Sunday, September 22, 2013

ECB ready to act to help credit market if needed: Liikanen

MILAN (Reuters) - The European Central Bank is ready to boost liquidity in the credit market by issuing another long-term loan if necessary, ECB Governing Council member Erkki Liikanen was quoted as saying on Sunday by Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper.
The ECB carried out so-called long-term refinancing operations (LTROs) to ease funding strains at the height of the euro zone debt crisis.
"I am ready to act, if necessary," Liikanen told the paper, when asked if another such loan was planned. He did not give a timeline for any such move.
Markets have already begun to speculate on the chances of another of the operations which saw the ECB flood banks with more than 1 trillion euros ($1.35 trillion) in cheap three-year loans in late 2011 and early 2012.
The ECB's Governing Council, in contrast with the U.S. Federal Reserve's move towards reining in stimulus, has said it is willing to take further steps to keep market interest rates low given continuing concerns over European growth.
($1 = 0.7402 euros)
(Reporting by Agnieszka Flak; Editing by Mark Potter)

Third time lucky? Singapore Airlines sets sights on India

By Siva Govindasamy and Anshuman Daga
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Almost 13 years after pulling the plug on its last attempt to enter the Indian market, Singapore Airlines Ltd (C6L.SI) is taking another stab at the country by again teaming up with the Tata Group as part of a broader strategic shift.
Last week, the two companies applied to set up a new New Delhi-based full-service carrier, pledging a combined $100 million to get it going. This follows an unsuccessful attempt to do the same in the mid-1990s and a failed attempt to buy state-owned Air India in 2000.
The new carrier, if approved, will initially serve the 1.2 billion Indian market. Barring no political or regulatory obstacles, it could be airborne in about a year.
SIA, which will have a 49 percent stake in the carrier, will be banking on its success.
Intense competition on its mainline medium and long-haul markets from Gulf carriers like Emirates Airline and neighbors such as Garuda Indonesia (GIAA.JK) and Malaysian Airline (KLS:MAS), and weak demand on services to Europe, means that SIA, Asia's second-biggest airline with a market value of $10 billion, has changed course in recent years.
Sources familiar with the airline's strategy say that the management, led by low-profile chief executive Goh Choon Phong, is pushing ahead with a "portfolio" strategy that revolves around increasing the company's exposure to the fast-growing Asia Pacific and the low-cost markets.
By diversifying its revenue streams and creating new ones, like the Indian joint venture, Goh and his team plans to reduce SIA's dependence on the flagship carrier over the medium term, say investors and analysts.
"They just have to address why their brand should still be at a premium. They still have a lot to do to actually get investors to be a bit more confident of their prospects," said Kristy Fong, an investment manager at Aberdeen Asset Management, which holds a stake of about 4 percent in SIA.
Despite the near term pressure on profits, SIA's cash pile of $4.5 billion - the biggest among Asian airlines - means that it has the ability to invest in existing and new airlines, the Centre for Aviation (CAPA) said in a report.
It started Scoot, a long-haul low-cost airline, last year to tap the low-fare leisure markets that SIA left behind as it focused on the premium business. Its one-third stake in short-haul LCC Tiger Airways Holdings Ltd (J7X.SI) could also potentially go up to 46.5 percent.
SIA bought a stake in Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd (VAH.AX) in late 2012 and increased this to 19.9 percent, ensuring access to the important Australian market.
Silkair, SIA's fully-owned regional subsidiary, will retire its fleet of Airbus (EAD.PA) A320s and induct new Boeing (BA) 737s over the next few years as it grows its network of Asia-Pacific services. SIA itself has ordered dozens of new Airbus A350s, and Boeing's 777-300ERs and 787-10s.
The Indian venture has its challenges. SIA must successfully chart a course around India's political and bureaucratic minefield for regulatory approval.
Under existing regulations, it must serve the domestic market for five years before it can operate international flights. Taxes and airport fees are high, and profitability rare for the country's airlines.
SIA's competitors in the full-service segment are beleaguered Air India, which survives only because of the hundreds of millions of dollars New Delhi has pumped into it, and Jet Airways (NSI:JETAIRWAYS), in which Etihad Airways is buying a minority stake.
(Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

The world will laugh at us, says ex-top cop who negotiated 1989 peace treaty with Chin Peng

