Week of September 21 2009

Introduction to Jim Wesberry
E-Magazines by Jim Wesberry
THE REAL INVISIBLE HAND / LA MANO INVISIBLE VERDADERA ............(traducción en español más abajo)
THE FALTERING EAGLE: Speech made in 1970
75 ANIVERSARIO DE LA Federación Nacional de Contadores del Ecuador
VIDEO: El Auditor Frente sus Tres Mayores Desafíos
MIAMI KEYNOTE: Public Financial Management, 2016
CONFERENCIA 6a Conferencia de Auditores Ecuador: El Auditor Interno Frente sus Tres Mayores Desafios
CONFERENCIA CReCER 2015: Empresas Estales en Busca de Etica---State Enterprises in Search of Ethics
CONFERENCIA QUITO HONESTO: Ambiente Etico = Municipio Eficiente: Principios de Conducta Etica, 2014
My Work in Peru / Mi trabajo en el Perú
CONFERENCIA EN HUANUCO, PERU - El Auditor enfrenta la Erupcion de Corrup$ion del Siglo XXI -2013
CONFERENCIAS EN CHILE - 3 Mayores Desafios al Auditor Interno - 2012 - VIDEO y TEXTO
DOLLARCRACY ->>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> $$$ COUNT.........PEOPLE DON'T
Personal Information
My Resume (in English)
Mi Curriculum Vitae (en español)
Personal Photo Album
Technology Use in Fighting Corruption
The Top Quartile of Life
AMERICA IN DECLINE? The Life Cycle of a Great Power
LEGENDS: Georgians Who Lived Impossible Dreams
Wesberry v. Sanders, 376 US 1 Landmark US House Reapportionment Case
Press Clips from Georgia Senate Service
The Best Speech I Ever Made
Why I Quit the Georgia Senate
Activities in the Junior Chamber of Commerce
Contador Benemerito de las Americas (Most Meritorious Accountant of the Americas)
Articles from The Journal of Accountancy
My Credo
Interview about Leadership
Collusion Breaks Internal Controls
Creencia - Belief
Think -------- Pensar
WOMAN -------------- MUJER
Message to Garcia - Mensaje a García
COLOMBIA VS KLEPTOKAKISTOCRACIA: Presentación para el Día Internacional Anti-Corrupción 2011
LECTURE AT MANILA'S UNIVERSITY OF THE EAST: Integrity & Honor, Corruption & Dishonor VIDEO
EFFECT OF 2008 GLOBAL CRISIS (JW presentation in English)
SEGUNDA GRAN DEPRESION 2010 (JW presentaciónes en español)
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Items on this page are from Sept. 21 through 28.  Some links may no longer be active.

TRANSPARENCIA INTERNACIONAL >>> La corrupción actuó como catalizador de la crisis económica mundial y combatirla debe ser una mayor prioridad para las empresas privadas y los gobiernos, dijo Transparencia Internacional el miércoles. En su informe Corrupción Mundial en 2009, el grupo con sede en Berlín dijo que el mundo corporativo tenía una responsabilidad particular a la hora de combatir los sobornos, la fijación de precios y las presiones políticas. "La corrupción y la falta de integridad corporativa fueron una causa subyacente básica de la crisis", dijo el director de programas mundiales del grupo, Christiaan Poortman. "Las agencias de calificación en particular tuvieron un conflicto de intereses e ignoraron los altos niveles de riesgo (..) eso es, por supuesto, una forma de corrupción", añadió. El informe, publicado simultáneamente en Nueva York y Berlín, indicó que el sector privado ha hecho progresos, pero que más acciones son necesarias para reducir las amenazas para la estabilidad económica mundial. "No es sólo cuestión de abordar la corrupción en las empresas - es también importante para la estabilidad financiera y económica y las reformas continuas de la arquitectura financiera mundial", dijo...

