F Financial Sector Induced Systemic Instability of Economy

Softpanorama

May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)
Home Switchboard Unix Administration Red Hat TCP/IP Networks Neoliberalism Toxic Managers
(slightly skeptical) Educational society promoting "Back to basics" movement against IT overcomplexity and  bastardization of classic Unix

Financial Sector Induced Systemic Instability of Economy

While I believe in usefulness of capital markets, it is clear that they are double edge sword and that banks "in a long run" tend to behave like sociopathic individuals. Mr. Capone may have something to say about danger of banks :-).That means that  growth of financial sector represents a direct threat to the stability of the society. Positive feedback loops creates one financial crisis after another with the increasing magnitude leading up to a collapse of financial system like happened in 1927 and 2008.

News Casino Capitalism Recommended Links  Stability is destabilizing: The idea of Minsky moment Corruption of Regulators Quiet coup
Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Principal-agent problem Numbers racket Criminal negligence in financial regulation Corruption of FED Invisible Hand Hypothesis
The “Too Big To Fail” Problem In Goldman Sachs we trust Citi - The bank that couldn’t shoot straight JPMorgan AIG collapse Lehman
Free Markets Newspeak as Opium for regulators Derivatives Lobby Corrupts Congress Lobbying and the Financial Crisis Control Fraud
(crisis of corporate governance)
Stock Market with buybacks as a Ponzi scheme Derivatives
Small government smoke screen Financial Bonuses as Money Laundering Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime Corporatism   Financial obesity
Webliography of heterodox economists HFT Aleynikov vs. Goldman Sachs Casino Capitalism Dictionary Financial Humor Etc
  "Minsky's financial instability hypothesis depends critically on what amounts to a sociological insight. People change their minds about taking risks. They don't make a one-time rational judgment about debt use and stock market exposure and stick to it. Instead, they change their minds over time. And history is quite clear about how they change their minds. The longer the good times endure, the more people begin to see wisdom in risky strategies."

The Cost of Capitalism: Understanding Market Mayhem and Stabilizing our Economic Future, by Robert Barbera

The flaw with Capitalism is that it creates its own positive feedback loop, snowballing to the point where the accumulation of wealth and power hurts people — eventually even those at the top of the food chain. ”

Uncle Billy Cunctator
In comment to Economic Donkeys

 
  Banks are a clear case of market failure and their employees at the senior level have basically become the biggest bank robbers of all time. As for basing pay on current revenues and not profits over extended periods of time, then that is a clear case of market failure --  
  The banksters have been able to sell the “talent” myth to justify their outsized pay because they are the only ones able to deliver the type of GDP growth the U.S. economy needs in the short term, even if that kills the U.S. economy in the long term. You’ll be gone, I’ll be gone.  
  Unfortunately, many countries go broke pursuing war, if not financially, then morally (are the two different? – this post suggests otherwise).

I occurs to me that the U.S. is also in that flock; interventions justified by grand cause built on fallacy, the alpha and omega of failure. Is the financial apparatchik (or Nomenklatura, a term I like which, as many from the Soviet era, succinctly describes aspects of our situation today) fated also to the trash heap, despite the best efforts of the Man of the hour, Ben Bernanke?

 

Introduction

Financialization is a Damocles sword hanging over the neoliberal society

While I believe in usefulness of capital markets, it is clear that they are double edge sword and that banks "in a long run" tend to behave like sociopathic individuals. Mr. Capone may have something to say about danger of banks :-).That means that growth of financial sector represents a direct threat to the stability of the society (Keynesianism and the Great Recession )

Without adult supervision, as it were, a financial sector that was already inherently unstable went wild. When the subprime assets were found to be toxic since they were based on mortgages on which borrowers had defaulted, highly indebted or leveraged banks that had bought these now valueless securities had little equity to repay their creditors or depositors who now came after them. This quickly led to their bankruptcy, as in the case of Lehman Brothers, or to their being bailed out by government, as was the case with most of the biggest banks. The finance sector froze up, resulting in a recession—a big one—in the real economy.

Neoliberal revolution, or, as Simon Johnson called it after "quite coup" (Atlantic), brought political power to the financial oligarchy deposed after the New Deal. Deregulation naturally followed, with especially big role played by corrupt Clinton administration.  Positive feedback loops creates one financial crisis after another with the increasing magnitude. "Saving and loans" crisis followed by dot-com crisis of  2000, which in turn followed by the collapse of financial system in 2008, which looks somewhat similar to what happened in 1927.  No prominent financial honcho, who was instrumental in creating "subprime crisis" was jailed.  Most remained filthy rich.

Unless the society puts severe limits on their actions like was done during New Deal,  financial firms successfully subvert the regulation mechanisms and take the society hostage.  But periodic purges with relocation of the most active promoters of "freedom for banks" (aka free market fundamentalism) under the smoke screen of "free market" promotion does not solve the problem of positive feedback loops that banks create by mere existence. That's difficult to do while neoliberal ideology and related neoclassical economy dominates the society thinking (via brainwashing), with universities playing especially negative role -- most of economics departments are captured by neoliberals who censor any heretics. So year after year brainwashing students enter the society without understanding real dangers that neoliberalism brought for them.  Including lack of meaningful employment opportunities.

Of course, most of high level officers of leading finance institutions which caused the crisis of 2008-2009 as a psychological type are as close to  gangsters as one can get. But there is something in their actions that does not depend on individual traits (although many of them definitely can be classified as psychopaths), and is more related to their social position.  This situation is somewhat similar to Bolsheviks coup d'état of 1917 which resulted in capturing Russia by this ideological sect.  And in this sense quite coupe of 1980 is also irreversible in the same sense as Bolsheviks revolution was irreversible:  the "occupation" of the country by a fanatical sect lasts until the population rejects the ideology with its (now apparent) utopian claims.

Bolshevism which lasted 75 years, spend in such zombie state the last two decades (if we assume 1991 as the year of death of Bolshevism, its ideology was dead much earlier -- the grave flaws in it were visible from late 60th, if not after the WWII).  But only  when their ideology was destroyed both by inability to raise the standard of living of the population and by the growing neoliberal ideology as an alternative (and a new, more powerful then Marxism high-demand cult) Bolsheviks started to lose the grip on their power in the country. As a result Bolsheviks lost the power only in 1991, or more correctly switched camps and privatized the country. If not inaptness of their last General Secretary, they probably could last more. In any case after the ideology collapsed, the USSR disintegrated (or more correctly turn by national elites, each of which wanted their peace of the pie).

The sad truth is that the mere growth of financial sector creates additional positive feedback loops and increases structural instability within both the financial sector itself and the society at large. Dynamic systems with strong positive feedback loops not compensated by negative feedback loops are unstable. As a result banks and other financial institution periodically generate a deep, devastating crisis. This is the meaning of famous Hyman Minsky phrase "stability is destabilizing".

In other words, financial apparatchiks (or Financial Nomenklatura, a term from the Soviet era, which succinctly describes aspects of our situation today) drive the country off the cliff because they do not have any countervailing forces, by the strength of their political influence and unsaturable greed. Although the following analogy in weaker then analogy with dynamic systems with positive feedback loops, outsized financial sector can be viewed in  biological terms as cancer.

Cancer, known medically as a malignant neoplasm, is a broad group of diseases involving unregulated cell growth. In cancer, cells divide and grow uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors, and invading nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also spread to more distant parts of the body through the lymphatic system or bloodstream. Not all tumors are cancerous; benign tumors do not invade neighboring tissues and do not spread throughout the body. There are over 200 different known cancers that affect humans.[1]

Like certain types of cancer they depend of weakening "tumor suppressor genes"  (via "Quiet coup" mechanism of acquiring dominant political power) which allow then to engage in uncontrolled growth, destroying healthy cells (and first of all local manufacturing).   

The other suspicion is the unchecked financialization always goes too far and the last N percent of financial activity absorbs much more resources (especially intellectual resources) and creates more potential instability than its additional efficiency-benefits (often zero or negative) can justify. It is hard to imagine that a Hedge Fund Operator of the Year does anything that is even remotely socially useful to justify his enormous (and lightly taxed) compensation. It is pure wealth redistribution up based on political domination of financial oligarchy.  Significant vulnerabilities  within the shadow banking system and derivatives are plain vanilla socially destructive. Yet they persist due to inevitable political power grab by financial oligarchy  (Quiet coup).

Again, I would like to stress that this problem of the oversized financial sector which produces one devastating crisis after another   is closely related to the problem of a positive feedback loops. And the society in which banks are given free hand inevitably degrades into "socialism for banks"  or "casino capitalism" -- a type of neoliberalism with huge inequality and huge criminality of top banking officers.  

Whether we can do without private banks is unclear, but there is sound evidence that unlike growth of manufacturing, private financial sector growth is dangerous for the society health and perverts society goals.  Like cult groups the financial world does a terrific job of "shunning" the principled individuals and suppressing dissent (by capturing and cultivating neoliberal stooges in all major university departments and press),  so self-destructing tendencies after they arise can't be stopped within the framework of neoliberalism. In a way financial firm is like sociopath inevitable produces its  trail of victims (and sociopaths might be useful in battles exactly due to the qualities such as ability to remain cool in dangerous situation, that make them dangerous in the normal course of events).

This tendency of society with unregulated or lightly regulated financial sector toward self-destruction was first formulated as "Minsky instability hypothesis" -- and outstanding intellectual achievement of American economic Hyman Minsky (September 23, 1919 – October 24, 1996). Who BTW was pretty much underappreciated (if not suppressed) during his lifetime because his views were different from  orthodox (and false) neoclassic economic theory which dominates US universities, Like flat Earth theory was enforce by Catholic church before, it is fiercely enforced by an army of well paid neoliberal economics, those Jesuits of modern era. Who prosecute heretics who question flat Earth theory even more efficiently then their medieval counterparts; the only difference is that they do not burn the literally, only figuratively ;-)

Minsky financial instability hypothesis

Former Washington University in St. Louis economics professor Hyman P. Minsky had predicted the Great Recession decades before it happened.  Hyman Minsky was a real student of the Great Depression, while Bernanke who widely is viewed as a scholar who studied the Great Depression, in reality was a charlatan, who just tried to explain the Great Depression from the positions of neo-classical economy. That's a big difference.

Minsky instability hypothesis ("stability is destabilizing" under capitalism) that emerged from his analysis of the Great Depression was based on intellectual heritage of three great thinkers in economics (my presentation is partially based on an outstanding lecture by Steve Keen Lecture 6 on Minsky, Financial Instability, the Great Depression & the Global Financial Crisis). We can talk about three source of influence, there authors writing of which touched the same subject from similar positions and were the base of Hyman Minsky great advance in understanding of mechanics of development of financial crisis under capitalism and the critical role of financial system in it (neoclassical economics ignores the existence of financial system in its analysis): 

  1. Karl Marx influence
  2. Irving Fisher influence
  3. Joseph Schumpeter influence

Karl Marx influence

Minsky didn't follow the conventional version of Marxism  . And it was dangerous for him to do so due to McCarthysm. Even mentioning of Marx might lead to strakism fromthe academy those years.  McCarthy and his followers in academy did not understand the difference between Marx great analysis of capitalism and his utopian vision of the future. Impliedly this witch hunt helped to establish hegemony of neoclassical economy in economic departments in the USA.

While Minsky did not cited Marx in his writings and did use Marx's Labor Theory of Value his thinking was definitely influenced by Marx’s critique of  finance. We now know that he read and admired the Capital. And that not accidental due to the fact that his parents were Mensheviks -- a suppressed after Bolshevik revolution more moderate wing of Russian Social Democratic Party that rejected the idea of launching the socialist revolution in Russia --  in their opinion Russia needed first to became a capitalist country and get rid of remnants of feudalism. They escaped from Soviet Russia when Mensheviks started to be prosecuted by Bolsheviks.

And probably the main influence on Minsky was not Marx's discussion  of finance in Volume I of Capital with a "commodity" model of money, but critical remarks scattered in   Volumes II & III (which were not edited by Marx by compiled posthumously by Engels), where he was really critical of big banks as well as Marx's earlier works (Grundrisse, Theories of Surplus Value) where Marx was scathing about finance:

"A high rate of interest can also indicate, as it did in 1857, that the country is undermined by the roving cavaliers of credit who can afford to pay a high interest because they pay it out of other people's pocket* (whereby, however, they help to determine the rate of interest  for all) and meanwhile they live in grand style on anticipated profits. 

Irving Fisher influence

The second source on which Minsky based his insights was Irving Fisher. Irving Fisher’s reputation destroyed by wrong predictions on stock market prices. In aftermath, developed theory to explain the crash and published it in his book  "The Debt Deflation Theory of Great Depressions". His main points are:

According to Fisher two key disequilibrium forces that push economic into the next economic crisis are debt and subsequent deflation

Joseph Schumpeter influence

Joseph Schumpeter was Joseph Schumpeter has more positive view of capitalism than the other two. He authored the theory of creative destruction as a path by which capitalism achieves higher and higher productivity. He capitalism as necessarily unstable, but for him this was a positive feature -- instability of capitalism the source of its creativity. His view of capitalism was highly dynamic and somewhat resembles the view of Marx (who also thought that capitalism destroys all previous order and create a new one):

Unlike Marx, who thought that the periodic crisis of overproduction  is the source of instability (as well as  gradual absolute impoverishment of workers), Minsky assumed that the key source of that instability of capitalist system is connected with the cycles of business borrowing and fractional bank lending, when "good times" lead to excessive borrowing leading to high leverage and overproduction and thus to eventual debt crisis (The Alternative To Neoliberalism ):

Minsky on capitalism:

The idea of Minsky moment is related to the fact that the fractional reserve banking periodically causes credit collapse when the leveraged credit expansion goes into reverse. And mainstream economists do not want to talk about the fact that increasing confidence breeds increased leverage. So financial stability breeds instability and subsequent financial crisis. All actions to guarantee a market rise, ultimately guarantee it's destruction because greed will always take advantage of a "sure thing" and push it beyond reasonable boundaries.  In other words, marker players are no rational and assume that it would be foolish not to maximize leverage in a market which is going up. So the fractional reserve banking mechanisms ultimately and ironically lead to over lending and guarantee the subsequent crisis and the market's destruction. Stability breed instability.

That means that fractional reserve banking based economic system with private players (aka capitalism) is inherently unstable. And first of all because  fractional reserve banking is debt based. In order to have growth it must create debt. Eventually the pyramid of debt crushes and crisis hit. When the credit expansion fuels asset price bubbles, the dangers for the financial sector and the real economy are substantial because this way the credit boom bubble is inflated which eventually burst. The damage done to the economy by the bursting of credit boom bubbles is significant and long lasting.

Blissex said...

«When credit growth fuels asset price bubbles, the dangers for the financial sector and the real economy are much more substantial.»

So M Minsky 50 years ago and M Pettis 15 years ago (in his "The volatility machine") had it right? Who could have imagined! :-)

«In the past decades, central banks typically have taken a hands-off approach to asset price bubbles and credit booms.»

If only! They have been feeding credit-based asset price bubbles by at the same time weakening regulations to push up allowed capital-leverage ratios, and boosting the quantity of credit as high as possible, but specifically most for leveraged speculation on assets, by allowing vast-overvaluations on those assets.

Central banks have worked hard in most Anglo-American countries to redistribute income and wealth from "inflationary" worker incomes to "non-inflationary" rentier incomes via hyper-subsidizing with endless cheap credit the excesses of financial speculation in driving up asset prices.

Not very hands-off at all.

Steve Keen is probably the most well know researcher who tried to creates model of capitalist economy based on Minsky work (  http://www.debtdeflation.com/blogs/manifesto/ )

John Kay in his January 5 2010 FT column very aptly explained the systemic instability of financial sector hypothesis: 

The credit crunch of 2007-08 was the third phase of a larger and longer financial crisis. The first phase was the emerging market defaults of the 1990s. The second was the new economy boom and bust at the turn of the century. The third was the collapse of markets for structured debt products, which had grown so rapidly in the five years up to 2007.

The manifestation of the problem in each phase was different – first emerging markets, then stock markets, then debt. But the mechanics were essentially the same. Financial institutions identified a genuine economic change – the assimilation of some poor countries into the global economy, the opportunities offered to business by new information technology, and the development of opportunities to manage risk and maturity mismatch more effectively through markets. Competition to sell products led to wild exaggeration of the pace and scope of these trends. The resulting herd enthusiasm led to mispricing – particularly in asset markets, which yielded large, and largely illusory, profits, of which a substantial fraction was paid to employees.

Eventually, at the end of each phase, reality impinged. The activities that once seemed so profitable – funding the financial systems of emerging economies, promoting start-up internet businesses, trading in structured debt products – turned out, in fact, to have been a source of losses. Lenders had to make write-offs, most of the new economy stocks proved valueless and many structured products became unmarketable. Governments, and particularly the US government, reacted on each occasion by pumping money into the financial system in the hope of staving off wider collapse, with some degree of success. At the end of each phase, regulators and financial institutions declared that lessons had been learnt. While measures were implemented which, if they had been introduced five years earlier, might have prevented the most recent crisis from taking the particular form it did, these responses addressed the particular problem that had just occurred, rather than the underlying generic problems of skewed incentives and dysfunctional institutional structures.

The public support of markets provided on each occasion the fuel needed to stoke the next crisis. Each boom and bust is larger than the last. Since the alleviating action is also larger, the pattern is one of cycles of increasing amplitude.

I do not know what the epicenter of the next crisis will be, except that it is unlikely to involve structured debt products. I do know that unless human nature changes or there is fundamental change in the structure of the financial services industry – equally improbable – there will be another manifestation once again based on naive extrapolation and collective magical thinking. The recent crisis taxed to the full – the word tax is used deliberately – the resources of world governments and their citizens. Even if there is will to respond to the next crisis, the capacity to do so may not be there.

The citizens of that most placid of countries, Iceland, now backed by their president, have found a characteristically polite and restrained way of disputing an obligation to stump up large sums of cash to pay for the arrogance and greed of other people. They are right. We should listen to them before the same message is conveyed in much more violent form, in another place and at another time. But it seems unlikely that we will.

We made a mistake in the closing decades of the 20th century. We removed restrictions that had imposed functional separation on financial institutions. This led to businesses riddled with conflicts of interest and culture, controlled by warring groups of their own senior employees. The scale of resources such businesses commanded enabled them to wield influence to create a – for them – virtuous circle of growing economic and political power. That mistake will not be easily remedied, and that is why I view the new decade with great apprehension. In the name of free markets, we created a monster that threatens to destroy the very free markets we extol.

While Hyman Minsky was the first clearly formulate the financial instability hypothesis, Keynes also understood this dynamic pretty well. He postulated that a world with a large financial sector and an excessive emphasis on the production of investment products creates instability both in terms of output and prices. In other words it automatically tends to generate credit and asset bubbles.  The key driver is the fact that financial professionals generally risk other people’s money and due to this fact have asymmetrical incentives:

This asymmetry is not a new observation of this systemic problem. Andrew Jackson noted it in much more polemic way long ago:

“Gentlemen, I have had men watching you for a long time and I am convinced that you have used the funds of the bank to speculate in the breadstuffs of the country. When you won, you divided the profits amongst you, and when you lost, you charged it to the bank. You tell me that if I take the deposits from the bank and annul its charter, I shall ruin ten thousand families. That may be true, gentlemen, but that is your sin! Should I let you go on, you will ruin fifty thousand families, and that would be my sin! You are a den of vipers and thieves. I intend to rout you out, and by the grace of the Eternal God, will rout you out.”

This asymmetrical incentives ensure that the financial system is structurally biased toward taking on more risk than what should be taken. In other words it naturally tend to slide to the casino model, the with omnipresent reckless gambling as the primary and the most profitable mode of operation while an opportunities last.  The only way to counter this is to throw sand into the wheels of financial mechanism:  enforce strict regulations, limit money supplies and periodically jail too enthusiastic bankers. The latter is as important or even more important as the other two because bankers tend to abuse "limited liability" status like no other sector.

Asset inflation over the past 10 years and the subsequent catastrophe incurred is a way classic behavior of dynamic system with strong positive feedback loop.  Such behavior does not depends of personalities of bankers or policymakers, but is an immanent property of this class of dynamic systems. And the main driving force here was deregulation. So its important that new regulation has safety feature which make removal of it more complicated and requiring bigger majority like is the case with constitutional issues.

Another fact was the fact that due to perverted incentives, accounting in the banks was fraudulent from the very beginning and it was fraudulent on purpose.  Essentially accounting in banks automatically become as bad as law enforcement permits. This is a classic case of control fraud and from prevention standpoint is make sense to establish huge penalties for auditors, which might hurt healthy institutions but help to ensure that the most fraudulent institution lose these bank charter before affecting the whole system.  With the anti-regulatory zeal of Bush II administration the level of auditing became too superficial, almost non-existent. I remember perverted dances with Sarbanes–Oxley when it was clear from the very beginning that the real goal is not to strengthen accounting but to earn fees and to create as much profitable red tape as possible, in perfect Soviet bureaucracy style.

Deregulation also increases systemic risk by influencing the real goals of financial organizations. At some point of deregulation process the goal of higher remuneration for the top brass becomes self-sustainable trend  and replaces all other goals of the financial organization. This is the essence of  Martin Taylor’s, the former chief executive of Barclays,  article FT.com - Innumerate bankers were ripe for a reckoning in the Financial Times (Dec 15, 2009), which is worth reading in its entirety:

City people have always been paid well relative to others, but megabonuses are quite new. From my own experience, in the mid-1990s no more than four or five employees of Barclays’ then investment bank were paid more than £1m, and no one got near £2m. Around the turn of the millennium across the market things began to take off, and accelerated rapidly – after a pause in 2001-03 – so that exceptionally high remuneration, not just individually, but in total, was paid out between 2004 and 2007.

Observers of financial services saw unbelievable prosperity and apparently immense value added. Yet two years later the whole industry was bankrupt. A simple reason underlies this: any industry that pays out in cash colossal accounting profits that are largely imaginary will go bust quickly. Not only has the industry – and by extension societies that depend on it – been spending money that is no longer there, it has been giving away money that it only imagined it had in the first place. Worse, it seems to want to do it all again.

What were the sources of this imaginary wealth?

In the last two of these the bank was not receiving any income, merely “booking revenues”. How could they pay this non-existent wealth out in cash to their employees? Because they had no measure of cash flow to tell them they were idiots, and because everyone else was doing it. Paying out 50 per cent of revenues to staff had become the rule, even when the “revenues” did not actually consist of money.

In the next phase instability is amplified by the way governments and central banks respond to crises caused by credit bubble: the state has powerful means to end a recession, but the policies it uses give rise to the next phase of instability, the next bubble…. When money is virtually free – or, at least, at 0.5 per cent – traders feel stupid if they don’t leverage up to the hilt. Thus previous bubble and crash become a dress rehearsal for the next.

Resulting self-sustaining "boom-bust" cycle is very close how electronic systems with positive feedback loop behave and   cannot be explained by neo-classical macroeconomic models. Like with electronic devices the financial institution in this mode are unable to provide the services that are needed.

As Minsky noted long ago (sited from Stephen Mihm  Why capitalism fails Boston Globe):

Modern finance, he argued, was far from the stabilizing force that mainstream economics portrayed: rather, it was a system that created the illusion of stability while simultaneously creating the conditions for an inevitable and dramatic collapse.

...our whole financial system contains the seeds of its own destruction. “Instability,” he wrote, “is an inherent and inescapable flaw of capitalism.”

Minsky’s vision might have been dark, but he was not a fatalist; he believed it was possible to craft policies that could blunt the collateral damage caused by financial crises. But with a growing number of economists eager to declare the recession over, and the crisis itself apparently behind us, these policies may prove as discomforting as the theories that prompted them in the first place. Indeed, as economists re-embrace Minsky’s prophetic insights, it is far from clear that they’re ready to reckon with the full implications of what he saw.

And he understood the roots of the current credit bubble much better that neoclassical economists like Bernanke: 
As people forget that failure is a possibility, a “euphoric economy” eventually develops, fueled by the rise of far riskier borrowers - what [Minsky] called speculative borrowers, those whose income would cover interest payments but not the principal; and those he called “Ponzi borrowers,” those whose income could cover neither, and could only pay their bills by borrowing still further.

As these latter categories grew, the overall economy would shift from a conservative but profitable environment to a much more freewheeling system dominated by players whose survival depended not on sound business plans, but on borrowed money and freely available credit.

Minsky’s financial instability hypothesis suggests that when optimism is high and ample funds are available for investment, investors tend to migrate from the safe hedge end of the Minsky spectrum to the risky speculative and Ponzi end. Indeed, in the current crisis, investors tried to raise returns by increasing leverage and switching to financing via short-term—sometimes overnight— borrowing (Too late to learn?):

In the church of Friedman, inflation was the ol' devil tempting the good folk; the 1980s seemed to prove that, let loose, it would cause untold havoc on the populace. But, as Barbera notes:

The last five major global cyclical events were the early 1990s recession - largely occasioned by the US Savings & Loan crisis, the collapse of Japan Inc after the stock market crash of 1990, the Asian crisis of the mid-1990s, the fabulous technology boom/bust cycle at the turn of the millennium, and the unprecedented rise and then collapse for US residential real estate in 2007-2008. All five episodes delivered recessions, either global or regional. In no case was there a significant prior acceleration of wages and general prices. In each case, an investment boom and an associated asset market ran to improbable heights and then collapsed. From 1945 to 1985, there was no recession caused by the instability of investment prompted by financial speculation - and since 1985 there has been no recession that has not been caused by these factors.
Thus, meet the devil in Minsky's paradise - "an investment boom and an associated asset market [that] ran to improbable heights and then collapsed".

According the Barbera, "Minsky's financial instability hypothesis depends critically on what amounts to a sociological insight. People change their minds about taking risks. They don't make a one-time rational judgment about debt use and stock market exposure and stick to it. Instead, they change their minds over time. And history is quite clear about how they change their minds. The longer the good times endure, the more people begin to see wisdom in risky strategies."

Current economy state can be called following Paul McCulley a "stable disequilibrium" very similar to a state  a sand pile.  All this pile of  stocks, debt instruments, derivatives, credit default swaps and God know corresponds to a  pile of sand that is on the verse of losing stability. Each financial player works hard to maximize their own personal outcome but the "invisible hand" effect in adding sand to the pile that is increasing systemic instability. According to Minsky, the longer such situation continues the more likely and violent an "avalanche".

The late Hunt Taylor wrote, in 2006:

"Let us start with what we know. First, these markets look nothing like anything I've ever encountered before. Their stunning complexity, the staggering number of tradable instruments and their interconnectedness, the light-speed at which information moves, the degree to which the movement of one instrument triggers nonlinear reactions along chains of related derivatives, and the requisite level of mathematics necessary to price them speak to the reality that we are now sailing in uncharted waters.

"... I've had 30-plus years of learning experiences in markets, all of which tell me that technology and telecommunications will not do away with human greed and ignorance. I think we will drive the car faster and faster until something bad happens. And I think it will come, like a comet, from that part of the night sky where we least expect it."

This is a gold age for bankers as Simon Johnson wrote in New Republic (The Next Financial Crisis ):

Banking was once a dangerous profession. In Britain, for instance, bankers faced “unlimited liability”--that is, if you ran a bank, and the bank couldn’t repay depositors or other creditors, those people had the right to confiscate all your personal assets and income until you repaid. It wasn’t until the second half of the nineteenth century that Britain established limited liability for bank owners. From that point on, British bankers no longer assumed much financial risk themselves.

In the United States, there was great experimentation with banking during the 1800s, but those involved in the enterprise typically made a substantial commitment of their own capital. For example, there was a well-established tradition of “double liability,” in which stockholders were responsible for twice the original value of their shares in a bank. This encouraged stockholders to carefully monitor bank executives and employees. And, in turn, it placed a lot of pressure on those who managed banks. If they fared poorly, they typically faced personal and professional ruin. The idea that a bank executive would retain wealth and social status in the event of a self-induced calamity would have struck everyone--including bank executives themselves--as ludicrous.

Enter, in the early part of the twentieth century, the Federal Reserve. The Fed was founded in 1913, but discussion about whether to create a central bank had swirled for years. “No one can carefully study the experience of the other great commercial nations,” argued Republican Senator Nelson Aldrich in an influential 1909 speech, “without being convinced that disastrous results of recurring financial crises have been successfully prevented by a proper organization of capital and by the adoption of wise methods of banking and of currency”--in other words, a central bank. In November 1910, Aldrich and a small group of top financiers met on an isolated island off the coast of Georgia. There, they hammered out a draft plan to create a strong central bank that would be owned by banks themselves.

What these bankers essentially wanted was a bailout mechanism for the aftermath of speculative crashes -- something more durable than J.P. Morgan, who saved the day in the Panic of 1907 but couldn’t be counted on to live forever. While they sought informal government backing and substantial government financial support for their new venture, the bankers also wanted it to remain free of government interference, oversight, or control.

Another destabilizing fact is so called myth of invisible hand which is closely related to the myth about market self-regulation. The misunderstood argument of Adam Smith [1776], the founder of modern economics, that free markets led to efficient outcomes, “as if by an invisible hand” has played a central role in these debates: it suggested that we could, by and large, rely on markets without government intervention. About "invisible hand" deification, see The Invisible Hand, Trumped by Darwin - NYTimes.com.

The concept of Minsky moment

The moment in the financial system when the quantity of debt turns into quality and produces yet another financial crisis is called Minsky moment. In other words the “Minsky moment” is the time when an unsustainable financial boom turns into uncontrollable collapse of financial markets (aka financial crash). The existence of Minsky moments is one of the most important counterargument against financial market self-regulation.  It also expose free market fundamentalists such as "former Maestro" Greenspan as charlatans. Greenspan actually implicitly admitted that he is and that it was he, who was the "machinist"  who helped to bring the USA economic train off the rails in 2008 via deregulation  and dismantling the New Deal installed safeguards. 

Here how it is explained by Stephen Mihm in Boston Globe in 2009 in the after math of 2008 financial crisis:

“Minsky” was shorthand for Hyman Minsky, an American macroeconomist who died over a decade ago.  He predicted almost exactly the kind of meltdown that recently hammered the global economy. He believed in capitalism, but also believed it had almost a genetic weakness. Modern finance, he argued, was far from the stabilizing force that mainstream economics portrayed: rather, it was a system that created the illusion of stability while simultaneously creating the conditions for an inevitable and dramatic collapse.

In other words, the one person who foresaw the crisis also believed that our whole financial system contains the seeds of its own destruction. “Instability,” he wrote, “is an inherent and inescapable flaw of capitalism.”

Minsky believed it was possible to craft policies that could blunt the collateral damage caused by financial crises. As economists re-embrace Minsky’s prophetic insights, it is far from clear that they’re ready to reckon with the full implications of what he saw.

Minsky theory was not well received due to powerful orthodoxy, born in the years after World War II, known as the neoclassical synthesis. The older belief in a self-regulating, self-stabilizing free market had selectively absorbed a few insights from John Maynard Keynes, the great economist of the 1930s who wrote extensively of the ways that capitalism might fail to maintain full employment. Most economists still believed that free-market capitalism was a fundamentally stable basis for an economy, though thanks to Keynes, some now acknowledged that government might under certain circumstances play a role in keeping the economy - and employment - on an even keel.

Economists like Paul Samuelson became the public face of the new establishment; he and others at a handful of top universities became deeply influential in Washington. In theory, Minsky could have been an academic star in this new establishment: Like Samuelson, he earned his doctorate in economics at Harvard University, where he studied with legendary Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter, as well as future Nobel laureate Wassily Leontief.

But Minsky was cut from different cloth than many of the other big names. The descendent of immigrants from Minsk, in modern-day Belarus, Minsky was a red-diaper baby, the son of Menshevik socialists. While most economists spent the 1950s and 1960s toiling over mathematical models, Minsky pursued research on poverty, hardly the hottest subfield of economics. With long, wild, white hair, Minsky was closer to the counterculture than to mainstream economics. He was, recalls the economist L. Randall Wray, a former student, a “character.”

So while his colleagues from graduate school went on to win Nobel prizes and rise to the top of academia, Minsky languished. He drifted from Brown to Berkeley and eventually to Washington University. Indeed, many economists weren’t even aware of his work. One assessment of Minsky published in 1997 simply noted that his “work has not had a major influence in the macroeconomic discussions of the last thirty years.”

Yet he was busy. In addition to poverty, Minsky began to delve into the field of finance, which despite its seeming importance had no place in the theories formulated by Samuelson and others. He also began to ask a simple, if disturbing question: “Can ‘it’ happen again?” - where “it” was, like Harry Potter’s nemesis Voldemort, the thing that could not be named: the Great Depression.

In his writings, Minsky looked to his intellectual hero, Keynes, arguably the greatest economist of the 20th century. But where most economists drew a single, simplistic lesson from Keynes - that government could step in and micromanage the economy, smooth out the business cycle, and keep things on an even keel - Minsky had no interest in what he and a handful of other dissident economists came to call “bastard Keynesianism.”

Instead, Minsky drew his own, far darker, lessons from Keynes’s landmark writings, which dealt not only with the problem of unemployment, but with money and banking. Although Keynes had never stated this explicitly, Minsky argued that Keynes’s collective work amounted to a powerful argument that capitalism was by its very nature unstable and prone to collapse. Far from trending toward some magical state of equilibrium, capitalism would inevitably do the opposite. It would lurch over a cliff.

This insight bore the stamp of his advisor Joseph Schumpeter, the noted Austrian economist now famous for documenting capitalism’s ceaseless process of “creative destruction.” But Minsky spent more time thinking about destruction than creation. In doing so, he formulated an intriguing theory: not only was capitalism prone to collapse, he argued, it was precisely its periods of economic stability that would set the stage for monumental crises.

Minsky called his idea the “Financial Instability Hypothesis.” In the wake of a depression, he noted, financial institutions are extraordinarily conservative, as are businesses. With the borrowers and the lenders who fuel the economy all steering clear of high-risk deals, things go smoothly: loans are almost always paid on time, businesses generally succeed, and everyone does well. That success, however, inevitably encourages borrowers and lenders to take on more risk in the reasonable hope of making more money. As Minsky observed, “Success breeds a disregard of the possibility of failure.”

As people forget that failure is a possibility, a “euphoric economy” eventually develops, fueled by the rise of far riskier borrowers - what he called speculative borrowers, those whose income would cover interest payments but not the principal; and those he called “Ponzi borrowers,” those whose income could cover neither, and could only pay their bills by borrowing still further. As these latter categories grew, the overall economy would shift from a conservative but profitable environment to a much more freewheeling system dominated by players whose survival depended not on sound business plans, but on borrowed money and freely available credit.

Once that kind of economy had developed, any panic could wreck the market. The failure of a single firm, for example, or the revelation of a staggering fraud could trigger fear and a sudden, economy-wide attempt to shed debt. This watershed moment - what was later dubbed the “Minsky moment” - would create an environment deeply inhospitable to all borrowers. The speculators and Ponzi borrowers would collapse first, as they lost access to the credit they needed to survive. Even the more stable players might find themselves unable to pay their debt without selling off assets; their forced sales would send asset prices spiraling downward, and inevitably, the entire rickety financial edifice would start to collapse. Businesses would falter, and the crisis would spill over to the “real” economy that depended on the now-collapsing financial system.

From the 1960s onward, Minsky elaborated on this hypothesis. At the time he believed that this shift was already underway: postwar stability, financial innovation, and the receding memory of the Great Depression were gradually setting the stage for a crisis of epic proportions. Most of what he had to say fell on deaf ears. The 1960s were an era of solid growth, and although the economic stagnation of the 1970s was a blow to mainstream neo-Keynesian economics, it did not send policymakers scurrying to Minsky. Instead, a new free market fundamentalism took root: government was the problem, not the solution.

Moreover, the new dogma coincided with a remarkable era of stability. The period from the late 1980s onward has been dubbed the “Great Moderation,” a time of shallow recessions and great resilience among most major industrial economies. Things had never been more stable. The likelihood that “it” could happen again now seemed laughable.

Yet throughout this period, the financial system - not the economy, but finance as an industry - was growing by leaps and bounds. Minsky spent the last years of his life, in the early 1990s, warning of the dangers of securitization and other forms of financial innovation, but few economists listened. Nor did they pay attention to consumers’ and companies’ growing dependence on debt, and the growing use of leverage within the financial system.

By the end of the 20th century, the financial system that Minsky had warned about had materialized, complete with speculative borrowers, Ponzi borrowers, and precious few of the conservative borrowers who were the bedrock of a truly stable economy. Over decades, we really had forgotten the meaning of risk. When storied financial firms started to fall, sending shockwaves through the “real” economy, his predictions started to look a lot like a road map.

“This wasn’t a Minsky moment,” explains Randall Wray. “It was a Minsky half-century.”

Minsky is now all the rage. A year ago, an influential Financial Times columnist confided to readers that rereading Minsky’s 1986 “masterpiece” - “Stabilizing an Unstable Economy” - “helped clear my mind on this crisis.” Others joined the chorus. Earlier this year, two economic heavyweights - Paul Krugman and Brad DeLong - both tipped their hats to him in public forums. Indeed, the Nobel Prize-winning Krugman titled one of the Robbins lectures at the London School of Economics “The Night They Re-read Minsky.”

Today most economists, it’s safe to say, are probably reading Minsky for the first time, trying to fit his unconventional insights into the theoretical scaffolding of their profession. If Minsky were alive today, he would no doubt applaud this belated acknowledgment, even if it has come at a terrible cost. As he once wryly observed, “There is nothing wrong with macroeconomics that another depression [won’t] cure.”

But does Minsky’s work offer us any practical help? If capitalism is inherently self-destructive and unstable - never mind that it produces inequality and unemployment, as Keynes had observed - now what?

After spending his life warning of the perils of the complacency that comes with stability - and having it fall on deaf ears - Minsky was understandably pessimistic about the ability to short-circuit the tragic cycle of boom and bust. But he did believe that much could be done to ameliorate the damage.

To prevent the Minsky moment from becoming a national calamity, part of his solution (which was shared with other economists) was to have the Federal Reserve - what he liked to call the “Big Bank” - step into the breach and act as a lender of last resort to firms under siege. By throwing lines of liquidity to foundering firms, the Federal Reserve could break the cycle and stabilize the financial system. It failed to do so during the Great Depression, when it stood by and let a banking crisis spiral out of control. This time, under the leadership of Ben Bernanke - like Minsky, a scholar of the Depression - it took a very different approach, becoming a lender of last resort to everything from hedge funds to investment banks to money market funds.

