Catalonia’s Post-‘Independence’ Economic Hangover Sets In

Uncertainty, threats, and counter-threats.
By Don Quijones, Spain, UK, & Mexico, editor at WOLF STREET.
Catalonia’s recent declaration of independence may have been a largely symbolic act but the economic hangover it has left in its wake is very real. Last month the number of unemployed in the region rose by 7,391 – the highest rise in a month of November since 2009. During the same period the number of people registered with social security fell by 4,038 – the sharpest fall since November 2013.
The economic pain is already taking a psychological toll. According to a new poll published by Spain’s Center for Sociological Research (CIS for its Spanish acronym), the number of households that fear that their economic situation will worsen in the next six months surged from 14.2% in August to 22.2% in October. By contrast, in Spain as a whole there was hardly any change, with the rate barely budging from 15.1% to 15.6%.
Almost 3,000 firms have shifted the registered address of their headquarters outside Catalonia since the banned referendum on October 1, many to Madrid. Although the exodus has slowed in recent weeks, every day dozens of Catalan companies continue to change their registered office, despite the express appeal of Spain’s Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, to stop doing so after the activation of Article 155 of the Constitution.
The Catalan exodus has so far been purely administrative, with companies effectively shifting domiciles, the ‘brass plate’ of the business, to avoid legal and tax complications rather than moving staff or operations, which would have huge cost and logistical implications.

This post was published at Wolf Street on Dec 6, 2017.

The Fetid Swamp of Tax Reform

The likelihood that either party will ever drain the fetid swamp of corruption that is our tax code is zero, because it’s far too profitable for politicos to operate their auction for tax favors.
To understand the U. S. tax code and the endless charade of tax reform, we have to start with four distasteful realities: 1. Ours is not a representational democracy, it’s a political auction in which wealth casts the votes that count. Those seeking political influence over issues such as taxation place their bids in the political auction via campaign contributions and lobbying. The winner of the political auction gets favorable treatment, and everyone else ends up subsidizing the gains of the winner. 2. The wealthy pay the vast majority of federal income taxes (as oposed to payroll taxes, i.e. Social Security and Medicare), so tax cuts end up benefiting the wealthy. High-income Americans pay most income taxes, but enough to be ‘fair’? (Pew Research Center) In 2014, people with adjusted gross income, or AGI, above $250,000 paid just over half (51.6%) of all individual income taxes, though they accounted for only 2.7% of all returns filed. By contrast, people with incomes of less than $50,000 accounted for 62.3% of all individual returns filed, but they paid just 5.7% of total taxes.

This post was published at Charles Hugh Smith on THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 09, 2017.

We Can Only Afford One, So Choose Wisely: Social Security/Medicare, Cartel Cronyism or Inflation (a.k.a. Central Banking)

Here’s the problem with central banks seeking higher inflation: costs go up but wages don’t.
It’s easy to quantify the annual cost of Social Security/Medicare, and not so easy to calculate the cost of Cartel Cronyism and Central Bank-created inflation. Cartel cronyism is a hidden tax on the entire economy, as is Central Bank-created inflation.
That makes it easy for the financial-political Oligarchy to continue their skimming operations, because nobody says Cartel Cronyism cost us $1 trillion last year, and central bank skimming (inflation) cost us another $1 trillion. The stark reality is there are limits on what we as a nation can afford in the long term. Borrowing trillions of dollars annually at low rates of interest creates a magical-thinking illusion that we can just tack on another $10 trillion, or what the hay, make it $100 trillion, and get away with it, because we’ve gotten away with it so far.
This leaves us an equally stark choice: we can only afford one of these three crushing costs:
1. Limited Social Security/Medicare (no nation can afford unlimited anything, including healthcare)

This post was published at Charles Hugh Smith on THURSDAY, JANUARY 05, 2017.

