Ben Bernanke's able use of monetary policy to steer the economy during the current financial crisis sometimes makes it easy to forget that Bernanke helped steer the ship into that crisis early in his term as Federal Reserve Chairman and a member of the Fed's Board of Governors. That's a point Strategic Forecasting (Stratfor) founder and CEO George Friedman made when asked the likelihood of President Obama reappointing Bernanke.
"Bernanke presided over the events leading up to the greatest financial crisis we've seen in quite a while," Friedman told CNBC's Steve Liesman. "The best that can be said is that he didn't make it any worse than he already made it. The president is not going to be wanting to reappoint the man that most of the country regards as responsible for the problem."
On Aug. 3, Richard Bernstein, CEO of Richard Bernstein Capital Management and CNBC contributor, told "Squawk Box" viewers: "One has to wonder how much TARP money has gone into bank balance sheets to speculate on commodities, right? Because the amount that's - the amount of speculation in commodities on bank balance sheets is much larger than what you get from the CFTC."
Unnoticed in the recent upheaval surrounding the fallout from the Iranian elections earlier this month has been how it could affect the price of oil, and therefore the price of gas. And according to Fox Business Network "Happy Hour" co-host Eric Bolling, the longer this goes, the more likely you'll see it at the gas pump.
"Now think of this - it takes about 45 days to take a barrel of oil, run it through a refinery and hit the pump, the price at the pump," Bolling said. "So knowing this, for the next two or three weeks, at least, at minimum, pump prices will continue to rise. It may go down a penny or two here, but in general they'll continue to rise."
"North Korea, Syria - I mean these are places when they always have elections, there's always a couple of people who don't vote for the right guy," Cramer said. "But I think the price of oil is going to tell you exactly how everything is going to play out in Iran, which is it's much ado about nothing."
Some of us have speculated that many newsrooms in America are so hell-bent on maintaining their supposedly hallowed positions -- and that by their way of "thinking" they are exempt from the normal laws of economics -- that they will have be dragged kicking and screaming from their keyboards when the repo men come around to turn out the lights. This week's events at the Boston Globe give validity to that theory.
Let's take it on faith that the Globe, the onetime New England jewel of the New York Times, really has been losing money at the rate of $1 million a week, that the Times really does need to seriously cut costs, and that all of the Globe's unions have to make concessions if the paper is to either survive within the Times, or as rumored, be salable to whatever outside entity might be brave enough to take it off the Old Gray Lady's hands.
Six of the Globe's seven(!) unions have agreed to accept concessions. They include "drivers, mailers, pressmen, electricians, machinists and technical-services workers."
Ed Frank created an interesting little video that serves as a stark reminder of how harsh the Old Media was on Bush's "faltering" economy in comparison to today's hearts and flowers style of reporting during the age of Obama, even though the stats are far, far worse under Obama than they ever were under Bush.
Frank's video is shocking for its revelation of how Bush was slapped around and how every economic indicator during his tenure in the White House was deemed as obvious proof of the supposed though times we then faced. Yet now, every dismal indicator is celebrated as if recovery just around the corner. Under Bush the Old Media was sure the economy was a wreck, now the wreck proves we will surely be saved by Summer!
With the federal government issuing massive amounts of debt and the Federal Reserve purchasing it in the name of keeping interest rates down, questions have arisen about impact on the U.S. dollar.
On June 2, CNBC's "Power Lunch," aired a clip of the network's chief economics reporter, Steve Liesman interviewing Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner. Geithner claimed the Federal Reserve wasn't monetizing the debt the government was accruing. Following that clip, CNBC's Chicago Mercantile Exchange floor reporter Rick Santelli, famous for inspiring the anti-tax-and-spending tea parties, questioned Geithner's denial of debt monetization.
"Well, you know the first part of that question was economists are worried about quantitative easing - are we monetizing?" Santelli said. "And his answer was no, we have a strong independent central bank. Now the latter may be true but it certainly isn't an answer to the question and I put forth, and I'd like feedback everybody - that quantitative easing can't exist without the monetization process. We issue debt; we print the money to buy it. That is monetizing. I can't believe that was his answer."