The private sector plays a pivotal role in fighting corruption worldwide. Transparency International’s Global Corruption Report 2009 documents in unique detail the many corruption risks for businesses, ranging from small entrepreneurs in Sub-Saharan Africa to multinationals from Europe and North America. More than 75 experts examine the scale, scope and devastating consequences of a wide range of corruption issues, including

  • bribery and policy capture
  • corporate fraud
  • cartels
  • corruption in supply chains and transnational transactions
  • emerging challenges for carbon trading markets
  • sovereign wealth funds and
  • growing economic centres, such as Brazil, China and India.

The Global Corruption Report 2009 also discusses the most promising tools to tackle corruption in business, identifi es pressing areas for reform and outlines how companies, governments, investors, consumers and other stakeholders can contribute to raising corporate integrity and meeting the challenges that corruption poses to sustainable economic growth and development.

The massive scale of global corruption resulting from bribery, price-fixing cartels and undue influence on public policy is costing billions and obstructing the path towards sustainable economic growth, according to a new report released today by Transparency International (TI).

The Global Corruption Report 2009: Corruption and the Private Sector (GCR) shows how corrupt practices constitute a destructive force that undermines fair competition, stifles economic growth and ultimately undercuts a business’s own existence. In the last two years alone, companies have had to pay billions in fines due to corrupt practices. The cost extends to low staff morale and a loss of trust among customers as well as prospective business partners.

“Fostering a culture of corporate integrity is essential to protect investment, increase commercial success and ensure the stability sought by poor and rich countries alike, particularly as we climb out of an historical crisis,” said TI Chair Huguette Labelle.

The report documents many cases of managers, majority shareholders and other actors inside corporations who abuse their entrusted power for personal gain, to the detriment of owners, investors, employees and society at large. In developing and transition countries alone, companies colluding with corrupt politicians and government officials, have supplied bribes estimated at up to US $40 billion annually, according to the GCR.

Research in the report also shows that half of international business executives polled estimated that corruption raised project costs by at least 10 per cent. Ultimately, it is citizens who pay: consumers around the world were overcharged approximately US $300 billion through almost 300 private international cartels discovered from 1990 to 2005.

Another concern addressed in the report is how the sheer economic power of some companies and business sectors translates into disproportionate and undue leverage on political decision-making. Failure to regulate such influence lays the foundation for kleptocratic systems and stunted growth. Lobbying efforts often lack transparency and tend to fall outside the system of checks and balances that firms rely on for strategic decisions. For example, in 2008, roughly one-third of Standard & Poor’s 100 companies required board oversight of political spending.

Revolving doors between public office and the private sector, another practice documented in the report, provide a smooth path to deceitful public procurement deals where non-competitive bidding and opaque processes lead to immense waste and unreliable services or goods.

The extent and multifaceted ways in which private sector corruption is manifested greatly surpasses the few companies that actually employ systems to stop this abuse of power for illicit gain. Almost 90 per cent of the top 200 businesses worldwide have adopted business codes, but fewer than half report that they monitor compliance, according to the report.

Many of the countries found at the bottom of TI’s yearly Corruption Perceptions Index – which measures perceived levels of public-sector corruption in over 170 countries – are not only victim to unscrupulous governments but to major firms that are more than willing to enter into corrupt deals with these governments. These intricate webs, involving more than simple bribes, are possible because companies believe that they can get away with such criminal practices.

“Basing a company or fund’s future on personal relationships and unpredictable systems or simply operating in a dark space without oversight and accountability is a path to guaranteed failure,” said Labelle.

Corporate integrity pays. Companies with anti-corruption programmes and ethical guidelines are found to suffer up to 50 per cent fewer incidents of corruption and to be less likely to lose business opportunities than companies without such programmes. The tools for corporate anti-corruption action are broadly and readily available but companies must pick up the pace in applying them.

The dearth of confidence in corporate ethics highlighted by the present economic crisis makes the need to promote anti-corruption mechanisms, as an integral part of a company’s operations, all the more urgent.

“Winning on anti-corruption means adding to the bottom line. It is time that corporations face up to the risk of paying millions in fines and the long-term loss of trust from their customers and shareholders,” added Labelle. Forward thinking CEOs are already acting forcefully against corruption and reducing risks in an effort to secure sustainable business growth with integrity at the core of their operations.

