There Ain’t no Economics in Economic Impact Studies

Economic impact studies are everywhere.
Whether it’s to support a new highway project, special tax breaks for solar energy, the building of a civic center or sports complex, or to promote subsidies for Hollywood film producers, you can find an economic impact study, often touting how great the project will be for the state or local economy.
The formula is simple, predictable, and effective. A special interest group that stands to benefit from the project funds an economic impact study that purports to provide hard numbers on the number of jobs, the increase in wages, and the additional output that will be generated by the project or subsidy, and it will do this on an industry-by-industry basis. It makes grandiose claims about how much overall economic growth will be enhanced for the state or region generally. Once the report is completed, the special interest group that paid for the study will tout these results in press releases that will be picked up by the largely uncritical media establishment, ensuring that the political decision makers and others who determine the fate of the project receive political cover.
These studies all have several things in common. First, they typically use proprietary, off-the-shelf models with acronym names like IMPLAN (Impact Analysis for Planning), CUM (Capacity Utilization Model), or REMI (Regional Economic Model, Inc.). Rights to use the models are purchased by professional consulting firms who are hired by the interest groups to do the studies. Furthermore, seldom do those who actually perform the studies have formal training in economics. Instead, their expertise is in using one or more of the aforementioned proprietary models. And finally, all of these studies ignore basic principles of economics and, as a result, do not meaningfully measure what they claim to be measuring – the economic impact of the public policies and projects that they are assessing.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on May 29, 2017.

China Imposes Sugar Import Tariffs As High As 95%

While tense trade negotiations between the US and Mexico over the price and quota for U. S. imports of Mexican sugar continue (a happy ending appears unlikely, especially after a Mexican sugar company on Friday called on the government to take action against American fructose producers and protect the local industry from US deals), a new protectionist measure involving sugar half way around the globe was unveiled on Monday when China – the world’s biggest importer of the sweet substance – said it will impose significant penalties on sugar imports following lobbying by domestic mills.
According to the ruling first described by Reuters, up to a third of China’s annual sugar imports will be impacted by an extra tariff for the next three years on shipments that the government said had “seriously damaged” the domestic industry.
The details: China currently allows just over 1.9 million tonnes of imports at a tariff of 15% as part of its commitment to the World Trade Organization. All imports above this amount are slapped with a 50% levy. After Monday’s ruling, the total sugar duty will nearly double, with Beijing imposing an additional 45% tax to these imports in the current fiscal year taking the total to 95%. This will fall to 90% next year and 85% a year later, China’s Commerce Ministry said in a statement. The ruling exempted 190 smaller countries and regions from the new duty, including smaller producers such as the Philippines, Pakistan and Myanmar.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 22, 2017.

Macron & His Socilist Agenda

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).

This post was published at Armstrong Economics on May 16, 2017.

There Is One Way Out of Debt-Serfdom: Fanatic Frugality

Debt is serfdom, capital in all its forms is freedom.
If we accept that our financial system is nothing but a wealth-transfer mechanism from the productive elements of our economy to parasitic, neofeudal rentier-cartels and self-serving state fiefdoms, that raises a question: what do we do about it?
The typical answer seems to be: deny it, ignore it, get distracted by carefully choreographed culture wars or shrug fatalistically and put one’s shoulder to the debt-serf grindstone.
There is another response, one that very few pursue: fanatic frugality in service of financial-political independence. Debt-serfs and dependents of the state have no effective political power, as noted yesterday in It Isn’t What You Earn and Owe, It’s What You Own That Generates Income.
There are only three ways to accumulate productive capital/assets: marry someone with money, inherit money or accumulate capital/savings and invest it in productive assets. (We’ll leave out lobbying the Federal government for a fat contract or tax break, selling derivatives designed to default and the rest of the criminal financial skims and scams used so effectively by the New Nobility financial elites.)

This post was published at Charles Hugh Smith on THURSDAY, MAY 04, 2017.

