Recent federal criminal charges of conspiracy and wire fraud brought against four assistant college basketball coaches and executives from Adidas seem to be popular in the mainstream media, judging from the numerous articles I have seen about the story. For that matter, even some libertarians, noting their belief that college sports are ‘corrupt,’ are cheering on federal authorities. I am not one of the cheerleaders for this latest intrusion of federal criminal law into what essentially is peaceful, private activity, National Collegiate Athletic Association rules aside. While most journalists seem to see this as an example of federal authorities riding in on their white horses to save college basketball from the scourge of ‘corruption,’ I see this as the government destroying lives for no good reason and protecting the sources of the real corruption at the same time. Far from ‘cleaning up’ major college sports, this is a classic bait-and-switch operation in which federal authorities are conspiring to redirect resources from those that should have it (if we actually hold to the belief that individuals should be compensated for their contribution of added wealth to the economy), all the while claiming they are ‘protecting’ the very people being robbed. As Gary North recently pointed out, the NCAA is a cartel – a multi-billion-dollar cartel, I would add – that claims to be protecting the ‘holy’ principle of ‘amateur athletics.’ All the while, it’s ensuring that the main factor of production for collegiate sports – the labor of individual collegiate athletes – receives minimal or even no compensation at all. The current compensation scheme – athletic ‘scholarships’ for athletes – is tantamount to a rule that states that Kevin Durant, the 2017 Most Valuable Player for the National Basketball Association, can receive compensation only equal to that of the lowest-paid player in the NBA, while NBA coaches and executives run off with the majority of the funds generated by professional basketball.
Conflicts of interest exist in almost every business model…just ask the former AIG execs who bought trillions of dollars worth of mortgage CDO risk that they were told was worthy of a AAA rating. But when you read a car review to help figure out which set of wheels you’re going to buy next, you would probably prefer that the writer of that review not be receiving payments, cash or otherwise, directly from the company producing the vehicle he’s reviewing, right? Unfortunately, that’s not so much the case when it comes to Tesla. While it’s no surprise that the writers of Electrek are big Tesla cheerleaders, as Jack Baruth of TTAC points out today, what may be surprising is just how much those writers receive from Tesla via their very generous referral program in return for their perpetually rosy commentary.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 29, 2017.
Barack Obama is funding the anti-Trump movement through a series of backdoor deals and policies. Wall Street may be surprised to learn that it is also helping bankroll the anti-Trump ‘resistance’ whether they wanted to or not. Wall Street is fighting policies which would heavily favor it, including corporate tax cuts and the repeal of Obama-era banking and health-care regulations. We have the Obama administration to thank for the harsh anti-Trump movement by far left groups, according to an article by the New York Post. The Obama administration’s massive shakedown of Big Banks over the mortgage crisis included unprecedented back-door funding for dozens of Democratic activist groups who were not even victims of the crisis. At least three liberal nonprofit organizations the Justice Department approved to receive funds from multibillion-dollar mortgage settlements were instrumental in killing the ObamaCare repeal bill and are now lobbying against GOP tax reform, as well as efforts to rein in illegal immigration. An estimated $640 million has been diverted into what critics say is an improper, if not unconstitutional, ‘slush fund’ fed from government settlements with JPMorgan Chase and Co., Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp., according to congressional sources. The payola is potentially earmarked for third-party interest groups approved by the Justice Department and HUD without requiring any proof of how the funds will be spent. Many of the recipients so far are radical leftist organizations who solicited the settlement cash from the administration even though they were not parties to the lawsuits, records show. ‘During the Obama administration, groups committed to ‘revolutionary social change’ sent proposals and met with high-level HUD and Justice Department officials to try to get their pieces of the settlement pie,’ Cause of Action Institute vice president Julie Smith told The Post. -New York Post
This post was published at shtfplan on September 25th, 2017.
