Talk about inequality has been in the news recently, but you won’t believe what’s really happening in America today:
- Americans consistently underestimate the amount of inequality in our country. They would be shocked to learn the truth
- It’s a myth that conservatives accept runaway inequality. Conservatives are as concerned as liberals regarding the stunning collapse of upward mobility
- Inequality in America today is twice as bad as in ancient Rome , worse than it was in in Tsarist Russia, Gilded Age America, modern Egypt, Tunisia or Yemen, many banana republics in Latin America, and worse than experienced by slaves in 1774 colonial America
- It’s worse in America than in any other developed nation
- Staggering inequality in America has become permanent
- There are 2 economies: one for the rich, and the other for everyone else
Bombshell weekend news: Larry Summers has withdrawn from consideration to be the next Fed Chair, citing a difficult Senate confirmation process.
So who could get it?
The favorite for sure is Janet Yellen. She’s the current Fed vice-chair, and a clear continuation of the current regime. She’s a brilliant economist, who is supported by the vast majority of academic economists. Over 400 top-names signed a letter on her behalf last week. She’s generally regarded as being “dovish” meaning more willing to tolerate inflation risk if it means getting unemployment back to normal, though throughout her career she’s been flexible and adaptive. If nominated, she would be the first woman to lead the Federal Reserve.
The other possibility that Obama has publicly floated, in addition to Yellen and Summers is Donald Kohn. He was also a Fed Vice-Chair (through 2010) and would also likely be seen as a continuation of Bernanke. According to Charlie Gasparino, Kohn has received support from Tim Geithner, who has advised Obama during this process.
And just like that, the Summers of the democrats’ discontent is gone (who for some reason saw Larry as the more hawkish of the two Fed candidates, when in reality it would have been Summers that would unleash Bernanke’s money choppers), as are all those unbooked profits by Paddy Power betters who saw Summers as a 85% odds on favorite to become the next Fed chair, and are now left with nothing.
Full Summers letter:
Dear Mr. President,
I am writing to withdraw my name for consideration to be Chairman of the Federal Reserve.
It has been a privilege to work with you since the beginning of your Administration as you led the nation through a severe recession into a sustained economic recovery built on policies to promote employment and strengthen the middle class.
This is a complex moment in our national life. I have reluctantly concluded that any possible confirmation process for me would be acrimonious and would not serve the interests of the Federal Reserve, the Administration, or ultimately, the interests of the nation’s ongoing economic recovery.
I look forward to continuing to support your efforts to strengthen our national economy by creating a broad based prosperity and to reform our financial system so that no President ever again faces what you and your economic team faced upon taking office in 2009.
And the actual letter in its original, Harvard letterhead regalia:
Larry was a critical member of my team as we faced down the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and it was in no small part because of his expertise, wisdom, and leadership that we wrestled the economy back to growth and made the kind of progress we are seeing today.
So, with the favorite now gone, with Yellen solidly out of the running, with Geithner unwilling to acknowledge he would drop everything just to be able to leak Fed secrets to banks as a Chairman as he did when he was merely head of the NY Fed, is it time for the first Bill Dudley trial balloon?
US secretary of state John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov are due to meet in Geneva today with Moscow already balking at a French-sponsored draft resolution at the United Nations indicating that force could yet be used against Syria if it fails to comply.
President Obama is still keen to get the backing of Congress for a limited miliary strike but no vote is likely to be taken until UN inspectors who visited Syria after the gas attacks have released their final report. Officials say that is not likely until the start of next week.
The Independent carries more here
This is a surprise. Russian President Vladimir Putin is the author of a new op-ed in the New York Times titled: A Plea For Caution From Russia.
The piece urges against a strike in Syria, saying that an attack would only escalate the situation, and that the world is against it.
He also says he believes the gas attack was not done by Assad, but by rebels hoping to provoke an intervention.
No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria. But there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists. Reports that militants are preparing another attack – this time against Israel – cannot be ignored. Read More
- Obama, Hollande and Cameron discussed their preference for a diplomatic resolution on Syria, according to the White House
A week ago, Syria needed to be punished for using chemical weapons and Assad was a criminal. Now, everything is forgiven as long as they destroy weapons stockpiles.
Meanwhile, Putin says a Syrian chemical weapons handover plan will only work if the US rejects use of force; that’s something I don’t see happening.
Syria has agreed to Russia’s proposal to put its chemical weapons under international control, according to the Moscow-based Interfax news agency. The news, if proved correct, could mean a military strike on Syria may have been averted.
The Russian news agency reported “a very fruitful round of talks” with the Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday.
Walid Moallem, the Syrian foreign ministerm, reportedly said:
We agreed to the Russian initiative.
President Obama is preparing in Washington for a national television address on Syria, to be broadcast at 9pm local time.
Less than 10% of the House publicly supports President Obama’s plan for a military strik on Syria. As Bloomberg notes in this updated visual description of the hill he faces, at least 202 House members currently oppose military action.
Click to Enlarge