May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)
Bigger doesn't imply better. Bigger often is a sign of obesity, of lost control, of overcomplexity, of cancerous
Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few
Journalism Vacation from Truth is a direct threat to democracy. Without journalistic
integrity, there is no democracy as the average voter cannot make an informed choice. Inverted
totalitarism won some time ago.
"The truth is that the newspaper is not a place for information to be given,
rather it is just hollow content, or more than that, a provoker of content.
If it prints lies about atrocities, real atrocities are the result."
Karl Kraus, 1914
WAR IS PEACE. FREEDOM IS SLAVERY. IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
We are the world, we are exceptional, we cannot fail. The elite will lie, and
the people will pretend to believe them. Heck about 20 percent of the American public will believe
almost anything if it is wrapped with the right prejudice and appeal to passion.
I think journalists today — elite journalists at least — absorb the biases of the
ruling neoliberal oligarchy far more readily than they used to do. The media establishment is
populated by yes-men. I do not understand how any skeptical person can, in good conscience, trust a
western MSM description of foreign events. You need a second source to compare coverage. The
mainstream media gives us no real news. Just the regurgitation of talking points they were
given. Seeing how they treat the concept of truth these days, one might think that 1984 dystopia was
The problem is fundamental, and relates to a broad spectrum of policy issues both foreign and
domestic, because truth — factual reality — is a necessary foundation to consider and evaluate and debate
policy on any subject.
Crushing the truth means not just our having to endure any one misdirected
policy; it means losing the ability even to address policy intelligently.
To the extent that
falsehood is successfully instilled in the minds of enough people, the political system loses what
would otherwise be its ability to provide a check on policy that is bad policy because it is inconsistent
with factual reality.
I think it is good that people question their lying politicians and these lying, corrupt partisans pretending to be MSM
pundits. If that means that MSM try to slander the people as “conspiracy theorists” you should take it with a grain of salt. I would
rather be a conspiracy theorist than take anything CNN or FOX says as gospel. Or, God forbid, believe what US politicians say to
justify thier action or inaction. Skepticism is good. These people don’t automatically deserve our trust. As Reagan said
(translating Russian proverb) "Trust but verify".
If you take in television news as truthful information, that's all a critically thinking person needs to know about you. In
reality this is propaganda, pure and simple. Propaganda can be defined as a war on reality using fake news, disinformation, projection,
witch-hunts (see neo_Mccarthhyism) and other
methods. An attempt to create an artificial reality. The key here is
controlling the narrative. For example, "fake news"
hysteria is a perfect method of suppressing of dissent and questions about MSM ties to three-letter
Journalists manipulate us in the interest of the Powerful. Do you also have the feeling, that
you are often manipulated by the media and lied to? Then you're like the majority of Germans.
Previously it was considered as a "conspiracy theory". Now it revealed by an Insider, who tells
us what is really happening under the hood.
The Journalist Udo Ulfkotte ashamed today that he spent 17 years in the Frankfurter Allgemeine
Zeitung. ...he reveals why opinion leaders produce tendentious reports and serve as the extended
Arm of the NATO press office. ...the author also was admitted into the networks of American elite
organizations, received in return for positive coverage in the US even a certificate of honorary
In this book you will learn about industry lobby organisations. The author calls hundreds of
names and looks behind the Scenes of those organizations, which exert bias into media, such as:
Atlantic bridge, Trilateral Commission, the German Marshall Fund, American Council on Germany,
American Academy, Aspen Institute, and the Institute for European politics. Also revealed are
the intelligence backgrounds of those lobby groups, the methods and forms of propaganda and financing
used, for example, by the US Embassy. Which funds projects for the targeted influencing
of public opinion in Germany
...You realize how you are being manipulated - and you know from whom and why. At the end it
becomes clear that diversity of opinion will now only be simulated. Because our "messages" are
often pure brainwashing.
How does Fake History and Fake News
in the US MSM gradually superseded their reality-based version
(which never was perfect, and often quite distorted) is a very interesting question but it is too big for this page. I would only
say that this process is closely connected with the process of the neoliberalization of the US society which started in full force in late
70th (see also late Sheldon Wolin notion of
Inverted Totalitarism) . We can take election of Reagan as a
starting point although the process started immediately after WWII. From this point "fake news" were enforced on the
US society as the only acceptable narrative? Which, is
essence, is a real war on reality.
It also could be that the process started earlier, immediately after WWII with the creation of CIA. The question whether
representative democracy is compatible with the existence large all-powerful and largely uncontrollable intelligence agencies
is another interesting question to ask. At some point any society with powerful intelligence agencies can come to the
situation when the tail wags the dog. In the USA this probably happened around 1963, with the JFK assassination. In a
way the USSR via Truman enforced its model of governance on the USA ;-). Creation of intelligence agencies by Truman was actually the act of the creation of national security state. Which could be
viewed as an official end of the US democracy and quick (less then two decades) rise to power of deep state (with the victory
demonstrated to the US people in 1963). With it the huge apparatus of state propaganda
(and by extension means of suppressing of dissent) intelligence
agencies, which gradually acquired political power including considerable (but not yet absolute, that will come much later, after
9/11) level of control of MSM
(see Church Committee - Wikipedia ).
After 1963, the level outrage in the society was such that there were some meek attempts to check this power, especially the
power of intelligence agencies over the MSM (Church Committee - Wikipedia
was probably the most well known) but they lead to nowhere.
1. We do not want war.
2. The opposite party alone is guilty of war.
3. The enemy is the face of the devil.
4. We defend a noble cause, not our own interest.
5. The enemy systematically commits cruelties; our mishaps are involuntary.
6. The enemy uses forbidden weapons.
7. We suffer small losses, those of the enemy are enormous.
8. Artists and intellectuals back our cause.
9. Our cause is sacred. "The ages-old 'God bless America' is playing once more."
10. All who doubt our propaganda, are traitors.
Neo McCarthyism campaign which was launched around mid 2016 by Democratic Party operatives as tactical tool to distract attention
from DNC corruption and illegal removal of Bernie Sanders from the Democratic ticket after lection of Trump turned into important
component of color revolution against Trump. And was fueled not only by MSM but also powerful factions of neoliberals and neocons in
US intelligence agencies concerted about their future and the level of financing of "national security parasites". They also
have skeletons in the closet to hide (especially FBI and CIA) and did not prepare well to the Trump victory as this was a huge
surprise for everybody including Trump himself. See
Steele dossier and
Please note that the original
McCarthyism campaign lasted more then a decade. And McCarthyism was not exactly or only
about Communist infiltration into the US government. It has elements of a more general framework of suppressing any "dissidents" who question "official
narrative" and simultaneously served as the framework of brainwashing of population creating a
stereotype of enemy, in best Bolsheviks, or, if you wish Nazi Germany, style.
In other words, like in famous Orwell novel 1984, under McCarthyism questioning of official narrative has become a "though crime"
(much like it was in the USSR, especially under Stalinism period). And repressions were real,
although far less extensive and brutal, than in the USSR in 30th. Thousands of people lost jobs and were blacklisted. Many
ostracized, especially from artistic circles, committed suicides.
While Senator McCartney has a certain gist for blackmailing people and, being an alcoholic,
he probably would be a suitable
candidate for high position in NKVD, he was not a pioneer. He was just a talented follower. This
type of modern witch hunt was first implemented on large scale by Bolsheviks in Russia after 1917.
Actually Bolsheviks originated many modern methods of brainwashing of the population. Which
later were enhanced and further developed in Nazi Germany and than imported to the USA after WWII.
That all brings us to the concept of "deep state" and its control of MSM. The problem with the "deep state" approach to governance is that it replicates Bolshevism on a new,
more polished, level, with high officials of
intelligence agencies, Wall Street and military industrial complex as a new Politburo. Which is not elected but still
controls that nations. So much for remnants of democracy in the USA. That does not mean that some deviations from the "Party
line" are impossible: the election of Trump is one such event. But loop at the power of the reaction of the "deep state" on
this event. Not that Trump (who can be viewed as some kind of Republican "Change we can believe in" Obama" ) was intended to follow
his election promises in any case. The level of vetting of candidates is two party system probably is higher then many of us
As currently there is no alternative to neoliberalism, the current situation will continue to exist. Notwithstanding the
fact that neoliberal ideology was discredited after 2008 financial crisis, much like Bolshevism in 60th. Bolshevism as a theocratic ideology was essentially dead after WWII (although it managed to kick the can down the road for
another 45 years). After 60the
Soviet people despite constant brainwashing started to have wide-ranging doubts about the communist state and communist ideology. Listening to state-sponsored propaganda radio-stations from the West
such as BBC and Voice of America became national pasture of Soviet citizens, especially educated
one. Despite all the jamming. Similar situation happened with the USA after 2008, when citizen suddenly start showing some
level of interest RT broadcasts and views on internal situation in the USA ;-). And, of cause, all this needs to be stopped.
In the name of the "health of the state", democracy be dumned (religious term which literally means "condemned
In this particular sense, imitating the enemy by the USA elite after WWII, which was done to fight communist threat (which
was overblown) was a very dangerous course with
far reaching consequences. The new level of this process of "imitating the enemy" now started with the USA -- the rise of alternative press (kind of Samizdat replica
from Soviet past) and clumsy attempt of the deep state to suppress it claiming that they are propagator of "fake news" with the
subtext that they are Russian agents (the campaign which spectacularly backfired: which the help of President Trump tweets
this term now became the standard nickname of the "official" US MSM). That brings us directly to revising Stalin's
"Show trials" and corresponding witch-hunt in the USSR. Appointing Muller to investigate Trump for "Russian connection"
(so called "Russiagate") replays
favorite theme of accusing enemies of Stalin of being British agents. On a new level incorporating set of political
technologies of overthrowing the legitimate government commonly known as "color revolution" technologies. But in both cases it
is all about eliminating political rivals.
In broader context the current practice of manipulating population is similar to "high demand cults" style practice
-- Bolshevism actually can be best viewed as a religious cult merged with the political movement,
much like political Islam today ( Belief-coercion in high
demand cults ):
They use all of the techniques as "low demand" faith groups use: requiring members
to accept a system of beliefs, conforming to certain behavioral norms; expecting
them to involve themselves in the life of the congregation, etc. However, mind-control
groups add many additional methods, and take them all to a much higher level. Some
Members' access to outside information is severely restricted
Their thoughts, beliefs and emotions are tightly controlled by:
stress; e.g. long hours of work; little or no free time
requiring endless repetition of prayers
generation of fear and paranoia; viewing the outside world as threatening
restricting criticism of the leadership or group policies
Their behavior may be controlled by:
public shaming and humiliation
requiring personal confessions
isolation from outside contacts, including their family of origin
Members are not physically restrained from leaving the group. They are not held
prisoner. They can walk away at any time. But there are strong pressures to remain.
If they left, all social and emotional support would disappear; they will often
be shunned. Some groups teach that God will abandon or punish them if they leave.
They may be told that they will die in the imminent war of Armageddon if they leave
the protection of the group.