This is the begging-for-the-overthrow-of-a-corrupt-status-quo economy we have thanks to the Federal Reserve giving the J. P. Morgans and Jamie Dimons of the world the means to skim and scam the bottom 95%. Dear Jamie Dimon: quick quiz: which words/phrases are associated with you and your employer, J. P. Morgan? Looting, pillage, rapacious, exploitive, only saved from collapse by massive intervention by the Federal Reserve, the source of rising wealth inequality, crony capitalism, privatized profits-socialized losses, low interest rates = gift from savers to banks, bloviating overpaid C. E. O., propaganda favoring the financial elite, tool of the top .01%, destroyer of democracy, financial fraud goes unpunished, free money for financiers, debt-serfdom, produces nothing of value to society or the bottom 99.5%. Jamie, if you answered “all of them,” you’re correct. The only reason you have a soapbox from which you can bloviate is the central bank (Federal Reserve) saved you and your neofeudal looting machine (bank) from well-deserved oblivion in 2008-09, and the unprecedented, co-ordinated campaign by global central banks to buy trillions of dollars of bonds and stocks.
Answers emerge. Including offshore private accounts. Mexico’s public debt-to-GDP of 50% may seem modest by today’s inflated standards, but when it comes to debt, everything is relative, especially if you don’t enjoy the benefits that come from having a reserve-currency-denominated printing press, and if you borrow in a foreign currency that you don’t control. As the debt load grows, more and more of the States’ financial resources must be used to service it. As El Financiero reports, the cost of servicing Mexico’s debt, despite super-low interest rates globally, has almost doubled in the last five years, and is now higher than it has been at any time since 1990. In fact, according to the Government’s own figures, more state funds will be spent this year on servicing the debt than on all public infrastructure projects put together. Yet as the government scrimps and scrapes in areas that might actually help to boost economic growth, it’s more than happy to dig deep to fill its own pockets. A joint investigation by the news website Animal Politico and the NGO Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity has revealed that, amidst all the budget cuts, the Pea Nieto Government has been using a complex web of shell companies to make hundreds of millions of dollars of public funds, originally intended for public causes such as combating poverty or financing public education, completely vanish.
This post was published at Wolf Street on Sep 11, 2017.
It’s about time that I share with you all a little secret. The situation in the markets is much worse than you realize. While that may sound like someone who has been crying ‘wolf’ for the past several years, in all honesty, the public has no idea just how dire our present situation has become. The amount of debt, leverage, deceit, corruption, and fraud in the economic markets, financial system, and in the energy industry are off the charts. Unfortunately, the present condition is even much worse when we consider ‘INSIDER INFORMATION.’ What do I mean by insider information… I will explain that in a minute. However, I receive a lot of comments on my site and emails stating that the U. S. Dollar is A-okay and our domestic oil industry will continue pumping out cheap oil for quite some time. They say… ‘No need to worry. Business, as usual, will continue for the next 2-3 decades.’ I really wish that were true. Believe me, when I say this, I am not rooting for a collapse or breakdown of our economic and financial markets. However, the information, data, and facts that I have come across suggest that the U. S. and global economy will hit a brick wall within the next few years. How I Acquire My Information, Data & Facts To put out the original information in my articles and reports, I spend a great deal of time researching the internet on official websites, alternative media outlets, and various blogs. Some of the blogs that I read, I find more interesting information in the comment section than in the article. For example, the Peakoilbarrel.com site is visited by a lot of engineers and geologists in the oil and gas industry. Their comments provide important ‘on-hands insight’ in the energy sector not found on the Mainstream Media.
The Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR), John Sopko, in an interview with Breitbart News, said the U. S. has been ‘drowning’ Afghanistan in money, wasting millions and creating conditions for corruption. ‘You can drown somebody in goodness,’ Sopko told Breitbart. ‘It’s the comedy of the absurd when it comes down to [American] assistance [to Afghanistan] and we are just drowning Afghans in money. And when you drown somebody in money, you can’t be surprised that some of it gets wasted.’ Sopko said the American people should care about the Afghan war as a natural security issue, but should also demand accountability for their government’s reckless use of tax dollars in the conflict. The office of the SIGAR is charged with overseeing reconstruction projects in Afghanistan, conducting audits and investigations to prevent waste, fraud and abuse. To date, the U. S. has appropriated a total of some $700 billion for the war, including the $120 billion spent on ‘reconstruction’ which Sopko’s office is tasked to track and account for.
