Morgan Stanley CEO: Some Facebook investors were ‘naive’

Hyperinflation dates – via @historysquared

Leon Panetta: A Crippling Cyber Attack Would Be ‘Act of War’

PANETTA: Well, there’s no question that if a cyber attack, you know, crippled our power grid in this country, took down our financial systems, took down our government systems, that that would constitute an act of war.

The opposite is obviously a different story


I sat down with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta for a “This Week” interview and we discussed the growing threat from China. Read our exchange on the cyber threat from China and check out our complete conversation in the web-only video below to find out how concerned Panetta is about the Asian power’s aggression in the South China Sea.

TAPPER: So, you are headed to Asia, and you will be meeting with your Chinese counterpart in Singapore.  You’ve said that we face the possibility of a  cyber attack. This is one of the things you talked about last time with me, about how this was a very big, serious issue of concern for you.  And you said it could be the equivalent of Pearl Harbor.

The Pentagon has acknowledged recently China is the biggest source of cyber attacks against this country, including stealing our military secrets.  Newt Gingrich spoke about this threat on the campaign trail often.  He said cyber attacks, cyber spying, are quote, “acts of war.” Do you agree?  Are they acts of war, and how would the United States respond?

PANETTA: Well, there’s no question that if a cyber attack, you know, crippled our power grid in this country, took down our financial systems, took down our government systems, that that would constitute an act of war.

But what we’re involved with here is the effort to make sure that never happens.  And in order to do that, we’ve got to engage. You know, I think it’s important for us to engage China in this effort.  That’s one of the issues I raised when the minister of defense came here from China.  How can we better engage on this issue, to share information and to ensure that those kinds of attacks never happen, because this is an area where the technology is developing quickly and where clearly it is becoming an adjunct in terms of any country that moves against another country militarily.

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Capital Flight Intensifies to Record Levels in Spain; Outflows Make Spanish Banks Increasingly Reliant on ELA Funding [Mish]


Here is a note regarding capital flight in Spain and Greece that I received via email.

Capital flight has intensified to record levels in Spain but interestingly leveled off in Greece. Capital flight from Greece is expected to resume when next reported given statements by the Greek president.

The original source of this information appears to be Credit Suisse AG.

 Spanish private Sector Deposit numbers dropping at a faster rate

The Spanish bond markets continue to be viewed with both suspicion and concern by would be investors, with the shocking size of the Bankia bailout send clear warning signs of what else might yet emerge from the Spanish banking sector. Investors were also unimpressed by what appears to have been a very poorly thought out strategy for recapitalising Bankia, with the ECB indicating that they were not consulted by the Spaniard’s before the bonds-for-repo strategy was announced. The Spanish government has lost further credibility because of its handling of this issue, and has since announced that it will indeed have to raise cash from the markets and use the proceeds to recapitalise Bankia.

The ECB published the latest aggregated balance sheet of the euro area MFI’s on Wednesday, which contained the usual array of interesting and relevant data. The Spanish numbers were obviously in focus given the markets current attention to the Iberian peninsula. The data showed that the run up in bank buying of Spanish Government bonds came to an end in April, with a net reduction of €3.3bn in holdings being recorded at month end.

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Is it possible to issue Eurobonds to maintain fiscal balance in the European Union? [randomthingsthatcometomyhead]

The title of this article is one of the current controversies within the European Union, which is an element of friction between those who believe they are necessary to contain the current crisis in European sovereign debt and those who maintain that the issuance of Eurobonds countries would fail to meet its deficit targets spending again so excessive and consequently would cause the dissolution of the EU itself and lead to non-compliant countries to an economic crisis and deep long-term consequences economic and social terms.
But from my point of view, both positions are wrong, it really needs to be discussed is not whether Eurobonds whether, or not, but the type of formula to be used to issue them.
Those who are against Eurobonds argues that the absence of a common fiscal policy, and a systematic failure by some countries of the deficit targets would make the Eurobond issue was a breach of stimulated deficit, making that those countries responsible for public accounts had to endure mismanagement and wasteful spending irresponsible countries.
This argument is false, since it would be pointless to issue Eurobonds solidarity among all members of the European Unio an amount to be determined individually by each country in terms of supposed needs. If done this way there would be no difference with what is happening right now. So we might call Eurobonds open bar meaningless.

