How Did NY Gov. Cuomo Make $783,000 From A Book That Sold Only 3,200 Copies?

Fox News Channel parent News Corporation may be wrapped up in the sexual harassment accusations surrounding host Bill O’Reilly, but, as International Business Times’ Lydia O’Neal reports, the company is facing another long-running scandal involving what appear to be exuberant payments to a Democrat – payments that occurred even as News Corp. was lobbying the New York State executive branch, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo oversees.
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The New York governor, whose memoir was published by the News Corp.-owned HarperCollins in 2014, saw his gross income more than double last year, to $417,748 for 2016 (from $196,243 the year before), the Buffalo News reported Tuesday. Cuomo attributed $218,100 of that increase to sales of his memoir, ‘All Things Possible: Setbacks and Successes in Politics and Life.’
In 2015, the governor reportedly earned zero income from book sales and in the nearly three years that it’s been on the market, it has sold just 3,200 copies. But Cuomo, the Buffalo News found, reported that he received a total of $783,000 from HarperCollins in book sales over the past three years, a number that would translate to royalty payments of nearly $244.69 per copy.
Today, the book was selling on Amazon for $8.45.

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

Uber’s Former Chief Policy Adviser Fined $90,000 For Illegally Lobbying Chicago’s Rahm Emmanuel

The idea of playing by the rules is a tough concept to grasp for some politicians, particularly those with ties to the ever-corrupt city of Chicago. So when David Plouffe, Obama’s former campaign manager and then Chief Policy Advisor for Uber, sent an email to Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emmanuel seeking assistance in fighting rules that would block Uber from picking up passengers at Chicago’s airports, he probably thought his illegal lobbying efforts would go unnoticed.
That said, Chicago’s ethics board had a slightly different opinion on the issue and has decided to slap Plouffe with a $90,000 fine and levied another $2,000 fine on Uber.
Apparently Plouffe wasn’t registered with the city as a lobbyist for Uber, a requirement he was undoubtedly familiar with, when he sent the following email to Mayor Rahm Emmanuel:
“Assume both of us thought the airport issue was settled and we would never have to discuss again, but unfortunately two significant new hurdles were introduced. Coming to you because of their severity that would prevent us from operating. We were all set to announce Monday we were beginning pickups.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Feb 17, 2017.

The Biggest Washington Whopper Yet

You can’t find lazier people than in the mainstream financial press, but their exuberant cheerleading about the purported 5.2% gain in the real median household income in 2015 surely was a new high in mendacity. And we are not talking about the junior varsity here: The Washington Post was typical with a headline of superlatives followed by even more exuberance in the text:
U. S. household incomes soared in 2015, recording biggest gain in decades……… The data represents the clearest evidence to date that the nation’s long, slow and topsy-turvy economic recovery has finally begun to deliver prosperity for wide swaths of workers.
The self-evident fact is that the median household couldn’t have had an after-inflation income gain of 5.2% in 2015. There is not a single data point in the mountains of ‘incoming’ economic data that is consistent with that proposition. Yet nothing in the Post story, or any other mainstream coverage, even hints that the Census Bureau’s whopper isn’t on the level.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner by David Stockman ‘ September 20, 2016.

Cronyism: Government, the AMA, and Med Schools

In the introduction to a talk I gave at the Mises Institute this year, I noted how, in the early part of the twentieth century, a convergence of interests between social progressivists and ideological empiricists led to the publication of the Flexner Report and the subsequent enactment of licensing laws.
That historical context is further treated in an outstanding article by Alfred Tauber, who was professor of medicine and philosophy at Boston University School of Medicine.
In ‘The Two Faces of Medical Education: Flexner and Osler Revisited,’ Tauber contrasts the radically different views these two men held about the ethos of medicine and the proper approach to medical education. It is ironic that the victorious position would be the one pushed by Flexner who, as Murray Rothbard put it, was ‘an unemployed former owner of a prep school in Kentucky … sporting neither a medical degree nor any other advanced degree.’
Tauber perfectly captures the aim of Flexner:
Flexner had another agenda than simply eliminating substandard institutions. The registration of medical schools with the Association of American Medical Colleges, the imposition of state licensing linked to such accreditation, the development of a model medical school at Johns Hopkins, and finally the effective use of philanthropic foundation support (e.g., Rockefeller, Carnegie) helped mould American medical standards closely to those advocated by Flexner. The 20th century doctor was to be an active and skeptical medical scientist.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on September 8, 2016.

