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Posts Tagged ‘government’

Generations of Pork: How Greece’s Political Elite Ruined the Country

The latest tranche of loans from the EU and the IMF has helped buy debt-ridden Greece some time. But the Greeks will find it hard to get back on their feet. Their country has been ruined by three political dynasties, which created a bloated system of cronyism that is hard to change. By SPIEGEL Staff.

[...]

Regardless of whether it happens under Papandreou alone or with both politicians working together, if Greece starts economizing, it risks choking its own economy. "It’s like a cat chasing its own tail," says Greek economics professor Yanis Varoufakis.

Former IMF chief economist Kenneth Rogoff recently warned: "If they just continue with the European Union’s austerity program, they’re going to be in slow growth or recession as far as the eye can see, and at the end of the day they’re still going to default."

And it’s not as if Greece hasn’t already adopted austerity measures. Athens managed to cut its budget deficit from 15.4 percent of its gross domestic product to 10.6 percent last year, thanks to its first austerity package. The government made cutbacks in salaries, retirement funds and social benefits, among other things.

This austerity policy also caused 200,000 people to lose their jobs last year, with unemployment reaching an all-time high of 15 percent by late March.

With pay in the private sector also often falling by 10 to 20 percent, consumption likewise dropped by nearly 10 percent and the recession intensified. It’s a vicious circle. Since taxes need to increase and spending needs to decrease, the situation is likely only to get worse.

Full article here: Generations of Pork: How Greece’s Political Elite Ruined the Country – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International.


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“The People Vs. Goldman Sachs” – Taibbi’s Magnum Opus

Courtesy of Tyler Durden

By Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone Magazine

The People vs. Goldman Sachs

They weren’t murderers or anything; they had merely stolen more money than most people can rationally conceive of, from their own customers, in a few blinks of an eye. But then they went one step further. They came to Washington, took an oath before Congress, and lied about it.

Thanks to an extraordinary investigative effort by a Senate subcommittee that unilaterally decided to take up the burden the criminal justice system has repeatedly refused to shoulder, we now know exactly what Goldman Sachs executives like Lloyd Blankfein and Daniel Sparks lied about. We know exactly how they and other top Goldman executives, including David Viniar and Thomas Montag, defrauded their clients. America has been waiting for a case to bring against Wall Street. Here it is, and the evidence has been gift-wrapped and left at the doorstep of federal prosecutors, evidence that doesn’t leave much doubt: Goldman Sachs should stand trial.

The great and powerful Oz of Wall Street was not the only target of Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse, the 650-page report just released by the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations, chaired by Democrat Carl Levin of Michigan, alongside Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. Their unusually scathing bipartisan report also includes case studies of Washington Mutual and Deutsche Bank, providing a panoramic portrait of a bubble era that produced the most destructive crime spree in our history — "a million fraud cases a year" is how one former regulator puts it. But the mountain of evidence collected against Goldman by Levin’s small, 15-desk office of investigators — details of gross, baldfaced fraud delivered up in such quantities as to almost serve as a kind of sarcastic challenge to the curiously impassive Justice Department — stands as the most important symbol of Wall Street’s aristocratic impunity and prosecutorial immunity produced since the crash of 2008.

To date, there has been only one successful prosecution of a financial big fish from the mortgage bubble, and that was Lee Farkas, a Florida lender who was just convicted on a smorgasbord of fraud charges and now faces life in prison. But Farkas, sadly, is just an exception proving the rule: Like Bernie Madoff, his comically excessive crime spree (which involved such lunacies as kiting checks to his own bank…
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Enjoying Coffee in the Lodge with Jesse

THE BANKS MUST BE RESTRAINED, AND THE FINANCIAL SYSTEM REFORMED, WITH BALANCE RESTORED TO THE ECONOMY, BEFORE THERE CAN BE ANY SUSTAINED RECOVERY – Jesse 

Enjoying Coffee at the Lodge with Jesse 

By Ilene

coffee at the lodge with JesseI have long been a fan of Jesse’s Café Américain. Jesse is a brilliant writer and a deep thinker who uniquely transcends politics, easily seeing through lies and disinformation. He has a great feel for what really matters, and the courage to speak out about it.  Jesse and I have spoken before about the economy, markets and politics, and being at a crossroads once again, it was a perfect time to catch up. 

****

Ilene: Hi Jesse, since our last interview, I would guess that we’d both agree that nothing has been done to clean up the financial system – the banks and government interconnectedness, conflicts of interest, and out-and-out fraudulent activities.  Are things better or worse, or in line, with what you were expecting over a year ago?