How The Super Rich Avoid Taxes Even As They Demand That The Rest Of Us Pay More [theeconomiccollapseblog]


How The Super Rich Avoid Taxes Even As They Demand That The Rest Of Us Pay More

The way that we tax people in the United States is fundamentally broken and should be completely discarded.  The U.S. tax code is absolutely riddled with loopholes that allow the super rich to legally avoid taxes while many of the rest of us are being taxed into oblivion.  In our system of taxation, middle class families that work hard and try to play by the rules are deeply penalized while those that are willing to abuse the system make out like bandits.  There is something fundamentally wrong with a system that enables wealthy politicians such as Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to pay a smaller percentage of their incomes in taxes than millions of middle class families.  Mitt Romney hasmillions of dollars parked down in the Cayman Islands and in other tax havens.  He does this to avoid taxes.  Unfortunately, most Americans do not have the resources to funnel money through offshore tax havens.  Most Americans just automatically have their paychecks shredded by taxes and then try to live on whatever is left over.  Most Americans are just trying to survive financially from one month to the next.  But the super rich have options.  Thanks to technology, they can live almost anywhere they want and they can run their companies and manage their investments from anywhere in the world.  The truth is that the wealthier you are the easier it is to avoid taxes.  But even as the ultra-wealthy do their best to avoid taxes, many of them still feel free to demand that the rest of us be taxed more.

So what are some of the ways that the super rich avoid taxes?

Well, let’s start with those that are just “somewhat wealthy”.  Many millionaires still want or need to be U.S. citizens, so they are subject to the U.S. tax code.  Fortunately for them, their tax lawyers know of thousands of loopholes that have been designed to help the rich avoid taxes.

The following is from a recent article by Jen Talley….

Some of the richest people in the country pay the least, relatively speaking, in taxes. How is this possible? Answer: Through the clever manipulation of the U.S. tax code’s loopholes. And it works: as income rises, effective tax rates rise as well, but only up to a point. IRS data shows that the effective income tax rate flattens out at just over 24 percent for those making over a million dollars. As income exceeds $1.5 million, the rate begins to decline; those with incomes above $10 million pay an average income tax rate of around 19 percent. So, how do they do it?

You could write an entire series of books on the technical details of how this gets done.  Trust me, I studied tax law when I was in law school.

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Monthly Gold Charts for May 2012 []


Jamie Dimon And The Fall Of Nations []


Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty,” by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson, is a brilliant and sometimes breathtaking survey of country-level governance over history and around the world. Professors Acemoglu and Robinson discern a simple pattern – when elites are held in check, typically by effective legal mechanisms, everyone else in society does much better and sustained economic growth becomes possible. But powerful people – kings, barons, industrialists, bankers – work long and hard to relax the constraints on their actions. And when they succeed, the effects are not just redistribution toward themselves but also an undermining of economic growth and often a tearing at the fabric of society. (I’ve worked with the authors on related issues, but I was not involved in writing the book.)

The historical evidence is overwhelming. Many societies have done well for a while – until powerful people get out of hand. This is an easy pattern to see at a distance and in other cultures. It is typically much harder to recognize when your own society now has an elite less subject to effective constraints and more able to exert power in an abusive fashion. And given the long history of strong institutions in the United States, it appears particularly difficult for some people to acknowledge that we have serious governance issues that need to be addressed.

The governance issue of the season is Jamie Dimon’s seat on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Mr. Dimon is the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, currently the largest bank in the United States. This bank is “too big to fail” – meaning that if it were to get into difficulties, substantial financial support would be provided by the Federal Reserve System (and perhaps other parts of government) to prevent it from collapsing.

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Eurozone is ‘unsustainable’ warns Mario Draghi [Telegraph]

The head of the European Central Bank hit out at the political paralysis gripping the region as he warned the eurozone’s set-up was “unsustainable”.

The head of the European Central Bank hit out at the political paralysis gripping the region as he warned the eurozone's set-up was

Mario Draghi said the central bank could not “fill the vacuum” left by member states’ lack of action as it was claimed the zone is on the point of “disintegration”.

Amid escalating talk of a potential bail-out for Spain, the president of the ECB said the central bank was powerless to stop the debt tornado. “It’s not our duty, it’s not in our mandate” to “fill the vacuum left by the lack of action by national governments on the fiscal front,” he said.