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 shock landslide defeat of PM Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in the recent Tokyo metropolitan elections – and the triumph there of Tokyo Governor Koike’s new party (Tomin First) – has lit a faint hope that the radical Japanese monetary expansion policy could be on its way out. The flickering light though is not strong enough to soothe the mania in Japan’s carry trades and so the yen continued to slide in the aftermath of the elections. Between mid-June and early July the Japanese currency depreciated by some 5% against the US dollar and 10% against the euro. The perception in currency markets is that Japan will not be embarking on monetary normalization this year or next, in contrast to Europe where ECB Chief Draghi has hinted that the train (to monetary normalization) will start next year, even though the journey promises to be very slow. The US train to normalization continues at a glacially slow pace including some periods of reverse movement. Moreover the monetary climate prior to the journey commencing is even more extreme in the case of Japan than in Europe or the US. It was possible to imagine that the shock election setback for the LDP could have caused Shinzo Abe to withdraw support from his money-printer in chief, Bank of Japan governor Haruhiko Kuroda (whose term ends in April 2008), thereby signaling an early end to negative interest rates and quantitative easing. But markets in their wisdom have concluded this is not to be. Many elderly Japanese are pleased with their stock market and real estate gains even though they complain about negative interest rates and the threat of inflation. In any case it was young voters, responding to the stink of alleged corruption scandals, who turned out en masse for Governor Koike’s new party.
When the parties do finally implode, the general mood will be: good riddance. History informs us that once something is obsolete, it can disappear far faster than anyone expected. While we generally think of obsoleted technologies vanishing, social and political systems can become obsolete as well. Should a poor soul who entered a deep coma a year ago awaken today, we must forgive his/her astonishment at the political wreckage left by the 2016 election. The Democratic Party, a mere year ago an absurdly over-funded machine confident in an easy victory in the presidential race, is now a complete shambles: its leadership in free-fall, its Fat-Cat donors disgusted, and its demented intoxication with pinning collaboration with Russia on the Trump camp eroding whatever feeble legacy legitimacy it still holds. What the party stands for is a mystery, as its Elites are clearly beholden to insiders, special interests and Corporate donors while glorifying the worst excesses of globalism and the National Security State’s endless war on civil liberties. The newly awakened citizen would also marvel at the chaotic war zone of the Republican Party, in which the Insider Warlords are battling insurgent Outsiders, while the same Elites that fund the Democratic machine are wondering what they’re buying with their millions of dollars in contributions, for it’s unclear what the Republican Party stands for: it’s for Small Government, except when it’s for Bigger Government, which is 95% of the time; it’s for more law enforcement and the militarization of local police, and more intrusion into the lives of the citizenry; it’s for stricter standards for welfare, except for Corporate Welfare; it’s for tax reform, except the thousands of pages of give-aways, loopholes and tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations all remain untouched, and so on: a smelly tangle of special interests masked by a few sprays of PR air freshener to the millions left behind by the globalization that has so enriched Corporate America and the class of financier-owners, bankers, insiders and technocrats–the same group that funds and controls both political parties.
There has not been a mantra that’s emulated a teenagers go-to excuse of ‘Because!’ for both tactical effect, as well as childish reasoning than the term ‘it’s different this time.’ And for nearly the last 10 years that phrase has meant something entirely different to two distinct groups. The issue at hand is that one side (i.e., ‘The Valley’, Wall St., and its sycophantic chorus of enablers throughout the financial/business media) is going to suddenly become aware that this once reliable sword against any and all reasoning not only had an ominous double entendre like quality, but also a double-edged-sword. And the cleaving of reputations, along with investment dollars and sense has only just begun. So what about the other side you may be wondering since I said there were two? Fair point, and it is this: The other-side as we’ll now call them (where you can place me if you wish) also understood that, yes, it was different this time, but not in the way that the prior believed. And that is the key. e.g., Believed.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 3, 2017.
