On November 8, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman, Jay Clayton, delivered a speech at the Practising Law Institute’s 49thAnnual Institute on Securities Regulation. His focus was transparency on Wall Street and he had this nugget of wisdom to share with the audience: ‘Looking back at enforcement actions, a common theme emerges – where opacity exists, bad behavior tends to follow. As Joseph Pulitzer said: ‘There is not a crime, there is not a dodge, there is not a trick, there is not a swindle, there is not a vice which does not live by secrecy.’ The remainder of my remarks will concentrate on topics that have proven over time to be fertile ground for fraud on investors. The SEC may not yet have policy or rulemaking answers in these areas, but we are on the lookout for ways to fight the type of opacity that can create an environment conducive to misconduct.’ The SEC was created to police Wall Street under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The legislation came on the heels of the U. S. Senate holding three years of hearings that showed Wall Street to be a cesspool of opaque self dealing and collusion that had led to the 1929 stock market collapse and ensuing Great Depression. The SEC has now had 83 years to hone its investigative skills and techniques. And yet, it wore blinders in the runup to the epic Wall Street crash of 2007-2009, which was caused by the same type of corruption that was ferreted out by the U. S. Senate after the 1929 crash. Its blinders remain securely in place.
Authored by ZeroPointNow, originally published on iBankCoin Tony Podesta and his lobbying firm the Podesta Group are under federal investigation by FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller in connection with the Russia investigation, three sources told NBC News. The firm, co-founded by Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta, was subpoenaed in late August along with three other public relations firms who worked with former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort during a 2012-2014 lobbying effort for a pro-Ukraine think tank – the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECMU) – tied to former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. Two of the subpoenaed firms include Paul Manafort’s Mercury, LLC and the Podesta Group, founded by John and Tony Podesta and operated by the latter. Manafort’s firm earned $17 million between 2012 – 2014 consulting for Yanukovych’s centrist, pro-Russia ‘Party of Regions.’ During the same period, Manafort oversaw a lobbying campaign for the pro-Russia ‘Centre for a Modern Ukraine,’ a Brussels based think tank linked to Yanukovych which was pushing for Ukraine’s entry into the European Union. The Podesta group, operating under Manafort, earned over $1.2 million as part of that effort. In a statement to NBC, a spokesman for the Podesta Group said the firm “is cooperating fully with the Special Counsel’s office and has taken every possible step to provide documentation that confirms timely compliance. In all of our client engagements, the Podesta Group conducts due diligence and consults with appropriate legal experts to ensure compliance with disclosure regulations at all times – and we did so in this case.”
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 23, 2017.
Markets are blowing off this uncertainty for now. On Thursday, the Senate confirmed Randal Quarles, President Trump’s first Fed nominee, as a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. During his confirmation hearing, Quarles said it was time to roll back some of the regulations that were imposed on banks after they’d imploded and threatened to take down the global financial system. He will become the chief bank regulator at the Fed, filling the slot that Daniel Tarullo left behind when he resigned unexpectedly in April. Quarles is founder of private investment firm, The Cynosure Group. Fed Governor Jerome Powell is also a Cynosure alumnus. Quarles had been a partner at private equity firm The Carlyle Group and served as undersecretary of the Treasury under President George W. Bush. WHIRRRR makes the revolving door. One down, four more to go. The Fed’s Board of Governors has seven slots, currently chaired by Janet Yellen. After Quarles’ appointment, potentially four more will need to be filled over the next few months. The seven board members are part of the policy-setting 12-member Federal Open Markets Committee. The other five members of the FOMC are the president of the New York Fed and on a one-year rotating basis four presidents of the remaining 11 regional Federal Reserve Banks.
‘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.
Are you ready for mass chaos in Washington? There are lobbyists for just about every cause that you can possibly imagine, and they are always working hard to influence members of Congress on their particular issues. But when you are talking about a major tax reform bill, that is something that virtually every single lobbyist in the entire city will want to be involved in. Our tax code is over two million words long, and the regulations are over seven million words long, and any changes to our immensely complex system could have absolutely enormous implications. There will be winners and there will be losers with any piece of legislation, and lobbyists will zealously fight to defend the turf belonging to their particular clients. Often lobbyists from different sides will literally be pitted directly against one another, and it won’t be pretty. In fact, one analyst that works for Cowen Washington Research Group says that we could soon be watching ‘the corporate hunger games’… Almost every industry, special interest, and consumer group has an interest in the tax code, especially if the package ends up being as ambitious as Trump and Republican leaders want it to be. Chris Krueger, an analyst at Cowen Washington Research Group, told Business Insider that the battle over which loopholes to keep and which to throw out could get nasty.
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.
