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The Dark Wraith Audio Lecture Series: Lecture 9
Dark Wraith Publishing presents The Dark Wraith Audio Lecture Series
, specially edited, streaming audio versions of academic lectures in economics and business offered as a public service to visitors at this Website.
Lecture 9: "Information Consumer Responsibility"
Size: 2.7 Mb
Click on the link above to launch the lecture in your computer's default media player or use the shockwave player below to play the lecture.
...And when the company does not include full disclosure on the label, how is the consumer at fault?
Children's Bath Products Contain Contaminants:
Many baby and child-care products contain the chemicals formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane, both of which have been linked to cancer and various skin conditions, a new report contends.
But the chemicals aren't listed on the labels of bubble bath, shampoo and other common products, according to the report from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetic Use. [...]
Among their findings:
* Almost two-thirds of the 28 products contained both chemicals, including Johnson's Baby Shampoo and Huggies Naturally Refreshing Cucumber & Green Tea Baby Wash.
* Eighty-two percent of products tested contained formaldehyde; the highest levels were found in Baby Magic Baby Lotion.
* American Girl shower products had the highest levels of dioxane among products tested.
. . .
Probable Carcinogens Found in Baby Toiletries:
Stacy Malkan -- Co-Author, No More Toxic Tub: Getting Contaminants Out of Children's Bath Products
Toxics Found in Baby Bath Products
Consumers in a Lather Over Toxics in Baby Bath Products
Bad enough we import so much toxic cheap Chinese crap that endangers our lives, and that of our animals... but supposedly "trusted American name brands" also fail the public trust?
Worse, we had an awful administration that had (like it did to so many other agencies) underfunded the FDA and stocked its ranks with "loyal" staff.
Contaminated baby products! Is there any worse insult to parents? (Yes. Like sending your grown children off into harm's way, risking injury and death, because of the lies used as an excuse for invasion and occupation.)
Maybe now it will start to get better. (Not holding my breath.)
Good evening, Moody Blue.
The lecture was about financial disclosures: accounting reports and financial analysis. Those numbers were there. Tier 1 capital was reported. It was right there.
And on a related note, I have little use for all the rich people who thought they could get something for nothing in the Madoff scheme.
Neither do I have any use whatsoever for all the investors who lost their shirts in this or that credit derivative program.
Yet these are the investors who are getting bailed out. TARP was just the start of it. Geithner's "brilliant" plan for the government to buy up the toxic assets of the banks is nothing other than a bailout of the very people and institutions who had every resource available and at their disposal to know exactly what kind of fire they were playing with.
But now? We're going to bail them out. We're going to give them a free ride for taking risks that were fully disclosed in the financial statements.
What is that?
Where's the deterrent? Where's the accountability? Where is the plain, old-fashioned notion of consequences?
All I see is the Dow Jones Industrial Average blasting up 500 points because the big dogs are going to get their butts saved by the guy I referred to as the Federal Reserve Board's former bagman.
I read about Madoff's burned investors blubbering their croc tears at all they've lost. Well, gee: What did they think when they were getting returns beyond all reason? — that they were somehow so special, so privileged, so rich, so connected that they somehow deserved more than other people, and that the fundamental principles of risk and expected return didn't apply to their high-and-mighty class?
I am telling business students that their responsibilities lie in reporting the truth as best as such a diffuse concept can be made concrete in numbers and analyses; from there, however, people and institutions must be put to the test of responsibility for taking the information provided and using it prudently, without greed in excess of ability to pay.
Bringing up toxic products given to innocent adults and children is a completely different matter. The men and women who are responsible for that, both the manufacturers and the regulators, should be imprisoned for life for involuntary homicide. I have been clear and consistent in my judgment on this matter. Moreover, with respect to the financial debacle that has befallen our banking system, where is the retributive justice against the men and women at the Federal Reserve and at the U.S. Treasury? Why is it that men like Ben Bernanke can still walk not just as free people, but have continued, virtually unfettered power?
How is it that Timothy Geithner can be Treasury Secretary after his role as part and parcel of the massive, systematic, destructive failure of the Federal Reserve during the Bush era?
Responsibility cuts all ways: people who have constructive knowledge (they have the resources so they can know) should face the consequences of their actions; but somehow, it is we, the commoners, who face individual, retributive justice for our small errors and collective debilitation for trusting a system to circumscribe the passions of avarice in the large.
We are going to be the ones — we and our children and our children's children — who will pay to save the wasted treasures of rich investors who could have looked with their own eyes and known very well that they were courting disaster.
And I will go to no small excess to make sure my business students know that they are most decidedly not to take the fall for doing their jobs, even if their jobs are to report the facts to fools blinded to risk by the incandescent light of stupid, unbridled greed.
Whether my students understand the lesson right away, someday they will.
That will be the day the rich point the finger at them when the mob, led by the self-righteous politicians, comes looking for scapegoats.
The Dark Wraith will not let that happen without teaching the students how to put up a darned good fight in front of the gallows.
Good morning, Wraith.