The US Dollar and Stock Market Could Spike Higher Under Trump’s Tax Plan

President Trump, as part of his ‘America First’ program, has proposed lowering the US corporate tax rate to 15 percent and to close a myriad of loopholes in an effort to simplify the tax code, and to also encourage the nation’s largest businesses to bring production back home.
The proposal represents a tangible shift in the relationship between Washington and big business. In 2014, President Obama’s Treasury Department introduced new measures to crack down on corporate tax inversions, a strategy companies utilized to exploit gaping tax differentials between the United States and other countries. Burger King’s acquisition of Canada’s Tim Hortons, a coffee and doughnut chain, for example, was motivated in large part by Canada’s more hospitable tax environment.

This post was published at FinancialSense on 04/27/2017.

Marx, Orwell and State-Cartel Socialism

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.

This post was published at Charles Hugh Smith on WEDNESDAY, APRIL 19, 2017.

TAXPAYERS FUND LAWYERS TO DEFEND HIGHLY PAID FEDERAL MANAGERS UNDER FIRE

Taxpayers are forced to cover much of the costs of defense attorneys for highly-paid federal managers facing termination or criminal charges, thanks to a cozy deal engineered in part by a law firm whose lobbyists helped draft and gain passage of legislation requiring it, The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group (TheDCNF) has found.
Lobbyists for the Washington, D. C., law firm Shaw, Bransford & Roth (Roth) – which earns its money representing federal employees who are being disciplined – ‘proposed’ and secured passage of the obscure bill Congress passed in 1996, according to the website of a group connected to the firm. That bill requires taxpayers to pay for legal insurance for management-level employees.
Roth lawyer Anthony Vergnetti then left the firm to launch the Federal Employee Defense Services (FEDS), just such a legal insurance business that, Vergnetti acknowledges, primarily steers clients to Roth when they have insurance claims, and profits off their premiums when they don’t.
Roth got its legislative sway by operating through the Senior Executives Association (SEA), which is ostensibly an organic group representing managers, but which is actually founded and run by the law firm’s partners and employees, as TheDCNF showed last year. SEA collects dues from members and pays lobbyists from Roth to conduct legislative advocacy, according to lobbying disclosures.

This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on APRIL 17, 2017.

Prognostication: Here It Comes

I claim no special power here, nor any inside information. This is simply arithmetic coupled with logic. I’ll give you a “decision tree” sort of format with the critical points outlined.
Note that if you’re going to mitigate any of what I see coming around the bend you need to do it right damn now, not wait. By the time you get to those critical points it’s too late. For many people it’s already too late, but if you’re not in that batch then you need to make your lifestyle changes today.
I am operating on the premise that the rank corruption that I outlined in the Ticker here will not be addressed. It will not be addressed for the same reason the 17th Amendment will be cited as the reason the American political experiment failed when the book on America is finally closed, as that Amendment permanently removed the ability of the States to call a hard-stop on any expansion of Federal Power they did not consent to. That was designed in to our government by the founders and it was removed intentionally by the 17th Amendment. That balance of power can never be restored absent a Revolution because to do so The Senate would have to literally vote themselves out of a job at a supermajority level which they will never do and there is no means to compel them to do so.
For the same reason the 30-year trend in Medicare and Medicaid spending will not be stopped. It may be tinkered with around the edges but it won’t be stopped because to stop it without literally throwing people into the street and letting them die you have to break the medical monopolies and in doing so you will inevitably (1) destroy the graft machine that drives a huge part of DC and at least half of the jobs inside the Beltway, along with the asset values they support, (2) create an immediate and deep (15% of GDP, but temporary) recession on purpose which neither Congress or Trump will ever voluntarily initiate as it would cause a guaranteed 70% stock market crash along with the immediate detonation of about 1/3rd of all in-debt corporations in the United States and (3) expose the outrageous theft of trillions of dollars from taxpayers over the last several decades to fund the medical scam machine at all levels.

This post was published at Market-Ticker on 2017-04-17.

