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Showing posts from April, 2010

'Clash of the Titans' on Capitol Hill

Business Times - 29 Apr 2010


'Clash of the Titans' on Capitol Hill

In addition to obscenities, what made Goldman's Senate hearings so exciting was the Hollywood-like cast of characters

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

WAS he playing the role of the unrepentant villain of the Capitol Hill production 'Clash of the Titans'? Or was he the Good Guy who turned out to be the Bad Guy and who was now pleading for forgiveness, or at least for some empathy from angry lawmakers in the Senate hearing room and the American people who were watching the financial/political crime drama at home?

Or will he remain an enigma for most of the audience long after the film credits are shown?

There are no simple answers to these and similar questions. But one thing was clear. Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein was the star of the Washington vs Wall Street show - all 10 hours and 40 minutes of it. Other proposed names for the spectacle included 'Lawmakers vs Bankers', 'Uncle…

Again, Obama shows that he prefers evolutionary change

Business Times - 27 Apr 2010


Again, Obama shows that he prefers evolutionary change

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

DURING a much anticipated speech in New York last week, US President Barack Obama made a push for Wall Street reform just as the US Senate was preparing to debate legislation on overhauling the financial regulatory system.

Against the backdrop of the recent fraud charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) against financial giant Goldman Sachs, some pundits expected Mr Obama to deliver a hard-hitting populist message against Wall Street, blaming the financial industry for the Great Recession, and calling on an angry American public to support the White House and the Democrats in their efforts to impose tough regulations on the greedy bankers.

Listening to President Obama in the audience estimated to be 700 at Cooper Union in lower Manhattan (a venue just a short ride from Wall Street) were America's top financial leaders, including much-disparaged G…

Republicans put on the defensive by Obama

Business Times - 21 Apr 2010


Republicans put on the defensive by Obama

Goldman fraud case seen as providing Democrats with leverage to press GOP to help approve financial reform bill

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

ONE of the major turning points in the Congressional debate over the legislation to reform healthcare was the decision on Feb 12 this year by a California-based healthcare insurance company, Anthem Blue Cross, to raise premiums by 39 per cent.

US President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies on Capitol Hill seized on the announcement as proof that healthcare insurance reform was needed and launched a series of devastating attacks on the insurance industry.

The campaign helped produce political momentum in support for the legislation that eventually was approved by Congress, despite strong Republican opposition.

Now Mr Obama and the Democrats are finding themselves once again entangled in another legislative gridlock with Republicans - this time over financial regula…

Obama's pragmatic stance on N-arms

Business Times - 16 Apr 2010


Obama's pragmatic stance on N-arms

His proposals reflect the new global strategic realities and show he is no dreamer as his opponents make him out to be

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

LISTENING to Republican politicians and conservative pundits bashing US President Barack Obama's proposals to limit and eventually eliminate the use and supply of nuclear weapons, one would have to reach the conclusion that the current occupant of the White House is a naive and sentimental peacenik.

In their view, he lacks a basic grasp of US national security interests and is pursuing a policy that will weaken American power worldwide. In short, Mr Obama is so much unlike President Ronald Reagan and other US presidents who have never been caught day-dreaming about a nuclear-free world or who would sign comprehensive arms control deals with the Russians.

Hence, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani and a 2008 Republican presidential candidate described Mr Ob…

Averting a currency war

Business Times - 14 Apr 2010


Averting a currency war

NEWS reports from Beijing suggest that China may be on the brink of allowing the value of its currency to rise, perhaps by as much as 3 per cent against the US dollar. While a 3 per cent change is relatively small, a deal between Chinese and US officials on boosting the value of China's currency could have important economic and political implications for both the United States and China as well as for the global economy. The expected Chinese currency re-evaluation followed a visit to China by US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner last week, a few days before Chinese President Hu Jintao's arrival in Washington on Monday.

One important outcome of a Chinese currency adjustment against the US dollar would be political. It would turn the currency question from a hot-button issue into a manageable problem in Washington. This could help ease pressure on the Obama administration from lawmakers to name China a 'currency manipulat…

'Maestro' Greenspan out to protect his legacy

Business Times - 09 Apr 2010


'Maestro' Greenspan out to protect his legacy

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

THEY were hoping that the 'maestro' would provide some light about how the policies of the US central bank may have helped create the conditions for the devastating financial crisis that almost brought down the entire American economy. But then, in an emblematic moment, Alan Greenspan ended up leaving them literally in the dark.

It is the Broadway producer's worst nightmare: The power goes off on the stage and interrupts the leading actor in the middle of his performance. Indeed, the Capitol Hill hearing room went dark at 11.44am on Wednesday during the most dramatic show of this political season in Washington, DC.

The former Federal Reserve chairman was beginning to respond to a question from panel chairman Phil Angelides during the Congressional hearing by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) and . . . oops . . . power was off for 23 minutes,…

Obama's juggling act on China's currency

Business Times - 08 Apr 2010


Obama's juggling act on China's currency

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

THE decision by the Obama Administration to delay issuing a report that might have identified China as a 'currency manipulator' was a smart move. It stems from both geo-strategic considerations - the need to co-opt the Chinese into a united international coalition in dealing with Iran's nuclear programme - as well as from the recognition that behind-the-scenes bilateral negotiations between the American and the Chinese, including a series of trade-related meetings scheduled through May and June, could bring about some progress on China's currency. A tough American stand would only ignite a costly Sino-American diplomatic and economic crisis.

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner made the decision over the weekend, explaining that he was going to wait a while before he announced whether or not he thought China was officially manipulating its currency.

Chi…

Obama will still face angry voters in Nov

Business Times - 06 Apr 2010


Obama will still face angry voters in Nov

Despite favourable recent news, the rate of long-term unemployment is still climbing

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

PRESIDENT Barack Obama 'has kept all his promises' and was 'truly the greatest president ever', declared the Republican National Committee last Thursday, April 1. The statement issued by the governing body of the Republican Party went on to praise Mr Obama for solving global warming 'by replacing cars with low-emission unicorns' and achieving an unemployment rate of 'negative 39 per cent', among various 'accomplishments'.

And if you still didn't get it, the statement concluded by reminding the readers that it was, well, an April Fools' Day joke from your very funny Republican Party.

But President Obama himself was probably not laughing a lot this week. A new USA Today/Gallup survey issued the same day was not a joke. It suggested that the number of …

No Tea Parties for "Bibi"

No Tea Parties for "Bibi" on IPS Right Web.