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"Gold is the money of kings; silver is the money of gentlemen; barter is the money of peasants; but debt is the money of slaves."
Norm Franz in Money and Wealth in the New Millennium, 2001

MSM: "UK And France Moving To The Next Reserve Currency The Chinese Yuan" X-22 Report [09/17/14] [48:53] "Retail sales are declining and many of the big retailers are in big trouble. The sub prime auto bubble is about to burst. Manufacturing is now declining. China announce a yuan clearing house with France and the UK will be issuing Yuan denominated bonds in preparation for the Yuan to be the world reserve currency. [...] Other items discussed: "FBI facial recognition online. IMF in talks with West African nations to bail them out. Yemeni tribes cut off talks with government. Libyan tribes say they were hit but unidentified planes. Russia wants to help with the fight against terrorism. President Obama says if Syria strikes a US plane he will attack Syria. Reports the Yemen terrorist organizations are planning a terror attack on the US."  

MSM: "Citi, Deutsche Bank, Bank Of America Were Channels For Sending Drug Money To Colombia, Court Filing Shows" [09/15/14] Printer Friendly Version "U.S.-based accounts at Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C), Deutsche Bank AG (ETR:DBK) and Bank of America Corp. (NYSE:BAC) were used to channel tens of millions of dollars’ worth of global drug money that was sent to shady Colombian currency brokerages, an affidavit from an undercover Massachusetts detective obtained recently by 100 Reporters says. The revelation comes as the U.S. Justice Department has been laying down record penalties against some of the world’s largest financial institutions for trade-sanction and money laundering violations. Representatives at the banks declined to comment to International Business Times. The affidavit by Jaime X. Cepero was filed in August 2013 as part of a four-year investigation by federal authorities in the wake of a 2011 Boston-area sting operation that exposed a global narcotics ring, netting $200 million and 20 suspects. The investigation led to the extradition of 12 suspects from Colombia and 15 guilty pleas. Cepero had been detailed to a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration task force that oversaw the operation. The affidavit was submitted as evidence last year as part of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service. In some instances, he said, the banks had reported suspicious activity to the U.S. Treasury Department as required by law, but not in all instances. [...] The document not only identifies the three banks by name but also offers a glimpse into the action-movie-like efforts narcotics traffickers used to channel global proceeds from the sale of cocaine and heroin through the United States. Couriers would sometimes stash heat-sealed bundles of currency in secret compartments of parked cars in suburban U.S. parking lots. Similar cash transfers took place on busy streets in major U.S. cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Houston and Orlando, Florida. The affidavit says one transfer took place in Rome where the cash was covered in visible cocaine residue.[...]"  

MSM: "Local and State Police Involved in Sensitive Hemisphere Program" [09/15/14] Printer Friendly Version "Federal, state, and local police, with the assistance of phone company employees embedded within DEA narcotics intelligence units, are utilizing an unclassified but “law enforcement sensitive” program, known as Hemisphere, which provides nearly unfettered access to an enormous database containing call records of all telephone calls passing through phone company switches likely owned by AT&T, according to a partially-redacted 24-slide presentation obtained by The Declaration. [...]"  Note: This is the same DEA who laundered the money at the banks in the article above.

MSM: "UK Government To Issue Offshore Bond In Chinese Currency" [09/14/14] [1:01] "The UK will become the first Western government to issue an offshore bond in Chinese currency, announced the British Chancellor of Exchequer George Osborne and Chinese Vice Premier Ma Kai in London on Friday. The two countries have also agreed to deals worth 2.4 billion pounds. [...]"  Related: China Mulls Joining Eurasian Development Bank" Printer Friendly Version  

Commentary: "End Of Empire - The 'De-Dollarization' Chart That China And Russia Are Banking On" [09/13/14] Printer Friendly Version "History did not end with the Cold War and, as Mark Twain put it, whilst history doesn’t repeat it often rhymes. As Alexander, Rome and Britain fell from their positions of absolute global dominance, so too has the US begun to slip. America’s global economic dominance has been declining since 1998, well before the Global Financial Crisis. A large part of this decline has actually had little to do with the actions of the US but rather with the unraveling of a century’s long economic anomaly. China has begun to return to the position in the global economy it occupied for millenia before the industrial revolution. Just as the dollar emerged to global reserve currency status as its economic might grew, so the chart below suggests the increasing push for de-dollarization across the 'rest of the isolated world' may be a smart bet... [...] In 1950 China’s share of the world’s population was 29%, its share of world economic output (on a PPP basis) was about 5% (Figure 98). By contrast the US was almost the reverse, with 8% of the world’s population the US commanded 28% of its economic output. By 2008, China’s huge, centuries-long economic underperformance was well down the path of being overcome [...] Based on current trends China’s economy will overtake America’s in purchasing power terms within the next few years. The US is now no longer the world’s sole economic superpower and indeed its share of world output (on a PPP basis) has slipped below the 20% level which we have seen was a useful sign historically of a single dominant economic superpower. In economic terms we already live in a bipolar world. Between them the US and China today control over a third of world output (on a PPP basis). However as we have already highlighted, the relative size of a nation’s economy is not the only determinant of superpower status. There is a “geopolitical” multiplier that must be accounted for which can allow nations to outperform or underperform their economic power on the global geopolitical stage. We have discussed already how first the unwillingness of the US to engage with the rest of the world before WWII meant that on the world stage the US was not a superpower inspite of its huge economic advantage, and second how the ability and willingness of the USSR to sacrifice other goals in an effort to secure its superpower status allowed it to compete with the US for geopolitical power despite its much smaller economy. Looking at the world today it could be argued that the US continues to enjoy an outsized influence compared to the relative size of its economy, whilst geopolitically China underperforms its economy. To use the term we have developed through this piece, the US has a geopolitical multiplier greater then 1, whilst China’s is less than 1. Why? On the US side, almost a century of economic dominance and half a century of superpower status has left its impression on the world. Power leaves a legacy. First the USA’s “soft power” remains largely unrivalled - US culture is ubiquitous (think McDonald’s, Hollywood and Ivy League universities), the biggest US businesses are global giants and America’s list of allies is unparalleled. Second the US President continues to carry the title of “leader of the free world” and America has remained committed to defending this world. Although more recently questions have begun to be asked (more later), the US has remained the only nation willing to lead intervention in an effort to support this “free world” order and its levels of military spending continues to dwarf that of the rest of the world. US military spending accounts for over 35% of the world total and her Allies make up another 25%.[...] In terms of Chinese geopolitical underperformance there are a number of plausible reasons why China continues to underperform its economy on the global stage. [...]"  

MSM: "Russia China Join To Kill All Dollar Transactions Between Both Countries" [09/13/14] [3:07]    

MSM: "Big Banks Manipulated $21 Trillion Dollar Market for Credit Default Swaps (and Every Other Market)" [09/12/14] Printer Friendly Version "Runaway derivatives – especially credit default swaps (CDS) – were one of the main causes of the 2008 financial crisis. Congress never fixed the problem, and actually made it worse. The big banks have long manipulated derivatives … a $1,200 Trillion Dollar market. Indeed, many trillions of dollars of derivatives are being manipulated in the exact same same way that interest rates are fixed (see below) … through gamed self-reporting. [...] A Manhattan federal judge said on Thursday that investors may pursue a lawsuit accusing 12 major banks of violating antitrust law by fixing prices and restraining competition in the roughly $21 trillion market for credit default swaps. “The complaint provides a chronology of behavior that would probably not result from chance, coincidence, independent responses to common stimuli, or mere interdependence,” [Judge] Cote said. The defendants include Bank of America Corp, Barclays Plc, BNP Paribas SA, Citigroup Inc , Credit Suisse Group AG, Deutsche Bank AG , Goldman Sachs Group Inc, HSBC Holdings Plc , JPMorgan Chase & Co, Morgan Stanley, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and UBS AG. Other defendants are the International Swaps and Derivatives Association and Markit Ltd, which provides credit derivative pricing services." U.S. and European regulators have probed potential anticompetitive activity in CDS. In July 2013, the European Commission accused many of the defendants of colluding to block new CDS exchanges from entering the market.“The financial crisis hardly explains the alleged secret meetings and coordinated actions,” the judge wrote. “Nor does it explain why ISDA and Markit simultaneously reversed course.” [...] In other words, the big banks are continuing to fix prices for CDS in secret meetings … and have torpedoed the more open and transparent CDS exchanges that Congress mandated. As shown below, Wall Street has manipulated virtually every other market as well – both in the financial sector and the real economy – and broken virtually every law on the books. [...]"  

Commentary: "The Fed Just Imposed Financial Austerity On The States" [09/11/14] Printer Friendly Version "... The Federal regulators adopted a new rule that requires the country’s largest banks – those with $250 billion or more in total assets – to hold an increased level of newly defined “high quality liquid assets” (HQLA) in order to meet a potential run on the bank during a credit crisis. In addition to U.S. Treasury securities and other instruments backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government (agency debt), the regulators have included some dubious instruments while shunning others with a higher safety profile. Bizarrely, the Fed and its regulatory siblings included investment grade corporate bonds, the majority of which do not trade on an exchange, and more stunningly, stocks in the Russell 1000, as meeting the definition of high quality liquid assets, while excluding all municipal bonds – even general obligation municipal bonds from states with a far higher credit standing and safety profile than BBB-rated corporate bonds.[...] This, rightfully, has state treasurers in an uproar. The five largest Wall Street banks control the majority of deposits in the country. By disqualifying municipal bonds from the category of liquid assets, the biggest banks are likely to trim back their holdings in munis which could raise the cost or limit the ability for states, counties, cities and school districts to issue muni bonds to build schools, roads, bridges and other infrastructure needs. This is a particularly strange position for a Fed that is worried about subpar economic growth." [...] The Fed’s rationale for including corporate bonds and stocks but not munis in the high quality liquid assets category rests on this premise:“The agencies believe that defining an asset as liquid and readily-marketable if it is traded in an active secondary market with more than two committed market makers, a large number of committed non-market maker participants on both the buying and selling sides of transactions, timely and observable market prices, and high trading volumes provides an appropriate standard for determining whether an asset can be readily sold in times of stress.” That premise lacks an historical foundation. In times of crisis, Wall Street veterans know full well that market makers have a nasty habit of backing away.. [...] That the Fed and its regulatory cohorts have to resort to this implausible plan – which crimps the ability of states and localities to raise essential funds to operate – in a strained effort to pretend that they’ve found a 'means of avoiding another massive bailout of Wall Street in a crisis', is just further proof that the only way to seriously deal with too-big-to-fail banks is to restore the Glass-Steagall Act and break up these complex creatures before they strike again.  [...]"  

Concepts and Practices:  "PayPal – Will Accept Bitcoin" [09/11/14] Printer Friendly Version Note: Another avenue of assertion of control over society by making virtual payment common ... and another move toward the concept of a medium of exchange that can be taken away by dictate. Peter Thiel, co-founder of Paypal, founded Palantir Technologies funded by the CIA's venture capital arm Related: "The NSA, CIA Venture Capital, And Peter Thiel"  Printer Friendly Version  "How A 'Deviant' Philosopher Built Palantir, A CIA-Funded Data-Mining Juggernaut"  Printer Friendly Version 

Satire: "Bank Of America Introduces New $50 Underdraft Fee" Onion [09/11/14] Printer Friendly Version "Saying the penalty will cover the costs incurred by the financial institution whenever a customer makes a withdrawal that results in a positive account balance, Bank of America introduced a new $50 underdraft fee Tuesday on all checking and savings accounts. “Beginning today, we will assess a fee on customers who withdraw less money than they have available,” bank spokesperson Melissa Scott told reporters, noting that the $50 surcharge will automatically be deducted any time a patron uses a Bank of America debit card or check to make a purchase that is less than the dollar amount of his or her account balance. “We’re confident this new fee shouldn’t be an issue for most of our customers. As long as account holders remain vigilant about their finances, and make sure not to withdraw too little money, they should be able to conduct their banking business as usual without ever receiving a ‘sufficient funds’ notice.” To further incentivize customers against repeating such a financial mistake, Scott added that the fee will increase with each additional underdraft, with the penalty rising to $75 for a second offense, $150 for a third offense, and a value equal to the remaining balance of one’s account for any additional underdraft committed thereafter. [...]"  

Investigations: "Secrecy for Sale: Inside the Global Offshore Money Maze" Int'l Consortium Of Investigative Journalists [09/10/14] "• Government officials and their families and associates in China, Azerbaijan, Russia, Canada, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, Mongolia and other countries have embraced the use of covert companies and bank accounts. • The mega-rich use complex offshore structures to own mansions, yachts, art masterpieces and other assets, gaining tax advantages and anonymity not available to average people. • Many of the world’s top’s banks – including UBS, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank – have aggressively worked to provide their customers with secrecy-cloaked companies in the British Virgin Islands and other offshore hideaways.• A well-paid industry of accountants, middlemen and other operatives has helped offshore patrons shroud their identities and business interests, providing shelter in many cases to money laundering or other misconduct.• Ponzi schemers and other large-scale fraudsters routinely use offshore havens to pull off their shell games and move their ill-gotten gains. [...] Related: "How Users Have Spent The Past Year Digging Through Offshore Data" Printer Friendly Version  

Commentary: "Sanctions Tit-For-Tat: Catch Minus 22" [09/10/14] Printer Friendly Version "The realpolitik of the Ukraine crisis is that there is little way that any sanctions can avoid harming the EU’s declining economic power. The economy is flat and sanctions to date are estimated to have shaved 0.2-0.3 percent off the becalmed eurozone economy. Many cling to the counter- productive rebuke that the aim is to bring Russia to its knees. However that is just a leveraged version of the classical Pyrrhic victory. Apparently Europe is now re-girding its loins for another round of sanctions. Even the custard pie of the Elysee Palace, French President Hollande, has turned coy about delivering the two warships being built for Russia in Saint Nazaire. True, ‘Monsieur Flanby’ may have just been demonstrating a degree of prerequisite bluster to keep in with the aggressive groupthink of the NATO club gathering in Wales last week, or perhaps he just wants more armaments at his disposal to protect against his former girlfriend. The European nation offering to bear the brunt of sanctions remains the UK, although it may yet be less capable of affording this gesture of largesse to its becalmed European neighbors if Scotland happens to disappear into independence later in the month. The Cameron doctrine suggests excluding Russian entities from refunding on Western money markets. The EU has now chimed in with a suggestion to restrict Russian oil companies’ access to Western debt markets, while Obama even interrupted his hectic golf schedule to proffer a similar threat of exclusion from the dollar zone.  [...] Incidentally, one of the less discussed areas of the cold war was how the Soviets operated in Western financial markets through the 100-percent-USSR-owned Moscow Narodny in London (and Singapore), as well as other banks in Paris, Frankfurt, Luxemburg and Vienna. Now Western leaders apparently intend to cut Russia out of Western markets just when there are a goodly few thousand Russian bankers living in Chelsea and other upmarket entrepots. While an acute challenge, it is not impossible to vastly reduce the influence of Western investment spigot from Russia. Nevertheless, the West currently retains such financial dominance that the threat to Russia could be considerable. Then again the ongoing dominance of London as a leading financial center is already threatened by rising centers in Asia - which leads to the issue that it might cost more in the short term, but ultimately Russia can pivot East to raise the funds its government and corporates require. London could be gradually sidelined as a global cash center. Indeed, the West could endeavor to close its payment systems to Russian banks, but then again the highly analogue SWIFT network which forms the basis of banking payments from the West is spectacularly outmoded anyway. A new payments system backed by Russia (perhaps based on the bitcoin blockchain), would be a welcome modernization to many other nations to boot, allowing many emerging nations to make a great leap forward to the next stage of digital payments, leapfrogging aged legacy Western systems. [...]"   

Commentary: "De-Dollarization Continues: China-Argentina Agree Currency Swap, Will Trade In Yuan" [09/09/14] Printer Friendly Version "One by one, Russia and China appear to be finding allies willing to 'de-dollarize'; and the latest to join this trend is serial-defaulter Argentina. As Reuters reports, China and Argentina's central banks have agreed a multi-billion dollar currency swap operation "to bolster Argentina's foreign reserves" or "pay for Chinese imports with Yuan," as Argentina's USD reserves dwindle. In addition, Argentina claims China supports the nation's plans in the defaulted bondholder dispute. [...]" 

MSM: "Fed Says Americans Who “Hoard Money” Are To Blame For Poor Economy" [09/08/14] Printer Friendly Version "From the St. Louis Federal Reserve: "The issue has to do with the velocity of money, which has never been constant, as can be seen in the figure below . If for some reason the money velocity declines rapidly during an expansionary monetary policy period, it can offset the increase in money supply and even lead to deflation instead of inflation. [...] So why did the monetary base increase not cause a proportionate increase in either the general price level or GDP?  The answer lies in the private sector’s dramatic increase in their willingness to 'hoard' money instead of spend it. Such an unprecedented increase in money demand has slowed down the velocity of money." [...] Top tier economists, it seems, are unable grasp why consumers have decided to hoard – in other words, save – their money even though the central bank is engaged in an unprecedented monetary expansion. The answer is simple, really, and you don’t need to look at detailed government charts and statistics to figure it out. American consumers have been absolutely pummeled over the last decade. We are losing so many jobs that newly created minimum wage jobs touted by the Obama administration aren’t even making a dent. Moreover, the price of food, electricity, gas and other essentials have risen so sharply that we’re paying nearly double for those items today than we did a decade ago. And, as recently noted by The Economic Collapse Blog, over 77 million Americans currently have debt collection accounts and 25% of Americans have absolutely no emergency cash whatsoever. It’s not so much that Americans are “hoarding” money, a phrase that suggests greedy people all over the country are stacking piles of cash under their mattresses. It’s that most Americans don’t have any money left to spend." [...] Note: From "The Hubris Of The Monetary Social Contract": "... The central bank is run by Keynesians who are unshakable in their belief in a couple of things: the wealth effect and the paradox of thrift. The Fed heads figure if stock and home prices go up, people feel richer and spend more. Keynesians believe spending is good for the economy and savings is bad. Buying goods keeps people employed, we’re told, while hoarding savings does the opposite. Central bank-engineered low rates give the nation’s compliant subjects the incentive not to save but to spend the country back to riches. And the Keynesians figure that’s good because savings must just disappear. Except they don’t. Mark Skousen explains, “Savings do not disappear from the economy; they are merely channeled into a different avenue. Savings are spent on investment capital now and then spent on consumer goods later.” Savings are good for individuals and also build prosperous societies. Chris Casey explains in a piece for Mises.org: "examine any economic success story such as modern China, nineteenth century America, or post-World War II Japan and South Korea: did their economic rise derive from unbridled consumption, or strict frugality? The answer is self-evident: it is the savings from the curtailment of consumption, combined with minimal government involvement in economic affairs, which generates economic growth. However, the central banker’s models lead to a fatal conceit pointing them in the wrong direction. “The problems are real,” writes Rickards, “but the top-down solutions are illusory, the product of hubris and false ideologies.”  See the article below. It is also ironic and true that it is the banking system which is hoarding cash instead of giving loans, which would be a key to creating new production and employment, but the US dumped a production format for a financial services format, sealing the fate of the country over the past 25 years.

Commentary: "The Hubris of the Monetary Social Contract" [09/08/14] Printer Friendly Version "Money was once in the state of nature. Goods were once bartered until especially saleable goods emerged to be used in indirect exchange. A variety of saleable items became money until gold and silver became the dominant currencies. It didn’t take long for government to take over the production of money and now it’s fully part of the social contract, the theory that the state has authority over the individual. Socrates, in the words of Williamson Evers, believed government “is valuable to people, a contention which he supplements by saying that political society could not function without civil obedience to the orders contained in the laws or in commands issued by officials.” People selected gold and silver as money. No government authority forced it upon the marketplace. Today’s individuals accept government’s fiat money because they are forced, by way of legal tender laws. Sadly, as individuals, our economic fates are, if not controlled, heavily influenced by the Federal Reserve’s PhD economists who desperately try to manage the economy. These wise men and women view individuals as being just data in their spreadsheets. These central bankers honestly think their job is to provide an orderly and prosperous economy with individuals gaining by giving up their rights and handing them to government. [...] Yet, these economists are mere mortals who don’t have the tools to produce a designed outcome. They rely on erroneous equilibrium models that, as Jim Rickards writes in his new book The Death of Money, “assume efficient markets and rational behavior that have no correspondence to real markets.” Janet Yellen and company believe they can push the right buttons and pull the right levers to make the economy hum, as if 314 million Americans are just that many unthinking, unfeeling particles in a science lab. F.A. Hayek explained in his 1974 Nobel acceptance speech, “such complex phenomena as the market, which depend on the actions of many individuals, all the circumstances which will determine the outcome of a process… will hardly ever be fully known or measurable.” No single observer, or group of observers, could know all the factors determining prices and wages in a well-functioning marketplace. But because policy makers think they know, “an almost exclusive concentration on quantitatively measurable surface phenomena has produced a policy which has made matters worse,” Hayek said back in 1974.  [...] While it sounds benevolent, the monetary social contract imprisons the masses in a world of booms, busts, inflation, and deflation that is devastating to our financial health, relegating generations of people to live in poverty.[...]"

MSM: "To Avoid Another Crash, Banks Forced To Buy Treasury Securities" [09/06/14] Printer Friendly Version "Bank regulators are now forcing financial institutions to hold more Treasury securities in an effort to ensure cash solvency in the event of another financial crisis, the Washington Examiner reports. The reason given for why banks must now hold an additional $100 billion dollars of liquid assets is because these securities can easily be exchanged into cash at any time. Treasury securities are the top category for qualifying as liquid assets, although banks can fulfill the requirement through stocks, as well. The move constitutes a major piece of regulation intended to avoid taxpayer-funded bailouts and yet another financial crash. In the event that banks need to pay back loans in a hurry, the extra liquidity will make sure they have enough cash to last for 30 days. Credit will now be more costly, Bill Nelson, deputy director of monetary affairs at the Federal Reserve, admitted. But for Nelson, the benefit of preventing future financial crises through increased liquidity requirements is worth it. However, the consequence of this regulation is that as bank revenue drops, regular banking costs for consumers could also rise. [...]" 

Commentary: "IMF Throws Ukraine $1.4bn Financial Lifeline Deathline" [08/31/14] Printer Friendly Version "The International Monetary Fund has given a green light for Ukraine to receive the second tranche of financial assistance totaling $1.39 billion, meaning more austerity measures for the already struggling economy. “The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) today completed the first review of Ukraine’s performance under an economic program supported by a Stand-By Arrangement (SBA),” the organization said in a statement. “The completion of this review enables the disbursement of SDR 914.67 million (about US$1.39 billion), which would bring total disbursements under the arrangement to SDR 2.97 billion (about US$4.51 billion),” the statement reads. The international body also approved Ukraine's request to merge the third and fourth installments of its financial assistance. Ukraine's weak economy may now be eligible for a $2.3 billion bailout if another review is passed by the end of 2014. At the same time the IMF noted its decision was based on the “assumption” that the conflict in the east of Ukraine will subside in the coming months.  [...]"  

MSM: "IMF Chief Christine Lagarde Under Investigation In France" [08/28/14] Printer Friendly Version "Christine Lagarde, the chief of the International Monetary Fund, was placed under official investigation Wednesday for negligence in a French corruption probe that dates back to her days as France’s finance minister. In a statement after a fourth round of questioning before magistrates, Lagarde said she would return to her work in Washington later in the day and said the decision was “without basis.” She and her former chief of staff face questions about their role in a 400 million-euro ($531 million) payment to a businessman. “After three years of proceedings, dozens of hours of questioning, the court found from the evidence that I committed no offence, and the only allegation is that I was not sufficiently vigilant,” she said in her statement. Under French law, the official investigation is equivalent to preliminary charges, meaning there is reason to suspect an infraction. Investigating judges can later drop a case or issue formal charges and send it to trial. The payment was made to Bernard Tapie in arbitration over a dispute with state-owned bank Credit Lyonnais over the botched sale of sportswear company Adidas. Critics have said the deal was too generous, and was symptomatic of the cozy relationship between money and power in France. [...]"  

Commentary: "Debt, Vaccines and Food as a Weapon: When International Aid is Used for Population Control" [08/28/14] [8:57] "Conditionalities are attached to loans from the IMF, World Bank and other aid programs… here’s a look at how these loans have been used to pursue items from a dangerous agenda to takeover regions around the world for the benefits of the ruling global corporations. [...]" :

MSM: "FBI Examining Whether Russia Is Tied to JPMorgan Hacking" [08/28/14] Printer Friendly Version "Russian hackers attacked the U.S. financial system in mid-August, infiltrating and stealing data from JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and at least one other bank, an incident the FBI is investigating as a possible retaliation for government-sponsored sanctions, according to two people familiar with the probe. The sophistication of the attack and technical indicators extracted from the banks’ computers provide some evidence of a government link, but the trail is muddy enough that investigators are considering the possibility that it’s cyber criminals from Russia or even elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Other federal agencies, including the National Security Agency, are now aiding the investigation, a third person familiar with the probe said. " [...]" Related: See also below: "Virtual 9-11: Will US & Israel Hack Banking System And Falsely Blame It On Iran, Syria, Russia Or China?" [08/26/14]

MSM: "French Can't Follow Merkel - Austerity Not Solution To Crisis" [08/27/14]   [3:17] "Disagreement between Eurozone countries has come on the back of very poor GDP growth in recent months. German chancellor Angela Merkel blames euro-neighbours, France among them, saying they're unable to deal with their high deficits, but analyst Michael Mross says Germany's austerity policy will not solve the EU's problems. [...]"  

Society and Culture: "America Keeps People Poor On Purpose: A Timeline of Choices Made to Increase Inequality" [08/27/14] Printer Friendly Version "How four decades of lobbying and legislation gave corporations dominion over our economy—and eroded the American middle class.  [...]" Related: " Interest Rates Are a Sideshow; The Problem is Income Inequality" Printer Friendly Version 

MSM: "Legal Organizations Urge International Criminal Court To Investigate War Crimes By Israeli, U.S. Leaders In Gaza" [08/27/14] Printer Friendly Version "The National Lawyers Guild (NLG), Center for Constitutional Rights, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Arab Lawyers Union, and American Association of Jurists sent a letter [PDF] on Friday, August 22 to Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), urging her to initiate an investigation of war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity committed by Israeli leaders and aided and abetted by U.S. officials in Gaza. Under the Rome Statute, the ICC has the power to hold individuals criminally accountable for the most serious of crimes. “In light of the extreme gravity of the situation in the occupied Gaza Strip, in particular the large number of civilian casualties and large scale destruction of civilian property, including schools, mosques and hospitals, and the ongoing incitement to genocide perpetrated by Israeli political figures and leaders, the [NLG] and endorsing organizations strongly urge the Office of the Prosecutor to use its power under Article 15 of the Rome Statute to initiate a preliminary investigation” of crimes within the ICC’s jurisdiction. “[Under the Rome Statute, an] individual can be convicted of a war crime, genocide or a crime against humanity . . . if he or she ‘aids, abets or otherwise assists’ in the commission or attempted commission of the crime, ‘including providing the means for its commission’,” the letter reads. “By transferring financial assistance, weapons and other military aid to Israel, members of the U.S. Congress, President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel have aided and abetted the commission of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity by Israeli officials and commanders in Gaza.” The letter states that on July 20, 2014, in the midst of criminal behavior, Israel requested, and the U.S. Defense Department then authorized, the transfer to Israel of ammunition from the War Reserve Stockpile Ammunition. And in August 2014, Congress overwhelmingly approved, and Obama signed, a $225 million payment for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. “Israel’s clearly disproportionate use of force against the 1.8 million residents of Gaza appears to have little to do with any claim of security,” the organizations wrote, “but seems to be calculated to exact revenge against Palestinian civilians.” The letter quotes statements of Israeli officials advocating vengeance against “the entire Palestinian people “and “calling for the internment of Palestinians in concentration camps in Sinai and the destruction of the civilian infrastructure in Gaza.” The letter lists the following war crimes, and cites supporting factual allegations for each crime:[...]"  Related: "Falk: US Limits Ability of UN To Hold Israel Accountable for War Crimes" [13:28] "Princeton University Professor Richard Falk discusses how the powers of the UN are limited since the United States sets the agenda [...]" 

MSM: "Former Israeli AG: Our Government Staged The Assassination Of Al-Daif" [08/27/14] Printer Friendly Version "In the biggest blow to Israeli propaganda, which claimed that Hamas broke the ceasefire, former Israeli Attorney General Michael Ben Yair has said that “it was Israel who staged the alleged Hamas breach of the ceasefire in order to create the conditions for assassinating Muhammad Al-Daif, Commander-in-Chief of Hamas’s military wing, Al-Qassam Brigades. The website of Makor Rishon newspaper said that Ben Yair, who also worked as a judge in the Israeli supreme court, tweeted on his twitter account the following: “There is no agreement and hostilities have been renewed, but who is the culprit? Hamas who wants an agreement with accomplishments or Israel who staged the breach of the ceasefire in order to justify the assassination of Muhammad Al-Daif?” The significance of this testimony lies in the fact that Ben Yair, by virtue of his former position, had knowledge of the fine details of the secret Zionist intelligence work. He conducted investigations into the various aspects of the activities carried out by Israel’s Security Agency, the Shabak, which is responsible for intelligence about resistance leaders named for liquidation. Ben Yair’s testimony is also significant because it comes in the wake of the adoption by Europe and the United States of America of the Israeli narrative as a result of which they held Hamas responsible for breaching the ceasefire. It is worth mentioning that the Israeli government’s judicial advisor is also in charge of prosecution in the country. Ben Yair is considered to be a serious person who is highly respectable within Israel, thanks to his revolutionary decisions during the time when he was in office. It is worth noting that Ha’aretz military commentator Amir Oren alluded in an article he published last Wednesday that there were indications that Israel had an interest in the collapse of the ceasefire so as to justify liquidating Al-Daif after receiving intelligence about his whereabouts. Oren ruled out the possibility that Hamas was the one who violated the ceasefire, noting that what Israel was in need of was a context that justifies the assassination of Al-Daif after receiving valuable intelligence about his whereabouts. [...]"  Note: More deception from the Israelis:  Related: "UNRWA Criticizes False Israeli Claim Over “Attack From School" Printer Friendly Version  "The UN's Palestine refugee agency UNRWA has criticized the Israeli military for publishing false allegations that Hamas fighters fired a rocket from one of their schools in Gaza the day before.  Israeli forces have bombed UNRWA schools being used as shelters at least seven times in the last six weeks, killing dozens of Palestinian civilians. The international community has blasted Israel for the attacks, and the agency has repeatedly stressed that it has given the coordinates of all of its shelters -- currently holding around 485,000 displaced people -- to Israeli military authorities. [...]" 

Commentary: "Virtual 9-11: Will US & Israel Hack Banking System And Falsely Blame It On Iran, Syria, Russia Or China?" [08/26/14] Printer Friendly Version "I imagine there is a great deal of frustration in Washington DC right now. Historically, the US Government gets out of these inevitable problems with the economy arising from Private Central Banks (in our case the Federal Reserve, which is no more Federal than Federal Express) by getting into a global war. Crash of 1907, "solve" the problem with WW1. Crash of 1929, "solve" the problem with WW2. Crash of 2008, "solve" the problem with WW3, which for all intents and purposes we have been engaged in for more than a decade. According to General Wesley Clark, the plan to conquer the world's oil-producing nations and force them back to selling their oil (or other mineral resources) only for US dollars (as was the case with Iraq) , or to destroy any nation that refuses to allow a Private Central Bank to issue all public currency as a loan at interest (as was the case with Libya), was supposed to have ended in 2008 with the conquest of Iran. But six years after that original deadline, both Iraq and Libya are openly in rebellion against their US puppet regimes, Iran remains un-invaded, the United States is bankrupted, the world continues to turn away from the US dollar, and the American people are tired of seeing their sons and daughters' pale and shattered forms shipped home in cheap metal boxes, killed in wars they no know were started for no other reason than to prop up Private Central Banking.  [...] Something new is needed; something the public may not be expecting. Something unprecedented in history. Something that will directly impact every single living American directly, to make them all directly feel the threat, to fan the flames of war and conquest against the designated enemies, including Iran, against Russia and China to protect the weakening US dollar's role as the global banking and trade currency against the rising Ruble and Yuan. I suspect what is being planned is a "virtual" 9-11; a 'terror' attack carried out in cyberspace, instead of the real world. I view this is highly likely based on the sudden flurry of media stories and statements by people like Joseph Lieberman about how Iranian hackers are attacking the US financial system computers. (Senator Lieberman has also been pressuring Obama to sign an executive order to take over the internet.) Of course, the common sense approach still applies. Why would Iran, which wishes to avoid a war, do something that provocative? Why would Russia, or China do anything, when all they have to do is sit and wait while the US financial system self-destructs? We know that the US and Israel are behind the cyber-weapons like STUXNET, DUQU, FLAME, etc., that these cyber-weapons were directed against Iran, and that one variant specifically targeted banks in Lebanon and Iran. We also know that the US financial system is stretched to the breaking point, and we know that if the government of either Greece or Spain is driven from office by angry protests, or Italy leaves the Euro, as Beppe Grillo is now saying, the trillions in credit default swaps sold by Wall Street against European debt come due, and there is no money to pay the claims. The Euro might even collapse, and that would trigger even more Credit Default Swaps. [...] So what it looks like is being planned, and pre-sold to the American people with all these stories about celebrities' personal information being hacked and made public (an activity that produces no profit for the hackers other than news headlines), and the "Syrian" (nudge nudge wink wink) hack of the AP Twitter feed that shocked the US stock market, is that the US Government will itself take down the US financial computers, and blame it on Iran /Russia/ China/Al Qaeda/Syria/Arabs and others to be named as convenient. This gets Wall Street and Washington DC off the hook, because now the financial melt-down is an act of war, rather than the result of decades of Wall Street crime and corruption and the predations of Private Central Banks. US banks have already been hit with cyber attacks, to set the stage. And this would also explain why the US corporate media is paying scant attention to the riots in across every other nation with a Private Central Bank, so that Americans still dependent on MSM will remain oblivious to the fact that the Euro is also falling apart. This scenario also explains the testing of means to interfere with DNS to silence websites that may offer opposing interpretations of events (this too will be blamed on Iran, or Russia, or China). Such a cyber false-flag also gives the US Government the excuse to take total control of the internet so that those pesky truth-seeking bloggers don't give the slaves uppity ideas that this is just another war-starting hoax like the attack on the USS Liberty or 9-11 or the Boston bombing.[...]"   Related: "Market Watchdog Issues Cyber Attack Warning, Following The Agenda Perfectly" [14:36] |

MSM: "El-Erian: Fed Is Sacrificing Financial Stability" [08/23/14] Printer Friendly Version 2 [4:46] "... A lot of these merger and acquisitions are not being done for offensive reasons. They’re being done for defenses, to squash competition, to facilitate inversions,” he said. There is a strong argument being made that the Fed is trying to pursue too many objectives, he said. It’s an argument El-Erian agrees with. “What it is sacrificing is financial stability. The Fed is willing to trade off immediate economic gains for financial instability down the road,” he said. [...]" 

Commentary: "Fake News and the “Announcement” of World War III, A Multibillion Bonanza for Wall Street Speculators" [08/23/14] Printer Friendly Version "Around mid morning on Friday August 15, we heard news that the Ukraine had “destroyed part of a Russian convoy”. The stock market immediately dropped nearly 200 points, Treasury bonds were bid 10 basis points lower, oil was higher and gold which had been hammered $20 lower earlier ran back to unchanged. [...]" 

Max Keiser: "Latest Wall Street Hoax: If Fracking Is So Great, Why Is It A State Secret?" [08/22/14]   [2:03] "This was always very obvious at the time, that when the subprime bubble burst, and Wall Street was looking for a new Ponzi scheme, a new hoax, a new fraud, that this was going to be where they went. And sure enough, the fracking hoax is now being revealed as a huge bubble and a huge scandal…That’s the way Wall Street works; they never reform the crimes of the last bubble that burst, they never go after all the criminals that perpetrated all the fraud a few years ago. They let them just reinvent themselves…” [...]" 

Commentary: "Icelanders Overthrow Government and Rewrite Constitution After Banking Fraud – No Word From US Media" [08/19/14] Printer Friendly Version "Can you imagine participating in a protest outside the White House and forcing the entire U.S. government to resign? Can you imagine a group of randomly chosen private citizens rewriting the U.S. constitution to include measures banning corporate fraud? It seems incomprehensible in the U.S., but Icelanders did just that. Icelanders forced their entire government to resign after a banking fraud scandal, overthrowing the ruling party and creating a citizen’s group tasked with writing a new constitution that offered a solution to prevent corporate greed from destroying the country. The constitution of Iceland was scrapped and is being rewritten by private citizens; using a crowd-sourcing technique via social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter. These events have been going on since 2008, yet there’s been no word from the U.S. mainstream media about any of them. In fact, all of the events that unfolded were recorded by international journalists, overseas news bureaus, citizen journalists and bloggers. This has created current accusations of an intentional cover up of the story by mainstream U.S. news sources. [...] An “iReport” on CNN, written by a private citizen in May 2012, has questioned the reasons why this revolution has not been widely covered in the U.S., suggesting that perhaps the mainstream media is controlled by large corporate interests and thus has been unwilling to report on Iceland’s activities. That report is currently making its way around social media. CNN today placed a statement on its website saying: “We’ve noticed this iReport is being shared widely on Facebook and Twitter. Please note that this article was posted in May 2012. CNN has not yet verified the claims and we’re working to track down the original writer.” It is interesting to note that CNN’s European version, CNN Europe, already covered the story of the protests and the government’s resignation, leading many to question why CNN would now need to “look into” the claims. [...] Besides CNN Europe’s own coverage of the scandal, the events in Iceland were widely covered by international media and are easily verified by a simple search on Google which leads to a variety of reputable international news sources that ran numerous stories on the Icelandic revolution. A whole documentary has been made on the governmental overthrow called Pots, Pans and Other Solutions, and now, the conversation is focused on whether or not the citizens’ actions actually worked to make Iceland a more equitable nation.[...]" 

Concepts and Practices: "Foreigners Dump Record Amount Of US Securities" [08/19/14] Printer Friendly Version "The Treasury Department cobbles together data it receives from financial institutions on capital flows in and out of the US. It’s trying to figure out which foreign entity owns what US financial assets. Then on a monthly basis, it issues its Treasury International Capital (TIC) report. And this time, the report for June – released on Friday when everyone was on vacation or getting ready to head out of town for the weekend, and when no one was paying attention – was a zinger: US net capital outflows soared to $153.5 billion, the largest ever recorded. Nope, it was not the category of “major foreign holders of Treasury Securities” that did the wholesale dumping. Given the crappy yields, they had all the reasons in the world to sell Treasuries. But they were adding to their positions. While there were some ups and downs, the grand total of Treasuries owned by these “major foreign holders” rose by $37 billion from May, to $6.013 trillion. The most ever. Since June last year, the amount that the US government is in hock to overseas entities has jumped by $418 billion. The two largest holders, China and Japan sold a little. Usual suspect Russia, whose Treasury holdings had been plunging earlier this year, actually added $2.5 billion. And Belgium, the 3rd largest holder of Treasuries added some as well. [...]" 

Commentary: "Billionaire Found In Middle Of Bribery Case Avoids U.S. Probe" [08/19/14] Printer Friendly Version "Victor Dahdaleh arrives at Southwark Crown Court, London, after being charged in connection with an alleged £700 million bribery scandal. [...] In January, a unit of Alcoa Inc. (AA:US), the biggest U.S. aluminum producer, pleaded guilty to foreign bribery charges brought by the U.S. Justice Department. Alcoa also settled claims by the Securities and Exchange Commission and agreed to pay a $384 million fine -- the fifth-largest such penalty ever. The Alcoa subsidiary admitted to paying bribes to government officials in Bahrain for more than a decade to win contracts to sell alumina, a compound essential in making aluminum, to the Persian Gulf state’s processing plant. Not named and not charged in the case was the person who made those payments, whom the Justice Department identified in court only as “Consultant A.” In the thriving business of global bribery -- which the World Bank says amounts to $1 trillion in illicit payments annually -- guilty pleas like the one by Alcoa’s unit are rare. Rarer still are convictions against the people who actually arrange and deliver the payments, Bloomberg Markets will report in its September issue.[...]" 

Commentary: "Useful Idiots And The 'Something For Nothing' Society" [08/17/14] Printer Friendly Version "The transformation of the monetary system from sound reserve backed constitutionally mandated currency system to what now has become completely unsound Fiat currency and credit system. Money has changed from a system for storing wealth, purchasing power and ones labor for the future to a confiscation scheme run for the benefit of Banksters and socialist progressive government. [...] Adam Smith in his seminal book, Wealth of Nations, outlined how all great empires rest upon an educated, productive and prosperous citizenry. [...] As empires enter the sunset of their existence, a malignancy of a "Something for Nothing" society emerges which has put the nails in the coffins of every empire that has preceded it. [...]" Related: Part 2 Printer Friendly Version "How the ACCOUNTABLE LOCALLY controlled education systems have been highjacked and transformed into FEDERALLY CONTROLLED UNACCOUNTABLE public school MONOPOLIES designed to create sheeple and Useful Idiots ripe for exploitation. The Locally controlled school systems that created the most prosperous country in the history of man are now nothing more than PROGRESSIVE SOCIALIST indoctrination centers. Designed to mentally cripple the futures of our children and stunt their ability to create a prosperous wealth creating economy. It is now an insidious Potemkin educational system used to create morally and fiscally insolvent citizens, bereft of histories lessons, contemptuous of the thoughts and ideas which created our exceptional country and its burgeoning middle classes. Useful idiots are unable to produce more than they consume, live prudent and productive lives and DON'T have the BASIC knowledge needed to build a prosperous and independent life upon. [...]" | Part 3 Printer Friendly Version "As Inflation has eaten our standards of living alive, and public school monopolies have created curriculums that spew out toxic waste and call them educated our society has become DIVIDED. Those that have a proper classical education versus those that don't. It is as simple as that. This next illustration by Pew research shows the PROGRESSION of the split between socialist, progressive democrats (the takers, educated to be socialists) separating ideologically from OLD school Conservative Republicans and independents (the makers, trained to be self-sufficient independent of government) as the school systems produce their USEFUL IDIOTS: [...]" 