Minsky’s other solution, however, was considerably more radical and less palatable politically. The preferred mainstream tactic for pulling the economy out of a crisis was - and is - based on the Keynesian notion of “priming the pump” by sending money that will employ lots of high-skilled, unionized labor - by building a new high-speed train line, for example.

Minsky, however, argued for a “bubble-up” approach, sending money to the poor and unskilled first. The government - or what he liked to call “Big Government” - should become the “employer of last resort,” he said, offering a job to anyone who wanted one at a set minimum wage. It would be paid to workers who would supply child care, clean streets, and provide services that would give taxpayers a visible return on their dollars. In being available to everyone, it would be even more ambitious than the New Deal, sharply reducing the welfare rolls by guaranteeing a job for anyone who was able to work. Such a program would not only help the poor and unskilled, he believed, but would put a floor beneath everyone else’s wages too, preventing salaries of more skilled workers from falling too precipitously, and sending benefits up the socioeconomic ladder.

While economists may be acknowledging some of Minsky’s points on financial instability, it’s safe to say that even liberal policymakers are still a long way from thinking about such an expanded role for the American government. If nothing else, an expensive full-employment program would veer far too close to socialism for the comfort of politicians. For his part, Wray thinks that the critics are apt to misunderstand Minsky. “He saw these ideas as perfectly consistent with capitalism,” says Wray. “They would make capitalism better.”

But not perfect. Indeed, if there’s anything to be drawn from Minsky’s collected work, it’s that perfection, like stability and equilibrium, are mirages. Minsky did not share his profession’s quaint belief that everything could be reduced to a tidy model, or a pat theory. His was a kind of existential economics: capitalism, like life itself, is difficult, even tragic. “There is no simple answer to the problems of our capitalism,” wrote Minsky. “There is no solution that can be transformed into a catchy phrase and carried on banners.”

It’s a sentiment that may limit the extent to which Minsky becomes part of any new orthodoxy. But that’s probably how he would have preferred it, believes liberal economist James Galbraith. “I think he would resist being domesticated,” says Galbraith. “He spent his career in professional isolation.”

Stephen Mihm is a history professor at the University of Georgia and author of “A Nation of Counterfeiters” (Harvard, 2007). © Copyright 2009 Globe Newspaper Company.

 

Some important albeit random (and overlapping) points about instability of financial system

The first thing to understand is that attempt to weaken positive feedback looks via regulation, approach that can be called  “regulation as a Swiss knife” does not work without law enforcement and criminal liability for bankers, as there is an obvious problem of corruption of regulators. In this sense the mechanism of purges might be the only one that realistically can work.

In other words it’s unclear who and how can prevents the capture of regulators as financial sector by definition has means to undermine any such efforts. One way this influence work is via lobbing for appointment of pro-financial sector people in key positions. If such "finance-sector-selected" Fed chairman does not like part of Fed mandate related to regulation it can simply ignore it as long as he is sure that he will be reappointed. That happened with Greenspan.  After such process started it became irreversible and only after a significant, dramatic shock to the system any meaningful changes can be instituted and as soon as the lessons are forgotten work on undermining them resumes.

In essence, the Fed is a political organization and Fed Chairman is as close to a real vice-president of the USA as one can get.  As such Fed Chairman serves the elite which rules that country, whether you call them financial oligarchy or some other name. Actually Fed Chairman is the most powerful unelected official in the USA. If you compare this position to the role of the Chairman of the Politburo  in the USSR you’ll might find some interesting similarities.

In other words it is impossible to prevent appointment of another Greenspan by another Reagan without changes in political power balance.  And the transition to banana republic that follows such appointment is irreversible even if the next administration water boards former Fed Chairman to help him to write his memoirs.  That means that you need to far-reaching reform of political system to be able to regulate financial industry and you need to understand that the measures adopted need vigilant protection as soon as the current crisis is a distant history.

Additional reading

Several other source of financial instability were pointed out by others:

There are some outstanding lectures and presentation on YouTube on this topic. Among them:

See an expended list at Webliography of heterodox economists

Dr. Nikolai Bezroukov


Top Visited
Switchboard
Latest
Past week
Past month

NEWS CONTENTS

Old News ;-)

Home 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008

For the list of top articles see Recommended Links section

2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
[In casino capitalism] financial institutions make a living screwing over their customers so their biggest concern is how to avoid losing lawsuits when they get sued

Why Wall Street Ignores Real Risk
And Why History Will Repeat Itself

[Jun 12, 2021] There s a new LGBTQ-focused ETF

Notable quotes:
"... Just in time for Pride Month, a new exchange traded fund aims to connect with LGBTQ investors. ..."
"... LGBTQ Loyalty Holdings partners with Harris Poll to annually survey 150,000 self-identifying LGBTQ constituents across the U.S. for their views about a company's brand awareness, brand image, brand loyalty and how the firm supports the community. As noted in its prospectus , 25% of the index's weighting is derived from that survey data. ..."
Jun 06, 2021 | www.marketwatch.com

Just in time for Pride Month, a new exchange traded fund aims to connect with LGBTQ investors. Two previous efforts failed to attract enough assets.

The fund, LGBTQ + ESG100 ETF LGBT, , launched in late May, is a passively managed, large-cap index fund that holds the top 100 U.S. companies that most align with the LGBTQ community.

In 2019, two LGBTQ-focused ETFs were delisted: ALPS Workplace Equality Portfolio ETF and InsightShares LGBT Employment Equality ETFs. Like this new fund, both were mostly U.S. large-cap, passive index ETFs comprising companies that received high or perfect marks for workplace equality in the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index , a benchmark for corporate LGBTQ policies.

The first ETF stuck around for five years, but the second barely made it two years, even though it was launched with much fanfare by UBS. Neither gained many assets.

Bobby Blair, CEO and founder of LGBTQ Loyalty Holdings, which launched the fund with issuer ProcureAM, says community input on holdings makes this fund different.

LGBTQ Loyalty Holdings partners with Harris Poll to annually survey 150,000 self-identifying LGBTQ constituents across the U.S. for their views about a company's brand awareness, brand image, brand loyalty and how the firm supports the community. As noted in its prospectus , 25% of the index's weighting is derived from that survey data.

... the LGBTQ + ESG100 has an annual expense ratio of 0.75%.

[Jun 07, 2021] There s a new LGBTQ-focused ETF

Jun 06, 2021 | www.marketwatch.com

Just in time for Pride Month, a new exchange traded fund aims to connect with LGBTQ investors. Two previous efforts failed to attract enough assets.

The fund, LGBTQ + ESG100 ETF LGBT, +0.91% , launched in late May, is a passively managed, large-cap index fund that holds the top 100 U.S. companies that most align with the LGBTQ community.

In 2019, two LGBTQ-focused ETFs were delisted: ALPS Workplace Equality Portfolio ETF and InsightShares LGBT Employment Equality ETFs. Like this new fund, both were mostly U.S. large-cap, passive index ETFs comprising companies that received high or perfect marks for workplace equality in the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index , a benchmark for corporate LGBTQ policies.

The first ETF stuck around for five years, but the second barely made it two years, even though it was launched with much fanfare by UBS. Neither gained many assets.

Bobby Blair, CEO and founder of LGBTQ Loyalty Holdings, which launched the fund with issuer ProcureAM, says community input on holdings makes this fund different.

LGBTQ Loyalty Holdings partners with Harris Poll to annually survey 150,000 self-identifying LGBTQ constituents across the U.S. for their views about a company's brand awareness, brand image, brand loyalty and how the firm supports the community. As noted in its prospectus , 25% of the index's weighting is derived from that survey data.

... the LGBTQ + ESG100 has an annual expense ratio of 0.75%.

[May 31, 2021] Yes inflation is transitionary. Thos only question is transitionary to what level?

Highly recommended!
As for whether this is "transitory," we may paraphrase J.M. Keynes: In the long run, everything is transitory.
May 31, 2021 | www.wsj.com
D

David Weisz

I accept the reality except that FED said this inflation is "transitory."

The Fed description is accurate... it's just whether the transition is to lower inflation or to runaway inflation.

Jim McCreary
The biggest single factor that will drive long-term inflation is the absence of downward price pressure from new Chinese market entrants. Cutthroat pricing from China is the ONLY reason the West has been able to get away with Money-Printing Gone Wild for the past 20 years without triggering runaway inflation.

There are no new Chinese entrants because the Chinese are now all in in the world economy. The existing Chinese competitors are seeing their costs go UP, not down, because they have fully employed the Chinese population, and have to pay up in order to get and keep workers.

So, without any more downward price pressure from China, this latest round of Money-Printing Gone Wild is showing up as price inflation, and will continue to do so.

Batten down the hatches! Stagflation and then runaway inflation are coming!

[May 26, 2021] U.S. stocks are demonstrating most of the characteristics of a bubble, but don't sell yet, says strategist

Of course, you need to wait until all banks and hedge managers sell ;-)
May 26, 2021 | finance.yahoo.com
Steve Goldstein

U.S. stocks are looking bubbly but it isn't time to sell, argues this fund manager's strategist.

[May 24, 2021] Taibbi- Con Of The Week - Greensill Capital

May 24, 2021 | www.zerohedge.com

pndr4495 2 days ago (Edited)

Doyle Lonnegan to Johnny "Hooker" Kelly in the movie The Sting: "Your boss is quite the card player Mr. Kelly. How does he do it?"

Kelly to Lonnegan: "He cheats."

philipat 2 days ago

It's appropriate that the entirely useless ex-PM Cameron got taken by this guy and tried to use his influence to access free money for him from The Treasury as an "advisor"..He didn't get any.

Cameron couldn't even do corruption properly!!

[May 24, 2021] -The Fed Has Lost Control- - John Williams Warns Of Hyperinflation In 2022

May 24, 2021 | www.zerohedge.com

messystateofaffairs 48 minutes ago

The Fed never had control, just s bunch of shysters running a long term hybrid ponzi scheme.

Lordflin 54 minutes ago (Edited)

The Fed is losing control...

I suppose that is true... as the function has been to drain the people's wealth into the coffers of the few...

The Real Satoshi 29 minutes ago remove link

Sad that Greg Hunter got kicked off youtube.

gregga777 12 minutes ago (Edited)

He is in great company, though. Anyone who offends the Marxist narratives (Politically Correct, Multicultural, Affirmative Action, Diversity, Feminist, LGBTQQ, etc.) gets kicked off YouTube.

pmc 36 minutes ago (Edited) remove link

...As Kissinger said "The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer."

https://thenewamerican.com/kissinger-the-illegal-we-do-immediately-the-unconstitutional-takes-a-little-longer/

[May 11, 2021] 11 Plunging Stocks Are Badly Burning Cathie Wood's ARK Invest

May 11, 2021 | finance.yahoo.com

Cathie Wood's ARK Invest is still red-hot, but now in the opposite way: It's getting burned by many collapsing stocks including some in the S&P 500.

[May 10, 2021] How many times can a declared "expert" be wrong before they are not an expert anymore!

Notable quotes:
"... Ask an economist. Wrong more than 50% of the time and still fully employed. When was the last time an economist got fired for being wrong? ..."
Apr 15, 2021 | www.zerohedge.com
lwilland1012 1 hour ago

How many times can a declared "expert" be wrong before they are not an expert anymore!

INTJ Economist 1 hour ago

Ask an economist. Wrong more than 50% of the time and still fully employed. When was the last time an economist got fired for being wrong?

[May 09, 2021] CPI Is A Lie! We can't trust CPI to tell us the truth about inflation by Peter Schiff

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The CPI is calculated by analyzing the price of a "basket of goods." The makeup of that basket has a big impact on the final CPI number. According to WolfStreet , 10.9% of the CPI is based on durable goods (computers, automobiles, appliances, etc.). Nondurable goods (primarily food and energy) make up 26.6% of CPI. Services account for the remaining 62.5% of the basket. This includes rent, healthcare, cellphone service etc.) ..."
"... The things the government includes and excludes from the basket can make a profound difference in that final CPI number. Back in 1998, the government significantly revised the CPI metrics. Even the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) admitted the changes were "sweeping." ..."
"... In 1998, the BLS followed the recommendations of the Boskin Commission. It was appointed by the Senate in 1995. Initially called the "Advisory Commission to Study the Consumer Price Index," its job was to study possible bias in the computation of the CPI. Unsurprisingly, it determined that the index overstated inflation " by about 1.1% per year in 1996 and about 1.3% prior to 1996. The 1998 changes to CPI were meant to address this "issue." ..."
"... As Peter pointed out, there is a lot of geometric weighting, substitution and hedonics built into the calculation. The government can basically create an index that outputs whatever it wants. ..."
"... Peter said there is a bit of irony in government officials and central bankers constantly complaining about "not enough inflation." ..."
"... They're the ones that are cooking the books to pretend that inflation is lower than it really is. Because what they're really trying to do is get the go-ahead to produce more inflation, which is printing money." ..."
"... And there are other things that hide inflation. For instance, shrinking packaging so there is less product sold at the same price, or substituting lower quality ingredients, or requiring consumers to assemble items themselves. ..."
"... They find different ways to lower the quality and not increase the price, and I'm sure that the government is not picking up on any of that. If the quality improves, yeah, yeah, they calculate that. But they probably ignore all the circumstances where the quality is diminished." ..."
"... The bottom line is we can't trust CPI to tell us the truth about inflation. ..."
May 04, 2021 | www.zerohedge.com

Via SchiffGold.com,

We've been talking a lot about the specter of inflation. Despite the Fed's assurances not to worry because any price increases we're seeing are transitory, some people are indeed worried. A former JP Morgan managing director warned about inflation and echoed Peter Schiff's view that the central bank is powerless to fight it.

And we're seeing rising prices all over the place, from the grocery store to the gas station. Even the government numbers flash warning signs . But as Peter Schiff explains in this clip from an interview with Jay Martin, it's probably even worse than we realize because the government cooks the numbers when it calculates CPI.

The monthly rises in CPI through the first quarter show an upward trend. The CPI in January was up 0.3%. It was up 0.4% in February. And now it's up 0.6% in March. That totals a 1.013% increase in Q1 alone. The question is does this really reflect the truth about inflation? Peter doesn't think it does.

The government always makes changes to their methods of measuring things, whether it's GDP, or inflation, or unemployment. And they always tweak the numbers to produce a better result as a report card. "

https://www.youtube.com/embed/lnPrsBzIZsw

Imagine if students in a school had the ability to change the metrics by which they were graded or the methodology the teacher used to calculate their grades.

Would it surprise anybody that all of a sudden they started getting more As and Bs and fewer Cs and Ds? The government always wants to make the good stuff better, like economic growth, and the bad stuff better, like unemployment or inflation. So, they want to find ways to make those numbers little and the good numbers big."

The CPI is calculated by analyzing the price of a "basket of goods." The makeup of that basket has a big impact on the final CPI number. According to WolfStreet , 10.9% of the CPI is based on durable goods (computers, automobiles, appliances, etc.). Nondurable goods (primarily food and energy) make up 26.6% of CPI. Services account for the remaining 62.5% of the basket. This includes rent, healthcare, cellphone service etc.)

The things the government includes and excludes from the basket can make a profound difference in that final CPI number. Back in 1998, the government significantly revised the CPI metrics. Even the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) admitted the changes were "sweeping."

According to the BLS, periodic changes to the CPI calculation are necessary because "consumers change their preferences or new products and services emerge. During these occasions, the Bureau reexamines the CPI item structure, which is the classification scheme of the CPI market basket. The item structure is a central feature of the CPI program and many CPI processes depend on it."

In 1998, the BLS followed the recommendations of the Boskin Commission. It was appointed by the Senate in 1995. Initially called the "Advisory Commission to Study the Consumer Price Index," its job was to study possible bias in the computation of the CPI. Unsurprisingly, it determined that the index overstated inflation " by about 1.1% per year in 1996 and about 1.3% prior to 1996. The 1998 changes to CPI were meant to address this "issue."

As Peter pointed out, there is a lot of geometric weighting, substitution and hedonics built into the calculation. The government can basically create an index that outputs whatever it wants.

I think this period of "˜Oh wow! We have low inflation!' It's not a coincidence that it followed this major revision into how we calculate it."

Peter said there is a bit of irony in government officials and central bankers constantly complaining about "not enough inflation."

They're the ones that are cooking the books to pretend that inflation is lower than it really is. Because what they're really trying to do is get the go-ahead to produce more inflation, which is printing money."

Peter said the CPI will never reveal the true extent of rising prices.

And there are other things that hide inflation. For instance, shrinking packaging so there is less product sold at the same price, or substituting lower quality ingredients, or requiring consumers to assemble items themselves.

They find different ways to lower the quality and not increase the price, and I'm sure that the government is not picking up on any of that. If the quality improves, yeah, yeah, they calculate that. But they probably ignore all the circumstances where the quality is diminished."

The bottom line is we can't trust CPI to tell us the truth about inflation.

[May 08, 2021] In 1999, the Wall Street Journal had 286 articles on bubbles. Here are a few of the titles

May 08, 2021 | www.wsj.com

J John Smith

Not only is this not true, the evidence shows that bubbles are called in advance. In 1999, the Wall Street Journal had 286 articles on bubbles. Here are a few of the titles,

And on, and on, etc., etc.

[May 08, 2021] Dogecoin is now valued at more than Ford

May 08, 2021 | www.wsj.com

R Robert A

Dogecoin is now valued at more than Ford.
Economics?
Lunacy is more like it.
This is just more proof that the dollars are becoming more worthless.
Whistling past the graveyard.

[May 07, 2021] Crooks are selling to fools

finance.yahoo.com

...retail investors have been net buyers of stocks for 10 straight weeks, hedge funds have been sellers, client data from BofA Global Research showed, with the four-week average of net sales of equities by hedge funds hitting their highest levels since the firm began tracking the data in 2008.

[May 05, 2021] FED Powell on tough question: Not sure what the exact nature of that question is

May 05, 2021 | www.zerohedge.com

ReadyForHillary 1 hour ago

When will the economy be able to stand on its own feet?

He immediately followed with:

I'm not sure what the exact nature of that question is.

HA HA HA HA! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!

[May 03, 2021] New kind of leadership

Apr 26, 2021 | finance.yahoo.com

Archegos is a Greek word denoting leadership. The place where the eponymous family office led UBS, and a growing roll call of investment banks, was into a morass.

[May 03, 2021] This Bull Market Has a Troubling Reliance on Speculation by James Mackintosh

Highly recommended!
See also Investors Big and Small Are Driving Stock Gains With Borrowed Money - WSJ The stock market definitely has gambling problem. Just look at Yahoo Finance coverage. It is insane. They cheerleading reckless behaviour and ignore each and every warning sign.
Notable quotes:
"... In Minsky's third phase, borrowers take loans where they can't afford to pay either the interest or principal from income, in the hope of capital gains big enough to make up the gap. Land speculators are a prime example. ..."
"... The parallel in the stock market is the hunt for the greater fool . Sure, GameStop shares bear no relation to the reality of the company, but I can make money from buying an overpriced stock if I can find someone willing to pay even more because they 'like the stock.' ..."
"... The concern for investors: How much of the market's gain is thanks to this pure speculation, and how much to the justifiable gains of the improving economy and low rates? If too much comes from speculation, the danger is that we run out of greater fools and prices quickly drop back. ..."
Mar 26, 2021 | www.wsj.com

In Minsky's second stage, borrowers plan only to repay the interest, and refinance when the main debt is due to be repaid; much company debt works like this. It is taken out with a plan to roll it over indefinitely. Interest rates matter a lot: If they go down when the company needs to refinance, it will pay less.

The equity parallel is to gains in valuation due to lower long-term rates. As with corporate debt, this is entirely justified and sustainable so long as rates stay low, because future earnings are now more appealing. The danger is that rates rise, in which case the stock might be hit no matter how earnings pan out.

A big chunk of the gains in stocks in the past year came from the sharply lower rates in the first response to the pandemic when the Federal Reserve flooded the system with money. Price-to-forward-earnings multiples soared. From the S&P 500's low on March 23 to the end of June, the market went from 14 to more than 21 times estimated earnings 12 months ahead, even as those estimated earnings fell amid lockdown gloom. The yield on the 10-year Treasury, already down sharply from mid-February's high, fell further as stocks rebounded.

In Minsky's third phase, borrowers take loans where they can't afford to pay either the interest or principal from income, in the hope of capital gains big enough to make up the gap. Land speculators are a prime example.

The parallel in the stock market is the hunt for the greater fool . Sure, GameStop shares bear no relation to the reality of the company, but I can make money from buying an overpriced stock if I can find someone willing to pay even more because they 'like the stock.'

Wild bets became obvious this year, as newcomers armed with stimulus, or 'stimmy,' checks drove up the price of many tiny stocks, penny shares and those popular on Reddit discussion boards.

The concern for investors: How much of the market's gain is thanks to this pure speculation, and how much to the justifiable gains of the improving economy and low rates? If too much comes from speculation, the danger is that we run out of greater fools and prices quickly drop back.

... ... ...

Write to James Mackintosh at James.Mackintosh@wsj.com

[May 02, 2021] If I'm going to lose the house gambling, it's more respectable to do so in the stock market.

May 02, 2021 | www.wsj.com
SUBSCRIBER 2 hours ago Borrowing money to gamble on the stock market is not a very smart thing to do in my opinion. Like thumb_up 7 Reply Share link Report R

If I'm going to lose the house gambling, it's more respectable to do so in the stock market. SUBSCRIBER 2 hours ago

Borrowing money to gamble on the stock market is not a very smart thing to do in my opinion.

[Apr 24, 2021] When The Market Unravels There Will Be -No Place To Hide- - David Stockman - YouTube

Apr 24, 2021 | www.youtube.com

peter plouf , 4 hours ago

The current financial world has been reduced to a one-legged bar-stool in a bar where drinks are on the house. There is no scenario where this does not end well no matter how euphoric we are in the moment.

[Apr 24, 2021] -Our Bullish Conviction Is Now Lower-- JPM Joins Major Banks In Turning Bearish On -Easy- Market Gains - ZeroHedge

Apr 24, 2021 | www.zerohedge.com

Yen Cross 21 hours ago

FOAD- JPM. What you really mean to say is the stimmy money is running down so you're running outta sheep to fleece.

Rainman 21 hours ago

There's been so much stimmy the shoeshine boy who are doing dollar averaging...

Soloamber 20 hours ago

Criminal investment bank speaks and no one listerns .

venturen 21 hours ago (Edited)

We are on a Permanent High Plataue of Zero Interest Easy Money... We don't need jobs, businesses or revenue!

https://www.bls.gov/charts/employment-situation/civilian-labor-force-participation-rate.htm

Soloamber 20 hours ago

Translation JP Morgan has it's shorts in place .

Time to kick the legs out of the casino .

Hezekiah PREMIUM 17 hours ago (Edited)

Even those with half a brain can twig that JP Morgan are a bunch of crooks. Simply Google "JP Morgan fines".

Those who are market savvy should Google "JP Morgan fines".

Surely in literally everly market segment the CEO, Jamie Dimond, would be banged up in prison?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

nsurf9 21 hours ago (Edited)

You think this guy understands that, even with more than 50% of the, country in plandemic lock-down, shutter/closed and/or bankrupt for a solid year, the "markets" have literally doubled.

Wake me up when the Treasury Securities Operational Details daily theft goes to zero.

Gentleman Bastard 21 hours ago remove link

This just means that JPM like the other whores have taken their short positions and will now do everything in their power to ensure that they cash out.

[Apr 22, 2021] Pastors as black Bolsheviks: some black churches try to hold Home Depot hostage

"History Does Not Repeat Itself, But It Rhymes" -- Mark Twain (attributed). This is a naked fight for political power using very questionable means.
Apr 22, 2021 | www.zerohedge.com

Corporations, especially those headquartered in Georgia, have come out against the legislation signed by Governor Kemp. Republicans describe the bill as one that addresses election integrity while Democrats call it a voter suppression law – "Jim Crow 2.0". Coca-Cola and Delta were among the first to make a point to virtue-signal after the governor signed the bill, only to be exposed as taking part in the process and giving input into the legislation. Both were fine with the law until the governor signed it and grievance activists did their thing. Coke soon discovered that not all of its consumers think that companies should be making policy – that 's the job of lawmakers- and now it is trying to clean up the mess it made for itself.

Churches have increasingly played a part in American politics and this is an escalation of that trend. Evangelical churches have shown support for conservative and Republican candidates while black churches get out the vote for Democrats. This threat of bringing a large-scale boycott over state legislation is a hostile action against the corporation. It's political theatre. Groups like Black Voters Matter, the New Georgia Project Action Fund (Stacey Abrams), and the Georgia NAACP are pressuring companies to publicly voice their opposition and the religious leaders are doing the bidding of these politically active groups.

When SB 241 and HB 531 were working through the legislative process, the groups put pressure on Republican lawmakers and the governor to abandon the voting reform legislation. They also demanded that donations to any lawmakers supporting the legislation be stopped. The Georgia Chamber of Commerce tried to remain bipartisan while still voicing support for voting rights but then caved and expressed "concern and opposition" to some provisions . At the time, several large Georgia companies were targeted by activists, including Aflac, Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, Home Depot, Southern Company and UPS.

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce previously reiterated the importance of voting rights without voicing opposition against any specific legislation. In a new statement to CNBC, the Georgia Chamber said it has "expressed concern and opposition to provisions found in both HB 531 and SB 241 that restrict or diminish voter access" and "continues to engage in a bipartisan manner with leaders of the General Assembly on bills that would impact voting rights in our state."

Office Depot came out at the time and supported the Chamber's statement. The Election Integrity Act of 2021, originally known as Georgia Senate Bill 202, is a Georgia law overhauling elections in the state that was signed into effect by the governor and we know what happened. Office Depot has not delivered for the activists as they demand so now the company faces boycott drama. The religious leaders are taking up where the activist groups left off.

African Methodist Episcopal Bishop Reginald Jackson said the company has remained "silent and indifferent" to his efforts to rally opposition to the new state law pushed by Republicans, as well as to similar efforts elsewhere.

" We just don't think we ought to let their indifference stand ," Jackson said.

The leader of all his denomination's churches in Georgia, Jackson had a meeting last week with other Georgia-based executives to urge them to oppose the voting law, but said he's had no contact with Home Depot, despite repeated efforts to reach the company.

Faith leaders at first were hesitant to jump into the boycott game. Now the political atmosphere has changed and they are being vocal. Jackson focused on pressuring Coca-Cola first. After that company went along to get along, before it realized its error, Jackson moved his focus onto other companies.

"We believe that corporations have a corporate responsibility to their customers, who are Black, white and brown, on the issue of voting ," Jackson said. "It doesn't make any sense at all to keep giving dollars and buying products from people that do not support you."

He said faith leaders may call for boycotts of other companies in the future.

So, here we are with Home Depot in the spotlight. There are four specific demands leveled at Home Depot in order to avoid further action from the activists.

Rev. Lee May, the lead pastor of Transforming Faith Church, said the coalition is "fluid in this boycott" but has four specifics requests of Home Depot: To speak out publicly and specifically against SB 202; to speak out against any other restrictive voting provisions under consideration in other states; to support federal legislation that expands voter access and "also restricts the ability to suppress the vote;" and to support any efforts, including investing in litigation, to stop SB 202 and other bills like it.

" Home Depot, we're calling on you. I'm speaking to you right now. We're ready to have a conversation with you. You haven't been ready up to now, but our arms are wide open. We are people of faith. People of grace, and we're ready to have this conversation, but we're very clear those four things that we want to see accomplished ," May said.

The Rev. Timothy McDonald III, senior pastor of the First Iconium Baptist Church, warned this was just the beginning.

"It's up to you whether or not, Home Depot, this boycott escalates to phase two, phase three, phase four," McDonald said. "We're not on your property -- today. We're not blocking your driveways -- today. We're not inside your store protesting -- today. This is just phase one."

That sounds a lot like incitement, doesn't it? Governor Kemp is speaking out, he has had enough. He held a press conference to deliver his comments.

"First, the left came for baseball, and now they are coming for Georgia jobs," Kemp said, referring to MLB's decision to move this year's All-Star Game from Atlanta over the new laws. "This boycott of Home Depot – one of Georgia's largest employers – puts partisan politics ahead of people's paychecks."

"The Georgians hardest hit by this destructive decision are the hourly workers just trying to make ends meet during a global pandemic. I stand with Home Depot, and I stand with nearly 30,000 Georgians who work at the 90 Home Depot stores and 15 distribution centers across the Peach State. I will not apologize for supporting both Georgia jobs and election integrity," he added.

"This insanity needs to stop. The people that are pushing this, that are profiting off of it, like Stacey Abrams and others, are now trying to have it both ways," Kemp said. "There is a political agenda here, and it all leads back to Washington, D.C."

The governor is right. The activists are in it to federalize elections, not to look out for Georgians, who will lose jobs over these partisan actions. The law signed by Kemp increases voting rights, it doesn't limit them .

[Apr 22, 2021] Market Cap Of Money-Losing Companies Surpasses Dot Com Bubble Record

Apr 22, 2021 | www.zerohedge.com

DHS Fusion Center 6 hours ago

Is Paul Krugman available to talk about how great everything is now or is he still being investigated for distribution of child ****?

archipusz 5 hours ago

I needed a cross dressing analyst to explain this mkt to me. Thanks.

YesWeKahn 6 hours ago

This is Powell speaking:

There is no bubble, this is just a optimism of "not happening" reopening and "not working" vaccine.

[Apr 15, 2021] The Financial Instability Hypothesis by Hyman P. Minsky -- SSRN

Apr 15, 2021 | papers.ssrn.com

The Financial Instability Hypothesis (FIH) has both empirical and theoretical aspects that challenge the classic precepts of Smith and Walras, who implied that the economy can be best understood by assuming that it is constantly an equilibrium-seeking and sustaining system. The theoretical argument of the FIH emerges from the characterization of the economy as a capitalist economy with extensive capital assets and a sophisticated financial system.

In spite of the complexity of financial relations, the key determinant of system behavior remains the level of profits: the FIH incorporates a view in which aggregate demand determines profits. Hence, aggregate profits equal aggregate investment plus the government deficit. The FIH, therefore, considers the impact of debt on system behavior and also includes the manner in which debt is validated.

Minsky identifies hedge, speculative, and Ponzi finance as distinct income-debt relations for economic units. He asserts that if hedge financing dominates, then the economy may well be an equilibrium-seeking and containing system: conversely, the greater the weight of speculative and Ponzi finance, the greater the likelihood that the economy is a "deviation-amplifying" system. Thus, the FIH suggests that over periods of prolonged prosperity, capitalist economies tend to move from a financial structure dominated by hedge finance (stable) to a structure that increasingly emphasizes speculative and Ponzi finance (unstable). The FIH is a model of a capitalist economy that does not rely on exogenous shocks to generate business cycles of varying severity: business cycles of history are compounded out of (i) the internal dynamics of capitalist economies, and (ii) the system of interventions and regulations that are designed to keep the economy operating within reasonable bounds.

[Apr 15, 2021] Anatomy of a Stock Market Bubble by FRANK VENEROSO

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... much like the dot-com period, there is a broad subset of stocks (mostly in technology) that have become completely untethered, particularly since the summer of 2020, from business fundamentals like earnings and even sales -- driven higher only by euphoric market participants extrapolating from a past extraordinary trajectory of prices. ..."
"... A lot of today's US stock market has become what I call a "pure price-chasing bubble." Examination of the history of comparable pure price-chasing bubbles shows there has been a set of key causal factors that contributed to these rare (I have found nine in total) market events; the presence of most of these factors has usually been necessary for markets to reach the requisite escape velocity. ..."
"... To fuel the bubble further, there was a rapid expansion of bank money beginning three years before the market peak -- but the expansion of credit was even greater, owing to an explosion of margin credit (with implied annuaized interest rates sometimes reaching 100 percent) through an informal system utilizing postdated checks ..."
"... The US market certainly exhibits an exceptional record of price appreciation, with the S&P 500 having risen by almost 500 percent over more than a decade. In contrast to most other bubbles, however, it is notable that US economic growth over this period has been relatively anemic. ..."
"... Due to a sustained high rate of corporate equity purchases financed with debt, this overarching expansion of credit has also made its way into the last decade's bull market and steepened its price trajectory. ..."
"... The role of message boards and chat rooms -- with their millions of participants, all in instant real-time contact -- has created crowd dynamics in speculative stock market favorites at a pace without parallel in other pure price-chasing bubbles. ..."
"... a peak will be reached, a decline will follow, and the psychological dynamics in play on the way up will go into reverse and will accelerate the fall. ..."
"... Moreover, in the context of a grossly underestimated mass of corporate debt, history tells us the consequences of the bursting of the US stock market bubble should be another financial crisis and another recession ..."
Apr 01, 2021 | www.levyinstitute.org

According to Frank Veneroso, a broad subset of today's US stock market has become what he calls a "pure price-chasing bubble." Examination of the history of comparable pure price-chasing bubbles shows there has been a set of key causal factors that contributed to these rare market events.

The most extreme such case was an over-the-counter market in Kuwait called the "Souk al-Manakh." This exemplar of a pure price-chasing phenomenon may shed light -- albeit unflattering -- on the current US equity market, Veneroso contends.

[Apr 09, 2021] A modest suggestion for semi-vacant malls

Apr 09, 2021 | www.zerohedge.com

Cock Strong 38 minutes ago

Bezos notches another $100 billion.

Mando Ramos 7 minutes ago (Edited)

My simple solution is to turn the vacant malls into giant marijuana growing operations,and huge meth labs,and use the revenue from the meth and weed sales to balance the Federal budget..As an additional plus,you put the Mexican drug cartels out of business,which can't be a bad thing,either

FurnitureFireSale 26 minutes ago

The smile on the side of the Prime trucks looks like a big wang (Bezos's?) saying "F-U, take THIS!" to all the small businesses. Once you see it, you cannot unsee it.

Puppyteethofdeath 14 minutes ago

Turn them into homeless shelters.

744,000 Americans filed for 1st time unemployment last week.

Every week the numbers are the same.

no cents at all 5 minutes ago

Yet mall property owners and their ilk have equity prices in the stratosphere. Same with cruise lines. A mystery. (Although doesn't take scooby doo to understand why)

is scooby canceled yet?

aarockstar 7 minutes ago

A 60 year retail experiment goes bust...

[Apr 08, 2021] There is no inflation, it is just that everything costs more.

Apr 08, 2021 | www.wsj.com


B
BA Byron SUBSCRIBER 1 day ago @ Anthony

Economists: " There is no inflation, it is just that everything costs more. "

[Apr 07, 2021] Jamie Dimon in the eyes of ZH crowd

Such comments were definitely impossible before 2007. The level of vitriol is simply incredible. That spells trouble...
Apr 07, 2021 | www.zerohedge.com

10 hours ago

Jamie has Jerome's phone number.

That makes Jamie brilliant. play_arrow 5 play_arrow 1


zorrosgato 10 hours ago

"flush with savings"

HA!

Yen Cross 10 hours ago

Jack, ****, Dimon? Which one was it Z/H Google moderator?

I donate at Christmas.

Basil 20 minutes ago

whats gone wrong is the cancer of progressiveism. wokeism, social justice nonsense.

Gadbous 29 minutes ago

Don't you want to just slap these people?

MuleRider 18 minutes ago

You misspelled decapitate.

GrandTheftOtto 2 hours ago

"It was a year in which each of usfaced difficult personal challenges"

boundless hypocrisy...

Mr. Rude Dog 2 hours ago remove link

" Americans know that something has gone terribly wrong, and they blame this country's leadership: the elite, the powerful, the decision makers - in government, in business and in civic society," he wrote.

"This is completely appropriate, for who else should take the blame?"

Lets see if he projects the problem back on the citizens...Let's see what happens.

"But populism is not policy, and we cannot let it drive another round of poor planning and bad leadership that will simply make our country's situation worse."

I knew the so called elites could not take the blame... You know populism always makes bad decisions with the economy, our monetary system, our infrastructure and just managing our tax money in general...Yes I knew Jamie could not take the blame..LOL.!!!!

QE4MeASAP 2 hours ago

So Dimon is giving the state of the union instead of Biden?

Budnacho 2 hours ago

Jamie Dimon....Friend of the Little Guy....

Tomsawyer2112 PREMIUM 11 hours ago

He doesn't believe a word of what he just said. But he knows that if he wants his bank to continue to be an extension of the government and curry favor then he needs to tow the line. I am sure he also has his eye on a future role as Fed Lead or US Treasurer but might be tough since he's not a diversity candidate.

oknow 2 hours ago

Someone turn off his mike, dont need your sorry *** confession

Just confiscate his wealth and make him do 9 to 5 jobs for the rest of his life.

ChromeRobot 9 hours ago remove link

This guy is a rarity in the banking industry. He's a billionaire. Running a bank I was often told in my early years in finance was foolproof. Everybody needs money and they have it. Hard to fk up. Somehow this "titan" has gamed it to do really well doing something incredibly easy. Positioning yourself to be a SIFI helps too! Too big to fail has it's perks.

a drink before the war 10 hours ago

What Jamie is really saying without saying it is " I get paid in stock options however since the pandemic JPM and other banks haven't been allowed to do stock buy back but come June we get back to the NORMAL and with the FED printing money and giving it to us we going to talk this stock WAY up no matter what because I got almost two years of stock options I gotta get paid for!"

lay_arrow 2
archipusz 10 hours ago

If you want to get to the top, you must speak the party line narrative.

The truth is something different altogether.

Eddie Haskell 10 hours ago

If you want to be a state-approved oligarch you've gotta suck the right dickie. Good job.

Detective Miller 38 minutes ago

"Jaimie Tells Bagholders To 'Buy Buy Buy!!!'"

Onthebeach6 38 minutes ago

The US is addicted to helicoptor money.

The world looks fine to an addict until the supply is cut off.

sbin 41 minutes ago

Jimmy going to lock himself in jail and forfeit his assets?

34k of jerkoff.

Nuk Soo Kow 2 hours ago

How magnanimous of Jamie to blame elitists and civic "leaders" for the structural problems in America. It was the banksters that pushed NAFTA and helped China engineer it's currency against the dollar, which led to massive outflows of productive capital. It was the banksters via the use of financial legerdemain who engineered the collapse in 2008 (not to mention every other banking panic and collapse prior to). It's high time to throw out this den of vipers once and for all.

Nature_Boy_Wooooo 2 hours ago

He lost me at.....

We need more cheap immigrant labor...... housing is unaffordable for many.

No **** moron!......you suppressed our wages and increased demand for housing.

PT 10 hours ago remove link

I always consult the fox when I want to know about the state of the hen house.

