “actually existing socialism”

Submissions should be between 2000 and 15000 words in length and should adhere to Chicago style. Submissions should represent original work. All finished submissions and inquiries should be sent to deltamagstaff@gmail.com by November 1st.

I watch a lot of documentaries. I think they are incredible tools for learning and increasing our awareness of important issues. The power of an interesting documentary is that it can open our minds to new possibilities and deepen our understanding of the world.

On this list of mind expanding documentaries you will find different viewpoints, controversial opinions and even contradictory ideas. Critical thinking is recommended. I’m not a big fan of conspiracy documentaries but I do like films that challenge consensus reality and provoke us to question the everyday ideas, opinions and practices we usually take for granted.

Watching documentaries is one of my favorite methods of self-education. If I find a documentary inspiring, I usually spend more time researching the different ideas and interesting people interviewed in the film. I hope you find these documentaries as enlightening as I did!

[1] Life In The Biosphere

Explore the wonder and interconnectedness of the biosphere through the magic of technology.

Home
How Many People Can Live on Planet Earth
The Magical Forest
Ants: Nature’s Secret Power
Mt. Everest: How It Was Made
Mariana’s Trench: The Deepest Spot On Earth
Natural World: The Andes
Shining Mountains: The Rockies
Grand Canyon: How It Was Made
The Intelligence of Plants

[2] Creativity and Design:Advertisements

Learn about all the amazing things that people create with their imaginations.

Everything Is A Remix
The Creative Brain: How Insight Works
Design: The New Business
PressPausePlay: Art and Creativity in the Digital Age
Infamy: A Graffiti Documentary
Influencers: How Trends and Creativity Become Contagious
RIP: A Remix Manifesto
Design: e² – Sustainable Architecture
The Genius Of Design

[3] The Education Industrial Complex:

The modern school where young minds are moulded into standardized citizens by the state.

The College Conspiracy
Declining by Degrees: Higher Education at Risk
The Forbidden Education
Default: The Student Loan Documentary
College Inc.
Education For A Sustainable Future
Networked Society: The Future of Learning
The Ultimate History Lesson With John Taylor Gatto
The Education System in Communist China
The War On Kids

[4] The Digital Revolution:

The Internet is now the driving force behind change and innovation in the world.

The Age of Big Data
Resonance: Beings of Frequency
Life In A Day
Networked Society: On The Brink
Us Now: Social Media and Mass Collaboration
WikiRebels: The WikiLeaks Story
The Virtual Revolution: The Cost of Free
How Hackers Changed the World

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[5] A New Civilization:

We are at the dawn of a new golden age of human inventiveness.

THRIVE: What On Earth Will It Take?
Zeitgeist III: Moving Forward
Paradise or Oblivion
2012: Time For Change
The Crisis of Civilization
The Collective Evolution II
The Quickening: Awakening As One
2012 Crossing Over: A New Beginning
Collapse
The Awakening

[6] Politics:

Explore the politics of power and control and how it affects your life.

Owned and Operated
UnGrip
The Power Principle
The True Story of Che Guevara
Earth Days
Capitalism Is The Crisis
WikiLeaks: The Secret Life of a Superpower
The Putin System
The War On Democracy
Rise Like Lions: Occupy Wall Street and the Seeds of Revolution

[7] Biographies of Genius:

The biographies of modern geniuses who pushed humanity forward.

Isaac Newton: The Last Magician
The Unlimited Energy of Nikola Tesla
The Missing Secrets Of Nikola Tesla
Richard Feynman: No Ordinary Genius
How Albert Einstein’s Brain Worked
The Extraordinary Genius of Albert Einstein
Leonardo Da Vinci: The Man Who Wanted to Know Everything

[8] War:

War is history’s oldest racket for stealing from the powerless and redistributing resources to the powerful.

Psywar: The Real Battlefield Is Your Mind
The Secret History of 9/11
Robot Armies in the Future
The Never Ending War in Afghanistan
Shadow Company: Mercenaries In The Modern World
Why We Fight
The Fog Of War
The Oil Factor: Behind The War On Terror

[9] Economics:

Learn about the financial system works and how people and societies are enslaved through debt.

