Losses & Listening, Mark Carney & Stress

11 July 2016 – We could not begin without acknowledging that yet again our nation has suffered terrible losses:  Alton Sterling, Philander Castile, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, Lorne Ahrens, Brent Thompson and Patrick Zamarripa. Will sums up our feelings by reading parts of Hillary Clinton’s speech in Philadelphia which, we feel, speaks for us.

It’s hard to believe there was anything else important in a week like this past one but there was and I get to two of the big pieces of financial news. The US Federal Reserve released the stress test results of both the quantitative (DFAST) and qualitative (CCAR) testing of the thirty-three largest US banks. Stress testing is one of the big gains which emerged from the Dodd-Frank Act. In order to pass banks must prove that they can withstand specific “severely adverse scenarios.” The scenarios are both different and more difficult each year. This year all the banks tested passed DFAST and all except the US subsidiaries of Deutsche Bank and Santander passed the CCAR. I know you don’t think this really applies to you but that brings me to my second segment for the show….

The UK really is in a crisis, both political and economic. In the midst of all the chaos the one steady, calm voice of national leadership has come from Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England (BoE). In a critical speech on 30 June (PDF here), Carney delineated what the BoE has done, is doing and will do as the economic disaster of Brexit trundles forward. Alone among major UK governmental departments or associated institutions the BoE had a Brexit contingency plan and they have put it into action. Carney steadied markets and calmed the City with his cogent, realistic assessment and announcement of actions which the BoE is taking. Carney also reminded everyone that the most recent round of UK bank stress testing did include a Brexit scenario and that UK banks have been found to be capable of withstanding losses more than twice those they sustained during the global financial crisis. In addition, Carney noted that the BoE will be making sure that banks are making loans both to business and to individuals and he let banks know that the BoE will not be taking its eye off the regulatory ball either, ring-fencing will progress. In this period of complete UK political breakdown, Carney looks like the only adult in the room and proves it by managing to walk and chew gum at the same time–times ten. Oh – and central banks can make all the difference in a crisis.

Will got into the one other big piece of news from this past week, the matter of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails. He made a point of fact-checking and adding to the information that is out there and he clarifies the difference between Clinton and those who have willfully and knowingly divulged classified information. There is a reason no prosecutor in the country would bring the case, Hillary’s mistakes do not meet either the letter or intent of the law. We will all, regardless, spend another two years listening to the GOP yammering on about it but it’s good to get the facts straight at the top.

Next week we are hopping down the bunny trail and our show will consist of interviews we have done while at Netroots Nation in St. Louis. If you are there, please come on by and visit with us. We will be on radio row (on and off) in the vendor hall. We’re bringing treats!  –  Carrots! Arliss

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Dodd-Frank with Alexis Goldstein

21 March 2016 – This week we take a deep dive into Dodd-Frank. As I have been promising for the past several weeks, I start out with a fast but fairly detailed backgrounder on the legislation itself. Then, our guest, Alexis Goldstein updates us on where we are today with the implementation process. Alexis is a Senior Policy Analyst at Americans for Financial Reform and has been in the thick of the Dodd-Frank battle from back in her days with Occupy the SEC when she co-authored a 325-page Comment letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission urging them to write rules for a strong version of the Volker Rule. Seriously, that’s my kind of banking wonk. During our conversation Alexis referred to a link at Bloomberg and that is here for your easy reference.

Will begins the show talking about Bernie’s Town Hall on the Navajo reservation, while correcting the record. President Russell Begaye had a “very good” discussion with Bernie, where he talked with the Senator about the need for a cabinet-level position for Native Americans, which could cut across various federal agencies, asked that Native Governments be respected as sovereign entities, and asked that the government honor its treaty obligations. While President Begaye spoke in glowing terms about the Senator’s visit, he has not endorsed any presidential candidate in the 2016 election, contrary to claims being made online.

Will also made some noise about the deafening silence in the aftermath of the execution-style murder of three young black Muslims in Fort Wayne, Indiana in late February.

Here the daffodils are up in the front yard and the tulips are coming on right behind them. I hope it is equally beautiful wherever you may be. – Carrots! Arliss


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Jim Crow Never Died

11 January 2016 – Ever since the Black Lives Matter hashtag rose to prominence I have found myself on a steep learning curve. Our guest for this show is Dr. Lawrence Brown an Assistant Professor at Baltimore’s  Morgan State University School of Community Health and Policy. Dr. Brown is a rising national voice spreading the word that Jim Crow never died and the kind of hyper-segregation seen in Black communities, like that in Baltimore, has shocking and far reaching public health and societal consequences far more pervasive than are initially apparent. Dr. Brown clearly conveys the implications of policies, both historical and current, which have been imposed on Black communities.

In doing my pre-show research I read many of Dr. Brown’s articles but the one that really knocked me back is one I recommend that you read as well. Down to the Wire: Displacement and Disinvestment in Baltimore City encapsulates many of Dr. Brown’s points and should be required reading for everyone seeking greater understanding of the underlying causes behind the current racial crisis. Really. Read it. This is what you will be talking about for a long time after you make the investment.

We open the show with Will talking about polls in the Democratic race and I try to put the precipitous drop in the Chinese stock market (and ours) into perspective. Then Will goes on to talk about policing as it relates to terrorism and I get deeper into the way money flows through the US economy.

It’s good to be back! Carrots! – Arliss

On another note, three polls were published AFTER we recorded this, putting Bernie neck-and-neck with Hillary in Iowa. So my analysis in the first five needs amendment. All polls in Iowa now put Clinton and Sanders within the margin of error of each other, so it’s anyone’s guess. It just goes to show you how fast things can change. I’m excited to see what happens next, and I’m looking forward to the general election. – Will

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