Olli Rehn, the EU’s top economic official, called for urgent action to “avoid a disintegration of the eurozone.” The economic affairs commissioner said that politicians had made progress but it had been “uneven and seemingly inefficient.”

Underling the fears gripping many investors, the FTSE closed down 7.5pc in May, suffering its worst month since February 2009 when the banking crisis was at its height.

A raft of poor economic data in America compounded fears for the eurozone and the global economy. US GDP expanded by just 1.9pc in the first quarter, rather than the 2.2pc first estimate, while jobless claims climbed.

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Facebook & the Bubble Mentality [Azizonomics]


So Facebook keeps falling, and is now floating around the $27 mark.  We’re a third of the way down to my IPO valuation of FB as worth roughly $2-4 a share (or 5-10 times earnings), although I wouldn’t be surprised for the market to stabilise at a higher price (at least until the next earnings figures come out and reveal — shock horror — that Facebook is terrible at making money).

The really stunning thing is that even after all these falls, FB is still trading at 86 times earnings. What the hell did Morgan Stanley think they were doing valuing an IPO without any viable profit model at over 100 times earnings? The answer is that this was an exit strategy. This IPO was about the people who got in early passing on a stick of dynamite to a greater fool which incidentally is precisely the same bubble mentality business model as bond investors who are currently buying negative-real-yielding treasuries at 1.6% hoping to pass them onto a greater fool at 0.5% (good luck with that).

This was achieved by convincing investors to ignore actual earnings and instead focus on projected future earnings. From Bloomberg:

Facebook, with a market capitalization of $79.1 billion, is trading at 29.5 times the company’s projected 2014 profit of $2.69 billion, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Or much more simply, counting chickens before they hatch.


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More China stimulus coming [SoberLook]


The ISI Group believes that more China stimulus is on the way, as the nation is facing a real slowdown. The measures taken so far have been relatively insignificant, particularly as a percentage of total GDP (chart below).

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JPMorgan CIO swaps pricing said to differ from bank’s: report [Reuters]

(Reuters) – The JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) unit responsible for $2 billion in losses on credit derivatives valued some of its trades at prices that differed from those of its parent investment bank, Bloomberg News reported.

The two different pricing tracks used by the chief investment office and J.P. Morgan’s credit-swaps dealer may have obscured by hundreds of millions of dollars the size of the loss before it was disclosed earlier this month, the Bloomberg News report said, citing a person familiar with the matter.

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Indian growth weakest in 9 years, rupee slides [Reuters]

By Manoj Kumar and Ross Colvin

(Reuters) – India’s economic growth slumped to its lowest level in nine years in the first three months of 2012, marking a dramatic slide in the fortunes of a country whose economy boasted nearly double-digit growth before the global recession.

“Urgent and bold steps are immediately needed to prevent the economy from descending into a full blown crisis. This must be averted at all costs,” said Rajiv Kumar, secretary-general of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

The economy grew 5.3 percent in the last quarter from a year earlier, a sharp slowdown from 9.2 percent growth in the last quarter of the previous year, government data showed. The figures were the latest confirmation that the slowdown of Asia’s third-biggest economy is deepening.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee blamed the weak data on the poor performance of the manufacturing sector, which shrank 0.3 percent from a year earlier, and promised to take “all necessary steps” to trim the country’s ballooning budget and current account deficits, which are a major drag on growth.

The data was released as the rupee plunged to yet another record low. Adding to a sense of crisis, a general strike called by opposition parties to protest a steep petrol price hike shut down government offices and shops and stalled trains and buses in some of the country’s 28 states.

The poor growth figures will add to mounting pressure on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government to act more decisively and with greater speed to arrest the economy’s slide.

“This is definitely a very important signal for the government – this is a make or break situation for India and the government has to step on the panic button,” said Rupa Rege Nitsure, chief economist at Bank of Baroda in Mumbai.

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Keiser Report: With Hugo Salinas Price

Woman Who Couldn’t Be Intimidated By Citigroup Wins $31 Million [Bloomberg]

Sherry Hunt never expected to be a senior manager at a Wall Street bank. She was a country girl, raised in rural Michigan by a dad who taught her to fish and a mom who showed her how to find wild mushrooms. She listened to Marty Robbins and Buck Owens on the radio and came to believe that God has a bigger plan, that everything happens for a reason.