The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power
Overdose: The Next Financial Crisis
The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of The World
The One Percent
Quants: The Alchemists of Wall Street
The Last Days Of Lehman Brothers
The Four Horsemen
Inside Job: The Biggest Robbery In Human History
Capitalism A Love Story
Money and Life

[10] Digital Entrepreneurship:

Profiles of the entrepreneurs who used technology to change the world.

The Life Of A Young Entrepreneur
Profile: Google’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin
Profile: Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg
Starting-Up in America
Steve Jobs: One Last Thing
Steve Jobs: The Billion Dollar Hippy
Elon Musk: Risk Takers
The Story of Twitter

[11] Sports:

Watch the inspiring stories of amazing athletes.

Fearless: The Jeb Corliss Story
Carts of Darkness
Usain Bolt: The World’s Fastest Man
Wayne Gretzky: The Life and Times
Mike Tyson: Beyond the Glory
Birdmen
The Legacy Of Michael Jordan
We Ride: The Story of Snowboarding

[12] Technology:

Find out more about the impact of exponential growth and the approaching Singularity.

Ray Kurzweil: The Transcendent Man
How Robots Will Change the World
Human 2.0
Trance-Formation: The Future of Humanity
The Venus Project: Future By Design
Bionics, Transhumanism And The End Of Evolution
The Singularity Is Near
Car Technology Of The Future

[13] Origins of Religion:

Explore the original religious experience of mankind at the dawn of civilization.

Entheogen: Awakening the Divine Within
Manifesting the Mind: Footprints of the Shaman
Ancient Egypt and The Alternative Story of Mankind’s Origins
The Hidden Knowledge of the Supernatural
Re-Awaken: Open Your Heart, Expand Your Mind
Shamans of the Amazon
The Root of All Evil: The God Delusion
Ancient Knowledge
The Naked Truth
Before Babel: In Search of the First Language

[14] Western Religion:

The fascinating history of the three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Secret Quest: The Path of the Christian Gnostics
The Secret Gate of Eden
Forbidden Knowledge: Lost Secrets of the Bible
Banned From The Bible: Secrets Of The Apostles
The Road To Armageddon
Muhammad: The Legacy of a Prophet
A Complete History of God
Gnosis: The Untold History of the Bible

[15] Eastern Religion:

Expand your mind by also studying the entirely different religious worldviews of the East.

Inner Worlds, Outer Worlds
The Life Of The Buddha
The Seven Wonders of the Buddhist World
Mysteries of the Cosmic OM: Ancient Vedic Science
Where Science and Buddhism Meet
The Yogis of Tibet
Taj Mahal: Secrets To Blow Your Mind
Light at the Edge of the World: Tibetan Science of the Mind
Myths of Mankind: The Mahabharata
Ayurveda: The Art of Being

[16] Consciousness:

Learn about the basic unity of existence and the miracle of consciousness.

Athene’s Theory of Everything
Theory of Everything: GOD, Devils, Dimensions, Dragons & The Illusion of Reality
The God Within: Physics, Cosmology and Consciousness
5 Gateways: The Five Key Expansions of Consciousness
Return to the Source: Philosophy and The Matrix
The Holographic Universe
DMT: The Spirit Molecule
Kymatica
Neuroplasticity: The Brain That Changes Itself

[17] Mysteries:

Indiana Jones-style explorations into the unsolved mysteries of the past.

Alchemy: Sacred Secrets Revealed
The Day Before Disclosure
The Pyramid Code
The Secret Design of the Egyptian Pyramids
Decoding the Past: Secrets of the Dollar Bill
Origins of the Da Vinci Code
Forbidden Knowledge: Ancient Medical Secrets
Secret Mysteries of America’s Beginnings: The New Atlantis
Secrets in Plain Sight

[18] Mass Culture:

Learn about how our thoughts and opinions are influenced by mass culture.

The Century of the Self
All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace
The Power Of Nightmares
Starsuckers: A Culture Obsessed By Celebrity
Human Resources: Social Engineering in the 20th Century
Obey: The Death of the Liberal Class
Motivational Guru: The Story of Tony Robbins
Bob Marley: Freedom Road
Radiant City

[19] Corporate Media:

Discover how the mass media and advertisers channel our irrational impulses.

