On the President’s first day in office on January 21, 2009, he issued an Open Government memo promising the American people a new era of transparency. On March 19, 2009, under the President’s orders, the Attorney General’s office issued detailed guidelines on how Federal agencies were to respond going forward to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The guidelines instructed the agencies as follows:
“The key frame of reference for this new mind set is the purpose behind the FOIA. The statute is designed to open agency activity to the light of day. As the Supreme Court has declared: ‘FOIA is often explained as a means for citizens to know what their Government is up to.’ NARA v. Favish, 541 U.S. 157, 171 (2004) (quoting U.S. Dep’t of Justice v. Reporters Comm. for Freedom of the Press, 489 U.S. 749, 773 (1989)…The President’s FOIA Memoranda directly links transparency with accountability which, in turn, is a requirement of a democracy. The President recognized the FOIA as ‘the most prominent expression of a profound national commitment to ensuring open Government.’ Agency personnel, therefore, should keep the purpose of the FOIA — ensuring an open Government — foremost in their mind.”
It pains me to inform you, Mr. President, but the Treasury Department, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, and Securities and Exchange Commission (the trio that has been variously distracted minting trillions in currency, trading cash for trash with Wall Street, surfing for porn, or mishandling multiple voluminous tips on Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme) have misplaced your memo or, as many suspect, take their marching orders not from you but from Wall Street — perhaps because they perceive that this is where you take your orders too.
On October 6, 2010, I filed three FOIA requests with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). I had come by information that the official government report on the stock market’s “Flash Crash” of May 6, 2010 was materially wrong and I wanted to buttress my investigative report to the public with documents the SEC had obtained or compiled in conducting its investigation.
I followed the SEC’s FOIA instructions and emailed the requests to firstname.lastname@example.org as instructed by the web site, asking for a small amount of very…
The law, signed last week by President Obama, exempts the SEC from disclosing records or information derived from "surveillance, risk assessments, or other regulatory and oversight activities." Given that the SEC is a regulatory body, the provision covers almost every action by the agency, lawyers say. Congress and federal agencies can request information, but the public cannot.
That argument comes despite the President saying that one of the cornerstones of the sweeping new legislation was more transparent financial markets. Indeed, in touting the new law, Obama specifically said it would “increase transparency in financial dealings."
Mr. President, you’re a lying sack of crap.
Nor is this theoretical either. Fox News has already had an FOIA denied:
The SEC cited the new law Tuesday in a FOIA action brought by FOX Business Network.
Oh, by the way, this would mean that a Madoff or Stanford "thing" would leave the SEC immune from FOIA requests by the Press (including the "mainstream" along with media folks like myself) to discover whether they had effective and early notice that they intentionally ignored.
Isn’t that convenient, given that they did exactly that with Madoff and, it can be argued, Stanford as well?
Indeed, the SEC, The Fed, and Treasury have all tried to refuse compliance with FOIA requests into the backstories of the financial meltdown.
FOIA requests that could (and in some cases have, when they were forced to be complied with via lawsuits) reveal double-dealing, "sweetheart" treatment, and even willful blindness that, in many people’s opinion (including mine) reaches the level of intentional collusion that, in a private context, would lead to civil and/or criminal racketeering charges.
To President Obama and CONgress for sticking this in FinReg (and yeah, I missed it, even though I read the entire damn thing):
Key selection from the Second Circuit’s Fed FOIA appeal:
The “public interest” standard rejected in Merrill is the functional equivalent of the “program effectiveness” test, as the Board invokes it: the agency gets to withhold whatever it deems harmful to disclose--and an agency’s decision as to its own mission and effectiveness is the kind of thing that ordinarily commands deferential review. The Board and the Clearing House undertake to show that disclosure would harm the banks that borrowed (by disclosing their prior distress) and the banking system as a whole (because banks under stress may hesitate to seek relief or rescue), and that these harms will reduce the effectiveness of measures critical to the banking system. The arguments are plausible, and forcefully made. But a test that permits an agency to deny disclosure because the agency thinks it best to do so (or convinces a court to think so, by logic or deference) would undermine “the basic policy that disclosure, not secrecy, is the dominant objective of [FOIA].” See Rose, 425 U.S. at 361.
The requirement of disclosure under FOIA and its proper limits are matters of congressional policy. The statute as written by Congress sets forth no basis for the exemption the Board asks us to read into it. If the Board believes such an exemption would better serve the national interest, it should ask Congress to amend the statute.
In other words: if the Fed wants to maintain its strict secrecy, it better get Congress to change the laws immediately. Of course, if that happens it will become very clear who controls not just the fiscal and monetary destiny of America, its executive control (via the recently institued bilateral decision making of who apoints who – the President of the United States <-> The President of the FRBNY, and vice versa), but also the legislative. As for the judicial, we will know definitively when the Supreme Court overturns this decision. In other words, the Federal Reserve is about to become the President, the Congress and the Supreme Court (not to mention Wall Street) all rolled into one.
Congrats Paul La Monica. Your editorial, “Shut up, Lloyd Blankfein!” is spreading like wildfire. It’s ‘gone viral’ as they say. However, it is clear that your knowledge of the issues involved is limited, at best.
It draws in populists with the provocative “Shut Up” headline, then morphs into stealth Goldman ass-kissing. It essentially tells Goldman-critics to man up and stop whining.
It starts out with a bit of promise:
The public relations gurus who are advising Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein might want to give him some new advice. Shut up!
Blankfein made a startling confession Tuesday. He apologized for Goldman’s role in the financial crisis, saying that the bank ‘participated in things that were clearly wrong and have reason to regret.’