It's a response that might incite laughter, as it did from conservative pundit Monica Crowley and MSNBC paleocon talker Pat Buchanan. According to Newsweek's Eleanor Clift, the current problems facing the country and President Barack Obama are due to capitalism.
"I give him a B+ because there's a lot of outcomes that haven't come in yet," Clift said. "But look, this isn't about the failure of government and the Republicans are on the wrong tact talking about big government. This is a failure of capitalism. He's trying to save capitalism."
On CNBC's April 24 "The Call," Santelli expressed his frustration with an overreaction by the government to solve the financial crisis when Kudlow asked him about the expansion of bailout obligations from the original TARP bailout price tag $750 billion to the $3 trillion.
"Listen - I'm glad I didn't say that, I'm glad I didn't say all that," Santelli said. "Do I disagree with it? Probably not. But, I'll take it a step farther - in the beginning, whether it was the commercial paper program, there was a need just like babies have a need for milk. But I don't need to drink a couple of gallons anymore."
While Fox News has celebrated the Taxpayer Tea Party rallies and MSNBC has denigrated them, the impetus of the movement - CNBC and specifically Rick Santelli, its inspiration - had been conspicuously quiet about it.
"A lot of articles about these tea parties," Kernen said. "They all have your name in them, like you caused it. Are you actually attending any or are you just sort of got the idea going initially? What do you think? I mean, you're like a cultural phenomenon at this point."
Even before a single bag of tea has been dumped as a form of protest over government economic policies, the gang at MSNBC is in full-attack mode over the notion these protests merit any recognition.
On MSNBC's April 10 "Countdown," fill-in host David Shuster imitated his MSNBC colleague Rachel Maddow's juvenile and overdone description of the tea party protest to disparage the upcoming nationwide event.
"Now to the so-called ‘teabagging parties' you may have heard about," Shuster said. "They have been fluffed repeatedly by Fox News. Citizen protests over the government's collection of taxpayer money, specifically that the wealthiest taxpayers in our nation will see their rates go up 3 percent two years from now."
Ed Schultz debuted on MSNBC during the 5 p.m. slot on April 6 with a flashy new set. And although the liberal radio host's "The ED Show" is in its infancy, it has one apparent theme - it's very pro-organized labor.
Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers, was even Schultz's first guest. On his second show on April 7, Schultz's opening "OpEd" segment was firmly for the Employee Free Choice Act, also known as card check. And, on his third show on April 8, he invited Mary Beth Maxwell, executive director of the pro-union, pro-card check American Rights at Work organization.
However, there's one detail Schultz hasn't revealed to his audience - a potential conflict of interest. As recently as 2008, Schultz received more than $20,000 from three separate AFL-CIO affiliated labor unions.
Although CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer has backed off his hyperbolic attacks on President Barack Obama ever since his "Daily Show" appearance, he's shown that he's not afraid to take on the Democratic-controlled Congress.
So, to give credit where credit is due, the "Mad Money" host dedicated an entire segment to the Employee Free Choice Act, aka card check and how its passage by Congress could be detrimental to Wal-Mart's (NYSE:WMT) stock price on his April 3 program. And during the segment, Cramer used three references to Soviet/Russian communism to describe the Democrat effort pushing card check.
"Right now, in Congress - they're getting ready for what is essentially a referendum on Wal-Mart," Cramer said. "And the referendum's name is the Employee Free Choice Act, also known by slang as card check - a bill that will make it much easier for workers to form unions and much harder for employers to get in their way."
Since former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean stepped down as the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, he has ventured into other opportunities.
One of those opportunities was to be a business pundit for the financial news channel CNBC, even though Dean's background prior to politics was in medicine. But just over a week later, in an e-mail dated April 2 to MoveOn.org mailing list subscribers, Dean wrote he was leaving Washington to hit the campaign trail "to help President Obama win health care for all."
It's no secret the Bush administration used fear tactics to push the $700-billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) through Congress last fall. Both members of the House and the Senate have come out after the fact and disclosed the details.
However, the method the Treasury Department employed to get banks to go along with the TARP bailout breached legal boundaries to the point of "extortion," according to Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Andrew Napolitano, a former Superior Court Judge for the state of New Jersey.
Napolitano told viewers on FNC's April 1 "Studio B" that he had a conversation with a head of $250-billion bank that explained the federal government, under the threat of an audit, forced him to accept TARP funds.
