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Commentary: "First India Bans Cash, Now It’s Targeting Gold" [06/27/17] Printer Friendly Version "In November of last year, India banned certain cash notes in a bold move to force businesses into the banking system to better harvest more taxes from its livestock. Now, under the guise of “improving transparency” and forming a “common market,” India has begun targeting gold with new taxes, regulation, and incentives for citizens to turn over their undeclared gold to the financial sector. Roughly 86% of India’s economic activity happened in cash at the time much of it was banned. Presumably that includes the $19-billion-per-year retail gold industry. Again, it appears that India’s government (central bankers) wants a bigger cut of the action and to better track the private assets of citizens. Bloomberg has been reporting that India’s government is teaming up with crony gold dealers to plan a complete revamp of its gold policy – which is always code for “control, regulate and tax.”[...] India, which vies with China as the top consumer of bullion, is working on new policies to improve transparency and help expand its $19 billion gold jewelry industry, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The plans being worked out by the finance and commerce ministries along with industry groups should be finalized by the end of March, the people said, asking not to be identified because they aren’t authorized to speak publicly…. The start of a spot bullion exchange, to make gold supply more transparent and help enforce purity standards, is under consideration, the people said. An import tax of 10 percent could also be reduced as the government seeks to eliminate smuggling, they said. The plans also include a dedicated bank for the jewelry industry, according to one of the people.[...] In addition to a 10% import tax on gold, which authorities admit causes smuggling, India recently placed a 3% nationwide goods and services tax on gold that goes into effect on July 1st. Grateful slaves celebrated the event as a “lower than expected rate” and as creating a “common market,” Bloomberg reported when the tax passed [...] ProTip to wannabe dictators: If you’re a tyrant who wants to centralize power over an industry, first frighten large businesses into your cartel protection racket. Then, eliminate local sovereignty over markets while imposing your own regulations and taxes. But call it “drawing into a common market” and “improving transparency to protect them.” Works every time. The final step is to prosecute non-compliance using men with guns.[...] Credit Suisse confirmed the latest moves in India are designed to force the gold trade onto the banking system in partnership with the central government to better track and tax the industry. Credit Suisse Group AG told Bloomberg “the (gold) sector will find it tougher to evade taxes as legal imports go through the banking system, and a full trail will now be established by the new nationwide tax compared with previous duties which were levied at the state level only.” This echoes what Credit Suisse Group AG analysts Arnab Mitra and Rohit Kadam previously said of the coming changes to the Indian gold industry: “Over the next two to three years, the new tax should gradually force smaller, unregulated players to become tax compliant and take away their price advantage, increasing market share for bigger, organized businesses. There you have it. The cashless agenda of control laid bare. There shall be no economic activity outside of State control. Cartels that play nice will be rewarded with more market share. It remains to be seen if an already angry Indian citizenry can be persuaded to gift up their tradition of storing and gifting gold.[...]"  

MSM: "Barclays Executives Charged With Paying $400 Million In Kickbacks To Qatar" [06/26/17] [17:46] "The charges filed by Britain's Serious Fraud Office against Barclays Bank executives are unprecedented explains Ian Fraser, author of "Shredded: Inside RBS The Bank That Broke Britain" [...]"  Related: "$1 Billion Ransom Reportedly Paid To Release Members Of Qatar’s Royal Family And Others Who Were Kidnapped In Iraq" Printer Friendly Version "The crisis over Qatar that is gripping the Middle East hinges on an alleged $1 billion ransom that was reportedly paid to release members of Qatar’s royal family and others who were kidnapped in IraqThat payment appears to be the breaking point in the tense relationship between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and other countries in the region, according to one report earlier this month.  On Tuesday, the State Department said it was “mystified” that Gulf states had not given reasons for their decision to cut off of land, air and sea transport to Qatar. "The more time goes by, the more doubt is raised about the actions taken by Saudi Arabia and the UAE,” said a State Department spokeswoman.  "At this point we are left with one simple question: Were the actions really about their concerns regarding Qatar's alleged support for terrorism, or were they about the long-simmering grievances between and among the [Gulf Cooperation Council] countries?" she said. But a report from the Financial Times earlier this month pointed to a nine-figure sum that was paid in a hostage deal as the catalyst for the crisis. [...]"  

Commentary: "EU Political Class Rides Roughshod Over Citizens’ Concerns & Frustrations As It Pushes Integration" [06/26/17] Printer Friendly Version "Even the “elite” is not totally on board. [...] Back on the table is a proposal to upgrade the grossly unaccountable Luxembourg-based European Stability Mechanism (ESM) into a full-fledged European Monetary Fund. As we’ve noted before, creating a European Monetary Fund (EMF) would be an important statement of intent. If Europe’s core countries are truly set on taking the EU project to a whole new level, such as by pursuing the creation of an EU army, an EU border force (with full powers), fiscal union, and ultimately political union, some form of burden sharing will ultimately be necessary. The establishment of a fully operational EMF could be an important move in that direction. The EMF would essentially act as a fiscal backdrop to the banking system, something the Eurozone has desperately needed ever since its creation. As Bruegel proposes, it would serve as a fiscal counterpart of the ECB to guarantee the financial stability of the euro area in the event of a sovereign or banking crisis, or a threat thereof — of which there are plenty these days, in particular emanating from Italy’s broken banking system."  Naturally, the creation of an EMF would deal a further blow to the fading remnants of national sovereignty in Europe. But that’s a price that many (but certainly not all) of Europe’s elite is more than happy to pay; some would say that destroying national sovereignty was the ultimate goal of the EU all along. In a survey of more than 10,000 EU citizens and 1,800 EU elites carried out by Chatham House, of the elites: 37% believe the EU should get more powers, 28% want to keep the status quo and 31% would prefer to return more powers to individual member countries. [...]  This enthusiasm for a more centralized, more powerful EU is not shared with equal enthusiasm by European citizens: 48% want powers returned to the individual member countries. Citizens, overall, do not feel they have benefited from European integration in the same way Europe’s elite does. Whereas 71% of elites report feeling they have gained something from the EU, the figure among the public is only 34%. Even more worrisome for national leaders, a clear majority of the public — 54% — feel that their country was a better place to live 20 years ago, before the euro existed. The findings of the Chatham House survey reflect a growing public frustration with Brussels’ tendency to ride roughshod over their voices and concerns. In a recent Pew poll a median of 53% across nine European countries surveyed, excluding the UK, support having their own national referendums on continued EU membership. And while most do not want to leave the bloc altogether, many European citizens want to ensure that their voices are heard. That is unlikely to happen: engagement and consultation have never been Brussels’ strong points. According to Fredrik Erixon, a Brussels-based economist and co-founder of European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE), the EU’s gaping lack of democratic accountability and legitimacy and its determination to plow ahead with integration regardless of popular support (or lack thereof) will ultimately be its undoing.[...]"

Delusional Convolutions: "America's Rich Are Completely Losing Touch With Reality... And That's A Really Bad Sign" [06/25/17] Printer Friendly Version  "The divide between wealthy and working class has grown wider each year since the last financial crisis, but this disconnect is about much more than just money or politics. The super-rich, in particular, have become completely detached from the everyday problems facing millions of their fellow citizens. Instead of recognizing the urgency of the current situation and contributing to solutions that help empower all members of society, the focus for many has shifted toward simply indulging in the present moment and increasing luxury. This kind of self-centered worldview has emerged throughout history and typically thrives most when decadent empires start to crumble. Right now, the average person is forced to worry about central banks devaluing their currencies, corrupt bureaucrats eroding their civil liberties, and an economy on life support. Meanwhile, a faction of affluent individuals has committed themselves to avoiding the turmoil around them, instead choosing to obsess over life extension, genetic manipulation, and creating luxurious doomsday plans. Those people who have the crucial intellect, resources, and influence needed to implement real change are consumed with self-interest to the point of total apathy towards the future. One of the more disturbing trends has been a rise in interest regarding something called parabiosis. This practice involves blood transfusions between the young and old in an attempt to slow the aging process. The procedure has been studied in the past but has always been met with moral and scientific criticism. Recently, however, a California start-up called Ambrosia began offering clients the opportunity to purchase the blood of someone under the age of 25 for a mere $8,000. [...] The process gained attention after Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel came out in support of further research during an interview: “I’m looking into parabiosis stuff, which I think is really interesting. This is where they did the young blood into older mice and they found that had a massive rejuvenating effect. And so that’s … that is one that … again, it’s one of these very odd things where people had done these studies in the 1950s and then it got dropped altogether. I think there are a lot of these things that have been "strangely under-explored". [...] "  

Commentary: "$3.8 Trillion Commercial Real Estate Asset Bubble Implosion In Progress [06/24/17] Printer Friendly Version "The death of retail as we know it is real. People are shifting their buying habits online in a fast and furious way. The only retail outlets that seem to be thriving are dollar stores but they are thriving because many Americans are living paycheck to paycheck and online shopping is too expensive for some. So it should come as no surprise that the way things were once done is being upended again by technology. Giants like Amazon and Wal-Mart are cannibalizing entire industries. Back in 2012 Amazon had less than 10 million Prime subscribers. Today it is over 80 million. So the big bubble that is now imploding is that in commercial real estate. There is $3.8 trillion in commercial real estate loans outstanding and the bubble in this market couldn’t be peaking at a worse time.Keep in mind that a large portion of commercial real estate is driven by malls and retail locations. Americans are still shopping but they are shopping online. The old model is cracking hard and we are deep into bubble territory here. Commercial real estate values are up more than 105% from their lows reached in 2009. Current CRE values are surpassing peak values reached during the last real estate mania. It looks like we have reached a peak.[...] I’ve been in many malls over my lifetime and recently, there is this deep sense that something is changing and you can see it. Empty store spaces. Massive sales. Deep discounts. The issue is that many Americans in particular young Americans work in retail. While the pay is low, it is better than nothing. The two largest occupations in the US are retail and cashiers. And both of these are under fire. Then you have McDonald’s announcing that cashiers will be replaced with self-serve kiosks. So what do you think all of this will mean for low wage workers that dominate the economy? The above headline seems to sum it up however. Wall Street is cheering this on but the vast majority of Americans that don’t own stock are getting cut to the core. Welcome to the race to the bottom. The CRE implosion is not going to be pretty. [...]" Related: "Retail Hell: 5,300 Stores Have Closed This Year" Printer Friendly Version  

Commentary: "Wall Street Journal Fires Chief Correspondent Over Links To CIA Arms Dealer" [06/23/17] Printer Friendly Version "The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday fired its highly regarded chief foreign affairs correspondent after evidence emerged of his involvement in prospective commercial deals — including one involving arms sales to foreign governments — with an international businessman who was one of his key sources. The reporter, Jay Solomon, was offered a 10 percent stake in a fledgling company, Denx LLC, by Farhad Azima, an Iranian-born aviation magnate who has ferried weapons for the CIA. It was not clear whether Solomon ever received money or formally accepted a stake in the company. “We are dismayed by the actions and poor judgment of Jay Solomon,” Wall Street Journal spokesman Steve Severinghaus wrote in a statement to The Associated Press. “While our own investigation continues, we have concluded that Mr. Solomon violated his ethical obligations as a reporter, as well as our standards.” [...]"  

Commentary: "The Dead Giveaways Of Imperial Decline" Charles Hugh Smith [06/22/17] Printer Friendly Version "Nothing is as permanent as we imagine--especially super-complex, super-costly, super-asymmetric and super-debt-dependent state/financial systems. [...] Identifying the tell-tale signs of Imperial decay and decline is a bit of a parlor game. The hubris of an increasingly incestuous and out-of-touch leadership, dismaying extremes of wealth inequality, self-serving, avaricious Elites, rising dependency of the lower classes on free Bread and Circuses provided by a government careening toward insolvency due to stagnating tax revenues and vast over-reach--these are par for the course of self-reinforcing Imperial decay.[...] Sir John Glubb listed a few others in his seminal essay on the end of empires The Fate of Empires, PDF what might be called the dynamics of decadence: (a) A growing love of money as an end in itself. (b) A lengthy period of wealth and ease, which makes people complacent. They lose their edge; they forget the traits (confidence, energy, hard work) that built their civilization. (c) Selfishness and self-absorption. (d) Loss of any sense of duty to the common good. Glubb included the following in his list of the characteristics of decadence: -- an increase in frivolity, hedonism, materialism and the worship of unproductive celebrity (paging any Kardashians in the venue...) -- a loss of social cohesion -- willingness of an increasing number to live at the expense of a bloated bureaucratic state [...] Historian Peter Turchin, whom I have often excerpted here, listed three disintegrative forces that gnaw away the fibers of an Imperial economy and social order: 1. Stagnating real wages due to oversupply of labor 2. overproduction of parasitic Elites 3. Deterioration of central state finances" [...] To these lists I would add a few more that are especially visible in the current Global Empire of Debt that encircles the globe and encompasses nations of all sizes and political/cultural persuasions: 1. An absurdly heightened sense of refinement as the wealth of the top 5% has risen so mightily as a direct result of financialization and globalization that the top .1% has been forced to seek ever more extreme refinements to differentiate the Elite class (financial-political royalty) from financial nobility (top .5% or so), the technocrat class (top 5%), the aspirant class (next 15%) and everyone below (the bottom 80%). 2. The belief in the permanence of the status quo has reached quasi-religious levels of faith. The possibility that the entire financialized, politicized circus of extremes might actually be nothing more than a sand castle that's dissolving in the rising tides of history is not just heresy--it doesn't enter the minds of those reveling in refinement or those demanding more Bread and Circuses (Universal Basic Income, etc.)  3. Luxury, not service, defines the financial-political Elites. As Turchin pointed out in his book on the decline of empires, in the expansionist, integrative eras of empires, Elites based their status on service to the Common Good and the defense (or expansion) of the Empire. 4. An unquestioned faith in the unlimited power of the state and central bank. The idea that the mightiest governments and central banks might not be able to print their way of our harm's way, that is, create as much money and credit as is needed to paper over any spot of bother, is unthinkable for the vast majority of the populace, Elites and debt-serfs alike. That all this newly issued currency and credit is nothing but claims on future production of goods and services and rising productivity never enters the minds of the believers in unlimited state/bank powers. We have been inculcated with the financial equivalent of the Divine Powers of the Emperor: the government and central bank possess essentially divine powers to overcome any problem, any crisis and any conflict simply by creating more money, in whatever quantities are deemed necessary. That there might be limits on the efficacy of this money-creation never enters the minds of the faithful. [...] It is instructive to ponder the excesses of private wealth and political dysfunction of the late Roman Empire with the present-day excesses of private wealth and political dysfunction: [...]"  Related: "From Rome to America (An Empire Self-Destructs)" Printer Friendly Version   

Commentary: "Deloitte Audited the Fed for Eight Straight Years of the Financial Crash" [06/21/17] Printer Friendly Version "In 2006 the Federal Reserve’s books were audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers. But beginning in 2007 and for every year thereafter through 2014, the Fed’s books were audited by Deloitte & Touche. That’s a very long eight years that just happen to coincide with the greatest economic upheaval in the U.S. since the Great Depression. (Since 2015, KPMG has issued the annual audited statement of the Fed’s books.) We’re not suggesting that Deloitte didn’t do its job properly but we are suggesting that the Fed benefited by not having a bunch of different prying eyes looking at its books during those bizarre years when its assets ballooned from $914.8 billion at the end of 2007 to $4.5 trillion in 2014. In just the single year of 2013 the Fed’s assets jumped by a staggering $1 trillion from $2.9 trillion at the end of 2012 to $4 trillion at the end of 2013, according to Deloitte’s audited financial statement of the Fed’s books. In January of this year, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a study indicating that as of October 31, 2016, the government “had disbursed $22.6 billion (60 percent) of the $37.51 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds” that were directed at helping distressed homeowners as a result of the 2008 Wall Street financial crash and the resulting housing bust. When that report was released, Wall Street On Parade compared it to what the Fed was doing for the banks behind a very dark curtain.  [...]"  Related: "UK: Barclays And Four Individuals Charged With Conspiracy To Commit Fraud During Financial Crisis" Printer Friendly Version  

Trends: "Several States Set To Collapse Under Crushing Weight Of Bankrupt Pensions" [06/21/17] Printer Friendly Version "Across the country, city governments have all spent the pension funds instead of saving them. Almost no large city has the funds necessary to pay its obligations to retirees. Pension financial planning strategies are tragic nightmares of broken promises, dishonest politicians and delusional workers (who still somehow believe they’re going to get paid). [...] In December 2014, it was noted that underfunded pensions were set to take a new economic hit, as Congress considered legislation that would allow local governments to arbitrarily cut the benefits of retirees, many of whom were on fixed incomes.[...] In 2016 the city of Dallas had to freeze pension benefits lest the fund go completely broke, suspending withdrawals from the fire and police pension systems to prevent insolvency. Now, it seems, even entire states are about to be consumed by broke pension funds: Illinois could be the first. The Land of Lincoln has been wrestling with underfunded pensions and over-promised benefits now for years, but in recent months the situation has gotten so bad that Illinois could be the first U.S. state to declare bankruptcy.[...]"  Related: "Illinois Comptroller: “The State Can No Longer Function, We Have Reached A New Phase Of Crisis”" Printer Friendly Version | "Teamsters Private Pension Near Bankruptcy; Benefits Of 407,000 Retirees May Be ‘Virtually Nothing’ (2016)" Printer Friendly Version "America’s public (i.e, government) and private pensions are in trouble. The difference is that the government pensions don’t go bankrupt because Uncle Sam hits taxpayers to continue funding government retirees. Now, one of America’s biggest private pensions — the Teamsters’ Central States Pension Fund that covers more than 1,500 companies across a range of industries — is nearly bankrupt. The fund currently pays out $3 for every $1 it takes in. If there’s no bail out by the federal government, the Fund will run out of money in 10 years, by 2026, at which time the pensions of some 407,000 people — most of whom are truck drivers — will be reduced to virtually nothing. [...] was precipitated the Fund’s crisis was the Treasury Department’s rejection on May 6, 2016, of a last-ditch solution proposed by the Fund which would partially reduce the pensions of 115,000 retirees and the future benefits for 155,000 current workers. Although the proposed cuts were steep, as much as 60% for some, it still wasn’t enough. The Treasury Department rejected the proposed reduction because doing so would not actually head off insolvency. The fund could submit a new plan, but decided this week that there’s no other way to successfully save the fund and comply with the law. The cuts needed would be too severe. One of the reasons why the Central States Pension Fund is in trouble is because a lot of the fund’s companies went bankrupt after the trucking industry was deregulated in the 1980s.[...]' “Never let a crisis go to waste.” -Rahm Emmanuel

Commentary: "Senate Bill: Travelers Must Register Cash/Digital Amounts Over $10K" [06/18/17] Printer Friendly Version "A new bill seeks to track your money and assets incessantly, will enjoin any business with government ties to act as a de facto arm of DHS, and would steal all of your assets — including Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies — should you fail to report funds when traveling with over $10,000. Under the guise of combating money laundering, Senate Bill 1241, “Combating Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing, and Counterfeiting Act of 2017,” ramps up regulation of digital currency and imposes other autocratic financial controls in an attempt to ensure none of your assets can escape one of the State’s most nefarious, despised powers: civil asset forfeiture.[...] All of this under the farcically broad umbrella of fighting terrorism. Civil forfeiture grants the government robbery writ large: your cash, property, and assets can be stolen completely sans due process, your guilt — frequently pertaining to drug ‘crimes’ — matters not.[...] A court verdict of not guilty doesn’t even guarantee the return of State-thefted property.[...] In fact, the government can seize virtually whatever it wants if it so much as suspects some of your assets might have been acquired through or used in the commission of even lesser crimes.[...]For some time, a war on cash has been brewing behind the closed doors of government, and — although officials prefer to claim counterfeiting, terrorism, and money laundering as the impetus for asset tracking — in actuality, physical currency facilitates black market and untaxed transactions, and, most imperatively to the U.S., cannot be thefted under civil asset forfeiture laws as easily as money exchanged digitally.[...]Characterized as an effort to “to improve the prohibitions on money laundering, and for other purposes,” the bill severely curtails the right to travel freely, without undue hindrance, as travelers with more than $10,000 in assets — including those held digitally, like Bitcoin — must file a report with the U.S. government.[...]Noncompliance with the tyrannical law — including failing to fill out the aforementioned form — would incur penalties befitting a fascist dictatorship: an individual could find the entirety of their assets seized, not just those unreported, and could be locked in a prison cage for up to ten years. According to the legislation, reports, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection must, within 18 months of the legislation’s passage, devise a “border protection strategy to interdict and detect prepaid access devices, digital currencies, or other similar instruments, at border crossings and other ports of entry for the United States, including an assessment of infrastructure needed [emphasis added] to carry out the strategy […] “The obligation to declare amounts in any form over $10,000 exists, irrespective of whether custom officials have a way of detecting such holdings. Since digital currencies technically travel with the holder [wherever] the holder goes, one would have to declare one’s entire crypto portfolio each time the holder entered the U.S.”[...] Travelers possessing assets, precious metals, and accounts in excess of $10,000 held outside the United States, however, would not be required to declare those to the government — perhaps leaving an albeit sketchy option for those wary of unscrupulous authorities.[...]" 

Commentary: "America's Book of Secrets S03E07: The Billionaire Agenda" History Channel [06/15/17] [42:57] "There are 492 billionaires in the US, 152 in China and 111 in Russia. For the US alone, their combined wealth exceeds $2 trillion. What is the psychology behind their mind sets? What is their real agenda? [...]" Note: Many other videos from the same series are available through this link.  

Commentary: "Rothschild Empire, Financial Turmoil" [06/13/17] Printer Friendly Version "Jacob Rothchild - A Conversation With Irina Nevzlin" [10:04] "The Rothschild empire is now looking at fresh financial turmoil as suggested by the RIT Capital Partners 2016-year-end report, which could also have a huge effect for the rest of the planet. Jacob Rothschild also recently announced that he is to buy up all remaining gold to replace stock market and currency exposure, which signals the biggest financial crash since the Lehman Brothers crash in 2008. reports: The investment banker’s chosen word of “period” seems to indicate a coming downturn in profitability, even though for the past five years the fund has realized a profit of more than 1 billion Euros. According to the report, Rothschild and his very powerful family have a vested interest in preserving their assets. “RIT Capital Partners plc is an investment company listed on the London Stock Exchange. Its net assets have grown from £280 million on listing in 1988 to over £2.7 billion today. RIT is chaired by Lord Rothschild, whose family interests retain a significant holding,” the issue reveals. If the fund, whose value is at an all-time high, suddenly declines, falling with it will be a large portion of wealth the Rothschild family enjoys. Although, any such declines would hardly come as a surprise to the Rothschild family who reportedly controls much of the world’s wealth and has a hand in nearly all of the world’s banking institutions, including the Federal Reserve, as some have stated. The chairman’s statement continues with what some might say is an ominous and uncertain view of the future. “Since the last World War, we have enjoyed some 70 years of patiently crafted international cooperation, which is now threatened,” an apparent reference to Brexit and the UK’s referendum to withdraw from the European Union. “Against this deeply worrying geo-political situation,” he wrote seeming to highlight the potential of WWIII if the Syrian conflict continues, “one can point to a number of positive investment factors.” Echoing many statements made by the current U.S. president, Lord Rothschild stated he was hopeful corporations would receive a break in government imposed revenue. He said, “in the US, the proposed tax reduction for companies and individuals,” was a favorable policy change for his fund’s portfolio. [...]"

Commentary: "Wall Street Moves One Step Closer To Repealing Dodd-Frank" [06/09/17] Printer Friendly Version "While much of the nation’s attention was focused on James Comey’s account of his interactions with President Donald Trump on Thursday, a key part of the president’s anti-regulatory agenda moved forward in Congress with far less fanfare: The House passed a bill that would dismantle the Dodd-Frank financial regulations put in place in 2010. The vote gave the the financial industry its largest victory in its nearly decade-long battle to roll back the government’s regulatory response to the largest financial crisis since the Great Depression. [...] The House voted 233-186 Thursday to pass the Financial CHOICE Act, a bill Republican proponents say would end “too big to fail,” remove onerous financial regulations that hurt small banks, and rein in the unaccountable power of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Opponents, which include a coalition of attorneys general representing 20 states, say the bill would remove key liquidity requirements that prevent Wall Street banks from making risky bets, weaken crucial oversight provisions and hurt consumers by limiting their access to financial information and removing limits on debit-card transaction fees. But while it’s unclear what the ultimate impact of the bill, or its fate in the Senate, will be, the battle over Dodd-Frank has already attracted a huge amount of money, in both campaign contributions and lobbying, much of it by Wall Street banks eager to see Dodd-Frank dismantled. [...]  Since 2010, banks and lending institutions, commercial banks, and investment holding and securities and investment firms have given $190 million to federal candidates and officeholders, including $54.3 million in the 2016 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. More than $110 million of that total has gone to Republicans and $75 million to Democrats. While those numbers represent giving by those industries as a whole, and can’t be tied to a particular issue, there is evidence that much of that money has been spent to unshackle the big banks from post-recession financial regulation. For instance, an analysis by found that commercial banks and holding companies gave the 41 sponsors of the Financial CHOICE Act an average of $55,754 during the 2016 election cycle. Those industries gave, on average, just $20,518 to the average House member during that period. A previous Maplight analysis found that there was a sharp divide between the financial industry’s contributions to members of the House Financial Oversight Committee who voted for the bill and those who voted against it. The 34 Republicans on the committee who voted to send the bill to the House floor for a full vote received, on average, 80 percent more campaign cash from commercial banks and holding companies than the 26 members who voted against the bill." The member of the committee who has taken the most money from banks, securities and investment firms and investment holding companies in recent years is Jeb Hensarling, R-TX, chair of the Committee, who introduced the Financial CHOICE Act and told the American Bankers Association in March 2016 that he would “not rest until Dodd-Frank is ripped out by its roots and tossed on the trash heap of history.”[...]"  

MSM: "The British Pound Plunges as Early Exit Polls Suggest Conservatives Fail to Win 326 Seats" [06/09/17] Printer Friendly Version "The British pound plunged close to 2.0 percent on Thursday afternoon after early UK exit polls showed Theresa May’s Conservative party gaining only 314 seats amid an unusually high voter turnout. Early polls suggest that Conservatives may fail to get the needed majority - 326 seats - for a new mandate to advance Brexit negotiations and block a 2nd Scottish independence referendum. George Osborne, former British finance minister, characterized the polls as “catastrophic” for May’s party, "It is early days. It's a poll. If the poll is anything like accurate this is completely catastrophic for the Conservatives and for Theresa May," he told ITV News, according to Reuters. Prior to the exit polls, around 4:55 p.m. EDT, the pound was trading against the dollar at 1.2906, but after British news outlets began reporting on the surprise results, the GBP/USD pair sold off 1.94 percent in the space of ten minutes. By 5:04 p.m., the rate was hovering at a 2-month low of 1.2704 [...]" [Cross-Posted]

Commentary: "The Real Legacy Of The US Wars In The Mideast — Never-Ending Debt" [06/05/17] Printer Friendly Version "The longer U.S. troops remain in Iraq and Afghanistan, the greater the financial costs to the United States. Taken together, the cost of those wars could be as high as $6 trillion, including medical and disability care for vets and all their families and a host of other expenses such as rising interest charges on the debt that finances military operations. The sobering analysis comes from a 2013 paper by Linda J. Bilmes of the Harvard Kennedy School, “The Financial Legacy of Iraq and Afghanistan: How Wartime Spending Decisions Will Constrain Future National Security Budgets.” Bilmes contends that the money spent on these wars since 2001 will “dominate future federal budgets for decades to come.” [...] Defense spending is certainly dominating the Trump budget, especially in relation to the programs that benefit low- and middle-income families and individuals, which he intends to cut by 50 percent. Aside from paying for the arsenal of weapons, including the investment in fighter planes, drones, helicopters, aircraft carriers, tanks and the like, the money spent on the star-crossed F-35 -- which is expected to cost $1.5 trillion over the 55-year life of the program -- puts the hardware budget over the top.[...]" 

Trends: "Commercial Banks Slash Auto Loans Outstanding For First Time In Six Years" [06/01/17] Printer Friendly Version "After the subprime mortgage bubble burst back in 2009, new regulations prevented banks from rushing right back into mortgages to re-inflate a market that nearly took down the global financial system. Of course, Uncle Sam didn't restrict wall street from blowing massive bubbles in all asset classes, in fact the Fed seemingly condones it, just the mortgage market. And so, all that loan volume shifted to autos... Alas, it seems as though commercials banks are finally starting to wonder whether they've inflated at least the auto loan bubble to the brink of bursting. As the Financial Times points out today, the FDIC's commercial lending report for 1Q 2017 showed that commercial banks slashed their auto loan exposure sequentially for the first time in the past six years.[...]"   Related: "Where The World's Unsold Cars Go To Die" Printer Friendly Version   

Trends: "Euro Slides After Greece Hints At Default" [05/30/17] Printer Friendly Version "EURUSD is sliding in early Asian trading after Greece's government is reportedly planning to forego its next bailout payment (of around EUR7bn) if no debt relief is offered by creditors (thus leaving it likely to default on its next round of repayments). Bloomberg reports, Greece’s government preparing to possibly go without next bailout payment if creditors don’t agree on debt relief for the country according to German newspaper Bild (without saying where it obtained the information). While probably just another negotiating step, it is weighing on EURUSD. [...]"  Related: "A Problem Emerges With Europe's "Recovery": Companies Crippled By Soaring Payment Delays" Printer Friendly Version "According to the 2017 European Payment Report compiled annually by Swedish debt collector Intrum Justitia AB, a growing number of small and medium-sized businesses in Europe have complained they face excessive delays in being paid for their work, with large parts of the sector seeking tougher laws to address the problem. First discussed by Bloomberg, the Justitia report reveals that 61% of the 10,468 small and medium-sized companies surveyed say they’ve been asked by counterparties to accept longer payment delays than they feel comfortable with. This is a staggering increase of over 30% in just one year: in 2016, that figure was 46%.  [...]"  

Trends: "Calls To Ban Bitcoin Grow Louder After Ransomware Attack" [05/29/17] [21:46] "In this video, Vin Armani covers the predictable fallout from the WannaCry ransomware attack. First they blame North Korea and bitcoin. Then an establishment think tank connects bitcoin to terrorism and presses Congress to ban it. [...]"  Related: "Bitcoin Moves into “Pump and Dump” Phase" Printer Friendly Version "After yesterday’s massive Bitcoin correction, which saw the crypto currency plunge nearly $500 — over 10% — in a matter of hours, the Bitcoin propagandists took to their microphones to denounce anyone who rationally warns people about the volatility risk and increasingly “Ponzi” structure of Bitcoin. What do all the people still pumping Bitcoin have in common? They all own lots of Bitcoin, and they need more suckers to join the scheme so they can unload their Bitcoin onto them at higher and higher valuations. [...] Bitcoin, in essence, has now become a “pump and dump” scheme. Amazingly, these are the very same people who say the stock market is going to crash because P/E ratios are out of whack and stock valuations are based on high expectations rather than earnings fundamentals. Yet Bitcoin pays no dividends at all and doesn’t have a P/E ratio since it’s not the stock of a company that produces anything that’s real. When corporate stocks skyrocket in value over time, it’s usually because those corporations experience increasing profits and pay out increasing dividends to shareholders. Yet Bitcoin has no “profits” other than speculative profits. It doesn’t produce anything other than more Bitcoins. It pays no dividends, and it isn’t even an entity that owns any real assets such as factories, land or raw materials. Bitcoin isn’t even an entity. It’s more like a mathematical hologram. In fact, Bitcoin isn’t subject to SEC regulations like regular stocks are, which is why Bitcoin is rife with “insider trading” and unscrupulous future valuations claims that would get people arrested if this took place in publicly- traded corporations. It’s sad. We are watching Bitcoin devolve into a giant CON, and it’s the self-serving Bitcoin owners who are screaming the loudest for everyone to keep buying in. This is exactly the kind of thing that’s going to end up getting Bitcoin criminalized and banned by the governments of the world after tens of millions of (stupid, naive) people experience catastrophic losses.[...]" | "Bitcoin Explodes, Trades Above $4,000 In South Korea" [05/25/17] Printer Friendly Version | "Cryptocurrency Chaos: Bitcoin Bounces Back After Crashing As Asian Fever Re-Emerges" Printer Friendly Version | "Bitcoin Explodes Above $2400 After China Downgrade, Scaling Agreement Reached" Printer Friendly Version | "Stocks Jump As Dollar Dumps And Bitcoin Explodes To Record Highs" [05/22/17] Printer Friendly Version | "People Are Making A Fortune Buying Government-Seized Bitcoins" Printer Friendly Version   

Trends: "Chipotle Hacked In Massive Breach - Customer Payment Data Stolen From Thousands Of Restaurants" [05/29/17] Printer Friendly Version "Chipotle Mexican Grill ($CMG) announced late Friday that Hackers used malware to infiltrate their Point of Sale payment systems over a three week period beginning in late March - stealing sensitive customer banking information, including account numbers and internal verification codes that could be used to drain debit-card linked bank accounts. [...]"  Note: I always thought it was a foolish idea to link a debit card to a bank account. A smarter option: a pay-as-you-go card which you load periodically with just what you need to spend. That way if the number gets stolen, it limits the damage, and you just buy a new card with a different number. The financial world is full of thieves and misfits.

Commentary: "Trump-Russia Inquiry Looks at Potential for Wall Street Bank Money Laundering" [05/27/17] Printer Friendly Version "The majority of American citizens have never heard of the U.S. Treasury agency known as FinCEN – short for Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. But for those who work for Wall Street brokerage firms or the mega Wall Street banks like JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup or German banking giant Deutsche Bank, just the mere mention of FinCEN can quickly produce beads of sweat dripping onto those expensive Canali suits. That’s because FinCEN is the Federal agency where suspicious financial activity that might turn out to be money laundering gets reported. All three banks, and numerous others, have had their share of scandalous run ins with money laundering*. In recent weeks, the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, Senate Intelligence Committee and the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee have all shown an interest in what FinCEN might have in its database that would shed sunshine on involvement of the Trump business empire or Trump campaign and Russian money inflows. [...]"  Related: *Flashback: "Bombshell Documents Vanish in the JPMorgan-Madoff Investigation" 2014 Printer Friendly Version "According to a Freedom of Information Act response received by Wall Street On Parade, Federal law enforcement may share the blame with JPMorgan Chase for allowing Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme to be perpetuated for so long.[...]"|"Trump’s Justice Department Goes Easy on Citigroup Unit for Criminal Money Laundering" Printer Friendly Version "Citigroup, the Wall Street mega bank that taxpayers were forced to prop up in the largest bailout of a financial institution in U.S. history from 2008 to 2010, is also a recidivist lawbreaker that the U.S. Justice Department fails to tame regardless of who occupies the Oval Office. [...]" 

