If you are looking for a hilarious, short video to end the workweek with…look no further! Nothing sums up the state of disorder in the the union like watching Attorney General Eric Holder stumble when confronted on his incompetence and cronyism by the almost equally corrupt Congress. Let’s cut the guy some slack though, he was probably too busy prosecuting banker crimes to be bothered with such trivial matters…
The new Geithner $20 bill will be instead of “In God We Trust,” it’ll just say “Trust Me!” and it will have a picture of the monopoly man on it.
- Robin Williams in the priceless interview with Charlie Rose embedded below
This is from late 2009, but I had never seen it and it is nothing short of hilarious. Guaranteed worth your time!
h/t to The Daily Bail for bringing the above video to my attention.
I wish I knew the answer to the above question. As of the last year or so, I admittedly have not had a good feel about the direction of gold and silver prices. I always thought that as things got more severe and more terminal, the prices of assets we see on our screens would be more and more quite intentionally disconnected from the reality on the ground due to increasingly aggressive, desperate and coordinated action by the power structure. Looking back, it seems this really got underway in the fall of 2011, shortly after the U.S. treasury market was downgraded and gold shot up to over $1,900/oz. I have gradually recognized my inability to call things in such manipulated financial markets, which is why I decided to step away and offer less commentary on these topics as things play out in the end game.
I do not think it is at all coincidental that Bitcoin and gold (two currency threats to Federal Reserve power) both got smashed within a couple days of each other. In the case of gold, it was a day after Obama had a private meeting with all of the key bankster oligarchs that 500 tons of paper gold, or about 25% of annual production was sold on the market.
As such, I think the interview below from Marin Katusa of Casey research is a great listen for anyone wanting to take a step back and look at the market. Enjoy!
The best part of this story is that Wall Street is, of course, anything but regulated. Nevertheless, the minuscule rules that do apply to the nation’s financial oligarchs are apparently just too much to bare. It doesn’t seem to bother Congress that the TBTF banks are actively involved in offshore payday lending schemes with rates well over 500%, or that they destroyed multiple municipalities across the nation selling swaps, including picking away at the carcass of the once strong Detroit. Nope, all that matters is that Congress’ pockets are lined with Federal Reserve Notes. As expected, this is a bipartisan effort. From the Huffington Post:
WASHINGTON — A bipartisan cadre of House lawmakers will move on legislation to deregulate Wall Street derivatives Wednesday, less than a week after Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) released adevastating report on the multibillion-dollar derivatives debacle at JPMorgan Chase.
“It is incredible that less than a week after new JPMorgan Whale hearings detailed how the bank’s London office piled up risk, hid losses, and dodged regulatory oversight, that some House members are again supporting the weakening of derivative safeguards.”
It’s not incredible Carl, it’s called payoffs.
Yet in an era of partisan gridlock in the nation’s capital, Democrats and Republicans have come together to repeal or weaken those rules. Although Obama may not want to sign a standalone package of Wall Street deregulation into law, bipartisan legislation could be inserted into a broader bill that the president might find difficult to reject.
I’m sure it’ll be real difficult for Barry to sign. About as gut wrenching as signing the NDAA.
At a congressional hearing last week, Wallace Turbeville, a former Goldman Sachs banker and current senior fellow at the public policy group Demos, testified on behalf of Americans for Financial Reform that exempting utilities from the rules would ultimately help Wall Street firms profit at the utilities’ expense.
“I had the uncomfortable opportunity to witness sales calls by derivatives specialists on governmental utilities,” Turbeville said. “I have seen the technique of fostering a sense of trust, encouraging an advisory relationship that can be exploited to sell an immensely profitable derivative when other alternatives could be better.”
The bills to be considered Wednesday also include legislation from Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) — another Goldman alum — that would roll back Dodd-Frank’s ban on taxpayer support for some kinds of derivatives trades. Himes has defended his bill as a way to ensure that more regulators oversee derivatives, though the measure is opposed by the Americans for Financial Reform.