Jesse: I think things are progressing in line with what I had expected, with the Fed and the government trying to prop up an unsustainable status quo by monetizing debt.  I am still a little shocked by the brazen manner in which the financial markets are being conducted and regulated, and the news is reported in the US. It is one thing to hold a theory that says something will happen, but it is quite another to see it actually happening, and so blatantly, almost without a word of protest.

Ilene: How do you view our financial system and the global financial system now, with no progress towards any kind of reform?

Jesse: The US is now being run by an oligarchy, with lip service being paid to the electorate in allowing the people to vote for the candidates that the parties and the powers will put forward.  There will be no recovery for the middle class until they assert themselves. I know I have stated this often in my tag phrase, “The banks must be restrained…” But it is the case.

There are areas of resistance to this trend on what one might call ‘the fringes of Empire,’ those client states which have been ruled by powerful cliques with the support and the protection of the US.  Although certainly not a great analogy, it does remind one of…
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China’s Coming Collapse

The Middle Kingdom’s prosperity is an illusion. And when China finally falls, we’ll all feel the pain.

By Jason Kirby, Canadian Business Online (H/t David Gordon)

As fearmongering election campaign ads go, it’s hard to top the "Chinese Professor," which flickered across the Internet just before Americans went to the polls last fall. In the spot, set in a sleek Beijing lecture hall 20 years in the future, a sharply dressed Chinese instructor explains to his Asian students why previous empires, from Ancient Greece to the U.S.A., turned to dust. The Americans failed because they lost sight of their principles, he says in Mandarin, with subtitles. They overspent, overtaxed and over–borrowed. "Of course, we owned most of their debt," he cackles, as the class joins in. "So now they work for us."

If you missed the ad, put out by the conservative group Citizens Against Government Waste, no matter. The notion that China’s headed for superpower status at the expense of the United States has been repeated so often that many in the West now take it as an undisputable fact. With breathless enthusiasm economists predict China’s red–hot economy will power past America’s to become the world’s largest in just 15 years. Bookstore shelves are filled with titles like China’s Ascent and When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order, in which author Martin Jacques argues America is in denial about the fact China is its "usurper and ultimate replacement." Hollywood’s even getting in on the act with a remake of the 1980s Cold War paranoia flick Red Dawn, in which Soviet soldiers overran a Midwest American town. Only this time, the marauders are Chinese. Having conquered American capitalism, the People’s Liberation Army is coming for America’s Capitol, too.

It’s easy to find evidence that ostensibly confirms China’s unstoppable ascent. Try this: Go to Google News and type in "China," along with any laudatory adjective, then add the suffix "–est." Do so, and you’ll learn that China is building the world’s third–tallest skyscraper ("China usurps U.S. in skyscrapers"); it produces the smartest children ("Chinese students outperform U.S. in recent test") and now boasts of the world’s fastest trains ("China’s fastest train leaves rest of world behind"). This super–country narrative has become so pervasive that the majority of Americans take it for granted. At the end of last


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Corporate Hacker Tries to Take Down WikiLeaks

Stephen Colbert reports on technothriller going on between Wikileaks, Anonymous (a "global hacker nerd brigade") and Aaron Barr. H/t Ron. – Ilene

Corporate Hacker Tries to Take Down WikiLeaks

A corporate hacker tries to take down WikiLeaks by faking documents and blackmailing American journalists.


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Stock World Weekly 2-27-11

Here’s the latest edition of Stock World Weekly:  Irresistible Forces Meet Immovable Objects. - Ilene 

Excerpt:

On Saturday, February 27, the Security Council of the United Nations (UN) voted unanimously to institute sanctions on Libya, including travel bans and freezing the assets of Muammar al-Gaddafi and others associated with his regime. Protests have dragged into their twelfth day, and protestors refuse to yield in the face of utterly horrific retaliation by Gaddafi’s loyal forces. U.S. ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice said, “When atrocities are committed against innocents, the international community must act with one voice – and tonight it has.”  

The Telegraph reported over the weekend that Gaddafi apparently made good on his threats to trigger a civil war, using irregular forces largely composed of hired mercenaries to launch a counterattack against protesters. “Anywhere we go there is danger,” said one woman, a 28-year-old mother of four who asked not to be named. “All we want is food and fresh water for our children but it is impossible to find. Security is the only concern of the authorities.” 