QuiteShocking 10 hours ago

Economic boom?? Is really just trying to get back to where we were previously before the pandemic hit with things opening back up etc... More people have been working from home so different spending patterns are developing.. but could change... Supply chain chaos makes it seem like shortages and inflation etc... It may only last through 2023?? but with Dems in charge this is not a given with their anti business slant??

same2u 11 hours ago

UBI for the rich= stock market...

Hope Copy 3 hours ago (Edited)

Jamie knows that the core of Crypto is at the CIA and that the pseudo Republic has far to much Fascist politics at the core .. There has been a competitive failure at most all levels of the government in recent times with a 'winner take all' at the cost of keeping competitive practices alive (not to mention kickbacks).. Of course China is laughing even though they have a history of cutting corners (and outright fraud) in every economic sector.

Mario Landavoz 20 minutes ago

Banker. That's all ya need to know.

Just a Little Froth in the Market 40 minutes ago

But the CEO was very candid about China...

"China's leaders believe America is in decline... The Chinese see an America that is losing ground in technology, infrastructure and education – a nation torn and crippled . . . and a country unable to coordinate government policies (fiscal, monetary, industrial, regulatory) in any coherent way to accomplish national goals

This is correct.

Joe A 55 minutes ago

He is just mocking and taking a piss at everybody. That America is such a mess is because of people like him with his scorched earth robber baron rogue capitalism. But there is a way to redeem yourselves. Just make all your assets available to the American people. And oh, blow your own brain out.

Abi Normal 3 hours ago remove link

What else is he supposed to say? As long as things don't go bad for Jamie it's cool.

OrazioGentile 3 hours ago

The Banksters, after years of mismanagement, borderline fraud, and endless bailouts now see that investments in unicorn startups, selling mindless BS to each other, and the quick buck lead to a burned out husk called America?!? Now?!? Let all of them live in the great paradise called the Cayman Islands that they helped build and see how far they get selling "capital instruments" to each other. The last 20 years have taught most Americans that hard work is meaningless to get ahead IMHO.

[Apr 07, 2021] Jamie Dimon: "This boom could easily run into 2023 because all the spending could extend well into 2023."

When did market cheerleading became the key responsibility of all key executives in major banks?
Apr 07, 2021 | www.zerohedge.com

Bay of Pigs 9 hours ago

Legs Dimon has always been a serial liar.

He's incapable of being honest.

One Moment Please 9 hours ago

My neighbors and I are not experiencing any of this 'economic boom' he speaks of.

Maybe we abide in some mysterious economic dead zone?

Mr..Lucky 10 hours ago

"Stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau," Yale economist Irving Fisher.

[Apr 06, 2021] UBS Predicts 80,000 More Retail Stores Will Close In Five Years

Apr 06, 2021 | www.zerohedge.com

archipusz 1 hour ago

Market surges on 80,000 retail outlet closings optimism.

[Apr 02, 2021] But let's be reasonable - how is it possible to have 700K - 800K initial jobless claims every week and create nearly a million new jobs?

Highly recommended!
If we are to believe authorities the USA. added 916K jobs in March, and the official unemployment rate is at 6% (note the word official; the current official U6 unemployment rate as of March 2021 is 10.70%; so the real number is probably much higher than 10%)
Fudging data became as prominent as it was in the USSR. The neoliberal empire can't afford objective stats.
Notable quotes:
"... monthly data is collected over a brief timeframe - just a few days - and that the calculations are seasonally adjusted. ..."
"... Yes, at least half the sheep population think they are real. It's insane how dumb people are today. ..."
Apr 02, 2021 | www.zerohedge.com

variousmarkets

I spent the last 2 weeks digging into the numbers - especially timing of the surveys and data collection. I get the fact that weekly claims don't reflect new hires. I also realize that monthly data is collected over a brief timeframe - just a few days - and that the calculations are seasonally adjusted.

But let's be reasonable - how is it possible to have 700K - 800K initial jobless claims every week and create nearly a million new jobs? Does anyone really believe any of these numbers?

Globalistsaretrash

Yes, at least half the sheep population think they are real. It's insane how dumb people are today.

[Apr 01, 2021] Archegos's Collapse Is a Wakeup Call for Regulators

Apr 01, 2021 | www.wsj.com

...history shows that one messy unwind can easily spread. The U.S. Office of Financial Research finds that the ten largest hedge funds were leveraged far more heavily than the next 40 largest funds, as of June. And many family offices may not be counted in these statistics at all, which mostly rely on disclosure forms they are able to avoid.

There are some obvious responses for regulators, such as mandating disclosure of the total return swaps that allowed Archegos to build big positions out of the public eye. But there are no easy answers to the wider challenge of overseeing leverage within the broadest financial complex when debt is almost free.

The system has held up under the latest strain, but this isn't a victory. Archegos means one who leads the way. Regulators must do what they can to ensure as few as possible follow.

Write to Rochelle Toplensky at rochelle.toplensky@wsj.com and Telis Demos at telis.demos@wsj.com

[Apr 01, 2021] Deutsche Bank Dodged Archegos Hit With Quick $4 Billion Sale - Bloomberg

Apr 01, 2021 | www.bloomberg.com

Swiss rival Credit Suisse expects a hit in the billions of dollars from Archegos, people with knowledge of the matter have said, while Nomura Holdings Inc. has signaled it may lose as much as $2 billion. Analysts at JPMorgan Chase & Co. estimate the Archegos blowup may cause as much as $10 billion of combined losses for banks.

David Herro, chief investment officer of Harris Associates -- one of Credit Suisse's biggest shareholders -- said on Bloomberg Television on Wednesday that the Archegos incident was a "wake-up call" for Credit Suisse and should lead to sweeping changes to its culture and oversight practices.

Shares of Credit Suisse tumbled 21% this week on concern over the size of its potential Archegos hit. Deutsche Bank is down 2.9%.

[Mar 31, 2021] Looks like Goldman and Morgan managed to sell thier shares in Archegos meltdown first as usual pushing other clients under the bus: Billions in Secret Derivatives at Center of Archegos Blowup

Casino capitalism is the fertile ground for the most sleazy types of speculators. The stock market has become a giant slot machine financed by 401K lemmings. The marks here are 401K investors.
Excessive leverage is a immanent feature of the pre-collapse stage of Minsky cycle. So those who argue that we are close to another crash get some additional confirmation due to this event. The Masters of the Universe rediscovered the hidden areas of huge risk, and like in 2008 are afraid but can't and do not want to anything.
TBTF such as Goldman and Morgan aid the most sleazy types as they bring outsized profits for them. So this a catch 22 as Goldman and other TBFT controls SEC not the other way around.
It would be prudent to view banksters as a special type of mafia and treat accordingly and prohibit for them serving in government. But this is impossible under neoliberal as financial oligarchy has all political power.
The question is: Is there another fund that's larger, that's more leveraged with the same characteristics that could prove to be a more systemic event? That's the major concern right now." Wall Street's hottest trades such as pure-tech plays and high-flying tech/media like the ones bet on by Hwang -- could be unwound. The Hwang blowup wakes up investors to the realization that many parts of the market are overvalued and it's time to sell -- and quickly as yields are going up. For the the FAANGS, the Tesla's out there -- the fundamentals don't support the stock. So it would be logical to a large correction.
Notable quotes:
"... The idea that one firm can quietly amass outsized positions through the use of derivatives could set off another wave of criticism directed against loosely regulated firms that have the power to destabilize markets. ..."
Mar 31, 2021 | finance.yahoo.com

Much of the leverage used by Hwang's Archegos Capital Management was provided by banks including Nomura Holdings Inc. and Credit Suisse Group AG through swaps and so-called contracts-for-difference, according to people with direct knowledge of the deals. It means Archegos may never actually have owned most of the underlying securities -- if any at all.

While investors who own a stake of more than 5% in a U.S.-listed company usually have to disclose their holdings and subsequent transactions, that's not the case with positions built through the type of derivatives apparently used by Archegos. The products, which are transacted off exchanges, allow managers like Hwang to amass exposure to publicly-traded companies without having to declare it.

The swift unwinding of Archegos has reverberated across the globe, after banks such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley forced Hwang's firm to sell billions of dollars in investments accumulated through highly leveraged bets. The selloff roiled stocks from Baidu Inc. to ViacomCBS Inc., and prompted Nomura and Credit Suisse to disclose that they face potentially significant losses on their exposure.

One reason for the widening fallout is the borrowed funds that investors use to magnify their bets: a margin call occurs when the market goes against a large, leveraged position, forcing the hedge fund to deposit more cash or securities with its broker to cover any losses. Archegos was probably required to deposit only a small percentage of the total value of trades.

The chain of events set off by this massive unwinding is yet another reminder of the role that hedge funds play in the global capital markets. A hedge fund short squeeze during a Reddit-fueled frenzy for Gamestop Corp. and other shares earlier this year spurred a $6 billion loss for Gabe Plotkin's Melvin Capital and sparked scrutiny from U.S. regulators and politicians.


The idea that one firm can quietly amass outsized positions through the use of derivatives could set off another wave of criticism directed against loosely regulated firms that have the power to destabilize markets.


Bob 2 days ago This is another major reminder that the stock market is not as rational as we want to believe. A small group of very large, leveraged funds can have far more impact on the market than dozens or hundreds of well thought out and researched programs. Sigh. Take your lumps and move on. Hasso 2 days ago 2008 - Hwang's Tiger Asia suffered losses from the Volkswagen short, 2012 - Hwang's Tiger Asia paid $44M to settle insider trading charges, banned 2014- Hong Kong fined him $5.3M & banned him for four years. 2021 - And here we are again.
Tyrone 2 days ago Gee, Credit Suisse involved in sleezy investments. Again. I'm shocked, just shocked!
Manohar 2 days ago Banks haven't learnt anything yet...you know why? Because its other people's money and the no one gets prosecuted when they are caught with hand in the cookie jar.
killer klown 2 days ago it's a sign that the market and it's regulators have learned nothing.........to even pretend that a penny difference in assumed earnings versus actual earnings using the GAAP accounting (which itself says it's not exact but generally accepted accounting principles)moves a stock is in itself a joke, this situation of a BIG BLACK BOX calls for the complete dismantle of the derivatives market which was created to lay off risk. Bill Hawng should be FLAT Broke his possesions seized, The board of Credit Suisse and Nomura et all should be unemployed as of 8:31 this morning. But they won't and it's only going to happen again and again.
Amvet 2 days ago Market manipulators have a free rein in the USA. Are politicians also involved? Reply 16 3 George 2 days ago Just amazing how some of the world's most sleazy characters have access to cosmic sums of money and remain under the radar and legal(???). Then nothing seems to happen except that loads of other folk get burned while they move on to the next bright idea. Reply 13 1 Rick 2 days ago So clearly limiting those who can purchase these to exclude amateur players has not been successful. Recklessness is not limited to amateurs. Mr. H. 2 days ago In 2008 high finance was playing very high risk games with clients money at the undefined edge between legal and illegal. A bunch of firms went away along with many billions of dollars because a bunch of players were playing CYA. They came up with the term "too big to fail" when they were picking winners and losers. "too big to fail" is is fetid bovine excrement. The SEC, that is the administrative government, was not doing its job! There were many questions about government employee competence to do those jobs. The government should have let the market place pick the winners and losers, then the government should have prosecuted everyone who failed to perform their fiduciary duty and set a major precedent about high risk play with other people's money; keep it legal or go to jail and lose your shirt. That is what should happen this time too! Noone 2 days ago Almost like something that is so dangerous and risky to both the market AND the "investor" that retail traders ARE BANNED from doing it should.. idk.. BE ILLEGAL FOR EVERYONE? Useless SEC. Do your job right.
Philip 2 days ago Ironic that Hedge Funds are the most unhedged game going.... Dan 1 day ago The managers of these HFs lack morality, they steal from other companies because they believe in their twisted little minds if they set up a system whereby they can trade in dark pools with illegal naked shorting, counterfeit shares and stock manipulation under the radar -- it makes the crime okay. All of this criminality is been done with the aid of supplementary leverage ratio (SLR) If they can manage to bankrupt the company they short with Government SLR they end up paying no tax and pocket the money GME/AMC and more for example.. Bingo the most audacious robbery attempt in the history of the state. Oh boys did they fail, wow what a spectacular failure. Now they have to deleverage destabilizing the entire market. Do these HF managers rank their values differently to the moral code we all live by? Obviously they do! There's no doubt they'll get lots of time to think about their behaviour when they're in the slammer. Each case will have to be evaluated on its own merit at some stage of course. On the face of it, all indications points to a tradeoff that benefits themselves at the disadvantaging of other. Sad for them! I rest my case!
Jodes 1 day ago The spikes in shares like ROKU, BIDU, SHOP and many more have huge parabolic spikes at the top accounting for the disfunctional market as we were seeing it at the top. They had huge buy orders to artificially spike the prices keep them up and then experts come in after and raise price targets and put a BUY rating on the stock. Then get retail to buy in and then drop them like a rock. Greedy and dispicibale. All probably done for a huge bonus. While retail suffers for their greed.
Vince 2 days ago More than 100 Trillion (with a T) are moving around the world in Derivatives each and every day., some say closer to 200 Trillion! You figure it our when THAT bubble bursts! Reply 2 1 SniffMopWho 2 days ago Interesting how these guys make millions and billions, just by pressing keys on a keyboard.
... 2 days ago More sleaze trying to bring down the market by making risky bets with swaps and derivatives, yet the regulators are caught asleep again. Just more proof of incompetence by Biden and his hired idiots at the SEC.

[Mar 31, 2021] Us market collapsed in March2020, but nobody has courage to admit that.

Mar 31, 2021 | www.unz.com

anon [406] Disclaimer , says:

[Mar 31, 2021] Citadel and friends have shorted the treasury bond market to oblivion using the repo market.

Mar 31, 2021 | www.zerohedge.com

play_arrow


Crash Overide 2 hours ago (Edited)

Speaking of treasuries... and Citadel, I thought it was an interesting read.

TL;DR- Citadel and friends have shorted the treasury bond market to oblivion using the repo market. Citadel owns a company called Palafox Trading and uses them to EXCLUSIVELY short & trade treasury securities. Palafox manages one fund for Citadel - the Citadel Global Fixed Income Master Fund LTD. Total assets over $123 BILLION and 80% are owned by offshore investors in the Cayman Islands. Their reverse repo agreements are ENTIRELY rehypothecated and they CANNOT pay off their own repo agreements until someone pays them, first. The ENTIRE global financial economy is modeled after a fractional reserve system that is beginning to experience THE MOTHER OF ALL MARGIN CALLS.

THIS is why the DTC and FICC are requiring an increase in SLR deposits. The madness has officially come full circle.

tnorth 4 hours ago

another month of completely rigged 'markets'

mtl4 4 hours ago remove link

Music is still playing, make sure you have a chair when it stops

this_circus_is_no_fun 1 hour ago remove link

Consider these two points:

  1. Treasuries are claimed to be backed by the "full faith and credit of the United States".
  2. In Q1, Treasuries suffer their biggest loss in 40 years.
y_arrow
Kreditanstalt 1 hour ago (Edited)

I've always wondered why seemingly contradictory and uncorrelated assets and asset classes alternately "soar" and "plunge" on different days, usually in random conjunction with others...

It seems so counterintuitively...MECHANICAL...or theory-driven, rather than rational "investing".

Almost like random BETTING

[Mar 29, 2021] Hedge fund blowup sends shockwaves through Wall Street and the City

Mar 29, 2021 | finance.yahoo.com

A little known hedge fund that blew up last week has sent shockwaves through the world of investment banking.

Shares in Credit Suisse ( CSGN.SW ) and Nomura ( 8604.T ) sunk over 10% on Monday after both warned they faced potentially billions in losses linked to hedge fund Archegos Capital.

Banks that worked with Archegos and lent it money to buy shares were scrambling to offload Archegos' investments after a handful of risky bets made by the hedge fund went bad. The rush to exit these positions hit public shares prices, leaving banks with huge losses.

Hedge funds typically borrow money from banks to invest, a process known as margin trading. This allows funds to leverage up the cash they hold and increase their positions -- potentially earning far greater returns if their bets come good. However, it also means hedge funds can theoretically lose more money than they hold in client funds.

If trades made on margin turn sour, banks will ask a client to put up more money as collateral to limit potential losses. This process is known as a margin call.

Archegos faced margin calls on its positions last week but failed to provide extra cash. As a result, banks began selling off stocks held on the hedge fund's behalf -- a fire sale known in the City as liquidating positions. The business press reported on Friday that Goldman Sachs ( GS ) and Morgan Stanley ( MS ) were selling huge chunks of shares in businesses including ViacomCBS ( VIAC ), Discovery ( DISCA ) and Chinese stocks Baidu ( BIDU ) and Tencent Music ( TME ). The block sales are estimated to be worth around $20bn (£14.5bn), according to the Financial Times .

Shares in Credit Suisse sunk after it warned of 'significant losses' linked to the blow up at Archegos Capital. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

A little known hedge fund that blew up last week has sent shockwaves through the world of investment banking.

Shares in Credit Suisse ( CSGN.SW ) and Nomura ( 8604.T ) sunk over 10% on Monday after both warned they faced potentially billions in losses linked to hedge fund Archegos Capital.

Banks that worked with Archegos and lent it money to buy shares were scrambling to offload Archegos' investments after a handful of risky bets made by the hedge fund went bad. The rush to exit these positions hit public shares prices, leaving banks with huge losses.

Hedge funds typically borrow money from banks to invest, a process known as margin trading. This allows funds to leverage up the cash they hold and increase their positions -- potentially earning far greater returns if their bets come good. However, it also means hedge funds can theoretically lose more money than they hold in client funds.

If trades made on margin turn sour, banks will ask a client to put up more money as collateral to limit potential losses. This process is known as a margin call.

Archegos faced margin calls on its positions last week but failed to provide extra cash. As a result, banks began selling off stocks held on the hedge fund's behalf -- a fire sale known in the City as liquidating positions. The business press reported on Friday that Goldman Sachs ( GS ) and Morgan Stanley ( MS ) were selling huge chunks of shares in businesses including ViacomCBS ( VIAC ), Discovery ( DISCA ) and Chinese stocks Baidu ( BIDU ) and Tencent Music ( TME ). The block sales are estimated to be worth around $20bn (£14.5bn), according to the Financial Times .

"Things started going wrong for Archegos when shares of companies such as Viacom started to slide mid-last week," said Michael Brown, a senior market analyst at Caxton Business. "It was at that point that margins were called, and couldn't be provided, hence the block sales seen Friday."

A fire sale can have a negative impact on stock prices and shares in both ViacomCBS and Discovery sunk 27% on Friday. Banks therefore risked making less back from the sales than they lent to clients to fund the investments.

Credit Suisse on Monday warned it was facing "highly significant" losses linked to Archegos that could be "material to our first quarter results".

The Swiss lender didn't name Archegos but said: "A significant US-based hedge fund defaulted on margin calls made last week by Credit Suisse and certain other banks."

Credit Suisse said it was "in the process" of selling shares held by Archegos. The bank said it was "premature" to estimate how much it would likely lose from the crisis.

"We intend to provide an update on this matter in due course," Credit Suisse said.

Shares sunk 13.4% in Zurich.

"One would assume that, judging by the size of positions sold, the 'game is up' for Archegos," Brown said.

He said it was "unlikely" that Archegos would pose a systemic risk to the financial system. Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com, said the hedge fund "appears to have been too concentrated in a number of risky stocks."

A hedge fund blow up is relatively unusual and Archegos' undoing has raised concerns that other funds could find themselves in similar positions.

"Block equity-trades stemming from margin-calls on Archegos will have sent the market's spidey senses a tingle," said Bill Blain, a senior strategist at Shard Capital. "Who is next?"

Alex Harvey, a portfolio manager at Momentum, said: "We tend to find out after the event that other funds get caught up as sometimes hedge funds may be crowded into similar trades."

"When we look at this and think about the GameStop saga and the decline in Tesla as two examples -- what we're seeing are more and more pockets of very unusual trading activity in some stocks," he said. "You worry that this sort of frothy trading activity in turn creates pockets of distress among investors and banks that leads to larger unwinds and losses for financials."

[Mar 28, 2021] Bubble Deniers Abound to Dismiss Valuation Metrics One by One by Vildana Hajric , Claire Ballentine , Lu Wang

Notable quotes:
"... How convinced should anyone be when dismissing the message of metrics like these? To be sure, both the market and economy are in uncharted waters. It's possible -- perhaps likely -- that old standards don't apply when something as random as a virus is behind the stress. At the same time, many a portfolio has been squandered through complacency. Market veterans always warn of fortunes lost by investors who became seduced by talk of new rules and paradigms. ..."
"... At 35, the CAPE is at its highest since the early 2000s. ..."
"... Another indicator raising eyebrows is called Tobin's Q. The ratio -- which was developed in 1969 by Nobel Prize-winning economist James Tobin -- compares market value to the adjusted net worth of companies. It's showing a reading just shy of a peak reached in 2000. T ..."
"... the signal sent by the "Buffett Indicator," a ratio of the total market capitalization of U.S. stocks divided by gross domestic product. ..."
"... Still, it's hard to ignore the risks to underlying assumptions. While rock-bottom rates underpin many of the arguments, this year has shown that the Fed still is willing to let longer-term interest rates run higher. And betting on huge upside earnings surprises is risky too -- it's rare to see a 16% beat historically. Before last year, earnings had exceeded estimates by an average 3% a quarter since 2015. ..."
"... "This happens in every bubble," said Bill Callahan, an investment strategist at Schroders. "It's: 'Don't think about the traditional value metrics, we have a new one.' It's: 'Imagine if everyone did XYZ, how big this company could be.'" ..."
"... To Scott Knapp, chief market strategist of CUNA Mutual Group, abandoning standard valuation measures because the environment has changed places investors in "pretty sketchy territory." Talk of watershed moments rendering traditional metric irrelevant as a signal, he says. "That's usually an indication we're trying to justify something," he said. ..."
Mar 287, 2021 | www.bloomberg.com

March 27, 2021

Everywhere you look, there's a valuation lens that makes stocks look frothy. Also everywhere you look is someone saying don't worry about it.

The so-called Buffett Indicator . Tobin's Q. The S&P 500's forward P/E. These and others show the market at stretched levels, sometimes extremely so. Yet many market-watchers argue they can be ignored, because this time really is different. The rationale? Everything from Federal Reserve largesse to vaccines promising a quick recovery.

How convinced should anyone be when dismissing the message of metrics like these? To be sure, both the market and economy are in uncharted waters. It's possible -- perhaps likely -- that old standards don't apply when something as random as a virus is behind the stress. At the same time, many a portfolio has been squandered through complacency. Market veterans always warn of fortunes lost by investors who became seduced by talk of new rules and paradigms.

"Every time markets hit new highs, every time markets get frothy, there are always some talking heads that argue: 'It's different,'" said Don Calcagni, chief investment officer of Mercer Advisors . "We just know from centuries of market history that that can't happen in perpetuity. It's just the delusion of crowds, people get excited. We want to believe."

relates to Bubble Deniers Abound to Dismiss Valuation Metrics One by One

Source: Robert Shiller's website

Robert Shiller is no apologist. The Yale University professor is famous in investing circles for unpopular valuation warnings that came true during the dot-com and housing bubbles. One tool on which he based the calls is his cyclically adjusted price-earnings ratio that includes the last 10 years of earnings.

While it's flashing warnings again, not even Shiller is sure he buys it. At 35, the CAPE is at its highest since the early 2000s. If that period of exuberance is excluded, it clocks in at its highest-ever reading. Yet in a recent post , Shiller wrote that "with interest rates low and likely to stay there, equities will continue to look attractive, particularly when compared to bonds."

Another indicator raising eyebrows is called Tobin's Q. The ratio -- which was developed in 1969 by Nobel Prize-winning economist James Tobin -- compares market value to the adjusted net worth of companies. It's showing a reading just shy of a peak reached in 2000. To Ned Davis, it's a valuation chart worth being wary about. Still, while the indicator is roughly 40% above its long-term trend, "there may be an upward bias on the ratio from technological change in the economy," wrote the Wall Street veteran who founded his namesake firm.

Persuasive arguments also exist for discounting the signal sent by the "Buffett Indicator," a ratio of the total market capitalization of U.S. stocks divided by gross domestic product. While it recently reached its highest-ever reading above its long-term trend, the methodology fails to take into consideration that companies are more profitable than they've ever been, according to Jeff Schulze, investment strategist at ClearBridge Investments.

"It's looked extended really for the past decade, yet you've had one of the best bull markets in U.S. history," he said. "That's going to continue to be a metric that does not adequately capture the market's potential."

At Goldman Sachs Group Inc., strategists argue that however high P/Es are, the absence of significant leverage outside the private sector or a late-cycle economic boom points to low risk of an imminent bubble burst. While people are shoveling money into stocks at rates that have signaled exuberance in the past, risk appetite is rebounding after a prolonged period of aversion, according to the strategists, who also cite low interest rates.

"Today is a very different situation -- I don't think we've got a broad bubble," Peter Oppenheimer, chief global equity strategist at the firm, said in a recent interview on Bloomberg Television. "Given the level of real rates, where they are, it's still likely to be broadly supportive for equities versus bonds."

Another rationale employed to dismiss certain valuation metrics is the earnings cycle. Corporate America is just emerging from a recession, with profits forecast to stage a strong comeback. The strong outlook for profits is why many investors are giving similarly stretched valuations the benefit of the doubt. Trading at 32 times reported earnings, the S&P 500 looks quite expensive, but with income forecast to jump 24% to $173 a share this year, the multiple drops to about 23.

The valuation case becomes more favorable should business leaders continue to blow past expectations. For instance, if this year's earnings come in at 16% above analyst estimates, as they did for the previous quarter, that'd imply a price-earnings ratio of less than 20. While that exceeds the five-year average of 18, Ed Yardeni is not troubled by what he calls "the New Abnormal."

"Valuation multiples are likely to remain elevated around current elevated levels because fiscal and monetary policies continue to flood the financial markets with so much free money," said the founder of Yardeni Research Inc. He predicts the S&P 500 will finish the year at 4,300, about an 8% gain from current levels.

Still, it's hard to ignore the risks to underlying assumptions. While rock-bottom rates underpin many of the arguments, this year has shown that the Fed still is willing to let longer-term interest rates run higher. And betting on huge upside earnings surprises is risky too -- it's rare to see a 16% beat historically. Before last year, earnings had exceeded estimates by an average 3% a quarter since 2015.

"This happens in every bubble," said Bill Callahan, an investment strategist at Schroders. "It's: 'Don't think about the traditional value metrics, we have a new one.' It's: 'Imagine if everyone did XYZ, how big this company could be.'"

Returns of 2%

Valuations are never useful market-timing tools because expensive stocks can get more expensive, as was the case during the Internet bubble. Yet viewed through a long-term lens, valuations do matter. That is, the more over-valued the market is, the lower the future returns. According to a study by Bank of America strategists led by Savita Subramanian, things like price-earnings ratios could explain 80% of the S&P 500's returns during the subsequent 10 years. The current valuation framework implies an increase of just 2% a year over the next decade, their model shows.

To Scott Knapp, chief market strategist of CUNA Mutual Group, abandoning standard valuation measures because the environment has changed places investors in "pretty sketchy territory." Talk of watershed moments rendering traditional metric irrelevant as a signal, he says. "That's usually an indication we're trying to justify something," he said.

[Mar 28, 2021] Willful Blindness - Wash and Rinse in Metals and Stocks

Mar 28, 2021 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com


"In a community where the primary concern is making money, one of the necessary rules is to live and let live. To speak out against madness may be to ruin those who have succumbed to it. So the wise in Wall Street are nearly always silent. The foolish thus have the field to themselves."

John Kenneth Galbraith, The Great Crash of 1929

"Foolishness is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice. One may protest against evil; it can be exposed and, if need be, prevented by use of force. Evil always carries within itself the germ of its own subversion in that it leaves behind in human beings at least a sense of unease.

In conversation with them, one virtually feels that one is dealing not at all with a person, but with slogans, catchwords and the like that have taken possession of them. They are under a spell, blinded, misused, and abused in their very being."

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Prisoner for God: Letters and Papers from Prison

"The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists."

Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism

"When we trade the effort of doubt and debate for the ease of blind faith, we become gullible and exposed, passive and irresponsible observers of our own lives. Worse still, we leave ourselves wide open to those who profit by influencing our behavior, our thinking, and our choices. At that moment, our agency in our own lives is in jeopardy."

Margaret Heffernan

Today was a general wash and rinse in the markets.

Wax on, wax off.

If you look at the charts you will see the deep plunges in the early trading hours in stocks and the metals, especially silver.

Simply put, it is called running the stops.

This is not 'the government' doing this.

These are the monstrous financial entities that we have allowed lax regulation and years of propagandizing to create, in the biggest Banks and hedge funds.

Most will run back to the familiar sources of their ideological addiction, the so-called 'news sites' that thrive on the internet and alternative radio funded by the oligarchs.

If you are one of those who cannot wait to run back to your familiar ideological watering hole to relieve the tension of thought, you might just be one of the willfully blind and lost.

Truth is more palatable to the sick at heart when it has been twisted out of shape.

The good news perhaps is that a cleaning out like this often proceeds a resumption of a move higher.

First they kick off the riff raff. Oh, certainly that does not include you, but those others, right?

Or not. It is not easy to think like a criminal when you are not privy to the same jealously guarded information and perverse perspective on life.

On the lighter side I have experienced no side effects from the first dose of the Coronavirus vaccine which I had the other day.

Let's see if the second shot has the same results.

The whole experience reminded me of 'Sabin Oral Sunday' back in 1960. I don't recall any anti-vaxxer or ideologically driven whack-a-doodlism back then, but I was too young to care. And polio shots were no fun. But it beat doing time in an iron lung.

And the band played on.

Have a pleasant evening.

[Mar 28, 2021] Real unemployment is double the 'official' unemployment rate

Notable quotes:
"... The Globe and Mail ..."
"... The Globe and Mail ..."
"... The Endless Crisis: How Monopoly-Finance Capital Produces Stagnation and Upheaval from the USA to China ..."
Mar 28, 2021 | systemicdisorder.wordpress.com

How many people are really out of work? The answer is surprisingly difficult to ascertain. For reasons that are likely ideological at least in part, official unemployment figures greatly under-report the true number of people lacking necessary full-time work.

That the "reserve army of labor" is quite large goes a long way toward explaining the persistence of stagnant wages in an era of increasing productivity.

How large? Across North America, Europe and Australia, the real unemployment rate is approximately double the "official" unemployment rate.

The "official" unemployment rate in the United States, for example, was 5.5 percent for February 2015. That is the figure that is widely reported. But the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics keeps track of various other unemployment rates, the most pertinent being its "U-6" figure. The U-6 unemployment rate includes all who are counted as unemployed in the "official" rate, plus discouraged workers, the total of those employed part time but not able to secure full-time work and all persons marginally attached to the labor force (those who wish to work but have given up). The actual U.S. unemployment rate for February 2015, therefore, is 11 percent .

Share of wages, 1950-2014 Canada makes it much more difficult to know its real unemployment rate. The official Canadian unemployment rate for February was 6.8 percent, a slight increase from January that Statistics Canada attributes to "more people search[ing] for work." The official measurement in Canada, as in the U.S., European Union and Australia, mirrors the official standard for measuring employment defined by the International Labour Organization -- those not working at all and who are "actively looking for work." (The ILO is an agency of the United Nations.)

Statistics Canada's closest measure toward counting full unemployment is its R8 statistic, but the R8 counts people in part-time work, including those wanting full-time work, as "full-time equivalents," thus underestimating the number of under-employed by hundreds of thousands, according to an analysis by The Globe and Mail . There are further hundreds of thousands not counted because they do not meet the criteria for "looking for work." Thus The Globe and Mail analysis estimates Canada's real unemployment rate for 2012 was 14.2 percent rather than the official 7.2 percent. Thus Canada's true current unemployment rate today is likely about 14 percent.

Everywhere you look, more are out of work

The gap is nearly as large in Europe as in North America. The official European Union unemployment rate was 9.8 percent in January 2015 . The European Union's Eurostat service requires some digging to find out the actual unemployment rate, requiring adding up different parameters. Under-employed workers and discouraged workers comprise four percent of the E.U. workforce each, and if we add the one percent of those seeking work but not immediately available, that pushes the actual unemployment rate to about 19 percent.

The same pattern holds for Australia. The Australia Bureau of Statistics revealed that its measure of "extended labour force under-utilisation" -- this includes "discouraged" jobseekers, the "underemployed" and those who want to start work within a month, but cannot begin immediately -- was 13.1 percent in August 2012 (the latest for which I can find), in contrast to the "official," and far more widely reported, unemployment rate of five percent at the time.

Concomitant with these sobering statistics is the length of time people are out of work. In the European Union, for example, the long-term unemployment rate -- defined as the number of people out of work for at least 12 months -- doubled from 2008 to 2013 . The number of U.S. workers unemployed for six months or longer more than tripled from 2007 to 2013.

Thanks to the specter of chronic high unemployment, and capitalists' ability to transfer jobs overseas as "free trade" rules become more draconian, it comes as little surprise that the share of gross domestic income going to wages has declined steadily. In the U.S., the share has declined from 51.5 percent in 1970 to about 42 percent. But even that decline likely understates the amount of compensation going to working people because almost all gains in recent decades has gone to the top one percent.

Around the world, worker productivity has risen over the past four decades while wages have been nearly flat. Simply put, we'd all be making much more money if wages had merely kept pace with increased productivity.

Insecure work is the global norm

The increased ability of capital to move at will around the world has done much to exacerbate these trends. The desire of capitalists to depress wages to buoy profitability is a driving force behind their push for governments to adopt "free trade" deals that accelerate the movement of production to low-wage, regulation-free countries. On a global basis, those with steady employment are actually a minority of the world's workers.

Using International Labour Organization figures as a starting point, professors John Bellamy Foster and Robert McChesney calculate that the "global reserve army of labor" -- workers who are underemployed, unemployed or "vulnerably employed" (including informal workers) -- totals 2.4 billion. In contrast, the world's wage workers total 1.4 billion -- far less! Writing in their book The Endless Crisis: How Monopoly-Finance Capital Produces Stagnation and Upheaval from the USA to China , they write:

"It is the existence of a reserve army that in its maximum extent is more than 70 percent larger than the active labor army that serves to restrain wages globally, and particularly in poorer countries. Indeed, most of this reserve army is located in the underdeveloped countries of the world, though its growth can be seen today in the rich countries as well." [page 145]

The earliest countries that adopted capitalism could "export" their "excess" population though mass emigration. From 1820 to 1915, Professors Foster and McChesney write, more than 50 million people left Europe for the "new world." But there are no longer such places for developing countries to send the people for whom capitalism at home can not supply employment. Not even a seven percent growth rate for 50 years across the entire global South could absorb more than a third of the peasantry leaving the countryside for cities, they write. Such a sustained growth rate is extremely unlikely.

As with the growing environmental crisis, these mounting economic problems are functions of the need for ceaseless growth. Once again, infinite growth is not possible on a finite planet, especially one that is approaching its limits. Worse, to keep the system functioning at all, the planned obsolescence of consumer products necessary to continually stimulate household spending accelerates the exploitation of natural resources at unsustainable rates and all this unnecessary consumption produces pollution increasingly stressing the environment.

Humanity is currently consuming the equivalent of one and a half earths , according to the non-profit group Global Footprint Network. A separate report by WWF–World Wide Fund For Nature in collaboration with the Zoological Society of London and Global Footprint Network, calculates that the Middle East/Central Asia, Asia-Pacific, North America and European Union regions are each consuming about double their regional biocapacity.

We have only one Earth. And that one Earth is in the grips of a system that takes at a pace that, unless reversed, will leave it a wrecked hulk while throwing ever more people into poverty and immiseration. That this can go on indefinitely is the biggest fantasy.

[Mar 27, 2021] It is not just Jens Quisling, half (or more) of the European political elite are USA proxies. China stated that it will forego the benefits of trade if sanctions regime persists and doesn't care if the EU's dire economic condition worsens

Mar 27, 2021 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Mar 24 2021 22:11 utc | 56

The EUP is cutting its own throat trying to bully China. I see the move was made as soon as Blinken arrived and began spreading lies about both Russia and China. I know China and Russia would like these rogue nations to uphold their honor by obeying the UN Charter, but it seems too many have caught the Outlaw US Empire's disease and now want to return to their Colonial ways. If the EUP ends up trashing the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) with China, many individual European nations are going to be very angry. China won't mind if that's what the EUP does as is explained here :

"After China announced sanctions on 10 individuals and four entities from the EU as a countermove to EU's unilateral sanctions against China, some people from the EU reacted strongly, claiming China's countermeasures were "unacceptable." The European Parliament canceled a meeting on Tuesday to discuss the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) with China. Some members of the European Parliament warned that the lifting of Chinese sanctions should be a condition to promote talks on CAI. Voices that support to block the agreement in an attempt to punish China have been hyped by some anti-China forces.

"Yet those forces should be told that the CAI between China and the EU is mutually beneficial, rather than a gift from the EU to China. If the European Parliament wants to obstruct the deal, taking it as a bargaining chip in interactions with China, it should first reach a consensus among European countries. If they all agree, let's just take it as negotiations between China and the EU never took place last year. But don't blackmail China with the case. China despises such ugly deeds."

China's saying essentially that it will forego the benefits of trade if it isn't properly respected and doesn't care if the EU's dire economic condition worsens because it can't stand up for itself in the face of the world's #1 Bully, which is exactly the same line Russia has taken.

Lurk , Mar 25 2021 1:33 utc | 74

@Norwegian | Mar 24 2021 21:19 utc | 46

It is not just Jens Quisling, half (or more) of the European political elite are USA proxies.

Take for example the European green parties.

I am pretty sure that the Dutch green party is at its core a NATO/military intelligence operation. It was created as a merger of three parties, all of whom had a distinct pacifist and socialist signature. The new party, GroenLinks ("GreenLeft") has forgotten all of that and has limited itself to churning out Big Climate slogans. The party leader is an obviously hollow puppet in the image of Justin Trudeau. His opinions are handed to him by advisors in the shade.

A few years ago, an MP for GroenLinks, Mariko Peters was enthousiastically promoting more military missions in Afghanistan. She was also a board member of the "Atlantische Commissie", the local Dutch chapter of the Atlantic Treaty Organisation (the USA chapter is the more well-known Atlantic Council). If you study her antics and associations more closely, it is pretty obvious that there is nothing green or left about this lady and that she is an obvious atlanticist diplomat/spy type.

Currently, there are no political parties in the Netherlands that are critical of NATO. This used to be very different not even a very long time ago.

