Friday, July 02, 2010

U.N. Says Dump The Dollar, Replace It With Something Global

For decades now, the world financial system has relied on the strength of the U.S. dollar to trade a wide variety of commodities. Everything from pork bellies to oil futures rested on the American currency. Now after nearly forty years of economic decline on the world stage, the U.N. is finally giving a hard look at moving towards a world currency that could provide more stability than the dollar.

From RawStory:

"The dollar has proved not to be a stable store of value, which is a requisite for a stable reserve currency," the U.N. World Economic and Social Survey 2010 said.

The report says that developing countries have been hit by the U.S. dollar's loss of value in recent years.

"Motivated in part by needs for self-insurance against volatility in commodity markets and capital flows, many developing countries accumulated vast amounts of such (U.S. dollar) reserves during the 2000s," it said.

Now this development is not being taken lightly. Opposition quickly formed to say that markets will decide whether or not a reserve currency should replace the dollar's dominant position. However leading economic gurus such as Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz are advocating for a new way, as many developing countries have suffered from the current situation.

Whether or not this news will lead to substantive change, it is indicative of a growing consensus that the dollar is not working on a macro level. Gulf states have already begun looking at alternatives and the developing world could very much turn if the I.M.F. were to utilize a reserve unit of currency.

Only time will tell, but the way the U.S. is holding itself economically (both domestically and internationally) a new way may not be too far off.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Paterson: Take Your Negotiations And Shove Em!

Governor Paterson doesn't want to hear it from the Legislature. The time to negotiate is over and anything that he doesn't like will be, and has been getting the official veto stamp.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Speaker Quinn And The Power Of Pork

While the New York City Council (rightly so) examines Mayor Bloomberg's problem with hiring minorities, it turns out they have a few in-house problems to fix themselves. The just-passed budget has approximately $50 million in pork-barrel spending that Speaker Quinn has the power to dole out to the other fifty Council Members. With power like that, you'd think an investigation would be warranted.

Oh wait, there is one:

Christine C. Quinn, the speaker of the New York City Council, has hired a criminal defense lawyer to represent her in federal and city investigations into Council spending practices, an aide said on Friday.

The move comes a week after disclosures that Ms. Quinn’s office had appropriated millions of dollars to organizations that do not exist, instead routing the money to organizations favored by individual council members.

The lawyer retained by Ms. Quinn, Lee S. Richards III, a former federal prosecutor, will be paid with city funds, as will Sullivan & Cromwell, a firm that the Council has hired to assist in responding to the investigations.

Asked why the speaker felt she needed her own lawyer, Jamie McShane, a Quinn spokesman, said in an e-mail message that the lawyer would assist “the speaker in her cooperation” with inquiries by the city’s Department of Investigation and the United States attorney’s office.

The only problem is that nothing is being done about it (this article referenced above is more than two years old), and the idleness of the U.S. Attorney's Office allows the problem to continue. While she has taken action to clean up the worst abuses of the infamous slush funds, clearly this year's budget shows New York City has a long way to go.

Yes, War Does Make Us Poor

Congressman Conyers and Grayson are on to a good idea by floating H.R. 5353. The "War is Making You Poor Act" seeks curb the out of control costs that the Defense Department burdens the American people with every year. While keeping our country safe is a top priority, the fact is we spend more on our military than the next top fifty countries combined.

H.R. 5353 is pretty cut and dry:

It seems that Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) would agree, perpetual war is making you poor.

To begin rectifying the situation, he's joined with Congressman Alan Grayson (D-FL) in co-sponsoring the "War is Making You Poor Act," which would limit defense spending to $548.9 billion: the exact figure alloted in the fiscal year 2011 budget.

Oh and there's this that might help sweeten the pot:

The act also seeks to utilize an additional $159.3 billion set aside for "discretionary" operations abroad to relieve the full federal income tax burden on every American's first $35,000 earned per year, or up to $70,000 per year for married couples.

While this is great news, it is only a start. Simply halving that massive budget would go a long way in solving many of our top domestic priorities, such as education, health care and job development to name a few (this pie chart helps put things into perspective). Unfortunately though, the defense industry is well staffed with many lobbyists that ensure that anything less than a large yearly increase for their weapons contracts would be akin to hating America and letting the terrorists win. If Conyers and Grayson could pass this Act, it would be a big step in the right direction, even if it only caps the spending where it is now.

Maddow Exposes Another BP Lie

Rachel Maddow continues to be on the job and on the mark about British Petroleum and their penchant to lie to the American people about what they are and aren't doing down in the Gulf. One thing for sure, they are not looking into new and more dynamic ways of cleaning their monumental mess.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How Will Cuomo Succeed Where Paterson Has Failed?

We are two days away from July and three months past the New York State Budget's "deadline." A fiscal plan was supposed to be in place, but we are only left with budget extenders, legislative gimmicks and grandiose gestures from Assembly Members, Senators and the Governor. David Paterson has been bashed into oblivion by nearly all that watch and participate in New York politics, so much so that his weak poll numbers forced him to decline to run for re-election.

Due to Paterson's downturn, it has been nothing but smooth sailing for gubernatorial aspirant and the son of former Governor Mario Cuomo. The younger Andrew spent months railing against Wall Street as Paterson fell from grace, but now he's the main man and most likely to succeed Paterson as our next Governor.

The only problem though, is that by and large, Cuomo has been supportive of Paterson's strong actions taken against the legislature; a legislature that has had trouble reconciling the fact we have a huge budget deficit and the constituencies they wish to please by not making big spending cuts. Now it is all well and good that Cuomo wants to keep the state fiscally solvent, but if he follows Paterson's path next year, he will more than likely be subjected to the byzantine maze that is Albany.

And now, not too surprisingly, Paterson is having regrets about dropping out of the race. A day late and (many) a dollar short for that candidacy though.

Cuomo though is running circles around everyone on the GOP side, and unfortunately the people that are supposed to be voting for him in huge numbers. When it comes to the budget, he's glad Paterson is being tough about spending, but he also objects to the idea of raising taxes as a supplement to cutting spending. The budget deficit was above nine billion dollars and for our state, that is a serious amount of money to only be taking from programs that help people survive this miserable economy. While artificially boosting the price of soda and cigarettes will not solve all our problems, using a multi-pronged approach is far wiser than just cutting education and health care programs.

If Cuomo wants to come in next year and tackle the serious problems we face, he had better get his head on straight and stop playing pure politics, and look closer at the policy he will be charged with creating to get us out of our monetary mess. Not only will policy be important, but dealing with the Legislature in a way where they will cooperate with him is essential. Nothing will get done (whether it be on time or not) unless there is a spirit of cooperation, and if Cuomo thinks that he can endorse the bullish behavior of Paterson and somehow skirt through the political cesspool of the capitol on his good looks, he has another thing coming.