The main methods here always was the generation and totalitarian
control of "suitable" narrative (that's why Sheldon Wolin called neoliberal society "inverted
"The primary aim of official propaganda is to generate an "official narrative" that can be
mindlessly repeated by the ruling classes and those who support and identify with them. This official
narrative does not have to make sense, or to stand up to any sort of serious scrutiny. Its factualness
is not the point. The point is to draw a Maginot line, a defensive ideological boundary, between
"the truth" as defined by the ruling classes and any other "truth" that contradicts their narrative.
Gerald Celente coined the "presstitutes", which is obviously politically incorrect,
but still reasonably precise term:
presstitutes sell themselves to neoliberal establishment for access and governments to prosper financially and to keep their jobs.
In the USSR journalist were called "soldiers of the Party" so in the less humiliating way we can call them "soldiers of neoliberal
Vice isn't his best performance, it's certainly his greatest impersonation since his
Sissy-Spacek-as-Carrie/Anthony-Perkins-as-Norman-Bates-level defining of Patrick Bateman in
American Psycho. (Like Meryl Streep playing The Iron Lady, Bale will be the
mainstream star to watch in this year's Best Actor race. Vice is already running away
with Golden Globe nominations.)
On that note, I had planned to write a straightforward film review, maybe making a crack
that it would be up to you to decide whether a film about Dick Cheney qualified as a sort of
sequel to American Psycho , and leave it at that. And I would have been happy to have
stayed in my lane, except for all the Beltway political pundits who, in Vice 's wake,
up the art of film criticism . (Full disclosure: I interviewed Ben Shapiro years ago for a
book review, and though our outlooks differed, I respected him and liked him personally. That
said, I'm afraid I disagree with him in the extreme here, although Kyle Smith in National
Review makes a
far more worthwhile case against the movie on its own merits, or lack thereof.)
So instead, I am summoned to a more urgent, if distasteful, task: to try and explain why
anyone in the conservative movement (or anywhere else) would want to normalize Dick Cheney --
let alone flat-out
cheer for him . After all, this was a man who left office with an approval rating as low as
That's lower than Richard Nixon when he resigned, lower than Jimmy Carter when he was
replaced by Ronald Reagan. It's as low as Herbert Hoover during the Great Depression and as low
as Barack Obama amongRepublicans and conservatives .
Even today, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both have triple the approval ratings
that Cheney left office with.
To plagiarize what Andrew Sullivan famously said about Hillary, anyone with Cheney's
destructive track record towards his own movement should have been drummed out "under
a welter of derision."
We don't have to be "ordered" to remember and revere historical figures like Reagan, MLK,
and JFK, or be shamed into doing so. But who the heck did Dick Cheney ever benefit outside of
the corporate-crony one percent? What small, non-monopoly business did he ever give a chance to
grow? What did he do to improve our schools and police? What did he do for balanced-budget
conservatism, as he overruled Alan Greenspan and his own treasury secretary, gloating that
"deficits don't matter"?
How did Cheney make us more secure, with Iraq and Afghanistan all but ruined, Iran and Syria
feeling stronger every day, and ISIS having wrought its destruction -- and with Osama bin Laden
still livin' large for two-and-a-half years after Cheney retired? How do you defend someone who
literally went to the Supreme Court to keep the minutes of his infamous 2001 energy task force
meetings secret (they were co-chaired by Kenny-Boy Lay during the height of Enron's rape of
California's power grid), while at the same time suggesting the outing of a truly top secret
CIA agent (Valerie Plame) just to get revenge on her journalist husband? How did Cheney uphold
Ronald Reagan's mantra of curbing big government excesses when he justified warrantless
surveillance and straight-up torture?
And what lasting benefit did Dick Cheney bestow on the conservative or Republican brand,
with Barack Obama winning the biggest landslides since Reagan and Bush Senior?
It was my respected colleague Kelley Vlahos who solved the mystery of why some members of
the Beltway press just can't quit Cheney: "because they still won't admit that the war was
wrong." Bingo . Expecting the U.S. to export insta-democracy to decidedly non-Western
cultures? Putting overwhelmingly Christian and Jewish "viceroys" in charge of historically
Muslim nations? Gee, what could possibly go wrong
As chilling and thrilling as Christian Bale is as Dick Cheney, perhaps no scene in
Vice is as squirmy as Richard Dreyfus's impersonation of Cheney in Oliver Stone's
W., when he stands in front of a CGI map in the War Room and smirkingly announces,
"There is no exit strategy. We STAY!" (If that scene didn't actually take place, it might just
as well have.)
Still, there are scenes in Vice that come close. For a biopic about a man who
defined the adage "personnel is policy," it's fitting that director Adam McKay, who has a
strong comedy background, chose actors who are known for being funny just as much as for their
work in dramas. Those include Sam Rockwell as George W., Tyler Perry as Colin Powell, and Steve
Carell as Donald Rumsfeld. (Reuniting Bale and Carell also indicates that McKay rightly sees
Vice as an unofficial prequel to his financial meltdown dark farce The Big
Short. ) Like the aforementioned W., McKay's Vice is a sometimes
frenetic, sometimes eerily calm black comedy satire . And like Josh Brolin in
W., Sam Rockwell plays George Jr. as an easily played and comical doofus. There's no
doubt in this film as to who the real president was from December 2000 to the end of 2008.
Watching Bale as a terse, leering, manipulative young reactionary as he grindstones and
plays people against each other from the late '60s to his Bush-Cheney heyday, one is struck by
his shameless entitlement. Cheney uses movement conservatism and old boy connections as his own
Uber. If Christian Bale is a slim and athletic man trapped in a fat and ugly body, Cheney sees
himself as the Richelieu or Machiavelli of his own real-life movie, trapped just one step
behind the real decision-makers -- until he finally gets that chance to ride his horse from
Aqueduct to Santa Anita.
The other key role among these garbage men is Amy Adams' take-no-prisoners performance as
Lynne Cheney. Mrs. Cheney had the straight-A brains and Ph.D.-level drive to be a powerful
judge or executive in her own right, and was, according to Adams, a better "natural politician"
than her husband. But as a card-carrying member of the Phyllis Schlafly/Anita Bryant/Beverly
LaHaye-era Right from rural Wyoming, Lynne had less than zero plans to transform herself into
another bra-burning icon. Instead, "she lived her [considerable] ambitions through her
as Adams said. Adams even added that compared to the iron-fisted Lynne, her husband Dick
might have been the "velvet glove"!
And as these Cheney-rehabilitating articles prove, Lynne wasn't the only one who got off on
Dick's raw exercise of power and privilege. Watching Dick Cheney at work must have been
intoxicating for a Dwight Schrute or Montgomery Burns in his small pond, for someone who
coveted the kind of vulgar bullying power that Cheney wielded. It was no accident that Stephen
Bannon famously and semi-humorously put Dick Cheney in his own hall of heroes, behind only
Darth Vader and Satan, citing Cheney's peerless talent at "disrupting" established orders.
As we contemplate the dumpster fire that is today's politics, Vice is a useful
reminder that the arrogant and destructive reign of Dick "Full Speed Ahead" Cheney was so awful
for American society in general and American conservatism in particular that it helped provoke
the biggest counter-reaction on the Left since Watergate . And if you're a Never
Trumper, just recall that a key reason Trump and Ted Cruz were the last Republicans standing in
2016 was because Cheneyism had so discredited the old "conservative" establishment.
Sorry, I'm just not there for conservative writers infantilizing Cheney and going all
triggered snowflake at what big meanies the Hollywood libr'als are being to him. Christian Bale said it himself
: "[Cheney's] a big boy he says himself he has no remorse, no regrets, he'd do everything again
in a minute." Exactly.
So if you like where society has gone over the last 10 years -- the pink pussy hats and
trans bathrooms, the social justice warriors questioning the value of free speech, watching
your impressionable high school and college kids devouring Samantha Bee, The Young Turks, and
Mr. Robot while flirting with joining the DSA -- then you really ought to thank Dick
Cheney. And if you don't like it, then why not finally give him the blame he so richly
Matt o'Brien and Barbara Ortutay, AP Technology Writers
Russians seeking to influence U.S. elections through social media had their
eyes on Instagram and the black community.
These were among the findings in two reports released Monday by the Senate
intelligence committee. Separate studies from University of Oxford researchers
and the cybersecurity firm New Knowledge reveal insights into how Russian
agents sought to influence Americans by saturating their favorite online
services and apps with hidden propaganda.
Here are the highlights:
INSTAGRAM'S "MEME WARFARE"
Both reports show that misinformation on Facebook's Instagram may have had
broader reach than the interference on Facebook itself.
The New Knowledge study says that since 2015, the Instagram posts generated
187 million engagements, such as comments or likes, compared with 77 million
And the barrage of image-centric Instagram "memes" has only grown since the
2016 election. Russian agents shifted their focus to Instagram after the
public last year became aware of the widespread manipulation on Facebook and
NOT JUST ADS
Revelations last year that Russian agents used rubles to pay for some of their
propaganda ads drew attention to how gullible tech companies were in allowing
their services to be manipulated.
But neither ads nor automated "bots" were as effective as unpaid posts
hand-crafted by human agents pretending to be Americans. Such posts were more
likely to be shared and commented on, and they rose in volume during key dates
in U.S. politics such as during the presidential debates in 2016 or after the
Obama administration's post-election announcement that it would investigate
"These personalized messages exposed U.S. users to a wide range of
disinformation and junk news linked to on external websites, including content
designed to elicit outrage and cynicism," says the report by Oxford
researchers, who worked with social media analysis firm Graphika.
Both reports found that Russian agents tried to polarize Americans in part by
targeting African-American communities extensively. They did so by campaigning
for black voters to boycott elections or follow the wrong voting procedures in
2016, according to the Oxford report.
The New Knowledge report added that agents were "developing Black audiences
and recruiting Black Americans as assets" beyond how they were targeting
either left- or right-leaning voters.
The reports also support previous findings that the influence operations
sought to polarize Americans by sowing political divisions on issues such as
immigration and cultural and religious identities. The goal, according to the
New Knowledge report, was to "create and reinforce tribalism within each
Such efforts extended to Google-owned YouTube, despite Google's earlier
assertion to Congress that Russian-made videos didn't target specific segments
of the population.
PINTEREST TO POKEMON
The New Knowledge report says the Russian troll operation worked in many ways
like a conventional corporate branding campaign, using a variety of different
technology services to deliver the same messages to different groups of
Among the sites infiltrated with propaganda were popular image-heavy services
like Pinterest and Tumblr, chatty forums like Reddit, and a wonky geopolitics
blog promoted from Russian-run accounts on Facebook and YouTube.
Even the silly smartphone game "Pokemon Go" wasn't immune. A Tumblr post
encouraged players to name their Pokemon character after a victim of police
Both reports warn that some of these influence campaigns are ongoing.
The Oxford researchers note that 2016 and 2017 saw "significant efforts" to
disrupt elections around the world not just by Russia, but by domestic
political parties spreading disinformation.
They warn that online propaganda represents a threat to democracies and public
life. They urge social media companies to share data with the public far more
broadly than they have so far.
"Protecting our democracies now means setting the rules of fair play before
voting day, not after," the Oxford report says.
so where's the evidence that Russian
facebook or twitter posts changed a single vote?
