Spooky Economy

   Transparency and Knowledge Dispel Fear

A basic tenet of a healthy democracy is open dialogue and transparency.
—Peter Fenn

Warren, an American attorney and law professor at Harvard Law School, is an expert in U.S. Bankruptcy law and has worked on large cases in the corporate area. She has given lectures on how changes in the U.S. economy have affected the American family. Warren is particularly gifted at presenting her findings in very easy-to-understand terms.

In 2007, she gave a UC Berkeley lecture on how the middle class had collapsed during the period of 1970 and 2005, completely consuming the additional earnings that women gained for their families when they entered the workforce. Eventually, the economic changes left the American family without savings and struggling to meet health care needs. [1]

Current Economic Crisis

Warren was chosen by Congress to lead the five-member Congressional Oversight Panel, a panel created to oversee the implementation of 2009 laws relating to the U.S. Banking bailout [2@0:20]. In the course of the panel's oversight, she discovered that the bankers benefiting from the funds were a very small, close-knit group of individuals that keep themselves from the public and Congress [citation]. She sees transparency as key to creating a new economic system where “American families have a seat at the table” but has expressed great frustration that her panel has not received information, in spite of repeated requests. [citation].

Warren has expresses great concern over how the bail-out has affected the bankers' understanding of risk [3@1:41]. With the belief that the federal government fears their failure, the bankers now seem emboldened to make risky investments that they wouldn't have made in the past, when they themselves would have had to deal with their losses on their own [3@2:30].

Warren was initially silent on the subject of executive pay and bonuses. She has since expressed great dismay over the continuation of large bonuses that seem inappropriate and are insensitive to the contribution by taxpayers of their money. She believes now believes that payment should be set by law. [3@15:26].

She talks about a coming nightmare where the 3,000 of the 8,000 mid-sized banks - the banks who do most of the small business lending - are trapped in commercial loans that are increasingly being defaulted on. These loans are scheduled for interest rate adjustments in 2011, 2012 and 2013. [4@16:49]

Today

Elizabeth Warren is working earnestly at the newly formed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She is actively listening for suggestions from anyone who might have a thought on how the bureau may be able to help the average consumer. Her site makes use of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Please visit Warren's site at http://www.consumerfinance.gov/openforsuggestions.

Quotes

Middle class America is under attack.[2@0:16]
The median American family has tried to hold on to an American dream that their parents could easily afford on one income, and today's family can't pay for on two.[2@4:21]
The credit card companies have put the loan sharks out of business.[2@5:09]
They can increase profits this way and there's no one to stop them. They are raking in, literally, over $100 billion a year from hard-working, ordinary, middle-class families on just credit cards alone. And they're lobbying Washington really hard to try to keep that in place.[3@6:42]
I am anti-tricks and traps... I want to see credit card agreements that are a page and a half long.[3@8:48]
[C]ongress is about to write the rules... that will guide us for the next 50 years. If they get it right, we're good. If they get it wrong, the country we knew will be gone... If we the people don't insist that those who are in Washington represent us... they'll go back to the same rules, and... then frankly... we're all just working for the big banks.[3@20:40]
We actually have an agency in Washington [Office of the Controller of the Currency]... they have 100% of the time taken the side of the big banks against consumers. So we actually have an agency in the Federal government that protects the large financial institutions when the sell people deceptive products.[citation]
I am afraid. I'm afraid because of what I see in the real economy. I'm afraid because I don't see books that are clean, balance sheets that have been cleaned up.[4@18:21]
It will not save us if a handful of Wall Street banks prosper and the rest of America fails.[4@20:58]

Personal Concerns

None reported publicly. Possible disrespect on video CNBC-20090421

Proposed Solutions

Warren believes that following actions are required:

Must-see Resources

  1. Video: "The Coming Collapse of the Middle Class: Higher Risks, Lower Rewards and a Shrinking Safety Net” [March 8, 2007]
    URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akVL7QY0S8A
  2. Video: “Elizabeth Warren Middle Class is Under Attack” [January 29, 2010]
    URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mELFywsQGRw&NR=1
  3. Video: “Elizabeth Warren on the Economy” [November 13, 2009]
    URL: http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/546/index.html
  4. Video: Charlie Rose - Elizabeth Warren, Chair, The Congressional Oversight Panel [March 4, 2010]
    URL: http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/10895

Added May 6, 2009 Posted December 4, 2010 December 15, 2010 (n/a)

This is my opinion. It's a work in progress. I hope it's helpful.

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