Democrats, Trump, And The Ongoing, Dangerous Refusal To Learn The Lesson Of Brexit

Submitted by Glenn Greenwald via The Intercept,
The parallels between the U. K.’s shocking approval of the Brexit referendum in June and the U. S.’s even more shocking election of Donald Trump as president Tuesday night are overwhelming. Elites (outside of populist right-wing circles) aggressively unified across ideological lines in opposition to both. Supporters of Brexit and Trump were continually maligned by the dominant media narrative (validly or otherwise) as primitive, stupid, racist, xenophobic, and irrational. In each case, journalists who spend all day chatting with one another on Twitter and congregating in exclusive social circles in national capitals – constantly re-affirming their own wisdom in an endless feedback loop – were certain of victory. Afterward, the elites whose entitlement to prevail was crushed devoted their energies to blaming everyone they could find except for themselves, while doubling down on their unbridled contempt for those who defied them, steadfastly refusing to examine what drove their insubordination.
The indisputable fact is that prevailing institutions of authority in the West, for decades, have relentlessly and with complete indifference stomped on the economic welfare and social security of hundreds of millions of people. While elite circles gorged themselves on globalism, free trade, Wall Street casino gambling, and endless wars (wars that enriched the perpetrators and sent the poorest and most marginalized to bear all their burdens), they completely ignored the victims of their gluttony, except when those victims piped up a bit too much – when they caused a ruckus – and were then scornfully condemned as troglodytes who were the deserved losers in the glorious, global game of meritocracy.
That message was heard loud and clear. The institutions and elite factions that have spent years mocking, maligning, and pillaging large portions of the population – all while compiling their own long record of failure and corruption and destruction – are now shocked that their dictates and decrees go unheeded. But human beings are not going to follow and obey the exact people they most blame for their suffering. They’re going to do exactly the opposite: purposely defy them and try to impose punishment in retaliation. Their instruments for retaliation are Brexit and Trump. Those are their agents, dispatched on a mission of destruction: aimed at a system and culture they regard – not without reason – as rife with corruption and, above all else, contempt for them and their welfare.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 10, 2016.

WHY 2017 is The Threshold to Chaos

I have been warning that 2017 was the Year of Political Hell with four major referendums/elections that would undermine the confidence in government – BREXIT, US Presidential Elections, French Elections, and Germany Elections. These four events hold the potential to overturn the expectations of the future. Whatever the general public felt about government would flip. The key to a shift from Public confidence to Private lies within the scope of these four elections. This is what our computer has been forecasting – political instability on the rise. This is the age of anti-establishment (3rd party) rising globally.
However, I have also warned that Social Security and Medicare go NEGATIVE next year in the United States, which of course mainstream media is not bothering to report for fear that would add fuel to the bonfire of political corruption. But what is also not explained by mainstream media, is that Obamacare is crumbling from within. The entire structural design of Obamacare was the perpetual Ponzi Scheme they used for Social Security.

This post was published at Armstrong Economics on Sep 7, 2016.

The ‘Myth Of Morning In America’ – – How The Public Debt Went From $1 Trillion To $35 Trillion in Four Decades, Part 2

Morning in America – the Historical Inflection Point
……. And that was the historical inflection point. Thereafter, Social Security and Medicare entitlement reform was off the table due to the trick of the front-loaded payroll-tax increase.
This caused cash surpluses in the trust funds and the accumulation of intra-governmental accounting IOUs for the next two decades. At the same time, these front-end surpluses functioned to bury the long range fiscal disaster these intergenerational ‘social insurance’ entitlements embody in 75-year projections that are always way too optimistic.
Likewise, the White House took any further tax increases or defense cuts off the table in January 1985. The spending-cut-weary politicians of both parties, in turn, were more than happy to oblige by shelving any further meaningful domestic spending reforms, as well.
So in 1985, fiscal policy went on automatic pilot – where it has more or less languished ever since. Even well before the fiscal madness of George W. Bush broke out in 2001, the handwriting was on the wall.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on September 2, 2016.

Funny Money Accounting – -Why Social Security Will Be Bankrupt In 10 Years

NOTE TO READERS
I am in the throes of finishing a book on the upheaval represented by the Trump candidacy and movement. It is an exploration of how 30 years of Bubble Finance policies at the Fed, feckless interventions abroad and mushrooming Big government and debt at home have brought America to its current ruinous condition.
It also delves into the good and bad of the Trump campaign and platform and outlines a more consistent way forward based on free markets, fiscal rectitude, sound money, constitutional liberty, non-intervention abroad, minimalist government at home and decentralized political rule.
In order to complete the manuscript on a timely basis, I will not be doing daily posts for the next week or two. Instead, I will post excerpts from the book that crystalize its key themes and which also relate to the on-going gong show in the presidential campaigns and in the financial and economic arenas. Another of these is included below.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner by David Stockman ‘ August 12, 2016.