She got married at 16 and didn’t go to college. After she had her first child at 17, she needed a job. A friend helped her find one in 1975, processing home loans at a small bank in Alaska. Over the next 30 years, Hunt moved up the ladder to mortgage-banking positions in Indiana, Minnesota and Missouri, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its July issue.

On her days off, when she wasn’t fishing with her husband, Jonathan, she rode her horse, Cody, in Wild West shows. She sometimes dressed up as the legendary cowgirl Annie Oakley, firing blanks from a vintage rifle to entertain an audience. She liked the mortgage business, liked that she was helping people buy houses.

In November 2004, Hunt, now 55, joined Citigroup (C) Inc. as a vice president in the mortgage unit. It looked like a great career move. The housing market was booming, and the New York- based bank, the sixth-largest lender in the U.S. at the time, was responsible for 3.5 percent of all home loans. Hunt supervised 65 mortgage underwriters at CitiMortgage Inc.’s sprawling headquarters in O’Fallon, Missouri, 45 minutes west of St. Louis.

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Former CitiMortgage VP Sherry Hunt

Bill Gross: The Global Monetary System Is Reaching Its Breaking Point [Zerohedge]

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Tyler Durden

Think JPM is the “whale” in the market? Think again. Bill Gross exposes the real food chains on Wall Street, and you may be surprised just who is truly the biggest “whale” in the “developed” world. Hint- it is the creature controlled by a Princeton economics professor.

From Pimco’s Bill Gross

Wall Street Food Chain

  • Soaring debt/GDP ratios in previously sacrosanct AAA countries have made low cost funding increasingly a function of central banks as opposed to private market investors.
  • Both the lower quality and lower yields of such previously sacrosanct debt represent a potential breaking point in our now 40-year-old global monetary system.
  • Bond investors should favor quality and “clean dirty shirt” sovereigns (U.S., Mexico and Brazil), for example, as well as emphasize intermediate maturities that gradually shorten over the next few years. Equity investors should likewise favor stable cash flow global companies and ones exposed to high growth markets.?
The whales of our current economic society swim mainly in financial market oceans. Innovators such as Jobs and Gates are as rare within the privileged 1% as giant squid are to sharks, because the 1% feed primarily off of money, not invention. They would have you believe that stocks, bonds and real estate move higher because of their wisdom, when in fact, prices float on an ocean of credit, a sea in which all fish and mammals are now increasingly at risk because of high debt and its delevering consequences. Still, as the system delevers, there are winners and losers, a Wall Street food chain in effect.
These economic and/or financial food chains depend on lots of little fishes in the sea for their longevity. Decades ago, one of my first Investment Outlooks introduced “The Plankton Theory” which hypothesized that the mighty whale depends on the lowly plankton for its survival. The same applies in my view to Wall, or even Main Street. When examining the well-known wealth distribution triangle of land/labor/capital, the Wall Street food chain segregates capital between the haves and have-nots: The Fed and its member banks are the metaphorical whales, the small investors earning .01% on their money market funds are the plankton. Yet similar comparisons can be drawn between capital and labor. We are at a point in time where profits and compensation of the fortunate 1% – both financial and non-financial – dominate wages of the 99% and the imbalances between the two are as distorted as those within the capital food chain itself. “Ninety-nine for the one” and “one for the ninety-nine” characterizes our global economy and its financial markets in 2012, with the obvious understanding that it is better to be a whale than a plankton. Not only do Wall Street and Newport Beach whales like myself have blowholes where they can express their omnipotence as they occasionally surface for public comment, but they don’t have to worry as yet about being someone else’s lunch.

Spain Ejects Clean-Power Industry With Europe Precedent: Energy [Bloomberg]

Spanish renewable-energy companies that once got Europe’s biggest subsidies are deserting the nation after the government shut off aid, pushing project developers and equipment-makers to work abroad or perish.

From wind-turbine maker Gamesa Corp. Tecnologica SA (GAM) to solar park developer T-Solar Global SA, companies are locked out of their home market for new business. These are the same suppliers that spearheaded more than $69 billion of wind and solar projects since 2004 that today supply more than 50 percent of Spain’s power demand on the most breezy and sunny days.