A former top cop has warned that Malaysia will be made a laughing stock if the government is adamant about its “naïve” decision to refuse to allow Chin Peng’s ashes to be brought back to be interred.
Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Mohd Noor, a former inspector-general of police, said this would also help turn the ex-communist leader into an icon and that it was a step backwards in the government’s attempts to win back Chinese support following the poor performance in the last general election.
“There is a hue and cry from the public not to even allow his ashes (back into Malaysia). My God... this is stretching the argument a bit too far. It’s a bit naive I think.
“If the government succumbs to this public pressure not to allow Chin Peng's ashes to be brought back, I think, we are making Malaysia a laughing stock to the whole world,” he said in an interview from the United Kingdom that aired on BFM yesterday.
Abdul Rahim, who was Special Branch director at that time, led the peace talks which culminated in the Haadyai Peace Treaty 1989. It officially ended the Communist Party of Malaya’s armed struggle against the government.
The refusal to allow Chin Peng into the country even when he was alive, he said, also made a mockery of the 1989 treaty.
He said he convinced the government at that time to engage with the communists in talks, more than 30 years after the failed 1955 Baling negotiations.
He said that even though the 12-year Emergency was lifted in 1960, security forces were still battling communist remnants in the 1980s, but the decline of communism in the region was an opportunity for renewed peace negotiations.
At that time, there were still around 2,000 communists along the Malaysian-Thai border, with the two largest groups being the North Malayan Bureau and the 10th Regiment, which largely comprised Malays, he said.
He said that with the backing of then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the Special Branch secretly initiated negotiations with the communists at the end of 1987 and early 1988 on Phuket Island over five rounds of talks.
As a result, the 1989 treaty was signed in Haadyai comprising two agreements, one containing the core terms and the other administrative details on how the terms would be implemented.
“I was involved in the drafting of both agreements, so I know full well that under the terms of the agreements, all the agreements applied are binding on every CPM member, from the highest topmost to the bottom.
“So if you say that Chin Peng, as secretary-general of the party (CPM) is the highest most member, then he qualifies to get all the privileges, advantages or whatever promises made in the agreement, which includes for him to be allowed to come back (to Malaysia),” Abdul Rahim said.
He said, according to the agreement, in the event these former communist members were not allowed to permanently return to Malaysia, they should be allowed to enter the country on social visits.
“But in the case of Chin Peng, he was not allowed both. To me, it’s absurd, totally absurd. It’s unfair, grossly unfair... There were other ex-communists who were allowed to come back and they were mainly Malays,” he said.
“Abdullah CD (CPM chairperson) was allowed to come back to Malaysia and was even given an audience with the current sultan of Perak. Rashid Maidin (CPM central committee member), I was told, performed his pilgrimage through KL with the help of the Malaysian authorities. What’s all this?”
He, however, was not prepared to presume that the government’s decision was along racial lines. As far as he was concerned, in Chin Peng’s case, the government had made a mockery of the peace agreement.
He said the public did not seem to understand the context of the international communist struggle and instead perceived the 40 years of communist insurrection in Malaya was Chin Peng’s fight alone and that he was the only one calling all the shots.
“I do not know why it should develop along this line (Chin Peng versus government). The fact is that good or bad - whatever Chin Peng was - the background is a peace treaty had been signed. We got to jolly well honour the terms and conditions,” he said.
Chin Peng spent a third of his life in exile in Thailand.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has said the country will not budge from its stand to prevent Chin Peng’s remains from being brought back, and challenged those unhappy with the decision to seek legal redress.
Checkpoints into the country were also on high alert to prevent his remains from being smuggled in.
Yesterday, Barisan National coalition party MCA said that Chin Peng's remains should be allowed to be brought back here for last rites.
The party's bureau chairman Datuk Heng Seai Kie, in explanation, pointed out that the remains of terrorists Dr Azahari Husin and Nordin Mohamad Top were allowed to be buried in Malaysia.
In response, Malay rights group Perkasa took MCA to task, warning the party not to “upset the Malays”.
Its secretary-general Syed Hassan Syed Ali said many Malays and Chinese had died at the hands of the communists.
Chin Peng, whose real name was Ong Boon Hua, died in a Bangkok hospital on Malaysia Day, a month short of his 89th birthday. He had repeatedly voiced his wish to be buried in his hometown of Sitiawan, Perak.
He fled to China in 1961 and later settled in Bangkok where he was granted an alien passport.
He reportedly moved to Haadyai in recent years and shuttled between Haadyai and Bangkok for cancer treatment.
He became secretary-general of the Communist Party of Malaya at the age of 23 and was Britain’s “enemy number one” in Southeast Asia at the height of the communist insurgency in Malaya. - September 21, 2013.

Bangladesh garment workers demand $100 a month minimum wage

Mass grave for Bangladeshi garment workers via AFP

Thousands of Bangladesh garment workers blocked roads and attacked factories outside the capital Dhaka on Saturday demanding a $100 minimum monthly wage.
The workers, many carrying sticks, walked off the job in dozens of garment factories, which make apparel for the world’s top retailers such as Walmart, and protested for hours on highways in the major industrial areas of Gazipur, Mouchak and Ashulia.
“There were at least 20,000 workers who joined the protest. They blocked roads, demanding a big salary hike,” Mustafizur Rahman, deputy police chief of the industrial district of Gazipur, told AFP.

Bangladesh is the world’s second-largest garment exporter with apparel shipments from its 4,500 garment factories accounting for 80 percent of its $27-billion annual exports.
But the vast majority of the impoverished nation’s three million workers earn a basic monthly wage of 3,000 taka ($38) — among the lowest in the in the world — following a tripartite deal between unions, the government and manufacturers in August 2010.
Dozens of factories were forced to shut Saturday as workers left their machines. Angry demonstrators hurled bricks and stones at the outsides of some 20 factories after they refused to allow some employees to join the protests, Rahman said.
“The situation is now calm as the workers have since marched to Dhaka to join a rally. Road transport on the highways has also resumed,” he said, adding that the march in the capital was peaceful.
In June this year, the government set up a panel to review salaries and unions have demanded an 8,114 taka ($100) minumum monthly wage.
Factory owners have rejected the demand, saying they can raise wages by only 20 percent to 3,600 taka due to gloomy global economic conditions.

Saturday’s protest was the first large-scale demonstration for pay hikes since the union put forward the $100 demand to the government panel late last month.
Protests over poor wages, benefits and working conditions have shaken Bangladesh’s garment sector, the country’s economic mainstay, since April when a factory complex collapsed, killing over 1,100 people.
The disaster highlighted appalling working conditions in Bangladesh’s garment factories, where workers toil for 10-12 hours a day for low wages.
Widespread protests for wage hikes in 2006 and 2010 led to deadly clashes, leaving dozens of workers dead and hundreds of factories vandalised.

10 Ways to Restore Liberty and End Tyranny in America

It is no secret that the American economy is an absolute wreck.
But our broken economy is just one symptom of a much larger malignant disease that has been growing within our nation for decades.
Those on the right of the political aisle point blame at the the current Obama administration. (After all, we all know that our nation was completely fine until somewhere around January 20, 2009.)
And of course, those on the left of the political aisle point to Republicans as the real problem.
In the end, neither the Republicans or the Democrats have done anything to slow the demise of the Republic.
In typical Washington fashion, both parties have attempted to deny responsibility for the failure of their "band-aid style" policies that have been fastened upon the dying American experiment.

