Here’s What’s Wrong with Corporate America–and the U.S. Economy

Will we ever tire of navigating the multiple layers of intermediaries between the customer and the provider, while corporate profits soar to unprecedented heights?

If we had to summarize what’s wrong with Corporate America and the entire U.S. economy, we can start with all the intermediaries between the provider and the customer. There are a number of examples we’re all familiar with.

Read more ›

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Cuba & Brent Crude

Stacy Summary: A jibber jabber thread for your thoughts on the US shocking with restoration of ‘full diplomatic relations with Cuba?’ The embargo (except on cigars which are now allowed) and tourist ban is still on, but it’s a remarkable beginning of a new era and I should think this has lots to do with it:


Then there is Brent Crude . . . up 5.37% today!? What?


U.S. Congress: Taxpayers Now On the Hook for Bank Follies

Who? Me?

The language tacked onto the recent budget bill by Citibank ratifies the tacit agreement between our so-called leaders and the banking oligarchy to bail out every folly. The ongoing bailout results in negative real interest rates on U.S. Treasuries. Now offshore vehicles and derivatives are officially covered.

Citi has been bailed out many times by the U.S. government, and it was the largest beneficiary of U.S. taxpayer support in the last crisis. You’ll recall Citi did a 1:10 reverse stock split after the crisis. In pre-crisis terms, Citi trades at just over $5 per share.

Recently, Citi has been a heavy user of regulatory capital trades involving synthetic CDOs, total return swaps and offshore vehicles.

In recent months, my article on total return swaps has seen the highest volume activity of any article on my site.

For the first time, I posted something on Huffington Post in Germany. It is a shortened version of one of my posts on hidden bank risks. Here’s the German version: Versteckte Bankrisiken und das nächste Rettungspaket.

Once more in German: Unveiled Threat

You have probably read of Islamist terrorist activity in Pakistan and Sydney.

I was surprised at the U.S. appeasement rhetoric leading up to the negotiations with Iran, so I went outside of my usual finance writing and wrote about my experiences in Iran during the 1979 revolution (I’m American born and raised), and my subsequent following of the spread of fundamentalist Islam in the Middle East and the people who fund the movement.

I have posted in German (Unlike the previous article, I had my copy editor translate this one):

Der fundamentalistische Islam und die Wurzeln des Terrorismus– HuffingtonPost.de – December 16, 2014

Fundamentalist Islam and the Roots of Terrorism – November 11, 2014

Pakistani Civilian Casualties and U.S. Drone Strikes

Our hands are not clean, either. This graphic shows drone strike victims in Pakistan: http://drones.pitchinteractive.com/

Less than 2% of the more than 3,000 people killed in Pakistan have been high profile targets. The timeline at the top gives stats for children, civilians, other (including alleged combatants). From 2004 to the end of December 2013 we killed 3,213 people in drone strikes. I do not have the source for the infographic’s numbers.


Russian Currency Crisis and Defaults Could Create Contagion in West

Russian Currency Crisis and Defaults Could Create Contagion in West

Russia’s currency market witnessed further huge volatility again today.  The finance ministry said it would start selling foreign exchange which are primarily in dollars. This appeared to reduce selling pressure on the battered rouble.

The fall of the rouble this year has been severe, with a 50 percent fall against the dollar and of course gold this year. The slide has been precipitous as in the past two days alone, it fell about 20 percent against the dollar and gold.

On Monday, the ruble fell 10% against the dollar and gold followed by another crash of 11% on Tuesday, despite a massive rate hike.

The heavy selling pressure this week, made the central bank sharply increase its key interest rate by an unexpected 6.5 percent or 650 basis points. The move did little to buttress the currency in the short term as speculators and traders continued to sell the rouble.

Momentum is clearly down and computer driven markets and increasing dominance of algorithmic or black box trading is exacerbating the rouble’s short term weakness. However, the sharp increase in interest rates and the fact that the fundamentals of the Russian economy remain reasonably sound and not much worse than many western economies, will support the rouble. It is likely to stabilise at these levels and recover in the coming months.

It is also important to note that political and economic relations between Russia and China are very good at the moment and China would likely provide financial assistance – if indeed that is needed…

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The Cromnibus Of Liberty

THE CROMNIBUS OF LIBERTY


The Viral Plan To Redesign America’s Money

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Have you ever wondered why things could change so easily, but don’t? So has one man, who has set out with a very specific mission to change the way things are.

Travis Purrington is on a mission to re-design the dollar as part of his master’s degree.

Purrington wrote his 2011 master’s thesis for the Basel School of Design, presenting the proposal therein.

Gizmodo called the design superior to the current banknotes. Mashable argued the nation should make the change. Slate wrote that the new designs are a hit.

They  are all over Tumblr. Read more ›


Dubai stock exchange tumbles 33% in past month

Stacy Summary: I know it’s unfashionable to discuss; and that all the tweeting hipsters look and talk the same (i.e. rouble) but in the meantime, carnage continues elsewhere in the world . . . .



The Tax Justice Network Podcast, December 2014

Hear how mafia is corrupting democracy at the heart of Europe in Italy’s capital city of Rome. Also: the #LuxLeaks whistleblower is arrested and makes his first public statements on why he did it, the UK Chancellor’s new ‘Google Tax’, is the EU Commission President Jean Claude Juncker backing away from making a register of real owners of companies and trusts public? And more scandal and unique analysis.

