As Ukraine’s crackdown on corruption continues, three lawmakers from Ukraine’s ruling party revealed this week that they own a combined $45 million in bitcoin, according to a report by RIA Novosti, a Russian foreign news service. Their holdings came to light during mandatory financial disclosures by members of the Ukrainian parliament, part of an IMF-approved strategy to tamp down corruption in Ukraine. The country’s democratic institutions, which were never very robust to begin with, have been further destabilized by the civil war that’s seen pro-Russian separatists seize control of two regions in eastern Ukraine. Lawmakers must now disclose their assets and wealth in an online database.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 16, 2017.
Macron’s funding reveals that elite Socialists were really behind him changing the label to sell a centrist agenda, but in reality, to maintain their agenda. Macron was able to raise funds from French abroad with the promises of change, and this targeted particularly the French who fled Hollande living in London and New York. He did a photo-op with Nobel Prize laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz before journalists who is critical of the management of globalization, against laissez-faire economists who he classifies a ‘free market fundamentalists’, as well as international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Stiglitz is an American economist and a professor at Columbia University and is a former senior vice president and chief economist of the World Bank. He was also a former member and chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under Bill Clinton and supported Hillary over Obama saying she is more ‘liberal’ (socialist) than Obama. Stiglitz believes in Georgism, which is a variety of Marxism whereby the State should own all the resources derived from land, which is an old Physicocrat(French) idea that wealth is derived from land. In this way, all natural resources should belong to government from mining to energy just for starters as if government operated industries ever ran efficient or were free from corruption. He also supported a single tax for all and believes that, while people should own the value what they produce themselves with everything derived from land should belong to government characterized as belonging equally to all members of society (government).
Long-time Congressional staffer Mike Lofgren refers to the murky agencies at work to ensure this planetary plan stays on track as the ‘deep state,’ in his book of the same name. He writes that it includes key elements of the national security state, which ensure continuity of policy despite the superficial about-faces from one administration to the next. The deep state is effectively a warlike oligarchy, hell-bent on full spectrum dominance, driven by a lust for wealth and power, and anxious to inscribe its name in history. Specifically, Lofgren says, the deep state includes the Department of Defense, the State Department, the National Intelligence Agencies, Wall Street, the defense industry, and the energy consortium, among other major private players. They share common agendas, operate a revolving door of employees, and have a collective distaste for democracy, transparency, and regulation. The deep state is the link between military interventions and trans-pacific trade deals, between sanctions and IMF loans. All of these tools, be they arms or loans or legal structures, serve a single purpose: the overarching control of world resources by a global community of corporate elites. One can also see how these three instruments of policy and power all do tremendous damage to a particular entity, the nation-state.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Mar 12, 2017.
It didn’t take much for the Greek bank run jog to return: with Greece once again stuck between an IMF rock and a Schauble hard case, and whispers that another bailout may be on the horizon, the local population took advantage of whatever capital controls loopholes they could find, and withdrew money from the local banking sector, which to this day remains on ECB life support, almost two years after the 3rd Greek bailout in the summer of 2015. According to Greece central bank data, Greek private sector bank deposits declined in January for the second month in a row, driven by renewed concerns over the country’s neverending bailout. Business and household deposits fell by 1.63 billion, or 1.34% month-on-month to 119.75 billion ($126.8 billion), the lowest level since November 2001. The January outflow follows a “jog” of 3.4 billion in December, making the two-month drop the worst since the latest Greek bailout panic in July of 2015.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Feb 28, 2017.
In many other countries, excluding the United States, corrupt bankers are often brought to task by their respective governments. The most recent example of a corrupt banker being held accountable comes out of Spain, in which the former head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Rodrigo Rato was sentenced to four years and six months behind bars. According to the AFP, Spain’s National Court, which deals with corruption and financial crime cases, said he had been found guilty of embezzlement when he headed up Caja Madrid and Bankia, at a time when both groups were having difficulties. Rato, who is tied to a slew of other allegations was convicted and sentenced for misusing 12m between 2003 and 2012 – sometimes splashing out at the height of Spain’s economic crisis, according to the AFP. The people of Spain were outraged over the scandal as it was discovered during the height of a severe financial crisis in which banks were receiving millions in taxpayer dollars. Bankia was eventually nationalized and given 22 billion in public money.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Feb 27, 2017.