Reality TV or FoxNews? There is No Escape

Meanwhile, many of America's citizens sit silently stunned in their living rooms at night with their eyes fixed to a parade of "reality" television. They hope to find escape from the insanity that is enveloping their nation.
Instead of finding relief, they are subjected to a steady diet of consumerism, designed specifically by the corporate-controlled media and corporate America, which encourages them to give back their hard-earned money for things they don't need.
Just like placing money on a conveyor belt, corporate employees are convinced that to obtain happiness, they must shell out their money right back to the corporations. Our modern consumption trap is truly a clever invention and is the path to riches for those who discover it.
A smaller part of our American population is alarmed enough to turn off the "reality" television shows in order to watch the growing plethora of nightly news programs. In what may be the ultimate irony, these Americans turn to the corporate-controlled mainstream press for information on today's most pressing issues.
Unfortunately, the mainstream media sold its soul to the highest bidder long ago. 90% of all of the media that enters the average American's eyes and ears on a daily basis is concocted and spewed out from one of only six multinational corporations.
The point is, it doesn't matter where you turn within the mainstream press. They all have the same ultimate agendato transfer your money to their advertisers so that those advertisers will keep paying the bills.
The mainstream media answers solely to the corporations and the shareholders who own them. They are not looking out for you. You are their prey. Why this simple concept has not been properly understood by the masses continues to confound me.
Given the fact that corporations practically run the federal government, should it come as any surprise that the corporate-controlled media lacks objectivity regarding government overreach?
It should come as no surprise then that the corporate-controlled mainstream media has been all but silent in the face of the government's unprecedented and ongoing attack on liberty.
The list of abuses includes: the unpatriotic Patriot Act, federally mandated healthcare, corporate bailouts, excessive taxation, and the failed war on drugs, just to name a few.
America's corporate-controlled media does little to inform the American people of the egregious violations on their constitutional rights and liberties that is posed through these types of government overreach.
Today, our corrupt federal government's attempts to create a welfare state has created a nation of dependents who believe that the present amount of government benefits must be the minimum.
We are told by the federal government, and by the corporate-controlled media, that our perpetual warfare around the globe is conducted to keep us "safe" from a faceless enemy.

Take My Freedoms, Just Give Me My Money

10 Ways to Restore Liberty and End Tyranny in AmericaWe are told by the federal government, and by the corporate-controlled media, that naked body scanners and unreasonable searches and seizures of our garment bags in our nation's airports are designed for "our security."
When the government sticks their hands down your pants and tells you its "good for you," you know that we are nearing the end of the American experiment.
Given our current state of affairs, you would expect mass riots in the street, or at least some type of organized effort within the national media to expose the federal government's overreach. Of course, the mainstream press is mute on the most important issues facing our nation.
And it seems Americans have become numb to the destruction of their liberties. Or perhaps they simply don't understand the basic concept of liberty.
I am not smart enough to answer that question.
What I do know is that our current government benefit situation is unsustainable. When, not if, the government begins making cuts to the public's benefit payments, the people will rise up.
Apparently, sticking your hands down someone's pants is one thing, but reducing their government benefits is an entirely different matter.
(Perhaps there is logic in stripping Americans of their liberties first. This way they can more effectively mute the eventual crazed mobs protesting cuts to their entitlements. Just a thought…)

Tyranny is Not Coming… It’s Here

In addition to our economy being in shambles, and our derelict media having been sold to the highest corporate bidders,our current monetary system is unconstitutional, immoral, and entirely unsustainable.
Not to mention the fact that our citizens have become enslaved by consumer debt and have unwittingly become wage slaves of the corporate elite, willingly trading their hours for "a handful of dimes."
Tyranny has entered our nation wearing no disguise. Forget the disguise, the tyranny that has breached America's shores is naked.
Tyranny, under any name, should be considered unacceptable among those who have tasted freedom.
Sadly, a once free people appear completely unable to recognize what is happening.
For those of us who love liberty, the whole situation can seem utterly hopeless. But giving up is not an option. There is hope. America's origins are uniquely tinged with the sweet fragrance of liberty and freedom. Winning the the hearts and minds of the American people, who once understood the value of personal, financial, and spiritual liberty, is a worthy goal.
Below, you will find my contribution to the discussion on restoring liberty. This brief list is just the beginning. I will be adding more over time. I encourage you to contribute your own ideas to the list by leaving them in the comment box below this post.

>10 Ways to Restore Liberty and End Tyranny in America

1. Abolish the Federal Reserve Act and End the Fed
The Federal Reserve is a fraud. It not “federal” and it has no “reserves.” It is an appalling collusion of global banking interests with the tax-payer funded government.
The Fed is a leach upon the American economic system. It is an extraneous middle man. Currency production was to be done within the Congress itself. No outside private banks were to be given this job. As it reads in Article I, Section VIII of the U.S. Constitution:
“The Congress shall have Power… To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;”

The money creation process should be ripped from the hands of the private banking interests and rightfully restored to the Congress. The American people were never given an opportunity to vote on such a seismic policy shift, which effectively moved the control of America’s monetary system from the accountable stewardship of public hands to the dark recesses of private hands. Today, America’s profits go to those who reside in the highest levels of the top 1%.
The Federal Reserve is the third central bank in America’s relatively brief existence. The first central banks failed miserably. The Second Bank of the United, in particular, died a spectacular and widely publicized death. In 1913, (on December 23, 1913 to be exact), the Congress passed the Federal Reserve Act. In one century (1913-2013), the Fed has promoted destructive monetary policies. Through their manipulation of the discount rate, their incompetent interest rate target setting, along with the game that the banksters refer to as “reserve requirements.
Since its inception 100 years ago this year, the Fed has systematically attacked the U.S. Dollar, destroying its value by over 90%.
Never again should our nation be held hostage by globalist banksters to whom interest must be paid on our own currency.

ACTION POINT #1: End the Fed. Take Their Gold. Deport Their Principals.