About the German green party I know a bit less, but I trust well-informed members of the CDU when they point out the NATO dirt on Die Grüne:
Green Party is an 'arm of the US elites' & doesn't care about German interests – Merkel's ally to RT

What the article does not mention is the association, reputedly for a six-figure salary) of former Grüne luminary Joschka Fisher to the Nabucco pipeline project (competing with ns2). Fischer is also a member of the council on foreign relations and a founding member even of the European chapter ECFR.

[Mar 26, 2021] Absurd NFT PRices Expose a Global Financial House of Cards - ZeroHedge

Mar 26, 2021 | www.zerohedge.com


LOGIN
LOGIN CREATE NEW ACCOUNTRESET YOUR PASSWORD This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply. ZEROHEDGE READS

EXPAND

https://11ab9e3892673ba626dcee7ae14bc7ed.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html


Absurd NFT PRices Expose a Global Financial House of Cards BY SKWEALTHACADEMY FRIDAY, MAR 26, 2021 - 5:59

The insanity of absurd NFT prices reveals the fraud of the global currency system. The pricing for assets worldwide has gone insane at a time when the vast majority of the world's population became poorer, not wealthier, over the past 12 months due to the global economic lockdowns. As an example, there was an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer the other day of a cassette tape of hip hop icon Nas's Illmatic album selling for $13,999 . Not a CD, but a cassette tape. A rectangular piece of cardboard, known as an NBA trading card, for star Luka Doncic's rookie trading card, recently auctioned for $4.6M. Luka Doncic is not a star that played in 1925, and for this reason, his rookie card is worth so much. Luka Doncic entered the NBA in the 2018-19 season, less than three years ago. Nostalgic or collector items are simply selling for insane price because, in my opinion, wealthy people have captured so much of the world's wealth through a global currency system designed and engineered to produce this end result, that they have no better use for their money than to pay $14,000 for a music item that the vast majority of people do not even have the necessary hardware to actually play and to pay more than $4.5M for a piece of cardboard. Anyone that truly understands the difference between a sound and an unsound monetary system realizes that the likelihood, under a sound monetary system, of people paying exorbitant prices for the types of assets and NFTs described above would be a fraction of the probability at which they are occurring today.

Banksy, a UK-based street artist infamous for mocking the very wealthy people that pay millions for his artwork, even titling a piece "Morons" which depicted an art auction with a framed picture of the words "I can't believe you morons actually buy this shit". Instead of being offended by the artist's mockery, someone paid nearly 44,000 pounds for it and it recently sold for nearly 10 times the original purchase price when the piece was destroyed and the act of destruction was turned into an NFT. By the way Banksy also sold a very simple drawing of a girl with a red balloon that was mounted inside a frame in which he had hidden a shredder. After it sold for $1.4M, Banksy remotely activated the hidden shredder and shredded his artwork into thin strips as perhaps "revenge" against the idiocy of narcissistic, wealthy art collectors that can't find any better use of their money than purchasing stencil created art for which no rational person would ever pay $1.4M. To demonstrate the idiocy of the art world, Sotheby's immediately coined the shredding of the art piece as "the first work in history ever created during a live auction", which art collectors worldwide seemed to accept, and thereby increased the value of the destroyed piece of art to perhaps as high as double the original auction price at the current time and avoiding a more rational valuation for the art piece to near zero.

I once read a book called the $12M Stuffed Shark, in which the author revealed that US hedge fund manager Steve Cohen paid $12M to an artist to kill a shark and put it in a vat of plexiglass sealed formaldehyde that he could display in the foyer of his house and basically concluded, after a careful introspection into the art world, that pieces of art like pyramids built from tiny Godiva chocolates and stainless-steel colored balloon animals ($58M or more) would be priced at whatever price dealers could convince the dumbest rich person it was worth. Certainly this conclusion seemed to be supported when someone purchased an "art installation" of a banana taped to the wall with duct tape at a Miami Beach art gallery for $120,000 at the end of 2019 . When people conclude that the best use for $5M or $58M is to buy a piece of cardboard or a steel balloon animal during a period in which Rome is burning (i.e. exploding homelessness numbers in Los Angeles nearing 70,000 as evidenced here and here ), either this is a sign of the fraud of the monetary system, the decline of civilization, or both. If you have ever lived in Los Angeles, as I have, and watch the video referenced in the second link, you will find it astonishing that massive homeless encampments have sprung up throughout Los Angeles in areas that prior to recent years, had no homelessness. (depending on the social media platform you may be watching this on, the soaring prices for which art that I consider to be the lowest form of art that many do not even consider as art is selling for such absurd prices, including NFTs that I will soon discuss, is certainly reflective of the rapid decline of civilization.

This rapid decline of civilization is also reflected in the fact that giant titans of the tech world and social media platforms continue to promote and push the most morally reprehensible content to the top positions of success on their platforms. When popular YouTube Logan Paul visited the "suicide forest" in Japan and found a dead body hanging from the tree, he filmed it and mocked the dead person and YouTube quickly promoted his video as one of their top trending videos on their entire platform for 24 hours, until Logan Paul, not YouTube executives, deleted the video due to the outrage it provoked. Another popular YouTuber, David Dobrik, has had many of his reprehensible videos monetize bullying and belittling of others, often promoted on YouTube among the top trending videos. Recently Dobrik came under fire for allegedly monetizing a video of an actual rape on his channel, and he was roundly mocked when his initial apology consisted of trying to blame the rape victim, who was allegedly underage and too drunk to consent to sex. In his "apology", Dobrik stated he always gains consent for his videos, but sometimes people he victimizes consent at first but then change their minds later, and that is why it appears in many of his videos that he is monetizing morally reprehensible behavior. In any event, YouTube executives allegedly allowed such morally and cowardly behavior to be monetized to massive sums of income for such YouTubers and seem to be more focused on demonetizing anyone that challenges a narrative, true or false, forwarded by the oligarchs.

And as ludicrous as are the prices paid for some of the assets I've mentioned above, the level of insanity paid for NFTs, in my opinion, are at an even exponentially higher level. For those of you that may not know what are NFTs, Non-Fungible Tokens are unique blockchain-based digital assets that represent an increasing number of commodities, from art and real estate to collectibles like sports trading cards. One platform, Original Protocol, recently auctioned off the world's first NFT music album by American DJ 3LAU. Collectively, the artist's fanbase paid out more than $11 million for 33 NFTs contained on 3LAU's album Ultraviolet. In this case, since musicians are routinely ripped off by giant record labels and often have such suffocating, unfair contracts that make it near impossible to earn any significant income from album releases, the digitization of music in the form of NFTs that allow musicians to control their income is a wonderful aspect of the new digital economy of NFTs.

The Non-Fungibility of NFTs and Most Cryptocurrencies Disqualify Them for Use in Financial Derivative Currency Swaps

NFTs sell digital representations of items, including some that used to be represented in the physical world, like trading cards and pieces of art. As is the case in the fine art world, an NFT's price is the highest price you can convince someone to pay for it, a pool of clients that often overlaps with the over indulgent, narcissistic people that comprise the bidders for modern art pieces that sell for millions of dollars. Perhaps the most amazing quality of NFTs is that they actually have a more meaningful value than any cryptocurrency not backed by any type of hard asset. For example, bitcoin is a digital asset, but one would be hard pressed to describe its intrinsic value. One cannot say its fungibility is its price because its price is denominated in fiat currencies with intrinsic values of near zero. Furthermore, for those that constantly and very wrongly argue that non hard-asset backed cryptocurrencies are sound money, if bankers truly believed that bitcoin even remotely qualified as sound money, they would have zero problem offering currency swap derivative contracts between any fiat currency and bitcoin.

Yet, there is not a single corporation in the entire world that has a currency swap that hedges their corporate cash treasury holdings with bitcoin. You can never have any type of financial contract without unlimited risk if it is denominated in bitcoin in which both parties realistically have no idea of the price range of that currency for the maturity of that contract. No rational party will lock themselves into a contract in which a currency presents unlimited risk to them. The simple understanding of why there are no derivative currency swaps or hedging contracts denominated in bitcoin should easily explain to any rational person the very reason why BTC is not considered as sound money by a single banker in the entire world. On the contrary, even as volatile in price as gold and silver may be, gold and silver mining companies routinely hedge their inventory risk and their revenue risk of yet-to-be-mined gold and silver ounces by establishing open positions of gold and silver futures contracts years into the future.

You can't argue that BTC's intrinsic value is the block of the blockchain that records the transaction, because whether that block is used to record an NFT, BTC, or ownership of real estate, a photo or song, the price represented by that block could possibly vary from just a few dollars to several million dollars. So the blockchain has no intrinsic value either. However, with NFTs, its value, is more uniquely determinable than the block upon which a bitcoin transaction is stored that records the price of bitcoin, because that value is simply the highest price willing to be paid by all available bidders at any given time. If there are no available bidders willing to bid on a particular NFT for weeks or perhaps months on end, then one can assume the price of that NFT, even if the last paid price was $100,000, is likely zero. But even if there is one available bidder for that NFT at a price of $1,000,000 then the market price of that NFT is $1M. Though one may state that the bidding mechanism is much more controlled in BTC markets and that BTC could never be priced at zero or $1M per BTC in such a cavalier manner that mimics the pricing of NFTs, the similarities between the pricing mechanisms based upon lack of fungibility should not be ignored when considering the inherent risk imbedded in the price of BTC in its near $60,000 per coin current price. You will either understand this risk and behave accordingly, or ignore this risk and likely expose yourself to strong downside risk in the future at some point that should be expected but will remain unexpected to those that cannot, or will not, accept this existing risk.

The five biggest whales that own BTC in order from top to bottom, are believed to be as follows: (1) The collective of institutions/people called Satoshi Nakamoto; (2) The FBI; (3) The Winklevoss Twins; (4) Micree Zhan; and (5) Jihan Wu. Other notable owners among the top 10 BTC whales are Huobi, Tim Draper and the North Korean State. In 2017, Bloomberg reported that only 1,000 people owned 40% of all BTC in the entire world. Given that in the past two years, it has been reported that the top whales had been cornering the BTC market and increasing their market share, it would not be surprising if they had increased their market share to 50% or perhaps even higher by 2021. In any event, this translates into 0.00012658% of the world's population likely controlling majority ownership of BTC. I don't know of any world in which such a statistic does not translate into enormous risk.

Unanswered Questions

But fungibility is what reveals why cryptocurrencies like BTC and NFTs cannot ever qualify as sound money. For those that don't understand why sound money needs to be a fungible asset, take gold for example. Fungibility essentially means that money should never vary in its qualitative properties but only its quantitative properties. All gold has electroconductivity properties no matter its form. Electroconductivity is an intrinsic quality of gold. Because all purified four nine gold has the same density, the same volume will always be measured by the exact same weight in grams, again another fungible quality of gold. However, depending on how paper gold futures markets are being manipulated and the date, that same gram of gold will vary wildly in fiat currency price. Fiat currency price, thus can never be the quantitative property used to value gold. Weight is the constant that should be used for gold's value when it is to be used as sound money, because this quantitative property is always unwavering, always constant no matter if one is using gold as money in Moscow, Capetown, Montevideo, Santiago, Montreal, Phoenix, Miami, Mogadishu, Kiev, Paris, Heidelberg, Reykjavik, Chiangmai, or Seoul.

What quantitative property of bitcoin that is consistent and always the same across all uses? This is a question without an answer. For this same reason, NFTs could never serve as sound money either. No matter the latest fiat currency price paid for a Banksy "Morons" drawing set on fire, how can one determine the exchange rate for this NFT and an NFT representing a Mark Cuban tweet. Should the Banksy NFT be priced 10 million times higher than a Mark Cuban tweet NFT? Is an NBA TopShot NFT worth 1/1000 the price of a Banksy burning piece of art NFT? And even though NFTs have more uniqueness than say, a satoshi of BTC, because price assigned to that uniqueness is entirely subjective, the uniqueness leaves it no more fit to use as sound money than a cryptocurrency that has no backing of a hard asset. Miami-based art collector Pablo Rodriguez-Fraile proved the absurd pricing mechanism for NFT when he recently sold an NFT that he acquired for $66,666 in October, a 10-second computer-generated video clip of a slogan-covered giant Donald Trump created by digital artist Beeple , for mor than 100 times his original cost at $6.6M.

The last point of irony in the BTC is the solution to the unsound global fiat currency system narrative is that many HODLers of BTC are well aware of the oligarch's use of their power consolidation strategy of (1) Create a crisis; (2) Present the solution to the artificially created crisis; and (3) Implement the solution to consolidate power, yet will never give any type of consideration to the possibility of how perfectly the creation of BTC, in response to the 2008 global financial crisis, fits this exact historical narrative that oligarchs have repeatedly implemented, instead choosing to believe that BTC is the special unique exception to this oft-deployed strategy.

This despite, three US employees of the Central Bank, Galina Hale, Marianna Kudlyak, and Patrick Shultz, and one US university professor, Arvind Krishnamurthy, admitting that the premise I presented to my social media followers in December of 2017, when BTC hit $20,000, that the introduction of the US bitcoin futures market was going to be used to slash the BTC price drastically, essentially writing the premise for the referenced US Central Banker paper five months before it was written. In that paper, titled "How Futures Changed Bitcoin Prices", the four authors basically echoed my premise, and stated,

"We suggest that the rapid rise of the price of bitcoin and its decline following issuance of futures on the CME is consistent with pricing dynamics suggested elsewhere in financial theory and with previously observed trading behavior. Namely, optimists bid up the price before financial instruments are available to short the market (Fostel and Geanakoplos 2012). Once derivatives markets become sufficiently deep, short-selling pressure from pessimists leads to a sharp decline in value. While we understand some of the factors that play a role in determining the long-run price of bitcoin, our understanding of the transactional benefits of bitcoin is too imprecise to quantify this long-run price. But as speculative dynamics disappear from the bitcoin market, the transactional benefits are likely to be the factor that will drive valuation."

While they did not name the players in the BTC futures markets that drove BTC prices downward from $20,000 to $3,000 in 2018, the implication is that Central Bankers were involved in this downward spiral. And if Central Bankers were involved in this downward spiral, the downward price spiral would of course, been far easier to execute, if Central Bankers were also among the members of the collective that constitutes the largest BTC whale, Satoshi Nakamoto. Even though these dots, though purely speculative, are clearly possible, most every BTC HODLer that is confident in the achievement of end-year $300,000 BTC prices or higher, will never consider this possibility, even for a nanosecond, despite heavy suggestions of three US Central Bank employees that Central Bankers were involved in the 2018 BTC price crash. But if one did, as is the rational and logical thing to do, then one would have far greater difficulties distinguishing the mechanisms that set the price for NFTs and BTC. And as the introduction of the first BTC ETFs seem to be on the near horizon now, one would be smart to heed the lessons learned after trading of BTC futures was introduced at the end of 2017. Subscribe to my youtube channel here , to my free newsletter here , to my podcast here , and to learn more about bonus content delivered to skwealthacademy patreons every week, click here , and to download the skwealthacademy fact sheet, click here .

[Mar 26, 2021] This Bull Market Has a Troubling Reliance on Speculation - WSJ by James Mackintosh March 25, 2021 9:42 am ET Listen to this article 6 minutes 00:00 / 06:06 1x Earnings, valuation and rampant speculation have all played a role in the extraordinary bull market that began a year ago this week. The latest combination of the three has a troubling reliance on the speculative element. A broad framework for thinking about stocks can be derived from the late economist Hyman Minsky's three stages of debt. In the first stage, borrowers take on only what they can afford to repay in full from their earnings by the time the debt matures; a standard mortgage works like this. Earnings, valuation and rampant speculation have all played a role in the extraordinary bull market that began a year ago this week. The latest combination of the three has a troubling reliance on the speculative element. A broad framework for thinking about stocks can be derived from the late economist Hyman Minsky's three stages of debt. In the first stage, borrowers take on only what they can afford to repay in full from their earnings by the time the debt matures; a standard mortgage works like this. A broad framework for thinking about stocks can be derived from the late economist Hyman Minsky's three stages of debt. In the first stage, borrowers take on only what they can afford to repay in full from their earnings by the time the debt matures; a standard mortgage works like this. A broad framework for thinking about stocks can be derived from the late economist Hyman Minsky's three stages of debt. In the first stage, borrowers take on only what they can afford to repay in full from their earnings by the time the debt matures; a standard mortgage works like this. U.S. 10-year Treasury yield Source: Tullett Prebon As of March 24 % Pre-pandemic peak of S&P 500 2020 '21 0.25 0.50 0.75 1.00 1.25 1.50 1.75 2.00 S&P 500 forward price/earnings ratio Source: Refinitiv Note: Weekly data S&P 500 peak 2020 '21 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 The parallel in the stock market is stocks going up when earnings -- or rather the expectation of earnings, since the market looks ahead -- go up. There is a risk of course, just as there is with debt: The earnings might not appear, and the stock goes back down. But earnings offer the least risky form of gains, and one that we should welcome as obviously justified. From the low in the summer, 2020 earnings forecasts jumped more than 10%, and expectations for this year rose more than 8%. Stocks responded. In Minsky's second stage, borrowers plan only to repay the interest, and refinance when the main debt is due to be repaid; much company debt works like this. It is taken out with a plan to roll it over indefinitely. Interest rates matter a lot: If they go down when the company needs to refinance, it will pay less. The equity parallel is to gains in valuation due to lower long-term rates. As with corporate debt, this is entirely justified and sustainable so long as rates stay low, because future earnings are now more appealing. The danger is that rates rise, in which case the stock might be hit no matter how earnings pan out. A big chunk of the gains in stocks in the past year came from the sharply lower rates in the first response to the pandemic when the Federal Reserve flooded the system with money. Price-to-forward-earnings multiples soared. From the S&P 500's low on March 23 to the end of June, the market went from 14 to more than 21 times estimated earnings 12 months ahead, even as those estimated earnings fell amid lockdown gloom. The yield on the 10-year Treasury, already down sharply from mid-February's high, fell further as stocks rebounded. In Minsky's third phase, borrowers take loans where they can't afford to pay either the interest or principal from income, in the hope of capital gains big enough to make up the gap. Land speculators are a prime example. The parallel in the stock market is the The parallel in the stock market is stocks going up when earnings -- or rather the expectation of earnings, since the market looks ahead -- go up. There is a risk of course, just as there is with debt: The earnings might not appear, and the stock goes back down. But earnings offer the least risky form of gains, and one that we should welcome as obviously justified. From the low in the summer, 2020 earnings forecasts jumped more than 10%, and expectations for this year rose more than 8%. Stocks responded. In Minsky's second stage, borrowers plan only to repay the interest, and refinance when the main debt is due to be repaid; much company debt works like this. It is taken out with a plan to roll it over indefinitely. Interest rates matter a lot: If they go down when the company needs to refinance, it will pay less. The equity parallel is to gains in valuation due to lower long-term rates. As with corporate debt, this is entirely justified and sustainable so long as rates stay low, because future earnings are now more appealing. The danger is that rates rise, in which case the stock might be hit no matter how earnings pan out. A big chunk of the gains in stocks in the past year came from the sharply lower rates in the first response to the pandemic when the Federal Reserve flooded the system with money. Price-to-forward-earnings multiples soared. From the S&P 500's low on March 23 to the end of June, the market went from 14 to more than 21 times estimated earnings 12 months ahead, even as those estimated earnings fell amid lockdown gloom. The yield on the 10-year Treasury, already down sharply from mid-February's high, fell further as stocks rebounded. In Minsky's third phase, borrowers take loans where they can't afford to pay either the interest or principal from income, in the hope of capital gains big enough to make up the gap. Land speculators are a prime example. The parallel in the stock market is the In Minsky's second stage, borrowers plan only to repay the interest, and refinance when the main debt is due to be repaid; much company debt works like this. It is taken out with a plan to roll it over indefinitely. Interest rates matter a lot: If they go down when the company needs to refinance, it will pay less. The equity parallel is to gains in valuation due to lower long-term rates. As with corporate debt, this is entirely justified and sustainable so long as rates stay low, because future earnings are now more appealing. The danger is that rates rise, in which case the stock might be hit no matter how earnings pan out. A big chunk of the gains in stocks in the past year came from the sharply lower rates in the first response to the pandemic when the Federal Reserve flooded the system with money. Price-to-forward-earnings multiples soared. From the S&P 500's low on March 23 to the end of June, the market went from 14 to more than 21 times estimated earnings 12 months ahead, even as those estimated earnings fell amid lockdown gloom. The yield on the 10-year Treasury, already down sharply from mid-February's high, fell further as stocks rebounded. In Minsky's third phase, borrowers take loans where they can't afford to pay either the interest or principal from income, in the hope of capital gains big enough to make up the gap. Land speculators are a prime example. The parallel in the stock market is the In Minsky's second stage, borrowers plan only to repay the interest, and refinance when the main debt is due to be repaid; much company debt works like this. It is taken out with a plan to roll it over indefinitely. Interest rates matter a lot: If they go down when the company needs to refinance, it will pay less. The equity parallel is to gains in valuation due to lower long-term rates. As with corporate debt, this is entirely justified and sustainable so long as rates stay low, because future earnings are now more appealing. The danger is that rates rise, in which case the stock might be hit no matter how earnings pan out. A big chunk of the gains in stocks in the past year came from the sharply lower rates in the first response to the pandemic when the Federal Reserve flooded the system with money. Price-to-forward-earnings multiples soared. From the S&P 500's low on March 23 to the end of June, the market went from 14 to more than 21 times estimated earnings 12 months ahead, even as those estimated earnings fell amid lockdown gloom. The yield on the 10-year Treasury, already down sharply from mid-February's high, fell further as stocks rebounded. In Minsky's third phase, borrowers take loans where they can't afford to pay either the interest or principal from income, in the hope of capital gains big enough to make up the gap. Land speculators are a prime example. The parallel in the stock market is the The equity parallel is to gains in valuation due to lower long-term rates. As with corporate debt, this is entirely justified and sustainable so long as rates stay low, because future earnings are now more appealing. The danger is that rates rise, in which case the stock might be hit no matter how earnings pan out. A big chunk of the gains in stocks in the past year came from the sharply lower rates in the first response to the pandemic when the Federal Reserve flooded the system with money. Price-to-forward-earnings multiples soared. From the S&P 500's low on March 23 to the end of June, the market went from 14 to more than 21 times estimated earnings 12 months ahead, even as those estimated earnings fell amid lockdown gloom. The yield on the 10-year Treasury, already down sharply from mid-February's high, fell further as stocks rebounded. In Minsky's third phase, borrowers take loans where they can't afford to pay either the interest or principal from income, in the hope of capital gains big enough to make up the gap. Land speculators are a prime example. The parallel in the stock market is the The equity parallel is to gains in valuation due to lower long-term rates. As with corporate debt, this is entirely justified and sustainable so long as rates stay low, because future earnings are now more appealing. The danger is that rates rise, in which case the stock might be hit no matter how earnings pan out. A big chunk of the gains in stocks in the past year came from the sharply lower rates in the first response to the pandemic when the Federal Reserve flooded the system with money. Price-to-forward-earnings multiples soared. From the S&P 500's low on March 23 to the end of June, the market went from 14 to more than 21 times estimated earnings 12 months ahead, even as those estimated earnings fell amid lockdown gloom. The yield on the 10-year Treasury, already down sharply from mid-February's high, fell further as stocks rebounded. In Minsky's third phase, borrowers take loans where they can't afford to pay either the interest or principal from income, in the hope of capital gains big enough to make up the gap. Land speculators are a prime example. The parallel in the stock market is the A big chunk of the gains in stocks in the past year came from the sharply lower rates in the first response to the pandemic when the Federal Reserve flooded the system with money. Price-to-forward-earnings multiples soared. From the S&P 500's low on March 23 to the end of June, the market went from 14 to more than 21 times estimated earnings 12 months ahead, even as those estimated earnings fell amid lockdown gloom. The yield on the 10-year Treasury, already down sharply from mid-February's high, fell further as stocks rebounded. In Minsky's third phase, borrowers take loans where they can't afford to pay either the interest or principal from income, in the hope of capital gains big enough to make up the gap. Land speculators are a prime example. The parallel in the stock market is the A big chunk of the gains in stocks in the past year came from the sharply lower rates in the first response to the pandemic when the Federal Reserve flooded the system with money. Price-to-forward-earnings multiples soared. From the S&P 500's low on March 23 to the end of June, the market went from 14 to more than 21 times estimated earnings 12 months ahead, even as those estimated earnings fell amid lockdown gloom. The yield on the 10-year Treasury, already down sharply from mid-February's high, fell further as stocks rebounded. In Minsky's third phase, borrowers take loans where they can't afford to pay either the interest or principal from income, in the hope of capital gains big enough to make up the gap. Land speculators are a prime example. The parallel in the stock market is the In Minsky's third phase, borrowers take loans where they can't afford to pay either the interest or principal from income, in the hope of capital gains big enough to make up the gap. Land speculators are a prime example. The parallel in the stock market is the In Minsky's third phase, borrowers take loans where they can't afford to pay either the interest or principal from income, in the hope of capital gains big enough to make up the gap. Land speculators are a prime example. The parallel in the stock market is the The parallel in the stock market is the The parallel in the stock market is the hunt for the greater fool . Sure, GameStop < shares bear no relation to the reality < of the company, but I can make money from buying an overpriced stock if I can find someone willing to pay even more because they "like the stock." Wild bets became obvious this year, as newcomers armed with stimulus, or "stimmy," checks Wild bets became obvious this year, as newcomers armed with stimulus, or "stimmy," checks Wild bets became obvious this year, as newcomers armed with stimulus, or "stimmy," checks drove up the price of many tiny stocks, penny shares and those popular on Reddit discussion boards. Speculative bets such as the solar and ARK ETFs rallied up until mid-February, long after growth stocks peaked in August Price performance Source: FactSet *Russell 1000 indexes As of March 25, 7:02 p.m. ET % Invesco Solar Value* ARK Innovation Growth* Sept. 2020 '21 -25 0 25 50 75 100 125 The concern for investors: How much of the market's gain is thanks to this pure speculation, and how much to the justifiable gains of the improving economy and low rates? If too much comes from speculation, the danger is that we run out of greater fools and prices quickly drop back. The concern for investors: How much of the market's gain is thanks to this pure speculation, and how much to the justifiable gains of the improving economy and low rates? If too much comes from speculation, the danger is that we run out of greater fools and prices quickly drop back. me title= A look at how stocks moved through the pandemic suggests earnings and bond yields are still much more important than the gambling element for the market as a whole, but is still troubling. From the S&P peak in mid-February to the end of June, the story was of cratering earnings partly offset by higher valuations. The S&P was down 8%. Earnings forecasts for 12 months ahead fell 20%, while with 10-year yields down almost a full percentage point, valuations were up from a precrisis high of 19 times forecast earnings (itself the highest since the aftermath of the dot-com bubble) to 21 times. Growth stocks -- based on the Russell 1000 index of larger companies -- were slightly up, because they benefit most from falling bond yields, having more of their earnings far in the future. Cheap value stocks, which benefit less, were down 18%. A look at how stocks moved through the pandemic suggests earnings and bond yields are still much more important than the gambling element for the market as a whole, but is still troubling. From the S&P peak in mid-February to the end of June, the story was of cratering earnings partly offset by higher valuations. The S&P was down 8%. Earnings forecasts for 12 months ahead fell 20%, while with 10-year yields down almost a full percentage point, valuations were up from a precrisis high of 19 times forecast earnings (itself the highest since the aftermath of the dot-com bubble) to 21 times. Growth stocks -- based on the Russell 1000 index of larger companies -- were slightly up, because they benefit most from falling bond yields, having more of their earnings far in the future. Cheap value stocks, which benefit less, were down 18%. A look at how stocks moved through the pandemic suggests earnings and bond yields are still much more important than the gambling element for the market as a whole, but is still troubling. From the S&P peak in mid-February to the end of June, the story was of cratering earnings partly offset by higher valuations. The S&P was down 8%. Earnings forecasts for 12 months ahead fell 20%, while with 10-year yields down almost a full percentage point, valuations were up from a precrisis high of 19 times forecast earnings (itself the highest since the aftermath of the dot-com bubble) to 21 times. Growth stocks -- based on the Russell 1000 index of larger companies -- were slightly up, because they benefit most from falling bond yields, having more of their earnings far in the future. Cheap value stocks, which benefit less, were down 18%. From the S&P peak in mid-February to the end of June, the story was of cratering earnings partly offset by higher valuations. The S&P was down 8%. Earnings forecasts for 12 months ahead fell 20%, while with 10-year yields down almost a full percentage point, valuations were up from a precrisis high of 19 times forecast earnings (itself the highest since the aftermath of the dot-com bubble) to 21 times. Growth stocks -- based on the Russell 1000 index of larger companies -- were slightly up, because they benefit most from falling bond yields, having more of their earnings far in the future. Cheap value stocks, which benefit less, were down 18%. From the S&P peak in mid-February to the end of June, the story was of cratering earnings partly offset by higher valuations. The S&P was down 8%. Earnings forecasts for 12 months ahead fell 20%, while with 10-year yields down almost a full percentage point, valuations were up from a precrisis high of 19 times forecast earnings (itself the highest since the aftermath of the dot-com bubble) to 21 times. Growth stocks -- based on the Russell 1000 index of larger companies -- were slightly up, because they benefit most from falling bond yields, having more of their earnings far in the future. Cheap value stocks, which benefit less, were down 18%. Growth stocks -- based on the Russell 1000 index of larger companies -- were slightly up, because they benefit most from falling bond yields, having more of their earnings far in the future. Cheap value stocks, which benefit less, were down 18%. Growth stocks -- based on the Russell 1000 index of larger companies -- were slightly up, because they benefit most from falling bond yields, having more of their earnings far in the future. Cheap value stocks, which benefit less, were down 18%.
NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP

Markets
Mar 26, 2021 | www.wsj.com

A pre-markets primer packed with news, trends and ideas. Plus, up-to-the-minute market data. PREVIEW SUBSCRIBE


Since June the story has reversed. Earnings forecasts have soared, and this year's earnings predictions are now back up to match where 2020 earnings were expected to be before the recession. The bond yield has leapt almost a full percentage point, and is higher than it was last February.

Yet, since June, the market's overall valuation is slightly up, and growth stocks are up 23%. Sure, cheap value stocks responded as expected, rising almost a third and beating growth stocks. But if a lower bond yield justified the rise in valuations, a higher bond yield ought to mean lower valuations, and probably outright lower prices for growth stocks.

me title=

This is concerning but, directionally at least, is explained by the oddity of August, when bond yields rose alongside valuation multiples and the biggest technology stocks leapt in price . Measure it from the end of August, instead of the end of June, and valuations have dropped a bit as bond yields have risen.

But the fall isn't enough to provide much comfort, and worse is that the highly speculative stocks popular with many individual traders bucked the trend. Notable themes including electric cars, hydrogen, SPACs and wind and solar power went into ludicrous mode until the middle of February this year, when the rise in bond yields accelerated and the speculative stocks fell back some.

Share prices propelled more by earnings expectations than bond yields is healthy, while speculation is -- by its nature -- fickle, and so a poor basis for holding on to a stock for long. My hope is that the contribution of pure gambling to the overall level of the market is relatively small. But it is hard to explain why stocks should be so much higher than before the pandemic panic when the earnings outlook is worse and bond yields are back to where they were.

Write to James Mackintosh at James.Mackintosh@wsj.com

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Appeared in the March 26, 2021, print edition as 'This Bull Market Has A Gambling Problem.'

[Mar 24, 2021] On Jerome Powell pronouncements

Mar 24, 2021 | www.wsj.com

P Paul Avila SUBSCRIBER 8 hours ago U.S. stocks edged higher Wednesday as investors awaited more testimony from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

Good grief. Is there any way his subordinates could prevent that? Perhaps lock him in a supply closet until the market closes? Every time he opens his pie hole, I lose money. W Will Bee SUBSCRIBER 8 hours ago Actually I suspect we are waiting for all the FED and Treasury "people" to stop jawboning us so Markets can assimilate their irrelevance

[Mar 24, 2021] BlackRock, others' risks should be studied, 'systemic' tag may not be best- Yellen

Mar.24 -- Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) asks Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen if she would direct the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) to consider designating BlackRock as a firm whose failure could threaten the financial system.
Mar 24, 2021 | finance.yahoo.com

(Reuters) - Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Wednesday it is important to "look carefully" at systemic risks posed by asset managers, including BlackRock Inc, but said designating them as systematically important financial institutions may not be the right approach.

Yellen's remarks came in response to questions from Senator Elizabeth Warren, a longtime Wall Street critic, who demanded to know why BlackRock and other large asset managers had not been added to the list of designated institutions.

"I believe it is important to look very carefully at the risks posed by the asset management industry, including BlackRock and other firms," Yellen, who as Treasury secretary, chairs the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), which is charged with making such designations.

"FSOC began to do that, I believe, in 2016 and 2017, but the risks it focused on were ones having to do with open-end mutual funds that can experience massive withdrawals and be forced to sell off assets that could create fire sales. That is actually a risk we saw materialize last spring in March," she said.

In 2014, BlackRock and other asset managers won a battle in their fight against tighter regulation when a panel of top financial regulators agreed to revamp their review of asset-management firms to focus on potentially risky products and activities rather than individual firms.

"I think that with respect to asset management, rather than focus on designation of companies, I think it is important to focus on an activity like that and consider what the appropriate restrictions are," Yellen said.

"The past two administrations in the US, and numerous global regulators, have studied our industry for a decade and concluded that asset managers should be regulated differently from banks, with the primary focus being on the industry's products and services," BlackRock said in a statement.


[Mar 23, 2021] The Collapse Of Greensill- 'Unwise Enablers' A Dearth Of Due Diligence - ZeroHedge

How many additional Greenville exists?
Mar 23, 2021 | www.zerohedge.com

The collapse of Greensill involved a predicable cast of unwise enablers, but it should serve as a warning to the growing number of Alternative Asset buyers on the dangers of complex deals which promise much but deliver less. Due diligence is critical in the highly illiquid alternatives sector.

You really can't make it up when it comes to the collapse of supply chain charlatan Greensill. I suspect it will make a great film It should also send a judder down our spines, reminding us things are seldom what they seem in complex structured finance:

At least former UK premier David Cameron will be happy. A majority comprising Tory MPs on the UK's Treasury Select Committee blocked an inquiry into Greensill yesterday on the basis it may be politically influenced. The fact Call-Me-Dave was texting chancellor Rishi Sunak pleading for GFC to be a special case for Covid Bailout loans says it all about the dangers of lobbying. The SNP will be equally delighted at the lack of scrutiny of dodgy dealings up in the Highlands.

The Greensill collapse is unlikely to be the last time financial chicanery is exposed as sham. And that is why holders of European Alternatives and Asset backed transactions should be nervous. The lessons of the Greensill deals are multiple:

Let's review the unfolding Greensill mess:

There over 1000 holders of the $10 bln plus of defaulted Greensill investment structures packaged and issued by Credit Suisse – which marketed them as ultra-safe secured investments. Under the law, what the holders recover on these deals will rather depend on how much the administrator and the courts can jemmy out of Sanjay Gupta's dead-firm walking ; steel and commodities business GFC Alliance. (I have no hesitation in saying GFC will go to the wall – there can't be a single sane financial firm on the planet willing to finance them as the story of its' Greensill relationship emerges and its connected in-house banking arrangements become clearer – although, apparently, a state rescue is under consideration to save jobs.)

Investors will be lucky to see much more than the 30% recovery already in the pot from non-Gupta related investments in the Greensill funds – but Credit Suisse may decide to make its investors good. The reputational damage of seeing their private and investment banking clients clobbered for their stupidity, which would negate their private banking brand, may mean it's worth taking the hit. No wonder CS staff are very grumpy about their bonuses.

Successful financial scams require willing participants. All the usual fools are there in the mix.

Yet again the German regulator missed what was going on in Greensill's German bank and its exposures to Gupta. The team at Credit Suisse who agreed to warehouse Greensill originated "future receivables" and sell them as pristine secured assets have a limited shelf life. The insurance broker who managed to convince an insurance fund the underlyings were AAA quality looks vulnerable. Or what about the sales teams in Morgan Stanley who actually marketed the deals. Yet again Softbank is in the frame after it invested in excess of $1.5 bln at a $4-7 bln valuation, hailing Greensill as a leading Finech, when the actual truth is that its high-tech driven lending algos were nothing more than basic Excel spread sheets.

Greensill's financial magic was little more than sheer chutzpah – being able to persuade investors that the dull old low margin conservative business of factoring – short-term secured lending against invoices and accounts receivable, was something incredibly clever, undervalued and able to generate huge returns based on unique proprietary tech.

Greensill deals went further. Rather than just factoring Gupta's bills to suppliers and its invoices, the firm conjured up "future receivables" – pledging the company's expected future earnings for lending now. That's not necessarily a bad thing – its basic credit – but it only works if these earnings were completely predictable like obligated mortgage payments. What Greensill was doing was lending on future earnings on very volatile commodities. Remember – oil prices went negative in 2020.

In return for funding challenging names we know Greensill took divots out these clients. It made over £36 mm financing Gupta's deals in Scotland, and an amazing $108mm in fees from the $850mm Bluestone coal deals in the US – for which it is now being taken to court. All these fees gave Lex Greensill the wherewithal for his private Air Greensill fleet – but didn't make the financings any safer.

Any smart investors would probably have asked questions – but what's not to like about a deal that's secured on receivables, offers a high coupon, is wrapped with an insurance package from reputable insurer and involves major investment firms like Credit Suisse banking them, and Morgan Stanley marketing them?

One question is how did Greensill get away with it so long?

It was clear as early as 2017 there were major issues with some of the supply chain financing deals Greensill was putting together. The following year a major Swiss investment group, GAM, blew up when deals a leading fund manager had bet the shop on were questioned internally. A review by external investigators discovered a lack of information and documentation on a whole series of Greensill deals. They questioned how due diligence was done on the deals. The fund manager was suspended and later dismissed – triggering a redemption run on the fund. The whistle-blower was also shown the door on the back of massive client exits.

GAM invested in the funds because it's very hard to turn down the promise of a low risk / high return deal that promised so much more than the tiny yields available in conventional credit markets.

Despite the events at GAM, Credit Suisse went on to package $10 bln plus of Greensill deals. It was all done with an insurance wrap from a single name put them in its safe bucket. I know other insurance firms refused the deals. The trigger for the collapse of the Greensill scam was the withdrawl of that critical insurance – causing Credit Suisse to stop. Greensill has known for a year Tokyo Marine (which sacked the underwriter involved) would not renew and had been unable to find alternative cover.

Perhaps Credit Suisse bought the story and Softbank link that Greensill was a remarkable new Fintech with the Midas touch of changing dull, conservative factoring into a money machine? All that glitters is not gold.