"... christophere steele admitted before a british court today that he was hired by the clintons/obama/DNC to make up the dossier as a weapon to use against trump as a backup plan in case he won the election.. this proves the DNC lied, paid for a fake dossier, and comey admitted he knew the fake dossier was false before using it to get a FISC warrant and to spy on trump, which was used as an excuse for the mueller investigation.. yahoo news and leftwing media arent covering the story.. educate yourselves ..."
1 hour ago
When I read articles like this I look to see who wrote it, printed it etc. When I see
Bloomberg, Yahoo, HuffPo I approach it as fake news. Now I no longer watch any of Fox news
as they are fast becoming just like the rest of the propaganda outlets. This is just
inflammatory anti Trump drivel with no basis in fact.
O 1 hour
ago Was this the interview report that was written 7 months after the interview?
R 44 minutes ago
Actually this story is not accurate. Mueller released copies of the 302 memos, which are in
effect official documentation to a case file. The 302 was dated seven months after the
interview, when the FBI policy requires such reports to be filed within five days. The
judge will ask tomorrow for copies of agent's contemporaneous interview notes and any other
documents supporting what is written in the 302, as well as an explanation for the delay in
filing the memo. 1
hour ago You mean the notes the FBI, in the person of one Peter Strzok, (yes that Strozk)
made seven months after he was interviewed? with the required 302 documents that are either
to be taken extemporaneously or done within days of the interview being dated months later?
You mean those notes?!!!! Nice try Bloomberg, but no amount of yellow journalism spin will
stop this case from being thrown out! 15 minutes ago christophere steele
admitted before a british court today that he was hired by the clintons/obama/DNC to make
up the dossier as a weapon to use against trump as a backup plan in case he won the
election.. this proves the DNC lied, paid for a fake dossier, and comey admitted he knew
the fake dossier was false before using it to get a FISC warrant and to spy on trump, which
was used as an excuse for the mueller investigation.. yahoo news and leftwing media arent
covering the story.. educate yourselves 1 hour ago Not so bias garbage news .. they
entrapped him what 302 form you want to go with .. FBI doctored the original.. FBI
curuption runs rampant.. comey lied so much about knowing about fake dossier.. then what
the hell was he doing.. comey the tall guy phony
Two months ago, to the chagrin of a generation of traders, Morgan Stanley made a dismal
observation : Price action in 2018 has shown that 'buy the dip' is on its way out. To wit,
buying the S&P 500 after a down week was a profitable strategy from 2005 through 2017, and
buying these dips fueled most of the post-crisis S&P 500 gains (relative to buying after
the market rallied). But in 2018 'buying the dip' has been a negative return strategy for the
first time in 13 years . In other words, "buying the fucking dip" is no longer the winning
strategy it had been for years (even if buying the most shorted hedge fund names still is a
stable generator of alpha).
However, a more concerning observation is that while BTFD may no longer work, it has been
replaced with an even more troubling trend for market bulls: Selling The Fucking Rip, or as it
is also known, STFR.
This selling of rallies has been especially obvious for the past two weeks as traders have
observed ongoing intra- US session asset-allocation trades out of the S&P and into TY, with
simultaneous volume spikes / blocks trading in ESH9 (selling) and THY9 (buying) at a number of
points throughout the day, but usually after the European close, and toward the end of the
"SELL THE RIPS" IN SPOOZ BECOMING THE NORM
So what is behind this pernicious, for bulls if quite welcome for bears, pattern?
Here, Nomura's Charlie McElligott has some thoughts and in his morning note reminds clients
that he had previously highlighted a similar potential observation YTD between the inverse
relationship of UST stripping activity (buying US fixed-income) and the SMART index (end of day
US Equities flows being sold) -- which indicates a similar trend with pension fund de-risking
throughout 2018, as their funding ratios sit at post GFC highs.
In other words, one possible culprit is pension funds who have decided that the market may
have peaked, and are taking advantage of the recent selldown in fixed income, to reallocate
back from stocks and into bonds, locking in less risky funding ratios.
And, as McElligott concludes, this equities de-risking/outflow corroborates what we touched
upon this morning, namely this week's EPFR fund flows data which showed an astounding -$27.7B
outflow for US Equities (Institutional, Retail, Active and Passive combined), the second worst
weekly redemption of the past 1Y period.
Meanwhile, the equity weakness is being coupled with surprising strong bid for US
Treasuries, further confirmation of an intraday Pension reallocation trade.
According to McElligott, the price-action in the long-end of late indicates "that we
potentially are seeing "real money" players back involved for the first-time in awhile,
"toe-dipping" again in adding / receiving as the global slowdown story picks-up steam amidst
growing 2019 / 2020 recession belief", a hypothesis which is further validated by the sharp
rebound in direct bidders in recent auctions and especially yesterday's 30Y which we have
documented extensively, as the "buyers-strike" in long duration auctions seems to have
This Treasury bid could include large overseas pensions (which are less sensitive to hedge
costs than say Lifers), Risk-Parity (as previously-stated, our QIS RP model estimated the
risk-parity universe as a large buyer of both USTs and JGBs over the past month and a half) and
potentially, resumption of long-end buying from "official" overseas sources as well (with
market speculation that there could be an implicit agreement / gesture coming out of the G20
trade truce arrangement), McElligott notes.
One tangent to note: the bid has been more evident in futures and derivatives (as they are
"off-balance sheet" expressions into a liquidity constrained YE reality), which is reflected in
the fresh record dealer holdings of USTs and which the Nomura strategist notes has made made
futures super rich to cash, creating arb opportunities in the cash/futures basis as the
calendar is about to flip.
Finally, as to who or what is the real reason behind these inexplicable bouts of "selling
the rip", whoever it is, the biggest threat to the market is that once the pattern manifests
itself enough times it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy at which point it's not a question of
who started it - as everyone will be doing it - but rather at what point does the Fed step in
to stop it.
Considering that nothing was fixed in 2008, we have had zirp for a decade, there is no
doubt that capital has been misallocated....GM closing plants, Caterpillar closing plants are
economic manifestations of this ponzi scheme...They cannot normalize interest rates with the
amount of debt used to paper over the last crisis...or to satisfy an American government
spending a trillion dollars a year more than they take in....Dow 6000...
Yes they CAN normalize interest rates. Why should someone with saved capital hold the bag
so that crooks who gamed the Globalist movement remain whole? Flotsam in the middle who lose
are fodder. Sorry but even the new socialism won't save them.
Blame the Globalists, not the savers. I suspect many Globalists are morphing into the new
Socialists. Yet to come is the Globalist definition of the new Socialist. Globalists demanded
low rates, low wages, open boarders for goods, and open boarders for people. Socialists will
demand much the same, I suspect.
Selling overvalued stocks and buying Treasuries after the Fed's brief tightening cycle
with the backdrop of a slowing global economy would be a smart and coherent move. Call me
skeptical but I just can't see pension funds behind such a logical move.
Buying Treasuries today is not smart. Flight to safety, multiplied by big money pouring
into the interest rate dip as a 'taper tantrum' move to scare the Fed into not raising rates
any more, is sucker money.
Money market funds are the only safe harbor at this moment.
Wait until rate increases from the Fed end, perhaps in another 3 or 4 increases.
Between now and then, liquidity issues will create big capital gains opportunities on debt
and debt funds if you wait it out.
Both BTFD and STFR are cynical HFT strategies. The faster algos prey on the slower ones,
except for the unique cases where a human predator preys on the algos. (In England, it's a
crime for humans to prey on algos.)
BTFD has a warm appeal because it appears to forecast blue skies and better days, but is
still a predator strategy if there's no fundamental reason to expect better times ahead.
STFR is based on the fear of missing out. Any human who loses on that one makes me
No, the day they stop will be the day the EU officially starts to decompose and rot in
front of the world. The entertainment will be watching and listening as the try to explain
away the festering and leprosy. All due to 'Kick the Can', not to mention the fact they were
dumb enough to fall for the Globalist scam of low rates and open boarders. There's no
explanation for that level of stupid. A few people sold out the entire Continent using
ideology and gullibility. All it took was a great sales pitch.
ok, so with the 10-yr already falling, what exactly is the Fed going to do. If they lower
then bonds just become a better investment (short run). Guess that's why they're gonna raise.
It's like a house of mirrors.
The Fed and/or SEC will not act until there is a major decline; like circuit breakers
kicking in. Which by the way were put in after the 1987 crash and have never been used.
The 80's had program buying/selling and portfolio insurance. Now we have algos and
computers running the show. Same kind of thing just faster to act with better speeds and
This will eventually lead to a similar market mega move and those in power will not act
until it does.
They need something to blame (not someone-think financial crisis) as it can't be their
lack of oversight and blindness [sarc]
Anything goes until the market comes unglued and then the rules get changed. The
regulators are always late to the show and need to be shown what to do after it happens even
though it was clear to many.
Problem with this is that the buyers of all that American weaponry are definitely not got
any 'bang for the proverbial buck' (pun intended). Horrendously overpriced weaponry which in
most instances render less value and effectiveness than similarly available Russian
They know, the arms are inferior garbage, it's just like mafioso protection money or
better known as extortion. The charge a fortune for substandard weapons and MIC folks keep
the change. Same as murican tax payers. If there were no boogie men created then what would
be the justification for all the spending on military hardware?
There is no return on investment here. It's money laundering.
Letter of intent only. They have literally purchased none of those orders, despite
repeated US harassment for the 15 Billion for the THAADS to get the ball rolling. All bluster
and boasting and smoke and mirrors.
My suspicion is that SA under MBS is considering switching sides slowly and will purchase
Russian and Chinese instead. If the US had foreknowledge of this, hence the switch in tone re
butchering journalists and Yemenis ... hence why MBS isn't Time Magazine poster boy at the
Your correct I went back and checked it was order book not delivery,MBS situation is very
interesting with the recent high five with Putin there was some backstory that it was
celebration of a certain US admirals demise that was causing them problems whether true or
not I dont know but it would not surprise me if S400's end up in Saudi Arabia
Remember that old stuff about Krupp being the "Merchant of Death"? Aren't we, like, edging
into that territory? Is this what the Founders and Ratifiers had in mind? Could this enormous
arms trade and our military expenditures and adventures be a clue that we're on the wrong
On Friday, 14 December 2018, the office of "special counsel" Robert Mueller filed a reply to Gen. Michael Flynn's sentencing
memorandum by the court's deadline, as noted on the court clerk's docket sheet--
"12/14/2018 56 REPLY by USA as to MICHAEL T. FLYNN to Defendant's Memorandum in Aid of Sentencing (Attachments: # 1 Attachment
A, # 2 Attachment B)(Van Grack, Brandon) (Entered: 12/14/2018)".
Judge Emmet Sullivan in an order on 12 December stated: "In 50 defendant's memorandum in aid of sentencing, the
defendant quotes and cites a 'Memorandum dated Jan. 24, 2017.' See page 8 n. 21, 22. The defendant also quotes and cites a 'FD-302
dated Aug. 22, 2017.' See page 9 n. 23-27. The defendant is ORDERED to file on the docket FORTHWITH the cited Memorandum and FD-302.
The Court further ORDERS the government to file on the docket any 302s or memoranda relevant to the circumstances discussed on
pages 7-9 of the defendant's sentencing memorandum by no later than 3:00 p.m. on December 14, 2018."