2. Shut Down the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
The TSA is skilled in the use of bogus “security theatrics.” The number of news reports exposing the absolute incompetence of the aggressive Federal agency. The TSA routinely harasses and assaults American citizens traveling regardless of whether they are heading to Minneapolis or Manila. Some of the TSA’s finer moments include: touching genitals (including those of children), stealing from passengers, and sleeping on the job. 90% of Americans are not pleased with the TSA’s performance. These TSA agents, and those who manage them, work for the American people. They are our employees. And if 90% of Americans are displeased with their employees, they should have a right to fire them. Unfortunately, the political mechanism for firing the employees of the TSA does not exist for the American people.
The Transportation Security Administration should immediately be shut down. The Federal government has clearly overreached in its efforts to keep Americans “secure.” The invasive nature of the TSA represents a clear violation of every American’s Fourth Amendment rights, which guarantees the freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures without probable cause. Some will say that Americans who do not want to frisked can drive instead of traveling by air. I wonder if this will still be their attitude when TSA agents are frisking and taking x-ray scans of their children when they enter the school house. History is clear that governments never press the rewind button. They continue marching forth in their folly until the entire empire collapses. Excess upon excess. It is human nature.
Do not think that the police state that is being created here in America will recede.
To the contrary, the noose is tightening.
The solution is to privatize the airline security industry. If the masses truly desire security at the airport, then the airline industry should shoulder the cost and pass the costs on to the consumer. This would be much more economically effective than placing airport security to the Federal government. Why do we need the Federal government stationed in every single airport across the country? Corporations with breathing shareholders would approach security measures in a more civil manner than the government. Companies would have an economic incentive to be highly selective in their hiring decisions because a few bad employees could harm their corporate image.
If the private sector would have been given a chance, it would have naturally responded to growing consumer demand for greater airport security. Market signals travel the fastest within free markets. Under current government policies, free market signals are being severely stifled.
The airline industry should be in charge of securing their own airplanes. This approach would allow the free market to place checks and balances on the system and would also serve to make the actual security costs more transparent.

ACTION POINT #2: End the TSA by Privatizing Airport Security.

3. The Patriot Act should be immediately abolished.
This law was hurriedly pushed through Congress in the wake of the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Few Congressmen had adequate time to read the bill. The attack on civil liberties that has occurred under this Act are in direct violation of the spirit of our Constitution. Put simply, the Patriot Act is unpatriotic.
And while we are on the topic of America’s growing police state, we should also defund the NSA

ACTION POINT #3: Abolish the Patriot Act and Allow the States to Raise Militias.

4. The Federal and State income tax systems, as well as the Internal Revenue Service, should be abolished immediately
The income tax is an immoral form of taxation which penalizes individuals based upon their production levels. Under this system, the more you produce, the more you pay. Tax policies are designed to encourage and discourage certain types of economic behavior. Therefore, a higher tax on activity related to economic growth is illogical… if your goal is more economic growth. Governments obviously require funding and they have a wide array of taxes which they can impose – and currently do impose – to fund their activities. (i.e. user fees, excise taxes, sales taxes, etc.) The intrusive nature of the income tax, which literally rips money from the hard-earned paychecks of the working class through payroll deductions is both insulting and outrageous. End the IRS and the Income Tax immediately and force government to collect necessary taxes in a reasonable and moral manner.

ACTION POINT #4: Replace the Federal and State Income Taxes with a Nationwide Consumption Tax.

5. Get the Federal Government Out of Our Bedrooms.
The Federal government should not be asked to define marriage. Marriage is a beautifully intimate and spiritual event that should not be dependent upon the approval or oversight of the Federal government. The Constitution does not give the Federal government the right or authority to operate as a morality police force.
If marriage must be defined by government authorities, let it occur at the State level. Each state is capable of making its own laws without being made dependent upon the Federal government for questions of intimacy and sexuality.
Instead of the Federal government acting as the morality police, let the American people craft their own laws through their respective states.

ACTION POINT #5: Allow States, not the Federal government, to decide upon issues of morality. The Federal government lacks the credibility for the job.

6. The Department of Education should immediately be abolished.
The public education system is an absolute disaster. Compulsory education, which mandates homogenized curriculum, is unnatural and ineffective. The process of educating our children should be determined at the state level. Ideally, the power would flow down and ultimately reside within each locality. Privatizing education is a worthy goal, as governments should not be in the business of educating the public. It is a complete and obvious conflict of interest. And given the extremely poor results of America’s public education system over the last several decades, its failure should necessitate its demise.

ACTION POINT #6: Close the Department of Education. Support Homeschooling. Empower parents and entrepreneurs to develop learning systems that can compete against each other in the free market.

7. The Federal war on drugs should be ended.
Federal drug laws are ineffective and serve only to create excessive amounts of low-level criminals, which fill our nation’s prison system. The drug war represents a major tax liability to our nation’s citizens. Each state should be allowed to determine its own drug laws without the intervention of the Federal government.

ACTION POINT #7: End the drug war. Redirect spending towards rehabilitation, prevention, and employment assistance programs.

8. Term limits should be immediately imposed upon all Senators and Congressmen
Under the current system, politicians are unduly motivated and incentivized to place an inordinate amount of time and effort into their re-election efforts. This distortion of incentives can be ended by limiting the amount of time a politician can remain in office. We need term limits now.

ACTION POINT #8: Demand term limits.

9. A plan to allow younger American citizens to opt-out of the fraudulent Social Security system should be introduced immediately
All current beneficiaries should continue receiving their Social Security benefits. However, instead of continuing the ponzi scheme of funding current retiree benefits with current payroll taxes, current benefits can be funded through draconian spending cuts to the many bloated Federal programs that are ripe for the knife.
If the Senate and House of Representatives fail to act upon a plan to salvage the ailing Social Security system immediately, they should be forced to forgo their current luxurious Congressional pension plans and instead be integrated into the failing Social Security system. The best way to solve the Social Security crisis is to make the lawmakers dependent upon it themselves, just as average Americans have been forced to be. (Remember, it's all about incentives.)

ACTION POINT #9: Create an opt-out provision in Social Security immediately.

