Wall Street, Capitol Hill, Pennsylvania Avenue And Main Street

The Occupy Wall Street (O.W.S.) protestors are being criticized for a lack of a coherent message and a specific goal- rebels without a cause. Their protests are directed against capitalism-the linchpin of our nation. And if the truth be told, the young protestors are attempting to articulate what Main Street senses-that capitalism, epitomized by the free market, is in intensive care as a result of the malfeasance and greed of the leaders of our institutions – Banks, Regulators, Business, Government. The symbiotic relationship between government and big business has distorted the balance of power in the country, and has led us to the brink of a national disaster.

The country has evolved to a form of a hybrid socio-capitalism, where some business entities with the right political connections can’t lose. These institutions-financial conglomerates, for-profit educational institutions, quasi government institutions-have and are still being subsidized by the taxpayer. In a sense, the shareholders book the gains and the government (i.e.: taxpayer) assumes the losses. The bailout of the financial institutions resulting from the mortgage bubble is not in question here. Not taking action would have made the depression of the 1930′s seem like a mild recession. If criticism is warranted, it’s that the government didn’t intervene soon enough to shore up the big financial institutions, and didn’t use its leverage to extract needed reforms from these same institutions to prevent a re-occurrence of the systemic failures of 2008..

The Federal Reserve Bank continues to subsidize the banks in the form of low-interest rate loans in order for the banks to build up their capital base so that they could grant more business loans, which would create jobs and stimulate the economy. Instead, the banks are investing the low-interest loans in US Treasury bonds and expanding their derivative portfolios-estimated at $250 trillion (95% among the top 5 banks). The banks now have approximately $3.0 trillion more derivatives on their books than they did at the height of the financial crisis. $2.5 trillion are in credit default swaps with European Banks with exposures to Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Spain-countries that are teetering on the cusp of bankruptcy. Since the banks are not required to support their derivative portfolios with capital, failure of any of these countries could set off a chain reaction which could replicate the 2008 disaster. The banks are betting that the E.C.U. will bail out the European banks as the Fed bailed out the US banks in 2008,

One of the constructive provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act calls for regulation of derivatives and for banks to carry additional capital to support their derivative portfolios. Three years after enactment, the financial services industry lobby has managed to obfuscate the issue and delay implementation of these vital reforms. Since the financial services industry is one of the biggest contributors to presidential and congressional elections, it’s no wonder that our morally corrupt leadership is again not using their leverage to force resolution of this issue. Considering that derivatives-credit default swaps and collateral debt obligations- were the major cause of the financial crisis, the inaction of our so-called leadership, is morally repugnant and nothing short of criminal.

The financial regulatory institutions are nothing but paper tigers, focusing on minutia rather than substance. For years the Fed and the other bank regulators paid little attention to derivatives. The Fed began to take notice after the collapse of the Long Term Capital Management hedge fund that lost a $1.2 trillion bet on derivatives, mainly with money borrowed from the banks. A Fed audit indicated that the banks didn’t know the extent of their derivative exposure due to lax record keeping and controls. Fortunately, the paperwork issue was solved before the 2008 meltdown, but the systemic risk that these instruments pose remains. Too big to fail is slowly but surely morphing into a too too big to fail.

The Commodities Futures Trading Commission (C.F.T.C.) is another institution that has failed to enforce the activities of the traders and the institutions they represent. Today, the biggest oil traders are the big banks, betting billions on the price of oil. Over the counter oil trades represent 95% of the trades on a given day, and, by law, over the counter trades are not regulated by the C.F.T.C. Even if the C.F.T.C. were to discover a criminal violation, they are forbidden to intervene. These facts, incredulous as they seem, are the result of the Enron loophole in the Commodities Futures Modernization Act which was whisked through Congress by Senator Phil Gramm, whose wife, at that time, was on Enron’s board. This same amendment opened the gates for banks and other speculators to trade in oil commodities. Today, speculators control 99% of the oil market, and the planet is so awash with oil that speculators are running out of storage space. Oil is now being stored on idle tankers. Consider that approximately over one billion barrels of oil are traded every day, and the daily world consumption of oil is a mere 90 million barrels. Is it any wonder that a gallon of gasoline is selling for $4.00.

There is one thread that stands out in all this chicanery, and that is the symbiotic relationship between the government and the financial services industry. People move freely between both camps. Gramm’s wife was the C.F.T.C. regulator prior to her appointment to the Enron board. Enron supported James E. Newsome to head up the C.F.T.C. under President G.W. Bush. Newsome was subsequently hired by the New York Mercantile Exchange (N.Y.MEX.) and appointed C.E.O. of the very same institution he was regulating before he resigned from C.F.T.C. When the exchange went public, he walked away with over $50 million. The last three administrations appointed a treasury secretary that had previously been employed by Goldman Sachs. Robert Rubin, President Clinton’s treasury secretary, and the same Senator Gramm were instrumental in repealing the Glass-Steagall Act without implementing the necessary safeguards to prevent the abuses that led to the enactment of the Act in the first instance. They, together with Alan Greenspan, were also responsible for preventing the C.F.T.C. from regulating derivatives. The Enron loophole also exempts over the counter derivative trading from C.F.T.C. regulation. Thus the $600 trillion derivative market is running wild with no oversight over the products and the traders that make the market, and like the oil market the derivative market has no transparency. Subsequently, Rubin was hired by Citigroup and presided over its dilution. Not to worry, he walked away with upward of $120 million for his service or more aptly his disservice while the shareholders lost upwards of $240 billion. Senator Gramm was appointed vice chairmen by U.B.S. after he retired from Congress, and you can guess who inherited Enron’s trading business when Enron went bankrupt-UBS. Gramm, a free market advocate, through his role in rigging the Enron loophole, is singularly responsible for the derivatives debacle and the subsequent recession and for the consumer paying $4 instead of $2 dollars for a gallon of gas.

