‘I don’t think the ham-handedness of this action is fully appreciated.’ Wolf here. This is what Bill Tilles, one of the authors of the article below, wrote in an email about the article. It should see the light of day: As for the DOE action re subsidizing coal plants, there’s a real dog-bites-man aspect to the story, in addition to being extreme inside baseball. Conservative Republicans, eager to reward coal and nuclear interests, propose new regulations by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that aggressively favor coal and nuclear over natural gas to overcome the significant cost advantages that natural gas now has. To me, the real story is in the 19-page document that the Department of Energy sent to FERC. It was a polemic. In politics that’s permissible, even expected. But the unusual aspect is that DOE is directing FERC – the agency with real administrative expertise in the area – to make wide-ranging rate changes favorable to coal and nuclear interests based on no additional evidence other than a fake crisis! You have to think about that for a minute. FERC dockets are voluminous with every imaginable interest group weighing in. And time consuming. These folks in the Trump administration are in effect saying to FERC, ‘We don’t need no stinkin’ records.’ It’s a ginned up crisis. With a predictable, cronyist solution: Hand over money to that special interest. And do it fast, they say, or we’ll all be freezing come winter.
This post was published at Wolf Street by Leonard Hyman and Willian Tilles ‘ Oct 5, 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.
When Elvis Presley died in 1977 from drug abuse, he was an official, badge-carrying federal agent for the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, an honorary appointment granted by President Richard Nixon. To say that Elvis Presley had a respect for law enforcement is to drastically understate his enthusiasm. In another life, he would have liked to have been a police officer, and he was obsessed with collecting police badges and uniforms. When he would perform shows around the country, he always made an effort to obtain a badge from the local police force, sometimes by using his celebrity status and other times by donating money to police functions. In some cases, he would offer a $5,000 donation to a police ball in order to procure a badge. He was also known to give expensive cars to local sheriffs, including Sherriff Bill Morris of Memphis who gratefully deputized Presley after receiving a gift of a Mercedes-Benz. *** His generosity was so lavishly offered to members of the Denver police that it actually brought about suspicions of graft and corruption after the King’s death. Along with Cadillacs and Lincoln luxury cars, he paid for officers to take high-class vacations and gifted them with pricey jewelry. He purchased his own Denver police uniform and was made an honorary captain of the Denver Police Force. He would have been a police officer, Elvis once confided, but ‘God blessed him with a voice.’
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.
Gary North published members-only articles recently (here and here) discussing how Hurricane Harvey has affected economic life in Houston. He makes an important point about prices and customers that I have not seen elsewhere. Other things equal we know scarcity or high demand will drive prices higher. Sellers of diamonds are rarely accused of price gouging but when prices for everyday commodities take a big leap in a crisis almost everyone calls it price gouging. It’s an easy call: People are in desperate need of critical commodities, while certain suppliers are charging scalper prices. Conclusion: The suppliers are craven profiteers. Wikipedia defines price gouging as ‘a pejorative term referring to when a seller spikes the prices of goods, services or commodities to a level much higher than is considered reasonable or fair, and is considered exploitative, potentially to an unethical extent.’ Merriam-Webster says price gouging is ‘charging customers too much money.’ How much is ‘too much’? What is ‘reasonable or fair’? People don’t know, exactly, but they pass laws against it anyway. The fine for gouging a senior citizen in Texas is $250,000; gouging someone younger is only $20,000. Amazon has algorithms that suspend the accounts of sellers charging high prices relative to other sellers. During Harvey’s onslaught in Houston, a photo on gritpost showed a Best Buy store posting $42.96 for a case of bottled water; Best Buy later issued an apology on behalf of the store.
This post was published at GoldSeek on Sunday, 10 September 2017.
In what’s likely to be remembered as one of the most spectacular policy failures in recent Indian history, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to abruptly cancel high-denomination banknotes – a move meant to punish corrupt officials and criminals – instead destroyed the savings of middle- and low-income Indians and caused widespread chaos in the country’s financial system. And now, less than a year since the ‘war on cash’ was announced, prominent former government officials are speaking out and placing the blame for the policy squarely on Modi’s shoulders, including former Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan, who told the Times of India that he had cautioned the government that the short-term costs of demonetization would outweigh the long-term benefits, and suggested “alternatives” to achieve the goal of stamping out black money. When Modi announced in November that Rs1,000 ($16) and Rs500 notes would no longer be legal tender, he suggested that corrupt officials, businessmen and criminals – popularly believed to hoard large sums of illicit cash – would be stuck with ‘worthless pieces of paper’. At the time, government officials had suggested that as much as one-third of India’s outstanding currency would be purged from the economy – as the wealthy abandoned or destroyed it, rather than admit to their hoardings – reducing central bank liabilities and creating a windfall for India’s government. Meanwhile, ordinary Indians would opt to keep more of their money in electronic deposits at their bank, helping to shore up the country’s financial system.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 4, 2017.
