Author Archive | susie

Sam’s Club

I’m sure this will end well:

BENTONVILLE, Ark. – Sam’s Club said Tuesday it will offer loans of up to $25,000 to its small business members.

The division of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which is based in Bentonville, Ark., is testing a program with Superior Financial Group, one of 13 federally licensed nonbank lenders, and will offer $5,000 to $25,000 loans to members who qualify.

Sam’s Club says 15 percent of its business members reported they were denied a loan in a November survey. That’s up from 12 percent in April 2009.

The program will focus on minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses.

Sam’s Club members who apply for a small business loan during the pilot will receive $100 off the application fee, a 20 percent discount and a discount on interest rates.

Businesses can pay $35 for a membership to Sam’s Club that includes three annual membership cards that allow them to shop at 600 Sam’s Clubs in the U.S. Sam’s Club offers other memberships to consumers and businesses that cost as much as $100 annually depending on the features included.

Although the economy has grown for three straight quarters, tight credit remains a problem for many consumers and businesses.

“Access to capital is a major pain point for our members,” said Catherine Corley, vice president, membership at Sam’s Club.

The loan program isn’t Wal-Mart’s first attempt to offer financial products. In 2007 it tried to establish a bank, but dropped the bid after heated debate over whether the world’s largest retailer should be allowed to gain the added financial power of a federally insured bank.

Let It Heat

Ezra Klein:

As for the actual debate, Manzi argues that the likely costs of substantially reducing global warming emissions over the next century outweigh the likely costs of global warming over the next century. Plumer is less convinced, citing the possibility that global warming will be far worse than Manzi’s numbers suggest; noting that environmental regulations have frequently been much more effective and less costly than naysayers predicted; and arguing that the distributional reality is that the costs of doing something fall heavily on developed nations but the costs of doing nothing fall heavily on undeveloped nations, and as such, we who’ve created the problem have a moral obligation to do something about it.

But they both ignore a point that’s central to Manzi’s argument: What happens after 100 years?

Letting greenhouse gases build in the atmosphere is a bit like letting a tree grow roots beneath the foundation of your house. It may not be that bad this year, or next year, or even the year after that. But with each year that goes by, the problem becomes incrementally more severe, and harder to reverse. So even if Manzi is right that the costs are manageable into 2100 — a century, after all, is a long time for a human, but not for the atmosphere — what does that do to our descendants who have to deal with a scorching planet between 2100 and 2200? And then into 2300, and then 2400?

I think Manzi’s answer is that technology will save us by then. And maybe he’s right. But maybe he’s not. And if he’s not, then we’ve let the problem become unimaginably bad for our descendants. If you bet on technology and you’re wrong, it’s not like we’ve got another of these planets waiting in the back somewhere.

The appropriate technological approach, it seems to me, is to pair a strategy of aggressive emissions reduction with a huge effort to develop technological solutions. Then, if the research begins to pay off, we can transition over to those technologies and ease up on the regulations. But if we don’t so mitigation and instead trust in technology, we may let the situation get so bad that by the time we’re ready to do mitigation, the problem is essentially irreversible.

Oh, Ezra! All the really Serious People know that Al Gore is still fat! Problem solved!

Poor Wall Street

You give them huge amounts of cash, put yourself between them and the pitchforks, and still they whine! Can the administration stop kissing Wall St. ass now?

A revolt among big donors on Wall Street is hurting fundraising for the Democrats’ two congressional campaign committees, with contributions from the world’s financial capital down 65 percent from two years ago.

The drop in support comes from many of the same bankers, hedge fund executives and financial services chief executives who are most upset about the financial regulatory reform bill that House Democrats passed last week with almost no Republican support. The Senate expects to take up the measure this month.

This fundraising free fall from the New York area has left Democrats with diminished resources to defend their House and Senate majorities in November’s midterm elections. Although the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have seen just a 16 percent drop in overall donations compared with this stage of the 2008 campaign, party leaders are concerned about the loss of big-dollar donors. The two congressional committees have raised $49.5 million this election cycle from people giving $1,000 or more at a time, compared with $81.3 million at this point in the last election.

Almost half of that decline in large-dollar fundraising can be attributed to New York, according to a Washington Post analysis of records filed with the Federal Election Commission. Donors from that area have given $8.7 million this year, compared with $23.9 million at this point in the 2008 cycle, with most of those contributions coming from big contributors in the financial sector. New York donors had given congressional Democrats almost twice as much money at this stage of the 2006 midterm campaigns, when Republicans ruled both chambers and held the White House.

You know, the Dems might consider doing things that make the base happy, since we’re known to make donations when someone actually looks out for our interests.

The Banks Own America

The crazy thing is, the banking system did fail. This was a giant marketing scam to convince everyone otherwise. But since banks aren’t actually lending to anyone anyway, what, exactly, did they accomplish? Other than making sure bankers didn’t get any salary cuts, I mean. Go read the whole thing:

The idea of secret banking cabals that control the country and global economy are a given among conspiracy theorists who stockpile ammo, bottled water and peanut butter. After this week’s congressional hearing into the bailout of American International Group Inc., you have to wonder if those folks are crazy after all.

Wednesday’s hearing described a secretive group deploying billions of dollars to favored banks, operating with little oversight by the public or elected officials.

We’re talking about the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, whose role as the most influential part of the federal-reserve system — apart from the matter of AIG’s bailout — deserves further congressional scrutiny.

The New York Fed is in the hot seat for its decision in November 2008 to buy out, for about $30 billion, insurance contracts AIG sold on toxic debt securities to banks, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co., Societe Generale and Deutsche Bank AG, among others. That decision, critics say, amounted to a back-door bailout for the banks, which received 100 cents on the dollar for contracts that would have been worth far less had AIG been allowed to fail.

That move came a few weeks after the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department propped up AIG in the wake of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s own mid-September bankruptcy filing.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was head of the New York Fed at the time of the AIG moves. He maintained during Wednesday’s hearing that the New York bank had to buy the insurance contracts, known as credit default swaps, to keep AIG from failing, which would have threatened the financial system.

The hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform also focused on what many in Congress believe was the New York Fed’s subsequent attempt to cover up buyout details and who benefited.

By pursuing this line of inquiry, the hearing revealed some of the inner workings of the New York Fed and the outsized role it plays in banking. This insight is especially valuable given that the New York Fed is a quasi-governmental institution that isn’t subject to citizen intrusions such as freedom of information requests, unlike the Federal Reserve.

This impenetrability comes in handy since the bank is the preferred vehicle for many of the Fed’s bailout programs. It’s as though the New York Fed was a black-ops outfit for the nation’s central bank.

Go Kindra

What BP is claiming is that if fishermen choose not to talk part in the oil spill cleanup, BP will consider that as potential income declined and deduct it from their claims.

In other words, if you didn’t want to risk your health and expose yourself to their toxic waste, you’re going to suffer financially as a result.

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