I did not understand that the label scenario in the audio here, "Information Consumer Responsibility", was a small part of the larger lecture "about financial disclosures: accounting reports and financial analysis"! (Although I probably should have guessed that. *smacking forehead* Duh, and sheesh!) Oh, I did take off on the consumer (un)awareness thing, didn't I?
So, may I make it up by singing this little ditty in "honor" the Wall Street Welfare Bailout Queens?
"When it says Liddy, Liddy, Liddy
On the label, label, label.
You will like it, like it, like it
On your table, table, table."
And put it all on the taxpayers' tab.
~A. (eee) I. (oh) U.* And sometimes, why.
(*Meet the new brand: same as the old brand.)
Yeah, some of those bigger credit derivative investors we are bailing out may have lost a few shirts. Pity. Yet there are some other people who have lost their entire life's savings, with Madoff, (who -- as I understand it -- was cooking the books) or in other market investments. And no one is bailing them out. And now, they're expected to kick in a share to bailout the failures who screwed them over. It isn't right.
The Lord threw the money changers out of the temple. The greedy, cheating Wall Streeters deserve that, and so much more.
We, the people, didn't cause these big financial market problems, but we getting are stuck with footing the bill for them all. Where is the fairness? I'm all for giving those criminals a free ride... in a paddy wagon... after they're tarred and feathered.
That bonus thing was just a small part of the whole big problem, but it was the thing that seems to have been like the proverbial straw on the camel's back for the angry taxpayers. There are good, honest working people, lucky enough to still have employment, who aren't getting any bonuses for the hard work and good performance they do on their jobs, whose incomes are stagnant, whose benefits are being cut, who are quite angry that the people responsible for this money merry-go-round are being rewarded for poor performance. And some of them are even being forced into giving concessions to companies trying to survive.
(And I think this new private investor / matching funds / x 6 insurance thing sucks.)
"Geithner to Call for New Powers to Avoid AIG Repeat"
The expanded powers, which require Congressional approval, could help monitor risk and detect problems across an array of financial-services firms to prevent shocks to the global economy such as the one caused by the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in September.
It would also ensure proper accountability when taxpayer funds are provided to institutions in extreme circumstances, like AIG, which is now 80 percent owned by the government. The authority would provide the government with various tools including the ability to break contracts on executive compensation commitments, like those at the center of the furor over the insurance-giant’s $165 million in bonuses.
PoLT found the article informative, but would replace the headline thusly:
"Administration Asks Congress For Secret Powers In Order To Conceal Financial Shenanigans From The Public So That It Won't Be So Easy Next Time For The Public To Find Out That They're Really Being Cornholed."
60% of respondents in a CNN poll opposed giving Geithner any new powers to respond to the financial situation. My opinion of the public just went up a bit. Of course, we all know that unless that 60% is willing to go to the streets over it, the PTB will do as they please anyway.
Wraith, I SO wish you had been my teacher for Econ I and II! I had them both at 8am, coming off the 11p to 7a shift at a gas station, and the teacher was a sweet old lady with a soft monotone voice. Teaching econ. At 8am. There just wasn't enough coffee in the world, man.
Dave Lindorff: Treasury and the Fed Don't Need New Powers, They Need to Use the Power They Have:
. . . But aren't the powers that Geithner is calling for exactly the powers that he and Bernanke already have in the case of the banking industry?
Yes they are.
So why aren't we seeing the Obama Administration and the Fed going after the banking giants that have been co-conspirators with AIG in wreaking havoc with the U.S. and the global economy by creating dodgy structured financial instruments that allowed banks and other financial companies to make huge off-balance-sheet bets that virtually guaranteed a future collapse?
Good question, but not one that the House Finance Committee was asking. . .
Good evening, nightshift.
My first lecture today started at 8:00 a.m.
I finished with a macroeconomics class that went from 6:00 p.m. until 8:50 p.m.
I started feeling some serious fatigue at about fifteen minutes after eight; fortunately, that was right about when I went from the theory of open market operations to the recent history of Federal Reserve monetary policy.
I went into full rant mode when I got to Alan Greenspan. By the time I got to Ben Bernanke, I was in full stride. The thunder outside was no match for me.
My whole night turned around. I could have gone on for another couple of hours, but my students were looking half brain-dead and half shell-shocked as we approached nine o'clock, so I decided to let them go for the evening.
I left campus invigorated, hungry, and ready to give another lecture, but I suppose I'll have to wait until tomorrow morning for that.
I'm thinking of posting a clip from tonight's lecture, but I'm not sure I should. I don't want to scare the audience.
Then again, maybe folks would like to hear what an economist sounds like who actually gets predictions right (and wants Greenspan, Bernanke, and his toady, Geithner, thrown in prison to rot).
The Dark Wraith is not exactly shy and understated when his blood pressure hits honk-the-truck-horn levels.
Caveat emptor, yes?
Missed your Saturday night special, but I want to confirm you are on-air tomorrow night, Thursday, 10:30? I will try and bring a special guest along. . .
Good evening, Lisa.
Yes, Dark Voices Radio will return to its regular schedule on Thursday night, March 26, from 10:30 p.m. until 11:15 p.m. EDT.
