Tags: Federal Reserve

Video of the Day – Elizabeth Warren Torches Janet Yellen on TBTF

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 11.37.34 AMBefore you watch the video, I want to highlight an excellent article published this morning by Yves Smith over at Naked Capitalism titled, Yellen Tells Whoppers to the New Yorker. The title doesn’t do justice to the powerful and scathing critique of the fraud that is the current Federal Reserve Chairwoman. In a nutshell, the article exposes how Yellen’s acting routine is worthy of an Academy Award. In her role, she plays a caring, sweet, grandmotherly type figure all concerned about the poor and middle-class, when reality points to a career as a staunch, frontline protecter of the bankster oligarchy.

From Naked Capitalism (for background, much of the article is criticism of a propaganda piece on Yellen recently published by the New Yorker):

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Video of the Day – “End the Fed” Rallies are Exploding Throughout Germany

Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 3.14.21 PMThis is a fascinating development and one that I had no idea was happening until today. It seems that rallies are spreading throughout Germany protesting the corrupt and dying global status quo. One of the key targets of these groups is the U.S. Federal Reserve system, which as I and many others have maintained, is the core cancer infecting the entire planet.

As I tweeted earlier today:

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Matt Stoller Destroys Timothy Geithner in His Epic Review of “Stress Test”

Geithner is at heart a grifter, a petty con artist with the right manners and breeding to lie at the top echelons of American finance at a moment when the government and financial services industry needed someone to be the face of their multi-trillion dollar three card monte. He’s going to make his money, now that he’s done living his life of fantastic power after his upbringing of remarkable mysterious privilege. After reading this book and documenting lie after lie after lie, I’m convinced that there’s more here than just a self-serving corrupt official. There’s an entire culture, of figures at Treasury, the Federal Reserve, in the entire Democratic Party elite structure, and in the world of journalism, a culture in which Geithner is seen as some sort of role model.

- From Matt Stoller’s fantastic article published yesterday, The Con-Artist Wing of the Democratic Party

Timothy Geithner is likely to go down in American history as one of the most dangerous, destructive cronies to have ever wielded government power. The man is so completely and totally full of shit it’s almost impossible not to notice.

The last thing I’d ever want to do in my free time is read a lengthy book filled with Geithner lies and propaganda, so I owe a large debt of gratitude to former Congressional staffer Matt Stoller for doing it for me. Stoller simply tears Geither apart limb from limb, detailing obvious lies about the financial crisis, and even more interestingly, Geithner’s bizarre bio, replete with mysterious and inexplicable promotions into positions of power.

So without further ado, here are some excerpts from this excellent article. From Vice:

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Ecuador to Transfer More Than Half its Gold Reserves to Goldman Sachs in Exchange for “Liquidity”

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 10.45.48 AMThis is a great example of how the game works. In a world in which every government on earth needs “liquidity” to survive, and the primary goal of every government is and always has been survival (the retention of arbitrary power at all costs), the provider of liquidity is king. So what is liquidity and who provides it?

In the current financial system (post Bretton Woods), the primary engine of global liquidity is the U.S. dollar and dollar based assets generally as a result of  its reserve currency status. Ever since Nixon defaulted on the U.S. dollar’s gold backing in 1971, the creation of this “liquidity” has zero restrictions whatsoever and is merely based on the whims and desires of the central planners in chief, i.e., the Federal Reserve. As the primary creator of the liquidity that every government on earth needs to survive, the Federal Reserve is thus the most powerful player globally in not only economic, but also geopolitical affairs.

The example of the so-called sovereign nation of Ecuador relinquishing its gold reserves to Goldman Sachs for “liquidity” which can be conjured up by the Fed on a whim and at zero cost tells you all you need to know about how the world works (read my post: Why Fiat Money is Immoral).