About That $69 Billion Unicorn – – Uber Loses $1.2 Billion in First Half 2016

The ride-hailing giant Uber Technologies Inc. is not a public company, but every three months, dozens of shareholders get on a conference call to hear the latest details on its business performance from its head of finance, Gautam Gupta.
On Friday, Gupta told investors that Uber’s losses mounted in the second quarter. Even in the U. S., where Uber had turned a profit during its first quarter, the company was once again losing money.
In the first quarter of this year, Uber lost about $520 million before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, according to people familiar with the matter. In the second quarter the losses significantly exceeded $750 million, including a roughly $100 million shortfall in the U. S., those people said. That means Uber’s losses in the first half of 2016 totaled at least $1.27 billion.
Subsidies for Uber’s drivers are responsible for the majority of the company’s losses globally, Gupta told investors, according to people familiar with the matter. An Uber spokesman declined to comment.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner by Eric Newcomer, Bloomberg Business ‘ August 26, 2016.

Irrational Exuberance Redux

Markets are extravagantly confident that brokers are too bearish, and that their profit forecasts for US companies are too low. The multiple of 18 times next year’s projected earnings at which the S&P 500 currently trades, according to Bloomberg data, allows little other interpretation. It is at its highest since 2002, outstripping any level it reached during the credit bubble, or when the Federal Reserve was pumping up asset prices with QE bond purchases.
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There are other signs that optimism on earnings is taking hold. For a while, the S&P has been dominated by high dividend-yielding stocks. This is a sensible strategy when you do not have faith in corporate profitability or growth. In the past few weeks, however, the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats index has started to lag behind the market. Classic income-producing sectors, such as utilities and real estate investment trusts, have also ceded leadership.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on August 19, 2016.

From Chicago (1968) To Cleveland (2016) – – The Prospects Darken

I was in the streets of Chicago in 1968 during the Democratic Convention. It was only a few months after Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King were shot to death. The ‘establishment,’ as we called it back then, was all set to nominate Vice-president Hubert Humphrey who had started out in Washington as a Midwestern progressive firebrand but was now was broadly perceived by America’s hippie youth as a stooge and a sell-out to the evil forces running the Vietnam War.
I wasn’t exactly a protester, more like a proto-journalist, there to witness an epochal event. It was a wild three days with a lot of moiling in Lincoln Park and Grant Park, and finally out on Michigan Avenue the night of Humphrey’s awful apotheosis, where things got especially ugly and the tear gas canisters flew. But that was about it. Nobody got killed by the police, or vice-versa, and then we all went back to college (my SUNY school cost $500-a-year back then, by the bye). Nixon was the consolation prize.
Back then, it was in style to assassinate political leaders. Today it’s in fashion to assassinate police. It’s hard to imagine easier targets. Where trouble is brewing in the streets nowadays, there they stand right out in front, easily distinguished in their uniforms. That was exactly the picture on the front page of The New York Times today: the thin blue line in Cleveland, where the Republican convention convenes this week to nominate the golden deus ex machina Donald Trump. There are few things in life one can predict with certainty, but given the grave events of recent weeks, it is hard to see how deadly gunplay might be avoided at the 2016 Republican convention.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner by James Howard Kunstler ‘ July 18, 2016.