India’s embattled Prime Minister Narendra Modi faced a double whammy of abuse this week as his nation’s economic growth collapsed to its weakest since Q1 2014 and India’s Central Bank released a report on Modi’s extraordinary “demonitization” plan last year showing that 99 per cent of the high denomination banknotes cancelled last year were deposited or exchanged for new currency, crushing Modi’s lie that his contentious ‘war on cash’ would wipe out huge amounts of so-called ‘black money’. When Modi announced in November that Rs1,000 ($16) and Rs500 notes would no longer be legal tender, he suggested that corrupt officials, businessmen and criminals – popularly believed to hoard large amounts of illicit cash – would be stuck with ‘worthless pieces of paper’. At the time, government officials had suggested that as much as one-third of India’s outstanding currency would be purged from the economy – as the wealthy abandoned or destroyed it, rather than admit to their hoardings – reducing central bank liabilities and creating a government windfall.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 2, 2017.
Why are we fighting over confederate monuments? Because people feel strongly about this issue? Because they are being removed? Because some groups are trying to exploit the situation to get attention? Or is there another reason? While we are fighting over Confederate monuments relating to events almost two centuries ago, we are not focusing on: . The worsening plight of the poor; . The destruction of the middle class ( many middle class people can no longer afford even a new car); . The crony capitalists who make their money from government handouts or connections, and who are getting richer and richer; Government employees who may have signed on for the most sincere reasons, but whose numbers have swelled, who are now making much more than they would in the private sector, who cannot be fired, and whose earnings are often diverted into campaign contributions favoring one party; A government that is unsustainably financing itself through debt and money printing.
It is altogether fitting that crypto currencies, in particular Bitcoin, have witnessed a meteoric rise in this illusionary age. Not only has their monetary value gone to dizzying heights, but they are now being touted as the destroyer of the current, crumbling monetary order and the next paradigm upon which a new money and banking system will emerge. In an era where sacrifice, hard work, loyalty, ingenuity, tradition, and independent thought are considered anathemas, while affirmative action, sloth, effeminacy, office seeking, and something-for-nothing schemes are endemic in every walk of life, it is not surprising that non-tangible, computer-generated currencies would become a ‘natural’ feature of such a world. While it has always been a haven for charlatans, traitors, cheats, thieves, liars, and serial adulterers, contemporary political life has become even more of a sham. The most glaring example of politics’ utter corruption can be seen in the recent departed chief executive officer of the US. Unless one abandons all critical thinking, Obummer was unqualified to be president because of the obvious fact that he was not born on American soil. Not only did this disqualify him, but his educational and professional backgrounds have not been verified. Neither his collegiate records nor his supposed teaching career at the University of Chicago Law School have ever been exposed to public scrutiny. From the few utterances he has made about his supposed specialty – constitutional law – it appears that he has only a rudimentary knowledge of the subject.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 21, 2017.
When there is an epic financial crash in the U. S. that collapses century old Wall Street institutions and brings about the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression, one would think that the root causes would be chiseled in stone by now. But when it comes to the 2008 crash, expensive corporate media real estate is happy to allow bogus theories to go unchallenged by editors. What is happening ever so subtly over time is that the unprecedented greed, corruption and unrestrained manufacture of fraudulent securities by iconic brands on Wall Street that actually caused the crash are getting a gentle rewrite. The insidious danger of this is that Wall Street is never reformed or adequately regulated – that it remains a skulking financial monster with its unseen tentacles wrapped tightly around every economic artery of American life, retaining its ever present strangulation potential. On August 10 of this year, Wall Street Journal reporter James Mackintosh penned the following astonishing sentence: ‘The global financial crisis began 10 years ago this week, when a French bank suspended three money-market funds. What savers thought was money turned out to be merely credit, and the realization rapidly trashed U. S. money-market funds and the global banking system.’