Now from Bloomberg:

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Junk Borrowers Are Increasingly “Adjusting Earnings” to More Easily Sell Debt

Last week, I wrote a post highlighting increased leverage in private equity deals and the fact that the Federal Reserve was warning of such practices in the piece: Leverage in PE Deals Soars Despite Fed Warnings. In it, I highlighted how 40% of PE deals in 2014 have used leverage ratio above 6x EBITDA, despite Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency guidance last year to not breach that ratio.

I noted how ridiculous it is for the institution most responsible for all of the current market insanity to try to come out and talk down leverage ratios. The primary reason all of this craziness is occurring is because the Federal Reserve has intentionally lowered interest rates to such an extent that investors feel they have no choice but to chase the riskiest assets just to catch a few additional basis points. Now we see that junk borrowers are increasingly using tactics such as “add-backs” in order to make earnings look better. This allows low quality borrowers to borrow, while at the same time providing an excuse for investors to buy garbage.

Think I’m exaggerating the problem? According to Bloomberg, 66% of junk-rated bonds sold this year scored by Moody’s Investors Service included at least one adjustment to earnings the credit rater considered “aggressive.” In 2011, the number was just 40%.

Everybody wins right? Wrong. Society will pay a very heavy price for this ultimately.

More from Bloomberg:

Lenders are increasingly allowing junk-rated borrowers to adjust their earnings to make them look more creditworthy as U.S. regulators increase pressure on banks to refrain from underwriting too-risky deals.

Such tweaks, which are permissible under more and more credit agreements, can help companies stay in compliance with their loan terms or to raise debt.

More than half of loans this year for issuers backed by private-equity firms allow them to boost earnings by an unlimited amount through projected cost savings from acquisitions and “any other action contemplated by the borrower,” said Vince Pisano, an analyst at Xtract Research LLC, citing a sample he’s reviewed.

Riskier borrowers may have more incentive to show better financial metrics because the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency are increasing pressure on banks to adhere to underwriting criteria they laid out last year amid concern that the market is getting frothy. Issuers such as Thoma Bravo LLC’s TravelClick Inc. have used adjustments, called add-backs, to raise earnings and decrease leverage when seeking funding.

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Tim Geithner Admits “Too Big To Fail” Hasn’t Gone Anywhere (and that’s the way he likes it)

But it is now clear that Geithner never believed his own talking points. To him, too-big-to-fail and the so-called moral hazard, or safety net, that it would create can’t really ever be fully taken away. During his lecture to Summers’s class, one student asked a question about “resolution authority,” a provision of the reform laws that is supposed to let the government wind down a complex financial institution without creating a domino effect. The question prompted Geithner onto a tangent about too-big-to-fail. “Does it still exist?” he said. “Yeah, of course it does.” Ending too-big-to-fail was “like Moby-Dick for economists or regulators. It’s not just quixotic, it’s misguided.”

- From The New York Times Magazine article, What Timothy Geithner Really Thinks

Never in a million years did I think I’d ever use an article by Andrew Ross Sorkin as the basis of a blog post, but here we are. While certainly entirely unintentional, his article serves to further solidify as accurate the prevailing notion across America that former head of the New York Federal Reserve and Obama’s first Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, is nothing more than an addled, crony, bureaucratic banker cabin boy.

There are so many choice nuggets in this article, all of which make Geithner look worse and worse as you read on. It’s almost as if he is some sort of lab created, android bankster butler sent back to earth from the future in order to ensure Wall Street bonuses never experience a downtick. It’s truly remarkable. Early in the article, we learn a little bit about Timmy’s family history, and how, shocker, it overlaps quite nicely with Obama’s own family history.

The following lines from this day forth should be forever referred to as the paragraph that launched a thousand conspiracy blogs. We learn that:

But Geithner and Obama had a somewhat natural rapport. Geithner, like Obama, had an itinerant childhood. His father worked for U.S.A.I.D., and the family lived in India, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Thailand. In the conversation, they discovered that Geithner’s father ran the Ford Foundation’s Asia grant-writing program in the 1980s at the same time that Obama’s mother was at its office in Indonesia. It was a nice coincidence, Geithner says, but it still didn’t make him want the job.