Commentary: "Are Credit Rating Agencies America’s Secret Fifth Column?" [05/27/17] Printer Friendly Version "A “Fifth Column” is a group within a country at war who are sympathetic to or working for its enemies. Even a full-blown war with North Korea or Russia could not inflict the damage done to this Country by Moody’s, Fitch and S&P. The rating agencies have declared war on the United States and the damage they are inflicting will eventually destroy this Country from within. In 2008, the Country was brought to its knees with the eight trillion-dollar mortgage bond crisis. It again got a taste of what the rating agencies are capable of with the Detroit and Puerto Rico bankruptcies. You see when a credit rating agency or a bank works on transactions worth hundreds of millions or billions, they deploy their best folks. The most experienced and educated investment bankers. This is also true of the Banks that knowingly sell these fraudulent investments to their unsuspecting clients. [...] If the best people in the industry worked on the mortgage bonds and the Detroit and Puerto Rico’s municipal bonds how can these massive losses be possible? If one were simply to read the bond offering documents you could clearly see that both the cash flow and collateral were no good. Even a rookie Banker could have uncovered these weaknesses. When and investor buys a properly rated bond and takes a loss, it is a simple investment loss. If an investor buys a bond with a fraudulent rating, it is criminal fraud. According to the FBI and Attorney General the tens of thousands of transactions executed by the Rating Agencies were just unfortunate mistakes, although the Rating Agencies and Banks freely paid billions in fines to put these mistakes behind them. If you talk to Wells Fargo Bank, B of A, Citibank among some of the dozens of Wall Street Banks, they did nothing wrong, they just missed the fact these investments had no cash flow or collateral to support their repayment and they did it repeatedly over a decade. If you are to believe our Justice Department, none of this had to do with the billions of dollars in fee’s the Ratings Agencies and Banks made. How can one do this and get away with it, repeatedly? How well connected are the Rating Agencies and Banks that they remain immune from prosecution while tens of millions of American’s lives are ruined? [...]"  

MSM: "Greece Default Looms As Eurozone And IMF Clash Over Debt Measures" [05/25/17] Printer Friendly Version "Eurozone countries are at loggerheads with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over Greece's debt programme, as time runs out to stop Athens crashing into bankruptcy and out of the bloc.  Despite another round of marathon talks yesterday, Greece's creditors failed to agree on fundamental elements of the country's bailout programme. Without a deal, a desperately needed loan payment to Athens cannot be made. [...] And the situation is now reaching boiling point, as Greece has to make debt payments of around £6billion in July. Yet after months of talks, the IMF and the eurozone appear unable to put aside their differences over details of the €86billion (£74bn) bailout programme initially agreed in July 2015. The row will now not be resolved before June 15 when eurozone finance ministers meet again.[...]"  

Commentary: "Mnuchin: Trump Budget Proposal "Will Prevent Taxpayer Bailouts" [05/24/17] Printer Friendly Version "In a statement issued moments ago discussing Trump's proposed, if completely impossible, budget proposal, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that Trump's "budget will achieve savings through reforms that prevent taxpayer bailouts and reverse burdensome regulations that have been harmful to small businesses and American workers." Translation: taxpayer bailouts are imminent, especially now that the current economic cycle is the 3rd longest of all time and a recession grows likelier with every passing day. Mnuchin also said that Trump's proposed initiatives "coupled with comprehensive tax reform and other key priorities, will move America one step closer to sustained economic growth of 3 percent or higher." While we will clearly take the under, what we find most amazing about Trump's budget proposal, is that it does not anticipated a recession until 2027. That would imply 18 years of economic growth since the 2009 recession, without a single contraction! Good luck with that.[...]" 

Commentary: "Law Firms Making Killing Off Madoff Victims' Recovery Funds" [05/24/17] Printer Friendly Version "We all are familiar with the $64b in lost capital by Madoff, which was the worst ponzi scheme loss in history. But did you know that only $17.5b in principal was lost? Of that principal, most of it has been recovered -- $9 through Picard and another $4b through Breeden. I am not here to suggest that losing $4.5b isn't dreadful -- because it is. But most people still believe that people were totally wiped out by Madoff, who is currently serving a 150 year sentence in prison. The big winners in all of this, naturally, are the lawyers who are administrating the victim funds via billable hours. Through a Bloomberg FOIA request, we've learned that the DOJ hired Breeden to distribute $4b in recovered funds to Madoff victims, of which ZERO has been paid to date. Breeden, on the other hand, has racked up $38.8m in fees. [...]"  

Commentary: "Trump Comes To Riyadh As Saudi Arabia Bankrupts Itself" [05/21/17] Printer Friendly Version "US President Trump arrives in Saudi Arabia at a time when Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman - the country's de facto ruler - has launched it on a runaway spending programme which is bound to end in national bankruptcy. Whilst the US claims to be the leader of the “free world” the embarrassing reality is that its most important Middle East ally is a repressive autocratic Wahhabist monarchy. Whilst Donald Trump says the destruction of Jihadi terrorism is his priority, Saudi Arabia – as everyone knows – is the country that bankrolls most of this terrorism.[...] The fact however remains that Saudi Arabia is the lynchpin of the whole of the US’s strategic position in the Middle East, whilst Saudi Arabia’s oil exports – and the fact that it sells them for US dollars – serve a key role in underpinning US dominance of the world economy. Whilst this remains the case the US has no realistic option but to maintain good relations with the Saudis. In that respect Trump’s courtship of the Saudis makes far more sense that Obama’s ill concealed disdain for them, and given the damage Obama did to this crucial relationship Trump’s priority on repairing it – and thus his visit to Saudi Arabia – makes complete sense. What all the talk of Trump’s visit obscures however is that even as the US seeks to renew its relationship with Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom has embarked on an out-of-control spending spree which can only result in its eventually bankrupting itself. To understand the scale of what is happening, just consider the outline of the projects that are supposed to be under discussion during Trump’s visit. The Financial Times provides a good summary: [...]"  Related: "Blackstone, Saudi Arabia Announce $40 Billion Investment In U.S. Infrastructure" Printer Friendly Version  

MSM: "Yale Launches Elitist Financial 'Crisis Response Project' Funded By Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos" [05/17/17] Printer Friendly Version "Yale School of Management reports that $10 million has been raised to expand the Yale Program on Financial Stability and launch the “Crisis-Response Project.”  The project is primarily funded by Jeff Bezos, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Bill Gates, and the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. The goal of the project is to "codify best practices and provide training that can help governments fight financial crises." Who are the advisors that will be advising on the project? The operatives that bailed out Goldman Sachs and the other crony parts of Wall Street following the 2008 financial crisis. [...]"  

Commentary: "Ukraine Teeters On The Brink Of Default As Kiev Struggles To Repay Debts" [05/17/17] Printer Friendly Version "In the next four years, Ukraine will have to return $20 billion of debt. The lack of reforms and problems with receiving new loans are a major obstacle. The situation is complicated by the fact that the government will not take unpopular measures due to the 2019 presidential election. [...] In 2018, Kiev will have to return $3.9 billion to creditors while in 2019 $7.5 billion. The situation is complicated by the fact that in 2019 prior to the presidential election the government will have to improve social standards, in order to win voters’ support. Kiev does not have money to increase social benefits, and as a result will have to implement its unpopular pension reform, including removing some of the subsidies and increasing minimal employment record from 15 to 25 years. Additional money could also be earned from selling agricultural lands, a measure insisted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). However, the move is likely to spark public outrage across the country." Related: See Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, below.

Commentary: "Paradise Has Run Out of Money: Barbados May Be Forced to Ask IMF for Loan" [05/16/17] Printer Friendly Version "The economy of the Caribbean paradise island of Barbados is facing meltdown after years of alleged mismanagement and an over-reliance on tourism. The economy of the Caribbean island hit the buffers after the 2008 financial crisis, with tourism plummeting and the country's economy contracting by four per cent. The country may be forced to ask the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout in order to pay police officers and civil servants. [...]"  Note: But they'll ignore the rest of the population ... by making a deal with the criminal IMF (see Economic Hitman) "Confessions Of An Economic Hitman" Perkins [24:01] See also Notable Video panel for related videos by Perkins.

Commentary: "Wells Fargo Closing 450 Branches By 2019" [05/15/17] Printer Friendly Version "Wells Fargo & Co. on Thursday laid out plans to close additional branches and offer more digital tools — all part of a push to trim $2 billion in costs while trying to keep customers and attract new ones. Speaking to investment analysts at the bank’s investor day conference in San Francisco, executives said they plan to close 450 branches by the end of 2018 — 50 more than the bank had announced earlier this year — with the potential for more in 2019. [...]"  

Commentary: "McCain Institute Caught Stealing Millions In Child Trafficking Donations" [05/15/17] Printer Friendly Version "The McCain Institute claims it exists to fight human trafficking, but despite receiving millions in donations from Saudi Arabia, the Rothschilds, and Bloomberg, it has been revealed that none of the money was spent on fighting human trafficking. Funds from the McCain Presidential Campaign were also quietly funneled into the McCain Institute’s coffers raising the possibility the Institute exists as a money laundering front. The McCain Institute is a huge operation featuring upwards of 80 people including dozens of full time staff and board members including Ashton Kutcher and Lady Lynne Forrester de Rothschild. [...] Saudi Arabia donated $1,000,000 to the McCain Institute in 2014 in what looks suspiciously like a Clinton Foundation style pay-for-play “donation”, leading many to believe the secret donations explain why he has a certain “viewpoints” about the Middle East, and keeps making secret trips to Syria.[...] With millions of dollars in donations from powerful corporations, governments and billionaire bankers, not to mention John McCain’s presidential campaign money, you would think the Institute is doing all sorts of great things to stop human trafficking, right? You’d be wrong. In 2012 the Institute donated exactly $500,000. In 2013 it was $500,000 again. In 2014 it was increased to $1,500,000. Nice, round numbers. It’s almost as if the Institute did nothing else all year except sign one check to keep up the pretense they were actually doing what they tell the public they do. And to whom or what did that $2.5 million go to? Some human trafficking superfighter, you would think, right? You’d be wrong again. It all – every last penny – went to the Arizona State University Foundation (scroll down through the tax returns to see the disclosure). Which, by the way, does not appear to have anything whatsoever to do with human trafficking. Are we looking at a money laundering operation here? The McCain Institute is starting to look an awful lot like the bogus Clinton Foundation. [...]"  Related: "FBI Insider Reveals Why Jason Chaffetz Is Being Forced Out Of Politics" Printer Friendly Version "... Chaffetz effectively ended his career as an uncompromised politician in March. Chaffetz was credited with doing “the impossible” and pushing a bill through Congress ordering an audit of the Federal Reserve.[...] Explaining that the Federal Reserve, created and funded by the House of Rothschild, is an institution that many politicians “are uncomfortable with” but they “learn to leave alone“, the FBI insider said the example of Chaffetz is a textbook study of what happens when the Rothschild’s central banking scam is threatened with exposure. “Look at the history of the Fed. Name one person who stood up to the Federal Reserve and lived to tell the tale.” “I personally won’t be surprised if he [Chaffetz] reverses his decision and doesn’t retire in 2018. But he will forever he a compromised man. He bit off more than he could chew. He’s learned his lesson.“[...]"   

MSM: "China, First Country To Introduce Paper Money, On Track To Phase It Out" [05/12/17] Printer Friendly Version "Pretty much every shop, restaurant and bar accepts WeChat and/or Alipay these days," said Yuhan Xu, a 30 year-old Shanghai-based radio researcher who has used her smartphone to pay for almost all her purchases since early 2016. "Even a small pancake stall does that," she added. "I don't need to carry cash." Many experts believe it won't be long before China, the first country to introduce paper money, also becomes the first to phase it out to become fully cashless. But when will this moment come? [...] Of China's 1.35 billion population, 710 million are internet users. The results of a survey by the Beijing Youth Daily newspaper released in March found that, like Xu, 70 percent of internet users polled thought carrying cash was not necessary. The apps fuelling this cashless trend are Tencent's WeChat and Alibaba's Alipay. Launched in 2011, WeChat is a multi-function app based around a messaging system that incorporates WhatsApp and Twitter-like elements. The app is phenomenally popular in China—the majority of WeChat's roughly 889 million monthly-active users worldwide are based in the People's Republic. Chinese users of apps like WeChat tend to not be put off by the personal data storing and sharing that goes on in them. Snooping by authorities is pretty much accepted.[...]" 

Commentary: "Puerto Rico’s $123 Billion Bankruptcy Is The Cost Of U.S. Colonialism" [05/11/17] Printer Friendly Version "Puerto Rico officially became the largest bankruptcy case in the history of the American public bond market. On May 3, a fiscal control board imposed on the island’s government by Washington less than year ago suddenly announced that the Puerto Rico’s economic crisis “has reached a breaking point.” The board asked for the immediate appointment of a federal judge to decide how to deal with a staggering $123 billion debt the commonwealth government and its public corporations owe to both bondholders and public employee pension systems. [...]"  

MSM: "Puerto Ricans Face 'Sacrifice Everywhere' on an Insolvent Island" [05/09/17] Printer Friendly Version "These are some of the voices of Puerto Rico’s business owners, retirees and public servants who are caught in the middle — they would say the bottom — of the largest local government insolvency in United States history. Faced with a $123 billion debt it cannot pay, Puerto Rico filed for a kind of bankruptcy protection on Wednesday, a move that sent shivers down the spines of everyone from bond holders fearful of staggering losses to street sweepers and public employees whose already meager paychecks are likely to dwindle. [...]"  Related: See below

Commentary: "Puerto Rico Headed To Bankruptcy Court, Likely Costing Investors Billions" [05/06/17] Printer Friendly Version "The federal fiscal oversight board created by Congress last June to fix Puerto Rico gave up on Monday, putting the island country into the hands of a federal bankruptcy judge. The board, created last June, was designed to help newly elected Governor Ricardo Rossello come to terms with mutual funds and hedge fund owners that own the bulk of the island’s $73 billion debt. Rossello’s first effort, which would have applied a one-third financial “haircut” to them was turned down by the board, which called it too generous. Rossello’s second effort would have applied a 50-percent haircut, but Franklin Advisers and Oppenheimer Fund, the two largest entities holding the island’s debt, pushed back. Time ran out on May 1, and the board placed the issue before a bankruptcy court to sort it all out. Almost predictably, where billions are involved, so is Rothschild and Company, serving as Puerto Rico’s “financial adviser.” When The New American visited the issue almost exactly a year ago, government bureaucrats were earning $74,000 a year and were eligible to retire at age 47. Teachers, on the other hand (and to put that into perspective), earned just $24,000 a year, and their pension and welfare benefit plans were so underfunded that the chances of them being able to retire with anything worth mentioning were decreasing by the day. [...]" 

Commentary: "Here’s Why Trump Is Talking About Breaking Up The Biggest Wall Street Banks" [05/06/17] Printer Friendly Version "Yesterday, Bloomberg News reporters Jennifer Jacobs and Margaret Talev snagged an interview with President Donald Trump. Headlines quickly spread that during the interview Trump had indicated he was looking at breaking up the biggest Wall Street banks (so that commercial banks holding taxpayer-backstopped deposits were no longer under the same ownership as the high-risk investment banks which had failed so spectacularly during the 2008 financial crash). Bloomberg News has now released a transcript of the interview. The portion pertaining to the Wall Street banks reads as follows: [...]"

MSM: "Corporate Executives Are Selling Stocks In Droves" [05/04/17] Printer Friendly Version "A divide has formed in the US equity market. As the investing public has continued to devour stocks, sending all three major indexes to record highs in the last few months, corporate insiders have been offloading shares to an extent not seen in seven years. Selling totaled $10 billion in March, according to data compiled by Trim Tabs. It's a troubling trend facing an equity market that's already grappling with its loftiest valuations since the 2000 tech bubble. If the people with the deepest knowledge of a company are cashing out, why should investors keep buying at current prices?  The groundswell of insider selling has the attention of Brad Lamensdorf, portfolio manager at Ranger Alternative Management, and he doesn't like what he sees. "This is definitely a negative sign," Lamensdorf wrote in his April newsletter. "They do not see value in their own companies!" [...] One possible explanation is that insiders have been unable to resist the allure of collecting profits with many of their stocks trading at unprecedented levels. Still, that begs the question of why a person would do that if they were at all confident that shares would continue to rise. No matter how you slice it, it's a bad sign for the average investor. In addition to high valuations, Lamensdorf cites rising rates as a risk facing the stock market. As the Federal Reserve continues hiking, an increasing number of companies will be unable to meet interest payments, exposing them to default, he says. As such, his portfolio is 50% net short. Not all market experts are as pessimistic. Wall Street strategists see the S&P 500 grinding 1.5% higher from Monday's close through year-end, according to a 19-person survey conducted by Bloomberg.[...]" 

Commentary: "Why Deutsche Bundesbank Had To Promise To Leave 1200 Tons Of Gold In New York" [05/01/17] Printer Friendly Version "With big fanfare, Deutsche Bundesbank announced on February 9 that ahead of plan they had repatriated 300 tons of gold from New York. This put a positive spin on a rather disturbing fact –1236 tons of gold that is supposed to be part of Germany’s currency reserve will continue to be kept outside of German control in New York – indefinitely. The German gold in question is being kept in storage at the New York Fed, an institution that is owned and controlled by Wall-Street-banks, in a country, whose current president considers it an imposition that the law and so-called judges tell him what he is allowed to do and not allowed to do. I am not criticizing the Bundesbank for storing 37 percent of Germany’s official gold in in a place there it has no control over it. It seems clear that they negotiated hard with the US and acted rather shrewdly. Their negotiation position was much enhanced in 2012 by the leakage of a report of the German Court of Auditors, which was very critical of the conditions under which German gold was being held in New York. This created public and political pressure on the Bundesbank to renegotiate and to get that gold out of New York. At the same time, the US-side could hardly afford to snub this demand, because there was lots of speculation, even in the US, that something was amiss with the gold reserves of the US and the rest of the world that were stored in the country. The way in which the official gold of the US, and the gold held in custody for other countries, is guarded against public scrutiny and shielded from its owners, gives fodder to any number of conspiracy theories. Had the New York Fed refused to let a foreign central bank, which was under such obvious pressure, retrieve some of their gold, these conspiracy theories around official gold might very well have become intense enough to damage trust in the dollar. [...]" 

MSM: "US Consumers Tap Out: Credit Card Defaults Surge To 4 Year High" [04/27/17] Printer Friendly Version "Two weeks ago, when JPMorgan launched Q1 earnings season, we noted that while the results were generally good, one red flag emerged: the company's credit card charge offs rose to just shy of $1 billion, the highest in four years. [...]"  

MSM: "Kremlin Advisor Reveals 'Cure For US Aggression" [04/24/17] Printer Friendly Version "The only way to stop the United States’ aggression is to get rid of dollar addiction, a Kremlin advisor said on Friday. "The more aggressive the Americans are the sooner they will see the final collapse of the dollar as the only way for the victims of American aggression to stop this aggression is to get rid of the dollar. As soon as we and China are through with the dollar, it will be the end of the United States’ military might," Sergey Glazyev said in an interview with TASS. Commenting on the policy of the new US president, Glazyev noted that Donald Trump is doing what the ruling elite expects him to do. "I had no illusions about him, that he will change the policy. First, America’s aggressiveness in the world is rooted in the aspiration to preserve America’s hegemony in a situation when they have already ceded leadership in the economy to China," he said. "The United States has no tools to make all others use the dollar other than a truncheon. That is why they are indulging in a hybrid war with the entire world to shift the burden on their debts onto other countries, to confine all to the dollar and weaken territories they cannot control."[...] "In this context, the anti-Russian hysteria and growing Russophobia can be seen as a long-term factor linked with the specific interests of the United States’ ruling elite," the Kremlin advisor said. "In objective terms, they are conducting a global hybrid war and in subjective terms, this war is aimed against us. More to it, as it always happens when a global leader is changed, the war is for control over rimland nations. In the period of WWI and WWII, Britain acted as a provoker in a bid to keep its global leadership. Now the United States is doing the same. And Trump expresses these interests," he said. [...]" 

MSM: "Investors Rage After 3 Billion Yuan Vanish From China's Largest Private Bank" [04/19/17] Printer Friendly Version "Theoretical warnings about risks inherent in China's shadow banking system became all too for 150 customers of China's largest private bank, when Minsheng Banking Corp found itself involved in a 3 billion yuan (US$436 million) fraud case, after it emerged that a branch chief of the lender in Beijing allegedly issued false bank acceptance bills and later secured funds from individual investors to cover up the misdeed. According to SCMP, an accidental inquiry from an investor exposed the fact that the WMPs sold by a Minsheng branch didn’t even exist. When shocked investors rushed to the bank, they found the head of the branch had been taken into police custody and the supposed due payment date had passed. [...] A little background: bank acceptance bills, one of the shadier funding pathways of China's shadow banking system, and a form of bank-backed IOU, are commonly used as a form of payment between Chinese companies. The holder of such bills is entitled to cash the bill at a bank under any circumstances... unless of course fraud is involved. It is different from commercial acceptance bills, which are issued by companies and do not guarantee repayment despite companies’ trustworthiness. Well, in this case fraud was involved. The branch head at the Beijing branch of Minsheng, Zhang Ying, allegedly helped a corporate client disguise commercial acceptance bills as bank acceptance bills by using a false seal of the bank. The bills were issued by the client to a number of companies, which later discovered the bills were fake, Caixin said. Then, in order to cover up the fact that the fake bills were not able to be cashed by the bank, Zhang later sold 3 billion yuan of unauthorized wealth-management products to the bank’s private customers to get funds for the client to repay the bills. Caixin said a huge amount of funds may be transferred between the client and Zhang.[...]" 

Commentary: "Has Former Goldman Sachs President, Gary Cohn, Gone Rogue On Glass-Steagall?" [04/18/17] "There are a few important things to know about Gary Cohn. Until Donald Trump tapped him to be the Director of the National Economic Council, he had worked at Goldman Sachs for a quarter century, rising to the position of President of the firm and second only to its CEO, Lloyd Blankfein. Cohn walked out of Goldman in December with approximately $285 million, comprised mainly of Goldman stock, some of which had been granted early vesting. Since his exit from Goldman, Cohn has wasted no time in selling large chunks of his Goldman shares according to his financial disclosures. While this serves to reduce his conflicts of interest with Goldman, it also provides a face-saving means of exiting a massive position in a Wall Street bank without the appearance of panic or disloyalty. [...]" 

MSM: "Biggest Aluminum Producer Faces Default, Warns "Dramatic Social Unrest" Without Beijing Bailout" [04/17/17] "Step aside China Huishan Dairy Holdings - China's largest dairy producer which cratered last month after a negative Muddy Waters research report brought attention to a company we knew for one year was collateralizing its cows to fund stock buybacks - and make way for what may be the next Chinese megafraud. While China Hongqiao Group may be best known for being the world's largest aluminum producer, it has in recent months featured just as prominently among short-seller reports who have accused the company of being a fraud. As the WSJ's Scott Patterson writes, questions about China Hongqiao’s finances first emerged in November, when an anonymous short seller wrote on a website called Hongqiao Exposed that the company’s profits are “too good to be true.” China Hongqiao in the March 31 statement called the report “untrue and unfounded.” A subsequent 46-page report on Feb. 28 by Emerson Analytics, a trading firm focused on Chinese stock-market fraud, disclosed more allegations of fraud involving the Chinese commodity giant. [...]" 

MSM: "Out Of Cash" - More Than 90% Of India ATMs Run Dry" [04/17/17]  "Five months have passed since the demonetisation drive, but the people of India continue to face a shortage of cash in banks and ATMs. The Times of India reports that more than 90% of the ATMs in the northern region do not have cash, and in the southern states as many as 65% of ATMs have run dry. [...] Speaking to TOI, State Bank of India (SBI) deputy general manager Ajoy Kumar Pandit said the customers are losing confidence in them due to the crisis. "Nearly 70 per cent of our 648 ATMs in the three districts are out of cash. The rest will also become dry in the next few days as we do not have cash to refill the machines. We are helpless from our side," he said. A banking source said the RBI has diverted most of the cash to north India due to the recent elections. This has affected the southern parts of the country. "The government's intention is to encourage smart payment systems, but the infrastructure is not up to the mark," the source said. Many ATMs have not been upgraded with the new software required for handling the new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 denominations, the source added.[...]"  

Commentary: "Americans Owe $1 Trillion In Credit Card Debt Due To Rising Interest Rates" [04/17/17] "Americans owe a whopping $1 trillion in credit card debt thanks to rising interest rates, according to data from the Federal Reserve. Federal Reserve data released April 7 shows that U.S. consumers owe $1.0004 trillion on credit cards, up 6.2 percent from a year ago and 0.3 percent from January, according to Dow Jones newswires. The New York Post reports that U.S. consumers who do not pay off their credit card bill each month carry an average monthly balance of about $9,600. [...] The price of goods and services have increased at a much faster pace than wages for the average working person. Medical costs increased by 57 percent, food prices soared by 36 percent, and housing costs spiked by 32 percent since 2003" 

Commentary: "NATO’s Weapon of Choice-Transatlantic Banking Powers" Newsbud [04/15/17] [39:07] "Newsbud presents and welcomes the newest addition, Pye Ian, to its team. Mr. Ian is an independent economic researcher and analyst with undergraduate degrees in economics and political science from the University of California and a Master’s degree in finance from Cambridge University. In this exclusive interview with Sibel Edmonds Pye Ian discusses his latest article NATO’s Currency War against Turkey, and explains how NATO uses mega banks and rating agencies in its covert war against target nations’ perceived noncompliance with its geostrategic goals. [...]" 

MSM: "2017 Debt Crisis Looms: Congress Will Have 4 Days To Avoid A Government Shutdown On April 29" [04/13/17] "April 2017 could turn out to be one of the most important months in U.S. history that we have seen in a very long time. On April 6th, Donald Trump attacked Syria on the 100th anniversary of the day that the U.S. officially entered World War I, and now at the end of this month we could be facing an unprecedented political crisis in Washington. On Friday, members of Congress left town for their two week “Easter vacation”, and they won’t resume work until April 25th. What this means is that Congress will have precisely four days when they get back to pass a bill to fund government operations or there will be a government shutdown starting on April 29th. Up to this point, there has been very little urgency by either party to move a spending bill forward. It is almost as if everyone is already resigned to the fact that a government shutdown will happen. The Democrats will greatly benefit from a government shutdown because they can just blame the entire mess on the Republicans. But for the GOP, this is essentially the equivalent of political malpractice. To me, there is simply no way that Congress is going to be able to agree on a bill that funds the entire government in just four days. And it turns out that this upcoming deadline comes exactly on the 100th day of Trump’s presidency… [...]" Related: "Corrupt Congress Heads Out For Vacation As Government Shutdown Looms" Printer Friendly Version Members of Congress have headed back to their districts for a two-week recess after one of the most bitterly divided sessions in history that culminated with Republicans launching the 'nuclear option' to confirm Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. Unfortunately, upon their return to Washington DC, they will have just 5 days to unveil, debate and pass a spending bill, or trigger a government shutdown on April 28.

MSM: "Fed's Kaplan Warns Trump "US Too Leveraged To Use Debt For Growth" [04/13/17] Printer Friendly Version "Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Robert Kaplan had lots to say this morning that, for now, the market has chosen to ignore. He warned "we are highly leveraged" implicitly warning President Trump that the country’s ability to boost growth through debt is limited.  [...]" 

MSM: "Smoking Gun' Recording Entangles Bank of England in Libor Rigging Scandal" [04/12/17] Printer Friendly Version "A secret recording implicating the Bank of England in the Libor rigging scandal has been uncovered, the first potential "smoking gun" evidence of the central bank's long-suspected role in compelling UK commercial banks to artificially drive down their lending rates during the financial crisis. [...]"

Commentary: "The Reason The Federal Gov't Has Been Keen to Blame Russia for Everything: Gold" Ø Hedge [04/06/17] "How would you feel if you had planned a gathering of your closest family and friends and your list of invites grows to include some 185 guests. You also invited your known trouble-making cousin. Your cousin shows up drunk, armed and belligerent. He begins harassing a good portion of the guests, smashes some of your prized possessions and then, as an added bonus, he shoots and kills 12 of your guests.  As your cousin is leaving the gathering, he takes your wallet and your wife’s purse. He also goes in your bedroom, opens your safe and removes all your gold and silver. Your cousin now has all your credit and debit cards and all the cash you had on hand. You can not conduct business in any manner. You can’t even pay the caterer for their services. If this sounds like a horrific story, you’re right - it is. The drunken cousin is a metaphor for how the U.S. has been acting for the past several years and how it has treated countries around the world. Do you suppose some of these nations are more than a little tired of being treated in this manner? Do you suppose that instead of acting as this oppressive “cousin” acts that some of these countries would find it better to simply develop a way to leave the “gathering” in a peaceful manner and get on with their own business?  [...]  As we reported on March 30, China and Russia are taking steps to move away from their out of control “cousin”, the Federal Reserve Note, U.S. dollar, world reserve currency. We learned in March 2016 that Kazakistan had been in formal talks with the Shanghai Gold Exchange regarding gold as currency along the New Silk Road (One Belt One Road) spearheaded by China. Kazakistan also smelts most of Russia’s gold and mines a small amount gold annually and is a member of both the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and Eurasia Economic Union (EEU).  Then, in October of 2016 we continued covering how China had been working directly with the IMF to get the yuan/renminbi currency added to the SDR basket of currencies for global trade. That now appears to be a cover story for what lay ahead. With the renminbi now a global currency that changes how the renminbi functions within the currency markets and in global trade negotiations. [...] China began working their CIPS system, global trade settlement system, in October 2016, the same time the renminbi joined the SDR basket, allowing China to conduct global trade outside the U.S. owned and operated SWIFT system. Both systems are used to settle global trade transactions and the SWIFT system has been geared to the Federal Reserve Note – U.S. dollar – while the CIPS system is geared to the Chinese renminbi. [...]" 

Commentary: "Pension Crisis Too Big For Markets To Ignore" [04/03/17] Printer Friendly Version "... Unfunded pension obligations have risen to $1.9 trillion from $292 billion since 2007. Credit rating firms have begun downgrading states and municipalities whose pensions risk overwhelming their budgets. New Jersey and the cities of Chicago, Houston and Dallas are some of the issuers in the crosshairs. Morgan Stanley says municipal bond issuance is down this year in part because of borrowers are wary of running up new debts to effectively service pensions. [...] Federal Reserve data show that in 1952, the average public pension had 96 percent of its portfolio invested in bonds and cash equivalents. Assets matched future liabilities. But a loosening of state laws in the 1980s opened the door to riskier investments. In 1992, fixed income and cash had fallen to an average of 47 percent of holdings. By 2016, these safe investments had declined to 27 percent. It’s no coincidence that pensions’ flight from safety has coincided with the drop in interest rates. That said, unlike their private peers, public pensions discount their liabilities using the rate of returns they assume their overall portfolio will generate. In fiscal 2016, which ended June 30th, the average return for public pensions was somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.5 percent. Corporations’ accounting rules dictate the use of more realistic bond yields to discount their pensions’ future liabilities. Put differently, companies have been forced to set aside something closer to what it will really cost to service their obligations as opposed to the fantasy figures allowed among public pensions. [...] So why not just flip the switch and require truth and honesty in public pension math? Too many cities and potentially states would buckle under the weight of more realistic assumed rates of return. By some estimates, unfunded liabilities would triple to upwards of $6 trillion if the prevailing yields on Treasuries were used. That would translate into much steeper funding requirements at a time when budgets are already severely constrained. Pockets of the country would face essential public service budgets being slashed to dangerous levels.[...]" 

Commentary:  "Moscow, Beijing Join Forces To Bypass Dollar In Global Markets, Shift To Gold Trade" Ø Hedge [04/03/17] Printer Friendly Version "The Russian central bank opened its first overseas office in Beijing on March 14, marking a step forward in forging a Beijing-Moscow alliance to bypass the US dollar in the global monetary system, and to phase-in a gold-backed standard of trade. According to the South China Morning Post the new office was part of agreements made between the two neighbours "to seek stronger economic ties" since the West brought in sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis and the oil-price slump hit the Russian economy. According to Dmitry Skobelkin, the deputy governor of the Central Bank of Russia, the opening of a Beijing representative office by the Central Bank of Russia was a “very timely” move to aid specific cooperation, including bond issuance, anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism measures between China and Russia. The new central bank office was opened at a time when Russia is preparing to issue its first federal loan bonds denominated in Chinese Yuan. Officials from China’s central bank and financial regulatory commissions attended the ceremony at the Russian embassy in Beijing, which was set up in October 1959 in the heyday of Sino-Soviet relations. Financial regulators from the two countries agreed last May to issue home currency-denominated bonds in each other’s markets, a move that was widely viewed as intended to eventually test the global reserve status of the US dollar. [...]" Bypassing the US dollar appears to be paying off: according to the Chinese State Administration of Taxation, trade turnover between China and Russia increased by 34% in January, in annual terms. Bilateral trade in January 2017 amounted to $6.55 billion. China’s exports to Russia grew 29.5% reaching $3.41 billion, while imports from Russia increased by 39.3%, to $3.14 billion. Just as many suspected, with Russian sanctions forcing Moscow to find other trading partners, chief among which China, this is precisely what has happened. The creation of the clearing center enables the two countries to further increase bilateral trade and investment while decreasing their dependence on the US dollar. It will create a pool of Yuan liquidity in Russia that enables transactions for trade and financial operations to run smoothly.[...]"  

MSM: "Toshiba’s Nuclear Unit Westinghouse Files For US Bankruptcy" [04/02/17]  Printer Friendly Version "Following multibillion-dollar losses, Toshiba’s American nuclear unit Westinghouse filed for US bankruptcy protection on Wednesday. The troubled firm has thrown its Japanese parent company into crisis, putting the conglomerate's future at risk.  [...]"   

Concepts and Practices: "Indian Central Bank Arbitrarily Outlaws Bitcoin" [04/01/17] Printer Friendly Version "There was a huge hit on March 28 for Bitcoin proponents as a nation with nearly 20% of the world's population has officially declared the crypto-currency to be an outlaw form of money, and that users of Bitcoin could be considered to be money launderers. In a statement made by the Indian government in collaboration with comments made recently by their central bank, use of any virtual currency other than the Rupee is to be considered unauthorized and users to be assumed as money launderers upon investigation. [...]"  

Date With Destiny: "Hedge Fund Exec Who Fell Prey To Madoff Scheme Plunges 20 Stories" [04/01/17] Printer Friendly Version "A hedge-fund executive whose firm lost millions of dollars in the Bernie Madoff investment scheme jumped to his death, falling 20 stories from a luxury Manhattan hotel. The apparent suicide is the latest connected to the Madoff scandal.  Charles Murphy’s hedge fund, Fairfield Greenwich Group, invested more than $7 billion in Madoff’s wealth management firm – only to take a hard hit when the operation was revealed to be the largest Ponzi scheme in US history. [...] Murphy’s suicide is the latest connected to the Madoff scam. Madoff’s son, Mark, hanged himself in 2010. Investor and former Army Major William Foxton killed himself in 2009 after going bankrupt, and Rene Thierry Magon De La Villehuchet, whose firm AIA Group lost $15 billion in the scheme, was found dead in 2008, according to reports.[...]" 

Commentary: "The Overlapping Crises Are Coming, Regardless Of Who's In Power" [03/28/17] Printer Friendly Version "Commentators seem split into three camps: those who see Trump as a manifestation of smoldering social/economic ills, those who see Trump and his supporters as the cause of those ills, and those who see Trump as both manifestation and cause of those ills. I think this misses the point, which is the overlapping crises unfolding in this decade-- diminishing returns on skyrocketing debts, the demographics of an aging populace, the erosion of the social contract and the profound disunity of political elites--will continue expanding and feeding on each other regardless of who is in power. Historical analysis seems to swing between the "Big Man/Woman" narrative that views individuals as the drivers of history, and the "Big Forces/it's all economics" narrative that sees individual leaders as secondary to the broad sweep of forces beyond the control of any individual or group. [...] So while the mainstream views President Lincoln as the linchpin of the Civil War--his election triggered the southern secession--from the "Big Forces/it's all economics" view, Lincoln was no more than the match that lit a conflict that was made inevitable by forces larger than the 1860 election. The tension between these two narratives is valuable, as history cannot be entirely reduced to individual decisions or broad forces (weather, resource depletion, financial crisis, geopolitical upheaval, demographics, plague, etc.). The dynamic interplay between the two shapes history. Individuals do matter--but they cannot offset structural crises for long. Which brings us to Trump. The status quo is falling apart for profoundly structural reasons: promises made when growth was robust, debt was modest, energy was cheap and abundant and the work force was far more numerous than those dependent on the central state's "pay as you go" pension and welfare programs-- these promises made in yesteryear can no longer be kept, regardless of who's in power.[...]"  