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.
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.
It appears that at least one “Nigerian prince” had the cash to back his claims. Nigeria’s anti-corruption unit discovered more than $43 million in US dollars at an upscale apartment in Lagos, after receiving an anonymous tip. As CTV News reports, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission received a tip from a whistleblower who reported suspicious activity when they noticed someone moving bags in and out of the apartment, according to a Facebook post.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Apr 16, 2017.
The world’s eyes and ears have once again turned toward Syria following last week’s chemical weapons attack and U. S. President Donald Trump’s subsequent air strikes on the Assad government. Mainstream media, independent media, and social media platforms are fixing fierce attention on the ongoing developments. These events undoubtedly deserve widespread, ongoing scrutiny. From the United States government’s lack of evidence that the Syrian government was behind the chemical attack to the media’s complicity in driving a pro-war narrative and president Trump’s hypocrisy in bombing Syria – after criticizing former president Barack Obama for doing the same thing – further critical analysis of the recent airstrikes is vital. But even as skepticism toward these events should remain heightened, so should awareness of countless other major developments. Here are five to follow: 1. Trump Appoints Pharmaceutical Consultant to Head the FDA – This week, the president appointed Scott Gottlieb, a pharmaceutical industry insider who has served the boards of multiple pharmaceutical companies, to chair the Food and Drug Administration. Gottlieb currently still works as a consultant for GlaxoSmithKline. He has received $414,000 from GSK, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Valeant Pharmaceuticals. He has also received tens of thousands of dollars in speaking fees from pharmaceutical companies like Merck and Mikart, as well as other corporations – including Goldman Sachs. He has taken several trips through Washington’s revolving door, with brief stints at the FDA mixed in with multiple positions consulting pharmaceutical companies. Trump’s pick follows in the footsteps of Barack Obama, who also appointed a pharmaceutical industry insider to chair the FDA.
An investigative reporting coalition recently released a report alleging a multi-billion dollar money laundering operation that has affected hundreds of banks and companies in 96 countries including the repeat offender, HSBC. In 2012, HSBC, one of the world’s largest banks, settled with the U. S. Government, avoiding criminal prosecution of its executives, for helping to launder money for Mexican drug cartels as well as Al Qaeda. According to the US Senate’s report, which investigated the matter, HSBC provided a ‘gateway for terrorists to gain access to U. S. dollars and the U. S. financial system.’ Loretta Lynch, while serving as the U. S. District Attorney in NY, said HSBC engaged in a ‘sustained and systemic failure to guard against the corruption of our financial system by drug traffickers and other criminals and for evading U. S. sanctions law.’ As a result of the criminal charges for money laundering and admitted guilt in four counts against the global banking firm – the megabank was let off with a slap on the wrist. ‘HSBC has agreed to forfeit 1.256 billion dollars, the largest forfeiture amount ever by a financial institution for a compliance failure,’ Lynch stated.