Well yes, quite the coincidence indeed. Also interesting that Geithner’s father worked for U.S. A.I.D., which is the organization recently revealed to have launched the fake Cuban Twitter in an attempt to overthrow the government there. In case you missed that, you can get caught up in my post: Conspiracy Fact – How the U.S. Government Covertly Invented a “Cuban Twitter” to Create Revolution. Meanwhile, Democracy now did an expose titled, Is USAID the New CIA?

While the above is certainly interesting and deserves more research on many fronts from folks far more qualified than me, let’s move on to the meat of the article and Geithner’s unique form of bankster worship. Moving along…

But Geithner’s refusal to condemn the bankers became a recurrent theme during his time at Treasury. According to Bernanke, “I didn’t and Tim didn’t go very far in lambasting individuals in Wall Street, maybe partly because we were more focused on the problem than on the politics.” Others, however, have suggested that Geithner was simply too cozy with Wall Street. He had never worked as a banker himself, but he grew up inside the bubble of elites. (Before going into government, his first job was working for Henry Kissinger at Kissinger Associates.) He was tutored at Treasury by Summers, who later worked for the hedge fund D. E. Shaw & Company, and Rubin, who came up through Goldman Sachs and eventually joined the board of Citigroup, where he has been blamed in some circles for its taking on excessive risky debt that nearly caused the firm to collapse. Each man played a significant role in deregulating the financial industry in the 1990s by supporting the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which separated commercial and investment banking; they also pushed to limit future regulation of derivatives.

There you have it. Geithner and Bernanke never saw the bankers and their practices as a problem. Rather, they seemed to believe that Poseidon came out of nowhere and splashed a once in a million year tidal wave upon the system and only trillions in free money to financial criminals could save the world.

Oh, and Geithner’s first job was working for Henry Kissinger. Quite the pedigree…

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The True State of the U.S. Economy: Caviar Facials and Desperate Fire Sales on Craigslist

By now, it must be completely obvious to anyone paying even the slightest bit of attention that the so-called “recovery” we have supposedly been witnessing for the past several years is nothing more than a wealth transfer to a handful of oligarchs and their political minions. While I am intimately familiar with the process in the U.S., it appears to be a global phenomenon as well.

Domestically, this process has been driven by the complete corruption and insanity of those calling the public policy shots in Washington D.C. At the heart of that process, resides a group of unelected economic Central Planners known as the Federal Reserve, or the lender of last resort for oligarchs and cronies who make bad business decisions.

Before I get to the title of this post, I want to highlight a very important article published last week that demonstrates how college graduates are forcing their lesser educated peers out of the workforce by taking jobs that do not require secondary education. If you read this and still can’t be honest that this economy is a total distorted shitshow, I don’t know what to tell you.

From Bloomberg:

Recent college graduates are ending up in more low-wage and part-time positions as it’s become harder to find education-level appropriate jobs, according to a January study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The share of Americans ages 22 to 27 with at least a bachelor’s degree in jobs that don’t require that level of education was 44 percent in 2012, up from 34 percent in 2001, the study found.

The New York Fed researchers said it isn’t clear whether two decades of increasing underemployment for recent graduates “represent a structural change in the labor market, or if they are a consequence of the two recessions and jobless recoveries in the first decade of the 2000s.”

Two “jobless recoveries.” I’m still trying to figure our how you can have a “jobless recovery.” Perhaps they aren’t recoveries in the first place. Bear in mind that these are the unelected people running the economy.

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An Open Letter to Sam Zell: Why Your Statements are Delusional and Dangerous

The 1 percent are being pummeled because it’s politically convenient to do so. The problem is that the world and this country should not talk about envy of the 1 percent. It should talk about emulating the 1 percent. The 1 percent work harder. The 1 percent are much bigger factors in all forms of our society.

