LIBOR to end in 2021…as regulator says bank benchmark is untenable

Libor, the nearly 50-year-old global borrowing benchmark that became a byword for corruption, is headed for the trash heap of history.
The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority will phase out the key interest-rate indicator by the end of 2021 after it became clear there wasn’t enough meaningful data to sustain the benchmark that underpins more than $350 trillion in securities, Andrew Bailey, the head of the regulator, said in a speech Thursday at Bloomberg’s London office.
The end of the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, is welcome on many levels for regulators. It was tied to some of the banking industry’s biggest scandals, leading to about $9 billion in fines and the conviction of several bankers for manipulating the rate. Relying on the opinions of industry insiders to set the daily estimates based on interbank lending — some in markets that saw fewer than 20 transactions annually — was unacceptable, Bailey said.
“Libor is trying to do too many things: it’s trying to be a measure of bank risk and it’s trying to substitute for interest-rate risk markets where really it would be better to use a risk-free rate,” said Bailey in an interview with Bloomberg News before the speech. “It’s had to come to a conclusion.”

This post was published at bloomberg

Pakistan Plunges Into Political Turmoil After Prime Minister Ousted For Corruption

Pakistan plunged into political turmoil when its Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif resigned shortly after the Supreme Court ousted him from office on Friday following an investigation into allegations of corruption centering on undeclared offshore assets. As Reuters notes, The court disqualified Sharif for not being ‘honest’, a requirement for lawmakers under Pakistan’s constitution, something the US sorely needs to amend as well. The court also ordered a corruption trial against Mr. Sharif, whose family is accused of amassing wealth through corrupt means and purchasing expensive overseas properties with that money.
The case against Mr. Sharif centers on four upscale apartments in London, which the opposition party alleges were bought with money made from corruption. Details of the property, held in the name of Mr. Sharif’s children, were disclosed in the huge leak of documents from the Panamanian law firm Mosack Fonseca last year, known as the “Panama Papers”, detailing the undisclosed offshore holdings of people around the world. The Prime Minister said the apartments belonged to his children, not him, and were acquired as part of a settlement of an old family business deal with a Qatari prince.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 28, 2017.

The Military Industrial Complex Is Undermining US National Security

The ongoing problems with the F-35 and other military programs, stemming from virtually unlimited budgets, underline the inefficiency of the American military-industrial complex (MIC). In contrast, Moscow develops armaments capable of counteracting the latest technological advances of the US at minimal cost.
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One of a state’s most insidious mechanisms is the inefficiency of the military-industrial sector. When looking at the world’s first superpower, this becomes all the more pronounced. Still, the ongoing problems highlighted by the F-35 program and failed missile interceptions by ABM systems are a good demonstration of how inefficiency in the US military sector has risen to worrying levels.
The main cause of these issues is related to the huge military-industrial complex that employs hundreds of thousands Americans directly or indirectly. The unhealthy composition of this power conglomerate often employs a revolving door involving politicians and board members from large arms-producing companies. This situation raises questions about corruption as well as a number of obvious conflicts of interest.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 27, 2017.

Birkenstock CEO Accuses Amazon Of “Modern Day Piracy”

President Donald Trump might’ve been on to something when he accused the Washington Post of being a ‘lobbyist weapon For Amazon.’
In a rambling five-page email published by WaPo, the CEO of Birkenstock USA threatened to cut off authorized retailers who sell even a ‘single pair’ of its shoes to Amazon.com Inc., a continuation of his crusade against the online retailer, which began about a year ago when he demanded that the e-commerce powerhouse do more to ferret out fakes being sold on its platform. In the missive, CEO David Kahan blasted Amazon for soliciting Birkenstock retailers, offering to buy the company’s shoes from them for full price. Birkenstock stopped selling its shoes on Amazon earlier this year, citing a rise in counterfeit products and unauthorized sellers.
Though the paper disclosed its conflict of interest, the story was obviously intended to embarrass a business rival of WaPo owner and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, despite the paper’s smoothly neutral tone.
‘In the email, Kahan called the entreaty a ‘desperate act’ and a ‘PERSONAL AFFRONT.’ ‘Birkenstock does NOT sell [to] Amazon,’ he wrote in the email to retail partners. ‘And it is clear that they are seeking back-channel means by which to obtain our brand.’

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 26, 2017.

MEDIA BLACKOUT: FBI SEIZED SMASHED HARD DRIVES FROM EX-DNC CHAIR

The ongoing scandal deep within the DNC continues. But this has nothing to do with Republicans or the Russians, so the media is completely silent.
The corruption in the Democratic National Committee is bone-deep, and the finger cannot be pointed elsewhere. The FBI just seized smashed hard drives from the former DNC chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Wasserman-Schultz and those with high positions in the DNC are accused of rigging the primary election against socialist Bernie Sanders in favor of the overtly corrupt, Hillary Clinton.
Because of the criminal investigation into fraud at the DNC, Capitol police took custody of laptops and other equipment belonging to Imran Awan, a former aide to both Reps. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) and former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL). Last night, the Daily Caller reported that the FBI has become part of the investigation by taking custody of smashed hard drives found in Awan’s home.

