Federal Reserve Board: H.2 Release for Week Ending April 22, 2017; H.4.1 Release (Balance Sheet) for Week Ending April 27, 2017; Three “Of Note” Items


Of Note:

Jobs that are insecure are masked with a good-sounding name–“gig jobs” or the “sharing economy.” Would that the cost of living was covered by these insecure jobs. These jobs are precarious work, a job that places the person under daily financial insecurity while the employer benefits richly from being able to throw away labor without any concern. People in temp jobs or contract work who are not independently wealthy are indeed in a precarious situation.

Senator Mark Warner (a Democrat from Virginia) spoke without fear or worry on this subject, being a millionaire (estimated net worth (2014), $242,889,631) seems to help fuel the luxury of indifference and time to debate while people need to pay bills immediately.

See also Kalleburg, Arne L. (2014). “Measuring Precarious Work. Working paper, EINet Meaurement Group. November. Key quote that should guide policy makers (with a conscience):

Precarious work is usually regarded as work that departs from the norm of standard work (i.e., secure employment with an employer; working full-time, year round; working on the employer’s premises under his or her supervision; enjoying extensive statutory benefits and entitlements; and having the expectation of being employed indefinitely).  Precarious work thus falls below socially accepted, normative standards by which workers have certain rights and employment protections and bear the risks associated with economic life.

On financial instability in the United States. With a seemingly hamstrung, self-obsessed personality in the White House, connected to a political-party duopoly (Democrats and Republicans) that are also tied to money and power at the expense of labor and the vulnerable, it seems that there may not be any policy to address the misery of financial insecurity among people who are not part of the 400 wealthy families in the United States.

See Peter Temin’s remarks at the Institute of New Economic Thinking:

What the ‘Dual Economy’ Model for Developing Countries Reveals About Today’s America

 

Former President Barack Obama to be paid $400,000 for speech at Cantor Fitzgerald, a Wall Street financial services firm. Key quote from the New Yorker magazine article:

But still, Obama does not need this gig. And both his party — and his ideological kin the world over — could really use some distance from Wall Street, given that even the center-left’s own technocrats now recognize that the financial industry is an overgrown parasite whose rapacious rent-seeking immiserates working people.


The Federal Reserve Board (Board) publishes a weekly digest of its activities on its website. The digest is called the H.2 Release and is published every Thursday. The release for the week ending April 22, 2017, is below.

H.2 Release–Actions of the Board, Its Staff, and the Federal Reserve Banks; Applications and Reports Received

Category Action Taken
Personnel Division of Reserve Bank Operations and Payment Systems — appointment of Rebecca Royer and Mark Olechowski as assistant directors.

-Approved, April 17, 2017

Enforcement Deutsche Bank AG, Frankfurt am Main, Germany — issuance of a consent order and assessment of a civil money penalty.

-Approved, April 15, 2017

(A/C)

Deutsche Bank AG, Frankfurt am Main, Germany; DB USA Corporation, New York, New York; and Deutsche Bank AG New York Branch — issuance of a consent cease-and-desist order and assessment of a civil money penalty.

-Approved, April 15, 2017

(A/C)

 

Federal Reserve Board: Balance Sheet (H.4.1 Release)

The Board publishes data of factors affecting reserve balances. The digest is called the H.4.1 Release, and they are published every Thursday (or the next business day if the publication date falls on a federal holiday). The release for April 27, 2017, is below.

[Note: The blog will cover the line titled “Total Factors Supplying Reserve Funds.”]

H.4.1 Release–Factors Affecting Reserve Balances

Total factors supplying reserve funds (as of April 26, 2017):  $4,516,539 (in millions of dollars). (On September 26, 2007, this amount was $900,473 (in millions of dollars)).

(See the release for further information.)

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Private meetings with Investment Professionals Inappropriate; Attendees Acquire Valuable Nonverbal Information

The Washington Post had an article describing how political intelligence firms are setting up meetings with staff members of the White House in order to provide ostensibly public information to interested persons in private meetings. These meetings also occurred with congressional staff. All of it is inappropriate, as nonverbal information is also given out at these meetings; information that would not show up on transcripts, yet is very valuable to these elites. No normal citizen, without significant personal wealth or political connections, would be able to have such access.

These private meetings with investment professionals with congressional staff and now White House staff are not innocent or just taxpayers seeking information. These meetings are an thinly disguised effort to gain nonverbal information not available to the public. If all these Wall Street staff wanted is public information, why do the appropriate press offices of the various government offices just provide a link to the information on their websites? Why are not these discussions of public information video recorded and posted publically so that all taxpayers may benefit?

This type of meetings must end because the information provided at the cost of the taxpayer is only provided to a select few elites to make a huge profit or gain advantage over others.

 

 

Willard Mitt Romney: “Free Enterprise” Proposal Is a Proxy for Long-Held GOP Views

[Update: November 12, 2012–President Barack Obama has won a second term over challenger Mitt Romney.]

In Willard Mitt Romney’s speech to the NAACP, essentially presented a summary of his Presidential objectives, called his “free enterprise” approach. The plan sounds like a neutral listing of long-held GOP positions. It seemingly worked in part as some in the NAACP audience actually applauded for some of it.

Willard Mitt Romney “Free Enterprise”* Proposal Comment
1.  Approve Keystone Pipeline  One million jobs?
2. Open new markets for American goods => “clamp down on China”
3.  Reform Social Security and Medicare (in part by means testing the benefits) This idea is an attempt to avoid the easiet solution–raise the cap on the FICA tax. See this post. Would not be surprised if the full program took ideas from the “Third Way” think tank.
4. Nurturing skilled workers  Is this a call for more H1-B visas?
“5. Restore “”economic freedom””*(a)  High taxation(b) unnecessary regulation(c)  High health-care costs(d)  Destructive labor policies” I think these charges terms means—more tax cuts, eliminating agencies or regulatory authority, high-deductible health plans, and elimination of the remainder of labor unions (that is, union busting).