MSM: "Chinese Banks, HSBC Caught Up In Huge Money Laundering Scam" [03/23/17] Printer Friendly Version "Several of China’s state-controlled banks, as well as HSBC’s Hong Kong branch, have allegedly processed hundreds of millions of US dollars from a vast money-laundering operation run by Russian criminals with links to the Russian government and the spy agency FSB. Documents obtained by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project show that at least US$20 billion was moved out of Russia between 2010 and 2014 in a vast criminal operation called “The Global Laundromat”. Over that period, Bank of China – one of the biggest state-owned commercial banks in China – processed a total of US$716 million of the Laundromat cash via branches in mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau, making it the fourth most active bank in the plot, as shown by the documents. [...]"  Related: Flashback: "Comey Oversaw Cartel Money Laundering Ops As A Top Executive At HSBC Bank" Printer Friendly Version "Before becoming the director of the FBI, Director Comey, worked at the criminal bank of HSBC which laundered drug cartel and terrorist drug money in the worst banking scandal in US history. My best insider source states that FBI Director James Comey has absolutely no law enforcement background, and is not qualified to run the FBI. To add insult to injury, the FBI Director held an executive position at HSBC Bank, while extreme money laundering operations where being carried out by the Mexican Drug Cartel and their terrorist allies with the direct assistance of HSBC banking officials. I asked my source if Comey would have known, and he replied “he would have to have been drunk 24/7 to not know what was going on”.  [...]" | "Videos: More Info On Comey And HSBC"

Commentary: "Deutsche Bank Linked To Russian Money Laundering Scam" [03/23/17] Printer Friendly Version "Deutsche Bank is one of dozens of western financial institutions that processed at least $20bn – and possibly more – in money of “criminal origin” from Russia. The scheme, dubbed “the Global Laundromat”, ran from 2010 to 2014. Law enforcement agencies are investigating how a group of politically well-connected Russians were able to use UK-registered companies to launder billions of dollars in cash. The companies made fictitious loans to each other, underwritten by Russian businesses.  The companies would default on these “debts”. Judges in Moldova then made court rulings enforcing judgments against the firms. This allowed Russian bank accounts to transfer huge sums to Moldova legally. From there, the money went to accounts in Latvia with Trasta Komercbanka. Deutsche, Germany’s biggest lender, acted as a “correspondent bank” for Trasta until 2015. This meant Deutsche provided dollar- denominated services to Trasta’s non-resident Russian clients. This service was used to move money from Latvia to banks across the world. During this period many Wall Street banks got out of Latvia, citing concerns that the small Baltic country had become a centre for international money laundering, especially from neighbouring Russia. In 2013, and under US regulatory pressure, JP Morgan Chase ceased providing dollar clearing services to the country. From 2014, only two western lenders were willing to accept international dollar transfers from Latvian banks. They were Deutsche and Germany’s Commerzbank. Deutsche eventually withdrew correspondent services to Trasta Bank in September 2015.  [...]" Related: "British Banks Handled Vast Sums Of Laundered Russian Money" Printer Friendly Version "Billions of dollars were moved out of Russia in ‘Global Laundromat’ operation, with anonymously owned UK companies playing major role [...]"  Note: 'Laundromat' funnels illicit funds out of Russia: Banks in Moldova and Latvia help Russians take billions of dollars out of their country bypassing strict money laundering rules. The massive operation has been dubbed 'The Laundromat' by anti- corruption activists. Source | "UAE Named In $20bn Russian Money Laundering Scheme" Printer Friendly Version 

Commentary: "The Stock Market Illusion Explained" [03/23/17] [9:18] "The "wealth" created by rising stock prices is just an illusion, explains the Health Ranger in this educational animation video. Follow the math and you'll realize how stock market "wealth" is almost entirely fictional... which is why it can disappear so quickly in a crash. 3.21.17 [...]" 

MSM: "World Stocks Seen As Most Overvalued In 17 Years" [03/23/17] Printer Friendly Version "World stocks are their most expensive in 17 years, but bond yields will need to be much higher than they are currently to trigger an equity bear market, a monthly fund manager survey showed on Tuesday. Bank of America Merrill Lynch's (BAML) poll of investors managing $592 billion worldwide was conducted from March 10-16, a period that saw Wall Street's recent string of record highs fizzle out and the Federal Reserve raise U.S. interest rates. [...]" 

MSM: "Foreign Banks Retreat From Lending To U.S." [03/22/17] Printer Friendly Version "Lending in the U.S. by foreign banks has started to contract. The contraction of foreign loans comes at a time when loan growth by U.S. banks has been slowing. Year over year loan growth by the 25 largest U.S. banks fell to around 3.35% in early March, down from 7.18% a year earlier. Overall loan growth by commercial banks has fallen to around 4.28%. For most of last year, foreign banks were growing loans at a faster pace than their U.S. counterparts. That changed in the final weeks of 2016, when foreign bank loan growth began declining rapidly. [...]"  

Commentary: "The True Legacy Of David Rockefeller" [03/21/17] Printer Friendly Version "No one person encapsulates the enduring legacy of the “robber barons” of the Industrial Age quite like David Rockefeller. Rockefeller, who just died at the age of 101, was the last surviving grandson of John D. Rockefeller, the oil tycoon who became America’s first billionaire and the patriarch of what would become one of the most powerful and wealthiest families in American history. David Rockefeller, an undeniable product of American nobility, lived his entire life in the echelons of U.S. society, becoming symbolic of the elite who often direct public policy to a much greater extent than many realize, albeit often from the shadows. Rockefeller made it clear that he preferred to operate out of public view despite his great influence in American – and international – politics. Due to his birthright, Rockefeller served as an advisor to every president since Eisenhower, but when offered powerful positions such as Federal Reserve chairman and Secretary of the Treasury – he declined, preferring “a private role.” As evidenced by the numerous obituaries bemoaning the loss of the last of the Rockefeller’s grandsons, he was largely successful in hiding his most significant wrongdoings from public view, as evidenced by his characterization as a generous philanthropist and influential banker.[...] In addition to having the ear of every U.S. president for the better part of the last 70 or so years, Rockefeller – once again operating “behind the scenes” – was instrumental in shaping the more cringe-worthy aspects of U.S. policy during that time, as well as being a major force in establishing banking policies that led to debt crises in the developing world. Rockefeller – as the head of Chase Manhattan Bank from 1969 to 1981 – worked to create a “global order” unequivocally dominated by the 1 percent, of which his family was a part. As the New York Times noted back in the 1970s, Rockefeller became embroiled in controversy when his constant trips overseas caused the bank to become less profitable, as he prioritized the bank’s influence on foreign politics over its actual business dealings."  During his time as Chase CEO, Rockefeller helped laid the foundation for repressive, racist and fascist regimes around the world, as well as architecture for global inequality. In addition, Rockefeller helped to bring the debt crisis of the 1980s into existence, in part by direct action through Chase Bank and also indirectly through his former employee-turned-Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker. Two years before the debt crisis erupted, Rockefeller, Volcker and other top bankers met at the International Monetary Conference in 1980s to argue for the establishment of a “safety net” for major banks – like Chase – that were embroiled in bad loans given largely to countries in the developing world. [...] After the crisis brought financial ruin in developing areas throughout the world, Rockefeller – along with other bankers – created "austerity programs" to “solve” the debt crisis during subsequent IMC meetings, provoking inequality that still persists to this day. Thanks to the “safety net” conveniently established years prior, Chase avoided the economic consequences for its criminal actions. Rockefeller supported the bloody and ruthless dictatorships of the Shah of Iran and Augusto Pinochet of Chile while also supporting Israeli apartheid. Rockefeller founded the influential Trilateral Commission while also serving as a major force on the Council on Foreign Relations that he, along with his close friend Henry Kissinger, would come to dominate. Both of these organizations have come under fire for using their powerful influence to bring about a “one-world government” ruled by a powerful, ultra-wealthy elite – an accusation to which David Rockefeller confirmed as true in his autobiography. David Rockefeller deserves to be remembered for his true legacy – one of elitism, fascism and economic enslavement." Related: "David Rockefeller Dies At 101" Printer Friendly Version Note: I guess his 6th heart transplant in 2016 didn't do this corrupt reincarnated retread any good. Good riddance! I hope he tries to reincarnate here quickly (if even allowed by the game at this point because of the proximity of graduation), because he would be just in time to die again when the graduation dynamic on Earth goes full tilt and he will end up being born yet again in another body on some sequential planet out there, and has to fit into a pre-existing hierarchy, having dug himself deeper into his existential loops. He will have plenty of company.    

Commentary: "Hedge Fund CIO: "Odds Of Trump Succeeding Zero In Absence Of New War" Ø Hedge [03/20/17] Printer Friendly Version "We present the latest weekly anecdote, From Eric Peters, CIO Of One River Asset Management: “You know what I dislike about my own argument?” asked the CIO. “I sound defensive, like I can’t accept I’m wrong.” We all know that guy, and rarely want to be him. “No one ever truly believed in my thesis,” he said, describing it: A growing dominance by the global economic elite shapes policy to deliberately asphyxiate dynamism. Because dynamism and its fraternal twin – volatility - are the only real threats to an entrenched elite. Rising income inequality is an obvious manifestation of this process. As the cost of raising children soars, declining birth rates are too. It’s why our students are drowning in debt and now rent for life. If they fall ill, it’s why laws prohibit them from declaring bankruptcy on college loans. It’s why big firms are bailed out, and why incumbents are securely gerrymandered, rarely unseated. Peel back the patina and you’ll discover that today’s monetary policy, tax policy, foreign policy, trade policy, and regulations of every stripe are levers the elite pull to entrench their interests. Secular stagnation is what we came to call the symptom without identifying this cause. Then came a synchronized global cyclical recovery, which we may now confuse as a Trump inspired break from this stranglehold. “If I thought our new president could increase budget deficits by another 2% per year, my thesis would crumble. I’d be wrong. But the odds of this are zero in the absence of starting a new war.” He paused, considering the rebound in interest rates, the record equity highs. “Am I just looking for reasons to support my position?” he asked aloud, interested only in his own answer. “I’ve been wrong on trades, but never on a big structural theme. That’s because I only bet really big when I’m absolutely convinced. And I’m pretty sure I’m still right.” [...]" 

MSM: "Janet Yellen Gives Useless Answers To Bloomberg's Question About Rate Hikes " [03/17/17] [5:06] "Today's FOMC press conference was the standard affair. Reporters ask broad questions, Yellen responds with even broader comments that amble aimlessly leaving no one any wiser as to The Fed's true intent. That is, until Bloomberg TV's Kathleen Hays decided enough was enough, and wanted to get to the bottom of just why a "data-dependent" Fed is hiking in a world in which economic data is rapidly deteriorating. [...]"  Related: "Startled Reporter Asks Why Yellen Hiked With GDP And Real Wages Sliding: Here Is The Response" Printer Friendly Version  w/Charts

Commentary: "China Is Again Selling US Treasuries As Foreign Central Banks Liquidate $45BN" [03/17/17] Printer Friendly Version "After December's brief dead cat bounce, in which foreign central banks bought $18.6 billion in US Treasuries, breaking a streak of 12 consecutive months of selling, in January they resumed their liquidation. According to the just released TIC data, foreign official institutions, which includes mostly central banks, but also sovereign wealth funds and various other official entities, sold another $44.9 billion in Treasuries, in line with the aggressive selling seen for most of 2016. [...]"  

Commentary: "Trump Picks Another Goldman Banker For Treasury Deputy" [03/15/17] Printer Friendly Version "Donald Trump has selected yet another Goldman Sachs executive to fill a senior role in his administration, naming the firm’s current managing director, James Donovan, to serve as deputy Treasury secretary. Donovan would be the sixth member of Trump’s team with ties to Goldman, which was once described as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.” Donovan’s now-boss, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, also worked at the investment bank. National Economic Council director Gary Cohn; White House senior counselor for economic initiatives Dina Powell; and chief strategist Steve Bannon also formerly held positions within the very institution that Trump pointed to on the campaign trail as a symbol of Wall Street corruption and greed. Jay Clayton, Trump’s nominee to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), was a Goldman Sachs attorney. The hypocrisy didn’t go unnoticed on social media: Goldman Sachs alum who is Trump’s Treasury sec’y picks Goldman exec to be his deputy. So much populism, it’s tiring.[...] Donovan must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. [...]" 

Convolutions: "Russia's Largest Bank Confirms Hiring Podesta Group To Lobby For Ending Sanctions" [03/10/17] Printer Friendly Version "Russia's largest bank, Sberbank, has confirmed that it hired the consultancy of Tony Podesta, the elder brother of John Podesta who chaired Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, for lobbying its interests in the United States and proactively seeking the removal of various Obama-era sanctions, the press service of the Russian institution told TASS on Thursday. "The New York office of Sberbank CIB indeed hired Podesta Group. Engagement of external consultants is part of standard business practices for us," Sberbank said.  [...] Related: "Abby Martin Exposes Podesta’s Political Rise, Network Of Shady Corporations, Brutal Dictatorships, Media Collaborators" [23:51] 

Commentary: "Mnuchin Calls on Ryan to Raise the Debt Ceiling ASAP" [03/10/17] Printer Friendly Version "In a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, Mnuchin pointed out that the suspension of the statutory debt limit will expire on Wednesday, March 15, 2017. The following day, the outstanding debt of the United States will be at the statutory debt limit. At that point, the Treasury will begin to take “extraordinary measures” to prevent the U.S. from defaulting on its debt, Mnuchin wrote in the letter dated March 8. “As I said in my confirmation hearing, honoring the full faith and credit of our outstanding debt is a critical commitment. I encourage Congress to raise the debt limit at the first opportunity so that we can proceed with our joint priorities,” Mnuchin wrote. Mnuchin said that the Treasury will begin by suspending the issuance of certain special purpose Treasury securities to state and local governments. The debt ceiling is statutory limit set by Congress on the total amount that the U.S. Treasury can borrow. It is currently set at $20.1 trillion but was suspended in late 2015. At the end of the fourth quarter of 2016, the debt of the U.S. government had reached nearly $20 trillion. Mnuchin’s letter makes it clear that we will have reached the limit when the current suspension expires next week. The debt of the U.S. government has more than doubled from the $9.2 trillion owed at the end of 2007. It began rising rapidly with the onset of the Great Recession and financial crisis. [...]" 

Commentary: "When Deutsche Bank Wobbles, Wall Street Gets Shaky Knees" [03/08/17] Printer Friendly Version "Yesterday, the German global bank, Deutsche Bank, fell by 3.82 percent by the close of trading on the New York Stock Exchange on news of a capital raising and revamp in strategy. That price action took down every major Wall Street bank stock and, interestingly, MetLife, which closed down 1.64 percent, beating out even Citigroup which closed down 1.18 percent. The rest of the major derivatives players fared as follows: JPMorgan Chase closed with a loss of 0.95 percent; Bank of America was off by 0.75 percent; Morgan Stanley closed down 0.56 percent; with Goldman Sachs down a meager 0.35 percent after infusing itself throughout the Trump administration’s corridors of power in Washington. Last June, Deutsche Bank found itself the subject of unwanted attention in a report issued by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The report looked at the “Financial System Stability” of German financial institutions and examined the systemic impact that a major bank blowing up would have on other domestic German banks and insurers as well as financial stability in other countries. The report concluded that spillover effects would not be limited to Germany but would impact France, the U.K. and the U.S. The troubling report called out Deutsche Bank as “the most important net contributor to systemic risks.” (See chart above.) Its findings included the following: [...]" Related: See below

Commentary: "Strange Deaths: Yet Another Banker Death ..." [03/08/17] Printer Friendly Version "Just when you thought there couldn't possibly be another banker jumping off the top of buildings, it has happened again, and in a strange context, for there has been a death of a bio-terrorism expert as well. Let's take the banker death first, then the bioterrorism expert's death, and then my "high octane speculation of the day." [...] The article states that Mr. Kevin Bell, a 47 year old investment banker, had been depressed, on medications, and of course, jumped to his death. Implication: suicide because of "depression." This said, there is a disturbing pattern here, for the unfortunate Mr. Bell does fit a pattern we've seen elsewhere, of bankers in London, Paris, and Hong Kong walking off the rooftops or high balconies of buildings, or walking in front of trains, and so on. In one case, of course, we've seen the death of a banker in the mortgage business dying of several nails from a nail gun to the head. And in one instance, death by gunshot - ruled a suicide - even though the victim-shooter managed to put the gun that did the deed into the glovebox of his car, after the deed. In Mr. Bell's case, after the article manages to mention his depression and that he was "taking medications", with the clear implication of Mr. Bell's death being a suicide, the Post article then mentions this little tidbit, a "tidbit" I cannot help but qualify as "greasy and suspicious": Bell, a graduate of Duke University, worked at Arrowgrass Capital Partners, where he was head of credit risk, according to his LinkedIn page. He previously worked at Saba Capital Management, Citadel Investment group, Citigroup and Deutsche Bank, according to his page. [...] Obviously, if you've been following the Deutsche Bank saga as I've outlined it on this website and as other researchers have been following it, you'll know that that bank is up to its earlobes in financial practices of a "dubious" nature. Then, of course, there is Deutsche Bank's strange appearance in the events of 9/11 via one of its offshoots placing trades that would tend to indicate prior knowledge of the event (not surprising, given it's connections to the (out) House of Saud as I outlined in my book Hidden Finance, Rogue Networks, and Secret Sorcery). And Mr. Bell is not the only banker with a connection to the big German bank who has turned up dead by suicide. Additionally, Mr. Bell fits another pattern embedded within some of the banker deaths, namely, he was involved in credit risk assessment.[...]"

Commentary: "Keiser Report: Cognitive Dissonance in US Stock Markets (E1040)" [03/05/17] [25:45] "We discuss cognitive dissonance in US stock markets. In the second half, Max continues his interview with economic researcher, writer and trend forecaster, Chris Martenson of about ‘the mother of all bubbles’ in US equity markets.  [...]"  

Commentary: "NY Teamsters Pension Runs Out Of Money: "Pension Tsunami" Is Coming" [03/03/17] Printer Friendly Version "The New York Teamsters Road Carriers Local 707 Pension Fund has won the unfortunate award for “First Pension to Officially Run Out of Money.” According to the New York Daily News, and a host of angry former truck drivers who’ve had their pension benefits slashed, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC) has officially been forced to step in and take over payments to retirees of the Local 707, albeit at a much lower rate. Teamsters Local 707’s pension fund is the first to officially bottom out financially — which happened this month. “I had a union job for 30 years,” Chmil said. “We had collectively bargained contracts that promised us a pension. I paid into it with every paycheck. Everyone told us, ‘Don’t worry, you have a union job, your pension is guaranteed.’ Well, so much for that.” [...] “It’s a nightmare, it has just devastated all of our lives. I’ve gone from having $48,000 a year to less than half that,” said Chmil, one of five Local 707 retirees who agreed to share their stories with the Daily News last week.[...] Of course, the Teamsters 707 and other Teamster pension boards attempted to submit plans that would have cut benefits in order to prolong payments to retirees but those plans were universally rejected by the Obama administration…better the pensions just run out of cash completely.[...]" Related: "Federal Insurance Agency Backing Union Pensions Facing Crisis Itself" Printer Friendly Version 

Commentary: "$4.6bn Long-Term-Care Insurer To Liquidate In Pa; Biggest Healthcare Failure Ever" [03/03/17] Printer Friendly Version "We spend a lot of time talking about the various pension ponzi schemes that will inevitably wreak havoc on the global financial system at some point in the not so distant future. That said, you should also be keeping an eye on so-called long-term-care (LTC) health insurance providers who, as Penn Treaty Network of America Insurance teaches us this morning, have been perpetuating a ponzi scheme of their own. After eight full years of legal battles between state regulators, investors, and policyholders, Pennsylvania Court Judge Hannah Leavitt signed off on a plan Wednesday to liquidate Penn Treaty Network America Insurance and its affiliate, American Network Insurance, the largest such health insurance liquidation in history. The decision leaves solvent insurers, their owners, and customers to pick up the cost for more than 70% of the up to $4.6 billion in projected long-term-care claims expected for 76,000 aging Penn Treaty customers nationwide. Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioners Teresa Miller said that after a grueling eight-year legal battle the companies' financial difficulties were deemed "too great to be remedied." Per the PA Insurance Department: Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller today announced the Commonwealth Court approval of petitions to liquidate Penn Treaty Network America Insurance Company and American Network Insurance Company, with policyholder claims to be paid through the state guaranty association system, subject to statutory limits and conditions. "After a long and difficult eight-year legal process, the Court's decision to approve the liquidation recognizes the companies' financial difficulties are too great to be remedied, and that consumers are best protected through the state guaranty association system," Commissioner Miller said. [...]" Related: "Keiser Report: Financial Toxicity In The US" [25:46] 

MSM: "Venezuela Is Down To Its Last $10B As Debt Payments Loom" [03/03/17] Printer Friendly Version "Venezuela’s central bank is down to its last $10.5 billion in foreign reserves, according to the institution’s most recent report on the country’s financials. [...] Over the remainder of 2017, Caracas needs to fund $7.2 billion in debt payments – an amount that it can only meet if oil prices spike far higher than the ongoing boosts caused by OPEC’s output reduction agreement. Current reserves stand 66 percent lower than levels in 2011, when the government held $30 billion in foreign currencies to spend on loan repayments and other official business (and down 75% from 2008 highs). "The question is: Where is the floor?" Siobhan Morden, head of Latin America fixed income strategy at Nomura Holdings, told CNN Money. "If oil prices stagnate and foreign reserves reach zero, then the clock is going to start on a default."  Venezuela’s financial report for 2016 stated that roughly $7.7 billion of the remaining $10.5 billion in foreign reserves had been preserved in gold. Last year, in order to fulfill debt obligations, Caracas began shipping gold to Switzerland. The drastic fall in oil prices in 2014 and widespread corruption have both caused an economic meltdown in the South American country, where citizens had become accustomed to imported goods paid for by fossil fuel revenues. President Nicolas Maduro has resorted to opening the country’s border with Columbia to allow Venezuelans to purchase necessary medical and day-to-day supplies.[...]" 

Commentary: "Real Personal Spending Crashes Most Since 2009" [03/02/17] Printer Friendly Version "With incomes rising more than spending, the savings rate predictably ticked up from multi year lows, rising from 5.4% to 5.5% in January. On the income side, the increase in personal income was almost entirely from service-producing industries wages, which increased by $22.5BN, while Goods-producing was higher by just $4 billion. Additionally, Social Security transfer benefits added another $9 billion. However, for the 'average joe', facing a rising cost of goods, real personal spending plunged 0.3% in January: the biggest drop since September 2009. Finally, as a result of surging inflation, and disposable incomes suddenly unable to keep up, the real annual growth in disposable income per capita fell to just 1.5%, the weakest in over 3 years and a red flag for those calling for another renaissance for US consumers.[...]" 

Commentary: "Wall Street Scrambles To Change The Trump Narrative Again" [03/02/17] Printer Friendly Version " "Until yesterday, the prevailing Wall Street consensus was that in the absence of specifics from President Trump on his economic and fiscal plans, the market would be disappointed, and proceed to slide. It did not, in fact quite the opposite. As a result, the world's best paid strategists have again - just like after the election - revised the "Trump narrative" after the fact, and now the prevailing analyst sentiment is that markets will like Trump’s address to Congress as he cooled his rhetoric and likely gained political capital. As Bloomberg adds, the reflation trade, which has been boosting financials, held, even as the speech was short on details, forcing the U-turn in the plotline. Still, while turning tactically bullish overnight, there is an agreement that efforts on tax reform and infrastructure spending are likely a long, uphill slog, as those priorities may get squeezed by other agenda items, like health care. Here is a recap of some of the most prominent notes flying around this morning, virtually none of which to Mark Cudmore chagrin, suggest - if only for now - that the "emperor is naked." [...]"   

MSM: "SEC Freezes Accounts Of "Highly Suspicious" Traders Who Made $3.6 Million On Takeover" [03/02/17] Printer Friendly Version "First, it was the leak of the massive Heinz-Unilever deal that may have scuttled the Warren Buffett-inspired transaction, now it appears that another recent megamerger was leaked 4 days ahead of the announcement. On Wednesday morning, the SEC froze brokerage accounts of several unnamed traders who made more than $3.6 million in profits by trading in the four days before the $3.3 billion takeover of Fortress Investment Group was announced by Japan’s SoftBank. According to the FT, the traders placed “highly suspicious” orders for shares and contracts for difference, or CFDs, through Singapore-based Maybank Securities and a brokerage in London, R.J. O’Brien. Breaking the second cardinal rule of insider trading, i.e., never to buy stocks in bulk in the day ahead of the announcement (the first such rule is never to buy calls the before a deal is announced although the "insiders" did that too), all the trades through Maybank were made within a 24-hour period before the deal to buy the US-listed private equity firm was announced to the market; meanwhile trade through R.J. O’Brien took place between February 10 and 14, the day the deal was disclosed the SEC reported. “The timing, size and profitability of these trades are highly suspicious,” the SEC said in a court filing asking for the freeze. As the FT adds, the SEC is seeking a judgment to force the traders to disgorge the profits and pay a penalty. SoftBank’s offer for Fortress was a 30 per cent premium over the private equity firm’s closing share price that day. Also, as the SEC further notes, it appears that the rookie traders decided to really bring attention on themselves by also breaking Cardinal rule #1: a burst of option buying ahead of the deal. Just like in the case of the Unilever deal, which saw a surge in call option volume for both Unilever and Kraft Heinz ahead of the announcement... [...]  ... the size of bets in the options market prior to the deal raised eyebrows in the US, leading several market experts to believe that information had been leaked ahead of the deal. The volume of options trading in Fortress was more than eight times the normal level ahead of the deal’s public announcement. Specifically, customers of Maybank bought 950,000 shares in Fortress hours before the announcement, selling them the next morning for $1.7 million. R.J. O’Brien’s customers bought CFDs and shares in Fortress, which they sold on February 15 for $1.9 million, according to the SEC’s complaint seeking the freeze.  Also notable is how quickly the leak appears to have emerged: the Maybank clients began placing the trades on February 14, building up a $5 million position, 33 minutes after Fortress’s board of directors received an email with draft resolutions approving the deal, according to the SEC. Only two days before, there was “serious doubt” as to whether the deal would even go through, the SEC complaint said. Discussions between SoftBank and Fortress had begun in December, and the two companies initially planned to finalise the deal over the weekend of February 10-12, putting it to a board vote at Fortress on February 12. The R.J. O’Brien clients began buying CFDs on February 10, through an account with Merrill Lynch, just before that weekend. The only other time Maybank bought any Fortress stock through its account at UBS was in February 2016, when 10,000 shares were bought and later sold in April. As the FT notes, the emergency court order obtained by the SEC on February 24 will prevent the traders from accessing any of those gains. As yet, the SEC said they do not know the identities of the traders, but said in the complaint they are “believed to be foreign traders trading through foreign accounts”. In recent years, suspicious trading before deals has been under increased scrutiny by the SEC and regulators around the world after insider trading prosecutions in New York over the past decade exposed the extent of the crime. The SEC has yet to launch a probe into the far larger Unilever leak(s).[...]"  

Commentary: "March 2017: The End Of A 100 Year Global Debt Super Cycle Is Way Overdue" [03/01/17] Printer Friendly Version "For more than 100 years global debt levels have been rising, and now we are potentially facing the greatest debt crisis in all of human history. Never before have we seen such a level of debt saturation all over the planet, and pretty much everyone understands that this is going to end very, very badly at some point. The only real question is when it will happen. Many believe that the current global debt super cycle began when the Federal Reserve was established in 1913. Central banks are designed to create debt, and since 1913 the U.S. national debt has gotten more than 6800 times larger. But of course it is not just the United States that is in this sort of predicament. At this point more than 99 percent of the population of the entire planet lives in a nation that has a debt-creating central bank, and as a result the whole world is drowning in debt. [...] That is the inevitable consequence of 100 years of credit expansion from virtually nothing to $250 trillion, plus global unfunded liabilities of roughly $500 trillion, plus derivatives of $1.5 quadrillion. This is a staggering total of $2.25 quadrillion. Therefore, the question is not what could go wrong since it is guaranteed that all these liabilities will implode at some point. And when they do, it will bring misery to the world of a magnitude that no one could ever imagine. It is of course very difficult to forecast the end of a major cycle. As this is unlikely to be a mere 100-year cycle but possibly a 2000-year cycle.[...]"  Note:  If everyone agreed to dispense with or reset the entire debt and begin again from a different perspective, that would be all it would take. But no, they're all addicted to the system, as is, and bound up with existential angst. In all probability, they will do all they can do to keep it going.

Commentary: "David Stockman: Two Potentially Big Events Coming March 15, 2017" [02/28/17] Printer Friendly Version "Video" [26:30] "In an interview yesterday with Greg Hunter’s USA Watchdog, David Stockman made a dire forecast for financial markets for the summer of 2017, as shown in the 26-minute video. Mr. Stockman served as a Republican U.S. Representative from the state of Michigan and as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan. He is expecting two key events on March 15 2017 are going to set in motion a major drop in financial markets by this summer. He estimated, “I expect the markets will easily correct by 20% and probably a lot more.” [...] 1. Debt Ceiling Crisis: First, the debt ceiling holiday which started in October 2015 expires, which will lock in the U.S. government’s debt at a limit of $20 trillion. By law, Congress will not be able to borrow any additional funds to cover spending. They will be limited to the monthly tax revenues, which is about $250 to $300 billion, but not enough to cover current spending levels. Mr. Stockman estimates the Treasury Department will run out of cash by this summer, which will cause what he calls “the mother of all debt ceiling crises.”  He expects when Wall Street realizes Congress is unable to cover their current spending commitments, it will shock investors and cause a sell-off. Although Congress has raised the debt ceiling over 70 times in the past, Mr. Stockman believes they won’t be able to raise it this time because the current deal gives the President authority to allocate spending in the event that no new spending agreement is reached. That gives President Trump bargaining power his predecessors have not had, which increases the likelihood of a government shutdown. He further predicts the debt ceiling crisis will derail President Trump’s plans to repeal Obamacare, cut taxes, and provide an infrastructure stimulus. He expects that will negatively impact financial markets, causing the current bullish optimism to “dissipate very quickly.”[...]  Stockman: “I think what people are missing is this date, March 15th, 2017. That’s the day that this debt ceiling holiday that Obama and Boehner put together right before the last election in October of 2015. That holiday expires. The debt ceiling will freeze in at $20 trillion. It will then be law. It will be a hard stop. The Treasury will have roughly $200 billion in cash. We are burning cash at a $75 billion a month rate. By summer, they will be out of cash. Then we will be in the mother of all debt ceiling crises. Everything will grind to a halt. I think we will have a government shutdown. There will not be Obama Care repeal and replace. There will be no tax cut. There will be no infrastructure stimulus. There will be just one giant fiscal bloodbath over a debt ceiling that has to be increased and no one wants to vote for.” [...] 2. Fed Raising Interest Rates: Second, Mr. Stockman says, “They are going to raise interest rates on March 15. They have to. I’m talking about the Fed.” If the Fed raises rates on March 15, it would cause the dollar value to go up, which fits what I have been expecting to see, the dollar getting stronger until it suddenly gets devalued. Raising rates could also be the catalyst for a drop in precious metals prices, which fits the two steep legs down, which I shared in my previous post. I am expecting to see spot silver prices drop by over $4.00 per ounce from the current market price of $18.38. Mr. Stockman added, “The S&P 500 has been trading at 26 times earnings while earnings have been dropping for the past six or seven quarters. There is no booming recovery coming. There is going to be a recession and there will be no stimulus baton to bail it out. That is the new fact that neither Trump nor the Wall Street gamblers remotely understand.” Later in the interview, he added, “I think we are going to have a greater depression in the stock market than we have had since 1987 when it dropped 25% in one day.”[...] The S&P 500 has been trading at 26 times earnings while earnings have been dropping for the past six or seven quarters. There is no booming recovery coming. There is going to be a recession and there will be no stimulus baton to bail it out. That is the new fact that neither Trump nor the Wall Street gamblers remotely understand.”[...]" 

Commentary: "EU Threat To Pensions: Mass Migration Blamed For £30 Billion A Year 'Economic Catastrophe'" [02/26/17] Printer Friendly Version "The comprehensive paper - How the £30 billion cost of EU migration Imperils Pensions & Benefits - by the thinktank Global Britain has blown apart claims that the UK needs EU migration to support its pension system. Instead it reveals that cheap labour flooding in from the continent is causing "an economic catastrophe" for the UK which threatens the pension system. [...] And the report suggests that leaving the EU and taking back control of British borders will provide the UK with “a £250 billion opportunity” in the next five years. The new study comes in a week where new figures revealed that the annual net migration is still 273,000, a reduction of 49,000 from previous figures but almost three times the level the government promised to reduce the number to. The latest Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures revealed that 268,000 EU citizens relocated to the UK in the year up to September 2016 with 74,000 of the incomers arriving from Romania and Bulgaria. The latest figures have highlighted the continued strain to the Exchequer of low paid workers coming into the UK.[...] The Global Britain report's author Bob Lyddon, a leading City analyst, points out that the annual net cost of Britain’s 3 million EU migrants is £31.5 billion based on official figures which show that the Government spends £10,500 per head. However, he shows that only 2 million of them work contributing a mere £500 each in tax in average, a total of just £1 billion a year. This includes negligible levels of National Insurance contributions which underpin the state pension. He argues that the EU freedom of establishment rule combined with freedom of movement means “tax efficient” multinationals can flood the UK with cheap foreign labour but avoid paying money to the Treasury such as corporation tax. In a damning indictment he says that the UK taxpayer is subsidising low paid jobs for foreign workers.[...]" 

Concepts and Practices: "The Problem With Gold-Backed Currencies" [02/23/17] Printer Friendly Version "There is something intuitively appealing about the idea of a gold-backed currency --money backed by the tangible value of gold, i.e. "the gold standard." Instead of intrinsically worthless paper money (fiat currency), gold-backed money would have real, enduring value--it would be "hard currency", i.e. sound money, because it would be convertible to gold itself. Many proponents of sound money identify President Nixon's ending of the U.S. dollar's gold standard in 1971 as the cause of the nation's financial decline. If our currency was still convertible to gold, the thinking goes, the system would never have allowed the vast pile of debt to accumulate. The problem with this line of thinking is that it is disconnected from the real-world mechanisms of capital flows and the way money is created in our financial system. This article explains why Nixon took the USD off the gold standard: since the U.S. was running trade deficits, all of America's gold would have been transferred to the exporting nations. America's gold reserves would have disappeared, leaving nothing to back the dollar. The U.S. Empire Would Have Collapsed Decades Ago If It Didn’t Abandon The Gold Standard. The problem to sound-money proponents is trade deficits: if the U.S. only had trade surpluses, then the gold would not drain away. But Triffin's Paradox explains why this doesn't work for a reserve currency: a reserve currency has two distinct sets of users: domestic users and global users. Each has different needs, so there is a built-in conflict between the two sets of users. [...] Global users of the USD need enormous quantities of dollars to use as reserves, to pay debts denominated in USD and to facilitate international trade. The only way the issuing nation can provide enough currency to meet this global demand is to run large, permanent trade deficits--in effect, "exporting" dollars in exchange for goods and services. This is the paradox: to maintain the "exorbitant privilege" of a reserve currency, a nation must "export" its currency in size; a nation that runs trade surpluses cannot supply the world with enough of its currency to act as a reserve currency. And any nation running large trade deficits will soon empty its gold reserves as international holders of the currency choose to convert their currency into gold, which is exactly what happened in the late 1960s in the U.S. OK, so a nation can't back a reserve currency with gold. How about backing a non-reserve currency with gold? There are still problems with backing currencies with gold. Number 1 is convertibility--without it, you don't have a gold standard, you have an illusion of a gold standard. If the gold-backed currency isn't convertible to gold, it's simply another form of fiat currency.[...]" 