Commentary: "Argentina Activates 'Financial Terrorism' Law Against Hedge-Fund Economic Warfare" [08/17/14] Printer Friendly Version "Argentina is playing hardball. Accompanied by giant headlines in financial media screeching about "economic crisis," Donnelley & Sons, a U.S. printing firm that has operated in Argentina for many years, and has no financial problems at all (assets larger than its liabilities, little debt) — filed for and was declared to be in bankruptcy from one day to the next last week, leaving 400 workers on the street. The government responded by activating a never-before-used Anti-Economic and Financial Terorism Law to file charges against Donnelley for filing for a fraudulent bankruptcy with intent to "alter the economic and financial order" and "sow terror among the population." The government intends to also file before the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for an investigation of this fraudulent behavior.  [...]" 

MSM: "The EU 'Demands' Argentina to' Ban Food Exports to Russia': Arrogance and Stupidity" [08/17/14] Printer Friendly Version "Imagine – Argentina – and the rest of Latin America – being urged by the EU, ultimate puppet of the US not to supply Russia with food stuff – vegetables, fruit, meat – after Argentina was ‘punished’ by a corrupt court in New York to pay 1.5 billion dollars to the fraudulent NML Capital et al vulture funds – out of its current agreed upon debt of US$29 billion – equivalent to Argentina’s total reserves. And yes, the hedge funds have to be paid 100%, when the remaining 93% of creditors agreed on a 20% reimbursement rate. – And, yes, Mr. Griesa, the bought NY judge, has blocked all of Argentina’s payments to the other creditors, unless his vulture clients are paid in full. So, Argentina is in forced default – having to pay now much higher interest rates on international money markets, if she is indeed still eligible for international credits. [...]" See below

Commentary: "HSBC Headquarters Raided In Argentina" [08/16/14] Printer Friendly Version "Call it “the Mother of the Vultures.” HSBC, the Crown Jewel of the British monarchy’s Opium Wars, then and now, found its Buenos Aires headquarters and two other offices raided Wednesday by agents of Argentina’s AFIP tax bureau, in search of documents for the tax-evasion and money-laundering case opened against the empire’s bank last February. Argentine authorities are charging HSBC with being a criminal enterprise, setting up an elaborate mechanism through which local companies could lie about their earnings. [...] The U.S. Senate provided the Obama administration’s Department of Justice over a year ago with 300-plus pages of documentation of HSBC role as a primary money-launderer into the U.S. for Mexico’s bloody drug cartels and Al Qaeda terrorists globally. What’s not so common, is that a government actually moves in to close down such an operation. Does Argentina have more in store for all the international banks waging financial war against it? [...]"  Related: "Cry for Argentina: Fiscal Mismanagement, Odious Debt or Pillage?" Printer Friendly Version "Argentina has now taken the US to The Hague for blocking the country’s 2005 settlement with the bulk of its creditors. The issue underscores the need for an international mechanism for nations to go bankrupt. Better yet would be a sustainable global monetary scheme that avoids the need for sovereign bankruptcy. Argentina was the richest country in Latin America before decades of neoliberal and IMF-imposed economic policies drowned it in debt. A severe crisis in 2001 plunged it into the largest sovereign debt default in history. In 2005, it renegotiated its debt with most of its creditors at a 70% “haircut.” But the opportunist “vulture funds,” which had bought Argentine debt at distressed prices, held out for 100 cents on the dollar. [...]" | "Wall Street Hedge Fund Fraud Upheld by US Court: Argentina to Pay “Vulture” Fund $832 Million for Bonds Bought for $49 Million" Printer Friendly Version "Paul Singer, the billionaire hedge fund manager, has claimed victory in a lawsuit to force Argentina to fork out almost 17 times more than he paid to buy bonds issued by the country. After Argentina’s economy crashed in 2001 and it defaulted on $80 billion in bonds, Singer’s Elliott Capital Management paid $49 million to buy $220 million in Argentine debt. Over the last 13 years, the value of these bonds has risen to $832 million which Singer wants paid off in full. Singer has been joined by several other Wall Street speculators such as Aurelius Capital Management and Blue Angel who together hold a total of $1.3 billion in Argentine debt. In the meantime, after extensive negotiations, almost all other holders of Argentina’s total $93 billion in debt agreed to forgive as much as 70 percent of what they were owed, recognizing that the country was in dire financial straits.[...]"  Note: The country is being punished:  Articles going back to early August "Argentina Calls For U.S. Intervention In Its Debt Battle" Printer Friendly Version | "Argentina Sues U.S. Government at the International Court at The Hague" Printer Friendly Version | "Argentina Debt Battle Heads for 'Showdown,' as Obama Rejects Jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice" Printer Friendly Version | "Obama Can End Argentina’s Debt Crisis with a Pen" Printer Friendly Version | "Judge Griesa Unhinged: Threatens Argentina with Contempt of Court for Being Truthful" Printer Friendly Version | "US Court Forces Argentina Into Default" Printer Friendly Version perhaps it's revenge for some of these (July): "Russia, Argentina Sign Nuclear Agreement" Printer Friendly Version |"China and Argentina: A New Global Financial System Is Needed" Printer Friendly Version "Argentina Gets A 7.5 Bn Loan From China" Printer Friendly Version | "Argentina Suspends Construction Of Monsanto's Unconstitutional GMO Seed Plant" [Jan 2014] Printer Friendly Version  "Argentina – Birth Defects from GM Soy" [2012] Printer Friendly Version |"GE Soybeans Are Destroying Argentina's Agriculture" Printer Friendly Version [Jan 2014]

 Max Keiser: "Conquest By Counterfeit Fiat Currency, Military Force" [08/16/14] [9:13] "Max Keiser talks with Alex Jones about economic control. [...]" 

MSM: "Russia Seeks Safe Haven In Gold, Away From Dollar And Euro" [08/16/14] Printer Friendly Version "Russia is taking steps to ensure that it protects itself from any future dollar or euro sanctions. Moscow boasts the world’s 5th biggest foreign exchange reserves and the 6th largest gold reserves. In total, the assets amount to over $1.5 trillion. While the West is continuing to try and punish Russia via economic sanctions, the response of the Russian Central Bank has been to diversify away from the euro and dollar – and to buy up more gold. As the geopolitical situation in Ukraine deteriorates, Russia is moving to protect itself from currency risks associated with the euro and the greenback. In the first half of 2014, Russia’s Central Bank reduced its foreign currency reserves by 2.5 percent. “Due to the worsening geopolitical situation, the Central Bank actively redistributed foreign exchange reserves, replacing US Treasury bonds with gold. Instead of buying euros and dollars, Russia’s Central Bank is eyeing the Chinese yuan and the Japanese yen. Boosting currency swaps and bilateral payments with China and other strategic trade partners will continue to bypass the US dollar. Last week, Russia’s and China’s central banks have agreed to increase currency swaps. [...]" 

Concepts and Practices: "Top 10 Reasons To Hate Capitalism" [08/15/14] Printer Friendly Version "10. Capitalist corporations suffer from a personality disorder characterized by enduring antisocial behavior, diminished empathy and remorse, and are rewarded by shareholders for acting that way. If corporations could be sent to a criminal psychologist’s office they’d be diagnosed as psychopaths and locked away forever. [...] 9. Capitalism encourages greed. But greed is only good for capitalists. For normal people it is anti-social and soul destroying, not to mention very bad for our communities, which rely on altruism, compassion and a generalized concern for others. [...] 8. Capitalism is a system of minority privilege and class rule based on the private ownership of means of livelihood. This gives a few rich people the power to buy and sell jobs, which means they can build or destroy entire communities that depend on those jobs. [...] 7. Capitalists praise freedom and individualism, but they destroy freedom and individualism for everyone but themselves. The vast majority of us who work for a living are daily asked to uncritically follow orders, to act as if we are machines, and limit our creativity to what profits our bosses. [...] 6. Capitalists denigrate cooperation and collectivism, but create mass production processes that rely on both from workers. Their system requires us to be cogs in a giant profit-making machine, but because they fear the power this gives us we are told working together for our own interests is illegitimate and bad. Thus capitalists undermine unions and other organizations that encourage workers to cooperate with each other and act collectively. [...] 5. Capitalism requires the largest propaganda system the world has ever known to convince us it is the only system possible. It turns people into consumers through advertising, marketing, entertainment and even so-called news. Millions around the world are employed to use their creativity to twist our feelings of love, desire, human solidarity and fairness into tools of manipulation, so that ever more profits can flow into the hands of a tiny minority.[...] [...] 4. Capitalism is a system in which the principle of one dollar, one vote, dominates that of one person, one vote. Those who own the most shares (bought with their dollars) control giant corporations, many of which are more powerful than all but a few governments. Rich people also use their money to dominate the elections that are supposed to give us all one, equal vote. Under capitalism those with the most money are entitled to the most goods and services as well as the most say in directing our governments and our economy. [...] 3. Capitalism proclaims the virtue of naked self-interest, but self-interest without regard for morality, ecology or common sense leads to environmental degradation, destruction of indigenous communities, colonialism, war and other forms of mass destruction. Self-interest leads capitalists to seek profit absolutely everywhere, regardless of the damage done to other people and the health of the planet’s ecosystem. Self-interest leads capitalists to destroy any rival economic system or way of thinking (such as indigenous communal land use and respect for nature) that can be a barrier to their endless quest for profit. [...]" Note: It's an Orion template which permeates sectors of this galaxy. Related: "Pathology Of Domination" Printer Friendly Version "... Domination is scary, particularly when it is so institutionalized in the fabric of the social system as to be second nature, unquestioned, to the extent that American politics is to all intents and purposes Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the consensual pursuit of advanced capitalism as the permanent foundation of the American social order at home and its projection abroad, unilateral, in governing the world political- economic order. Today’s news: Obama and Clinton create sparks in a jar that is hermetically sealed, one outdoing the other in expansionist confrontation as part of a renewed Cold War to arrest America’s imperial decline. Republican opponents, novices at the game, sputtering belligerence, are no match for “liberal humanitarianism” as an instrument of conquest. [...]"  

Commentary: "14 Reasons Why The U.S. Economy’s Bubble Of False Prosperity May Be About To Burst" [08/15/14] Printer Friendly Version "Retail sales are extremely disappointing, mortgage applications are at a 14-year low and growing geopolitical storms around the world have investors spooked. For a long time now, we have been enjoying a period of relative economic stability even though our underlying economic fundamentals continue to get even worse. Unfortunately, there are now a bunch of signs that this period of relative stability is about to end. The following are 14 reasons why the U.S. economy's bubble of false prosperity may be about to burst...[...] #1 The U.S. junk bond market just experienced "a 6-sigma event" earlier this month. In other words, it is an event that is only supposed to have a chance of 1 in 500 million of happening. Billions of dollars are being pulled out of junk bonds right now, and that has some analysts wondering if a financial crash is right around the corner. #2 The last time that we saw a junk bond rout of this magnitude was back during the financial crash of 2008. In fact, as the Telegraph recently explained, bonds usually crash before stocks do... The credit market usually leads the equity market during turning points, as happened when credit markets cracked first in 2008.[...] #3 Retail sales have missed expectations for three months in a row and we just had the worst reading since January. #4 Things have gotten so bad that even Wal-Mart is really struggling. Same-store sales at Wal-Mart have declined for five quarters in a row and the outlook for the future is not particularly promising. [...] #5 The four week moving average for mortgage applications just hit a 14 year low. It is now even lower than it was during the worst moments of the financial crisis of 2008.
#6 The tech industry is supposed to be booming, but mass layoffs in the tech industry are actually 68 percent ahead of last year's pace. #7 According to the Federal Reserve, 40 percent of all households in the United States are currently showing signs of financial stress. #8 The U.S. homeownership rate has fallen to the lowest level since 1995. #9 According to one survey, 76 percent of Americans do not have enough money saved to cover six months of expenses. [...] There is no way that this bubble of false prosperity was going to last forever. It was never real to begin with. It was just based on a pyramid of debt and false promises. In fact, the condition of the global financial system is now far worse than it was just prior to the financial crisis of 2008. Sadly, most people do not understand these things. Most people just assume that our leaders have fixed whatever caused the problems last time. And when the next crisis arrives, they will be totally blindsided by it.[...]" 

MSM: "Japanese GDP Plunges 6.8% As Consumer Spending Collapses" [08/15/14] Printer Friendly Version Note: Radioactivity must stem the desire to 'shop'.

MSM: "BRICS Are Drifting Away From US And European Monetary Structures" [08/14/14] Printer Friendly Version "The BRICS countries (Brazil (EWZ), Russia, India (EPI), China (FXI), and South Africa) are slowly but surely drifting away from the 20th Century monetary and political structures setup by the U.S. (SPY) and Europe (EZU), as characterized by Russia’s G8 membership being revoked in the wake of the events in Crimea. The G7, as it is now known, is at odds with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, but that rift applies to the entire BRICS coalition — a group that seems to be growing stronger and more focused as leader of the Emerging Markets. There have been a slew of recent moves within the BRICS network. Russia and China inked a $400 billion, 30-year natural gas partnership, forged a bilateral inter-bank agreement to deal in local currencies, and announced plans to create a new credit rating system to counter the Western agencies. China is diversifying away its U.S. dollar exposure, China and Brazil finalized a local currency swap, and leaders from the group of nations just met for the sixth annual BRICS Summit in Brazil. [...]China and Russia are also disintegrating from the standard credit rating procedures by agreeing to establish a rating agency on joint projects and international services. The rating agency would use similar tools and criteria for assessing creditworthiness as the existing agencies. This move came in response to the countries’ fears that negative feedback from agencies could prove harmful to their economies. According to a joint statement from Russia and China on the partnership and strategic cooperation, Russia and China are planning to bypass the dollar and increase the volume of direct payments in their national currencies. This would threaten the dominance of the petrodollar and could be a huge blow to the economy if other nations follow suit."  Related: "How The BRICS Summit Has Led To Setting Up An Alternative To Institutions Like The World Bank And IMF" Printer Friendly Version | "The New BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement" Printer Friendly Version |"Why The Long-Term Prospects For The BRICS Network Are Positive" Printer Friendly Version 

MSM: "Trading Robots ’Cause Stock Market Tsunamis" [08/14/14] Printer Friendly Version "If you have ever tried to grab a bargain that appears online, you’ll know you have to be quick. The business of high frequency trading — using algorithms and superfast computers to conduct trades in a fraction of a second — is a supercharged version of this, with the potential to execute millions of buy and sell orders electronically each day through the myriad exchanges currently in existence. Advocates argue that high frequency trading reduces market volatility and lowers transaction costs for small investors, but others claim it is unfair on slower traders, and can lead to instability — trading algorithms and high frequency trading were behind the “Flash Crash” of May 6 2010, when the Dow Jones briefly plummeted almost 1,000 points. [...] However, there are two problems that make the future of high frequency trading of unique global concern, irrespective of how popular it becomes. The first is a scientific one: Financial markets represent the largest-ever sociotechnical system in existence, with a mix of state-of-the-art communications and computational power operating at speeds approaching the natural speed limit of light. Yet nobody, including Einstein, has ever produced a theory that predicts what might go wrong in an ultrafast global network of interconnected machines that carry out millions of operations in the blink of an eye -- or what can be done to prevent or manage it. This leads to the second problem. How can regulators and governments possibly decide how to manage this emerging ultrafast financial jungle if nobody yet fully understands it? [...]"  

Commentary: "BRICS Bank Challenges The Exorbitant Privilege Of The US Dollar" [08/13/14] Printer Friendly Version "At the end of the Sixth BRICS Summit in Fortaleza, Brazil on July 16, 2014, the leaders of the BRICS countries announced the “Fortaleza Action Plan.” This plan is in the context of the Fortaleza Declaration, where the leaders reinforced their position that BRICS would be an international force in challenging the neo-liberal policies of the Washington Consensus. Touching on areas of major destabilization in the world – from Syria to Sudan and from Ukraine to Iraq – the leaders spelt out the need for new paths to peace and for strengthening the United Nations to resolve the outstanding questions of war and insecurity. The most daring aspect of the Fortaleza Declaration was the announcement of a new financial architecture to intervene in relation to the international tensions that have arisen since the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States announced the monetary policy of Quantitative Easing This policy allows a central bank, like the Federal Reserve System, to purchase government or other securities from the market with the goal of lowering interest rates and increasing the available money supply. The BRICS summit announced two new pillars in a new financial architecture that is to be anchored with the headquarters of the New Development Bank in Shanghai, China. [...] The Fortaleza Action Plan and the outcomes of this summit represented a major step in breaking the Exorbitant Privilege of the US dollar as a the dominant international currency. Along with the formal establishment of the New Development Bank (NDB), the leaders announced the launch of a Contingency Reserve Arrangement (CRA), which in 2013 was approved to receive a $100 billion fund to combat currency crises. The first president of the Bank will be from India, the inaugural Chairman of the Board of directors will come from Brazil and the inaugural chairman of the Board of Governors will be Russian. It was stressed in the Fortaleza proclamations that the BRICS Bank would be organized on the basis of equality unlike the current IMF and World Bank where the leader of the IMF is always a European and the head of the World Bank is always a U.S citizen. The proposal for the BRICS bank had been announced at the BRICS summit in New Delhi in 2012 and at the summit in Durban in 2013 the plan for the CRA was also outlined. The long term goal of the CRA will be to provide emergency cash to BRICS countries faced with short term credit crisis or balance of payments problems. Ultimately, in the context of the present currency wars, the CRA will replace the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as the provider of resources for BRICS members and other poor societies when there is balance of payment difficulties. “The bank is emerging at a moment when the entire international financial system continues to be in a state of instability because of the recklessness of the predatory speculators of Wall Street.[...]"  

MSM: "U.S. Bail-Ins – Fed Vice Chair Fischer Says “Preparing A Proposal" [08/13/14] Printer Friendly Version "Federal Reserve Vice Chairman (and duel US-Israeli former head of the bank of Israel) Stanley Fischer delivered his first speech on the U.S. and global economy in Stockholm, Sweden yesterday. Fischer headed Israel’s central bank from 2005 through 2013 and is now number two at the Federal Reserve in the U.S. after Janet Yellen. Fischer’s comments that the U.S. is “preparing a proposal” for bail-ins is at odds with Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and Bank of England officials who have said that bail-in legislation could be used today. [...]"  

Commentary: "Among Professional Investors, ‘Faith’ In Markets Collapses" [08/11/14] Printer Friendly Version "W. Ben Hunt, Chief Risk Officer of Salient Partners, described a fascinating phenomenon – and one with a potentially dreadful outcome. He’d spent a few weeks traveling across the country to meet with Salient clients – investment advisors and professional investors – to understand their thinking about the markets in what he called “the Golden Age of the Central Banker.” And what surprised him was how widespread, how near universal that phenomenon has become among these professionals. He explains it in his firm’s blog, Epsilon Theory (his emphasis): Today, everyone believes that market price levels are largely driven by monetary policy and that we are all being played by politicians and central bankers using their words for effect rather than direct communication. No one requires convincing that market price levels are unsupported by real world economic activity. Everyone believes that this will all end badly, and the only real question is when.[...] Among these investment advisors and professionals, “everyone believes” that fundamentals no longer drive this market, but that monetary policy does. The Fed is the only thing that matters. In a prior report, he called it Narrative of Central Bank Omnipotence. But these professional “were weary of the game,” which they considered a “big charade,” and they were “weary of being told what to think.” So why haven’t they gotten out of the market? Why aren’t they fleeing this game, this charade en masse? Turns out, they aren’t ready yet. They still have “plenty of confidence” in their ability to play this game, they know how this charade works, and armed with this “confidence in their knowledge of how the game is played,” they aren’t bailing out of this charade yet. On the contrary, everyone is pretty much fully invested because they feel like they have to be. But there’s no faith in markets, which is a totally different thing than knowledge or intellectual confidence."  This is a psychological phenomenon – what professionals believe and feel. And if Mr. Hunt’s assessment is correct and as widespread and “overwhelming” among these professionals as it seems, it poses a terrible risk for the markets: it can turn at the blink of an eye. One minute, they’re confident they can master the game and play along with the charade, the next minute they get spooked, and their believes and feelings flip around, and then they’ll be trying to salvage what they’ve earned, and they start unloading their assets. And in a bout of mass psychology, where they’re all influencing each other, they might start selling at the same time, when economic fundamentals have long ago stopped providing support, when liquidity has dried up, when buyers have gone on strike.[...]"

Commentary: "Whistleblower: Fed “Highly Alarmed” About Bitcoin Conquering Dollar System" [08/08/14] Printer Friendly Version "A whistleblower who was employed as a briefing researcher at the Federal Reserve has revealed that Fed governors were “highly alarmed” by a major internal report which revealed that Bitcoin would likely supercede the dollar system within the next 12 years. The individual outlined what happened in a Reddit post, explaining that he was a trained economist with a B.S. in Computer Science, an M.S. in Operations Research, a PhD in Econometrics, and had been tasked by the Federal Reserve to compile a report on Bitcoin and how the cryptocurrency would impact the existing monetary system. Several other research teams had also been assigned the same task by the Fed. [...]"  Note: The whole issue is moot, in the end ... it's all based on nothing, either way. Related: "Gov’t Says Bitcoins Are Taxable Property And Not Currency" [2:36]

MSM: "Sanctions On Russia Hurt US Dollar Dominance" [08/07/14] Printer Friendly Version "The US dollar, the dominant global currency since 1944, may lose some of its luster due to the American-led sanctions against Russia over the turmoil in Ukraine. The greenback has been fading in favor since the global financial crisis in 2008. The US-led sanctions against Russia may have backfired on the US because it threatens to “hasten a move away from the dollar that’s been stirring since the global financial crisis [in 2008],” Rachel Evans at Bloomberg wrote. In an unexpected turn of events, Hong Kong’s central bank has bought more than $9.5 billion since the start of July “to prevent its currency from rallying as the sanctions stoked speculation of an influx of Russian cash,” she noted. “OAO MegaFon, Russia’s second-largest wireless operator, shifted some cash holdings into the city’s dollar,” according to Bloomberg. “Trading of the Chinese yuan versus the Russian ruble rose to the highest on July 31 since the end of 2010, according to the Moscow Exchange.” In March, after Crimea voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia, the US and European Union imposed visa restrictions on Russians and Crimeans whom they considered “most directly involved in destabilizing Ukraine, including the military intervention in Crimea.” America and the EU expanded their economic punishment later in the month, as well as twice in April, once in May and twice in July, according to Debevoise & Plimpton, an international financial law firm. In the latest round of sanctions, issued on July 29, the European Union imposed broader sanctions to “limit access to EU capital markets for Russian State-owned financial institutions, impose an embargo on trade in arms, establish an export ban for dual use goods for military end users and curtail Russian access to sensitive technologies particularly in the field of the oil sector.” President Barack Obama announced the US would also be “blocking the exports of specific goods and technologies to the Russian energy sector,” “expanding sanctions to more banks” and “suspending credit that encourages exports to Russia.” But the move may backfire on the US, according to Rachel Evans at Bloomberg, who wrote that the sanctions against Russia “threaten to hasten a move away from the dollar that’s been stirring since the global financial crisis [in 2008].“ [...]" 

MSM: "Lloyds Bank Admits Fixing Repo Rate" [08/06/14] Printer Friendly Version "Britain’s Lloyds Bank found a new way to rig the market in order to reduce the fees it paid the Bank of England for its £20 billion bailout in 2008-9. It demonstrates once again that swindling, fraud and criminality are the City of London’s modus operandi. And the victims of this bank robbery are working people. Lloyds, in which the Treasury has a 24 percent stake following the bank’s collapse in 2008, admitted that four of its staff had defrauded the Treasury by manipulating the “repo” rate, which determined the fees payable to the Bank of England and thus the Treasury for accessing the government’s financial lifeboat for the bank—known as the Special Liquidity Scheme (SLS). Under the SLS, the banks could swap their worthless loans for UK Treasury Gilts that could be sold for cash. In return, the banks had to pay a fee, supposedly to bring the cost of SLS funding up to the commercial borrowing rate, based upon the repo rate which the banks themselves were allowed to set. Lloyds and Bank of Scotland (BoS), with whom it merged as part of the restructuring, were the biggest beneficiaries of the bailout scheme, receiving £90 billion between 2009 and 2012 when the scheme closed, for which they paid £1.28 billion in fees, or just 1.4 percent. Even this was considered too much by the bank. They evidently thought they were entitled to a cut price bailout. According to the Bank of England’s (BoE) regulators, the bank rigged the rate to reduce the fees paid by £7.8 million, a trifling sum in the scheme of things. But Lloyds’ scam in turn reduced the fees other banks paid, always assuming that they too were not fiddling the repo rate. The Lloyds group is to be fined £70 million for rigging the rate, and ordered to repay £7.8 million, which the BoE said “fully” took into account the loss of fees paid by other banks. [...]" 

MSM: "Celente: How Global Conflicts Will Change How, Where And Why Money Is Invested" [08/06/14] [44:22] 

Exposé: "HSBC Whistleblower – Banks Are Financing Terrorism" [08/04/14] Printer Friendly Version [8:00] "HSBC Bank whistleblower Everett Stern, CEO of Tactical Rabbit, says that banks like HSBC not only know, but have admitted to doing business with companies that finance terrorists. “HSBC is part of the deferred prosecution agreement and JP Morgan and Citibank, they have all admitted to these things,” Stern told Ed Berliner on “MidPoint” on Newsmax TV Wednesday. “For some reason the mainstream media is not covering the issue, and the American public doesn’t understand that these banks are literally financing the next 9/11,” he explained.  Stern uncovered a money-laundering operation at HSBC in 2011, when he discovered that the bank was giving the terrorist group Hezbollah access to millions of dollars. "What I found was criminal manipulation of the wire filter and there was hundreds upon millions of dollars moving from Caribe Supermarkets, which is in Gambia, which is owned by the Tajideen brothers, which are financiers of Hezbollah," he explained. "And that money was being laundered through the U.S. and then back to Lebanon," he said. "It was financing Hezbollah, and this is what was going on at HSBC," the CEO of Tactical Rabbit said. The Justice Department fined HSBC $2 billion, "which is five weeks of their profit, and that was it," he added. Even though money laundering is generally seen as a white-collar crime, "these people have the blood of American soldiers on their hands."[...]" 

Commentary: "Russian Oligarchs Wave Goodbye To Visa, Switch To Chinese Credit Card" [08/03/14] Printer Friendly Version "So much for the "Russia is becoming increasingly isolated" meme that the West would like many to believe. As Russia continues to sign de-dollarization deals and trade agreements with its BRICS allies while pushing ahead with retaliatory actions against the US and Europe, it appears the 'sanctioned' friends of Putin are taking matters into their own hands. Billionaire oligarch Gennady Timchenko, among the first to be hit by travel bans and asset freezes by the US, has decided to tear up his Visa and Mastercard, shifting all his credit cards to China's UnionPay, noting that "in some ways it is more secure than Visa - at least the Americans can't reach it." [...]" 

MSM: "Argentina Accuses US Of Judicial Malpractice For Triggering Needless Default" [08/02/14] Printer Friendly Version "Argentina has threatened to take the US to the International Court of Justice for judicial malpractice, accusing the country of gross incompetence for allowing two small hedge funds to push the Argentine state into default, regardless of the mayhem caused for other creditors and the damage to ordinary people. The bitter attack came after a New York court prevented Argentina paying $539m to its creditors even though the Peronist government of Cristina Kirchner wants to do so, in the latest bizarre development in the country’s long struggle to regain access to global capital markets.  [...]"  Related: "Argentina's Ministry Of Economy To Investigate Into Possible Debt-Related Fraud" Printer Friendly Version | "Not Just Argentina: 11 Countries Near Bankruptcy" | Flashback: "Hillary Clinton Questions Cristina Kirchner's Mental Health" 2010 Printer Friendly Version Secret cable sent to US embassy in Argentina asks diplomats to find out how president handles stress. Clinton's preoccupation may stem partly from the fact that Kirchner's career has mirrored her own: both are lawyers and tough political operators whose husbands became president and campaigned for their wives to inherit the sash after they left office. Before being elected in 2007 Kirchner welcomed the comparisons and called the then New York senator an inspiration. [...]" 

MSM: "EU Raises The Stakes: New Sanctions Target Russia’s Biggest Banks" [08/02/14]   [2:02] "The European Union has imposed sectorial sanctions on five Russian banks, including the country’s biggest, Sberbank, as part of economic steps that Europe, along with the US, have taken against Moscow over the crisis in Ukraine. [...]"  

Buffoonery: "IMF Urges Higher Energy Taxes To Fight ‘Climate Change’" MSM [08/01/14] Printer Friendly Version "Energy taxes in much of the world are far below what they should be to reflect the harmful environmental and health impact of fossil fuels use, the International Monetary Fund said in a new book on Thursday. For the first time, the IMF laid out exactly what it views as appropriate taxes on coal, natural gas, gasoline and diesel in 156 countries to factor in the fuels’ overall costs, which include carbon dioxide emissions, air pollution, congestion and traffic accidents. Under its chief, Christine Lagarde, the IMF has delved into the impact of climate change, arguing that tackling the fund’s core mission of economic instability is impossible without also addressing environmental damage. At the book’s launch in Washington, Lagarde said countries should not have to wait for global agreement on climate policies, and instead should move ahead in adjusting energy prices on their own." [...]"  Note: The whole scheme is a deception, based on a lie and a way to drain world resources into the US-controlled IMF. Remember, their climate propaganda program equates the idea of 'climate change' only with the notion of "global warming because of human-caused CO2", when in fact, climate change means climate change, warm or cold, and it is something that man can do nothing about, and the scheme to propose otherwise is an incredibly brash fraud, based on repetition of their perspective, using system 'power over' functions as a social 'wedge' in an attempt to force the population to comply and meekly accept their transparent fraud.

MSM: "Senate Bombshell Testimony: Citigroup and Bank of America Stock Worthless Without Implied Government Guarantees" [08/01/14] Printer Friendly Version "Senator Sherrod Brown, Chairman of the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection, will take testimony at 2 p.m. today on market subsidies enjoyed by implied future government bailouts of the too-big-to-fail status of Wall Street’s bloated and serially malfeasant banks. The hearing is set to coincide with a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). An early peek at written testimony by three separate professors set to testify guarantees a belated July 4 fireworks display — one that is not likely to enjoy a welcome reception within the Wall Street corridors of power. Expect the phone lines of lobbyists and congressional campaign managers to be lighting up all over the nation’s capitol this afternoon. [...] Edward J. Kane, Professor of Finance at Boston College will get things off to a rousing start by telling the Subcommittee that any suggestion that the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation ended the implied government guarantees “is a dangerous pipe dream.” A powerful argument made by Kane (see full text of testimony linked below) is that these too-big-to-fail banks enjoy not just a market subsidy on their debt but on their equity as well. Kane then lands this bombshell: “The warranted rate of return on the stock of deeply undercapitalized firms like Citi and B of A [Bank of America] would have been sky high and their stock would have been declared worthless long ago if market participants were not convinced that authorities are afraid to force them to resolve their weaknesses.”[...]"  

MSM: "Goldman Sachs Managing Director Nicholas Valtz Found Dead" [07/30/14] Printer Friendly Version "On the morning of July 20, Valtz left his home in Bridgehampton, New York, on Long Island’s eastern end, to spend time on his latest sport. Kitesurfing, also known as kiteboarding, combines elements of windsurfing and paragliding. After he didn’t return home, family members went searching. They found his body in Napeague Harbor, a popular spot for kiteboarding. Police in East Hampton, New York, said his body was found floating in the water secured to his kite. At Goldman Sachs, where he worked since 2000, Valtz was a managing director in cross-asset sales. He helped manage orders for trading clients and pitch them products and ideas among different types of securities.  [...]" 

MSM: "Deutsche Bank, HSBC And Bank Of Nova Scotia Accused Of Attempting To Rig The Price Of Silver" [07/29/14] Printer Friendly Version "Deutsche Bank, HSBC and Bank of Nova Scotia have been accused of attempting to rig the price of silver, in a lawsuit filed in the US. The plaintiff alleges the banks, which set the price of silver each day, abused their position in the market. Deutsche Bank and HSBC have not commented on the filing, while Bank of Nova Scotia told Bloomberg news agency it would "vigorously defend" itself. The lawsuit follows similar filings in the gold price-fixing market. Earlier this year, Barclays Bank was fined £26m ($44m) by UK regulators after one of its traders was discovered attempting to fix the price of gold. Investor Scott Nicholson from Washington said in the filing against the three banks for price-fixing: "The extreme level of secrecy creates an environment that is ripe for manipulation. [...]"  

Commentary: "Obama’s Ukrainian Ploy Collapses; Ukraine Now Seeks Direct U.S. Bailout" Eric Zuesse [07/26/14] Printer Friendly Version "The Ukrainian leadership has resigned, because of their unwillingness to impose the IMF’s terms, which would impoverish the population within months. That impoverishment would be extracted from the Ukrainian public in order to repay the IMF’s loans, which had been skimmed off by Ukraine’s oligarch billionaires into secret bank accounts in Switzerland and other tax-havens. [...]  Two of the four parties in Ukraine’s ruling coalition have bolted, refusing those IMF terms on loan-repayment; and, so, on July 24th, Ukraine’s Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who had been appointed by Obama’s agent Victoria Nuland, tendered his resignation, and he announced: “The fact is that today you failed to vote for the laws, and I have nothing (with which) to pay wages of policemen, doctors, teachers; nothing to buy a rifle with, nothing to fuel an armored personnel carrier with. Today you failed to take a decision to fill the gas storages to allow us to live through the winter, to at last free ourselves from dependence on Russian gas.”  [...]   As the great journalist Michel Chossudovsky, reported on July 24th, Ukraine’s figurehead President, Petro “Poroshenko believes that when sanctions [against Russia] are not working, there are grounds for appeal to the United States Congress to grant Ukraine the special status of a major ally outside NATO (like Israel, Australia, and the Philippines) to enable it to solve its security problems. (Ukrainian News, July 24, 2014. This Special Status was granted. See  "U.S. Grants Ukraine Non-NATO Ally Status" [07/20/14]) The granting of the ‘status of ally outside NATO’ would set the stage for the possible deployment of US and NATO forces inside Ukraine in the context of joint military operations with the Ukraine Armed Forces and National Guard.”" [...] Consequently, there is now being promoted in Kiev “a bill foreseeing the expansion of U.S. military and technical aid.” In other words: The government that Obama installed in February is now seeking direct U.S. support in order to continue its ethnic cleansing campaign, which is aimed at getting rid of the people who had elected the man, President Viktor Yanukovych, whom Obama’s February coup in Kiev had overthrown. The people that Obama then placed into control there are now expecting direct U.S. assistance, to complete that ethnic-cleansing campaign, which is being carried out in the ethnic-Russian portions of Ukraine, so as to eliminate the Ukrainians who would be opposing the placement into Ukraine of nuclear missiles within a mere ten-minute flight-time to annihilating Moscow. Obama’s plan, to thus coerce Russian capitulation, seems, in other words, to be even less likely to succeed than it previously was. The proposed direct U.S. aid to Ukraine’s Nazis is like a proverbial “hail Mary pass” to a U.S. President who is, himself, barely more popular here, than his stooges in Kiev are among Ukrainians. It’s an act of sheer desperation. [...]" Related: "Ukraine Coup Coalition Splits, "Yats" Quits, Poroshenko Scrambles to Satisfy IMF" Printer Friendly Version 

MSM: "De-Dollarization Spreads: Swiss & Chinese Central Banks Enter Swap Agreement" [07/26/14] Printer Friendly Version "The Swiss National Bank and the People’s Bank of China reached a currency swap agreement this week. While this is not a huge trend changer in the near-term, it demonstrates that our forecast for China to become the largest economy and to be the next financial capital of the world when Europe and the USA blow themselves apart with defaulting socialism is on track. This agreement will allow the two central banks to buy and sell their currencies up to a limit of 150 billion renminbi, or 21 billion Swiss francs ($23.4 billion). The deal will also allow the Swiss central bank to invest some of its huge accumulation of foreign exchange reserves in the Chinese bond market.  The Zurich-based SNB said the agreement will further strengthen collaboration between it and its Chinese counterpart and is a “key requisite for the development of a renminbi market in Switzerland.” It could also facilitate trade and investment between the two countries, the PBOC said. This demonstrates that China is moving in the correct direction. [...]" 

MSM: "IMF Says 50 Million Americans Live in Poverty, Unveils Steps to Boost Economic Growth" [07/24/14] Printer Friendly Version "Fifty million Americans still live in poverty in the United States, including almost one-in-four US children, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Wednesday. In its newest report on the world’s largest economy, the IMF urged Washington to boost the nation’s sluggish long-term growth and employment rates to tackle its social vows. “Despite improving growth and rising employment, almost 50 million Americans still live in poverty, unable to earn enough to meet their basic needs… Improved employment prospects and economic growth will be essential to bringing this number down,” the IMF said in its annual survey. It emphasized the importance of the United States agreeing a “credible medium-term fiscal consolidation plan” that can be designed to reduce poverty, and also encourage longer-term growth. The necessity of a plan brought into the limelight by a three-week shutdown in 2013, after months of debt ceiling impasse. The global economic monitor pointed to a slump in US economic activity in the first quarter of 2014 following an unusually harsh winter, which together with a struggling housing market, slower exports demand and a 2.9-percent drop in home production output. [...]"  

MSM: "Senate: Renaissance Hedge Fund Avoided $6 Billion In Taxes In Bogus Scheme With Banks" [07/23/14] Printer Friendly Version "Only one word comes to mind to describe the testimony taking place before the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations this morning: Machiavellian. The criminal minds on Wall Street have twisted banking and securities laws into such a pretzel of hubris that neither Congress, Federal Regulators or even the General Accountability Office can say with any confidence if the U.S. financial system is an over- leveraged house of cards. They just don’t know.  [...] According to a copious report released last evening, here’s what hedge funds have been doing for more than a decade with the intimate involvement of global banks: the hedge fund makes a deposit of cash into an account at the bank which has been established so that the hedge fund can engage in high frequency trading of stocks. The account is not in the hedge fund’s name but in the bank’s name. The bank then deposits $9 for every one dollar the hedge fund deposits into the same account. Some times, the leverage reaches as high as 20 to 1. The hedge fund proceeds to trade the hell out of the account, generating tens of thousands of trades a day using their own high frequency trading program and algorithms. Many of the trades last no more than minutes. The bank charges the hedge fund fees for the trade executions and interest on the money loaned. Based on a written side agreement, preposterously called a “basket option,” the hedge fund will collect all the profits made in the account in the bank’s name after a year or longer and then characterize millions of trades which were held for less than a year, many for just minutes, as long-term capital gains (which by law require a holding period of a year or longer). Long term capital gains are taxed at almost half the tax rate of the top rate on short term gains. There are so many banking crimes embedded in this story that it’s hard to know where to begin. Let’s start with the one most dangerous to the safety and soundness of banks: extension of margin credit.[...]"  

Commentary: "BRICS And The Age of Financial Armageddon" [07/22/14] [42:44] "Alex Jones covers the break down of the bankrupt Bretton Woods system, the ascendancy of a newly minted BRICS banking system and the dangers of World War III in the age of crisis. [...]"  

MSM: "Goldman Managing Director Found Dead In Apparent Kite Surfing Accident" [07/22/14] Printer Friendly Version "Police are still investigating the tragic death of 39-year-old Goldman Sachs Managing Director Nicholas Valtz this weekend. As Bloomberg reports, Valtz, a "novice kiteboarder," was found dead yesterday by family members who went searching for him after he didn’t return from a kiteboarding outing. While there is no accusation of suicide in this case, it sadly brings the number of young financial services executives deaths to 16 this year. Valtz, a managing director in cross-asset sales at Goldman Sachs in New York, was found in Napeague Harbor off the coast of Long Island, according to the East Hampton police. Valtz, 39, was a “novice kiteboarder” and was found floating in the water secured to his kite, police said in a statement released yesterday. Other kite gear was found in a grassy area of the harbor, police said. Valtz, who joined Goldman Sachs in 2000, was promoted to managing director in 2010. His wife, Sashi Valtz, also works at Goldman Sachs as head of global third-party research sales, according to her LinkedIn profile. Police are still investigating the death, according to the statement. ... In March 2008, Valtz shaved his head to raise money for childhood cancer research, according to the website for St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Valtz enjoyed technology products and fast cars, according to the website for his brother-in-law’s 2012 wedding in which he was a groomsman.[...]"  

Commentary: "Behind ‘Smokescreen’ Of Charity, Global Financial Elite Pillage African Nations $60bn Each Year" [07/21/14] Printer Friendly Version "Under the “smokescreen” of giving aid or charity, western governments and multinational corporations are pillaging states in sub-Sahara Africa with losses nearing $60 billion each year, according to research published on Tuesday by a coalition of 10 Africa and UK-based NGOs. The report, Honest accounts? The true story of Africa’s billion dollar losses [PDF] finds that while an estimated $134 billion flows into the continent annually through a combination of loans, foreign investment and aid, African nations lose approximately $192 billion in profits made by foreign multinational companies, as well as through tax evasion and the costs of adapting to climate change. “Notions of aid and charity are in reality aiding politicians and multinational corporations to continue plundering Africa behind a shroud of ‘generosity’,” the report’s authors write. “It is preventing governments from being held accountable for policies that have a far greater impact on Africa and diverting attention from the structural changes needed to eliminate poverty and gross inequality.” The losses stem from abuses across a wide range of areas including: “illicit financial flows; profits taken out of the continent by multinational companies; debt payments; brain drain of skilled workers; illegal logging and fishing and the costs incurred as a result of climate change.” According to the report, if other countries keep looting Africa at the same rate, over the next 10 years the African people will lose $580 billion. “Common understanding is the UK ‘helps’ Africa through aid, but in reality this serves as a smokescreen for the billions taken out,” said Martin Drewry, director of Health Poverty Action. “It’s sustained looting – the opposite of generous giving – and we should recognize that the City of London is at the heart of the global financial system that facilitates this.” “The amount of resources flowing out of Africa demands we rethink the idea that Africa is impoverished,” the report continues. “Millions of ordinary Africans are certainly poor, but they are being kept so by a combination of bad policies and immoral or criminal activities perpetrated by elites both inside and outside the continent. [...]" 

