By Les Leopold Huffington Post
Hallelujah! The economy is really growing. Our pensions and 401ks are back from the dead. Banks are solvent. Corporations are profitable. Housing prices are stabilizing. Consumer spending is rising. And we may even make some money on the bailouts.
Granted, unemployment is still frighteningly high, but we’ve bottomed out and we’re told jobs will be coming back soon. Besides, pundits and politicians also tell us the real jobs problem is really about education: too many U.S. workers don’t have the skills to compete internationally. Fixing that will take a generation or more. So we shouldn’t be too worried if the unemployment lines stay long for a few years.
Now that the Dow is shooting past 11,000, Congress has the perfect excuse to pass a pathetic set of watered down financial reforms. The heated arguments between Democrats and Republicans are for political show. The bankers already have won.
And why? Because our tax dollars bailed out their butts. The biggest banks would have gone under, and derservedly so, without our largess. Dow 11,000 is primarily a function of the trillions (not billions) of taxpayer dollars that poured into the biggest Wall Street firms in the form of loans, asset gurantees, liquidity programs and other subsidies. Wall Street then used our money to pay themselves lavish bonuses and to lobby against any and all meaningful financial reforms. (See Bob Kuttner’s excellent new book, A Presidency in Peril, for the blow by blow of how crony capitalism really works.)
All and all, it’s a clean sweep for the Bush-Obama team. Paulson, Bernanke, Geithner and Summers (with Robert Rubin, Lloyd Blankfein and Jamie Dimon lurking in the background) have saved the day. The once-in-70-years-crisis is over and we should applaud our saviors. Now at last we can turn to the problems that really keep bankers awake at night: the federal debt and bloated “entitlements” for working people, like Social Security, (unless it is privatized and turned over to Wall Street.)
Read more at the Huffington Post
Les Leopold is the author of “The Looting of America”