Commentary: "How Many Euro Crises Will This Make? It's Getting Hard To Keep Track" [02/22/17] Printer Friendly Version "Every few years, it seems, one or another mismanaged eurozone country falls into one or another kind of crisis. This leads to speculation about the end of the common currency, which in turn spooks the global financial markets. Then the ECB conjures another trillion euros out of thin air, buys up and/or guarantees all the offending country’s bonds, and calm returns for a while. At least, that’s how it’s gone in the past. The latest crisis has more than the usual number of flash-points and could, therefore, be something new and different. Currently: Greece. This charming but apparently ungovernable country only got into the eurozone in the first place because its corrupt leaders conspired with Goldman Sachs to hide the true condition of the government’s finances. It quickly blew up and has been on intensive care ever since. Now the latest bailout has become deal-breakingly messy: [...] Italy. A few months ago the centrist president, Matteo Renzi, resigned after losing a referendum (don’t bother with the details, they were never very interesting and in any event have been overtaken by events), making a new election necessary. There was a chance that Renzi would be returned to office, which would reset the clock on Italy’s inevitable descent into Greek-style chaos. But yesterday he resigned, throwing the upcoming elections into disarray and opening the door to eurosceptic populists. Combine political turmoil with a moribund banking system and Italy becomes a prime candidate for Big European Crisis of 2017. [...] France. Each new immigration horror story adds a bit to the popularity of the anti-immigration National Front, and increases the odds that party leader Marine Le Pen makes a strong showing in upcoming elections. The odds are still against her actually winning, but as the polls tighten, French bonds are sold off by nervous traders, widening the spread between French and German yields. A widening yield is a sign of approaching trouble: [...]  And those are just the front-burner problems. The Dutch are also holding general elections next month in which their version of Donald Trump will likely be the leading vote-getter. Germany has two elections this year, and opposition parties are gaining on Chancellor Angela Merkel. So there will be no shortage of scary headlines from the Continent going forward. Why should non-Europeans care about any of this? Because the EU is the biggest economic entity on the planet and the euro is the second most widely-held currency. Turmoil there means turmoil everywhere else, though the form is hard to predict. A euro crisis might send terrified capital into US stocks and bonds, extending the bull market in domestic financial assets – and making the current US administration look like a bunch of geniuses. Or it could spook capital out of financial assets altogether, crashing stocks and bonds while boosting the price of real things like farmland, solar farms and precious metals. Or it could buoy all US assets, with “anywhere but Europe” becoming the dominant investment theme for a while. OR the ECB could try to paper over the mess by devaluing the euro even further, setting off a trade war with the US, Japan and China, all of whom need weaker not stronger currencies to hide their own financial mismanagement. ...]" 

Commentary "Buffet Just Drove A Stake Through The Heart Of Wal-Mart" NNN [02/19/17] [6:27] "Investor Warren Buffett has sold off 89 percent of his shares of Walmart as the giant retailer fights Amazon for a share of the e-commerce market. Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway announced Tuesday that it had sold off $900 million of Walmart stock as it invested elsewhere. [...]"  

MSM: "George Soros Bought A Huge Stake In Goldman Sachs After Trump’s Election" [02/17/17] Printer Friendly Version "George Soros’ hedge fund Soros Fund Management made big changes to its portfolio in the fourth quarter of 2016, including a $14.9 million stake into Goldman Sachs. Goldman Sachs and other financial companies enjoyed large amounts of investment after Donald Trump's victory in the presidential election. Trump's promises of deregulation and tax cuts made the financial sector a safe bet for investors. Soros, who has spent hundreds of millions of his own money for liberal causes and is a vocal critic of President Trump, saw his stock portfolio briefly devalued by $1 billion after the election.[...] In addition to Goldman Sachs, Soros bought tens of millions of shares in companies such as Facebook, Time Warner, T Mobile, and Kohls. Soros also totally eliminated his stake in Barrick Gold as the gold market contracted in late 2016. Other companies that he sold major shares from include Intel, Wisdomtree, and Procter & Gamble. Steven Mnuchin, former Executive Vice President of Goldman Sachs, was confirmed to the Senate as President Trump's Treasury Secretary on Tuesday. Mnuchin also was a member of an investment group alongside Soros in the mid-2000's.[...]"  Note: That Soros can subvert the Trump administration (subverting societies worldwide who are now on non-Globalist bents, in an effort to 'restore' the globalism dynamic) and at the same time profit from that which the administration creates (by virtue of regulatory alteration, elimination, other preferred systemic legislation, etc) is opportunistic, the fact that Soros takes these measures after the election, alludes to the notion that the result of the election, and indeed the entire global 'awakening' of individualism and nationalism (in the sense that every country is unique and has its own borders and laws), was totally unexpected, which ultimately means that [1] from Soros perspective, government is more or less moot except for the effect it has on the value of an already-existing globalist financial system .... that non-government corporations which are already operating in a global network 'trumps' all government corporations anyway. [2] They are now aware that any control they thought they had over the large-scale unfolding of events on the planet has been lost, evoking intense existential angst loops in these body-bound reincarnates ... the local endgame continues.

Commentary: "Germany Accelerates Gold Repatriation As Confidence In Euro Plunges" [02/13/17] Printer Friendly Version "Berlin is bringing home its gold reserves stored in New York, London and Paris faster than scheduled, Germany’s central bank said Thursday. The move is linked to surging euroskepticism, as new governments in France and Italy may ditch the single currency. The German Bundesbank has already moved 583 tons of gold out of New York and Paris, planning to have a half of its gold back in Germany by the end of 2017, which is ahead of the 2020 plan. The rest will be split between the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the Bank of England. As French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen and Italy’s 5-Star Movement are openly calling to pull out of the euro, some economists in Germany say the repatriated gold may be needed to back a new deutschmark should the eurozone collapse.[...] During the Cold War, 98 percent of Germany’s bullion was stored abroad, and so far the biggest repatriation was in 2000 when the Bundesbank repatriated 931 tons from the Bank of England. When the relocation is complete, Germany will still have 1,236 tons in New York, 432 tons in London and the rest in Frankfurt. The current repatriation involves moving 300 tons from New York and 374 tons from Paris. The Bundesbank said it is not worried about keeping gold in England despite Brexit, as London remains a key gold trading market and a safe place. Germany has the second-largest gold reserves in the world after the US with 3,381 tons.[...]" 

Commentary: "Trump Concerned There Are Too Many "Goldman Guys" On His Team" [02/13/17] Printer Friendly Version Two days after democratic senators Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Baldwin sent a letter to Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein, asking if Goldman effectively runs the country through its extensive alumni links at the Trump administration, and requesting details on "lobbying" activities in the bank related to review of the Dodd-Frank Act and the Obama-era fiduciary rule on financial advice, as well as asking for any communication between the bank's employees and Cohn, Mnuchin, nominee for the SEC chair Jay Clayton and chief strategist Steve Bannon, Bloomberg reported overnight that yet another Goldman banker, Jim Donovan, was under consideration for the No. 2 job at the Treasury Department, however it appears he has "got one big thing working against him."  That "thing" is the overdue realization by the new president that his cabinet openly appears to have been created and staffed by populism arch nemesis #1, Goldman Sachs. Besides Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s pick for Treasury Secretary, former Goldman officials working for the new administration include former president Gary Cohn, now director of the National Economic Council; Stephen Bannon, the chief White House strategist; and Dina Powell, formerly the bank’s head of philanthropic investment, who’s an assistant to the president and senior counselor for economic initiatives.  So just like Goldman would staff every central bank's core positions prior to Trump, after the US election, the world's most influential investment bank has shifted all of its attention on just one person, and he is finally starting to realize that that may not be a good thing." [...]  Too many “Goldman guys” already have high-up positions in the Trump administration, the person said, and that could knock Donovan down to one of the undersecretary positions -- possibly undersecretary of the Treasury for domestic finance. The presence of several former Goldman officials at the highest reaches of the administration runs counter to the president’s regular attacks on Wall Street firms during the campaign. “Donald Trump’s Argument for America,” a two-minute advertisement that ran in prime-time days before the election, featured Goldman Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein in an segment about corporate chieftains pocketing the wealth of American workers.[...]" 

MSM: "Killing Dodd-Frank & Fiduciary Rule Won't Be Easy, Wall Street Cautious" [02/09/17] Printer Friendly Version "Dodd-Frank and its byproducts including the Volcker Rule, bank stress tests, the CFPB and the fiduciary rule, though not perfect, have had a single goal: protect investors and the economy from another destabilizing financial crisis. Those looking to dismantle the rules also have a single goal: putting the interests of the banks and other financial companies ahead of everything and everyone else. But just as its creation and implementation was long and complex so will Dodd-Frank’s possible repeal. A UBS report today noted that while the executive orders about regulation carry “symbolic significance” the legislative process presents some clear constraints. More specifically, “proposals to change components of Dodd-Frank require Senate approval, where 60 votes are needed (and, hence, support from Democrats).” As for the fiduciary rule, the one that requires brokers to put their clients’ interest before their own, that’s going to take some time as well. The delay seems certain but beyond that, UBS says, is more difficult to tell: The acting Secretary of Labor is already working to delay the fiduciary rule. However, without a confirmed Labor Secretary, the outlook for the rule beyond that is unclear. Andrew Puzder's appointment has been drawn out and seems likely to be a challenging confirmation process. Importantly, the Fiduciary rule is currently being challenged in a N. Texas Court case, which may also impact the fate of the rule. More interestingly and importantly, it seems most big banks with brokerage arms are ready to comply with the fiduciary rule as planned. [...] Merrill Lynch seems to be embracing the fiduciary rule with enthusiasm. Here's the official word from Merrill's website : "In 2016, the Department of Labor released a new rule that holds all financial advisors to a fiduciary standard when providing investment advice to clients regarding their retirement accounts. That advice must be in a client's best interest and cannot be compromised by any advisor’s financial interest. This is good news, and we support this new rule wholeheartedly."[...]"  

Commentary: "Chinese Reserves Unexpectedly Drop Below $3 Trillion For The First Time Since 2011" [02/08/17] Printer Friendly Version "... While the $3 trillion mark is not seen as a firm "line in the sand" for Beijing, concerns are swirling over the speed at which the country is depleting its reserves and how much longer it can afford to defend the currency. Some analysts estimate China needs to retain a minimum of $2.6 trillion to $2.8 trillion under the International Monetary Fund's (IMF's) adequacy measures, and fears of a devaluation would likely intensify capital flight. The drop in January's reserves could have been worse if not for a sudden reversal in the surging U.S. dollar in January, some analysts said. The softer dollar boosted the value of non-dollar currencies that Beijing holds. The yuan has gained nearly 1 percent against the dollar so far this year. But analysts expect downward pressure on the yuan to resume, especially if the U.S. continues to raise interest rates, which would likely trigger fresh capital outflows from emerging economies such as China and test its enhanced capital controls. [...]"    Related: "Chinese Economic Bubble" Printer Friendly Version 

Concepts and Practices: "U.N. Official: Global Warming Agenda Really About Destroying Capitalism" [02/08/17] Printer Friendly Version "Economic Systems: The alarmists keep telling us their concern about global warming is all about man's stewardship of the environment. But we know that's not true. A United Nations official has now confirmed this. At a news conference last week in Brussels, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of U.N.'s Framework Convention on Climate Change, admitted that the goal of environmental activists is not to save the world from ecological calamity but to destroy capitalism. "This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution," she said. Referring to a new international treaty environmentalists hope will be adopted at the Paris climate change conference later this year, she added: "This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model for the first time in human history." The only economic model in the last 150 years that has ever worked at all is capitalism. The evidence is prima facie: From a feudal order that lasted a thousand years, produced zero growth and kept workdays long and lifespans short, the countries that have embraced free-market capitalism have enjoyed a system in which output has increased 70-fold, work days have been halved and lifespans doubled. Figueres is perhaps the perfect person for the job of transforming "the economic development model" because she's really never seen it work. "If you look at Ms. Figueres' Wikipedia page," notes Cato economist Dan Mitchell: Making the world look at their right hand while they choke developed economies with their left.[...]" [Cross-Posted]

Resource: "Public Pension Tsunami" [02/07/17] Updated Story List: Printer Friendly Version "The oncoming wave of public pension debt is even bigger than it seems. The purpose of this website is to provide an overview of the multiple pension crises that are about to drown America's taxpayers. Our primary focus is on California, but we also track other states, corporate pensions, social security and international trends. Now half-way through its 12th year, Pension Tsunami was founded by and is edited by Jack Dean. [...]" 

MSM: "Honeymoon Is Over: Goldman Slams Trump's Economic Plan, No Longer Expects A Border Tax" [02/05/17] Printer Friendly Version "As the Goldman team writes, following the election, there was a burst in euphoria and "the positive shift in sentiment among investors, business, and consumers suggested that the probability of tax cuts and easier regulation was seen to be higher than the probability of meaningful restrictions to trade and immigration", however three months later "the risks are less positively tilted than they appeared shortly after the election." [...] If Goldman is right, expect little if any Trump policies to be implemented until mid to late 2018, and not only the various near-all time high "soft" economic indicators like consumer and business confidence to roll over steeply in the coming weeks as optimism fades, but more importantly, hard data to plunge, dragging the USD, yields and stocks along with it. [...]" 

Financial Predation: "Trump Signs Executive Orders Rolling Back Dodd-Frank, Fiduciary Rule" [02/04/17] Printer Friendly Version "As previewed earlier today, President Trump signed two executive orders aimed at starting the process of rolling back the regulatory system put in place after the financial crisis.  Among the targets are rules that protect against predatory lenders, force brokers to lower fees for retirees and ban proprietary trading. Specifically, Trump took executive action ordering the review of Dodd-Frank rules enacted after 2008 financial crisis, and halting the "fiduciary rule" that would require advisers on retirement accounts to work in the best interests of their clients. [...] While it will take a while to fully roll back the financial regulations, we are confident that Wall Street is already preparing for the next big push into prop trading, major releveraging, blowing a whole new set of asset bubbles, and all those other things which brought the system to a near collapse less than 10 years ago. Finally, while Trump was quick to begin the process of undoing Dodd Frank - no doubt with the helpful advice of numerous former Goldman bankers standing behind his shoulder - he has yet to make any comments on bringing back Glass Steagall, the one law that would truly protect depositors from runaway banker greed, and mandate yet another taxpayer funded bailout the next time the US banking sector is in need of a bailout.[...]"  Note: Wow, they bamboozled Trump on this one. Unfortunate executive orders by Trump, because it puts peoples retirement at risk. That would not seem to 'make America great'. Related: "Trump to Sign Orders Today Making Wall Street More Dangerous" Printer Friendly Version

Commentary: "Don’t Blame Trump When Faulty Financial Theory Means Things Go South" [02/04/17] Printer Friendly Version "There was, indeed, a time when clear thinking and lucid communication via the written word were held in high regard. As far as we can tell, this wonderful epoch concluded in 1936. Everything since has been tortured with varying degrees of gobbledygook. The fall from grace was triggered by the 1936 publication of John Maynard Keynes’ The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money. The book is rigorously indecipherable. What’s more, it has the ill-effect of making those who read it dumber. Nonetheless, politicians and establishment economists remain enamored with Keynes’ gibberish. For it offers academic rationale for governments to do what they love to do most – borrow money and spend it on inane programs. In particular, Keynes advocated filling bottles with money and burying them in coalmines for people to dig up as a way to end unemployment. Somehow, this public works egg hunt would make everyone rich. Over the years this reasoning has inspired countless government stunts to save the economy from itself. Not long ago, Keynes devotee, Paul Krugman, took this logic and ran with it to the outer limits of deep space. In the process, he seems to have lost his mind. According to Krugman, the proper way to propel an economic growth chart up and to the right is to borrow massive amounts of money and spend it preparing for an alien invasion. Naturally, it takes a Nobel Prize winning economist to come up with such nonsense. [...] Unfortunately, Keynes’ drivel became the archetypical for illogical economic thought, and still infects economic discourse to this day. You can hardly browse the headlines of Yahoo finance without your eyeballs being lacerated by it. Just this week, for instance, we came across a headline titled, The Coming Trump Financial Crash. The author, Dennis M. Kelleher, happens to be President and CEO of the oddly named company Better Markets. The company website clarifies that Better Markets is “a nonprofit that promotes the public interest in the financial markets.” What exactly this Washington, D.C. based nonprofit does – or how they keep the lights on – is unclear. But what is clear is that Kelleher is very comfortable applying words and terms to construct sentences with haphazard syntax. Kelleher also seems panicked that financial deregulation by Trump is going to cause a great big crash:[...] Here at the Economic Prism we think Kelleher is giving President Trump too much credit for what he can and can’t do. While we agree a stock market crash is in the cards. Unlike Kelleher, when the crash does inevitably come, we don’t think President Trump is who the fingers of blame should be pointed at. Regulations, which Kelleher advocates, don’t get at the core of the problem. Rather, the core of the problem is that today’s fiat money system is completely out of control. Until something is done about it, we’ll continue to experience epic asset bubbles and busts. President Trump’s efforts to ease corporate tax policy or financial regulations are small potatoes compared to the destructive market whipsaws that come with rampant credit creation. Offshore corporate coffers would’ve never been stuffed so full if we had sound money with honest limits. You may love the man. You may hate him. But the fact is, President Trump has been dealt the worst hand of any incoming U.S. President since James Buchanan – or maybe ever.[...] The point is a century of scientific mismanagement of the currency has pushed the economic, financial, and social order well past any rational limit. Total government debt and stock valuations are at all-time extremes. Something big is coming. You can guarantee it.[...]" 

Commentary: "Three Senators Call To Reinstate Key Protections To Rein In Wall Street" [02/03/17] Printer Friendly Version "Kaptur leads 26 cosponsors in reintroduction of Return to Prudent Banking Act [...]At a press conference today, Rep. Marcy Kaptur (OH-09) was joined by Reps. Walter Jones (NC-03), Tim Ryan (OH-13) and Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) to introduce the Return to Prudent Banking Act and urge President Donald Trump to live up to his campaign promises on reinstating Glass-Steagall protections in our banking system. The bill is bipartisan with 26 cosponsors and is endorsed by Public Citizen and the AFL-CIO. “The 2008 crash nearly took down our entire economy and led to the great recession which wiped out average Americans’ income. But now, Democrats and Republicans have memorialized support for Glass-Steagall in their respective political platforms. Even President Trump has declared his support for a new Glass-Steagall law,” said Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur. “That is why we are here, to build on the momentum and the movement to reinstate Glass-Stegall.” “Wall Street banks should not be allowed to use taxpayer-insured consumer deposits to gamble in the markets and then get taxpayer bailouts for failed decisions,” said Congressman Walter B. Jones. “It’s time to put American taxpayers and depositors first. It’s time to pass the Return to Prudent Banking Act and reinstate Glass-Steagall.” “I am proud to cosponsor the Return to Prudent Banking Act, which revives the separation between commercial banking and securities companies as written in the Glass-Steagall Act. These are smart financial reforms designed to protect our economy from another financial crisis and hardworking American taxpayers from another Wall Street collapse. We know that the climate of deregulation led to the financial crisis. We can’t let that happen again,” said Congressman Tim Ryan. “From the Great Depression through the turn of the 21st Century, Glass-Steagall helped keep our economy safe. Repealing it allowed too-big-to-fail banks to gamble with the savings and livelihoods of the American people, with devastating, irrevocable consequences. Hawaii, along with communities across the country, paid the price in 2008 with the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Today, the banks that were ‘too big to fail’ in 2008 are even bigger and more powerful now. We must reinstate Glass-Steagall and create a financial system that works for every American—not just Wall Street banks,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. [...]"  

Commentary: "Trump Set To Rollback Financial Regulation Passed After The 2008 Crisis" Real News [02/02/17] [6:47] "By refusing to challenge Clinton and Bush-era deregulation and also explain the causes of the financial crisis to the public, the Democrats failed to build a defense against what the new administration is about to do, says former financial regulator Bill Black [...]"  

MSM: "Damning IMF Report Reveals Dysfunction Within Eurozone" [02/02/17] Printer Friendly Version "A new report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) into the Eurozone single currency area of 19 states has accused them of running excessive deficits, distorted budgets and poor compliance with fiscal rules in the euro area, in a further example of the dysfunctionality of the currency. [...]" 

MSM: "Unanimous Fed Holds Rates As Expected; Does Not Hint At Imminent March Rate Hike" [02/02/17] Printer Friendly Version "...It may have failed, however, because the biggest highlight of the February statement (link) appears to be the line that "Market-based measures of inflation compensation remain low", which has been revised from the December version to remove the "measures have moved up considerably" language in what may be a dovish revision, and it appears the Fed is converging with the market's view of just 2 rate hikes in 2017. [...]"

Commentary: "Will Donald Trump Reverse The War On Cash?" Nick Giambruno [02/02/17] Printer Friendly Version "I recently sat down with my friend Jason Burack from Wall St for Main St. Jason and I had an in-depth discussion on the decline of globalism, the War on Cash, and more. I think you’ll enjoy our conversation. [...] Nick Giambruno: The War on Cash is a prop. It forces people out of cash and into banks. So it’s no surprise the war is ramping up as banking systems deteriorate. Then you have what Nassim Taleb would call the “Intellectual Yet Idiot” from Harvard—people like Ken Rogoff and Larry Summers who’ve made a cashless society their mission. And it all starts with eliminating the $100 bill. These people get prominent space in the mainstream financial media. They create an echo chamber of calls for a cashless society. It’s creepy and totalitarian. I mean, what kind of a person wakes up in the morning wanting to do things that would extinguish many of our remaining liberties? Privacy is a fundamental human right. It's necessary to protect human dignity, which is essential to a free society. But unfortunately, a lot of people have forgotten that. Also, in a cashless society, the government can concoct an unlimited number of new ways to confiscate your wealth. [...] The War on Cash is a mortal threat to individual and economic liberty. I think its advocates are clearly sociopaths and enemies of the common man. Unfortunately, I don’t see the war slowing down. I see it heating up. Just look at what happened in India recently. On the day of the US election—when the whole world was distracted—the Indian government ambushed its citizens. Instantly, and without warning, it declared certain high-value currency notes invalid. They said, “Oh, well, tax evaders, drug dealers, and terrorists use cash so we have to get rid of it or make it harder to use.” It’s completely ridiculous. Anybody who can think critically and independently can see right through this. It’s simply a clumsily executed power grab. It’s done nothing but create chaos and harm the Indian economy. Yet, when I read about it in the mainstream financial media, I often come across articles praising the Indian government for its bold reforms. It’s quite strange, like we’re living in a bizarro world. Instead of resisting, the Indian people sheepishly accepted their government’s blatant power grab. This will likely embolden other governments… and the Intellectual Yet Idiot class, of course. It means we should expect the War on Cash to accelerate in 2017. I haven’t seen any evidence suggesting Trump would reverse any of this[...]"  Related: "The Alternative Fact of the Cashless Society" Printer Friendly Version 

Corbett Report: "Who Is Responsible For The Global 'Cashless' Agenda?" [02/01/17] [43:16] "Demonetization. Cashless payments. Biometrics. Can you connect the dots? Join James today on The Corbett Report as he uncovers the truth about India’s recent demonetization and follows the trail to the coming cashless biometric control grid. [...]" Related: "A $500 Billion Pot Of Gold: How Boston Consulting And Google Pushed Modi To End The Era Of Cash" Printer Friendly Version "Boston Consulting Group (BCG), the omnipresent US-consulting company, and Google, the global data miner, issued a joint report in July 2016 on the “$500 bn Pot of Gold”, which is the Indian digital payment market. Even though the authors deny it, the report gives much reason to suspect that the authors knew that something radical was imminent from the Indian government. The report is remarkably honest about the aims of the whole exercise. There is no statement in the BCG-Google-report “Digital Payments 2020” to the effect that it is related to the joint initiative of USAID and the Indian ministry of finance, formally established in 2015, to push back the use of cash and promote digital payments. Rather it is presented as a freestanding initiative of BCG and Google. I reached out to one of the authors, BCG’s senior partner Alpesh Shah, to ask about this and he insisted: “This was a joint BCG-Google report, with no connection / relation to USAID/Indian Ministry of Finance.” However, there is much to suggest that there was a connection. First of all, the subject so perfectly fits with the program of that partnership. The subtitle of the report is “The Making of a $500 bn ecosystem in India”. The steering committee for the report included a representative of Visa, member of the Better Than Cash Alliance together with USAID and affiliate of the partnership of USAID and Indian finance ministry to advance digital payments. It also included PayTM and Vodafone, which are also part of the CATALYST coalition, a project, which according to USAID, is a “next step” in said partnership of USAID and the Indian finance ministry. The report is a call to arms for all payment service providers. They are alerted that things are going to be shaken up in India. On page three it says: [...]"| Also see below: "Washington Behind India’s Brutal Experiment Abolishing Most Cash" [01/06/17]; "As Cash Shortage Leads To Manufacturing Contraction, Economic Shockwaves, Indian Banks Slash Interest Rates" [01/03/17]; "India's Prime Minister Has Single-Handedly Crushed The Economy With His Reckless Cash Ban" [12/28/16] ; "Economy Shrinks Under 'Modi-Fied' India" Video [11:38] [12/28/16] ; "India Govt Decides Wealth Held By Its People Is ‘Hidden Wealth’ To Be Confiscated" [12/09/16] ; "India’s Demonetization “Shock Therapy”: State Sponsored Financial Repression" [11/28/16] 

Commentary: "Mnuchin Dashes Banker Hopes That Prop Trading Is Coming Back" [02/01/17] Printer Friendly Version "What a difference a week makes. On January 23, Reuters reported that dialing back the Volcker Rule which limits banks' ability to engage in speculative investments using their own balance sheet, has emerged a top priority for President Donald Trump's nominee for U.S. Treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin. In written responses to questions posed by members of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, Mnuchin said he would use his role as head of the interagency Financial Stability Oversight Council to give the Volcker Rule a stricter definition of proprietary trading. At issue is the Volcker Rule, a contentious provision in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act that sought to prevent lenders from putting federally-insured deposits at risk through wagers on stocks, bonds and other assets. [...] According to Reuters, Mnuchin also said that "regulators have applied proprietary trading prohibitions to too many activities" adding that "In the responses Mnuchin also made it clear he believes the rule should only apply to "a bank that benefits from federal deposit insurance." The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation guarantees retail deposits at about 6,000 banks, including the consumer banking arms of the country's largest investment banks." Just a few days later, in a follow up to Mnuchin's written responses, this time from Bloomberg, the interpretation of his statement was 180 degrees opposite, and as Bloomberg reported, "Steven Mnuchin made clear he doesn’t want Wall Street banks getting back into the business of making risky market bets with their own capital, after Senate Democrats pushed him to clarify his responses to questions they asked during his confirmation process to be Treasury secretary."[...]"  

Commentary: "Is Trump About To Hammer The Federal Reserve?" [02/01/17] Printer Friendly Version "Back in October of 2015 I wrote a post titled De-Fang the Federal Reserve – The Conspiracy on How the Fed is Being Integrated into the Multilateral Framework. It served as a summary of how the Fed acted as the global central bank almost from its inception in 1913 and how this would change in the lead up to a multilateral monetary framework. The Trump mandate on “America First” is being misconstrued as an isolationist policy but is in fact the cover for integrating America into the emerging multilateral. This is difficult to see for most because it is hard to reconcile the idea of an isolationist mandate with that of a multilateral mandate. It appears to most that America is dumping the globalist script when in fact the script is in fact the same only the characters and events have changed. The theme remains the same. This is one of the main reasons why the media is in fact pushing this isolationist script. It prevents Americans from accurately deciphering the shift towards the multilateral. The opposition to the Federal Reserve and the establishment was built up through alternative media to the point where the masses are now clamoring for the changes which in fact were always required in order to make the multilateral transition. The most obvious point is a changing role for the Federal Reserve. In a multilateral world it will no longer be required to serve the function as an international central bank providing access to a reserve asset. The Fed will be transformed to focus on domestic concerns while the international mandates begin to transition to an institution like the International Monetary Fund and the SDR asset. In the 2015 post on the Fed I referenced something called the Centennial Monetary Commission which was tasked with defining changes to the Federal Reserve’s roles and responsibilities. This study has now been completed and the recommendations are being made. Some of these recommendations were reviewed in the 2015 post, which is included below. Of course this will all be sold to the people as what is good for America as the “mismanaged Fed” is straightened out. The mainstream media will play its function as opposition to the Trump administration by rounding out the cognitive dissonance and getting the masses to accept all the changes that are coming. [...]"  

MSM: "Ron Paul: The Fed Is Tanking The Economy To Damage Trump" [01/30/17] Printer Friendly Version "The Federal Reserve is hell-bent on tanking the economy in order damage President Donald Trump and turn the people against him, according to former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX). “The Federal Reserve’s policies of printing trillions of dollars back in ’08-09 have locked into place a serious financial crisis at some point in our future,” Paul stated. Explaining that the collapse will occur in the next 12-18 months, Paul warned that the unaccountable Federal Reserve is so powerful even the President won’t be able to stop the crisis. “It’s unavoidable, and even Donald Trump can’t stop it.” Paul said Trump will be the Fed’s patsy for the impending financial crash. “Trump will unfairly get the blame,” the former Texas representative wrote. [...]"  

Concepts and Practices: "How To Cut Infrastructure Costs In Half" [01/29/17] Printer Friendly Version "Americans could save $1 trillion over 10 years by financing infrastructure through publicly-owned banks like the one that has long been operating in North Dakota.  [...] President Donald Trump has promised to rebuild America’s airports, bridges, tunnels, roads and other infrastructure, something both Democrats and Republicans agree should be done. The country needs a full $3 trillion in infrastructure over the next decade. The $1 trillion plan revealed by Trump’s economic advisers relies heavily on public-private partnerships, and private equity firms are lining up for these plumbing investments. In the typical private equity water deal, for example, higher user rates help the firms earn annual returns of anywhere from 8 to 18 percent – more even than a regular for-profit water company might expect. But the price tag can come as a rude surprise for local ratepayers. [...] Private equity investment now generates an average return of about 11.8% annually on a 10-year basis. For infrastructure investment, those profits are made on tolls and fees paid by the public. Even at simple interest, that puts the cost to the public of financing $1 trillion in infrastructure projects at $1.18 trillion, more than doubling the cost. Cities often make these desperate deals because they are heavily in debt and the arrangement can give them cash up front. But as a 2008 Government Accountability Office report warned, “there is no ‘free’ money in public-private partnerships.” Local residents wind up picking up the tab. [...] There is a more cost-effective alternative. The conservative state of North Dakota is funding infrastructure through the state-owned Bank of North Dakota (BND) at 2% annually. In 2015, the North Dakota legislature established a BND Infrastructure Loan Fund program that made $50 million in funds available to communities with a population of less than 2,000, and $100 million available to communities with a population greater than 2,000. These loans have a 2% fixed interest rate and a term of up to 30 years. The proceeds can be used for the new construction of water and treatment plants, sewer and water lines, transportation infrastructure and other infrastructure needs to support new growth in a community. [...] If the Trump $1 trillion infrastructure plan were funded at 2% over 10 years, the interest tab would come to only $200 billion, nearly $1 trillion less than the $1.18 trillion expected by private equity investors. Not only could residents save $1 trillion over 10 years on tolls and fees, but they could save on taxes, since the interest would return to the government, which owned the bank. In effect, the loans would be nearly interest-free to the government."[...] Legislators in cash-strapped communities are likely to object, “We can’t afford to lend our revenues. We need them for our budget.” But banks do not lend their deposits. They actually create new money in the form of bank credit when they make loans. That means borrowing from its own bank is not just interest-free to the local government but actually creates new money for the local economy: [...] What about funding a federal infrastructure program with interest-free money? Tim Canova, Professor of Law and Public Finance at Nova Southeastern University, argues that the Federal Reserve could capitalize a national infrastructure bank with money generated on its books as “quantitative easing.” (Canova calls it “qualitative easing” – central bank-generated money that actually gets into the real economy.) The Federal Reserve could purchase shares, whether as common stock, preferred stock or debt, either in a national infrastructure bank or in a system of state-owned banks that funded infrastructure in their states. This could be done, says Canova, without increasing taxes, adding to the federal debt or hyperinflating prices. [...] Another alternative was proposed in 2013 by US Sen. Bernie Sanders and US Rep. Peter DeFazio. They called for a national infrastructure bank funded by the US Postal Service (which did provide basic banking services from 1911 to 1967). With post offices in nearly every community, the USPS has the physical infrastructure for a system of national public banks. In the Sanders/DeFazio plan, deposits would be invested in government securities used to finance infrastructure projects. Besides financing infrastructure without raising taxes, the plan could save the embattled USPS itself, while providing banking services for the one in four households that are unbanked or under-banked. [...] Reliance on costly private capital for financing public needs has limited municipal growth and reduced public services, while strapping future generations with unsustainable debt. By eliminating the unnecessary expense of turning public dollars into profits for private equity interests, publicly-owned banks can allow the public to retain ownership of its infrastructure while cutting costs nearly in half."  

Commentary: "Soros, Mastercard Launch Venture To Profit From Mass Migration" [01/27/17] Printer Friendly Version "Billionaire activist and arch globalist George Soros just won’t let his dream of a borderless, cultureless world free of Western values die. Soros is partnering with MasterCard Inc. to create Humanity Ventures, with the ostensible purpose of improving the lives of migrants through investments in education and health care, and fostering economic development in migrant communities. [...] “Migrants are often forced into lives of despair in their host communities because they cannot gain access to financial, healthcare and government services,” Soros said on Thursday in a joint statement with MasterCard" “Our potential investment in this social enterprise, coupled with MasterCard’s ability to create products that serve vulnerable communities, can show how private capital can play a constructive role in solving social problems,” he continued. [...] Soros is one of the world’s most prominent proponents of the displacement of Westerners and erosion of traditional Western identity through mass migration. His Open Society Foundations has donated millions of dollars to organizations and causes promoting everything from mass migration to radical feminism. His destructive activities are so prolific that last week, Szilard Nemeth, vice-chairman of Hungary’s ruling Fidesz Party, called for OSF and any organizations it funds to be banished from the country." [...]"  Related: "George Soros: The Self-Proclaimed ‘God’ Who Should Be In Prison" Printer Friendly Version 

MSM: "Dutch Regulator 'Accidentally' Reports Soros' Short Positions, Sends Bank Stock Sliding" [01/27/17] Printer Friendly Version "Some of hedge fund billionaire George Soros' short positions dating back to 2012 were published on the Dutch financial market regulator’s website this week due to "human error" according to the regulator AFM, according to Bloomberg. Dutch bank ING is among the positions exposed and its stock price is tumbling... As Bloomberg notes, the short positions, bets on a stock declining, were “between 0.2 percent and 0.5 percent,” of shares outstanding in the companies shorted, AFM spokesman Ward Snijders said by phone on Thursday. The Dutch regulator publishes shorts of 0.5 percent or higher on its website on a daily basis. The smaller amounts were posted by mistake, he said. The Financial Times earlier reported that some of the positions, including bets against Dutch banks, including ING Groep NV, appeared briefly on the website on Tuesday evening. ING declined to comment on Thursday. [...] Short positions, which are typically closely guarded, in Deutsche Bank AG jumped when it was revealed in June that Soros had bet that the stock would fall after the U.K. voted to leave the European Union. The German bank fell 14 percent on the first day after the ballot. The Dutch regulator’s spokesman couldn’t disclose whether there has been contact with Soros following Tuesday’s error. A spokesman for Soros didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment."  