In response to Judge Sullivan's order, the Mueller group attached to its reply memo two noticeably blacked out (redacted) documents,
which turned out to be the same ones that were referred to in Flynn's memo raising the issue of FBI conduct surrounding his interview,
and were nothing additional or new!
The government's reply and two documents that were filed are here--
The two redacted documents are the "January 24, 2017" memo and the "FD-302 dated Aug. 22, 2017", which were cited in the court's
order and which Flynn's lawyers apparently already had, or knew what they were about. Judge Sullivan ordered the Mueller
group to produce "any 302s or memoranda relevant to the circumstances discussed on pages 7-9
of the defendant's sentencing memorandum", not just the two that were already known [emphasis added]. The "Attachment B"
is not the form 302 by an agent who interviewed Flynn on 24 January 2017, but rather is a 302 report by an unknown person of an
interview of now former FBI agent Peter Strzok on 20 July 2017, in which Strzok allegedly talks about some things that happened
on 24 January.
Unless the "special counsel" filed a complete set of unredacted documents with a motion (request) for leave to file them under
seal, the reply is on its face a violation of the court's disclosure order.
As 'blue peacock' said in a comment to the posting
on this issue of 14 December, it will be interesting to see what Judge Sullivan does about the response by the Mueller group.
Both documents are heavily blacked out. The form 302 does include the language that the agents at the Flynn interview
"had the impression at the time that Flynn was not lying or did not think he was lying". Since this had already been
revealed in news and mass media reports, they basically had to disclose that little part, otherwise it probably would have
been redacted as well.
On the bottom right corner of each page is a number, which is usually referred to as a "Bates stamp", after the name of
the numbering machines that are often used to number and identify documents that are produced in a lawsuit . The pages
on the form 302 are numbered DOJSCO-700021201 to 05. The one-page typed paper (Attachment A) has number DOJSCO-700021215.
There are nine pages between those pages, but what those might be is not disclosed.
The Justice Department, FBI, and other federal departments are capable of trying to play semantic word games with requests
for information, such that if the exact name or abbreviation of the document or class of documents is not requested, they will
leave them out of their response. In this instance, the judge asked for "any 302s or memoranda" relevant to the circumstances.
The FBI has guidelines about the different types of records it keeps and they can have different names, such as LHM (letterhead
memorandum), EC (electronic communication), original note material, the FD-302, and so forth. There are also different
types of files and records systems. Thus, there may be some ducking and dodging of the court's order on the theory that
the exact types of records were not in the order.
Documents and records may also be generated when any investigative activity is started or requires approval, such as an
assessment, preliminary investigation, or a full investigation. Furthermore, an interesting issue is the type of authorized
activity the Flynn interview was part of: an assessment, preliminary investigation, or full investigation. Although
it is significantly redacted (in this instance whited out instead of blacked out), the FBI Domestic Investigations and Operations
Guide contains some useful information for trying to figure out what is going on with this issue .
If this problem with disclosure is not bad enough, on 11 December the Justice Department Inspector General (OIG) issued
a report with the bland title, "Report of Investigation: Recovery of Text Messages from Certain FBI Mobile Devices"-- https://oig.justice.gov/reports/2018/i-2018-003523.pdf
The OIG investigation began when it was discovered that there was a "gap in text message data collection during the period
December 15, 2016, through May 17, 2017, from Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) mobile devices assigned to FBI employees
Peter Strzok and Lisa Page relevant to a matter being investigated by the OIG's Oversight and Review Division". Those
names are familiar. Thousands of the text messages were recovered.
In addition, the report states: "In view of the content of many of the text messages between Strzok and Page, the
OIG also asked the Special Counsel's Office (SCO) to provide to the OIG the DOJ issued iPhones that had been assigned to Strzok
and Page during their respective assignments to the SCO".
The result? After Strzok was forced to leave the special counsel's office, his iPhone was given to another FBI agent
and reset, wiping out the data. The Mueller group's "records officer" told the inspector general's office that "as part
of the office's records retention procedure, the officer reviewed Strzok's DOJ issued iPhone after he returned it to the SCO
and determined it contained no substantive text messages". In other words, after the Strzok and Page scandal erupted
because of text messages while Strzok was at the special counsel's office, the Mueller group decided itself that his other
cellular phone issued to him by the Department of Justice for the special counsel's office had no "substantive" messages on
Strzok's paramour, Lisa Page, also had an iPhone issued to her by the Justice Department while she was at the special counsel's
office. The Mueller group said it could not find her phone, but it eventually was located at the DOJ's Justice Management
Division. It had been reset, wiping out the data, on 31 July 2017.
It seems to me that this is very big news. Can it be that the Straight Arrow is bent, after all? This is amazing. There is
an article in the Daily Caller: "Powell: New Facts Indicate Mueller Destroyed Evidence..."
As a former/retired Agent, I have combed through every piece of information regarding Mike's case, as if I was combing through
evidence in the hundreds of cases I have successfully handled while in the FBI.
The publicly reported Brady material alone, in this case, outweighs any statement given by any FBI Agent (we now know
at least one FD-302 was changed), Special Prosecutor investigator report, and any other party still aggressively seeking
that this case remain and be sentenced as a felony. Quite simply, I cannot see justice being served by branding LtG. Michael
Flynn a convicted felon, when the truth is still being revealed while policies, ethics, and laws have been violated by those
pursuing this case.
We now know all FBI employees involved in Mike Flynn's case have either been fired, forced to resign or forced to retire
because of their excessive lack of candor, punitive biases, leaking of information, and extensive cover-up of their deeds.
Michael Flynn has always displayed overwhelming candor and forthrightness.
Swing between extremes, however, consistent in US history, economic predatory dependence on
free/ultra cheap labor with no legal rights. Current instantiation, offshored and illegal and
"temporary" immigrant labor. Note neither party in the US is proposing "immigration reform"
is green card upon hire. Ds merely propose green card for time served for those over X number
of years donated as captive/cheap.
The entitled to cheap/captive now want it in law, national laws and trade agreements.
All privilege/no responsibilities, including taxes.
Doesn't scale. 1929 says so, 2008 says so.
Liberals, the Left, Progressives -- whatever you want to call them suffer from a basic
problem. They don't work together and have no common goals. As the article stated they
complain but offer no real solutions that they can agree on. Should we emphasize gay pride or
should we emphasize good-paying jobs and benefits with good social welfare benefits? Until
they can agree at least on priorities they will never reform the current corrupt system -- it
is too entrenched. Even if the Capitalist Monstrosity we have now self-destructs as the
writer indicates -- nothing good will replace it until the Left get their act together.
"Lesser of two evils" needs to go on the burn pile.
Encumbent congress needs a turn over.
Not showing up to vote is not okay. If people can't think of someone they want to write-in,
"none of the above" is a protest vote. Not voting is silence, which equals consent.
Local elections, beat back Koch/ALEC, hiding on ballots as "Libertarian". "Privatize
everything" is their mantra, so they can further profitize via inescapeable taxes, while
gutting "regulation" - safety and market integrity, with no accountability.
Corporation 101: limited liability. While means we are left holding the bag. As in bailout -
$125 billion in 1990, up to $7.7 trillion in 2008.
Anything the Economist presents as the overriding choice is probably best relegated to
one factor among many. I respect Milanovic's work, but he's seeing things from where we are
now. Remember we've seen populist surges come and go from the witch-burnings and religious
panics of the 17th century to 1890s Bryanism and the 1930s far right, and each time they've
yielded to a more articulate vision, though the last time it cost sixty million dead - not
something we want to see repeated. This time it's hard because dissent still clings to a
"post-ideological" delusion that those on top never succumbed to. But change will come as
what I'd term "post-rational" alternatives fail to deliver. Let's hope it's sooner rather
"Brexit, too, was primarily a working-class revolt." Thank you Martin, at least someone
writing in the Guardian has got the point!
We voted against the EU's unelected European Central Bank, its unelected European Commission,
its European Court of Justice, its Common Agricultural Policy and its Common Fisheries
We voted against the EU's treaty-enshrined 'austerity' (= depression) policies, which have
impoverished Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy.
We voted against the EU/US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which would
privatise all our public services, which threatens all our rights, and which discriminates
against the countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America.
We voted against the EU's tariffs against African farmers' cheaper produce.
We opposed the City of London Corporation, the Institute of Directors, the CBI, the IMF,
Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley, which all wanted us to
stay in the EU.
We voted against the EU's undemocratic trilogue procedure and its pro-austerity Semester
programme. We voted to leave this undemocratic, privatisation-enforcing, austerity-enforcing
Bailout was because that was public savings, pensions, 401ks, etc. the banks were playing
with, and lost. Bailout is billing all of us for it. Bad, letting the banks/financial
"services" not only survive but continue the exact same practices.
Bailout: $7.2 to $7.7 trillion. Current derivative holdings: $500 trillion.
Not just moral hazard but economic hazard when capitalism basic rule is broken, allow bad
businesses to die of their own accord. Subversion currently called "too big to fail", rather
than tell the public "we lost all your savings, pensions, ...".
Relocating poverty from the East into the West isn't improvement.
Creating sweatshops in the East isn't raising their standard of living.
Creating economies so economically unstable that population declines isn't improvement.
Trying to bury that fact with immigration isn't improvement.
Configuring all of the above for record profit for the benefit of a tiny percentage of the
population isn't improvement.
Gaming tax law to avoid paying into/for extensive business use of federal services and tax
base isn't improvement.
Game over. Time for a reboot.
I am glad you finally concede a point on neo-liberalism. The moral hazard argument is
extremely poor and typical in this era of runaway CEO pay, of a tendency to substitute
self-help fables (a la "The monk who sold his Ferrari) and pop psychology ( a la Moral
Hazard) for credible economic analysis.
The economic crisis is rooted in the profit motive just as capitalist economic growth is.
Lowering of Tarrif barriers, outsourcing, changes in value capture (added value), new
financial instruments, were attempts to restore the falling rate of profit. They did for a
while, but, as always happens with Capitalism, the seeds of the new crisis were in the
solution to the old.
And all the while the state continues growing in an attempt to keep capitalism afloat.
Neoliberalism failed ( or should I say "small state" ) and here is the graph to prove it: http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/include/usgs_chartSp03t.png
Interesting, and I believe accurate, analysis of the economic and political forces afoot.
However it is ludicrous to state that Donald trump, who is a serial corpratist, out-sourcer,
tax avoider and scam artist, actually believes any of those populist principles that you
ascribe so firmly to him. The best and safest outcome of our election, in my opinion, would
be to have a Clinton administration tempered by the influences from the populist wings of
Great article, however the elite globalists are in complete denial in the US. Our only choice
is to vote them out of power because the are owned by Wall Street. Both Bernie and Trump
supporters should unite to vote establishment out of Washington.
There were similar observations in the immediate aftermath of 2008, and doubtless before.
Many of us thought the crisis would trigger a rethink of the whole direction of the previous
three decades, but instead we got austerity and a further lurch to the right, or at best
Obama-style stimulus and modest tweaks which were better than the former but still rather
missed the point. I still find it flabbergasting and depressing, but on reflection the 1930s
should have been a warning of not just the economic hazards but also the political fallout,
at least in Europe. The difference was that this time left ideology had all but vacated the
field in the 1980s and was in no position to lead a fightback: all we can hope for is better
late than never.