- Sam Zell yesterday on Bloomberg Television

Mr. Zell,
I’ve seen clips of you on television several times in the past. I can’t say those appearances elicited strong reactions from me. I can recall being offended at things you have said, and I can remember agreeing with you on other occasions. However, yesterday I found your statements on “class warfare,” “envy” and the “1%” delusional and dangerous. I will address these two points separately.

Why Your Statements Are Delusional

Individuals, social classes, even cultures and nation-states develop storylines and so-called “myths” about themselves and how they fit into the bigger picture of current events and human history. We all see ourselves and whatever group(s) with which we identify within a particular social, political and economic context. This is obvious, yet it is much more difficult to look at your owns myths and question them. It is far easier to look at other groups’ myths and heap criticism on them. That is basically all you do.

For the purpose of this letter, I will focus on socio-economic groups that people are now using in these contemporary United States. Ever since Occupy Wall Street popularized the terms, many people have divided themselves into two overly-simplistic groups, the so-called 99% and the 1%. However, this isn’t the real struggle. I was always against the 1% label, because the true cancer, the true problem comes from a much smaller slice of the population. It comes from what I call the “oligarchs,” the 0.01%, and the politicians that do their bidding. This is your class Mr. Zell, so let’s get that straight right off the bat. That doesn’t mean everyone in the 0.01% should be vilified. I am certain there are many well meaning, decent and honestly good people in that bucket. Nevertheless, what the past five years have proven without a shadow of a doubt is that this class collectively represents the most destructive, delusional and counter-productive members of our society.

Your statements on Bloomberg yesterday prove my point exactly. Let’s start with the most offensive and asinine statement. You said:  

The problem is that the world and this country should not talk about envy of the 1 percent. It should talk about emulating the 1 percent. The 1 percent work harder.

First of all you talk of envy. Now without a doubt, there is a significant portion of the so-called 99% that would want nothing more than to have the riches and the power of the 1%, but certainly not all of them, or even necessarily the majority. In my life I have had various experiences and met a lot of people. I lived most of my life in Manhattan and the last three years in Boulder, Colorado. What defines Manhattan more than anything else is that it is a money-chasing place. People who live there are generally obsessed with money as well as materialism, and want as much as they can get in the shortest period of time. People in Colorado are not this way. When I lived in NYC, almost every conversation I overheard would consist of how to make more money or get a bigger bonus. In three years in Colorado, I cannot recall ever hearing a similar conversation. Of course this is an over-generalization, but there is certainly truth to it.

It’s fine to want to make money, and it’s also fine to just want to be comfortable, content and fulfilled in what you do. I’m not making a judgement call here. What I am saying is that people like you, who are constantly surrounded by people that think just like you, people who obsess 24/7 about how to make more money on money, you think that everyone thinks just like you. Sorry to break it to you, they don’t.

So this is where your delusion begins. You think everyone that has issues with you oligarchs and how the 0.01% is destroying our economy and society is simply envious because you assume they think like you do. Certainly, if you were poor you would be envious of the the rich. You’ve made that clear. However, that is not the primary motivation of the anger and resentment swelling up from the underclasses.

I will use myself as an example. I worked on Wall Street from the moment I graduated Duke University. By the time I was in my mid-20s my career was taking off. I was well into the “1%” by my late-20s and if I had continued along that path, who knows maybe one day I could’ve been an oligarch like you. If you were me, you would have continued to pound the pavement of the world’s financial centers to one day become a “master of the universe.” But I don’t want to be you Sam Zell. I voluntarily took myself off that career path, at the very top of my game because I became so disillusioned by the monetary and financial system after the crisis and the bailout of the crooks (your socio-economic class) that caused it. I’m not trying to portray myself as special or some sort of a hero. I am just making the point that from your point of view my choice was completely irrational, and probably one you could never comprehend. Yet there are plenty of people like me out there and you don’t seem to understand this because your entire worldview revolves around wealth.