Commentary: "Nomi Prins: Financial Crash Possible In Last Quarter Of 2017" [01/23/17] [27:45] "Former top Wall Street banker and best-selling author Nomi Prins correctly predicted no financial crash for 2016. Prins’ upcoming book is titled “Artisans of Money.” It is all about central bank money creation. What does Prins say about this year? Prins predicts, “In 2016, I pegged the non-crash. . . . Central bankers were finding new ways to extend their money creation policies. That is what kept the markets up. There was a separate bid on the markets after Trump was elected. It was on the expectation that he would be good for growth, that he would be good for infrastructure and that he would create jobs. I do think there is a little juice in the central banks. I keep thinking there shouldn’t be, but they keep surprising all of us with their ability to boost the markets. They have artificially stimulated so many different asset bubbles, whether it’s debt, which is epic, or stock markets, many of which are at historic highs. If we have a crash, it will be in the second half of 2017. The promises, the rate hikes, the dollar being high could collapse into the realities of the stability and this artificialness. I am not sure about a crash this year, but if we see a big decline, it will be in the last quarter.” On the U.S. dollar, Prins says, “I think with the expectation of things going well, the dollar will be keeping a bit of a bid. It will be within a range but staying fairly up. I think the dollar will turn around and weaken in the second half of the year. . . .That’s why, in the last half of the year, gold will catch more of a bid.” (Meaning prices for gold will rise according to Prins.)  [...]"  

Commentary: "Trump Dump Coming To The Stock Market" [01/23/17] Printer Friendly Version "The stock market shot up like a Roman candle for idiotic reasons after the election. The candle may have reached its apex when the Dow hit 19,999.67 last week. As I stated in my Short Seller’s Journal, I was “stunned that bank traders were unable to push the index up to the holy grail number of 20,000. Of course, in and of itself, the “Dow 20k” watch was moronic. Thirty stocks do not an economic system make. Sorry Fox, CNBC, Bloomberg, CNN etc. [...] Essentially Trump promised on election night to spend trillions and cut taxes deeply and to pay for those based on borrowing trillions. These are policy proposals that are destined to fail from the moment the words left Trump’s mouth. But the stock market went nuts to the upside, culminating in what I would argue – based on using “apples to apples” accounting comparisons – the most overvalued U.S. stock market in history. Perhaps in the modern era only the Weimar German and Zimbabwe stock markets were more overvalued. Stay tuned because I am very confident that the Fed is not done printing trillions. [...]" 

Commentary: "Sen. Rand Paul Reintroduced ‘Audit The Fed’" [01/22/17] Printer Friendly Version "On Tuesday Jan 3rd, U.S. Senator Rand Paul reintroduced his Federal Reserve Transparency Act, widely known as the “Audit the Fed” bill, to prevent the Federal Reserve from concealing vital information on its operations from Congress. Eight cosponsors joined Senator Paul on the legislation. Representative Thomas Massie (KY-4) has introduced companion legislation, H.R. 24, in the U.S. House. “No institution holds more power over the future of the American economy and the value of our savings than the Federal Reserve,” said Sen. Paul, “yet Fed Chair Yellen refuses to be fully accountable to the people’s representatives.”  “The U.S. House has responded to the American people by passing Audit the Fed multiple times, and President-elect Trump has stated his support for an audit. Let’s send him the bill this Congress.” “The American public deserves more insight into the practices of the Federal Reserve,” said Rep. Massie. “Behind closed doors, the Fed crafts monetary policy that will continue to devalue our currency, slow economic growth, and make life harder for the poor and middle class. It is time to force the Federal Reserve to operate by the same standards of transparency and accountability to the taxpayers that we should demand of all government agencies.”  On January 12, 2016, a bipartisan Senate majority voted 53-44 in support of Audit the Fed. S. 16 would require the nonpartisan, independent Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a thorough audit of the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors and reserve banks within one year of the bill’s passage and to report back to Congress within 90 days of completing the audit.  You can read S. 16, the Federal Reserve Transparency Act, HERE PDF[...]" Related: "Audit The Fed' Bill Gets New Push Under Trump" Printer Friendly Version  

Commentary: "25 Years Of Neocon-Neoliberalism: Great For The Top 5%, A Disaster For Everyone Else" [01/21/17] Printer Friendly Version "It cannot be merely coincidental that the incomes and wealth of the top 5% have pulled away from the stagnating 95% in the 25 years dominated by neocon-neoliberalism. One unexamined narrative I keep hearing is: "OK, so neocon-neoliberalism was less than ideal, but Trump could be much worse." Let's start by asking: would Syrian civilians agree with this assessment? The basic idea in the "OK, so neocon-neoliberalism was less than ideal, but Trump could be much worse" narrative is that the modest problems created by neocon-neoliberalism will pale next to what Trump will do, implying jackbooted Waffen SS troops will soon be marching through America on Trump's orders. This narrative is yet another example of American parochialism: since neocon-neoliberalism didn't cause American cities to be bombed and its institutions demolished, it's really not that bad.  Try telling that to the Iraqis, Libyans and Syrians who have been on the receiving end of neocon- neoliberalism policies. The reality is very unpleasant: for those targeted by America's neocon-neoliberalism, nothing worse is imaginable, because the worst has already happened. [...] The cold reality is America's 25 years of neocon-neoliberalism has been great for the top 5% and an unmitigated disaster for everyone else in the U.S. and the nations it has targeted for intervention. Those defending the Democratic Party's 16 years of neocon-neoliberalism (Clinton and Obama) and the Republican Party's 8 years of neocon-neoliberalism (Bush) are defending a system that benefited the few at the expense of the many. Rather than admit the past 25 years have been catastrophic for the bottom 95%, the apologists speak darkly of fantastical visions of a Nazi America as a diversion to the grim truth that they have blindly supported an evil Empire that has stripmined the bottom 95% in America and laid waste to entire nations abroad. Neoconservatism's malignant spores hatched in the Reagan years, and spread quickly after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Stripped to its essence, Neoconservatism is American Exceptionalism turned into a global entitlement: it's our right to intervene anywhere in the world we choose to defend what we perceive as our interests, and it's our right to impose our version of democracy and a market economy on other peoples. [...] Self-interest melds seamlessly with moral superiority in neocon-neoliberalism. The moral justification is: since ours is the best possible system, we're doing you a favor by tearing down your institutions and imposing our system on you. The self-interest is: garsh, the "market" we imposed extracts your resources and benefits our banks and corporations. Amazing, isn't it, how "free markets" benefit everyone? But not equally. The claim of neoliberalism is: everything is transformed for the better when it is turned into a market. Once buyers and sellers can meet in a transparent marketplace, everybody prospers and everything becomes more efficient. Stripped to its essence, neoliberalism is: the markets we set up are rigged to favor those at the top. All that talk about free markets is just public-relations cover to mask an intrinsically rigged quasi-market that has features of "real" markets while beneath the surface, it's rigged to the advantage of big players at the top of the wealth-power pyramid.  [...] Neoconservatism and neoliberalism are both inherently global, and so globalization is the necessary outcome. There is no market that cannot be skimmed for outsized profits once it has been globalized, and so once bat guano becomes a global tradeable commodity, Goldman Sachs establishes a bat guano trading desk. (This is a spoof, but you get the point.)  Neoconservatism entitles the U.S. to have an "interest" (as in profitable interest) in every nook and cranny of the planet. Policy changes in Lower Slobovia? It's in our "interest" to monitor those changes and intervene if the policies are "not in our interests." Neocon-neoliberalism is brilliantly evil because it masks its true objectives behind such warm and fuzzy PR. Those looking for enemies of the people will find them not on the streets of America in cartoonish display but in the corridors of financial and policy power. Dear apologists of the status quo: do you understand you're defending this? Notice how the wealth of the bottom 90% nosedived once neocon-neoliberalism became the de facto policy of Democrats and Republicans alike. No wonder Obama's two terms seemed like Bush terms 3 and 4--in terms of a continuation of neocon-neoliberalism, they were. Yes, profound changes in technology, automation, and geopolitics have influenced finance and wealth, but it cannot be merely coincidental that the incomes and wealth of the top 5% have pulled away from the stagnating 95% in the 25 years dominated by neocon-neoliberalism[...]" 

Commentary: "Alibaba's Jack Ma Drops Redpill In Davos: The U.S. Wasted $14 Trillion On Wars Over The Past 30 Years" [01/19/17] Printer Friendly Version "And there it is, the unvarnished, raw, truth about how everything went wrong for middle class America. Since the Vietnam war, more than 45 years ago, the US has embarked on a neocon strategy of war in an effort to build a global empire. The result of that strategy has left American infrastructure second rate, its school system in shambles, and its healthcare system a complete and utter joke. Just imagine what America could've done with $14t of invest able dollars, instead of waging wars. Aside from the wars, America spends more than 50% of its discretionary budget on the military, per annum, 16% of its overall budget. That's the main issue, the sordid topic that is rarely discussed in American politics, for fears of crossing the military-industrial complex.  [...] Jack Ma from Alibaba doesn't share those same fears, being a Chinese national worth $27b. In a very rare glimpse into what the Chinese really think about American imperialism and how it shaped the global economy, all the better for China might I add, Jack Ma spoke candidly today in an interview with CNBC's Andrew Ross Sorkin: "Jack Ma Slams Wasteful US Policies" [1:48] "It's not that other countries steal jobs from you guys," Ma said. "It's your strategy. Distribute the money and things in a proper way."  He said the U.S. has wasted over $14 trillion in fighting wars over the past 30 years rather than investing in infrastructure at home. To be sure, Ma is not the only critic of the costly U.S. policies of waging war against terrorism and other enemies outside the homeland. Still, Ma said this was the reason America's economic growth had weakened, not China's supposed theft of jobs. In fact, Ma called outsourcing a "wonderful" and "perfect" strategy. "The American multinational companies made millions and millions of dollars from globalization," Ma said. "The past 30 years, IBM, Cisco, Microsoft, they've made tens of millions — the profits they've made are much more than the four Chinese banks put together. ... But where did the money go?"  He said the U.S. is not distributing, or investing, its money properly, and that's why many people in the country feel wracked with economic anxiety. He said too much money flows to Wall Street and Silicon Valley. Instead, the country should be helping the Midwest, and Americans "not good in schooling," too. "You're supposed to spend money on your own people," Ma said. "Not everybody can pass Harvard, like me." In a previous interview, Ma said he had been rejected by Harvard 10 times. Along those lines, Ma stressed that globalization is a good thing, but it, too, "should be inclusive," with the spoils not just going to the wealthy few. [...]"   Note: Jack Ma has met with Trump, and had this to say [3:12] | Related: "Jack Ma - On 60 Minutes CBS, June 2015" [23:40] 

MSM: "Foreign Central Banks Liquidate Record $405 Billion In US Treasuries" [01/19/17] Printer Friendly Version "The wholesale liquidation of US Treasuries continued in November, when according to the just released TIC data, foreign central banks sold another $936 million in US paper in November 2016, which due to an offset of $892 million in buying one year ago, means that for the 12 month period ended November, foreign central banks have now sold a new all time high of $405 million in the past 12 months, up from a record $403 million in LTM sales as of one month ago. While Japan sold about $23 billion in November, its fourth month of consecutive selling, it was China which drove the selloff, dumping a whopping $66.4 billion in US Treasuries in its 6th consecutive monthly sale of US paper, and the biggest monthly selloff since December 2011. The monthly sale also brings China's total Treasury holdings to the lowest level since early 2010. [...]"  

Commentary: "How Chuck Schumer Caused Bank Collapse Dems Now Blame On Trump’s Treasury Nominee" [01/17/17] Printer Friendly Version "Senate Democrats — led by senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders — hope to defeat Steven Mnuchin, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Treasury Secretary, by focusing on his alleged role in the 2008 collapse of California’s IndyMac bank. Warren has launched a web page on the official United States Senate website that calls Mnuchin, “the foreclosure king” because, as she and left-wing activists charge, he threw thousands of homeowners onto the street after he bought IndyMac. Mnuchin’s Senate confirmation hearing begins Thursday. But The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group (TheDCNF) has uncovered extensive evidence that the person who triggered IndyMac’s financial crisis, which led to one of the largest bank failures in American history, was Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York. [...] Schumer started a $100 million-a-day run on the bank after he gave reporters a letter on June 26, 2008, addressed to federal regulators saying he was “concerned that IndyMac’s financial deterioration poses significant risks to both taxpayers and borrowers.” The letter spooked depositors who in the next 11 days withdrew a record $1.3 billion from the bank. [...] News reports filed at the time squarely place the blame the bank’s failure on Schumer. The Los Angeles Times, for example, reported July 2, 2008, that “the letter stunned some Wall Street analysts, who said Schumer was in effect sealing the lender’s fate by raising the prospect of its failure.” Schumer’s action was so irresponsible that the federal Office of Thrift Supervision explicitly blamed Schumer for IndyMac’s collapse, saying in a July 11, 2008, press release that “the immediate cause of the closing was a deposit run that began and continued after the public release of a June 26 letter to the OTS and the FDIC from Senator Charles Schumer of New York.” OTS director John D. Reich went further saying, “When a member of the United States Senate makes such a public statement, it doesn’t take much to frighten the depositors of an institution,” according to the Washington Post. “It was an unprecedented act on the senator’s part and the result speaks for itself.” Comptroller of the Currency John D. Hawke, who began his term during President Clinton’s tenure, said Schumer’s act was “incredibly stupid,” adding that “leaking his IndyMac letter to the press was reckless and grossly irresponsible. I don’t see how he can be trusted with confidential information in the future.” [...]"  

Commentary: "Starvation, Malnutrition And Disease As A Result Of India’s Demonetization Experiment" [01/17/17] Printer Friendly Version "Reports from the rural and semi-rural areas of India, from towns and villages, already indicate that hunger is widespread because of the nonexistence of cash. This artificial crisis was created on November 8, 2016 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi arbitrarily declared 86% of the nation’s currency worthless as legal tender—a draconian diktat taken without any prior discussion with his cabinet, Parliament, or the people. The so-called demonetisation policy has had devastating effects across all sectors of Indian society, crippling businesses and farmers, causing retail stores and vendors to shut down, increasing unemployment, and forcing ordinary people to lose billions of man-hours and woman-hours waiting in endless queues at banks to exchange unusable currency notes or to withdraw the meager cash allowed. [...]"  Related: "India’s Rising Income Inequality: Richest 1% Own 58% Of Total Wealth" Printer Friendly Version "57 billionaires in India now have same wealth ($ 216 billion) as that of the bottom 70 per cent population of the country. Globally, just 8 billionaires have the same amount of wealth as the poorest 50 per cent of the world population+ . [...]" 

Commentary: "Pharma And Lockheed Martin Stocks Tumble After Trump Criticizes Overpayments" [01/12/17] Printer Friendly Version "President-elect Donald Trump lashed out at overspending on drugs and fighter jets during his press conference on Wednesday, giving progressives something to hope for but sending stocks in related companies diving. First, he took aim at the drug industry, complaining that it is making too many of its products overseas and that the government does not negotiate with the industry for prices for the Medicare program. “We have to get our drug industry coming back. Our drug industry has been disastrous, they’ve been leaving left and right,” he said. “The other thing we have to do is create new bidding procedures for the drug industry because they’re getting away with murder. Pharma, Pharma has a lot of lobbyists — a lot of lobbyists — a lot of power, and there’s very little bidding on drugs. We’re the largest buyer of drugs in the world and yet we don’t bid properly and we’re going to start bidding and we’re going to save billions of dollars over time.” [...] Drug price negotiation has long been a goal of progressive health policy advocates, and was something that both Trump and Clinton campaigned on during the presidential election. Medicare is currently prohibited by law from negotiating drug prices — unlike other parts of the government, such as the VA. It is estimated the government could save up to $16 billion annually if it simply was allowed to negotiate with companies for the prices. The president-elect can’t do this unilaterally, however — he would have overturn a law passed by Congress, and thus would need the backing of lawmakers before making this change.[...]"   Related: "Pharma Pricing Furor Gaining Steam" Printer Friendly Version  

Commentary: "How Goldman Sachs Became The Overlord Of The Trump Administration" [01/10/17] Printer Friendly Version "During his political campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly railed against Wall Street with a specific focus on Goldman Sachs. How did a candidate who repeatedly demonized Goldman Sachs as the poster child for a corrupt establishment that owned Washington end up with Goldman Sachs’ progeny filling every post that even tangentially has the odor of money or global finance? One answer is family ties; another may be something darker. [...] Trump’s non-stop nominations and appointments of Goldman Sachs alumni have left his supporters stunned. Trump nominated Steven Mnuchin, a 17-year veteran of Goldman Sachs to be his Treasury Secretary. Stephen Bannon, another former Goldman Sachs banker, was named by Trump as his Chief Strategist in the White House. The sitting President of Goldman Sachs, Gary Cohn, has been named by Trump as Director of the National Economic Council, which, according to its website, coordinates “policy-making for domestic and international economic issues.” Last week, in a move that stunned even Wall Street, Trump nominated a Goldman Sachs outside lawyer, Jay Clayton of Sullivan & Cromwell, to serve as Wall Street’s top cop as Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Adding to the slap in the face to Trump’s working class supporters, Clayton’s wife currently works as a Vice President at Goldman Sachs. But the Goldman Sachs’ ties don’t stop there.[...]"  

Social Experimentation: "Washington Behind India’s Brutal Experiment Abolishing Most Cash" [01/06/17] Printer Friendly Version "In early November, without warning, the Indian government declared the two largest denomination bills invalid, abolishing over 80 percent of circulating cash by value. Amidst all the commotion and outrage this caused, nobody seems to have taken note of the decisive role that Washington played in this. That is surprising, as Washington's role has been disguised only very superficially.  US-President Barack Obama has declared the strategic partnership with India a priority of his foreign policy. China needs to be reined in. In the context of this partnership, the US government’s development agency USAID has negotiated cooperation agreements with the Indian ministry of finance. One of these has the declared goal to push back the use of cash in favor of digital payments in India and globally. On November 8, Indian prime minster Narendra Modi announced that the two largest denominations of banknotes could not be used for payments any more with almost immediate effect. Owners could only recoup their value by putting them into a bank account before the short grace period expired at year end, which many people and businesses did not manage to do, due to long lines in front of banks. The amount of cash that banks were allowed to pay out to individual customers was severely restricted. Almost half of Indians have no bank account and many do not even have a bank nearby. The economy is largely cash based. Thus, a severe shortage of cash ensued. Those who suffered the most were the poorest and most vulnerable. They had additional difficulty earning their meager living in the informal sector or paying for essential goods and services like food, medicine or hospitals. Chaos and fraud reigned well into December.[...] Four weeks earlier: Not even four weeks before this assault on Indians, USAID had announced the establishment of "Catalyst: Inclusive Cashless Payment Partnership", with the goal of effecting a quantum leap in cashless payment in India. The press statement of October 14 says that Catalyst “marks the next phase of partnership between USAID and Ministry of Finance to facilitate universal financial inclusion”.[...] Catalyst’s Director of Project Incubation is Alok Gupta, who used to be Chief Operating Officer of the World Resources Institute in Washington, which has USAID as one of its main sponsors. He was also an original member of the team that developed Aadhaar, the Big-Brother-like biometric identification system. [...] According to a report of the Indian Economic Times, USAID has committed to finance Catalyst for three years. Amounts are kept secret. Badal Malick, CEO of Catalyst, commented: "Catalyst’s mission is to solve multiple coordination problems that have blocked the penetration of digital payments among merchants and low-income consumers. We look forward to creating a sustainable and replicable model. (...) While there has been (...) a concerted push for digital payments by the government, there is still a last mile gap when it comes to merchant acceptance and coordination issues. We want to bring a holistic ecosystem approach to these problems." The multiple coordination problem and the cash-ecosystem-issue that Malick mentions had been analysed in a report that USAID commissioned in 2015 and presented in January 2016, in the context of the anti-cash partnership with the Indian Ministry of Finance. The press release on this presentation is also not in USAID's list of press statements (anymore?). The title of the study was “Beyond Cash”. "Merchants, like consumers, are trapped in cash ecosystems, which inhibits their interest” in digital payment it said in the report. Since few traders accept digital payments, few consumers have an interest in it, and since few consumers use digital payments, few traders have an interest in it. Given that banks and payment providers charge fees for equipment to use or even just try out digital payment, a strong external impulse is needed to achieve a level of card penetration that would create mutual interest of both sides in digital payment options." [...] It turned out in November that the declared “holistic ecosystem approach” to create this impulse consisted in destroying the cash-ecosystem for a limited time and to slowly dry it up later, by limiting the availability of cash from banks for individual customers. Since the assault had to be a surprise to achieve its full catalyst-results, the published Beyond-Cash-Study and the protagonists of Catalyst could not openly describe their plans. They used a clever trick to disguise them and still be able to openly do the necessary preparations, even including expert hearings. They consistently talked of a regional field experiment that they were ostensibly planning. [...] Only in November did it became clear that the whole of India should be the guinea-pig-region for a global drive to end the reliance on cash. Reading a statement of Ambassador Jonathan Addleton, USAID Mission Director to India, with hindsight, it becomes clear that he stealthily announced that, when he said four weeks earlier: “India is at the forefront of global efforts to digitize economies and create new economic opportunities that extend to hard-to-reach populations. Catalyst will support these efforts by focusing on the challenge of making everyday purchases cashless."[...]" Related: "India, From The Destabilization Of Agriculture To Demonetization, “Made In America”" Printer Friendly Version | See also below: "As Cash Shortage Leads To Manufacturing Contraction, Economic Shockwaves, Indian Banks Slash Interest Rates" [01/03/17]; "India's Prime Minister Has Single-Handedly Crushed The Economy With His Reckless Cash Ban" [12/28/16] ; "Economy Shrinks Under 'Modi-Fied' India" Video [11:38] [12/28/16] ; "India Govt Decides Wealth Held By Its People Is ‘Hidden Wealth’ To Be Confiscated" [12/09/16] ; "India’s Demonetization “Shock Therapy”: State Sponsored Financial Repression" [11/28/16] 

Social Experimentation: "Cash Ban Continues, Greece Initiates Soft Cash Ban" [01/06/17] [3:30] "The cash ban didn’t stop with India, Greece is now the next test case for the central bankers. The central bankers are now pushing their agenda to ban cash. [...]" "Greece Bans Cash: Tax-Allowance Possible Only Through Payments Via Plastic Money" Greece Printer Friendly Version "Greece is banning the use of cash the soft way. As of 1.1. 2017, taxpayers will be granted tax-allowance and tax deduction only when they have made payments via credit or debit cards. The new guidelines refer to employees, pensioners, farmers but also unemployed. Exempted from the compulsory usage of credit/debit cards are seniors over 70 years old, residents of remote areas and people with disability over 80%. I suppose they will have to continue the collection of paper receipts. [...] "Should a taxpayer will not be able to spend the necessary percentage of the annual income according to the guidelines, the punishment will be a penalty of 22% imposed on the missing difference."  [...]" Note: Bizarre, control freakism plan thought up by knuckle-dragging thugs. Time for a revolt, apparently.

MSM: "U.S. Quietly Drops Bombshell: Wall Street Banks Have $2 Trillion European Exposure" [01/05/17] Printer Friendly Version "Just 17 days from today, Donald Trump will be sworn in as the nation’s 45th President and deliver his inaugural address. Trump is expected to announce priorities in the areas of education, infrastructure, border security, the economy and curtailing the outsourcing of jobs. But Trump’s agenda will be derailed on all fronts if the big Wall Street banks blow up again as they did in 2008, dragging the U.S. economy into the ditch and requiring another massive taxpayer bailout from a nation already deeply in debt from the last banking crisis. According to a report quietly released by the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Financial Research less than two weeks before Christmas, another financial implosion on Wall Street can’t be ruled out. [...] The Office of Financial Research (OFR), a unit of the U.S. Treasury, was created under the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation of 2010. It says its role is to: “shine a light in the dark corners of the financial system to see where risks are going, assess how much of a threat they might pose, and provide policymakers with financial analysis, information, and evaluation of policy tools to mitigate them.” Its 2016 Financial Stability Report, released on December 13, indicates that Wall Street banks have been allowed by their “regulators” to take on unfathomable risks and that dark corners remain in the U.S. financial system that are impenetrable to even this Federal agency that has been tasked with peering into them. [...] At a time when international business headlines are filled with reports of a massive banking bailout in Italy and the potential for systemic risks from Germany’s struggling giant, Deutsche Bank, the OFR report delivers this chilling statement: “U.S. global systemically important banks (G-SIBs) have more than $2 trillion in total exposures to Europe. Roughly half of those exposures are off-balance-sheet…U.S. G-SIBs have sold more than $800 billion notional in credit derivatives referencing entities domiciled in the EU.” [...] When a Wall Street bank buys a credit derivative, it is buying protection against a default on its debts by the referenced entity like a European bank or European corporation. But when a Wall Street bank sells credit derivative protection, it is on the hook for the losses if the referenced entity defaults. Regulators will not release to the public the specifics on which Wall Street banks are selling protection on which European banks but just the idea that regulators would allow this buildup of systemic risk in banks holding trillions of dollars in insured deposits after the cataclysmic results of similar hubris in 2008 shows just how little has been accomplished in terms of meaningful U.S. financial reform. [...]"

MSM: "European Stocks Greet The New Year By Rising To One Year Highs; Euro Slides" [01/04/17] Printer Friendly Version "While most of the world is enjoying it last day off from the 2017 holiday transition, with Asia's major markets closed for the New Year holiday, along with Britain and Switzerland in Europe and the US and Canada across the Atlantic, European stocks climbed to their highest levels in over a year on Monday after the Markit PMI survey showed manufacturing production in the Eurozone rose to the highest level since April 2011. [...]" 

Commentary: "Trump Effect: Re-Energized Dollar Looms Over The Rest Of The World" [01/04/17] Printer Friendly Version "On Wall Street, the rising dollar has been one of the most visible signals of growing optimism in the U.S. economy. For many other countries, it spells trouble. Most analysts expect the U.S. currency to strengthen in 2017, extending a gain that has boosted the value of the dollar by more than one-third since the U.S. credit downgrade in 2011. That expectation is mostly because a strengthening economy appears likely to enable the Federal Reserve to enact its plan for multiple rate increases in 2017. Higher rates make it more attractive to hold dollar-denominated assets, attracting money into the U.S. [...]" 

Commentary: "Venture Capitalist Warns Of Government Backlash Against Google, Facebook 'Monopolies' In 2017" [01/04/17] Printer Friendly Version "..Google, Facebook, and to a lesser extent Apple and Amazon will be seen as monopolists by government and individuals in the US (as they have been for years outside the US). It will be Microsoft redux and the government will seek remedies which will be futile. Here’s what I expect to happen this year: [...] These are my big predictions for 2017. If my prior track record is any indication, I will be wrong about more of this than I am right. The beauty of the VC business is you don’t have to be right that often, as long as you are right about something big. Which leads to going out on a limb and taking risks. And I think that strategy will pay dividends in 2017. Here’s to a new year and new challenges to overcome.[...]"  Note: Submitted by Fred Wilson via

MSM: "As Cash Shortage Leads To Manufacturing Contraction, Economic Shockwaves, Indian Banks Slash Interest Rates" [01/03/17] Printer Friendly Version "Over 50 days after Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi stunned India's population when he announced on November 8 he would unexpectedly eliminate 86% of the existing currency in circulation in what was supposed to be a crackdown on the shadow economy, but instead has resulted in a significant hit to the broader, cash-based economy, overnight we noted the first official confirmation of how substantial the impact of Modi's demonetization has been, when the Nikkei India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index printed at 49.6 in December, the first contraction reading since December 2015, as the war on cash crippled demand. [...] According to the report, output and new orders fall for first time in one year; companies reduced buying levels and payroll numbers; Input cost inflation accelerated, while charges rose at softer rate. Commenting on the report, IHS Markit economist Pollyanna De Lima said that “having held its ground in November following the unexpected withdrawal of 500 and 1,000 bank notes from circulation, India’s manufacturing industry slid into contraction at the end of 2016. Shortages of money in the economy steered output and new orders in the wrong direction, thereby interrupting a continuous sequence of growth that had been seen throughout 2016. Cash flow issues among firms also led to reductions in purchasing activity and employment. Looking at the upcoming timeline of cash exchanges, she noted that "with the window for exchanging notes having closed at the end of December, January data will be key in showing whether the sector will see a quick rebound.” As Bloomberg added, other recent data also mirror the stress. Motorcycle maker Bajaj Auto Ltd.’s total sales slipped 22 percent in December, the steepest fall in at least 21 months. Motorcycle sales, a key indicator of rural demand, declined 18%. India’s biggest automaker by volume, Maruti Suzuki Ltd., reported a 4.4 percent drop in domestic December sales, the first decline in six months, while overall sales fell 1 percent from a year earlier. A continued slowdown will strip India of its position as one of the world’s fastest-growing big economies and risk a political backlash against Modi. On Wednesday another key economic report is due, when the Service PMI data is due before focus shifts to the government’s first official growth estimate for the year through March. India’s economy, which until recently was expected to be the world's fastest growing, large economy, outpacing China [...] Meanwhile, in an attempt to offset the slowing economy as a result of the Prime Minister's unprecedented demonetization gamble, overnight Indian banks, led by market leader State Bank of India, announced sharp cuts to their lending rates after the recent surge in deposits as ordinary Indians brought their cash to the bank for "safekeeping", raising hopes that lower borrowing costs will help spark credit growth in Asia's third-largest economy. [...]"  Related: "India's Prime Minister Has Single-Handedly Crushed The Economy With His Reckless Cash Ban" [12/28/16] ; "Economy Shrinks Under 'Modi-Fied' India" Video [11:38] [12/28/16] ; "India Govt Decides Wealth Held By Its People Is ‘Hidden Wealth’ To Be Confiscated" [12/09/16] ; "India’s Demonetization “Shock Therapy”: State Sponsored Financial Repression" [11/28/16] 

Commentary: "Hillary Clinton Moved $1.8 Billion To Qatar Central Bank" Michael Trimm [12/31/16] [18:50] Note: Qatar has no Extradition Agreements. 

MSM: "Brits Are Hoarding Cash Amid "Economic Uncertainties" As FTSE Hits Record High" [12/28/16] Printer Friendly Version "Despite the FTSE 100 soaring to new record highs, Britons are holding onto their cash in a sign that they may be hunkering down in the face of economic uncertainties, according to the British Bankers Association. [...]" 

Commentary: "India's Prime Minister Has Single-Handedly Crushed The Economy With His Reckless Cash Ban" [12/28/16] Printer Friendly Version "Today’s piece should be seen as a bit of a follow-up to yesterday’s post, India’s Demonetization Debacle Highlights the Dangers of Monetary Monopoly. While yesterday’s piece was more philosophical/strategic in nature, today’s zeroes in on some of the devastating real world impacts of Narendra Modi’s insane and inhumane cash ban. It’s hard to overstate the damage this policy has done to India’s economy. Modi is quickly solidifying his place as one of monetary history’s biggest idiots. First, let’s take a look at the destructive impact the move has had on India’s massive small businesses community. The Washington Post reports: [...]" Related: "Economy Shrinks Under 'Modi-Fied' India" [11:38] "Raja M. Nah discusses how demonetisation has adversely impacted manufacturing and agricultural growth in India, and how cash stringency will compel firms to reduce labour cost and thus reduce income of the working class [...]" [Cross-Posted] See also below: "India Govt Decides Wealth Held By Its People Is ‘Hidden Wealth’ To Be Confiscated" [12/09/16]; "India’s Demonetization “Shock Therapy”: State Sponsored Financial Repression" [11/28/16] 

Commentary: "Trump Prepares To Takeover Fed" [12/27/16] Printer Friendly Version "In Donald Trump’s first four years as president, he will not only choose three judges for the Supreme Court, he’ll also pick five of the seven members on the Fed Board of Governors. It would be impossible to overstate the effect this is going to have on the nation’s economic future. With both houses of Congress firmly in the GOP’s grip, we could see the most powerful central bank in the world transformed into a purely political institution that follows the diktats of one man. Critics may think that is a vast improvement over the present situation in which the Fed conceals its allegiance to the giant Wall Street investment banks behind a public relations cloud of “independence”, but the idea of one man controlling the price of the world’s reserve currency and, thus, the price of financial assets and commodities across the globe, is equally disturbing. Already we have seen how the Fed’s determination to enrich its constituents has resulted in one titanic asset-price bubble after the other. Imagine if that power was entrusted to just one individual who could be tempted to use that authority to shape economic events in a way that enhanced and perpetuated his own political power. Even so, after seven years of a policy-induced Depression that has increased inequality to levels not seen since the Gilded Age, we think it is high-time that the president use his power to choose the members who will bring the bank back under government control. Here’s more background from the LA Times: [...] So, how will Trump’s populism shape his views on who should or should not be a member of the Fed? We don’t know, but we do know that monetary policy is going to change dramatically from the last eight years of unproductive experimentation because Trump has surrounded himself with industry leaders who ascribe to an entirely different philosophy than the one currently in practice.[...] This is a blurb from the New York Times: “A core view of many Trump advisers is that the extended period of emergency policy settings has promoted a bubble in the stock market, depressed the incomes of savers, scared the public and encouraged capital misallocation,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. “Right now, these are minority views on the F.O.M.C., but Trump appointees are likely to shift the needle.” [...] They’re going to “shift the needle” alright, then they’re going to drive it through the serpent’s heart. The Fed has had every opportunity to show where its loyalties lie and it has sided with Wall Street every single time. There’s a reason why 95 percent of all income gains in the last eight years have gone to the one percent, while working people have struggled just to put food on the table. Just like there’s a reason why stocks have tripled in value in the last eight years while wages and incomes have stagnated and the economy has slowed to a crawl. It’s the policy, stupid. The Fed has created the conditions for a permanent Depression so it can provide infinite cheap money to its crooked reprobate friends on Wall Street. Now their little party is coming to an end.[...]"   Related: "Ron Paul Wants a Spot on Federal Reserve Board of Governors" Printer Friendly Version   

Commentary: "State Pension Panic: The Coming Financial Bubble Few Are Talking About " [12/24/16] Printer Friendly Version "For millions of public sector workers in the U.S., state- run pension funds are the only chance left for a comfortable retirement. In the hopes of providing a stable future for their families, an entire generation was duped into putting decades of their earnings into these supposedly ‘risk-free’ investments. Unfortunately, those who have entrusted the government to manage their life savings may end up destitute as a result. Budgetary shortfalls that have plagued Detroit for years are now spreading to other municipalities. Since 2008, six local governments have been forced to renegotiate their debts in bankruptcy court, with many others on the same trajectory. The scale of the problem has been repeatedly understated by the media, but across the nation, a somber reality is beginning to set in. [...]" 