Yes it is, it's an extremely bad thing destroying the fabric of society. Social science
has documented that even the better off are more happy, satisfied with life and feel safer in
societies (i.e. the Scandinavian) where there is a relatively high degree of economic
equality. Yes, economic inequality is a BAD thing in itself.
Oh, give me a break. Social science will document anything it can publish, no matter how
spurious. If Scandanavia is so great, why are they such pissheads? There has always been
inequality, including in workers' paradises like the Soviet Union and Communist China.
Inequality is what got us where we are today, through natural selection. Phenotype is largely
dependent on genotype, so why shouldn't we pass on material wealth as well as our genes?
Surely it is a parent's right to afford their offspring advantages if they can do so?
Have you got any numbers? Or references for your allegations. I say the average or median
wealth, opportunity, economic circumstance and health measures are substantially better than
a generation (lets say 30 years) ago.
Again I don't think our system is perfect. I don't deny that some in our societies
struggle and don't benefit, particularly the poorly educated, disabled, mentally ill and drug
addicted. I actually agree that we could better target our social redistribution from those
that have to those that need help. I disagree that we need higher taxes, protectionism,
socialism, more public servants, more legislation. Indeed I disagree with proposition that
other systems are better.
George Orwell said, in the 30s, that the price of social justice would include a lowering of
living standards for the working- & middle-classes, at least temporarily, so I follow
your line of thought. However, the outrageous tilt toward the upper .1% has no "adjustment"
fluff to shield it from the harsh despotism it represents. So, do put that in your
statistical pipe and smoke it.
Of course it never happened, just like Manafort didn't make 3 trips to London to meet
Julian Assange. These fictions were just used as a pretext for diving into the backgrounds of
Trump's political supporters and find crimes to charge them with.
The Cohen raid was particularly egregious, a likely violation of attorney-client
privilege. Not suprisingly the American Bar Association is silent.
All that could have been prosecuted by a district attorney. They looked at all of
Manafort's dealings 10 years ago and passed because he was working with the Podesta Group at
the time and thus protected by Hillary Clinton's influence.
Corsi, the former Washington bureau chief of Alex Jones' controversial site, InfoWars, filed
a lawsuit on Sunday which claims that special counsel Robert Mueller threatened him with prison
unless he agreed to falsely confess to being a liaison between WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange
and Republican political strategist Roger Stone, who was an adviser to Trump's presidential
The suit, which seeks $100 million in actual damages and $250 million in punitive damages,
also accuses the FBI, CIA and NSA of having placed Corsi under illegal surveillance "at the
direction of Mueller."
The only problem is that 'America' does not exist. America is a part description of a
continent and I think we are talking about the USA (only one country on North American
soil) Why do the yanks always have to exaggerate their own importance like the Olympics
bloke who claimed he was robbed at gunpoint lol! Do the USAians actually have an
"... 75,000 Russian expats spying in London? Their handlers' workload must be a nightmare! The true scale of the workload facing British counterintelligences has been recently revealed by a London based think tank, which estimates half of all Russian expats in the British capital are spies or informants. ..."
Britain spent part of the spring chucking out Russian diplomats it accused of being spies,
of course that means all the known alleged spooks are no longer around, so the UK needs to find
some more. One of the things we have learnt in the post-Skripal world, is that there are now
seen to be only two kinds of Russian: the spies and ... oh no actually just one type of
75,000 Russian expats spying in London? Their handlers' workload must be a nightmare! The
true scale of the workload facing British counterintelligences has been recently revealed by a
London based think tank, which estimates half of all Russian expats in the British capital are
spies or informants.
Unlike the 2014 Ukraine uprising, which witnessed invasive meddling on the part of US
politicians and diplomats, Western support for the French Yellow Vest protests has been
conspicuously missing in action ;-)
'Paris agreement isn't working out so well for Paris!': Trump taunts Macron over Yellow
Macron's European army has arrived. It goes by the name Gilets Jaunes
Marx, Engels and Gramsci all died before the second world war began. I doubt they had much to
say about what caused it.
Regarding the posited failure of "neoliberalism", if you want to know what real failure of
a political and economic system looks like, have a look at the consequences of Marxism for
every country where it held sway in the 20th century.
A recession followed by a few years of sluggish growth is hardly catastrophic
Democratic socialism must take the place of this capitalist system where 50% of the global
economy is owned by just 1% of the population, patently unfair for billions of people. To
have 1% having more than they could possibly spend in a lifetime is ludicrous while we have
others starving and millions of "people" living below the poverty line.
RobertKlahn The capitalist (USA) system diverts huge amounts of money via corporations 50% of
the global economy to just 1% of the global population, which is patently unfair. The 1%
ownership grows every day because these 1% people have a mental illness called insatiable
greed, where enough is never enough. Yes 'fair trade' would help, but what must be broken is
the compliance of conservative governments around the world who fail to tax these
corporations a 'fair share' of taxation to help "the people" to raise their living standards.
We must adopt democratic socialism with million of USA citizens voted for with Bernie
Sanders, and as is practiced in the Nordic countries, who tax corporations fairly and obtain
a good standard of living for "their people."
What comes next? Hopefully some kind of neo-nationalistic Westernism in which the societies
that, up until the turmoil of the 60s and 70s shaped the course of global affairs, rediscover
their roots and identifies.
If "neoliberalism" seems to be in retreat, perhaps the simplest explanation is that the
cultures that gave rise to it - western, Christian, often English-speaking cultures - most
certainly ARE in retreat.
How can we answer questions like "what is happening to us?" or "How should we react?" When
we can't even identify the "us" or the "we"?
martinusher Yes, the point is that unrestrained capitalism does wreck lives, but continues to
feed the 1% with mare more than they could ever spend. This is precisely why we need a system
of democratic socialism as practiced on the Nordic countries, where "the people" come first
and the corporations run a distant second. However if the UK continues to elect conservative
governments the reverse will always be the case, with "the people" running a distant second.
Globalization, capitalist society in the 70s quickly became ownership of 50% (and continuing
to grow) of the global economy by just 1% of the population. We need to change to democratic
socialism as practiced by the Nordic countries.
How we got here was via the capitalist system whereby 50% of the global economy is now owned
bt just 1% of the global population. A collection of individuals who are filthy rich but who
also have the mental illness of insatiable greed, and who won't be satisfied until they own
60% and so on. They avoid paying tax, and conservative governments help them by providing
loop holes in taxation legislation so their corporations can avoid paying tax or pay up to 5%
of their huge incomes in a token gesture. In Australia out of 1,500 corporations surveyed 579
have not paid a cent since at least 2013. The Australian people should be marching in the
streets for a 'fair go' but the apathy prevents that. They probably won't get angry until
such time as they realize that the 1% own 70% of the global economy and they are being
squeezed even harder into 14 hour days without a break, only then will they crack, if at all.
Quantitative easing first upped the stock market and therefore the retirement portfolios of
the US middle class as well as the portfolios of the wealthy, and now the US economy is
finally producing middle class jobs (recent report, NY Times) and not just the upper middle
QE is just the creation of trillions more in debt. Artificially raising asset prices is not a
free market. A free market depends on people being able to pay the prices. But today in the
UK, people require three loans to buy a house the price of which has been artificially raised
by QE. That enriches the homeowner, the bank, and estate agent. but in equal measure, it
impoverishes the house buyer.
the blowing up of asset prices will have to go on forever (still, not one penny of QE has
been repaid), or the system will collapse. But that is impossible. It will destroy the value
of money. See what happens to stock prices each time the US "threatens" to raise interest
rates and stop QE programmes. And just check out personal debt levels in the UK and US. It is
The basic problem of neoliberalism is that it demands low pay as a competitive measure.
But that means people have less money to spend in the consumer economy. So neoliberalism
requires deregulated banking, pushing up asset prices, so people feel wealthy and take on
more debt with which to compensate their low pay, and so they can shop. But that in turn
leads to higher debts until the debts are not likely to be repaid. Banks collapse.
The bailouts and money printing has raised asset prices as you say. So now they are at
record highs. And if the system demands they go higher while keeping down pay. Who the Fuck
is going to pay?
The system is designed to collapse. It only exists today thanks to the creation of money
that does not really exist. We may as well adopt grass as money as keep this system
The flipside of artificial growth in asset prices is the falling value of earnings.
in 1996, UK average pay equalled 30-35% of a typical house. Today, it is only 10% of a
house, and in London, 7%. And for the system to function, that percentage must fall.
No, quite a lot of people have been writing about it. Marx, Engels and Gramski all discussed
the tendency of free market economics to lead to conflict. More recently you could look at
the work of Galbraith, Sachs and Frank Stilwell, just off the top of my head.
You failed to understand the article. It says the post war period (1945-70s) was the longest
and most successful economic run, especially for working classes, in history.
It is "neoliberalism" since the late 70s that led to the trebling of personal debts on
stagnant wages, and finally the collapse of the banks. And ever since the whole economic show
has only been kept alive with life-saving drugs (QE which is basically pretending there is a
cash flow rather than reality of a solvency crisis, govt set zero interest rates, bailouts).
But we have merely got stagnation.
And your last point is a straw man. Hardly anyone wants to replace this failing system
We have had two contrasting economic systems in the West since the War. The one had far
more regulation, and stronger wage growth for workers, the latter since 1979 has been
The first collapsed in the stagnation of the 70s. The latter died in 2008, and has been
kept going through state support and printing trillions more in debt. But the bailouts are
failing. They are failing because it was never a cash flow crisis. It was a solvency crisis.
Now the debts are even greater.
Selective description posing as analysis and allowing the emotional triggers of a couple of
key phrases to justify the selectiveness. It sounds magisterial but it ain't and, as others
have pointed out, it gives us little on where do we go from here. This is precisely because
he has really not told us what he thinks here is, how we got here, and why we got here.
The last thing a capitalist corporation wants is to compete (i.e. having actual competition).
What they want is monopoly. That's why they "rig" the markets - among others by merging with
and acquiring their competitors until they reach near monopoly in their industry (or
That's the essence of the statement that "there never have been free markets, only rigged
markets". And there never will be. "Free markets" are transient phenomena that exist only for
relatively short time periods during which the leading players do the rigging. The only
factor that could keep free markets "free" is government - and that's why it is hated so much
by corporations and is rendered practically toothless in the US. It limits their ability to
rig and to loot.
The only form the phrase "free markets" exist for prolonged periods of time is when it is
used as a propaganda slogan by neoliberal ideologues (even though it is the exact opposite of
what really happens).
And why has it taken so long for such an article to be published? Many of the points in this
article should have been apparent to intelligent commentators right after the 2008 crisis.
Why has it taken so long for political fallout?
The major reason is cited: Parties such as New Labour, supposedly of the Left that
continued to support this failing system. Gordon Brown bailed out the banks, claimed to save
the world, and then let it all go on as before. A Disgrace of a leader that history will
condemn as a fool. And how many commentators of the time lauded him for it? Far too many. And
many of them still in the jobs. Jesus Wept!
What the writer understands and too many are in denial about is this. New Labour is dead.
It died in 2007-8 with the collapse of the banks.