Saddled with a budget deficit more than twice the European Union limit and a ballooning gap between income and costs in its power system, Spain halted subsidies for new renewable-energy projects in January. The surprise move by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy one month after taking office helped pierce investor confidence in stable aid for clean energy across Europe.

“They destroyed the Spanish market overnight with the moratorium,” European Wind Energy Association Chief Executive Officer Christian Kjaer said in an interview. “The wider implication of this is that if Spanish politicians can do that, probably most European politicians can do that.”

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‘NATO behind Houla massacre’ []

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has said that most of the civilian victims of last week’s massacre in the Syrian town of Houla were executed.

Over 100 civilians were killed in a massacre in the western town of Houla on May 25.

Meanwhile, a number of Western governments have recalled their ambassadors and high-ranking diplomats from Syria in protest to the killing of at least 108 people.

The Syrian government says that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country and that security forces have been given clear instructions not to harm civilians.

Press TV has conducted an interview with Syed Ali Wasif, from the Society for International Reforms and Research, to hear his opinion on this issue. The following is a rough transcription of the interview.

Press TV: First of all I like to get your opinion on the double standard being adopted by the international community, by and large when it comes to Syria specifically with regards to this Houla massacre where most of the civilians were killed at point-blank range and not by the artillery and tanks as many claimed?

Wasif: Well unfortunately yes there is a double standard when it comes to the interest of NATO and pro-Western allies. So this is exactly the case in Syria going on today. What happened is alarming.

Actually this was a premeditated, pre-orchestrated component of the NATO foreign policy actually or what you can call it an alliance of the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia with regard to this premeditated action and this murder, killing a hundred people there.

How could the Syrian government kill its own people when they represent basically the Alawites and those people there were mainly Alawites and all other pro-Syrian people?

So how could a government kill its own people?

So this is totally ridiculous. But the thing is actually now we are seeing a zooming in of the NATO pressure on Syria by taking one by one different steps in different directions in order to bring down the Syrian government, in order to put a lot of pressure on it and the other step was actually the taking down all those or calling all those ambassadors of the West allies and NATO countries to the respective countries.

This basically is a sign of putting more pressure on Damascus to give them certain concessions or to try to negotiate in favor of those.

This unfortunately is also a brazen act of terrorism by their pro-Saudi, Wahhabi, pro-Israel and pro-American terrorist there and they are totally terrorists under international legal norms and human rights and humanitarian norms.

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Kayak to delay IPO as Facebook shares sink further [Telegraph]

Kayak, the online travel service, is said to be delaying its stock market flotation in America following Facebook’s disastrous initial public offering.

Kayak, the online travel service, is said to be delaying its stock market flotation in America following Facebook's disastrous initial public offering.

Kayak would have been the first US Internet offering since Facebook went public in the biggest technology IPO on record this month.

Cesium Found in Pacific Tuna, Says New Study [occupycorporatism]


Researchers from Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific have found that the Pacific Bluefin tuna that migrated from Japan to California are contaminated with cesium which is a compound found only in nuclear reactors.

They contend that the tuna that was caught off the coast of San Diego, California in 2011 were polluted from the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Yet, Ken Buesseler of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution claims that the results of the study do not show that “Fukushima was the source” of the radiation; although the disaster appears to be the most likely foundation.

The seafood industry has been hoping that the fish they procured were safe for human consumption because the fish were taken several thousand miles from Japanese coastal areas.

Daniel J. Madigan, marine ecologist and lead author of the study, stated that these affected tuna were not caught for consumer seafood markets in the US.

While Madigan did not intend to research radiation levels in sea life, when they were given sample fish from sporting fishermen, testing revealed that one of the 15 sampled were radioactive.

Madigan said the radioactivity was at a moderate level. “I wouldn’t tell anyone what’s safe to eat or what’s not safe to eat. It’s become clear that some people feel that any amount of radioactivity, in their minds, is bad and they’d like to avoid it. But compared to what’s there naturally … and what’s established as safety limits, it’s not a large amount at all.”

The fish was polluted with cesium – 134 and cesium – 137 isotopes. These isotopes do not occur in nature, but are products of nuclear explosions.

The levels of cesium found were measured higher than previous years, yet the US government maintains that these radioactive levels are safe for human health.