An accurate report of the death toll is impossible to obtain at this time, but on Wednesday, Italy’s Foreign Minister, Franco Frattini said, “We believe that the estimates of about 1,000 are credible.” The situation in Libya has deteriorated since then. Multiple stories coming in from all over the country have cited dozens to hundreds of casualties in each city. It appears that Libya has slipped into the abyss of complete social breakdown and civil war.

This is just one example of the tide of popular unrest that has been unleashed in the wake of the Federal Reserve’s and other central banks’ inflationary policies. The chart below shows the U.S. Adjusted Monetary Base increasing from $1.75Tn in 2009, to $2.0Tn in 2010, and now nearing $2.3Tn, an increase of $300Bn in just two months! This represents an increase of 35% in less than 18 months. (The U.S. Monetary Base is the total amount of currency that is circulating in the hands of the public or in the commercial bank deposits held in reserves of member banks of the Federal Reserve System.)  

Another revolt of a more peaceful nature took place in Ireland. The long-dominant Fianna Fail party was brutally rejected by Irish voters, taking just 15.1% of the vote and losing…
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Why Did the U.S. Military Buy 500 Fake Internet Personas?

Courtesy of Jr. Deputy Accountant

The answer to the question "why does the government need software to create a bunch of fake Internet "people?" is probably quite simple, and while Daily Kos seems to feel it has to do with attacking progressives, I’m afraid the aim of the purchase is far more subversive and far-reaching. Leave it to libtards to take it personally and ignore the fact that there is an ongoing war against Americans, waged by their own government, that has so far claimed our privacy, freedom and now our economic well-being. 

I also remind Daily Kos here that the American progressive is already an extinct creature, replaced by leftist maniacs too drunk on their own perceived invincibility to realize that they’re the ones holding the torches as Rome burns. I have no problem with progressives and could probably play one on TV as I believe in crazy ideas like advancing knowledge and equal rights and am fascinated by the sociology of economics, all matters progressives tend to say they are into. I believe gays should be allowed to marry but churches should be allowed to say they refuse to marry them (that’s the whole separation of church and state we seem to have forgotten about). Just as the true conservative has been replaced with a holier-than-thou army of Christian fundamentalist freaks who obviously haven’t read a Bible lately since the one I read said something about "love your brother" and "judge not lest ye be judged," we are once again losing the battle by fighting amongst ourselves over semantics instead of attacking the true enemy. 

But what if the enemy could replicate itself to infinity and invade our most sacred space of information exchange, the Internet? Worse, what if they already have?

We have known for a long time this happens. It’s why sketchy IP addresses show up in my stats and comments appear on politically-charged websites that seem to paint the OP as a kook or set up a critical mass of straw men to otherwise discredit the point of the article. I’ve seen it in practice and it’s usually more sad than frightening. Real commenters get so caught up in their feelings they let their emotions bleed through the keyboard. Real commenters are idiot Americans who were churned through our sub-par public school system and don’t know…
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Ron Paul slams Fed’s bond-buying program; Political Pressure on Fed Mounts

Courtesy of Mish

MarketWatch reports Paul slams Fed’s bond-buying program

Outspoken Federal Reserve critic Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, slammed the central bank’s latest $600 billion bond-buying program on Wednesday, saying it and near-zero interest rates haven’t led to job creation in the United States.

“Over $4 trillion in bailout facilities and outright debt monetization, combined with interest rates near zero for over two years, have not and will not contribute to increased employment,” Paul said at a hearing of a House Financial Services subcommittee he heads.

“Debt monetization” is a reference by Paul and other Fed critics to the Fed’s latest bond-buying program — a characterization rejected by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.

In essence, Paul is charging that the central bank is enabling profligate spending by the government. The term “debt monetization” is a buzzword for how some poorer countries conducted policies in the post-World War II era.

Political Pressure on Fed Mounts

WSJ’s Sudeep Reddy reports on concerns the Federal Reserve could be facing political pressure from Congress, as Rep. Ron Paul holds the first hearing of a new Fed oversight committee. Separately, Fed Chairman Bernanke updates Congress on the economy.

If the above YouTube does not play here is a link: Rep. Ron Paul Ignites Fed Worry

Mike "Mish" Shedlock


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Mubarak’s Acts of Cowardice; Obama Calls Mubarak for 30-Minutes; Cell Service, Internet Total Shutdown; Anarchy in Cairo; How Long can Mubarak Last?

Courtesy of Mish

The situation in Egypt has gone from bad to worse. Cairo is in a state of near-anarchy and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s cowardly disruptions to the internet and cell phones have made things worse.

Egyptian citizens unable to get news on the internet or cell phones have only one place to get it now, the street.