Your misdiagnosis of the root cause of the current dissent in America is a result of your obliviousness to the actual concerns of the 99%. A group about which you speak with such certainty, yet certainly know almost nothing about. In fact, my website is dedicated to highlighting all of the destructive trends happening in this nation today. From record high food stamp participation, to declining real wages and the reality that young people need to take on so much debt they become indentured serfs from the moment they enter the workforce. From a loss of 4th Amendment rights due to illegal NSA spying, to the militarization of the police force. From oligarch immunity from serious financial crimes that average citizens would be thrown in jail for life for, to trillion dollar bailouts with zero strings attached for the financial community. From the over-prosecution of some of our bravest citizens such as Aaron Swartz, Barrett Brown and Private Manning to a fraudulent two-party sham political system entirely controlled by your socio-economic class.

While I agree that President Obama talks in simplistic, imbecilic “class warfare” terms, what does he do in reality? He is the most oligarch-coddling President this nation has ever seen. Talk is cheap Zell. I only listed a few of the root problems causing dissent in the country. They are very real, they are not going away and as long as oligarchs like you pretend they don’t exist and this is all the result of “envy” nothing will get better. In fact, it will get much, much worse. I see very little envy. I see a populace waking up to a gigantic fucking fraud, full of below average cronies thieving and people getting pissed about it. I see a 0.01% class of oligarchs to which the free market and the rule of law do not apply. So I’m not sure what exactly the 99% is supposed to be emulating. Your unaccountable criminality?

Of course I couldn’t end this section without calling you out on the most absurd thing you said: “The 1 percent work harder.”

Where to begin…First of all, I’d like some hard data to back up this statement. You complain about class warfare and then hypocritically say something like that? How is that not class warfare. You, a billionaire, come on television and tell 320 million people that the reason they feel disillusioned and agitated is because they are lazy. If that’s not class warfare I don’t know what is.

But let’s take this a step further. Let’s assume that the average person in the 1% works harder than the average person in the 99%. This reality still means that there are likely millions, if not tens of millions of above average workers within the 99% that work considerably harder than the average 1% person. Even if you don’t accept my numbers, you can’t deny there would still be hundreds of thousands that fall into that bucket. So what do you have to say to them? Furthermore, where does your expertise on the work ethic of the 99% come from? I highly doubt you spend much time hanging around them.

Why Your Statements Are Destructive
There is genuine dissent in America and it would behoove you to actually try to understand it, rather than assuming it is represented by inane political rhetoric from Barrack Obama. In case you hadn’t noticed, Obama isn’t popular. Neither are Democrats and Republicans. In fact, a recent Gallup Poll showed that 42% of Americans identify as Independent, versus 31% as Democrats and 25% as Republicans. This is the highest “Independent” identification on record. People know something is very wrong, they know the system is broken.

Generally speaking, the dissent from both the “progressive” side and the “libertarian” side overlaps on many issues. Issues that you seem to be oblivious to. These are:

1) Opposition to Wall Street bailouts, the concept of TBTF and the growth of crony capitalism generally.
2) The fact that the “rule of law” is not applied to oligarchs, politicians and government officials.
3) The destruction of civil liberties through the nation and the militarization of police.
4) Endless and pointless wars abroad, as well as the destructive war on drugs at home.

As you yourself admit: “the 1 percent are much bigger factors in all forms of our society.” This is true, and since the 0.01% wields even greater power, you must accept responsibility for these issues. Instead, you just come on television and call everyone envious.

The fact that there is such tremendous overlap on such major issues from activists on the so-called “left” and the “right” is extraordinarily important. These are real grievances that are not going away. Angst on these issues must be dealt with, and no amount of superficial, ignorant statements will change that reality. The only thing that the arrogant oligarch attitude will do is cause more people to despise you. Is that what you want?

I don’t think you’re a bad guy with evil intent. I think you are a money obsessed financier who hasn’t taken the time to actually understand what is really going on within your own country because you have your head so far up your own ass. It’s hard for anyone to actually look at themselves in the mirror and be honest about themselves and the myths they create. However, history shows us that when decadent plutocrats are unable to do so, we end up with disastrous situations. Situations which are often times violent and result in despotism. A situation I desperately hope to avoid, and I truly hope you and others like you recognize your error before it is too late.