One of the major developing themes in markets has been a shift from financial assets – which are seriously mispriced due to monetary distortion and financial asset inflation – into real assets, the so-called alternatives market. Alternative because they are not stocks or bonds, but cash flows and real assets. The collapse of Greensill will heighten awareness of due diligence risks in these non-standard, off-market, asset backed alternatives. Alternative asset holders will be looking at holdings for what else might be wobbly.

For instance, I might urge them not to be hypnotised by the assumptions underlying a well-known fund investing in music royalties, the basis of which is also being questioned by analysts. (I certainly won't mention the fund by name as the manager is a well-known litigant.) I have no reason to believe or disbelieve what analysts, the FT and a US investment bank have said about it overpaying for assets or questioning the valuation hikes it puts on future revenues when it acquires catalogues. Personally I like music assets, know their value, and, given certain circumstances the fund in question might come good. Equally.. it might not.

To understand how these deals works its critical to understand exactly what's occurring within the structures – how real are the assets, how the cash flows, how its accounted, and where it goes. That's why having top notch accountants and lawyers is such an important requirement for any deal. However, if they are working in the interests of the issuers and bankers – then investors are the likely patsies. There is a real difference between the way US and European Asset Backed deals are structured – basically US deals are transparent. European deals tend to be opaque.

Alternative deals based on real assets and tangible cash flows are often, but not always, decorrelated from distorted financial assets, allowing low risk deals to yield better long- term returns. They tick can the box in terms of risk vs return and provide significant diversification away from conventional markets. The major negative is there is little pretence they will be liquid assets. If you want to sell – even in good markets it will not be easy.

The only way you should participate in Alternative type deals is by knowing exactly what's going on. And – yes, my day job is Head of Alternative Assets. Happy to discuss in depth any time.

[Mar 18, 2021] U.S. Must Fabricate High-End Chips Again

Letter tot he editor
Mar 18, 2021 | www.wsj.com

Your editorial "The Semiconductor Shortage" (March 13) is right that government action is not needed to correct the short-term supply-demand imbalance causing the global chip shortage, but wrong that the U.S. can "prod" its way to stronger domestic semiconductor production and more secure chip supply chains in the long term. Global competitors haven't passed the U.S. as a location for chip manufacturing by prodding. They've done it by funding ambitious government incentives to lure semiconductor production to their shores.

As a result, only 12% of global manufacturing is now done in the U.S., down from 37% in 1990.

... ... ...

John Neuffer

President and CEO

Semiconductor Industry Association

[Mar 14, 2021] Disposable People by Sandwichman

Mar 04, 2021 | angrybearblog.com

Disposable people are indispensable. Who else would fight the wars? Who would preach? Who would short derivatives? Who would go to court and argue both sides? Who would legislate? Who would sell red hots at the old ball game?

For too long disposable people have been misrepresented as destitute, homeless, unemployed, or at best precariously employed. True, the destitute, the homeless, the unemployed and the precarious are indeed treated as disposable but most disposable people pursue respectable professions, wear fashionable clothes, reside in nice houses, and keep up with the Jones.

Disposable people are defined by what they do not produce. They do not grow food. They do not build shelters. They do not make clothes. They also do not make the tractors used to grow food, the tools to build shelters or the equipment to make clothes.

Although disposable people do not produce necessities what they do is not unnecessary. It is simply that the services they provide are not spontaneously demanded as soon as one acquires a bit of additional income. One is unlikely, however, to engage the services or purchase the goods produced by disposable people unless one is in possession of disposable income. Disposable income is the basis of disposable people. Conversely, disposable people are the foundation of disposable income.

[Mar 08, 2021] Change we can believe in

Mar 08, 2021 | www.marketwatch.com

Shoe shop chain Shoe Zone replaces Peter Foot with Terry Boot as finance director. It's not a joke.

[Mar 08, 2021] Tesla down 31%? Not a problem I will use the dividends to offset my losses. Oh wait!

Mar 08, 2021 | www.zerohedge.com


2 play_arrow


bentaxle 54 minutes ago

Tesla down 31%? Not a problem I will use the dividends to offset my losses. Oh wait!

BigJJ 13 minutes ago

I've never understood how Tesla could possibly make money given all the infrastructure they had to install just to sell shoddily thrown together rusty cars that are useless when the grid crashes.

Sound of the Suburbs 41 minutes ago (Edited)

...What was the ponzi scheme of inflated asset prices that collapsed in 2008?

El Hosel 1 hour ago (Edited)

Clearly "It's different this time", now that everybody knows "stocks only go up"...

[Mar 07, 2021] Newton, Physics, The Market Bubble by Lance Roberts

Notable quotes:
"... Many of these new companies made outrageous, and often fraudulent, claims about their business ventures for the purpose of raising capital and boosting share prices. ..."
"... However, in the midst of the "mania," things like valuation, revenue, or even viable business models didn't matter. It was the "Fear Of Missing Out," which sucked investors into the fray without regard for the underlying risk. ..."
"... Sir Issac Newton, the brilliant mathematician, was an early investor in South Sea Corporation. Newton quickly made a lot of money and recognized the early stages of a speculative mania. Knowing that it would eventually end badly, he liquidated his stake at a large profit. ..."
"... However, after he exited, South Sea stock experienced one of the most legendary rises in history. As the bubble kept inflating, Newton allowed his emotions to overtake his previous logic and he jumped back into the shares. Unfortunately, it was near the peak. ..."
"... The story of Newton's losses in the South Sea Bubble has become one of the most famous in popular finance literature. While surveying his losses, Newton allegedly said that he could "calculate the motions of the heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people." ..."
"... Yes, this time is different. "Like all bubbles, it ends when the money runs out." – Andy Kessler ..."
Sep 19, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Lance Roberts via RealInvestmentAdvice.com,

I have previously discussed the importance of understanding how "physics" plays a crucial role in the stock market. As Sir Issac Newton once discovered, "what goes up, must come down."

Andy Kessler, via the Wall Street Journa l, recently discussed a similar point with respect to the momentum in stock prices. To wit:

"Does this sound familiar: Smart guy owns stock in March at $200, sells it in June at around $600, but then buys it back in July and August for between $900 and $1,000. By September it's back at $200. Ouch. Tesla this year? Yahoo in 2000? Nope. That was Sir Isaac Newton getting pulled into the great momentum trade of the South Sea Co., which cratered 300 years ago this month. He lost the equivalent of more than $3 million today. Newton, whose second law of motion is about the momentum of a body equaling the force acting on it, didn't know that works for stocks too."

To understand what happened to the South Sea Corporation, you need a bit of history.

The South Sea History

In 1720, in return for a loan of £7 million to finance the war against France, the House of Lords passed the South Sea Bill, which allowed the South Sea Company a monopoly in trade with South America.

England was already a financial disaster and was struggling to finance its war with France. As debts mounted, England needed a solution to stay afloat. The scheme was that in exchange for exclusive trading rights, the South Sea Company would underwrite the English National Debt. At that time, the debt stood at £30 million and carried a 5% interest coupon from the Government. The South Sea company converted the Government debt into its own shares. They would collect the interest from the Government and then pass it on to their shareholders.

Interesting Absurdities

At the time, England was in the midst of rampant market speculation. As soon as the South Sea Company concluded its deal with Parliament, the shares surged to more than 10 times their value. As South Sea Company shares bubbled up to incredible new heights, numerous other joint-stock companies IPO'd to take advantage of the booming investor demand for speculative investments.

Many of these new companies made outrageous, and often fraudulent, claims about their business ventures for the purpose of raising capital and boosting share prices. Here are some examples of these companies' business proposals (History House, 1997):

A Speculative Mania

However, in the midst of the "mania," things like valuation, revenue, or even viable business models didn't matter. It was the "Fear Of Missing Out," which sucked investors into the fray without regard for the underlying risk.

Though South Sea Company shares were skyrocketing, the company's profitability was mediocre at best, despite abundant promises of future growth by company directors.

The eventual selloff in Company shares was exacerbated by a previous plan of lending investors money to buy its shares. This "margin loan," meant that many shareholders had to sell their shares to cover the plan's first installment of payments.

As South Sea Company and other "bubble " company share prices imploded, speculators who had purchased shares on credit went bankrupt. The popping of the South Sea Bubble then resulted in a contagion that spread across Europe.

Newton's Folly

Sir Issac Newton, the brilliant mathematician, was an early investor in South Sea Corporation. Newton quickly made a lot of money and recognized the early stages of a speculative mania. Knowing that it would eventually end badly, he liquidated his stake at a large profit.

However, after he exited, South Sea stock experienced one of the most legendary rises in history. As the bubble kept inflating, Newton allowed his emotions to overtake his previous logic and he jumped back into the shares. Unfortunately, it was near the peak.

It is noteworthy that once Newton decided to go back into South Sea stock, he moved essentially all his financial assets into it. In general, Newton was intimately familiar with commodities and finance. As Master of the Mint, his post required him to make many decisions that depended on market prices and conditions. The story of Newton's losses in the South Sea Bubble has become one of the most famous in popular finance literature. While surveying his losses, Newton allegedly said that he could "calculate the motions of the heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people."

For More On The History Of Speculative Bubbles: "Devil Take The Hindmost."

History Never Repeats, But It Rhymes

Throughout financial history, markets have evolved from one speculative "bubble," to bust, to the next with each one being believed "it was different this time." The slides below are from a presentation I made to a large mutual fund company. What we some common denominators between all previous bubbles and now.

The table below shows a listing of assets classes that have experienced bubbles throughout history, with the ones related to the current environment highlighted in yellow. It is not hard to see the similarities between today and the previous market bubbles in history. Investors are currently chasing "new technology" stocks from Zoom to Tesla, piling into speculative call options, and piling into leverage. What could possibly go wrong?

Oh, by the way, the slides above are from a 2008 presentation just one month before the Lehman crisis. The point here is that speculative cycles are always the same.

The Speculative Cycle

Charles Kindleberger suggested that speculative manias typically commence with a "displacement" which excites speculative interest. The displacement may come from either an entirely new object of investment (IPO) or from increased profitability of established investments.

The speculation is then reinforced by a "positive feedback" loop from rising prices. which ultimately induces "inexperienced investors" to enter the market. As the positive feedback loop continues, and the "euphoria" increases, retail investors then begin to "leverage" their risk in the market as "rationality" weakens.

The full cycle is shown below.

During the course of the mania, speculation becomes more diffused and spreads to different asset classes. New companies are floated to take advantage of the euphoria, and investors leverage their gains using derivatives, stock loans, and leveraged instruments.

As the mania leads to complacency, fraud and manipulation enter the market place. Eventually, the market crashes and speculators are wiped out. The Government and Regulators react by passing new laws and legislations to ensure the previous events never happen again.

The Latest Mania

Let's go back to Andy for a moment:

"When bull markets get going, investors come out of the woodwork to pile in. These momentum investors -- I call them momos -- figure if a stock is going up, it will keep going up. But usually, there is some source of hot air inflating stocks: either a structural anomaly that fools investors into thinking ever-rising stock prices are real or a source of capital that buys, buys, buys -- proverbial 'dumb money.' Think of it as a giant fireplace bellows, an accordion-like contraption that pumps in fresh oxygen to keep flames growing." – Andy Kessler

We have seen these manias repeated throughout history.

In 2020?

What about today? Look back at the chart of the South Sea Company above. Now, the one below. See any similarities. Yes, that's Tesla. However, you can't solely blame the Federal Reserve as noted by Andy:

"Most simply blame the Federal Reserve -- especially today, with its zero-interest-rate policy -- for pumping the hot air that gets the momos going. Fair enough, but that's only part of the story. Long market runs have always allured investors who figure they're smart to jump in, even if it's late.

Everyone forgets the adage, 'Don't mistake brains for a bull market.'"

As stated, while no two financial manias are ever alike, the end results are always the same. Are there any similarities in today's market? You decide.

"From SPACs, or special purpose acquisition companies, which are modern-day blind pools that often don't end well. Today's momos also chase stock splits, which mean nothing for a company's actual value. Same for a new listing in indexes like the S&P 500. Isaac Newton could explain the math." – Andy Kessler

You get the idea. But one of the tell-tale indications is the speculative chase of "zombie" companies which are only still alive primarily due to the Federal Reserve's interventions.

Fixing The Cause Of The Crash

Historically, all market crashes have been the result of things unrelated to valuation levels. Issues such as liquidity, government actions, monetary policy mistakes, recessions, or inflationary spikes are the culprits that trigger the "reversion in sentiment." Importantly, the "bubbles" and "busts" are never the same. I previously quoted Bob Bronson on this point:

"It can be most reasonably assumed that markets are efficient enough that every bubble is significantly different than the previous one. A new bubble will always be different from the previous one(s). Such is since investors will only bid prices to extreme overvaluation levels if they are sure it is not repeating what led to the previous bubbles. Comparing the current extreme overvaluation to the dotcom is intellectually silly.

I would argue that when comparisons to previous bubbles become most popular, it's a reliable timing marker of the top in a current bubble. As an analogy, no matter how thoroughly a fatal car crash is studied, there will still be other fatal car crashes. Such is true even if we avoid all previous accident-causing mistakes."

Comparing the current market to any previous period in the market is rather pointless. The current market is not like 1995, 1999, or 2007? Valuations, economics, drivers, etc. are all different from cycle to the next.

Most importantly, however, the financial markets always adapt to the cause of the previous "fatal crash." Unfortunately, that adaptation won't prevent the next one.

Yes, this time is different. "Like all bubbles, it ends when the money runs out." – Andy Kessler

[Mar 07, 2021] SEC Issues Devastating Risk Alert on Private Equity Abuses; Effectively Admits Failure of Last 5+ Years of Enforcement by Yves Smith

Notable quotes:
"... In the Risk Alert below, the itemization of various forms of abuses, such as the many ways private equity firms parcel out interests in the businesses they buy among various funds and insiders to their, as opposed to investors' benefit, alone should give pause. And the lengthy discussion of these conflicts does suggest the SEC has learned something over the years. Experts who dealt with the agency in its early years of examining private equity firms found the examiners allergic to considering, much the less pursuing, complex abuses. ..."
"... Undermining legislative intent of new supervisory authority the SEC never embraced its new responsibilities to ride herd on private equity and hedge funds. ..."
"... The agency is operating in such a cozy manner with private equity firms that as one investor described it: It's like FBI sitting down with the Mafia to tell them each year, "Don't cross these lines because that's what we are focusing on." ..."
"... Advisers charged private fund clients for expenses that were not permitted by the relevant fund operating agreements, such as adviser-related expenses like salaries of adviser personnel, compliance, regulatory filings, and office expenses, thereby causing investors to overpay expenses ..."
"... Current SEC chairman Jay Clayton came from Sullivan & Cromwell, bringing with him Steven Peikin as co-head of enforcement. And the Clayton SEC looks to have accomplished the impressive task of being even weaker on enforcement than Mary Jo White. ..."
"... On the same side though, fraud is a criminal offence, and it's SEC's duty to prosecute. And I believe that a lot of what PE engage in would happily fall under fraud, if SEC really wanted. ..."
"... Crimogenic: Producing or tending to produce crime or criminality. An additional factor is that, in the main, the criminals do not take their money and leave the gaming tables but pour it back in and the crime metastasizes. AKA, Kleptocracy. ..."
"... You might add that the threat of consequences for these crimes makes the criminals extremely motivated to elect officials who will not prosecute them (e.g. Obama). They're not running for office, they're avoiding incarceration. ..."
"... Andrew Levitt, for instance, complained bitterly that Joe Lieberman would regularly threaten to cut the SEC's budget for allegedly being too aggressive about enforcement. Lieberman was the Senator from Hedgistan. ..."
"... More banana republic level grift. What happens when investors figure out they can't believe anything they are told? ..."
"... Can we come up with a better descriptor for "private equity"? I suggest "billionaire looters". ..."
"... Where is the SEC when Bain Capital (Romney) wipes out Toys-R-Us and Dianne Feinstein's husband Richard Blum wipes out Payless Shoes. They gain control of the companies, pile on massive debt and take the proceeds of the loan, and they know the company cannot service the loan and a BK is around the corner. ..."
"... Thousands lose their jobs. And this is legal? And we also lost Glass-Steagal and legalized stock buy-backs. The Elite are screwing the people. It's Socialism for the Rich, the Politicians and Govt Employees and Feudalism for the rest of us. ..."
Jun 26, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

We've embedded an SEC Risk Alert on private equity abuses at the end of this post. 1 What is remarkable about this document is that it contains a far longer and more detailed list of private abuses than the SEC flagged in its initial round of examinations of private equity firms in 2014 and 2015. Those examinations occurred in parallel with groundbreaking exposes by Gretchen Morgenson at the New York Times and Mark Maremont in the Wall Street Journal.

At least some of the SEC enforcement actions in that era look to have been triggered by the press effectively getting ahead of the SEC. And the SEC even admitted the misconduct was more common at the most prominent firms.

Yet despite front-page articles on private equity abuses, the SEC engaged in wet noodle lashings. Its pattern was to file only one major enforcement action over a particular abuse. Even then, the SEC went to some lengths to spread the filings out among the biggest firms. That meant it was pointedly engaging in selective enforcement, punishing only "poster child" examples and letting other firms who'd engaged in precisely the same abuses get off scot free.

The very fact of this Risk Alert is an admission of failure by the SEC. It indicates that the misconduct it highlighted five years ago continues and if anything is even more pervasive than in the 2014-2015 era. It also confirms that its oft-stated premise then, that the abuses it found then had somehow been made by firms with integrity that would of course clean up their acts, and that now-better-informed investors would also be more vigilant and would crack down on misconduct, was laughably false.

In particular, the second section of the Risk Alert, on Fees and Expenses (starting on page 4) describes how fund managers are charging inflated or unwarranted fees and expenses. In any other line of work, this would be called theft. Yet all the SEC is willing to do is publish a Risk Alert, rather than impose fines as well as require disgorgements?

The SEC's Abject Failure

In the Risk Alert below, the itemization of various forms of abuses, such as the many ways private equity firms parcel out interests in the businesses they buy among various funds and insiders to their, as opposed to investors' benefit, alone should give pause. And the lengthy discussion of these conflicts does suggest the SEC has learned something over the years. Experts who dealt with the agency in its early years of examining private equity firms found the examiners allergic to considering, much the less pursuing, complex abuses.

Undermining legislative intent of new supervisory authority the SEC never embraced its new responsibilities to ride herd on private equity and hedge funds.

The SEC has long maintained a division between the retail investors and so-called "accredited investors" who by virtue of having higher net worths and investment portfolios, are treated by the agency as able to afford to lose more money. The justification is that richer means more sophisticated. But as anyone who is a manager for a top sports professional or entertainer, that is often not the case. And as we've seen, that goes double for public pension funds.

Starting with the era of Clinton appointee Arthur Levitt, the agency has taken the view that it is in the business of defending presumed-to-be-hapless retail investors and has left "accredited investor" and most of all, institutional investors, on their own. This was a policy decision by the agency when deregulation was venerated; there was no statutory basis for this change in priorities.

Congress tasked the SEC with supervising the fund management activities of private equity funds with over $150 million in assets under management. All of their investors are accredited investors. In other words, Congress mandated the SEC to make sure these firms complied with relevant laws as well as making adequate disclosures of what they were going to do with the money entrusted to them. Saying one thing in the investor contracts and doing another is a vastly worse breach than misrepresentations in marketing materials, yet the SEC acted as if slap-on-the-wrist-level enforcement was adequate.

We made fun when thirteen prominent public pension fund trustees wrote the SEC asking for them to force greater transparency of private equity fees and costs. The agency's position effectively was "You are grownups. No one is holding a gun to your head to make these investments. If you don't like the terms, walk away." They might have done better if they could have positioned their demand as consistent with the new Dodd Frank oversight requirements.

Actively covering up for bad conduct . In 2014, the SEC started working at giving malfeasance a free pass. Specifically, the SEC told private equity firms that they could continue their abuses if they 'fessed up in their annual disclosure filings, the so-called Form ADV. The term of art is "enhanced disclosure". Since when are contracts like confession, that if you admit to a breach, all is forgiven? Only in the topsy-turvy world of SEC enforcement.

And the coddling of crookedness continued. From a January post :

The agency is operating in such a cozy manner with private equity firms that as one investor described it: It's like FBI sitting down with the Mafia to tell them each year, "Don't cross these lines because that's what we are focusing on."

Specifically, as we indicated, the SEC was giving advanced warning of the issues it would focus on in its upcoming exams, in order to give investment managers the time to get their stories together and purge files. And rather than view its periodic exams as being designed to make sure private equity firms comply with the law and their representations, the agency views them as "cooperative" exercises! Misconduct is assumed to be the result of misunderstanding and error, and not design.

It's pretty hard to see conduct like this, from the SEC's Risk Alert, as being an accident:

Advisers charged private fund clients for expenses that were not permitted by the relevant fund operating agreements, such as adviser-related expenses like salaries of adviser personnel, compliance, regulatory filings, and office expenses, thereby causing investors to overpay expenses

The staff observed private fund advisers that did not value client assets in accordance with their valuation processes or in accordance with disclosures to clients (such as that the assets would be valued in accordance with GAAP). In some cases, the staff observed that this failure to value a private fund's holdings in accordance with the disclosed valuation process led to overcharging management fees and carried interest because such fees were based on inappropriately overvalued holdings .

Advisers failed to apply or calculate management fee offsets in accordance with disclosures and therefore caused investors to overpay management fees.

We're highlighting this skimming simply because it is easier for laypeople to understand than some of the other types of cheating the SEC described. Even so, industry insiders and investors complained that the description of the misconduct in this Risk Alert was too general to give them enough of a roadmap to look for it at particular funds.

Ignoring how investors continue to be fleeced . The SEC's list includes every abuse it sanctioned or mentioned in the 2014 to 2015 period, including undisclosed termination of monitoring fees, failure to disclose that investors were paying for "senior advisers/operating partners," fraudulent charges, overcharging for services provided by affiliated companies, plus lots of types of bad-faith conduct on fund restructurings and allocations of fees and expenses on transactions allocated across funds.

The SEC assumed institutional investors would insist on better conduct once they were informed that they'd been had. In reality, not only did private equity investors fail to demand better, they accepted new fund agreements that described the sort of objectionable behavior they'd been engaging in. Remember, the big requirement in SEC land is disclosure. So if a fund manager says he might do Bad Things and then proceeds accordingly, the investor can't complain about not having been warned.

Moreover, the SEC's very long list of bad acts says the industry is continuing to misbehave even after it has defined deviancy down via more permissive limited partnership agreements!

Why This Risk Alert Now?

Keep in mind what a Risk Alert is and isn't. The best way to conceptualize it is as a press release from the SEC's Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations. It does not have any legal or regulatory force. Risk Alerts are not even considered to be SEC official views. They are strictly the product of OCIE staff.

On the first page of this Risk Alert, the OCIE blandly states that:

This Risk Alert is intended to assist private fund advisers in reviewing and enhancing their compliance programs, and also to provide investors with information concerning private fund adviser deficiencies.

Cutely, footnotes point out that not everyone examined got a deficiency letter (!!!), that the SEC has taken enforcement actions on "many" of the abuses described in the Risk Alert, yet "OCIE continues to observe some of these practices during examinations."

Several of our contacts who met in person with the SEC to discuss private equity grifting back in 2014-2015 pressed the agency to issue a Risk Alert as a way of underscoring the seriousness of the issues it was unearthing. The staffers demurred then.

In fairness, the SEC may have regarded a Risk Alert as having the potential to undermine its not-completed enforcement actions. But why not publish one afterwards, particularly since the intent then had clearly been to single out prominent examples of particular types of misconduct, rather than tackle it systematically? 2

So why is the OCIE stepping out a bit now? The most likely reason is as an effort to compensate for the lack of enforcement actions. Recall that all the OCIE can do is refer a case to the Enforcement Division; it's their call as to whether or not to take it up.

The SEC looks to have institutionalized the practice of borrowing lawyers from prominent firms. Mary Jo White of Debevoise brought Andrew Ceresney with her from Debeviose to be her head of enforcement. Both returned to Debevoise.

Current SEC chairman Jay Clayton came from Sullivan & Cromwell, bringing with him Steven Peikin as co-head of enforcement. And the Clayton SEC looks to have accomplished the impressive task of being even weaker on enforcement than Mary Jo White. Clayton made clear his focus was on "mom and pop" investors, meaning he chose to overlook much more consequential abuses by private equity firms and hedgies. The New York Times determined that the average amount of SEC fines against corporate perps fell markedly in 2018 compared to the final 20 months of the Obama Administration. The SEC since then levied $1 billion fine against the Woodbridge Group of Companies and its one-time owner for running a Ponzi scheme that fleeced over 8,400, so that would bring the average penalty up a bit. But it still confirms that Clayton is concerned about small fry, and not deeper but just as pickable pockets.

David Sirota argues that the OCIE was out to embarrass Clayton and sabotage what Sirota depicted as an SEC initiative to let retail investors invest in private equity. Sirota appears to have missed that that horse has left the barn and is in the next county, and the SEC had squat to do with it.

The overwhelming majority of retail funds is not in discretionary accounts but in retirement accounts, overwhelmingly 401(k)s. And it is the Department of Labor, which regulates ERISA plans, and not the SEC, that decides what those go and no go zones are. The DoL has already green-lighted allowing large swathes of 401(k) funds to include private equity holdings. From a post earlier this month :

Until now, regulations have kept private equity out of the retail market by prohibiting managers from accepting capital from individuals who lack significant net worth.

Private equity firms have succeeded in storming that barricade. The Department of Labor published a June 3 information letter that allows private equity funds, or more accurately funds of funds, to be included in certain 401(k) plan offerings, namely, target date funds and balanced funds. This is significant because despite the SEC regularly calling out bad practices with target date funds, they are the strategy used to manage the majority of 401(k) assets .

Moreover, even though Sirota pointed out that Clayton had spoken out in favor of allowing retail investors more access to private equity investments, the proposed regulation on the definition of accredited investors in fact not only does not lower income or net worth requirements (save for allowing spouses to combine their holdings) it in fact solicited comments on the idea of raising the limits. From a K&L Gates write up :

Previously, the Concept Release requested comment on whether the SEC should revise the current individual income ($200,000) and net worth ($1,000,000) thresholds. In the Proposing Release, the SEC further considered these thresholds, noting that the figures have not been adjusted since 1982. The SEC concluded that it does not believe modifications to the thresholds are necessary at this time, but it has requested comments on whether the final should instead make a one-time increase to the thresholds in the account for inflation, or whether the final rule should reflect a figure that is indexed to inflation on a going-forward basis.

It is not clear how many people would be picked up by the proposed change, which was being fleshed out, that of letting some presumed sophisticated but not rich individuals, like junior hedge fund professionals and holders of securities licenses, be treated as accredited investors. In other words, despite Clayton's talk about wanting ordinary investors to have more access to private equity funds, the agency's proposed rule change falls short of that.

Moreover, if the OCIE staff had wanted to undermine even the limited liberalization of the definition of accredited investor so as to stymie more private equity investment, the time to do so would have been immediately before or while the comments period was open. It ended March 16 .

The New York Times reported that Senate Republicans deemed Clayton's odds of confirmation as US Attorney for the Southern District of New York as remote even before the Trump fired Geoffrey Berman to clear a path for Clayton. So the idea that a technical release by the OCIE would derail Clayton's confirmation is a stretch.

So again, why now? One possibility is that the timing is purely a coincidence. For instance, the SEC staffers might have been waiting until Covid-19 news overload died down a bit so their work might get a hearing (and Covid-19 remote work complications may also have delayed its release).

The second possibility is that OCIE is indeed very frustrated with the enforcement chief Peikin's inaction on private equity. The fact that Peikin's boss and protector Clayton has made himself a lame duck meant a salvo against Peikin was now a much lower risk. If any readers have better insight into the internal workings of the SEC these days, please pipe up.

______

1 Formally, as you can see, this Risk Alert addresses both private equity and hedge fund misconduct, but on reading the details, the citing of both types of funds reflects the degree to which hedge funds have been engaging in the buying and selling of stakes in private companies. For instance, Chatham Asset Management, which has become notorious through its ownership of American Media, which in turn owns the National Enquirer, calls itself a hedge fund. Moreover, when the SEC started examining both private equity and hedge funds under new authority granted by Dodd Frank, it described the sort of misconduct described in this Risk Alert as coming out of exams of private equity firms, and its limited round of enforcement actions then were against brand name private equity firms like KKR, Blackstone, Apollo, and TPG. Thus for convenience as well as historical reasons, we refer only to private equity firms as perps.

2 Media stories at the time, including some of our posts, provided substantial evidence that particular abuses, such as undisclosed termination of monitoring fees and failure to disclose that "senior advisers" presented as general partner "team members" were in fact consultants being separately billed to fund investments, were common practices. Yet the SEC chose to lodge only marquee enforcement actions against one prominent firm for each abuse, as if token enforcement would serve as an adequate deterrent. The message was the reverse, that the overwhelming majority of the abuses were able to keep their ill-gotten gains and not even face public embarrassment.


skippy , June 26, 2020 at 4:27 am

Peter Sellers I'll say now – ????

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TtZgs8k8dU

vlade , June 26, 2020 at 4:35 am

TBH, in the view of Calpers ignoring its advisors, I do have a little understanding of the SEC's point "you're grown ups" (the worse problem is that the advisors who leach themselves to the various accredited investors are often not worth the money.

On the same side though, fraud is a criminal offence, and it's SEC's duty to prosecute. And I believe that a lot of what PE engage in would happily fall under fraud, if SEC really wanted.

Susan the other , June 26, 2020 at 11:43 am

Yes, the SEC conveniently claims a conflicted authority – 1. to regulate compliance but without an "enforcement authority", and 2. report egregious behavior to their "enforcement authority". So the SEC is less than a permissive nanny. Sort of like "access" to enforcement authority. Sounds like health care to me.

Yves Smith Post author , June 26, 2020 at 4:06 pm

No, this is false. The SEC has an examination division and an enforcement division. The SEC can and does take enforcement actions that result in fines and disgorgements, see the $1 billion fine mentioned in the post. So the exam division can recommend enforcement to the enforcement division. That does not mean it will get done. Some enforcement actions originate from within the enforcement division, like insider trading cases, and the SEC long has had a tendency to prioritize insider trading cases.

The SEC cannot prosecute. It has to refer cases that it thinks are criminal to the DoJ and try to get them to saddle up.

Maritimer , June 26, 2020 at 5:04 am

Crimogenic: Producing or tending to produce crime or criminality. An additional factor is that, in the main, the criminals do not take their money and leave the gaming tables but pour it back in and the crime metastasizes. AKA, Kleptocracy.

Thus in 2008 and thereafter the criminal damage required 2-3 trillion, now 7-10 trillion.

Any economic expert who does not recognize crime as the number one problem in the criminogenic US economy I disregard. Why read all that analysis when, at the end of the run, it all just boils down to bailing out the criminals and trying to reset the criminogenic system?

(Can I get my economics degree now?)

Adam Eran , June 26, 2020 at 1:33 pm

You might add that the threat of consequences for these crimes makes the criminals extremely motivated to elect officials who will not prosecute them (e.g. Obama). They're not running for office, they're avoiding incarceration.

The Rev Kev , June 26, 2020 at 5:17 am

The SEC has been captured for years now. It was not that long ago that SEC Examination chief Andrew Bowden made a grovelling speech to these players and even asked them to give his son a job which was so wrong-

https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/regulatory-capture-captured-on-video-190033/

But there is no point in reforming the SEC as it was the politicians, at the beck and call of these players, that de-fanged the SEC – and it was a bipartisan effort! So it becomes a chicken-or-the-egg problem in the matter of reform. Who do you reform first?

Can't leave this comment without mentioning something about a private equity company. One of the two major internal airlines in Oz went broke due to the virus and a private equity buyer has been found to buy it. A union rep said that they will be good for jobs and that they are a good company. Their name? Bain Capital!

Yves Smith Post author , June 26, 2020 at 5:44 am

We broke the story about Andrew Bowden! Give credit where credit is due!!!! Even though Taibbi points to us in his first line, linking to Rolling Stone says to those who don't bother clicking through that it was their story.

Plus we transcribed his fawning remarks.

https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2015/03/secs-andrew-bowden-regulator-sale.html

And he resigned three weeks later.

The Rev Kev , June 26, 2020 at 5:56 am

Of course I remember that story. I was going to mention it but thought to let people see it in virtually the opening line of that story where he gives you credit. More of a jolt of recognition seeing it rather than being told about it first.

Jesper , June 26, 2020 at 6:36 am

Of the three branches of government which ones are not captured by big business? If two out of three were to captured then does it matter what the third does?

In my opinion too much power has been centralised, too much of the productivity gains of the past 40 years have been monetised and therefore made possible to hoard and centralise. SEC should (in my opinion) try to enforce more but without more support then I do not believe (it is my opinion, nothing more and nothing less) that they can accomplish much.

Susan the other , June 26, 2020 at 11:57 am

The SEC is a mysterious agency which (?) must fall under the jurisdiction of the Treasury because it is a monetary regulatory agency in the business of regulating securities and exchanges. But it has no authority to do much of anything. The Treasury itself falls under the executive administration but as we have recently seen, Mnuchin himself managed to get a nice skim for his banking pals from the money Congress legislated.

That's because Congress doesn't know how to effectuate a damn thing – they legislate stuff that morphs before our very eyes and goes to the grifters without a hitch. So why don't we demand that consumer protection be made into hard law with no wiggle room; that since investing is complex in this world of embedded funds and glossy prospectuses, we the consumer should not have to wade through all the nonsense to make decisions – that everything be on the table. And if PE can't manage to do that and still steal its billions then PE should be declared to be flat-out illegal.

Yves Smith Post author , June 26, 2020 at 4:08 pm

Please stop spreading disinformation. This is the second time on this post. The SEC has nada to do with the Treasury. It is an independent regulatory agency. It however is the only financial regulator that does not keep what it kills (its own fees and fines) but is instead subject to Congressional appropriations.

Andrew Levitt, for instance, complained bitterly that Joe Lieberman would regularly threaten to cut the SEC's budget for allegedly being too aggressive about enforcement. Lieberman was the Senator from Hedgistan.

Edward , June 26, 2020 at 7:16 am

More banana republic level grift. What happens when investors figure out they can't believe anything they are told?

RJMc, MD , June 26, 2020 at 8:43 am

It should be noted that out here in the countryside of northern Michigan that embezzlement (a winter sport here while the men are out ice fishing), theft and fraud are still considered punishable felonies. Perhaps that is simply a quaint holdover from a bygone time. Dudley set the tone for the C of C with his Green Book on bank deregulation. One of the subsequent heads of C of C was reported as seeing his position as "being the spiritual resource for banks". If bank regulation is treated in a farcical fashion why should be the SEC be any different?

Susan the other , June 26, 2020 at 12:08 pm

I was shocked to just now learn that ERISA/the Dept of Labor is in regulatory control of allowing pension funds to buy PE fund of funds and "balanced PE funds". What VERBIAGE. Are "PE Fund of Balanced Funds" an actual category? And what distinguishes them from good old straightforward Index Funds? And also too – what is happening before our very glazed-over eyes is that PE is high grading not just the stock market but the US Treasury itself. Ordinary investors should be buying US Treasuries directly and retirement funds should too. It will be a big bite but if it knocks PE out of business it would be worth it. PE is in the business of cooking its books, ravaging struggling corporations, and boldly privatizing the goddamned Treasury. WTF?

Kouros , June 26, 2020 at 12:27 pm

I want to bring this to Yves' attention: the recent SCOTUS decision on Thole v. U.S. Bank that opens the doors wide for corporate America to steal with impunity from the pension plans: https://www.unz.com/estriker/corrupt-supreme-court-gives-green-light-to-corporations-to-steal-from-pensioners/

Glen , June 26, 2020 at 12:51 pm

Can we come up with a better descriptor for "private equity"? I suggest "billionaire looters".

Olivier , June 26, 2020 at 2:00 pm

What about the wanton destruction of the purchased companies? If this solely about the harm done to the poor investors? If so, that is seriously wrong.

flora , June 26, 2020 at 3:27 pm

If, you know, the neoliberal "because markets" is the ruling paradigm then of course there is no harm done. The questions then become: is "because markets" a sensible paradigm? What is it a sensible paradigm of? Is "because markets" even sensible for the long term?

flora , June 26, 2020 at 3:19 pm

an aside: farewell, Olympus camera. A sad day. Farewell, OM-1 and OM-2. Film photography is really not replicated by digital photography but the larger market has gone to digital. Speed and cost vs quality. Because markets. Now the vulture swoop.

Stan Sexton , June 26, 2020 at 8:17 pm

Where is the SEC when Bain Capital (Romney) wipes out Toys-R-Us and Dianne Feinstein's husband Richard Blum wipes out Payless Shoes. They gain control of the companies, pile on massive debt and take the proceeds of the loan, and they know the company cannot service the loan and a BK is around the corner.

Thousands lose their jobs. And this is legal? And we also lost Glass-Steagal and legalized stock buy-backs. The Elite are screwing the people. It's Socialism for the Rich, the Politicians and Govt Employees and Feudalism for the rest of us.

[Mar 07, 2021] Bank Regulation Can not Be Heads Banks Win, Tails Taxpayers Lose

Notable quotes:
"... Kane, who coined the term "zombie bank" and who famously raised early alarms about American savings and loans, analyzed European banks and how regulators, including the U.S. Federal Reserve, backstop them. ..."
"... We are only interested observers of the arm wrestling between the various EU countries over the costs of bank rescues, state expenditures, and such. But we do think there is a clear lesson from the long history of how governments have dealt with bank failures . [If] the European Union needs to step in to save banks, there is no reason why they have to do it for free best practice in banking rescues is to save banks, but not bankers. That is, prevent the system from melting down with all the many years of broad economic losses that would bring, but force out those responsible and make sure the public gets paid back for rescuing the financial system. ..."
"... In 2019, another question, alas, is also piercing. In country after country, Social Democratic center-left parties have shrunk, in many instances almost to nothingness. In Germany the SPD gives every sign of following the French Socialist Party into oblivion. Would a government coalition in which the SPD holds the Finance Ministry even consider anything but guaranteeing the public a huge piece of any upside if they rescue two failing institutions? ..."
Mar 31, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
... ... ...

Running in the background, though, was a new, darker theme: That the post-2008 reforms had gone too far in restricting policymakers' discretion in crises. The trio most responsible for making the post-Lehman bailout revolution -- Ben Bernanke, Timothy Geithner, and Henry Paulson -- expressed their misgivings in a joint op-ed :

But in its post-crisis reforms, Congress also took away some of the most powerful tools used by the FDIC, the Fed and the Treasury the FDIC can no longer issue blanket guarantees of bank debt as it did in the crisis, the Fed's emergency lending powers have been constrained, and the Treasury would not be able to repeat its guarantee of the money market funds.

