Police Chief (And Most Of His Department) Quit In Protest Of City Corruption

The majority of the small police department in Slaughter, Louisiana – including the police chief – resigned this week after accusing the mayor of the city of attempting to impose ticket quotas on citizens to increase revenue and turn a profit.
The officers’ resignations followed accusations their assistant chief made against Mayor Robert Jackson in April after residents began complaining of the high volume of tickets they were receiving – tickets that would have increased in number had the police adhered to Jackson’s quotas.
At the time, local outlet WBRZ 2 reported, Assistant Police Chief Bobby Hopson recorded a conversation with Jackson in which the mayor appeared to admit he would pay officers to execute 40 ‘warrants’ each per month.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 30, 2017.

Stockman: This is the Most Hideously Overvalued Market in History

This is a syndicated repost courtesy of The Daily Reckoning. To view original, click here. Reposted with permission.
David Stockman joined Fox Business on Varney & Co. to discuss why he believes the current markets are setting up investors for a big drop.
Asked for an explanation regarding his call that the S&P 500 faces a 35% fall and whether the market was seeing the start, Stockman fired away at his logic and reasoning. ‘I think it will happen any day. Because we’re a country that’s out of control.’
Varney, quick to draw conclusion noted that the economist had been making such claims for years. Stockman rebutted, ‘I could have said that in February 2000 and the market dropped by sixty percent. I could have said that in November 2007 and the market crashed. I am old enough to remember October 1987.’

This post was published at Wall Street Examiner on June 17, 2017.

Goldman Lists Two Conditions For The OPEC Production Cut Extension To Work

Goldman, which has been pushing for higher oil prices with seemingly daily bullish research reports for the past month, and which underwrote the last Saudi Arabian bond issue and is expected to also manage the Aramco IPO (explaining the bank’s conflict of interest), released a note commeting on the latest development in the oil market, which sent the price of crude higher by 3% after Saudi and Russia oil minister agreed to extend the OPEC production cuts by another 9 months through the end of Q1 2018. Specifically, Goldman writes that “today’s announcement will likely further extend the oil price rebound started last week on decent stock draws and low positioning, although the rally so far today has remained modest compared to the move that occurred last year when the OPEC cuts were first announced.”
Even so, Goldman’s oil analyst Damien Courvalin had some caveats. Specifically, he said that for the strategy to work, however, two things have to take place:
compliance needs to remain high and long-term oil prices need to remain low to prevent shale producers from ramping up investment significantly more. In fact, an extension of the cuts should go hand in hand with guidance of future production increases by low cost producers, in our view, with an already notable emphasis by Saudi and others that oil prices will likely remain in a $45-55/bbl long-term range, in line with our forecasts. This leaves us reiterating our 3Q17 $57/bbl Brent price forecast and, with an increasingly likely extension of the cuts, raises our confidence that the oil market will shift into backwardation in 3Q17. His full note below:
Saudi and Russia commit to a 9-month extension of oil production cuts
Saudi Arabia and Russia announced today, May 15, that they had reached an agreement to extend their oil output cuts for another nine months, through Mar-18. This announcement comes ahead of the scheduled May 25 meeting of OPEC members. Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih and his Russian counterpart Alexander Novak further pledged in a joint statement “to do whatever it takes” to reduce global inventories to their five-year average. In our view, this commitment to a longer than expected cut by the two largest participants of the output deal significantly increases the likelihood that all participants will agree to such an extension, with the longer duration likely helping to achieve high compliance through 2017.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 15, 2017.