Be very prepared.
The Dark Wraith will make a special effort to be in a good mood.
Hey good buddy,
Got ma ears on! I be parkin' the pick'em up truck and tunin' ya in t'night!
Takin' a tanker load o' fresh tears up ta Wall Street tomorry fer them po' b'nessmens. (They done run out in DeeCee!)
Don't know if the megaphone will work, though. 10-4
You are the Dark Wraith, so good moods would not be expected -- it will be a pleasure either way. (If my "guest" participates, however, you may present him with your darker aspects, for that will be a quid pro quo.)
March 26, 2009: China Offers Subsidy To Boost Spending At Home
Facing slumping demand for Chinese goods overseas, China's government is trying to stimulate consumption at home — spending $2.25 billion to subsidize discounts on made-in-China fridges, washing machines, mobile phones, TVs and cars for its rural residents. But Chinese citizens' tendency to save their cash could prove to be a hurdle. [...]
Zhang Jun, economics professor at the China Center for Economic Studies at Shanghai's Fudan University, says as people have gotten richer, they have saved more.
"What we see in the last 10 years is a declining share of consumption spending relative to GDP."
And when it comes to the national savings — which include savings by businesses and governments — according to Chinese figures in 2007, China saved the equivalent of 49.9 percent of its GDP. This has contributed to huge global trade imbalances: Chinese savings have in effect been funding American spending. So, according to Zhang, stimulating Chinese consumption can only have a limited effect.
"In the short run, it doesn't solve the problem of the global imbalance," he says. "We could say to the U.S. side that the U.S. needs to save more, so that they could ease the problem of the global imbalance."
There are some signs of optimism. Chinese retail sales were up 15 percent from a year earlier in the first two months of the year, better than some had predicted. But speaking in Shanghai, economist and Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz cautions that China can't save the world.
"China's level of consumption — the size of economy — is still a small percentage of the global economy. It's simply not big enough to pull the world out of the downturn," Stiglitz says. "On the other hand, it can play an important role, and particularly important for people in China."
But back in the countryside, China's still facing problems turning its peasants into consumers.
(Or is the problem really that the even the Chinese don't want to buy the crap they make?)
Episode 3 of Dark Voices Radio is now history.
As a point of closure, what did you who listened or called in think?
The Dark Wraith thrives on audience feedback.
February 26, 2009: Obama unveils budget blueprint
In introducing the budget, Obama slammed what he called a "dishonest accounting" of the costs of U.S. wars, and reiterated his commitment to make government "more open and transparent."
"For too long, our budget has not told the whole truth about how precious tax dollars are spent," he said.
"Large sums have been left off the books including the true cost of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. And that kind of dishonest accounting is not how you run your family budgets at home; it's not how your government should run its budgets either."
(Bushco cooking the books! Kind of makes you wonder why the other side is screaming about the Obama budget, since now it reflects much truer numbers, doesn't it? Oh, I forgot: they create their own reality.)
Good show, Wraith! ^5
Sometimes, a little encouragement makes it easier to get through the days, you know. I'd really like to have *some* positivity toward the future. (Call me "needy"!)
And I think you need more than 45 minutes! (I could barely get a thought in edgewise!)
Good evening, Moody Blue.
After the current show cycle (which has two more episodes, I think), I'll go to one hour. More than enough material is always on the table, even if my voice begins to crack a little like it did tonight.
Fortunately, I had a big pot of hot coffee beside me in the studio. That helped my vocal chords. Next time, I'll make the coffee stronger.
I'm also considering a short interlude of music, something to introduce you to stuff I'll bet you've never heard. I'm working on getting broadcast rights to a very cool album I'll bet many of you will really like.
We'll see how that works out.
A few other special features are in the works, too.
The Dark Wraith plans to deliver quality at an affordable price.
You've already introduced me to a lot of stuff I've never heard, and you must know I look forward to more!
"Like a good pizzeria, the Dark Wraith delivers."
And that's a great idea. Why didn't I ever think of bringing the coffee pot to my desk? (Because, if I didn't keep walking to the kitchen, I would be getting a lot less exercise? Tsk.)
Now, I am kind of confused by Zhang Jun saying, "We could say to the U.S. side that the U.S. needs to save more, so that they could ease the problem of the global imbalance."
While I can agree that Americans probably should save more, doesn't that also mean they would spend less? And then, wouldn't that mean that they'd also be buying less imported stuff from China? And I'm not quite sure what the financial benefit of that would be for the China side? Or how it would help the "global imbalance". They might increase their own domestic consumption, for a while, but then they'd also be exporting less to us and getting less money from their exports.
And then WallyMarket might suffer. And then we might see a resurgence of the mom 'n' pop shops and US manufacturing, and then our GDP would go up and we'd have better products on our shelves, and then they might want to start buying more of our stuff and... oh, wait... those would be good things. Never mind.
It was wonderful to be a part of your program last night, and thank you for the kind words. Apologies, however, for hogging so much air time. Next visit, I shall keep it to one question.
Great fun, though, and I am so glad you are out there in a new format. You are a natural for radio.
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