MSM: "Citigroup: The Original Gangsta" [07/19/14] Printer Friendly Version "Obama’s Justice Department on Monday announced that Citigroup would pay $7 billion in fines, a move that will avoid a humiliating trial dealing with the seamy financial products the bank had marketed to an unsuspecting public, causing vast damage to the economy. Citigroup is the too-big-to-fail bank that was allowed to form only when Bill Clinton signed legislation reversing the sensible restraints on Wall Street instituted by President Franklin Roosevelt to avoid another Great Depression.  Those filled with Clinton nostalgia these days might want to reflect back on how truly destructive was his legacy for hardworking people throughout the world who lost so much due to the financial shenanigans that he made legal. “Today what we are doing is modernizing the financial services industry, tearing down those antiquated laws and granting banks significant new authority,” a beaming Clinton boasted after signing the Financial Services Modernization Act into law in 1999. Called the Citigroup authorization act by some wags at the time, those antiquated laws, the Glass-Steagall Act primarily, had put a safety barrier between the high rollers in Wall Street investment firms and the staid commercial banks charged with preserving the savings of ordinary folk. The new law permitted them to merge. Clinton handed the pen that he used in signing the new law to Citigroup Chairman Sanford Weill, whose Citicorp had already merged with Travelers Group before the law was even officially changed. On an earlier occasion, Weill had informed Clinton about his merger plans in a telephone conversation. After hanging up, Weill then bragged to his fellow banking executive John S. Reed, who was on the call, that “we just made the president of the United States an insider,” according to Wall Street Journal reporter Monica Langley in her book on the Citigroup merger. In 2000, just before leaving office, Clinton went much further in radical deregulation of the financial industry when he signed the Commodity Futures Modernization Act. In one swoop this eliminated from the purview of any existing regulation or regulatory agency the new financial products, including the mortgage-backed securities at the heart of the financial meltdown and the subject of the $7 billion fine levied in what has to be viewed as a copout deal. [...]"

Concepts and Practices: "Warren Destroys Yellen Over JPMorgan And Its Living Will" CSPAN [07/19/14] [7:40]   Note: Interesting exchange.

Commentary: "Black Rock And PIMCO Sue Banks For $250 Billion" [07/18/14] Printer Friendly Version "For years, homeowners have been battling Wall Street in an attempt to recover some portion of their massive losses from the housing Ponzi scheme. But progress has been slow, as they have been outgunned and out-spent by the banking titans. In June, however, the banks may have met their match, as some equally powerful titans strode onto the stage. Investors led by BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, and PIMCO, the world’s largest bond-fund manager, have sued some of the world’s largest banks for breach of fiduciary duty as trustees of their investment funds. The investors are seeking damages for losses surpassing $250 billion. That is the equivalent of one million homeowners with $250,000 in damages suing at one time. The defendants are the so-called trust banks that oversee payments and enforce terms on more than $2 trillion in residential mortgage securities. They include units of Deutsche Bank AG, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, HSBC Holdings PLC, and Bank of New York Mellon Corp. Six nearly identical complaints charge the trust banks with breach of their duty to force lenders and sponsors of the mortgage-backed securities to repurchase defective loans. Why the investors are only now suing is complicated, but it involves a recent court decision on the statute of limitations. Why the trust banks failed to sue the lenders evidently involves the cozy relationship between lenders and trustees. The trustees also securitized loans in pools where they were not trustees. If they had started filing suit demanding repurchases, they might wind up suedon other deals in retaliation. Better to ignore the repurchase provisions of the pooling and servicing agreements and let the investors take the losses—better, at least, until they sued. Beyond the legal issues are the implications for the solvency of the banking system itself. Can even the largest banks withstand a $250 billion iceberg? The sum is more than 40 times the $6 billion “London Whale” that shook JPMorganChase to its foundations. [...]  The world’s largest banks are considered “too big to fail” for a reason. The fractional reserve banking scheme is a form of shell game, which depends on “liquidity” borrowed at very low interest from other banks or the money market. When Lehman Brothers went bankrupt in 2008, triggering a run on the money market, the whole interconnected shadow banking system nearly went down with it. Congress then came to the rescue with a taxpayer bailout, and the Federal Reserve followed with its quantitative easing fire hose. But in 2010, the Dodd Frank Act said there would be no more government bailouts. Instead, the banks were to save themselves with “bail ins,” meaning they were to recapitalize themselves by confiscating a portion of the funds of their creditors – including not only their shareholders and bondholders but the largest class of creditor of any bank, their depositors. Theoretically, deposits under $250,000 are protected by FDIC deposit insurance. But the FDIC fund contains only about $47 billion – a mere 20% of the Black Rock/PIMCO damage claims. Before 2010, the FDIC could borrow from the Treasury if it ran short of money. But since the Dodd Frank Act eliminates government bailouts, the availability of Treasury funds for that purpose is now in doubt. When depositors open their online accounts and see that their balances have shrunk or disappeared, a run on the banks is likely. And since banks rely on each other for liquidity, the banking system as we know it could collapse. The result could be drastic deleveraging, erasing trillions of dollars in national wealth. Some pundits say the global economy would then come crashing down. But in a thought-provoking March 2014 article called “American Delusionalism, or Why History Matters,” John Michael Greer disagrees. He notes that historically, governments have responded by modifying their financial systems: [...]"  

Commentary: "Escobar: BRICS Bank On Its Way To Beat Casino Financial System" [07/17/14]   [5:01] "New Development Bank will provide money for infrastructure and development projects in BRICS countries, and unlike the IMF or World Bank, each nation has equal say, regardless of GDP size. “BRICS Bank will be one of the major multilateral development finance institutions in this world,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday at the 6th BRICS summit in Fortaleza, Brazil. [...]"  

MSM: "US Jails Israelis In $8m Lotto Fraud Against Elderly " [07/17/14] Printer Friendly Version "A New York judge jailed two Israelis on Monday for orchestrating an elaborate international lottery scam that defrauded elderly Americans out of more than $8 million in life savings. US prosecutors say the duo were ring leaders of a 12-person scam based in Israel, which tricked Americans into signing away more than $8 million, which was squirreled away illegally to bank accounts in Cyprus, Israel and Uganda. Top New York federal prosecutor Preet Bharara said it was a “predatory group” that conned elderly people in the United States into believing they were lottery winners. [...]"  

MSM: "US Lost $175 Billion In Export Revenue Due To Iran Sanctions: Report" [07/16/14] Printer Friendly Version "US economic sanctions on Iran have caused America to incur heavy financial losses, a new report shows. The US lost at least $135 billion and as much as $175 billion in prospective export revenue to Iran between 1995 and 2012, the report by the National Iranian American Council revealed on Monday. The report, showing the loss only export industries suffered, does not even contain the repercussions of other externalities of sanctions imposed by the US. These externalities include higher global oil prices which ultimately raised the loss caused to the US economy to even an upper level. On US unemployment rate, the country lost between 50,000 and 66,000 job opportunities each year during the period and the number jumped higher to 279,000 in 2008. The report indicated that Texas and California were the US states which incurred the biggest loss. “Texas and California are likely the biggest losers in terms of lost employment, due to their size as well as the attractiveness of their industries to Iran’s economy,” said Jonathan Leslie, one of the co-authors of the report. [...]"  Note: Who benefits from the crushing of the US economy ...

MSM: "Now France Is Getting Ready to Dump The Dollar" [07/16/14] Printer Friendly Version "... Everyone knows China, Russia and other emerging economies are ditching the dollar. But now, even France is pulling away from the greenback. They’re not even trying to hide it, either. With domestic considerations growing restless, French foreign minister Michel Sapin put it bluntly at a recent economic conference: “We [Europeans] are selling to ourselves in dollars, for instance when we sell planes. Is that necessary? I don’t think so. I think a rebalancing is possible and necessary, not just regarding the euro but also for the big currencies of the emerging countries, which account for more and more of global trade.” This echoes a common criticism levied by many emerging countries — particularly China. China, of course, has $2 trillion in foreign currency reserves, the vast majority of which are dollars. And it’s frequently suggested that the dollar’s role in global trade is oversized. Basically, this all stems from BNP Paribas — the French bank that last week agreed to a $9 billion settlement with U.S. authorities over its dealings with Iran, Cuba, and Sudan. [...]"  

MSM: "Richest Actually Control 37 Percent Of U.S. Wealth" [07/16/14] Printer Friendly Version "America's rich are even more well off that we originally thought, a new study has found. The top 1 percent of U.S. earners were previously estimated to control 30 per cent of the country's wealth but it seems that number could be closer to 37 per cent. A new working paper from European Central Bank senior economist Philip Vermeulen claims 30 percent is a lowball estimate of the net worth of the nation's elite because wealthier households are less likely to respond to surveys about their assets than lower-income families. [...]" 

Commentary: "Sanction Spiral Hits London, Conforms to Putin’s Master Plan" [07/15/14] Printer Friendly Version "London is, according to Bloomberg, “the undisputed foreign hub for Russian business.” That’s where Russian companies hire law firms and investment bankers to handle takeovers. That’s where rich Russians like to live with their families or just hang out and have fun. That’s where they like to spend lots of money. But the sanction spiral has already – and very inadvertently – accomplished one of the big goals, not of President Barak Obama or Chancellor Angela Merkel, but of President Vladimir Putin: keep Russian money in Russia, and perhaps even bring back some of the money that has wandered astray over the years to seek greener pastures elsewhere. Capital flight, particularly from the vast underground economy, is one of Russia’s most pressing economic problems. And Putin’s angle of attack has been, well, brutal in its own way: The spectacular collapse of the Cypriot banks last year took down much of the “black money” Russians and their mailbox companies – there were over 40,000 of these outfits in Cyprus – had on deposit there. Instead of bailing out the cesspool of corruption that these banks were, or even the nation with another emergency loan, as Russia had already done before, he just smiled and let it happen. And much of the money of his compatriots was allowed to evaporate. Perhaps he’d read Global Financial Integrity’s report – designed to advise the Russian government on these issues – that called Cyprus “a Money Laundering Machine for Russian criminals.” And so the sanction spiral against Russian oligarchs and their companies fits neatly into his overall long-term design. It includes the de-dollarization of world trade – an endeavor where he found new friends even in France, after French megabank BNP-Paribas agreed to pay a $8.9 billion penalty to the US Government. China has been working furiously to elevate its own currency to a world-trade currency to rival the dollar and the euro, though it still has a long ways to go. Putin has been eager to switch the oil and gas trade with China away from the dollar, and progress is being made on a daily basis. And it includes getting Russian companies and rich individuals, by hook or crook, to leave at least some of their money in Russia and perhaps even repatriate some of the money now invested elsewhere so that it can do its magic for the economic development of Russia, and propel the country forward. Once in Russia, the money would presumably remain more accessible to the Russian government, which these very oligarchs have seen is not a great situation to be in, if they end up on the wrong site of Putin. Russia’s legal system can be a hazard to their health and wealth, and banks can be iffy. Hence the prevailing wisdom to send overseas every ruble, dollar, or euro that isn’t totally nailed down. So Putin has been pushing Russian companies to cut back on doing business with overseas banks and bring some of that business home.[...]" 

Commentary: "Massive Gold Flow From West To East" [07/14/14] Printer Friendly Version "More and more gold is flowing towards the emerging economic powers in Asia. We do not conclude this based on just anecdotal evidence, but also based on the Chinese gold imports through Hong Kong and the increasing flow of gold out of Switzerland and the United Kingdom. In April, we published a chart of the gold flows in and out of Switzerland from the first quarter of this year, based on new data published by the Swiss Customs Administration… The gold trade data from Switzerland is not new, but this is the first year in which the import and export figures are available for each country individually. This gave us the opportunity to perform a more detailed analysis on the Swiss gold trade. [...]"  

Max Keiser: "American Financial Quagmire Deepening" [07/13/14] [43:39] "Alex invites economist and television broadcaster Max Keiser to discuss the dollar’s slow-motion collapse and other signs the economy is sinking under Obama’s watch. [...]"  

Commentary:: "Blythe Masters’ Ex-Husband Launches Bitcoin Hedge Fund From The Island Of Jersey" [07/12/14] Printer Friendly Version "Blythe Masters is perhaps the most maligned human being on earth by silver investors due to suspicions of JP Morgan’s manipulation in the silver market. Well she’s back in the news, but it has nothing to do with silver. Rather, the news relates to the fact that her ex-husband and commodities traders, Daniel Masters, has just launched a Bitcoin hedge fund from the island of Jersey, a British Crown dependency. We learn from Newsweek that: Daniel Masters, a 50-year-old veteran commodities trader, started working for some of the largest companies in the world right out of university, trading in London, New York and Zug, Switzerland, for JPMorgan Chase and Phibro before moving on to the New York Mercantile Exchange, a short walk from Wall Street. By all appearances, it was your standard Wall Street career. Then, in 2008, he moved to a tiny island off the coast of France called Jersey, which this week opened its doors to the island’s first fully regulated Bitcoin hedge fund—run by none other than Masters himself—as part of a push to create a nascent Silicon Valley in the heart of the English Channel, replete with government-funded entrepreneurial hubs and startup accelerators. No sooner did word of the offshore Bitcoin fund get out than Reddit spluttered to life, devoting two pages, here and here, to debating whether the virtual currency’s baby steps into the institutional investing realm is really good news or bad news for Bitcoin, whose meteoric rise has thus far been mostly successful in eschewing traditional finance. Masters, co-principal of Global Advisors Jersey Ltd.—which trades up to $2 billion of energy and equities—is the latest of a handful of fund managers trotting out new Bitcoin investment funds in recent months, as investors clamor for innovative ways to skim the froth off the digital currency’s impressive, if often unpredictable, price pops and drops and, occasionally, collapses. [...]"  Related: See the link at the top of this panel entitled "Creation Of Credit Derivatives" about how Blythe Masters helped bring down the system through greed and deception.

MSM: "Norway’s Financial Sector Under Massive Cyber Attack, Anonymous Claims ‘Responsibility’" [07/12/14] Printer Friendly Version "Norway’s top financial institutions came under massive cyber attacks on Tuesday. Anonymous Norway appears to be behind this attack. The attack on Norway’s top financial institutions/banks, such as Danske Bank, Norges Bank, Sparebank and renowned insurance agencies Gjensidige and Storebrand had their services disrupted. Other than banks, a telecom company and three national airlines also came under attack. In an interview with Dagens Næringsliv business newspaper, Evry’s security team said: “The scale is not the largest we have seen, but it is the first time it has hit so many central players in the finance sector in Norway.” Evry provides IT services to some of the companies affected by the cyber attack. [...]"  

Commentary: "The State Of The World In One Horrifying Chart" [07/12/14] Printer Friendly Version "All-time high stock valuations – caused by Central banks covertly buying half the world’s equities. All-time low yields, caused by Central banks covertly (and overtly) monetizing every toxic bond imaginable. Housing bubbles galore, caused by Central banks printing money and handing it to Wall Street. Record low market volatility, caused by Central banks not allowing weakness. Record Rolls Royce sales, whilst Wal-Mart sales plunge and social unrest abounds. Record real inflation, plunging real income, and bottomless real unemployment, whilst government propaganda trumpets “recovery.” And last but not least, a raging, irreversible global currency war, with billions of people in utter rebellion against a “reserve currency” they know has been so abused, it has brought the world to its breaking point. What could possibly go wrong? [...]"

MSM: "Malware That Fleeced Banks For $100 Million Returns A Month After U.S. Crackdown" [07/12/14] Printer Friendly Version "Malicious software used to steal millions from bank accounts has re-emerged a month after U.S. authorities broke up a major hacker network using the scheme, security researchers say. The security firm Malcovery said it identified a new trojan based on the Gameover Zeus malware, which officials said infected up to one million computers in 12 countries, and was blamed in the theft of more than $100 million. “This discovery indicates that the criminals responsible for Gameover’s distribution do not intend to give up on this botnet even after suffering one of the most expansive botnet takeovers/takedowns in history,” Malcovery said in a blog post Thursday. By infecting large numbers of computers, the cyber criminals were able to control the devices to steal passwords and send out emails to further spread the infection. The news came as the Department of Justice said it had made progress in rooting out the malware infections. In a status report filed in court, officials said that “all or nearly all of the active computers infected with Gameover Zeus have been liberated from the criminals’ control and are now communicating exclusively with the substitute server established pursuant to court order.” A blog post by the security firm Emsisoft said the new variant may be harder to combat, because it is using “an evasive technique that allows the botnet to hide its distributive phishing sites behind a constantly shuffling list of infected, proxy computers.” Gameover Zeus, which first appeared in September 2011, stole bank information and other confidential details from victims. The FBI blamed the Gameover Zeus botnet for the theft of more than $100 million, obtained by using the stolen bank data and then “emptying the victims’ bank accounts and diverting the money to themselves.” [...]"

MSM: "US Government Makes At Least $100 Billion In Improper Payments Every Year" [07/12/14] Printer Friendly Version "In news that probably won’t surprise anyone, the government has revealed that it makes roughly $100 billion in improper payments to people who may not be entitled to them – every year. The improper payments came in the forms of tax credits to families that didn’t qualify, unemployment benefits to people who had jobs and medical payments for treatments that might not have been necessary. In 2013, improper payments totaled approximately $106 billion – and experts say that figure could actually be higher. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla, chairs the House Oversight subcommittee on government operations. He told the AP the amounts are “staggering”: Nobody knows exactly how much taxpayer money is wasted through improper payments, but the federal government’s own astounding estimate is more than half a trillion dollars over the past five years. The fact is, improper payments are staggeringly high in programs designed to help those most in need – children, seniors and low-income families. The government-run website Payment Accuracy explains how improper payments occur: funds go to the wrong recipient; the right recipient receives the incorrect amount of funds (including overpayments and underpayments); documentation is not available to support a payment; or the recipient uses funds in an improper manner.  [...] The government claims most errors are made unintentionally and do not represent fraud. Guess which source of improper payments is the largest? According to agency estimates, the winner is government health care programs: [...]  Perhaps the federal government-operated Payment Accuracy website said it best: All improper payments degrade the integrity of government programs and compromise citizens’ trust in government. [...]"   

Commentary: "A “Perfect Storm” Could Be Forming Right Here" [07/11/14] Printer Friendly Version "In the relative calm that is the market for U.S. Treasuries, a sense of unease over a vital cog in the financial system’s plumbing is beginning to rise. The Federal Reserve’s bond purchases combined with demand from banks to meet tightened regulatory requirements is making it harder for traders to easily borrow and lend certain desired securities in the $1.6 trillion-a-day market for repurchase agreements. That’s causing such trades to go uncompleted at some of the highest rates since the financial crisis. Disruptions in so-called repos, which Wall Street’s biggest banks rely on for their day-to-day financing needs, are another unintended consequence of extraordinary central-bank policies that pulled the economy out of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. They also belie the stability projected by bond yields at about record lows. “You have a little bit of a perfect storm here,” said Stanley Sun, a New York-based interest-rate strategist at Nomura Holdings Inc., one of the 22 primary dealers that bid at Treasury auctions, in a telephone interview June 30. Smoothly functioning repo trading is vital to the health of markets. The fall of Bear Stearns Cos., which was taken over by JPMorgan Chase & Co. in 2008 after an emergency bailout orchestrated by the Fed, and the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., whose bankruptcy in September of that year plunged markets into a crisis, were hastened after they lost access to such financing. [...]"  

MSM: "US May End Controversial Five-Year ‘Easy Money’ Program In October" [07/11/14] Printer Friendly Version "The US Federal Reserve said it could end the controversial five-year-old ‘quantitative easing’ program that has pumped about $4 trillion into the US economy as early as October, if there are no signs the economy is still in trouble. [...]"  

Commentary: "BRICS Bank, Ukraine Likely To Dominate 2014 BRICS Summit" [07/11/14] Printer Friendly Version "The annual BRICS Summit in the Brazilian cities of Brasilia and Fortaleza on July 14-15 comes at a time in which the global political scene is arguably more unsettled than at any other point in the past 20 years. Each of the BRICS member states brings to the Summit very different issues and concerns. Russia, for example, is in an open standoff with the West over Ukraine; this impasse risks turning into a reprise of the Cold War. Russia’s annexation of Crimea has been greeted with apoplexy in Washington DC and in many formerly communist countries in Eastern Europe. Barack Obama, who came to office promising to “reset” relations with Russia, is under extremely heavy political pressure to impose a sweeping sanctions regime. Cooperation between Russia and the West – never very large to begin with – has shrunk to almost nothing and now consists almost entirely of limited work on nuclear weapons and space exploration (i.e. what it did before Obama came to office). The Kremlin has also been troubled by its waning economy which is currently going through a protracted period of weakness and slow growth.[...]"  Related: See below

MSM: "BRICS Countries Near Development Bank Deal To Rival IMF, WB" [07/10/14] Printer Friendly Version "The emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, are a couple of days from agreeing the $10 billion BRICS development bank, as well as a $100 billion currency pool. It could challenge global lenders like the IMF and World Bank. The bank will be called the New Development Bank, and will provide finance for infrastructure projects. Its creation will meet the needs of emerging and poorer economies according to Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov. In a speech Wednesday he confirmed the funding would be divided equally, Russia will contribute $2 billion in initial capital for the BRICS bank over seven years. The bank will start with $10 billion in cash and $40 billion in guarantees. The $50 billion will be eventually built up to $100 billion. The bank will be able to start lending in 2016, the minister says. The final decisions concerning the creation of the bank are expected to be made by the BRICS leaders at a summit in Brazil on 15-16 July. Apart from the BRICS countries other UN members may also participate in the bank’s development, but their total share won’t exceed 45 percent. The location of the headquarters is still not decided, but Siluanov said the two favorite cities are Shanghai and New Delhi. BRICS leaders are also expected to sign an agreement to establish an additional $100 billion fund to steady the currency markets.  We have reached an agreement that, in the current conditions of capital volatility, it is important for our countries to have this buffer a so-called “mini-IMF”- a financial organization which could quickly react to capital outflow, providing liquidity in hard currency, in particular in US dollars,” Siluanov said.  The need arose after the long inflow of cheap dollars which fueled a boom in the BRICS countries for a decade reversed into a sharp outflow in 2013. Even though the new bank will be a small rival to the World Bank which has capital of $223 billion, or the International Monetary Fund, it will serve as a reminder to the US of the shift in the global economy towards the developing world. Currently BRICS countries make up over 40 percent of the world’s population and account for more than 25 percent of global GDP. [...]"  

Commentary: "Vatican Bank Profits Plunge Following Clean-Up" [07/09/14] Printer Friendly Version "It seems not even The Pope's private bank can make money when its only allowed to do it the legal way. As The FT reports, profits at the Vatican bank plunged last year after thousands of accounts were closed as part of an overhaul of the scandal-ridden institution. The Vatican bank, officially known as the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), now has 17,419 customers, down from 18,900 in 2012 and net profit fell from EUR86.6m in 2012 to EUR2.9m last year. So - in sum - accounts fell 8% and profits collapsed 97% - is it any wonder Pope Francis plans to replace the board and all the executives at the 'bank'. Having shut all Embassy accounts to halt money laundering, The FT reports, [...]"

Interviews: "There Are No Reasons For The Dollar To Be World’s Reserve Currency" [07/09/14] Printer Friendly Version Video   [6:11] "The more the US antagonizes the world with spying or huge fines on foreign banks, the quicker the process of abandoning the dollar as a reserve currency will be unraveled, Peter Schiff, the president of investment house Euro Pacific Capital, told RT. [...]" 

Interviews: "America Using The Dollar As A Weapon" [07/09/14] Printer Friendly Version   "The US mixes trade with politics using the dollar as a weapon in sanctions against Iran and Russia, trying to restrict these nations’ access to the US dollar, which creates mass imbalances, Chairman of the Bruges Group think tank, Robert Oulds, told RT. The French government has hit out against the hegemony of the dollar in international transactions after the country’s largest bank, BNP Paribas, was fined $9 billion. Moreover, starting on January 1, 2015, the bank will not be able to carry out dollar-based transactions for one year. BNP was punished for helping such counties as Iran, Sudan, and Cuba to process $30 billion in transactions which are illegal under US law, since they breach US sanctions. Michel Sapin, the French finance minister, called for a “rebalancing” of the currencies used for global payments, saying the BNP Paribas case should “make us realize the necessity of using a variety of currencies.” [...]"  

Date With Destiny:  "Another High Level JP Morgan Executive Found Dead Under Suspicious Circumstances" [07/08/14] Printer Friendly Version "The Morris County Prosecutor's office and Jefferson police said Sunday the pair had been found at their Log Road home early that morning, after police responded to a report of two unconscious adults. There was no evidence of outside intrusion and no threat to the community, officials said. Alita Knott was most recently a sales associate with Coldwell Banker's Chester/Hackettstown office, according to her biography on the company's website. According to Julian Knott's LinkedIn profile, he worked for JPMorgan Chase for several years, most recently as the executive director of its Global Network Operations Center in Whippany. Prior to that, he held various IT positions with JPMorgan Chase and other companies. Staffers at the Whippany office and a spokesperson for JPMorgan Chase's corporate headquarters declined comment to NJ.com Monday [...]"  Note: Nothing suspicious about this one ... they clearly took themselves out. This is the 15th financial services executive death in recent months... Related: "JPMorgan Executive "Blasts Wife, Kills Self" With Shotgun" Printer Friendly Version  

Buffoonery: "Global Economic Activity To Grow In 2015 – IMF" MSM [07/08/14] Printer Friendly Version "Global economic activity is expected to strengthen in the second half of the year and accelerate in 2015, inspired by China and US growth, according to the head of the IMF. [...]"  Note: Repetitive, inane, meaningless economic gobbledegook spewed by IMF head Christine Lagarde show that the Western banking cabal is completely out of touch with reality. Also, Christine Lagarde appears like a sequential who is new to the female experience - very masculine mannerisms, look, etc. ... just an educated guess. Related: "IMF Chief Signals Downgrade To Global Growth Outlook" Printer Friendly Version "International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde indicated a slight reduction to the institution’s global growth outlook as investment remains subdued. The global economic outlook to be released later this month would be “slightly different” from previous forecasts, Lagarde said at the Cercle des Economists conference in Aix-en-Provence, France on Sunday. Nonetheless, she said the global activity is expected to gain momentum in the second half of the year and to accelerate further in 2015 after an "unexpectedly" weak start to 2014. [...]" 

Interviews: "IMF Pushes Ukraine To “Voluntarily Committing Suicide" [07/08/14] Printer Friendly Version   "Western support will allow more IMF and European lending to prop the Ukrainian currency so the Ukrainian oligarchs can move their money safely to British and US banks, economist and author Michael Hudson told RT’s Truthseeker. [...]" 

MSM: "This Could Be The Last Straw” 90% Of China Loan Guarantors Bankrupt" [07/08/14] Printer Friendly Version "In Wenzhou – dubbed the capital of China’s private businesses – nearly 90 per cent of loan guarantors have failed since the start of the credit crisis arising from the underground banking system, according to the media. As SCMP reports, although their services are critical for the economic system and the millions of small firms – that provide the majority of the mainland’s jobs – hundreds of loan guarantee groups are creaking under the weight of bad loans and are simply unable to bear any more. “It could become the last straw that breaks the camel’s back,” exclaims the head of a local law firm, “without the privately owned small businesses, China’s economy won’t have a future.” [...]" 

Corbett Report: "Century of Enslavement: The History of The Federal Reserve " [07/07/14] [1:30:11] "In this feature-length documentary film, The Corbett Report explores important questions and pulls back the curtain on America's central bank. [...]"  

MSM: "Gene Simmons (Israeli-Born Chaim Witz) Defends Bankster Elite" [07/07/14] Printer Friendly Version "Kiss frontman Gene Simmons is defending the bankster one percent. He says the country would fall apart in short order if not for banksters and corporatists. “The 1 percent pays 80 percent of all taxes,” the rocker told UT San Diego. “Fifty percent of the population of the U.S. pays no taxes. The 1 percent provides all the jobs for everybody else. If the 1 percent didn’t exist, there would be chaos and the American economy would drop dead.” Simmons is himself a millionaire who does not approach the one percent in wealth. He has a net worth of $300 million. In fact, it is the upper echelon of the one percent, the banksters and corporatists, who are responsible for looting the economy and exporting U.S. jobs to slave labor gulags in China and other authoritarian hellholes. They are primarily responsible for economic chaos and misery. The upper echelon of the one percent created the Federal Reserve, the bankster cartel responsible for engineering the asset bubble economy now destroying America. Gene, however, seems blissfully unaware of this. All told, he is a wanna-be corporatist who has nothing but contempt for average working people and the middle class, including those who buy his products and attend his concerts.[...]"  

Interviews: "The Criminal Banking Cartel Will Soon Be History— Karen Hudes" [07/05/14] [45:24] "Karen Hudes, the acting general counsel of the world bank joins us to discuss the impending collapse of the international criminal banking cartel which Karen says is “imminent”. We discuss the worldwide bond fraud, the 9/11 false flag event, and the fact that Karen says China isn’t bankrupting the fed, we are. The American people and a u.s. Debt-free currency will rise from the ashes after the federal reserve and the federal reserve note collapse – and that day is right around the corner. [...]" 

Interviews: "Approaching Implosion Of The Western Banking System" [07/03/14] [59:01] "Jim Willie joins Rick Wiles and TruNews in today’s newly released video report regarding the approaching implosion of the Western banking system, the disappearance of huge quantities of gold bars, a possible forthcoming foreclosure of the US Federal reserve by the Chinese, a plan put forth by the Saudi’s to end the petrodollar and a plan by the Russians and Chinese to end the reign of the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency. Wiles introduces Willie shortly after the 1 minute 30 second mark for a totally uncensored conversation about what’s really going on in the world around us. [...]"  

Commentary: "The Cloward And Piven Strategy To Bankrupt America" [07/03/14] [46:03] "Dr. Stan Monteith joins the show to explain how the elite want to reshape society into serving those in power and how this idea is as old as Plato's Republic from antiquity. [...]" 

Commentary: "IMF Advocates Taking Pensions & Extending Maturities Of Gov’t Debt To Prevent Redemption" [07/03/14] Printer Friendly Version "I have gone on record that the most dangerous organization is the now French led IMF with Christine Lagarde at the helm, which has presented a concept report that debt cuts for over-indebted states are uncompromising and are to be performed more effectively in the future by defaulting on retirement accounts held in life insurance, mutual funds and other types of pension schemes, or arbitrarily extending debt perpetually so you cannot redeem. Yes you read correctly, The new IMF paper is described in great detail exactly how to now allow the private sector, which has invested in government bonds, to be expropriated to pay for the national debts of the socialist governments. I have been warning that there is an idea that has been running around behind the curtain that the national debt of the USA could be settled by usurping all pension funds in the country. Here is a remarkable blueprint that throws all previous considerations concerning the purchase of government bonds over the cliff. [...]" 

Commentary: "JP Morgan Bankruptcy Lawyer Killed In Hit & Run" [07/02/14] Printer Friendly Version "The banker suicide saga has just reached a new level as a top level JP Morgan attorney has been exterminated in a hit & run incident involving a minivan. JPM attorney Joseph Giampapa was killed over the weekend when he was struck by a minivan in a hit and run incident. Giampapa was reportedly hit and thrown 150 ft and was pronounced dead at the scene. No charges have been filed. It gets better: Giampapa was JP Morgan’s top commercial bankruptcy lawyer (SVP). [...]"  Related: "Profiteering on Banker Deaths: Regulator Says Public Has No Right to Details" Printer Friendly Version "A man with a long history of keeping big bank secrets safe from the public’s prying eyes has denied the appeal filed by Wall Street On Parade to obtain specifics about the worker deaths upon which JPMorgan Chase pockets the life insurance money each year. According to its financial filings, as of December 31, 2013, JPMorgan held $17.9 billion in Bank- Owned Life Insurance (BOLI) assets, a dark corner of the insurance market that allows banks to take out life insurance policies on their workers, secretly pocket the death benefits, and receive generous tax perks subsidized by the U.S. taxpayer. According to experts, JPMorgan could potentially hold upwards of $179 billion of life insurance in force on its current and former workers, based on the size of its BOLI assets. The man who denied Wall Street On Parade’s appeal is Daniel P. Stipano, who told us by letter on June 20, 2014 that he had 450 pages of responsive material but it was not going to be released to us or the public. (See OCC Response to Appeal from Wall Street On Parade Re JPMorgan Banker Death Bets.) [...]" 

Commentary: "Gazprom Ready To Drop Dollar, Settle China Contracts In Yuan Or Rubles" [07/01/14] Printer Friendly Version "In other words just as the US may or may not be preparing to export crude - a step which would weaken the dollar's reserve status as traditional US oil trading partners will need to find other import customers who pay in non-USD currencies - the world's two other superpowers are preparing to respond. And once the bilateral trade in Rubles or Renminbi is established, the rest of the energy world will piggyback. But wait, there's more. Because only now does Gazprom appear to be unveiling all those "tangents" that were expected to hit the tape in May. Among Kruglov's other revelations were that Gazprom is in talks on a Hong Kong listing and is weighing the issuance of Yuan bonds. Gazprom is also considering selling bonds in Singapore dollars, the CFO said at briefing in Moscow. Wait, you mean that by alienating and embargoing Russia from western (USD, EUR-denominated) funding markets, it has pushed the country to turn to its pivoting partner, China and thus further cementing the framework for the next Eurasian strategic alliance?  But wait, there's still more, because it is not just Gazprom. As the PBOC announced overnight, PBOC Assistant Governor Jin Qi and Russian central bank Deputy Chairman Dmitry Skobelkin led a meeting held yesterday and today in Shanghai. The meeting discussed cooperating on project and trade financing using local currencies. The meeting discussed cooperation in bank card, insurance and financial supervision sectors.In other words, central bankers of China and Russia discussed how to replace the dollar with Rubles and Yuan. In retrospect it will be very fitting that the crowning legacy of Obama's disastrous reign, both domestically and certainly internationally, will be to force the world's key ascendant superpowers (we certainly don't envision broke, insolvent Europe among them) to drop the Petrodollar and end the reserve status of the US currency.[...]" Related: "Russia Reveals "Plan B": Gazprom Says Gas Transit Via Ukraine May Be Stopped Completely" Printer Friendly Version "A few days ago, when we wrote our "explainer" on the need for Russia to have an alternative pathway for its gas, one which bypasses Ukraine entirely and as the current "South Stream" framework is set up, crosses the Black Sea and enters Bulgaria before passing Serbia and Hungary on the way to the Central European energy hub located in Baumgarten, Austria, we said that "one short month after Putin concluded the Holy Grail deal with Beijing, he not only managed to formalize his conquest of Europe's energy needs with yet another pipeline, one which completely bypasses Ukraine (for numerous reasons but mostly one: call it a Plan B), but scored a massive political victory by creating a fissure in the heart of the Eurozone, after Austria openly defied its European peers and sided with Putin." SEE MAP

MSM: "China Finds $15 Billion of Loans Backed by Fake Gold Trades" [06/30/14] Printer Friendly Version "China is suffering from a massive credibility hit today as a scam to extract credit from Chinese banks by repeatedly pledging the same collateral of gold, and other commodities, over and over and over again, unwinds. China’s Chief Auditor has identified $15.2 billion in loans backed by falsified gold, according to the National Audit Office’s website. It has been estimated that upwards of $80 Billion was advanced in gold backed loans alone, according to Goldman Sachs, as quoted in a Bloomberg article today. If such large sums were pledged, and we are only now understanding the scope of this fraud, what possible effect could it have had on the gold market. In absolute terms and over the long term the effects might be minimal. [...]"  

Max Keiser: "Russell Brand Talks ‘Revolution’ With Max & Stacy" [06/29/14]   [25:46] "In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert are joined in the first half by Russell Brand to talk about the austerity headlines. They chat about the UK government’s expanding debt and growing deficit, despite the alleged austerity and GDP expanding thanks to heroin addiction and prostitution. Russell learns about the water cannons bought for use against anti-austerity protests which the government itself will stoke. Finally, they talk about the people revolting as they must do when the social contract has been broken: and crypto currencies are one of the most visible revolts. In the second half, Max interviews Russell Brand further about his independent media outlet; they discuss revolution and spiritual journeys. [...]" 

MSM: "Putin Fires Warning Shot - Russia May Bar Firms Using Foreign Banks" [06/29/14] Printer Friendly Version "With the cease-fire on shaky ground in Ukraine, and the ongoing proxy war between the US and Russia growing in intensity (once again ignited in Syria); it seems Putin has fired a significant warning shot across the bow of the west. Reuters reports that Russia is considering banning state companies and other strategically important firms from holding accounts at foreign-owned banks. As Liberty Blitzkrieg's Mike Krieger notes if this actually happens, it would be a very big deal, and certainly an escalation in the friction between these two geopolitically crucial nations. Under the proposals, all state-owned companies would be allowed to have accounts only at Russian state-owned banks, or at privately-owned Russian banks with capital of at least 16.5 billion roubles ($483 million), Kommersant reported.  The restrictions would also apply to privately-owned companies that were significant for Russia’s defence or security, as defined by an existing law on foreign investment in strategic companies. “Definitely this would decrease the attractiveness for foreign investors in the banking sector, because a large part of Russian companies are deemed strategic and this is increasingly so,” said Vladimir Osakovsky, chief Russia economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “Let’s see if it will be approved or not. I think it is unlikely because it is a negative move from the investment climate perspective.” Russia has been mulling steps to reduce its vulnerability to Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis, which has raised fears that Western countries could freeze Russian assets abroad.[...]"  Note: A ban for government officials was instituted in the recent past ... now Russian companies will be similarly restrained.

Concepts and Practices: "Russia: Presidential Bill Bans Foreign Bank Accounts For Civil Servants" MSM [06/29/14] Printer Friendly Version "Vladimir Putin’s draft law forbids all staff involved in state administration and strategic industries from holding foreign bank accounts. The draft also requires income reporting for state employees of all levels. The new bill published on the State Duma website on Tuesday continues the anti-corruption drive and the tendency for the ‘nationalization of the elites’ that started in 2013 and so far has resulted in the law that bans top state officials, both elected and appointed, from holding bank accounts abroad or owning foreign-issued shares and bonds. The restrictions also touched upon heads of major state owned corporations. The presidential draft broadens the list of those who fall under restrictions to all “involved in preparing the decisions concerning the sovereignty and national security of the Russian Federation” and all people who occupy state service positions in the Central Bank and state corporations, funds and similar organizations. The exact list of positions that will be subject to restrictions will be drafted after the parliament passes the framework bill. Civil servants will also have to report their spending if the price of their acquisitions, be it real estate, cars or securities, exceeds the three-year combined income for themselves and their spouses. Additionally, any candidate for a post in a state agency or a state owned company would have to report his/her income and financial obligations. Other anti-corruption amendments include a list of remands and sanctions that could be levied on police officers for poorly executing their duties, up to dismissal ‘caused by a loss of trust’ – a formula that means that the fired officer lied in his/her income declaration, possessed foreign securities or bank accounts, managed a business entity or ran a foreign NGO or its Russian affiliate. The new rules have already caused major changes in Russian politics – major entrepreneurs with international businesses either had to sell their assets, like deputy Moscow Mayor Maksim Liksutov, or give up their political career, like billionaire Roman Abramovich, who has stepped down as the chairman of the legislature of the remote region of Chukotka. [...]"  

Commentary: "Congress to Grill Export-Import Bank Chairman Over Corruption Charges" [06/28/14] Printer Friendly Version "On Thursday, Fred Hochberg, chairman and president of the Export-Import Bank, will be grilled by members of the House Financial Services Committee over charges of corruption and mismanagement at the 80-year old agency. His task to defend the agency appears formidable, especially with its charter coming up for renewal at the end of September. On Tuesday the Wall Street Journal reported that four Ex-Im employees have either been suspended or fired over the last few months as a result of “investigations into allegations of gifts and kickbacks.” But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The Heritage Foundation reported on the same day that there have been at least 74 cases of “integrity” investigations by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) at the agency, plus dozens of other cases of outright fraud that have been referred to the Justice Department for prosecution. Not bad for an agency that employs just 402 people. Hochberg’s problems are compounded by the committee’s chair, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), who says that the agency deserves to have its charter withdrawn because of its reputation as a funnel for taxpayer dollars to large companies as a form of corporate welfare. In addition, the newly-minted Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, who replaced Eric Cantor in a surprise upset last week, has also weighed in against the agency, saying that the bank ought to be shut down its operations are “something that the private sector [is] able to do.” [...] Created by an executive order issued by then-President Franklin Roosevelt in 1945, the Ex-Im Bank was established as an agency of the executive branch. Its task, allegedly, was to offer financing to assist in the export of American products and services where private financing wasn’t available due to excessive credit risk. The agency’s stated goal at inception was “to aid in financing and to facilitate exports and imports and the exchange of commodities between the United States and other Nations or the agencies or nationals thereof.” [...]"  Note: Hochberg, a native of the greater New York metropolitan area, served as chair of the Human Rights Campaign, a prominent lesbian and gay rights group. In the April 2007 issue of Out Magazine he was ranked the 15th most powerful gay person in America. Hochberg was a bundler of contributions for the Obama campaign; some bundlers collected $500,000 for the campaign. Hochberg was an Agency Review team leader for the SBA on then-President-elect Obama's transition team. Obama nominated Hochberg to be Chairman and President of Ex-Im Bank on April 20, 2009. The U.S. Senate confirmed his nomination by unanimous consent on May 14, 2009, for a term ending on January 20, 2013. He was sworn in on May 21, 2009. Ref  Penny Pritzker, U.S. Secretary of Commerce, is also a Board Member, ex officio, with Wanda Felton, First Vice President and Vice Chair. 

MSM: "U.S. Is 'Very Stingy' Toward The Poor" [06/28/14] [7:21]  "Former Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Alan Blinder talks about the U.S. economy, social policy and wealth inequality. Blinder speaks with Alix Steel on Bloomberg Television’s “Market Makers.” Bloomberg View columnist Barry Ritholtz also speaks.  [...]"  

MSM: "Collapse: -2.9% GDP Growth QTR 1 With 0% Interest Rates" [06/27/14] Printer Friendly Version  Video  [8:29] "The Commerce Department said on Wednesday gross domestic product fell at a 2.9 percent annual rate, the economy's worst performance in five years, instead of the 1.0 percent pace it had reported last month. Growth has now been revised down by a total of 3.0 percentage points since the government's first estimate was published in April, which had the economy expanding at a 0.1 percent rate.[...]"  Note: Take away the war business, and there would be a larger vacuum created instantly. Related: "Historic Drop In GDP With Inflation Rising. Systemic Collapse Coming" [10:08] "The US has just suffered the “worst Q1 GDP since recession,” with a revision downward of negative 2.9 percent, from January to March, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, making it the “weakest quarter for the U.S. economy since the Great Recession”. There is no recovery, there has been no recovery, there has been an “illusion” of recovery using manipulated numbers and schemes in order to prevent the general public from understanding that the meltdown is here, now. Of course the White blames ….. "the weather", a notion which was succinctly debunked by Stephen Moore from The Wall Street, with one simple tweet. Exports dropped by 8.9 percent, real sales dropped by 1.3 percent, and business investment dropped as well. The decrease in real GDP in the first quarter primarily reflected negative contributions from private inventory investment, exports, state and local government spending, nonresidential fixed investment, and residential fixed investment [...]" | "Krauthammer Blasts Obama Admin over Q1 GDP" MSM [7:47] |"Message In The Q1 GDP Shock: Massive Windfalls For The 1%; Hardly 1% Growth For The Masses" Printer Friendly Version "... So based on actual inflation, the Q1 GDP number was negative 3-5% at best. Moreover, if you use a non-governmental measure of inflation, such as the Billion Prices Project (BPP), the picture is even more foreboding. As the Consumer Metric Institute noted, based on the BPP inflation of 3.91% in Q1, real GDP would have clocked in at a deep, recessionary -5.6%.  [...]"   

