Monday, December 5, 2016
Sunday, December 4, 2016
The whole idea of citizenry might be under attack, but it won’t be all bad news, as we found out late today. Voters in Italy rejected by a decisive margin a mess-up of a constitution rewrite. Around the same time, the U.S. government announced that it had screwed up when deciding to allow an oil pipeline to pass through a lake that supplied drinking water to a community. Both victories came at enormous cost. In Italy, most of the country turned out to vote down the government’s power grab. Millions of people across the United States, even including the MTV television network, participated in one way or another in the stand at Standing Rock. The involvement of so many people could make the decision at Standing Rock a turning point, as some have suggested, but future victories will have to have to fought for with just as much vigor and perhaps over a longer period of time.
While that is going on, even bigger victories, I believe, will result from individual action, “wizardry” as I have called it. In an era when collective action is not enough by itself, we must remember to look for the possibility of individual action that changes not only ourselves but the world around us. The cumulative effect of individual successes day after day could eventually overtake the effects of collective action, but there are a great many things we all have to do for that to happen.
Friday, December 2, 2016
U.S. regulators are concerned about millions of non-performing auto loans. The usually reliable lending segment has become one of the most troubled since last year. I have not yet seen a plausible explanation for why so many drivers in 2014 and 2015 bought SUVs they couldn’t afford.
President-elect Donald Trump’s appointments of Wall Street figures at Treasury and Commerce reflect his long history as a Wall Street insider, but may also hint at worries about a financial crisis within the next two years. The two appointees’ career histories are built on default, bankruptcy, and foreclosure.
The future of Italy’s troubled banks may hinge on a sketchy constitutional amendment that voters will decide on Sunday. Voters are expected to vote no on a package of hastily drafted reforms that would rewrite one third of the constitution to concentrate power in the prime minister’s office, taking away most powers of governors and the senate. The prime minister has said he will resign in the event of a no vote. That could create a power vacuum lasting several months and scuttle bank bailout plans. Financial Times has published a list of 8 Italian banks that are likely to fail in that scenario. Bank stocks have helped drag down stocks generally, with major stock indexes in Italy down 20 percent this year. This week, concern for Italian banks has contributed to a decline in stocks across the euro zone.
Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) failed a U.K. stress test and says it will need to raise an additional £2 billion in capital. Some of that is expected to come from cost-cutting measures to be announced early next year. The bank is 77% state-owned.
Standard Chartered also did poorly in its stress test. According to published reports, it plans to cut 10 percent of jobs in its big-money business segments.
The NCUA liquidated First African Baptist Church Federal Credit Union, a church-affiliated credit union with 261 members in Sharon Hill, Pennsylvania. Member accounts were transferred to American Heritage Federal Credit Union.