Commentary: "IMF Chief Christine Lagarde Found Guilty Of Corruption, Won’t Be Punished" [12/21/16] Printer Friendly Version  "Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), on Monday was found guilty of “negligence” for approving a massive government payout to business tycoon Bernard Tapie during her tenure as French finance minister. “This should help calm all that they’re-only-in-it-for-themselves, anti-establishment feeling out there,” quipped Globe and Mail senior international correspondent Mark MacKinnon in response to the latest charge of government corruption. Though Judge Martine Ract Madoux did not hand down a sentence for the managing director, the court said Largarde “should have done more” to prevent the €405m ($422m) payout, Bloomberg reports. Tapie, a close associate and financial backer of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, was awarded the payout in 2008. [...] Lagarde, who is traveling to Washington, D.C., was not present at Monday’s hearing in Paris, though she will likely appeal the decision. Reuters notes that the ruling could potentially trigger “a new leadership crisis at the International Monetary Fund after Lagarde’s predecessor Dominique Strauss Khan resigned in 2011 over a sex assault scandal.” What’s more, the trial and surprise conviction will likely “reviv[e] concerns in France about high-level corruption, ”the New York Times notes, “shining a spotlight on intimate ties between politicians and business people, and on the large sums that are sometimes used to grease the country’s political wheels.” As many noted, Lagarde’s conviction capped off a year of intense political upheaval and establishment backlash across the globe.[...]"  

Commentary: "Senate Specifics: Why Goldman Sachs’ Gary Cohn Shouldn't Have Role In U.S. Govt" [12/16/16] Printer Friendly Version "Cohn was the Co- President of Goldman Sachs who oversaw its trading business in the lead-up to the 2008 crash as it offloaded billions of dollars of toxic subprime mortgage paper onto its customers, with employees even referring to one offering as a “shitty deal” in emails, while Goldman shorted the hell out of the paper (betting against it) to make massive profits for itself. Billions of dollars of this rotten paper was sold to retirement funds for low-wage municipal workers. On Wednesday, April 13, 2011, following a two-year investigation, Senators Carl Levin and Tom Coburn, Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, released a 635-page report which included specifics on the deceitful and fraudulent role that Goldman Sachs played, among others, in burning down Wall Street and the U.S. economy in the greatest collapse since the Great Depression. Goldman Sachs is referenced 2,495 times in the report; Cohn is referenced 89 times. Cohn’s role in overseeing the firm’s peddling of its subprime mortgage-backed securities is called out in the example below; (other references show how Cohn kept close tabs on the firm’s shorting of the market): “In 2006 and 2007, the head of the Mortgage Department was Daniel Sparks. Goldman Co-Presidents Gary Cohn and Jon Winkelried, as well as CFO David Viniar, had been involved in Mr. Sparks’ earlier career at Goldman, and he maintained frequent, direct contact with them regarding the Mortgage Department.” The report characterizes the actions of the denizens of Wall Street as an “economic assault” on the United States. The report came a year after the Subcommittee had conducted a series of hearings in April 2010, including taking direct testimony from Goldman Sachs officials. [...]"  

Commentary: "Still Un-Prosecuted For Its Frauds, Goldman Sachs To Be Financial Brains Of The Trump Era" [12/15/16] Printer Friendly Version "Two former Goldman Sachs bankers and the sitting President of the Wall Street firm are taking high positions in Donald Trump’s administration despite the egregious role that Goldman Sachs played in the 2008 financial collapse that cost millions of Americans their homes and their jobs. Steve Bannon, who at one time worked in Mergers and Acquisitions at Goldman, will be Trump’s Senior Counselor and Chief White House Strategist. Steve Mnuchin, who joined Goldman in 1985 and worked there for the next 17 years, has been nominated by Trump to serve as U.S. Treasury Secretary. That post also entitles Mnuchin to Chair the Financial Stability Oversight Council, a body that frequently meets in secret to deliberate if the U.S. could be looking at another 2008-style meltdown. Yesterday, an article at Bloomberg News raised questions about Mnuchin’s qualifications to serve in one of the most important cabinet posts in government, writing that shortly after Mnuchin had made a windfall last year from the sale of OneWest Bank, problems emerged: “The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development opened an investigation into foreclosure practices in a division that handles loans to senior citizens. Accountants determined the unit’s books were a mess. Eventually, the bank’s new owner, CIT Group Inc., discovered a shortfall of more than $230 million.” Mnuchin, at least, was not at Goldman Sachs in the leadup to the greatest financial crash since the Great Depression. He left in 2002. The same cannot be said for Gary Cohn, the current President and Chief Operating Officer of Goldman, whom Trump has picked to lead the National Economic Council and be his chief strategist in developing his economic policy. It’s convenient that Cohn’s new position does not require Senate confirmation since exactly what he knew about Goldman selling bogus investments to its clients while the firm made billions of dollars betting the instruments would fail might be raised in Senate questioning of Cohn’s fitness to serve. [...]  In the two years leading up to the epic 2008 financial crash on Wall Street, Cohn was Co-President of Goldman. Cohn became a multi-millionaire from the business done in those years, earning $27.5 million in restricted stock and options just in the year 2006. However, as Greg Gordon of McClatchy Newspapers would report in 2009, a key part of Goldman’s business in the years before the crash operated like this: “In 2006 and 2007, Goldman Sachs Group peddled more than $40 billion in securities backed by at least 200,000 risky home mortgages, but never told the buyers it was secretly betting that a sharp drop in U.S. housing prices would send the value of those securities plummeting.” On April 11 of this year, the U.S. Justice Department and other regulators announced a $5.06 billion settlement with Goldman Sachs related to the fraudulent manner in which it had sold residential mortgage bonds. On the day the settlement was announced, a spokesman for the Justice Department stated: “This resolution holds Goldman Sachs accountable for its serious misconduct in falsely assuring investors that securities it sold were backed by sound mortgages, when it knew that they were full of mortgages that were likely to fail.” What the Justice Department settlement didn’t do was put any Goldman Sachs’ executive in jail nor did it provide details about how Goldman Sachs was not only selling investments that it knew were likely to fail but it was also making billions of dollars making wagers (shorting) that the instruments would indeed fail. The profits from those wagers flowed to the top executives – men like Gary Cohn. [...] Making the appointment of Cohn even more of a travesty and insult to the American people, Cohn is reported to own more than $200 million in Goldman Sachs stock, much of it awarded to him during the company’s years of selling their fraudulent mortgage investments to public pension funds. Cohn will be able to get a monster tax break on that stock by serving in the Trump administration. Under the law, if Cohn sells his Goldman stock to avoid a conflict of interest as a member of the Executive Branch, he will be able to indefinitely defer capital gains taxes on the sale, providing he invests the proceeds from the stock sales in government securities or an approved government securities mutual fund." 

MSM: "Fed Raises Rates for Second Time in Two Years After Keeping Rates Near Zero Since 2008" [12/15/16] Printer Friendly Version "The policy making arm of the Federal Reserve is raising the federal funds rate the first time this year by a quarter of a percentage point to a range of 0.5-0.75 percent.This is the second hike the Fed has made in the past two years after keeping the federal funds rate at zero since December 2008. In last year’s December meeting, the Fed raised rates to a quarter of a percentage point. The decision to hike rates was contingent on whether improvement had been made toward the central bank’s two objectives, maximum employment and price stability, or inflation approaching its two percent objective. [...] According to analysis from the Wall Street Journal, there will likely be three interest rate increases next year, which is an increase from the two that they originally projected would happen.[...]" 

Commentary: "Silver Fixing By Banks Proven In Traders Chats" [12/14/16] Printer Friendly Version  "Since 2003, we have believed and written about how the silver and gold markets are manipulated and “fixed” by banks. Even then there was circumstantial evidence to suggest this was the case. Now we have definitive proof and the smoking gun that the “silver market mafia” in the form of leading bullion banks – such as Deutsche Bank, UBS and HSBC – were coordinating the manipulation of the price of silver and suppressing prices as alleged by the Gold Anti Trust Action Commitee (GATA). While this is a joke to the young, naive, greedy and overpaid traders, it is important to remember that this is not a victimless crime. These traders were allowed to this by the banks they work for, thereby defrauding retail silver investors and bullion buyers around the world. [...]"  

MSM: "Wall Street Heads Spin Over Trump Weighing Dimon for Treasury and Restoring Glass-Steagall" [12/11/16] Printer Friendly Version  "Yesterday, CNBC announced that anonymous sources had told the cable business news outlet that Trump’s advisers were considering JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon for U.S. Treasury Secretary. The rumor nugget was quickly spread by other media outlets. The likelihood is that the rumor is coming from Jamie Dimon’s hyper-charged public relations machine rather than from Trump’s closest advisers. Should Dimon get the nomination from Trump he would have to appear before the Senate Banking Committee for his confirmation hearing. He would be facing hostility from progressive Senate Democrats on the Committee like Senators Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown and Jeff Merkley for overseeing a Wall Street mega bank that has garnered an unprecedented three felony counts from the U.S. Justice Department in just the past three years while Dimon took home massive pay and bonuses. Two felony counts against the bank were for aiding and abetting the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme, the largest Wall Street fraud in U.S. history, while last year’s felony count on May 20 was for the bank’s involvement in rigging foreign currency markets. Dimon also presided over the scandalous London Whale episode at the bank in 2012 where the side of the bank holding insured deposits, Chase Bank, allowed its traders in London to gamble in exotic derivatives and lose at least $6.2 billion of those deposits – proving beyond any doubt the need to restore the Glass-Steagall Act and separate banks holding insured deposits backed by the taxpayer from the high risk gambles of Wall Street’s investment banks. [...]  Wall Street is also in a tizzy over whether Donald Trump will make good on his promise to restore a 21st Century version of the Glass-Steagall Act which would ban banks dealing in and underwriting securities from also owning commercial banks holding taxpayer-backed insured deposits. The Republican Party platform promised the following: “The Dodd-Frank law, the Democrats’ legislative Godzilla, is crushing small and community banks and other lenders…We support reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 which prohibits commercial banks from engaging in high-risk investment.” On October 26 of this year, speaking at a rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, Donald Trump personally echoed the pledge in the party platform, stating: “The policies of the Clintons brought us the financial recession — through lifting Glass-Steagall, pushing subprime lending, and blocking reforms to Fannie and Freddie. Two friendly names but they’re not so friendly. It’s time for a 21st century Glass-Steagall and, as part of that, a priority on helping African-American businesses get the credit they need.” [...]"

Concepts and Practices: "EU Desperate To Raises Taxes, Start 'Cashless Society' Project In November 2017" UK [12/11/16] Printer Friendly Version "A few months back The Guardian ran an article stating that “Swedes are blazing a trail in Europe, with banks, buses, street vendors and even churches expecting plastic or virtual payment” as if the cashless society was something to be celebrated by modern society. [...] There is another more sinister reason for forcing a cashless society. TruePublica reported last September that a deal had been signed by the administrations of the US, UK and EU when it comes to bank depositors. We said that “procedures in the event of the failure of a systemically important bank clearly states that depositors are to be protected – that is, until options have ceased to exist. Next time, the state will be last in line, not first. Depositor bail-in schemes are now a reality.” In other words, if a big bank fails you will be unable to cause a run on a bank by withdrawing your cash. Indeed, the rescue of Italy’s Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, reported by all the press as imminent has one other thing in common, none of them are sure if this will be full or partial nationalisation, state bail-out or a depositor bail-in. In addition to all of this, the use of negative interest rates, never implemented in 5,000 years since the invention of money, is designed to force money out of the banks and into the economy which can be manipulated simply by changing the rate when required. The holy grail of economic measurement is rising GDP, which has eluded the ECB policymakers since the financial crash reared its ugly head leaving wave after wave of social crisis. Its answer was to print money and push 50% more into the economy and yet achieved an inflation rate barely above zero. Taxing cash at ATM’s or forcing it out of banks via punitive interest will be the norm in a few years. Finally, with all money moving electronically the banks and government have another distinct advantage over you. [...] This year, meetings and conferences called “Towards a cashless society” were started to get the information transfer across to the infrastructure, supported very heavily by the banks. It looks as though the initial battleground for banning cash will be … Greece. Eighteen months ago, there was a run on the banks in Greece so the central bank imposed capital controls, highly restricting the amount of cash that could be withdrawn daily. In the few weeks prior to those controls ¢45billion was withdrawn and stuffed under mattresses. This won’t happen again if there are no ATM’s and cash transfers have all but been eliminated.[...] "  Note: Rampant sequential control dynamics ... as if that will 'save' them from anything...

Concepts and Practices: "Blaming Donald Trump For The Inevitable Economic Collapse" [12/10/16] [15:29] "It’s only at the lower level of globalist control that the establishment doesn’t want Donald Trump to win. At a much higher level, the real globalists — that really pull the strings of power across our globe — actually need someone to blame for the massive global debt catastrophe that they can’t hold back for much longer. So, Donald Trump winning the election in the United States fits perfectly into their narrative to have a scapegoat for the absolute worldwide economic catastrophe that’s about to be unleashed. It’s not merely about controlling societies, it’s about making sure that history blames the correct victims of the failed economic policies of globalists. That’s the role that Donald Trump might unwittingly be forced to play if he does win the White House. [...] Should we vote for Donald Trump? Absolutely! He’s the best shot we have at ripping apart the globalist criminal racketeering government that has been running the world for far too long — keeping people trapped in cycles of poverty and government dependence. So yeah, we need somebody like Donald Trump to go in there and really turn the system upside down. But it’s not enough to vote for him and then walk away. If you vote for Donald Trump, and you put him in the White House, that’s when the real fight begins; that’s when you have to really go to war [alongside] Donald Trump against the globalists who are going to try to crash the system out from under a Trump presidency. [...] The leftist media is really globalist controlled fake media. I am talking about MSNBC, CNN, Washington Post and so on. This is the same media that’s been trying to desperately destroy Donald Trump during this entire election. They will — if Trump wins the election — go to war with his administration. They will try to make things look as miserable and as devastating as possible. Central banks will join in on this bandwagon as well. They will do everything to wage this — you might call it the “Destroy Trump Campaign.” [...] It’ll be a worldwide campaign where the central banks will raise interest rates, halt quantitative easing and do everything in their power to crash the system so that they can then blame it on Trump. [...] That’s the role of the state-run media, even though in reality, it is Obama who has put us in over 19 trillion dollars in national debt. It’s the policies of Obama and liberal politicians, throughout recent history, who have destroyed the economic base of America. NAFTA and the TPP — the globalist’s trade policies — have gutted America’s economy, wiped out the middle class and destroyed the manufacturing sector. [...] It’s these policies that have put us in economic servitude and desperation in America. Right now, America is only running on economic fumes. Those fumes are on the verge of no longer existing, and the system is on the verge of systematic collapse. When that happens, the number one goal of the liberal economists, Democrat presidents, and presidential candidates is to blame someone who is a conservative — and that’s Donald Trump in their minds. [...] They have to blame Donald Trump, they have to blame Rush Limbaugh, or they have to blame conservative ideology. They have to blame the very idea of low taxes and low regulation, and blame any government that might allow business innovation (or allow individuals to make their own free choices in a free market society). This entire idea has to be wiped out. It’s really ideological genocide that is being carried out now by the globalist who hate freedom, who hate individual liberty, who hate everything America stands for and everything America was founded on; and they have to find a way to completely wipe it out forever. One of the best ways to accomplish that is to engineer a global devastating economic collapse that thrusts over fifty percent of the first-world population into absolute destitution — and then find a conservative economic candidate or president to blame for that entire process. This is the long play… this is a long-term strategy that the liberal globalists are putting into motion. They can use a Donald Trump victory to actually achieve their long-term aims. Now, it doesn’t mean that it’s all set in stone, because if Trump has enough popular support, then he can in fact perhaps thwart this idea of the globalists, thwart their plans and make sure that they do not succeed in what they are trying to pull off. [...]"  

Concepts and Practices:  "India Govt Decides Wealth Held By Its People Is ‘Hidden Wealth’ To Be Confiscated" [12/09/16] Printer Friendly Version "Global financial repression picks up steam, led by India. After declaring large denomination notes illegal, India now targets gold. It’s not just gold bars or bullion. The government has raided houses, no questions asked, confiscating jewelry. [...] Demonetization was originally sold as a “surgical strike on black money” — the illicit piles of cash many rich Indians have accumulated out of sight of the taxman. It’s now clear the policy has been anything but surgical. Worse, uncomfortable questions are being asked about whether the complicated rules and exemptions that have accompanied demonetization have allowed black-money holders to launder most of their cash. Of late, Modi’s chosen to focus instead on demonetization as means of advancing a cashless economy.  Yet the idea of a war on unaccounted-for wealth remains central to demonetization’s popular appeal, which means Modi will have to find other ways to keep that narrative going. So the government has now begun to push income-tax officials to conduct raids on those who might be concealing assets in forms other than cash, such as gold. There’s already enough fear of such raids becoming common again that the government felt the need to step in to quell some of the anxiety. That didn’t help much. The government “clarified,” among other things, the rules governing when tax officials could seize gold: Nothing would happen “if the holding is limited to 500 grams per married woman, 250 grams per unmarried woman and 100 grams per male.” It also said that there would be no limits on jewelry “provided it is acquired… from inheritance.” Also, the “officer conducting [the] search has discretion to not seize [an] even higher quantity of gold jewelry.” What this means, unfortunately, is that India’s income tax officers have just won the lottery. During a raid, they can, on the spot, decide whether or not to confiscate a family’s gold holdings. And remember, India has an enormous amount of gold — 20,000 metric tons, much of it inherited. (The rules governing simple searches are different, but few know that.) Rather than cleaning up tax administration, the government has handed tax officials more power than they’ve had for decades. The rich will pay what they need to escape harassment; the rest will suffer." [...] My spotlight has been on Japan, China, and the EU. India caught me off guard, but it adheres to my general theory this pot will eventually boil over in a cascade from an unexpected place, outside the US. US actions may cause a currency crisis, but I believe a crisis will hit elsewhere first. If I am correct, gold will be the safe haven, regardless of currency, but especially where the crisis hits. [...]" Related: See also below: "India’s Demonetization “Shock Therapy”: State Sponsored Financial Repression" [11/28/16] "Large denomination means 500-rupee ($7.30) and 1,000-rupee notes ($14.60), which account for more than 85 percent of the money supply. They are no longer legal tender, effective immediately. As one might imagine, chaos ensued. And it continues." Note: The greedy and existentially insecure control freaks will come to realize what its like to piss off a billion people. Pakistan will be the least of their problems, then. 

MSM: "The Fix Is Already In, As Italy’s Moment of Truth Beckons" [12/06/16] Printer Friendly Version "Banks cannot be allowed, at any cost, to suffer the consequences of their own mismanagement, or worse.[...] It is the banking crisis that has Brussels most worried. As Italy’s finance minister Pier Carlo Padoan admitted on Thursday, if the vote goes against Renzi  (IT DID) , the resultant political uncertainty would make it even more difficult to raise capital, putting at risk as many as eight mid-sized financial institutions, all of which are already at or beyond the brink of solvency." They include Monte dei Paschi di Siena, home to an estimated 35% of Italy’s €360 billion of non-performing loans. The bank, whose shares are now worth less than €0.20, has failed spectacularly to come up with a convincing plan to steady its finances, despite all the creative assistance it’s received from Wall Street’s biggest bank, JP Morgan Chase, and Italy’s most influential investment bank Mediobanca. MPS has managed to persuade bondholders to swap their holdings for shares, at roughly 20 cents on the euro. But the second part of the rescue plan involves issuing new shares worth almost 10 times its current market cap. An ‘anchor investor’ (such as Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund) taking a large bloc would be the ideal solution, since most smaller investors have already been burnt in two previous capital expansions." [...]"  Related: "European Stocks Soar, US Futures, Euro Jump After Failed Italian Referendum" Printer Friendly Version 

Concepts and Practices: "US Federal Reserve System Should Be Nationalized" [12/04/16] Printer Friendly Version "The United States is the only state in the world destitute of the right to issue its own currency. The role of central bank is carried out by the Federal Reserve System – a joint stock company created by 12 Federal Reserve Banks created in their turn by commercial banks on a territorial basis. The state has no money. The government issues bonds to receive its “national currency”, the Federal Reserve System prints notes and gives it to the state by buying its bonds. Then the government buys out the bonds and the money returns to the Federal Reserve with interest rates. It makes inflation, or the difference between cash and fixed-rate bonds, the main source of the Federal Reserve’s income. Suppose it costs 10 cents to issue a $100 bill, then the inflation tax is $99,90. Acting as a private bank the Federal Reserve gets income from notes sold to the government, as well as from interest payments on the bonds of the Treasury and payment transactions, deposits and transactions on the securities market. [...] According to the Federal Reserve Act, the Federal Reserve System is a state structure with private components, comprising the presidentially appointed Board of Governors (or Federal Reserve Board), the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), twelve regional Federal Reserve Banks located in major cities throughout the nation, numerous privately owned U.S. member banks that get profit from safety stock, fixed income shares issued by Federal Reserve Banks in exchange for contributed reserve capital, and various advisory councils. [...]"  Related:|"14 Reasons Why We Should Nationalize The Federal Reserve"Printer Friendly Version "One of the most important steps that we could take to bring prosperity back to America would be to nationalize the Federal Reserve. Doing so would allow the federal government to quit borrowing money, dramatically reduce taxes and eventually pay off the entire U.S. national debt. Instead of inheriting the largest debt in the history of the world, future generations would actually have a chance at economic prosperity because they would not be forced to pay off the horrific debt of previous generations.[...]" Note: The whole system is built on mental concepts, and those can be altered at any time to create something else.  

Commentary: "Intriguing Predictions On Trump's Plan For Federal Reserve" [12/04/16] Printer Friendly Version "As Trump and his new appointments rise to power, the Federal Reserve could be targeted for overdue changes and reforms. Let’s take a look at how the Trump administration may change the Fed. [...]" 

Propaganda Theatre: "Australia: ‘Cash Is For Criminals: Why We Should Scrap Big Notes" MSM [12/01/16] Printer Friendly Version "A massive stash of cash may sound like a good thing, but according to one US economist, the vast numbers of banknotes in circulation around the world are "making us poorer" and less safe. [...] Ken Rogoff, an economics professor at Harvard, has been writing about paper money for 20 years and he says much of this cash "is used to facilitate all sorts of crime". Beyond the more heinous crimes of human and drug trafficking and terrorism, some earners hoard their money to avoid tax. While using paper money has some advantages, Professor Rogoff says the quantity of big bills lying around is "out of kilter". He's advocating for a world where, within 15 years, the highest banknote available would be a ten dollar bill.[...]" Note: This stuff from Hugh Janis award winner Ken Rogoff, forever stuck in his sequentialized experiential loop, is being 'memed' around the planet, again. Related: See also below: "Greek Banks Plan "Tax On Cash Withdrawals" To "Combat Black Economy" [11/29/16]; "India’s Demonetization “Shock Therapy”: State Sponsored Financial Repression" [11/28/16]; "How the Government Uses The Banks To Choke Off Legal Businesses" [10/26/16] 

Commentary: "Bolivia Asserts Newfound Economic Independence" [11/30/16] Printer Friendly Version "Bolivian president Evo Morales recently announced that Bolivia will no longer respond to pressure or blackmail from the US government or Rothschild-controlled international banking institutions. [...] The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and US-dominated World Bank have been major players in the global economic landscape ever since their creation in 1944. These international banking organizations, which are privately controlled by the notorious Rothschild banking family, first pressure nations to deregulate their financial sector, allowing private banks to loot their economies. Once the governments are forced to bail-out their deregulated financial sector, the IMF or World Bank sets up a loan package written in secret by central bankers and finance ministers that undermine their national sovereignty and force them to adopt policies of austerity that harm workers, families, and the environment. [...] Before Evo Morales assumed the office of president, Bolivia was suffering from the effects of IMF/World Bank-imposed austerity and privatization that exploited its people and resources. It was also South America’s poorest nation. Though the Bolivian people, through strong showings of popular resistance over a period of years, were able to stop some of the worst privatization efforts – particularly the privatization of the nation’s water supply, many of the shackles imposed by these Rothschild-controlled institutions remained. Morales, who became Bolivia’s 80th president in 2006, was the first president to come from Bolivia’s majority indigenous Aymara population and has since focused on poverty reduction and combating the influence of the United States and multinational corporations in Bolivia. Ten years later, Morales, a Democratic socialist, has managed to transform Bolivia into the fastest growing South American economy all while maintaining a balanced budget and slashing its once-crippling government debt. [...]" 

Commentary: "Bail In Risk – €4 Trillion Italian Banking System Vulnerable As Referendum Looms" [11/29/16] Printer Friendly Version "The Italian banking system looks vulnerable to collapse whether the referendum is passed in Italy or not. Were the referendum passed, it may allow senior Italian and international bankers to further ‘kick the can down the road’ and delay the inevitable. Financial and economic contagion in the EU is the likely outcome of the financial and political mess that both Italy and other EU states find themselves in. The question is increasingly not if, but when. [...]" 

Conceptual Convolutions: "Greek Banks Plan "Tax On Cash Withdrawals" To "Combat Black Economy" [11/29/16] Printer Friendly Version "Greek banks have proposed a series of measures to "combat tax evasion", " strengthen the electronic transactions" and " limit the use of cash in the economy", and as reports, one of the measures proposed is a " special tax on cash withdrawals." Bankers reportedly stress that " cash money can easily and largely be channeled in the black economy". Therefore, " a tax on cash withdrawals will drastically reduce cash transactions and by extension the black economy." The bankers suggest that also credit and debit cards as wells as new technologies enabling cash-less transactions even for small amounts and mobile phones can be used for the purchase of a transport ticket or a newspaper at the kiosk. [...] I cannot say who came with this revolutionary idea, some genius young academics or the Greek bankers themselves, those over 60 who have their secretaries or their kids doing their transactions for them using their own iphones and ipads. I have no idea whether they have asked the country’s creditors to reform the tax system in a cash-less more-incentives Greek world, where households will be obliged to use revenue-expenditure books. I absolutely do not understand how can one sleek and glossy group of bankers propose such measures and rule the economic system of a country where some 30% of population lives or is at risk of poverty, the welfare system has collapsed and thousands of families live on the 20- or 50-euro banknote a relative or a friend secretly stick in their pockets so that they buy some food, medicine or pay a small bill. Not to mention those over 60 with minimum knowledge of electronic devices and applications and those over 80 who cannot even use a mobile phone. Tax cash withdraws will of course give “capital controls” a new dimension.[...]" Note:  They use the same lies, misinformation and lack of experiential logic and reason as India did, in the article below.

Concepts and Practices: "India’s Demonetization “Shock Therapy”: State Sponsored Financial Repression" [11/28/16] Printer Friendly Version "Naomi Klein in her bestselling book ‘The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism’ wryly observed “Extreme violence has a way of preventing us from seeing the interests it serves.” Perhaps the small coterie of advisors close to Prime Minister Modi, driven by the ideology of disaster capitalism, took Klein’s observation seriously. [...] On November 8 the shock to the financial system was administered by Mr. Modi by demonetising 500 and 1000 rupee notes. India is an overwhelmingly paper currency country: some 90% of the transactions are done with cash. India’s cash-to-GDP ratio is 12% More than half of Indians still don’t have a bank account and some 300 million have no government identification. The two scrapped denominations – 500 and 1,000 rupees – account for more than 86% of the value of cash in circulation. [...] By this diktat the government effectively neutralized around 86 percent of the currency in India. The staggering implication for the informal sector in the Indian economy which employs close to 94% of the labour force was disastrous. The daily wage earners, farmers, small traders and small businessmen were left helpless clutching the dud 500 and 1000 rupee notes in their hands. Even the economist Lawrence Summers ,author of the of the infamous World Bank Memo was driven to write… “Most free societies would rather let several criminals go free than convict an innocent man. In the same way, for the government to expropriate from even a few innocent victims who, for one reason or another, do not manage to convert their money is highly problematic….” [...] The RBI had its own Marie Antoinette moment a few days later in a press release of November 12, 2016.It said “public are encouraged to switch over to alternative modes of payment, such as pre-paid cards, RuPay/Credit/Debit cards, mobile banking, internet banking. All those for whom banking accounts under Jan Dhan Yojana are opened and cards are issued are urged to put them to use. Such usage will alleviate the pressure on the physical currency and also enhance the experience of living in the digital world .” Economist Jayati Ghosh was aghast and wrote .. “Statements like this make one wonder whether the RBI is living only in the digital world. Surely the worthies in that institution have some idea of the conditions under which banking and money exchange occur for most Indians? 2 For some families for whom getting a square meal was a luxury the mocking advice of the Modi government was if you don’t have food eat plastic cards. [...] ATM machines became cashless and long queues formed outside banks to exchange the old notes for new ones. From this inane compliance ritual of standing in endless queues outside banks, heart wrenching stories emerged. A number of senior citizens died of exhaustion. Children and the elderly who were sick died as they were refused admission to hospitals as they could not pay with old notes. Farmers could not buy seeds for the sowing season as they did not have the new currency to pay for it. For the first time in post independent India the financial system went into a lockdown mode. [...] The collective punishment on India’s poor and the informal sector where millions eke out a miserable livelihood was severe as close to 50 percent of them do not have bank accounts and formal identification papers to open bank accounts. However this draconian measure was justified by the NDA government of Modi as a patriotic duty to eradicate the twin evils of black money and counterfeit currency used by terrorists. [...] True to form the mainstream TV channels- with the exception of NDTV (Hindi) News- which largely serve as PR agencies of corporate houses spewed patriotic drivel about pain, sacrifice and stoicism as national virtues. Tall and ludicrous claims were made by the BJP ministers that terrorism was dealt a death blow by the surgical strike of knocking out 86% of the Indian currency. Critics of demonetisation were shouted down as unpatriotic with the passionate fervor of McCarthyism. Donning the mantle of a messianic prophet PM Modi exhorted the poorest of the poor to move towards a cashless society. [...] Cutting beneath the masochistic hysteria of pain and national sacrifice whipped up by the propaganda machine of corporate media and the Modi government, one discerns fundamental flaws in the argument that demonetization eradicates black money and counterfeit currency. It is as absurd as arguing that to prevent bank robberies one has to completely shut down the banks. Firstly, all black money is not held as hoarded cash. At best it constitutes 6% of the black money. Bulk of it is spirited away in Tax free havens like Switzerland and Panama from there it is invested through mail box corporations in equity, real estate and bullion all over the world. It is a matter of utmost irony that a number of the celebrities who endorsed the demonetization scheme figure in the list of names of people who used the illegal offshore accounts in places like Panama. Moreover, elaborate tax frauds are committed by corporate giants in squeaky clean cashless financial environment (cont'd) [...]"  

Commentary: "Markets Soar On Prospects For Profiteering Under Trump" [11/25/16] Printer Friendly Version  "US stock indexes reached record highs again on Wednesday on expectations that the policies of the incoming Trump administration, based on “America first” economic nationalism, the removal of all regulations restricting corporate profit-making, and huge business tax cuts, will provide a major boost to the bottom lines of banks and corporations. The Dow Jones Industrial Average continued its rise after closing above 19,000 for the first time ever on Tuesday. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index and the Russell 2000 were also in record territory. Only the tech-based Nasdaq index was slightly down after hitting a record high on Tuesday. All four major indexes reached record highs on Tuesday, something that had not occurred since New Year’s Eve in 1999, at the height of the bubble. The market rise is being led by two groups of stocks, banks and those involved in construction and infrastructure. Bank stocks are being propelled by the prospect of interest rate increases, which will boost their profits, and indications that the Trump administration will wind back regulations, including some of the limited restrictions imposed under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. The rise in bank stocks is the main reason for the jump in the S&P 500. [...] The other major boost to the market was provided by construction firms. Shares in John Deere jumped by more than 10 percent, resulting in a boost to the S&P 500 index. Shares in other industrial stocks, including Caterpillar, were responsible for a major part of the rise in the Dow. Stocks in these companies have been boosted by Trump’s commitment to initiate an economic stimulus package program of tax cuts and infrastructure spending. The tax measures include a reduction in corporate taxes from 35 to 15 percent, as well as a reduction in the top tax levels for the ultra-wealthy. Companies repatriating profits from overseas may have to pay as little as 10 percent. But it is the infrastructure program, which has been put at $1 trillion, that has sent the markets soaring on the ever-stronger smell of money. It is not a plan for the government to borrow money and use it to finance much-needed improvements on roads, bridges and other basic facilities. Rather, it is based on a privatisation scheme, in which firms will receive massive tax cuts for undertaking such projects. By means of tax breaks, they will receive back as much as 82 percent of the money they invest. As the owners of the projects they initiate, they will then be able to collect tolls or user fees in perpetuity. In many cases, the projects will involve profitable ventures to which companies would have been attracted anyway. [...]" 

MSM: "Will Trump’s New Financial-Engineering Loophole Make Stocks Rally And Bonds Crash?" [11/23/16] Printer Friendly Version "The profits that US corporations earned overseas, and that have remained untaxed in the US, have ballooned to $2.6 trillion, according to Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation, cited by Bloomberg. This “overseas cash” made it onto Trump’s agenda. Wall Street and our Corporate Titans are licking their chops. They can smell a tax holiday or a new loophole to encourage them to “repatriate” this “overseas cash.” Goldman Sachs now told its clients what these corporations are going to use this “cash” for. You guessed it: financial engineering. The exact amount of this “cash overseas” remains a mystery. The numbers thrown around – including the $2.6 trillion above – are guesses. There is no official data. Companies are not required to disclose the details of their assets, in what currencies they’re denominated, or where they’re domiciled. But in 2004, the last time there was a tax holiday for “overseas cash,” our Corporate Titans “repatriated” $300 billion at a tax-holiday rate of 5.25% and used 92% of if for share-buybacks. The number of jobs that were promised to be created as a result of this repatriation? Forget it. But the number of share-buybacks soared by 84%. Now Goldman predicts the same sort of thing in a note to its clients, assuming that the tax holiday or loophole becomes reality in 2017. [...] If Goldman is right, this “repatriation” of “cash” will lead to no economic benefits, but plenty of benefits for Wall Street. There are, however, a few wrinkles to it. The first wrinkle: "On November 5, I reminded the world that this “overseas cash” is neither “overseas” nor “cash.” Much of it is already in the US, in US securities and other investments. I cited the 2013 Senate subcommittee investigation and hearings of Apple. It showed that Apple’s “overseas cash” wasn’t in a bank account in Ireland, where these extraordinarily profitable subsidiaries were located, but in US accounts, invested in US Treasuries, and other securities and investments. What Apple was barred from doing with these untaxed profits was buying back its own shares."  Note: So the notion that this will "bring jobs to the country" is a delusion.