Scams and Flimflams BALTIMORE – For weeks, the top news headlines have been about politics. And politics has been all about the Republican Party candidate for president of the United States, Donald Trump. The Establishment, the media, and most right-thinking people look around and sniff the air. Something stinks. And the smell, they say, is coming from that skunk, Trump. Meanwhile, Hillary, all greased up with expensive perfume, glides by – all her double dealing, her millions in Wall Street speaking fees, her crony friends and supporters. She and her husband have a combined net worth of $110 million – after a career spent devoted almost entirely to ‘public service.’ Who asks where the money came from? Instead, the headlines are all about poor Donald. For better or for worse, the 2016 presidential campaign was all about him. Not about his policies. Not about calm analysis of what was wrong and how it could be fixed. It was always about him. And now, the nation’s attention is still focused on him and his peccadilloes – rather than Ms. Clinton and her scams, corruptions, and Deep State flimflams.
This post was published at Acting-Man on October 20, 2016.
Too big to fail is about to get tested once again. Deutsche Bank – Germany’s largest, and in many ways the embodiment of the global financial system – as you may have heard, is in a spot of bother. The U. S. government is considering imposing a fine of around $14 billion on the bank for selling faulty mortgage-backed securities in the run up to the financial crisis. That’s on top of the fact that Deutsche and other European banks have been struggling with negative interest rates, which are squeezing profits. In all, Deutsche Bank’s DB 6.79% market cap has now shrunk to nearly its proposed fine, provoking fears that the bank might have to be helped out the German government, or be wiped out. So far, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that there will be no bailouts for Deutsche Bank. But while Germany says it won’t stop a Deutsche bank failure, how worried should the U. S., and investors, be about it? Ultimately, the new regulations put in place since 2008 to contain Too-Big-To-Fail banks should mean that there will be no direct impact on the average American. But here are a few reasons why you should still keep an eye on it. Too Big to Fail was always a bit of a misnomer. What really makes a bank a risk to the financial system as a whole is the degree to which it is interconnected with other institutions, i.e., its ability to spark chain reactions of non-payment if it should ever default. By this measure, Deutsche is frighteningly indispensable. It’s a counterparty to virtually every major bank in the world, in virtually all asset classes. This illustration from an IMF report in June gives you some idea. This is why I argued yesterday that the German government, which together with the European Central Bank is responsible for supervising Deutsche, would be highly unlikely to let it fail in a disorderly manner la Lehman Brothers.
Ken Rogoff is by all accounts a brilliant man. The Harvard professor and former IMF chief economist is a chess grandmaster. His thesis committee included current Fed vice-chair Stanley Fischer. But like many survivors of Ivy League hoop jumping, the poor fellow appears to have emerged punch drunk. That’s the only conclusion to be drawn from Rogoff’s new book, The Curse of Cash , which, in effect, proposes a ban on paper currency. It’s terrifying piece of work, for several reasons. First, the cashless society, which Rogoff proposes in order to make it easier for the US government to confiscate private wealth, in effect, amounts to an admission that Washington can’t pay back its debts. Second, the fact that Rogoff uses the fight against ‘terrorism’ and ‘crime’ arguments in selling his proposals to the public – justifications which he as a mathematician should know are farcical – suggest that his arguments hide another agenda. Third, and most important, is the fact that not only would banning cash not achieve Rogoff’s objectives – it could cause irreparable harm to the dollar’s role in the American economy and as a reserve currency. Let’s look at these arguments one at a time.
Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, former First Lady and President of Argentina (2003-2015), confessed in an interview that ‘instead of having the courts chase us, they should be giving us a Nobel prize for economics… We inherited a country in default and we left it without any debt. ‘ Brilliant. Amongst her accomplishments, Cristina boasts one sovereign debt default after failing to negotiate with creditors (2014), cooking the national economic figures for 8 years, an IMF censure for faking such data, devaluing her currency from 4:1 to 15:1 USD, and leaving her successful with 50% inflation. Perhaps the BoJ could use her advice? She and her cabinet have also been the subject of multiple corruption scandals following her departure of office. She has naturally expressed shock, condemned any corrupt officials and denied any knowledge of such actions. For those who like to focus on her track record, Bloomberg has compiled a helpful GDP growth that compares GDP in Cristina’s mind versus GDP growth in the real world.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 3, 2016.