Corporate integrity is about more than sustainable earnings or returns on investment. When reckless companies engage in corruption, the consequences can be devastating. From water shortages, exploitative work conditions or illegal logging to unsafe medicines and poorly or illegally constructed buildings that collapse with deadly consequences, corruption can bring about unprecedented harm. The private sector has a crucial role to play in preventing these outcomes, by operating with transparency and accountability wherever there is a profit to be made.

U.S. issues $7

 trillion debt,

 supply to


  •  The U.S. government will have issued $7 trillion in bonds by the time the current fiscal year ends next week, but it expects the debt deluge to stabilize by mid 2010, a Treasury official said on Wednesday.

Though markets and the economy are improving, efforts to provide a firm foundation for recovery will require increases to the U.S. Treasury's conventional bonds going forward, as well as debt securities that are indexed to inflation.

However, this expansion may take place in an environment where investors consider leaving the safe-haven Treasury market for riskier assets, and debt issuance is likely to level off mid next year, said Treasury Acting Assistant Secretary for Financial Markets Karthik Ramanathan.

"In fiscal year 2009, which ends next week, Treasury will have issued $7 trillion in gross issuance -- that's in a 12-month period," Ramanathan told a financial markets conference in New York.

"This issuance was necessary to meet nearly $1.7 trillion in net marketable borrowing needs, nearly $1 trillion more than what we raised last year," he added.


The heavily-indebted U.S. government has seen tremendous demand for Treasury debt securities this year due to a flight-to-quality into the safe haven assets.

However, Ramanathan said some of this demand would begin to taper off and investors were likely to favor other sectors as the financial markets recovery continues.

"Rather than being discouraged by this move to more risky assets we should actually be encouraged," he said. "It is the natural progression from the state we were in last year."

Read full article

The Fed's dollar conundrum

The central bank has flooded the world with dollars to avert collapse and start a recovery. But what if the U.S. economy doesn't reap the rewards?

  • fed_rate_moves_03.gif
Whose recovery is the Fed stimulating, anyway?

A year after the near collapse of the financial markets, the global economy has stabilized. Job losses have slowed and stocks have posted a sharp rally.

Yet skeptics warn that a major driver of the recovery in stock and bond markets -- a round of unprecedented emergency money printing by the Federal Reserve -- could actually slow the healing of the real economy.

In this view, the Fed's decision to hold short-term interest rates near zero has temporarily revived financial markets without addressing the economy's underlying problems. The danger is that with bank lending remaining anemic and consumer balance sheets still bloated, the low U.S. rates could end up supporting overseas growth without fortifying domestic health.

"You end up financing everybody else's expansion but your own," said Howard Simons, a strategist at Bianco Research in Chicago.

Critics focus on the fact that low U.S. interest rates enable investors around the globe to borrow dollars for next to nothing and invest them elsewhere at higher rates. 

Read full article

6 countries in recovery

The G-20's six largest economies took a big hit during the global recession in the past year and a half. Challenges remain but most appear on the path to recovery.

United States: Painful rebound
United States: Painful rebound
GDP: -1%
Inflation: -1.5%
Unemployment: 9.7%
Markets: 18.3%
Interest rate: 0% to 0.25%

The U.S. economy appears to be stabilizing after declining for four straight quarters, but the recovery has been tepid so far.

Financial markets have shown signs of improvement, and interbank lending has largely returned to normal. Consumer spending is still shrinking due to ongoing job losses and difficult credit conditions, but it has been stabilizing over the past quarters. Furthermore, home sales and new home construction are beginning to make a long-awaited comeback.

Businesses have continued to cut back on spending and have sharply reduced their inventories. But many economists believe that companies are largely done with their cuts, which could lay the groundwork for economic growth this quarter. The massive $787.2 billion stimulus bill is also expected to give GDP a boost in the current quarter.

"The recession is very likely over at this point," Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said last week. But he also added, "It's still going to feel like a very weak economy for some time."

That's because unemployment continues to rise, retail sales are still slipping, factories have cut output to the bare bones and wages remain depressed. 

See the other five countries in rebound

States: No luck from gambling

Report shows state gaming revenue fell as the economy slumped, raising concerns for states betting big on casino and lottery income.