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

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May The Farce Be With You – Janet Yellen Compares Bernanke to Obi-Wan Kenobi

Just in case you had any lingering doubt about how hopelessly screwed the world’s monetary and financial system really is, all you have to do is learn that in a series of ceremonies (because that is so appropriate with a record number Americans on food stamps) celebrating Ben Bernanke in recent days incoming Fed head Janet Yellen likened Bernanke to Obi-Wan Kenobi, the wise, experienced Jedi Knight mentor to his protégé Luke Skywalker in “Star Wars” movies.

There’s nothing that makes you feel more warm and fuzzy inside than the recognition that the soon to be most powerful person in the world thinks that printing trillions of dollars and giving it to criminals at zero interest qualifies as attributes of a intergalactic Jedi Master.

On the flip-side, this right here is what 95% of Americans think of Bernanke and his criminal cartel.

Not from The Onion, but from the Wall Street Journal we learn that:

Officials held a series of ceremonies honoring Mr. Bernanke in the past few days. At a dinner Tuesday evening among senior officials, Ms. Yellen likened Mr. Bernanke to Obi-Wan Kenobi, the wise, experienced Jedi Knight mentor to his protégé Luke Skywalker in “Star Wars” movies. She jokingly imagined Mr. Bernanke advising her to trust in the Fed’s statement of objectives, a document that lays out its goals for inflation and jobs, according to someone familiar with the event.

Mr. Bernanke received a standing ovation from Fed officials at the FOMC meeting in its boardroom earlier Tuesday. And he was toasted Thursday by hundreds of Fed staff packed into an atrium at the Fed’s Eccles Building, where they were served peanuts, popcorn and crackerjacks in honor of Mr. Bernanke’s love of baseball.

Kill. Me.

Full article here.

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

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Working Age Americans are the Majority of People on Food Stamps for the First Time

When people ask me to describe the state of the U.S. economy, what I always say is that it can best characterized as an ongoing state-sanctioned theft. This theft consists of the 0.01% oligarch class intentionally leveraging a corrupt monetary and political system in order to funnel all of the wealth of the non-oligarch rich and middle-class upward to them. The underclasses are kept quiet and in-line via food stamps and other forms of so-called “welfare.”

In reality, I have frequently maintained that food stamps are actually corporate welfare and that the stock market represents food stamps for the 1%. The entire economy is a gigantic bait and switch in which a handful of people rape and pillage everyone else.

With unemployment and GDP statistics hopelessly manipulated, we must look at other data points in order to gain an understanding of how things really stand. Data related to food stamp rolls is one way to gain real insight into the true state of the U.S. economy.

In an excellent article from the Associate Press, we learn several things.

  • For the first time ever, working-age people now make up the majority in U.S. households that rely on food stamps.
  • Food stamp participation since 1980 has grown the fastest among workers with some college training.
  • By education, about 28 percent of food stamp households are headed by a person with at least some college training, up from 8 percent in 1980.

More from the AP:

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a first, working-age people now make up the majority in U.S. households that rely on food stamps — a switch from a few years ago, when children and the elderly were the main recipients. 

Some of the change is due to demographics, such as the trend toward having fewer children. But a slow economic recovery with high unemployment, stagnant wages and an increasing gulf between low-wage and high-skill jobs also plays a big role. It suggests that government spending on the $80 billion-a-year food stamp program — twice what it cost five years ago — may not subside significantly anytime soon.

“High employment, stagnant wages.” Huh? Don’t these people realize we’ve been in a recovery for almost five years now!

Food stamp participation since 1980 has grown the fastest among workers with some college training, a sign that the safety net has stretched further to cover America’s former middle class, according to an analysis of government data for The Associated Press by economists at the University of Kentucky. Formally called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance, or SNAP, the program now covers 1 in 7 Americans.

Notice the statement, “America’s former middle class.” At least they are honest. The middle class is gone.

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