Almost two weeks have passed since Hurricane Irma made landfall in South Florida, yet tens of thousands remain without power. With temperatures regularly eclipsing over 90 degrees, these outages are not only a grave inconvenience for Floridians cleaning up after the storm, but have proved to be deadly. Given the power of Irma, it is not surprising that it has left behind incredible devastation. Unfortunately it is also not surprising that it is a government-protected utility that has done the most to impede recovery. The pain and suffering currently being felt is the direct result of government policy and the perverse incentives of crony capitalism. One of the talked about examples of how bad policy is making things worse for Florida families are a variety of government policies that discourages the use of solar power in the Sunshine State. Government policy dictates that Floridians are required to be connected to the central power grid, even if they have enough solar panels installed to power their entire house. Because of this requirement, a family stuck in areas without power with solar panels installed cannot use them now because doing so could endanger workers trying to restore power for their neighbors. Once again government’s desire for centralized control has unintended consequences. Of course, even without such rules, it’s unlikely that all of Florida would decide to go off the grid. Given that, it’s important to understand how the legal monopoly granted to electric companies not only traps customers into being entirely reliant upon a single company, but actively incentivizes those companies to be reactive – rather than proactive – when it comes to natural disasters and other events that threaten service. After all, companies like Florida Power & Light will respond to Irma as they have done to hurricanes past, by increasing prices on their customers. Unfortunately, the revenue reaped seems to have made little impact in FPL’s preparedness for future storms. While the company has reported that its recovery efforts have moved faster this year than when Hurricane Wilma hit South Florida in 2005, more residents suffered outrages due to Irma – in spite of the fact that Wilma actually had higher sustained winds when it made landfall.
Wall Street appears to have a plan to get the deregulation it wants by pinning the start of the epic financial crash of 2007-2010 on (wait for it) the French, rather than its own unbridled greed, corruption and toxic manufacture of junk bonds known as subprime debt that it paid to have rated AAA by ethically-challenged and deeply conflicted rating agencies. (The same rating agencies that are getting paid by Wall Street to rate its debt issues today.) One of the men helping to peddle this narrative is Steve Hanke, a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, a taxpayer-subsidized nonprofit that was secretly owned by the billionaire Koch brothers for decades. Hanke’s bio at Cato lists him as a Professor of Applied Economics at John Hopkins University in Baltimore and provides the following titillating background: ‘Prof. Hanke served as a State Counselor to both the Republic of Lithuania in 1994-96 and the Republic of Montenegro in 1999-2003. He was also an Advisor to the Presidents of Bulgaria in 1997-2002, Venezuela in 1995-96, and Indonesia in 1998. He played an important role in establishing new currency regimes in Argentina, Estonia, Bulgaria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ecuador, Lithuania, and Montenegro. Prof. Hanke has also held senior appointments in the governments of many other countries, including Albania, Kazakhstan, the United Arab Emirates, and Yugoslavia.’
When it imposed its net neutrality rules on the telecom industry, the FCC was fixing a problem that didn’t exist. While proponents of Net Neutrality have long claimed that the regulations are necessary to impose fairness for internet usage, access to the internet has only become more widespread and service today is far faster for users – including ‘ordinary’ people – than it was twenty years ago. Nevertheless, when the FCC in recent months – now under pressure from the Trump Administration – announced that it may step back from net neutrality, supporters immediately began claiming that net neutrality was necessary to keep internet access affordable and “fair.” In truth, net neutrality has never fostered fairness or better access for consumers, and has instead created conditions that will encourage less competition and more monopolistic power for large firms within the industry. Instead of relying on the market place to allocate goods, net neutrality ensures that politics will determine who gets what, instead. This is hardly a recipe for fairness or neutrality. In the marketplace, goods and services tend to be allocated according to those who demand the goods the most. Where demand is highest, prices are highest.
The day before the 4th of July, when most Americans were hustling about preparing for family barbecues, the New York Times finally decided to publish an editorial warning about Wall Street’s potential threat to the nation. Unfortunately, it did so with the kind of timidity we see regularly from cowed or compromised Wall Street banking regulators. The editorial writers noted that: ‘It’s entirely possible that the system is more fragile than the Fed’s stress tests indicate,’ and they called for ‘heightened vigilance of derivatives in particular’ without providing any detailed data. A more accurate assessment of the situation would have been this: There is only one industry in the United States that has twice in a period of less than 100 years brought about a devastating economic crisis in the country. Wild speculation coupled with poor regulation of mega Wall Street banks brought about the Great Depression in the 1930s, leading to massive job losses, bank failures, poverty and economic misery for tens of millions of innocent Americans. The precise same combination of wild speculation and crony regulators created the Wall Street crash of 2008, throwing millions of Americans into unemployment and foreclosure while creating obscene bailouts and bonuses for bankers, and leaving the U. S. with such a low economic growth rate to this day that many Americans feel they are still living in the Great Recession.
As the global equity research market continues to wrestle with how they will comply with the European Union’s MiFID II regulations, we noted a new study from McKinsey & Co. last week which effectively predicted that investment banks will have no choice but to fire a ton of equity research analysts who write a bunch of stuff that no one ever reads…which seems like a reasonable guess. For those who have managed to avoid this particular distraction, the global equity research industry is in the midst of a major disruption which has been brought on by the European Union’s MiFID II regulations, enforced from Jan. 3, which aim to tackle conflicts of interest by requiring asset managers to separate the trading commissions they pay from investment-research fees.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 30, 2017.