Where does your state rank?
Americans everywhere are feeling the recession's pain – some more than others.

Recession-weary Americans aren't gambling the way they used to -- and that could be a problem for many U.S. states already struggling with record budget gaps due to the weak economy.

State revenues from all sources of authorized gambling fell 2.8% in fiscal 2009, according to a report from the Rockefeller Institute of Government released Monday. It was the first decline in data going back at least 20 years.

"It's not a huge decline, but it's sobering," said Mark Marchand, director of communications for the Rockefeller Institute.

Lottery income, the largest source of state gambling revenues, fell 2.6%. It was the first annual drop in lottery revenue going back to 1970, according to the group.

Income from casinos fell 8.5%, while revenue from pari-mutuel wagering, which includes dog and horse racing, sank nearly 15%. 

Read it all

Are you ready for the new global economy?

The era of U.S. economic dominance is over, pundits say, and the future of your money is international. Take our quiz to see whether you're really ready.

Click here to take CNNMoney.Com Quiz

International financial crisis brings both opportunities, challenges to China: premier


 The current international financial crisis has had a far-reaching impact on the world economy and it has brought both opportunities and challenges to China, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said at a workshop here Tuesday.

    Every time a major crisis hits, it brings about new breakthroughs in science and technology, promotes an industrial revolution, gives birth to new industries, and forms new growth points in the economy, said Wen, while presiding over a workshop on strategic industries covering new energy, energy-efficient and environmental technologies, electricity-powered automobiles, new materials, new medicine and pharmacy, biology and seed-breeding, and the information industry.

    China has the capabilities of taking over the commanding heights in the fields of economy and science and technology, said the premier.

Read full article

El G-20 no podrá frenar una nueva crisis 

  • El sistema financiero actual lleva consigo el virus de la inestabilidad: AFI

La crisis mundial "aún no ha concluido" y, peor todavía que, de cara a la próxima reunión del G-20, será imposible sentar las bases para evitar una nueva crisis financiera internacional, advirtió Emilio Ontiveros, presidente de Analistas Financieros Internacionales (AFI).

"El sistema financiero lleva en sus entrañas un virus que transmite inestabilidad; por tanto, evitar una futura crisis es imposible y, en este sentido, yo me conformaría con que en la reunión del Grupo de los 20 (G-20) se sienten las bases para que la próxima crisis genere menos destrozos que los que ha originado ésta", explicó Ontiveros en entrevista con EL FINANCIERO.

"Creo que aquí hay que asumir las posiciones de (Hyman) Minsky y otros colegas, quienes señalan que el sistema tiene ese virus de la inestabilidad", apuntó Ontiveros, quien opinó que lo que sí podría hacer el G-20 es evitar que las crisis se agraven cada vez más. 

"Es importante no aumentar esta tendencia maligna y perversa de que cada crisis que ha tenido lugar en los últimos 30 años ha tenido consecuencias económicas más adversas; por ejemplo, la crisis de la deuda; luego, la de México en el 94; luego, la crisis asiática y ahora ésta. Se ha dado una especie de espiral de crisis que lo que ha hecho es denunciar que no aprendemos; por tanto, aprendamos por lo menos a minimizar los daños", urgió Ontiveros.

Leer todo el articulo

FMI hace balance positivo de las intervenciones en la crisis y apuesta por un modelo de titulización sólida

   El Fondo Monetario Internacional (FMI) hizo hoy un balance positivo de las intervenciones estatales para combatir la crisis financiera y apostó por la elaboración de un modelo de titulización sólida, según establece el informe de octubre sobre la estabilidad financiera global de la institución.

   El Fondo, que hizo hoy públicos dos capítulos del mencionado informe, considera que "los anuncios de intervención lograron calmar los mercados financieros en turbulencia" y que los anuncios de respaldo a la liquidez lograron un máximo de eficacia durante las primeras fases de la crisis, en tanto que la recapitalización de los bancos y las compras de activos por parte de las autoridades lograron un máximo de eficacia en etapas posteriores.