Government Rules Which Trap Millions of Americans in Poverty

Susanne Brasset has $5 in her bank account. She’s scared to save more.
Brasset, a 39-year-old freelance photographer in Denver, has cerebral palsy, which limits her ability to work. To pay her bills, she relies on Social Security, which she gets because of her disability.
But the program monitors her bank accounts to make sure she’s not putting away too much money. With more than a few thousand in the bank, she’d be disqualified for the program, as well as for Medicaid and other crucial benefits. Unable to plan for the future, Brasset said her finances put her in a ‘constant state of anxiety and fear.’
‘There’s more money I could be making,’ she said. ‘But I’m discouraged by all the rules I need to adhere to.’
Brasset is caught in a bind familiar to many people with disabilities. Their well-being relies on government benefit programs, but these programs impose strict limits on how much recipients can earn and save. Rules intended to bar freeloaders end up keeping disabled people in a permanent state of poverty, unable to put money away for emergencies, retirement, and other life goals.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner By Ben Steverman, Bloomberg Business ‘ August 3, 2016.

Coming Soon: Trumped! (Part 6. Government Entitlements – – The Sixth Biggest Economy On Earth

Government Entitlements – Sixth Biggest Economy On Earth
…….. Because the main street economy is failing, the nation’s entitlement rolls have exploded. About 110 million citizens now receive some form of means tested benefits. When social security is included, more than 160 million citizens get checks from Washington.
The total cost is now $3 trillion per year and rising rapidly. America’s entitlements sector, in fact, is the sixth biggest economy in the world.
***
Yet in a society that is rapidly aging to the tune of 10,000 baby boom retirees per day, this 50% dependency ratio is not even remotely sustainable. As we show in a later chapter, social security itself will be bankrupt within 10 years.
Still, there is another even more important aspect of the mainstream narrative’s absolute radio silence about the monumental entitlements problem. Like in the case of the nation’s 30-year LBO, the transfer payments crisis is obfuscated by the economic blind spots of our Keynesian central banking regime.
Greenspan, Bernanke, Yellen and their posse of paint-by-the-numbers economic plumbers have deified the great aggregates of consumer, business and government spending as the motor force of economic life. As more fully deconstructed below, however, this boils down to a primitive notion of bathtub economics.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on July 28, 2016.

New legislation proposes to ‘bail in’ Social Security

It was only a few weeks ago that I told you about the government’s annual report on Social Security.
It was a veritable death sentence for the program.
The Board of Trustees for Social Security (which includes the US Treasury Secretary) wrote that major parts of the program have already run out of money, and the rest of Social Security will run out of money in the next decade.
Amazing. Even Social Security knows that they’re bankrupt and unable to keep their promises to taxpayers.
This is going to cause an unbelievable crisis in the United States.
Think about it: half of Americans have ZERO retirement savings and will be fully dependent on the Social Security once they retire.
But by the time their retirement comes, the program will have likely already run out of money.
Well, the government has figured out a solution. And it’s genius.
Two weeks ago a new bill was introduced on the floor of Congress that, just like all the other really dangerous legislation, i.e. USA PATRIOT Act, this bill has a catchy acronym.
It’s called the SAVE UP Accounts Act, which stands for. . .

This post was published at Sovereign Man on July 26, 2016.

Disability Overpayments: Low-Hanging Fruit

According to the most recent Trustees Report, the Social Security Disability trust fund, which would have been depleted by the end of this year, will now run dry in 2019, thanks to a little finagling of the payroll tax. But this is a short-term solution to a program that is in desperate need of real reform.
According to National Affairs, the rate of approval for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) applications has remained fairly constant, the program has grown from serving 0.2 percent of the population age 50 to 65 (at which time only this age group was eligible) in 1956 to 5 percent of all adults in 2012. The increased presence of women in the workforce and the aging baby boomer generation explains part of this rise in dependence on the SSDI, but certainly fails to explain the trends in diagnoses and the failure to rehabilitate workers and send them back into the fray. The program’s structure arguably creates a perverse incentive for workers to not even attempt to return to work – beneficiaries often go through a two-year application process that drains their savings, and being approved requires applicants to prove they cannot work in order to benefit, thus nullifying the Social Security Administration’s attempts to convince beneficiaries that they can return to work in some capacity under the Ticket to Work program.
In addition to the perverse work incentives, a major source of contention regarding Social Security’s Disability Insurance that does not get much media attention is the amount of fraud and overpayments that occur. The rate of successful fraudulent applications gaining benefits from the SSDI, according to the White House, is only 1 percent. However, fraudulent applications are not the only way claimants receive ‘bonus funds’ from the government.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on Laura Wiltshire, via NCPA ‘ June 30, 2016.