Update: *IMF BOARD EXPRESSES CONFIDENCE IN LAGARDE AFTER TRIAL DECISION ‘As we have said before, it would not be appropriate to comment on a case that has been and is currently before the French judiciary,” International Monetary Fund spokesman Gerry Rice says in e-mailed statement. ‘However, the Executive Board has been briefed on recent developments related to this matter, andcontinues to express its confidence in the Managing Director’s ability to effectively carry out her duties. The Board will continue to be briefed on this matter’ As we detailed earlier, in December we warned of her career’s “terminal decline,” and it appears, just as with Dominic Strauss-Kahn, someone is upset at the IMF Director (perhaps she has just been too darn negative, or pushy towards policy-makers?). In a surprising twist for ‘the establishment’ Bloomberg reports that Christine Lagarde may face consequences for her actions (or lack of them). France’s Supreme Court rules that The IMF director will have to stand trial for alleged ‘negligence’ in accepting an arbitration panel decision in favor of a French businessman. As we detailed previously, It was over a year ago when we reported that a French court has put Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, under a formal probe for negligence in a corruption investigation involving famous financier Bernard Tapie, dating back to her days as finance minister.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 22, 2016.
Mozambique has a broad swath of problems within its governing councils. Back in December of 2005, Management Systems International based out of Washington issued a report titled CORRUPTION ASSESSMENT: MOZAMBIQUE which said point blank: “The scale and scope of corruption in Mozambique are cause for alarm”. Mozambique’s head of state Joaquim Chissano left office in February 2005 after 15 years. His replacement, Armando Guebza, that same year opened Mozambique’s coastline to international companies seeking to search for resources. Between 2005 and 2006 three firms were able to capture rights to explore the coast, Anadarko, Italy’s Eni, and Petronas. Some 75 trillion cubic feet of natural gas was discovered and this set of a a blitz into Mozambique as international banks, corporations, and organizations flooded the area. This opened a breeding ground for corruption and unregulated financing, specifically the controversial Tuna Bond that was supposed to be used to support regional fishing and was instead used for military expenditures and to purchase some 40 boats that remain anchored to this day.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 25, 2016.
At long last the tyranny of the global financial elite has been slammed good and hard. You can count on them to attempt another central bank based shock and awe campaign to halt and reverse the current sell-off, but it won’t be credible, sustainable or maybe even possible. The central banks and their compatriots at the EU, IMF, White House/Treasury, OECD, G-7 and the rest of the Bubble Finance apparatus have well and truly over-played their hand. They have created a tissue of financial lies; an affront to the very laws of markets, sound money and capitalist prosperity. So there will be payback, clawback and traumatic deflation of the bubbles. Plenty of it, as far as the eye can see. On the immediate matter of Brexit, the British people have rejected the arrogant rule of the EU superstate and the tyranny of its unelected courts, commissions and bureaucratic overlords. As Donald Trump was quick to point out, they have taken back their country. He urges that Americans do the same, and he might just persuade them.
In yet another anecdote that proves the global recovery can only be political, acting Brazilian President Michel Temer appointed Ilan Goldfajn to be the next central bank head for that nation. Goldfajn is about as orthodox as they come: trained at MIT (saltwater, as if makes any difference), former director at the central bank who has ‘consulted’ with the IMF, World Bank, and United Nations. The nomination has pleased all the ‘right’ people who are absolutely certain that Brazil’s worst days are now behind. Reuters probably wrote about it best, unintentionally, under the headlineBrazil Government Taps Wall Street Favorite To Head Central Bank. ‘Well-trained technocrats … should allow the government to establish a clear regime shift,’ Goldman Sachs senior economist Alberto Ramos wrote in a research note. Trained by whom? To do what? More of the same. Along with Mr. Goldfajn’s recommendation, the interim government also indicated it would formalize rules making Banco more independent and supposedly less susceptible to political influence. The current structure for the central bank is highly unusual, with a shared power structure among the National Treasury, the Bureau of Currency and Credit while also including a private sector foundation in Banco do Brasil. ‘Independent’ central banks, even here where it is insisted that independence will be expressly limited, are all economists want to hear as it gives them unrestrained power.