Literally no one knows the true ‘value’ of equity research, not even the investment banks that are selling it. Up until now, equity research has been treated as a ‘freebie’ given away to institutional clients in return for trading commissions but that is all about to change thanks to the European Union’s MiFID II regulations, which require asset managers to separate trading commissions from investment-research payments. Unfortunately, at least for the Investment Banks of the world, while the cost of generating equity research may be substantial, it turns out that the true ‘value’, as defined by institutional clients’ maximum willingness to pay for reports, may be much less. Which is shocking given the creativity required to constantly generate new variations of daily reports politely suggesting that you “Buy The Fucking Dip.” As Bloomberg notes today, the regulatory change slated to take effect next January could cost the I-banks $300 million in fees. Asset-managers in Europe and the U. S. will probably cut more than $300 million from research budgets in anticipation of regulations aimed at rooting out conflicts of interest in the market for investment information. That’s according to a survey of 99 fund managers and traders conducted by consulting firm Greenwich Associates, which assessed the shake-up coming to the multi billion-dollar market for investment research over the next year. The European Union’s MiFID II regulations, which require asset managers to separate trading commissions from investment-research payments, will have a ‘clearly negative’ impact on the amount of commission money that is spent on research and advisory services, according to the Stamford, Connecticut-based firm’s findings released Tuesday. While the budget cuts will be ‘relatively modest’ at individual asset-managers, research providers across the board fear the new law will prompt ‘a substantial decrease’ in buy-side spending.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Mar 15, 2017.
The character of events from week to week, and as discussed by both Batchelor and Cohen, is manifestly worsening. While the proxy wars are stabilizing to some little extent, we see the political wars in governments as fall out of the New Cold War in a constant state of escalation. Cohen notes a New York Times piece by Charles Blow that coined a name for what is happening as an ‘Era of Suspicion’ and the author considered this a positive thing for the country – where all the interest groups are being forced by the hate and fear campaign to align with the anti-Russian narrative whether it serves their interests or not. This past week Batchelor brings up the news about the Estonian Ambassador, Eerik Marmei and the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pavlo Klimkin who spoke to a Senate subcommittee about Russia disrupting elections in Europe, and the danger of cyber warfare by Russia. Also mentioned were the Trump charges that Obama had his Trump Tower ‘bugged’. Cohen then launched into what the consequences of this new ‘Era of Suspicion’ and the professor describes how the pressure to conform has influenced all the politicos (Flynn debacle) and the masters of industry in the United States, who want to have business dealings with Russia, into remaining cautiously silent. These and other efforts are being used to isolate Trump and neuter or redirect any chance of dtente or even honest discussion of serious geopolitical events. It is working too – with Republicans also becoming divided. Some Republicans are looking at Vice President Pence for the president’s position. Cohen also discusses the role of ‘expert consultants on Russia’ in the media and their efforts to vilify Putin and the Kremlin. All interviews using these people are factually untrue. The most egregious of these, for example, maintained that Putin was ‘deliriously happy that Washington was in complete chaos over Russian policies’. Batchelor exclaims that this is ‘complete rubbish’. It was also Batchelor’s opinion that it was serious that Trump did not mention Russia in his address to Congress. What this indicates is that dtente is getting much less likely. Cohen also mentions the resurrection of McCarthyism with a Committee of Un-American Activity being formed and concludes that disorder is the contrived tenure of modern Western diplomacy. In my opinion Trump has to decide whether folding to the will of his opposition will stop this campaign to remove him or will it show weakness that will lead to escalation. His reticence to talk about Russia may be testing the waters, or be showing weakness. Senator Graham, who talked with the president, seems to think the latter and the US will ‘push back’ against Russia. I think Trump is folding too. The push back will see more support for NATO and perhaps more military help for Ukraine. Cohen discusses the quasi NATO presence now in Ukraine, and he also brings up a potential increase in US troop presence in Syria. He discusses the dangers of a combined military presence of US and Russian assets in Syria. Cohen then discusses the simple solution to ease the danger, and it really is simple. Disengagement. But Putin needs Washington (Trump) to cooperate. But Cohen now considers this as unlikely as he thinks Trump is folding to his opposition in Washington. In Ukraine the political and economic situation is worse and where President Poroshenko is having no control over the ukronazis – who are now embargoing coal imports from the Donbass. This hurts Kiev, but also illuminates the reality of a failing central government. A personal question: Will NATO continue to base troops there? It would mean contending with or working with nazis in a failed state environment? But would most of the West hear about it? That’s where we are, living behind a virtual information wall that George Orwell would immediately recognize. From my point of view the Military Industrial Complex has shown no sense of danger in supporting a ‘confrontation for profit’ policy against Russia, and now the people of the West are effectively ‘walled off’ from learning about critical realities by a systemic corruption of the MSM. Washington is creating its own “Iron Curtain”. Not even discussions at the highest levels of Washington are tolerated unless they support the narrative. One wonders how long this can go on with the Military Industries dependent on tax dollars, and the financial sector and other interests looting the economy and destroying that same tax base. This becomes another reason to impose that ‘Era of Suspicion’ on the whole country; if one cannot advise or discuss an argument against war dangers (or government policies) without censure, then war becomes more inevitable in spite of the fundamentals that work against it. One could say, ‘unleash the dogs of war’ but first hugely increase the fiscal deficit.