Centrally issued money optimizes inequality, monopoly, cronyism, stagnation and systemic instability. Everyone who wants to reduce wealth and income inequality with more regulations and taxes is missing the key dynamic: central banks’ monopoly on creating and issuing money widens wealth inequality, as those with access to newly issued money can always outbid the rest of us to buy the engines of wealth creation. History informs us that rising wealth and income inequality generate social disorder. Access to low-cost credit issued by central banks creates financial and political power. Those with access to low-cost credit have a monopoly as valuable as the one to create money. I explain why in my book A Radically Beneficial World: Automation, Technology and Creating Jobs for All. Compare the limited power of an individual with cash and the enormous power of unlimited cheap credit. Let’s say an individual has saved $100,000 in cash. He keeps the money in the bank, which pays him less than 1% interest. Rather than earn this low rate, he decides to loan the cash to an individual who wants to buy a rental home at 4% interest.
When “socialist” states have to impose finance-capital extremes that even exceed the financialization of nominally capitalist economies, it gives the lie to their claims of “socialism.” OK, so our collective eyes start glazing over when we see Marx and Orwell in the subject line, but refill your beverage and stay with me on this. We’re going to explore the premise that what’s called “socialism”–yes, Scandinavian-style socialism and its variants–is really nothing more than finance-capital state-cartel elitism that has done a better job of co-opting its debt-serfs than its state-cartel “capitalist” cronies. We have to start with the question “what is socialism”? The standard definition is: a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole. In practice, the community as a whole is the state. Either the state owns a controlling interest in the enterprise, or it controls the surplus (profits), labor rules, etc. via taxation and regulation.
Noah Smith, writing in Bloomberg, says that middle class America has indeed been fleeced by our national economic policies. We agree. But which policies have been responsible? Smith mentions and immediately dismisses trade, immigration, economic regulation, and welfare policies. The real villain in his view is an alleged turn toward managing the economy on free market lines: ‘Your prosperity was taken by the very people who promised to ensure and enhance it. The decades from 1980 through 2008 were the age of neoliberalism — the ideology of the free market.’ This is a story that we hear more and more. Neoliberals, the favorite new epithet on the left for free market exponents, have ruled the roost for decades ( note how the Obama administration is simply ignored in the preceding quote), and have left the poor and middle class far worse off than they were. The truth is that the Bush-Clinton-Bush-Obama era had much in common, and it was not free market principles. It was an era of unrestrained crony capitalism, in which special interests formed stronger and stronger alliances with government in order to secure economic monopolies and other privileges.
“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.
Government’s meddling in the healthcare business has been disastrous from the get-go. Since 1910, when Republican William Taft gave in to the American Medical Association’s lobbying efforts, most administrations have passed new healthcare regulations. With each new law or set of new regulations, restrictions on the healthcare market went further, until at some point in the 1980s, people began to notice the cost of healthcare had skyrocketed. This is not an accident. It’s by design. As regulators allowed special interests to help design policy, everything from medical education to drugs became dominated by virtual monopolies that wouldn’t have otherwise existed if not for government’s notion that intervening in people’s lives is part of their job. But how did costs go up, and why didn’t this happen overnight? It wasn’t until 1972 that President Richard Nixon restricted the supply of hospitals by requiring institutions to provide a certificate-of-need.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Mar 22, 2017.
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.
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.
In his latest close encounter with top US CEOs, President Donald Trump told drugmakers at a White House meeting Tuesday they were charging ‘astronomical’ prices and promised to get better bargains for government health programs, something even Bernie Sanders would agree with. He also said he would focus on finding ways to get new medicines to market faster. ‘The pricing has been astronomical,’ Trump said to CEOs of some of the world’s biggest drugmakers, who came to Washington after Trump’s criticism of the industry earlier this month sent drug and biotechnology stocks plunging. ‘You folks have done a very great job over the years but we have to get the prices down.’ At the meeting was Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America CEO Stephen Ubl, Merck & Co. CEO Ken Frazier, Eli Lilly & Co. CEO Dave Ricks, Celgene Corp. CEO Bob Hugin and others. They embraced Trump’s calls for lower taxes and fewer regulations. The gathering with drug CEOs came after Trump’s said on Jan. 12 that the industry was ‘getting away with murder’ and promised to act on drug prices. Since then, drugmakers have turned up their lobbying efforts with Congress as a potentially friendlier force that might counter Trump. ‘Some of the policies you’ve come out and suggested i think can help us do more — tax, regulations,’ said Lilly’s Ricks. Also at Tuesday’s White House meeting were Novartis AG CEO Joe Jimenez and Johnson & Johnson Worldwide Chairman of Pharmaceuticals Joaquin Duato.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jan 31, 2017.
This is a slide used by Bernie Sanders when he proposed making drug imports from Canada to the US legal. The proposal was voted down in the Senate 52-46, with a few key Democrats helping overturn Bernie’s proposed legislation. Among those voting against it was the recipient of big pharma campaign contributions Democratic rising star Cory Booker. Booker used the Big Pharma talking point that ‘the bill did not include provisions requiring the protections of the FDA.’ Oh really? We think that the Canadian government’s regulation of medicine is weaker than in the US? Please, Cory, tell us exactly where they fall down on the job.