Commentary: "Trump Prepares To 'Take Over' The Fed" [11/22/16] Printer Friendly Version "In Donald Trump’s first four years as president, he will not only choose three judges for the Supreme Court, he’ll also pick five of the seven members on the Fed Board of Governors. It would be impossible to overstate the effect this is going to have on the nation’s economic future. With both houses of Congress firmly in the GOP’s grip, we 'could' see the most powerful central bank in the world transformed into a purely political institution that follows the diktats of one man. Critics may think that is a vast improvement over the present situation in which the Fed conceals its allegiance to the giant Wall Street investment banks behind a public relations cloud of “independence”, but the idea of one man controlling the price of the world’s reserve currency and, thus, the price of financial assets and commodities across the globe, is equally disturbing. [...] Here’s more background from the LA Times: “Donald Trump leveled unprecedented criticism at the Federal Reserve during the campaign. As president, he could get to quickly reshape it … Trump will have the opportunity to appoint as many as five new members to the seven-person Fed Board of Governors during his first year and a half in office. That includes a new chairperson to replace Janet L. Yellen, whose term expires in early 2018… Trump hammered Yellen in the final months of the (presidential) campaign, accusing her of keeping the benchmark rate “artificially low” to help fellow Democrats President Obama and Hillary Clinton. “I think she is very political and to a certain extent, I think she should be ashamed of herself.” Trump told CNBC in mid- September. At the first presidential debate two weeks later, he declared that “the Fed is being more political than Hillary Clinton.” And Trump’s final campaign video included images of the Fed and Yellen, casting her has part of the “political establishment” that has “bled our country dry.”… “Never before have we had an incoming president not just criticize how Fed policy has been executed … but accuse the Fed chair of undermining the institution by being in political cahoots with his opponent and the White House,” (James) Pethokoukis said. “We’re off the grid into uncharted territory.”… (Trump hammered the Federal Reserve as a candidate. As president, he could quickly reshape it, LA Times)[...] Trump, who is no fan of the Fed’s bond buying program called QE, has admitted he thinks stocks are in a bubble suggesting that he will probably take a more conservative approach to monetary policy. Even so, that doesn’t change the fact he’s going to have to opportunity to personally select the FOMC’s ruling majority, which means that he’ll be in a position to demand their loyalty as a condition of their hiring. Does anyone seriously doubt that Trump would rather control the Fed himself than keep it in the clutches of the cutthroat Wall Street banks? There’s no doubt that the distributional effects of the Fed’s policies helped catapult Trump into the White House. Millions of working class Americans who are sick of the monetary “trickle down” policies and the job-eviscerating trade agreements found a way to express their frustration in the candidacy of Donald Trump. Their collective rage suddenly exploded at the ballotbox on November 8 pushing the real estate tycoon to a victory over opponent Clinton in what many are calling the political upset of the century. Trump tapped into that wellspring of anger and frustration by denouncing the “failed and corrupt political establishment” in which both Hillary Clinton and the Fed feature prominently.[...]" 

Interview: "Crisis At The US Federal Reserve, End Of The Washington Consensus?" [11/21/16] [17:34] "In the multipolar world of the 21st century, the locus of economic attention is shifting toward Eurasia. And as journalist and author Nomi Prins notes, in this changing economic landscape, the dominance of the Federal Reserve and the Washington consensus is coming into question for the first time since the end of the Second World War. This is the GRTV Feature Interview with your host, James Corbett, and our special guest, Nomi Prins. [...]"

Commentary: "What Happens When The Fake Stock Market Driven By Fake Data Finally Adjusts To Economic Realities?" [11/20/16] Printer Friendly Version "While we’re on the topic of fake news… how about we assess the fake economy of the last eight years? President Obama at one point claimed that those who questioned the strength of the recovery were “peddling fiction.” It’s an interesting claim given the entire recovery, at least post 2010, has been built on fake economic data to perpetuate a fake narrative of growth. A few key items… There is no way on earth that the real unemployment rate is less than 5%. Over 45 million people are on food stamps and over 94 million people are out of the work force. Claiming unemployment is at 5% in the context of these two other data points is like claiming you’re in incredible shape provided you don’t count body fat or cardiovascular health. FAKE. Then there’s GDP growth… [...]"  

Commentary: "How Trump Can Make Billions For America Inc. With No Risk, And Support The US Dollar" [11/16/16] Printer Friendly Version "A simple plan to boost the American financial markets and bring back unknown billions in US Dollars, and to solidify the US Dollar as the only World Reserve Currency. Several simple steps to make money for America Inc. and create an environment for growth at the same time. Trump’s transition team announced the repealing of Dodd-Frank (LOUD CHEERING). This ‘Dodd-Frank’ act is a cancer, it has been eating away at the financial industry and the entire economy, like a wrecking ball smashing what was left of the economy after the housing crash. One of the abused children of this damage (there were many) was the Currency market, or FOREX. We will here elaborate on key points here for the Trump Administration which no doubt the market will agree with. Dodd-Frank is a giant Octopus with 15,000 rules and 20,000 + pages – there’s probably not a single human being on the planet who has read and understands the entire ‘law’. We will elaborate here on a very specific part of Dodd-Frank, all that pertains to FOREX. List of 7 steps to take to reform Dodd-Frank by reversing FOREX specific rules, that will boost markets, increase profits, reduce volatility, save on costs & fees, and bring money back to USA: (listed and discussed) [...] What would be the effect on the markets if these suggested changes were implemented? 1) There would be competition in retail FX – this would make trading better, as competition in any market does. There was competition in the US before Dodd-Frank and in the legitimate FX world (discounting the fraud) there were many legitimate companies that had a good offering. 2) Billions of dollars would flow back to USA to be held by institutions in New York, Chicago, Charlotte, Los Angeles, and others.  3) Instead of a new growth industry of algorithmic FX taking off in foreign countries, it would happen right here at home in Charlotte, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Atlanta, and in other trading centers. 4) Stabilization of FX markets in general; this will be nebulous to quantify, however it’s not difficult to surmise, that if there is more competition, more volume, and less fees – that the FX market will be more stable. Because the US Dollar is the world’s reserve currency – that’s really important! Also, it is critical that the United States take a global role in administrating FX markets, because of the USD world reserve status.[...]" 

Commentary: "IMF Gives Green Light for $12 Billion “Austerity” Loan To Egypt" [11/14/16] Printer Friendly Version "Translated from IMF euphemisms into the language of Realpolitik, “economic reform” translates into “austerity, privatization, downsizing of government and public services, asset stripping in terms of natural resources, and more austerity ….” [...]"  Note: Every time this happens, the society in the country involved takes a nose dive. That the Egyptian government knows this means they'll run the population under the bus anyway, due to their greed.

Commentary: "Trump Presidency Could Be Worth $14 Billion To His Troubled Lender" [11/11/16] Printer Friendly Version "Donald Trump’s election has likely given a massive lifeline to Deutsche Bank, the German financial firm that has been rocked recently by rumors that they would have to pay a $14 billion fine to the Justice Department over crisis- related mortgage abuses.  [...] That money is unlikely to ever be imposed, now that one of Deutsche Bank’s biggest borrowers – Trump – will soon be sitting in the White House. That conflict of interest is one of the innumerable ones facing Trump as he leaves his life of grifting behind and becomes the nation’s chief executive. While the Justice Department is nominally independent of the White House, I had to stop writing this sentence because of constant laughing. Trump could easily move to protect his personal investments by aiding his business partner Deutsche Bank. [...] After going through virtually every bank in the world to finance his many projects, Trump settled on Deutsche Bank as a lender of last resort. The private bank division of the firm has lent Trump $364 million in mortgages on his Doral golf club in Miami and hotels in Chicago and Washington, D.C., in the last few years, and at least $2.5 billion to Trump’s affiliated businesses since 1998, with another $1 billion in loan guarantees. The recent loans on the three properties all come due before 2024, but they could be re-negotiated, as is common with commercial loan enterprises. Like pretty much every financial institution that existed during the housing bubble, Deutsche Bank has been accused of fraudulent activities. The allegation drawing the Justice Department’s attention currently concerns the selling of mortgage-backed securities to investors without informing them of the poor qualities of the underlying loans. Numerous banks have paid fines over the same conduct, though virtually no individual [...]" 

MSM: "Cyber-Warfare: Five Major Russian Banks Repel Massive DDoS Attack" [11/10/16] Printer Friendly Version  "At least five Russian major banks came under a continuous hacker attack, although online client services were not disrupted. The attack came from a wide-scale botnet involving at least 24,000 computers, located in 30 countries. The attack began Tuesday afternoon, and continued for two days straight, according to a source close to Russia’s Central Bank quoted by RIA Novosti. Sberbank confirmed the DDoS attack on its online services. “The attacks are conducted from botnets, consisting of tens of thousands computers, which are located in tens of countries,” Sberbank’s press service told RIA. The initial attack was rather massive and its power intensified over the course of the day. [...]" [Cross-Posted]

Commentary: "Gold Surges Post-Trump, Nears Heaviest Volume Day Ever" [11/09/16] Printer Friendly Version "Gold futures had their heaviest day of trading during April 2013 when a mysterious flash crash sent the precious metal collapsing with no clear fundamental/news catalyst. In June, Brexit sparked massive volume buying in the barbarous relic, but overnight, as a Trump victory became more and more of a reality, gold futures are approaching their busiest day ever. As Bloomberg notes, that's triple the full-day average this year and U.S. trading is just getting underway. [...]"  

Commentary: "US Treasuries Are Crashing As The Dow Soars 1000 Points After Trump Victory" [11/09/16] Printer Friendly Version  "Donald Trump's election as next US president has given the gold price a short-term 'uncertainty' trading boost. However, Trump's keen interest in the gold standard is a trend worth watching over the next 4 years. The US Treasury yield curve is steepening at the fastest rate 2008. 2s30s has exploded 16bps as the long-end of the US Treasury curve crashes higher in yields as US equities are aggressively bid, back to overnight highs. The Dow is now up over 1000 points off overnight lows... [...] 

MSM: "Defense Stocks Rise On Donald Trump Victory" [11/09/16] Printer Friendly Version "U.S. defense stocks rallied in early trading Wednesday as the prospect of a short-term bump in military spending from the incoming Trump administration outweighed concerns about a possible hit to export sales. Republican control of Congress is expected to pave the way for an increase in the Pentagon’s war fund to tackle conflicts in the Middle East, though President-elect Donald Trump hasn’t laid out plans for how he would fund pledges to boost the size of the Army, expand the Navy fleet or add more combat jets. [...]" 

MSM: "Bank Of America-Merrill Lynch Bankster Found Guilty In Gruesome Murder Of Sex Workers" [11/09/16] Printer Friendly Version "Two years ago we reported the shocking story of then-29 year old Hong Kong-based, Bank of America banker Rurik Jutting, who was arrested in connection with the grisly murder of two prostitutes. One of the two victims had been hidden in a suitcase on a balcony, while the other, a foreign woman of between 25 and 30, was found lying inside the apartment with wounds to her neck and buttocks. Two years later, justice has been served when overnight a local court found Jutting guilty of the "sickening" murders of two Indonesian women he tortured in his Hong Kong apartment in what the judge said was one of the most horrifying cases the Chinese-ruled territory has known. As Bloomberg reports, Deputy High Court judge Michael Stuart-Moore sentenced the Cambridge University graduate to life in prison with no parole. During the trial, the Briton had admitted killing Sumarti Ningsih, 23, and Seneng Mujiasih, 26, but argued that he was guilty of manslaughter, not murder, on the grounds of diminished responsibility. He was suffering from mental disorders, the defense said. The defendant was “so morally corrupted by pornography, drugs and alcohol, and a general life of debauchery with a huge salary to fund his depravity,” judge Stuart-Moore said. Jutting was considered “a high risk person” and “the repetition of the offence of murder is likely if he is given his liberty in the future,” he said. [...]" 

MSM: "Financial Fraud: Royal Bank Of Scotland Farce Continues With Cover From British Government" [11/07/16] Printer Friendly Version "The FT , with no sense of irony whatsoever said in its article yesterday: ”A long-awaited report into a unit of Royal Bank of Scotland has found no firm evidence that it deliberately pushed small businesses into bankruptcy for its own profit. An ‘independent‘ report ordered by the Financial Conduct Authority has scrutinised dozens of allegations about RBS’s now-defunct Global Restructuring Group. But the most serious of these, that the taxpayer-controlled bank deliberately caused small businesses to fail in the wake of the financial crisis, was not supported by the evidence, according to people who have seen the report.” The story came to prominence because Buzzfeed News and Newsnight investigated the case and found that RBS had pushed more than 12,000 businesses into GRG, which dealt with struggling companies. A leaked cache of internal documents was the evidence that BuzzFeed News and BBC Newsnight used who said that even when business customers had not defaulted on their loans, RBS staff could find a way to “provoke a default” in some way. If you have not seen Max Keiser’s report called “Stunned Commoners” – I recommend you do so, for a full and detailed account of the story, plus guests who were affected directly by the RBS actions: "Stunned Commoners" [25:46] [...]"

MSM: "U.S. Acts To Block North Korea Access To Financial System " [11/06/16] Printer Friendly Version "The United States on Friday formally prohibited U.S. financial institutions from opening or maintaining accounts created on behalf of North Korean banks, extending sanctions imposed on the isolated Asian country over its nuclear and missile programs. The U.S. Treasury Department said North Korea was using front companies and agents to conduct illicit financial transactions to support the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and to evade international sanctions. “Such funds have no place in any reputable financial system,” Adam Szubin, the department's acting under secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence said in a statement. It said that while U.S. law already generally prohibited transactions with North Korean financial institutions, the move would support international sanctions and better protect the U.S. financial system from illicit North Korean activity. [...]"  

Commentary: "Firms Flipping Drugs In Price-Gouging Scheme, Cannibalizing The US Economy" [11/05/16] Printer Friendly Version "The ravenous price increases that pharmaceutical companies slap on their medicines are part of the reason the US health care system is eating an ever larger slice of consumer, corporate, and government spending, and why the rest of the economy has trouble moving forward. Some of the price increases have turned into scandals with plenty of mouth-wagging by politicians. This has become the latest way of wringing out the American economy without contributing anything to it, and at the expense of everyone else. So Bloomberg dug into the role private equity firms play in these schemes.  [...] For example, Genentech developed immune-disorder drug Actimmune decades ago. Eventually, sales began sagging. In 2012, it sold the rights to Vidara Therapeutics for $55 million. Vidara had been formed for this purpose and was funded by private equity firm DFW Capital Partners. [...] Over the next two years, they jacked up the price of Actimmune by 434%, thus making it a very profitable drug despite declining sales. In September 2014, they flipped Vidara to Horizon Pharma for $660 million, pocketing a huge low-risk gain in just 27 months. Then Horizon jacked up the list price another 81% to $538,000 for a year’s worth of treatment. Since 2012, the list price has soared 866%! At that time, Vidara’s co-founder and majority shareholder, Balaji Venkataraman, was involved in another highly profitable pharma flip, according to Bloomberg. He helped start up and fund Sebela Pharmaceuticals in 2013. In August 2014, Sebela bought Miacalcin, which treats high calcium levels, from Novartis. Over the next eight months, the price was jacked up from $68 a vial to $1,987 a vial. Then the highly profitable exit. Bloomberg: “About a year later, Sebela sold Miacalcin ‘for a substantial gain,’ resulting in a special distribution to shareholders, according to an annual report from one of DFW’s investors.” The buyer? Mylan of EpiPen fame. Which has since jacked up the price to $2,283 a vial. This brings the total price increase since August 2014 to 3,257%[...] But it’s not just old drugs that get flipped. New drugs can get the same treatment, so to speak. Savient Pharmaceuticals developed Krystexxa for chronic gout. It started marketing the drug in 2011. But things didn’t work out. In October 2013, Savient filed for bankruptcy. In January 2014, Crealta Pharmaceuticals, which had no drugs but was backed by PE firm GTCR, acquired the assets of Savient for $120 million. It then jacked up the price of Krystexxa by $8,610 per vial, pushing it from $5,390 per vial to $14,000.[...] Insurance companies and pharmacy-benefit managers, which have been focusing on top sellers to contain costs, are now starting to home in on flipped drugs that had been flying under the radar. For example, benefits manager CVS Health said in August that due to these “hyperinflationary” price increases, it would stop covering Nilandron and Dutoprol. Companies will do whatever they can to build, use, and abuse monopolies, dysfunctional markets, patent laws, and other government protections in order to maximize profits while cannibalizing the entire economy. They don’t care. And they’re not required to care.[...]"  

Commentary: "Colorado Cannabis Industry Contributes More to Economy Than All Other Industries: Report" [11/04/16] Printer Friendly Version "The Colorado cannabis industry has quickly gone from bud to full flower, as indicated by a new in-depth data analysis by the Marijuana Policy Group. Using a new “Marijuana Impact Model” they say is the first to “accurately characterize how this industry impacts the overall state economy,” the researchers confirmed the astounding positive impact that legalization has brought upon Colorado. Legal cannabis activities generated an output of $2.39 billion in 2015, with almost $1 billion in sales for the year. The sales represent a 42.4 percent increase from the previous year, translating into a staggering 112 metric tons of buds and 132 metric tons of “flower-equivalent” products (edibles, concentrates, etc.). Cannabis now ranks number six in terms of product sales, following closely behind cigarette sales. It beats gold mining by a large margin, and even performing arts and sports venues as well as all non-grain crop farming. There is equally impressive news in the jobs sector, where legal cannabis created more than 18,000 jobs in a year.[...] Security guards comprise a significant portion of these indirect jobs, due in large part to the fact that the industry is still being forced to operate on a cash basis — because of asinine banking prohibitions by the federal government and the Federal Reserve. This isn’t stopping entrepreneurs and other productive individuals from taking advantage of the new, wildly popular market. Legal cannabis is having profound effects in many other industries, including commercial real estate, construction, and a raft of business services. The cannabis industry itself is growing at a faster pace than any other sector, at an astonishing 42.4 percent. Colorado’s general economic growth is at 3.5 percent and the U.S. average is 1.75 percent." The growth analysis found a very interesting result that supports a primary argument for ending prohibition. 36.2 percent of the economic growth was the result of the disappearance of the black market. [...]" 

Commentary: "Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street Fundraising Benefited From Loophole In Federal Anti-Corruption Rule" [11/02/16] Printer Friendly Version "Despite an anti-corruption rule that was designed to reduce the financial industry’s political power, top officials from the investment firm BlackRock hosted Hillary Clinton at campaign fundraisers earlier this year. The cash — which poured in through a loophole in the law — came in as BlackRock’s federal contracts to manage billions of dollars of retiree assets will be up for renewal during the next president’s term. In 2010, the Securities and Exchange Commission looked to stop campaign donations to public officials from financial firms seeking to convince those officials to hire them to manage public employees’ retirement assets. The agency enacted a pay-to-play rule that applied such a restriction to state and local officials. The rule, however, was structured in a way that effectively exempted federal agencies from its restrictions — and it was created even though a major federal agency had just been plagued by an investment-related influence-peddling scandal. [...] In practice, the gap in the rule allows BlackRock executives to raise big money for presidential candidates who — if they win — will appoint the officials that run the federal Thrift Savings Plan, which awards contracts to manage retirement assets for nearly 5 million current and former federal employees. The loophole also allows Wall Street executives to give cash to presidential candidates, even as those executives’ firms get deals to manage — and earn fees from — investments for the federal government’s separate pension insurance agency, which is run by presidential appointees. In all, the loophole in the SEC rule effectively leaves nearly a half-trillion dollars of retirement assets unprotected by the nation’s major anti-corruption measure. Clinton’s presidential campaign has raised more than $1 million from financial firms that are contracted to manage those assets. Two SEC spokespeople, Ryan White and Judith Burns, declined to answer questions from International Business Times and MapLight about the pay-to-play rule carveout for federal agencies. [...]"  Note: An extensive and well-researched article. 

180° Shift: "Wall Street Journal Lashes Out At Hillary Scandals" [11/02/16] Printer Friendly Version "While the majority of the mainstream media is content to suckle at the teat of the Clinton/Establishment machine - despite the tsunami of 'facts' and 'evidence' of the deep state corruption - The Wall Street Journal appears to have decided that honesty is the best policy... perhaps concerned for its reputation once this short-sighted farce is over. First, The Wall Street Journal's Kimberley Strassel appears to have taken a stand for honest reportage in her latest op-ed, lashing out at the "griefters-in-chief" stating The Clintons don't draw lines between their 'charity' and personal enrichment. [...] WSJ: "In an election season that has been full of surprises, let’s hope the electorate understands that there is at least one thing of which it can be certain: A Hillary Clinton presidency will be built, from the ground up, on self-dealing, crony favors, and an utter disregard for the law. This isn’t a guess. It is spelled out, in black and white, in the latest bombshell revelation from WikiLeaks. It comes in the form of a memo written in 2011 by longtime Clinton errand boy Doug Band, who for years worked simultaneously at the Clinton Foundation and at the head of his lucrative consulting business, Teneo.  It is astonishingly detailed proof that the Clintons do not draw any lines between their “charitable” work, their political activity, their government jobs or (and most important) their personal enrichment. Every other American is expected to keep these pursuits separate, as required by tax law, anticorruption law and campaign-finance law. For the Clintons, it is all one and the same—the rules be damned. [...] The memo came near the end of a 2011 review by law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett into Clinton Foundation practices. Chelsea Clinton had grown concerned about the audacious mixing of public and private, and the review was designed to ensure that the foundation didn’t lose its charitable tax status. Mr. Band, Teneo boss and epicenter of what he calls “ Bill Clinton, Inc.,” clearly felt under assault and was eager to brag up the ways in which his business had concurrently benefited the foundation, Clinton political causes and the Clinton bank account. The memoed result is a remarkably candid look at the sleazy inner workings of the Clinton grifters-in- chief. The cross- pollination is flagrant, and Mr. Band gives example after example of how it works. He and his partner Declan Kelly (a Hillary Clinton fundraiser whom Mrs. Clinton rewarded by making him the State Department’s special envoy to Northern Ireland) buttered up their clients with special visits to Bill’s home and tête-à-tête golf rounds with the former president. They then “cultivated” these marks ( Coca-Cola, Dow Chemical, UBS) for foundation dollars, and then again for high-dollar Bill Clinton speeches and other business payouts. [...] The obvious question is where are the prosecutors? (For that matter, where is Lois Lerner when you need her?) Any nonprofit lawyer in America knows the ironclad rule of keeping private enrichment away from tax-exempt activity, for the simple reason that mixing the two involves ripping off taxpayers. Every election lawyer in the country lives in fear of stepping over the lines governing fundraising and election vehicles. The Clintons recognize no lines. [...] Here’s the lasting takeaway: The Clintons spent their White House years explaining endless sleazy financial deals, and even capping their exit with a scandal over whether Bill was paid to pardon financier Marc Rich. They know the risks. And yet they geared up the foundation and these seedy practices even as Mrs. Clinton was making her first bid for the presidency. They continued them as she sat as secretary of state. They continue them still, as she nears the White House. This is how the Clintons operate. They don’t change. Any one who pulls the lever for Mrs. Clinton takes responsibility for setting up the nation for all the blatant corruption that will follow. [...] And then The Wall Street Journal took another swing at The Cold Clinton Reality, asking "Why isn't the IRS investigating the Clinton Foundation?: [...] As a reminder, this is The Wall Street Journal saying these things to Americans... not Fox, not some alt-right blogger in his parents' basement.[...]" 

MSM: "U.S. Trucking Companies Slash Fleets Amid “Tepid Shipping Demand”" [11/01/16] Printer Friendly Version "For months now we have been writing about the collapse of class 8 truck orders. For the month of September, net class 8 orders were down 16% YoY while LTM orders were down a staggering 41%. In fact, the level of trailing 12-month net orders is the lowest since January 2011 with YoY changes now in negative territory for 19 consecutive months.  [...] Therefore, it should come as little surprise that large trucking companies in the U.S. are being forced to slash fleets amid slumping demand and slack capacity. According to the Wall Street Journal, several U.S. trucking companies, including Swift, Werner and Covenant, have all been forced to cut 1,000s of trucks from their fleets as “overcapacity has driven down pricing.” Of course, all this means that class 8 truck manufactures are unlikely to see an uptick in new orders anytime in the near future with Werner promising it won’t add trucks “until they see meaningful improvement in the freight and rate markets.”[...]" 

Commentary: "Greed: Who’s Powering The War On Cash? " [10/31/16] Printer Friendly Version "On Monday in Japan, Apple CEO Tim Cook vented his spleen once more against physical currency, telling the Nikkei that “we don’t think the consumer particularly likes cash.” It’s a bizarre conclusion to reach, especially in Japan where cash is still the undisputed king. At ¥90 trillion ($885 billion), or about a fifth of gross domestic product, the value of banknotes in circulation is the highest in the world as a proportion of the economy. Many small businesses, including many restaurants, don’t even take plastic. Yet, the country was also the first to popularize mobile wallets and smartphones. “We would like to be a catalyst for taking cash out of the system,” Cook said, his mind fixed on Apple Pay, which takes a cut on every transaction it processes. Yet Apple Pay isn’t generating substantial revenue for the company, as Fortune points out. The service — as with just about everything Apple ever produced — is only compatible with Apple’s own products, leaving the more than a billion people worldwide who use Android-based smartphones out of the loop. Not to mention the billions more who don’t use a smart phone at all. But cash’s days are numbered, as technological advances and changes in generational priorities dampen its allure. The world is brimming with individuals and institutions determined to put it out of its (alleged) misery. [...] The Usual Suspects: [1] Central Banks - Top of the list are the world’s central banks, which have the perfect motive for whacking cash: i.e. to make negative interest rates an eternal — or at least, more enduring — reality. And the only way to do that is to stop depositors from cashing out, as the Bank of England chief economist Andrew Hadlaine all but admitted in 2014. Japan and Europe are already deep into negative territory, and Fed Chair Janet Yellen has already said that the U.S. should be prepared for the same outcome. But as long as cash exists, there’s no way of preventing depositors from doing the logical thing – i.e. taking their money out of the bank and parking it where the erosive effects of NIRP can’t reach it. Central banks are not the only ones who dream of a cash-free world. For credit card companies, cash is the ultimate rival. As such, it’s no surprise that the likes of Visa and MasterCard are among those pushing the hardest for a cashless economy. For banks, the benefits are no less obvious, including cost cuts, greater control over the flow of customer funds, and larger fees. As for politicians, Eurocrats and global plutocrats, including the senior servants of the IMF, World Bank and United Nations, they will enjoy even greater access to and dominion over the people’s funds. What better way of controlling the people than by controlling their access to the money they need to survive? It would amount to what Martin Armstrong calls “totalitarian control over the economy.”[...] [2] The Alliance - These powerful agents have already created a perfect platform for achieving their dream: The Better Than Cash Alliance (BTCA), a UN-hosted partnership of governments, companies and international organizations. Its purpose, in its own words, is “to accelerate the transition from cash to digital payments globally through excellence in advocacy, knowledge and services to members.”[...] So far, 18 governments have joined the Alliance, all representing developing or emerging economies, including Uruguay, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Papua New Guineau, and Moldova. The remaining seven — Liberia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Ghana, Benin and Malawi — are all in Africa, a region that is on the front line of the global war on cash. Thanks to the surge of mobile communications as well as the huge numbers of unbanked citizens, Africa has become the perfect place for the world’s biggest social experiment with cashless living. As Bill Gates himself wrote, once the system is well established, some of it will “trickle up” to developed countries.[...] [3] The system of which Gates speaks is already under construction. In Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria, the government has launched a Mastercard- branded biometric national ID card, which also doubles up as a payment card. The “service” provides Mastercard with direct access to over 170 million potential customers – and all their personal and biometric data. For countries that are lagging behind, BTCA has just published a report mapping out the top ten ways governments and companies can create digital economies, including “developing a unique identification program”, “digitizing government payments and receipts”, and “implementing policies that incentivize and improve the convenience of digital payments.” [...] All of which sounds incredibly impressive, if it were actually true. In the BTCA’s version of the future, all that’s needed to transform developing economies into developed economies is to provide their poorest people with more banks and greater access to banks, while ridding them of the grey economy on which they depend. Once the downtrodden have unbridled access to digital transactions (and the iris, fingerprint and vein scans that will accompany them), empty bellies will automatically be filled. The reality is a whole lot darker. The war on cash is being waged for the exclusive benefit of those who already wield an inordinate amount of power and control over the economy and the people that are struggling in it. And they want more. By slowly, quietly killing cash, they seek to seize the last remaining thing that offers people a small semblance of privacy, anonymity, and personal freedom in their increasingly controlled and surveyed lives. And the way things are going, they’ll get it.[...]" 

Flashback: "Whistleblower Discusses Banks Funding Terrorism, Government’s Role In Deaths, And Cover-Ups" [10/28/16] Printer Friendly Version "On Friday, WND’s Jerome Corsi reported that Obama’s nominee to replace Attorney General Eric Holder, Loretta Lynch, is involved in a “massive cover-up” concerning London-based banking giant HSBC. Lynch has served as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York under President Bill Clinton and again under Obama since May 2010. She is currently undergoing the constitutionally-required “advice and consent” confirmation process in the U.S. Senate. In its article, The Times incorrectly noted Lynch as “Attorney General” in a caption under her photo and stated her employment as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York in the past tense, although her confirmation process is not complete. Before Senate hearings could begin, Lynch was required to submit a list of all of her media interviews in a Senate questionnaire. On January 27, the IBTimes reported that Lynch omitted her interview with CBS News regarding a financial settlement reached with HSBC after the bank acknowledged lax oversight practices. The money deposited in various HSBC accounts was used to fund illegal activity in Cuba, Iran, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Sudan, North Korea, Burma and Syria. Various mainstream media outlets have reported on billions of dollars deposited in HSBC accounts around the world which ultimately went to rogue regimes, Mexican drug cartels, or to nations supportive of terrorism as revealed by a report issued by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations following a July 17, 2012 hearing. [...]"  Related: "HSBC Helped Terrorists, Iran, Mexican Drug Cartels Launder Money, Senate Report Says"  

Corbett Report: "How the Government Uses The Banks To Choke Off Legal Businesses" [10/26/16] Printer Friendly Version "And so by executive decree entire classes of businesses, including perfectly legal businesses that were already operating under strict licensing laws and regulatory regimes, became pariahs, cut off from the backbone of the financial system and scrambling to find backups [...] Dear Consumer, Our biometric detection division has confirmed that you participated in the protests at last month's coronation of Hillary Clinton as Supreme Leader of the United States for Life. Your case was reviewed by our enforcement personnel and you were found guilty of unlawful dissent. As a result, all of your financial accounts have been closed, your carbon credit allowance has been frozen, and your consumer participation chip has been deactivated. You have been downgraded from consumer to laborer. As such, you may proceed to the nearest Federal Emergency Management Agency labor camp to receive your work assignment. You will be provided a space in the dormitory and three meal credits per day. All Hail the New United Nations, Praise Be to Secretary General Rothschild. Sound like far- fetched science fiction fantasy? If only.[...] This is a letter from SunTrust Bank to Brian Lynn, a former Marine Corps officer and CEO of a payday lending company that had been operating 26 branches in Florida, Georgia and Alabama for over 20 years. In 2014 both Suntrust and Bank of America closed his companies deposit and account services with no warning or explanation. [...] So here's where it gets really creepy. All of these account closures are not just the spontaneous decision of the banks themselves; they are part of a legally dubious and outright Orwellian "Justice" Department program that the DOJ tried to keep from the public for years. Initially conceived as far back as 2011 and first revealed to the public in 2013, the ominously-named Operation Choke Point induced the FDIC to use its supervisory role over the banking industry to lean on banks and "encourage" them to drop clients in industries engaging in "high-risk activities." This inducement took the form of Memorandums of Understanding between the FDIC and FDIC-supervised banks prohibiting payment processing for targeted businesses or classifying loans to such businesses as "undesirable." [...] But a 2014 report from the Congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform showed that these "high-risk" industries covered not just patently illegal or evidently pernicious businesses (pyramid schemes, online gambling, debt consolidation scams), but completely lawful and regulated ones (coin dealers, firearms merchants, tobacconists). [...] The entire Congressional report and the various committee hearings that were held grilling FDIC and DOJ officials on the matter are worth perusing in their entirety, but Brian Wise of the US Consumer Coalition summarized the program in 2014: "They didn't want this program to be released, as you mentioned, to the public at all. But most of these industries are industries that they've tried to legislate out of existence over the past 20 or 30 years. They haven't been able to do that. And so the Obama administration under the direction of Eric Holder at the Department of Justice has decided: 'We're going to come up with a creative way to go after these industries. We're going to find the one unifying factor that brings together all of these industries. And what is that? Everyone needs a bank. Everyone needs a payment processor. And so we're going to go to the banks, we're going to intimidate them into stopping their client relationships with all of these companies.'[...]" Related: "What Is Operation 'Choke Point'" [2:31] 

MSM: "Report: Justice Department Extorting Banks To Fund Left-Wing Activists" [10/26/16] Printer Friendly Version "A new report PDF from the Government Accountability Institute (GAI) concludes that the Obama administration’s Department of Justice has been extorting fines from major banks, which are then used to fund leftist groups that push the Democratic vote. [...] The report notes that while community organizing groups have been using aggressive, “terrorist” tactics for decades to force banks to provide funding for their operations, the Obama administration has brought the power of the federal government to bear on their behalf. Banks are threatened with lawsuits for racial discrimination based on the controversial “disparate impact” theory, and offered incentives to settle by paying left-wing groups directly, beyond the review or oversight of Congress. The result, the GAI report says, is a system of political patronage: The old time political machine has been replaced by these nonprofits and a system of patronage now operates with the imprimatur of the DOJ. The DOJ has instituted a system that provides significant funding for nonprofit “community organizers” through a pattern of extortive lawsuits. This system, wherein appointed attorneys can legally extract money from the private sector and redistribute the funds to third-party organizations outside of the appropriations process, shows an unprecedented and extraordinary disregard for Congressional authority. Left-wing groups have long used the Community Reinvestment Act — signed by President Jimmy Carter in 1977 and boosted by President Bill Clinton in the 1990s — to threaten bank mergers unless the banks fund their lending and activist operations. Many of the organizations, including the non-profit Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA), control huge amounts of funding for use in mortgages that might not otherwise be granted. They also register their beneficiaries to vote.[...]"  [Cross-Posted]

MSM: "AT&T Announces Purchase Of Time Warner For Nearly $86 Billion" [10/25/16] Printer Friendly Version "The US telecoms giant AT&T has announced that it will buy entertainment group Time Warner for nearly $86bn (£70bn). The deal was agreed at a meeting of the two boards on Saturday but will still need to be approved by regulators. Correspondents say it is the biggest deal in the world this year. It reflects the desire of the telecoms company to acquire content to stream over its high-speed network and attract more online viewers. If the deal is approved by regulators, AT&T would gain control of the HBO and CNN TV networks in addition to the Warner Bros film studio and other prized media assets. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said he did not anticipate any regulatory obstacles to the merger, saying any concerns could be overcome if concessions were made. “This is a perfect match of two companies with complementary strengths who can bring a fresh approach to how the media and communications industry works for customers, content creators, distributors and advertisers,” he said. [...]"  Note: AT&T ... They're all itching to be broken up again by Anti-Monopoly laws. Related: "AT&T’s $85 Billion Time Warner Buyout Faces Tough Federal Scrutiny" Printer Friendly Version | "AT&T-Time Warner Merger To Expand Corporate, State Control Of Media" Printer Friendly Version

MSM: "Mexico Orders Banks To “Stress Test” For A Trump Victory" [10/25/16] Printer Friendly Version "It’s official: Donald Trump is now a "systemic threat". As part of the Mexican stress test, alongside more traditional calamities such as recession, economic crisis, and market crash, the Mexican financial authorities have ordered local banks to assess the potential impact of Donald Trump winning the U.S. presidential election, Reuters reports. Citing six bank sources, Reuters says that alongside a “normal” annual stress test, the banks were asked to conduct an additional test to examine the macroeconomic effects and volatility resulting from a potential Trump victory on Nov. 8. The local regulator, the Financial System Stability Board (CESF) said that as a result of the ongoing risk surrounding the U.S. election and an expected tightening in Federal Reserve monetary policy, it had examined the results of stress tests of the country’s financial system. “These exercises showed that the banking sector maintains adequate levels of capital and liquidity to face adverse scenarios,” the CESF, which includes representatives from the Finance Ministry, the Bank of Mexico and the banking regulator CNBV, said in its statement. However, while the rest of the stress test is largely fluff, what Mexico really wanted to know is what happens to local banks if Trump becomes president in 19 days: as a result the tests “were specifically aimed at modeling the possible impact of a Trump victory over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, the latest example of the panic the Republican candidates campaign has induced in Mexico.” [...]"  