Keiser appeared on Al-Jazeera English's March 27 "Inside Story" to discuss the possibilities of a global currency. Host Darren Jordon asked Keiser about the pitfalls of converting to a global currency and Keiser used it as an opportunity to launch into an anti-American diatribe.
"Well, the pitfalls are for the U.S.," Keiser said. "The U.S. has what [former French President Charles] de Gaulle called an extraordinary privilege - they can write checks that they never have to cash. They just print new dollars. This has been going on since Bretton Woods at the end of World War II."
Want a little populist outrage? There's nothing like hearing it from a multi-millionaire advertising mogul with a spot on CNBC.
Donny Deutsch, the host of "The Big Idea," a show the network has shelved, explained to viewers on the March 25 broadcast of "CNBC Reports" he wants measures put in place to keep prevent people he regards as "idiots" from making $10 million a year.
"The issue is even now, with the new asset program, basically if it works, the taxpayer's taking up all the risk," Deutsch said. "God forbid it doesn't work, taxpayers are really going to take it on the chin. And let's say we get it right and the banks are lending again and everything is fine again - what is now put in place on Wall Street to make sure idiots are not getting paid $10 million a year?"
Talk about unintended consequences. All this populist anger ginned up by congressional Democrats, the media and the Obama administration is going to hinder the Treasury Department's strategy to rescue the banking system.
Paul Krugman, the liberal New York Times columnist and winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize in economics explained to Bloomberg News on March 24 that this is just what is happening.
According to Krugman, the backlash caused by bailed-out American International Group (AIG) compensation debacle and efforts by Congress to limit other expenditures - private jets, office redecorations, salaries, etc. - is causing otherwise healthy financial institutions to shy away from accepting and keeping Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) money from the federal government.
Perhaps this post could be headlined "CNBC Continues to Atone for Its Outspoken Obama Criticism."
As if announcing Democratic National Committee chairman and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean as a "CNBC contributor" weren't enough, CNBC has invited the editor in chief of one of the its biggest critics to guest co-host one of CNBC's most popular shows.
Originally reported in a status update from Arianna Huffington's Facebook page on March 24, and later confirmed by Huffington herself in an e-mail with the Media Research Center, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post will co-host CNBC's "Squawk Box" on March 31.
Could this be another case of a chastened CNBC succumbing to criticism from the left to improve its image?
Just a day after CNBC named former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean a CNBC contributor, an uncharacteristically soft-spoken CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer, appeared on NBC's March 24 "Today" along with CNBC "Squawk on the Street" co-host and "Street Signs" host Erin Burnett. In a tone similar to the apologetic one he had earlier this month on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," he complimented President Barack Obama's rhetoric toward high executive compensation.
"We have to put the shareholders somewhere in the equation," Cramer said. "When these CEOs make so much money, it hurts the shareholders. We have to be pro-shareholder. The president has become pro-shareholder."
It's the latest ailment of the left - CNBC derangement syndrome.
Since CNBC's Rick Santelli and Jim Cramer took an outspoken stance on the shortcomings of the Obama administration, left-wing storefronts have been popping up all over the place wanting to capitalize on the network after it took a vicious attack from Comedy Central "The Daily Show" host Jon Stewart.
The anger and outrage over $165 million in bonuses paid out to American International Group (AIG) executives has many upset and outraged, but it also has some scratching their head wondering where that same emotion is over the entire government spending/bailout culture that has encapsulated Washington, D.C.
Earlier on March 17, CNBC reporter Rick Santelli suggested on CNBC's "Squawk Box" some of this outrage could be purely political. However, liberal talk radio host Ed Schultz said on MSNBC's March 17 "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue," host by David Shuster, this "outrage" is welcomed by President Barack Obama.
"David, I think the Obama administration wants this public outrage," Schultz said. "It's an issue of timing right now. They couldn't have stopped the money to AIG."
Since his now-famous Chicago Tea Party outburst from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in February, CNBC's Rick Santelli had seemingly disappeared from the spotlight.
However, on CNBC's March 17 "Squawk Box," Santelli, using similar theatrics, noted that the Obama administration as been very concerned about $165 million in bonuses paid out to American International Group (AIG) executives, even though they were recipients of bailout money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).