Featuring: The Tax Justice Network’s John Christensen, Celia Ferrara of the Investigative Reporting Project Italy, Vittorio Agnoletto of Libera International and Criminologist Professor Vincenzo Ruggiero of Middlesex University. Click on the logo to listen or click play below:

taxcastlogo

Produced and presented by @Naomi_Fowler for the Tax Justice Network.

You can download from this link here to listen anytime offline: http://traffic.libsyn.com/taxcast/Tax…

The Taxcast home sites are: www.tackletaxhavens.com/taxcast and www.taxjustice.net/taxcast

You can subscribe to the Taxcast either by emailing naomi [at] taxjustice.net to be added to the mailout list

OR go here: rss feed http://taxcast.libsyn.com/rss

OR join our Tax Justice Network channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/TackleTaxHavens


New Poll Finds 59% of Americans Support Post 9/11 Torture – Propaganda, Cultural Sickness, Or Both?

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After reading about a new poll that shows 59% of Americans support post 9/11 torture, I’ve spent the entire morning thinking about what it means. Does this confirm the total degeneration of American culture into a collective of chicken-hawk, unthinking, statist war-mongering automatons? Alternatively, does it merely reflect the effectiveness of corporate-government propaganda? Is it a combination of both? How does the poll spilt by age group?

These are all important questions to which I do not have definitive answers, but I have some thoughts I’d like to share…

Read the rest here.

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[KR693] Keiser Report: Oil can combust & blow it all

We discuss the blood-bathing in the oil related markets – from the Dubai stock exchange to the West Australian fracking company gone bust to some of the highest paid jobs in America being laid off. In the second half Max interviews former banker turned independent media star, Brian Rose of London Real TV and Silicon Real. They discuss whether or not London can ever be a new Silicon Valley.


#ROUBLE

Stacy Summary: Despite what mainstream bloggers are tweeting (they claim RT is not talking about the rouble), almost every other video posted by RT today is actually about the rouble (check out their YouTube page and their Twitter feed for more updates). But, whatever. Patriots will shriek. In meantime, some rouble content for you below. As we said in a recent episode of Keiser Report, currency crises happen during balance of payments crises (i.e. Russia 1998) or periods of deglobalization (i.e. 1914-1945). As Russia does NOT have a balance of payments crisis and has only $4 billion of external debt rolling over in the next 12 months (so no imminent sovereign debt crisis), this, imo, must be part of the deglobalization meets the new paradigm of algorithmic trading (the Norwegian krone was selling off heavily and dropped below parity with the Swedish krona for first time since 1992). The other thing to note is that when we discussed the crashing rouble a few episodes ago, we mentioned that the Baltic Dry Index was down 57% ytd, it is now down 63% . . . global trade is at a standstill but this time not due to ‘credit crunch’ (recall that shippers were unable to get Letters of Credit in 2008 when the BDI collapsed by 80+%) but sanctions / deglobalization (or ‘regionalisation’ as Constantin Gurdgiev calls it).


And this is how bad the tumble is today:


Unlike 1998, however, today there is no balance of payments crisis, nor chance of imminent sovereign default (as per above, though non-financial corporates may likely default on some of their debts). Recall my story of trade deal with a Russian company during 1998 rouble crisis; we had a deal for $80,000 USD. We ended up receiving I believe about $30,000. We lost on this end; i.e. the film distributor defaulted on part of their debt to us. We took the hit.

To put the rouble into currency context; about $85 billion / day in rouble is traded in a global forex market of $5.3 trillion per day. So it’s a tiny portion of the whole forex game – like silver in the precious metals market. Most forex trade is USD, EUR and YEN. Then Swiss Franc, GBP and CAD.

Some believe capital controls will be the next step:


Iceland did the same and, in fact, still have controls in place, but they are a tiny $13 billion economy compared to Russia’s $2 trillion economy. Many shriek with giggles and laughter, but deglobalization benefits nobody. Remember 1914-1945?

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Gold Imports ‘Phenomenal’ In India – 571 Percent Surge To 150 Tonnes in November

Gold Imports ‘Phenomenal’ In India – 571 Percent Surge To 150 Tonnes in November

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India’s gold imports were over a staggering 150 tonnes in November and have seen a “phenomenal” rise in India according to India’s Trade Secretary, Rajeev Kher.

A few weeks ago we said that the death of the Indian gold market was greatly exaggerated. The latest gold import data out of India confirms this.

The import restrictions on gold that were imposed on Indians in August of 2013 were lifted at the end of last month. Despite the fact that the restrictions were still in place gold importation in November surged an incredible 571% relative to the same month last year at over 151.58 tonnes.

This was an increase of 38 percent from 109.55 tonnes a month earlier, trade ministry data showed on Tuesday.

The Indian government had recognised the socially destructive impact of the 80:20 scheme – which obliged importers to export 20% of it’s gold imports before bringing in another shipment – by pushing business into the hands of smugglers and thereby empowering criminality while losing out on the 10% duty currently charged on all gold imports.
It had been assumed that, because demand was being met by these “informal” supplies, the relaxing of the 80:20 policy would not have a dramatic impact on gold imports into India. That remains to be seen. Smuggling networks are now well established and arguably could provide cheaper gold than government-sanctioned channels.

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