10. The Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision should be immediately overturned by the United States Congress
Laws regarding abortion should not be mandated by the Federal government but instead, should originate at the state level. Each state is capable of determining its own criminal laws regarding murder, rape, etc. Why should the state be forced to take its marching orders regarding abortion from the federal government? While I am strongly pro-life, I am also a realist. You may be familiar with the saying "when you outlaw guns, only outlaws have guns." The same applies to abortion. America cannot stop abortions. Only a truly moral people can do that.

ACTION POINT #10: Overturn Roe vs. Wade and end the Federally-mandated modern holocaust of the unborn.

This list of 10 ideas is just the beginning. What about you? Do you have any ideas on how to stop the growth of tyranny in our nation? Speak your mind in the comments box below!

Gerald Celente - "Too Big To Fail Killed Capitalism"

Forbes Calls Goldman CEO Holier Than Mother Teresa

got a lot of letters from folks this week about an online column for Forbes written by a self-proclaimed Ayn Rand devotee named Harry Binswanger (if that's a nom de plume, it's not bad, although I might have gone for "Harry Kingbanger" or "Harry Wandwanker"). The piece had the entertainingly provocative title, "Give Back? Yes, It's Time for the 99% to Give Back to the 1%" and contained a number of innovatively slavish proposals to aid the beleaguered and misunderstood rich, including a not-kidding-at-all plan to exempt anyone who makes over a million dollars from income taxes.
This article is so ridiculous that normally it would be beneath commentary, but there's a passage in there I just couldn't let go:
Imagine the effect on our culture, particularly on the young, if the kind of fame and adulation bathing Lady Gaga attached to the more notable achievements of say, Warren Buffett. Or if the moral praise showered on Mother Teresa went to someone like Lloyd Blankfein, who, in guiding Goldman Sachs toward billions in profits, has done infinitely more for mankind. (Since profit is the market value of the product minus the market value of factors used, profit represents the value created.)
Instead, we live in a culture where Goldman Sachs is smeared as "a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity. . ."
What a world we live in, where Mother Teresa wins more moral praise than Lloyd Blankfein! Who can bear living in a society where such a thing is possible? Quel horreur!
It reads like an Onion piece, just hilarious stuff. I mean, Jesus, even Lloyd Blankfein himself didn't go so far as to take the "God's work" thing 100% seriously, and here's this jackass saying, without irony, that the Goldman CEO literally out-God-slaps Mother Teresa.
The thing is, for all its excesses, Mr. Catyanker's piece does reflect an attitude you see pretty often among Rand devotees and Road To Serfdom acolytes. Five whole years have passed since the crash, and there are still huge pockets of these Fountainhead junkies who genuinely believe that the Blankfeins of the world are reviled because they're bankers and they're rich, and not because they're the heads of unprosecutable organized crime syndicates who make their money through mass fraud, manipulation and the shameless burgling of public treasure. In this case you have a guy who writes for Forbes, a business publication,and apparently he isn't acquainted even casually with any of the roughly 10,000 corruption cases involving Blankfein's bank.
That's hard to pull off. There are Japanese soldiers still holed up in Pacific atolls, waiting for the final surrender order, who've probably heard more about things like the Abacus case than Mr. Binswanger apparently has. In the comments section, someone cheekily asked Binswanger to enlighten them as to how Goldman makes its money. This is what he had to say in response:
On how Goldman Sachs makes money, I repeat what I said in the post: they invest - i.e., channel savings to their most productive uses. If they make a profit it means they bet right: they funded value-creating enterprises; if they make a loss it means they bet wrong: the venture they funded used up more in value than was produced.
Binswanger clearly knows nothing at all about Goldman other than that it's nominally a bank, and his answer is just a parade of Randian clichés here about how successful banks make money. Asked the same question twenty years ago about a different bank, his answer would have been exactly the same. This would be like someone asking me about A-Rod's steroid use and me answering with a bunch of Bernard Malamud quotes about the sacred art of hitting.
Just for yuks, let's fill Binswanger in on some of the ways Goldman has made its money over the years. This is just the stuff they've been caught for, by the way.
• Way back in 1999, several eras of corruption ago, Goldman serially engaged in manipulation of the IPO markets, including illegal tactics like "spinning" and "laddering," where insiders and top bank clients would be allowed to buy shares in new companies at severely discounted prices, sometimes in return for investment banking business or for promises that those insiders would jump back into the bidding later to jack up the price artificially. In a famous case involving eToys, Goldman paid a $7.5 million settlement for allowing insiders to buy shares at $20, far below the $75 shares the company traded on opening day. The secret discounts might have cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars. The firm went bankrupt in short order, by the way.
• In the infamous "Abacus" case, Goldman teamed up with a hedge-fund billionaire named John Paulson to create a born-to-lose portfolio of mortgage derviatives, which were then marketed by Goldman to a pair of sucker European banks, IKB and ABN-Amro. When the instruments crashed, Paulson made bank on bets he made against his own loser portfolio. Goldman's peculiar role was in "renting the platform," i.e. allowing IKB and ABN-Amro to think that neutral Goldman, not a hedge funder like Paulson massively betting against the product, had created the portfolio. Goldman only made $15 million in the deal that ended up causing over a billion in losses, meaning this wasn't even just about money - they were just trying to curry favor with a hedge fund client out to screw a bunch of Euros. They were fined $550 million.
In the even more absurd Hudson deal, Goldman unloaded a billion-plus sized chunk of toxic mortgage-backed crap on Morgan Stanley during a time when Lloyd "Mother Teresa" Blankfein was telling his minions to unload as much of the firm's 'cats and dogs' as possible, ie. its soon-to-explode subprime holdings. In its marketing materials, Goldman represented to Morgan Stanley that its interests were aligned with Morgan, because Goldman owned a $6 million slice of the Hudson deal. It didn't disclose that it had a $2 billion bet against it. Morgan Stanley, which was subsequently bailed out by taxpayers like Harry Binswanger, lost $960 million.
• Goldman bought a series of aluminum warehouses and has apparently been serially delaying the delivery of aluminum in order to artificially inflate the price. Even Binswanger might have heard of this one. The CFTC sent a wave of subpoenas on this score just last month.