There Is One Way Out of Debt-Serfdom: Fanatic Frugality

Debt is serfdom, capital in all its forms is freedom.
If we accept that our financial system is nothing but a wealth-transfer mechanism from the productive elements of our economy to parasitic, neofeudal rentier-cartels and self-serving state fiefdoms, that raises a question: what do we do about it?
The typical answer seems to be: deny it, ignore it, get distracted by carefully choreographed culture wars or shrug fatalistically and put one’s shoulder to the debt-serf grindstone.
There is another response, one that very few pursue: fanatic frugality in service of financial-political independence. Debt-serfs and dependents of the state have no effective political power, as noted yesterday in It Isn’t What You Earn and Owe, It’s What You Own That Generates Income.
There are only three ways to accumulate productive capital/assets: marry someone with money, inherit money or accumulate capital/savings and invest it in productive assets. (We’ll leave out lobbying the Federal government for a fat contract or tax break, selling derivatives designed to default and the rest of the criminal financial skims and scams used so effectively by the New Nobility financial elites.)

This post was published at Charles Hugh Smith on THURSDAY, MAY 04, 2017.

The Irony of Stable Inflation

In February 2000, the FOMC quietly switched from the CPI to the PCE Deflator as its standard for inflation measurement. There were various technical reasons for doing so, including the CPI’s employment of a geometric mean basis (which was in 2015 finally altered to a Constant Elasticity of Substitution formula). But it was one phrase that in hindsight did the Fed no favors, as it explicitly cited the expected fruits of the PCE Deflator’s methodology which would ‘avoid some of the upward bias associated with the fixed-weight nature of the CPI.’
I am not a conspiracist by any means, but there are times when you have to shake your head as these economists lack even a modicum of self-awareness. The central bank has been given a legal mandate for price stability, so the average American might wonder why that central bank is allowed to choose the measure most inherently stable (and low). At the very least, it seems like a conflict of interest, one among so many.
In that regard, the last five years have been almost fitting. The PCE Deflator has, as expected, avoided the higher beta tendencies of the CPI and in both directions. For that, it has remained stable, alright, but stable below target no matter what the Fed does with its own balance sheet. I hope the irony is not lost on them, especially as it was oil prices that ‘achieved’ what they could not despite considerable expenditure on their part.

This post was published at Wall Street Examiner on May 1, 2017.

The US Dollar and Stock Market Could Spike Higher Under Trump’s Tax Plan

President Trump, as part of his ‘America First’ program, has proposed lowering the US corporate tax rate to 15 percent and to close a myriad of loopholes in an effort to simplify the tax code, and to also encourage the nation’s largest businesses to bring production back home.
The proposal represents a tangible shift in the relationship between Washington and big business. In 2014, President Obama’s Treasury Department introduced new measures to crack down on corporate tax inversions, a strategy companies utilized to exploit gaping tax differentials between the United States and other countries. Burger King’s acquisition of Canada’s Tim Hortons, a coffee and doughnut chain, for example, was motivated in large part by Canada’s more hospitable tax environment.

This post was published at FinancialSense on 04/27/2017.

Wages, Productivity, and Inequality

“Inequality is a euphemism, a kind of shorthand, for all of the things that have gone to make the lives of the rich so much more delicious, year on year, for the last three decades. And also for the things that have made the lives of working people so wretched and so precarious in that same time.
This word inequality. It’s visible in the ever rising costs of healthcare and college, in the coronation of Wall Street, and the slow blighting of wherever it is that you happen to live. And you catch a glimpse of inequality every time you hear about someone that had to declare bankruptcy because a child got sick, or you read about the lobbying industry that drives Washington DC, or the new political requirement, the new constitutional requirement that every presidential candidate has to be a billionaire’s favorite, or a billionaire themselves.
Inequality is about the way in which speculators, and even criminals, get a helping hand from Uncle Sam, while the Vietnam Vet down the street from you loses his house. Inequality is the reason that some people find such incredible significance in the ceiling height of an entrance foyer, or the hop content of a beer, while other people will never believe in anything again.”
Thomas Frank
“People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage. Intellectual myopia, often called stupidity, is no doubt a reason. But the privileged also feel that their privileges, however egregious they may seem to others, are a solemn, basic, God-given right. The sensitivity of the poor to injustice is a trivial thing compared with that of the rich.”
John Kenneth Galbraith

This post was published at Jesses Crossroads Cafe on 24 APRIL 2017.