77% Of Swiss Voters Get It – -Reject $31,000 Guaranteed Annual Income

Give Swiss voters credit – well, at least 77 percent of them. In a recent national referendum, they overwhelmingly rejected a proposal that would have guaranteed each Swiss adult a monthly payment of $2,560 from the Swiss government. Just think: the payment was going to be free, just like Social Security, Medicaid, farm subsidies, food stamps, and education grants are free here in the United States.
So, why do I say those Swiss voters are smart? After all, what’s smart about rejecting free money, right?
They’re smart because they understand that that generous monthly payment wasn’t going to be free after all. In order to make the payments, the government would have to first collect the money from the Swiss citizenry through taxes.
So, let’s see: Under the plan a Swiss citizen would get to receive $2,560 in free money, but first he would have to pay $2,560 in monthly taxes so that the Swiss government would have the money to send him the $2,560. In actuality, he’d probably have to pay around $3,000 per month in taxes because the government would have to pay salaries to government bureaucrats and incur other expenses for performing this service.
Do you see why I say that those 77 percent of Swiss voters are smart?
Of course, an American statist might come back and say, ‘Jacob, it didn’t have to be that way. The Swiss government could have taken all the money from the rich so that the money really would be free for most of the people receiving it.’

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on June 9, 2016.

Obama’s Latest Whopper – -Let’s Raise Social Security Benefits!

The U. S. has approximately $80 trillion of unfunded liabilities for social security, medicare and other entitlements sitting atop a work force that is rapidly aging and an economy that is lapsing into stasis. Yet in the midst of a campaign diatribe about Donald Trump’s alleged lack of preparation for the highest office in the land, the current White House occupant proved that in nearly eight years he has learned exactly nothing about the nation’s abysmal fiscal plight.
‘And not only do we need to strengthen its long-term health, it’s time we finally made Social Security more generous and increased its benefits so that today’s retirees and future generations get the dignified retirement that they’ve earned,’ Obama said in an economic call to arms in Elkhart, Indiana.
Don’t bother to say he must be kidding. After all, our President also claims the disaster known as Obamacare is a roaring success; and that he has created 14 million jobs – -when, in fact, there are fewer full-time, full-pay ‘breadwinner jobs’ in America today than when Bill Clinton scuttled out of the White House 16 years ago.
Still, your don’t have to be even a know nothing about baby-boom demographics to recognize that the words ‘increase’ and ‘social security benefits’ will never again inhabit the same universe. To wit, there are about 50 million persons 65 or over at present, but this number will rise to 80 million by around 2040 and nearly 100 million a decade or two thereafter.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on June 2, 2016.

Global Deflation Alert: Massive Layoffs Are Looming In South Korea As Shipyard Orders Fall 94%

The South Korean government’s push to restructure debt-laden companies is set to cost tens of thousands of workers their jobs in an economy where social security is limited and a rigid labor market reduces the likelihood of getting rehired in a full-time position.
Many of the layoffs will be in industrial hubs along the southeast coastline, where shipyards and ports dominate the landscape. These heavy industries, which helped propel South Korea’s growth in previous decades, have seen losses amid a slowdown in global growth, overcapacity and rising competition from China. As a condition of financial support, creditor banks and the government are pushing companies to cut back on staff and sell unprofitable assets.
In Korea, losing a permanent, full-time job often means sliding toward poverty, one reason why labor unions stage strikes that at times lead to violent confrontations with employers and police. A preference for hiring and training young employees, rather than recruiting experienced hands, means that many workers who get laid off drift into day labor or low-wage, temporary contracts that lack insurance and pension benefits, according to Lee Jun Hyup, a research fellow for Hyundai Research Institute.
‘The possibility of me getting a new job that offers similar income and benefits is about 1 percent,’ said one of about 2,600 employees to be laid off following a previous restructure, of Ssangyong Motor in 2009. The 45-year-old worker, who asked only to be identified by the surname Kim as he tries to get rehired, initially delivered newspapers and worked construction after losing his permanent job. He’s now on a temporary contract at a retailer and taking night shifts as a driver to get by. Despite having these two jobs, his income has been halved. Being fired was ‘like being pushed into a desert with no water,’ Kim said.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner By Jiyeun Lee Bloomberg – May 19, 2016.