   Según las conclusiones de este informe, algunos instrumentos financieros ya han empezado a estabilizarse y la emisión de deuda está repuntando "en respuesta a las medidas sin precedentes lanzadas por el sector público ante la crisis".

   "La disminución del estrés en el sector bancario y el restablecimiento parcial de la autosuficiencia en los mercados son indicios prometedores de que las intervenciones públicas más extensas en el sector financiero desde la gran depresión ayudaron a contener el temor al riesgo sistémico", explica el Fondo, que califica de "rápidas" la respuestas de los gobiernos a la crisis.

   Sobre las estrategias de salida de las medidas extraordinarias acometidas para combatir la crisis, el Fondo dice que deben guiarse "por la reanudación de una confianza duradera en la salud de las instituciones y los mercados financieros", y establece que no hay un modelo general del cómo ni el cuándo articularlas, debido a las variaciones de las condiciones económicas y financieras en los distintos países.

Leer todo

Asia encabezará la recuperación de la crisis financiera global, dice el BAD

El banco multilateral indicó que en conjunto la economía de Asia, excluida la muy avanzada de Japón, crecerá en 2009 un 3,9 por ciento, por encima del 3,4 por ciento estimado en su previsión del pasado marzo.

También en su informe semestral, la entidad financiera con sede en Manila, elevó desde el 6,0 al 6,4 por ciento, la previsión de crecimiento de la región en 2010.

En relación a China, el BAD señaló que la tercera mayor economía del mundo registrará este año una expansión del 8,2 por ciento, frente a la 7,0 por ciento prevista hace seis meses.

La de India, la otra economía emergente con mayor peso en la región, lleva trazas de crecer el 6 por ciento en 2009, un punto porcentual superior al total estimado en principio por el BAD.

El banco estima que en 2010, la economía de China se expandirá un 8,9 por ciento, mientras que la de la India lo hará un 7,0 por ciento.

Leer todo


. LAFFER >>> The U.S. in the early 1930s was on a gold standard where paper currency was legally convertible into gold. Both circulated in the economy as money. At the outset of the Great Depression people distrusted banks but trusted paper currency and gold. They withdrew deposits from banks, which because of a fractional reserve system caused a drop in the money supply in spite of a rising monetary base. The Fed really had little power to control either bank reserves or interest rates.

The increase in the demand for paper currency and gold not only had a quantity effect on the money supply but it also put upward pressure on the price of gold, which meant that dollar prices of all goods and services had to fall for the relative price of gold to rise. The deflation of the early 1930s was not caused by tight money. It was the result of panic purchases of fixed-dollar priced gold. From the end of 1929 until early 1933 the Consumer Price Index fell by 27%.

By mid-1932 there were public fears of a change in the gold-dollar relationship. In their classic text, "A Monetary History of the United States," economists Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz wrote, "Fears of devaluation were widespread and the public's preference for gold was unmistakable." Panic ensued and there was a rush to buy gold.

In early 1933, the federal government (not the Federal Reserve) declared a bank holiday prohibiting banks from paying out gold or dealing in foreign exchange. An executive order made it illegal for anyone to "hoard" gold and forced everyone to turn in their gold and gold certificates to the government at an exchange value of $20.67 per ounce of gold in return for paper currency and bank deposits. All gold clauses in contracts private and public were declared null and void and by the end of January 1934 the price of gold, most of which had been confiscated by the government, was raised to $35 per ounce. In other words, in less than one year the government confiscated as much gold as it could at $20.67 an ounce and then devalued the dollar in terms of gold by almost 60%. That's one helluva tax.

The 1933-34 devaluation of the dollar caused the money supply to grow by over 60% from April 1933 to March 1937, and over that same period the monetary base grew by over 35% and adjusted reserves grew by about 100%. Monetary policy was about as easy as it could get. The consumer price index from early 1933 through mid-1937 rose by about 15% in spite of double-digit unemployment. And that's the story.

The lessons here are pretty straightforward. Inflation can and did occur during a depression, and that inflation was strictly a monetary phenomenon.

My hope is that the people who are running our economy do look to the Great Depression as an object lesson. My fear is that they will misinterpret the evidence and attribute high unemployment and the initial decline in prices to tight money, while increasing taxes to combat budget deficits.