Then the amazing coincidence that the third party (the Lib Dems) was taken over by the
neoliberals just before the Financial Crisis brought the neoliberal age to an end, and which
went onto support the True Neoliberal party (the Tories). In the US, a man who ran on a
candidacy of Change only for the world to find out it was bluster and rhetoric! Obama will
not go down as a Great President at all. He tried to bail out a failing system. He will be a
footnote in history.
Then those bloody bailouts. They not only bailed out the bankers and the rich. They bailed
out millions of largely older voters, artificially pumping up house prices. The old vote. And
they voted to back this grand theft against Reason, and the younger generations. The result
of the bailouts will be a far greater Financial Crisis than 2008. The disconnect between
people's debts and wages is worse today than in 2006. That can mean only one thing. Collapse
is coming. And now the debts are even bigger. Bailouts are wrong, have failed, and will not
be politically acceptable again.
Conservative parties will be repositories for those afraid of change, and those happy to
be bailed out until the crisis explodes again. On the change side, if we do not have Left
Populism, we will get nationalism.
In terms of stronger border controls there is no doubt this is happening. The US, Europe and
here in Australia the governments grip on border entries has only got tighter. As for
international labour migration, Trump, Brexit and the European refugee crisis will see
increasing pressure on lowering the numbers of migrant workers.
Increasing labour migration has been a ploy by government to try and make globalisation work,
as globalisation requires the free flow of labour across international borders. The political
pressure to reduce migrant numbers will be too much to resist, and greater controls will be
put in place.
This is not a choice between A or B. Stop fighting yesterday's battles. Its over, just as the
article declares. What is developing as we speak will steer tomorrow's civilization and it
will be neither of the old paradigms. We have to come to a consensus about where we want to
go. What principles do we have faith in to inform our assessments of what we keep or alter?
What roles will we play? What will our purpose(s) be? That is the business we need to be
about to arrive at an orderly, deliberate future, prepared for a long journey to a better
world. Or we push and pull in all different directions and go round and round the same old
ground making the same old mistakes until the world moves on and leaves us behind. We will
need to work together or fail each alone. Are you ready?
Exploitation is high on the priority list of any Tory government, wealth should be
distributed much more fairly than it currently is. The tories only serve the rich, they have
no time or empathy for the poor.
Empathy and compassion are vacant in the tory philosophy of the world. These two
components make up a psychopathic personality.
There a number of causal factors that have contributed to this lack of retirement
preparedness (decades of stagnant real wages, fast-rising cost of living, the Great Recession,
etc), but as we explained in our report The Great Retirement Con
, perhaps none has had more impact than the shift from dedicated-contribution pension plans to
voluntary private savings:
The Origins Of The Retirement Plan
Back during the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress promised a monthly lifetime
income to soldiers who fought and survived the conflict. This guaranteed income stream,
called a "pension", was again offered to soldiers in the Civil War and every American war
Since then, similar pension promises funded from public coffers expanded to cover retirees
from other branches of government. States and cities followed suit -- extending pensions to
all sorts of municipal workers ranging from policemen to politicians, teachers to trash
A pension is what's referred to as a defined benefit plan . The payout promised a worker
upon retirement is guaranteed up front according to a formula, typically dependent on salary
size and years of employment.
Understandably, workers appreciated the security and dependability offered by pensions.
So, as a means to attract skilled talent, the private sector started offering them, too.
The first corporate pension was offered by the American Express Company in 1875. By the
1960s, half of all employees in the private sector were covered by a pension
Off-loading Of Retirement Risk By Corporations
Once pensions had become commonplace, they were much less effective as an incentive to
lure top talent. They started to feel like burdensome cost centers to companies.
As America's corporations grew and their veteran employees started hitting retirement age,
the amount of funding required to meet current and future pension funding obligations became
huge. And it kept growing. Remember, the Baby Boomer generation, the largest ever by far in
US history, was just entering the workforce by the 1960s.
Companies were eager to get this expanding liability off of their backs. And the more
poorly-capitalized firms started defaulting on their pensions, stiffing those who had loyally
worked for them.
So, it's little surprise that the 1970s and '80s saw the introduction of personal
retirement savings plans. The Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA) was formed by the
Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) in 1974. And the first 401k plan was created
These savings vehicles are defined contribution plans . The future payout of the plan is
variable (i.e., unknown today), and will be largely a function of how much of their income
the worker directs into the fund over their career, as well as the market return on the
Touted as a revolutionary improvement for the worker, these plans promised to give the
individual power over his/her own financial destiny. No longer would it be dictated by their
Your company doesn't offer a pension? No worries: open an IRA and create your own personal
Afraid your employer might mismanage your pension fund? A 401k removes that risk. You
decide how your retirement money is invested.
Want to retire sooner? Just increase the percent of your annual income contributions.
All this sounded pretty good to workers. But it sounded GREAT to their employers.
Why? Because it transferred the burden of retirement funding away from the company and
onto its employees. It allowed for the removal of a massive and fast-growing liability off of
the corporate balance sheet, and materially improved the outlook for future earnings and cash
As you would expect given this, corporate America moved swiftly over the next several
decades to cap pension participation and transition to defined contribution plans.
The table below shows how vigorously pensions (green) have disappeared since the
introduction of IRAs and 401ks (red):
So, to recap: 40 years ago, a grand experiment was embarked upon. One that promised US
workers: Using these new defined contribution vehicles, you'll be better off when you reach
Which raises a simple but very important question: How have things worked out?
Ugly AftermathAmerica The Broke
Well, things haven't worked out too well.
Four decades later, what we're realizing is that this shift from dedicated-contribution
pension plans to voluntary private savings was a grand experiment with no assurances.
Corporations definitely benefited, as they could redeploy capital to expansion or bottom line
profits. But employees? The data certainly seems to show that the experiment did not take
human nature into account enough – specifically, the fact that just because people have
the option to save money for later use doesn't mean that they actually will.
And so we end up with the dismal retirement stats bulleted above.
The Income Haves
In our recent report The Primacy Of Income , we
summarized our years-long predictions of a coming painful market correction followed by a
prolonged era of no capital gains across equities, bond and real estate.
Simply put: the 'easy' gains made over the past 8 years as the central banks did their
utmost to inflate asset prices is over. Asset appreciation is going to be a lot harder to come
by in the future.
Which makes income now the prime source of building -- or simply just maintaining -- wealth
That being the case, it's obvious that those receiving a pension will be in far better shape
than those who aren't. They'll have a guaranteed income stream to partially or fully fund their
While the total number of people expecting a pension isn't tiny, it's certainly a minority
of today's workers.
31 million private-sector, state and local government workers in the US participate in a
pension plan. 3.3 million currently-employed civilian Federal workers will receive a pension;
as will some percentage of the 2 million people serving in the active military and
Combined, that's about 25% of current US workers; roughly 13% of total US adults.
The steady news
reports of pension fraud and abuse will anger the majority further. Any projected decreases
in Social Security (benefit payouts will only be 79 cents on the dollar by 2035 at our current
trajectory) will only exacerbate the ire, as the small governmental income the have-nots
receive becomes even more meager.
The growing potential here is for an emerging social schism, possibly accompanied with
intimidation and violence, not dissimilar to that which has occurred along racial or religious
lines during darker eras of our history.
As people become stressed, they react emotionally, and look for a culprit to blame. And as
they become more desperate, as many elderly workers with no savings often do, they'll resort to
more desperate measures.
And it's not all sunshine and roses for the pensioners, either. Being promised a pension and
actually receiving one are two very different things.
Underfunded pension liabilities are a massive ticking time bomb, certain to explode over the
next few decades.
For example, many pensions offered through multi-employer plans are bad shape. The
multiemployer branch of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, the federally-instated
insurer behind private pensions, will be out of business by 2025 if no changes in law are made
to help. If that happens, retirees in those plans will get only 10% of what they were
Moreover, research conducted by the Pew Charitable Trusts shows a
$1.4 trillion shortfall between state pension assets and guarantees to employees. There are
only two ways a gap that big gets addressed: massive tax hikes or massive benefit cuts. The
likeliest outcome will be a combination of both.
So, many of those today counting on a pension tomorrow may find themselves in a similar boat
to their pension-less neighbors.
No Easy Systemic Solutions, So Act For Yourself
There's no "fix" to the retirement predicament of the American workforce. There's no policy
change that can be made at this late date to reverse the decades of over-spending,
over-indebtedness, and lack of saving.
All we can do at this time is influence how we take our licks. Do we simply leave the masses
of unprepared workers to their sad fate? Or do we share the pain across the entire populace by
funding new social support programs via more taxes?
Time will tell. But what we can bet on is tougher times ahead, especially for those with
poor income prospects.
So the smart strategy for the prudent investor is to prioritize building a portfolio of
income streams in order to have sufficient dependable income for a sustainable retirement. Or
for simply remaining afloat financially.
Sadly, accustomed to the speculative approach marketed to us for so long by the financial
industry, most investors are woefully under-educated in how to build a diversified portfolio of
passive income streams (inflation-adjusting and tax-deferred whenever possible) over time.
Those looking to get up to speed can read our recent report A
Primer On Investing For Inflation-Adjusting Income , where we detail out the wide range of
prevalent (and not-so-prevalent) solutions for today's investors to consider when designing an
income-generating portfolio. From bonds, to dividends (common and preferred), to real estate,
to royalties -- we explain each vehicle, how it can be used, and what the major benefits and
And in the interim, make sure the wealth you have accumulated doesn't disappear along with
the bursting of the Everything Bubble. If you haven't already read it yet, read our premium
report from last week What To Do Now That 'The
Big One' Is Here .
They can try and tax to fill pension buckets that are empty, but the population is more
likely than ever to react negatively to this sort of thing.
People will not move to areas where the potential for extortion to satisfy pension
promises exists. Nor will they move to any place where there's the possibility of a big tax
increase to fill public coffers.
In my own area there's already the threat of a large property tax increase to cover
'social improvements' that are not really the responsibility of the local government, but you
can't tell them that, they extend their tentacles into everything. The county is just as bad,
with property tax increases and then handing out grants that no one monitors and no one knows
If govt's would go back to doing what they're supposed to do instead of the garbage
they're involved in now we'd be better off and it would cost those who actually pay the taxes
a lot less. It's one big reason people are moving to rural areas. My muni has voted several
times now to increase local option sales tax, the people keep putting it down, the voting
costs thousands to conduct, I wish they would give it up.
It's no wonder that Chicago loses 150 people every day...not a good thing.
"The list includes a married couple -- a police captain and a detective -- who joined DROP
at around the same time and collected nearly $2 million while in the program. They both filed
claims for carpal tunnel syndrome and other cumulative ailments about halfway through the
program. She spent nearly two years on disability and sick leave; he missed more than two
years ... the couple spent at least some of their paid time off recovering at their condo in
Cabo San Lucas and starting a family theater production company with their daughter..."
Pensions in many ways they are the biggest Ponzi Scheme of modern man. Pension payouts are
often predicated on the idea the money invested in these funds will yield seven to eight
percent a year and in today's low-interest rate environment, this has forced funds into ever
The PBGC America's pension safety net is already under pressure and failing due to the
inability of pension funds to meet their future obligations. The math alone is troubling but
when coupled with the overwhelming possibility of a major financial dislocation looming in
the future a nightmare scenario for pensions drastically increases. More on this subject in
the article below.