* Term not defined by Mr. Romney.

Federal Pensions: Third Way Was Able to Increase FERS Contributions; Congress Directed Extra Monies to Unemploment Extension

Because of the way that the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund (CSRDF) is set up, when federal employees contribute more (without an increase of the pension benefit), they actually are paying that money to the Treasury. In the case of the recent new law (P. L. 112-96, title V), this money is going to pay for an extension of unemployment benefits (and not an increase in pension benefits). So, basically, federal employee pay was effectively cut back.

The group, Third Way,  still has influence. It asked for a 5.2% increase of employee’s contributions; the Congress delivered 3.1% not only for the civil service but all participants of the Federal Employees’ Retirement System.

[The crocodile tears of Minority Whip Steny Hoyer and Representative Chris Van Hollen (member of the so -called supercommittee) did not affect me at all, except to make me marvel at their skills of “gaslighting.”]

“Occupy” Demonstrations: Nonviolent Protests Sometimes Provokes an Unjustifiably Violent Police Response

I have observed the slow growth of the Occupy Wall Street movement and its offshoots over the past several weeks. I do not camp out in a park, but I do understand the frustration and support their efforts as a result of the startling presence of long-term unemployment, paucity of jobs, and sense of financial instability (if you are not part of the top income brackets).

The Occupy movement has generally been a nonviolent demonstration. Recently, some city governments and their police departments used health and safety concerns to break up the camps (for example, New York City, and Oakland).

UCDavis is an institution of higher education, and the people who were sprayed appeared to be college aged (18 through 20s); perhaps given the educational environment, the UCDavis Police Department and the protestors could have discussed their way out of the confrontation. Instead, the video of the discharge of pepper spray is on display along with the fallout.

In these days in which law enforcement officers have been tasked with anti-terrorism projects, where does responding to nonviolent domestic demonstrations fit? In the District of Columbia, the OccupyDC movement seems to be working with the D.C. police department.

At University of California, Davis, in contrast,the response was the use of nonlethal violence (pepper spray) in response to anonviolent demonstration. The officer sprayed the chemicals into people’s faces without any compassion; the police could have simply arrested the folks (who were apparently sitting in an act of civil disobedience).

While the video provoked a reaction, the event should be a lesson for all about how, when, and why law enforcement agencies should use differing levels of force. Pepper spray is not appropriate in all circumstances.

FICA: President Barack Obama Seemingly Is Using the Payroll Tax Cut as a Way to Weaken Support for FICA-Funded Programs; President Should Use General Funds to Provide Needed Economic-Crisis Assistance

President Barack Obama’s proposal to extend the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax cut harms the idea that FICA is a special-purpose tax to fund Social Security and Medicare. I feared the President’s proposal last year, knowing that his further proposals to extend would happen. Currently, the Congress requires the Treasury to arrange for an equivalent amount of cash to go to FICA-funded programs, which makes up for the “loss” due to the FICA tax cut. [P.L. 111-312, sec. 601(e)]. This tax cut seems to be a neat way of having the increase (not much ($934 on yearly average)) of cash to the citizenry, while having the Treasury ensure that the contributions to the FICA-funded programs are not reduced.

However, what the President has done is introduce the idea that the FICA tax is not a special-purpose tax for Medicare and Social Security, but rather the notion that FICA can be used for general current-revenue purposes. This change is subtle but very dangerous. While the current President can be said to support Social Security and Medicare, this very same FICA tax cut could be used to force cuts or substantially change both programs (by a future President who can be said to be opposed to FICA-funded programs). Therefore, I became seriously concerned when the so-called Democratic President used a GOP talking point to attempt to shame GOP congressional members to support an extension of the FICA tax cut (emphasis below mine).

Pass this jobs bill, and the typical working family will get a $1,500 tax cut next year.  Fifteen hundred dollars that would have been taken out of your pocket will go into your pocket.  This expands on the tax cut that Democrats and Republicans already passed for this year.  If we allow that tax cut to expire — if we refuse to act — middle-class families will get hit with a tax increase at the worst possible time.  We can’t let that happen.  I know that some of you have sworn oaths to never raise any taxes on anyone for as long as you live.  Now is not the time to carve out an exception and raise middle-class taxes, which is why you should pass this bill right away.  (Applause.)

The President is seemingly using the economic crisis as a way to begin the process of breaking the overwhelming popular support of the FICA-funded programs. The issue that some wealthy politicians face is the enduring support of FICA-funded programs. Because of how the U.S. manages its cash–using FICA funds in general revenues and issuing a nonmarketable Treasury bond (a promise to repay) in exchange for the cash–general revenues that are artificially low (due to the FICA borrowing) will have to be increased in order to pay the bonds redeemed by FICA-funded programs when the number of beneficiaries exceeds the proceeds collected from the FICA tax.

The President, when he deals with FICA-funded programs, must be carefully observed.

Deficit Committee: Sunlight Foundation, Half in Ten Publish Information about Members of Deficit Panel

I think that it is beneficial to get as much information about the politicians elected to represent the citizens of the United States. I have used information from the Open Secrets website to see the net worth of the members of the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction (JCDR)  and other members of Congressional leadership.

Now the Sunlight Foundation has added another piece of information on fundraisers; the website, www.halfinten.org, has published demographic information about the congressional districts of the individual members of the JCDR.