Osamu Fujimura stated that this finding should cause his country to monitor the radioactive levels of sea life more closely. Japan recently raised the acceptable radiation levels to a limit of 100 Becquerel per kilogram in food.

TEPCO reported that they believe more than 18,000 terabecquerel of radioactive material was dumped into the Pacific Ocean just after the Fukushima accident occurred. TEPCO is not certain if this was a result of fallout or through mixing water used to cool nuclear reactors with ocean water.

Madigan explained that if the contamination was present in fish, then other sea life would be effected; such as sharks, turtles, birds and seals. He suggested the further study would involve migratory tracking of these animals.

Nicolas Fisher of Stony Brook University in Long Island was sent samples of the radioactive fish for analysis. Fisher asserts that: “We don’t think there will be any public health concern from the results of the new tests, but if we do see any higher concentrations of cesium, we will certainly alert public health agencies again. We were frankly kind of startled. That’s a big ocean. To swim across it and still retain these radionuclides is pretty amazing.”

Madigan and his team are preparing to continue their study to see if radioactive levels subside or become a definitive threat to human consumption.

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Charles Ferguson’s ‘Predator Nation: Corporate Criminals, Political Corruption, and the Hijacking of America’ [freedominfonetwork]

AlterNet Executive Editor Don Hazen talks to Ferguson, the Academy Award winner for “Inside Job,” about his new book on the rapid rise of “Oligarchy America.”


Charles Ferguson has followed up his Academy Award-winning documentary film Inside Job, with a hot potato of a new book:Predator Nation: Corporate Criminals, Political Corruption, and the… (Crown Business).

Ferguson, who lives at the far west end of Soho in New York City, spent a lot of time around Prince and Mercer streets when working on Inside Job, so I met him at the Mercer Hotel on the day his book was officially published.

The title of Ferguson’s book certainly gets the reader’s attention, and he powerfully delivers the goods, with a scathing, detailed history of what led to the biggest financial disaster since the Great Depression. Ferguson takes the reader on a revealing journey — a sordid and corrupt trail that leads from the Pandora’s box of deregulation from 1980 through 2000, through the two major economic bubbles. The first was the stock market bubble of 2000, exacerbated by the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Then came the much larger housing/mortgage bubble, fueled by sub-prime lending and the emergence of a host of new esoteric financial tools, meant to protect investments — in fact, they did the opposite, provoking the financial crash.

The economic disaster was driven, Ferguson writes, by a combination of “very low interest rates, pervasive dishonesty through the financial system, massive lending fraud, speculation, demand for high yield securities, and not insignificantly, a squeezed American consumer desperate to maintain living standards, and told by everyone – including George Bush and Alan Greenspan, the brokers and the banks, that home borrowing was the way to do it.”

Along the way, Ferguson debunks the right-wing meme that Freddie and Fannie Mae caused the bubble; he holds the pure private sector responsible, especially its least regulated shadow banking parts.

There have been any number of books dissecting the economic crash of 2007, and how it has left our country a hugely divided mess. The well-off, the top 10 percent, are doing fine, while much of the rest of the country is hurting or still in the dumpster of underwater mortgages and long-term joblessness. But Ferguson’s book gives a more advanced version of the story, based on the interviews and the insights he gained while producing Inside Job.

The earlier work gives Ferguson a broad sense of the consequences of his discoveries. Ferguson writes that besides the fact that the bad guys have gotten away with crimes, ” … the rise of predatory finance is both a cause and a symptom of a broader and even more disturbing change in America. The financial sector is the core of a new oligarchy that has risen to power over the past 30 years, and has profoundly changed American life. “

Ferguson writes with great clarity. His opening salvo, “Where We Are Now,” is as sharp and understandable as any summary of the current economic situation available to the interested reader. Still, his assessment of the psychology of the American people is open to disagreement when he writes, “Many Americans no doubt still believe in the American Dream. One wonders how long they can maintain that illusion for America is transforming itself into one of the most unfair, most rigid, and least socially mobile of the industrial countries.”

One can’t disagree with the data that measure the rapid decline of our country, but one can certainly argue that the huge majority of Americans are fully aware of the limits of the country’s economic system, and are quite depressed as a result. As Ferguson himself documents over and over, the whole system has been corrupted by tons of political cash, lobbying and revolving doors, with almost no oversight. As a result, the average American has no political leverage and rarely any good candidates to vote for. The oligarchy Ferguson so clearly documents is fully in the driver’s seat. The American Dream is probably quite dead.