84% of state and local public sector workers receive defined benefit pensions as do 100%
of federal workers with little to no contribution on their part. After 30 years Federal
workers receive 33% of their highest 3 consecutive years pay and state workers average
benefits are $43000 with a range from 15000 (MS) to 80000 (CA). Private sector employees get
to pay for this and have little if anything coming from their employers in the form of a
pension. Instead, private sector employees get to gamble their savings in the stock and bond
markets to secure a retirement. And don't thing government employees are paid less - they are
usually paid very competitively with the private sector. Bottom line is private sector
employees are slaves to federal, state, and local governments.
Not only are government workers not paid that less, they get a slew of days off, sicks
days, mental health days , every minor holiday is a day off. And because they never get laid
off, the lower salary is worth more over the long term. then the private sector worker who
gets fired every 5 years
A 401K is not a pension plan and if you don't put anything into the 401K then you get
nothing out of the 401K. Plus, pensions can fail. The people that made no other arrangements
for their retirement other than rely on SocSec will have more because they will qual for food
stamps, housing subsidies, utility credits, etc. The picture is being distorted.
"... By Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One, an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and co-founder of Bank Whistleblowers United. Jointly published with New Economic Perspectives ..."
"... Wall Street Journal ..."
"... Wall Street Journal ..."
"... The idea that examiners should not criticize any bank misconduct, predation, or 'unsafe and unsound practice' that does not constitute a felony is obviously insane. ..."
"... The trade association complaint that examiners dare to criticize non-felonious bank conduct – and the WSJ ..."
"... I have more than a passing acquaintance with banking, banking regulation, and banking's rectitude (such an old fashioned word) in the importance for Main Street's survival, and for the country's as a whole survival as a trusted pivot point in world finance , or for the survival of the whole American project. I know this sounds like an over-the-top assertion on my part, however I believe it true. ..."
"... Obama et al confusing "banking" with sound banking is too ironic, imo. ..."
"... It was actually worse than this. The very deliberate strategy was to indoctrinate employees of federal regulatory agencies to see the companies they regulated not as "partners" but as "customers" to be served. This theme is repeated again and again in Bush era agency reports. Elizabeth Warren was viciously attacked early in the Obama Administration for calling for a new "watchdog" agency to protect consumers. The idea that a federal agency would dedicate itself to protecting citizens first was portrayed as dangerously radical by industry. ..."
"... Models on Clinton and Bush. What's not to like? Why isn't msm and dem elites showing him the love when he's following their long term policies? And we might assume these would be hills policies if she had been pushed over the line. A little thought realizes that in spite of the pearl clutching they far prefer him to Bernie. ..."
By Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is
to Own One, an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas
City, and co-founder of Bank Whistleblowers United. Jointly published with New Economic Perspectives
The Wall Street Journal published an article
on December 12, 2018 that should warn us of coming disaster: "Banks Get Kinder, Gentler
Treatment Under Trump." The last time a regulatory head lamented that regulators were not
"kinder and gentler" promptly ushered in the Enron-era fraud epidemic. President Bush made
Harvey Pitt his Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair in August 2001 and, in one of
his early major addresses, he spoke on October 22, 2001 to a group of accounting
Pitt, as a private counsel, represented all the top tier audit firms, and they had
successfully pushed Bush to appoint him to run the SEC. The second sentence of Pitt's speech
bemoaned the fact that the SEC had not been "a kinder and gentler place for accountants." He
concluded his first paragraph with the statement that the SEC and the auditors needed to work
"in partnership." He soon reiterated that point: "We view the accounting profession as our
partner" and amped it up by calling accountants the SEC's "critical partner."
Pitt expanded on that point: "I am committed to the principle that government is and must be
a service industry." That, of course, would not be controversial if he meant a service agency
(not "industry") for the public. Pitt, however, meant that the SEC should be a "service
industry" for the auditors and corporations.
Pitt then turned to pronouncing the SEC to be the guilty party in the "partnership." He
claimed that the SEC had terrorized accountants. He then stated that he had ordered the SEC to
end this fictional terror campaign.
[A]ccountants became afraid to talk to the SEC, and the SEC appeared to be unwilling to
listen to the profession. Those days are ended.
This prompted Pitt to ratchet even higher his "partnership" language.
I speak for the entire Commission when I say that we want to have a continuing dialogue,
and partnership, with the accounting profession,
Recall that Pitt spoke on October 22, 2001. Here are the relevant excerpts from the NY
Oct. 16 – Enron announces $638 million in third-quarter losses and a $1.2 billion
reduction in shareholder equity stemming from writeoffs related to failed broadband and water
trading ventures as well as unwinding of so-called Raptors, or fragile entities backed by
falling Enron stock created to hedge inflated asset values and keep hundreds of millions of
dollars in debt off the energy company's books.
Oct. 19 – Securities and Exchange Commission launches inquiry into Enron
Oct. 22 – Enron acknowledges SEC inquiry into a possible conflict of interest
related to the company's dealings with Fastow's partnerships.
Oct. 23 – Lay professes confidence in Fastow to analysts.
Oct. 24 – Fastow ousted.
The key fact is that even as Enron was obviously spiraling toward imminent collapse (it
filed for bankruptcy on December 2) – and the SEC knew it – Pitt offered no warning
in his speech. The auditors and the corporate CEOs and CFOs were not the SEC's 'partners.'
Thousands of CEOs and CFOs were filing false financial statements – with 'clean' opinions
from the then 'Big 5' auditors. Pitt was blind to the 'accounting control fraud' epidemic that
was raging at the time he spoke to the accountants. Thousands of his putative auditor
'partners' were getting rich by blessing fraudulent financial statements and harming the
investors that the SEC is actually supposed to serve.
Tom Frank aptly characterized the Bush appointees that completed the destruction of
effective financial regulation as "The Wrecking Crew." It is important, however, to understand
that Bush largely adopted and intensified Clinton's war against effective regulation. Clinton
and Bush led the unremitting bipartisan assault on regulation for 16 years. That produced the
criminogenic environment that produced the three largest financial fraud epidemics in history
that hyper-inflated the real estate bubble and drove the Great Financial Crisis (GFC).
President Trump has renewed the Clinton/Bush war on regulation and he has appointed banking
regulatory leaders that have consciously modeled their assault on regulation on Bush and
Clinton's 'Wrecking Crews.'
Bill Clinton's euphemism for his war on effective regulation was "Reinventing Government."
Clinton appointed VP Al Gore to lead the assault. (Clinton and Gore are "New Democrat" leaders
– the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party.) Gore decided he needed to choose an
anti-regulator to conduct the day-to-day leadership. We know from Bob Stone's memoir the sole
substantive advice he gave Gore in their first meeting that caused Gore to appoint him as that
leader. "Do not 'waste one second going after waste, fraud, and abuse.'" Elite insider fraud
is, historically, the leading cause of bank losses and failures, so Stone's advice was sure to
lead to devastating financial crises. It is telling that it was the fact that Stone gave
obviously idiotic advice to Gore that led him to select Stone as the field commander of Clinton
and Gore's war on effective regulation.
Stone convinced the Clinton-Gore administration to embrace the defining element of crony
capitalism as its signature mantra for its war on effective regulation. Stone and his troops
ordered us to refer to the banks, not the American people, as our "customers." Peters' foreword
to Stone's book admits the action, but is clueless about the impact.
Bob Stone's insistence on using the word "customer" was mocked by some -- but made an
enormous difference over the course of time. In general, he changed the vocabulary of public
service from 'procedure first' to 'service first.'"
That is a lie. We did not 'mock' the demand that we treat the banks rather than the American
people as our "customer" – we openly protested the outrageous order that we embrace and
encourage crony capitalism. Crony capitalism's core principle – which is unprincipled
– is that the government should treat elite CEOs as their 'customers' or 'partners.' A
number of us publicly expressed our rage at the corrupt order to treat CEOs as our customers.
The corrupt order caused me to leave the government.
Our purpose as regulators is to serve the people of the United States – not bank CEOs.
It was disgusting and dishonest for Peters to claim that our objection to crony capitalism
represented our (fictional) disdain for serving the public. Many S&L regulators risked
their careers by taking on elite S&L frauds and their powerful political fixers. Many of us
paid a heavy personal price because we acted to protect the public from these elite frauds. Our
efforts prevented the S&L debacle from causing a GFC – precisely because we
recognized the critical need to spend most of our time preventing and prosecuting the elite
frauds that Stone wanted us to ignore..
Trump's wrecking crew is devoted to recreating Clinton and Bush's disastrous crony
capitalism war on regulation that produced the GFC. In a June 8,
2018 article , the Wall Street Journal mocked Trump's appointment of Joseph Otting
as Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). The illustration that introduces the article bears the
motto: "IN BANKS WE TRUST."
Otting, channeling his inner Pitt, declared his employees guilty of systematic misconduct
and embraced crony capitalism through Pitt's favorite phrase – "partnership."
I think it is more of a partnership with the banks as opposed to a dictatorial perspective
under the prior administration.
Otting, while he was in the industry, compared the OCC under President Obama to a fictional
interstellar terrorist. Obama appointed federal banking regulators that were pale imitation of
Ed Gray, Joe Selby, and Mike Patriarca – the leaders of the S&L reregulation. The
idea that Obama's banking regulators were akin to 'terrorists' is farcical.
The WSJ's December 12, 2018 article reported that Otting had also used Bob Stone's
favorite term to embrace crony capitalism.
Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting has also changed the tone from the top at his
agency, calling banks his "customers."
There are many terrible role models Trump could copy as his model of how to destroy banking
regulation and produce the next GFC, but Otting descended into unintentional self-parody when
he channeled word-for-word the most incompetent and dishonest members of Clinton and Bush's
The same article reported a trade association's statement that demonstrates the type of
outrageous reaction that crony capitalism inevitably breeds within industry.
Banks are suffering from "examiner criticisms that do not deal with any violation of law,"
said Greg Baer, CEO of the Bank Policy Institute ."
The article presented no response to this statement so I will explain why it is absurd.
First, "banks" do not "suffer" from "examiner criticism." Banks gain from examiner criticism.
Effective regulators (and whistleblowers) are the only people who routinely 'speak truth to
power.' Auditors, credit rating agencies, and attorneys routinely 'bless' the worst CEO abuses
that harm banks while enriching the CEO. The bank CEO cannot fire the examiner, so the
examiners' expert advice is the only truly "independent" advice the bank's board of directors
receives. That makes the examiners' criticisms invaluable to the bank. CEOs hate our advice
because we are the only 'control' (other than the episodic whistleblower) that is willing and
competent to criticize the CEO.
The idea that examiners should not criticize any bank misconduct, predation, or 'unsafe
and unsound practice' that does not constitute a felony is obviously insane. While
"violations of law" (felonies) are obviously of importance to us in almost all cases, our
greatest expertise is in identifying – and stopping – "unsafe and unsound
practices" because such practices, like fraud, are leading causes of bank losses and
Third, repeated "unsafe and unsound practices" are a leading indicator of likely elite
insider bank fraud and other "violations of law."
The trade association complaint that examiners dare to criticize non-felonious bank
conduct – and the WSJ reporters' failure to point out the absurdity of that
complaint – demonstrate that the banking industry's goal remains the destruction of
effective banking regulation. Trump's wrecking crew is using the Clinton and Bush playbook to
restore fully crony capitalism. He has greatly accelerated the onset of the next GFC.