MSM: "Bank Of England Admits Manipulating Markets" [06/27/14] [3:30] "In a select committee “grilling”, Bank of England governor Mark Carney in a rambling way, admits the Bank Of England are manipulating markets, releasing information in a way to get “the market moving” in “the direction the BOE wants”… Once again confirming that the Bank Of England are the biggest financial market manipulators in the UK. Recorded from BBC Parliament, May 2014 Inflation Report, 24 June 2014.[...]"

Interviews: "EU Is Completely Politically And Economically Irrational Dealing With Russia" [06/27/14] Printer Friendly Version "Energy policy in Europe is a complete and utter ludicrous mess, while its politicians are ultimately incontinent and incompetent when it comes to economic and energy policies, global financial markets expert Patrick Young told RT. [...]"  

Legal Case: "Morgan Chase Accused of Massive False Claims" [06/26/14] Printer Friendly Version "J.P. Morgan Chase Bank falsely claimed that it had forgiven thousands of consumer mortgage debts that the bank already had sold, to try to shirk its responsibility to a consumer-relief settlement with Uncle Sam, the United States and 19 states claim in a recently unsealed year-old case. The federal government, 19 states and the District of Columbia sued J.P. Morgan in Federal Court under the False Claims Act on May 6, 2013, claiming the bank got credit without providing consumer relief. The realtor, Laurence Schneider, claims he bought thousands of mortgages from J.P. Morgan before the bank sent letters to those consumers, claiming that their debts had been forgiven. The complaint cites a consent judgment entered against J.P. Morgan after the government's 2012 complaint against the banking industry for fraudulent and unfair mortgage practices "which cost consumers, the federal government, and states billions of dollars." The banks settled in April 2012, and part of the terms of that settlement was J.P. Morgan had to dish out $4 billion in consumer relief in the form of loan forgiveness and refinancing. According to the complaint, the bank gets credits toward its obligation by forgiving and modifying loans. [...]"

Exposé: "Greedy Bankers Admission: "Climate Change Policy" Could Boost Global GDP $2.6tn – World Bank" [06/25/14] Printer Friendly Version "Astute climate policies have the potential to add $2.6 trillion to global output each year, if governments continue making ‘climate-smart’ decisions, according to a new World Bank report released on Tuesday. Fighting climate change will reduce the risk of economic instability, and in turn spur the world economy, the report says, citing new jobs, increased crop production, as well as better public health. Researchers came up with an annual GDP growth figure of $1.8-2.6 trillion by analyzing the effects of policy change legislation in six regions- the US, China, the EU, India, Mexico, and Brazil, and then measure the impact on GDP. Enacting climate change policies will reduce waste, save energy, lessen premature deaths, as well as many other positive effects, researchers found. If these countries continue on their set course, by 2030 8.5 gigatons of CO2 equivalent material and 16 billion kilowatt hours of energy will be saved, which is the equivalent of taking 2 billion cars off the road. Crop production will increase by 32 million tons, and 94,000 premature deaths caused by air pollution will be prevented annually. “These policies make economic sense,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday. [...]"  Note: Of course, it's all based on fraudulent manipulative statements, and there is nothing anyone can really 'do' about anything with the biosphere ... so that's fraudulent too ... why do they do these kind of things? A comment from an article discussing the GMO dynamic, which ALSO has to do with NATURE: "Corporations as the dominant institution shaped by capitalist patriarchy thrive on eco-apartheid. They thrive on the Cartesian legacy of dualism which puts nature against humans. It defines nature as female and passively subjugated. Corporatocentrism is thus also androcentric – a patriarchal construction. The false universalism of man as conqueror and owner of the Earth has led to the technological hubris of geo-engineering, genetic engineering, and nuclear energy. It has led to the ethical outrage of owning life forms through patents, water through privatization, the air through carbon trading. It is leading to appropriation of the biodiversity that serves the poor.” And therein lies the true enemy: the system that facilitates such plunder, which is presided over by well-funded and influential foreign foundations and powerful financial-corporate entities and their stooges in the IMF, World Bank and WTO."

Commentary: "The Guerrilla Economist: On Demise Of US Dollar As Reserve Currency & Collapse Of US Economy" [06/25/14] [1:38:56] "In this great interview V: The Guerrilla Economist shares his excellent insights into the rapidly developing demise of the US dollar as World Reserve Currency, the death of the Petrodollar, the demise of the US Middle Class and much more... [...]"  

Commentary: "Germany Still Wants Gold Back – Repatriation Campaign Continues " [06/25/14] Printer Friendly Version "Bloomberg reported yesterday that the German campaign to repatriate German gold from the U.S. has ended. The Bloomberg story was headlined ‘German Gold Stays in New York in Rebuff to Euro Doubters’ and the first sentence was ‘Germany has decided its gold is safe in American hands’. However, the leader of the German gold repatriation movement, “Repatriate our Gold,” Peter Boehringer immediately refuted the Bloomberg article and posted in the comment section at the bottom of the Bloomberg article: [...]"  Related: "It’s 'Official' – German Gold Staying In New York At The Federal Reserve After All" Printer Friendly Version  

MSM: "Economic Power Shifts East: Chinese Yuan Replacing Dollar As World Reserve Currency" [06/23/14] [14:01] "As predicted by Jim Willie, Rob Kirby, V: The Guerrilla Economist and others, the world is changing dramatically from an Economic and geopolitical perspective. As European Financial powerhouse like the City of London line up to become clearing houses for the Chinese Yuan, it naturally follows that they have seen the handwriting on the wall for the US dollar as World Reserve Currency. Just as London, Frankfurt, Zurich, Paris and other Europeans vie for Chinese business, they will shun the US$. [...]"  

Commentary: "The Global Corporatocracy Is Nearing Completion" [06/23/14] Printer Friendly Version "Quietly, subtly, almost imperceptibly, the rules governing global trade and financial markets are changing. It is not happening by accident, but by wilful design. Despite the enormous impact it will have on all our lives, the public is not being consulted on any aspects of the process. Most people are not even aware it is happening. The main driver of this change are the bilateral and multilateral trade and investment treaties being negotiated in complete secrecy and behind closed doors between corporate lobbyists, free trade activists and our own elected “representatives” (a term I use in the loosest possible sense, especially given the context). The ultimate goal of these treaties is to reconfigure the legal apparatus and superstructures that govern national, regional and global trade and business – for the primary, if not exclusive, benefit of the world’s largest multinational corporations. Corporations have long been powerful economic and political entities, but in recent decades some have grown to dwarf even middling-sized national economies. According to a ranking published by Global Trends, 58 percent of the world’s biggest 150 economic entities in 2012 were corporations. They include oil, natural gas, and mining majors, banks and insurance firms, telecommunications giants, supermarket behemoths, car manufacturers, and pharmaceutical companies. Right now, the representatives of many of these firms are engaged in late-stage negotiations with the U.S. and European political leaders that would make it financially calamitous for a nation-state to take any actions against the interest of corporations. If passed — and at this rate, it almost certainly will be — it will be the biggest bilateral trade deal in the history of mankind. [...]"  Related: See also: "Secret Trade Agreement Covering 68 Percent of World Services Published by WikiLeaks" [06/21/14] on Special Articles panel.

Max Keiser: "Buying Up The Planet: Out-Of-Control Central Banks On A Corporate Buying Spree" [06/22/14] Printer Friendly Version " Finance is the new form of warfare – without the expense of a military overhead and an occupation against unwilling hosts. It is a competition in credit creation to buy foreign resources, real estate, public and privatized infrastructure, bonds and corporate stock ownership. Who needs an army when you can obtain the usual objective (monetary wealth and asset appropriation) simply by financial means? – Dr. Michael Hudson, Counterpunch, October 2010 [...]  When the US Federal Reserve bought an 80% stake in American International Group (AIG) in September 2008, the unprecedented $85 billion outlay was justified as necessary to bail out the world’s largest insurance company. Today, however, central banks are on a global corporate buying spree not to bail out bankrupt corporations but simply as an investment, to compensate for the loss of bond income due to record-low interest rates. Indeed, central banks have become some of the world’s largest stock investors. Central banks have the power to create national currencies with accounting entries, and they are traditionally very secretive. We are not allowed to peer into their books. It took a major lawsuit by Reuters and a congressional investigation to get the Fed to reveal the $16-plus trillion in loans it made to bail out giant banks and corporations after 2008. What is to stop a foreign bank from simply printing its own currency and trading it on the currency market for dollars, to be invested in the US stock market or US real estate market? What is to stop central banks from printing up money competitively, in a mad rush to own the world’s largest companies? Apparently not much. Central banks are for the most part unregulated, even by their own governments. As former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan quipped, “Quite frankly it does not matter who is president as far as the Fed is concerned. There are no other agencies that can overrule the action we take.” [...] That is how “independent” central banks operate, but it evidently not the US central bank that is gambling in the stock market. After extensive quantitative easing, the Fed has a $4.5 trillion balance sheet; but this sum is accounted for as being invested conservatively in Treasuries and agency debt (although QE may have allowed Wall Street banks to invest the proceeds in the stock market by devious means). Which central banks, then, are investing in stocks? The biggest player turns out to be the People’s Bank of China (PBoC), the Chinese central bank. [...] Also discussed: •The Central Bank Buying Spree •From Monetary Policy to Asset Grabs •Battle of the Central Banks? [...]"  

MSM: "Ex-NSA Chief Keith Alexander Is Now Pimping Advice To Wall Street Banks: Asked For $1 Million A Month" [06/22/14] Printer Friendly Version "So what’s a Peeping Tom, anti-democratic, Constitution-trampling intelligence crony to do after leaving decades of “public service?” Move into the private sector and collect a fat paycheck from Wall Street, naturally.  So what is Mr. Alexander charging for his expertise? He’s looking for $1 million per month. Yes, you read that right. That’s the rate that his firm, IronNet Cybersecurity Inc., pitched to Wall Street’s largest lobbying group the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), which ultimately negotiated it down to a mere $600,000 a month. In case you need a refresher on how much of a slimy character this guy is, I suggest you read the following posts:[...] Former U.S. intelligence officials are part of the burgeoning Internet security industry (part of development of a fascist state) Michael Morell, who last year was deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, now works for Beacon Global Strategies LLC and appeared at a Sifma event to warn financial firms about cybersecurity threats. CrowdStrike Inc., a security-technology company that does work for the largest banks, has former FBI officials on its staff. “It’s consumer confidence; it’s consumer protection; it’s the way money is moved,” he said. “It’s the integrity of the entire global system.” Integrity? Who does he think he's kidding.[...]" 

Commentary: "Establishment Is Afraid Of End The Fed Movement In Germany" [06/22/14] [8:34] "In this video Luke Rudkowski talks to Ken Jebsen a former main stream media journalist in Germany and Lars Maehrholz a skydiver that became the main organizer of the massive Monday peace vigils in Berlin. The protests in Berlin are not a left or right movement but a social media movement against the establishment that have grown to over a 100 cities and 3 countries. They started with Lars 2 1/2 months ago and with the help of Ken fm have grown to a very large number which made the main stream media in Berlin slander and attack the movement. [...]"  Note: For those interested in the historic background: The German Monday Demonstrations (Montagsdemonstrationen) helped to bring down the repressive surveillance state GDR regime 25 years ago. According to the organizer of these rallies, they have now spread to up to 100 cities and have a combined attendee base of around 20,000. What is also interesting, is that the mainstream media in Germany is calling them Nazis. In Germany, if you don’t support Central Banking, this apparently means "you are a Nazi". It is also a good sign, since it shows the desperate lengths to which the power structure will go to keep their criminal ponzi alive.

Exposé: "Worldwide Financial Criminal Network Revealed Part1" [06/20/14] Printer Friendly Version Part 2 Printer Friendly Version "Denver’s Organized Crime Boss Hogs Leonard Millman and Larry Mizel who run MDC a Financial Conglomerate of Organized Crime who are the Bankers behind the Illegal Mortgage Backed Securities Frauds that lead to the 2008 Bank Bailout which was set up by their partner in crime U.S. President George W Bush to loot the U.S. Treasury and hide their crimes. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and his Law partner Lanny Breuer maintained the cover up without any prosecutions of these horrendous crimes. Eric Holder and Lanny Breuer head of the Justice Department’s criminal division were partners for years at a Washington law firm that represented a Who’s Who of big banks and other companies at the center of foreclosure fraud. Breuer resigned last year from the Justice Department after a series on the Bank Frauds done by PBS Frontline.com. [...]" Related: "Bush-Millman-Clinton Zionist Organized Crime Family Flow Chart" Printer Friendly Version   

MSM: "BP To Sign $20 Billion Gas Supply Contract With China" [06/19/14] Printer Friendly Version "British energy giant BP will sign a long-term deal with Chinese state-owned peer CNOOC in London on Tuesday to supply China with liquefied natural gas, BP chief executive Bob Dudley said. The LNG deal, worth around $20 billion (14.75 billion euros) over 20 years, will be signed in front of Prime Minister David Cameron and Premier Li Keqiang during the Chinese leader's three-day visit to Britain, Dudley said on the sidelines of an oil conference in Moscow. [...]" 

MSM: "Miami Sues JPMorgan Chase Over Predatory Mortgages" [06/18/14] Printer Friendly Version "The city of Miami on Friday filed a lawsuit in a federal court against JPMorgan Chase & Co., accusing the banking giant of a pattern of discriminatory loan practices “since at least 2004″ which sparked foreclosures and violated the U.S. Fair Housing Act. “JPMorgan has engaged in a continuous pattern and practice of mortgage discrimination in Miami since at least 2004 by imposing different terms or conditions on a discriminatory and legally prohibited basis,” Bloomberg reports lawyers for Miami as saying in the complaint. The bank engaged in the discriminatory practices “in order to maximize profits at the expense of the City of Miami and minority borrowers,” the lawyers stated. A spokesperson for the bank called the claims “baseless.” The suit comes just weeks after JPMorgan was hit by a lawsuit from the city of Los Angeles that also accuses the banking giant of discriminatory lending practices. Both Miami and Los Angeles have filed similar lawsuits against Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Citigroup. [...]" 

Commentary: "Cluster Of Central Banks” Have Secretly Invested $29 Trillion In The Market" [06/17/14] Printer Friendly Version "Another conspiracy “theory” becomes conspiracy “fact” as The FT reports “a cluster of central banking investors has become major players on world equity markets.” The report, to be published this week by the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF), confirms $29.1tn in market investments, held by 400 public sector institutions in 162 countries, which “could potentially contribute to overheated asset prices.” China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange has become “the world’s largest public sector holder of equities”, according to officials, and we suspect the Fed is close behind (courtesy of more levered positions at Citadel), as the world’s banks try to diversify themselves and “counters the monopoly power of the dollar.” [...] So there it is… conspiracy fact – Central Banks around the world are buying stocks in increasing size. To summarize, the global equity market is now one massive Ponzi scheme in which the dumb money are central banks themselves, the same banks who inject the liquidity to begin with. That said, good luck with "exiting" the unconventional monetary policy. They'll need it.[...]" 

Commentary:  "Total Debt In America Hits A New Record High Of Nearly 60 Trillion Dollars" [06/17/14] Printer Friendly Version "What would you say if I told you that Americans are nearly 60 Trillion dollars in debt? Well, it is true. When you total up all forms of debt including government debt, business debt, mortgage debt and consumer debt, we are 59.4 trillion dollars in debt. That is an amount of money so large that it is difficult to describe it with words. For example, if you were alive 2000 years ago and you had spent 80 million dollars every single day since then, you still would not have spent 59.4 trillion dollars by now. And most of this debt has been accumulated in recent decades. If you go back 40 years ago, total debt in America was sitting at about 2.2 trillion dollars. Somehow over the past four decades we have allowed the total amount of debt in the United States to get approximately 27 times larger. This is utter insanity, and anyone that thinks this is sustainable is completely deluded. We are living in the greatest debt bubble of all time, and there is no way that this is going to end well. [...]" 

Trends: "Repatriating Taxes: An Unwarranted Gift to Unpatriotic Corporations" [06/16/14] Printer Friendly Version "U.S. corporations reported record profits and the median pay of large-company CEOs has reached record levels. Corporate profits as a share of the total economy exceeded 12 percent last year while their share of federal taxes as a percent of the economy shrank to less than two percent, near an all-time low. A recent study by Citizens for Tax Justice found that, over the last five years, the average large corporation in America paid less than 20 percent of its profits in federal income taxes, substantially less than the posted 35 percent corporate tax rate and less than many middle-class families pay. In the prosperous 1950s, under the leadership of Republican President Dwight Eisenhower, corporate profits accounted for around ten percent of the economy and their federal taxes accounted for more than four percent of the economy. Corporations, with fewer profits in those days, were asked to provide more toward the common good through the taxes they paid. They still had plenty of money to reinvest in their companies and prosper, and their taxes helped pay for public services like schools, roads, and investments in basic research that kept our nation strong and competitive.  Today, more and more companies are abandoning their incorporation in the U.S. and shifting their registrations to foreign countries. They are doing so to avoid paying U.S. taxes. Pfizer’s recently abandoned attempt to buy Britain’s Astra Zeneca was in large part about reducing the drug giant’s tax bill. Later this year, Walgreen’s shareholders will be asked to support a more direct path, simply swapping their registration as a U.S. corporation for new corporate papers issued by Switzerland. Efforts by these corporations to lower their tax bills mean they are choosing to contribute less to the upkeep of America.  Hundreds of other U.S. corporations are taking a simpler path, using gaping loopholes in the corporate tax code to legally shift profits earned in the United States to places like the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, or Lichtenstein, where those profits are lightly taxed, if at all. Seventy-two percent of Fortune 500 corporations have subsidiaries in offshore tax havens, according to new research by U.S. PIRG and Citizens for Tax Justice. Offshore tax abuse by corporations costs the U.S. Treasury $90 billion a year, according to Reed College Professor Kimberly Clausing.  Now many in Congress – from both political parties – are seeking to recycle an old idea that has failed before. They say we need to give corporations a big tax break to entice them to bring some of the $2 trillion they have stashed offshore back to America to invest in this country. They say we can use the trickle of tax money that comes from this one-time deal to repair our nation’s roads and bridges.  This construction is wrong on three counts. First, the premise that those funds are “trapped offshore” and not available for investment at home is false. Most large companies are able to use these offshore funds as collateral to obtain low-cost loans, which means that while their profits technically remain offshore and therefore untaxed, they are able to use these funds to make investments in the U.S.  Second, giving corporations a tax holiday to pay for infrastructure projects forces taxpayers to pay twice – once for the tax break and again for the cost of the infrastructure project. A recent Joint Committee on Taxation report estimated that a tax holiday similar to the one passed by Congress in 2004 would cost almost $96 billion over ten years. Using trickles of funding from corporate tax holidays is a really expensive way to pay for roads and bridges. It is far cheaper to pay for infrastructure spending directly out of tax revenues.  Third, such an approach is a one-time fix to a problem that needs a long-term solution. [...]" Related: "Walgreens' Planned Move From Illinois to Switzerland Would Save $4 Billion in Taxes" Printer Friendly Version 

MSM: "Belgium: Money-Laundering Toilet For Unwanted Treasuries" [06/16/14] Printer Friendly Version "Yet another, massive fraud was uncovered in the U.S. Treasuries market recently, this time through the diligence of the ever-astute, Paul Craig Roberts (along with Dave Kranzler). While this clumsy money-laundering operation was briefly mentioned in a recent commentary which further exposed the fraud/lies associated with the Federal Reserve’s (phony) “tapering”, there is much more which needs to be said here. As Roberts and Kranzler note in their original piece, the simple numbers involved make it clear we are dealing with a pathetically transparent money-laundering operation: From November 2013 through January 2014, Belgium with a GDP of $480 billion [supposedly] purchased $141.2 billion of U.S. Treasury bonds. Somehow Belgium came up with enough money to allocate during a three-month period 29 percent of its annual GDP to the purchase of U.S. Treasury bonds. As Roberts also notes; Belgium is another one of the West’s Deadbeat Debtors, with a (large) national debt, a budget deficit, a trade deficit, and a current account deficit. It didn’t have any money to allocate to the purchase of U.S. debt – let along forking-over 29% of its GDP in a mere three-month period. The supposed “purchase” is not only (economically) impossible for this debtor-government, there could be no possible legitimate purpose for such a (relatively) massive accumulation of any foreign debt. It is a prima facie fraud, and thus (inevitably) a money-laundering operation. “Somebody” gave the Belgian government the currency to fund this sham-transaction. However, many notable questions remained unanswered in that original piece. Among the most important of these questions are the following: [...]" 

Commentary: "Doug Casey: US In Eye Of Gigantic Financial Hurricane" MSM [06/15/14] [7:33] "It’s my opinion, that perhaps by the end of the year, certainly by the middle of next year, we will go into the trailing edge of the hurricane,” he said. “It’s going to last much longer, be much more serious and be quite different than the unpleasantness we remember from 2008 and 2009.” [...]"  

Commentary: "300 Million Versus 7 Billion" [06/13/14] Printer Friendly Version "Throughout history, dozens of nations have briefly held the mantle of global superpower. Until the 20th century when international travel, trade, warfare and information dissemination was less efficient; such power was typically exerted regionally and far more loosely. However it is now possible to wield influence far more broadly; and no one has done more so than the U.S., principally due to the awesome power of its “reserve currency.” Unfortunately, America has not only succumbed to the inexorable competitive forces of 190 other nations, but badly misused its power. And thus, just six decades after peaking in global influence, economic might, and wealth it has been reduced to a fascist, socialist, bankrupt shell of its past glory intent on the fighting the world in every imaginable aspect. When the dollar peaked at the turn of the century, the beginning of the end of U.S. hegemony was upon us; and just 14 years later, it’s “war on the world” has reached a fever pitch. It’s only a matter of time before America’s 300 million citizens – or more specifically the “1%” that make the decisions – lose the war they initiated with the other seven billion; and when it does, its unnaturally high standard of living will fall back to the median – yielding collapsing confidence in the dollar and a mad rush to alternative stores of value like PHYSICAL gold and silver. It must be some kind of “cosmic karma” that the global economy peaked nearly the instant the millennia turned over. Irrespective, that’s exactly what happened. In our view, the three events that sealed the world’s cumulative economic doom were the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, the 2000 bursting of the tech bubble and the 2001 terrorist attacks. However, in the big picture, the principal culprit was debt saturation finally catching up to a world that abandoned real money three decades earlier. In other words, the world’s credit line “maxed out”; and thus, the resulting “diminishing returns” of incremental debt arrived with a vengeance. As the self-proclaimed economic and military “leader,” America took it upon itself to address these events unilaterally to disastrous effect. To wit, the historic banking deregulation of 1999 was entirely ignored – yielding exponential growth of subprime lending, over-the-counter derivatives, and high frequency trading among other illegal and/or amoral activities; whilst the 2000 crash was “addressed” with unprecedented money printing; and the 9/11 attacks with one of the most irresponsible military strategies imaginable. Today the dollar’s purchasing power is 30% lower relative to other currencies and far more so against items of real value – like food, energy, and precious metals (price suppression notwithstanding). Moreover, Wall Street not only is dramatically more powerful, but exponentially more corrupt and ingrained in the Washington power base. As for the post-9/11 strategy, it has arguably been a bigger failure than Vietnam and far more destructive in terms of impact on the nation’s finances and international standing. [...]   Regarding Iraq, it was eleven years ago when the U.S. destabilized the Middle East based on flawed intelligence that not only was Saddam Hussein responsible for 9/11, but held “weapons of mass destruction” that were ready, willing and able to destroy America and its allies. George Bush declared “mission accomplished” in May 2003, but little did he know that the war was just starting; and now, barely two years after the last U.S. troops were withdrawn the situation is about to go full-out FUBAR. The ill-fated foray into Iraq, in which 7,000 U.S. troops were killed and 500,000 Iraqi civilians are incalculable; not to mention, the permanent increase in global energy costs and the national debt. And thus, this week’s news that “al Qaeda” is mounting a major offensive to take over Iraq could well prove a “death blow” to the global economy and with it American hegemony. On Tuesday, the “al Qaeda spinoff” ISIS captured Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city – and with it, a refinery processing 310,000 barrels per day of oil or nearly a half percent of global production. Yesterday the city of Tikrit was overrun and ISIS today vowed to take over Baghdad. Already the Iraqi government has given America permission to attack such “insurgents”; and fear not they most certainly will. Thus at a time when gasoline prices are already at their highest level in three years – amidst a rapidly expanding recession – the odds of potentially catastrophic price surges ominously loom. [...]"  

MSM: "Blankfein: Some Exogenous Event Going To Happen" [06/13/14] [3:12] "Goldman Sachs chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein, discusses the steady market, and says at some point, some event will happen that will reset portfolios. [...]"  Related: "Blankfein: Eric Cantor Defeat 'Stunning'" [2:38] Goldman Sachs chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein, says House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is a sensible politician, and shares his view of what his primary loss implies for the budget and immigration policies.

Commentary: "Billions Of NATO-Dollars Unaccounted For" [06/12/14] Printer Friendly Version "Billions of dollars are unaccounted for in the books of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Parliamentarians of 28 NATO countries have no idea how much taxpayers money flows through the military alliance and whether it is spent legitimately, says the Dutch National Court of Auditors. This is due to an administrative backlog of decades and abundantly marking expenditures as ‘undisclosed’. Following is an English translation of a story in de Volkskrant. ‘NATO might be wasting a lot of money, or maybe they are short of cash. Frankly, we have no idea’, says Saskia Stuiveling, president of the Dutch National Court of Auditors. The findings of the official controlling body of the Dutch government are a result of extensive research on NATO expenditures over the past forty years. It will launch a website in English on Tuesday June 10, 2014, to reveal the messy accounts of NATO. The purpose of the Auditors is to get this issue on the agenda of the next NATO Parliamentary Assembly in November 2014 in The Hague, The Netherlands. The NATO-ambassadors from all member states are aware of the transparency problem, but until now this has not resulted into a solution of the transparency problem, claims the Dutch Auditor. In a reaction, NATO states that ‘some reports cannot be made public due to the classified nature of the issue audited.’ However, ‘NATO allies maintain full control of the level of expenses and how the money is being spent.’ With this comment the NATO spokesperson is referring to the information position of NATO (budget) representatives to the North Atlantic Council of 28 NATO states. The council meets twice a week. These ambassadors ‘are fully aware what money is spend on what’. The information shared in the council is by far not always available for external auditors or parliamentarians who are supposed to supervise the legitimate expenditure of tax payers money. [...] The misty bookkeeping of total NATO expenditures are politically highly sensitive. U.S. President Obama has urged European countries frequently in the past few months to spend more on defense. Together, all 28 NATO-countries yearly spend over 1 trillion dollars on defense – three quarters is spent by the United States, one quarter by the European NATO-members. How much of that amount runs through the books of NATO is largely unknown." [...]  NATO is financed roughly by three funds. The first fund is filled with 3.3 billion dollar contributed by all 28 member states. This 'common fund' is used to pay for NATO-headquarters in Brussels, the staff working there and other common expenditures. How the money in this common fund is spent exactly, is 'undisclosed'. The other two funds keeping NATO alive, are two big question marks. There is one fund for international missions (such as the NATO's mission in Afghanistan) and one fund for special projects (such as the development of the NH-90 helicopter and the eurofighter). Which NATO member states contribute to these two funds and if yes, how much, is classified information. After six years of requesting more information, the Dutch National Court of Auditors does not even have a beginning of an idea of the total amount that each NATO country is paying to these last two funds. 'NATO might be wasting a lot of money, or maybe they are short of cash. Frankly, we have no idea', says Saskia Stuiveling, president of the Dutch National Court of Auditors. The findings of the official controlling body of the Dutch government are a result of extensive research on NATO expenditures over the past forty years. It will launch a website in English on Tuesday June 10, 2014, to reveal the messy accounts of NATO.[...]"  

Commentary: "The South Rises Up To Take On Wall Street And High Frequency Trading" [06/11/14] Printer Friendly Version "Southern states are mad as hell and aren’t going to take it any more. After more than five years of watching their cities and towns suffer foreclosure and mortgage abuse from the biggest firms on Wall Street, rigged Libor swaps impoverishing local governments, and massive stock losses to municipal workers’ pensions, the South is rising up and suing Wall Street over its latest fleecing scheme – high frequency trading. And before anyone starts to chuckle about the chances of Southern lawyers outfoxing the mega Wall Street law firms in their own stomping ground in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, you should know this one salient detail: one of the key Southern lawyers involved is Michael Lewis. That’s not bestselling author Michael Lewis; that’s Big Tobacco Cartel suing and winning lawyer Michael Lewis who mightily assisted in bringing the tobacco cartel out of the shadows and changed the health of a Nation forever. Even more problematic for Wall Street and its hideously shrewd lawyers is that one of the smartest programming brains in U.S. markets, Eric Hunsader, is cooperating with the Southern lawyers. [...] Last Friday, Andrew Smith, writing for the U.K. Guardian newspaper, featured Hunsader in a story about the lawsuit. Smith revealed that on May 6 of this year, Hunsader met with Lewis and his “dream team” of class action lawyers in Chicago to provide his technical expertise. Why is Hunsader who runs a successful data business involving himself in what is likely to be the biggest legal free-for-all of the century? Andrew Smith of the Guardian shares this with us:  “When Hunsader’s finance friends pointed out that nobody was driving busloads of children over cliffs, he would grab their wallet and remove a $20 bill, then hand the wallet back. ‘Does anyone in the world really care what just happened there?’ he would ask. ‘It makes no difference to anyone but you, and even then not much. It’s just that in a civilised society, we don’t tolerate that. Civilisation breaks down when people don’t follow the rules, because nobody can trust anybody else.’ ” Wall Street On Parade completely agrees with Hunsader. And while the morally challenged brains that occupy those Armani suits on Wall Street may not have literally been driving busloads of children over cliffs, there is the fact that one in five children in the U.S. now lives below the poverty level; that homelessness is hitting record highs in Wall Street’s home town of New York City; and that according to the National Center for Homeless Education, an agency funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the latest data available show there were 1.2 million homeless students during the 2011-12 school year — a 10 percent increase from the previous year and a 72 percent jump from the start of 2007-08, an all-time high. We checked the Federal web site, Pacer, this morning which allows access to lawsuits filed in Federal Courts. We found that Lewis and three other law firms have filed not one lawsuit seeking class action status, but three separate ones. [...]"  

Corbett: "Global Austerity And The US War Agenda" [06/10/14] [10:36] "In this stage of advanced globalization, banks earnings and corporate profits continue to soar even as real wages continue to plummet. This does not just lead to mass poverty and unrest, but it sows the seeds for geopolitical conflict and military confrontation. Find out more about this relationship in this week's GRTV Backgrounder on Global Research TV. [...]"  

Commentary: "The Biggest Policy Mistake of the Great Recession: Bailing Out the Banks, Not People" [06/09/14] Printer Friendly Version "... By reviewing other economic downturns, Mian and Sufi discover two recurring features: a buildup of household debt before the crash, and an extreme decline in consumer spending afterward, as households cut back, hoarding money to pay off those scaled-up debts. The normal channels of fiscal and monetary policy have difficulty dealing with highly leveraged household balance sheets. House of Debt correlates these features of recessions, and really targets debt as the core problem, arguing that it needs to be restructured during crises and prevented during better times. This critique — about the destructive power of debt and the need to forgive it — has in recent years come from far more radical circles, not from two economics professors trained in the classical tradition. “When we pitched the book, one publisher said, this is the intellectual justification for Occupy Wall Street,” said Professor Sufi in an interview. “We didn’t set out with that agenda. But one of the points we make is that the position we’re taking is not that radical if you look at history.” Indeed, Sufi and Mian emphasize that the Great Recession response to debt forgiveness was a historic outlier. During the Panic of 1819, when falling commodity prices squeezed indebted farmers, state governments immediately put a moratorium on foreclosures, and Congress easily passed a debt-forgiveness law for farmers who had credit with the federal government. In the Depression, the Home Owners Loan Corporation bought up failing mortgages and restructured them so borrowers could make cheaper payments. Even the code of Hammurabi, with its eye-for-an-eye view of justice, decrees that in lean times, a debtor can “wash his debt-tablet” and pay nothing for a year. This actually helps debtors and creditors, mainly because it brings back the economy faster and reduces the vicious cycle of foreclosures lowering housing prices further. “When there’s a collapse in the economy, it’s a good idea to write down debt,” Sufi said. [...]  Why did the Bush and Obama administrations break with this tradition, steering aid to insolvent banks over indebted households? Sufi and Mian pinpoint the growing belief, which has taken hold among economists and policymakers that saving the banks equals saving the economy. “The primary reason we wrote the book was because we believed this narrow banking view became the central focus of policy,” Sufi said. However, he argues, the idea of recapitalizing banks so they can resume lending falls apart upon scrutiny. “If you walk through it, we just think it doesn’t make sense. How can an economy with so much debt need more lending?” A cultural bias against debt has crept into these debates too, blaming homeowners as “deadbeats” who bought “too much home” and ignored the risks (see the famous Rick Santelli rant). But while a 40 percent drop in home prices spares nobody, responsible or otherwise, this perspective also ignores a simple fact: There are two sides to a debt contract. “We blame the homeowner because they paid the price, but the only way that can happen is if a lender lends to the borrower,” Sufi said. “There is responsibility on both sides of the contract.[...]"  

Commentary: "One Ton Gold Shipment Into Hong Kong Revealed To Contain Just Worthless Metal" [06/08/14] Printer Friendly Version "Two years ago, stories of fake tungsten-filled gold coins and bars began to spread; it appears, between the shortage of physical gold (after Asian central bank buying) and the increase in smuggling (courtesy of India's controls among others) that gold fraud is back on the rise. As SCMP reports, a mainland China businessman, Zhao Jingjun, discovered that HK$270 million of 998kg of gold bars he bought in Ghana had been swapped for non-precious metal bars. What is perhaps even more worrisome, given the probe into commodity-financing deals and the rehypothecation evaporation; these gold bars were shipped to a Chinese warehouse before Zhao was able to confirm the fraud. As South China Morning Post reports, police were last night making arrangements with a mainland businessman to check whether HK$270 million of gold bullion he bought in Africa was genuine after part of the consignment was swapped with metal bars. It appears in this case, the fraudsters could not even afford Tungsten. [...]"  

Commentary: "eBay, PayPal, Apple and Dish Approve Of Bitcoin. Is Google Next?" [06/07/14] Printer Friendly Version "Despite a year of detailed press coverage of bitcoin, tens of millions of dollars in capital investment, and a devoted userbase, eBay has been skeptical of the new innovation, as has Apple. But this has changed halfway through 2014 with the CEO of eBay himself admitting to owning some bitcoins and Apple allowing bitcoin wallet apps in its App Store. [...]"  Related: "Is Bitcoin an NSA Setup? Mike Maloney" [2:55] "Mike took questions from attendees at the latest Cambridge House conference in Vancouver. One of the most common themes in questions was the rise of alternative currencies" | "Bitcoin Technology Extremely Disruptive To Many Industries Going Forward" [1:04:53] | "California Senate Banking Committee Approves Bill To Legalize Crypto-Currencies" Printer Friendly Version 

Commentary: "A Parallel Chinese Financial Order" [06/06/14] Printer Friendly Version "The Financial Times ran a front page piece last Monday claiming that China has ordered a ban on state-owned companies using Western management consulting companies. It is alleged by senior Chinese sources that 'foreigners use their consulting companies to find out everything they want about our state companies'. Beijing's solution will be its usual kind of import-substitution strategy, the 'setting up (of) a team of Chinese domestic consultants who are particularly focused on information systems in order to seize back this power from the foreign companies'. Less sensational, but potentially more troubling, was a decision by a Hong Kong court last Friday rejecting Ernst & Young's plea that it could not give Hong Kong's regulator the audit working papers for a mainland company seeking to list here. Sensing danger, Ernst & Young argued its client's information was a Chinese 'state secret'. International accountants can no longer function freely in China. Beijing's Ministry of Finance is proposing new rules that may banish foreign (and Hong Kong) auditors (including non-local personnel from the Big Four) from the mainland. Just as Hong Kong brokers complain of being restricted in China, this confrontation may 'spell doom for Hong Kong accountants…because of Beijing's discriminatory policy'. This issue has been brewing for years. The US regulator (SEC) recently censured the Big Four for withholding 'secret' audit documents of Chinese clients listed in America. The SEC made the same argument as its counterpart here in Hong Kong: if Chinese companies wish to list overseas, then foreign agencies need inspection rights in order to ensure financial propriety and to protect investors. At one level, this is simply a regulatory dispute, albeit a pretty nasty one. The formidable Paul Gillis at Peking University reckons things could get worse, and there are a lot of other accounting problems that China and outsiders can squabble over. But it's about far more than counting beans. This is a high level contest between financial systems and, essentially, power. I have commented before about China's dissatisfaction with the global monetary system. China is not an obstructive power. It is, in its way, a committed member of the current economic order. It has strong support at the UN. But it is hedging too, working assiduously to create alternative financial systems to the established ones.  Last month, Beijing inaugurated the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a direct challenger to the Asian Development Bank, which is based in Manila and sponsored mainly by the US and Japan. Neither country was invited to join the AIIB. Nor was India. China's finance minister Lou Jiwei notes that Beijing's own China Development Bank already 'is far bigger than the ADB and World Bank combined'. AIIB is touted as a multilateral 'Asian-led' agency. But much, if not most, of the funding will be Chinese. As one researcher said: 'Now China has the ability to show the real money'. After the desperately poor showing of the Western credit rating agencies in foreseeing the US sub-prime mortgage crisis, China has since promoted its own. One of them, Dagong, gleefully downgraded America's sovereign rating last year. The same thing is happening with central bank support agreements, trade agreements, and security partnerships: Beijing is creating a parallel architecture of global governance to the US-led one. Its financial otherworld is both complementary and competitive.[...]" 

Interviews: "Elizabeth Warren and Thomas Piketty: "Wealth Does Not Trickle Down... It Trickles Up" [06/05/14] Printer Friendly Version [47:47] "... We have a rigged system, where a handful are able to reap benefits at the cost of everyone else.' [...] Sharing a stage with French economist Thomas Piketty on Monday night in Boston, Sen. Elizabeth Warren discussed a range issues related to economic inequality during a joint interview with the Huffington Post, but said that people should be careful not to separate the far-reaching implications that outsized wealth and power in the U.S. can have on vital, planetary issues like climate change. Piketty, the author of the groundbreaking and bestselling book Capitalism in the 21st Century, offered his perspective on the rise of global wealth disparity as Warren focused on her familiar rhetoric surrounding the politics of inequality by describing the numerous ways in which "the system is rigged" against working people in favor of the financial and political elite. In a direct refutation of the infamous Reagan-era ethos of "trickle-down economics," Warren said that Piketty's invaluable research presented in his book shows that "wealth does not trickle down... it trickles up." "It trickles from everyone else," she said, "to those who are rich." In a striking moment of the discussion, Warren stopped to make a cogent point about the intersection between the inequality that Picketty has so well documented and the overwhelming issue of climate change which she argued should not be treated as something separate from the current political realities created by enormous wealth inequality."  Note: It's the way of psychopaths ...

MSM: "Russia, China To Create Joint Rating Agency" [06/04/14] Printer Friendly Version "Russia and China have reached an agreement to create a joint rating agency that will begin its work by evaluating common investment projects, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on Tuesday. Speaking during a trip to China, Siluanov told journalists that the new agency will be modelled on existing rating agencies. "We would like (the agency's) ratings to be apolitical," Siluanov said in comments sent by the ministry's press service. In late April, Standard and Poor's rating agency cut Russia's sovereign rating to a notch above junk, just weeks after Moscow annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula. [...]"  

MSM: "Ecuador to Transfer More Than Half its Gold Reserves to Goldman Sachs in Exchange for “Liquidity" [06/03/14] Printer Friendly Version "The central bank said it will send 466,000 ounces of gold to Goldman Sachs, worth about $580 million at current prices, and get the same amount back three years from now. In return, Ecuador will get “instruments of high security and liquidity” and expects to earn a profit of $16 million to $20 million over the term of the accord. The central bank didn’t detail additional terms of the transactions, such as any fees or financing costs paid to Goldman Sachs. The deal comes as the South American country’s government, which defaulted on about $3.2 billion of bonds five years ago, seeks to cover a budget deficit forecast by the Finance Ministry to swell to a record $4.94 billion this year. President Rafael Correa said in April he also planned to sell about $700 million of foreign debt this year in the country’s first international bond sale since the 2008 and 2009 default. “Gold that was not generating any returns in vaults, causing storage costs, now becomes a productive asset that will generate profits,” the central bank said in the statement. “These interventions in the gold market represent the beginning of a new and permanent strategy of active participation by the bank, through purchases, sales and financial operations, that will contribute to the creation of new financial investment opportunities.[...]"  Note: "This 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. This isn’t the first South American country we’ve heard about sending their gold to Goldman. Recall late last year: " Is Venezuela Selling Gold to Goldman Sachs?"  

Interviews: "War Greatest Risk, Not Global Financial Collapse — Catherine Austin Fitts" [06/03/14] [36:49] "In her latest report, investment advisor Catherine Austin Fitts says, “The greatest risk is not global financial collapse. Our greatest risk is war.” Ms. Fitts explains, “I am talking about war in many different venues. What we’ve seen in a place like Ukraine is very much defined by what’s called “soft weapons.” So, we are watching war through the information systems and cyber hacking. We’ve got Edward Snowden warning us about everything that can go on through the digital systems, and then we’ve got boots on the ground. We’ve got the President now saying he’s pulling boots on the ground. It’s just like the Roman Empire pulled the army back and left the church in place. The American empire is going to pull the boots on the ground back and leave the drones in place.” Fitts correctly predicted that there would be no financial collapse in 2013. She characterizes what is going on in the global economy as a “slow burn.” Fitts contends, “The dominant economic scenario that I think that has been going on for quite some time is what I call the ‘slow burn.’  [...]"  

