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
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.
One of the most dangerous philosophical contentions even amongst liberty movement activists is the conundrum of government force and prevention during times of imminent pandemic. All of us at one time or another have had this debate. If a legitimate viral threat existed and threatened to infect and kill millions of Americans, is it then acceptable for the government to step in, remove civil liberties, enforce quarantines, and stop people from spreading the disease? After all, during a viral event, the decisions of each in...
My title above is only half-kidding. Because everytime Wall Street pronounces “The Death Of” anything, that’s pretty much when it starts working again. But there is an important point being made in a new article at the Wall Street Journal about the current state of some of our biggest stalwart stocks and their underlying businesses, a point I made two days ago here…
Here’s the Journal:
A third of the companies in the Dow Jones Industrial Average have posted shrinking or flat revenue over the past 12 m...
After a one-day pause, the S&P 500 returned to rally mode. The index opened at its 0.20% intraday low, vaulted upward and then drifted to its 1.81% mid-afternoon high. It closed ninety minutes later with a trimmed gain of 1.23%. The popular financial press touted strong pre-market earnings (most notably from Caterpillar and 3M) as the rally trigger and blamed the afternoon fade on renewed Ebola worries (a doctor being tested in NY).
Looking ahead ... will Amazon's post-close earnings disappointment trigger a market struggle at tomorrow's open? Stay tuned!
The yield on the 10-year Note closed at 2.29%, up 4 bps from yesterday's close. The weekly average for the 30-year fixed mortgage was announced today at 3.92%, the lowest rate since early June of last year.
Here is a 15-minute chart of the past five sessions.
There is lots of action in Southwest Airlines Co. November expiry call options today ahead of the air carrier’s third-quarter earnings report prior to the opening bell on Thursday. Among the large block trades initiated throughout the trading session, there appears to be at least one options market participant establishing a call spread in far out of the money options. It looks like the trader purchased a 4,000-lot Nov 37/39 call spread at a net premium of $0.40 apiece. The trade makes money if shares in Southwest rally 9.0% over the current price of $34.32 to exceed the effective breakeven point at $37.40, with maximum potential profits of $1.60 per contract available in the event that shares jump more than 13% to $39.00 by expiration. In September, the stock tou...
Last week brought even more stock market weakness and volatility as the selloff became self-perpetuating, with nobody mid-day on Wednesday wanting to be the last guy left holding equities. Hedge funds and other weak holders exacerbated the situation. But the extreme volatility and panic selling finally led some bulls (along with many corporate insiders) to summon a little backbone and buy into weakness, and the market finished the week on a high note, with continued momentum likely into the first part of this week.
Despite concerns about global economic growth and a persistent lack of inflation, especially given all the global quantitative easing, fundamentals for U.S. stocks still look good, and I believe this overdue correction ultimately will shape up to be a great buying opportunity -- i.e., th...
Now that bitcoin has subsided from speculative bubble to functioning currency (see the price chart below), it’s safe for non-speculators to explore the whole “cryptocurrency” thing. So…is bitcoin or one of its growing list of competitors a useful addition to the average person’s array of bank accounts and credit cards — or is it a replacement for most of those things? And how does one make this transition?
With his usual excellent timing, London-based financial writer/actor/stand-up comic Dominic Frisby has just released Bitcoin: The Future of Money? in which he explains all this in terms most readers will have no tr...
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What do falling energy prices mean for the US consumer? Sober Look writes a brief yet thorough overview of the consequences of the correction in the price of crude oil. There are good aspects, particularly for the consumer, bad aspects, and out-right ugly possibilities. For more on this subject, read James Hamilton's How will Saudi Arabia respond to lower oil prices? In previous eras, Saudi Arabia would tighten the supply to help increase prices, but in this "game of chicken," the rules m...
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Well PSW Subscribers....I am still here, barely. From my last post a few months ago to now, nothing has changed much, but there are a few bargins out there that as investors, should be put on the watch list (again) and if so desired....buy a small amount.
First, the media is on a tear against biotechs/pharma, ripping companies for their drug prices. Gilead's HepC drug, Sovaldi, is priced at $84K for the 12-week treatment. Pundits were screaming bloody murder that it was a total rip off, but when one investigates the other drugs out there, and the consequences of not taking Sovaldi vs. another drug combinations, then things become clearer. For instance, Olysio (JNJ) is about $66,000 for a 12-week treatment, but is approved for fewer types of patients AND...
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