Thank you for this, Bill Black. IMO the long-term de-regulatory policies under successive
administrations cited here, together with their neutering the rule of law by overturning the
Glass-Steagall Act; de-funding and failing to enforce antitrust, fraud and securities laws;
financial repression of the majority; hidden financial markets subsidies; and other policies
are just part of an organized, long-term systemic effort to enable, organize and subsidize
massive control and securities fraud; theft of and disinvestment in publicly owned resources
and services; environmental damage; and transfers of social costs that enable the organizers
to in turn gain a hugely disproportionate share of the nation's wealth and nearly absolute
political control under their "Citizens United" political framework.
Not to diminish, but among other things the current president provides nearly daily
entertainment, diversion and spectacle in our Brave New World that serves to obfuscate what
has occurred and is happening.
I'm with you Chauncey. I believe the rot really got started with creative accounting in
early 1970s. That's when accountants of every flavor lost themselves and were soon followed
by the lawyers. Sauce for the goose.
Banks and Insurers and many industrial concerns have become too big. We could avoid all
the regulatory problems by placing a maximum size on commercial endeavour.
A number of years ago I did both the primary capital program and environmental (NEPA) review
for major capital projects in a Federal Region. Hundreds of millions of dollars were at
stake. A local agency wanted us (the Feds) to approve pushing up many of their projects using
a so-called Public Private Partnership (PPP). This required the local agency to borrow many
millions from Wall Street while at the same time privatizing many of their here-to-fore
public operations. And of course there was an added benefit of instituting a non-union
To this end I was required to sit down with the local agency head (he actually wore white
shoes), his staff and several representatives of Goldman-Sachs. After the meeting ended, I
opined to the agency staff that Goldman-Sachs was "bullshit" and so were their projects.
Shortly thereafter I was removed to a less high-profile Region with projects that were not
all that griftable, and there was no danger of me having to review a PPP.
Oh, and I denied, denied, denied saying "bullshit."
Thank you, NC, for featuring these posts by Bill Black.
I have more than a passing acquaintance with banking, banking regulation, and banking's
rectitude (such an old fashioned word) in the importance for Main Street's survival, and for
the country's as a whole survival as a trusted pivot point in world finance , or for
the survival of the whole American project. I know this sounds like an over-the-top assertion
on my part, however I believe it true.
Main Street also knows the importance of sound banking. Sound banking is not a 'poker
chip' to be used for games. Sound banking is key to the American experiment in
self-determination, as it has been called.
Politicians who 'don't get this" have lost touch with the entire American enterprise,
imo. And, no, the neoliberal promise that nation-states no longer matter doesn't make this
It was actually worse than this. The very deliberate strategy was to indoctrinate
employees of federal regulatory agencies to see the companies they regulated not as
"partners" but as "customers" to be served. This theme is repeated again and again in Bush
era agency reports. Elizabeth Warren was viciously attacked early in the Obama Administration
for calling for a new "watchdog" agency to protect consumers. The idea that a federal agency
would dedicate itself to protecting citizens first was portrayed as dangerously radical by
Models on Clinton and Bush.
What's not to like? Why isn't msm and dem elites showing him the love when he's following
their long term policies?
And we might assume these would be hills policies if she had been pushed over the line.
A little thought realizes that in spite of the pearl clutching they far prefer him to
After the Soviet-backed People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) took power in 1978,
the Pentagon began arming the Islamist opposition to the PDPA. US officials, reeling from their
defeat in Vietnam, devised a policy of "sucking the Soviets into a Vietnamese quagmire" in
Afghanistan, as CIA official Robert Gates wrote in his 1996 memoir From the Shadows .
When the Kremlin invaded Afghanistan in December 1979, in a reactionary attempt to strengthen
the PDPA regime in Kabul and stabilize the PDPA's relations with the Afghan rural elites,
Washington used Afghanistan as a battleground to bleed the Soviet army.
One of the CIA's main allies in carrying out this policy, recruiting tens of thousands of
Islamist fighters worldwide to go and fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, was a young Saudi
billionaire, Osama bin Laden, the future leader of Al Qaeda. Hensman endorses the US policy in
Afghanistan, while remaining silent on the CIA-Al Qaeda alliance, and presents it as part of a
liberation struggle against Soviet imperialism.
She writes, "A PDPA coup in 1978 faced tribal revolts that developed into a full-scale
uprising by December 1979, when the Russians invaded and occupied Afghanistan. The military
campaign that followed resembled the US campaign in Vietnam in its brutality to civilians The
war had reached a stalemate in the mid-1980s when Reagan, who was already supporting the
mujahideen, agreed to supply them with Stinger anti-aircraft missiles. These weapons turned the
tide against the Russians..."
Hensman's defense of the US role in the Soviet-Afghan war, and her silence on CIA-backed
Islamist terror networks, are reactionary. She hides the bloody character of the CIA-backed
Islamist proxy wars, both in 1979–1992 in Afghanistan and in 1979–1982 in Syria. It
is the descendants of these same forces, who are fighting today's Syrian war, that Hensman
hails as a "democratic revolution."
And then there's Brzezinski, with his murderous legacy that contains a curious thread linking
the Mujahideen "freedom fighters" to 9/11. As was written in the recently republished article
on the Bush family fortune and the Holocaust, "the only constant is the defense of the power
and privilege of the ruling oligarchy by whatever means are required."
--- Brzezinski acknowledged in an interview with the French news magazine Le Nouvel
Observateur in January 1998 that he initiated a policy in which the CIA covertly began arming
the mujahedeen in July 1978 -- six months before Soviet troops intervened in Afghanistan --
with the explicit aim of dragging the Soviet Union into a debilitating war.
Asked, given the catastrophe unleashed upon Afghanistan and the subsequent growth of
Islamist terrorist groups like Al Qaeda, whether he regretted the policy he championed in
Afghanistan, Brzezinski replied:
"Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing
the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets
officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter: We now have the opportunity of
giving to the USSR its Vietnam War. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war
unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally
the breakup of the Soviet empire."
Asked specifically whether he regretted the CIA's collaboration with and arming of
Islamist extremists, including Al Qaeda, in fomenting the war in Afghanistan, Brzezinski
responded contemptuously: "What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or
the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central
Europe and the end of the cold war?"
Kind of a funny aside: to find the Z-bigz quote I wanted, I put "Brzezinski on
Afghanistan" into duckduckgo, and the wsws obituary was third from the top.
CIA democrats are still determined to sink Tramp, and continues to beat the dead cat of
"Russian collision". What is interesting is that Jacob Schiff financed Bolsheviks revolution in
Yahoo comments reflect the deep split in the opinions in the society, which is positioned
mainly by party lines. Few commenters understadn that the problem is with neoliberalism, not
Trump, or Hillary who represent just different factions of the same neoliberal elite.
"... Schiff said Deutsche Bank has paid hundreds of millions of dollars in fines to the state of New York for laundering Russian money, and that it was the one bank willing to do business with the Trump Organization. ..."
"... In an interview with the New Yorker that was posted on line on Dec. 14, Schiff said the Intelligence Committee is "going to be looking at the issue of possible money laundering by the Trump Organization, and Deutsche Bank is one obvious place to start." ..."
"... A Senate investigation, which Warren and Van Hollen want to see followed by a report and a hearing, could put further pressure on the lender. The written request from the senators, sent Dec. 13, cites Deutsche Bank's "numerous enforcement actions" and a recent raid by police officers and tax investigators in Germany. ..."
"... Schiff, a target of Trump's on Twitter, also referred to reported comments by the president's sons some years ago that they didn't need "to deal with U.S. banks because they got all of the cash they needed from Russia or disproportionate share of their assets coming from Russia." He said Sunday he expects to learn more about that claim through financial records. ..."
The incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee joined Democratic colleagues in
questioning ties between Deutsche Bank AG and President Donald Trump's real estate
Representative Adam Schiff of California said on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday that any type
of compromise needs to be investigated. That could add his panel's scrutiny to that of
Representative Maxine Waters, who's in line to be chair of the House Financial Services
Committee and has also focused on the bank's connections to Trump.
Schiff's comments came three days after Wall Street critic Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts
and fellow Senate Democrat Chris Van Hollen called for a Banking Committee investigation of
Deutsche Bank's compliance with U.S. money-laundering regulations.
Schiff said Deutsche Bank has paid hundreds of millions of dollars in fines to the state
of New York for laundering Russian money, and that it was the one bank willing to do business
with the Trump Organization.
"Now, is that a coincidence?" Schiff said. "If this is a form of compromise, it needs to be
In an interview with the New Yorker that was posted on line on Dec. 14, Schiff said the
Intelligence Committee is "going to be looking at the issue of possible money laundering by the
Trump Organization, and Deutsche Bank is one obvious place to start."
A Senate investigation, which Warren and Van Hollen want to see followed by a report and
a hearing, could put further pressure on the lender. The written request from the senators,
sent Dec. 13, cites Deutsche Bank's "numerous enforcement actions" and a recent raid by police
officers and tax investigators in Germany.
It also notes the lender's U.S. operations being implicated in cross-border money-laundering
accusations such as in a recent case involving Danish lender Danske Bank A/S and the movement
of $230 billion in illicit funds.
"The compliance history of this institution raises serious questions about the national
security and criminal risks posed by its U.S. operations," the senators said in their letter.
"Its correspondent banking operations in the U.S. serve as a gateway to the U.S. financial
system for Deutsche Bank entities around the world."
Troy Gravitt, a Deutsche Bank spokesman, responded that the company "takes its legal
obligations seriously and remains committed to cooperating with authorized investigations."
Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat, had questioned the Federal Reserve earlier this year about
how it would keep the White House from interfering with oversight of the lender, which had been
a major lender to Trump's real estate business.
Schiff, a target of Trump's on Twitter, also referred to reported comments by the
president's sons some years ago that they didn't need "to deal with U.S. banks because they got
all of the cash they needed from Russia or disproportionate share of their assets coming from
Russia." He said Sunday he expects to learn more about that claim through financial
To contact the reporter on this story: Jesse Hamilton in Washington at
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jesse Westbrook at
email@example.com, Mark Niquette, Ros Krasny
55 seconds ago A
special Special Prosecutor must be appointed with a billion dollar budget. Where will the
money come from? Fines, penalties, and restitution by the Godfather.
U 46 seconds ago With
all these investigations, who should die hard Republicans vote for in 2020? Should it be
Donald Trump or Individual 1 or David Dennison? Gonna' be a hard choice next year.
minute ago Investigations of Trump are just getting started! hahaha
A 7 minutes ago Don
the Con is certainly getting a lot of probes of his illegal, criminal business deals. He
was a total idiot to become president and draw all this attention considering all the
crimes he has committed.
W 3 minutes ago
"Shifty" Schiff....doing everything to bring America together again!
D 17 minutes ago Lets investigate SLIMEY SHIFTLESS SCHIFF for leaking to
the News Media and running faster than a speedy bullet to a microphone and running his
loose lips !
B 3 minutes ago One of
the problem is that politicians, like schiffhead, have never had a real job and only have
scammed their donors and havent a clue how the real world works.