U.S. to push for new economic world order at G20

The United States will urge world leaders this week to launch a new push in November to rebalance the world economy, but there are doubts national governments will bow to external advice.

A document outlining the U.S. position ahead of the September 24-25 Group of 20 summit in Pittsburgh said exporters, which include China, Germany and Japan, should consume more, while debtors like the United States ought to boost savings.

"The world will face anemic growth if adjustments in one part of the global economy are not matched by offsetting adjustments in other parts," said the document, which was obtained by Reuters on Monday.

The framework drafted by U.S. policy makers foresaw analysis of G20 members' economic policies by the International Monetary Fund to figure out if they were consistent with better balanced growth.

"We call on our finance ministers to launch the new framework by November," the document said, signaling a determined effort to maintain momentum for change created by last year's global financial crisis.

The United States envisages the IMF playing a central role in a process of "mutual assessment" by making policy recommendations to the G20 every six months.

Read full article


It might be called the "World's Scariest Chart."  

It is a snapshot of the fragile foundations of the American economy and the epic boulder it now finds itself trapped beneath. The graph shows total debt outstanding in the United States, both secured and unsecured, as a percentage of GDP. In 1981 it was a manageable 168 percent, in 1996 253 percent, and by the first quarter of 2009 with the collapse of the housing and credit bubbles it had reached a staggering 373 percent of GDP.



Given that consumption makes up over 70 percent of the U.S. economy, the most worrying part of this huge debt burden is that of the household sector.  In 1981, household debt as a percentage of GDP was 48 percent, in 1996 66 percent, and by 2009 it was nearly 97 percent.  The last time the household debt to GDP ratio was near 1:1 was 1929. The average household credit card debt is $8,329. Undergraduates leave college with, on average, $27,803 in debt.  One in four households is "underwater" on their mortgages, meaning they have negative equity...

t is not just American households that are in trouble.  Corporate debt, particularly financial sector debt, has ballooned over the past several decades.  In 1981, financial sector debt was just 22 percent of GDP; in 1996, it had climbed to 61 percent, and then exploded during the bubbles years to reach 120 percent of GDP in 2009...

As the private sector painfully de-leverages, and households dramatically cut back on consumption and attempt to pay down some of their debt, the federal government has (rightly) stepped into the breach. The $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed earlier this year, while almost certainly too small, is essentially debt-financed, as will be a significant portion of this year's budget. OMB projects the federal government debt-to-gdp ratio will this year reach 55.7 percent, its highest level since 1955....

The surest way to avoid such a fate is to jettison a central, indeed the central axiom of post-1970s neoliberal global capitalism, and that is to embrace a period of moderate, sustained inflation. 

Read full article

Census: Recession Had Sweeping Impact on US Life 

A broad survey of Americans has provided striking measures of the recession's effect on life at home and at work: People are now stuck in traffic longer, less apt to move away and more inclined to put off marriage and buying a house.

The U.S. census data, released Monday, also show a dip in the number of foreign-born last year, to under 38 million after it reached an all-time high in 2007. This was due to declines in low-skilled workers from Mexico searching for jobs in Arizona, Florida and California.

Health coverage swung widely by region, based partly on levels of unemployment. Massachusetts, with its universal coverage law, had fewer than 1 in 20 uninsured residents -- the lowest in the nation. Texas had the highest share, at 1 in 4, largely because of illegal immigrants excluded from government-sponsored and employer-provided plans.

Demographers said the latest figures were significant in highlighting how profoundly the recession affected Americans as it hit home in 2008. Findings come from the annual American Community Survey, a sweeping look at life built on information from 3 million households.

Preliminary data earlier this year found that many Americans were not moving, staying put in big cities rather than migrating to the Sunbelt because of frozen lines of credit. Mobility is at a 60-year low, upending population trends ahead of the 2010 census that will be used to apportion House seats.

''The recession has affected everybody in one way or another as families use lots of different strategies to cope with a new economic reality,'' said Mark Mather, associate vice president of the nonprofit Population Reference Bureau. ''Job loss -- or the potential for job loss -- also leads to feelings of economic insecurity and can create social tension.''