Battle Royale: JPMC’s Dimon and Minneapolis Fed’s Kashkari Battle Over Bank Capital

This is a syndicated repost courtesy of Confounded Interest. To view original, click here. Reposted with permission.
Bloomberg has nice piece on the battle between JPMorganChase’s Jamie Dimon and the Minneapolis Fed’s Neel Kashkari.
(Bloomberg) Jamie Dimon is America’s most famous banker, and Neel Kashkari is its most outspoken bank regulator, so it’s not a shock that they would eventually come to blows. What’s interesting is that their contretemps is over an acronym that most Americans have never heard of, but one that may be central to preventing another recession.
TLAC, which is pronounced TEE-lack, is something you need to know about if you want to judge the sparring between Dimon, the well-coiffed chief executive of JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Kashkari, the very bald man who ran for governor of California on the Republican ticket and is now president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
On April 6, Kashkari went after Dimon in a way that circumspect central bankers ordinarily don’t. In an essay published on Medium and republished on the Minneapolis Fed website, he challenged Dimon’s assertion in his annual letter to shareholders that 1) there’s no longer a risk that taxpayers will be stuck with the bill if a big bank fails, and 2) banks have too much capital (meaning an unnecessarily thick safety cushion). Wrote Kashkari: ‘Both of these assertions are demonstrably false.’

This post was published at Wall Street Examiner by Anthony B Sanders ‘ April 14, 2017.

Raiders Move to Vegas Gives Tax Payers Reason to Boo, Players Reason to Cheer

Yesterday the NFL granted Mark Davis his request to move the Raiders from Oakland to Las Vegas. The move creates multiple losers: Las Vegas hotel customers who will see room taxes rise to pay for the $750 million in subsidies for the new stadium, the city of Oakland who still carries debt from the Raiders old venue, and the infamous fans that made up the Raiders’ iconic ‘Black Hole’ who are losing their football team just after witnessing their first playoff performance in almost 15 years.
Beyond the blatant crony capitalism of government-financed stadiums, there are many reasons to doubt the wisdom of the team’s decision. After all, unlike the Rams and Chargers move to Los Angeles, Las Vegas has no history of supporting professional football. The most significant attempt, the Las Vegas Outlaws of the XFL, only averaged 22,619 fans, ranking 5th out of the league’s 8 teams. Other attempts, including multiple Arena League teams and the short lived UFL, were financial flops. Of course, none of these products have the power of the National Football League, so perhaps this time will be different.
At league meetings, a key part to selling relocation was the idea that fans of other teams would travel to Las Vegas to enjoy the city’s attractions along with the game. Of course, if the market had faith in this business model, investment wouldn’t have needed politicians to find investment. It is worth noting that the new Las Vegas NHL team will be playing at a facility backed entirely by private investment. Maxing out at 20,000 seats, it has one-third of the capacity of the Raiders venue – but cost less than a quarter of the projected costs of the Raiders’ future facility.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on March 29, 2017.

“Stinging Defeat For Trump”: House Delays Health Care Vote On Doubts It Can Pass

Lengthy standing ovation from the Freedom Caucus when @POTUS walked into the Cabinet Room just now. Big momentum toward #RepealAndReplace. pic.twitter.com/N1FLGAVFMN
— Cliff Sims (@CSims45) March 23, 2017

Summary of the chaotic day’s key events:
GOP House leaders delayed their planned vote Thursday to repeal and replace “Obamacare,” which as AP put it was a “stinging defeat” for Paul Ryan and President Trump in their first major legislative test. The decision came after Trump failed to reach agreement with a bloc of rebellious conservatives. Moderate-leaning Republican lawmakers were also bailing on the legislation, leaving it short of votes. At least 30 Republicans said they opposed the bill, enough to defeat the measure. But the number was in constant flux amid the eleventh-hour lobbying. The bill could still come to a vote in coming days, but canceling Thursday’s vote is a significant defeat. It came on the seven-year anniversary of President Barack Obama signing the Affordable Care Act, years that Republicans have devoted to promising repeal. “No deal,” House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N. C., said after he and his group of more than two dozen rebellious conservatives met with Trump to try to get more concessions to reduce requirements on insurance companies. The Republican legislation would halt Obama’s tax penalties against people who don’t buy coverage and cut the federal-state Medicaid program for low earners, which the Obama statute had expanded. It would provide tax credits to help people pay medical bills, though generally skimpier than Obama’s statute provides. It also would allow insurers to charge older Americans more and repeal tax boosts the law imposed on high-income people and health industry companies. The measure would also block federal payments to Planned Parenthood for a year, another stumbling block for GOP moderates.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Mar 23, 2017.