Commentary: "Infrastructure Sticker Shock: Financing Costs More than Construction" [06/02/14] Printer Friendly Version "Funding infrastructure through bonds doubles the price or worse. Costs can be cut in half by funding through the state’s own bank. [...] Escaping the Interest Trap: The Models of China and North Dakota: There is another alternative. In the last five years, China has managed to build an impressive 4000 miles of high-speed rail. Where did it get the money? The Chinese government has a hidden funding source: it owns its own banks. That means it gets its financing effectively interest-free. All banks actually have a hidden funding source. The Bank of England just admitted in its quarterly bulletin that banks don’t lend their deposits. They simply advance credit created on their books. If someone is going to be creating our national money supply and collecting interest on it, it should be we the people, through our own publicly-owned banks. Models for this approach are not limited to China and other Asian “economic miracles.” The US has its own stellar model, in the state-owned Bank of North Dakota (BND). By law, all of North Dakota’s revenues are deposited in the BND, which is set up as a DBA of the state (“North Dakota doing business as the Bank of North Dakota”). That means all of the state’s capital is technically the bank’s capital. The bank uses its copious capital and deposit pool to generate credit for local purposes. The BND is a major money-maker for the state, returning a sizable dividend annually to the state treasury. Every year since the 2008 banking crisis, it has reported a return on investment of between 17 percent and 26 percent. While California and other states have been slashing services and raising taxes in order to balance their budgets, North Dakota has actually been lowering taxes, something it has done twice in the last five years. The BND partners with local banks rather than competing with them, strengthening their capital and deposit bases and allowing them to keep loans on their books rather than having to sell them off to investors or farm the loans out to Wall Street. This practice allowed North Dakota to avoid the subprime crisis that destroyed the housing market in other states. North Dakota has the lowest unemployment rate in the country, the lowest default rate on credit card debt, one of the lowest foreclosure rates, and the most local banks per capita of any state. It is also the only state to escape the credit crisis altogether, boasting a budget surplus every year since 2008. The potential of this public banking model for other states is huge.[...]"  

MSM: "IMF’s Insistence On Economic Austerity Could Derail Ukraine’s Chance Of Survival" [06/01/14] Printer Friendly Version "The new government of the Chocolate King is committed to those same conditions, now spelled out in an IMF agreement released at the end of April. I would not want to be in his shoes. After two years of almost no economic growth, the IMF is now projecting a steep recession for this year, with the economy shrinking by 5 percent. This is largely because of budget tightening that the government has committed to, amounting to about 3 percent of GDP over the next two years. For comparison, think of the U.S. government cutting $500 billion, roughly the equivalent of the Pentagon's annual base allocation, from its budget over two years. The economy is supposed to recover next year, but we have heard that before - think of Greece, or Spain or Eurozone austerity generally over the past four years.... As it turns out, Putin does not appear interested in annexing more pieces of a divided Ukraine, contrary to the assertions of some in the U.S. His main goal seems more likely to be preventing Ukraine from becoming another base for the NATO military alliance, on its border, which in Russia is understandably seen as a threat. NATO added 12 countries from Eastern Europe between 1999 and 2009. And this could be better achieved through negotiations. As for Poroshenko, depending on how badly things go with the IMF/EU program, he may end up needing help from Russia after all. At the very least he wouldn't want to leave himself completely at the mercy of the IMF-Washington-EU decision-makers. They have a plan to restructure Ukraine's economy, and it could turn out to be a mass-unemployment nightmare. [...]" 

MSM: "US Money Slump Flashes Warnings As Economy Contracts" [05/31/14] Printer Friendly Version "The US economy contracted sharply in the first quarter and bond yields have been falling at the fastest rate since the recession scare two years ago, in signs that bond tapering by the Federal Reserve is biting more than anticipated. The slowdown comes as a key indicator of the US money supply flashes slowdown warnings, though the picture remains murky after extreme weather conditions over the winter. Output fell at an annual rate of 1pc, led by a 7.5pc fall in business spending following the expiry of tax concessions. The tax rules had brought forward investment in 2012 and 2013, leading to a cliff-edge drop this year. “We think there is more to this than just weather. Our leading indicators were already weakening late last year,” said Lakshman Achuthan, from the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI). “We may get a snap-back in the second quarter but I don’t see us reaching escape velocity. The economy is below stall-speed, according to the Fed’s own model,” he said. Jan Loeys, from JP Morgan, said the strange action in the bond markets is causing a “growing unease among investors that something is not right about the world economy”, but it may merely be the result of very low inflation and therefore benign. Former Fed chairman Ben Bernanke said recently that long-term yields would never reach 4pc again in his lifetime, portraying a changed world where nothing returns to normal.  [...]"  

MSM: "U.S. Prosecutors Pursue Criminal, Civil Probes Against 15 Banks, Payment Processors" [05/30/14] Printer Friendly Version "Government regulators create laws and initiate investigations in order to protect consumers from an array of hurtful products and companies. One such consumer fraud investigation by the Justice Department is “Operation Choke Point” and it’s resulted in criminal and civil probes by U.S. prosecutors. But some legislators see the investigation as more hurtful than helpful. According to a report by Reuters, U.S. prosecutors have opened criminal and civil probes into at least 15 banks and payment processors as part of “Operation Choke Point” over the last year. The investigation aims to crack down on fraud by going after firms that handle and move money with suspect businesses. As of November 2013, the House of Representatives’ Oversight Committee reported that criminal probes had been opened regarding four payment processors, one bank and several officials. Additionally, civil fraud law investigations were opened against at least 10 banks and payment processors. An official with the Justice Dept. wrote in a memo to the Oversight Committee that the investigation had already caused some banks to stop processing payments for firms believed to be involved in fraud against consumers. But that has some congressional members unhappy, saying the Justice Dept. conducted a shadowy effort to put firms with legal activities out of business by pressuring banks to stop working with them, Reuters reports. “Operation Choke Point is the Justice Department’s newest abuse of power,” Rep. Darrell Issa, Oversight panel leader said in a news release. “If the administration believes some businesses should be out of business, they should prosecute them before a judge and jury.” A spokesperson for the Justice Dept. maintains that the department only investigates firms that break federal laws. “When financial institutions choose to process transactions, even though they know the transactions are fraudulent or are willfully ignorant of that fact, they are breaking federal law and we will not hesitate to hold them accountable.” [...]" 

Commentary: "9/11 Conspiracy Solved: Names, Connections, & Details Exposed" [05/30/14] [43:27] "Special thanks to Michael C. Ruppert, Mark H. Gaffney, and Kevin Ryan for solving the crimes of 9/11 with their amazing research. This video is a compilation of evidence they have uncovered.  [...]"  Note: Interesting, especially the financial aspects of the dynamic as pointed out in this video. [Cross-Posted in Special Articles]

Commentary: "The Corporate Welfare Bank Of The United States" [05/29/14] Printer Friendly Version "Over the past few weeks, the American business lobby and in particular the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have come out in force to support the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. These groups and their puppets in Washington insist that the Ex-Im Bank is good for American small businesses and supports job growth, that failing to reauthorize will harm the overall economy. Conscious of the political atmosphere, the Bank’s supporters have carefully avoided some ugly facts about this vehicle for corporatist cooperation. The Ex-Im Bank epitomizes just the kind of unashamed corporate welfare that animates populist hostilities on both the American political right and left, the collusive cronyism that — whatever their rhetoric — establishment elites of both sides embrace with enthusiasm. The Democrat and Republican halves of the Washington political machine each have their own cynical uses for populist moods, but when the chips are down and the votes are cast American capitalism just is the active collaboration of powerful interests in big business and government. We have never had a free market in the United States, nothing even remotely close.  [...] Agencies like the Ex-Im Bank redistribute wealth from ordinary taxpayers to the political chosen, mammoth corporations such as Boeing that couldn’t survive for a single day without constant, committed intervention from the American state. In 2010, nearly half of all Ex-Im Bank loans and loan guarantees went to that most favorite of aerospace giants, a year in which the company saw over $64 billion in revenue. So much for the oft-repeated propaganda about supporting small businesses. The Ex-Im Bank exists to ensure that the biggest companies, well-connected with lawmakers and regulators, never actually have to so much as think about competing in a hypothetical “free market system.” Beyond Boeing, top clients of the cronyist Bank include General Electric, Caterpillar, and KBR, the notoriously corrupt former Halliburton subsidiary that has devoured hundreds of millions of dollars in government contracts. While it’s difficult to know exactly how much risk taxpayers are exposed to until, for example, a default actually occurs, the Congressional Budget Office recently poked holes in some of the Bank’s numbers. In a report this month (May 2014), the CBO said that under “fair-value” accounting — rather than the accounting method prescribed by the Federal Credit Reform Act — the Bank will cost taxpayers $2 billion over the next decade.[...]"  Note: At Export Import Bank conference in Washington on April 5, 2013, Joe Biden called for the creation of a "new world order" "Video" [2:17] 

MSM: "China Launching “Global Gold Exchange” In Shanghai" [05/28/14] Printer Friendly Version "With China’s push for an international physical exchange, physical demand will begin to have a stronger influence, thereby ending gold manipulation. This will allow gold to rise to a more appropriate price given the scale of macroeconomic, systemic, geo-political and monetary risks of today. China has approached foreign banks and gold producers to participate in a global gold exchange in Shanghai, as the world’s top producer and importer of gold seeks greater influence over pricing and the global gold market. The Shanghai Gold Exchange got the go ahead from the central bank last week to launch a global trading platform in the city’s pilot free trade zone. SGE is looking to launch physical contracts of gold, silver and platinum group metals denominated in Chinese yuan on the international exchange. [...] Beijing’s plans to open up gold trading comes at a time when the benchmark price-setting process for precious metals is under scrutiny. Barclays Plc became the first bank to be fined over manipulation of the 95-year-old benchmark London gold market daily “fix” last week. “China wants to have more voice in gold prices,” said Jiang Shu, an analyst with Industrial Bank, one of 12 banks allowed to import gold into China. “The international exchange is the first step towards gaining a say in gold pricing.” “If you don’t allow foreign players to participate in your market actively, or do not push Chinese financial institutions to participate in the international market, then China’s strong gold demand is only a number, not a power,” he said. HSBC and Standard Bank declined to comment, while the other banks and SGE were not immediately available for comment. Gold, along with oil, could be among the first to be opened up to foreign players. The free trade zone in Shanghai is set to see international energy trading by hosting the country’s first crude oil futures. Contract specifications for silver, platinum and palladium were also being discussed, though the sources said specifications and participants had not yet been finalized. The exchange is expected to be launched by the fourth quarter.[...]"  

MSM: "Gold Traders Investigated in Colombian Cocaine Laundering" [05/28/14] Printer Friendly Version "Colombia is investigating the possible involvement of gold trading firms and a Miami refinery in a cocaine money-laundering scheme that’s distorting the country’s trade data, according to the tax and customs agency. As much as $3.3 billion of gold was smuggled into Colombia in the past two years from countries including Venezuela, Panama,Mexico and Chile, said Juan Ricardo Ortega, who heads the agency known as the DIAN and is assisting an investigation started by the Attorney General’s office in 2011. The contraband metal allegedly was sent via trading firms including CI Goldex SA to the U.S. and Switzerland and bought at inflated prices with drug money, he said. Goldex denies any wrongdoing and said it doesn’t export gold to Switzerland and its commercial ties with the Miami plant have been temporarily halted. “It’s money laundering, a way of bringing back dollars,” Ortega said in a May 19 interview at a Bogota restaurant where he was accompanied by bodyguards. The DIAN and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration are assisting in the probe, he said. The alleged gold scheme would be part of money-laundering operations that the Colombian government’s financial intelligence unit estimates at about $11 billion a year. Cracking down on illicit transactions is part of efforts to end decades of drug-related violence and boost foreign investment. [...]"  

Commentary: "Gold Or No Gold: Austria Wants An Audit Of Its Gold Reserves At Bank Of England" [05/27/14] Printer Friendly Version "Austria is planning to send auditors to the Bank of England in order to verify the existence of Austrias gold reserves stored in british vaults. The Austrian accountability office will sent a delegation to London in order to check on Austrias gold reserves stored in vaults at the Bank of England. This is reported by Austrian magazine Trend. The measure is seen as a consequence of growing public pressure. There is a rising disbelief among Austrians about the existence of the gold. “I acknowledge the request. Any grocery store is obliged to do inventory once a year. It is the only way of getting rid of these unreasonable allegations”, Ewald Nowotny, Governor of the National Bank of Austria tells Trend. Austria officially owns 280 tonnes of gold of which 17 percent are kept in vaults inside the country. Around 150 tonnes are estimated to be stored in London. In recent years doubts about the existence and the quality of Germanys monetary gold stored at the New York Fed and the Bank of England were raised by a rising number of sceptics. In January the Bundesbank eventually announced plans to repatriate most of Gemanys gold reserves until 2020. [...]"  

MSM: "Ukraine Signs $1.5 Billion Loan Agreements With World Bank" [05/27/14] Printer Friendly Version "The Ukrainian government has signed loan agreements worth a total of $1.48 billion with the World Bank on Monday to finance three new projects in the country. “The package of three new projects is part of the total volume of aid to Ukraine announced by World Bank Group in March this year,” the Ukrainian government’s press office reported. “This aid worth a total of $3.5 billion is expected to be delivered to Ukraine until the end of 2014,” the press office said. The first loan of $750 million will be spent on “the budget support,” the Ukrainian government said. “Also, municipal heat and power companies in ten cities will receive $382 million as part of a project to raise energy efficiency,” the press office said. The remaining $350 million will be provided to ten water supply enterprises and one waste disposal company, the government said.  [...]"  Note: With most of the funds going to existing oligarchs.

Commentary: "Government Plan Would Transform Israel Into The World’s First Cashless Society" [05/27/14] Printer Friendly Version "A committee chaired by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief of staff has come up with a three-phase plan to “all but do away with cash transactions in Israel”. Individuals and businesses would still be permitted to conduct cash transactions in small amounts (at least initially), but the eventual goal is to force Israeli citizens to conduct as much business as possible using electronic forms of payment. In fact, it has been reported that Israeli officials believe that “cash is bad” because it fuels the underground economy and allows people to avoid paying taxes. It is hoped that requiring most transactions to be conducted in cash will reduce crime and help balance the national budget. And once 98 or 99 percent of all transactions are cashless, it will not be difficult for the Israeli government (or any other government) to go the rest of the way and ban cash transactions altogether. But is a cashless society actually desirable? This is a question that people all over the world will have to start asking as governments increasingly restrict the use of cash. Back in September, it was announced that the Israeli government had formed a committee to “examine ways to eliminate cash from the Israeli economy”… [...]"  Note: Elimination of cash creates more control ... no surprise from the power and control freaks.

Commentary: "US Dollar As Reserve Currency Becoming 'Obsolete': Webster Tarpley" [05/26/14] Printer Friendly Version [3:32] "The use of the dollar as an international reserve currency, including for international trade, has become “outmoded, obsolete and unworkable,” said Webster Griffin Tarpley, a critic of US foreign and domestic policy. “US Treasury Secretaries and US Federal Reserve officials have been much more interested in saving the Wall Street zombie banks from the consequences of their own speculation than they have been in doing the things that would really make the dollar a liable reserve currency,” Tarpley said. “They’ve given up on functioning as a reserve currency and therefore the rest of the world is drawing the consequences,” he told Press TV on Wednesday. In a symbolic blow to US global financial hegemony, Russia and China took a step toward undermining the dominance of the US dollar as the world reserve currency on Tuesday. In the presence of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Shanghai, Russia’s second biggest financial institution, VTB, signed a deal with the Bank of China to bypass the dollar and pay each other in domestic currencies. The world’s five major emerging economies known as the BRICS countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — have long sought to diminish their dependence on the dollar as a means of reshaping the world financial and geopolitical order. [...]"  Note: Good

Commentary: "Economic Vultures Target Ukraine" [05/26/14] Printer Friendly Version "While Ukraine teeters on the edge of a political abyss it is the target of economic vultures that include the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the biggest Western oil and gas giants. Ukrainian pensions could be halved and gas subsidies needed to keep families alive this coming winter are only a few of the dire outcomes likely to flow from an austerity package imposed by the bankers at the IMF. When the IMF announced its Ukraine bailout in March 2014, the deal should have come with a warning label. As a rule, when the IMF offers to help a debt-ridden country, it demands austerity measures that have little to do with resurrecting a nation’s economic fortunes and more to do with bailing out bankers and strangling its economy. With its loans come large bills for the dispersal and monitoring of the money it lends. In the case of Ukraine, a loan of $21 billion has a $6.2 billion charge for “debt servicing.” Author and commentator Dr. Jack Rasmus fears the IMF’s loan will be used by Ukraine’s central bank to stabilize its currency reserves. Billions of dollars will be shared with businesses that will hoard them. He has a stark warning for those, who mistakenly believe the bankers and multinationals of the Eurozone will pay Ukraine’s bills. In his view, bringing Ukraine into the Eurozone will be akin to “adding another Greece or Spain to the mix.” “Those who will pay will be the Ukrainian people,” warned Rasmus. “That is the essential and repeated history and legacy of IMF deals globally for the last three decades.” [...]"  

Commentary: "David Icke: Historical Patterns Of Financial World, Market Collapse And Profiteering" [05/26/14] [7:05] 

MSM: "Iranian Billionaire Businessman Executed Over $2.6bn Bank Fraud" [05/25/14] Printer Friendly Version "An Iranian businessman accused of orchestrating the largest fraud in the country's history by swindling $2.6bn (£1.5bn) from banks has been hanged, state television reported. Mahafarid Amir Khosravi, also known as Amir Mansour Aria, was executed at Evin prison, north of the capital Tehran. A statement from the justice department read on state television said he was convicted of "corruption on Earth... through bribery and money laundering". The death penalty was announced after the Supreme Court upheld his sentence. [...]" The banker used fraudulent funds to implement Agenda 21 in buying state property. The fraud involved using forged documents to get credit at one of Iran’s top financial institutions, Bank Saderat, to purchase assets including state-owned companies like major steel producer Khuzestan Steel Co. Khosravi’s business empire included more than 35 companies from mineral water production to a football club and meat imports from Brazil. According to Iranian media reports, the bank fraud began in 2007. A total of 39 defendants were convicted in the case. Four received death sentences, two got life sentences and the rest received sentences of up to 25 years in prison. The trials raised questions about corruption at senior levels in Iran’s tightly controlled economy during the administration of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Mahmoud Reza Khavari, a former head of Bank Melli, another major Iranian bank, escaped to Canada in 2011 after he resigned over the case. He faces charges over the case in Iran and remains on the Islamic Republic’s wanted list. Khavari previously admitted that his bank partially was involved in the fraud, but has maintained his innocence [...]" 

MSM: "Major Banks Under Investigation For Ties To Mexican Drug Cartels" [05/24/14] Printer Friendly Version "Federal regulators in the United States are reportedly investigation no fewer than two major American banks with regards to their relationships with clients believed to be tied to Mexican drug cartels. Reuters reported exclusively on Wednesday this week that the US Securities and Exchange Commission is probing both Charles Schwab Corp. and Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch brokerage firm because clients of those entities were linked to Mexican drug cartels. The SEC, Reuters reported, “is looking into whether the brokerages missed red flags that could indicate attempts to move money illicitly or to feed proceeds from drug trafficking and other crimes into the financial system by failing to know their customers well enough,” according to the newswire’s sources. Representatives for both the SEC and Merrill Lunch declined to comment, Reuters reported, but an unnamed source claimed that Schwab has already launched an internal investigation of its own. And while the SEC did not directly assist Reuters in their report, two sources confirmed to the newswire that the investigation has so far led regulators to believe that both Schwab and Merrill accepted “shell company” clients registered to individuals with fake addresses. According to those sources, the financial companies had failed to properly vet their clientele and in turn took in customers linked to illegal activities, including the Mexican drug trade. Most of the sources in the Schwab case, one insider told Reuters, “were located near the Mexican border and some were linked to drug money in Mexico.” If those allegations are accurate, then it would be far from the first time that major American banks were linked to the Mexican drug trade: HSBC paid the US government $1.9 billion last year after it was caught aiding narcotics kings, and in years prior Wachovia Corp., Bank of America and Wells Fargo were all tied to similar allegations. This time, though, the Department of Justice might not order a hefty settlement if bankers are found to have conspired these deals, but instead prison sentences for the Americans involved. Although no US banks have been held accountable for the last major economic collapse, Attorney General Eric Holder said earlier this month that no company or individual — be it a bank or otherwise — is “too big to jail.” [...]"  

Commentary: "China Halts US Dollar Transactions With Afghan Banks" [05/23/14] Printer Friendly Version "The de-dollarization escalates. As Reuters reports, Chinese banks have halted dollar transactions with most Afghan commercial banks, the central bank governor said on Thursday, making it difficult for businesses to pay for imports with one of the Afghanistan's biggest trading partners. "China is a major country that was handling those bank transfers, and now they have told the banks they can't do it," governor Noorullah Delawari told Reuters. The impact on business had been felt immediately, he said. The Chinese move was part of the trend in which it was increasingly difficult for Afghanistan's commercial banks to execute international transactions, Delawari said. "Some of our banks cannot do any direct transactions because their correspondent banks in the U.S., Europe, Germany, or Turkey (have halted transactions)," he said.  The Afghan government's failure to pass key measures means that it could in June be blacklisted by Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international body that sets standards on how countries combat money laundering. Banks have been struggling since FATF threatened Afganistan with the blacklist early this year."That has been affecting our banks ability to transfer money for anything," Delawari said, describing how students abroad were unable to receive money from there parents as an example.Chinese banks and officials were not immediately available for comment.[...] "  Note: I imagine Afghanistan has a lot of Opium trafficking money to "put into the system", and also various factions in the country who are functional 'oligarchs' in some way won't have the means to carry on as usual, however that may be.

Commentary: "Ron Paul Talks about the Fed's "Quid Pro Quo" in Belgium" [05/23/14] [1:45] "The Peter Schiff Show [...] 

MSM: "JPMorgan, HSBC And Credit Agricole Accused Of Euro Rate-Fixes" [05/22/14] Printer Friendly Version "The European Commission has accused JPMorgan, HSBC and Credit Agricole of colluding to fix a key euro benchmark borrowing rate - Euribor. JP Morgan and HSBC will fight the charges. Credit Agricole will study the European Commission's findings. Penalties for the guilty are up to 10% of annual revenue. Euribor is a cousin to Libor, which is used to set trillions of dollars of financial contracts from complex financial transactions to car loans. In December, the Commission imposed fines totalling 1.04bn on Barclays, Deutsche Bank, RBS and Societe Generale as part of the same investigation. Barclays escaped a fine as it had notified the Commission of the existence of the cartel, and the others were granted a 10% reduction in their fine for agreeing to a settlement. The EU's competition body said: "The Commission has concerns that the three banks may have taken part in a collusive scheme which aimed at distorting the normal course of pricing components for euro interest rate derivatives." [...]" 

Commentary: "George Soros Sells All shares Of Citigroup, Bank Of America And JP Morgan" [05/22/14] Printer Friendly Version "Just over 2 decades ago banker George Soros made his most famous investment by shorting the British pound and pocketing a billion dollars in the process. Since then he has become famous for betting on stock market crashes and in some cases even rigging markets to fail for his own gain. Just months ago, Soros made headlines by making a billion dollar stock bet against the S&P 500. At the time this was said to be a sign of trouble ahead for the US economy, as Soros has seemed to have had advance knowledge of market crashes in the past. As a result of this reputation, investors have begun to keep a close eye on his holdings. This week investors took notice again when Soros sold his shares of three major American banks, including Bank of America, JP Morgan and Citigroup. n February 2009, Soros said the world financial system had effectively disintegrated, adding that there was no prospect of a near-term resolution to the crisis. “We witnessed the collapse of the financial system … It was placed on life support, and it’s still on life support. There’s no sign that we are anywhere near a bottom.” [...]"  Related: "Is Soros Engineering Another Black Wednesday?" Printer Friendly Version "... Soros is not the only billionaire who is dumping stock. Warren Buffet and John Paulson are also quietly changing their positions as Newsmax reports: [...] Buffett’s holding company, Berkshire Hathaway, has been drastically reducing its exposure to stocks that depend on consumer purchasing habits. Berkshire sold roughly 19 million shares of Johnson & Johnson, and reduced its overall stake in “consumer product stocks” by 21%. Berkshire Hathaway also sold its entire stake in California-based computer parts supplier Intel. With 70% of the U.S. economy dependent on consumer spending, Buffett’s apparent lack of faith in these companies’ future prospects is worrisome. Unfortunately, Buffett isn’t alone.[...]" 

Quotes: "I'd call him a sadistic, hippophilic necrophile, but that would be beating a dead horse."--Woody Allen  

MSM: "Russia Buys 900,000 Ounces Of Gold Worth $1.17 Billion In April" [05/22/14] Printer Friendly Version "The Russian central bank has again increased its gold reserves by another 900,000 ounces worth $1.17 billion in April. Russia’s gold reserves rose to 34.4 million troy ounces in April, from 33.5 million troy ounces in March, the Russian central bank announced on its website yesterday. The value of its gold holdings rose to $44.30 billion as of May 1, compared with $43.36 billion a month earlier, it added. [...] This was to be expected given the very pronounced geopolitical tension with the U.S. and west over Ukraine. Indeed the TIC data shows that Russia has been aggressively divesting themselves of U.S. Treasuries. Russian holdings of U.S. Treasuries fell very sharp, by nearly $50 billion, between October and March 2014 or nearly a third of Russia’s total holdings. Over half of the plunge came in March, when $26 billion was liquidated as western sanctions were imposed. TIC Data for April won’t be available until June and will make for very interesting reading. Especially given the mysterious huge U.S. Treasury buying that is being done by little Belgium. This has analysts scratching their heads and has aroused suspicions that the Fed and or the ECB may be behind the huge Belgian purchases.[...]" 

MSM: "China Signs Non-Dollar Settlement Deal With Russia's Largest Bank" [05/21/14] Printer Friendly Version "Slowly, the USD's hegemony is being chipped away whether by foreign policy faux pas, crossed red-lines, or economic fragility. However, on Day 1 of Vladimir Putin's trip to China it is clear that the two nations are as close as ever. VTB - among Russia's largest banks - has signed a deal with Bank of China to pay each other in domestic currencies, bypassing the need for US Dollars for "investment banking, inter-bank lending, trade finance and capital-markets transactions." Kirill Dmitriyev the head of Russia’s Direct Investment Fund notes, "together it’ll be possible to discuss investment in various projects much more efficiently and clearly," as Russia's pivot to Asia continues to gather steam.[...]" Related: "Dollar Dive – China’s Economy Soon To Leave US Far Behind"   [1:15]  

Commentary: "US Politicians Line Pockets With Funds From Ecuador’s Billionaire Bankers On The Lam In US" [05/20/14] Printer Friendly Version "Money can’t buy happiness” goes the saying. While this can be true to one extent or another, money can certainly buy protection from your enemies, as Ecuadorian billionaire brothers, Robert and William Isaias, have conveniently discovered. The Ecuadorian billionaire brothers were sentenced in 2003 in absentia to 8 years in prison on charges of embezzlement. They have since avoided punishment by lining the pockets of high-level American politicians to ensure their “safety” from Ecuadorian law. But what is the deal with the Isaias duo? After a decade-long trial, an Ecuadorian court found the brothers guilty of defrauding Filanbanco, a bank they owned, after it collapsed in the 1990s. As a result, the state and its taxpayers incurred losses of over $400 million, with Ecuadorian citizens taking to the streets to protest the injustice. Fortunately for them, the Isaias fled long before the final judgment to enjoy a life of luxury in Florida – the famous hub of anti-Castro activists and billionaires living lavish lifestyles. Repeated calls by President Correa to extradite the two fraudulent bankers back to Ecuador to serve their sentence fell on deaf ears, and, as it turns out, campaign donations played a large part in these developments. Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, a Democrat and chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, has been thrown into the spotlight of the affair and is under investigation by the Department of Justice for his dodgy involvement in the immigration status of the Isaias brothers. Could Menendez have crossed a fine line in his protection of the brothers from Ecuadorian law? Or was he merely fulfilling his political duties in dealing with immigration inquiries and helping families in need? [...]" 

Commentary: "America’s Rotting Empire: Billionaires Galore And A Crumbling Infrastructure" [05/19/14] Printer Friendly Version "The game is rigged,” writes Senator Elizabeth Warren in her new book A Fighting Chance. It’s rigged because the rich and their lobbyists have rigged the rules of the game to their favor. The rules are reflected in a tax code and bankruptcy laws that have seen the greatest transfer of wealth from the middle class to the rich in U.S. history. The result? America has the most billionaires in the world, but not a single U.S. city ranks among the world’s most livable cities. Not a single U.S. airport is among the top 100 airports in the world. Our bridges, road and rail are falling apart, and our middle class is being guttered out thanks to three decades of stagnant wages, while the top 1 percent enjoys 95 percent of all economic gains. A rigged tax code and a bloated military budget are starving the federal and state governments of the revenue it needs to invest in infrastructure, which means today America looks increasingly like a second rate nation, and now new data shows America’s intellectual resources are also in decline. [...]"  

Commentary: "DHS Witch-Hunt For Ukrainian ‘Shiny Toy’ Assets Exposes US Foreign Policy Nightmare" [05/19/14] Printer Friendly Version "The United States Department of Homeland Security has begun looking into the seizure of hidden assets owned by blacklisted Russians that have become the subject of Ukrainian sanctions ordered by the West… This is the latest attempt by those in Washington to put a hangman’s knot around Ukraine under the guise of humanitarian intervention and this time they’ve employed one of their favorite pet-agencies, the DHS. Homeland Security is operating in unison with the United States Treasury Department to aid in the Western guided color revolution that erupted into chaos last winter, an event that has framed Russian leadership as the perpetrators of violent activity within the country, giving the West the impetus to impose harsh sanctions.  The items that have been sought by the US government agency include ‘shiny toy’ seizures of helicopters, large homes, mega-yachts, high-priced artifacts, planes – as well as accessing bank accounts and investments. According to a report this week by Bloomberg.com, “The U.S. government has blacklisted 19 companies and 45 political and business leaders, including four it designated as members of Putin’s inner circle.”  The problem is though, it was revealed back in late February in an article appearing on 21st Century Wire, by well-known Geopolitical researcher and author F. William Engdahl, that the West had already begun pressurizing Ukraine, helping to oust the Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovich for reportedly rejecting a $15 billion deal in debt relief offered by the EU, which was then subsequently followed by the deployment of a NATO Gladio-style organization stirring up violence in the region: According to these reports, UNA-UNSO para-military have been involved in every NATO dirty war in the post-cold war period, always fighting on behalf of NATO. “These people are the dangerous mercenaries used all over the world to fight NATO’s dirty war, and to frame Russia because this group pretends to be Russian special forces.” This current stranglehold to seize assets by the West seems to lack any legitimacy or credibility, especially when it appears that they themselves have played a large role in the revolt and collapse of Kiev. The seizure appears to reveal the growing encroachment made by Western policy designers, which reflects a very heavy-handed approach to the geopolitical chessboard as a whole. Remember, there were also reports back in March about the transfer of 33 tons of gold out of Ukraine taken into US custody.[...]" 

MSM: "Reform Of The Bretton Woods Institutions: The IMF Might Not Live To See Its Anniversary" [05/19/14] Printer Friendly Version "The latest meeting of the ministers of finance and central bank governors of the G20 countries took place April 10-11, 2014 in Washington. A key issue was the reform of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). [...]"  

Interviews: "Fed Laundering Treasury Bonds in Belgium, Real GDP Was Negative & More" [05/18/14] [29:10] "Join Greg Hunter of USAWatchdog.com as he goes One-on-One with former Assistant Treasury Secretary Dr. Paul Craig Roberts. [...]"  Note: What this means is the Federal Reserve conceals full extent of its money printing by setting up offshore accounts in Belgium to launder its purchases of US debt: "The Great Deceiver — The Federal Reserve" Printer Friendly Version  

MSM: "Visa, Mastercard Will Have To Pay $3bn To Stay In Russia - Morgan Stanley" [05/17/14] Printer Friendly Version "Under Russia's new legislation, Visa and MasterCard will have to pay $3 billion in ‘security fees’ to continue operating in Russia, more than five times higher than the companies combined revenues, a new Morgan Stanley report says. Under the new plan, Visa will be required to pay Russia’s Central bank $1.9 billion, and MasterCard will have to fork out $1 billion, according to an estimate by Morgan Stanley, Kommersant reported on Thursday. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law on foreign payment systems on May 5 that requires foreign payment systems to be levied at 25 percent of an average amount of transfers profit during one calendar day in Russia, to be paid each quarter to the Central Bank. The law will be enacted on July 1. Morgan Stanley has calculated that it is unprofitable for both Visa and MasterCard to continue to work in Russia. The Morgan Stanley Report titled “The Russian Bear: Impacts of V and MA” said the fees will be more than five times the two companies’ combined annual revenue in Russia. Analysts at Morgan Stanley report net sales for Visa to be between $350-470 million, and $160 million for MasterCard. A possible loophole would be to create a separate, non US-owned entity to run the Russian Visa and MasterCard divisions. Visa already has such an operation in Europe. “MasterCard has worked in Russia for more than 20 years. We are continuing to study all components of the new law, and are sure that some of the provisions will not only create serious difficulties for our operations in Russia, but will damage the Russian market of electronic payments in the long-term,” the company told Kommersant in a statement, adding they “continue to work closely with government agencies, financial institutions, and commercial enterprises in Russia.” Visa has declined comment on the report.  [...]" 

Max Keiser: "Bankers Killing Bankers For The Insurance Money And Another Look At 9/11" [05/16/14] Printer Friendly Version "Two big, macabre stories came out of Wall Street recently: the rash of banker deaths by apparent murder and/or suicide, and speculation that bank CEOs themselves are behind the trend to cash in on the insurance. It turns out that banks take out life insurance policies on their employees, and those policies pay out death benefits to the banks – not the families. In other words, to add to the banks' other crimes, they appear to also be involved in the "suicides" and deaths of their own, as a way to fatten their bottom line and bonuses. Should we be surprised by this banker-on-banker death scam? After all, wasn't this what 9/11 was all about? A new book by James Rickards, 'The Death of Money' (read: 'Death of Bankers'), opens with a timeline starting three days before the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers and describes them from a first-person account from inside the CIA, which was monitoring trading on airline stocks (specifically 'put options'), from traders who were profiting from the 9/11 disaster. Jim Rickards is both a Washington insider and a Wall Street insider. He's a hedge fund manager and a lawyer who, amongst other roles, advised the government during the collapse of Long Term Capital Management (LTCM), as well as during the release of the hostages during the Iran Hostage Crisis of 1981. If anyone has the inside track on the Wall Street-Washington corridor of corruption, it's Mr. Rickards. And in his new book, he provides an eyewitness account of 9/11 insider 'terror trading' that was missing from the government's own report. Rickards is an unimpeachable source, and he has done a great service by blowing the whistle on this scandal, at least partially. I've interviewed Jim Rickards on my show 'Keiser Report' many times and spent time with him personally comparing notes from our Wall Street days. [...]" 

MSM: "Russia Dumps 20% Of Its Treasury Holdings As Mystery “Belgium” Buyer Adds Another $40 Billion" [05/16/14] Printer Friendly Version "Back in mid-March, there was a brief scare after the start of the Ukraine conflict, when Fed custody holdings plunged by a record $104.5 billion (if promptly bouncing back the following week), leading many to believe that Russia may have dumped its Treasurys, or at least change its bond custodian. We noted that we wouldn’t have a definitive answer until the May TIC number came out to know for sure how much Russia had sold, or if indeed, anything. Moments ago the May TIC numbers did come out, and as expected, Russia indeed dumped a record $26 billion, or some 20% of all of its holdings, bringing its post-March total to just over $100 billion – the lowest since the Lehman crisis. But as shocking as this largely pre-telegraphed dump was, it pales in comparison with what we first observed, is the country that has quietly and quite rapidly become the third largest holder of US paper: Belgium. [...]"  

Commentary: "IRS Reschedules The Death Of The Dollar?" [05/16/14] Printer Friendly Version "Ever since President Obama signed the ill-conceived “Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act” (FATCA) into law in 2010, I’ve been warning about the death of the dollar. And I haven’t been alone. Other experts have cautioned about FATCA’s potential to literally shut down the global economy when it goes into full effect July 1, 2014. But the IRS has now postponed that day of reckoning – for at least some – until January 1, 2016. [...] The idea behind FATCA is simple: Demand that other countries enforce America’s imperialistic tax laws. And to do so by the confiscation of foreign assets, if necessary. Under the provisions of FATCA, interest, dividends, rents, and similar payments leaving the US will be subject to a 30% withholding tax. The only way that most foreign banks and other foreign companies will be able to avoid this tax is to act as unpaid IRS informants. Non-US individuals investing in the US will be affected, too. If their foreign bank isn’t FATCA-compliant, their US income will get whacked by 30%. It will be possible to recover the tax in some cases, but even so, I can’t think of a better way to scare foreign investors away from the US. Something I call “FATCA contagion” would be even worse. In this scenario, since they couldn’t be completely certain that foreign recipients are FATCA compliant, US banks might start routinely deducting 30% from international funds transfers – and letting the IRS sort it all out. You can probably imagine what this might do to the value of the US dollar. It could sink like a stone. If there’s panic selling out of the dollar, the US Treasury could impose foreign exchange controls overnight. If it went on for more than a day or two, it would shut down much of the global economy. The IRS seems to have become dimly aware of this possibility. On May 2, it released regulations that give many of the companies and financial institutions affected by FATCA another 18 months – until January 1, 2016 – to become fully compliant. But this extension will apply only if the IRS thinks the particular institution is making a “good-faith effort” to do so. If it’s not, withholding begins July 1. [...]"   Related: "FATCA Update: A Semi-Stay of Execution for Americans Assets and the US Dollar" Printer Friendly Version 

MSM: "Russia: Moving Away From 'International Rating Agencies’ Only “Question Of Time" [05/16/14] Printer Friendly Version "The Russian Finance Ministry believes moving away from international ratings agencies is just a question of time. Russia is eager to break the world monopoly of rating systems and create its own rating giants. “At Finance Ministry level we are so far not ready to remove all the links to ratings [of internationals agencies], but it’s is a question of time,” said Deputy Russian Finance Minister Sergey Storchak. According to interim reports from the Financial Stability Board, more and more countries, including the US, are removing links from international ratings agencies, he added. “We have an aim – to go back to basics when a creditor himself evaluates the paying capacity of a borrower… Sooner or later we will be rating the papers of the issuers and issuers themselves,” Storchak added. One of the problems of ratings agencies is their “pro-cyclicality,” the Deputy Finance Minister said. “This is one of the reasons why the Financial Stability Board recommends refraining from mechanistic use of ratings… Ratings grow when the economy grows and gets lower, when it is slowing down and when the national authorities need support, including from the market.” [...] Changes by the rating agencies normally serve as a strong signal to foreign investors, which affect the flows of capital internationally. Most recently, Standard & Poor’s cut Russia’s credit rating to 'BBB', just a notch above junk status, as capital outflow from the country was estimated at about $50.6 billion in the first 3 months of 2014. The same month Standard & Poor's also cut its long-term rating for Crimea to a default 'D', after it failed to pay interest on bonds of $12 million on time. Crimea’s communications minister responded saying it was part of a broader “information war” against Russia and Crimea. In March S&P, as well as Fitch Ratings, cut Russia's credit rating outlook to 'negative'. [...]    Over-reliance on the Western financial paradigm has caused Russia great pain, especially the US decision to wind down its asset buying program, which has had a negative effect on emerging markets worldwide. Meanwhile, Moscow has already announced that it may create its own ratings agency, independent of the Western "big three" - S&P, Moody’s, and Fitch, in an effort to break the world monopoly of rating systems. “There is a dream, and there is an extreme need. When you face an ultimate need, it becomes a reality. This project [Russia’s own rating agency] is necessary in any case to avoid speculation that somebody depends on eastern countries and others on western,” Igor Shuvalov said in an interview to Forbes magazine. Decreasing reliance on the dollar and switching to national payment systems, as China and Japan have already done, is also a main goal for Russia. Currently, there are a few domestic rating agencies in Russia, like RusRating, Expert RA, and RIA rating. However, none of them are of any significance in the global arena. [...]" 

Commentary: "Russian Defense Industry Should Obey ‘Made In Russia’ Principle – Putin" [05/15/14] Printer Friendly Version "No branch in Russia’s defense industry should depend on foreign producers President Vladimir Putin said, saying everything the industry needs must be made at home. "We must ensure that everything our defense industry needs is produced on our territory – for us not to be dependent on anyone, in any way concerning the supply of our army and navy with new weapons," Putin said at a meeting at his Bocharov Ruchey residence in Sochi.  The Russian leader admitted the measure would lead to extra costs, but it was the correct course of action to choose. "Small additional funds will be needed," Putin said. "But the process is right.” It would also mean adjusting the work of domestic research centers in accordance with the new objectives. “We need to look at how work with research centers has been organized, and to work more closely with the Academy of Sciences,” Putin said. A new round of negotiations dedicated to the defense procurement program will be taking place in the next three days, according to the president. These series of talks come six months after similar meetings. [...]  "We have agreed on the unconditional implementation of defense procurement and efficient use of funds allocated for this," the president said. A total of 20 trillion rubles are allocated for these purposes and 3 trillion rubles for re-equipping defense industry complex companies, he said. Last month the government was ordered to analyze the situation and calculate additional necessary resources related to the issue, and estimate the terms in which it can be implemented. In his speech on April 28, Putin also voiced plans “to conduct import substitution,” a process he estimated would take between 1.5 and 2.5 years, depending on the type of products. [...] Back then Putin particularly referred to Ukraine, saying that Russia switching to domestic products would “likely lead to disaster” because Moscow is the only consumer the Ukrainian defense industry has. For example, Ukraine was producing engines for most Russian military helicopters, including the Mi-24, the R-27 medium-range air-to-air missiles for the Russian air force and many critical components, like drogue parachutes and hydraulics for fighter jets. Ukraine also makes the gears used in many Russian ships and transport planes at the Antonov factory in Kiev. Many weapons the Russian military uses incorporate Ukrainian parts. [...]" It will get worse when austerity sets in.

Interviews: "Austerity Looms: Ukraine May Become The New Greece" [05/15/14] Printer Friendly Version "Ukraine is going to be caught in a debt trap because of the borrowed money it has to repay, but it can’t repay the money effectively because of the imposed austerity measures, Chairman of the Bruges Group think tank, Robert Oulds, told RT. [...]" 

