Financial Crisis

Third and State This Week: Corporate Tax Avoidance, Insurance Rate Review and Prevailing Wage

This week, we blogged about a new report on state tax avoidance by some of the largest U.S. corporations, how to really save money on public construction projects, and legislation that undermines the state’s ability to review most health insurance rate hikes.


More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

Morning Must Reads: The Banks Defrauded Your Local Government and Oppose a New Financial Industry Watch Dog: Coincidence?

The Philadelphia Inquirer this morning reports that Wells Fargo has settled charges that it rigged bids on bond auctions affecting 150 Pennsylvania municipalities and agencies.

Third and State This Week: The Costs of Child Poverty, Too-Good-to-Be-True Liquor Privatization and Temp Workers

This week, we blogged about the economic costs of child poverty, a privatization study that is too good to be true, what the trends in temporary worker services suggest for Pennsylvania's economy, and much more.


  • On poverty, Chris Lilienthal blogged about an analysis estimating that child poverty costs the United States' economy $500 billion every year in foregone earnings, healthcare expenses, and crime involvement. 
  • On privatization, Stephen Herzenberg highlighted testimony presented by researchers with the Keystone Research Center this week making the point that privatization of Pennsylvania's wine and spirits stores would not benefit state revenues but could increase alcohol-related social problems. 
  • On jobs and unemployment, Sean Brandon explained what the employment trends of temporary workers could mean for Pennsylvania as an indicator of broader job market trends. 
  • And in the Morning Must Reads this week, Mark Price wrote about news report on $7.7 trillion in loans and guarantees the Federal Reserve provided to troubled banks, the growing number of elementary school students who qualify for subsidized school lunches, and the real root of high unemployment among today's youth
More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

Morning Must Reads: Banks Profit From Secret Loans

After a lengthy battle failed to prevent publication, Bloomberg Markets Magazine has released an analysis of data obtained from the Federal Reserve on previously undisclosed loans the Fed made to banks during the financial crisis. As of March 2009, the Fed provided $7.7 trillion in loans and guarantees to troubled banks, according to Bloomberg, which also reported that the bank bailout lasted from August 2007 to April 2010.  By comparison the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) of the U.S. Treasury was just $700 billion.

Third and State This Week: Rising Unemployment, a Health Insurance Rate Hike and Momentum for a Drilling Tax

This week we blogged about momentum building for a natural gas drilling tax and rising unemployment in Pennsylvania. We also featured a guest post on the need for stronger insurance rate protections in Pennsylvania. And Mark Price kept us up to date with the Morning Must Reads.


  • On jobs and unemployment, Stephen Herzenberg shared his media statement on the rising jobless rate in Pennsylvania.
  • On the Marcellus Shale, Sharon Ward highlighted a recent New York Times article on the problems that have come with Marcellus Shale growth in Pennsylvania. Kate Atkins urged readers to sign a letter to lawmakers in support of a drilling tax that would generate revenue to improve schools, fix roads, train workers, and protect the environment.
  • On health care, Athena Ford of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network penned a guest post on the need for better insurance rate protections in Pennsylvania.
  • Finally, Mark Price had Morning Must Reads on the economic polarization of the 99%, the need for more accountability in charter schools, how we can boost the economy, and what budget cuts and layoffs have in common.

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

Morning Must Reads: Bailouts for the Banks and Cake for the 99%

What is good for the financial sector is good for the 99% 1%.

For the financialization of America wasn’t dictated by the invisible hand of the market. What caused the financial industry to grow much faster than the rest of the economy starting around 1980 was a series of deliberate policy choices, in particular a process of deregulation that continued right up to the eve of the 2008 crisis. Not coincidentally, the era of an ever-growing financial industry was also an era of ever-growing inequality of income and wealth. Wall Street made a large direct contribution to economic polarization, because soaring incomes in finance accounted for a significant fraction of the rising share of the top 1 percent (and the top 0.1 percent, which accounts for most of the top 1 percent’s gains) in the nation’s income. More broadly, the same political forces that promoted financial deregulation fostered overall inequality in a variety of ways, undermining organized labor, doing away with the 'outrage constraint' that used to limit executive paychecks, and more.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reviews employment law in Pennsylvania and notes that there are two sets of rules, the rules for the rest of us (we are employed at will and rarely get a severance) and the rules for top executives.

Third and State This Week: Gloomy Economic News, Trade Agreements and Tracking Salaries

This week, we blogged about the need for a jobs plan, an effort to make labor markets more transparent, and the negligible effect the recently passed trade agreements will have on reducing joblessness. Plus, the Friday Funny is back, with the warm words of everybody's favorite CEO, T. Herman Zweibel (extra points, if you know who that is without looking him up).


