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The www.FedPrimeRate.com Personal Finance Blog and Magazine

Monday, September 07, 2009

Money In Motion

The other night, I was both bored and restless, and feeling a bit burned out. So I decided to take a long walk with my camera and see if I could find interesting things and/or people to photograph.

Danny: Homeless but productive, cleaning drains keeping the bootyI was one block away from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia when I came across a group of homeless folks sitting on the sidewalk. One guy was very busy, working very hard scraping dirt from coins and other metallic objects. I stopped and asked him what he was doing. He introduced himself as Danny (pic to the left), and told me that he was recently homeless. He said that he made an arrangements with a friend of his who owns a local laundromat. Danny explained that his friend lets him stop by the laundromat every once in a while and collect whatever he can from the numerous washing machine drains, and Danny can keep whatever he finds. Danny told me that he finds tons of coins, from pennies to quarters, and often finds jewelry and other valuable items. He showed me a clutch of gold necklaces. He let me keep a very worn out penny.

Worn Out PennyAt this point, a small crowd formed around Danny, attracted by the bright flashes from my camera. One passerby asked Danny why he didn't simply wash all the items at once with water. Danny explained that he liked scrapping the coins on the ground. Kept him busy.

After chatting with Danny for a few minutes, I thanked him for his time and for letting me take a few pictures. I then walked over to the Philly Federal Reserve Bank. The bank was advertising a "Money in Motion" exhibit from a large banner at the corner of Arch and 7TH streets. Admission was free.

I was embarrassed for the Bank.

Here we have the most powerful central bank in the world, a bank that has been printing money out of thin air in an effort to "save the American economy," a bank that wants the world to believe that giving money away to people who have amassed much of their obscene wealth by figuring out ways to get very rich without providing useful goods or services, is the best way to extricate America from the Great Recession. I see "Money in Motion" and I think, "Hmmm, our central bank actually wants to show off how it helps the masters of greed who caused the financial crisis get even richer by sucking untold billions from taxpayers pockets. Hmmm...."

Many Americans know that the federal government spent hundreds of billions of dollars to bailout the insurance giant AIG. What many don't know -- because most mainstream media outlets don't want to go there -- is that the investment bank Goldman Sachs got about $12.9 billion from AIG's bailout bundle. Don't believe me? Read about it here. Just as sickening: foreign banks got billions of that bailout cash as well, including Barclays PLC, Societe Generale, and Deutsche Bank. Money in Motion, baby.

The AIG bailout was a crony capitalism, plain and simple. Goldman has never been a vital part of the American financial landscape. Without AIG's bailout money, Goldman would have taken a huge loss, but would have survived. Meanwhile, countless commercial banks, the ones that lend money to businesses and consumers and help keep Americans employed, are still failing at an alarming rate.

A laundromat owner -- someone who makes money by providing a useful service to her community -- lets a homeless guy clean out washing machine drains and keep whatever he finds: that's my idea of money in motion. It's honorable, civilized and far more American than any multi-billion dollar crony bailout.

Here's an idea: why doesn't the Philly Fed Bank open a small office that's open to the street where people like Danny can connect with business owners who are looking for simple services like cleaning laundromat drains or sweeping floors. They could call it the Informal Services Marketplace. Could help a lot of people who can't find work in the formal economy, or people with mental issues who aren't mentally fit enough to hold down a solid job. Criminal background checks would be mandatory, of course.

Homeless in Philadelphia
I'm glad I bumped into Danny that night. It's so easy to feel overwhelmed by an anemic and dwindling income, healthcare inflation and child support payments. It's good to get some real perspective every once in a while. Helps to rejuvenate the entrepreneurial spirit.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

This Is A “Fill In The Blanks” Financial Crisis. Now It’s Time To Fill In Your Blanks.

The Great BailoutIn the following article, we invite you to just fill in the blanks where you see parentheses. Fill in each blank with any old Bank and see what you get:


Banks Have Their Backs Covered. Who’s Got Yours?