"Well, I mean it seems as though the administration really hit this one head on. They're not happy about it, right?" Santelli said.
In a speech on March 16, President Barack Obama called it an "outrage" and said Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was pursuing "legal avenues" to block the bonuses. In Santelli's view, Obama seemed to be worrying about millions, instead of the billions and trillions.
All the current outrage and attention to bonuses paid out to employees of institutions that received federal bailout money is misplaced, according to an analyst that appeared on CNBC Asia on March 16.
The media is making much of the news that American International Group (AIG) executives are receiving compensation in the form of bonuses. But Kirby Daley, senior strategist at the Newedge Group explained how the focus was in the wrong place. Although some say allowing Lehman Brothers to fail in September 2008 was a mistake, it prevented the problem of taxpayer money being used for executive compensation.
"I'm not so sure that was a mistake," Daley said. "And what I mean by that is, look I had dozens of friends there. It's very painful and to see an institution like that go down, one that I have followed for years - it hurts."
The lesson according to Daley - either allow the institutions to have the same fate as Lehman Brothers, or just outright nationalize them.
MARTIN: Ron, in the Black History Month -- Ron, in the Black History Month speech he gave, he acknowledged yet when you talk about in terms of not reaching the Promised Land in this country right now. White women make 77 cents on the dollar compared to a white male. African-American men, 72 cents, black women, 68 cents, for the exact same job. So don't sit here acting as if somehow we have reached equality when it comes to gender and race. He was simply being honest.
And Martin would have been simply honest if he hadn't claimed women and blacks earn significantly less than white males "for the same exact job."
As part of a continuation of his "COMЯADE UPDATE" segment he started near the beginning of his show, which became a YouTube sensation, Fox News host Glenn Beck is picking up right where he left off.
Beck, on his March 4 program took on a couple new targets, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and union labor.
"Comrades! Comrades, there is good news from the Western front," Beck said. "Our glorious revolution is starting to take hold on a global scale. Just listen as Comrade Brown pounded our propaganda into the minds of the clueless capitalist pigs today. Listen up."
Beck played a clip from Brown's address of a joint session of Congress, where the prime minister lobbied for the "world" to work together.
In February, in the build up to the ultimate passage of President Barack Obama's $787-billion stimulus package, there was a lot of discussion about how much the stimulus was going to help the ailing economy. And to promote the bill, Obama visited a Caterpillar plant in Peoria, Ill.
Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., who represents the 18th Congressional District of Illinois, where the Caterpillar plant is located, described Obama's visit and how he used it to lobby him to vote for the bill. It was another side of the story that went unreported by the media.
Here we go again - another Obama administration/media personality feud in the works.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has no problem addressing media critics of President Barack Obama - even on an individual basis. Since Obama was sworn in as president, Gibbs has addressed criticism from conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, CNBC mercantile exchange floor reporter Rick Santelli and now CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer.
During the March 3 White House press briefing, Tom Costello of NBC News asked Gibbs to respond to remarks from Cramer, who was described as "not a conservative," made on NBC's March 3 "Today" show that he "thought the president's policies, his agenda had contributed to the greatest wealth destruction he's ever seen by a president."
Sigh. Here we go again. First it was our capitalist society deemed gone as Newsweek magazine declared, "We're socialists now." This time - it's the death of supply-side economics, according to Newsweek Senior Editor Daniel Gross.
To sum it up, Gross declared tax cuts obsolete, a theory that only works on paper, in a time when employers come and go and institutions aren't stable like they once were. For his "Money Culture" column, in an article headlined "Tax Cuts Won't Work" posted on Feb. 13, Gross made that point using a Harvard professor, thought to have a secure job, as an example.
"Back in the day, and in many of the past episodes of postwar recession, the typical American worker resembled a Harvard professor-not in brains or wit, to be sure, but in the shape of her economic life," Gross wrote. "Many-not all, but a lot-enjoyed long, relatively secure job tenures, steady incomes, and generous employer-provided health and retirement benefits. But the economy has changed significantly in recent decades. And the circumstances that might prod our professor to start spending those tax cuts immediately might not apply to everybody else. The typical worker-white-collar, blue-collar, no-collar-doesn't have anything like tenure or a guaranteed job."