All Washington blames Putin and calls for investigations of Russian villainy: John Batchelor interviews Stephen F. Cohen

The character of events from week to week, and as discussed by both Batchelor and Cohen, is manifestly worsening. While the proxy wars are stabilizing to some little extent, we see the political wars in governments as fall out of the New Cold War in a constant state of escalation. Cohen notes a New York Times piece by Charles Blow that coined a name for what is happening as an ‘Era of Suspicion’ and the author considered this a positive thing for the country – where all the interest groups are being forced by the hate and fear campaign to align with the anti-Russian narrative whether it serves their interests or not. This past week Batchelor brings up the news about the Estonian Ambassador, Eerik Marmei and the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pavlo Klimkin who spoke to a Senate subcommittee about Russia disrupting elections in Europe, and the danger of cyber warfare by Russia. Also mentioned were the Trump charges that Obama had his Trump Tower ‘bugged’. Cohen then launched into what the consequences of this new ‘Era of Suspicion’ and the professor describes how the pressure to conform has influenced all the politicos (Flynn debacle) and the masters of industry in the United States, who want to have business dealings with Russia, into remaining cautiously silent. These and other efforts are being used to isolate Trump and neuter or redirect any chance of dtente or even honest discussion of serious geopolitical events. It is working too – with Republicans also becoming divided. Some Republicans are looking at Vice President Pence for the president’s position.
Cohen also discusses the role of ‘expert consultants on Russia’ in the media and their efforts to vilify Putin and the Kremlin. All interviews using these people are factually untrue. The most egregious of these, for example, maintained that Putin was ‘deliriously happy that Washington was in complete chaos over Russian policies’. Batchelor exclaims that this is ‘complete rubbish’. It was also Batchelor’s opinion that it was serious that Trump did not mention Russia in his address to Congress. What this indicates is that dtente is getting much less likely. Cohen also mentions the resurrection of McCarthyism with a Committee of Un-American Activity being formed and concludes that disorder is the contrived tenure of modern Western diplomacy. In my opinion Trump has to decide whether folding to the will of his opposition will stop this campaign to remove him or will it show weakness that will lead to escalation. His reticence to talk about Russia may be testing the waters, or be showing weakness. Senator Graham, who talked with the president, seems to think the latter and the US will ‘push back’ against Russia. I think Trump is folding too.
The push back will see more support for NATO and perhaps more military help for Ukraine. Cohen discusses the quasi NATO presence now in Ukraine, and he also brings up a potential increase in US troop presence in Syria. He discusses the dangers of a combined military presence of US and Russian assets in Syria. Cohen then discusses the simple solution to ease the danger, and it really is simple. Disengagement. But Putin needs Washington (Trump) to cooperate. But Cohen now considers this as unlikely as he thinks Trump is folding to his opposition in Washington. In Ukraine the political and economic situation is worse and where President Poroshenko is having no control over the ukronazis – who are now embargoing coal imports from the Donbass. This hurts Kiev, but also illuminates the reality of a failing central government. A personal question: Will NATO continue to base troops there? It would mean contending with or working with nazis in a failed state environment? But would most of the West hear about it? That’s where we are, living behind a virtual information wall that George Orwell would immediately recognize.
From my point of view the Military Industrial Complex has shown no sense of danger in supporting a ‘confrontation for profit’ policy against Russia, and now the people of the West are effectively ‘walled off’ from learning about critical realities by a systemic corruption of the MSM. Washington is creating its own “Iron Curtain”. Not even discussions at the highest levels of Washington are tolerated unless they support the narrative. One wonders how long this can go on with the Military Industries dependent on tax dollars, and the financial sector and other interests looting the economy and destroying that same tax base. This becomes another reason to impose that ‘Era of Suspicion’ on the whole country; if one cannot advise or discuss an argument against war dangers (or government policies) without censure, then war becomes more inevitable in spite of the fundamentals that work against it. One could say, ‘unleash the dogs of war’ but first hugely increase the fiscal deficit.