These powers were critical in stopping the 2008 panic The paradox of any financial crisis is that the policies necessary to stop it are always politically unpopular. But if that unpopularity delays or prevents a strong response, the costs to the economy become greater.

We need to make sure that future generations of financial firefighters have the emergency powers they need to prevent the next fire from becoming a conflagration.

Sotto voce fears of this sort go back to the earliest reform discussions. But the question surfaced dramatically in Timothy Geithner's 2016 Per Jacobsson Lecture, " Are We Safer? The Case for Strengthening the Bagehot Arsenal ." More recently, the Group of Thirty has advanced similar suggestions -- not too surprisingly, since Geithner was co-project manager of the report, along with Guillermo Ortiz, the former Governor of the Mexican Central Bank, who introduced the former Treasury Secretary at the Per Jacobson lecture.

Aside from the financial collapse itself, probably nothing has so shaken public confidence in democratic institutions as the wave of bailouts in the aftermath of the collapse. The redistribution of wealth and opportunity that the bailouts wrought surely helped fuel the populist surges that have swept over Europe and the United States in the last decade. The spectacle of policymakers rubber stamping literally unlimited sums for financial institutions while preaching the importance of austerity for everyone else has been unbearable to millions of people.

Especially in money-driven political systems, affording policymakers unlimited discretion also plainly courts serious risks. Put simply, too big to fail banks enjoy a uniquely splendid situation of "heads I win, tails you lose" when they take risks. Scholars whose research INET has supported, notably Edward Kane , have shown how the certainty of government bailouts advantages large financial institutions, directly affecting prices of their bonds and stocks.

For these reasons INET convened a panel at a G20 preparatory meeting in Berlin on " Moral Hazard Issues in Extended Financial Safety Nets ." The Power Point presentations of the three panelists are presented in the order in which they gave them, since the latter ones sometimes comment on Edward Kane 's analysis of the European banks. Kane, who coined the term "zombie bank" and who famously raised early alarms about American savings and loans, analyzed European banks and how regulators, including the U.S. Federal Reserve, backstop them.

Peter Bofinger , Professor of International and Monetary Economics at the University of Würzburg and an outgoing member of the German Economic Council, followed with a discussion of how the system has changed since 2008. Helene Schuberth , Head of the Foreign Research Division of the Austrian National Bank, analyzed changes in the global financial governance system since the collapse.

The panel took place as public discussion of a proposed merger between two giant German banks, the Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank, reached fever pitch. The panelists explored issues directly relevant to such fusions, without necessarily agreeing among themselves or with anyone at INET.

But the point Robert Johnson, INET's President, and I made some years back , amid an earlier wave of talk about using public money to bail out European banks, remains on target:

We are only interested observers of the arm wrestling between the various EU countries over the costs of bank rescues, state expenditures, and such. But we do think there is a clear lesson from the long history of how governments have dealt with bank failures . [If] the European Union needs to step in to save banks, there is no reason why they have to do it for free best practice in banking rescues is to save banks, but not bankers. That is, prevent the system from melting down with all the many years of broad economic losses that would bring, but force out those responsible and make sure the public gets paid back for rescuing the financial system.

The simplest way to do that is to have the state take equity in the banks it rescues and write down the equity of bank shareholders in proportion. This can be done in several ways -- direct equity as a condition for bailout, requiring warrants that can be exercised later, etc. The key points are for the state to take over the banks, get the bad loans rapidly out of those and into a "bad bank," and hold the junk for a decent interval so the rest of the market does not crater. When the banks come back to profitability, you can cash in the warrants and sell the stock if you don't like state ownership. That way the public gets its money back .at times states have even made a profit.

In 2019, another question, alas, is also piercing. In country after country, Social Democratic center-left parties have shrunk, in many instances almost to nothingness. In Germany the SPD gives every sign of following the French Socialist Party into oblivion. Would a government coalition in which the SPD holds the Finance Ministry even consider anything but guaranteeing the public a huge piece of any upside if they rescue two failing institutions?

The full article of Edward Kane

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


WheresOurTeddy , March 29, 2019 at 11:49 am

Enforcement of financial laws is not our thing. Just ask Chuck Schumer of the #Non-Resistance:

https://theintercept.com/2019/03/28/sec-democratic-commissioner-chuck-schumer/

Louis Fyne , March 29, 2019 at 12:17 pm

There needs to be an asset tax on/break up of the megas. End the hyper-agglomeration of deposits at the tail end. Not holding my breath though. (see NY state congressional delegation)

To be generous, tax starts at $300 billion. Even then it affects only a dozen or so US banks. But would be enough to clamp down on the hyper-scale of the largest US/world banks. The world would be better off with lot more mid-sized regional players.

thesaucymugwump , March 29, 2019 at 12:17 pm

Anyone who mentions Timmy Geithner without spitting did not pay attention during the Obama reign of terror. He and Obama crowed about the Making Home Affordable Act, implying that it would save all homeowners in mortgage trouble, but conveniently neglected to mention that less than 100 banks had signed up. The thousands of non-signatories simply continued to foreclose.

Not to mention Eric Holder's intentional non-prosecution of banksters. For these and many other reasons, especially his "Islamic State is only the JV team" crack, Obama was one of our worst presidents.

chuck roast , March 29, 2019 at 12:21 pm

Thank you Yves and Tom Ferguson.

Fergusons graph on DBK's default probabilities coincides with the ECB's ending its asset purchase programme and entering the "reinvestment phase of the asset purchase programme".
https://www.ecb.europa.eu/mopo/implement/omt/html/index.en.html
The worst of the euro zombie banks appear to be getting tense and nervous.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKpzCCuHDVY
Maybe that is why Jerome Powell did his volte-face last month on gradually raising interest rates. Note that the Fed also reduced its automatic asset roll-off. I'm curious if the other euro-zombies in the "peers" return on equity chart are are experiencing volatility also.

Craig H. , March 29, 2019 at 1:04 pm

Apparently the worst fate you can suffer as long as you don't go Madoff is Fuld. According to Wikipedia his company manages a hundred million which must be humiliating. It's not as humiliating as locking the guy up in prison would be by a very long stretch.

Greenspan famously lamented that there isn't anything the regulators can really do except make empty threats. This is dishonest. The regulations are not carved in stone like the ten commandments. In China they execute incorrigible financiers all the time.

John Wright , March 30, 2019 at 10:31 am

Greenspan was never willing to counter any problem that might irritate powerful financial constituencies. For example, during the internet stock bubble of the late 1990's, Greenspan decried the "irrational exuberance" of the stock market. The Greenspan Fed could have raised the margin requirement for stocks to buttress this view, but did not. As I remembered reading, Greenspan was in poor financial shape when he got his Fed job.

His subsequent performance at the Fed apparently left him a wealthy man. Real regulation by Greenspan may have adversely affected his wealth. It may explain why Alan Greenspan would much rather let a financial bubble grow until it pops and then "fix it".

Procopius , March 31, 2019 at 12:30 am

Everybody forgets (or at least does not mention) that Greenspan was a member of the Class of '43, the (mostly Canadian) earliest members of the Objectivist Cult with guru Ayn Rand. Expecting him to act rationally is foolish. It may happen accidentally (we do not know why he chose to let the economy expand unhindered in 1999), but you cannot count on it. In a world with information asymmetry expecting markets to be concerned about reputation is ridiculous. To expect them to police themselves for long term benefit is even more ridiculous.

rd , March 29, 2019 at 3:06 pm

I think Finance is currently about 13% of the S&P 500, down from the peak of about 18% or so in 2007. I think we will have a healthy economy and improved political climate when Finance is about 8-10% of the S&P 500 which is about where I think finance plays a healthy, but not overwhelming rentier role in the economy.

Inode_buddha , March 29, 2019 at 4:51 pm

I think things will be much better when finance is about ~3% of the S&P 500, but no more than that.

[Mar 07, 2021] Regulatory Capture: The Banks and the System That They Have Corrupted

Notable quotes:
"... She soldiered through her painful stomach ailments and secretly tape-recorded 46 hours of conversations between New York Fed officials and Goldman Sachs. After being fired for refusing to soften her examination opinion on Goldman Sachs, Segarra released the tapes to ProPublica and the radio program This American Life and the story went viral from there... ..."
"... In a nutshell, the whoring works like this. There are huge financial incentives to go along, get along, and keep your mouth shut about fraud. The financial incentives encompass both the salary, pension and benefits at the New York Fed as well as the high-paying job waiting for you at a Wall Street bank or Wall Street law firm if you show you are a team player . ..."
Mar 14, 2019 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com

"But the impotence one feels today -- an impotence we should never consider permanent -- does not excuse one from remaining true to oneself, nor does it excuse capitulation to the enemy, what ever mask he may wear. Not the one facing us across the frontier or the battle lines, which is not so much our enemy as our brothers' enemy, but the one that calls itself our protector and makes us its slaves. The worst betrayal will always be to subordinate ourselves to this Apparatus, and to trample underfoot, in its service, all human values in ourselves and in others."

Simone Weil

"And in some ways, it creates this false illusion that there are people out there looking out for the interest of taxpayers, the checks and balances that are built into the system are operational, when in fact they're not. And what you're going to see and what we are seeing is it'll be a breakdown of those governmental institutions. And you'll see governments that continue to have policies that feed the interests of -- and I don't want to get clichéd, but the one percent or the .1 percent -- to the detriment of everyone else...

If TARP saved our financial system from driving off a cliff back in 2008, absent meaningful reform, we are still driving on the same winding mountain road, but this time in a faster car... I think it's inevitable. I mean, I don't think how you can look at all the incentives that were in place going up to 2008 and see that in many ways they've only gotten worse and come to any other conclusion."

Neil Barofsky

"Written by Carmen Segarra, the petite lawyer turned bank examiner turned whistleblower turned one-woman swat team, the 340-page tome takes the reader along on her gut-wrenching workdays for an entire seven months inside one of the most powerful and corrupted watchdogs of the powerful and corrupted players on Wall Street – the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The days were literally gut-wrenching. Segarra reports that after months of being alternately gas-lighted and bullied at the New York Fed to whip her into the ranks of the corrupted, she had to go to a gastroenterologist and learned her stomach lining was gone.

She soldiered through her painful stomach ailments and secretly tape-recorded 46 hours of conversations between New York Fed officials and Goldman Sachs. After being fired for refusing to soften her examination opinion on Goldman Sachs, Segarra released the tapes to ProPublica and the radio program This American Life and the story went viral from there...

In a nutshell, the whoring works like this. There are huge financial incentives to go along, get along, and keep your mouth shut about fraud. The financial incentives encompass both the salary, pension and benefits at the New York Fed as well as the high-paying job waiting for you at a Wall Street bank or Wall Street law firm if you show you are a team player .

If the Democratic leadership of the House Financial Services Committee is smart, it will reopen the Senate's aborted inquiry into the New York Fed's labyrinthine conflicts of interest in supervising Wall Street and make removing that supervisory role a core component of the Democrat's 2020 platform. Senator Bernie Sanders' platform can certainly be expected to continue the accurate battle cry that 'the business model of Wall Street is fraud.'"

Pam Martens, Wall Street on Parade

[Mar 06, 2021] Value investor John Rogers sees an end to Big Tech's stock market dominance

Mar 06, 2021 | finance.yahoo.com

Michael Mackenzie and James Fontanella-Khan in New York Fri, March 5, 2021, 7:00 PM

The veteran value investor John Rogers predicted the US is headed for a repeat of the "roaring twenties" a century ago that will finally encourage investors to dump tech stocks in favour of companies more sensitive to the economy. The founder of Ariel Investments told the Financial Times in an interview that value investing "dinosaurs" like him stood to win as higher economic growth and rising interest rates took the air out of some of the hottest stocks of recent years. The US central bank is "overly optimistic that they can keep inflation under control", he said, and higher bond market interest rates would reduce the value of future earnings for highly popular growth stocks such as tech companies and for the kinds of speculative companies coming to market in initial public offerings or via deals with Spacs.

[Feb 20, 2021] Why China, with same size of power grid, won't suffer outage like in the US

Feb 20, 2021 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , Feb 18 2021 18:40 utc | 142

Why China, with same size of power grid, won't suffer outage like in the US

"Why does the US use the winter storm as the excuse every time?" Shu Bin, director of the State Grid Beijing Economics Research Institute, told the Global Times on Thursday, noting that the power grid system is very vulnerable and requires constant maintenance and upgrade.

A report from the US Department of Energy (DOE) in 2015 said that 70 percent of power transformers in the country were 25 years or older, 60 percent of circuit breakers were 30 years or older, and 70 percent of transmission lines are 25 years or older. And the age of these components "degrades their ability to withstand physical stresses and can result in higher failure rates," the report noted.

[...]

"The US has no nationwide power grid network allocation plan like China. When it encounters extreme weather, a state won't help another state like some Chinese provinces and regions do with flexible allocation plans," Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University, told the Global Times on Thursday.

[...]

"China uses 50Hz across the country, like the country has the same heartbeat," he said, adding that China has never experienced such a scale of blackouts as the US.

[...]

China has mastered the top technologies such as "UHV transmission" and "flexible DC transmission" and started the strategic "west-east electricity transmission" and "north-south electricity transmission" projects, which in turn offer an opportunity for the development of the country's western region.


[Feb 19, 2021] The infrastructure failed - the people paid to manage this failed - everybody is angry, 10 people died so far last I heard.

Feb 19, 2021 | www.moonofalabama.org

Grieved , Feb 18 2021 0:45 utc | 52

@36 oldhippie

Not as apocalyptic as it may seem. I wrote a comment on the situation in the earlier thread here .

Temps are starting to move up and tomorrow (Thursday) should begin the thaw. Friday is sunny and 47 deg F for a high, then sunny weekend and following. So we're over the worst of it. The lowest it ever got was around 0 deg F.

The infrastructure failed - the people paid to manage this failed - everybody is angry, 10 people died so far last I heard.

Rolling blackouts, some people very much suffering, townships opening warming shelters - probably not millions of pipes bursting. Not totally iced in, just nowhere to go. People stayed home. Businesses stayed closed. Not totally without food, people stocked up staples in 2020.

Not that dire. Absolutely fucking disgusting, and a hardship that touched everyone - some people got really screwed and I don't know why the treatment was uneven like that - not demographics, something with the grid. Dire, yes, and life-threatening to some or perhaps many (numbers not clear to me yet), but not so dire as your picture suggests. Nothing like Katrina, except the same ineptness.

But heads will roll. The governor has mandated an investigation into the regulator, ERCOT. What follows next is of great interest. Facts will appear. I'll post anything useful.

I heard a rumor it was getting better. Could be less blackouts. Will post now in case power goes off ;)


vk , Feb 18 2021 2:24 utc | 63

Texas Could Have Kept the Lights On

This Texas debacle may light a heated debate in the USA for the next weeks, for two reasons:

1) Texas is the big alt-right/Trumpist Festung for the foreseeable future. Their nation-building process involve catapulting Texas as the anti-California , the conservative version of the Shining City on the Hill, around which the USA will be rebuilt;

2) What is happening in Texas right now goes directly to the heart of neoliberalism, which is the political doctrine that vertebrates the alt-right. That's why conservative ideologues such as Tucker Carlson et al are desperately scrambling on TV and social media to blame the outage on the so-called Green New Deal.

What is happening right now in Texas, therefore, may be another episode on the battle for the soul of the American Empire.

vetinLA , Feb 18 2021 2:27 utc | 64

Thom Hartmann podcast on the Texas SNAFU;

http://dl.thomhartmann.com/private/podcasts/2021_0217_thp-021721-hour1.mp3

[Feb 04, 2021] The GameStop Rebels Vs. -Too Big To Fail- - ZeroHedge

Feb 04, 2021 | www.zerohedge.com

The GameStop Rebels Vs. "Too Big To Fail" BY TYLER DURDEN WEDNESDAY, FEB 03, 2021 - 6:10

Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute,

Last week, a large number of small-time investors drove up the price of GameStop's (GME) stock a historic 1,784 percent . But this was no mere spike in some obscure stock. The stock's price spiked in part as a result of efforts by "an army of smaller investors who have been rallying on Reddit and elsewhere online to support GameStop's stock and beat back the professionals." These professionals were hedge fund managers who had shorted GameStop's stock. In other words, hedge funders were betting billions that GameStop's stock would go down. But the price went up instead, meaning hedge funds like Melvin Capital (and Citron Research) took "a significant loss," possibly totaling $70 billion.

There surely were plenty of insiders on both sides of this deal. Given the complexity of various schemes employed by seasoned investors, it seems it is very unlikely that this is just a simple matter of little Davids taking on Wall Street Goliaths.

But it also looks like that's not all that was going on. Had this only been just another scheme by some Wall Street insiders against some other Wall Street insiders the story would probably have ended there.

But that's not what happened. Rather, it appears that, for many of the smaller investors who were involved, much of this "short squeeze" was conducted for the purposes of throwing a monkey wrench in the plans of Wall Street hedge funds which exist within the rarified world of billionaires and their friends.

Pro–Wall Street Fearmongering

The reactions to the event from media pundits and other commentators were telling in that there was clearly fear and outrage over the fact that business as usual on Wall Street wasn't being enforced. Predictably, much of the reaction to the Reddit rebellion was to label it a "fiasco," " insanity ," and something sure to leave a " trail of destruction ." The important thing was to use words designed to make it all look like the threat to hedge funds represents some sort of grave threat to the overall economy. Jim Lebenthal at CNBC, for example, declared the "short-squeeze fiasco is a threat to the proper functioning of financial markets."

The fearmongering went beyond even the usual places we hear about financial news. On The View , for example, Meghan McCain delivered the sort of status quo –defending bromides we've come to expect from her. She insisted the GameStop affair could spiral into an economy-killing disaster because

If the stock ends up plunging because of this, because of GameStop and Wall Street loses billions, at a certain point, it will impact stocks like Apple and Disney and stocks that a lot of average Americans do invest in, and if that happens, average Americans will end up losing even more money.

Her comment doesn't rally make any sense, and she doesn't seem to have even a rudimentary understanding of what happened. But her comment delivered the important point: namely, that anything that causes volatility in the market could be a disaster for every American household. Translation: and we should all be very, very afraid if something isn't done to keep these Reddit people -- whom she compared to the Capitol "insurrectionists" -- under control.

Of course, in a functioning and relatively unhampered market, unusual, unexpected things happen all the time. Entrepreneurial actors do things the incumbent firms and "experts" hadn't counted on. This leads to "instability" and big swings in prices. This is actual capitalism, and it doesn't mean the marketplace isn't functioning properly. In fact, it probably means the marketplace is dynamic and responsive to consumers and other market participants.

But that's not something Wall Street insiders or their pals in Washington like in the modern era. Although Wall Streeters love to portray themselves as capitalist captains of industry, the fact is they have very little interest in real, competitive capitalism.

Rather, we live in the era of "too big to fail" (TBTF), when market freedom means nothing and preserving the portfolios of powerful Wall Street institutions is what really matters.

Decades of "Too Big to Fail"

It's based on the idea that Wall Street is just too important to the whole economy, and Washington must intervene to make sure rich guys on Wall Street stay rich. David Stockman explains this philosophy:

[It is] the notion that the "threat of systemic risk" and a cascading contagion of losses form the failure of any big Wall Street institution would be so calamitous that it warranted an exemption from free market discipline.

This goes back at least to the 1994 Mexican bailout -- which was really a bailout of investors, not of Mexico -- which solidified the process of normalizing huge transfers of wealth from taxpayers and dollar holders to the Wall Street elite. By then, the "Greenspan put" was already in place, with the central bank forever poised to embrace more easy money in pursuit of propping up stock prices. Then came the bailouts of 2008 and the covd-19 avalanche of easy money -- all of which lopsidedly benefited Wall Street over the rest of the economy.

This "exemption from free market discipline" is what Wall Street is all about these days. The financial sector has become accustomed to enjoying bailouts, easy money, and the resulting financialization which puts ever greater amounts of the US economy into the hands of Wall Street money managers. The sector is now built on corporate welfare, not "free markets." No matter what happens, Wall Street expects the deck to be stacked in its favor.

This is why "volatility" has become a bad word, and "stability" is now the name of the game. It's why Lebenthal thinks anything out of the ordinary is a threat to the "proper functioning of financial markets." If some free market innovation and inventiveness actually takes place in some small corner of the marketplace, well, then we're all expected to get very upset.

That's the way Wall Street likes it. ay_arrow 1


Kayman 8 hours ago

The marketing slogan "Too Big Too Fail" conveniently presumed Wall Street was more important than the Real Economy. A fatal presumption.

Wall Street is a Parasite, backstopped by the Fed, who, in turn, are backstopped by the Nation. A crumbling nation, where the Fed strangles lending/savings intermediation, and saves the blood suckers by bleeding the dying core of America.

wmbz 8 hours ago

"The sector is now built on corporate welfare, not "free markets."

This is NOT a new thing. Corporate welfare has been in play for a long, long time. I am amazed how long it has taken otherwise "smart" people to grasp this fact.

The only difference is, it is out in the glaring sunlight for all to see. TPTB are damn proud of it!

junction 7 hours ago (Edited)

Except for the involvement of WallStreetBets in temporarily blocking the hedge fund bear raid on GameStop using "naked" shorts, it is still business as usual on Wall Street. No one at the SEC does anything but collect a salary, issue press releases and go to lunch as the Mafia crime families. . . oops, hedge funds run "bust out" operations on businesses. The lapdog financial press cheered on the hedge funds as they demolished American businesses. The same gutter journalists who are not yet linking micro-manager Bezos giving up total control of Amazon right after his cloud service illegally de-platformed Parler for violation of bogus. made-up community standards. But then, bigger things are afoot. Bolshevik president Biden just approved deploying B-1 bomber to Norway for the first time. Nuclear bomb carrying B-1 bombers. Anything to distract people from how rotten things are.

Cognitive rationalist 7 hours ago

Banking financial sector: private profits for me, public losses for thee

gladitsover 8 hours ago remove link

"..the table is tilted folks. The game is rigged.."

George Carlin

Lokiban 8 hours ago

I think it was all about showing to those unawares how corrupt and rigged Wall street truly is and they have gotten the message out bigtime.
The only question to be asked is who became the proverbial bagholder when average people saw their 'Bitcoin-Tulipmania' chance to get out with amazing profits and with that breaking the promise to continue pumping gme till it hits $1500.
One has always to be carefull if these kind of actions are true populism going against the controllers or is it controllers playing their hideous games again for a reason, like the great reset.
Greed has never been a good advisor in these times, easy sheoplemoney. It works all the time..

dustinthewind 9 hours ago

" Curiosity v Manipulation"

https://www.armstrongeconomics.com/armstrongeconomics101/understanding-cycles/curiosity-v-manipulation/

COMMENT: Message: Re Reddit "WallStreetBets"
Hi Marty,
Thanks for this blog post but I think they are not trying to make money out of short squeezing GME really, they are trying to make a point. If you follow some of the posts you see many stories about how badly people and their families were hurt in 2008 when not a single banker went to prison. Stories of Fathers losing jobs and houses and descending into alcoholism in front of their children who now are part of WallStreetBets, others who had to live off of beans and rice or what Mama could grow in the garden and went hungry etc.

So they are not buying GME to see it rise, though that is fine, they are spending money "they can afford to lose" to punish the hedge funds that have along with bankers hurt the little guy repeatedly. These same people IMO have bought off our politicians, removed regulations like Glass Steagal etc all to reap profits to the top while crushing everyone else.

Listen in June 2008 I got laid off from Palm, in July I broke my arm ( badly ), in August some tenants left so I tried to put that property up for sale but in September Lehman fell and the real estate agent told me the market was OFF that I could not sell and needed to rent it with no one renting for 5 more months. At the same time in September I had a 100K home equity line I took out just for emergencies and since I was having one I wanted to use it – but then Wells Fargo pulled the whole thing.

So there I was Marty, sitting on the couch with a cast from fingers to shoulder watching the world meltdown on a tiny TV set while on lots of pain killers
I was forced to use my small 401K, and ended up using the whole thing through 9 months of disability, two surgeries and a job search that did not yield a job until the fall of 2011.
So IMO these arrogant SOB cheating hedge fund guys should pound sand on GME for once because the casino is rigged, heads they win, tails they win, and the taxpayers lose their jobs, homes, and pay for their bailouts.
I say give it to 'em.
Off my soapbox

REPLY: I fully understand that. I have fought against these people my whole life. I was more interested in learning HOW the economy functioned where they were only interested in guaranteed trades. I guess I was the Leonardo da Vinci of finance. Instead of digging up bodies to figure out how the anatomy functioned, I searched history and developed a computer model to try to ascertain what made the world economy tick.

A professor from Princeton where Einstein taught said to me that I reminded him of Einstein. I was surprised, for I did not see myself as comparable to Einstein in any way. He then explained that what he meant was my curiosity which moved me to try to figure out what made it all function. I came to understand what he meant. If you are not CURIOUS and seek out knowledge, then you will NEVER discover anything new! I was not dealing with the physics of the world, but the finance. People are attracted by this blog and Socrates for that same reason. They have that spark of curiosity and seek to also understand what makes it all tick! We need to teach students to be curious. That is the key to all progress we desperately need to survive this never-ending battle of authoritarianism v independence and freedom.

I have stated many times that I had discovered the 8.6-year frequency in my research I conducted at Princeton, University in the Firestone Library. Those were fond memories for it was an amazing resource back then as was the Royal British Newspaper Library, which I gathered my FOREX database by sifting through the largest newspaper collection in the world.

This was the difference between me and the "club" where I tried to understand the movement of the ages that caused the rise and fall of civilization and therein the economy/markets, and the "club" which seeks to manipulate everything by sheer force armed with bribes. They own the Southern District of New York courts, the Second Circuit, and the Department of Justice along with the SEC and CFTC. Goldman Sachs has even stacked the SEC and CFTC with their former people. Nobody was prosecuted despite the fact that they were involved in the looting of capital in Malaysia and Greece. And people have the audacity to claim there was absolutely no election fraud? There is nothing we can trust that goes on in government anymore and it will only get far worse as we head into 2032.

I am well aware of the sentiment behind this Reddit trend. My concern is simple. Don't put it past the "club" to be in there making this seem like a sure bet and then set everyone up for the big crash. Be careful here going into Feb/March 2021.

[Feb 03, 2021] The GameStop Rebels Vs. -Too Big To Fail- - ZeroHedge

Feb 03, 2021 | www.zerohedge.com

The GameStop Rebels Vs. "Too Big To Fail" BY TYLER DURDEN WEDNESDAY, FEB 03, 2021 - 6:10

Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute,

Last week, a large number of small-time investors drove up the price of GameStop's (GME) stock a historic 1,784 percent . But this was no mere spike in some obscure stock. The stock's price spiked in part as a result of efforts by "an army of smaller investors who have been rallying on Reddit and elsewhere online to support GameStop's stock and beat back the professionals." These professionals were hedge fund managers who had shorted GameStop's stock. In other words, hedge funders were betting billions that GameStop's stock would go down. But the price went up instead, meaning hedge funds like Melvin Capital (and Citron Research) took "a significant loss," possibly totaling $70 billion.

There surely were plenty of insiders on both sides of this deal. Given the complexity of various schemes employed by seasoned investors, it seems it is very unlikely that this is just a simple matter of little Davids taking on Wall Street Goliaths.

But it also looks like that's not all that was going on. Had this only been just another scheme by some Wall Street insiders against some other Wall Street insiders the story would probably have ended there.

But that's not what happened. Rather, it appears that, for many of the smaller investors who were involved, much of this "short squeeze" was conducted for the purposes of throwing a monkey wrench in the plans of Wall Street hedge funds which exist within the rarified world of billionaires and their friends.

Pro–Wall Street Fearmongering

The reactions to the event from media pundits and other commentators were telling in that there was clearly fear and outrage over the fact that business as usual on Wall Street wasn't being enforced. Predictably, much of the reaction to the Reddit rebellion was to label it a "fiasco," " insanity ," and something sure to leave a " trail of destruction ." The important thing was to use words designed to make it all look like the threat to hedge funds represents some sort of grave threat to the overall economy. Jim Lebenthal at CNBC, for example, declared the "short-squeeze fiasco is a threat to the proper functioning of financial markets."

The fearmongering went beyond even the usual places we hear about financial news. On The View , for example, Meghan McCain delivered the sort of status quo –defending bromides we've come to expect from her. She insisted the GameStop affair could spiral into an economy-killing disaster because

If the stock ends up plunging because of this, because of GameStop and Wall Street loses billions, at a certain point, it will impact stocks like Apple and Disney and stocks that a lot of average Americans do invest in, and if that happens, average Americans will end up losing even more money.

Her comment doesn't rally make any sense, and she doesn't seem to have even a rudimentary understanding of what happened. But her comment delivered the important point: namely, that anything that causes volatility in the market could be a disaster for every American household. Translation: and we should all be very, very afraid if something isn't done to keep these Reddit people -- whom she compared to the Capitol "insurrectionists" -- under control.

Of course, in a functioning and relatively unhampered market, unusual, unexpected things happen all the time. Entrepreneurial actors do things the incumbent firms and "experts" hadn't counted on. This leads to "instability" and big swings in prices. This is actual capitalism, and it doesn't mean the marketplace isn't functioning properly. In fact, it probably means the marketplace is dynamic and responsive to consumers and other market participants.

But that's not something Wall Street insiders or their pals in Washington like in the modern era. Although Wall Streeters love to portray themselves as capitalist captains of industry, the fact is they have very little interest in real, competitive capitalism.

Rather, we live in the era of "too big to fail" (TBTF), when market freedom means nothing and preserving the portfolios of powerful Wall Street institutions is what really matters.

Decades of "Too Big to Fail"

It's based on the idea that Wall Street is just too important to the whole economy, and Washington must intervene to make sure rich guys on Wall Street stay rich. David Stockman explains this philosophy:

[It is] the notion that the "threat of systemic risk" and a cascading contagion of losses form the failure of any big Wall Street institution would be so calamitous that it warranted an exemption from free market discipline.

This goes back at least to the 1994 Mexican bailout -- which was really a bailout of investors, not of Mexico -- which solidified the process of normalizing huge transfers of wealth from taxpayers and dollar holders to the Wall Street elite. By then, the "Greenspan put" was already in place, with the central bank forever poised to embrace more easy money in pursuit of propping up stock prices. Then came the bailouts of 2008 and the covd-19 avalanche of easy money -- all of which lopsidedly benefited Wall Street over the rest of the economy.

This "exemption from free market discipline" is what Wall Street is all about these days. The financial sector has become accustomed to enjoying bailouts, easy money, and the resulting financialization which puts ever greater amounts of the US economy into the hands of Wall Street money managers. The sector is now built on corporate welfare, not "free markets." No matter what happens, Wall Street expects the deck to be stacked in its favor.

This is why "volatility" has become a bad word, and "stability" is now the name of the game. It's why Lebenthal thinks anything out of the ordinary is a threat to the "proper functioning of financial markets." If some free market innovation and inventiveness actually takes place in some small corner of the marketplace, well, then we're all expected to get very upset.

That's the way Wall Street likes it. ay_arrow 1


Kayman 8 hours ago

The marketing slogan "Too Big Too Fail" conveniently presumed Wall Street was more important than the Real Economy. A fatal presumption.

Wall Street is a Parasite, backstopped by the Fed, who, in turn, are backstopped by the Nation. A crumbling nation, where the Fed strangles lending/savings intermediation, and saves the blood suckers by bleeding the dying core of America.

wmbz 8 hours ago

"The sector is now built on corporate welfare, not "free markets."

This is NOT a new thing. Corporate welfare has been in play for a long, long time. I am amazed how long it has taken otherwise "smart" people to grasp this fact.

The only difference is, it is out in the glaring sunlight for all to see. TPTB are damn proud of it!

junction 7 hours ago (Edited)

Except for the involvement of WallStreetBets in temporarily blocking the hedge fund bear raid on GameStop using "naked" shorts, it is still business as usual on Wall Street. No one at the SEC does anything but collect a salary, issue press releases and go to lunch as the Mafia crime families. . . oops, hedge funds run "bust out" operations on businesses. The lapdog financial press cheered on the hedge funds as they demolished American businesses. The same gutter journalists who are not yet linking micro-manager Bezos giving up total control of Amazon right after his cloud service illegally de-platformed Parler for violation of bogus. made-up community standards. But then, bigger things are afoot. Bolshevik president Biden just approved deploying B-1 bomber to Norway for the first time. Nuclear bomb carrying B-1 bombers. Anything to distract people from how rotten things are.

Cognitive rationalist 7 hours ago

Banking financial sector: private profits for me, public losses for thee

gladitsover 8 hours ago remove link

"..the table is tilted folks. The game is rigged.."

George Carlin

Lokiban 8 hours ago

I think it was all about showing to those unawares how corrupt and rigged Wall street truly is and they have gotten the message out bigtime.
The only question to be asked is who became the proverbial bagholder when average people saw their 'Bitcoin-Tulipmania' chance to get out with amazing profits and with that breaking the promise to continue pumping gme till it hits $1500.
One has always to be carefull if these kind of actions are true populism going against the controllers or is it controllers playing their hideous games again for a reason, like the great reset.
Greed has never been a good advisor in these times, easy sheoplemoney. It works all the time..

[Feb 03, 2021] Naked Short Selling- The Truth Is Much Worse Than You Have Been Told

Feb 03, 2021 | oilprice.com

There is a massive threat to our capital markets, the free market in general, and fair dealings overall. And no, it's not China. It's a homegrown threat that everyone has been afraid to talk about.

Until now.

That fear has now turned into rage.

Hordes of new retail investors are banding together to take on Wall Street. They are not willing to sit back and watch naked short sellers, funded by big banks, manipulate stocks, harm companies, and fleece shareholders.

The battle that launched this week over GameStop between retail investors and Wall Street-backed naked short sellers is the beginning of a war that could change everything.

It's a global problem, but it poses the greatest threat to Canadian capital markets, where naked short selling -- the process of selling shares you don't own, thereby creating counterfeit or 'phantom' shares -- survives and remains under the regulatory radar because Broker-Dealers do not have to report failing trades until they exceed 10 days.

This is an egregious act against capital markets, and it's caused billions of dollars in damage.

Make no mistake about the enormity of this threat: Both foreign and domestic schemers have attacked Canada in an effort to bring down the stock prices of its publicly listed companies.

In Canada alone, hundreds of billions of dollars have been vaporized from pension funds and regular, everyday Canadians because of this, according to Texas-based lawyer James W. Christian. Christian and his firm Christian Smith & Jewell LLP are heavy hitters in litigation related to stock manipulation and have prosecuted over 20 cases involving naked short selling and spoofing in the last 20 years.

"Hundreds of billions have been stolen from everyday Canadians and Americans and pension funds alike, and this has jeopardized the integrity of Canada's capital markets and the integral process of capital creation for entrepreneurs and job creation for the economy," Christian told Oilprice.com.

The Dangerous Naked Short-Selling MO

In order to [legally] sell a stock short, traders must first locate and secure a borrow against the shares they intend to sell. A broker who enters such a trade must have assurance that his client will make settlement.

While "long" sales mean the seller owns the stock, short sales can be either "covered" or "naked" . A covered short means that the short seller has already "borrowed" or has located or arranged to borrow the shares when the short sale is made. Whereas, a naked short means the short seller is selling shares it doesn't own and has made no arrangements to buy. The seller cannot cover or "settle" in this instance, which means they are selling "ghost" or "phantom" shares that simply do not exist without their action.

When you have the ability to sell an unlimited number of non-existent phantom shares in a publicly-traded company, you then have the power to destroy and manipulate the share price at your own will.

And big banks and financial institutions are turning a blind eye to some of the accounts that routinely participate in these illegal transactions because of the large fees they collect from them. These institutions are actively facilitating the destruction of shareholder value in return for short term windfalls in the form of trading fees. They are a major part of the problem and are complicit in aiding these accounts to create counterfeit shares.

The funds behind this are hyper sophisticated and know all the rules and tricks needed to exploit the regulators to buy themselves time to cover their short positions. According to multiple accounts from traders, lawyers, and businesses who have become victims of the worst of the worst in this game, short-sellers sometimes manage to stay naked for months on end, in clear violation of even the most relaxed securities laws.

The short-sellers and funds who participate in this manipulation almost always finance undisclosed "short reports" which they research & prepare in advance, before paying well-known short-selling groups to publish and market their reports (often without any form of disclosure) to broad audiences in order to further push the stock down artificially. There's no doubt that these reports are intended to create maximum fear amongst retail investors and to push them to sell their shares as quickly as possible.

That is market manipulation. Plain and simple.

Their MO is to short weak, vulnerable companies by putting out negative reports that drive down their share price as much as possible. This ensures that the shorted company in question no longer has the ability to obtain financing, putting them at the mercy of the same funds that were just shorting them. After cratering the shorted company's share price, the funds then start offering these companies financing usually through convertibles with a warrant attachment as a hedge (or potential future cover) against their short; and the companies take the offers because they have no choice left. Rinse and Repeat.

In addition to the foregoing madness, brokers are often complicit in these sorts of crimes through their booking of client shares as "long" when they are in fact "short". This is where the practice moves from a regulatory gray area to conduct worthy of prison time.

Naked short selling was officially labeled illegal in the U.S. and Europe after the 2008/2009 financial crisis.

Making it illegal didn't stop it from happening, however, because some of the more creative traders have discovered convenient gaps between paper and electronic trading systems, and they have taken advantage of those gaps to short stocks.

Still, it gets even more sinister.

According to Christian, "global working groups" coordinate their attacks on specifically targeted companies in a "Mafia-like" strategy.

Journalists are paid off, along with social media influencers and third-party research houses that are funded by what amounts to a conspiracy. Together, they collaborate to spread lies and negative narratives to destroy a stock.

At its most illegal, there is an insider-trading element that should enrage regulators. The MO is to infiltrate a company through disgruntled insiders or lawyers close to the company. These sources are used to obtain insider information that is then leaked to damage the company.

Often, these illegal transactions involve paying off "informants", journalists, influencers, and "researchers" are difficult to trace because they are made from offshore accounts that are shut down once the deed is done.

Likewise, the "shorts" disguised as longs can be difficult to trace when the perpetrators have direct market access to trading systems. These trades are usually undetected until the trades fail or miss settlement. At that point, the account will move the position to another broker-dealer and start the process all over again.