22/4/17: Two Regimes of Whistle-Blower Protection

‘Corporate fraud is a major challenge in both developing and advanced economies, and employee whistle-blowers play an important role in uncovering it.’ A truism that is, despite being quite obvious, has been a subject of too little research to-date. One recent study by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (2014), found that the average loss to organisations experiencing fraud that occurs due to financial statement fraud, asset misappropriation, and corruption is estimated losses from impact of corporate fraud globally at around $3.7 trillion. Such estimates are, of course, only remotely accurate. The Global Fraud Report” (2016) showed that 75% of surveyed senior executives stated that their company was a fraud victim in the previous year and in 81% of those cases, at least one company insider was involved, with a large share of such perpetrators (36%) coming from the ranks of company senior or middle management.
Beyond aggregate losses, whistleblowers are significantly important to detection of fraud cases. A 2010 study showed that whistleblowers have been responsible for some 17 percent of fraud discoveries over the period of 1996-2004 for fraud occurrences amongst the large U. S. corporations. And, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (2014), ‘employees were the source in 49% of tips leading to the detection of fraud’.

This post was published at True Economics on Saturday, April 22, 2017.

Prognostication: Here It Comes

I claim no special power here, nor any inside information. This is simply arithmetic coupled with logic. I’ll give you a “decision tree” sort of format with the critical points outlined.
Note that if you’re going to mitigate any of what I see coming around the bend you need to do it right damn now, not wait. By the time you get to those critical points it’s too late. For many people it’s already too late, but if you’re not in that batch then you need to make your lifestyle changes today.
I am operating on the premise that the rank corruption that I outlined in the Ticker here will not be addressed. It will not be addressed for the same reason the 17th Amendment will be cited as the reason the American political experiment failed when the book on America is finally closed, as that Amendment permanently removed the ability of the States to call a hard-stop on any expansion of Federal Power they did not consent to. That was designed in to our government by the founders and it was removed intentionally by the 17th Amendment. That balance of power can never be restored absent a Revolution because to do so The Senate would have to literally vote themselves out of a job at a supermajority level which they will never do and there is no means to compel them to do so.
For the same reason the 30-year trend in Medicare and Medicaid spending will not be stopped. It may be tinkered with around the edges but it won’t be stopped because to stop it without literally throwing people into the street and letting them die you have to break the medical monopolies and in doing so you will inevitably (1) destroy the graft machine that drives a huge part of DC and at least half of the jobs inside the Beltway, along with the asset values they support, (2) create an immediate and deep (15% of GDP, but temporary) recession on purpose which neither Congress or Trump will ever voluntarily initiate as it would cause a guaranteed 70% stock market crash along with the immediate detonation of about 1/3rd of all in-debt corporations in the United States and (3) expose the outrageous theft of trillions of dollars from taxpayers over the last several decades to fund the medical scam machine at all levels.

This post was published at Market-Ticker on 2017-04-17.

Has Former Goldman Sachs President, Gary Cohn, Gone Rogue on Glass-Steagall?

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.
Against this backdrop comes the widely reported news that on April 5 Cohn met with Senators serving on the Senate Banking Committee and expressed support for bringing back a modern-day version of the depression era Glass-Steagall Act – legislation which was passed as a result of the Wall Street collapse of 1929 to 1933, which erased 90 percent of the market’s value. (Yes, 90 percent.) That legislation created Federally-insured deposits and barred insured commercial banks from being affiliated with Wall Street investment banks. It protected the U. S. financial system for 66 years until its repeal in 1999 under the Bill Clinton administration. It took only nine years after its repeal for Wall Street to implode in the same epic fashion as the ’29 crash.

This post was published at Wall Street On Parade on April 17, 2017.