Weapons of Mass Deceptions
Secrets of the Superbrands
Orwell Rolls in his Grave
The Esoteric Agenda
Propaganda
The Myth of the Liberal Media: The Propaganda Model of News
Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media
Symbolism in Logos: Subliminal Messages or Ancient Archetypes
Edward Snowden: A Truth Unveiled
Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism

[20] Art and Literature:

Explore the lives of famous artists and how art opens people’s minds.

Cosm: Alex Gray’s Visionary Art
Banksy’s Exit Through The Gift Shop
New Art and the Young Artists Behind It
Salvador Dali: A Master of the Modern Era
The Day Pictures Were Born
Off-Book: Digital Age Creativity
This Is Modern Art

[21] Health:

Explore issues in health, how our bodies work and the incredible power of our brains.

The Human Brain
The Truth About Vitamins
How To Live To 101
America’s Obesity Epidemic
The War On Health
The Beautiful Truth
Food Inc.
The Truth About Food
The Living Matrix

[22] Drugs:

Documentaries on the effect of drugs — legal and illegal — on the body and mind.

The Union: The Business Behind Getting High
The Drugging Of Our Children
How Marijuana Affects Your Health
Making a Killing: The Untold Story of Psychotropic Drugging
Clearing the Smoke: The Science of Cannabis
LSD: The Beyond Within
The War on Drugs: The Prison Industrial Complex
Are Illegal Drugs More Dangerous Than Legal Drugs?
The Prescription Drug Abuse Epidemic
Run From The Cure: The Rick Simpson Story

[23] Environment:

Thought-provoking documentaries on the environmental movement and the growing threats to our biosphere.

Earthlings
Blue Gold: World Water Wars
Shift: Beyond the Numbers of the Climate Crisis
All Things Are Connected
The Fight For Amazonia
Flow: For Love Of Water
Here Comes the Sun
The World According To Monsanto
The Story of Stuff

[24] Cosmos:

Expand your mind by exploring our indescribably large and beautiful Cosmos.

The Search for Planets Similar to Earth
Cosmic Journeys : The Largest Black Holes in the Universe
The Mystery of the Milky Way
Fractals: The Hidden Dimension
Into The Universe With Stephen Hawking: The Story of Everything
Pioneer Science: Discovering Deep Space
Carl Sagan’s Cosmos
The Strangest Things In The Universe

[25] Science:

The history of scientific discovery and how scientific instruments expand our perception.

The Complete History of Science
Secret Universe: The Hidden Life of the Cell
Stephen Hawking: A Brief History of Time
Quantum Mechanics: Fabric of the Cosmos
The Light Fantastic
DNA: The Secret of Life
Parallel Universes, Alternative Timelines & Multiverse
What Is The Higgs Boson?
Infinity

[26] Evolution:

The story of our evolution and the emergence of self-aware human beings.

The Origin of Life
Homo Sapiens: The Birth of Humanity
Beyond Me
The Global Brain
Metanoia: A New Vision of Nature
Birth Of A New Humanity
Samsara
Ape Man: Adventures in Human Evolution
The Incredible Human Journey
The Human Family Tree

[27] Psychology and The Brain:

New research is shining a spotlight on how we can improve our brains.

How Smart Can We Get?
The Science of Lust
The Secret You
What Are Dreams?
A Virus Called Fear
Beyond Thought (Awareness Itself)
The Human Brain
Superconscious Mind: How To Double Your Brain’s Performance
How Does Your Memory Work?
Secrets of the Mind

[28] Modern History:

The story of the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution and the rise of the modern world.

History of the World in Two Hours
The Industrial Revolution
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
The French Revolution
Big Sugar
The American Revolution

[29] Pre-Modern History:

The story of the Americas and European history in the pre-modern world.

Socrates, Aristotle and Plato
The Medici: The Most Influencial Family In The World
A History of Celtic Britain
The Crusades: Victory and Defeat
The Vikings: Voyage To America
Copernicus and the Scientific Revolution

[30] Current Events:

Become more informed about current events that are shaping the world.

Syria: The Reckoning
Empire: Putin’s Russia
The New Arms Race
The Killing of Yasser Arafat
Egypt In Crisis
Inside Obama’s Presidency
The Untouchables: How Obama Protected Wall Street
Behind The Rhetoric: The Real Iran
A History of the Middle East since WWII
Climate Wars

[31] Ancient Civilizations:

Fascination explorations into the ancient civilizations of our past.