Mind The Faltering Unicorns – – San Francisco Real Estate Boom Cooling Rapidly

Office landlords are bracing for a cooling of San Francisco’s red-hot market as weaker startup valuations and lower venture-capital funding temper years of runaway growth in the technology-industry hub.
The city’s office-vacancy rate jumped in the second quarter by the most since the last recession, while the amount of space available for sublease almost doubled, according to a report to be released this week by brokerage Cushman & Wakefield Inc. New lease deals have tumbled so far this year.
With demand seen cooling further, office owners who benefited from years of heated leasing by the likes of Uber Technologies Inc., Airbnb Inc. and Twitter Inc. are now rushing to seal deals and capture rents near record highs. They’re seeking to sign longer leases with creditworthy companies before prices slide, renewing agreements well ahead of their expiration and offering concessions, including free rent and cash for space improvements, according to J. D. Lumpkin, a managing director at Cushman & Wakefield in San Francisco.
‘We may not be in a free fall, but it’s a sign of things to come,’ Lumpkin said. ‘Those who are smart know it’s time to get aggressive and lock in credit tenants that you want for the next five, seven, 10 years in new leases and do whatever it takes.’ The moves represent a turn for a commercial real estate market that until recently had the nation’s lowest vacancy rate, driven by early stage tech firms scooping up space and Silicon Valley giants expanding to accommodate workers seeking an urban lifestyle. Now, the flood of money to startups is slowing and investors expect acquisitions of smaller companies whose valuations are falling, potentially leading to job cuts and office consolidation.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner By Alison Vekshin, Bloomberg Business ‘ June 30, 2016.

Mind The Newest Subprime Auto Lender – -Uber Xchange!

In its relentless pursuit for growth, Uber needs new drivers, and many of those drivers need cars. To help them get started, Uber has been offering short-term leases since July through a wholly owned Delaware-based subsidiary called Xchange Leasing, LLC. It partners with auto dealerships, advertises to drivers, manages risk, and even pays repo men to chase down cars whose drivers aren’t making their payments.
Xchange may be key to Uber’s continued expansion as it tangles with Lyft in the U. S. and a bevy of competitors abroad. Uber announced a partnershipwith Toyota last week to finance even more cars. This year, Uber said its financing and discount programs, which include Xchange, will put more than 100,000 drivers on the road. That requires dipping into the vast pool of people with bad or no credit.
In a deal led by Goldman Sachs, Xchange received a $1 billion credit facility to fund new car leases, according to a person familiar with the matter. The deal will help Uber grow its U. S. subprime auto leasing business and it will give many of the world’s biggest financial institutions exposure to the company’s auto leases. The credit facility is basically a line of credit that Xchange can use to lease out cars to Uber drivers.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner By Eric Newcome & Olivia Zaleski, Bloomberg Business ‘ June 1, 2016.

Keiser Report: Spy vs. spy (E902)

The following video was published by RT on Apr 16, 2016
In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max and Stacy discuss disintermediation of the meatspace, onshore services by offshore property sites such as Uber and AirBnB, and what the inevitable collapse in tax revenue will mean for the onshore citizen. They also discuss Goldman Sachs’ alleged $5-billion fine for mortgage securities fraud actually only being half that thanks to the systemic corruption of our so-called justice system. In the second half, Max and Stacy interview Steve Topple about what two weeks of #PanamaPapers leaks have told us about the systemic nature of corruption.

‘Uber’ Moment Coming For Banks – -Job Losses Estimated At 1.8 Million for US & European Banks

Banks are quickly approaching their ‘automation tipping point,’ and they could soon reduce headcount by as much as 30%.
That’s according to a new Citi Global Perspectives & Solutions (GPS) reporton how financial technology is disrupting banks.
‘Banks’ Uber moment will mean a disintermediation of bank branches rather than the banks themselves,’ the report said.
‘Specifically, it will mean the shift to mobile distribution being the main channel of interaction between customers and the bank,’ the report reads.
That means that there will be less need for bank branches, and the people who work inside them.
‘We believe that there could be another ~30% reduction in staff during 2015-2025,’ the report said (emphasis added).
Bank staffing levels are already down significantly from their pre-financial-crisis peak. The number of branch tellers in the US is down 15% from its 2007 peak.
The Citi analysts predict a 40% to 50% staff reduction from pre-crisis highs.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on April 1, 2016.