A Short History of the Post WWII Oil price- From a Technical Perspective

This is part I of a 3-part series introducing Plunger’s ‘Trade of the Year’. This section gives a review of the oil price from 1946 to present explaining the essential forces which powered its price through various bull and bear markets. It explains how we ended up where we are today in the oil market. Part II will explore the macro forces driving today’s economy which lays the groundwork for introducing my trade of the year in part III.
To acquire a broader view of oils path over the past century I highly recommend the following resources on the oil market. Daniel Yergin’s ‘The Prize’ is an in-depth review of the history of oil up to the First Gulf war. It is indispensable in understanding the growth of the industry. Other books provide entertaining color to the industry by reviewing the swashbuckling nature of the early players who formed the industry as independents. I recommend ‘The Big Rich’ by Bryan Burrough and JP Getty’s autobiography ‘The Way I See It’. Finally, David Stockman’s ‘The Great Deformation’ is essential reading as it corrects all the false economic narratives of the past which have been masquerading as truth.

This post was published at GoldSeek on 17 April 2017.

Germany Building Free Housing for Refugees worth 3 million

In Germany, Martin Schultz wants to give refugees the right to vote. So if he cannot win with Germans, he wants to give the right to vote to refugees to win by bribing them. The German politicians are now giving them apartments they are constructing that cost about 3 million each. The construction costs actually come out to about 1600 per square meter and since each apartment is about 470 square meters, the cost to build one apartment is more than 3 million. It is stunning that Merkel was so fearful of inflation that she would not yield to Greece and saw fit to impoverish the people to pay for the political corruption of their politicians. Yet building dwellings for refugees without language and job skills that cost 3 million each is some how not inflationary.

This post was published at Armstrong Economics on Apr 15, 2017.

Battle Royale: JPMC’s Dimon and Minneapolis Fed’s Kashkari Battle Over Bank Capital

This is a syndicated repost courtesy of Confounded Interest. To view original, click here. Reposted with permission.
Bloomberg has nice piece on the battle between JPMorganChase’s Jamie Dimon and the Minneapolis Fed’s Neel Kashkari.
(Bloomberg) Jamie Dimon is America’s most famous banker, and Neel Kashkari is its most outspoken bank regulator, so it’s not a shock that they would eventually come to blows. What’s interesting is that their contretemps is over an acronym that most Americans have never heard of, but one that may be central to preventing another recession.
TLAC, which is pronounced TEE-lack, is something you need to know about if you want to judge the sparring between Dimon, the well-coiffed chief executive of JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Kashkari, the very bald man who ran for governor of California on the Republican ticket and is now president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
On April 6, Kashkari went after Dimon in a way that circumspect central bankers ordinarily don’t. In an essay published on Medium and republished on the Minneapolis Fed website, he challenged Dimon’s assertion in his annual letter to shareholders that 1) there’s no longer a risk that taxpayers will be stuck with the bill if a big bank fails, and 2) banks have too much capital (meaning an unnecessarily thick safety cushion). Wrote Kashkari: ‘Both of these assertions are demonstrably false.’

This post was published at Wall Street Examiner by Anthony B Sanders ‘ April 14, 2017.

Preparing for the Reign of the First Widow

Investment Research Dynamics is pleased to present another guest post by Stewart Dougherty. I wanted to preface Stewart’s formal essay with some thoughts he shared with me in our email exchanges leading up to his latest essay:
I haven’t shared with you one of the most important tenets of Inferential Analytics … namely, that the universal human condition is addiction. Addiction comes in hundreds of forms. Two of the most powerful are to money and power. HRC is addicted to both. She simply cannot let go of her presidential ambition, or her greed.
I must admit, when I saw her interviewed the other day regarding Syria, she looked terrible. Her legs looked as if they were about explode out of her pants, which were stretched to snapping. She looked like a human sausage. I thought her doctors would have been reversing her obesity by now, but apparently not. Among her other addictions, she is addicted to food, and is a glutton [IRD: she’s also an alcoholic]. Mentally, she is a complete mess. So I could be wrong … if she cannot get her gluttony under control, she cannot get to 2020. She simply will not have the required stamina, and could croak at any time.
My assumption is that when she smells Trump’s blood in the water, she will become so galvanized that she will get the gluttony under control, even if it’s only to get through the election. They will make Obama her running mate, if that’s what’s required to get her across the finish line. Then he can effectively have a third term, while she vegetates in a food coma.

