UK: Taxes will soar in credit crisis


An office worker looks at a screen showing trading on the FTSE 100 index

TAXPAYERS in Britain face up to 5p in the pound in extra taxes because of the credit crunch created by the banks, leading economists have warned.

After a week of unprecedented financial turmoil, they predict that government borrowing is about to surge as the Treasury’s tax take is slashed by a slump in earnings from the City and the downturn.

Leading forecasters say the government will soon be forced to borrow as much as £100 billion a year, giving Britain easily the biggest budget deficit of any western country.

Any tax rises would come on top of increases imposed by Gordon Brown when he was chancellor. He repeatedly raised indirect “stealth” taxes while leaving income tax unchanged. Taxes went up by 3% of national income, equivalent to more than 10p on the basic rate of income tax.

The warning coincides with news that American executives of the failed Lehman Brothers bank, parts of which were taken over by Barclays last week, will still receive millions in bonuses.

Read moreUK: Taxes will soar in credit crisis

Minister: Alitalia might not last a week

ROME: Alitalia might stop flying within a week if unions don’t change course and accept a rescue plan offered by Italian investors, Italy’s transport minister said Sunday.

The only hope for the survival of Italy’s bankrupt flagship airline is for union leaders to agree to the investors’ terms, and for the government to convince the investors to put the deal back on the table, Minister Altero Matteoli told Sky TG24 TV.

“Alitalia has only very few days left, surely less than a week,” unless a deal is made, he said.

The investors withdrew their offer to acquire some of Alitalia’s more potentially profitable assets after some unions, including pilots’ representatives, rebuffed the deal.

Other unions for Alitalia employees have accepted the plan, which calls for some 3,250 layoffs among the airline’s 20,000 workers, the elimination or reduction of loss-making routes and the sale of many aircraft.

Read moreMinister: Alitalia might not last a week

Financial crisis: Default by the US government is no longer unthinkable


Hard times: central banks have acted to avoid a repeat of 1929

So, here we are – the start of a new world order. After the tumultuous events of the last fortnight, the global economic landscape will never look the same again.

Power has tangibly shifted – away from the United States and the Western world generally, and towards the fast-growing giants of the East. That’s been happening for some years now.

But September 2008 marks the moment when the scale of our excesses, the extent of our debts and the moral bankruptcy of our financial regulatory system finally began to be truly exposed.

Read moreFinancial crisis: Default by the US government is no longer unthinkable

Russia defies West with new arms spending

Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, yesterday vowed to defy Western attempts to isolate Moscow as he gave his backing to an ambitious re-armament programme.

Both Mr Medvedev and Vladimir Putin, the prime minister, resorted to the language of the Cold War as they pledged to increase defence spending by 50 per cent over the next three years.

But they also sought to portray Russia as the victim of Nato aggression.

As his parliament gave its support to the higher defence budget, Mr Medvedev accused the United States and its allies of seeking to isolate Russia behind “thick walls and an iron curtain.”

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Israel’s scandal-hit PM Olmert resigns

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israel’s scandal-tainted Prime Minister Ehud Olmert resigned on Sunday, setting the stage for weeks of more political turmoil as the horse-trading begins to form a new government.

Olmert , who is battling a swathe of corruption allegations, handed a brief letter to President Shimon Peres announcing that “in line with his commitments, he is submitting his resignation,” the president’s office said.

Read moreIsrael’s scandal-hit PM Olmert resigns

Judge Orders Cheney to Preserve Records


Vice President Dick Cheney has argued that his office is not part of the executive branch of government.
Filippo Monteforte, AFP / Getty Images

WASHINGTON (Sept. 21) – A federal judge on Saturday ordered Dick Cheney to preserve a wide range of the records from his time as vice president.
The decision by U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly is a setback for the Bush administration in its effort to promote a narrow definition of materials that must be safeguarded under by the Presidential Records Act.