The collusion widens when brokers and financial institutions become complicit in purposefully mislabeling "shorts" as "longs", sweeping the illegal transactions under the rug and off of regulatory radar.

"Spoofing" and "layering" have also become pervasive techniques to avoid regulator attention. Spoofing, as the name suggests, involves short sellers creating fake selling pressure on their targeted stocks to drive prices lower. They accomplish this by submitting fake offerings in "layers" at different prices to create a mirage.

Finally, these bad actors manage to skirt the settlement system, which is supposed to "clear" on what is called a T+2 basis . That means that any failed trades must be bought or dealt with within 3 days. In other words, if you buy on Monday (your "T" or transaction day), it has to be settled by Wednesday.

Unfortunately, Canadian regulators have a hard time keeping up with this system, and failed trades are often left outstanding for much longer periods than T+2. These failing trades are constantly being traded to reset the settlement clock and move the failing trade to the back of the line. The failures of a centralized system

According to Christian, it can be T+12 days before a failed trade is even brought to the attention of the IIROC (the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada)

Prime Brokers and Banks are Complicit

This is one of Wall Street's biggest profit center and fines levied against them are merely a minor cost of doing business.

Some banks are getting rich off of these naked short sellers. The profits off this kind of lending are tantalizing, indeed. Brokers are lending stocks they don't own for massive profit and sizable bonuses.

This layer of what many have now called a "criminal organization" is the toughest for regulators to deal with, regardless of the illegal nature of these activities.

Prime brokers lend cash account shares that are absolutely not allowed to be lent. They lend them to short-sellers in order to facilitate them in settling their naked shorts.

It's not that the regulators are in the dark on this. They are, in fact, handing out fines, left and right -- both for illegal lending and for mismarking "shorts" and "longs" to evade regulatory scrutiny. The problem is that these fines pale in comparison to the profits earned through these activities.

And banks in Canada in particular are basically writing the rules themselves, recently making it easier (and legal) to lend out cash account shares.

Nor do law firms have clean hands. They help short sellers bankrupt targeted companies through court proceedings, a process that eventually leads to the disappearance of evidence of naked shorts on the bank books.

"How much has been stolen through this fraudulent system globally is anyone's guess," says Christian, "but the number begins with a 'T' (trillions)."

The list of fines for enabling and engaging in manipulative activity that destroys companies' stock prices may seem to carry big numbers from the retail investor's perspective, but they are not even close to being significant enough to deter such actions:

- The SEC charged Citigroup's principal U.S. broker-deal subsidiary in 2011 with misleading investors about a $1 billion collateralized debt obligation (CDO) tied to the U.S. housing market. Citigroup had bet against investors as the housing market showed signs of distress. The CDO defaulted only months later, causing severe losses for investors and a profit of $160 million (just in fees and trading profits). Citigroup paid $285 million to settle these SEC charges.

- In 2016, Goldman, Sachs & Co. agreed to pay $15 million to settle SEC charges that its securities lending practices violated federal regulations. To wit: The SEC found that Goldman Sachs was mismarking logs and allowed customers to engage in short selling without determining whether the securities could reasonably be borrowed at settlement.

- In 2013, a Charles Schwab subsidiary was found liable by the SEC for a naked short-selling scheme and fined $8.2 million .

- The SEC charged two Merrill Lynch entities in 2015 with using "inaccurate data in the course of executing short sale orders", fining them $11 million.

- And most recently, Canadian Cormark Securities Inc and two others came under the SEC's radar. On December 21, SEC instituted cease-and-desist orders against Cormark. It also settled charges against Cormark and two other Canada-based broker deals for "providing incorrect order-making information that caused an executing broker's repeated violations of Regulation SHO". According to the SEC, Cormark and ITG Canada caused more than 200 sale orders from a single hedge fund, to the tune of more than $660 million between August 2016 and October 2017, to be mismarked as "long" when they were, in fact, "short" -- a clear violation of Regulation SHO. Cormark agreed to pay a penalty of $800,000 , while ITG Canada -- one of the other broker-dealers charged -- agreed to pay a penalty of $200,000. Charging and fining Cormark is only the tip of the iceberg. The real question is on whose behalf was Cormark making the naked short sells?

- In August 2020, Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank) was fined $127 million over civil and criminal allegations in connection with its role in a massive price-manipulation scheme.

According to one Toronto-based Canadian trader who spoke to Oilprice.com on condition of anonymity, "traders are the gatekeeper for the capital markets and they're not doing a very good job because it's lucrative to turn a blind eye." This game is set to end in the near future, and it is only a matter of time.

"These traders are breaking a variety of regulations, and they are taking this risk on because of the size of the account," he said. "They have a responsibility to turn these trades down. Whoever is doing this is breaking regulations [for the short seller] and they know he is not going to be able to make a settlement. As a gatekeeper, it is their regulatory responsibility to turn these trades away. Instead, they are breaking the law willfully and with full knowledge of what they are doing."

"If you control the settlement system, you can do whatever you want," the source said. "The compliance officers have no teeth because the banks are making big money. They over-lend the stocks; they lend from cash account shares to cover some of these fails for instance, if there are 20 million shares they sold 'long', they can cover by borrowing from cash account shares."

The Naked Truth

In what he calls our "ominous financial reality", Tom C.W. Lin, attorney at law, details how "millions of dollars can vanish in seconds, rogue actors can halt trading of billion-dollar companies, and trillion-dollar financial markets can be distorted with a simple click or a few lines of code".

Every investor and every institution is at risk, writes Lin.

The naked truth is this: Investors stand no chance in the face of naked short sellers. It's a game rigged in the favor of a sophisticated short cartel and Wall Street giants.

Now, with online trading making it easier to democratize trading, there are calls for regulators to make moves against these bad actors to ensure that North America's capital markets remain protected, and retail investors are treated fairly.

The recent GameStop saga is retail fighting back against the shorting powers, and it's a wonderful thing to see - but is it a futile punch or the start of something bigger? The positive take away from the events the past week is that the term "short selling" has been introduced to the public and will surely gather more scrutiny.

Washington is gearing up to get involved. That means that we can expect the full power of Washington, not just the regulators, to be thrown behind protecting the retail investors from insidious short sellers and the bankers and prime brokers who are profiting beyond belief from these manipulative schemes.

The pressure is mounting in Canada, too, where laxer rules have been a huge boon for manipulators. The US short cartel has preyed upon the Canadian markets for decades as they know the regulators rarely take action. It is truly the wild west.

Just over a year ago, McMillan published a lengthy report on the issue from the Canadian perspective, concluding that there are significant weaknesses in the regulatory regime.

While covered short-selling itself has undeniable benefits in providing liquidity and facilitating price discovery, and while the Canadian regulators' hands-off approach has attracted many people to its capital markets, there are significant weaknesses that threaten to bring the whole house of cards down.

McMillan also noted that "the number of short campaigns in Canada is utterly disproportionate to the size of our capital markets when compared to the United States, the European Union, and Australia".

Taking Wall Street's side in this battle, Bloomberg notes that Wall Street has survived "numerous other attacks" over the centuries, "but the GameStop uprising could mark the end of an era for the public short", suggesting that these actors are "long-vilified folks who try to root out corporate wrongdoing".

Bloomberg even attempts to victimize Andrew Left's Citron Research, which -- amid all the chaos -- has just announced that it has exited the short-selling game after two decades.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Short sellers, particularly the naked variety, are not helping police the markets and route out bad companies, as Bloomberg suggests. Naked short sellers are not motivated by moral and ethical reasons, but by profit alone. They attack good, but weak and vulnerable companies. They are not the saviors of capital markets, but the destroyers. Andrew Left may be a "casualty", but he is not a victim. Nor likely are the hedge funds with whom he has been working.

In a petition initiated by Change.org, the petitioners urge the SEC and FINRA to investigate Left and Citron Research, noting: "While information Citron Research publishes are carefully selected and distributed in ways that do not break the law at first sight, the SEC and FINRA have overlooked the fact that Left and Citron gains are a result of distributing catalysts in an anticipation of substantial price changes due to public response in either panic, encouragement, or simply a catalyst action wave ride. Their job as a company is to create the most amount of panic shortly after taking a trading position so they and their clients can make the most amount of financial gains at the expense of regular investors."

On January 25 th , the Capital Markets Modernization Taskforce published its final report for Ontario's Minister of Finance, noting that while naked short selling has been illegal in the United States since 2008, it remains a legal loophole in Canada. The task force is recommending that the Ministry ban this practice that allows for the short-selling of tradable assets without first borrowing the security.

The National Coalition Against Naked Short Selling - Failing to Deliver Securities (NCANS), which takes pains to emphasize that is not in any way against short-selling, notes: "Naked short-selling transfers the risk exposure and the hedging expense of the derivatives market makers onto the backs of equity investors, without any corresponding benefit to them. This is fundamentally unfair, and must stop."

Across North America, the issue is about to reach a fever pitch over GameStop. For once, regular retail investors have a voice to use against Wall Street. And for once, Washington appears to be listening. The House and Senate both have hearings scheduled over the GameStop saga.

Paradoxically, the same company that basically started the retail investor coup -- zero-fee trading app Robinhood -- is now under fire for pulling the rug out from under the same democratic movement.

After retail investors joined forces against Wall Street short-sellers to push GameStop stock from $20 to a high of over $480 in less than a week, Robinhood made the very unpopular move of instituting a ban on buying for retail investors. Under the rules, Wall Street could still buy and sell, but retail investors could only sell. This new band of investors -- which includes pretty much all of Robinhood's clientele -- are up in arms, with customers now suing. They won't go away, and they have Washington's ear and Twitter and Reddit's social media power. This is shaping up to be an uprising.

What happens with GameStop next could end up dictating a new form of capital markets democracy that levels the playing field and punishes the Mafia-like elements of Wall Street that have been fleecing investors and destroying companies for years.

Retail investors want to clean up capital markets, and they just might be powerful enough to do it now. That's a serious wake-up call for both naked short sellers and the investing public.

Viva la Revolucion.

James Stafford

Publisher Oilprice.com

More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:

[Feb 02, 2021] Watching stock market moves is like watching Pulp Fiction: halfway through, the violence doesn t even bother you anymore

Notable quotes:
"... "It's like watching 'Pulp Fiction.' Halfway through, the violence doesn't even bother you anymore." ..."
Jan 27, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

"Investors are becoming desensitized,"

Bryce Doty, SVP at Sit Investment Associates, told Bloomberg, then continued the verbal poetry:

"It's like watching 'Pulp Fiction.' Halfway through, the violence doesn't even bother you anymore."

[Feb 02, 2021] The Importance of Usury Laws

Notable quotes:
"... Today's cultural dominance in much of the South and chunks of the Midwest by boobtoob preachers, Dominationists and the highly heretical oxymoronical "Christian" Zioni$ts can be seen as the afterbirth of cultural Calvinism. Calvinism is Talmudic in its essence and squats at the nexus of what they like to call "Judeo-Christian Civilization". ..."
Jan 22, 2021 | www.unz.com

Mefobills , says: January 22, 2021 at 2:34 pm GMT • 9.3 hours ago

The author Jafee is confused on Bentham, because Bentham was confused himself, or was a Jewish agent of mammon.

The highlighted terms accord with Benthamian Utilitarianism -- the greatest human happiness of the greatest human number.[1]
Much (but surely not all) pertinent history suggests that Bentham's thinking influenced the construction of the Preamble

The English philosopher Jeremey Bentham (1748-1832) was a defender of usury, which is the opposite of happiness for the greatest human number.

In 1787 Jeremey Bentham wrote "In Defence of Usury." Bentham was the son of a rich lawyer, and a lawyer himself, not an economist, which is why he was confused. Bentham created the present mis-definition of usury which prevails to today, so he was very damaging. "The taking of grater interest than the law allows, or the taking of greater interest than is usual."

Bentham ignored hundreds of years of the Catholic Scholastics work on usury, and also ignored Aristotle. Actually Bentham attacked Aristotle in order to spread his B.S. Bentham's father was Jewish, and Bentham also ignored the fairly strong Old Testament admonitions against usury.

Bentham spread the same erroneous B.S. that Calvin did, and both men did enormous damage, and whether by design or confusion are NOT for the common good. Their connections to our (((friends))) is suspicious.

A Persian Daric is a gold coin. Bentham said this: Though all money in nature is barren, though a Daric would not beget another Daric yet for a Daric which a man borrowed he might get a ram and couple of ewes and the ewes would probably not be barren (pages 98 to 101 of his screed)

Aristotle and the Catholic Schoolmen clearly showed that it was the Ewes that were fertile, not the coins.

Bentham or Calvin could not read with comprehension and twisted words into new meanings. This twisted language persists in the brains of modern humans as confusion.

As if every Daric is going to buy an Ewe in order to reproduce.

By 1850 John Whipple wrote "The Importance of Usury Laws – An answer to Jeremey Bentham."

"The purpose of money is to facilitate exchange. It was never intended as an article of trade, as an article possessing an inherent value in itself, and further than as representative or test of the value of all other articles."

It undoubtedly admits of private ownership, but of an ownership that is not absolute, like the product of individual industry, but qualified and limited by the special use for which it was designed.

And

The power of money over every other article, arises out of the artificial character given to it by the STATE , AND NOT OUT OF THE QUALITIES OF THE MATERIAL WHICH IT IS COMPOSED.

Bentham also argued that anti-usury laws were due to prejudice against Jews. Whipple was not frightened by the Jew trick of anti-semitism claims. Whipple said this in reply, "The real truth is this feeling which he calls prejudice is the result of the moral instinct of mankind."

Whipple wasn't afraid of calling out the Jew.

In other words, Bentham did not have the moral instinct of mankind, but instead was a usurer, hiding behind his utilitarianism doctrine.

My view is that the preamble general welfare clause is direct lineage that comes through Benjamin Franklin and his experiences in the Philadelphia Colony. Franklin was definitely NOT a usurer, and was not confused on money.

Abdul Alhazred , says: January 22, 2021 at 3:01 pm GMT • 8.9 hours ago

The Preamble of the constitution reflects a Liebnizian metaphysic reflected in the notion of the pursuit of happiness, were are not talking utilitarianism, but a recognition that man is made in the image of the creator, Imago Dei where happiness reflects an acknowledgement that we are actually creative beings where happiness is a reflection of such creativity, above mere acquisition of 'property' as the Confederacy devolved the phrase to "Life, Liberty and Property"

Majority of One , says: January 22, 2021 at 7:45 pm GMT • 4.2 hours ago
@Mefobills eply distorted by Calvinistic Puritanism and its "Chosen People" mythos.

Much of the religious fervor which dominated the American frontier in the latter decades of the 18th Century and early 19th–they called it "The Great Awakening" -- was infused with the patriarchal form of religiosity as ignited by Calvinistic tropes and memes.

Today's cultural dominance in much of the South and chunks of the Midwest by boobtoob preachers, Dominationists and the highly heretical oxymoronical "Christian" Zioni$ts can be seen as the afterbirth of cultural Calvinism. Calvinism is Talmudic in its essence and squats at the nexus of what they like to call "Judeo-Christian Civilization".

My preference is to employ the more objectively truthful description: the "JudieChristie MagickMindfuck.

Mefobills , says: January 22, 2021 at 11:20 pm GMT • 35 minutes ago
@Leonard R. Jaffee Anti-semitism card. Bentham even attacked Aristotle for corrupting Christianity.

In Bentham's book, Bentham associates some of the positive attributes of thrift with money lending. Money lending becomes on the same plane as thrift in his worldview. An here is the coup-de-gras: Compound interest was forbidden in Bentham's day, and Bentham urged its legalization.

A compound curve for interest is outside of nature, as the claims on nature grow exponentially. Nature does not grow exponentially. Nature and labor cannot pay the claims, and society polarizes. Jesus started his mission on the Jubilee year, as Jubilees are coded in the Bible to prevent polarization.

If Bentham wasn't a Jew, he certainly had the Jewish spirit. Bentham was not for the common good.

[Jan 29, 2021] The System Is Rigged - Episode 4537- Game Stop Corp

Notable quotes:
"... "I am also reading the the next focus of the little people investors is the highly manipulated precious metals markets.....I love the smell of burning Wall Street in the morning." ..."
"... Back in the Oughts when the fraudulent mortgages were grossly inflating Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), there were many instances of naked short selling to keep honest REITs down, activities I learned firsthand. We formed a shareholders organization that lobbied the SEC to enforce its laws but to no avail--the regulators were well captured and did zip. ..."
"... There's short selling, and then there's naked short selling. Why do the markets require naked short selling? If those hedge funds already owned the stocks that they are selling short, they would not be in such trouble now. ..."
Jan 29, 2021 | www.moonofalabama.org

psychohistorian , Jan 28 2021 18:47 utc | 6

Early this week a few amateur stock trading nerds decided to promote a stock that was heavily shortened by certain hedge funds. The idea was to raise the stock price of Game Stop Corp., a vendor for computer games, by having lots of small stock traders to buy into it. The hedge fund that shortened the stock, and thereby bet on a dropping stock price, would then make huge losses while the many small buyers would potentially profit.

These people, who had joined up in the sub-reddit /r/WallStreetBets, were not driven by greed but by rage against the financial machine :

Instead of greed, this latest bout of speculation, and especially the extraordinary excitement at GameStop, has a different emotional driver: anger. The people investing today are driven by righteous anger, about generational injustice, about what they see as the corruption and unfairness of the way banks were bailed out in 2008 without having to pay legal penalties later, and about lacerating poverty and inequality. This makes it unlike any of the speculative rallies and crashes that have preceded it.

The movement was successful. The stock price of Game Stop Corp. rose from some $10 to over $400 within just a few days. The short seller had to take cover under a larger firm:

Hedge fund Melvin Capital closed out its short position in GameStop on Tuesday after taking huge losses as a target of the army of retail investors. Citadel and Point72 have infused close to $3 billion into Gabe Plotkin's hedge fund to shore up its finances.

I'm shocked! Absolutely shocked to see that the game of finance is rigged!!!!/snark

There have not been market fundamentals since the beginning of financialization in 1971 when money became fiat instead of gold backed. I find it interesting that it has taken 50 years for the cancer of financialization to fully compromise the host. It will be interesting to see where this goes from here.

I think the speed of decline of empire is speeding up as noted by the increase in international investment in China.

I am also reading the the next focus of the little people investors is the highly manipulated precious metals markets.....I love the smell of burning Wall Street in the morning.


Rutherford82 , Jan 28 2021 18:50 utc | 7

@6 psychohistorian

"I am also reading the the next focus of the little people investors is the highly manipulated precious metals markets.....I love the smell of burning Wall Street in the morning."

Is Max Keiser going after the silver market again? I bet he was posting on r/Wallstreetbets to stir things up!

karlof1 , Jan 28 2021 18:50 utc | 8

Back in the Oughts when the fraudulent mortgages were grossly inflating Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), there were many instances of naked short selling to keep honest REITs down, activities I learned firsthand. We formed a shareholders organization that lobbied the SEC to enforce its laws but to no avail--the regulators were well captured and did zip.

We even ran full pages ads in the NY Times and WaPost to add visibility to our justifiable outrage, which was well proven when the bubble burst.

But Obama didn't do his job and enforce the law, and the entire mess is far worse now. This episode epitomizes the amazing amounts of corruption masquerading as well regulated markets and an equitable financial system.

I support Hudson's debt forgiveness for the main reason it will bankrupt the debt holders--the Financial Parasites--who are also the beneficiaries of the corrupt system; and with their destruction, will allow for the rise of the Public Financial Utility that will restore law and order to that realm of the economy. Yes, this must be seen as yet another episode of the longstanding Class War, one of the most brazen ever.

lysias , Jan 28 2021 19:41 utc | 18

There's short selling, and then there's naked short selling. Why do the markets require naked short selling? If those hedge funds already owned the stocks that they are selling short, they would not be in such trouble now.

Bemildred , Jan 28 2021 20:20 utc | 24

It's not over yet:

Triden , Jan 28 2021 20:55 utc | 29

Citadel and Point72 have infused close to $3 billion into Gabe Plotkin's hedge fund to shore up its finances.

-b

How Robinhood was rigged:

Robinhood sells its orderflow to Citadel for execution. Citadel then chiselled the retail investor for pennies per trade by frontrunning (think high freq trading) before execution of retail order, inflating the price and cheating the customer. Citadel bailed out Citron, essentially inheriting the short position. Citadel then threatened Robinhood with refusing payment for orderflow

[Dec 10, 2020] The Transnational Financiers as aliens hell-bent of conquering the Earth population

Dec 10, 2020 | zerohedge.com

Dec 4, 2020 10:14 PM Reply to Le Chat Noir

The wonderful world you talk about was not experienced by the peoples of Guatemala, Iran, Chile, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, Argentinia, Haiti, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria and many of the homeless and destitute in the US, UK, Japan etc. The wonderful world you describe is an illusion.

There is a line from the 1960s Science Fiction series called the Invaders from another galaxy who wish take over the world. At the beginning of each episode the narrator says " they wish to take over the world and make it their world".

The Transnational Financiers have been working towards that goal for centuries!!!!

[Nov 02, 2020] WTO was formed in 1995 after the fall of Eastern blocks, to dominate and control the world trade in US fiat currency specially when China with her cheap skilled labor was to become major world manufacturers of goods.

Nov 02, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Kooshy , Nov 1 2020 20:46 utc | 31

Like the petrodollars, WTO better known as globalization, was formed in 1995 after the fall of Eastern blocks ,to dominate and control the world trade in US fiat currency specially when China with her cheap skilled labor was to become major world manufacturers of goods. Basically like oil America agreed not to impose tariff on goods they consumed if you trade and exported on their fiat currency which costed US nothing to produce. Obviously unlike oil trade this globalization of trade in US dollar could not work, since unlike oil trade America couldn't politically dominated and control the good manufacturing countries, like it could, with small oil producing countries. The period of free trade in goods and energy is coming to an end, therefore US needs to lower her standards of living, or to go to major wars with other resources hungry powers to continue colonizing the third world resources and labor. Either way the end result will be the sam as for, not so Great Britain, ottomans, Spanish, Persian empires, the only obvious difference shorter empire.

Kooshy

[Sep 28, 2020] Semitism and Capitalism by Andrew Joyce

Sep 28, 2020 | www.unz.com

"The middleman and the host society come in conflict because elements in each group have incompatible goals. To say this is to deny the viewpoint common in the sociological literature that host hostility is self-generated (from psychological problems or cultural traditions)."
Edna Bonacich, "A Theory of Middleman Minorities," 1973. [1]

An interesting accompaniment to Nathan Cofnas's 2018 attempted debunking of Kevin MacDonald's work on Jews was the subtle resurfacing of Steven Pinker's claim that a more plausible theory of the Jewish historical experience can be found in "Thomas Sowell's convincing analysis of 'middleman minorities' such as the Jews, presented in his magisterial study of migration, race, conquest, and culture." Pinker first involved himself in criticism of MacDonald's work in a letter to Slate , in January 2000, where he made the above comment. A mere teenager in January 2000, it was only in the wake of the Cofnas affair that I first discovered and read Pinker's initial response to MacDonald's theory. It goes without saying that I disagreed with almost everything Pinker had to say, but I was especially vexed by his invocation of the "middleman minority" theory, something I've been familiar with for over a decade and always found strongly lacking. Pinker himself, of course, has relatively little expertise in the area, his only comment on the theme coming from a quasi-memoir on Jewish intelligence written for New Republic . Additionally, his gushing use of persuasive language ("convincing," "magisterial") to describe Thomas Sowell's extremely derivative and now rather dated Migrations and Cultures: A World View (1996) struck me as a wholly contrived inflation of what isn't really a rival theory at all, and certainly not a Sowell innovation. In fact, the history of "middleman minority" theory, and especially its application to the Jews, has a patchy, chequered, and ambiguous history that is worth exploring in its own right. The following essay is intended to provide such a history, as well as to broadly assess the merits and inadequacies of exploring Jewish history through this lens, and also the ways it complements, and falls short of, Kevin MacDonald's theory.

History of the Theory

The comparing of Jews with other sojourning or diaspora trading peoples is far from new, and has even been a staple of anti-Jewish writing since at least the Enlightenment. Voltaire, for example, wrote in his Oeuvres Complètes (Geneva, 1756) and Dictionnaire Philosophique (Basle, 1764) that "The Guebers [Parsis in the modern terminology], the Banyans [Indian merchants] and the Jews, are the only nations which exist dispersed, having no alliance with any people, are perpetuated among foreign nations, and continue apart from the rest of the world." [2] In the course of his essay, however, Voltaire concluded that, some surface similarities aside, "It is certain that the Jewish nation is the most singular that the world has ever seen." Bruno Bauer (1809 -- 1882), the German Protestant theologian, philosopher and historian, also used the example of the Parsis and Overseas Indians, writing in The Jewish Problem (1843),

The base [of the tenacity of the Jewish national spirit] is lack of ability to develop with history, it is the reason of the quite unhistorical character of that nation, and this again is due to its oriental nature. Such stationary nations exist in the Orient, because there human liberty and the possibility of progress are still limited. In the Orient and in India, we still find Parsees [sic] living in dispersion and worshipping the holy fire of Ormuz. [3]

After Voltaire, commentary on the relationship between the economic activity of the Jews and other aspects of their behavior and history, a key theme in modern middleman minority theory, were common points of discussion and debate. Jakob Friedrich Fries (1773 -- 1843), an avowedly anti-Semitic German philosopher, argued in his essay On the Danger to the Well-Being and Character of the Germans Presented by the Jews (1816), that Jews adopted their historical middleman role willingly, out of a hunger for profit and an innate sense of separateness, rather than being forced into it by broader economic structures and contexts (which again are a major focus of modern middleman minority theory). For Fries,

Both in Germany and abroad the Jews had free states where they enjoyed every right, and even countries where they reigned -- but their sordidness, their mania for deceitful, second-hand dealing always remained the same. They shy away from industrious occupations not because they are hindered from pursuing them but simply because they do not want to.

Following Bauer and Fries -- and before modern scholarship on the subject, the most prominent invocation of ideas similar to modern middleman minority theory can be observed in the work of Karl Marx. In fact, Marx's essay On the Jewish Problem is an explicit reply to Bauer, with Marx accusing Bauer of "a one-sided conception of the Jewish problem." [4] Marx decried Bauer's focus on religious matters, perceiving the roots of the Jewish problem to reside instead in resource competition and raw economics. In many of his arguments and assessments of the economic and sociological position of the Jews, Marx anticipated Edna Bonacich (1940 -- ), the Jewish Marxist anti-Zionist sociologist who essentially invented middleman minority theory in its modern form (and whose work will be discussed below), in arguing for a structural-contextual explanation of the middleman role of the Jews. In this view, the historical development of Capital essentially invites and entices certain sojourning or diaspora groups, including the Jews, to adopt lucrative but exploitative and antagonistic roles within society. In the words of Marx, "we recognize therefore in Judaism a generally present anti-social element which has been raised to its present peak by historical development , in which the Jews eagerly assisted ." [emphasis added] These antagonistic roles then generate host hostility, which reinforces ethnocentrism and negative characteristics in the minority, accelerating and deepening conflict.

Marx's emphasis on economic opportunity and the capitalist superstructure influenced later writers such as the German economist Wilhelm Roscher (1817 -- 1894), Werner Sombart (1863 -- 1941), Max Weber (1864 -- 1920), and Georg Simmel (1858 -- 1918), all of whom attempted in some form to trace the relationship of ethnicity to occupational choice (a major concern of modern middleman minority theory), with particular attention paid to the Jews. In keeping with his flamboyant Marxism, Sombart was closest to Marx's ideas on the Jews, arguing in The Jews and Modern Capitalism (1911) that Capital had drawn Jews into their influential, exploitative, and lucrative roles in such a comprehensive manner that Jews had become a kind of ur-middleman minority, and thus were both the prime movers of modern capitalism and the very embodiment of exploitative capital itself. Later, in Der moderne Kapitalismus (1913), Sombart claimed that the middleman nature of the Jews had become endemic in society, creating generations of mere "traders," a bourgeois "Jewish species" whose entire intellectual and emotional world is "directed to the money value of conditions and dealings, who therefore calculates everything in terms of money." This "spirit of Moloch" compelled the entrepreneur to "make money relentlessly until at last he conceives this as the real goal of all activity and all existence." [5] For Sombart, the origins of the worst of modern capitalism can be found in the early middleman role of the Jews, their medieval semi-nomadic quest for usury-derived profit and Victorian hawking of shoddy goods being a precursor to modern advertising and the mass production of superfluous and quickly obsolete consumer products.

Max Weber's interpretation of the Jewish middleman role was slightly softer, with Weber advancing the notion of "pariah capitalism." Pariah capitalists, who include the Jews as well as the Parsis, the Overseas Indians, and the Overseas Chinese, are groups whose characteristics and situational contexts make them prone to willingly adopt socially negative positions in order to obtain wealth and influence. For Weber, capitalism itself was not intrinsically bad. The Puritans, with their industry and hard work, were held up in Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904/5) as exemplars of positive, "rational" capitalism. Jews, and other pariah capitalists, however, invariably advanced a negative "irrational" capitalism typified by consumer credit, speculation, and colonialism. According to Weber, middleman minorities or "pariah capitalist groups" perverted the essentially good nature of capitalism because of their practice of "dual ethics," or moral double-standards, which was itself a product of their sojourning nature and situational context. Weber also perceived Judaism itself as reinforcing the Jewish preference for pariah capitalism. [6]

Softer still were the ideas of Wilhelm Roscher, one of the founders of the historical school of political economy. Roscher was part of the historical economist or European Institutionalist movement (which also influenced Weber) that argued for a study of economics based on empirical work that laid special methodological emphasis on context, rather than logical philosophy. Roscher's emphasis on context and the historical development of capitalism are exemplified in his 1875 essay "The Status of the Jews in the Middle Ages Considered from the Standpoint of Commercial Policy."[7] In this essay, Roscher presented capitalism as neither inherently good or bad, and he made the argument that Jews, who like other middleman minorities were economic modernizers, were positive influences and crucial to the development of a burgeoning economic trading system. Gideon Reuveni offers the following summary:

According to Roscher, the modernizing role of the Jews explains the change in attitudes within the social majority: from tolerance and acceptance to exclusion and persecution. In other words, once, in the eyes of the majority the role of the Jews becomes superfluous, resentments towards the Jews become more prevalent. This cycle in relations towards Jews, Roscher observed, was not specific to the relationship between Jews and non-Jews but was rather a general development among many peoples who allow their economies to be administered by a foreign and more highly cultivated people, but later, upon having reached the necessary level of development themselves, often after intense struggles, try to emancipate themselves from this tutelage. According to Roscher, "one may defiantly speak in this connection of a historical law here." [8]

Similar to Roscher's ideas were the theories of the Jewish Marxist anti-Zionist Abram Leon (1918 -- 1944). Leon, a Polish Jew said to have been executed at Auschwitz at the age of 26, published The Jewish Question: A Marxist Interpretation around 1942, in which he proposed that Jews were a "people-class." For Leon, "Judaism mirrors the interests of a pre-capitalist mercantile class." He explains,

Judaism was an indispensable factor in precapitalist society. It was a fundamental organism within it. That is what explains the two-thousand-year existence of Judaism in the Diaspora. The Jew was as characteristic a personage in feudal society as the lord and the serf. It was no accident that a foreign element played the role of "capital" in feudal society. Feudal society as such could not create a capitalist element; as soon as it was able to do so, precisely then it ceased being feudal. Nor was it accidental that the Jew remained a foreigner in the midst of feudal society. The "capital" of precapitalist society existed outside of its economic system. From the moment that capital begins to emerge from the womb of this social system and takes the place of the borrowed organ, the Jew is eliminated and feudal society ceases to be feudal. It is modern capitalism that has posed the Jewish problem. Not because the Jews today number close to twenty million people (the proportion of Jews to non-Jews has declined greatly since the Roman era) but because capitalism destroyed the secular basis for the existence of Judaism. Capitalism destroyed feudal society; and with it the function of the Jewish people-class. History doomed this people-class to disappearance; and thus the Jewish problem arose. The Jewish problem is the problem of adapting Judaism to modern society.

Georg Simmel, an ethnically Jewish sociologist, philosopher, and critic, moved in much the same theoretical direction as Roscher and Leon, as evidenced in his famous and still influential essay "Der Fremde" ("The Stranger") (1908). Simmel argued that certain groups like Jews and other diaspora peoples may be members of host nations in a spatial sense but not in a social sense. They may be in the nation, but not of it. These groups are both near and far, familiar and foreign. This contextual scenario influences the behavior of "stranger" groups by permitting them freedom from convention and allowing them access to an alleged greater objectivity. For Simmel, "the Stranger," the classic example of which in his estimation is the Jew, is "the person who comes today and stays tomorrow. He is, so to speak, the potential wanderer: although he has not moved on, he has not quite overcome the freedom of coming and going." [9] This freedom, argues Simmel, makes "the Stranger" ideally suited to fulfil the role of middleman minority. [10] As with Roscher's theory, which is markedly contradicted in several key areas of the historical record, there are a number of obvious logical and evidential problems with Simmel's theory, and these will be discussed later.

Between Simmel's 1908 essay and the 1970s, middleman minority theories continued to be advanced. With the exception of Philip Curtin and his Cross-cultural Trade in World History (1984), these efforts were developed primarily by Jewish scholars, and overwhelmingly within the context of trying to explicitly or implicitly explore, explain, or offer apologetics for the Jewish experience. For example, Abner Cohen (1921 -- 2001), was an anthropologist at the University of London, who advanced, in his influential work Urban Ethnicity (1974) and numerous other publications, the idea that there are "trading diasporas." [11] Of particular interest are Cohen's ideas about "visibility strategies" pursued by such groups:

The use of symbols to maintain group boundaries can thus be seen as a cultural strategy. In fact, many groups in traditional and modern societies find that their interests are guarded better through invisible organisations such as cousinhoods, membership in a common set of social clubs, religious ties, and informal networks, than through a highly visible, formally recognised institution. At times, ethnic groups may need to heighten their visibility as strangers to maintain their interests while in other instances they may wish to lower their profile and appear to be an integral part of the society. [12]

This bears a striking similarity to the sixth chapter of Kevin MacDonald's Separation and Its Discontents , which is concerned with visibility strategies, especially among crypto-Jews, and concludes with the argument that "this attempt to maintain separatism while nevertheless making the barriers less visible is the crux of the problem of post-Enlightenment Judaism." [13] In fact, beginning in the 1970s, middleman minority theory began to develop several ideas that dovetail very well with the concept of Judaism as a group evolutionary strategy. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the work of Edna Bonacich.

Although the modern refinement of middleman minority theory is often traced to Hubert Blalock's 1967 Toward a Theory of Minority-Group Relations , the greater scholarly interest has been shown in Edna Bonacich's 1973 American Sociological Review article "A Theory of Middleman Minorities." [14] Bonacich sought to refine and systematize Blalock's theory within an anti-capitalist framework, essentially making the argument that all group conflict in such scenarios is the result of a rational competition for resources in which group characteristics and interests play a crucial role. A Jewish Marxist and anti-Zionist, Bonacich's interpretations borrow heavily from Marx, Sombart, Weber, Roscher, and Leon, to the extent that Bonacich essentially concurs that capitalism created opportunities for exploitative middleman communities and the Jews and other middleman minorities, who possess certain predisposing characteristics including dual loyalty and a level of unscrupulousness, willingly and enthusiastically engaged in these roles.

Bonacich is well-known for her work on East Asian middleman minorities in the United States, especially her 1980 monograph The Economic Basis of Ethnic Solidarity: Small Business in the Japanese American Community , but her earliest work on middleman minorities clearly demonstrates a concern with the Jewish experience. [15] In her discussion of middleman minorities in the 1973 article, Bonacich describes Jews as "perhaps the epitome of the form." Some of the key features of the 1973 article include the arguments that Jews and other middleman minorities are essentially economic "teams," and that these teams rely upon very high levels of ethnocentrism and related social and economic strategies, which in turn enable them to succeed in individualistic societies. Bonacich writes,

The modern industrial capitalist treats his workers impartially as economic instruments; he is as willing to exploit his own son as he is a stranger. This universalism, the isolation of each competitor, is absent in middleman economic activity, where primordial ties of family, region, sect, and ethnicity unite people against the surrounding, often individualistic economy . [emphasis added] [16]

Bonacich makes some very interesting, and controversial, remarks on the nature of conflict between middleman minorities and their hosts, with special reference to Jews. For Bonacich, accusations that Jews have simply been scapegoats for the woes of Europeans are based on nothing more than a "surface impression." [17]
While noting that middleman minorities "are noteworthy for the acute hostility they have faced," it remains that,

host members have reason for feeling hostile toward middleman groups. Even the extremity of the host reaction can be understood as "conflict" behavior. The reason is that the economic and organisational power of middleman groups makes them extremely difficult to dislodge. The difficulty of breaking entrenched middleman monopolies, the difficulty of controlling the growth and extension of their economic power, pushes host countries to ever more extreme reactions. One finds increasingly harsh measures, piled on one another, until, when all else fails, "final solutions" are enacted. [18]
[emphasis added]

Bonacich has also argued that Jews and other middleman minorities do engage in economic and social "dual loyalty," and that middleman minorities do in fact "drain" resources away from host populations and can become very powerful as a result. This then frequently causes host elites and masses to unite against the sojourning element, a conflict that can escalate rapidly if the sojourning element refuses to give up its monopolies. Bonacich explicitly rejects any idea that "host hostility is self-generated (from psychological problems or cultural traditions)," arguing instead that "the middleman and the host society come in conflict because elements in each group have incompatible goals." With her apparent justification of host violence against middleman minorities, including Jews, as well as her objective view of certain Jewish characteristics, Bonacich's theory has been heavily criticized in some quarters, despite its ongoing influence in contemporary sociology. Robert Cherry, for example, has lamented that Bonacich's ideas on middleman minorities "reinforce persistent, negative Jewish stereotypes." [19]

Discussion

Before moving to an assessment of the merits and inadequacies of middleman minority theory in explaining Jewish history, it's worth reflecting on the history of the theory in light of Steven Pinker's claim that it represents a rival, or "more convincing," analysis of the Jewish historical trajectory. The first problem, of course, is that, despite Pinker's lavish praise, Thomas Sowell is not remotely regarded within scholarship as a leading or original thinker in the area of middleman minority theory. Not only does discussion of middleman minorities form a relatively small element of Sowell's Migrations And Cultures , but what does appear is highly derivative of the work of Edna Bonacich, Walter Zenner, and others.