Goldman paid a fine to the SEC in 2010 after it was caught breaking rules governing short-selling on at least 385 occasions - it is currently embroiled in numerous lawsuits that similarly allege that Goldman has engaged in widespread "naked" short selling, a kind of stock counterfeiting that artificially depresses the prices of companies by flooding the market with phantom shares.
• Earlier this year, Goldman and Chase agreed to pay a combined $557 million to settle government claims that the banks and/or their mortgage servicing arms engaged in wholesale abuses in the real estate markets, including (but not limited to) robosigning, the practice of mass-producing fictitious, perjured affidavits for the courts for the purposes of foreclosing on homeowners.
• A VP in Goldman's Boston office was nabbed making improper contributions to the former state Treasurer in Massachusetts, during a time when Goldman was underwriting $9 billion in state bonds. Goldman paid a $14.4 million fine in the pay-for-play scandal.
• In what one former SEC official described to me as "an open-and-shut case of anticompetitive behavior," Goldman took a $3 million payment from J.P. Morgan Chase to bow out of the bidding for a toxic interest rate swap deal Chase wanted to stick to the citizens of Jefferson County, Alabama. Goldman got the payment, a Chase banker joked, "for taking no risk." Chase ended up funneling money to the County Commissioner, who signed off on a deadly deal that put the citizens of the Birmingham, Alabama area into billions of debt (and ultimately bankruptcy), in what is still considered the largest regional financial disaster in American history.
• In 2009, a Goldman programmer named Sergey Aleynikov left his office in possession of a code that contained Goldman's high-frequency trading algorithms. Goldman promptly called the FBI - which up until that point had done exactly zero to prevent crime on Wall Street - to help Mother Teresa's bank recapture its valuable trading code. In court, a federal prosecutor admitted that the code Aleynikov had in his possession could, "in the wrong hands," be used to manipulate markets. Aleynikov just pulled an eight-year sentence. Goldman, incidentally, has gone entire quarters without posting a single day of trading loss - in Q1 2010, the bank made at least $25 million every single day, somehow never once betting wrong in 63 trading days. Imagine that! What foresight! What skill! One can see how Mr. Binswanger could believe that the bank's CEO should be exempt from income taxes.
I could go on - Goldman has been wrapped up in virtually every kind of scandal known to investment banking (and even more that they invented) and was recently at the center of a mysterious and near-catastrophic computer-trading disaster that could have caused massive social damage (more on that in a column coming soon).
The bank is also a truly courageous pioneer in the area of securing completely underserved public bailouts, including the collection of nearly $17 billion in public money for speculative trades with bailed-out AIG and the outrageous receipt of a Commercial Bank Holding Company charter in late September of 2008, allowing it to borrow billions in lifesaving money from the Federal Reserve discount window at a time when Goldman execs were already selling their beach houses for cash in anticipation of the firm's collapse. Surely even Mr. Binswanger is able to see that Goldman is not, in fact, a commercial bank, and that giving it a commercial bank hat to wear while standing on line to the Fed's discount window is pure welfare, as inappropriate as LeBron James collecting a federal disability check.
If he can't see that, he might perhaps at least see the rank absurdity of then-Treasurer Henry Paulson - a former Goldman CEO - instituting a ban on short-selling of financial stocks at the behest of Goldman and other banks in that same late 2008 period, a 100% anticapitalist, government interventionist maneuver that served no social purpose other than to protect the share prices of undeserving banks like Goldman from investors who quite sensibly wanted to wager on the dying companies' downfalls.
Harry Binswanger is a nut on a lot of issues, the kind of guy who thinks that people who bust their asses all day cleaning Haz-Mat sites or changing diapers or fighting fires are parasites, and that the only "producers" who genuinely earn their compensation are people who come up with entrepreneurial ideas - like for instance renting the Goldman name to a hedge-fund pirate so that a pair of European banks won't know they're buying a product designed to implode. This is the kind of activity that earns you a spot on Rand's famed "pyramid of ability."
There are a lot of people who believe in this worldview, and I'm not going to bother debating it here - if you can read an Ayn Rand book and not see through it as the comically pretentious horseshit that it is, nothing I or anyone else says is likely to change your mind.
However, it is worth pointing out that people like Binswanger are so stupid that they can't even see that the best argument against a company like Goldman is a libertarian argument, that Ayn Rand herself would denounce the company if she were alive and able to pull her head out of one of her thousand-line paragraphs long enough to pay attention. Goldman is a company that in a pure free capitalist system would definitely have been bust in 2008 had it not leeched parasitically off the taxpayer - through the AIG bailout, through its totally improper Fed loans, through the life-saving short ban, and most importantly, through the impression all of these moves left across the markets that the firm was state-supported and would never be allowed to go under.
So even forgetting the fact that this company on a good day makes its money rigging metals prices, stage-managing IPOs to help insiders, falsifying documents, selling phony mortgages to institutional investors while betting against their own product and engaging in highly dubious high-speed proprietary trading programs that mysteriously allow the firm to pick winners every single time (Harry, they're using cheat-algorithms to trade split-seconds ahead of the market, not "digging" legitimately as "knowledge-seekers" for inside information, which I know you think should be legal) - even all that wasn't enough, and Goldman still would have gone out of business, had all of us parasites not been pressed into service to rescue the company with our tax dollars.
It's hilarious that these Rand-worshipping cultist types are still blind to this basic fact a half a decade later. And my God, Mother Teresa? Would she have been a more "valuable" person if she'd managed an Applebee's? What the hell is wrong with you people?

‘Inequality for All’: Documentary tracks American income gap

This week marked the five-year anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers investment bank, which triggered the largest financial crisis since the Great Depression, as well as the second anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Last year the gap between the wealthiest one percent of Americans and the rest of the country reached its widest point since the Gilded Age of the 1920s, according to global economists. The so called “One Percenters” earned 20 percent of American income last year. RT’s Ameera David talks to Jacob Kornbluth, director of the “Inequality for All” documentary, about the growing income gap in this country.