The Persian Empire : Most Mysterious Civilization in the Ancient World
What The Ancients Did For Us
What the Ancients Knew
Egypt: Beyond the Pyramids
Secrets of the Ancient Empires
Graham Hancock’s Quest For The Lost Civilization
Atlantis: The Lost Continent
Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

I hope you enjoy watching some of these mind expanding documentaries! If you have a personal favorite, please share it with everyone in the comments.

Credits: DIY Genius

How the Fed Let the World Blow Up in 2008

It was the day after Lehman failed, and the Federal Reserve was trying to decide what to do.

It had been fighting a credit crunch for over a year, and now the worst-case scenario was playing out. A too-big-to-fail bank had just failed, and the rest of the financial system was ready to get knocked over like dominos. The Fed didn’t have much room left to cut interest rates, but it still should have. The risk was just too great. That risk was what Fed Chair Ben Bernanke calls the “financial accelerator,” and what everyone else calls a depression: a weak economy and weak financial system making each other weaker in a never-ending doom loop. 

But the Fed was blinded. It had been all summer. That’s when high oil prices started distracting it from the slow-burning financial crisis. They kept distracting it in September, even though oil had fallen far below its July highs. And they’re the reason that the Fed decided to do nothing on September 16th. It kept interest rates at 2 percent, and intoned that “the downside risks to growth and the upside risks to inflation are both significant concerns.”

In other words, the Fed was just as worried about an inflation scare that was already passing as it was about a once-in-three-generations crisis.

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

10

>Democrats

muh race

muh bernie sanders

muh fox news

muh donald trump worse

literally every tepid democrat talking point is being rattled off here in a desperate show of resistance to the cognitive dissonance nightmare of realizing that Barack Obama was indeed in the pocket of wall street. A nightmare because this is the lame talking point they lob against lmao-koch-brothers republicans as if their political sports team is immune to such millionaire corruption.

Right here is the indication that Obama was paid off (or given the promise of a pay off) with regards to not imprisoning the wallstreet bankers responsible for the 2008 crash… and they are losing their minds in denial

but this tweet and others like it are especially great:

Because it’s not readily apparent to these Democrat dipshits that Barack “Robinhood” Obama was previously at the helm of taking $600,000,000,000 from the American taxpayer and giving that near-trillion dollar package to wallstreet bankers responsible for KNOWINGLY misleading people into “sub-prime” (meaning: BAD, LiKELY NEVER TO BE PAID OFF) mortgages, lumped into other subprime mortgages in what’s called CDO’s or Collateralized Debt Obligations, and trading those CDOs with other hedge funds and banks with ever increasing speculative value. They basically, knowingly played jenga with mortgage debt, sold at the top for massive profit, then watched Lehman Brothers be the poor shithead to knock over the jenga tower, crashing the american economy… Then cried to washington DC for enormous sums of money through crocodile tears.

$600 billion that could’ve gone to bailing out all the defaulting americans and foreclosed homes that had permanently ruined countless middle class families - that instead went to wall street to be used for massive severance packages, redecoration, platinum prostitutes and even installing $35,000, taxpayer funded, gold toilets in their office’s private washrooms.

The Democrat Party is proudly the wallstreet party, more so than the Republicans, and liberals are too stupid to realize it.

Diaspora: Notable German- Americans

German Americans are the USA’s #1 heritage group and have been influential in almost every field in American society, including science, architecture, business, sports, entertainment, theology, politics, and the military. Famous German-Americans include:

MILITARY: Baron von Steuben, John Pershing, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Chester W. Nimitz, Carl Andrew Spaatz, Norman Schwarzkopf 

POLITICIANS: Carl Schurz, Friedrich Hecker, Frederick Muhlenberg, Henry Morgenthau, Jr. and Sr., Dwight D. Eisenhower, Herbert Hoover, Henry Kissinger, and John Boehner