This post was published at Investment Research Dynamics on April 12, 2017.

SEC Targets Seeking Alpha, Benzinga In Crack Down On “Fake News” Pump And Dumps

With the recent crackdown on political “fake news”, where a handful of media mega-corporations such as Facebook and Google have emerged as the ultimate arbiter of what is real or isn’t, in the process unleashing allegations of conflicts of interest, it was only a matter of time before the SEC got the hint and brought the hammer down. That time is now, because as Reuters reports, the SEC on Monday announced a crackdown against “pump and dump” stock promotion schemes in which writers were secretly paid to post hundreds of bullish articles about public companies on financial websites.
Some 27 individuals and entities, including a Hollywood actress (shown below), were charged with misleading investors into believing they were reading “independent, unbiased analyses” on websites such as Seeking Alpha, Benzinga and Wall Street Cheat Sheet.
The SEC said many writers used pseudonyms such as Equity Options Guru, The Swiss Trader, Trading Maven and Wonderful Wizard to hype stocks. It was not immediately clear if bearish “pseudonymous characters” were also responsible for talking down stocks.
While not as pervasive as alleged “fake news” in the political realm, the SEC said had it identified more than 450 problem articles, of which more than 250 falsely said the writers were not being paid.
Unlike traditional cases where the SEC alleges fraud, usually involving trading on inside information, in this case the crackdown is not against improper market information but misrepresentation of conflicts of interest and marketing.
“This is different from the fraud cases that you usually see us bring,” Stephanie Avakian, acting director of the SEC enforcement division, said on the conference call. “Here, we allege that the fraud was in presenting the analysis as impartial,” she said. “It was bought and paid for.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Apr 10, 2017.

Shock, Horror: ECB Not as ‘Independent’ as it Claims – Report

Transparency International whacks at a central bank. The European Central Bank has found itself in the rare position of having to defend itself in the public arena following the release of a scathing report on its perceived lack of political independence. The report, published by anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International, argues that the institution has accrued new power and influence in the wake of the financial crisis but its code of conduct has not kept up with that newfound clout.
It even suggests that the ECB should withdraw from the Eurozone’s Troika of creditors, precisely at a time that calls are rising for the creation of a European Monetary Fund.
‘The extraordinary measures taken by the ECB since 2008 have tested the ECB’s mandate (to ensure price stability) to breaking point,’ Transparency International EU said. ‘The ECB’s accountability framework is not appropriate for the far-reaching political decisions taken by the Governing Council.’

This post was published at Wolf Street on Mar 29, 2017.

Macedonia Reject Soros & the EU Socialism

For 26-days straight, thousands of people have taken to the streets in order to send the message to Soros and European leaders that the people of Macedonia are a sovereign nation who utterly reject the left-wing agenda to divide the nation and bring a socialist-Muslim coalition to power. Johannes Hahn is an Austrian politician, who since November 2014 is Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy & Enlargement. He went to earlier last week to Skopje, in Macedonia, where he held talks with political representatives in a bid to contribute to a solution to the political deadlock there to get Macedonia to join the EU.
There was considerable corruption where the Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski was forced to resign in December 2015. The EU brokered elections in December 2016 to end the protests against the government of Gruevski. The December 2016 elections have left a transitional government was installed including from 20 October 20th, 2015 with the two main parties, VMRO-DPMNE and the Social Democratic Union (SDSM).

This post was published at Armstrong Economics on Mar 27, 2017.