Hacks and Has-Beens NORMANDY, France – What has happened to TIME magazine? Henry Luce, who started TIME – the first weekly news magazine in the U. S. – would be appalled to see what it has become. Time cover featuring the sunburned mummy heading the globalist IMF bureaucracy (which inter alia advocates that governments should confiscate a portion of the wealth of their citizens overnight, even while its own employees don’t have to pay a single cent in taxes). Once you see the list of the ‘world’s 100 most influential people’ presented by TIME, you’re either apt to fall into inconsolable depression or you’ll almost die laughing. Ms. Lagarde is allegedly a ‘trailblazer’, whatever that is supposed to mean. Who has made this assessment? Her fellow bureaucrat Ms. Janet Yellen. So one bureaucrat heading a socialist statist agency is assuring us that another bureaucrat heading a socialist statist agency should be admired for having made it to the top of the heap in one of the many crony-infested castles of modern-day feudalism.
This post was published at Acting-Man on May 10, 2016.
Chinese banks’ bad loans are at least nine times bigger than official numbers indicate, an ‘epidemic’ that points to potential losses of more than $1 trillion, according to an assessment by brokerage CLSA Ltd. Nonperforming loans stood at 15 percent to 19 percent of outstanding credit last year, Francis Cheung, the firm’s head of China and Hong Kong strategy, said in Hong Kong on Friday. That compares with the official 1.67 percent. Potential losses could range from 6.9 trillion yuan ($1.1 trillion) to 9.1 trillion yuan, according to a report by the brokerage. The estimates are based on public data on listed companies’ debt-servicing abilities and make assumptions about potential recovery rates for bad loans. Cheung’s assessment adds to warnings from hedge-fund manager Kyle Bass, Autonomous Research analyst Charlene Chu and the International Monetary Fund on China’s likely levels of troubled credit. The IMF said last month that the nation may have $1.3 trillion of risky loans, with potential losses equivalent to 7 percent of gross domestic product.
Events this week serve to remind us that Ukraine is very much still the epicentre of the New Cold War. Batchelor lists the fall of Ukraine’s Prime Minister, Yatsenyuk, a death threat to President Poroshenko by a Right Sector sympathizing member in the Rada, while in Europe, a Dutch referendum sunders the chances for Ukraine ever becoming a member of the E.U. But this week even more disasters are enveloping Poroshenko’s presidency. Saakashvili, ‘imported’ governor of Odessa Oblast, threatened to resign and also, according to Cohen (as seen on facebook), ‘take measures into his own hands’ if Poroshenko does not address reforms for corruption in government. This is pure sedition, Cohen points out. (And this writer finds it is most curious behaviour for ‘Washington’s man’ in Ukraine to heap more instability on the Kiev government.) Cohen, speculates that Saakasvili has personal designs on the presidency. The Panama papers scandal hi-light all these problems. The IMF will not bail out the government because of them, and Poroshenko is facing a potential loss of support by Washington and Europe. Cohen feels that a failure of this government would complete the failure for the whole country. Cohen begins an extensive discussion about how that government declined over the years due to its own ineptness, corruption and a hate based civil war against its own people -’the worst seen in Europe since the Second World War’. Somewhat more worrisome is the news of U.S. troops, elements of the California National Guard and air components, going to Ukraine. Officially this is a cooperative program between governments called the U.S. European Command State Partnership Program (SPP), and is one of 65 such programs worldwide. The Ukrainian relationship began in 1993. The danger in this New Cold War environment is that infrastructure sharing, and training with different weaponry between these two military groups allows a quick reaction force ability to be deployed to Ukraine. This can easily be expanded into a ‘Vietnam scenario’, and this American military presence in Ukraine may be that reality in process. On the face of it the U.S. sending units of its military to Ukraine for training does not make sense when the national army of Ukraine is in drastic decline – essentially in step with the economy there; it does not want to fight and has a serious desertion rate. But does Washington have a plan? There appears to be so much chaos that on the surface this only seems to be another Washington failure.