The rights of the American people have been, and are being trampled into the dust, as the pseudo-representatives glut themselves from the trough of lobbyists and oligarchs alike. It could be proven, but won’t be proven: the investigating ‘authority’ is not accountable to the people and there is no oversight. The FBI, and any investigations under special counsel? Look at Fast and Furious and how the Attorney General’s office covered that one up. What is needed to prove it? Something that doesn’t exist. Here is what is needed: A team of spotless individuals with a leader of unquestionable character and service…with complete authority and impunity: unable to be hindered by any federal, state, or local police and army of ‘authorities.’ This Special Investigative Team would have the power to investigate fully any and all ties to Congressmen, Senators, and Supreme Court judges…to find evidence of bribery, kickbacks, and influence peddling…and then arrest them and bring them to trial. Everyone can jump up and down, desiring to boil in oil anyone making such a suggestion; however, without some kind of accountability, these elected officials are running rampant and trampling the rights of the citizens. Who is going to stop it? The courts? The courts are the biggest pack of crooks of all. Yes, ‘Your Honor,’ and ‘The Honorable,’ ad infinitum. I guarantee that a Special Investigator with impunity would have found plenty of coral snakes under Chief (in)Justice John Roberts’ front porch…if Obama and Holder had been made to step aside and an investigation had been done. This should have been done after he cast his deciding vote on Obamacare. Going back a few years, Obamacare would have never made it to the floor of the Senate if Olympia Snow (R, ME) had not allowed it to come up for a vote. Who paid her off? In order to follow the money, you have to be allowed to follow it: or you’ll just end up arrested or dead. The special unit of investigators I suggested? They need to be armed to the teeth, and they need giant, shiny badges that every human in the Western Hemisphere will recognize. And why not? It worked for Elliot Ness and his team. This won’t be done, of course, for one reason:
This post was published at shtfplan on August 7th, 2017.
Apparently the Banks have been lobbying heavily, and expending significant amounts of money again, leaning on their Congressmen and pressuring regulators, saying that their capital standards need to be relaxed so that they can make more loans to stimulate economic growth. But that, according to the FDIC Vice-Chairman, is utter nonsense. “Hoenig, who was a high-ranking Federal Reserve official during the crisis, cautioned Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo and the committee’s senior Democrat, Sherrod Brown, “against relaxing current capital requirements and allowing the largest banks to increase their already highly leveraged positions.” Using public data to analyze the 10 largest bank holding companies, Hoenig found they will distribute more than 100 percent of the current year’s earnings to investors, which could have supported to $537 billion in new loans.
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.
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.
New York City real estate, particularly the luxury market, is a popular refugee for world’s corrupt, self-dealing public servants and the crooked businessmen who bribe them. China cracked down on wealthy citizens seeking to stash their wealth in international real estate by adding several deterrents to its capital controls earlier this year (Among them, Chinese investors moving money out of the country must now sign a pledge saying it won’t be used to buy real estate, or investment securities). Shortly after, the New York real-estate – literally half a world away – was rattled by a crush of stalled deals. So, it’s unsurprising that the mystery behind the largest residential foreclosure auction in NYC history would have this kind of sordid backstory. Last month, we met Kola Aluko, a Nigerian oil magnate and the purported owner of One57’s Apartment 79, a $50 million apartment that will be sold next week in what appears to be the largest foreclosure auction in New York City history.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 16, 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.
Crackpot Schemes POITOU, FRANCE – ‘Nothing really changes.’ Sitting next to us at breakfast, a companion was reading an article written by the No. 2 man in France, douard Philippe, in Le Monde. The headline promised to tell us how the country was going to ‘deblock’ itself. But upon inspection, the proposals were the same old claptrap about favoring ‘green’ energy… changing the tax code to reward one group and punish another… and spending more money on various humbug initiatives. *** Subsidized green energy scams are mainly creating eyesores – other than that, they add up to nothing but cronyism writ large. After the one of the biggest solar company bankruptcies ever happened in Spain, a detailed economic study found that for every subsidized renewable energy job the government ‘created’ (at a cost of nearly $2 million per job!) 2.2 jobs were lost elsewhere. It is a good bet that the math isn’t much different elsewhere. To add insult to injury, there is precisely zero evidence that carbon emissions are reduced by even one iota due to these efforts. It is an apodictic certainty that no economy can possibly be ‘rescued’ by the subsidization of this nonsense. There is a widespread belief in government circles that ‘economic growth’ can somehow be conjured up by bureaucrats. That is a costly error that increasingly endangers the future of Western civilization. [PT]
This post was published at Acting-Man on July 12, 2017.
First they came for the inmates’ cash. . . . Apparently, the prevarications and base tactics of anti-cash fanatics know no bounds. In an announcement in May that garnered very little mainstream press coverage, the Danish government stated its intention to ban cash from its largest prisons. The ostensible reason, according to Justice Minister Soeren Pape Poulsen, is that “there is a risk that people in criminal circles exploit their friends’ incarceration to hide money.” Forcing inmates to pay for purchases electronically will make it “easier to follow the money flow in and out.” So let’s get this straight. The Danish government actually believes that it is more likely that inmates’ unincarcerated cronies will show up en masse and hand over wads of krone to stash in a government prison than that the inmates will figure out a way to use the electronic payments devices to contact and scheme with these cronies to commit more crimes. Of course government officials do not believe this nonsense. The real point of the measure is to reinforce the link between cash and criminality in the public mind so that citizens are more amenable when the day comes that their own cash is seized by government. MISES WIRE