On [just pick a date], the Federal Reserve, the US Treasury, the US President, and Congress agreed to give [Big Name Bank] 300 [Billions or Trillions, take your pick] Dollars in tax payer money, so [Big Name Bank] could buy [Bank About to Fail] for 1 Billion. For those who didn’t know, [Bank About to Fail], one of Wall Streets largest and best known investment bank was bankrupt. [Bank About to Fail] owed more debt than it had in value. Sounds familiar. Kinda' sounds like many people in Foreclosure. Actually, it also sounds like many homeowners not in foreclosure, who have a mortgage loan greater than the value of their home. Just like many ordinary people who have more debt than cash. But I digress. [Bank About to Fail] was in financial trouble because they were worth nothing on paper. So we heard in the news “[Bank About to Fail] must be saved.” Why? “Because if [Bank About to Fail] went under than the whole financial system could have fallen apart. “COULD HAVE”. The stock market “would have” plunged. Big investors “would have” lost lot’s of money. There “would have” been a world crises.

Now let’s think about their bailout logic, one more time. This is my take:

First: [Bank About to Fail] was about to file for bankruptcy because…THEY WERE REALLY BANKRUPT!!.

Second: The Federal Reserve, the US Treasury, the US President, and Congress determined that if [Bank About to Fail] does fail we will have a World Wide Financial Crises.

Third: The Federal Reserve, the US Treasury, the US President, and Congress “saves the day” by essentially GIVING [Big Name Bank] [Billions or Trillions, take your pick] of DOLLARS OF TAXPAYER MONEY so [Big Name Bank] could buy [Bank about to Fail] for 1 BILLION.

Fourth: The Federal Reserve, the US Treasury, the US President, Congress, [Big Name Bank], [Bank About to Fail] and All the Kings Men shake hands, hug, pat each other on the back, exclaim “JOB WELL DONE” b/c the WORLD DID NOT DESCEND INTO FINANCIAL CHAOS.

Do you see what just happened? What does it mean?

No# 1 : There are certain people and businesses TOO IMPORTANT to let go Bankrupt even WHEN BANKRUPT.

No# 2 : The Federal Reserve, the US Treasury, the US President, and Congress DO NOT NEED YOUR PERMISSION to give taxpayer money away to a BANKRUPT BUSINESS.

No# 3 : The Threat of a World Wide Financial Crises is a REALLY GOOD EXCUSE.

No# 4 : It doesn’t take a genius to figure out WHO GOT ALL THE MONEY.

No# 5 : The employees of [Bank about to Fail], who saw the value of their IRA’s or pensions drop because their [Bank about to Fail’s] stock tanked, WATCHED their MONEY they PAY IN TAXES given to…Well let’s say it WAS not given to them to SAVE THEIR IRA’s or PENSIONS.

Truth be told, it is entirely possible that had [Bank about to Fail] actually failed, there would have been a financial crises. It is equally true that if [Bank about to Fail] actually failed, there would NOT have been a financial crises. As is everything in life that could have been, WE WILL NEVER KNOW.

So the rules are made and when things get BAD there is only one Sheriff in town and that Sheriff has friends to protect.

This is history repeating itself over and over. DO FOR YOUR FRIENDS AS YOU WOULD DO FOR YOURSELF. There are those who claim that the bail out of [Bank about to Fail] created a “moral hazard” because [EVERY SINGLE BANK] will take even more risks and ask for even more bailouts because the Federal Reserve, the US Treasury, the US President, and Congress will cover their behind.

And cover their behind they have. For the first time in history, the Federal Reserve allowed Wall Street Investment banks to borrow money from the Fed at a discount (window). For the first time in history, investment banks can become commercial banks. For the first time in history, the Federal Reserve, the US Treasury, the US President, and Congress can hand out TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS of YOUR MONEY without telling YOU where it is going.

It doesn’t end there, the Federal Reserve, the US Treasury, the US President, and Congress gave [Big Name Banks] Treasury Bills (your money) in exchange for [Big Name Banks] worthless collateralized paper. YOUR MONEY FOR BAD PAPER. The paper that consists of collateral debt obligations, sub-prime mortgage backed securities, alt-a mortgage backed securities, credit card backed securities, auto loan backed securities…and the BAD PAPER list goes on and on and on…..

It all boils down to one thing. When it all hits the fan, the BIG NAME BANKS’ Peoples get together, handle their business and do what is necessary to keep their stuff together.

The question for you is “Will Your Peoples Come together, When it starts to get BAD”. It’s time to fill in your blanks.

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