Commentary: "Russia Strives To Exclude The Dollar From Energy Trading " Valentin Mândrăşescu [05/15/14] Printer Friendly Version "According to the Prime news agency, on April 24th the government organized a special meeting dedicated to finding a solution for getting rid of the US dollar in Russian export operations. Top level experts from the energy sector, banks and governmental agencies were summoned and a number of measures were proposed as a response for American sanctions against Russia. The"de-dollarization meeting” was chaired by First Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Igor Shuvalov, proving that Moscow is very serious in its intention to stop using the dollar. A subsequent meeting was chaired by Deputy Finance Minister Alexey Moiseev who later told the Rossia 24 channel that "the amount of ruble-denominated contracts will be increased”, adding that none of the polled experts and bank representatives found any problems with the government's plan to increase the share of ruble payments. It is interesting that in his interview, Moiseev mentioned a legal mechanism that can be described as "currency switch executive order”, telling that the government has the legal power to force Russian companies to trade a percentage of certain goods in rubles. Referring to the case when this level may be set to 100%, the Russian official said that "it's an extreme option and it is hard for me to tell right now how the government will use these powers". Of course, the success of Moscow's campaign to switch its trading to rubles or other regional currencies will depend on the willingness of its trading partners to get rid of the dollar. Sources cited by Politonline.ru mentioned two countries who would be willing to support Russia: Iran and China. Given that Vladimir Putin will visit Beijing on May 20, it can be speculated that the gas and oil contracts that are going to be signed between Russia and China will be denominated in rubles and yuan, not dollars. Related: "Russia Is On The Verge Of Dealing A Massive Blow To The Petrodollar" Michael Snyder Michael Snyder Printer Friendly Version "... So will Russia go through with this? After all, this wouldn't just be a slap in the face. This would essentially be like slamming an economic fist into our nose. You see, Russia is not just a small player when it comes to trading oil and natural gas. The truth is that Russia is the largest exporter of natural gas and the second largest exporter of oil in the world. If Russia starts asking for payment in currencies other than the U.S. dollar, that will essentially end the monopoly of the petrodollar. In order to do this, Russia will need trading partners willing to go along. In the article quoted above, the Voice of Russia listed Iran and China as two nations that would potentially be willing to make the switch... For decades the US has benefited to the tune of trillions of dollars-worth of free credit from the greenback's role as the default global reserve unit.  But as the global economy trembled before the prospect of a US default last month, only averted when Washington reached a deal to raise its debt ceiling, China's official Xinhua news agency called for a "de-Americanised" world. It also urged the creation of a "new international reserve currency... to replace the dominant US dollar".[...]"  

MSM: "Russia’s Third Largest Bank Moves Money From Europe To Moscow For Safe Keeping" [05/15/14] Printer Friendly Version "Gazprombank transferred client funds from Belgium and Luxembourg back to home turf, to protect against any future sanctions. The securities were moved from Euroclear Bank (Brussels) and Clearstream Banking (Luxembourg) to the Russian Central Depository at the end of April. The move is intended to protect customers from any forthcoming sanctions and prevent a situation where clients’ funds are frozen, the statement on the website said. “The transfer was done to prevent possible restrictions on transactions of customers’ assets that are kept in international deposits and settlement systems,” it stated. In preparation for sanctions, in March, the bank moved nearly $7 billion to Russia’s Central Bank for safe keeping. Russia’s Central Bank held $486 billion in international reserves as of April 1 this year, $40 billion less than one year earlier, when holdings stood at about $528 billion. The last round of US sanctions included 17 companies, but didn’t target Gazprombank or Vnesheconombank (VEB), both state-owned lending institutions. In March, the US imposed sanctions on Bank Rossiya and its owner, Yury Kovalchuk - both have stakes in Gazprom subsidiaries.  [...]" 

MSM: "If Economic Cycle Theorists Are Correct, 2015 To 2020 Will Be Pure Hell For The United States" [05/13/14] Printer Friendly Version "Does the economy move in predictable waves, cycles or patterns? There are many economists that believe that it does, and if their projections are correct, the rest of this decade is going to be pure hell for the United States. Many mainstream economists want nothing to do with economic cycle theorists, but it should be noted that economic cycle theories have enabled some analysts to correctly predict the timing of recessions, stock market peaks and stock market crashes over the past couple of decades. Of course none of the theories discussed below is perfect, but it is very interesting to note that all of them seem to indicate that the U.S. economy is about to enter a major downturn. So will the period of 2015 to 2020 turn out to be pure hell for the United States? We will just have to wait and see. One of the most prominent economic cycle theories is known as “the Kondratieff wave”. It was developed by a Russian economist named Nikolai Kondratiev, and as Wikipedia has noted, his economic theories got him into so much trouble with the Russian government that he was eventually executed because of them… [...] The Soviet economist Nikolai Kondratiev (also written Kondratieff) was the first to bring these observations to international attention in his book The Major Economic Cycles (1925) alongside other works written in the same decade. Two Dutch economists, Jacob van Gelderen and Samuel de Wolff, had previously argued for the existence of 50 to 60 year cycles in 1913. However, the work of de Wolff and van Gelderen has only recently been translated from Dutch to reach a wider audience. Kondratiev’s ideas were not supported by the Soviet government. Subsequently he was sent to the gulag and was executed in 1938. In 1939, Joseph Schumpeter suggested naming the cycles “Kondratieff waves” in his honor. [...] So what does the Kondratieff wave theory suggest is coming next for us? Well, according to work done by Professor W. Thompson of Indiana University, we are heading into an economic depression that should last until about the year 2020. The economic cycle theories of author Harry Dent also predict that we are on the verge of massive economic problems. He mainly focuses on demographics, and the fact that our population is rapidly getting older is a major issue for him. The following is an excerpt from a Business Insider article that summarizes the major points that Dent makes in his new book… [...]" 

Commentary: "Banks Inside Walmart Stores Lead Nation In Raking In Fees From Customers" [05/13/14] "A number of different banks operate branches inside more than 1,000 Walmart stores in the U.S., and many of these banks market themselves to consumers who may not be targeted by larger institutions because of low income or lack of savings and credit. A new analysis of the institutions most frequently found at Walmart found that these banks are also the most reliant on charging fees to their customers. The Wall Street Journal looked at the U.S. banks where fees make up the highest percentage of revenue. Five of the top 10 also happen to be the five banks with the most branches located inside of Walmart stores. The average bank in the U.S. only gets about .7% of its revenue from fees charged to customers. But the five banks with the highest number of in-Walmart branches get anywhere from 11.3% to 20% (median 12.7%) of their revenue from these fees. And while the bank with the highest percentage of revenue from fees (Sunbank, at 20.9%) only has 12 branches, all 12 of them are in Walmart stores. The CEO of Texas-based Woodforest bank, with more than 700 Walmart locations, tells the Journal that around 78% of his bank’s $271 million in fees comes from overdrafts. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has been probing the topic of overdraft fees for the last couple of years, to consider whether the more than $30 billion taken in annually in fees might be doing more harm than good, and if the price tag for these fees is in line with the actual cost to the banks. The 2010 financial reforms has curbed some overdrafting by requiring banks to get customers’ permission before enrolling their debit cards in automatic overdraft programs. In response, many banks have simply raised the fees they charge for people who cross the line into overdraft territory. [...]" 

MSM: "Multinational Companies Illegal Diversion Of Funds Stymies African Development" [05/12/14] Printer Friendly Version "More than $60bn (£36bn) has been illegally siphoned out of Uganda, Ghana, Mozambique, Kenya and Tanzania over 10 years, with most of it squirreled away in tax havens, according to a report by financial transparency campaigners. Washington-based group Global Financial Integrity (GFI) said the “enormous amounts of money” drained out of the countries equates to more than double the international aid money they receive and is stymieing efforts to lift millions of people out of poverty. GFI’s report, published on Monday, said most of the funds are lost through multinational companies illegal misinvoicing the value of imported or exported goods. It means that importers pretend to pay more for goods than they actually pay and the extra money is slipped into offshore bank accounts. In one notable case an American company invoiced for plastic buckets at $972 each. “We are talking about a huge drainage out of these countries,” GFI president Raymond Baker said: “People are making millions and millions at the expenses of the world’s poorest people.” Baker said virtually all household name companies dealing in Africa have used the scheme, which he said is effectively “stealing from African governments”. He said trade mis-invoicing takes place all over the world but Africa is particularly susceptible as local officials are more likely to be corruptible. Baker said some government officials have also siphoned off large chunks of cash. The report, commissioned by the Danish government, compares the official prices paid for goods to the global market price for the same items but does not name any companies or officials. It said: “A global shadow financial system provides measures of opacity to disguise and move illicit money throughout the world, including dozens of secrecy jurisdictions and multiple layers of confusing and concealed ownership structures. “These outflows, and the shadow financial system in which they thrive, represent one of the most damaging conditions undermining economic growth and development, governance, and human rights in Africa and around the world.” Mogens Jensen, Denmark’s trade minister, said he commissioned the study because he was concerned the “shady trade transactions” are holding back Africa’s development. [...]"  

Commentary: "SCO: Moscow To Tap Chinese Funds to Boost Russian Economy" [05/12/14] Printer Friendly Version "Russia proposes to tap Chinese money as European and American sanctions over Ukraine threaten to push the world's largest energy producer into recession, according to two senior Russian government officials. Moscow is looking to boost growth and funds from the world's second largest economy could find their way into a host of industries such as natural resources, housing and infrastructure construction, the unnamed officials told Bloomberg. Two government meetings are scheduled this month to set rules for Chinese investors targeting Russia, the officials said. However, Moscow could prevent the Chinese from investing in precious metals, diamond mining and in high-technology projects. Russia will also examine ways to curb a large influx of Chinese citizens into its territory to prevent ethnic tensions, they added. Russia's relations with China are growing steadily, despite other issues, and no "special" government meetings are being planned on China, Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Bloomberg. [...]"  

Commentary: "$1.2 Trillion In Foreign Bank Funds In The US Dissipate" [05/12/14] Printer Friendly Version "It fits the pattern of gratuitous bank enrichment perfectly, but this time, the big beneficiaries of the Fed are foreign banks. A JPMorgan analysis, cited by the Wall Street Journal, figured that in 2014 the Fed would pay $6.74 billion in interest to the banks that park their excess cash at the Fed – half of that amount, so a cool $3.37 billion, would line the pockets of foreign banks with branches in the US. This is where part of the liquidity ends up that the Fed has been handing to Wall Street through its bond purchases. Currently, the Fed requires that banks keep a minimum balance of $80.2 billion at the Fed. Banks can keep up to $88.2 billion at the Fed as part of the “penalty-free band.” In theory, as “penalty-free” implies, there’d be a penalty on balances above $88.2 billion. But the total balance was $2.66 trillion in April, up from $2.62 trillion in March and from $1.83 trillion a year ago. The balances in excess of the “penalty-free band” have reached $2.57 trillion. The highest ever. The penalty on that? Forget that. The Fed’s raison d’être is to enrich the banks regardless of what the costs to the economy, the rest of society, and savers. So instead of penalizing banks for these excess reserves, it pays the banks 0.25% interest not only on the required balances but also on all other balances. Spread over the year 2014, as JPMorgan estimated, interest payments on these balances would amount to $6.74 billion.    [...] It’s a marvelous system. The banks’ cost of funds, given the heroic efforts the Fed has undertaken to repress interest rates, is near zero. Banks can borrow short-term from their depositors – that’s you and me – and from money-market funds – that’s you and me again – at near zero cost, so maybe 0.10%. Instead of lending it out, banks put that money on deposit at the Fed to earn 0.25%. It’s the laziest no-brainer in banking history. A pure gift from the Fed. But there’s a kink. Non-US-charted banks with branches in the US benefit even more. The Bank for International Settlements, the umbrella organization for the world’s largest central banks, revealed how these non-US banks were taking advantage of the new FDIC insurance charges on wholesale funding (borrowing from other banks, short-term repos, or funding from affiliates outside the US). They’d figured out that these extra costs didn’t apply to them. They only applied to US-chartered banks. The wider FDIC charge added 2.5 to 45 basis points to the costs of large and complex US chartered banks’ short-term wholesale funding. The calculation is complex and its result by bank is not disclosed, but the rate for the largest US bank was said to be 8 basis points…. With wholesale rates of 10 basis points or less, the new FDIC charge made bidding for such funds and parking them at the Fed at 25 basis points unattractive for many US-chartered banks but not to the US branches of foreign banks, which pay no FDIC fee. As foreign banks took advantage of the laziest no-brainer in history, the Fed’s money-printing and bond buying regime led to an enormous inflow of money into the US – about $1.3 trillion so far. It’s the risk-free banking version of the hot money. And the $2.6 trillion in excess reserves that economists are expecting to flow into the US economy sooner or later to really stir things up? Half of it is that hot money. It won’t ever flow into the US economy. It won’t fuel the “escape velocity” that has been forecast for five years in a row. It’ll dissipate.[...]" 

MSM: "Russia Demands $3.8bn Security Deposit From Visa And Mastercard" [05/11/14] Printer Friendly Version "International credit card companies face a "severe impact" on their operations in Russia following a strict new law Moscow has adopted in response to Visa and Mastercard freezing service to banks under US sanctions. Visa described the regulations as "unprecedented" and Mastercard said it could experience difficulties, the Russian magazine Snob reported, after Vladimir Putin signed a law on Monday to create a rival national payment system. The law stipulates the creation of a homegrown system to facilitate cashless transactions by 1 July, but also imposes stiff new requirements on international payment systems operating in Russia. The legislation was spurred on by Visa and Mastercard's decision on 21 March to stop servicing payments for clients of Rossiya Bank, as well as its daughter company Sobinbank. Rossiya Bank was included in the first round of US sanctions over the Ukraine crisis because it is owned by Putin associate Yury Kovalchuk and is the "personal bank for senior officials of the Russian Federation," the US Treasury said when announcing the sanctions. Visa and Mastercard also blocked operations for cards issued by SMP Bank, which is owned by the brothers Arkady and Boris Rotenberg, who are old judo buddies of Putin's. The new law forbids international payment systems from cutting off services to Russian clients and obliges them to base their processing centre in Russia. To ensure their good behaviour, international operators will have to place a security deposit in Russia's central bank equal to the average value of two days' worth of transactions. Visa and Mastercard together processed $1.9bn (£1.12bn) in transactions per day last year – 90% of all cashless payments in Russia – equal to a $3.8bn security deposit, the Moscow Times reported. The security deposit will be due in eight quarterly payments starting on 1 July. The law states that if a payment system unilaterally freezes operations for a Russian client, it is liable for a fee totalling 10% of its security deposit for each day without service. Vladimir Tikhonov, an analyst at Otkritie investment bank, said the creation of an internal payment system has been undertaken in Australia and will make Russia's financial system "more stable from outside threat" – not only sanctions, but also cyber-attacks. But even if Russia also creates its own replacement payment cards, agreements would need to be signed with foreign payment systems for these cards to work abroad, he added. "The creation of a national payment system is not a replacement for Visa and Mastercard," Tikhonov said. "If Visa and Mastercard leave Russia, it will of course be a serious blow for both citizens and for businesses."[...]"  

Commentary: "The Global Economic Reset 2015" [05/11/14] [7:04] "Fabian Calvo reveals how the world is preparing for the collapse of the U.S. dollar and how the world has already witnessed this Global Reset at least 6 other times in modern history[...]"   

MSM: "UK: Barclays Bank Axes 7,000 Investment Bankers In Massive Cull Of 19,000 Jobs" [05/09/14] Printer Friendly Version "• Radical shake-up at Barclays comes after bank's profits fell earlier this year • Investment division to lose 7,000 jobs while a total of 19,000 will go by 2016 • At least 7,000 bankers in the City of London will be given the chop • Marks the end of an era for bank which came to define 'casino' culture • Barclays says business will be 'repositioned, simplified and rebalanced' [...] The move is a major change for the company which became notorious for its so-called ‘casino banking’ under its former chief executive Bob Diamond. While Barclays survived the financial crisis without a taxpayer-funded bailout - unlike RBS and Lloyds - it did not escape the wrath of politicians. David Cameron led a furious attack on the culture of the bank after it admitted traders had manipulated key interest rates. At height of the libor rate-fixing scandal, the Prime Minister blasted: 'People have to take responsibility for the actions and show how they're going to be accountable for these actions. 'It's very important that goes all the way to the top of the organisation.' Mr Diamond resigned days later, to be replaced by Mr Jenkins who has spent two years overhauling the firm. In 2008 it was forced to seek a bailout from the Middle East as its investments division threatened to drag the whole bank down in the same way as the Royal Bank of Scotland and other British banks. The changes will see Barclays hive off its European retail banking business into a so-called 'bad bank', comprising £115 billion of 'non-core' assets."  Investment banking has been heavily criticized for its large bonuses and appearance of irresponsibility. Finance director Tushar Morzaria announced on Tuesday that about 450 directors and managing directors had been made redundant in the first quarter as it was revealed profits had fallen by five per cent. In February the bank faced criticism after it was announced staff in its investment arm will get an average bonus of £60,100 per employee for 2013, despite the lender unveiling a 32 per cent drop in underlying annual profits. [...]"  

Perspectives: "False East/West Paradigm Hides The Rise Of Global Currency" [05/08/14] Printer Friendly Version "Despite popular belief, very few things in our world are exactly what they seem. That which is painted as righteous is often evil. That which is painted as kind is often malicious. That which is painted as simple is often complex. That which is painted as complex often ends up being disturbingly two dimensional. Regardless, if a person is willing to look only at the immediate surface of a thing, he will never understand the content of the thing. This fact is nowhere more evident than in the growing “tensions” between the elites of the West and the elites of the East over the crisis in Ukraine. I am continually astonished at the refusal of many otherwise intelligent people to consider the evidence or even the possibility that there is, in reality, no fundamental political or philosophical conflict between the power brokers of the East and the West. As I outlined in great detail in Russia Is Dominated By Global Banks, Too, the truth is they are both working toward the same goal; and both ultimately benefit from an engineered and theatrical display of international brinksmanship. [...] Russia, like the United States, is utterly beholden to globalist financiers through organizations like the International Monetary Fund and the Bank for International Settlements. Russia’s global economic adviser in matters ranging from investment image to privatization is none other than Goldman Sachs. Goldman Sachs has also worked closely with the Ukrainian government since 2011, and it started its advisory work with Ukraine for free. (Whenever Goldman Sachs does something for free, one should take special note.) Banking elites have been working both sides of the fence during the Russia versus Ukraine charade. Russia has continued to borrow billions of dollars from Western banks, including Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse, year after year, proving that they are not averse in the slightest to working closely with "evil Western robber barons". Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Mr. New-World-Order himself, Henry Kissinger, on a regular basis; and according to Putin’s press secretary, they are “old friends.” Putin’s meetings with Kissinger began almost immediately after he first took power in 2000. Putin’s relationship with Kissinger has been so pronounced that the Russian Foreign Ministry gave Kissinger an honorary doctorate in diplomacy, and Putin placed Kissinger at the head of a bilateral “working group” — along with former KGB head and multilateralist (globalist) Gen. Yevgeny Primakov — dealing with foreign policy.[...]  Clearly, Putin and Russia are just two more puppet pieces on the globalist chessboard, pitted against other puppets in the West in a grand theater designed to distract and divide the masses through chaos. As Kissinger points out, in crisis there is opportunity. What is the goal? They’ve already told us, openly, on numerous occasions. The first great prizes of the New World Order are a global currency and centralized economic control. The elites are not satisfied with quiet dominance of individual economies. They want complete political homogenization and the end of all sovereignty. Period. With a global currency in place, the steps towards global government become quick and small. Heads of state from around the world, including Putin, as well as international bankers and IMF representatives have all publicly called for the IMF to take charge of the global economic system through its Special Drawing Rights currency program. However, for the SDR to become a dominant currency, certain issues must be resolved. Here’s a short list.[...]"  Related: See below: "IMF Loan To Ukraine In "Special Drawing Rights", Not US Dollars" [05/07/14] 

Commentary: "The American Empire" [05/07/14] Printer Friendly Version "... The United States of America is an empire. But it is an empire like no other in history. It is an empire based on giving away money. The general taxpayers are taxed to give the money away, and those who profit from the expansion of the empire are paid by the government to produce the weapon systems which enable the United States government to project power around the world. The foreign aid system is a system of bribery. It bribes leaders of countries around the world to keep their mouths shut regarding the extension of American power. This extension of power does not benefit the man in the street. It benefits various special interests, especially the military-industrial complex. These days, the empire opens up markets for American exports, especially weapons and spare parts -- the dependence effect. It also makes sure that Middle Eastern oil reaches its destinations, where it is sold only for United States dollars. This helps to maintain the international value of the United States dollar. It has sold over a trillion dollars in IOU's to China. This finances our defense of Taiwan against China. This makes as much sense as federal subsidies to lung cancer research to offset the effects of federal tobacco subsidies. Recently, Pat Buchanan identified the true nature of the American empire. This is an extension of Leonard Wibberley's (The Mouse that Roared) insights. Historically, great powers and empires exact tribute, exploit colonies, and demand conscripts of their protectorates. America is something new in the way of world powers. We not only provide the legions to protect "allies," but provide the tribute in the form of foreign aid, IMF and World Bank loans, and bailout billions. Here is one case in which the old line, originally coined by Joseph Stalin, is accurate. There really is American exceptionalism. These days, when we hear the phrase, "Obama drones on," we can be sure that it is not talking about his elocution. Buchanan draws the fiscally obvious conclusion. This role of philanthropic superpower is simply not sustainable. A Wall Street Journal/NBC Poll reveals that while only 19 percent of Americans want this country more active in world affairs, 47 percent want it to become less active. This confirms a Pew poll where 53 percent of Americans said the United States "should mind its own business internationally." As China's military power grows, and U.S. armed forces shrink, our allies had best prepare for the day, not too distant, when America decides she will no longer play the philanthropic superpower, and gives up the role and goes home. As all world powers eventually do. Back in 1957, the justification for this system was the existence of the Soviet Union on the other side of the Iron Curtain. That justification ended on December 31, 1991. No more Soviet Union. No more Iron Curtain. But the system still exists. The Republican Party will not give up the empire. The Democratic Party will not give up the domestic welfare state. They have work out a compromise. The Democrats will vote for guns, and the Republicans will vote for butter. This has not changed since December 7, 1941. There is never any serious pullback. The numbers simply get larger. The spending simply gets larger. This is a bipartisan disaster. This is not an accident waiting to happen. This is an inevitable default waiting to happen. The American Empire is going to come to an end. It will then do no good for the mice to roar. [...]"  

Commentary: "The History Of The Modern World In Paper Money" Theodore Dalrymple [05/07/14] Printer Friendly Version "Everyone loves a tyrant, provided he is far enough away or long enough ago. Tyrants are much more interesting than so-called democratic politicians, especially nowadays, when so many of the latter have done nothing with their lives except sit electoral office. What, for example, would Latin American literature be without tyrants? The writer of that part of the world has so many to choose from: General Melgarejo of Bolivia, for example, who marched his troops over the balcony of his palace to demonstrate their loyalty to a visitor; or Maximiliano Hernández Martínez of El Salvador, who trained himself to stare at the sun for spiritual purposes. My favorite is Justo Rufino Barrios of Guatemala, who was once seen to take a copy of the Guatemalan constitution, fold it in four, and sit on it. “I’m going to rule in Guatemala as long as I like,” he said, “and I’ll hang anyone from the nearest tree who doesn’t like it.” Full marks for sincerity and truthfulness, if not for political philosophy. [...]  This is not, however, a propitious age for the tyrant: we prefer our tyranny to be of the creeping, surreptitious, bureaucratic, and undermining kind, rather than galloping, open, obvious, and overbearing. Tyrants are the dinosaurs of small-brained and rigid ways destined for extinction, while democratic politicians are the swift little mammals with adaptable ways who take over from the dinosaurs as the climate changes. But who is so dull that he is not fascinated by dinosaurs, even if he wouldn’t want a Tyrannosaurus rex in his garden? I was walking down London’s Cecil Court—the haunt of people of slightly Aspergerish disposition who collect rare, though not the very rarest, books— yesterday, when I stopped at the window of a seller of banknotes from around the world. I have always liked banknotes as physical artefacts, and have kept one or two from the foreign countries that I have visited (I am not so much a collector as an accumulator). There was displayed in the window what was called “The Tyrant Collection”: six colorful banknotes marked with the portraits of various tyrants. It was cheap and I decided to buy it, which is really against my principles. Normally, I keep only banknotes of the countries I have visited, from the time I have visited them. Among them, of course, are banknotes with portraits of tyrants: Baby Doc, Julius Nyerere, Mobutu Sese Seko. I went in. A very pleasant lady asked me whether she could help me. I asked whether the Tyrant Collection were still available. She said that it was, and then turned to the other assistant in the shop.[...]  

MSM: "Russian PM Signs Order To Set Up Agency For Loan Guarantees" [05/07/14] "Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has signed an order to establish an open joint-stock company “Non-bank depositary credit organization Agency for Loan Guarantees”, the government reported on its website Tuesday. In line with the document, the new agency aims to render guarantee support to small and midsized businesses. Its authorized capital totals 50 billion rubles ($1.4 billion). [...]"  

MSM: "IMF Loan To Ukraine In "Special Drawing Rights", Not US Dollars" [05/07/14] Printer Friendly Version "This is the first that we know of a loan by the IMF, headquartered in Washington, DC, as specifying a loan in SDR (Special Drawing Rights) rather than in the customary US Dollar. As with most policy changes from Washington, they ease changes into existence, this seems to be the start in the use of SDR’s. If this is the start in the use of SDR’s, then in return it’s also the start in not using the US Dollar for IMF loans, which are essentially US Govt loans. We should not take this change lightly as this is a strong indicator and precedent of future IMF loans, and perhaps how the US Govt will begin conducting business - being once again that IMF loans are indistinguishable from US Govt loans.  [...]"  : 

MSM: "132 Nations Want Out of the Cabal Banking System" [05/06/14] Printer Friendly Version "... Just a few weeks ago, 132 nations decided they’ve had enough of the ‘secret’ money jig we’ve all been dancing to. One of the largest coalitions of developing nations in history has urged Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon, to provide, “as soon as possible … alternative options for banking services.” 132 countries, including China are done with the funny money scheme. This comes on the heels of a mass cancellation of bank accounts in U.N. missions and those of foreign US diplomats. The G77 urges the secretary-general to review the “U.N. Secretariat’s financial relations with the JP Morgan Chase Bank and consider alternatives to such financial institutions and to report thereon, along with the information requested.”  JP Morgan is the left arm of the cabal, along with other ‘big banks’ who were benefactors of billions in our tax money. They have shorted silver along with Citibank to increase their physical silver holdings by 500%. They are also the ‘big bank,’ along with Chase that failed to stop Ponzi-schemer Bernard Madoff. Why do that? He was cut from the same clothe as their top executives. JPMorgan Chase & Co CEO Jamie Dimon pleaded with and complained to the U.S. Justice Department a few years back but couldn’t convince the government to end its criminal probe of his bank because prosecutors couldn’t figure out just how crooked this banking system really was. Banks like these helped crash our economies, and they are trying to do the same now, so that they can profit from it. The problem for countries around the world is simple: Chase bank currently handles billions in accounts maintained by the United Nations and its agencies, in New York City. The countries express a ‘deep concern’ over the decisions made by several other banking institutions, known puppets for the cabal, including JP Morgan Chase, in closing bank accounts for mostly developing countries. [...]  At secret meetings around the G77 last month, representative after representative from these countries severely criticized the American banking system from cutting off banking services from the diplomatic community, specifically directing their outrage at JP Morgan Chase (formerly Chemical bank). The accounts were closed when a request from the US treasury asked banks to report every single transaction of 70 ‘blacklisted’ diplomats as part of a monitoring system, just a new way that bankers are spying on all of us. Aside from a network of cameras, run buy the NSA, and a program with a codename of ‘Dishfire’ they also now indulge in practices which make you no different than America’s ‘enemies,’ or diplomats of emerging economies sick of being bullied by the petro-dollar:[...]"  Note: Another example of why: "US To Unleash IRS On Russian Banks" Printer Friendly Version "As the U.S. attempts to punish Russia for its actions in Ukraine, the Treasury Department plans to start using a new tax law to make it more expensive for Russian banks to do business in the U.S. Congress passed the law in 2010 to curb tax evasion through the use of overseas accounts. Starting July 1, the law targets foreign financial institutions that don't agree to share information about U.S. account holders with the IRS. Russia had been negotiating an information-sharing agreement with the U.S. But after Russia annexed Crimea and was seen as stoking separatist movements in eastern Ukraine, Treasury suspended negotiations."

Commentary: "Putin Signs Law On National Card Payment System As Visa and MasterCard Deny Service" [05/06/14] Printer Friendly Version 

Commentary: "IMF Plan To Loot Ukraine Revealed" [05/06/14] Printer Friendly Version "April 30, 2014, I posted an analysis of the Western establishment’s longtime approach of containment and subversion in regards to Russia and its satellite nations. One of those crucial strategic locales is Urkaine, which has historically been an integral part of Russia. Washington and its axis have sought to wrest Ukraine from Russian influence to divide up the nation, loot the resources, integrate Ukraine into the EU, and establish more military bases that encroach upon the Rus. In that article, I wrote as follows: “The “democratic transformation” Brzezinski is writing about is found in the phony, western-funded NGOs that have sparked a host of “color revolutions” over the last few decades in Middle Eastern and former Soviet satellite nations. The goal is thus to flank Russia and eventually “democratize” and McDonalidize Russia and its satellites even further through perpetual social disorder, collapse, and GMO cheeseburgers, just as the United States itself undergoes tyrannical “democratization” from its degenerate, so-called elite. This plan of Brzezinski to transform Russia at the end of the 90s resulted in the Yeltsin regime, wherein a host of former communist party oligarchs looted the nation through the Clinton Administration’s IMF “aid.” This “aid” resulted in 500 billion being looted from the Russian people, as well as the collapse of the Russian ecomomy. The same Clintonistas that organized this debacle through organized (NGO) crime also organized the banker bailout of recent fame, through unending, repackaged derivatives scams.” The next day, Russia Today reported that the IMF had approved a 17 billion dollar “aid” package to “stabilize” the economy of Kiev. RT wrote: “The International Monetary Fund has approved a two-year $17.1 billion loan package for Ukraine. The immediate disbursement of $3.2 billion will allow Ukraine to avoid a potential debt default. The IMF’s 24-member board agreed to the two-year program to aid Ukraine’s troubled economy on Wednesday. [...]  Amazingly, this “aid” is simply the same plan of IMF shock doctrine we have seen over and over, as Nobel winning economist Joseph Stiglitz (former chief economist of the World Bank) revealed back in 2001. That revelation first appeared through BBC reporter Greg Palast’s famous article, “The Globalizer Who Came in From the Cold. The documents summarized there outline the multi-layered plan the IMF takes to attack, destabilize and reorganize (i.e., loot) through “aid” packages that result in extensive debt slavery and privatization. Palast explains of the IMF plan in regard to Russia in the 90s: “Each nation’s economy is individually analyzed, then, says Stiglitz, the Bank hands every minister the same exact four-step program. Step One is Privatization –[...]"  

Commentary: "Russia Can Switch To Payments With India, China In National Currencies Crushing Dollar Amid Sanctions" [05/05/14] Printer Friendly Version "Experts believe that the wish of the West to restrict Moscow’s cooperation with Brussels and Washington will play into the hands of the Russian economy. Wisdom and presence of mind are two components that will guarantee success for a new spiral of Russia’s cooperation with eastern countries. [...] European elites are rather short-sighted and oriented at controlling the markets, including the Russian economy, especially the raw materials sector. They never lost interest in that sector. For this reason, they will always be in conflict with Russia, especially after Russia announced the establishment of the Customs Union. Still, it is wrong to say that Russia is in conflict with the EU. On the contrary, Russians are extremely tired of the permanent economic crisis in the EU, the aggravation of that crisis and the austerity policy. [...]"  

Commentary: "Top 5 U.S. Banks Conspired With WTO To Dump $88 Trillion Of Worthless Junk Into Economies Of 155 Nation-States" [05/05/14] [13:59] "Greg Palast on the secret 'Geithner-Summers End-Game Memo' - with Max Keiser."  

Commentary: "Two Days After Swearing Market Isn't Rigged, SEC Slaps NYSE Wrists For Rigging Markets" [05/04/14] Printer Friendly Version "It is somewhat ironic, actually make that criminal, that two days after new SEC head Mary Jo White (whose conflict of interest list is so vast courtesy of her prior position as defending every Wall Street from their criminal acts she now has to recuse herself from virtually every enforcement action) solemnly promised Congress under oath that the "markets are not rigged", the SEC comes out swinging and slaps the wrist of the NYSE with an intolerable $4.5 million fine for allowing market rigging "for a period of time from 2008 to 2012."  [...]"  

MSM: "Jobs 'Mysteriously Vanishing' As Minimum Wage Increases" [05/04/14] [5:49] " Peter Schiff Show (5/2/2014) [...]"  Note: It's not mysterious ... it's common knowledge and logic. “What do you call a person whose labor is worth less than the minimum wage? Permanently unemployed.” -Milton Friedman

MSM: "Bank Manager, 27, Washes Up Dead In Hoboken Harbor A Month After He Went Missing" [05/03/14] Printer Friendly Version "The body of a man that was pulled from the Hudson River Monday has been identified as that of a 27-year-old jogger from New Jersey who went missing March 30. The New Jersey Regional Medical Examiner’s Office identified the remains Tuesday night as Andrew Jarzyk, of Hoboken, thanks to the forensic analysts of the victim’s teeth and personal identifiers like tattoos. The exact cause and manner of death have yet to be determined, but officials say Jarzyk's body showed no signs of trauma to suggest foul play. Jarzyk was discovered floating in the water near the historic Erie Lockawanna Train Terminal just after 5.30pm Monday.  Jarzyk's family issued a statement on Facebook last night confirming the tragic discovery and saying that their loved one’s death remains a mystery. Andrew Jarzyk, a manager at The PNC Financial Services Group in Woodland Park, was last seen alive at around 2am on March 30 outside his Hoboken apartment dressed in his running gear. A surveillance camera caught Jarzyk running along the waterfront at around 2am on March 30 [...]" 

MSM: "The IMF’s “Rescue Package”: Coercing Ukraine Into A Civil War" [05/03/14] Printer Friendly Version "The IMF’s Board of Directors has just approved a US$ 17billion loan package to ‘rescue’ Ukraine from dire economic consequences, like a 5% GDP contraction in 2014, predicted by the same gurus of the IMF. This loan is part of a two-year US$ 27 billion package which is supposed to include numerous loans from the EU. The money, of course, comes with strings attached–raising taxes, freezing minimum wage, cutting pensions (by 50%) and energy subsidies – the usual hardship conditions the world is cowardly and silently witnessing with a downtrodden Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Spain. For the next steps, tranches two and three, privatization of state enterprises, massive firing of state employees, international contracts for exploitation of natural resources – one of which is Ukraine’s huge agricultural potential – will most certainly follow. By then Ukraine, will be ripe to do the bidding for NATO. – So thinks the west. That’s their game plan. Fortunately people, societies and history are dynamic not linear. The western leaders with their bought propaganda media have been hoodwinking the populace into believing that the world functions like computer models – which do not include human consciousness that eventually may evolve according to values innate in mankind but have been oppressed by a system of exploitation for greed. The first tranche of the 17 trillion – US$ 3.2 trillion is to be disbursed immediately, in other words to the illegitimate Ukrainian interim government – which is an act of financial crime committed by an international financial institution, created under the Charter of the UN – an institution that has long ago seized to respect the rules under which it has been founded, but functions as a mere extended arm of the US Treasury. This institution and the EU are hastening indebting Ukraine – even before the country has a legitimate government, to make it dependent on the abusive western banking system, regardless of what the new government after the 25 May elections will decide.  [...]"  Related"IMF Warns Ukraine: Fight For The East Or No Money" [05/02/14] Printer Friendly Version "The IMF approved the $17bn tranched loan to Ukraine last night, Gazprom gets paid; Ukraine gets its cash; and the door's wide open for the US and EU to pour more 'controlling influence' into the divided nation... Except there's one thing: If Ukraine government loses effective control over east of country, $17 bln IMF bailout would need to be redesigned. Which, roughly translated, appears to mean "go to war with pro-Russian forces (and thus Russia itself if Putin sees his apparent countrymen in trouble) or you don't get your money" [...]" Uh-oh:  "Ukraine’s Pro-Nazi Government Loses Control Of Eastern Ukraine" Printer Friendly Version | "Ukraine Should Withdraw Military In East, Says Putin" Printer Friendly Version | "U.S.-Backed IMF Trying To Start WW3 In Ukraine" [6:43] 

Commentary: "Debt Buyers Found To Routinely Scam Courts To Pursue Debts" [05/03/14] Printer Friendly Version "A new report from the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) finds that the debt buying and debt collection industries have grown rapidly in recent years – and with them, a suite of predatory and abusive collection practices that could cause consumers financial havoc. Today, one in seven Americans is being pursued by a debt collector. Despite their recent growth, the debt buying and collection industries are still largely unregulated; this allows debt buyers and collectors to take advantage of financially-distressed consumers and extract billions of dollars in judgments for debts that may not even be owed. In many cases, the sale of debt is accompanied with limited and questionable data about the debts and debtors. Often times, the only information transferred is a name, last known address, and purported amount owed. [...]"  

MSM: "U.S. Close to Bringing Criminal Charges Against Big Banks" [05/02/14] Printer Friendly Version "Federal prosecutors are nearing criminal charges against some of the world’s biggest banks, according to lawyers briefed on the matter, a development that could produce the first guilty plea from a major bank in more than two decades. In doing so, prosecutors are confronting the popular belief that Wall Street institutions have grown so important to the economy that they cannot be charged. A lack of criminal prosecutions of banks and their leaders fueled a public outcry over the perception that Wall Street giants are “too big to jail.” Addressing those concerns, prosecutors in Washington and New York have met with regulators about how to criminally punish banks without putting them out of business and damaging the economy, interviews with lawyers and records reviewed by The New York Times show. The new strategy underpins the decision to seek guilty pleas in two of the most advanced investigations: one into Credit Suisse for offering tax shelters to Americans, and the other against France’s largest bank, BNP Paribas, over doing business with countries like Sudan that the United States has blacklisted. [...]"  

Commentary: "Collapsing Standard of Living: Kleptocrats and Militarists Fleece Americans" [05/01/14] Printer Friendly Version "American living standards are plunging and it’s not simply because they are paid less, work longer (or shorter hours) under highly stressful workplace conditions and pay a higher percentage of their income for health and pension coverage. The ‘workplace’ is only one of several locations where American working people are experiencing a sharp decline in living standards. The new oligarchical Kleptocrats and political elites have elaborated new ways to fleece Americans. These include: (1) Increased costs and declining quality of internet, cable and other communication systems. (2) Intensive pervasive and perpetual surveillance by punitive espionage agencies eroding personal freedoms and violating the confidentiality of personal, political and business decisions affecting everyday life. (3) Large scale, repeated financial swindles by the most active and influential private and publicly trading investment companies resulting in the loss of hundreds of billions of dollars in pensions and savings for tens of millions of middle and working class investors. (4) Increases in taxes and charges, including sales taxes, social security deductions, medical co-payments and reductions in social services. This is a result of the government’s commitment to finance US corporate investments and bail-outs. Big business hoards their cash holdings abroad to avoid taxes on overseas profits. To pay dividends they borrow. The growth of corporate debt, concentrated in a few large corporations, holds the US taxpayer liable for any present or future collapse of the financial markets. This corporate- induced ‘hoarding of capital’ compromises present and future living standards. It plays a major role in the deterioration of employment, wages, social services and public infrastructure. (5) The astronomical growth of state spending on wars of conquest, financial giveaways propping up right-wing dictatorships and building a vast network of global military bases, proxy wars and other empire building measures reduce living standards of Americans. By militarizing everyday life, citizens are subject to mindless repetitive propaganda designed to lower their mental capacity. State terror-mongering propagandists in the mass media distract citizens from their declining living standards. Political elites bully citizens to continue ‘sacrificing’ basic living standards. Video games reproduce the worlds of war and terror, reflecting the real world policies of the ruling class. [...] Also covered: •The Political Bases of Declining Living Standards •Declining Living Standards in the Era of the Police State •Kleptocracy: The Highest Stage of Capitalism •Kleptocrats and Militarists Together: They Shall Overcome •Domestic Corporate Debt and Overseas Corporate Tax Havens •Kleptocracy and Militarism: Declining Living Standards [...]"  

MSM: "Keiser Report: Behind the CNN Curtain (E594)" [05/01/14]   [25:41] "In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert discuss living behind the 'CNN Curtain' where the dollar is still mighty and America has just landed on the moon. Meanwhile, on the other side of the CNN Curtain, the American worker is earning less than his or her counterparts around the world. In the second half, Max interviews Chris Cook about a gas coin, tally sticks, compound interest, national debt versus national credit, 'T to T' = Treasury to Taxpayer, trade wars and obsolescent central banks. [...]" 

MSM: "Keiser Report: Chained American Dream (E589)" [05/01/14]   [25:46] "In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert discuss the American Dream as being chained to the booth in the waffle house as cogs in the wheels generating income for Wall Street sharpies and the poverty of this century in which the beggar is a reminder of nothing. In the second half, Max interviews Alasdair Macleod of Goldmoney.com about the geopolitical situation in Ukraine and its impact on gold and the dollar as the reserve currency. They also talk about the true size of China's gold reserves. [...]"  Related: "Keiser Report: Ukraine's Big Oil & Big Angst (E590)"   [25:46] "In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert discuss American injustice in the age of the wealth gap and Weev's hedge fund trolling. In the second half, Max interviews JP Sottile of Newsvandal.com about Big Oil and Big Ag in Ukraine. Sottile names the people and corporations hoping to exploit the Ukrainian agricultural sector.  [...]" 

