International Forecaster Weekly

straight Shooters Gone Wrong

straight shooters gone wrong, update on the Plunge Protection Team, Bernanke remains silent, russia watches americans close to Iran border, what Boston must do in order to survive, asian bubbles, corporate scandals and courtroom confessions, lies for Alberto Gonzales, march of the Fascist State continues, as ordinary people are denied services for having a name that partially matches one on the terrorist watch list

Bob Chapman | March 31, 2007

Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) is known in Washington as a straight shooter, but people change and he is now caught up in the political scandal over the purge of federal prosecutors. Now 74, he has become arrogant and cantankerous in his old age.

He phoned one of the purged prosecutors and complained to President Bush that the US Attorney David Iglesias wasn’t running a corruption probe against Democrats fast enough.

He is now under investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee and is up for reelection next year. He has hired convicted congressional fraudster Duke Cunningham’s lawyer to see to his legal interests. Uncle Pete, as he has been known, has shown another side of his personality that heretofore had been hidden. This incident probably isn’t career ending, but it is a reflection of the Republican attitude in Congress.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke tells us the, “despite heightened risks from the contraction in housing and the slump in manufacturing, the US economy will most likely achieve moderate growth this year with gradually slowing inflation. The one big risk is core inflation, which remains uncomfortably high, however it seems likely to moderate gradually over time.” He said nothing and the Dow fell 125 points as he spoke. Then the Plunge Protection Team went to work. He identified several downside risks to his benign outlook, including the substantial correction in housing, which could lead to severe financial problems for many individuals. Bernanke tried to put a good face on a terrible economy.

For the past week Russia’s military intelligence services have reported a flurry of activity by US Armed Forces near Iran’s borders. They said the US was preparing to invade Iran soon.

High costs, complicated regulatory and tax structures, and stiff competition for back-office jobs from low-cost areas in foreign lands threaten Boston’s long time position as a center of the financial services industry. For the past century, Boston’s cluster of mutual funds, banks, and asset-management firms has attracted investment from around the world and created tens of thousands of jobs that are disappearing as they are outsourced and become victim to mergers.

To preserve industry, universities and community colleges need stronger curriculums in quantitative subjects and a partnership between companies and colleges to develop a “talent pool” of candidates for local jobs should be created. The CofC advocates tax incentives, or extortion money to keep jobs in the state. The handwriting is on the wall, we either impose tariffs on foreign goods and services, or our nation will economically perish.

The Asian Development Bank says, “Asia’s developing economies have fuelled asset bubbles with their huge foreign currency reserves in great part accumulated in the process of devaluing their currencies. The reserves would be better used to retire debt or by buying higher-yielding investments. Asian economics have $2.280 trillion in reserves, which is excessive.” These reserves unless sterilized, lead to increases in money supply, which in turn, lead to bubbles in assets. Across the region we are seeing asset bubbles in both housing and equity markets. A good part of the assets are in dollars and that assures losses. They should get rid of debt and buy gold and euros.

The former CEO of Aspen Technologies, a maker of software for oil and chemical companies, pleaded guilty to federal charges that he lied to investors. Corporate crime marches on in America.

It is hard to believe that AG Alberto Gonzales’s senior counselor Monica M. Goodling, who has taken an indefinite leave of absence, will decline to answer any and all questions about the firings because she faces a perilous environment in which to testify. The political stakes are high as a result of the purge of eight US attorneys for political purposes and the politicization of those who were not fired. That is now being followed by the homosexual, sex, prostitution and pedophile scandal within the Justice Department.

Our fascist state marches on. Private businesses such as rental and mortgage companies and car dealers are checking the names of customers against a list of suspected terrorists and drug traffickers made publicly available by the US Treasury, sometimes denying services to ordinary people whose names are similar to those on the list. The way in which the list is being used goes far beyond context in which it has a link to national security. What the neocons have done is effectively conscript private businesses into the war on terrorism, which doesn’t exist, but doing so without making sure that businesses do not trample on individual rights. The list has 250 pages and includes 3,300 groups and individuals. Many have been denied transactions or have been delayed because their names were a partial match with a name on the list. If you do business with anyone or group on the list you risk a $10 million fine and 10 to 30 years in jail, which is absurd. The law is ridiculous because if the local deli sells a sandwich to someone on the list he can be fined $10 million and do 30 years. This is what totalitarian governments are all about. If government wants to check on terrorists all they have to do is go to the major banks and look for money launders, they will find plenty.