President Obama called Mubarak in a 30-minute phone call. Obama’s message was "Ultimately, the future of Egypt will be determined by the Egyptian people."

If that was a hint, Mubarak did not get it. Instead, Cairo is in flames as protesters have turned more defiant.

Mubarak Orders Crackdown, With Revolt Sweeping Egypt

The New York Times reports Mubarak Orders Crackdown, With Revolt Sweeping Egypt

With police stations and the governing party’s headquarters in flames, and much of this crucial Middle Eastern nation in open revolt, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt deployed the nation’s military and imposed a near-total blackout on communications to save his authoritarian government of nearly 30 years.

Friday’s protests were the largest and most diverse yet, including young and old, women with Louis Vuitton bags and men in galabeyas, factory workers and film stars. All came surging out of mosques after midday prayers headed for Tahrir Square, and their clashes with the police left clouds of tear gas wafting through empty streets.

By nightfall, the protesters had burned down the ruling party’s headquarters in Cairo, and looters marched away with computers, briefcases and other equipment emblazoned with the party’s logo. Other groups assaulted the Interior Ministry and the state television headquarters, until after dark when the military occupied both buildings and regained control. At one point, the American Embassy came under attack.

Six Cairo police stations and several police cars were in flames, and stations in Suez and other cities were burning as well. Office equipment and police vehicles burned, and the police seemed to have retreated from Cairo’s main streets. Brigades of riot police officers deployed at mosques, bridges and intersections, and they battered the protesters with tear gas, water, rubber-coated bullets and, by day’s end, live ammunition.

Cairo in Near-Anarchy

The Washington Post reports Cairo in near-anarchy as protesters push to oust president

The Egyptian capital descended into near anarchy Friday night, as the government sent riot police, and then the army, to quell protests by tens of thousands of demonstrators determined to


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Stock World Weekly

Here’s the newest: Stock World Weekly Newsletter. Comments welcome! – Ilene 

Jobs Cartoon

Archives here. 


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Phil's Favorites

Greecification of Spanish Politics and the Lies of Spain's Ministers

Courtesy of Mish.

There's an excellent post on Keep Talking Greece this evening on the simmering feud between Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras and Spanish prime minister Minister Mariano Rajoy.

Tsipras made a claim that Rajoy's plan is to "wear down, topple or bring our government to unconditional surrender before our work begins to bear fruit and before the Greek example affects other countries… And mainly before the elections in Spain. ... for obvious political reasons".

Spanish foreign minister García Margallo, returned fire with a statement (a lie actually), that “Had Spain not given  €32.744 billion to Greece, it could have increased the unemployment benefits by 50 percent or increase pensions by 38 percent.”

Theheart of the bickering is the rise of the Spanish political party Podemos to the top of the Spanish...



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Chart School

Light Vehicle Sales Per Capita: A Better Look at the Long-Term Trend

Courtesy of Doug Short.

Note from dshort: Following up on yesterday's preliminary report on U.S. Light Vehicle sales, I've update the charts below.

For the past few years I've been following a couple of transportation metrics: Vehicle Miles Traveled and Gasoline Volume Sales. For both series I focus on the population adjusted data. Let's now do something similar with the Light Vehicle Sales report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. This data series stretches back to January 1976. Since that first data point, the Civilian Noninstitutional Population Age 16 and Over (i.e., driving age not in the military or an inmate) has risen 61.7%.

Here is a chart, court...



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Zero Hedge

India Central Bank Cuts Interest Rate "Pre-Emptively" For Second Time In 2 Months

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

In a surprise move, the RBI just cut its main interest rates for the second time in two months, taking it from 6.75% to 6.50%, in what the central bank calls a “pre-emptive” policy move, but what is in reality merely a confirmation that so far in 2015 at least 20 central banks have lowered their interest rate. 

From the statement: 

The RBI notes that the rupee has remained strong relative to peer countries. While an excessively strong rupee is undesirable, it too creates disinflationary impulses… 


...softer readings on inflation are expected to come in through the first half of 2015-16 before firming up to below 6 per cent in the second half. The fiscal consol...



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All About Trends

Mid-Day Update

Reminder: David is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Click here for the full report.




To learn more, sign up for David's free newsletter and receive the free report from All About Trends - "How To Outperform 90% Of Wall Street With Just $500 A Week." Tell David PSW sent you. - Ilene...