INDUSTRY & BUSINESS: Henry J. Heinz, (Heinz ketchup), Frank Seiberling (Goodyear Tires), Walt Disney (Disney), John D. Rockefeller (Standard Oil), William Boeing (The Boeing Company/United Airlines), Walter Chrysler (Chrysler Corp), Frederick & August Duesenberg (Duesenberg Automobile Corp), Studebaker brothers (Studebaker Automobile Corp), George Westinghouse (Westinghouse Electric Corporation), Levi Strauss (Levi’s jeans), Charles Guth (Pepsi cola), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Elon Musk (SolarCity/SpaceX/Tesla Motors), James L. Kraft (Kraft Foods), Henry E. Steinway (Steinway & Sons pianos), Charles Pfizer (Pfizer, Inc.), Donald Trump (The Trump Org), John Jacob Astor (Waldorf Astoria Hotels), Conrad Hilton (Hilton Hotels), Guggenheim family (Guggenheim Foundation), Marcus Goldman (Goldman Sachs), Lehman Brothers, Carl Laemmle (Universal Studios), Marcus Loew (MGM Studios), Harry Cohn (Columbia Pictures), Herman Hollerith (IBM)), Steve Jobs (Apple Inc.), Michael Dell (Dell Inc.), Eric Schmidt (Google), Peter Thiel (PayPal Inc.), Adolph Simon Ochs and Arthur Ochs Sulzberger (The New York Times), Charles Bergstresser (The Wall Street Journal), Al Neuharth (USA Today), Eugene Meyer (The Washington Post) etc.

BEER BREWING: German Americans were pioneers and dominated beer brewing for much of American history, beginning with breweries founded in the 19th century by German immigrants August Schell (August Schell Brewing Company), Christian Moerlein (Christian Moerlein Brewing Co.), Eberhard Anheuser (Anheuser-Busch), Adolphus Busch (Anheuser-Busch), Adolph Coors (Coors Brewing Company), Frederick Miller (Miller Brewing Company), Frederick Pabst (Pabst Brewing Company), Bernhard Stroh (Stroh Brewery Company), and Joseph Schlitz (Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company). 

ARCHITECTS, SCIENTISTS & ASTRONAUTS: Brooklyn Bridge engineer John A. Roebling and architects Walter Gropius and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe left behind visible landmarks. Albert Einstein, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Wernher von Braun, John Peter Zenger, John Steinbeck, Kurt Vonnegut, Joseph Weizenbaum etc. set intellectual landmarks while Neil Armstrong was the first human to land on the moon.

HOLLYWOOD PEOPLE & SPORTS ATHLETES & MUSIC: Still others, such as Bruce Willis, George Eyser, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jack Nicklaus, Doris Day, Grace Kelly, Clark Gable, Marlene Dietrich, Johnny Weissmuller, Ernst Lubitsch, Walter Damrosch, John Denver, John Kay, Meryl Streep, Kim Basinger, Sandra Bullock, David Hasselhoff, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kirsten Dunst, Kevin JameS, and Steven Spielberg became prominent athletes, actors, film directors or artists.

since we’re combining what would’ve been the next 2 issues of DM into 1 semiannual issue, it just dawned on me that our next CFP theme will be for the next issue, rather than it being a couple issues away. the same amount of time is necessary as before, but somehow this is more stressful now bc it’s the NEXT issue and we haven’t talked about what kind of submissions we’ll want bc that was way too far ahead of anything we’d initially talked about and this first year was meant to be a test to see if we could pull it off (so far things are sorta iffy, but if we can successfully get this next issue then i think we’re in good shape). anyway, what will we have for next year, if we’re doing 2 issues a year? marxs 200th bday? seems too close to 150 yeas of capital tbh. 10 years since lehman brothers went under? again, really close to capital, since it’s an economics thing in a radical journal. 170 years since the manifesto? that’s not an interesting enough milestone of a number to celebrate that. idk. if we can make it to 2019 we’ve got the centenary of the death of luxemburg which has some interesting options. but that’s not helpful for navigating next year. we’ll have to just make something up, like an issue on Gender or something, which is always relevant whether it’s at some anniversary or not

youtube

Century of The Self
2002
BBC

Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, changed our perception of the mind and its workings. The documentary explores the various ways that governments and corporations have utilized Freud’s theories. Freud and his nephew Edward Bernays, who was the first to use psychological techniques in public relations, are discussed in part one. His daughter Anna Freud, a pioneer of child psychology, is mentioned in part two. Wilhelm Reich, an opponent of Freud’s theories, is discussed in part three.

To many in politics and business, the triumph of the self is the ultimate expression of democracy, where power has finally moved to the people. Certainly, the people may feel they are in charge, but are they really? The Century of the Self tells the untold and sometimes controversial story of the growth of the mass-consumer society. How was the all-consuming self created, by whom, and in whose interests?