This post was published at Audioboom

How The Black Market Is Saving Two Countries From Their Governments

Ever since governments began banning and licensing different parts of the economy, the black market has made sure people still have access to the things they need. Unstable governments always turn on their own citizens by using price controls, heavy taxes, and even the threat of imprisonment to prop up their failing systems. As conditions inevitably deteriorate, as they have in Venezuela and Greece, the underground economy becomes invaluable to those living through the crisis.
The shadow economy refers to more than just the trade of illegal goods. A grey market, for example, provides legal products that have become difficult to find. Since basic things like toilet paper, medicine, and even food have disappeared from store shelves in Venezuela, the peer-to-peer network has become the only reliable way to secure life’s necessities. In desperate situations like this, the existence of independent merchants can mean the difference between life and death.
Even the value of Venezuela’s currency has started to move away from the government’s control. At one point, the official exchange rate was fraudulently set at 10 bolivars per U. S. dollar, while on the black market it was trading at 1,000 to one. This action hurt millions by suppressing wages across the country and eroding any remaining trust. Inflation has quickly become the most imminent threat to the Venezuelan people, stealing the value of their labor and savings. For years, the bolivar has experienced hyperinflation, increasing the cost of living almost exponentially.
The State’s desperate response was to institute price controls, but that has only led to shortages across the board. Luckily, the unregulated markets have been able to determine the true value of goods and provide vital support for the struggling communities. Many people think that so-called price gouging is unethical, but isn’t it better to buy what you need at twice the price than to not be able to get it at all?

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Mar 10, 2017.

Trump Vows “Full-Court Press” As Opposition To ‘RyanCare’ Mounts

As the U. S. House of Representative marks up Paul Ryan’s American Healthcare Act, the battle between the moderate and conservative factions of the Republican Party continues to mount behind the scenes all while opposition from a variety of advocacy groups is also growing. ‘This is what good, conservative health-care reform looks like,’ House Speaker Paul Ryan said Wednesday. ‘It is bold and long overdue. And it is us fulfilling our promises.’
Despite the public bickering, Republicans scored a victory early Thursday, pushing a measure through the House Ways and Means Committee repealing tax penalties on people who don’t buy insurance but otherwise progress on the bill has been slow.
As the Wall Street Journal notes, Ryan and House Republicans have to thread a very fine needle on healthcare legislation that appeals to a sufficient number of conservatives to pass the House while not alienating the more moderate factions of the party in the Senate.
House Republican leaders are under pressure to ease passage through the House by making changes that appease conservatives who want a more aggressive repeal of the ACA. Those changes risk further jeopardizing support in the Senate, where centrist Republicans have said they are concerned the proposal will cause too many people to lose coverage, particularly those with low incomes.
Underscoring the Senate’s central role, a group of Republican governors representing states that expanded Medicaid under the existing law have largely given up on lobbying the House and instead are focusing their efforts on the Senate, according to two people familiar with their thinking.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Mar 9, 2017.

Great Moments In Local Government Tyranny

I focus most of my ire on the federal government because bad policy from Washington is the biggest threat to our nation’s freedom and prosperity.
But we also get plenty of bad policy from other levels of government. I periodically focus on the foibles of states such as California, Illinois, and New York.
Today, though, let’s contemplate the inane policies of local government.
I’ve shared plenty of examples in the post, even to the point of putting together two contests (here and here) to pick the craziest action by a local government.
Politicians and bureaucrats in cities and towns do lots of big things that are bad, such as creating massive unfunded liabilities, providing crappy schools, turning law enforcement into back-door tax collectors, and trying to turn children into wusses.
And they do lots of small things that are bad, such as shutting down children’s lemonade stands, arresting people for saving rafters from drowning, fining people for rescuing children from savage dog attacks, leaving a dead body in a pool for two days, requiring permits to be a bum, poisoning water supplies, and paying bureaucrats not to work for 12 years.
Let’s augment these lists.
As reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, here’s an example of Chicago cronyism.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Mar 5, 2017.

French Presidential Candidate Franois Fillon’s home searched by corruption investigators

Alain Jupp, a former French prime minister, was poised to replace Franois Fillon as corruption investigators searched the home of the scandal-tainted centre-Right presidential candidate yesterday (Thurs) and allies deserted him.
Sources close to Mr Jupp, who had previously ruled out being a ‘plan B’, told Libration newspaper he had reconsidered because of the deepening crisis in the Rpublicains party provoked by Mr Fillon’s refusal to stand aside despite haemorrhaging support.
A day after Mr Fillon revealed that judges are to place him under formal investigation later this month over allegations that he illegally employed his British wife and children at taxpayers’ expense, detectives searched his home in the capital’s elegant 7th arrondissement.
His presidential bid appeared close to collapse as more than 60 centre-Right MPs and senators publicly withdrew support for him and key members of his campaign team quit. About 20 mayors also urged him to stand aside in favour of another candidate better placed to regain the Elyse Palace.
With an opinion poll indicating that three-quarters of voters would prefer Mr Fillon to withdraw, key figures in his party fear that he will be knocked out in the first round of voting at the end of next month.