This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on JULY 25, 2017.

Corporate/State Screwing Inbound

This sort of rank corruption should lead to trials, followed by hangings.
But it doesn’t.
Tesla will soon hit the limit of the federal tax rebates, which are good for the first 200,000 EVs sold in the US per manufacturer beginning in December 2009 (IRS explanation). In the second quarter after the manufacturer hits the limit, the subsidy gets cut in half, from $7,500 to $3,750; two quarters later, it gets cut to $1,875. Two quarters later, it goes to zero.
Given Tesla’s ambitious US sales forecast for its Model 3, it will hit the 200,000 vehicle limit in 2018, after which the phase-out begins. A year later, the subsidies are gone. Losing a $7,500 subsidy on a $35,000 car is a huge deal.
Tesla will sell near-zero cars without the subsidies. They know this. So does California, and guess where Tesla sells more cars than anywhere else?
What California is contemplating doing is subsidizing the difference in price between an EV and a car of “equivalent features” that is not an EV. This could wind up costing $30,000 per vehicle, and not as a tax credit either — as a direct rebate.

This post was published at Market-Ticker on 2017-07-25.

‘Probably Not a Coincidence that the Prime Minister and I Were in Seattle meeting with Warren Buffett’

Canadian Finance Minister boasts about Crony Capitalist Bailout of collapsed mortgage lender. But his assumptions might be wrong.
‘Just like I said, a back door bailout in Exchange for something down the line. Very very dirty,’ tweeted Bay Area short-seller Marc Cohodes in response to Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s gloating about the government’s role in the bailout of Home Capital Group.
Home Capital Group is Canada’s largest alternative mortgage lender. It focuses on new immigrants and subprime borrowers that have been turned down by the banks. It had been melting down ever since revelations of liar loans surfaced in 2015. Liar loans don’t exist in Canada’s clean housing market. They’re a US thing. By April this year, Home Capital was collapsing as a run on its deposits crushed its funding sources. A very onerous and controversial funding package was arranged in all haste to keep it afloat, as the industry – and as we now know, the Canadian government – worried about contagion.
The Canadian housing bubble is sitting on needles, and everyone knows it.
On June 22, when Warren Buffett’s rescue of Home Capital Group became known, its shares, after having already soared over the prior days, soared another 27% to C$19, having tripled from their crisis low in late April. But since that propitious day, its shares have fallen nearly 30%.

This post was published at Wolf Street on Jul 24, 2017.

Catalonia’s Independence Strife Turns into Financial Showdown

Will Spain’s central government blink (again)? By Don Quijones, Spain & Mexico, editor at WOLF STREET. Madrid’s standoff with Spain’s north eastern province of Catalonia, which plans to hold a forbidden referendum on national independence on October 1, grows more and more complex by the day. Just in the last week alone the following developments have taken place:
Spain’s Civil Guard has raided Catalonia’s parliament and government HQ as part of its investigation into political corruption in the region. As new research has shown, this investigation forms part of a broader police operation that has served as a means for Spain’s governing People’s Party to spy on political rivals. Catalonia’s government has replaced the region’s chief of police with a die-hard separatist. It has also purged the cabinet of any members perceived as not fully committed to the separatist cause. Deloitte published its annual barometer of Spanish businesses according to which 74% of business leaders believe that the independence of Catalonia would do serious harm to Spain’s economy. Support in Catalonia for national independence is on the wain, according to a new poll, with 49% opposing independence, and just 41% favoring it. That said, only 67.5% of respondents said they still plan to vote on Oct. 1. Most of them will be nationalists. Madrid will do everything it can to stop them. The Rajoy government has warned this week that anyone who participates in the purchase of ballot boxes for the referendum could be criminally prosecuted.

This post was published at Wolf Street on Jul 23, 2017.

When Corruption Is The Norm…

This is what happens folks.
It’s why I keep telling people who think they’re going to “flee” America for some land of milk and honey to stay away from the mess here that they’re just jumping from the frying pan into the fire — and while the protections here are few, there they don’t exist at all.
The scene at the swim-up bar at the Mexican resort where Abbey Conner was pulled listless from the pool in January was full of young tourists last month when an attorney hired by Conner’s family showed up.
It wasn’t surprising. It was a typical scene at an all-inclusive five-star resort where foreigners from both sides of the equator flock to escape their cold winters.
But as he watched, the attorney noticed something disturbing.
‘They serve alcoholic drinks with alcohol of bad quality and in great amounts, mixing different types of drinks,’ he wrote in his native Spanish.

This post was published at Market-Ticker on 2017-07-23.