For Stan Druckenmiller This Is “The Endgame” – His Full ‘Apocalyptic’ Presentation

Several days ago, hedge fund legend Stan Druckenmiller spoke at the Sohn Conference, delivering what may have been his most bearish fire and brimstone sermon yet, and in fact according to some buysiders who were present, its somber mood and lack of faux optimism was downright apocalyptic. And how can it not be when Druckenmiller said that while the Fed and policymakers have no endgame, markets do – hinting that one is rapidly approaching – and suggested that everyone should liquidate their equity holdings and buy a certain 5000 year old shiny asset, which as we reported earlier this week, is Druckenmiller’s “largest currency allocation.”
And just so everyone can appreciate what is keeping up at night one of the most illustrious investing minds of any generation (with a 30% average return from 1986 through 2010) below we repost his entire presentation delivered at the May 4 Sohn Conference, titled appropriately enough…
The Endgame
When I started Duquesne in February of 1981, the risk free rate of return, 5 year treasuries, was 15%. Real rates were close to 5%. We were setting up for one of the greatest bull markets in financial history as assets were priced incredibly cheaply to compete with risk free rates and Volcker’s brutal monetary squeeze forced much needed restructuring at the macro and micro level. It is not a coincidence that strange bedfellows Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan produced the last major reforms in social security and taxes shortly thereafter. Moreover, the 15% hurdle rate forced corporations to invest their capital wisely and engage in their own structural reform. If this led to one of the greatest investment environments ever, how can the mirror of it, which is where we are today, also be a great investment environment? Not a week goes by without someone extolling the virtues of the equity market because ‘there is no alternative’ with rates at zero. The view has become so widely held it has its own acronym, ‘TINA’.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 05/07/2016.

Trumped! Why It Happened And What Comes Next, Part 2 (The Peace Deal)

When it comes to the economic future, a Trump presidency could bring either a shitstorm or salvation. Regrettably, the odds of the former are immensely the higher.
That’s because Trump is a welcome, but extremely unguided missile. On the one hand, his great virtue is that he is a superb salesman and showman who has captured the GOP nomination and has a serious shot at the White House with absolutely no help whatsoever from the Washington/Wall Street establishment.
So unlike any other candidate in recent memory, he owns his own talking points; is not saddled with a stable of credentialed advisors schooled in three decades of policy error and failure; and has the hutzpah to trust his own instincts – – many of which, especially on foreign policy, are exactly the rebuke that Imperial Washington and its legions of parasites and racketeers so richly deserve.
On the other hand, the Donald’s policy thinking, if you can call it that, is thoroughly inchoate. His policy pronouncements amount to little more than spontaneous eruptions of sentiment, prejudice, hearsay, bile, applause lines, wishful thinking and disconnected non sequiturs. That’s where thoughtlets like Muslim bans, mass deportations, a Trump Wall on the Rio Grande, paying off the national debt, 40% tariff barriers, obliteration of ISIS and numerous other stray verbal hand grenades come from.
Yet occasional wild pitches are not really the problem, and the cynics are surely correct in predicting that Trump will excise most of them from his patter even before the GOP convention. The real problem is that Trump has no detectable economic philosophy or policy framework, and it is in that arena that he could go careening off into a cacophony of misfires, mistakes and statist mayhem.
To wit, Trump has already said that he likes the Fed’s low interest rates, is considering a minimum wage hike, thinks social security and medicare should remain untouched, will rebuild the military, intends to drastically increase spending for veterans, wants to slash income taxes on corporations and individuals, thinks a big infrastructure program is warranted, plans to spend tens of billions on border security and the Wall and will drastically hammer $2.2 trillion of imports in order to bring jobs back home.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on May 5, 2016.