''It's just the tip of the iceberg,'' he said, noting that unemployment is still rising.

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U.S. leading index at 1-1/2-year high, loan defaults up

A measure of the U.S. economy's prospects scaled a 1-1/2-year high in August but a record rise in home loan defaults cast doubts on the durability of the apparent recovery from recession.

The Conference Board said on Monday its index of leading economic indicators rose 0.6 percent to 102.5, the highest level since January 2008. It had advanced 0.9 percent in July.

It was the fifth straight month that the gauge, which is supposed to forecast economic trends six to nine months ahead, had increased. The gain was a touch below the 0.7 percent rise economists had forecast. The index has risen 4.4 percent during the past six months.

"These data add further evidence to the growing view and our long-held belief that the official end date of the recession is likely to be sometime in the third quarter," said Michelle Girard, an economist at RBS in Greenwich, Connecticut.

However, separate monthly data from credit bureau Equifax Inc showed a record 7.58 percent of U.S. homeowners with mortgages were at least 30 days late on payments in August, up from 7.32 percent in July.

Read full article

Obama Says Financial Regulations Must Be Strengthened Globally 

The President said tougher financial regulations are needed worldwide to protect consumers, provide economic stability and prevent future crises.

With the leaders from the Group of 20 nations set to meet next week in Pittsburgh, Obama said in his weekly address  that international cooperation has “stopped our economic freefall.”

“We know we still have a lot to do, in conjunction with nations around the world, to strengthen the rules governing financial markets and ensure that we never again find ourselves in the precarious situation we found ourselves in just one year ago,” Obama said.

The administration has proposed an overhaul of U.S. financial regulations including oversight of the systemic risk large financial institutions pose to the economy, new ways for the government to dismantle failed companies and a regulator to oversee financial products for consumers.

Obama reiterated his calls for Congress to act on his regulatory proposals, which he also made in a speech on Wall Street Sept. 13.

“As I told leaders of our financial community in New York City earlier this week, a return to normalcy can’t breed complacency,” Obama said in today’s address. “Our government needs to fundamentally reform the rules governing financial firms and markets to meet the challenges of the 21st century.” 

Read full article

Read President's full weekly address

Facts and the Financial Crisis

The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, created by Congress to examine the causes of the crisis, held its first public meeting last week. In his opening remarks, the chairman, Phil Angelides, a former California state treasurer, likened the group’s potential impact to that of the Pecora hearings in the 1930s, which examined the stock market crash of 1929 and led to transformational changes in banking, investing and financial regulation.

And yet, last week’s meeting was oddly inauspicious, feeding doubts about the commission’s ability to realize that potential.

For starters, the meeting was a long time coming, and thin on substance. It has been four months since Congress passed a law authorizing the commission and two months since lawmakers selected its 10 commissioners — six chosen by the Democratic leadership and four by the Republican leadership.

Just days before the meeting, Mr. Angelides announced the hiring of the commission’s executive director, Thomas Greene, a chief assistant attorney general in California. Mr. Greene has performed ably in various cases, including those involving antitrust issues against Microsoft and civil prosecutions of Enron. But he will need to hire tough Wall Street experts to assist him. He may also find himself hobbled by restraints on his subpoena power, because the commission rules, written by Congress, require that Democrats and Republicans on the commission agree before subpoenas can be issued.

The meeting itself was mainly prepared statements from commission members, describing the group’s mission and expressing their commitment to a full investigation. In their more enlightening moments, some of the commissioners previewed specific concerns to pursue — like the role in the crisis of derivatives, of Fannie Mae and other too-big-to-fail institutions, and of the Federal Reserve and other regulators.

But the real work — gathering documents and taking testimony from financial executives and government officials — will not start before November. Public hearings are not expected until December. A final report is due to Congress on Dec. 15, 2010.

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We have never observed a great civilization with a population as old as the United States will have in the twenty-first century; we have never observed a great civilization that is as secular as we are apparently going to become; and we have had only half a century of experience with advanced welfare states...Charles Murray

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