  • On the recession and recovery, Mark Price addressed a Patriot-News editorial that calls for passage of the American Jobs Act but misstates the important impact that the Recovery Act of 2009 had on turning the free-falling economy around. Mark also blogged about some of the awkward facts that make it difficult to root for GE and other multinationals.
  • On unemployment and the economy, Mark compared a poll performed by the Mercyhurst College Center for Applied Politics with labor analysis done by the Keystone Research Center — both finding that roughly 1 in 4 Pennsylvania residents have had less paid work than they wanted during the last 12 months.
  • In other economic news, Mark blogged about Congress' failure to address the lack of consumer demand that is keeping unemployment high and its passage of a free trade agreement that will have a negligible impact on U.S. employment.
  • On wages and the workplace, Chris Lilienthal blogged about an online project aimed at creating a more transparent labor market. You can share and compare salaries and wages, understand your rights on the job, and look up the salaries of politicians, CEOs, athletes, and Hollywood stars.
  • Lastly, a bit of humor after a gloomy news week. Chris shared some satire from The Onion's publisher emeritus, T. Herman Zweibel, who is shocked that his repeatedly mistreated employees are in disbelief that he would move their offices to the Yukon.

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

Video: Our New Hero

If you have been following the Occupy Wall Street Movement, you may have already seen this clip last week. In case you missed it, here's the rundown.

Jesse LaGreca, a vocal member of the Occupy Wall Street Movement, was interviewed by a producer for Greta van Susteren‘s Fox News show. The articulate LaGreca quickly puts the producer in his place, prompting him toward the end of the clip to admit: "Fair enough. You have voiced an important reason to criticize myself and my company."

The New York Observer shared the video that Fox chose not to run. As the Observer writes, "... the decision was made to leave [this segment] on the cutting room floor. The reason should be obvious pretty quickly."

Third and State This Week: The Guv's Drilling Fee, Bruce Bartlett on Regulations, and Occupy Wall Street in PA

This week, we blogged about Marcellus Shale tax and fee proposals and the latest state revenue numbers. Meanwhile, Mark Price kept us up-to-date with the Morning Must Reads, debunking false claims about skills mismatch, staging a three-act play on zombie banksters and much more.


  • On the Marcellus Shale, Sharon Ward shared her media statement on Governor Corbett's proposed drilling impact fee, which "fails to capture for Pennsylvanians the true worth of this vast natural resource and fails to fully offset the short and long-term damage that will be done by the industry."
  • Sharon also blogged about remarks she made at a recent press conference on Representatives Tom Murt and Gene DiGirolamo's drilling tax plan, which would bring Pennsylvania into the mainstream of other energy-producing states.
  • On state budget and taxes, Michael Wood analyzed Pennsylvania's first quarter revenue collections, which showed respectable growth over the first quarter of 2010. 
  • And Mark Price kept waking up early this week to troll the morning headlines for your must read news of the day. Don't miss this week's posts on Occupy Wall Street coming to Pennsylvania; Reagan adviser Bruce Bartlett on the real problem with the economy (hint: it ain't regulations); false claims in the media about skills mismatch and the unemployed; the failure of politicians to aid struggling homeowners; and of course those zombie banksters.

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

Morning Must Reads: Three Act Plays About Zombie Banksters, Smokestack Chasing and the Convoy

Paul Krugman describes our economic woes as a three-act play; now you Occupy Wall Street kids turn it into zombie banker street theater!

So, in case you’ve forgotten, it was a play in three acts. In the first act, bankers took advantage of deregulation to run wild (and pay themselves princely sums), inflating huge bubbles through reckless lending. In the second act, the bubbles burst — but bankers were bailed out by taxpayers, with remarkably few strings attached, even as ordinary workers continued to suffer the consequences of the bankers’ sins. And, in the third act, bankers showed their gratitude by turning on the people who had saved them, throwing their support — and the wealth they still possessed thanks to the bailouts — behind politicians who promised to keep their taxes low and dismantle the mild regulations erected in the aftermath of the crisis. Given this history, how can you not applaud the protesters for finally taking a stand?

A story in The Philadelphia Inquirer suggests Occupy Wall Street - Philadelphia is off to good start and includes more than just unshowered hippie kids. My twitter feed this morning even included a rumor that the Mayor was going to approve a brief moment of electricity so the protestors can watch the Phillies in Game 5 of the National League division series against the St. Louis Cardinals. As the saying goes, we want bread AND roses Phillies.

In the course of the morning, infrastructure — the kind meant to sustain the protest — started falling into place. After an organizer hopped up on a stone wall and called out that tables were needed for first aid and other stations, a rabbi from a nearby temple offered four tables, as did a community group called Fight for Philly. District 1199C of the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees donated office space for Occupy Philadelphia's legal team. Philadelphia Jobs with Justice, a coalition of labor unions and student, community, and religious groups, agreed to allow financial donations for the protest to be funneled through it, to ensure compliance with tax laws. The stagehands union said it would have a professional sound system in place for Friday, eliminating the need for the 'people's mike' — a system of echoing by the crowd, so all could hear.

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