Commentary: "Wikileaks: Citigroup Exec Gave Obama Recommendation Of Hillary For State, Eric Holder For DOJ" [10/24/16] Printer Friendly Version "This week, for example, emails from WikiLeaks show that President Obama was communicating directly with Michael Froman of Citigroup in 2008, who fed Obama lists of recommended appointments to his cabinet. In an email from Froman dated October 6, 2008,  Hillary Clinton shows up on Froman’s list for Secretary of State or head of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In a separate list attached to the email, Eric Holder was recommended for U.S. Attorney General at the Department of Justice or as White House Counsel. (See the email and the attachments here.) In less than a month after Obama’s election as President on November 4, 2008, Obama had nominated Clinton to be his Secretary of State and Holder as his Attorney General. Despite the unprecedented corruption rooted out on Wall Street by regulators, Holder failed to prosecute any of Wall Street’s top executives for the crimes that led to the greatest financial crash since the Great Depression. [...] Froman had served as Chief of Staff to Robert Rubin when Rubin was Secretary of the Treasury in the Bill Clinton administration. Rubin led the effort to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act, which barred investment banks and brokerage firms on Wall Street from merging with commercial banks that held FDIC insured deposits for savers. The Glass-Steagall Act had been in force since 1933, after Congress had conducted three years of hearings showing the recklessness and corruption of the major Wall Street banks. Rubin left the Treasury Department and promptly took a job at Citigroup, the primary beneficiary of the repeal in 1999. Over the next decade, as Citigroup was serially charged by its regulators for abusing the public trust, Rubin collected compensation of $126 million. [...] Froman followed Rubin to Citigroup where he served as Chief Operating Officer of Citi Alternative Investments and later as Managing Director of Citi Infrastructure Investors, a unit of Citi Alternative Investments. The latter is the division that blew up the bank in the same month that Obama was elected President. Froman had been a major bundler for Obama, raising funds that USA Today placed at $200,000 to $500,000. [...] Just seven days after Froman sent his Hillary and Holder recommendations to Obama in 2008, Citigroup received $25 billion in a bailout. Other Wall Street banks received similar amounts. But what happened just 19 days after Obama’s election was unprecedented in the annals of U.S. financial history: [...]" 

Commentary: "Goldman Sachs Top Lawyer Is Part Of A Secret Banking Cabal As CEO Blankfein Denies One Exists" [10/24/16] Printer Friendly Version "There’s a new mantra making the rounds of Washington and Wall Street. No matter how big the lie you’re caught in, no matter how much documented evidence exists against you, just deny, deny, deny.  [...] Yesterday, CNBC’s David Faber interviewed Blankfein and asked about the suggestion that Donald Trump had made on October 13 in a speech in West Palm Beach, Florida that there is an international banking conspiracy undermining the sovereignty of the United States. Faber asked Blankfein: “So am I to take it that you weren’t meeting in secret with international banks and Hillary Clinton to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty?” Blankfein responded: “We could parse that clause by clause, but to every clause, the answer is no, we weren’t doing it. We weren’t meeting in secret and we certainly weren’t plotting destruction.” The first half of Blankfein’s answer is flatly false and he knows it. The big Wall Street banks do meet in secret and have been doing it for decades. His own General Counsel,Gregory Palm, part of the Management Committee at Goldman Sachs, is part of the secret cabal." [...] Just five days before Blankfein made his false denial, Bloomberg News’ reporters Greg Farrell and Keri Geiger had landed the bombshell report that the top lawyers of the biggest Wall Street banks had been meeting secretly for two decades with their counterparts at international banks.  [...]" 

MSM: "California Launches Criminal Investigation into Wells Fargo Over Unauthorized Accounts" [10/22/16] Printer Friendly Version "California Attorney General Kamala Harris said that there is probable cause to believe that Wells Fargo committed felonies in their alleged creation of millions of unauthorized accounts and credit cards in their customers’ names. According to a seizure warrant obtained by Reuters, a criminal investigation of the bank is currently underway. Wells Fargo spokesman Mark Folk told the L.A. Times that the bank is “cooperating in providing the requested information.” CEO John Stumpf stepped down after testifying before Congress regarding the alleged fraudulent practices. The bank has already been ordered by the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to pay $190 million in fines and restitution to settle civil charges that their employees opened up to 2 million accounts without permission, in order to meet company sales goals. [...]" 

MSM: "Hillary Clinton Begs Forgiveness From Rothschilds In Leaked Email" [10/20/16] Printer Friendly Version "Hillary Clinton asked Lady de Rothschild "Let me know what penance I owe you" after requesting Tony Blair accompany her on official business, preventing him from attending a Rothschild event scheduled for that same weekend. Though the influence of money in politics is well-known, many people are amazed to learn that most of that money comes from a very few individuals – the 1% of the 1% as it were. These individuals comprise the global elite, whose mind-boggling fortunes are often used to buy ‘favors’ and even set policy in governments all over the world, not just the United States. Many of these elites made their fortunes through centuries-old banking dynasties. The most infamous of these are undoubtedly the Rothschild family, who have been the world’s wealthiest family for over 200 years. Indeed, the most well-known Rothschild patriarch, Mayer Amschel Rothschild, once said “Give me control of a nation’s money and I care not who makes its laws.” The Rothschilds and their international banking cartel, ‘Rothschild & Co,’ are majority owners of numerous corporations spanning nearly every industry. They are also co-owners of numerous private banks including the International Monetary Fund, which essentially functions as a global loan shark with no government or international oversight, as well as many of the world’s central banks, which are private entities despite their associations with federal governments. [...]"  Related: "Putin Bans Rothschild's From Russia" [06/02/16] Printer Friendly Version "In act of admirable courage, Vladimir Putin has reportedly banned Jacob Rothschild and his banking cartel family from entering Russian territory “under any circumstances”. Russian president Vladimir Putin recently reminded his cabinet of officials that his administration paid off the countries debt to the Rothschild’s monopoly overseen by the international bankers. Putin reportedly “grabbed them by the scruff of the neck and kicked them out Russia’s back door,” proverbially speaking that is. [...] This meeting is said to have been an intense one. With Putin pounding his fist on the table and vowing to destroy the “New World Order.” “They do not own the world, and they do not have carte blanch to do whatever they want. If we do not challenge them there will be other issues. We will not be bullied by them,” Putin explained. For a long time, the Russian economy was under the control of these powerful elitist interests. The Russian revolution was bankrolled by Wall Street and the City of London.[...]" " Swiss Branch Of Rothschild Banking Empire Under Criminal Investigation Following David De Rothschild Indictment" [03/20/16] Printer Friendly Version "It has taken many years to bring this case against Rothschild and his company the Rothschild Financial Services Group, which trapped hundreds of pensioners in a bogus loan scheme between the years of 2005 and 2008. Rothschild Unionizes With Rockefeller To Congeal Funds 2012. [...]" 

MSM: "Billionaire Hillary Clinton Backer Wants A New Tax That Funnels Middle Class Money To Wall Street" [10/20/16] Printer Friendly Version "With public pensions moving away from alternative managers, the industry is looking toward government under Hillary Clinton to tax American workers in order to guarantee captive money continues to flow into the coffers of private equity and hedge fund managers. You gotta hand it to these guys. When it comes to endlessly scheming and plotting various ways of getting their hands on your money, Wall Street is absolutely relentless. [...] David Sirota just penned a very important and interesting article zeroing in on how Wall Street is maneuvering to propose and implement a new retirement tax on Americans under a Hillary Clinton Administration. Leading the charge is billionaire financial oligarch Tony James, who is COO of private equity giant Blackstone. Mr. James is a generous contributor to Hillary Clinton’s Presidential run, and is listed as a “Hillblazer” by her campaign for having raised at least $100,000 toward her candidacy. While many Americans already know that much, most of you will be totally unaware of his aggressive plan to force a 3% payroll tax on the public which will be immediately funneled to Wall Street management firms, including “alternative managers” such as hedge funds and private equity. It seems like a very bizarre time to initiate such a proposal considering many public pension funds are actively ditching alternative managers after realizing they’ve been paying extraordinarily high fees for pitiful performance. In other words, they’ve been ripped off." With public pensions moving away from alternative managers, the industry is looking toward government under Hillary Clinton to tax American workers in order to guarantee captive money continues to flow into the coffers of private equity and hedge fund managers.[...]"  

Commentary: "The US Economy Is Now In A Recession And Teetering On A Full Blown Collapse" X-22 [10/20/16] [16:56] The auto industry is no idle and manufacture is now declining rapidly. IBM revenue and sales continually drops. Industrial production is signalling a recession. Which means the country has been a recession and we are moving towards a collapse of the economy. Deutsche Bank pays a fine for manipulating the silver market. The creator of the EU is letting the world know that the EU is collapsing and will not survive. [...]" Related: "X22Report Spotlight"

Commentary: "5 Urgent Warnings From Big Banks That The Economy Has Gone Suicidal" [10/16/16] Printer Friendly Version "The economy has gone suicidal. It is working against the very people who need its energy to survive. It is collapsing on its own weight, and the weight of literally incalculable levels of toxic debt. And it is going to create the greatest disaster of our time, if the warnings from the world’s most powerful bankers are any indication. While the general population is obsessed with the details of the world’s most entertaining and bizarre election in American history, the big banks are gearing up for a deadly serious economic collapse. Just during the past few weeks, there have been major discussions about stock markets dropping, the insolvency of Europe’s biggest investment bank, the mounting debt crisis and a deeper, long-term decline for ‘everyday Americans.’ Here’s what you probably missed while the Hillary-Trump cage match has taken over the collective psyche: [...]"

MSM: "SEC Accusations Against US Billionaire Highlight Centrality Of Insider Trading To Hedge Fund Profits" [10/14/16] [10:49] "Former financial regulator Bill Black discusses the case of Leon Cooperman, who once accused Obama of unfair treatment of the rich [...]"  

MSM: "Deutsche Bank CEO Hasn’t Reached Accord With U.S." [10/10/16] Printer Friendly Version "Deutsche Bank AG Chief Executive Officer John Cryan failed to reach an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department to resolve a years-long investigation into its mortgage-bond dealings during a meeting in Washington Friday, Germany’s Bild newspaper reported. The meeting was meant to negotiate the multi-billion-dollar settlement the bank will have to pay to resolve alleged misconduct arising from its dealings in residential- mortgage backed securities that led to the 2008 financial crisis, according to a Bild am Sonntag report. The German lender is still considering seeking damages against Anshu Jain and Josef Ackermann, who are both former CEOs of the bank, the newspaper reported. Bild said the bank froze part of the millions in bonus payments to Jain and other former top managers. A Deutsche Bank spokeswoman declined to comment to Bild about the outcome of Cryan’s Friday discussion or about clawing back former executives’ compensation. Mark Abueg, a Justice Department spokesman, declined to comment.[...] Concerns about Deutsche Bank’s ability to pay the $14 billion opening settlement bid from the Justice Department sent the lender’s stock to a record low last month. The bank, which set aside 5.5 billion euros ($6.2 billion) for litigation at the end of June, may face additional penalties to wrap up other outstanding investigations, including one into a money-laundering probe tied to its Russia operations. Analysts at Barclays Plc speculate that could cost the bank as much as 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion).[...]" 

MSM: "Nearly 7 in 10 Americans Have Less Than $1,000 in Savings" [10/10/16] Printer Friendly Version "Last year, GoBankingRates surveyed more than 5,000 Americans only to uncover that 62% of them had less than $1,000 in savings. Last month GoBankingRates again posed the question to Americans of how much they had in their savings account, only this time it asked 7,052 people. The result? Nearly seven in 10 Americans (69%) had less than $1,000 in their savings account. Breaking the survey data down a bit further, we find that 34% of Americans don’t have a dime in their savings account, while another 35% have less than $1,000. Of the remaining survey-takers, 11% have between $1,000 and $4,999, 4% have between $5,000 and $9,999, and 15% have more than $10,000. Furthermore, even though lower-income adults struggle with saving money more than middle- and upper-income folks, no income group did particularly well. Some 29% of adults earning more than $150,000 a year, and 44% making between $100,000 and $149,999, had less than $1,000 in savings. Comparatively, 73% of the lowest income adults (those earnings $24,999 or less annually) had less than $1,000 in their savings account. [...]" 

Quotes: “Now, it’s important to recognize the vital role that the financial markets play in our economy and that so many of you are contributing to. To function effectively those markets and the men and women who shape them have to command trust and confidence, because we all rely on the market’s transparency and integrity. So even if it may not be 100 percent true, if the perception is that somehow the game is rigged, that should be a problem for all of us, and we have to be willing to make that absolutely clear. And if there are issues, if there’s wrongdoing, people have to be held accountable and we have to try to deter future bad behavior, because the public trust is at the core of both a free market economy and a democracy.” [Clinton Remarks to Deutsche Bank, 10/7/14] 

MSM: "Existential Threat To World Order Confronts Elite At IMF Meeting" [10/09/16] Printer Friendly Version "Policy-making elites converge on Washington this week for meetings that epitomize a faith in globalization that’s at odds with the growing backlash against the inequities it creates. [...] From Britain’s vote to leave the European Union to Donald Trump’s championing of “America First,” pressures are mounting to roll back the economic integration that has been a hallmark of gatherings of the IMF and World Bank for more than 70 years. Fed by stagnant wages and diminishing job security, the populist uprising threatens to depress a world economy that International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde says is already “weak and fragile.” The calls for less integration and more trade barriers also pose risks for elevated financial markets that remain susceptible to sudden swings in investor sentiment, as underscored by recent jitters over Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank AG’s financial health." [...] “The backlash against globalization is manifesting itself in increased nationalistic sentiment, against the outside world and in favor of increasing isolation,” said Louis Kuijs, head of Asia economics at Oxford Economics in Hong Kong and a former IMF official. “If we lose consensus on what kind of a world we want to have, the world will probably be worse off.” In its latest World Economic Outlook released Tuesday, the fund highlighted the threats from the anti-trade movement to an already subdued global expansion. After growth of 3.2 percent in 2015, the world economy’s expansion will slow to 3.1 percent this year before rebounding to 3.4 percent in 2017, according to the report, keeping those estimates unchanged from July projections. The forecasts for U.S. growth were cut to 1.6 percent this year and 2.2 percent in 2017. [...] John Williamson, whose Washington Consensus of open trade and deregulation was effectively the governing ethos for the IMF and World Bank for decades, said the 2008-09 financial meltdown had undercut support for economic integration. “There was agreement on globalization before the crisis and that’s one thing that’s been lost since the financial crisis,” said Williamson, a former senior fellow at Peterson Institute for International Economics who is now retired.[...]" Related: "The IMF And All The Other Losers" Printer Friendly Version    

MSM: "IMF Downgraded U.S. Growth To 1.6 Percent In 2016" [10/08/16] Printer Friendly Version "The International Monetary Fund downgraded the economic growth outlook for the United States to 1.6 percent in 2016, which is the largest one-year drop seen for an advanced economy, according to the Fund’s World Economic Outlook report. According to the report, the United States grew at a rate of 2.6 percent in 2015 and is projected to slow to 1.6 percent in 2016, a decline of 38 percent. The United States’ decline in growth is the largest one-year drop seen in all of the advanced economies such as the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Italy, and Spain. “Softer-than-expected activity in the second half of 2015 and the first half of 2016 points to some loss in momentum in the United States, despite a mildly supportive fiscal stance and a slower projected pace of monetary policy normalization,” the International Monetary Fund explains. “A prolonged inventory correction cycle and weak business investment has prompted a downward revision of the 2016 forecast to 1.6 percent.” The group projects that the economy will grow to 2.2 percent by 2017, but medium term growth will be held down at 1.8 percent due to an aging population and low productivity growth.[...]"  

MSM: "Janet Yellen's Plan To 'Intervene Directly' In The Stock Market" [10/06/16] Printer Friendly Version "Fall is notorious as a season for stock market crashes. Some analysts believe we'll see a crash after the election, while others believe the market will stay elevated until the Fed raises rates. However, it seems the Fed is contemplating a plan to provide stimulus to the markets in case they do suffer after the election. [...] October could see a ramping up of volatility across all asset markets. The month has been notorious on Wall Street since the 1987 stock market crash. Fall crashes also occurred in 2002 and 2008.[...] In a video conference last week, Fed chair Janet Yellen indicated that the Federal Reserve is mulling the idea of responding to downturns by buying corporate stocks, corporate bonds, and other non-traditional assets: "It could be useful to be able to intervene directly in assets where the prices have a more direct link to spending decisions," she said.[...]"  Related: "Yellen Says Fed Purchases Of Stocks, Corporate Bonds Could Help In A Downturn" Printer Friendly Version "The Federal Reserve might be able to help the U.S. economy in a future downturn if it could buy stocks and corporate bonds, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said on Thursday. Speaking via video conference with bankers in Kansas City, Yellen said the issue was not a pressing one right now and pointed out the U.S. central bank is currently barred by law from buying corporate assets. But the Fed's current toolkit might be insufficient in a downturn if it were to "reach the limits in terms of purchasing safe assets like longer-term government bonds." Yellen told a conference last month the Fed would fight a future recession by buying government debt and jaw boning interest rates lower with pledges on future policy. But she said other tools might be necessary, including expanding the range of assets it would purchase. In that speech, she also cited possibilities like raising the central bank's 2 percent inflation target or targeting the nominal level of national economic output. [...]"  

MSM: "German Politicians Accuse US Of "Economic War" Against Deutsche Bank" [10/04/16] Printer Friendly Version  "When we first heard the news that the US DOJ had slapped Deutsche Bank with a $14 billion settlement on September 15, a number that looked oddly similar to the $14 billion fine the EU slapped on Apple, we determined that this was likely nothing more than "blowback" on behalf of the US, saying "just a few weeks after the EU slapped Apple with a $14 billion bill for "back taxes," the U.S. has apparently responded with a $14 billion fine of their own to Deutsche Bank to settle an outstanding probe into the company's trading of mortgage-backed securities during the financial crisis." Today, after three weeks of unprecedented volatility in the stock price of the German lender which sent its shares to all time lows as recently as Friday, Germany has latched on to this line of attack as German politicians accused the US of waging economic war against ­Germany as, in the words of the FT, "concern continues to rise among its political and corporate elite over the future of Deutsche Bank." [...]"  Related: "Bernie Sanders Comments On Clintons Getting $1 Million From Deutsche Bank" Printer Friendly Version "The business model of the largest banking institutions around the world - from Wells Fargo To Deutsche Bank - is Fraud," exclaimed Bernie Sanders, after being asked whether Hillary Clinton should return the $1 million she received from Deutsche - a fraudulent business. Sanders also added that The Clinton Foundation's donations "raised serious questions" with regard the relationship to the prospective president.[...]

Flashback: "Declassified Emails Reveal NATO Killed Gaddafi to Stop Libyan Creation of Gold-Backed Currency" [10/04/16] Printer Friendly Version "In spite of French-led U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 creating a no-fly zone over Libya with the express intent of protecting civilians, one of the over 3,000 new Hillary Clinton emails released by the State Department on New Year’s Eve, contain damning evidence of Western nations using NATO as a tool to topple Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi. The NATO overthrow was not for the protection of the people, but instead it was to thwart Gaddafi’s attempt to create a gold-backed African currency to compete with the Western central banking monopoly. The emails indicate the French-led NATO military initiative in Libya was also driven by a desire to gain access to a greater share of Libyan oil production, and to undermine a long term plan by Gaddafi to supplant France as the dominant power in the Francophone Africa region. The April 2011 email, sent to the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by unofficial adviser and longtime Clinton confidante Sidney Blumenthal with the subject line “France’s client and Qaddafi’s gold,” reveals predatory Western intentions. [...] The Foreign Policy Journal reports: "The email identifies French President Nicholas Sarkozy as leading the attack on Libya with five specific purposes in mind: to obtain Libyan oil, ensure French influence in the region, increase Sarkozy’s reputation domestically, assert French military power, and to prevent Gaddafi’s influence in what is considered “Francophone Africa.” Most astounding is the lengthy section delineating the huge threat that Gaddafi’s gold and silver reserves, estimated at “143 tons of gold, and a similar amount in silver,” posed to the French franc (CFA) circulating as a prime African currency." [...] The email makes clear that intelligence sources indicate the impetus behind the French attack on Libya was a calculated move to consolidate greater power, using NATO as a tool for imperialist conquest, not a humanitarian intervention as the public was falsely led to believe.[...] According to the email: "This gold was accumulated prior to the current rebellion and was intended to be used to establish a pan-African currency based on the Libyan golden Dinar. This plan was designed to provide the Francophone African Countries with an alternative to the French franc (CFA). (Source Comment: According to knowledgeable individuals this quantity of gold and silver is valued at more than $7 billion. French intelligence officers discovered this plan shortly after the current rebellion began, and this was one of the factors that influenced President Nicolas Sarkozy’s decision to commit France to the attack on Libya.)[...]"  

MSM: "World War II: Nazi Germany Was Financed By The Federal Reserve And The Bank Of England" [10/03/16] Printer Friendly Version "The recent resolution of the parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE fully equalizes the role of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany at the outbreak of the Second World War, except that it had the purely pragmatic purpose of extorting money from Russia on the contents of some of the bankrupt economies, intended to demonize Russia as the successor state to the USSR, and to prepare the legal ground for the deprivation of her right to speak out against revision of results of war. But if we approach the problem of responsibility for the war, then you first need to answer the key question: who helped the Nazis come to power? Who sent them on their way to world catastrophe? The entire pre-war history of Germany shows that the provision of the “necessary” policies were managed by the financial turmoil, in which, by the way, the world was plunged into. The key structures that defined the post-war development strategy of the West were the Central financial institutions of Great Britain and the United States — the Bank of England and the Federal Reserve System (FRS) — and the associated financial and industrial organizations set out a target to establish absolute control over the financial system of Germany to control political processes in Central Europe. To implement this strategy it is possible to allocate the following stages: [...]" Related: "Eustace Mullins - Adolf Hitler & The Central Banks" [9:58] 

MSM: "Top Ex-Bankers Indicted In Italy Over Derivatives Scandal" [10/03/16] Printer Friendly Version "The accused in the trial due to open December 15 include Giuseppe Mussari, former chairman of the BMPS Foundation, his former chief executive Antonio Vigni, six former employees of Germany's Deutsche Bank and two of Japan's Nomura bank. The alleged crimes, committed between 2008 and 2012 and key to a scandal that has rocked BMPS since 2013, concern false accounting, share manipulation and obstructing regulators from Consob, Italy's stock exchange watchdog. The investigation focuses on derivatives trades called Santorini and Alexandria, conducted with Deutsche Bank and Nomura respectively to hide losses equivalent to two billion euros ($2.2 billion). The trial comes at a particularly tricky time for the oldest bank in the world -- BMPS was founded in 1472 -- as it is in the process of offloading 9.2 billion euros in non-performing assets and is urgently seeking new capital of up five billion euros. Deemed a weak link in Italy's banking system, BMPS came last in EU bank stress tests in July. Since the start of the year, the bank's share price has dropped some 76 percent. [...]" 

MSM: "Deutsche Bank Charged By Italy For Market Manipulation, Creating False Accounts" [10/02/16] Printer Friendly Version "For Deutsche Bank, when it rains, it pours, even when everyone tries to come to its rescue.  One day after its stock soared from all time lows, following what so far appears to have been a fabricated report sourced by AFP which relied on Twitter as a source that the DOJ would reduce its RMBS settlement amount with Deutsche Bank from $14 billion to below $6 billion (and which neither the DOJ nor Deutsche Bank have confirmed for obvious reasons), moments ago Bloomberg reported that six current and former managers of Deutsche Bank, including Michele Faissola, Michele Foresti and Ivor Dunbar, were charged in Milan for colluding to falsify the accounts of Italy’s third-biggest bank, Monte Paschi (which itself is so insolvent it is currently scrambling to finalize a private sector bailout) and manipulate the market. Two former executives at Nomura Holdings Inc. and five at Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena were also charged. The news comes in a time of heated relations between Italy and Germany, when the former has been pushing to get German "permission" for a state bailout of its insolvent banks only to be met by stiff resistance by the latter as Merkel and Schauble have demanded a bail-in of private investors instead, even as - ironically - it has been Deutsche Bank's woeful financial state that has been in the Wall Street spotlight this past week. The charges culminate a three-year investigation by prosecutors that showed Monte Paschi used the transactions to hide losses, leading to a misrepresentation of its accounts between 2008 and 2012. The deals came to light in January 2013, when Bloomberg News reported that Monte Paschi used derivatives to hide losses.  As BBG adds, "the charges deal another blow to Deutsche Bank, which is seeking to reassure investors and clients that it will be able to withstand pending U.S. penalties over the bank’s sale of mortgage-backed securities and its dealings with some Russian clients." [...] In what appears to be another case of Wells Fargo-esque scapegoating of junior employees to keep senior execs off the hook, just weeks after Milan prosecutors shelved a probe against Monte Paschi's former chairman and CEO for alleged market manipulation and false accounting as it "risked undermining investor sentiment", a judge approved a request by Milan prosecutors to try the bankers on charges involving two separate derivative transactions arranged with Nomura and Deutsche Bank, said a lawyer involved in the case who was in the courtroom Saturday as the decision was announced. [...] As Bloomberg adds, Monte Paschi’s former executives Giuseppe Mussari, Antonio Vigni and Gianluca Baldassarri, and Nomura’s former bankers Sadeq Sayeed and Raffaele Ricci also will face trial for allegedly obstructing regulators after the investigation revealed that the 2009 deal, dubbed Alexandria, was designed to disguise losses from a previous investment. The basis for the legal action are two deals conducted by Deutsche Bank and Nomura which took place at the height of the financial crisis, meant to mask Monte Paschi's financial woes. Prosecutors have been reconstructing how Monte Paschi’s former managers misrepresented the lender’s finances in the years through the two deals signed with Deutsche Bank in 2008 and Nomura in 2009. The investigation revealed Monte Paschi arranged the transactions to hide billions in losses that led to false accounting between 2008 and 2012, according to a prosecutors’ statement released Jan. 14, when they completed the investigation. The fraud first came to light in January 2013, when Bloomberg News reported that Monte Paschi used the transaction with Deutsche Bank, dubbed Santorini, to mask losses from an earlier derivative contract. The world’s oldest bank restated its accounts and has since been forced to tap investors to replenish capital amid a slump in its shares. It’s now attempting to convince investors to buy billions of bad loans before a fresh stock sale.[...]" 

Commentary: "Deutsche Bank – The Meltdown Crisis" [10/01/16] Printer Friendly Version "Ten of the large hedge funds are withdrawing from Deutsche Bank. What must be understood here is that Deutsche Bank is the main clearing house for trades in Europe. The problem the hedge funds have is where do they move for clearing? Short-term, they can move to New York or London. With over $60 trillion derivative book at the Deutsche Bank, the government is totally incapable of even understanding how to deal with this crisis. We are looking at a major crisis in confidence. Merkel is simply out of her mind to adhere to this insane policy of a bail-in. How can hedge funds stay with clearing at Deutsche Bank when she takes this position that would set off a catastrophic global meltdown. It still appears that Merkel will have to blink. Once people realize this is the real crisis, then the German debt market should turn down rather hard. The pressure is clearly building based upon how my own phone is melting down. This illustration based upon IMF data, illustrates the global contagion. I “BELIEVE” that Merkel will be compelled to blink. We may see an announcement this weekend at the latest where she must address this issue. The implications of a global contagion go far beyond Germany. [...] Investors in Deutsche Bank are obviously looking to Merkel and whether or not she will step up to the plate here. DB shares have plummeted more than 50 percent this year. The prospect of bailing out Deutsche Bank is particularly a problem when Merkel seeking a fourth term in an election next year. Her view is to hold to what she took as a position. Hence, must the world suffer for her personal political career once again? The EC attack on Apple has led to a backlash where the US Justice Department in retaliation wants a multibillion-dollar fine from DB. This is also contributing to the problem of DB being in the cross-hairs of US prosecutors who also seek to further their political career not unlike Merkel. Merkel’s spokesman said the government sees “no grounds” for talk of state funding for DB. This simply cannot stand in the face of a major global contagion. The government would have to step in if Deutsche Bank was really in major trouble and hedge funds reducing exposure are abandoning the bank. You can bet every bank will be trying to reduce their exposure to DB by the weekend. [...]"  | Related: "The Run Begins: Deutsche Bank Hedge Fund Clients Withdraw Excess Cash" Full Story: Printer Friendly Version "Deutsche Bank concerns just went to '11' as Bloomberg reports a number of funds that clear derivatives trades with Deutsche Bank AG have withdrawn some excess cash and positions held at the lender, a sign of counterparties’ mounting concerns about doing business with Europe’s largest investment bank. While the vast majority of Deutsche Bank’s more than 200 derivatives-clearing clients have made no changes, some funds that use the bank’s prime brokerage service have moved part of their listed derivatives holdings to other firms this week, according to an internal bank document seen by Bloomberg News. [...]" | "Germany Says No Bailouts For Deutsche Bank Or Any Other Struggling Lenders" Printer Friendly Version Note: I found an interesting comment on this: "For people who have accounts at Deutche to understand what is happening, and why it's happening now, there are two concurrent events affecting Deutche at play today: Deutche bank has ~$187B in debt, and currently ~$14B in equity. Deutche has a large chunk of debt maturing on the 6th of December 2016, namely $15.146B (source). To service it's debt (which is mostly in the form of bonds), Deutche CEO (with the help of his CFO) needs to issue more bonds before that date so that when the bonds mature on Dec. 6, Deutche has enough cash to pay back the bond holders (otherwise Deutche files for bankrupcy). They are currently doing this right now, as we speak. Someone that hold a lot of Deutche stock, has been unloading Deutche stock at a high pace for the past month, meaning someone (or multiple people), somewhere (has more information than you and me and) seriously doubt that Deutche bonds are selling very well, and/or at a sustainable interest rate. Make your own conclusions but the take home message is that someone, somewhere needs to buy these new Deutche bonds in the coming month or the bank is out of cash. It might be the ECB, it might be the German Gov, or in this case it might be other institutions indirectly held by German government (big auto manufacturers, pension funds, etc). We will see in early December."

MSM: "Top Central Banker's Clinton Donation Puts Fed In Political Crosshairs" [10/01/16] Printer Friendly Version "Revelations that Federal Reserve Gov. Lael Brainard donated to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign has created a tough situation for the central bank, at a time when Donald Trump has been accusing the Fed of making policy based on political bias. A day after Janet Yellen found herself in the hot seat on Capitol Hill over the Brainard donation, Kansas City Fed President Esther George danced around the issue on Thursday in a CNBC interview. [...]"  

Interview: "Nomi Prins: “Banks Committing Bigger Crimes Than Pre 2008; Public Oblivious" [10/01/16] [44:52] Related: "The Untouchables: How The Obama Administration Protected Wall Street" PBS 2013 [53:41] "FRONTLINE investigates why Wall Street's leaders have escaped prosecution for any fraud related to the sale of bad mortgages. [...]" |Article: "Untouchables: Obama Cronies 'Protected' Wall Street’s Most Criminal From Prosecution" 2015 Printer Friendly Version  

Corbett Report"How the Global Monetary Meltdown Will Unfold" [10/01/16] [22:48] "As the Bank of Japan continues its de facto nationalisation of the Japanese economy, things do not look good for the Land of the Setting Sun. But as Japan-based economic analyst Marc Abela explains, the coming crisis may be our only opportunity for a real reset. [...]" 

Commentary: "$2 Quadrillion Derivatives Bubble About To Take Down The Global Economy" [10/01/16] Printer Friendly Version "All the world’s largest banks are overleveraged on these toxic derivatives contracts: Deutschebank, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, etc. Basically a derivatives contract is like insurance. I always use the example of oil. If an energy company knows it’s going to need oil to run their electricity plant, but the price of oil fluctuates daily, they might want to negotiate a “set-price” [to make it easier for them to build the cost into the accounting models]. Such an energy company might go to Goldman Sachs and say, “Can you negotiate with Saudi Arabia to give us a stable price?” Whereupon Goldman Sachs creates an insurance contract, locking in a spot-price of, say, $100 a barrel. No matter where the international price goes, Goldman Sachs is now contractually obliged to deliver the oil at that price. But what if oil plunges from $100 to $20 a barrel? Goldman Sachs has to eat $80 for every barrel sold. (And that’s just what happened.) So Goldman Sachs, that has $900 billion in assets, now owes $54 trillion on these derivatives contracts. [...] And it’s not limited to oil. They had toxic contracts in real estate, lumber, wheat, etc. All the major banks (who initially thought they’d get wealthy with these reckless get-rich-quick contracts) lost their shirts. [...] This all happened, of course, because the Fed took away their natural way of making money: charging interest. When the Fed took interest rates down to zero after 2008 [and never raised them], they deprived all these institutions of their natural money-making avenue. So, stripped of their natural revenue stream, they started to compensate by engaging in these reckless speculative instruments. So basically it’s a bubble created by central bank manipulation. And it’s about to take down the entire global financial system. Let’s repeat: These derivatives contracts now amount to $2 quadrillion. You’d have to have 22 planet Earths to pay off all the money lost. [...] Europe’s financial system will be allowed to fall first (as the Western banking grid attempts to conduct triage). Like purposely cutting a pregnant woman’s perineum during childbirth (lest it rip on its own and the gash is too large and unwieldy.) So you cut it yourself to minimize the damage. In just such a way, the central bankers are going to have to have a safety-valve implosion to minimize the damage, and isolate the contagion. That means, they’re letting Europe [and the E.U.] fall apart. America will likely be the last to tumble–as the Exchange Stabilization Fund will try to keep it artificially propped up. But even the ESF doesn’t have the funds to stop what’s going to happen.[...]" Related: "'It's Wall Street or Mankind, Your Choice': Global Speculative Bubble About to Break $2 Quadrillion Barrier" Printer Friendly Version  "This is a hyperinflationary blowout underway," Lyndon LaRouche commented yesterday. "These claims are fraudulent. This all comes from the British Empire's policy, and our Constitution provides no security for speculation." LaRouche added that, in its defense of these fraudulent assets, "Wall Street is perpetrating genocide. Their speculation is unlawful, and they should be wiped out: We don't need them. Alternately, they could be hung by their testicles with a piano wire." LaRouche then specified: "It's Wall Street or mankind: your choice.[...]"

MSM: "Wells Fargo Fined $24 Million Over Servicemember Loans" [10/01/16] Printer Friendly Version "Wells Fargo & Co was fined about $24 million on Thursday by federal regulators for alleged violations of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, piling more pressure on the bank already embroiled in a sales abuse scandal. Wells Fargo Bank, doing business as Wells Fargo Dealer Services, agreed to pay more than $4.1 million after the Justice Department alleged it repossessed 413 cars owned by servicemembers without obtaining a court order. The unit of Wells Fargo also agreed to change its policies, the department said. Separately, the bank was fined $20 million for violating the same act by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. The bank violated three separate provisions of the act between about 2006 and 2016, the regulator, which did a separate investigation, said. Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf on Thursday faced U.S. lawmakers' calls to resign during his second trip to Capitol Hill for his handling of the sales abuses, where staff opened as many as 2 million accounts in customers' names without their authorization. The San Francisco-based bank has agreed to pay $190 million earlier this month to settle regulatory charges over the scandal and has fired about 5,300 employees. Wells Fargo shares closed down 2.07 percent at $44.37 on Thursday. They have lost nearly 11 percent, or about $27 billion in market value, since Sept. 7, the last trading day before the scandal broke. [...]"  


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