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Sabrient

Sector Detector: Stocks break out again but may be running on fumes

Courtesy of Sabrient Systems and Gradient Analytics

Despite low trading volume, a strong dollar, mixed economic and earnings reports, paralyzing weather conditions throughout much of the U.S., and ominous global news events, stocks continue to march ever higher. The world remains on edge about potential Black Swan events from the likes of Russia, Greece, or ISIS (or lone wolf extremists). Moreover, the economic recovery of the U.S. may be feeling the pull of the proverbial ball-and-chain from the rest of the world’s economies. Nevertheless, awash in investable cash, global investors see few choices better than U.S. equities.

In this weekly update, I give my view of the current market environment, offer a technical analysis of the S&P 500 chart, review our weekly fundamentals-based SectorCast rankings of the ten U.S. business sectors, and then ...



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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of March 2nd, 2015

Reminder: OpTrader is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

 

This post is for all our live virtual trade ideas and daily comments. Please click on "comments" below to follow our live discussion. All of our current  trades are listed in the spreadsheet below, with entry price (1/2 in and All in), and exit prices (1/3 out, 2/3 out, and All out).

We also indicate our stop, which is most of the time the "5 day moving average". All trades, unless indicated, are front-month ATM options. 

Please feel free to participate in the discussion and ask any questions you might have about this virtual portfolio, by clicking on the "comments" link right below.

To learn more about the swing trading virtual portfolio (strategy, performance, FAQ, etc.), please click here ...



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Market Shadows

Kimble Charts: Coal

Kimble Charts: Coal

By Ilene 

Chris Kimble's chart for KOL shows a recently beaten down ETF struggling to pull itself up from the ashes. As the chart shows, KOL has recently drifted down to levels not seen since the financial crisis of 2008-9.

Bouncing or recovering with energy in general, coal prices appear to have stabilized in the short-term. Reflecting coal prices, KOL has traded between $13.45 and $19.75 during the past year. Bouncing from lows, KOL traded around 2% higher yesterday from $14.26 to $14.48 on high volume. It traded another 3.6% higher in after hours to $15, possibly related to ...



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Digital Currencies

MyCoin Exchange Disappears with Up To $387 Million, Reports Claim

Follow up from yesterday's Just the latest Bitcoin scam.

Hong Kong's MyCoin Disappears With Up To $387 Million, Reports Claim By  

Reports are emerging from Hong Kong that local bitcoin exchange MyCoin has shut its doors, taking with it possibly as much as HK$3bn ($386.9m) in investor funds.

If true, the supposed losses are a staggering amount, although this estimate is based on the company's own earlier claims that it served 3,000 clients who had invested HK$1m ($129,000) each.

...



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Pharmboy

2015 - Biotech Fever

Reminder: Pharmboy is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

PSW Members - well, what a year for biotechs!   The Biotech Index (IBB) is up a whopping 40%, beating the S&P hands down!  The healthcare sector has had a number of high flying IPOs, and beat the Tech Sector in total nubmer of IPOs in the past 12 months.  What could go wrong?

Phil has given his Secret Santa Inflation Hedges for 2015, and since I have been trying to keep my head above water between work, PSW, and baseball with my boys...it is time that something is put together for PSW on biotechs in 2015.

Cancer and fibrosis remain two of the hottest areas for VC backed biotechs to invest their monies.  A number of companies have gone IPO which have drugs/technologies that fight cancer, includin...



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Stock World Weekly

Stock World Weekly

Newsletter writers are available to chat with Members regarding topics presented in SWW, comments are found below each post.

Here's this week's Stock World Weekly.

Click here and sign in with your user name and password. 

 

...

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Option Review

SPX Call Spread Eyes Fresh Record Highs By Year End

Stocks got off to a rocky start on the first trading day in December, with the S&P 500 Index slipping just below 2050 on Monday. Based on one large bullish SPX options trade executed on Wednesday, however, such price action is not likely to break the trend of strong gains observed in the benchmark index since mid-October. It looks like one options market participant purchased 25,000 of the 31Dec’14 2105/2115 call spreads at a net premium of $2.70 each. The trade cost $6.75mm to put on, and represents the maximum potential loss on the position should the 2105 calls expire worthless at the end of December. The call spread could reap profits of as much as $7.30 per spread, or $18.25mm, in the event that the SPX ends the year above 2115. The index would need to rally 2.0% over the current level...



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Help One Of Our Own PSW Members

"Hello PSW Members –

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 jennifersurovy@yahoo.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.

http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/help-get-shadowfax-out-from-the-darkness-of-medical-bills-/126743

Thank you for you time!




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About Phil:

Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

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Ilene is editor and affiliate program coordinator for PSW. She manages the site market shadows, archives, more. Contact Ilene to learn about our affiliate and content sharing programs.

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