Along these lines, The Century of the Self asks deeper questions about the roots and methods of consumerism and commodification and their implications. It also questions the modern way people see themselves, the attitudes to fashion, and superficiality.

The business and political worlds use psychological techniques to read, create and fulfil the desires of the public, and to make their products and speeches as pleasing as possible to consumers and voters. Curtis questions the intentions and origins of this relatively new approach to engaging the public.

Where once the political process was about engaging people’s rational, conscious minds, as well as facilitating their needs as a group, Stuart Ewen, a historian of public relations, argues that politicians now appeal to primitive impulses that have little bearing on issues outside the narrow self-interests of a consumer society.

The words of Paul Mazur, a leading Wall Street banker working for Lehman Brothers in 1927, are cited: “We must shift America from a needs- to a desires-culture. People must be trained to desire, to want new things, even before the old have been entirely consumed. Man’s desires must overshadow his needs.

In part four the main subjects are Philip Gould, a political strategist, and Matthew Freud, a PR consultant and the great-grandson of Sigmund Freud. In the 1990s, they were instrumental to bringing the Democratic Party in the US and New Labour in the United Kingdom back into power through use of the focus group, originally invented by psychoanalysts employed by US corporations to allow consumers to express their feelings and needs, just as patients do in psychotherapy.

Curtis ends by saying that, "Although we feel we are free, in reality, we—like the politicians—have become the slaves of our own desires,” and compares Britain and America to ‘Democracity’, an exhibit at the 1939 New York World’s Fair created by Edward Bernays.

anonymous asked:

I'm really liking this blog, your posts are very engaging and informative! Your commentary about the socioeconomic conditions which gave rise to the McMansions reminded me of the large houses I've seen everywhere in Ireland built during the 90s 'Celtic tiger' boom, many of which were abandoned eerily half finished - is this a related phenomenon? What do you think of the architecture of these houses?

This is really fascinating! The “Celtic Tiger” boom ran parallel to the mortgage crisis in the USA, caused by the same factors: risky and downright criminal lending practices and the actions of the big banks and Wall Street leading up to the liquidity crisis that lit the fire of the Great Recession (but more on that later in its own post.) 

Abandoned tract homes and McMansions were really common right after the recession, however the blight here in the US has been somewhat mended since then, mostly through demolition rather than finishing the unfinished houses. 

Many residential developments were heavily invested in by venture capitalists and investment banks, such as Lehman Brothers, who fronted the initial capital to get the projects off the ground. When the meltdown happened in 2008, suddenly there was no more capital - not even enough to bulldoze the projects that were already underway. 

In 2014, The Atlantic ran an interesting article titled The Unfinished Suburbs of America in which it documented the issues associated with Stockton, California’s unfinished developments from the perspective of the homeowners who live on its boundaries. The term “recession ghost town” was flung about by overzealous media. 

This excellent photo essay documents the eeriness of unfinished exurbs and suburbs through aerial photography. The speculative housing bubble was the worst on the west cost of the US, but the east coast was also hit hard as well. 

I plan on doing a special post devoted to abandoned McMansions, so stay tuned! 

srcpcsoha  asked:

If Wander, Sylvia, Hater and Peepers were human would they have jobs? What would they be?

Sylvia and Wander would be as they are now. Wandering the world, helping people and having adventures.

You’d think Hater would make a great Republican Presidential candidate, but he’s just not evil enough. I think he’d have a band and Peepers would be the manager instead.

Dominator would run a financial services company like Lehman Brothers or Goldman Sachs. They’re truly the evilest people on the planet.

Donald Trump Proves What’s Wrong with Bankruptcy Laws in America

On the opening day of Trump Plaza in Atlantic City in 1984, Donald Trump stood in a dark topcoat on the casino floor celebrating his new investment as the “finest building in the city and possibly the nation.” 

Thirty years later, the Trump Plaza folded, leaving some 1,000 employees without jobs. Trump, meanwhile, was on Twitter claiming he had “nothing to do with Atlantic City,” and praising himself for his “great timing” in getting out of the investment.