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UK nanny state gets milked for all it’s worth []


The UK nanny state is becoming even more apparent as loopholes are allowing citizens to get paid for doing almost nothing. The problem with social welfare is that inevitably people will exploit the system and leach money from the rest of the productive society. Here’s an eye-opening example of a UK women named Stephanie Fennessy-Sharp who is currently taking full advantage of her government’s handouts. According to Business Insider:

“Sharp, 29, lives in Kent, England and has 10 children, but while she’s healthy and able, she and her 56-year-old husband Ian, a retired factory worker, choose not to work.

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Margin Call? JP Morgan Sells $25 Billion in Securities to Offset Derivatives Losses []

In what CNBC calls ‘a stupid decision‘, JP Morgan has reportedly sold $25 billion in profitable bonds and securities to offset trading losses from its IG9 derivatives crisis.

If it was merely an effort to prop up earnings for JPM’s Q2 report we would agree, but this is more likely JP Morgan LIQUIDATING CAPITAL TO MEET MASSIVE MARGIN CALLS OVER ITS ESCALATING INTEREST RATE SWAP LOSSES, which we have discussed are reportedly close to $100 Billion.   Bankers are not fools, throwing good money after bad.  If JPM sold $25 billion in profitable positions, it is because IT WAS FORCED TO.

JPMorgan Chase has sold an estimated $25 billion of profitable securities in an effort to prop up earnings after suffering trading losses tied to the bank’s now-infamous “London Whale,” compounding the cost of those trades.

Chief Executive Jamie Dimon earlier this month said the bank sold corporate bonds and other securities, pocketing $1 billion in gains that will help offset more than $2 billion in losses.

As a result, the bank will not have to report as big an earnings hit for the second quarter.

The sales of profitable securities from elsewhere in the bank’s investment portfolio will increase its costs by triggering taxes on the gains and by eliminating future earnings from the securities.

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Getting Closer to New Theaters of War []


Ahead of, during and after the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s 25th summit in Chicago on May 20-21, the Pentagon has continued expanding its permanent military presence in the former Yugoslavia and the rest of the Balkan region.

The military bloc’s two-day conclave in Chicago formalized, among several other initiatives including the initial activation of its U.S.-dominated interceptor missile system and Global Hawk-equipped Alliance Ground Surveillance operations, a new category of what NATO calls aspirant countries next in line for full Alliance membership. Three of them are former Yugoslav federal republics – Bosnia, Macedonia and Montenegro – and the fourth is Georgia, conflicts involving which could be the most immediate cause of a confrontation between the world’s two major nuclear powers.

This year new NATO partnership formats have sprung up like poisonous toadstools after a summer rain: Aspirants countries, the Partnership Cooperation Menu, the Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme, the Connected Forces Initiative and partners across the globe among them.

The military bloc’s inauguration as an active, aggressive military force in Bosnia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the 1990s laid the groundwork for the U.S.’s already unmatched military to move troops, hardware and bases into Southeast Europe for actions there and to points east and south: The Middle East, the Caucasus, North Africa and Central and South Asia.


Since 2004 several nations in the east and west Balkans – Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, Croatia and Albania – have been incorporated into the alliance as full members and the remainder – Bosnia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and the generally unrecognized Republic of Kosovo – have in the first four instances joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace program and in the last had its nascent armed forces, the Kosovo Security Force, built from scratch by the leading alliance powers.

Macedonia, which would have become a full member in 2009 except for the lingering name dispute with Greece, and Montenegro have been granted the Membership Action Plan, the final stage before full accession, and Bosnia will be accorded the same once the quasi-autonomous Republika Srpska is deemed properly stripped of the last vestige of self-governance.

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Obama signs Billion-dollar Bailout For Corp. Jet builders []

President Obama on Wednesday signed a reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank that would raise its lending authority 40 percent to $140 billion by 2014 and pressed Congress to pass a list of other top White House priorities aimed at creating jobs and boosting the economy.

Enough Republicans came to the 78-year-old bank’s aid to move the bill to the president’s desk earlier this month after conservatives inCongress assailed it for meddling in the free market.

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