MSM: "US Financial Showdown With Russia Is More Dangerous Than It Looks, For Both Sides" [05/01/14] Printer Friendly Version "The US Treasury faces a more formidable prey with Russia, the world's biggest producer of energy with a $2 trillion economy, superb scientists and a first-strike nuclear arsenal. [...] The United States has constructed a financial neutron bomb. For the past 12 years an elite cell at the US Treasury has been sharpening the tools of economic warfare, designing ways to bring almost any country to its knees without firing a shot. The strategy relies on hegemonic control over the global banking system, buttressed by a network of allies and the reluctant acquiescence of neutral states. Let us call this the Manhattan Project of the early 21st century. "It is a new kind of war, like a creeping financial insurgency, intended to constrict our enemies' financial lifeblood, unprecedented in its reach and effectiveness," says Juan Zarate, the Treasury and White House official who helped spearhead policy after 9/11. “The new geo-economic game may be more efficient and subtle than past geopolitical competitions, but it is no less ruthless and destructive,” he writes in his book Treasury's War: the Unleashing of a New Era of Financial Warfare. Bear this in mind as Washington tightens the noose on Vladimir Putin's Russia, slowly shutting off market access for Russian banks, companies and state bodies with $714bn of dollar debt (Sberbank data). [...] The stealth weapon is a "scarlet letter", devised under Section 311 of the US Patriot Act. Once a bank is tainted in this way - accused of money-laundering or underwriting terrorist activities, a suitably loose offence - it becomes radioactive, caught in the "boa constrictor's lethal embrace", as Mr Zarate puts it. This can be a death sentence even if the lender has no operations in the US. European banks do not dare to defy US regulators. They sever all dealings with the victim. So do the Chinese, as became clear in 2005 when the US hit Banco Delta Asia (BDA) in Macao for serving as a conduit for North Korean commercial piracy. China pulled the plug. BDA collapsed within two weeks. China also tipped off Washington when Mr Putin proposed a joint Sino-Russian attack on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bonds in 2008, aiming to precipitate a dollar crash. Mr Zarate told me that the US can "go it alone" with sanctions if necessary. It therefore hardly matters whether or not the EU drags its feet over Ukraine, opting for the lowest common denominator to keep Bulgaria, Cyprus, Hungary and Luxembourg on board. Washington has the power to dictate the pace for them. The new arsenal was first deployed against Ukraine - of all places - in December 2002. Its banks were accused of laundering funds from Russia's organised crime rings. Kiev capitulated in short order. Nairu, Burma, North Cyprus, Belarus and Latvia were felled one by one, all forced to comply with US demands. North Korea was then paralysed. The biggest prize yet has been Iran, finally brought to the table. "A hidden war is under way, on a very far-reaching global scale. This is a kind of war through which the enemy assumes it can defeat the Iranian nation," said then-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Iran's Majlis. He meant it defiantly. Instead it was prescient. The US Treasury faces a more formidable prey with Russia, the world's biggest producer of energy with a $2 trillion economy, superb scientists and a first-strike nuclear arsenal. It is also tightly linked to the German and east European economies.[...]"  

MSM: "Britain Freezes Ukraine’s Assets And Launches (Previous Government) Corruption Probe" [04/30/14] Printer Friendly Version "British authorities on Monday launched a money- laundering investigation linked to possible corruption in Ukraine and froze $23 million (17 million euros) in assets. The announcement came a day before international talks in London aimed at recovering assets which may have been looted under the regime of deposed pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych. Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said it had “opened a criminal investigation into possible money laundering arising from suspicions of corruption in Ukraine.” “The SFO has obtained a restraint order freezing approximately $23 million of assets in the UK in connection with this case.” It said it could not provide more details for reasons of confidentiality.[...]"  

Commentary: "Suspicious Deaths Now Classified As “Trade Secrets” By Federal Regulator" Pam and Russ Martens [04/29/14] Printer Friendly Version (Link Fixed) "It doesn’t get any more Orwellian than this: Wall Street mega banks crash the U.S. financial system in 2008. Hundreds of thousands of financial industry workers lose their jobs. Then, beginning late last year, a rash of suspicious deaths start to occur among current and former bank employees. Next we learn that four of the Wall Street mega banks likely hold over $680 billion face amount of life insurance on their workers, payable to the banks, not the families. We ask their Federal regulator for the details of this life insurance under a Freedom of Information Act request and we’re told the information constitutes “trade secrets.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the life expectancy of a 25 year old male with a Bachelor’s degree or higher as of 2006 was 81 years of age. But in the past five months, five highly educated JPMorgan male employees in their 30s and one former employee aged 28, have died under suspicious circumstances, including three of whom allegedly leaped off buildings – a statistical rarity even during the height of the financial crisis in 2008. There is one other major obstacle to brushing away these deaths as random occurrences – they are not happening at JPMorgan’s closest peer bank – Citigroup. Both JPMorgan and Citigroup are global financial institutions with both commercial banking and investment banking operations. Their employee counts are similar – 260,000 employees for JPMorgan versus 251,000 for Citigroup. Both JPMorgan and Citigroup also own massive amounts of bank-owned life insurance (BOLI), a controversial practice that pays the corporation when a current or former employee dies. (In the case of former employees, the banks conduct regular “death sweeps” of public records using former employees’ Social Security numbers to learn if a former employee has died and then submits a request for payment of the death benefit to the insurance company.) [...]" 

MSM: "Gold Price Rigging Allows Continuation Of Flawed Policies" [04/29/14] [37:57] "In this exclusive video interview on behalf of Matterhorn Asset Management / GoldSwitzerland Lars Schall talks with William S. Kaye, the Senior Managing Director of the Pacific Alliance Group of Companies in Hong Kong. They speak about the motive, the means and the opportunities to suppress the gold price. Kaye says that a free-market price of gold would essentially cast the central banking interventions for what they are. However, he explains and predicts that the price suppression scheme can't go on forever and that in the 'end game' the paper gold market must eventually be settled with physical and that it will require an very high price of gold to entice owners of physical gold outside the banking system to be prepared to meet that massive anticipated demand.[...]"  Related: "James Turk-"They're Not Going to be Able to Save the System This Time Around" [19:40]"Greg Hunter of USAWatchdog.com goes one-on-one with gold expert James Turk. When the spot price of gold is higher than the future price, it's a rare occurrence called "backwardation." James Turk from GoldMoney.com says, "The weird thing that has happened and it's never happened in history, when the gold price was driven down last year to its lows in June 2013, gold went into backwardation, and since then, it has been in backwardation more than 50% of the time. The only other times backwardation occurred were in 1999, with the lows in gold, and 2008, with the lows in gold. After both of those backwardations, the gold price soared." Turk, who recently co-wrote a book called "The Money Bubble," goes on to say, "Sooner or later, we are going to go over the cliff as we did in 2008. They saved the system in 2008, but I don't think this time around they are going to be able to save the system. So, you have to prepare for it."[...]" |"Russian Sanctions Could See Gold Prices ‘Explode" Printer Friendly Version "... Veteran gold analyst, George Gero, who is the precious metals analyst at RBC is not a man for hyperbole or overstatement. Indeed, he has been quite bearish on gold in recent years. However, he believes that Ukraine and the deepening crisis, could have a “massively bullish impact on gold prices.” He told CNBC the following: “One of the largest suppliers of gold, and of course platinum, is Russia and if they’re going to be involved in sanctions, and more problems with Ukraine, and deliveries are curtailed—and there is already a problem in South Africa between the miners of platinum, palladium and the mining companies. All of that could somehow explode on the upside and curtail deliveries, meaning higher prices.” Russia is the fourth-largest producer of gold, outputting 7% of the world’s total supply according to the British Geological Survey. Were Russia to retaliate by banning the exports of all precious metals and by selling some of their large foreign exchange reserves and diversifying into gold, silver, platinum and palladium, it would likely lead to much higher prices for all precious metals. [...]" | "Collapse Of Western Ponzi Scheme To Send Gold Skyrocketing" [14:04] "Today, Grant Williams, one of the most highly respected fund managers in Singapore claimed in an interview that the collapse of the Western Ponzi scheme will send the price of gold skyrocketing. Williams also discussed the coming implosion of the Western scheme as well as how the Russians and the Chinese positioning themselves ahead of this collapse. Brian covers highlights from the interview on today’s show and offers his perspective on Williams’ claims. [...]" 

Commentary: "Treasury Secretary Lew Warns Russia: "Take A Step Back... Or Pay The Price" [04/26/14] Printer Friendly Version "The verbal combat continues as the US resorts to using Jack Lew in its latest barrage of panic-inducing threats: [...] As a gentle reminder, while the Ruble has weakened since the sanctions (oh and Russia's credit rating has been downgraded), it is US equities that suffered the largest "costs"... Of course, we should not forget what happened last time things got close to the edge... As Doug Casey notes, "Here’s a startling fact most investors have never heard: During the last financial meltdown in 2008, when the U.S. economy was on the brink, Russian leaders met with China to persuade them to dump the dollar – and destroy the world’s reserve currency. Before they could act, the Fed pumped over $700 billion into the economy and delayed their day of reckoning. Still, the threat remains. China holds over $1.2 trillion in U.S. debt today. And with their Russian allies, they could drop the dollar at any moment."   This excerpt from our eye-opening documentary called “Meltdown America” explains the severity of this imminent threat Video  [2:37] [...]  

MSM: "The Altyn: Russia Accelerates Plans To Launch New “Gold” Eurasian Currency" [04/26/14] Printer Friendly Version Video  [0:51]  "Several Russian News outlets have reported that Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, that currently form the Eurasian customs union, will sign an agreement in May to accelerate the formation of an economic union and a joint currency: the Altyn. Russia’s economy is eight times smaller than the US, but by forming a new ‘empire’ on top of a vast amounts of resources, this economic block will be a serious threat for the US petrodollar. Russia is now speaking openly about getting rid of the US dollar for trading energy, building its own payment system and closing gas export deals with China – the other Asian empire. The Eurasian Economic Union will be a powerful stab at the US dollar hegemony. On the territory of several Russian principalities the currency Altyn has been circulating from the 15th century until 1991. Originally it was made of copper, the silver Altyn appeared during the times of Peter the Great. [...]"  Note: The meaning of the Turkish word “Altyn” is… gold.

Commentary: "Eastern Ukrainian Resistance and the Weakening of the Petrodollar" [04/26/14] Printer Friendly Version "Thousands of Eastern Ukrainians reject Kiev putschists. Perhaps millions. They want local sovereignty. They want autonomy rights. They want them respected. They reject fascist rule. They demand their own referendum. They want Ukraine federalized. Protests continue in Kharkov (Ukraine’s second largest city), Donetsk (its largest industrial city), Dnepropetrovsk, Lugansk, Odessa, Nikolayev and elsewhere. They’re growing. They’re spreading. They have legs. Maybe parts of Western Ukraine will join them. [...]" Related"Unelected Kiev Regime Begins Killing Spree In Eastern Ukraine" [04/25/14] Printer Friendly Version   "Ukraine Junta Suspends 'Anti-Terror' Operations, Citing Concerns Over “Russian Invasion" [04/25/14]

Commentary: "College Education A Better Investment For Goldman Sachs Than It Is For Students" [04/25/14] "Americans have always viewed a college education as an investment in a student’s future, but there’s another sort of investment going on behind-the-scenes, and it’s nearly risk free. With access to a revolving door of prospective students and a continuous supply of federal aid, some colleges are turning hopes and dreams into big returns for Goldman Sachs and other investors. Today, prospective college students — from recent high-school graduates to those returning to school after years in the workforce — often seek out opportunities that will allow them to continue working while obtaining their degree. Some for-profit colleges market themselves as the answer: work during the day and take classes online or at local campuses when you can.  But at the intersection of convenience, accessibility, and education, there lies a low-risk, high-reward opportunity for the savvy business person. The question is: Are for-profit educational institutions looking out for the students, or the investors? [...] While you may not know it from the amateurish quality of the for-profit college ads that litter daytime and late-night TV, many of these schools are owned by multibillion-dollar conglomerates offering big returns to their high-profile backers . “For-profit schools are quite profitable, especially the larger schools like Phoenix or Corinthian,” Suzanne Martindale, a staff attorney for Consumers Union*, tells Consumerist. “To make money, all they need to do is enroll students — they get to keep the financial aid, including loans, which students are on the hook for later.” One successful for-profit education investor is finance giant Goldman Sachs. Following the collapse of the U.S. housing market, the firm saw a new investment opportunity in the form of a 43% stake in Education Management Corporation, the company behind schools like Brown Mackie College, Argosy University and The Art Institutes. When Goldman Sachs was announced as one of EDMC’s new partners in 2011, the Huffington Post reported that the move allowed Goldman to secure itself a means of tapping into the boom in for-profit higher education. [...]"   Note: That leads nowhere ... at this point the whole dynamic is fraudulent.  

Commentary: "Wall Street Greed, Corrupt Global Banking: Too Big to Prosecute? Not for a California Jury" [04/24/14] Printer Friendly Version "Eric Holder has declared that the too-big-to-fail Wall Street banks are too big to prosecute. But an outraged California jury might have different ideas. The question, then, is how to get Wall Street banks before a California jury. How about charging them with common law fraud and breach of contract? That’s what the FDIC just did in its massive 24-count civil suit for damages for LIBOR manipulation, filed in March 2014 against sixteen of the world’s largest banks, including the three largest US banks – JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup. LIBOR (the London Interbank Offering Rate) is the benchmark rate at which banks themselves can borrow. It is a crucial rate involved in over $400 trillion in derivatives called interest-rate swaps, and it is set by the sixteen private megabanks behind closed doors. The biggest victims of interest-rate swaps have been local governments, universities, pension funds, and other public entities. The banks have made renegotiating these deals prohibitively expensive, and renegotiation itself is an inadequate remedy. It is the equivalent of the grocer giving you an extra potato when you catch him cheating on the scales. A legal action for fraud is a more fitting and effective remedy. Fraud is grounds both for rescission (calling off the deal) as well as restitution (damages), and in appropriate cases punitive damages. [...] Nationally, municipalities and other large non-profits are thought to have as much as $300 billion in outstanding swap contracts based on LIBOR, deals in which they are trapped due to prohibitive termination fees. According to a 2010 report by the SEIU (Service Employees International Union): The overall effect is staggering. Banks are estimated to have collected as much as $28 billion in termination fees alone from state and local governments over the past two years. This does not even begin to account for the outsized net payments that state and local governments are now making to the banks. . . . While the press have reported numerous stories of cities like Detroit, caught with high termination payments, the reality is there are hundreds (maybe even thousands) more cities, counties, utility districts, school districts and state governments with swap agreements [that] are causing cash strapped local and city governments to pay millions of dollars in unneeded fees directly to Wall Street.[...]" 

Commentary: "Putin Gets Paid? IMF Agrees $17bn Loan To Ukraine" [04/24/14] Printer Friendly Version "It seems Russia won't have to wait too long for the billions that Ukraine owes it for energy supplies past, present, and future pre-billings. Bloomberg reports that: " International Monetary Fund staff endorsed a $17 billion loan to Ukraine to help the government pay its bills amid a projected economic contraction of 5 percent this year, according to government officials who have seen the recommendations.  The staff’s report was delivered to members of the IMF’s 24-seat board late yesterday, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal documents. The staff proposed an April 30 board meeting to consider the loan package, they said. Conny Lotze, a spokeswoman for the IMF, declined to comment. After weeks of talks with the government in Kiev, IMF staff concluded that Ukraine needs financing from the fund that’s at the higher end of the $14 billion to $18 billion range initially announced. The IMF loan will clear the way for additional aid from the European Union and other donors. We await the small-print to see just how much is "allowed" to be spent on paying bills to Russia vs paying off interest on bonds due to Western banks... [...]"  

Commentary: "Chinese Banks And 100,000 ‘Outlets’ Selling Gold To Public" [04/23/14] Printer Friendly Version "Bloomberg Television’s “On The Move Asia” had a fascinating interview with Albert Cheng, the World Gold Council’s Managing Director, Far East. He discussed China’s gold market and what’s driving the country’s demand with Rishaad Salamat. Albert Cheng reaffirms the paradigm shift for the gold market that is Chinese gold demand. He points out two very important facts hitherto not known by market participants. First, there are now over 100,000 gold bullion dealers selling coins and bars in China. Second, he says this suggests that the majority of banks are now offering gold bullion products over the counter. The interview is very interesting and is well worth a look. [...]"  

Commentary: "3 Reasons To Keep Gmail Far Away From Your Credit Card Information" [04/23/14] Printer Friendly Version "At Quartz, Chris Mims reports that Google appears to be accelerating its roll-out of a service that will allow gmail users to send money via email to whomever they want as easily as sending an attachment. Google almost certainly doesn’t care whether you use it to send money. What it cares about is getting you to sign up to Google Wallet and capture your bank account and credit-card information. And it’s using Gmail, which has a reach comparable to that of Facebook—425 million as of June 2012, the last time Google released numbers—to do it. can easily see this becoming popular. But here are three reasons to be wary. 1) Your Gmail account is already a hugely tempting target for hackers. Adding your financial info to that account will make it irresistible. 2) Google’s ability to effectively target ads already gives it tremendous power to manipulate consumer behavior. Adding the instant gratification of easy-checkout to those ads will make the company even more powerful. 3) Google already knows far too much about what we want, what we do, where we go, and who we communicate with. Do we really want to complete the chain and give the company our most intimate financial information? The question posed by Google — and, really, all online Web services. At what point does convenience become vulnerability? [...]"  

Commentary: "1999 Deregulation Of Wall Street Documents Reveal “Push To Pilfer” America’s Wealth" [04/22/14] Printer Friendly Version "Bill Clinton Repeals The Glass Steagall Act in 1999 allowing Banks to invest depositor’s hard earned cash in high risk bets, creating bubbles via ‘Paper Derivatives’. This Keynesian scheme financially crippled America and gave rise for a surreptitious excuse To continue flooding the market with $trillions of fiat currency for a fraudulent orchestrated bailout. This was all designed to in-debt the U.S. into a 3rd. world country status, after allowing the banksters to abscond America’s wealth. [...] Wall Street deregulation, blamed for deepening the banking crisis, was aggressively pushed by advisers to Bill Clinton who have also been at the heart of current White House policy-making, according to newly disclosed documents from his presidential library. The previously restricted papers reveal two separate attempts, in 1995 and 1997, to hurry Clinton into supporting a repeal of the Depression-era Glass Steagall Act and allow investment banks, insurers and retail banks to merge: [...]"  

MSM: "Belgian Banker And Family Shot" Translated From Dutch [04/21/14] Printer Friendly Version "The shooting in Vise last Friday that demanded three deaths looked like a true execution. The bank manager and his wife were shot dead in cold blood, and the godchild of the woman was killed by one or more perpetrators in cold blood. The couple both worked in the banking industry and were quite liked in the neighborhood. The police are still in the dark about the motive. Benoît Philippens and his wife Carol Haid arrived home Friday night around 23 hours after dining at a restaurant with their godchild Esteban (9). The trio had barely stepped out of their parked car when they were fired on by one or several persons. The offenders had clearly been waiting for their victims. The investigation is currently focusing on the banking industry. [...]" Ref 

Commentary: "Timestamp Fraud": A Rigged Market Explained In One Simple Animation" [04/20/14] Printer Friendly Version "The topic of High-Frequency-Trading quickly dissolves into a smorgasbord of mnemonics and 'inside-baseball' technical terms - just complicated enough to lose everyone that matters or should care about its implications. Despite the fair-and-balanced defense from the mainstream media business channels (sponsored by the belief in the status quo fair markets that 'America the free' is known for), the fact is that HFT does front-run (perfectly legal under the umbrella protection of Reg NMS) order flow, but there may be one more wrinkle - one which would cement the Michael Lewis (accurate) allegation that the market is rigged. Because if as Nanex shows below, there is in addition to everything else the element of timestamp fraud involved in the distribution of NMS "compliant" trading data for Direct Feed-to-SIP matching purposes, this means that not only is the market rigged, but its rigging goes from the very top all the way to the lowliest algorithm. What's worse, the rigged system is so embedded there is nothing anyone can do about it, until it just collapses under its own weight: think May 2010 HFT-created flash crash, only without the mirror-image bounce.  [...]"  

MSM: "Occupy Was Right: Capitalism Has Failed The World" Andrew Hussey [04/20/14] Printer Friendly Version "The Paris School of Economics is where I have arranged an interview with Professor Thomas Piketty, a modest young Frenchman (he is in his early 40s), who has spent most of his career in archives and collecting data, but is just about to emerge as the most important thinker of his generation – as the Yale academic Jacob Hacker put it, a free thinker and a democrat who is no less than "an Alexis de Tocqueville for the 21st century". This is on account of his latest work, which is called Capital in the Twenty-First Century. This is a huge book, more than 700 pages long, dense with footnotes, graphs and mathematical formulae. At first sight it is unashamedly an academic tome and seems both daunting and incomprehensible. In recent weeks and months the book has however set off fierce debates in the United States about the dynamics of capitalism, and especially the apparently unstoppable rise of the tiny elite that controls more and more of the world's wealth. In non-specialist blogs and websites across America, it has ignited arguments about power and money, questioning the myth at the very heart of American life – that capitalism improves the quality of life for everyone. This is just not so, says Piketty, and he makes his case in a clear and rigorous manner that debunks everything that capitalists believe about the ethical status of making money. The groundbreaking status of the book was recognised by a recent long essay in the New Yorker in which Branko Milanovic, a former senior economist at the World Bank, was quoted as describing Piketty's volume as "one of the watershed books in economic thinking". In the same vein, a writer in the Economist reported that Piketty's work fundamentally rewrote 200 years of economic thinking on inequality. [...]"   Related: See below.

MSM: "Krugman: Worried About Oligarchy? You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" [04/20/14] [24:30] "In an interview with journalist Bill Moyers set to air Friday, Nobel laureate and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman celebrates both the insights and warnings of French economist Thomas Piketty whose new ground-breaking book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, argues that modern capitalism has put the world "on the road not just to a highly unequal society, but to a society of an oligarchy—a society of inherited wealth." A key component of this ongoing disaster of capitalism is what happens when great wealth—and Piketty puts focus on inherited wealth—grows at rates faster than the overall economy. The prediction embedded in Piketty's book is that even as inequality has been on a steady rise for the last several decades, the truth is: we ain't seen nothing yet. As we go forward, according to Krugman, Piketty's thesis says that even though inequality is already a huge problem, it's going to get even worse. "Unless something gets better," he explains, "we're going to look back nostalgically on the early 21st century when you could still at least have the pretense that the wealthy actually earned their wealth. And, you know, by the year 2030, it'll all be inherited." [...] Writing about his new book at The Nation on Friday, the Economic Policy Institute's Jeff Faux says that though Piketty "is certainly not the first economist to criticize inherited wealth" his "credentials and exhaustive attention to statistical detail make him harder for the pundits and policy elites that protect the plutocracy to dismiss." Faux concludes that Piketty has re-discovered, and re-stated for a modern audience, is what Marx himself and others long ago realized—that capitalism "is not only unfair, it is relentlessly and dynamically unfair." As a point of order, however, it seems noteworthy that Piketty is quite prepared to go even further. In an interview last week in Europe, Piketty didn't stop at saying capitalism was unfair, but stated: "I have proved that under the present circumstances capitalism simply cannot work." And as Krugman explains to Moyers, the implications of a world dominated by the super-wealthy for regular working people is profound. "When you have a few people who are so wealthy that they can effectively buy the political system, the political system is going to tend to serve their interests," he said."  Related: See also, on the Special Articles panel: "US Political System: An Oligarchy, Not A Democracy" [04/17/14]; "Sanders: Supreme Court Is Paving The Way To An Oligarchic Society" [04/06/14]  See also article below.

MSM:  "CEO Pay Soars, Workers Toil in Capitalism's New Gilded Age" [04/20/14] Printer Friendly Version "Ratio of CEO-to-worker pay is 'unconscionable,' says AFl-CIO as prominent economist argues this level of inequality proves current capitalist system 'cannot work' [...]"

Trends: "Billionaires Liquidate Real Estate, Sell Stocks That Depend On Consumer Purchasing, Banking" [04/19/14] Printer Friendly Version "... Luxury real estate investors are unloading their real estate assets as well in an effort to raise cash and not be the last one holding a dead asset. For all intents and purposes, the music in China has stopped: Cash-strapped Chinese are scrambling to sell their luxury homes in Hong Kong, and some are knocking up to a fifth off the price for a quick sale, as a liquidity crunch looms on the mainland. [...] In the U.S. there is $3,733.5 billion in non-mortgage consumer debt outstanding. That is an all-time high. An awful lot of that increase since 2007, incidentally, is student loans — exactly where it cannot be for sustainable economic progress since the younger generation has to eventually take the reins from us older folks. This is nothing more than an economic Ponzi scheme. As for corporate debt it never decreased at all. Something is amiss, and the fact that no one in the mainstream, which is where tens of millions of Americans get their “facts,” is really talking about it should be a blaring alarm. Billionaires are quietly dumping their American stocks . . . and fast. Buffett has been drastically reducing his exposure to stocks that depend on consumer purchasing habits.  John Paulson, who made a fortune betting on the subprime mortgage meltdown, is clearing out of U.S. stocks too. During the second quarter of the year, Paulson’s hedge fund, Paulson & Co., dumped 14 million shares of JPMorgan Chase. The fund also dumped its entire position in discount retailer Family Dollar and consumer- goods maker Sara Lee. Finally, billionaire George Soros recently sold nearly all of his bank stocks, including shares of JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Goldman Sachs. Between the three banks, Soros sold more than a million shares."  As these in-the-know elites unload their positions, average investors depending on their financial advisers to tell them the truth are slamming money into these stocks and paying, in some cases, 500 times earnings. Real estate investors are, likewise, overpaying for homes based on the idea that markets are “hotter” than they’ve been in years. It’s a recipe for disaster and it won’t end well – at least for 99% of people who blindly believe the opinions of their favorite “experts.” [...]" Note: Of course, this trend is not entirely 'new' .... back in June 2013: "They Know: Billionaires Are Quietly And Rapidly Dumping Millions of Shares of Stock" [06/17/13] Printer Friendly Version  See also below:

Commentary: "Time to Ditch the Consumer Price Index" [04/19/14] Printer Friendly Version "The debate over the accuracy of the official consumer price index (CPI) and personal consumption expenditures (PCE–the so-called core rate of inflation) has raged for years, with no resolution in sight. The CPI calculates inflation based on the prices of a basket of goods and services that are adjusted by hedonics, i.e. improvements that are not reflected in the price of the goods. CPI fails to capture real-world inflation/loss of purchasing power. ... So once again we have a bifurcated society: those protected by the state from rising costs and those exposed to real-world reductions in purchasing power. Households that receive government subsidies and direct payments have little exposure to real-world healthcare costs, since they are covered by Medicaid, and modest exposure to housing if they receive Section 8 benefits (Section 8 recipients pay 30% of their income for rent, regardless of the market price of the rental). Retirees on Medicare also have limited exposure to the real-world costs of their care paid by the government. If we analyze inflation by these two metrics, we find the middle class is increasingly exposed to skyrocketing real-world prices. Pundits in the top 5% have the luxury of pontificating on the accuracy of the CPI while those protected by government subsidies and coverage have the luxury of wondering what all the fuss is about. Only those 100% exposed to the real costs experience the full fury of actual inflation. So why does the government maintain such a transparently inaccurate and misleading metric as the CPI? For three reasons: 1) it is useful propaganda; 2) it suppresses the state’s cost-of-living increases and 3) it lowers the government’s cost of borrowing. The benefits of reducing COLA adjustments are self-evident, as is the benefit of borrowing money at low rates of interest, but the propaganda benefits are more subtle. The key to enabling the endless printing of money that enriches the banks and the top .1% is low inflation. Asset bubbles can be inflated, ballooning the wealth of the owners of the assets, as long as inflation is near-zero. Indeed, the Federal Reserve claims it must print money to counter low inflation. Meanwhile, in the real economy, those exposed to the real costs of college tuition, healthcare, childcare, etc. are seeing their purchasing power evaporate like a puddle of water in Death Valley.  [...]"  

Media and Culture: "Americas Book of Secrets, S03E04, The Gold Conspiracy" [04/19/14] "7pm PST History 2 channel, April 14[...]"  

Flashback: "US Dollars To Be Swept Out Of Russia" [11/14/13] Printer Friendly Version   [2:18] "One of the world's reserve currencies, the U.S. dollar, may soon disappear in Russia. According to deputies of the State Duma, the Russians trust the dollar, despite the U.S. crisis. Russian MPs are worried that the dollar system may collapse in 2017 due to the growth of the U.S. government debt."-- Michael Dyagterev, politician, member of the State Duma from the Liberal Democratic Party. "The main objective of the bill is to have a discussion. This is multi- task goal, one of the parts of which is to stop the entry of the dollar in Russia. The second task is to push our leaders towards making all our export operations, including oil and gas ones, in rubles. And, as the crown of the strategy, to create a global reserve currency called the ruble. There's nothing to fear. It's the Americans who should be worried. Their national debt is 17 trillion dollars, and it will grow from month to month. Buildup debt is a strategy of the American elite. Since debt is a process that has its end, then the process will end with a default or any other type of turmoil. We need to convert all reserves of the country into gold. No currency should be left there, all paper reserves are disastrous for Russia. This is also a part of the strategy that should be conducted." [...]" 

Commentary: "Cash-Rich Global Firms Face Calls To Crack Open War Chests To Prop Up The Global Economy" [04/18/14] Printer Friendly Version "Impatient shareholders are calling on the world’s top firms to start spending some of the eye-popping $2.8 trillion in cash built up since the financial crisis, as analysts warn that their thriftiness could be holding back global growth. The combined war chests held by companies including Apple, Google and Samsung — roughly equivalent to the size of France’s economy — has swelled since the 2008 global downturn hammered stock markets and saw nervous firms pinching their pennies as they waited out the storm. But even as markets bounced back and business confidence recovered, the cash piles kept growing. That has prompted a drumbeat of calls for firms to start spending more on share buybacks or boosting dividends, building new factories, or acquiring rival firms. [...] Together, Apple, Microsoft and Google have over $300 billion in cash, while US non-financial firms held a record $1.64 trillion in all — double the amount back in 2007, according to a report last month by ratings agency Moody’s. While major US firms have also increased their debt in recent years, the cash buildup has generated criticism from investors and critics who say some of America’s best-known firms are hoarding money overseas — and out of the hands of the taxman. Companies have been well served during the financial crisis by being fiscally prudent,” said a January report by consultancy Deloitte, which pegged the liquid holdings of the world’s top 1,000 firms at about $2.8 trillion. But it added that “this could hamper their progress in times of recovery. Companies now need to rethink their cash strategy to create growth opportunities”. Mark Carney, current head of the Bank of England, was more blunt in a 2012 speech as he derided unused corporate cash as “dead money”. “If companies can’t figure out what to do with it, then they should give it to shareholders and they’ll figure it out,” Carney, then governor of the Bank of Canada, was quoted as saying. It is a feeling shared by some investors in technology giant Samsung, which has built up over $50 billion in cash, the largest pile among South Korean firms.[...]"  

Commentary: "BRICS Countries To Set Up Their Own Version Of An "IMF" [04/17/14] Printer Friendly Version "Very soon, the IMF will cease to be the world's only organization capable of rendering international financial assistance. The BRICS countries are setting up alternative institutions, including a currency reserve pool and a development bank. The BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) have made significant progress in setting up structures that would serve as an alternative to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, which are dominated by the U.S. and the EU. A currency reserve pool, as a replacement for the IMF, and a BRICS development bank, as a replacement for the World Bank, will begin operating as soon as in 2015, Russian Ambassador at Large Vadim Lukov has said. Brazil has already drafted a charter for the BRICS Development Bank, while Russia is drawing up intergovernmental agreements on setting the bank up, he added. In addition, the BRICS countries have already agreed on the amount of authorized capital for the new institutions: $100 billion each. "Talks are under way on the distribution of the initial capital of $50 billion between the partners and on the location for the headquarters of the bank. Each of the BRICS countries has expressed a considerable interest in having the headquarters on its territory," Lukov said. It is expected that contributions to the currency reserve pool will be as follows: China, $41 billion; Brazil, India, and Russia, $18 billion each; and South Africa, $5 billion. The amount of the contributions reflects the size of the countries' economies. [...]"  

Interviews: "Nomi Prins-Financial Crash-Collapse Coming" [04/17/14] [19:49] "Join Greg Hunter as he goes One-on-One with Nomi Prins, best-selling author of the new book, “All The Presidents’ Bankers.” Prins, who is a former top Goldman Sachs banker, exclaims, “It is very easy to see how the system could unravel because it isn’t stable. The 'stability' of the system is really fake. A lot of speculation has occurred with cheap money, and then it is bailout, and then nothing changes, and then something worse happens. That is the current pattern and the pattern of the last three decades. We are definitely in big trouble. There is no way we are not headed for a crisis. . . . It should have happened already, but the level of support is epic and reckless from the political and financial elite.”  [...]"

Interviews: "Matt Taibbi: The Super Rich Have Become 'Untouchables'" [04/17/14] Printer Friendly Version [52:29] "Award-winning journalist Matt Taibbi is out with an explosive new book that asks why the vast majority of white-collar criminals have avoided prison since the financial crisis began, while an unequal justice system imprisons the poor and people of color on a mass scale. In "The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap," Taibbi explores how the Depression-level income gap between the wealthy and the poor is mirrored by a "justice" gap in who is targeted for prosecution and imprisonment. "It is much more grotesque to consider the non-enforcement of white-collar criminals when you do consider how incredibly aggressive law enforcement is with regard to everybody else," Taibbi says. Transcript included on page [...]"  

MSM: "Social Security Will Stop Seizing Refunds To Collect Old Debt" [04/16/14] Printer Friendly Version "The Social Security Administration plans to stop intercepting tax refunds in order to settle debts more than 10 years old. It had been seizing state and federal tax funds from about 400,000 Americans whose relatives owed it money. The Social Security Administration plans to stop collecting taxpayer debt older than 10 years old, the Washington Post reports. The federal government has been reportedly seizing state and federal tax funds from about 400,000 Americans whose relatives owed money to Social Security. The collection dates back to 2008 when a farm bill lifted a statute of limitations on government debt older that was more than 10 years old and the Treasury Department allowed the government to intercept tax refunds to settle the debts. Approximately $2 billion worth of intercepted tax refunds have been collected by the Treasury this year, the Post reports, $75 million of which was for 10-year-old, or older, debts. [...]"  Related: See below: "Social Security, Treasury Target Americans For Their Parents' Old Debts" [04/12/14]

Interviews: "We Are To See Severe Destruction Of Western Economic System" [04/16/14] Printer Friendly Version   "With $1.7 quadrillion debt and the present bailout policy that will inflate prices, we’ll see the West collapsing while China and Russia will not be responsible for it or able to help, Lawrence Freeman from Executive Intelligence Review Magazine told RT. [...]" 

Commentary: "Dumping The Petro-Dollar: Russian Oil Firm Gazprom Neft Says Asian Buyers Willing To Use Euros" [04/15/14] Printer Friendly Version "Russian state-controlled oil producer Gazprom Neft said it had received positive responses from Asian clients about the possibility of using euros as a settlement currency instead of the dollar. Company head Alexander Dyukov said this week Gazprom Neft had broached the idea of dropping the dollar, traditionally the currency of choice for the global energy sector, in response to a possible new round of Western sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea. He said the company had discussed with buyers the possibility of switching contracts to euros and that 95 percent had said they were ready to do it. Gazprom Neft ships around 30,000 barrels per day of oil eastward. “Gazprom Neft has held discussions with its eastern partners about the possibility of completing settlements in the European currency. They, in turn, expressed their potential readiness for this,” the oil arm of top Russian top natural gas producer Gazprom said in emailed comments on Thursday. Three buyers in Japan and China said they had been approached by Gazprom to settle oil payments in currencies other than the dollar. Two of the buyers said they were still considering the proposal, while the third said his company had bought crude using euros before and did not see it as a problem. “Switching to euros is not a big deal. The problem is who will bear the exchange cost,” a trader with a Japanese buyer of Russian Asia-bound ESPO crude oil blend said. [...]" 

Commentary: "Global Banking Game Is Rigged, and the FDIC Is Suing" [04/14/14] Printer Friendly Version "Taxpayers are paying billions of dollars for a swindle pulled off by the world’s biggest banks, using a form of derivative called interest-rate swaps; and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has now joined a chorus of litigants suing over it. According to an SEIU report: Derivatives . . . have turned into a windfall for banks and a nightmare for taxpayers. . . . While banks are still collecting fixed rates of 3 to 6 percent, they are now regularly paying public entities as little as a tenth of one percent on the outstanding bonds, with rates expected to remain low in the future. Over the life of the deals, banks are now projected to collect billions more than they pay state and local governments – an outcome which amounts to a second bailout for banks, this one paid directly out of state and local budgets. It is not just that local governments, universities and pension funds made a bad bet on these swaps. The game itself was rigged, as explained below. The FDIC is now suing in civil court for damages and punitive damages, a lead that other injured local governments and agencies would be well-advised to follow. But they need to hurry, because time on the statute of limitations is running out. [...] • The Largest Cartel in World History: On March 14, 2014, the FDIC filed suit for LIBOR-rigging against sixteen of the world’s largest banks – including the three largest US banks (JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Citigroup), the three largest UK banks, the largest German bank, the largest Japanese bank, and several of the largest Swiss banks. Bill Black, professor of law and economics and a former bank fraud investigator, calls them “the largest cartel in world history, by at least three and probably four orders of magnitude.” LIBOR (the London Interbank Offering Rate) is the benchmark rate by which banks themselves can borrow. It is a crucial rate involved in hundreds of trillions of dollars in derivative trades, and it is set by these sixteen megabanks privately and in secret.  Interest rate swaps are now a $426 trillion business. That’s about seven times the gross domestic product of all the countries in the world combined. According to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, in 2012 US banks held $183.7 trillion in interest-rate contracts, with only four firms representing 93% of total derivative holdings; and three of the four were JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Bank of America, the US banks being sued by the FDIC over manipulation of LIBOR. Lawsuits over LIBOR-rigging have been in the works for years, and regulators have scored some very impressive regulatory settlements. But so far, civil actions for damages have been unproductive for the plaintiffs. The FDIC is therefore pursuing another tack. But before getting into all that, we need to look at how interest-rate swaps work. It has been argued that the counterparties stung by these swaps got what they bargained for – a fixed interest rate. But that is not actually what they got. The game was rigged from the start. [...] Other sections: • The Sting  • Changing the Focus to Fraud  • The Key Role of the Federal Reserve [...]"  

MSM: "Europe’s Top Banks Cut 80,000 More Staff" [04/14/14] Printer Friendly Version "Europe’s largest banks cut their staff by another 3.5 percent last year and the prospect of a return to pre-crisis employment levels seems far off, despite the region’s fledgling economic recovery. Spurred into action by falling revenue, mounting losses and the need to convince regulators they are no longer “too big to fail”, banks across the globe have shrunk radically since the 2008 collapse of U.S. bank Lehman Brothers sparked the financial crisis. Last year, the tide of bad news began to turn for European banks, which are among the region’s largest employers. [...]"  

MSM: "HFT Purge Begins: SEC Prepares To “Remove” Some High Frequency Trading Firms" [04/14/14] Printer Friendly Version "Ever since Goldman’s anti-HFT Op-Ed less than a month ago, and since the even more recent full-hearted support by Goldman of Michael Lewis’ most recent entry into the anti-HFT crusade (one promoting the Goldman-supported IEX exchange), one thing has been clear: the days of market structure in its current format are numbered. This was further confirmed after Goldman exited both its legacy Spear Leeds & Kellogg designated market making post at the NYSE, and is said to be winding down its market-dominating dark pool, Sigma X. Sure enough, Post reports that just three weeks after the Gary Cohn Op-Ed, the SEC is “preparing to remove some high-frequency trading firms.” [...]" Related: "The Real Unspoken Story Behind High Frequency Trading Programs" Video [04/09/14]; "High-Speed Traders Rip Investors Off" [04/04/14] and attached related stories.

Commentary: "Eric Holder: The Big Bank’s Bodyguard" [04/13/14] Printer Friendly Version "United States Attorney General Eric Holder and his Department of Justice refuses to prosecute—or even aggressively investigate—bankster crimes, allowing America’s largest bank, JPMorgan Chase, to obstruct justice in the ongoing investigation of the Bernard Lawrence “Bernie” Madoff Ponzi scheme. Moreover, new evidence has surfaced that federal officials knew, 20 years ago, that Madoff was kiting checks in a money-laundering operation. Mysteriously, Treasury Department documents to that effect cannot now be found [...] Holder had the gumption to tell the U.S. Senate last year that he fears prosecuting massive moneylenders, because “it will have a negative impact on the national economy—perhaps even the world economy.[...]"  

Commentary: "SEC Top Lawyer Alleges SEC Regulators Are All Corrupt" [04/13/14] [18:46] Note: Interesting exposition.

MSM: "Blythe Masters Under Investigation By Federal Prosecutors" [04/12/14] Printer Friendly Version "There is much new info in the just released Bloomberg profile on the infamous ex-JPMorganite Blythe Masters, among which the disclosure that she had made it clear that she had wanted to go along with the disposable JPM physical commodities unit (which as was reported recently, was sold to Swiss commodities giant Mercuria) and "and continue as the group's chief", a plan which did not work out as she had planned since she has no plans to "join the unit’s purchaser" (although joining Glencore is another matter entirely, and one which looks increasingly plausible) but what we find most striking is the following revelation: "Masters is under investigation by federal prosecutors in Manhattan, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. That probe was opened following a settlement with regulators that alleged JPMorgan manipulated power markets in the Midwest and California." This is somewhat ironic because it was none other than Zero Hedge which asked nearly a year ago if "JPMorgan's "Enron" Will Be The End Of Blythe Masters?" Suddenly, the answer appears to be yes. [...]"  Related: See the link at the top of this panel entitled "Creation of Credit Derivatives" for the background of Masters, to whom I gave the "Galactic Bitch Award" for her role in the plundering of the financial infrastructure of the planet. 

Quotes: "Indeed, history is nothing more than a tableau of crimes and misfortunes." -- Voltaire  

MSM: "G20 Gives U.S. Year-End Deadline For IMF Reforms" [04/12/14] Printer Friendly Version " Finance chiefs from around the globe on Friday gave the United States until year-end to ratify long-delayed reforms to the International Monetary Fund and threatened to move forward without it if it fails to do so. The inability to proceed with giving emerging markets a more powerful voice at the IMF and shoring up the lender's resources appeared the most contentious issue for officials from the Group of 20 leading economies and the representatives for all IMF member nations who met with them. In a final communiqué, G20 finance ministers and central bankers said they were "deeply disappointed" with the delay. "I take this opportunity to urge the United States to implement these reforms as a matter of urgency," Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey told reporters on the sidelines of the IMF-World Bank spring meetings. The reforms would double the Fund's resources and hand more IMF voting power to countries like the so-called BRICS - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The U.S. Congress has refused to sign off on the overhaul, which was agreed to in 2010, and the failure overshadowed even the crisis in Ukraine and the spillover effects of ultra easy monetary policies in advanced economies in the discussions. [...]" 