Obama angry: ‘They’re trying to mess with me’, as Houses vote to defund Obamacare

21st Century Wire says…

Get ready for a flood of mud-slinging in Washington over the next ten days, as President Obama and Nancy Pelosi fight to preserve a political legacy currently crumbling.

As the last few weeks have proved, Obama and his GOP friend John McCain firmly believe there is plenty of money for sending weapons to terrorist groups fighting Syria. This type of excess will naturally come back to haunt Obama in particular. On the heels of diplomatic humiliation over the Syria debacle, it seems that things are not getting any easier for the embattled Commander-and-Chief this week.

Obama’s latest outburst accusing Congress of “trying to mess with me”, and using the term “deadbeat nation” three times in his speech – marks another low-point in White House history, perhaps a product of extreme political narcissism.

It seems that the federal government machine is running out of money to build its top-down command-and-control pyramid in America…

This just in from the Washington Post:

The House passed a short-term spending plan Friday morning that would continue funding government operations through mid-December and withhold funding for President Obama’s signature health-care law, the opening salvo in what promises to be a contentious 10 days of debate on Capitol Hill over extending government operations by only three months.

The legislation would fund federal agencies at an annualized rate of more than $986 billion but would also leave in place automatic spending cuts known as sequestration, set to take effect in January. It would include language to prohibit any funding going to implementing the health-care law and, additionally, authorize the Treasury to pay some bills and not others in the event that no deal is reached in October on increasing the debt limit…
Lori Montgomery and Philip Rucker
Washington Post

House Republicans rallied behind their right wing Friday to launch a full-scale assault on President Obama’s health-care initiative, setting up a protracted confrontation with Democrats that risks shutting down the government in just 10 days.
On a vote of 230 to 189, the House approved and sent to the Senate a plan to fund federal agencies past Sept. 30, but also to strip funding from the Affordable Care Act, the president’s most significant legislative achievement.
“We had a victory today for the American people, and frankly, we also had a victory for common sense,” Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said, surrounded by more than 200 cheering lawmakers at a news conference at the Capitol.
“Our message to the United States Senate is real simple: The American people don’t want the government shut down and they don’t want Obamacare.”
Friday’s vote was Step One in the GOP crusade to undermine the health law. Step Two comes next week, when House leaders hope to advance a separate measure that will demand a one-year delay in the law’s implementation in exchange for an agreement to avoid a first-ever default on the nation’s debts sometime next month.
Obama responded with an uncharacteristically angry speech in which he accused Republicans of “trying to mess with me” and “holding the economy hostage.”
“They’re focused on politics. They’re focused on trying to mess with me. They’re not focused on you,” he told a friendly crowd of about 1,000 autoworkers and their families at a truck manufacturing plant on the outskirts of Kansas City, Mo.
Three times, Obama used the phrase “deadbeat nation” to condemn Republican brinkmanship on the debt limit…