Obama’s nominee to head the SEC, Mary Jo White, is just another gatekeeper appointed to make sure no one ever goes after the Wall Street crime syndicate. As I have written about many times in the past, Obama does not nominate anyone to a high position of power in government who will not behave like a good little lapdog for Wall Street.
Despite Obama’s propagandist statement about how “you don’t want to mess with Mary Jo,” her background implies she will function as a useful servant to the financial oligarchs. Forget for a second about that fact at her recent firm Debevoise & Plimpton LLP her clients included the usual suspects such as such as JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Morgan Stanley (MS), and UBS AG, but she is actually known as the prosecutor who popularized the “slap Wall Street on the wrist” approach. From Bloomberg:
As Manhattan’s top federal prosecutor during the 1990s, Mary Jo White could have sought the corporate equivalent of the death penalty: indicting Prudential Securities Inc. for fraudulently marketing $8 billion in ruinous energy partnerships to small investors.
Instead, Prudential’s attorneys pressed White, who had earned notice as an aggressive litigator in terrorism and organized crime cases, to consider something less punitive. She ultimately accepted, agreeing to a $330 million fine and placing Prudential on probation, allowing it to avoid criminal charges.
White’s record on white-collar cases reveals a more practical streak. Her invention of corporate probation, or deferred prosecution, in the Prudential matter was later copied by scores of U.S. attorneys seeking punishment for a company without going to trial.
“Practical” means having no balls and laying down to Wall Street crimes.
This interview couldn’t have been timed more perfectly. We sat down to talk literally fifteen minutes after I published my Mission Statement for 2013, which focuses on solutions to the plight we find ourselves in. Enjoy!
If you thought the TBTF banks couldn’t stoop any lower, think again. If this doesn’t prove without a shadow of a doubt that the more you coddle and bailout the big banks, the more brazen, criminal and out of control they become. I guess entering the slumlord business and running the food stamp program just wasn’t good enough. In their latest scheme, we find that JP Morgan (of course), Bank of America and Wells Fargo (Uncle Warren’s pet) are at the center of what can only be called a global loan-sharking business that prays on destitute American citizens. Basically, the way the scam works is payday lenders set up shop overseas in locations such as Granada, Belize or the Isle of Man in order to avoid various state laws against payday loans. The key link in the chain are the TBTF crony banks who process the loans and facilitate the interest charges, which can be well over 500%. So what’s in it for the banks? Huge fees of course. Absolutely disgusting, but par for the course for these guys. From the New York Times:
Major banks have quickly become behind-the-scenes allies of Internet-based payday lenders that offer short-term loans with interest rates sometimes exceeding 500 percent.
With 15 states banning payday loans, a growing number of the lenders have set up online operations in more hospitable states or far-flung locales like Belize, Malta and the West Indies to more easily evade statewide caps on interest rates.
While the banks, which include giants like JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, do not make the loans, they are a critical link for the lenders, enabling the lenders to withdraw payments automatically from borrowers’ bank accounts, even in states where the loans are banned entirely. In some cases, the banks allow lenders to tap checking accounts even after the customers have begged them to stop the withdrawals.
For the banks, it can be a lucrative partnership. At first blush, processing automatic withdrawals hardly seems like a source of profit. But many customers are already on shaky financial footing. The withdrawals often set off a cascade of fees from problems like overdrafts.
Some state and federal authorities say the banks’ role in enabling the lenders has frustrated government efforts to shield people from predatory loans — an issue that gained urgency after reckless mortgage lending helped precipitate the 2008 financial crisis.
Ever since I launched this blog in April of last year, I have focused on exposing the rampant corruption and moral decay of our society while identifying the core cancer that is Wall Street, Washington D.C. and all the poisonous practices in between. What I have finally realized is that while there are many people shouting from the rooftops about how bad things are, that will only take us so far. There are two things I think are necessary in order for us all to move to a better place.
First, a change of consciousness. Part of that change comes from understanding the true nature of the world around us and how it operates. For me, it was this realization that essentially forced me to reevaluate everything in my life and make profound changes to live in a manner and around people that are more in line with my new understanding. I know for a fact that hundreds of thousands of people in this country have come to similar realizations, along with millions globally. While the awakening will continue and bring more into the fold, I think it’s time for all of us to connect with one another and focus on and highlight the positive changes happening around us where they are happening. To focus on the victories, no matter how small they may seem at this point, rather than wallowing in the defeats.
