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.

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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?

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12th bank failure of the year announced

Regulators close down Ameribank Inc., a West Virginia-based-bank with total assets of $115 million.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — Ameribank Inc. was shut down on Friday by the Office of the Thrift Supervision, making it the 12th bank this year to go under.

The Northfork, West Virginia bank had total assets of $115 million and total deposits of $102 million, according to a statement on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Web site.

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Bush wants OK to spend $700.000.000.000

Bailout proposal sent to Congress seeks authorization to spend as much as $700 billion to buy troubled mortgage-related assets.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — President Bush has asked Congress for the authority to spend as much as $700 billion to purchase troubled mortgage assets and contain the financial crisis.

The legislative proposal – the centerpiece of what would be the most sweeping economic intervention by the government since the Great Depression – was sent by the White House overnight to lawmakers.

Read moreBush wants OK to spend $700.000.000.000

Pat Buchanan: The Party’s Over

The Crash of 2008, which is now wiping out trillions of dollars of our people’s wealth, is, like the Crash of 1929, likely to mark the end of one era and the onset of another.

The new era will see a more sober and much diminished America. The “Omnipower” and “Indispensable Nation” we heard about in all the hubris and braggadocio following our Cold War victory is history.

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Greenspan’s sins return to haunt us

Back in 2002, when his reputation as “The Man Who Saved the World” was at its peak, Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, came to Britain to pick up his knighthood. His biggest fan, Gordon Brown, now the UK prime minister, had ensured that the citation said it was being awarded for promoting “economic stability”.

During his trip, Mr Greenspan visited the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee. He told them the US financial system had been resilient amid the bursting of the internet bubble. Share prices had halved and there had been massive bond defaults, but no big bank collapses. Mr Greenspan lauded the fact that risk had been spread, using complex derivative instruments. One of the MPC members asked: how could this be? Someone must have lost all that money; who was it? A look of quiet satisfaction came across Mr Greenspan’s face as he answered: “European insurance companies.”

Six years later, AIG, the largest US insurance company, has in effect been nationalised to stop it blowing up the financial world. The US has nationalised the core of its mortgage industry and the government has become the arbiter of which financial companies should survive or die.

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