As I show in my new book, “Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few,” people with lots of money can easily avoid the consequences of bad bets and big losses by cashing out at the first sign of trouble. Bankruptcy laws protect them. But workers who move to a place like Atlantic City for a job, invest in a home there, and build their skills have no such protection. Jobs vanish, skills are suddenly irrelevant and home values plummet. They’re stuck with the mess.

Bankruptcy was designed so people could start over. But these days, the only ones starting over are big corporations, wealthy moguls and Wall Street bankers, who have had enough political clout to shape bankruptcy laws (like many other laws) to their needs.

One of the most basic of all economic issues is what to do when someone can’t pay what they owe. The U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 8, Clause 4) authorizes Congress to enact “uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States,” and Congress has done so repeatedly.

In the last few decades, these changes have reflected the demands of giant corporations, Wall Street banks, big developers and major credit card companies who wanted to make it harder for average people to declare bankruptcy but easier for themselves to do the same.

The granddaddy of all failures to repay what was owed occurred in September 2008 when Lehman Brothers went into the largest bankruptcy in history, with more than $691 billion of assets and far more in liabilities. 

Some commentators (including yours truly) urged then that the rest of Wall Street be forced to grapple with their problems in bankruptcy as well. But Lehman’s bankruptcy so shook the Street that Henry Paulson, Jr., George W. Bush’s outgoing secretary of the treasury, and, before that, head of Goldman Sachs, persuaded Congress to authorize several hundred billion dollars of funding to protect the other big banks from going bankrupt.

Paulson didn’t explicitly state that big banks were too big to fail. They were, rather, too big to be reorganized under bankruptcy—which would, in Paulson’s view, have threatened the entire financial system.

The real burden of Wall Street’s near meltdown fell on homeowners. As home prices plummeted, many found themselves owing more on their mortgages than their homes were worth, and unable to refinance. Yet chapter 13 of the bankruptcy code (whose drafting was largely the work of the financial industry) prevents homeowners from declaring bankruptcy on mortgage loans for their primary residence.

When the financial crisis hit, some members of Congress, led by Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, tried to amend the code to allow distressed homeowners to use bankruptcy. That would have given them a powerful bargaining chip for preventing the banks and others servicing their loans from foreclosing on their homes. If the creditors and homeowners couldn’t come to an agreement, the homeowner’s case would go to a bankruptcy judge who presumably would reduce the amount to be repaid rather than automatically force people out of their homes.

The bill passed the House, but when in late April 2009 Durbin offered his amendment in the Senate, the financial industry—among the largest donors to both parties—argued it would greatly increase the cost of home loans. (No convincing evidence showed this to be the case.) The bill garnered only 45 Senate votes even though Democrats were in the majority. As a result, distressed homeowners had no bargaining power. Subsequently, more than 5 million lost their homes.

Another group of debtors who can’t use bankruptcy to renegotiate their loans are former students laden with student debt. Student loans are now about 10 percent of all debt in the United States, second only to mortgages and higher than auto loans and credit card debt. But the bankruptcy code doesn’t allow student debts to be worked out under its protection.

If graduates can’t meet their payments, lenders can garnish their paychecks. If still behind on student loan payments by the time they retire, lenders can even garnish their Social Security checks. The only way graduates can reduce their student debt burdens, according to a provision enacted at the behest of the student loan industry, is to prove that repayment would impose an “undue hardship” on them and their dependents. This is a stricter standard than bankruptcy courts apply to gamblers trying to reduce their gambling debts.

Congress and its banking patrons fear that if graduates could declare bankruptcy on their debts, they might never repay them. But a better alternative would be to allow former students to use bankruptcy where the terms of the loans are obviously unreasonable (such as double-digit interest rates), or if the schools they owed money to had very low post-graduation employment rates.

State and federal lawmakers once sought to protect vulnerable borrowers by setting limits on the interest that could be demanded by creditors. But in recent years, under political pressure from big banks like Citigroup, many state legislatures have repealed those limits. It’s not unusual for borrowers who want an advance on an upcoming paycheck to now pay annualized rate of 300 percent or more.

Such legal changes helped swell profits at Citigroup, whose former OneMain Financial unit was one of the leading payday lenders. “There was simply no need to change the law,” Rick Glazier, a North Carolina Democratic legislator who opposed raising interest rate limits there, told the New York Times. “It was one of the most brazen efforts by a special interest group to increase its own profits that I have ever seen.”

