Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Debt Ceiling Crisis -- Someone is making money off of it, on the right

Hardcore radical right wingers will try to crash not only the government, but the economy.  Some of this is out of ignorance, a deeply ignorant lack of understanding of what default is.  It is not only a failure to pay interest on Treasury issued debt, it is failure to pay any bills, including for services like those provided by contractors.

Contrary to the ignorant statements of both conservative members of the House AND Senate - who should know more, who should know better, as a condition of being qualified for election by the right - there is no possible means by which the government can selectively pay the bills and debts and obligations of the government. Zero. Nada. None.

Contrary to the ignorant statements made by the radical right in Congress, a debt ceiling debacle WILL be costly, even dangerous and destabilizing to the global economy (including our own).

So it is worth repeating a lesson I learned as a child about the stock market and the bond market and the real estate markets and the commodities market.  When the economy tanks, when those markets suffer steep declines or even crash, there is money to be made, BIG MONEY.

While most of those involved LOSE, a few people make money.  Those few tend to make a LOT of money.

It is worth refreshing the memories of those who might have forgotten this news item from 2011 who some of those people are.  Back on July 8, 2011, culminating stories dating at least from January 2011, the Huff Po reported:

Eric Cantor Hit By Democrats For Potentially Profiting From U.S. Default

WASHINGTON -- House Democrats are circulating a resolution accusing House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) of having a conflict of interest in the debt ceiling debate, a move that could provide an awkward C-SPAN moment for one of the lead Republicans in the budget negotiations.
The resolution goes after Cantor's investment in ProShares Trust Ultrashort 20+ Year Treasury ETF, a fund that "takes a short position in long-dated government bonds."
The fund is essentially a bet against U.S. government bonds. If the debt ceiling is not raised and the United States defaults on its debts, the value of Cantor's fund would likely increase.
The Democratic resolution, obtained by The Huffington Post from a Democratic source on the Hill, argues that Cantor "stands to profit from U.S. treasury default, which thereby raises the appearance of a conflict of interest," and that he "may be sabotaging [debt ceiling] negotiations for his own personal gain." It's not clear how widely the measure was being circulated, with a House Democratic aide saying they hadn't seen the resolution or heard it being discussed.
"Majority Leader Cantor has compromised the dignity and integrity of the Members of the House by raising the appearance of a conflict of interest in negotiations with the executive branch over raising the debt ceiling," adds the measure.
In his defense, Cantor spokespersons claimed on his behalf that he would lose more in other investments than he gained.

Maybe, maybe not.  To really know, we would need to know the investments of his wife as well; Mrs. Cantor is the managing director of a subsidiary of the New York Private Bank and Trust Corp., part of the Wall Street financial sector.

Cantor and others don't have to benefit so directly that they are subject to censure.  The members of Congress have all kinds of privileges and prerogatives that allow them to profit from what would be considered insider trading by anyone else.  They can act so as to profit not only themselves and family members, but their big donors as well.

SOME people will profit from the threat of a government default.  SOME people will also benefit from an actual default.  But most of the rest of the nation will not, and most of the rest of the world will not.

The only way to know who is profiting is to know the contents of the portfolios and other holdings of the donors of those who are preventing the debt ceiling from being raised.

This comes down, in a very real way, to the difference between Romney/Bain Capital style politics and economics, a kind of legalized looting (if not ethical business conduct) versus what happens to the 99% that is the rest of us. 

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