The Bush administration’s legal position “heightens the court’s concern” that some records may not be preserved, said the judge.
A private group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, is suing Cheney and the Executive Office of the President in an effort to ensure that no presidential records are destroyed or handled in a way that makes them unavailable to the public.

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IT’S THE DERIVATIVES, STUPID! WHY FANNIE, FREDDIE AND AIG ALL HAD TO BE BAILED OUT

“I can calculate the movement of the stars, but not the madness of men.”
– Sir Isaac Newton, after losing a fortune in the South Sea bubble

Something extraordinary is going on with these government bailouts. In March 2008, the Federal Reserve extended a $55 billion loan to JPMorgan to “rescue” investment bank Bear Stearns from bankruptcy, a highly controversial move that tested the limits of the Federal Reserve Act. On September 7, 2008, the U.S. government seized private mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and imposed a conservatorship, a form of bankruptcy; but rather than let the bankruptcy court sort out the assets among the claimants, the Treasury extended an unlimited credit line to the insolvent corporations and said it would exercise its authority to buy their stock, effectively nationalizing them. Now the Federal Reserve has announced that it is giving an $85 billion loan to American International Group (AIG), the world’s largest insurance company, in exchange for a nearly 80% stake in the insurer . . . .

The Fed is buying an insurance company? Where exactly is that covered in the Federal Reserve Act? The Associated Press calls it a “government takeover,” but this is not your ordinary “nationalization” like the purchase of Fannie/Freddie stock by the U.S. Treasury. The Federal Reserve has the power to print the national money supply, but it is not actually a part of the U.S. government. It is a private banking corporation owned by a consortium of private banks. The banking industry just bought the world’s largest insurance company, and they used federal money to do it. Yahoo Finance reported on September 17:

Read moreIT’S THE DERIVATIVES, STUPID! WHY FANNIE, FREDDIE AND AIG ALL HAD TO BE BAILED OUT

The Paulson Manifesto Will Fail Because It Fails American Households

As a trader, I stopped getting disgusted at government manipulation of markets several years ago, didn’t pretend it wasn’t happening, just tried to find when it was coming. I decided to develop an indicator that would tell me when the probability was extremely high that the Master Planners would intervene. That approach has served us well, and that indicator is known as the Plunge Protection Team (PPT) Indicator. It flashed a new “buy” signal Monday, September 15th at the close, rising above positive + 20.00, warning that the decline from August 11th was terminal. The Industrials have risen 565 points since that buy signal. When this measure rises above positive + 20.00, it is usually early, but very right, an early warning indicator telling us to enjoy the decline for a few more trading days but get ready for a spike rally.

The current government market intervention (“manipulation” is probably a more appropriate word) that transpired the past two weeks, reaching crescendo Thursday on a rumor, and Friday on an announcement, is one of the most dramatic since the 1930’s. It really puts into question the notion of U.S. markets being under capitalism, not socialism. The government nationalized Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac last week, announced its intent to nationalize AIG, a component of the Dow 30, this week, and then pulled out all the stops with the Paulson manifesto Friday. Not sure why he didn’t nationalize Lehman Bros, unless it was personal, as he came from competitor Goldman Sachs, and enjoyed watching them declare bankruptcy. Okay, maybe I am a bit cynical — maybe.

Before getting into market performance and the forecast, let’s cover what we know about this historic redefining of the rules of the game that Paulson has placed on the table for Congress to consider next week:

Read moreThe Paulson Manifesto Will Fail Because It Fails American Households

Paulson Bailout Plan a Historic Swindle

Financial-market wise guys, who had been seized with fear, are suddenly drunk with hope. They are rallying explosively because they think they have successfully stampeded Washington into accepting the Wall Street Journal solution to the crisis: dump it all on the taxpayers. That is the meaning of the massive bailout Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has shopped around Congress. It would relieve the major banks and investment firms of their mountainous rotten assets and make the public swallow their losses–many hundreds of billions, maybe much more. What’s not to like if you are a financial titan threatened with extinction?

Read morePaulson Bailout Plan a Historic Swindle