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 email@example.com 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
It was just two days ago when we laid out what could be "the trade of the year": namely, going long Chesakeapke's $500MM 3.25% bonds of March 15, which were then trading at 80 cents on the dollar in anticipation of a Chesapeake bankruptcy, yielding a whopping 299%.
This is what we said:
... yes, Chesapeake will default, but the question is when. For those who think the company will somehow survive for a more than a month without filing Chapter 11 or arranging some prepackaged bankruptcy, and actually repays the $500 million issue, this could be the trade that makes so...
The New York Federal Reserve just announced that older Americans are carrying more debt than ever before and, believe it or not, spins this as a good thing:
New York Fed Finds Large Increase in Debts Held by Those Over Age 50
(NASDAQ) – Americans in their 50s, 60s and 70s are carrying unprecedented amounts of debt, a shift that reflects both the aging of the baby boomer generation and their greater likelihood of retaining mortgage, auto and student debt at much later ages than previous generations.
The average 65-year-old borrower has 47% more mortgage debt and 29% more auto debt than 65-year-olds had in 2003, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York released Friday.
In May of last year, the S&P hit a key level and stopped on a dime. We applied Fibonacci tools to the highs in 2007 and the lows in 2009, to the chart above. The 161% Fibonacci extension level came into play in the 2,150 zone last year and when hit at (1), the markets stopped on a dime.
If your tools or adviser has suggested to be long and strong since May of 2015, that advice has been costly.
Our take, “Free advice that is wrong, is expensive!!!”
The Asian session had set up for big losses, but markets were able to defend against such losses even if finishing with a lower close.
The S&P tagged the January low, but it's hard to see it holding out if there's another challenge on 1,810.
The Nasdaq was able to register a higher close (although below the prior day's close). It probably did enough to negate what is normally a bearish black candlestick, but bulls won't have any confidence until the bearish channel is broken.
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Throughout the past 30 days of wild volatility, here’s what I didn’t do.
Panic. Worry. Sell.
In fact, the best I did was add to a couple of positions yesterday. The world was already in an uncertain state for the past 3+ years. It’s just that with the market rising, we pushed the issue to the back of our mind and ignored it.
A number of systemic, structural forces are intersecting in 2016. One is the rise of non-state, non-central-bank-issued crypto-currencies.
We all know money is created and distributed by governments and central banks. The reason is simple: control the money and you control everything.
The invention of the blockchain and crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin have opened the door to non-state, non-central-bank currencies--money that is global and independent of any state or central bank, or indeed, any bank, as crypto-currencies are structurally peer-to-peer, meaning they don't require a bank to function: people can exchange crypto-currencies to pay for goods and services without a bank acting as a clearinghouse for all these transactions.
Last year, the S&P 500 large caps closed 2015 essentially flat on a total return basis, while the NASDAQ 100 showed a little better performance at +8.3% and the Russell 2000 small caps fell -5.9%. Overall, stocks disappointed even in the face of modest expectations, especially the small caps as market leadership was mostly limited to a handful of large and mega-cap darlings.
Notably, the full year chart for the S&P 500 looks very much like 2011. It got off to a good start, drifted sideways for...
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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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