MSM: "Sen. Bernie Sanders Asks Citizens "To Stand Up Against The Rich And Their Corruption" [04/12/14] [11:58] 

MSM: "West Scared Of BRICS As It Has No Control Over It' - Ex-Indian Foreign Secretary" [04/12/14]   [25:12] "Representing a fifth of the world economy, the BRICS states pose a challenge to the US-dominated world. Submarket growth in Russia and the West could also change more rapidly, shifting the whole world system Eastwards. Is this the start of a new era?  [...]"   Related: "BRICS Finance Ministers Meet In Washington" Printer Friendly Version  "BRICS Finance Ministers have met on the sidelines of an IMF/World Bank meet in Washington in which they discussed preparations for the BRICS-led development bank, a 100 billion contingency reserve arrangement and the forthcoming Summit in Fortaleza in Brazil. The establishment of the BRICS Development Bank is largely seen as the first significant step of the bloc of five. The bank was announced during the fifth BRICS Summit in Durban in March this year. “We have agreed to establish the new development bank. The initial capital contribution to the bank should be substantial and sufficient for the bank to be effective in financing infrastructure,” the BRICS leaders said in a joint statement. Meanwhile, in Washington, the five finance ministers also criticised stalled IMF reforms. “We’ve discussed our mutual concerns about the slow pace of the IMF reforms and the kind of stalemate that we find ourselves in currently and we hope to work with everyone to find an equitable solution. But clearly a lot depends on the US,” said Gordhan. The 6th BRICS Summit will be held in Brazil in July. [...]"  

MSM: "Social Security, Treasury Target Americans For Their Parents' Old Debts" [04/12/14] Printer Friendly Version "Many Americans expecting to see their tax refunds in their bank accounts soon are waking up to a very different scenario: the government actively intercepting their checks in order to pay back debts they’re not responsible for. According to a new report in the Washington Post, the federal government is seizing nearly $2 billion from hundreds of thousands of taxpayers this year in order to settle debts, some incurred by their parents, some dating back to more than a decade. This process has been ongoing since 2011, when a revision in the 'farm' bill passed by Congress removed the 10-tear statute of limitations on debts owed to the United States. Since that bill was passed, the government has collected $424 million on debts older than a decade. This year, however, has seen the Social Security Administration (SSA) alone claim that 400,000 Americans owe a total of $714 million in debts older than 10 years. Multiple government agencies told the Post they were not responsible for pushing for the change, with Social Security spokeswoman Dorothy Clark saying, “We have an obligation to current and future Social Security beneficiaries to attempt to recoup money that people received when it was not due.” [...]" 

MSM: "Banksters Are Rigging The “Stock” System – Nomi Prins" [04/11/14]   [10:38] "Nomi Prins, All the Presidents' Bankers: The Hidden Alliances that Drive American Power [...] Wall Street banksters make billions off high-frequency trades that use complex algorithms to predict the stock market. But could the Justice Department soon put this practice to a stop? So - IS high-frequency all that different from insider trading?"  

MSM: "$65 Billion Looted From Iraq During US War: UN Envoy" [04/11/14] Printer Friendly Version "The Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations in Iraq Nikolai Mladenov said the money looted from Iraq between 2001 and 2010 exceeded 65 billion dollars, referring to the conclusion of the latest study made by the International Monetary Fund. Addressing Baghdad International Forum to Fight Corruption, Mladenov said based on statistics released by Iraq Financial Supervision Office, a sum of at least 65 billion dollars has been ransacked from the country during the US-led Iraq war. Mladenov said the corrupt statesmen in all over the world have already blockaded the progress of under developed countries through spoiling the natural wealth of these countries. He also added fighting corruption in an international level requires that all members states of UN to be totally obligated to the content of international conventions in this regard. After passage of some years, the US and Britain are trying to block an inquiry into US-led war on Iraq.  According to a recent report by The Independent, the administration of US President Barack Obama insists that certain parts of the Iraq inquiry, known as the Chilcot Inquiry, could not be released as it is focused on the pre-war conspiracy hatched by former US President George W. Bush and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. On March 19, 2003, US-led forces invaded Iraq under the pretext of wiping out the stocks of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) belonging to the executed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s regime. However, no such weapons were ever found in the country. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed and Iraq’s infrastructure was destroyed following the US-led invasion and subsequent occupation of the country. [...]"  

Quotes: "America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between" -- Oscar Wilde      

MSM: "Yuan May Become A De Facto Reserve Currency Before It Is Fully Convertible" [04/10/14] Printer Friendly Version "As we have discussed numerous times, nothing lasts forever - especially reserve currencies - no matter how much one hopes that the status-quo remains so, in the end the exuberant previlege is extorted just one too many times. Headline after headlines shows nations declaring 'interest' or direct discussions in diversifying away from the US dollar...  As The South China Morning Post reports, Jukka Pihlman, Standard Chartered's Singapore-based global head of central banks and sovereign wealth funds (who formerly worked at the International Monetary Fund advising central banks on asset-management issues), notes that at least 40 central banks have invested in the Yuan and several more are preparing to do so. The trend is occurring across both emerging markets and developed nation central banks diversifiying into 'other currencies' and "a great number of central banks are in the process of adding yuan to their portfolios." Perhaps most ominously, for king dollar, is the former-IMF manager's warning that "The Yuan may become a de facto reserve currency before it is fully convertible." The US dollar is still the world's most widely held reserve currency, accounting for nearly 33 per cent of global foreign exchange holdings at the end of last year, according to IMF data. That ratio has been declining since 2000, when 55 per cent of the world's reserves were denominated in US dollars. The IMF does not disclose the percentage of reserves held in yuan, but the emerging market countries' share of reserves in "other currencies" has increased by almost 400 per cent since 2003, while that of developed nations grew 200 per cent, according to IMF data. As Pihlman explains, "a great number of central banks are in the process of adding [yuan] to their portfolios". "The [yuan] has effectively already become a de facto reserve currency because so many central banks have already invested in it," he said. "The [yuan] may become a de facto reserve currency before it is fully convertible." The central banks more likely to add yuan holdings in the future were the ones with "strong trade linkages to China" and those which had relatively large levels of reserves which could consider diversifying more for return-related reasons, he said. "The [yuan's] convertibility may be already there for central banks in a way that has got them comfortable to start investing in the currency," Pihlman said.[...]"  

MSM: "Putin Sends The West A Golden Message: Central Bank Of Russia Changes Logo To Golden Ruble" [04/09/14] Printer Friendly Version "According to reports from Russian media, Putin appears to have sent the west a golden message in the aftermath of JPMorgan unilaterally deciding to block an official Russian wire transfer, as the Central Bank of Russia has introduced a new logo, which just happens to be a gold ruble. Officials stated on the new logo: Golden Badge of the Russian national currency, officially adopted by the Central Bank of Russia, will symbolize a sign of stability and security of the ruble gold reserves of the country. [...]"  Related: "Russian Central Bank Drafts New Refinancing Programs For Investment Projects" Printer Friendly Version "This step will guarantee more resources to the banking system without the hike in the cost of borrowings, and without the growth of rates on the banking market [...]"  

Quotes: "The money powers prey upon the nation in times of peace and conspire against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than a monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, and more selfish than bureaucracy. It denounces as public enemies, all who question its methods or throw light upon its crimes. As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money powers of the country will endeavor to prolong it’s reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed." --Abraham Lincoln  

Commentary: "The Real Unspoken Story Behind High Frequency Trading Programs" [04/09/14] [10:41] Related: See also "High-Speed Traders Rip Investors Off" [04/04/14] and attached related stories

Commentary: "98% Of All US Consumer Credit In Past Year Was Used For Student And Car Loans" [04/08/14] Printer Friendly Version "Same shit, different month. If last month total consumer credit increased by $13.8 billion, of which $14.0 billion went into student and car loans meaning consumers continued de-leveraging on their credit card statements (some expectation for a recovery there), then February was even worse. The headline number was great: $16.5 billion, well above the $14.0 billion expected. The problem is that of this number well more than 100%, or $18.9 billion was once again slated for car purchases and paying down "student bills" (not really - as has been reported numerous times before Americans increasingly use student loans as a means to pay for everything else but tuition). In other words, anyone suggesting that the "surge" in household lending is in any way remotely indicative of consumer hope in a recovery is i) an idiot or ii) clueless and won't even be bothered to read the fine print which once again suggests that the only credit Americans will take on is whatever comes implicitly free, and is certainly not meant to be repaid, courtesy of Uncle Sam. Unlike credit cards. And putting this in context, in the past 12 months, a record 98% of all credit - $162 billion - has gone into non-revolving debt, i.e., student and car loans. How much has been added to credit card balances? An absolutely meaningless $4 billion, or 2% of total. [...]"  

Commentary: "Vietnam’s Solution For Corrupt Bankers: Firing Squads" [04/08/14] Printer Friendly Version "For the most part, American bankers whose rash pursuit of profit brought on the 2008 global financial collapse didn’t get indicted. They got bonuses. Odds are that scandal would have played out differently in Vietnam, another nation struggling with misbehaving bankers. The authoritarian Southeast Asian state doesn’t just send unscrupulous financiers to jail. Sometimes, it sends them to death row.  [...] Unlike in America, where judges can’t sentence white-collar criminals to death, Vietnam can execute its citizens for a range of corporate crimes. Amnesty International reports that death sentences in Vietnam have been handed down to criminals for running shady investment schemes, counterfeiting cash and even defaulting on loans. This is unusual: United Nations officials have condemned death for “economic crimes” yet Vietnam persists with these sentences — as does neighboring China. Though statistics on Vietnam’s opaque justice system are scarce, a state official conceded that more than 675 people sit on death row for a range of crimes, according to the Associated Press. It’s still unclear how the bankers will be killed. Vietnam’s traditional means of execution involves binding perpetrators to a wooden post, stuffing their mouths with lemons and calling in a firing squad. The nation wants to transition to lethal injections. But European nations refuse to export chemicals used in executions (namely sodium thiopental) to governments practicing capital punishment. Fraudulent bankers are receiving heavy sentences at a moment when Vietnam is enacting major financial reforms [...]"

Concepts and Practices: "How the US Economy Changed the Nature of Money" [04/07/14] Printer Friendly Version "The Occupy Wall Street movement and most of academia love to wail about the evils of capitalism. Economist Richard Duncan reckons it’s a bit late for that. About 100 years too late. Capitalism died a grisly death in 1914 and 1939. What makes Duncan’s take unique is how he sees its replacement. It’s called ‘Creditism’. But first, how did Capitalism fall? It fell when America entered into the two World Wars. The government intervened heavily in the US economy to mobilise and fund the war effort. Like all of the government’s temporary measures, they turned out to be permanent. The US economy never returned to normal. Ever since, war and Capitalism’s replacement seem to be inextricably linked. [...]"  

Quotes: "It is the peculiar quality of a fool to perceive the faults of others, and to forget his own" -- Marcus Tullius Cicero  

Commentary: "Poland Confiscates Bond Holdings from Private Pension Funds" [04/07/14] Printer Friendly Version "Poland on April 2nd confiscated all bond holdings of private pension funds. This will be booked on their balance sheet to reduce their debt to GDP ratio by as much as 8%. This is actually being discussed as I have reported in Europe and the USA. Most will follow that same course and fail to realize that government CONSUMES national wealth – it does not create it. This is part of the deflationary cycle we are in and WHY I have stated there is ZERO chance of hyperinflation. Governments are confiscating wealth – not printing their way out of anything. [...]"  

MSM: "CEO Of Liechtenstein Bank, Juergen Frick, Murdered In Broad Daylight" [04/07/14] Printer Friendly Version "Over the weekend the world was gripped by the drama surrounding the mysterious murder-homicide of the former CEO of Dutch bank ABN Amro and members of his family, and whether there is more foul play than meets the eye. However, that is nothing compared to what just happened in the tiny, and all too quiet Principality of Lichtenstein, where moments ago the CEO of local financial institution Bank Frick & Co. AG, Juergen Frick, was shot dead in the underground garage of the bank located in the city of Balzers. Based on preliminary reports, the murder is the result of a disgruntled fund manager, Juergen Germann, who had previously been embroiled in a "bitter dispute" with the government and the bank. [...]" Related: See below

MSM: "Dutch Bank Executive, Family, Found Dead" [04/07/14] Printer Friendly Version "A former executive of the bank that helped trigger the Royal Bank of Scotland's collapse has been found dead along with his wife and daughter. Jan Peter Schmittmann, 57, came under fire for taking a large pay-off after the nationalisation of his troubled bank ABN Amro. He ran the domestic operations of the Dutch bank between 2003 and 2007 and was widely criticised for landing a £6.6million ($10.95 million) pay-off. A police spokeswoman said an investigation was underway but that all early clues pointed to a family drama having taken place. There was no indication that Schmittmann's business dealings had played any role in the tragedy. [...]"

Commentary: "Suicide Banker's Widow Blasts Alleged "Cover-Up", Asks "Unbecoming Questions" [04/07/14] Printer Friendly Version "As Bloomberg reports, more than seven months after the suicide of Zurich Insurance Group AG (ZURN) Chief Financial Officer Pierre Wauthier, his widow said she and her family cannot accept Zurich’s claim that his death wasn’t brought on by undue stress. The dead banker's widow is not buying Zurich's 'cover-up'... Zurich Insurance should explain exactly why Ackermann stepped down, if he had not accepted blame for the death, and why details of tensions at work were not made public, Wauthier told shareholders. She changed her Facebook profile picture to a face mask labeled “V...like Vendetta” on Dec. 16, the day after SonntagsZeitung published an interview with new Chairman Tom de Swaan in which he said he never had contact with her. She re-posted the article on Facebook the same day with the comment “Yep, that’s true. I am not worth talking to... or is it that I would raise unbecoming questions?[...]"  

Commentary: "Sanctions Suicide For Europe: Banking System Blowout Means Game "On the Brink of World War" [04/06/14] Printer Friendly Version "Academician Sergei Glazyev, an advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Eurasian integration, today warned of national bankruptcy for several European countries, a blow-out of the banking system, and a "game on the brink of world war," if full-scale economic sanctions against Russia are pushed through. "If the Americans try to implement the model used in the case of Iran," said the Russian economist, "meaning virtually total disconnection of the country from the world financial system, that is, from its dollar and euro segment, then our calculations show that losses in the European Union could reach one trillion euros. If our payments are blocked, the European banks will feel it very palpably, because hundreds of billions of liabilities will be frozen." If such measures were to be pushed further by the U.S., destabilizing the entire European financial system, in parallel with attempts to hurt Russia, he added. Glazyev noted that while potential damage to Germany's economy from total sanctions against Russia may be estimated at up to 200 billion euros, "the strongest damage, in relative terms, strange as this might seem, would be felt by Ukraine - whose interests they're so concerned about - and the Baltic countries, which have behaved the most aggressively. Losses for the Baltic countries would be almost equivalent to their GDP, since the economies of these countries are almost entirely involved with transit services to and from Russia. Thus, for Europe the sanctions are economic suicide. European businessmen understand this very well. But I'm struck by how much the European media are like a branch of the American, or, rather, not even of the Americans, but of some very vicious hawks."  [...]"  

Max Keiser: "Fraud Is The Only Path For US Business" [04/06/14]   [25:45] "In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert discuss high frequency fraud, picking prices and then filling in the trades to get to that price. In the second half, is the second half of Max's interview with Jim Rickards about his new book, The Death of Money. In this second half, they talk more about mutually assured financial destruction, the US dollar and the danger of insolvency. [...]"  

MSM: "Russia’s Major Banks Begin Consultations On National Payment System" [04/06/14] Printer Friendly Version "Russia’s major banks have begun consultations on the creation of a national payment system in the country. VTB President Andrei Kostin said “this would mean consolidating the existing settlement systems to create such a system within a month or two …using the terminals of all leading Russian banks without crossing the border”. “This can be done inside the country and this will cover about 90 percent of payments our citizens make annually. This can be done within a month or two…without issuing new cards. The existing ones will work … and consumers simply won’t notice anything. They will use the same ATMs… All ATMs of all banks will work within one system,” Kostin said. “The second stage is to create a national payment system proper using a new independent settlement centre as the basis. This is a somewhat more long-term task, but I think we can do it within six months or so and this system will work inside the country too,” the banker said. “Recognition abroad is another issue. There are different points of view. We can try to join efforts with the Chinese Union Pay system, which has been operating for a long time. But the question is on the agenda and it’s a question of protecting the interests of our people,” Kostin said. Speaking about Visa and MasterCard problems, he said, “We should not embark on a path of self-isolation and we should certainly preserve the relations we have”. Kostin said earlier this week that the universal electronic card project had to be dropped if Russia wanted to create a national payment system. “The national payment system should be created within the shortest time possible and take over most of the payments inside the country. It will also be necessary to drop the unrealistic idea of launching a universal card that would combine the functions of a social card, a driver’s license and other roles. There must be as simple and inexpensive a payment system as possible and it must be created within the shortest time possible,” Kostin said. Sberbank CEO German Gref advocates the creation of a national payment system and insists that it be based on the universal electronic card, a project launched by Sberbank some time ago. In his opinion, a national payment system can be created within two months after the relevant draft law has been prepared. “There has lately been an upsurge of interest in this topic. Our PRO100 system [Russian payment system] based on the universal electronic card is fully ready. I think we can speak about its implementation within six months or so,” Gref said. [...]  President Vladimir Putin said in March that Russia would create its own payment system. “These systems work successfully in such countries as Japan and China. They started off as national systems for domestic needs only but are now becoming increasingly popular,” he said. The Japanese system now operates in 200 countries. “Why shouldn’t we do the same? We should and we will,” Putin said at a meeting with the leadership of the Federation Council, the upper house of parliament. The Central Bank of Russia is already making plans for creating a national payment system in the country.[...]"  

MSM: "12 Largest Banks Sued By Public Retirement Funds For "Conspiring To Rig Global Foreign Exchange (FX) Markets" [04/05/14] Printer Friendly Version "Yesterday, we read with some amusement that Goldman has moved Guy Saidenberg, reportedly one of the greater profit centers at the firm - and how could he not be when he always traded against Tom Stolper's recommendations which led to tens of thousands of pips in losses to those who listened to him over the past five years - from head of global foreign-exchange trading to a new role, as co-head of commodities. Why did Goldman decide to scrap its once uber-profitable FX vertical and redo it from scratch? Simple - the ability to rig and manipulate FX markets, which are now under every global regulator's microscope after the "Cartel" members so foolishly let themselves be exposed to the entire world, is no longer there, as confirmed last night by news that a dozen large investors have filed a joint lawsuit against 12 banks for "allegedly conspiring to rig global foreign-exchange prices." Allegedly? Hasn't everyone read the Cartel chat room transcripts yet? WSJ reports: "They accused the banks of communicating "with one another, including in chat rooms, via instant messages, and by emails, to carry out their conspiracy," and for rigging foreign-exchange rates as far back as January 2003, the lawsuit says." The bank sued are BofA, Barclays, BNP, Citi, Credit Suisse, Deutsche, Goldman, HSBC, JPM, Morgan Stanley, RBS and UBS, or, in other words, everyone. And certainly all the Too Big To Prosecute banks. So best of luck there, even though the plaintiffs include some very recognizable public investment funds:  The investors behind the consolidated lawsuit are: Aureus Currency Fund LP, a Santa Rosa, Calif., investment fund; the City of Philadelphia and its board of pensions and retirement; the Employees' Retirement System for the Government of the Virgin Islands; the Employees' Retirement System of Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority; Fresno County Employees' Retirement Association; Haverhill Retirement System for the city of Haverhill, Mass.; Oklahoma Firefighters Pension and Retirement System; State-Boston Retirement System; Tiberius OC Fund, a Cayman Islands fund; Value Recovery Fund LLC, a Delaware fund with offices in Connecticut; Syena Global Emerging Markets Fund LP, a hedge fund in Connecticut; and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. In the complaint, the investors accused the banks of controlling foreign-exchange rates via a "small and close-knit group of traders." They alleged it became possible for banks to rig the market because the traders "have strong ties formed by working with one another in prior trading positions" and by in many cases living "in the same neighborhoods in the Essex countryside just northeast of London's financial district." "They belong to the same social clubs, golf together, dine together and sit on many of the same charity boards," the complaint adds. [...]  Of course, the rigging of FX markets, disclosed hot on the heels that Libor too was massively manipulated (to the delight of "conspiracy theorists" everywhere) is by now well known. But the punch line is not that FX is rigged, and as a result virtually all carbon-based traders are now gone, leaving the FX market at the mercy of Virtu and GETCO algos (those USDJPY momentum ignitions at specific, recurring times of the day are just that), but that as Goldman has shown by relocating Saidenberg, the commodity market is the only one where manipulation, rigging and fraud are not only possible but smiled upon by regulators. Because one of the key commodities in said market is gold. And as everyone knows, alongside getting the Russell 200,000 to all time highs, the other core mandate of central bankers everywhere is to push gold to 0. The worst news: we are rapidly running out of "conspiracy theories" that haven't become conspiracy facts yet. [...]"  

MSM: "Pakistan Refuses To Sell Its Gold As Per IMF Demands" [04/05/14] Printer Friendly Version "Pakistan has refused to sell gold worth $2.7 billion, citing national security reasons, as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) pushes Islamabad to convert the precious metal into cash to build foreign currency reserves, revealed the global lender’s report on Friday. According to the report, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) holds over 2 million troy ounces of monetary gold, having $2.7 billion value at market rate. It is not counted in gross international reserves as it is not deemed to be liquid by the SBP, says the IMF. The IMF and Pakistan authorities discussed what steps would be needed to make gold more liquid, the report adds. “However, the (Pakistani) authorities stressed that they have no plans to sell gold and preferred existing arrangements for gold holdings for national security reasons.” [...]" 

Commentary: "High-Speed Traders Rip Investors Off" [04/04/14] Printer Friendly Version "The U.S. stock market is rigged when high-frequency traders with advanced computers make tens of billions of dollars by jumping in front of investors, according to author Michael Lewis, who spent the past year researching the topic for his new book “Flash Boys.” While speed traders’ strategies, developed over the past decade with help from exchanges, are legal, “it’s just nuts” that they’re allowed, Lewis said during an interview televised yesterday on CBS Corp.’s “60 Minutes.” The tactics are too complicated for individual investors to understand, he said. “The United States stock market, the most iconic market in global capitalism, is rigged,” Lewis, whose books “Liar’s Poker” and “The Big Short” highlighted Wall Street excesses, said during the interview. The new book comes out today. “It’s crazy that it’s legal for some people to get advance news on prices and what investors are doing,” he said. Everyone who owns equities is victimized by the practices, in which the fastest traders figure out which stocks investors plan to buy, purchase them first and then sell them back at a higher price, said Lewis, a columnist for Bloomberg View. To show how lucrative the tactics are, Lewis said a technology firm spent $300 million to build a line that would shave three milliseconds off the time it takes to communicate between New Jersey and Chicago, then leased it out to securities companies for $10 million each.  [...]"  Related: "FBI Is Investigating High-Frequency Traders" Printer Friendly Version "The FBI is investigating whether high-speed trading firms trade on non-public information, the Wall Street Journal reports. The agency is working with the SEC and CFTC. The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s inquiry stems from a multiyear crackdown on insider trading, which has led to at least 79 convictions of hedge-fund traders and others. Agents are examining whether traders abuse information to act ahead of orders by institutional investors, according to the person, who asked not to be named because the probe is confidential. Even trades based on computer algorithms could amount to wire fraud, securities fraud or insider trading." CNBC's Eamon Javers said an FBI spokesman is urging anyone with information about high-frequency trading abuses to call the bureau. [...]" |  "60 Minutes Sanitizes Its Report on High Frequency Trading" Printer Friendly Version "Two of the chief culprits of aiding and abetting high frequency traders, the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq stock exchange, failed to come under scrutiny in the much heralded 60 Minutes broadcast Video  [14:36] on how the stock market is rigged. This past Sunday night, 60 Minutes’ Steve Kroft sat down with noted author Michael Lewis to discuss his upcoming book, “Flash Boys,” and its titillating revelations about how high frequency traders are fleecing the little guy. Kroft says to Lewis: “What’s the headline here?” Lewis responds: “Stock market’s rigged. The United States stock market, the most iconic market in global capitalism is rigged.” Kroft then asks Lewis to state just who it is that’s rigging the market. (This is where you need to pay close attention.) Lewis responds that it’s a “combination of these stock exchanges, the big Wall Street banks and high-frequency traders.” We never hear a word more about “the big Wall Street banks” and no hint anywhere in the program that the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq are involved. 60 Minutes pulls a very subtle bait and switch that most likely went unnoticed by the majority of viewers. In something akin to its own “Flash Boys” maneuver, it flashes a photo of the floor of the New York Stock Exchange as Kroft says to the public that: “Michael Lewis is not talking about the stock market that you see on television every day. That ceased to be the center of U.S. financial activity years ago, and exists today mostly as a photo op.” That statement stands in stark contrast to the harsh reality that the New York Stock Exchange is one of the key facilitators of high frequency trading and making big bucks at it. [...]" | "Jon Stewart & Michael Lewis on HFT: "It’s Not American; It’s Not Even Capitalism. It’s Cheating"  Daily Show 1 April 2014 [21:35] "John Stewart is stunned by the world of HFT (where “stock exchanges sell the right to advance information to high frequency traders [by locating their computers closest to the exchange]“) and the mainstream media’s immediate jump to defend it “as good for us”, but as Michael Lewis explains “anyone whose livelihood is dependent on Wall Street [from CNBC, FOX and even the SEC] is invested in this… it sounds like a conspiracy.” As Lewis explains, HFTs “function on volume and volatility” alone and “they know the prices before you do… which is illegal if it’s a person, but as a computer, meh?” [...]" | "Excerpt With Michael Lewis Only" [6:43]    

MSM: "US Military Protecting International Banking Cartel" [04/03/14] Printer Friendly Version "My assessment is that 90% of the value of the US dollar comes from the US military.” — Former Assistant Housing Secretary Catherine Austin Fitts [...] For decades, America has used its armed strength to enforce the use of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, effectively making the US military the armed wing of the international banking cartel (IBC). Since 1971 when President Richard Nixon stopped paying US debt obligations with gold, America has increasingly used its military might to prop up the value of the dollar and enforce a global financial structure whose primary beneficiary is the US itself, and whose central bank, the Federal Reserve, serves as the IBC’s supervisory authority. Who or what is this IBC? It consists of Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup and Wells Fargo along with Deutsche Bank, BNP and Barclays. Eight families reportedly control the IBC: the Goldman Sachs, Rockefellers, Lehmans, Kuhn Loebs, Rothschilds, Warburgs, Lazards and the Israel Moses Seifs. Besides owning the US oil behemoths Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, BP and Chevron Texaco, IBC member institutions are among the top ten shareholders of nearly every Fortune 500 company. While the IBC itself has no formal status, nevertheless its members are represented by an international body, the Financial Stability Board (FSB). Organized as the Financial Security Forum in 1999 by G7 finance ministers and central bank governors, the FSB “seeks to give momentum to a broad-based multilateral agenda for strengthening financial systems and the stability of international financial markets.” [...] War is extremely profitable for the IBC, since not only do its members profit from financing arms sales to both sides during the conflicts that they themselves often initiate, but also from the post bellum reconstruction. In fact, the most powerful of the central banking institutions in the world, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), was established in 1930 to oversee reparation payments imposed upon Germany by the Treaty of Versailles that ended the First World War. In addition to providing banking services for central banks worldwide, the BIS supervised the Bretton Woods international currency agreements from the Second World War until the early 1970s, when Nixon reneged on pledges to pay US debt obligations in gold. The BIS also works with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to expand the IBC-imposed debt-dependency cycle among the nations of the world. [...] The methodology for global financial domination is really quite simple: America imports more goods than it exports and therefore dollars flow out of the US and accumulate in the central banks of other countries. Since the US has refused to honor these obligations in gold, the central banks are forced to invest in US treasury bills, bonds and other US financial instruments that pay interest which is financed by the issuance of further debt. The result is a US-dominated global financial system dependent upon maintaining the value, or more correctly, minimizing the rate of depreciation, of the dollar, allowing the US to enjoy an extravagant consumer-based economy at the expense of the rest of the world. [...] Regarding the insidious US debt-domination process, Wall Street analyst Michael Hudson explains that “by running  balance-of- payments deficits that it refuses to settle in gold, it has obliged foreign governments to invest their surplus dollar holdings in Treasury bills, that is, to relend their dollar inflows to the US Treasury.” The system is somewhat self-perpetuating, for should a non-US central bank decide to divest its dollars, it would effectively sabotage the economy in its own country. Of course, foreign central banks and financial institutions are well aware that by investing in US treasury securities, they will lose money since the Federal Reserve will only turn around and “print” more dollars, thus further diluting the value of their reserves. However, if these foreign institutions would fail to reinvest their dollars in more T-bills, the rate of depreciation of their dollar holdings would accelerate dramatically. Such awareness holds most governments in check, preventing wholesale dumping of dollars, which of course would bring the entire global system down, along with the IBC.[...]" 

Commentary: "Furious Russia Will Retaliate Over "Illegal And Absurd" Payment Block By "Hostile" JPMorgan" [04/02/14] Printer Friendly Version "While everyone was gushing over the spectacle on TV of a pro-HFT guy and anti-HFT guy go at it, yesterday afternoon we reported what was by far the most important news of the day, one which was lost on virtually everyone if only until this morning, when we reported that "Monetary Blockade Of Russia Begins: JPMorgan Blocks Russian Money Transfer "Under Pretext" Of Sanctions." This morning the story has finally blown up to front page status, which it deserves, where it currently graces the FT with "Russian threat to retaliate over JPMorgan block." And unlike previous responses to Russian sanctions by the West, which were largely taken as a joke by the Russian establishment, this time Russia is furious: according to Bloomberg, the Russian foreign ministry described the JPM decision as "illegal and absurd." And as Ukraine found out last month, you don't want Russia angry.  The biggest U.S. bank thwarted a remittance from the Russian embassy in Astana, Kazakhstan, to Sogaz Insurance Group “under the pretext of anti-Russian sanctions imposed by the United States,” the ministry said yesterday in a statement on its website. Sogaz lists OAO Bank Rossiya, a St. Petersburg-based lender facing U.S. sanctions over the Ukrainian crisis, as a strategic partner on its website. Interfering with the transaction was an “absolutely unacceptable, illegal and absurd decision,” Alexander Lukashevich, a ministry spokesman, said in the statement. [...]"  Related: "Russian Retaliation #1: Russia Largest Bank Halts Foreign Currency Loans" Printer Friendly Version "It didn't take long for Russia to launch the first retaliatory salvo against the unexpected JPMorgan "act of aggression." Moments ago Bloomberg just reported that Sberbank, the largest bank in Russia and all of Eastern Europe, just halted the issuance of consumer loans in foreign currency. Bloomberg adds that "Sberbank, Russia’s biggest lender, holds 43.3% of nation’s consumer deposits, 32.7% of consumer loans and 32.1% of corporate loans." Why is this important? Well, it is possible that the biggest Russian bank is running low on foreign reserves with which to issue non-ruble loans, which is rather unlikely for a bank which is defacto part of the Russian financial system. Still, it would be problematic if Russia is indeed telegraphing its commodity-export driven economy is suddenly low on Dollars and/or Europe's artificial, life-supported currency. And then there is another possibility: as we explained yesterday, "what JPM may have just done is launch a preemptive strike which would have the equivalent culmination of a SWIFT blockade of Russia, the same way Iran was neutralized from the Petrodollar and was promptly forced to begin transacting in Rubles, Yuan and, of course, gold in exchange for goods and services either imported or exported." And this: "One wonders: is JPM truly that intent in preserving its "pristine" reputation of not transacting with "evil Russians", that it will gladly light the fuse that takes away Russia's choice whether or not to depart the petrodollar voluntarily, and makes it a compulsory outcome, which incidentally will merely accelerate the formalization of the Eurasian axis of China, Russia and India." Judging by the first retaliation, which just showed what Russia thinks of the petrodollar regime by voluntarily isolating itself from it, this is certainly a growing possibility. [...]" 

Commentary: "Russia, Iran Announce $20 Billion Oil-For-Goods Deal" [04/02/14] Printer Friendly Version "Once again, from our yesterday comment on the JPM Russian blockade: "what JPM may have just done is launch a preemptive strike which would have the equivalent culmination of a SWIFT blockade of Russia, the same way Iran was neutralized from the Petrodollar and was promptly forced to begin transacting in Rubles, Yuan and, of course, gold in exchange for goods and services either imported or exported. One wonders: is JPM truly that intent in preserving its "pristine" reputation of not transacting with "evil Russians", that it will gladly light the fuse that takes away Russia's choice whether or not to depart the petrodollar voluntarily, and makes it a compulsory outcome, which incidentally will merely accelerate the formalization of the Eurasian axis of China, Russia and India?" In other words, Russia seems perfectly happy to telegraph that it is just as willing to use barter (and "heaven forbid" gold) and shortly other "regional" currencies, as it is to use the US Dollar, hardly the intended outcome of the western blocakde, which appears to have just backfired and further impacted the untouchable status of the Petrodollar.  [...] Iran and Russia have made progress towards an oil-for-goods deal sources said would be worth up to $20 billion, which would enable Tehran to boost vital energy exports in defiance of Western sanctions, people familiar with the negotiations told Reuters. In January Reuters reported Moscow and Tehran were discussing a barter deal that would see Moscow buy up to 500,000 barrels a day of Iranian oil in exchange for Russian equipment and goods. The White House has said such a deal would raise "serious concerns" and would be inconsistent with the nuclear talks between world powers and Iran. A Russian source said Moscow had "prepared all documents from its side", adding that completion of a deal was awaiting agreement on what oil price to lock in. The source said the two sides were looking at a barter arrangement that would see Iranian oil being exchanged for industrial goods including metals and food, but said there was no military equipment involved. The source added that the deal was expected to reach $15 to $20 billion in total and would be done in stages with an initial $6 billion to $8 billion tranche. "The deal would ease further pressure on Iran's battered energy sector and at least partially restore Iran's access to oil customers with Russian help," said Mark Dubowitz of Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a U.S. think-tank. "If Washington can't stop this deal, it could serve as a signal to other countries that the United States won't risk major diplomatic disputes at the expense of the sanctions regime," he added. [...]"  

Flashback: "U.S. Unfunded Liabilities Really More Than $200 Trillion" [04/02/14] Printer Friendly Version "In the past I’ve written here about the U.S. federal budget not being $17 trillion in the red, but more than $200 trillion (with a “t”). The calculations come not from some right-wing activist, but from Prof. Laurence Kotlikoff, a professor of economics at Boston University and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. This is important for California because something around half of the state budget — the total amount — comes from the federal government. When the feds begin cutting back spending sharply, as inevitably they will, then California will see sharp cuts in Medicaid/Medical, AFDC, SNAP/food stamps (more than the recent cuts), education/No Child Left Behind/Race to the Top, etc. Kotlikoff recently was interviewed by Financial Sense Newshour. And Bob Wenzel provides a transcript of some of it: Officially, the federal deficit is $17 trillion. Where is it really more than $205 trillion? [...] Kotlikoff: "The liabilities the government owes are mostly off the books. We have a true debt picture which is about $205 trillion. This is recording all the future obligations the government has, whether they are official obligations or not, such as paying for your social security benefits, mine, or your mother’s Medicare benefits, defense spending, etc. All of these things are really obligations that aren’t recorded on the books as debt, whereas paying off future principal and interest payments on Treasury bills and bonds are recorded. So, anyway, if you take the value of all of those commitments and subtract all the taxes coming to pay those commitments, the difference is what’s called the fiscal gap; and that fiscal gap in the U.S. is now $205 trillion. So, the true debt is $205 trillion; the official debt is only $17 trillion. So, most of the problems we’re facing, most of the debt we have, the vast majority of it is off the books and Congress has done bookkeeping to make sure the public doesn’t see it."  The Clinton administration—we put out the fiscal gap studies for a couple of years on the President’s budget. The Clinton administration then censored it. The guys who’s now head of the National Economic Council, the Chief Economic Advisor to President Obama, was the one who did the censorship back in 1994. President Bush’s Treasury Secretary O’Neil wanted us to do a fiscal gap accounting for the President’s budget in 2003 and he was fired in December 7, 2002, and that study was censored two days after he was fired. So, this is not accidental. This is more or less a conspiracy to hide the truth to keep ourselves and our kids in the dark about what the politicians are really doing, which is trying to garner the votes of older people and then get reelected and leave a bigger mess for our kids to handle. But the bills are starting to come due as the Baby Boomers keep retiring.[...]"   

Commentary: "Professor William Black - Epic Epidemic of Fraud" [04/02/14] [35:06] "Fraud expert and former regulator Professor William Black says, "Even today, we are well into 2014, and the Department of Justice record is intact. There have been zero prosecutions of the elite officers who led the epic epidemic of fraud. It was the most destructive in world history, zero of them even unsuccessfully prosecuted, much less prosecuted." What is the result of massive rampant unprosecuted fraud? Professor Black says, "If you don't have any accountability, you not only make certain that there is going to be a next blow-up, but it will be worse. . . . We have effectively removed the criminal laws for a particular elite class of frauds." [...]" 

MSM: "Chinese Authorities Seize Ex-Minister Of Security Of China And $ 14.5 Billion" [04/01/14] [0:26] "According to Reuters, the Chinese authorities have withdrawn from the former Minister of Public Security Zhou Yongkang assets by $ 14.5 billion during the investigation of the largest in the history of China’s corruption scandal. Zhou Yongkang was accused of corruption on the basis of the criminal case, which gave the order to initiate by Chairman Xi Jinping. Besides Zhou Yongkang, in this corruption scandal featured more than 300 people – his family and work colleagues from Petroleum Corporation CNPC. Zhou Yongkang headed the Ministry of Public Security of China from 2002 to 2007, was a member of the Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China [...]"  

MSM: "Office Of Outgoing JPMorgan Asia CEO Raided By Hong Kong’s Commission Against Corruption" [04/01/14] Printer Friendly Version "It just hasn’t been JPMorgan’s year. Or several years for that matter. The bank which has been on a steady downward slope when it comes to paying billions in quarterly “non-recurring, one-time” legal settlements and charges, and for which engaging in criminal behavior which is neither admitted nor denied, yet which has cost JPM nearly $30 billion in the past several years, has just had its latest “wristslapping” incident, one which involves none other than the recently departed CEO of JPM Asia, Fang Fang, whose office was raided on March 26 by Hong Kong’s anti-corruption agency amid a U.S. investigation into the bank’s hiring practices as reported by Bloomberg."

MSM: "Daily Mail: Goldman Sachs Are Financial Terrorists" [04/01/14] Printer Friendly Version "Amid the recent management shake-up at the top of the Bank of England, as it was dragged into the investigation of the alleged fixing of the £3 trillion-a-day foreign-exchange markets, one crucial appointment went almost unnoticed. While public attention was understandably focused on an Egyptian-born mother of twins becoming only the second female deputy governor of the bank, the far more influential appointment was that of economist Ben Broadbent. As the new deputy governor for monetary policy, he is now the predominant voice on the future direction of interest rates.  But there is one crucial fact that should concern us about the Cambridge and Harvard-educated Broadbent: he spent a decade during the boom-and-bust years as the senior economist at the global headquarters of the investment bank Goldman Sachs. He joins an elite few who hold senior positions in the world’s most powerful central banks — from London to New York, Frankfurt and beyond — and all of whom come from this one company, which was controversially described by Rolling Stone magazine as ‘a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money’. The fact that so many alumni of the world’s most profitable — as well as most ruthless and cunning — investment bank wield such a level of influence in these central banks is nothing short of remarkable. Because Goldman Sachs is an institution that, as I will explain, not only helped cause the financial crisis in 2008, but also profited from it — hugely enriching its own staff while leaving a trail of chaos for taxpayers to clear up. Do we really want one of the most controversial financial institutions on the planet, which was eventually fined a record £343 million for shamelessly misleading investors during the crisis, to have so many of its ex-staff holding the levers of power in the City of London? What makes the choice of Broadbent an issue of major public concern is that his period at Goldman saw the New York investment firm deeply embroiled in some of the most shocking financial scandals of recent years. First, there was the crisis triggered by the sub-prime mortgage disaster, when vast quantities of loans were made by U.S. banks to homeowners who could never pay them back. This reached disaster point in 2007-8, once the loans had been sold on by banks and institutions around the world — by which time they had been packaged up as financial instruments or ‘derivatives’ so complicated that no one could tell how toxic they were. Goldman Sachs played a key part in inventing these poisonous derivatives, which were a major factor in triggering the financial crisis. But even more morally offensive was that once people finally began to realise how dangerous these derivatives were, Goldman Sachs started making money by speculating in the market that they would collapse in value. So not only did the bank help create the crisis, it also profited from it. [...]   Goldman boss Lloyd Blankfein once explained to me that one of the advantages of paying Goldman Sachs’s bankers so lavishly — they sit at the top of the bankers’ pay league — was that the ‘partners’ can retire young and very rich, and then go off to jobs in the public service. There is, however, a deeply disturbing paradox in the fact that Goldman bankers are now effectively running the world’s monetary system. The Goldman culture of creating ever-more complex securities and trades, coupled with absurdly high pay and bonuses as incentives for the bank’s workforce, were at the very core of the financial crisis that brought the world to the brink of economic collapse and led to a long period of painful austerity. None of these former Goldman economists and executives, who are now the overlords of the global economy, seems to have predicted the fact that the world was sitting on a financial time-bomb.[...]"  

MSM: "Global Insured Losses From Catastrophes Were $45 Billion In 2013" [04/01/14] Printer Friendly Version "Total economic losses from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters were $140 billion in 2013. Global insured losses were around $45 billion in 2013, with large contributions from flooding and hail events. The economic losses of $140 billion were down from $196 billion in 2012, and below the 10-year average of $190 billion. Around 26,000 lives were lost in natural catastrophes and man-made disasters in 2013. [...] Asia was hardest hit by natural catastrophes in terms of economic losses and victims. Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in November brought some of the strongest winds ever recorded, alongside heavy rains and storm surges. Around 7,500 people died or went missing, and more than four million were left homeless. The second biggest humanitarian disaster of 2013 was the June flooding in the state of Uttarakhand in India, which claimed some 6,000 lives.  Europe suffered the two most expensive natural disaster events in 2013. Massive flooding in central and eastern Europe in May/June after four days of heavy rain caused large-scale damage across Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland. Total economic losses were $16.5 billion, and the insured loss was $4.1 billion. Not long after, in late July parts of Germany and France were hit, this time by severe hailstorms. The storms struck heavily populated areas in Germany, which, according to latest estimates, generated most of the entire insured loss total of $3.8 billion, the largest ever from a hail event, worldwide. Many regions around the world were hit by floods in 2013. The single largest loss-event in North America was extensive flooding in the city of Calgary, Alberta and surrounding area following six days of torrential rain. The economic loss was $4.7 billion and the insured loss was $1.9 billion. Floods also generated losses in Australia, Asia and South America.[...]"   

    

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