I think you're reading too much into the conspiracy theories here.
The quantitative easing (QE) programs are designed to decrease long-term rates, in other words, flatten the yield curve, which have been more-or-less successful. In the US this program is drawing to a close.
The EU is really a different story and a lot of what is going on there has to do with the fact that they failed to tackle their banking crisis in 2009-2010. The US was able to swallow the medicine more quickly.
The EU did put in place other programs, including the long term refinance operation, which has never has used explicitly.
The economic cycle is just that. Always expect the next downturn. The question is will there by another financial crisis in the next few years, or will the crisis come later?
There are a lot of lo-tinfoil people who are appalled that we are on QE3, which followed immediately after QE2, which "ended on schedule." The problem is QE is the last ditch. In monetary policy our backs are against the wall. And too many people think "OK, we didn't have a total financial meltdown, things must be pretty OK." They're not "pretty OK" until lowering the CB interest rates becomes effective again, and the assets<cough>junk</cough> on the CB balance sheets is getting sold off.
The next thing that snaps is going to be very very ugly.
This is an interesting comment, but Icahn's recent actions (last three to four years that I am familiar with) are driven by nothing more than the motive for short-term profit.
The process proceeds along the following lines:
1. Acquire a stake of more than 5%, which requires a public filing with the SEC. This is very key as now the public has a verifiable way of knowing Icahn has a stake.
2. Write a letter to the board and/or management demanding changes to the structure of the company or use of its large cash pile(if applicable). This usually takes the form of a spin-off or buyback/dividend proposal. (Buybacks are more favorable these days due to tax considerations.)
3. The stock price increases at least 10% after it is announced Icahn has taken a stake. Icahn can sell here and take his profits home; 10% annualized is a very large gain.
3. Management predictably scoffs at Icahn's demands or arranges a show for shareholders in the form of a one-on-one meeting with the CEO or something along these lines. Nothing tangible happens.
4. Icahn sometimes is able to pressure firm management/board into buybacks or dividends, which only adds to Icahn's paper profits (see 3). This is usually done through the very real threat of going directly to the shareholders with a proxy to elect new board members. Even if this is unsuccessful Icahn still has achieved 3.
This is known as the 'Icahn tax'. Due to name recognition and a strong track record Icahn is able to exert pressure on firms for a quick and easy buck. Nothing more.
Who's the tax on? If I'm understanding the dynamics here, it looks like it's a tax on shareholders who buy in at inflated prices because Icahn is being an activist, and that once he sells his shares, everything will return to normal. If that's the case, then over time people should realize that Icahn buying into a company is a signal that it's overvalued and that premium should decrease. (In the meantime, he gets to bank large profits off this trade, but his name recognition and track record is a depreciating asset unless he actively improves stock performance.)
I don't disagree with you, but tell me why this is a 'bad' thing if you are saying that shareholding equity is increasing and management is being pushed out of their 'comfort zone' and maybe paying off debt/buyback or dividend?
You mean in offence and grabbing other countries resources at gun point. True.
But it's beside the point. It's not like you are a nation of "spartans" that spend all they money in "defence" and live in relative poorness.
More like a nation of couch potatoes, which has relegated their defence to paid specialists (like in feudal times), and which spends more on pet food, Netflix and similar BS than they do in public works and infrastructure. Especially in areas where poor and/or black are living.
If you only hear one side of the story you can't make an informed decision. Fact is the entertainment industry lobby is well organized and able to have their voice heard. The general public is unorganized in this area and rather dispersed.
This is a classic case of concentrated benefits with dispersed cost. It's a messed up situation, but not corrupt.