Posts Tagged ‘government’

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Apparently, the door between Wall Street and the U.S. government agencies in charge of regulating Wall Street continues to revolve. Former Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke is the latest to walk through the door.

For eight years, Ben S. Bernanke, the former Federal Reserve chairman, was steward of the world’s largest economy. Now he has signed on to advise one of Wall Street’s biggest hedge funds.

Mr. Bernanke will become a senior adviser to Citadel, the $25 billion hedge fund founded by the billionaire Kenneth C. Griffin. He will offer his analysis of global economic and financial issues to Citadel’s investment committees. He will also meet with Citadel’s investors around the globe.

It is the latest and most prominent move by a Washington insider through the revolving door into the financial industry. Investors are increasingly looking for guidance on how to navigate an uncertain economic environment in the aftermath of the financial crisis and are willing to pay top dollar to former officials like Mr. Bernanke.

Mr. Bernanke joins a long parade of colleagues and peers to Wall Street and investment firms. After stepping down, Mr. Bernanke’s predecessor, Alan Greenspan, was recruited as a consultant for Deutsche Bank, the bond investment firm Pacific Investment Management Company and the hedge fund Paulson & Company.

Last month, Jeremy C. Stein, a former Fed governor, agreed to join the $20 billion hedge fund BlueMountain Capital Management, where he will advise managers on issues like financial regulation, risk and the implications of the Fed’s monetary policy. Mr. Stein resigned from the Fed last May to return to his tenured professorship at Harvard’s department of economics.

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161923_600 Poverty-Wages

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Another distressing, but not particularly surprising, result from the study by the Pew Research Center I wrote about yesterday: most of America’s financially secure citizens (54 percent at the very top, and 57 percent just below) believe the “poor have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything in return.” They also think we can’t afford to do more for those in need.

America’s least financially secure, meanwhile, vehemently disagree; nearly 70 percent say the poor have hard lives because the benefits “don’t go far enough.” And, according to those at the bottom, we should do more for the needy, “even if it means more debt.”

A clearer divergence in political views between the most and least financially secure Americans won’t be found in the entire survey.

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Let’s end the year with some important charts assembled by Steven Rattner.

Yes, economic growth picked up and financial markets soared to new record highs. But—and it’s a big but—wages remained stagnant (barely budging in real terms), income inequality got worse (increasing from already grotesque levels), the tiny minority at the top made out like bandits (just as they were doing before 2007), and government programs (even with a Democratic president and Senate) did little to ameliorate the effects of stagnant wages and growing inequality.

That’s what 2014 looked like in the United States. And nothing about 2015 looks to change those trends.

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Belgian workers have opened a month of intermittent strike action by paralyzing the port of Antwerp and slowing train traffic through much of the country.

Monday’s protest action targeted measures by the nation’s business-friendly government to cut into employees’ income, extend working time and restrict social services.

On their first of three Mondays of regional strikes, the unions targeted Antwerp, with Europe’s second biggest port, and made sure no ships could enter of leave the docks. Port workers have been particularly angered by measures to extend the start of pensions by two years.

Port worker Frank Verhulst complained it would force them to work until the age of 67. “But it is a very hard job here,” he said.

Labor action is to culminate in a nationwide strike on Dec. 15.