Trump Preparing Counteroffensive; Begins Investigating Mueller’s Team For Conflicts

Over the past two days there have been some rather substantial developments in Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation into alleged ties between President Trump and the Kremlin. First came the news yesterday that Mueller planned to expand his probe to review Trump’s personal business transactions, an announcement which sent stocks tumbling on the day (see: Mueller Expands Probe Into Trump Business Transactions: Dollar Tumbles, Stocks Slammed). Meanwhile, just this morning we learn that the Trump legal team has been shaken up with Kasowitz out (not terribly surprising after his recent email meltdown) and Corrallo resigning (see Trump Legal Shake Up: Kasowitz Out As Personal Attorney, Corrallo Resigns).
Now, as the New York Times points out, Trump may be preparing a counter-offensive aimed at identifying potential conflicts of interest among the people hired by Mueller in order to force recusals.
President Trump’s lawyers and aides are scouring the professional and political backgrounds of investigators hired by the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, looking for conflicts of interest they could use to discredit the investigation – or even build a case to fire Mr. Mueller or get some members of his team recused, according to three people with knowledge of the research effort.
The search for potential conflicts is wide-ranging. It includes scrutinizing donations to Democratic candidates, investigators’ past clients and Mr. Mueller’s relationship with James B. Comey, whose firing as F. B. I. director is part of the special counsel’s investigation.
The effort to investigate the investigators is another sign of a looming showdown between Mr. Trump and Mr. Mueller, who has assembled a team of high-powered prosecutors and agents to examine whether any of Mr. Trump’s advisers aided Russia’s campaign to disrupt last year’s presidential election.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 21, 2017.

THE CIA TOOK FOUR YEARS TO DECLASSIFY ITS DRESS CODE

America’s Central Intelligence Agency is among the most secretive of the 17 or so U. S. intelligence outfits, but when it isn’t covering up scandal and corruption, the agency’s obsession with opacity can be outright ridiculous.
MuckRock’s Mara Berg in 2013 sent written inquiries to several federal agencies, including the CIA, regarding the agencies’ guidelines for office apparel.

This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on JULY 20, 2017.

One Way Or Another – Venezuela Will Send Oil Prices Up

In a desperate bid to survive its economic meltdown, Venezuela is lobbying other OPEC members to agree to steeper oil production cuts, a move that would likely lead to higher oil prices.
Venezuelan officials have reached out to their counterparts in Iran, Russia and Saudi Arabia to press them on more collective action, according to Argus Media. If there was enough interest, the next step would be an ‘extraordinary meeting,’ which would weigh the option of cutting deeper.
The rumors about deeper OPEC cuts have been floating around since June, when oil prices collapsed into the low-$40s. The markets have grown deeply pessimistic about the health of the oil market, and doubt the OPEC cuts will balance the market by the end of the compliance period in March 2018.
But the behind-the-scenes effort from Venezuelan officials is notable, if only because the South American OPEC members was one of the earliest and most aggressive supporters of the original deal to reduce output. In 2016, for months the more powerful members of the cartel rebuffed Venezuelan pleas, but in the end they agreed to reductions in November after oil prices continued to wallow below $50 per barrel.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 19, 2017.

“Reading The News On America Should Scare Everyone, Every Day… But It Doesn’t”

Reading the news on America should scare everyone, and every day, but it doesn’t. We’re immune, largely. Take this morning. The US Republican party can’t get its healthcare plan through the Senate. And they apparently don’t want to be seen working with the Democrats on a plan either. Or is that the other way around? You’d think if these people realize they were elected to represent the interests of their voters, they could get together and hammer out a single payer plan that is cheaper than anything they’ve managed so far. But they’re all in the pockets of so many sponsors and lobbyists they can’t really move anymore, or risk growing a conscience. Or a pair.
What we’re witnessing is the demise of the American political system, in real time. We just don’t know it. Actually, we’re witnessing the downfall of the entire western system. And it turns out the media are an integral part of that system. The reason we’re seeing it happen now is that although the narratives and memes emanating from both politics and the press point to economic recovery and a future full of hope and technological solutions to all our problems, people are not buying the memes anymore. And the people are right.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 18, 2017.

Navy Unveils World’s First Active Laser Weapon In Persian Gulf

Three months ago we introduced China’s “silent hunter” experimental laser gun, and now, as CNN reports, in the waters of the Persian Gulf looms the US Navy’s first – in fact, the world’s first – active laser weapon.
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The LaWS, an acronym for Laser Weapons System, is not science fiction. It is not experimental. It is deployed on board the USS Ponce amphibious transport ship, ready to be fired at targets today and every day by Capt. Christopher Wells and his crew.
CNN was granted exclusive access to a live-fire test of the laser.
For the test, the USS Ponce crew launched the target — a drone aircraft. Immediately, the weapons team zeroed in.
“We don’t have to lead a target,” Hughes explained. “We’re doing that engagement at the speed of light so it really is a point and shoot — we see it, we focus on it, and we can negate that target.”
In an instant, the drone’s wing lit up, heated to a temperature of thousands of degrees, lethally damaging the aircraft and sending it hurtling down to the sea. The strike comes silently and invisibly.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 18, 2017.