But any redeeming qualities end there. He goes on to display ignorance in the subjects of finance and banking. He essentially argues that Goldman should be allowed to do as it pleases. This part particularly rankled me:
The notion that Goldman’s good fortune is a problem is silly. Even though many average Americans are still struggling financially, it’s misguided to suggest that everybody should be suffering and that the nation would have been better off if Wall Street went under. . .
Goldman Sachs is a bank. It’s supposed to make money. It’s supposed to take risks. Lloyd isn’t exactly running the March of Dimes.
Where to begin? Monica’s statement that banks are “supposed” to take risks is interesting. Because I thought a bank was supposed to safeguard people’s money, while making responsible loans to others. That’s how fractional-reserve banking works.
Goldman Sachs is an investment bank/hedge-fund with government guarantees. They’re not a “bank” in the traditional sense of the word.
When the U.S. converted GS and other “systemically important” firms to bank holding companies, it flat-out saved their asses. Ongoing perks include cheap Fed funds and the ability to issue government-guaranteed debt (Goldman still has around $20b in gov-backed debt).
And Monica says they are supposed to take risk, with explicit government-backing? That, my friends, is 100% pure garbage.
His statement that we should get off Goldman’s back, since they
One big news widely reported in Taiwan right now is that the national flag of the Republic of China (R.O.C. Taiwan) appears on ISIS web site video. Above is a screenshot of the video with Taiwan's flag prominently displayed along side that of the U.S. and U.K. The flags are supposedly in alphabetical order by country name. The video was posted on ISIS web site on Wedn...
As you’re probably aware, the Fed has a hard time spotting asset bubbles. Just as there was no housing bubble in 2006 according to the honorable and exceptionally “courageous” Ben Bernanke, there’s no bubble in equities today and certainly no ZIRP-induced fixed income bubble either.
The other thing the Eccles cabal has trouble spotting - and this is of course inextricably linked to an inability to spot speculative excess - is inflation.
This year has been a wild ride for Chinese stocks, something that long-time investors have come to expect from a country that's seen 55 bull and bear markets since the ruling Communist Party first allowed equity trading in 1990. As the Shanghai Stock Exchange celebrates it's 25th anniversary on Thursday, here's a look at some of the key milestones on China's path from equity-market upstart to $7 trillion behemoth.
Holiday trading kicked into gear, although volume for the S&P managed to push into a technical accumulation day. Things are likely to remain quiet through to next week and any sharp moves at this stage have a high risk of failure.
The top performing index on the day was the Russell 2000. It managed to add another decent gain o keep the string of higher closes running. It didn't quite close above 1,200, but it may do so Friday (with the aforementioned caveat of holiday trading). Overall action in this index has been positive, and relative performance to other indices continues to improve.
Some weeks when I write this article there is little new to talk about from the prior week. It’s always the Fed, global QE, China growth, election chatter, oil prices, etc. And then there are times like this in which there is so much happening that I don’t know where to start. Of course, the biggest market-moving news came the weekend before last when Paris was put face-to-face with the depths of human depravity and savagery. And yet the stock market responded with its best week of the year. As a result, the key issues dominating the front page and election chatter have moved from the economy and jobs to national security and a real war (rather than police ...
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I've decided to build our startup - Veritaseum, a peer-to-peer financial services platform, directly on top of the Bitcoin Blockchain. Many queried why I would voluntarily give up a lucrative advisory and consulting business to chase virtual coins in cyberspace. That's exactly why I decided to do it. That level of misunderstanding of what is essentially the second coming of the Internet gave me a fundamental advantage over those who had deeper connections, more capital and more firepower. I was the first mover advantage holder.
You see, Bitcoin is not about coins, currency or price pops. It is a massive computing net...
1) The shares of one of my largest short positions (~3%), Exact Sciences, crashed by more than 46% yesterday. Below is the article I published this morning on SeekingAlpha, explaining why I think it’s still a great short and thus shorted more yesterday. Here’s a summary:
The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force’s Colorectal Cancer Screening Draft Recommendation issued yesterday is devastating for Exact Sciences’ only product, Cologuard.
I think this is the beginning of the end for the company.
My price target for the stock a year from now is $3, so I shorted more yes...
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Baxter Int. (BAX) is splitting off its BioSciences division into a new company called Baxalta. Shares of Baxalta will be given as a tax-free dividend, in the ratio of one to one, to BAX holders on record on June 17, 2015. That means, if you want to receive the Baxalta dividend, you need to buy the stock this week (on or before June 12).
Back in December, I wrote a post on my blog where I compared the performances of various ETFs related to the oil industry. I was looking for the best possible proxy to match the moves of oil prices if you didn't want to play with futures. At the time, I concluded that for medium term trades, USO and the leveraged ETFs UCO and SCO were the most promising. Longer term, broader ETFs like OIH and XLE might make better investment if oil prices do recover to more profitable prices since ETF linked to futures like USO, UCO and SCO do suffer from decay. It also seemed that DIG and DUG could be promising if OIH could recover as it should with the price of oil, but that they don't make a good proxy for the price of oil itself.
This is a non-trading topic, but I wanted to post it during trading hours so as many eyes can see it as possible. Feel free to contact me directly at email@example.com with any questions.
Last fall there was some discussion on the PSW board regarding setting up a YouCaring donation page for a PSW member, Shadowfax. Since then, we have been looking into ways to help get him additional medical services and to pay down his medical debts. After following those leads, we are ready to move ahead with the YouCaring site. (Link is posted below.) Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated; not only to help aid in his medical bill debt, but to also show what a great community this group is.
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