Read more

US does nothing to solve dire poverty

This week in poverty: New data, same story (and same dangerous House Republicans)
For me, the biggest takeaway from the new Census data on poverty has little to do with the data itself-it™s this: we™ve long known what to do to take the next steps in the fight against poverty, and we still know what to do to take the next steps in the fight against poverty. But we™re not doing it.
If you look all the way back to the 2007 inaugural report of the Half in Ten campaign-written by Peter Edelman, Angela Glover Blackwell and other antipoverty heavyweights-it was clear then that raising the minimum wage, strengthening the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, and improving childcare assistance could reduce poverty by 26 percent. Add lessons that we have since learned from initiatives like the bipartisan (at least when it comes to state governors) subsidized jobs program, and a more responsive food stamp (SNAP) program, and we know that we could make significant strides to reduce poverty were there the political will-or more accurately, a movement to create the political will.
In lieu of that, for the eleventh time in twelve years, poverty has worsened or stayed the same. It remains stuck at 15 percent, with 46 million people living on less than about $18,300 for a family of three. That includes nearly 22 percent of all children, 27 percent of African-Americans, 25 percent of Hispanics and more than 28 percent of people with disabilities (the next group conservatives will likely target after they are through with those who currently need food stamp assistance).
Significantly, 44 percent of those in poverty live below half the poverty line-in œdeep poverty”-on less than about $9,150 for a family of three. That adds up to 20.4 million people, and includes 15 million women and children-nearly 10 percent of all children in the United States. Deep poverty and its accompanying toxic stress are particularly harmful to children. We also have evidence that just a modest boost in income-$3000 in earnings or government benefits for a family living on less than $25,000-makes a significant difference in the lives of young children when they reach adulthood, both in the hours they will work and the income they will earn.
Another number that remained stagnant last year is the number of people living below twice the poverty line-on less than $36,600 for a family of three. That describes 106 million Americans, more than one in three of us. These are people who are living a single hardship-such as a lost job or serious family illness-away from poverty.
While conservatives will use the 15 percent poverty rate as fodder to label as a failure the War on Poverty launched nearly fifty years ago-since the official poverty rate is about the same now as it was in the late-1960s-we know that one has to overlook critical information to reach this conclusion.
Some examples: the poverty rate would be twice as high now-nearly 30 percent-without the safety net. Food stamp benefits aren™t included in the official poverty rate, but they lifted a record 4 million people above the poverty line in 2012; nor are the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC), which in 2011 moved 9.4 million people above the poverty line. In fact, in 2011 the official poverty rate would have dropped from 15.0 percent to 10.9 percent if it included food stamps, EITC and CTC. (See, too, Martha Bailey and Sheldon Danziger™s new book, Legacies of the War on Poverty.)
œIf you took the official poverty measure and accounted for the effect of the biggest benefits that it leaves out-SNAP, rent subsidies, and tax credits for working families-you™d find that poverty in the United States is significantly lower today than it was at any time in the 1960s,” said Arloc Sherman, senior researcher at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. œThat™s true even despite today™s shaky economy.”
There were some obvious missed opportunities to reduce the poverty rate last year. In 2012, unemployment insurance (UI) benefits reduced poverty by 1.7 million people, compared to 2.3 million people in 2011 and 3.2 million people in 2010. According to the CBPP, the weakened antipoverty effect is in part due to reduced federal and state UI benefits and long-term unemployed workers exhausting their eligibility.
œThe number of unemployed workers receiving no unemployment benefits is actually higher today than at any point in the recession,” writes Robert Greenstein, president of the CBPP. He notes that if UI benefits had been as effective as they were at reducing poverty among the jobless and their families in 2010, the poverty rate would have fallen over the past two years.
But more than just missing opportunities for effective policy, we now face a Congress poised to make matters worse for those who are faring the worst in our economy.
As Greenstein notes, federal UI benefits for the long-term unemployed are scheduled to expire in the end of 2013 and may well not be renewed. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the sequester will cost 900,000 jobs by the third quarter of 2014. As for food stamps-which average $1.50 per person, per meal-there will be cuts to benefits in November that will affect 22 million children. House Republicans voted last night for an additional $40 billion in SNAP cuts that truly boggle the mind-both from a moral and economic perspective. Senate Democrats also agreed to $4 billion in cuts that would harm 500,000 families who are currently struggling to meet their basic food needs.
œNo program does more than SNAP to protect children from the effects of deep poverty, and yet the House just voted to cut 3.8 million people off the program, including many of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the country,” Sherman wrote me in an email. œSome of those cut will be children, others will be poor childless adults who are out of work. The bill specifically targets those living in areas with the highest unemployment, where it™s hardest to find work.”
Edelman, who has about as much perspective on the public policy fight against poverty as anyone-having lived and worked on it through much of its history since serving as a legislative assistant for Senator Robert Kennedy-is struck by the nature of the newest attacks against antipoverty policies.
œIn the past year the kinds of distortions and misstatements that characterize the arguments against the public policy that we have are even more troubling than they were before,” said Edelman, author of So Rich, So Poor: Why it™s So Hard to End Poverty in America. œBecause now for example, there is a significant number of people who want to characterize food stamps as being something that keeps people from looking for jobs-a totally made up thing. It™s such a gross distortion.”
If there is any hope to be gleaned from the latest economic snapshots of what Americans are experiencing when it comes to income and poverty, it lies in the notion that perhaps more people are beginning to see that the needs of low-income people and a dwindling middle class are converging. When the top 1 percent see an income gain of 20 percent, and everyone else has a gain of just 1 percent-something has to give.
œWe™re not seeing much growth in jobs, we™re not seeing much growth in wages for anybody, so it shouldn™t be surprising that people™s incomes are going nowhere,” said Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute.
Edelman points to the living wage campaigns at Walmart stores and fast food restaurants as positive signs. He also calls for œcampaigns of public information” to influence public opinion about people in poverty and near poverty.
œAbsent a serious change in our politics, which depends on really hard work organizing and reaching people to change attitudes-we™re not going to get the policies we need and we™ll be stuck in this mess for quite a while to come,” he said.
Copyright: Press TV

Hungary Sheds Bankers’ Shackles

• International Monetary Fund told to vacate the country; nation now issuing debt-free money
By Ronald L. Ray
Hungary is making history of the first order.
Not since the 1930s in Germany has a major European country dared to escape from the clutches of the Rothschild-controlled international banking cartels. This is stupendous news that should encourage nationalist patriots worldwide to increase the fight for freedom from financial tyranny.
Already in 2011, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán promised to serve justice on his socialist predecessors, who sold the nation’s people into unending debt slavery under the lash of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the terrorist state of Israel. Those earlier administrations were riddled with Israelis in high places, to the fury of the masses, who finally elected Orbán’s Fidesz party in response.
According to a report on the German-language website “National Journal,” Orbán has now moved to unseat the usurers from their throne. The popular, nationalistic prime minister told the IMF that Hungary neither wants nor needs further “assistance” from that proxy of the Rothschild-owned Federal Reserve Bank. No longer will Hungarians be forced to pay usurious interest to private, unaccountable central bankers.

Instead, the Hungarian government has assumed sovereignty over its own currency and now issues money debt free, as it is needed. The results have been nothing short of remarkable. The nation’s economy, formerly staggering under deep indebtedness, has recovered rapidly and by means not seen since National Socialist Germany.
The Hungarian Economic Ministry announced that it has, thanks to a “disciplined budget policy,” repaid on August 12, 2013, the remaining €2.2B owed to the IMF—well before the March 2014 due date. Orbán declared: “Hungary enjoys the trust of investors,” by which is not meant the IMF, the Fed or any other tentacle of the Rothschild financial empire. Rather, he was referring to investors who produce something in Hungary for Hungarians and cause true economic growth. This is not the “paper prosperity” of plutocratic pirates, but the sort of production that actually employs people and improves their lives.
With Hungary now free from the shackles of servitude to debt slavers, it is no wonder that the president of the Hungarian central bank, operated by the government for the public welfare and not private enrichment, has demanded that the IMF close its offices in that ancient European land. In addition, the state attorney general, echoing Iceland’s efforts, has brought charges against the last three previous prime ministers because of the criminal amount of debt into which they plunged the nation.
The only step remaining, which would completely destroy the power of the banksters in Hungary, is for that country to implement a barter system for foreign exchange, as existed in Germany under the National Socialists and exists today in the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, or BRICS, international economic coalition. And if the United States would follow the lead of Hungary, Americans could be freed from the usurers’ tyranny and likewise hope for a return to peaceful prosperity.

Ron Paul – Bernanke Said The US Economy Is In Bad Shape! He’s Getting Out Before Collapse!

Ron Paul – Bernanke Said The US Economy Is In Bad Shape! He’s Getting Out Before Collapse!