New revelations from Wikileaks’ ‘Vault 7′ leak shed a disturbing light on the safeguarding of privacy. Something already known and largely suspected has now become documented by Wikileaks. It seems evident that the CIA is now a state within a state, an entity out of control that has even arrived at the point of creating its own hacking network in order to avoid the scrutiny of the NSA and other agencies. Reading the revelations contained in the documents released by WikiLeaks and adding them to those already presented in recent years by Snowden, it now seems evident that the technological aspect regarding espionage is a specialty in which the CIA, as far as we know, excels. Hardware and software vendors that are complicit – most of which are American, British or Israeli – give the CIA the opportunity to achieve informational full-spectrum dominance, relegating privacy to extinction. Such a convergence of power, money and technology entails major conflicts of interest, as can be seen in the case of Amazon AWS (Amazon’s Cloud Service), cloud provider for the CIA, whose owner, Jeff Bezos, is also the owner of The Washington Post. It is a clear overlap of private interests that conflicts with the theoretical need to declare uncomfortable truths without the need to consider orders numbering in the millions of dollars from clients like the CIA. While it is just one example, there are thousands more out there. The perverse interplay between media, spy agencies and politicians has compromised the very meaning of the much vaunted democracy of the land of the Stars and Stripes. The constant scandals that are beamed onto our screens now serve the sole purpose of advancing the deep interest of the Washington establishment. In geopolitical terms, it is now more than obvious that the deep state has committed all available means toward sabotaging any dialogue and dtente between the United States and Russia. In terms of news, the Wikileaks revelations shed light on the methods used by US intelligence agencies like the CIA to place blame on the Kremlin, or networks associated with it, for the hacking that occurred during the American elections.
Ever since governments began banning and licensing different parts of the economy, the black market has made sure people still have access to the things they need. Unstable governments always turn on their own citizens by using price controls, heavy taxes, and even the threat of imprisonment to prop up their failing systems. As conditions inevitably deteriorate, as they have in Venezuela and Greece, the underground economy becomes invaluable to those living through the crisis. The shadow economy refers to more than just the trade of illegal goods. A grey market, for example, provides legal products that have become difficult to find. Since basic things like toilet paper, medicine, and even food have disappeared from store shelves in Venezuela, the peer-to-peer network has become the only reliable way to secure life’s necessities. In desperate situations like this, the existence of independent merchants can mean the difference between life and death. Even the value of Venezuela’s currency has started to move away from the government’s control. At one point, the official exchange rate was fraudulently set at 10 bolivars per U. S. dollar, while on the black market it was trading at 1,000 to one. This action hurt millions by suppressing wages across the country and eroding any remaining trust. Inflation has quickly become the most imminent threat to the Venezuelan people, stealing the value of their labor and savings. For years, the bolivar has experienced hyperinflation, increasing the cost of living almost exponentially. The State’s desperate response was to institute price controls, but that has only led to shortages across the board. Luckily, the unregulated markets have been able to determine the true value of goods and provide vital support for the struggling communities. Many people think that so-called price gouging is unethical, but isn’t it better to buy what you need at twice the price than to not be able to get it at all?
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Mar 10, 2017.