3 Warnings For Market Bulls

Lowry Sees Bull Market Ending There is a very interesting podcast at Financial Sense with Richard Dickson, who is the Senior Market Strategist at Lowry Research. The reason that this particular interview is so interesting is that Lowry Research has been one of the primary supports for Jeff Saut’s uber bullish view on the markets over the last couple of years. To wit:
‘[May 2, 2014] In fact, the SPX has been in a flat-line pattern for almost two months, having only gained 0.03% since March 7th, causing many Wall Street wags to proclaim a major ‘top’ is at hand. However, as Lowry’s writes:
‘The 88-year history of the Lowry Analysis shows that such stalemates are relatively common developments during most bull markets. They simply reflect periods in which investor buying enthusiasm is temporarily fatigued, at the same time that sellers are reluctant to part with their stocks, in anticipation of eventually higher prices. Thus, there is not enough Demand to push prices up to new bull market highs, and there is not a strong enough desire to sell to drive prices sharply lower. Eventually, sideways trading patterns are usually resolved through the process of a short-term correction, in which investors become impatient and sell, pushing prices low enough to revitalize buying enthusiasm and launch the next leg of the bull market.’
Obviously I agree with the astute Lowry’s organization, and I will say it again, ‘It is too early to know if this is the beginning of a 10%-12% correction.’’
That was so last year. However, very similarly this year, markets have once again been locked in a stalemate with ‘buyers’ fatigued and ‘sellers’unwilling to part with stocks from fear of missing the next leg higher.
So what is Mr. Dickson saying now?

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on August 6, 2015.

The Monkeys Are Screeching And The Central Banks Are Pushing On A String

Have you been to the zoo when the monkeys start rattling their cages and screeching in unison? That about sums up the last 24 hours since the euro zone’s December CPI printed at negative 0.2% versus prior year. Within minutes of the release, brokerage house ‘economists’ were out in force caterwauling that $1 trillion of ECB bond purchases were now in the bag, meaning that gamblers who had ridden the Italian 10-year bond, among other peripheral junk , all the way down from 7.5% down to 1.72% would have another bountiful payday.
Then, just to make sure, the rather vague reference in the Fed’s 2pm meeting notes about headwinds emanating from economic weakness in Europe was spun shortly thereafter by the Fed’s PR firm, Hilsenramp & Blackstone, as an explicit instruction to Draghi et. al. to crank up the printing presses to full throttle.
But then about 8pm came the screech that ignited the robo-traders to another 300 Dow-point buy-the-dip-rip. The screecher was Charles Evans, who has spent the last 24 years in the central banking cage at the Chicago Fed – – having trained previously as assistant professor of economics at the University of South Carolina.
Never mind the upbeat picture of macroeconomic success painted in the meeting notes, said he. To actually allow money market rates to rise from the zero bound, where they have been pinned by the Fed’s big fat thumb for 73 months now, would be a ‘catastrophe’ he averred. Or as one wag noted at that moment,
SPHs are up 17.30 as we write because uber dove and Chicago Fed Prez Evans said the Fed ‘should not rush to hike rates’ and hiking rates would be a ‘catastrophe.’ Algos went berserk and bought SPHs. Ergo, Evans pulled a ‘Bullard’ last night.
A ‘Bullard’ indeed. Since Evans has a vote this year and Bullard doesn’t it is evident that the monkeys are interchangeable. But how else could you describe the babble and gibberish that emanates from the world’s central bankers and the casino economists, strategists and touts who amplify it?

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner by David Stockman ‘ January 8, 2015.

French Dirigisme At Work: Uber Drivers To Get 2-Years In Prison For Cutting Taxi Rates

Uber Technologies Inc.’s regulatory problems deepened Monday when France became the latest country to say it would ban on one of the car-hailing company’s main services while taxis took to the streets to protest the company’s ‘unfair competition.’
The French government said Uber’s service that uses drivers without professional licenses is ‘illegal.’ Officials said they would move quickly to apply a new transport law that comes into effect on January 1, stiffening penalties for operating such services.
‘Passengers still don’t know that it isn’t a legal car service, and drivers don’t understand the risks they’re running, such as fines or the seizure of their vehicles,’ said Pierre-Henry Brandet, a spokesman for the French interior ministry.
Organizing a system that puts paying clients in touch with drivers without professional licenses will be punishable by two years in prison and a 300,000 ($373,540) fine, according to the new law cited by officials.
Uber responded that it will continue to operate Uberpop until a judge decides that the new law applies to it. ‘It’s up to the courts to ban Uberpop,’ said Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, Uber’s general manager for Western Europe. ‘If we’re prosecuted, then we’ll respond.’

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on December 15, 2014.