Capitalism and the free market have had a schizophrenic journey over the past century. The advent of the robber barons, the trusts, the investment/ commercial bank excess that led to the stock market crash of 1929, green mail scandals, savings bank-S&L and commercial real estate debacles, and the dot com and mortgage bubbles were all driven by greed and untrustworthy individuals in business and government. The theory that free markets allocate capital better than regulated markets is a myth, given the realities of the moral fiber of the individuals who populate our institutions. The one lesson to be learned from past history is that capitalism and free markets work well only when they are wisely regulated, are populated by honorable honest leaders, and the penalties for violating the rules are so draconian that they act as a deterrent to those who would game the system. At a minimum, violators should be prosecuted under the Rico Law, with long prison terms in max security prisons, and confiscation of all family wealth regardless of when and where it was generated. As the gipper would say, “trust but verify.”

Main Street is still absorbing the brunt of the pain from the collapse of the mortgage bubble-21% real unemployment and underemployment, over $2 trillion in savings and asset losses-while the perpetrators walked away with huge paydays even though their institutions were brought to the brink of failure. The systemic failure of 2008 was caused by the derivatives, (aid and abetted by the regulatory and rating agencies), and pure fraud and greed, led by the likes of Goldman Sachs, AIG and the other major international banks. But what is really criminal is the lobbying by these same institutions, in consort with the political hacks, to prevent implementation of the needed reforms. Is it any wonder that people are protesting? And is it any wonder that Main Street is fed up with Wall Street, Pennsylvania Avenue, and Capitol Hill?

In conclusion, the efforts of the O.W.S. protesters would be best directed to pressure the Congress to: repeal the Commodities Modernization Act, enforce those substantive provisions of the Dodd Frank Act, and to pressure the state legislators to call a constitutional convention to amend the constitution to provide for term limits and federally funded congressional and presidential elections. This later action is required to rectify the root-cause of the problem-the symbiotic relations between government and big business purchased by campaign contributions. Nothing short of these actions will begin to resolve the fiscal problems faced by the nation and prevent another financial disaster.

Guide to Loans for a Small Business Start Up

The main roadblock in starting any small business or a start-up venture is to get money and invest it into the business. Several great business ideas bite the dust just for the simple reason that the finance for starting it up cannot be arranged in the stipulated time frame. But like all those unsuccessful business plans you don’t have to worry about the financing bit as we are here specifically to solve your financing problems with the least possible hassle. Like other loan offering services we understand the importance of financing without any risk to your current assets. There are other loan facilitating services too but they are a bit reluctant to share your risk as they only provide loans to business offering that are fruitful to them. While other good business plans have to cut a sorry figure just because of the lack of finances now it’s time you get what your business deserves.

There are online portals where one can expect to get over the worries of seeking for a loan at the least possible risk. Some of them will also provide you with bad credit business loan facilities at comparatively lower interest rates then that of various existing financial organizations or individual lenders. The main point which is to be considered is that most of the online portals don’t distribute any confidential or personal information that you provide like email address, name or other vital information which cannot be distributed legally so you can bank on them to get the apt solutions. Not only do these portals or funding organizations will provide business loans for bad credit but also provide you with loans for business start up financing.

Apart from that these companies hires a well experienced staff and with their expertise strives in helping you out in providing you with the various tips and strategies to get your start up business up and running in no time. You can definitely rely on these organizations as they provide you with professional assistance in planning out the implementation methods and small little tips on how to gradually expand your business and make it into something big. The professional assistance you will get is invaluable as the consultants and industry experts provide you with viable solution to your queries honed by years of experience. So look no further to arrive at a quality solution to all your small business related problems and financing issues.

The typical customers who take loans are are new and existing businesses that have some type of storefront or service based business. Restaurants, Retailers, Clothing Stores, Dry Cleaners, Day Spas, Medical Offices, Automotive Shops etc.

3 Deadly Mistakes Women Make In Business

If you’re a female entrepreneur looking forward to make your business a success, take a look at these 3 deadly mistakes women make in business. Avoid these, and you’re halfway on your path to glory.

Poor Professional Image

Your image is your identity to the world. At your workplace, it decides who wants to work with you, hire you, or simply network with you. Hence, it’s essential to build a strong professional image.

Your image is a combination of your physical appearance (how you look, dress, carry yourself around others, etc.), behavior (how you communicate – verbal and non-verbal, your manners, etiquette, etc.) and personality (your attitude towards your work, time management, how you interact with others around you, and so on).

A poor professional image can hamper your business, and your career, by distracting others around you to view your flaws like bad dressing sense, personal grooming issues, and so on, instead of strengths like your talent, technical skills, etc.

Lack Of Negotiation Skills

If you’re not comfortable negotiating with your clients or customers, it’s best to hire someone who can. This is more essential if you’re particularly bad at negotiating financial details with clients.

You simply can not trust your clients to pay on time on their own. You have to make sure business processes are in place to make sure you are indeed paid on time.

No “Me” Time

If you don’t invest some time for yourself, it’s more likely you’ll burn out at a much quicker pace than expected. So don’t feel guilty to pencil in a vacation time every few months to make sure you can take a step back from your business and come back with a refreshed point of view.

A little break away from business can help you catch up with your personal life. It will also help you relax your mind, pushing you away from the daily stress of work. And of course, once you’re back, you’re going to be full of ideas on how to tackle your business even better.

As a woman entrepreneur myself, I have grown to learn from my mistakes. It’s difficult, and you do need the support of your family and friends to push you forward. But if you can rely on your decision-making skills, feel confident about the choices you make, and really learn from your mistakes constructively, you’re definitely good to go.