Second, I strongly believe we must move toward a much greater decentralization in our daily lives as human beings on this planet. We need stronger and more vibrant communities banding together, thriving together and creating together. The internet allows decentralization to function like never before. It allows us to still be in constant communication with one another and aware of our neighbors’ plights all the way across the planet. That way we can implement solutions from our own volition and imagination rather than being forced into decisions from the barrel of a gun held by a paid off politician or lobbyist. The problems that we face globally are far too important to leave to a small group of bureaucrats and oligarchs who we all know by now are interested solely in money and power.
Change must come from within first and then must be manifested in the real world within communities that are willing to be bold. To experiment, to fail and then to succeed. We may not know exactly what works, and indeed there is no one solution for everyone. That is the beauty of the diversity on this planet. If one town wants to be a socialist commune so be it. If another wants total free market capitalism so be it. We can still be connected to one another and caring without forcing one person’s viewpoint on the other. The good news is that we do know what doesn’t work; and that is the status quo. We need to dare to think big, be brave and actively support those that are working on a better path for humanity.
Changes so profound will take time and many of the forces of greed will line up against any such changes, but that doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t be done. I know it can and I know it will. While I will continue to focus on highlighting corruption and bad practices, I will increasingly try to do my part to highlight and support those that are taking action and trying to move us beyond the sad state we are in. I am going to need all of your help in finding these stories and organizations that are doing the hard work now. Even if many of the ideas and projects never actually happen, the point is that we are thinking beyond our current circumstances and are trying to do something about it.
Looking forward toward solutions.
As I and many others have pointed out for years, unless you are a crony Wall Street welfare queen you can pretty much forget about any high level position in the Obama Administration. Barack made that clear from day one when he decided to surround himself with two of the people at the core of the 2008 financial crisis, Larry Summers and Tim Geithner. The trend is simply continuing with the current nominee for Treasury Secretary: Jack “Bailout Bonus” Lew. The revolving door is institutionalized and at this point as reliable as a Swiss watch. From Bloomberg:
Jack Lew is the nominee for Treasury secretary whose own bonus as an investment banker was bailed out by the Treasury Department when it rescued Citigroup Inc. (C) in 2008. He owes much to America’s taxpayers. He should also be grateful to Citigroup for agreeing to let him rejoin the government without suffering much for it financially.
An intriguing revelation from Lew’s Senate confirmation hearing last week was that he stood to be paid handsomely by Citigroup if he left the company for a top U.S. government job, under his 2006 employment agreement with the bank. The wording of the pay provisions made it seem, at least to me, as if Citigroup might have agreed to pay Lew some sort of a bounty to seek out, and be appointed to, such a position.
Of course he is close to one of the biggest snakes in the grass in modern American history, Robert Rubin.
He joined Citigroup in 2006 as chief operating officer of its global wealth-management division. Lew was recommended by former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, who at the time was chairman of Citigroup’s executive committee. (There seems to be an unwritten rule that every Treasury secretary must have deep ties to Rubin.)
For a while there it was looking as if the market might actually make its high and move lower before Wall Street and corporate insiders were able to hand the bag over to the suckers in retail. It looks like that was just wishful thinking, as new stats show the retail sheep taking stock from the oligarchs at the highs as usual. I guess the more things change the more they stay the same. From Bloomberg:
Corporate executives are taking advantage of near-record U.S. stock prices by selling shares in their companies at the fastest pace in two years.
There were about 12 stock-sale announcements over the past three months for every purchase by insiders at Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (SPX) companies, the highest ratio since January 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg and Pavilion Global Markets. Whenever the ratio exceeded 11 in the past, the benchmark index declined 5.9 percent on average in the next six months, according to Pavilion, a Montreal-based trading firm.
Confidence in equities from individual investors may soften the blow from insider sales this time, according to Pavilion’s Pierre Lapointe, head of global strategy and research.