Big Pharma and the FDA vs. Nutritional Supplements

“While the idea of admitting that a bureaucracy is necessary, I must also admit that marketers are liars and if left unregulated will rival politicians in their dishonesty when making product claims. Both admissions shake my libertarian sensibilities to the core.”
First, a free market eventually corrects for the condition of “marketers are liars,” unlike with politicians. Furthermore, not ALL marketers are liars.
Second, what makes you think the FDA, or any government bureaucracy for that matter, doesn’t lie? If one thinks we need an FDA, then one should think that we also need an EPA, FED, NLRB, EEOC, and on, and on, and on … further violating your libertarian sensibilities.
The head administrator of the FDA is pretty much a revolving door with Big Pharma:
is government regulation always the knee jerk reaction to every ill that affects society? Can you creatively think of some other solutions that don’t violate the Constitution of the United States? Keep reading, and maybe some other ideas will present themselves.
More people die every year from legalized drugs than from taking supplements, not to mention the drugs the FDA eventually gets around to recalling, after they’ve already done their damage. In addition, the FDA is continually pushed by vested interests (Big Pharma and lobbied government officials) to cut corners so that drugs can get to market faster. So much for the efficacy of the FDA! So, you want more of the same?
lot of medical doctors are in the back pocket of Big Pharma, not to mention the AMA:
can go here to find out if your particular doctor is on the take:

This post was published at Gary North on March 25, 2017.

Correcting a Few ThingsTaken from the Mainstream Media…

There is a certain nagging annoyance that one gets when they see something in print that they know is just wrong, and write response to it, with documentation, in order to correct it.
And then for whatever cause including fat-fingered error, the comment is moderated into oblivion. If it was an opinion piece then fine. Opinions are not worth all that much. But if it is a straight up factual correction, that is a bit annoying when the original in the media was designated to reinforce some point that one feels is a bit unjust.
So here are two recent example of things that were just wrong that appeared without correction in the mainstream media.
From Jeri-Lynn Scofield over at Naked Capitalism who picked up this piece in the NY post:
Snooki inspires legislation to limit state university speaker fees NY Post. Moi: Speaking as a born and bred Jersey girl, I applaud the state legislature’s action. Nice to see the state of my birth lead the way in something other than corruption or toxic waste. And about time – $32K to hear Snooki speak at the Rutgers commencement? Are the administrators nuts? And the proposed $10k cap is too high. Why should any speaker receive more than expenses and a modest honorarium, e.g., $1K – which incidentally, anyone with any class would immediately donate back to the university.
I don’t normally read the Post, except perhaps for financial pieces by John Crudele, so I was glad to see this at a site where I do read on occasion.
This is no knock on Jeri=Lynn whose major point remains intact, that commencement fees may be far too generous.
And as an old fogey, it seems to me to be a correct sentiment about paying far too much money and attention to these reality tv stars, our current President notwithstanding.

This post was published at Jesses Crossroads Cafe on 26 MARCH 2017.

European North v South

Dijsselbloem’s comments regarding the Southern Europe reflect the political bias – not the general public at large within Europe. There are different cultures throughout Europe. In some places people will not cross the street until a light changes even if there are no cars. Other parts are like New York, lights are optional. There are many cultural differences in general between north and south, but even more between members. Even in Germany there is a divide between north and south.
The blame does NOT lie in cultural differences, corruption, or even easier spending in the south and excessive pensions as in Greece. The problem that has pushed Europe to the brink is:
(1) this failed idea that ending European War can be achieved by federalizing Europe. That will not change the cultural differences. Even in the United States, there are cultural differences between the Bible Belt (anti-Abortion & anti-Gay Marriage) compared to California or New York. It is the Federalization of the United States and the attempt to impose one culture upon the whole every since the Great Depression that is causing tensions within the United States. The same is TRUE within Europe.

This post was published at Armstrong Economics on Mar 24, 2017.