It’s not just changes in the bankruptcy code and interest-rate regulations that benefit the wealthy. Real estate developers like Trump have also benefited from a welter of special subsidies and tax breaks squeezed out of pliant local legislators.

Trump has the unique distinction of being the first developer in New York to receive a public subsidy for commercial projects under programs initially reserved for improving slum neighborhoods. Referring to how he managed to win a 40-year tax abatement for rebuilding a crumbling hotel at Grand Central Station—a deal that in the first decade cost taxpayers $60 million—Trump quipped, “Someone said, ‘How come you got 40 years?’ I said, ‘Because I didn’t ask for 50.’”

Trump’s success at getting such deals is better explained by a 1980s study by Newsday, showing Trump had donated more than anyone else to members of the New York City Board of Estimate, which at the time approved all land-use development.

Trump sparred with Jeb Bush in the second GOP debate last Wednesday night over Trump’s alleged lobbying for casino gambling in Florida. “You wanted it and you didn’t get it because I was opposed to casino gambling before, during and after,” Bush charged. “I’m not going to be bought by anybody.” Trump responded: “I promise if I wanted it, I would have gotten it.”

Indeed, Trump is a poster child for how big money buys the laws it wants. “As a businessman and a very substantial donor to very important people, when you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do,” Trump told the Wall Street Journal. “As a businessman, I need that.”

The prevailing myth that America has a “free market” existing outside and apart from government prevents us from understanding that the very rules by which the market runs—from the federal bankruptcy code to state usury laws to local tax abatements—are made by lawmakers.

And the real issue is whose interests those lawmakers are pursuing. Are they working for the vast majority of Americans, who are getting nowhere economically and whose political voices are barely even heard these days? Or are they beholden to those at the top—CEOs of the biggest corporations and Wall Street banks, hedge-fund and private-equity moguls and billionaires—who now own more of the nation’s wealth than the robber barons of the Gilded Age of the late 19th century, and are using some of that wealth to further rig the rules to their benefit?

We don’t need Donald Trump to give us the answer.

 [This article, which appeared in the September 28 edition ofPolitico Magazine, is drawn from my new book “Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few.”]

John Kasich Was Senior Executive At Lehman Bros.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich loves talking about his record in office, his knack for balancing the budget and his controversial decision to back Medicaid expansion.

But there’s one part of his resume he’s less inclined to discuss: the years he spent as a senior executive at Lehman Brothers.

Kasich joined Lehman’s investment banking division as managing director in 2001, working there until the firm’s collapse in September 2008 unleashed global panic and served as the catalyst for the financial crisis.

Lehman Brothers was arguably the most deeply vilified Wall Street firm during the 2008 meltdown and Kasich was a senior executive.

“Kasich’s close ties to Wall Street should raise concerns for everyone who suffered due to the collapse of our financial system caused by those very same banks,” said Craig Holman of the advocacy group Public Citizen. “This is not a responsible businessman, and strongly suggests he would not be a responsible president.”

Swiss bank UBS has admitted that its investment banking arm has lost around $2bn (£1.27bn) through "unauthorised trading".

(Guardian)

Shares in UBS fell by almost 10% in early trading after it reported the loss, which could push the bank into the red for the current financial quarter.

In a brief statement, issued on the third anniversary of Lehman Brothers, UBS said that the issue was still being investigated.

“UBS has discovered a loss due to unauthorized trading by a trader in its Investment Bank. The matter is still being investigated, but UBS’s current estimate of the loss on the trades is in the range of $2bn. It is possible that this could lead UBS to report a loss for the third quarter of 2011.

UBS added that "no client positions were affected.”

Simon Ballard, senior credit strategist at RBS capital markets, said the trading loss would add to public concern over the banking sector.

“At a time of greater regulation, it will raise questions about regulatory capital and whether ringfences are in place to stop this happening,” Ballard told Bloomberg TV.

Daily Post #2: Financial Crisis Round 2?
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“Stocks are plummeting. The economy is slowing. Politicians are scrambling to find solutions but are mired in disagreement.” Any of that sound familiar? Aside from being the opening of an article in the New York Times this morning, the picture it paints should remind us of the financial crisis back in 2008. Remember how that started because consumers were taking out more debt than they can afford to pay off? Pretty much the same deal now, but here’s the kicker: the debt now is government debt. Back then, it was consumer debt.

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