This post was published at The Telegraph

Ukraine Tax Chief Gets Heart Attack After Arrest Over $75 Million Theft

While much of the media attention remains glued to Russia for various reasons, a more notable development took place in neighboring Ukraine overnight, where on Friday Ukrainian state agencies tried to arrest the head of the tax and customs service Roman Nasirov, i.e., the equivalent to the head of the IRS, over the embezzlement of around $75 million. However, their efforts were hindered when the man, Roman Nasirov, was allegedly struck by a heart attack during the detention attempt and was shown stretchered into an ambulance and taken to Kiev’s Feofania hospital late on Thursday.
Anti-corruption prosecutor Nazar Kholodnytsky said investigators believe 38-year-old Nasirov helped exiled lawmaker Oleksandr Onishchenko deprive the state of 2 billion hryvnias ($75 million) in tax revenue linked to a gas deal, Reuters reports. The crackdown was seen as a landmark case following patchy anti-graft efforts from the Western-backed authorities.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Mar 3, 2017.

Fillon’s Home Raided By Corruption Investigators; Campaign On Verge Of Collapse

One day after French presidential candidate Francois Fillon revealed that a judges are to place him a under formal criminal investigation later this month over allegations that he illegally employed his British wife and children at taxpayers’ expense, detectives raided his home in the capital’s elegant 7th arrondissement. At the same time, former French PM Alain Juppe was reportedly poised to replace Fillon as a result of the sprawling investigation. As the Telegraph reports, sources close to Mr Jupp, who had previously ruled out being a ‘plan B’, told Libration newspaper he had reconsidered because of the deepening crisis in the Rpublicains party provoked by Mr Fillon’s refusal to stand aside despite haemorrhaging support.
Even without today’s raid, it appeared almost certain that Fillon’s presidential bid was close to collapse after more than 20 centre-Right MPs and councillors publicly withdrew support for him and key members of his campaign team quit. About 20 mayors also urged him to stand aside in favour of another candidate better placed to regain the Elyse Palace. Allies of Mr Jupp, who came second to Mr Fillon in the Republicain primaries, said he was ‘ready but loyal’ and would only step in if asked to do so by the beleaguered candidate.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Mar 2, 2017.

Former IMF Chief Sent To Jail As Spain Prosecutes 65 Elite Bankers In Enormous Corruption Scandal

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.

The Unrevolutionary Revolution

February in Romania has brought 27 consecutive days of protests against the current government, at a scale unmatched since the Revolution in 1989. In a record day, more than 600,000 people gathered in the capital’s Victory Square and around the country to overturn a decision by the current ruling party to decriminalize some acts of corruption and abuse of office. This decision was especially self-serving given the high number of party members already serving suspended sentences for similar graft offenses. News outlets around the world have covered the events using flattering words, describing the peaceful riots as a ‘poetry of international resistance’ and a ‘massive political awakening.’
The resilience – and moderate success – of protesters, in spite of the government digging its heels in and the temperatures dropping, has been undeniably impressive, and has demonstrated an energetic interest in pursuing justice, which, rightly employed, could become the driver of a much needed change in Romanian politics.
Yet at the same time, amongst the shouting against totalitarian measures aimed at changing the penal and civil code, other voices emerged as well. Equally numerous, and sometimes belonging to the same people, they call for stronger ‘democratic’ processes and offer public displays of affection for the European Union. Unsurprisingly, there have also been no mass protests against another fairly recent economic policy which forces supermarkets to ensure at least 51% of their grocery offers are of Romanian provenance. In this regard, many protesters might decry the ‘thieving multinational corporations’, and ask for a government crackdown on tax evasions, in order to provide for socialized healthcare and education.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on February 27, 2017.