China panic has abated. The Shanghai Composite index of equities is back above 3,000. The much-feared devaluation never happened. The yuan has strengthened against the dollar this year, to the consternation of Western macro-tourists. Outflows of money have slowed as dollar debt is paid off and Chinese investors wind down ‘carry trade’ positions. The central bank (PBOC) is no longer depleting the country’s $3.2 trillion foreign reserves to defend the exchange rate, and thereby tightening monetary policy as a nasty side-effect. China has the apparatus of an authoritarian state to curb capital flight, and is not shy about using it. The International Monetary Fund has just raised its forecast for Chinese growth this year to 6.5pc, insisting that it is still far too early to talk about a hard-landing. Yet that is where the good news ends, for there is a poisonous sting in the tail. Maurice Obstfeld, the IMF’s chief economist, said the trade-off for this year’s growth spurt is even more trouble down the road. ‘While we have upgraded near-term projections, we have downgraded the farther out projections,’ he said.
The only common factor on the economy viewed from the mainstream in the past few years is the shrinking standards by which it is judged. Janet Yellen can somehow suggest erratic 2% GDP growth is ‘overheating’ or close to it only because that is the reduction of the ‘new normal.’ Because that has been so declared by the very same people who never saw it as possible, that is the ceiling by which everything was to be measured. Now, however, even the ‘new normal’ is undergoing its own discounting. In early February, Mohamed El-Erian raised doubts about the term and thus the circumstances of the economy by implication. That was important (supposedly) because he is the person credited with coining it at the 2010 Per Jacobsson Lecture in a speech titled Navigating the New Normal in Industrial Countries. In 2016, what was supposed to be low and steady growth is now doubted even though the very notion of the ‘new normal’ itself already exhibits grave doubt. Just when the notion that Western economies are settling into a ‘new normal’ of low growth gained mainstream acceptance, doubts about its continued relevance have begun to emerge. Instead, the world may be headed toward an economic and financial crossroads, with the direction taken depending on key policy decisions. It’s a proclamation that is being echoed throughout the ‘elite’, as partly due to finally acknowledging reality (the final end of the absurd notion of ‘transitory’) but also subtly nudging where all this is going next. The head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, was today less subtle but very much in the same arena. Rather than alluding to shifts out of the ‘new normal’ she outright declared a ‘new mediocre.’
By April last year, it had become clear that conditions in China were heading into dangerous territory. Even though most mainstream attention was fixed on the then-still growing stock bubble, there was so much that was wrong almost everywhere else. The economy would not stop slowing, and indeed still has not. The financial system was worse, so much so that in the middle of last March the PBOC decided to just end CNY currency volatility. Trading sideways for five months is about the most visible signal of distress and turmoil aside from open, crashing disorder; the re-pegging of the currency was just one step shy of that. That leaves two important unanswered questions and a further inquiry about which one of them is the most pressing: what is causing the imbalance such that the PBOC feels the need to so evidently suppress it?; what is the PBOC doing to actually stamp out volatility in CNY exchange, which is not exactly a minor factor? By July 2015, with Chinese stocks now crashing, the first question was being answered leaving the second open to interpretation (with most ignoring it entirely). I wrote in late July:
Brazil is heading straight into the arms of the International Monetary Fund. The sooner this grim reality is recognised by the country’s leaders, the safer it will be for the world. The interwoven political and economic crisis has gone beyond the point of no return. The government is frozen. The finance ministry has lost the trust of Brazilian investors and global markets in equal measure. Almost nothing credible is being done to stop the debt trajectory spinning into orbit. Few believe that the ruling Workers Party is either capable or willing to take the drastic austerity measures needed to break out of the policy trap, or that it would suffice at this late stage even if they tried. ‘There is an enormous fiscal crisis and we’re flirting with a return to hyperinflation. All the debt variables are going in the wrong direction,’ said Raul Velloso, the former state secretary of planning. ‘There is a loss of confidence in the ability of the government to manage its debts. We face the risk of default,’ he said. Three quarters of the budget is effectively untouchable, locked in by a web of welfare payments and regional transfers.