More Free Stuff From Barry – -400,000 Student Loan Borrowers To Get ‘No Doc’ Disability Discharge

Hundreds of thousands of student loan borrowers will now have an easier path to getting their loans discharged, the Obama administration announced Tuesday.
The Department of Education will send letters to 387,000 people they’ve identified as being eligible for a total and permanent disability discharge, a designation that allows federal student loan borrowers who can’t work because of a disability to have their loans forgiven. The borrowers identified by the Department won’t have to go through the typical application process for receiving a disability discharge, which requires sending in documented proof of their disability. Instead, the borrower will simply have to sign and return the completed application enclosed in the letter.
If every borrower identified by the Department decides to have his or her debt forgiven, the government will end up discharging more than $7.7 billion in debt, according to the Department.
‘Americans with disabilities have a right to student loan relief,’ Ted Mitchell, the undersecretary of education, said in a statement. ‘And we need to make it easier, not harder, for them to receive the benefits they are due.’
About 179,000 of the borrowers identified by the Department are in default on their student loans, and of that group more than 100,000 are at risk of having their tax refunds or Social Security checks garnished to pay off the debt. Often borrowers losing out on these benefits aren’t even aware that they’re eligible for a disability discharge, said Persis Yu, the director of the Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project at the National Consumer Law Center.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on April 13, 2016.

Trumps Strays Off The Deep End – – His ‘Plan To Eliminate The National Debt Is Ludicrous

Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump’s wide-ranging interviewwith the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, published Saturday, made news on many different fronts. From his prediction of a ‘very massive recession’ to his description of himself as the ‘Lone Ranger’ of American politics trump was, even for him, highly quotable.
But for people focused on fiscal issues, it was his claim that he would eliminate the federal debt – not the annual deficit, but the entire outstanding debt of the federal government – within eight years that really raised some eyebrows.
The Treasury Department calculates the nation’s federal debt at $19.3 trillion, although it could be as low as $13.9 trillion (if you eliminate debts the government owes itself, like Treasury securities held by the Social Security Trust Fund).
Trump, however, consistently describes the debt as being more than $19 trillion, so when he promises to eliminate the debt within eight years, it’s reasonable to assume that he is referring to the higher figure, which will be approaching $20 trillion by the time the next president takes office.
The reaction most people familiar with government spending and borrowing had to Trump’s promise was that it is utterly delusional.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on April 7, 2016.

Why Trump Is Dead Wrong On Social Security

In the Republican debate last night, CNN’s Dana Bash pressed the candidates on how they would deal with Social Security. Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz gave solid answers, explaining that the system was headed toward insolvency, suggesting ways to slow spending growth, and scolding candidates who denied the need for cost-saving reforms.
One of the candidates in denial is Donald Trump. He said, ‘And it’s my absolute intention to leave Social Security the way it is. Not increase the age and to leave it as is.’ Trump is a smart man, who presumably understands accounting, so either he hasn’t bothered to examine the finances of the government’s largest program, or he is willfully providing a false narrative about it.
The chart below compares Social Security and defense spending in real 2016 dollars, including Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projections going forward. For decades, the two programs have vied for the title of the government’s largest, but the battle is now over. Social Security spending has soared far above defense spending, and it will keep on soaring without reforms.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on March 25, 2016.

Forbes Yanks a Negative Article on JPMorgan While the Bank Pays for Content

Americans have painful recollections of how allowing ratings agencies to take Wall Street money and dole out bogus triple-A ratings on subprime mortgages tanked the U. S. housing market in the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression. They fully understand that the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that opened the floodgates to pay-to-play corporate financing of elections has grotesquely disfigured participatory democracy in America. Now they’re about to learn how America’s ‘free press’ is able to be bought – literally.
This past Friday, March 18, Laurence Kotlikoff, a Forbes contributor, Professor of Economics at Boston University and bestselling co-author of Get What’s Yours: The Secrets To Maxing Out Your Social Security, tweeted the headline of an article he had just posted at Forbes: ‘JPMorgan Chase – The True Story of America’s Most Corrupt Bank.’ The Tweet linked to a two-page article by Kotlikoff at Forbes, which began with these two paragraphs:
‘Between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, we’ve heard a lot about the corruption on Wall Street. But, if you want to understand exactly what happened and why, read JPMadoff: The Unholy Alliance Between America’s Biggest Bank and America’s Biggest Crook.
‘Written by trial lawyers, Helen Davis Chaitman and Lance Gotthoffer, this heavily-researched, meticulously documented book lays out for the world to see the absolute corruption of JPMorgan Chase – America’s biggest bank. And the authors explain how Obama has furthered Wall Street crime by refusing to enforce America’s criminal laws against America’s biggest criminals – not Madoff, but JPMorgan Chase.’
By Friday evening, all that one got at the link to Kotlikoff’s article was a Forbes’ error message saying the page couldn’t be found. By this morning, even a partial Google cache of the article is giving the reader just a second or so to see the headline, then disappearing into thin air.

This post was published at Wall Street On Parade By Pam Martens and Russ Marte.