A further problem is Pinker's assumption that there exists a single, unified theory on middleman minorities that will help explain the Jewish historical experience, and that somehow this will also be sufficient to counter the theory of Kevin MacDonald, or at least offer a more convincing framework that would allow MacDonald's ideas to be dispensed with. As should already be clear from this brief, and incomplete, bibliographical overview, within middleman minority theory there is a plethora of often competing interpretations, as well as a general problem of definitions. Walter Zenner, a key proponent of middleman minority theory, concedes that "we tend to make our definitions and models fit the prototypical group. For decades, the Jews were the archetype." [20] In other words, for a considerable time, middleman minority theory was built around trying to explain the experience of Jews, with other groups haphazardly mapped onto the theory in way that tried to give the impression of similarity, even where these similarities were thin to non-existent. Bonacich has made roughly the same argument, asserting that middleman minority theory should be regarded as incomplete because it can only point to an "ideal type," and

In reality there are problems of fit between any actual ethnic group and this picture, problems in establishing which or how many of the traits a population need have before it can be classified as a middleman minority. [21]

Bonacich, very reasonably in my opinion, proposes that middleman minority theory, of which she herself is a pioneer, is something of a misnomer and should be regarded as little more than "a useful sensitiser to a host of interrelated variables." [22]
One is therefore pressed by Pinker's claim to ask not only which of the many strands of middleman minority theories Steven Pinker is praising, but also just how "convincing" and "magisterial" he can find it given the field's leading contemporary thinkers regard their work in such ambiguous terms.

Finally, it is not at all clear how any of the aspects of middleman minority theory obviate the need for a deeper theoretical framework in which to understand the behaviors and contexts under study. Middleman minority theory, as remarked above, is an incomplete tool, and has little to offer in terms of deeper explanatory value for such relevant key concepts under discussion as resource competition, ecological strategies, visibility strategies, psychological attitudes toward the majority, and social identity theory. One of the strong points of Kevin MacDonald's work, which is truly cross-disciplinary and unusually well-equipped in terms of the relevant historical literature, is that is does offer such an analysis, and can be argued to fill a lot of the logical and evidential gaps of middleman minority theory. This is not to say that the two frameworks are in opposition, but that the concept of a group evolutionary strategy can be usefully and seamlessly integrated into middleman minority theory, especially in relation to Jews.

It's been continually remarked by many scholars in the field that Jews should be regarded as either an "ideal type," "the epitome of the form," a singular example, or otherwise unique case -- even within the context of broad comparative approaches with other trading diaspora peoples. The qualities that have made Jews so unique -- cultural, historical, religious, and even biological -- are rarely remarked or elaborated upon in sociological studies of middleman minorities, which are often lacking in depth in terms of their historical analysis. As will be discussed below, Zenner, in particular, has highlighted ways in which Jews do not fit the standard middleman minority pattern, especially in terms of their extravagant and influential involvement in the culture and politics of the host nation (see also MacDonald's Diaspora Peoples on the Overseas Chinese, xlii ff). Unfortunately, middleman minority literature has little to say in terms of further explanatory theory on how or why Jews came to both define and exceed the middleman typology. Here, middleman minority theory not only isn't a rival for MacDonald's work, it positively cries out for it.

"American Jews do not fit the sojourner pattern, since their political involvement goes far beyond the support of Jewish causes. Much Jewish political activity, whether right, center, or left, can be related to a perception of how to make America and the world safe for Jews. American Jewish support for domestic liberalism and internationalism can be interpreted in this way."
Walter Zenner, "American Jewry in the light of Middleman Minority Theories," 1980. [23]

Merits of Middleman Minority Theory

The most obvious merit of middleman minority theory is that, like Kevin MacDonald's theory of a group evolutionary strategy, it places an unusual and welcome emphasis on rational resource competition as the basis for social conflict involving certain minorities. By offering a socio-economic explanation for hostility toward Jews, middleman minority theory represents a unique space within academia where the otherwise ubiquitous "pure prejudice" idea that host hostility is self-generated (from psychological problems or cultural traditions) is summarily and comprehensively dismissed. Although this has not come without criticism, as seen in Robert Cherry's denunciation of Edna Bonacich's work as reinforcing bigotry [24] , this emphasis has been able to continue largely untroubled thanks to its advancement under a hardline traditional Marxist interpretive veneer.

Middleman minority theory, especially the variant advanced by Bonacich, also insists that host populations do have interests, and that these interests are genuinely and seriously threatened by middleman minorities who drain away resources. These minorities then use their accumulated resources to build up power and influence, sometimes even to the extent of gaining considerable economic, social, and political monopolies over the hosts. Since these monopolies can be very difficult to dislodge, and since monopolies may satisfy some interests of host populations or segments of host populations, middleman minority theory insists that it is rational and somewhat inevitable that increasingly harsh and even violent measures will be taken against the offending minority. As a result, middleman minority theory offers a far more plausible and objective understanding of group conflict than many of the ideas that dominate the academic discussion of group conflict, especially conflict involving Jews. In addition, the outright rejection of "scapegoat" theories as "superficial," and the lack of appeals to concepts of victimhood in such a framework, can only be described in the context of the current academic climate as utterly refreshing.

A second major merit of middleman minority theory is the emphasis that some strands place on the characteristics of the minorities themselves. Middleman minority theory contains within it three basic theoretical approaches. Context-based theories like that of Roscher, and revived to some degree by Nathan Cofnas (who is particularly concerned with the urban environment-context), argue that middleman minorities are essentially creatures of the societies in which they are found, and are for the most part created by opportunities, status gaps, and vacuums over which they have no control and which have nothing to do with their inherent characteristics (a slight advantage in intelligence being the only characteristic that Cofnas feels comfortable in applying). Situational theories, like that advanced by Simmel are similar, but place more emphasis on the culturally-located role of the trader, the Stranger, and the "sojourner as trader," as the determinant factor in the creation of middleman minorities. Culture-based, or characteristic-based, middleman minority theories, however, tend to be more numerous, and more convincing. These theories, like that advanced by Weber and given tacit assent by Bonacich and Zenner, place strong emphasis on the broad range of traditions, ideologies, behaviors, and aptitudes of middleman minority groups.

The most frequently highlighted of such traits within middleman minority theory is ethnocentrism, which again dovetails with the primary emphasis of Kevin MacDonald's theory. Ethnocentrism is acknowledged as a central factor in the maintenance of self-segregation among middleman minority groups, and is often supported by ideological beliefs such as the caste system, or what Zenner describes as "the Chosen People complex." [25] Ethnocentrism in middleman minorities is presented as crucial to understanding host hostility not only because of the way it facilitates the draining of resources from the host population, but also because of highly antagonistic correlates such as dual loyalty and a willingness to engage in lucrative but morally destructive (for the host) trading. Walter Zenner speaks of a "double standard of morality" that is

Expressed in dealings with outsiders, such as lending to them with interest, unscrupulous selling practices, and providing outsiders with illicit means of gratifying their appetites, while at the same time, denying the same means to in-group members. [26]

An excellent example of this process in action is the fact Israel is the largest producer and host of international online gambling sites , while making it illegal for its own citizens to use such sites. Of course, we are talking here about a nation state rather than a minority population, but this contradiction, and the nature of Israel within the international community, will be discussed in a critique of the narrowness of middleman minority theory later.

A further merit of middleman minority theory is the heavy emphasis the cultural-characteristic interpretation places on group strategies. Middleman minorities, again with Jews being held up by both Zenner and Bonacich as an exemplar or especially acute case, are said to engage in constantly adaptive activity in order to manage their visibility, ensure their safety, advance their interests, accumulate power and wealth, and entrench themselves ever deeper within the host. Bonacich has indicated that Jews are especially keen to remain entrenched in the West, and the United States in particular, because it is financially and politically lucrative, and only a catastrophic weakening of their monopolies would bring an end to existing strategies. [27] Zenner goes as far as to claim that "much of the content of American Jewish life can be seen as visibility strategies. Strategy here includes both unconscious mechanisms of coping with situations and consciously formulated plans." [28] Zenner speaks of a "dynamic process" whereby Jews minimise visibility to avoid hostility, maximise visibility when pursuing certain interests, and generally work unceasingly to make their image more favorable in the minds of the host. Again, all of this corresponds very well with one of the central themes of the Culture of Critique -- the idea that Jewish involvement in certain intellectual movements could be seen in the context of a pursuit of Jewish interests either consciously or in ways that involved unconscious motivations and self-deception. It also maps very closely to MacDonald's framework on Jewish crypsis and other attempts to mitigate anti-Semitism, advanced in the sixth chapter of Separation and Its Discontents .

Problems in Middleman Minority Theory

Given the prevalence of Jews in the development and promotion of the modern incarnation of middleman minority theory, including Georg Simmel, Edna Bonacich, Abner Cohen, Abram Leon, Walter Zenner, Werner Cahnman, [29] Donald Horowitz, [30] Gideon Reuveni, [31] Ivan Light, Steven J. Gold, [32] and Robert Silverman, [33] a reasonable concern might be that middleman minority theory is itself an intellectual "visibility strategy." Just as it has been posited that Jews tend to support mass migration because it will result in Jews becoming "one among many" ethnic minorities, and thus in their logic less conspicuous and therefore safer, middleman minority theory can act to reduce Jewish visibility by offering the idea that Jews are just one among many diaspora trading groups and their history and behavior is therefore not unique or worthy of special attention. It remains the case that even in those interpretations which highlight negative Jewish behavior and portray host responses as rational (e.g. the work of Bonacich and Zenner), the proposed framework still insists on some level of commonality, no matter how tenuous, with the experiences of other minority groups, and it ultimately places the blame for conflict on a much broader context, often the impersonal historical development of capitalism.

In other words, while the framework can deny that Jews are "victims" of host nations, these theories also deny that host nations are truly the victims of Jewish exploitation. Both are simply argued to be the victims of capitalism, and any sense of individual or group agency is rhetorically dissolved. Again, this acts to lower Jewish visibility and culpability and remains attractive for that reason. There are certainly good reasons along this line of thought for proposing that Steven Pinker's promotion of the theory over Kevin MacDonald's ideas has less to do with a serious engagement with the content of the work of Bonacich et al. and significantly more to do with deflecting the entire conversation into an area of discussion in which Pinker feels Jews are less visible.

A major problem with middleman minority theory is that it has a very uncomfortable and unsatisfactory way of handling the obviously unique aspects of the Jewish experience, especially in relation to the unprecedented involvement of Jews in post-Enlightenment Western culture and politics, something for which there is absolutely no parallel among other diaspora trading groups anywhere. As has been discussed, middleman minority theory was essentially first created, consciously or unconsciously, by scholars anxious to find a way to explain the Jewish experience. Attempts to connect this experience, amounting to some two millennia of history, with the much more modern and straightforward experiences of, for example, the Chinese in the Philippines or the Japanese in America, have been doomed to the grossest of generalizations and the clumsiest of associations. This has resulted in a steady stream of admissions within the field that the best way to interpret middleman minority theory is simply that it proposes an "ideal type" (essentially the Jews) with unfortunate "problems of fit between any actual ethnic group and this picture [the Jewish experience]." [34] Zenner has conceded that the concept has been very "difficult to define so as to cover all groups so designated." [35] All of which calls into question whether this concept possesses any real efficacy as an analytical or predictive tool in a comparative sense at all.

An interesting point of difference between the Jewish experience and that of other diaspora trading peoples is that the latter are acknowledged as possessing a genuine sense of sojourn. In other words, their first generations tend to be truly temporary, semi-nomadic groups who aim to make money before eventually returning to a homeland. A subtly different experience is observed in the Jews, as noted by Jack Kugelmass in his 1981 PhD thesis Native Aliens: The Jews of Poland as a Middleman Minority . For Kugelmass, "the so-called "middleman" character of the Jew is seen as an aspect of the Jewish sense of sojourn, which unlike most sojourns is ideological rather than sociological in nature ." [emphasis added] Another way of phrasing this would be to say that the Jewish sense of sojourn is cultural-biological rather than contextual, and since the concept of sojourning has been a major feature of Jewish life since at least the writing of the Exodus, this difference between other groups is really so stark as to require a distinct analysis -- something offered to an unparalleled degree in Kevin MacDonald's A People That Shall Dwell Alone . In this analysis, it would appear that, unlike a relatively small number of other peoples who have merely adopted some tactics in order to pursue a specific diaspora trade role, Jews have, from time immemorial, given themselves over entirely to these strategies as an entire way of life -- the "middleman minority" as a raison d'être .

This absolutely crucial distinction is linked to the remarkable fact of contemporary political life that the state of Israel exists largely according to the same strategies employed by Jews when in a diaspora condition. As stated above, an excellent example of the dual morality process in action is the fact Israel is the largest producer and host of international online gambling sites , while making it illegal for its own citizens to use such sites. The creation of the state of Israel has also exacerbated, rather than ameliorated, issues of dual loyalty in Jewish minority populations, even if these issues are more or less kept out of the public eye through diplomatic soothing around Israeli spying and the maintenance of certain taboos in the mass media. Israel itself would appear to be a kind of middleman minority archetype within the international community, cultivating close and lucrative ties with the elite (the United States), while engaging in more or less unchallenged exploitative and oppressive activities against lower social orders (Palestinians, and other vulnerable or indebted population groups in South America).

Like the "ideal type" of middleman minority, Israel heavily drains the resources even of its allies (U.S. military and diplomatic aid) and pursues its strategies in a ceaseless quest for security, while maintaining moral double standards and being rather shameless in engaging in what Zenner has described as the classic overrepresentation of middleman minorities in "morally shady" activities. [36]
Even in recent years, Israel has become notorious in the international organ trade , moneylending , and allegations of humanitarian atrocities. Israeli newspapers have also described their country as a " monopoly nation " due to the intense tendency towards economic monopoly in the country's business life -- a key feature of middleman minority life that Jews appear to continue to embody to an extent unparalleled in any other ethnic group. Further evidence for the apparently deep-seated, rather than contextual, nature of "middleman" traits in Jews might be found in studies indicative of a biological underpinning to Jewish ethnocentrism, such as that described by Kevin MacDonald in the Preface to the Culture of Critique :

Developmental psychologists have found unusually intense fear reactions among Israeli infants in response to strangers, while the opposite pattern is found for infants from North Germany. The Israeli infants were much more likely to become "inconsolably upset" in reaction to strangers, whereas the North German infants had relatively minor reactions to strangers. The Israeli babies therefore tended to have an unusual degree of stranger anxiety, while the North German babies were the opposite -- findings that fit with the hypothesis that Europeans and Jews are on opposite ends of scales of xenophobia and ethnocentrism.

As well as dealing poorly with obviously unique aspects of the Jewish experience, a significant portion of middleman minority theory is devoted to context-based narratives that are often in stark contrast to, or completely disproven by, the historical record. With the exception of the work of Kevin MacDonald, which demonstrates a very extensive engagement with works of history, a general weakness in all of the late twentieth-century sociological studies discussed above is the fact that, despite their incredibly ambitious claims about the historical trajectory of capitalism or middleman minority populations, there is a quite serious neglect of any of the relevant historiography. This leads, in the case of the modern adherents of Simmel, Roscher, and Leon, to the constant repetition of error-laden tropes such as the idea that Jews turned to commerce because they were prohibited from owning land (rather than arriving as profit-seeking financiers), that Jews were most often invited into nations by elites seeking a financial stimulus, or that Jews were banished from countries once their position as loan merchant was superfluous. In fact, these three tropes, all of which remove Jewish agency and characteristics from consideration, are essentially the pillars of context-based middleman minority theory pertaining to Jews, and are absolutely crucial to Roscher's ideas in particular.

The historical record is now acknowledged as more or less complete in relation to the issue of the Jewish ownership of land. It has been conclusively established, for example, that the general trend across Europe was that Jews were in fact able to possess and own land during the centuries immediately following their initial spread and expansion in Europe (c.1000 -- 1300). Restrictions on land ownership were later enacted as penalties for exploitation or as part of a system of elite land transfer -- e.g., the desire of the English kings to obtain the land of indebted lesser knights, and doing so by financially compensating Jewish moneylenders for forfeited lands they could no longer legally hold.

One of the correlates of the land ownership trope is the astonishingly naive assumption that land ownership would preclude involvement in financial speculation. Again, the historical record contradicts this. Mark Meyerson's Princeton-published A Jewish Renaissance in Fifteenth-Century Spain (2010), for example, offers an expansive analysis of Jewish landowners in Spain who "did not necessarily cultivate the land themselves" and combined wine production operations worked by non-Jewish peasants with "lending operations and tax farming." [37] Pointing to the prevalence of early Jewish land ownership in Poland, France, and Germany, in which Jews enjoyed a "privileged status available to few Christians," Norman Roth has described the trope that Jews were forced out of agriculture by restrictive laws and the violence of the Crusades as "patently absurd." [38]

The theory that Jews, and by tenuous implication other middleman minorities, were most often invited into nations by elites seeking a financial stimulus or to fill a "status gap," is also contradicted by the historical record. The early entry and expansion of Jews in Europe is relatively well-documented, the dominant trend being that Jews either presented themselves before elites in order to solicit business, or that they acted as financiers for conquest and then followed in the wake of the conquerors (e.g., the well-documented role of Jewish financiers in Norman Conquest of England and Strongbow's conquest of Ireland). [39] Ireland's Annals of Innisfallen (1079 A.D.) record: "Five Jews came from over sea with gifts to Tairdelbach [King of Munster], and they were sent back again over sea." Unless Tairdelbach (Turlough O'Brien, 1009 -- 86) had undergone a dramatic change of mind, it's likely that the arrival of the Jews hadn't been preceded by an invitation. In fact, unsolicited approaches for request to settle and establish financial activities are in evidence from the time of O'Brien to the 1655 "Humble Address" of Manasse ben Israel to the English government.

A very common form of government documentation found in the study of Early Modern Jewish communities are the charters outlining their terms of settlement, and these are very revealing. Rather than act as economic catalysts, Jews are more frequently observed following the trail of already economically improving areas, hoping to profit from their advancement. As Felicitas Schmeider has pointed out, in terms of the German context, "permission to settle Jews in a newly privileged town is one thing kings were frequently, if not regularly, asked for, especially in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries." [40]

The theory that Jews were banished from countries once their position as loan merchant or general role as a middleman minority was superfluous is also forcefully contradicted by the historical record. Just as medieval Jews perceived that they were the innocent victims of evil Gentiles, so Jewish historiography has overwhelmingly portrayed the expulsions as the result of "rumors, prejudices, and insinuating and irrational accusations." [41] Context-based middleman minorities theories absorbed these tropes and reinvented them in narratives that blamed the expulsions on the fact that Capital had simply exhausted the usefulness of the Jews. Such understandings of the expulsions have only very recently come to be revised, most saliently in the work of Harvard historian Rowan W. Dorin, whose 2015 doctoral thesis and subsequent publications have for the first time helped to fully contextualize the mass expulsions of Jews in Europe during the medieval period, 1200 -- 1450. [42]

Dorin points out that Jews were never specifically targeted for expulsion qua Jews, but as usurers, and notes that the vast majority of expulsions in the period targeted "Christians hailing from northern Italy." Jews were expelled, like these Christian usurers, for their actions, choices, and behaviors. What the period witnessed was not a wave of irrational anti-Jewish actions, or for that matter an impersonal reflex of glutted Capital, but rather a widespread ecclesiastical reaction against the spread of moneylending among Christians that eventually absorbed Jews into its considerations for common sense reasons. A number of laws and statutes, for example Usuranum voraginem , were designed in order to provide a schedule of punishments for foreign/travelling Christian moneylenders. These laws contained provisions for excommunication and a prohibition on renting property in certain locales. The latter effectively prohibited such moneylenders from taking up residence in those locations, and compelled their expulsion in cases where they were already domiciled. It was only after these laws were in effect that some theologians and clerics began to question why they weren't also applied to Jews who, in the words of historian Gavin Langmuir, were then "disproportionately engaged in moneylending in northern Europe by the late 12th century." [43] The Church had historically objected to the expulsion of Jews in the belief that their scattered presence fulfilled theological and eschatological functions. It was only via the broader, largely common sense, application of newly developed anti-usury laws that such obstructions to confrontations with Jews became theologically and ecclesiastically permissible, if not entirely desirable. And once this Rubicon had been crossed, it paved the way for a rapid series of expulsions of Jewish usury colonies from European towns and cities, a process that accelerated rapidly between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries.

The lack of engagement with developments in historiography is worsened to a large extent by the absence of a truly cross-disciplinary approach in most, if not all, existing middleman minority analyses. This is particularly glaring in the works of Bonacich and Zenner which, while making multiple and apparently crucial references to conscious and unconscious group "strategies," fail to engage in any kind of historiographical or psychological scholarly contextualization. How exactly such strategies as "visibility strategies" can operate at group level are left completely unexplained and without any substantial evidence beyond common sense observations of Jewish behavior. The lack of a cross-disciplinary approach in such instances doesn't necessarily mean that these ideas are wrong, or that "visibility strategies" don't exist, but it does mean that explanations and evidence are still required. To date, the only convincing attempt to fill in such gaps, and offer a truly cross-disciplinary approach (incorporating history, sociology, and psychology) to the idea of group strategies, is found in the work of Kevin MacDonald.

Conclusion

As stated at the outset of this essay, it isn't at all clear how any of the aspects of middleman minority theory obviate the need for a deeper theoretical framework in which to understand the behaviors and contexts under study. Middleman minority theory, as remarked above, is an incomplete tool, and has little to offer in terms of deeper explanatory value for such relevant key concepts under discussion as resource competition, ecological strategies, visibility strategies, and social identity theory. Middleman minority theory, or at least some strands of it, is useful and valuable in the study of Jews to the extent that it places an unusual emphasis on group conflict as arising from resource competition, the characteristics of Jews (including Jewish ethnocentrism), and the existence of group strategies. There are, however, multiple, serious inadequacies in middleman minority theory, including the possibility that it is in part itself a "visibility strategy," that is has a general problem of definitions, that it fails to adequately deal with unique qualities of the Jews and their experiences, that it generally fails to engage with the historical record, and that it has no real explanatory or predictive frameworks for many of the ideas it discusses, including group strategies. I am forced to concur with Edna Bonacich that, in regards to the study of Jews, middleman minority theory should be conceived, at best, as "a useful sensitiser to a host of interrelated variables." [44]

Notes

[1] Bonacich, Edna. "A Theory of Middleman Minorities." American Sociological Review 38, no. 5 (1973): 583 -- 94, (589).

[2] Francois-Marie Arouet de Voltaire, Oeuvres Complètes (Geneva, 1756), Vol. 7. Ch.1. See also Dictionnaire Philosophique (Basle, 1764), Vol. 14 .

[3] B. Bauer, The Jewish Problem ( Die Judenfrage , 1843) ed Ellis Rivkin and trans. Helen Lederer (Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College -- Jewish Institute of Religion, 1958).

[4] K. Marx, On the Jewish Problem ( Zur Judenfrage , 1844) ed Ellis Rivkin and trans. Helen Lederer (Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College -- Jewish Institute of Religion, 1958).

[5] W. Sombart, Der moderne Kapitalismus , Munich and Leipzig 1913. This work was published in an English translation by E. Epstein under the title, The Quintessence of Capitalism , London, 1915.

[6] W. P. Zenner, Minorities in the Middle: A Cross-Cultural Analysis (Albany: State University of New York, 1991), 5.

[7] W. Roscher, "Die Stellung der Juden im Mittelalter, betrachtet vom Standpunkt der allgemeine Handelspolitik," Zeitschrift für die gesamte Staatswissenschaft Bd. 31 (1875) S. 503 -- 526.

[8] G. Reuveni, "Prolegomena to an "Economic Turn" in Jewish History," in G. Reuveni (ed) The Economy in Jewish History: New Perspectives on the Interrelationship Between Ethnicity and Economic Life (Berghahn, 2011), 3.

[9] As the son of Catholic and Lutheran converts from Judaism, Simmel's relationship to his Jewishness is fascinating in itself. See A. Morris-Reich, The Quest for Jewish Assimilation in Modern Social Science , (New York: Routledge, 2008), chapter 4. For the influence of Simmel's stranger minority theory see Werner Cahnman, "Pariahs, Strangers, and Court Jews -- A Conceptual Classification," Sociological Analysis, 35 (1974); C. R. Hallpike, "Some problems in Cross-Cultural Comparison," in The Translation of Culture , T. Beidelman (ed), (London: Tavistock, 1971); Hilda Kuper, "Strangers in Plural Societies: Asians in South Africa and Uganda," in Pluralism in Africa , Leo Kuper and M. G. Smith (eds) (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971); Jack H. Porter, "The Urban Middleman: A Comparative Analysis," Comparative Social Research , 4 (1981); R. A. Reminick, "The Evil Eye Belief among the Amhara of Ethiopia," Ethnology, 13 (1974), W. Shack and E. Skinner, Strangers in African Societies (Berkelely: University of California Press, 1979); Paul Siu, "The Sojourner," American Journal of Sociology , 58, (1952).

[10] J. Stone, Racial Conflict in Contemporary Society , (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1985), 96.

[11] This coinage is frequently attributed to Philip Curtin, who employs the term in his Cross-cultural Trade in World History (1984), but the term was in use by Cohen, within a strict thematic sense, as early as the latter's 1974 chapter "Cultural Strategies in the Organisation of Trading Diasporas," in C. Meillassoux (ed) The Development of Indigenous Trade and Markets in West Africa (London, 1971).

[12] Quoted in W. P. Zenner, Minorities in the Middle: A Cross-Cultural Analysis (Albany: State University of New York, 1991), 8.

[13] K. MacDonald, Separation and Its Discontents: Toward an Evolutionary Theory of Anti-Semitism , 187.

[14] E. Bonacich, "A Theory of Middleman Minorities." American Sociological Review 38, no. 5 (1973): 583 -- 94.

[15] E. Bonacich, The Economic Basis of Ethnic Solidarity: Small Business in the Japanese American Community (Berekely: University of California Press, 1980).

[16] Ibid, 589.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid, 592.

[19] R. Cherry, "American Jewry and Bonacich's Middleman Minority Theory," Review of Radical Political Economics , 22 (2 -- 3), 158 -- 173, 161.

[20] W. P. Zenner, Minorities in the Middle: A Cross-Cultural Analysis (Albany: State University of New York, 1991), 10. See also W. Zenner, "American Jewry in the light of middleman minority theories," Contemporary Jewry , 5:1 (1980), 11 -- 30, 18. Zenner argues that "As a synthetic concept, the phrase "middleman minority" is difficult to define so as to cover all groups so designated."

[21] E. Bonacich, The Economic Basis of Ethnic Solidarity: Small Business in the Japanese American Community (Berekely: University of California Press, 1980), 22. See also E. Bonacich, "A Theory of Middleman Minorities." American Sociological Review 38, no. 5 (1973): 583 -- 94, 585.

[22] Ibid, 24.

[23] W. Zenner, "American Jewry in the light of middleman minority theories," Contemporary Jewry , 5:1 (1980), 11-30, 18.

[24] R. Cherry, "American Jewry and Bonacich's Middleman Minority Theory," Review of Radical Political Economics , 22 (2-3), 158-173, 161.

[25] W. P. Zenner, Minorities in the Middle: A Cross-Cultural Analysis (Albany: State University of New York, 1991), 18.

[26] Ibid.

[27] E. Bonacich, "A Theory of Middleman Minorities." American Sociological Review 38, no. 5 (1973): 583-94, 592.

[28] W. Zenner, "American Jewry in the light of middleman minority theories," Contemporary Jewry , 5:1 (1980), 11-30, 23.

[29] W. Cahnman, "Pariahs, Strangers and Court Jews," Sociological Analysis 35, 3 (1974): 155-66.

[30] D. Horowitz, Ethnic Groups in Conflict (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985).

[31] G. Reuveni (ed) The Economy in Jewish History: New Perspectives on the Interrelationship Between Ethnicity and Economic Life (Berghahn, 2011).

[32] I. Light & S. J. Gold, Ethnic Economies (Bingley: Emerald, 2000).

[33] R. Silverman, Doing Business in Minority Markets (New York: Garland, 2000).

[34] E. Bonacich, The Economic Basis of Ethnic Solidarity: Small Business in the Japanese American Community (Berekely: University of California Press, 1980), 22.

[35] W. Zenner, "American Jewry in the light of middleman minority theories," Contemporary Jewry , 5:1 (1980), 11-30, 13.

[36] Ibid, 15.

[37] M. D. Meyerson, A Jewish Renaissance in Fifteenth-Century Spain (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010), 111.

[38] N. Roth, Medieval Jewish Civilization: An Encyclopedia (New York: Routledge, 2003),

[39] J. Hillaby, "Jewish Colonisation in the Twelfth Century," in P. Skinner (ed), The Jews in Medieval Britain: Historical, Literary, and Archaeological Perspectives (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2003), 36.

[40] F. Schmeider, "Various Ethnic and Religious Groups in Medieval German Towns? Some Evidence and Reflections," in, Segregation, Integration, Assimilation: Religious and Ethnic Groups in the Medieval Towns of Central and Eastern Europe (Burlington: Ashgate, 2009), 15.

[41] Joseph Pérez, History of a Tragedy: The Expulsion of the Jews from Spain (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2007), 60.

[42] R. W. Dorin, Banishing Usury: The Expulsion of Foreign Moneylenders in Medieval Europe, 1200 -- 1450 (Harvard PhD dissertation, 2015); R. W. Dorin, "Once the Jews have been Expelled," Intent and Interpretation in Late Medieval Canon Law," Law and History Review , Vol. 34, No. 2 (2016), 335-362.

[43] G. Langmuir, History, Religion, and Antisemitism (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1990), 304.

[44] Ibid, 24.


Reg Cæsar , says: September 19, 2020 at 12:36 am GMT

@Vergissmeinnicht

Sowell’s A Conflict of Visions has nothing to say about race, but it and its successors pretty much nail what is wrong with today’s progressives. And it’s the same as what was wrong with yesterday’s progressives.

If we survive 2020, this volume will be what he’s remembered for.

obwandiyag , says: September 19, 2020 at 2:02 am GMT

What about Gujaratis and 7-11s and midwestern motels?

And Greeks and diners?

In San Francisco, they call the local corner store, “the Arab store.” What’s up with that?

J , says: September 19, 2020 at 7:31 am GMT

The Zionist thinkers understood the unnatural and dangerous situation of the Jews in the Diaspora, and seized the first opportunity to re-reform the Jewish people as a normal nation in its homeland. In only one generation, all the Jewish communities in the Eastern lands liquidated their affairs and joined movement. The same with the powerful Russian and Ukrainian communities, they moved (mostly) to Israel. Last year, about 30,000 American Jews gave up their precious citizenship and moved to Israel. I foresee in two generations a more or less Jew-less America. What I am saying is that the Jews do not like their middleman foreigner status. In Marx etc. time there were no alternatives. Now there is Israel. Some 55% of the Jews have already moved there.

brabantian , says: September 19, 2020 at 3:48 pm GMT

Regarding

Israel is the largest producer and host of international online gambling sites, while making it illegal for its own citizens to use such sites

It should be noted that Monaco does the same thing with its gambling casinos. It has long been unlawful for Monaco’s own Monégasque citizens to enter into those casinos to gamble.

Also, the ultra-high level of Jewish involvement in pornography sales is another relevant area here.

One of those Jewish pornography-meisters was Jimmy ‘Jimbo’ Wales, afterwards recruited to head the CIA-Mossad Wikipedia, where paedophilic persons have been able to persistently post fake biographies of themselves and smears against their victims. Jimmy Wales has attended birthday parties of Israeli Presidents, and received a $1 million ‘prize’ from Tel Aviv University.

Chris Moore , says: • Website September 19, 2020 at 3:55 pm GMT

The most obvious merit of middleman minority theory is that, like Kevin MacDonald’s theory of a group evolutionary strategy, it places an unusual and welcome emphasis on rational resource competition as the basis for social conflict involving certain minorities. By offering a socio-economic explanation for hostility toward Jews, middleman minority theory represents a unique space within academia where the otherwise ubiquitous “pure prejudice” idea that host hostility is self-generated (from psychological problems or cultural traditions) is summarily and comprehensively dismissed.

The Jews like to cast themselves as “just another struggling minority trying to make it among the oppressive majority.” This ignores the international Zionist (Jewish supremacist) agenda, and the pathological Jewish drive for totalitarian control.

Where does that drive originate? Jesus of Nazareth, apparently Hebrew, preached the opposite, and called organized Jewish hypocrisy, greed, corruption and double standards “the Synagogue of Satan.” Of course, the corrupt Jewish Moneychangers (the Jewish establishment of his era) in bed with the Roman Empire didn’t like that one bit, and so instigated his murder. When the cosmopolitan Hebrew mob, prompted by the corrupt Jewish establishment, chose the criminal Barabbas over Jesus, the Jews made their choice for ideological evil and corruption.

That is a choice they affirm time and again, day after day, year after year, century after century.

Whether one wants to read this decision as a cosmic moral judgement on the Jews, or simply as a rational economic decision by the Jews (choosing systematic corruption and shady insider back room deals over honest work) makes no difference. They chose the path they chose, and they affirm that decision every day through their corrupt, criminal and murderous international Zionist works.

One doesn’t have to be a Christian to wear the Jon Carpenter sunglasses from The Live which allow one to see that the Judeo-Imperial “ruling class are [social] aliens concealing their appearance and manipulating people to spend money, breed, and accept the status quo with subliminal messages in mass media,” but it helps.

One doesn’t have to be a Christian to know that Jewish infiltrated Empires working in concert with a corrupt establishment are bad news, but again, it helps.

Oliver Elkington , says: September 19, 2020 at 11:46 pm GMT

In Britain Jews are clearly influential but the Norman ruling class has had it’s grip on the UK ever since they landed here in 1066, indeed William the Conqueror was mentioned in the article above, he certainly had his uses for Jews, there is little information available though as to just how many Jews arrived and what lead King William 1 to bring them over with his troops. As of present much of inner London is owned by aristocratic families who can trace their descent to King Williams troops

https://whoownsengland.org/2017/10/28/who-owns-central-london/

Also a considerable proportion of high status people in Britain were educated at just a few private schools including a great deal of our present government

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jun/25/britains-top-jobs-still-in-hands-of-private-school-elite-study-finds

In Britain it is often a case of who you know, not what you know that determines whether you will reach the top of society or not, compared to other European countries like Germany and Finland in Britain there is a tendency for the higher classes to promote people on the basis of whether they have a background in common with them rather than merit, just like the Jews.

Supply and Demand , says: September 20, 2020 at 12:41 am GMT
@obwandiyag

When I was going to university there, the corner stores were all Chinese. As were the Laundromats. I suspect the children all became doctors and lawyers and graduated from the need to continue operating them.

Tom Verso , says: September 21, 2020 at 2:39 pm GMT

Jews are a Nation!

As per usual, Andrew Joyce demonstrates that he is an objective social scientific historian by flooding his article with a preponderance of documentable verifiable factual data.

However, to my mind there is one ‘word’ in this 8,000+ word tour de force; one very important word that all lovers of Western history and culture dedicated to the perpetuation of that history and culture should focus on … one word: ‘NATION’!

At the very top of his essay Joyce quotes Voltaire:

“Voltaire concluded that, some surface similarities aside ,
‘It is certain that the Jewish nation is the most singular that the world has ever seen. ’ ”

Similarly he quotes Bruno Bauer:

“The base [of the tenacity of the Jewish national spirit ] … the character of that [Jewish] nation. ..”

Some say Jews are a ‘ race’ , some say they are an ‘ethnicity’, some say they are a ‘religion’. The case can be and is made for all these, in Voltarie’s words, “surface similarities” . However, none capture the essence of what constitutes the basis for Jewish POWER.

Jews are a worldwide profoundly unified ideological NATION. And that ideological unity is the basis of their national power.

This unity was succinctly captured in an interview with a Mossad agent when he said:
“I can knock on the door of any Jew in the world and I will be invited in.”

Ideological unified nations are powerful nations, and are conquers. The Jews are one of the most ideologically unified nations in the world. The power derived from that unity has allowed them to conquer the most economically and militarily powerful country in the world – America.

Further, by conquering America, the wealthiest and most powerful country in Western Civilization, the Jews have de facto conquered the whole of the West.

Ideological unified nations are strong.
Ideological dis-unified nations are weak.
So call ‘Color Revolutions’ are manifestations of dis-unified nations who in turn are weak and conquerable by strong unified nations.

We have seen numerous weak nation color revolutions in Africa, Middle East and Europe. Now we are experiencing an American color revolution.

The American ‘color revolution’ is the Jewish nation delivering the ‘coup de grace’ to America and the West.

Thomasina , says: September 22, 2020 at 8:18 am GMT

Andrew Joyce, your articles are so God-damned good!

Jewish behavior reminds me of narcissism: sense of entitlement, self-centered, feeling of superiority, manipulative and deceitful behavior, desire for power and control, will suck a host dry, and once they’ve gotten what they want, will easily discard the host. Highly competitive, status-oriented.

Don’t dare call them out on anything because that causes them to feel shame, and that’s like driving a stake through them. They work behind the scenes, secretly. They must always be seen in a good light. They will smear and destroy you (your reputation, your job, your life) if you expose them. They will retaliate in ways you would never be able to because they don’t have a conscience, and this is why they win and are so hard to fight. Very vindictive. No qualms about lying or twisting the truth.

They are never content, always working to change things in their favor, to get the upper hand. Most people just want to live their lives, so they acquiesce, but this is a mistake because one day you turn around to realize they now own the farm! If they don’t get their way, they just regroup and come at you from another angle. They keep wearing you down, chipping away at you until you give in. It is really something to behold because you just can’t believe their gall.

Their rabbis keep them in line by using fear (fear of the other), and fear is the greatest motivator/persuader. Keeps them solidly as one. They’re constantly reminded of the Holocaust, the ovens that are lurking around every corner, as well as the injustices they have suffered (through no fault of their own – ha!). Keeps them neurotic and they don’t stray.

Highly destructive destroyers.

Amerimutt Golems , says: September 24, 2020 at 12:27 pm GMT
@Oliver Elkington rville, Fitzroy, Marshall, and Spencer. The Guardian , Independent and Telegraph wrote articles in 2011 and 2013 alleging such persons still ‘run’ Britain. Lefties use this ploy to attack the Conservative Party whose members tend to be wealthy like champagne socialists.

Back to the point raised by neutral , none of the above mentioned newspapers would run similar stories on Jewry. That is the litmus test of who really rules.

Despite being a tiny minority Jews have shaped modern Britain. This has been documented here by Joyce, Langdon and others.

Anon [238] • Disclaimer , says: September 26, 2020 at 12:14 pm GMT

Those christian usurers probably were cripto jews

Spogus Bogus , says: September 28, 2020 at 5:36 am GMT

Sure the middle man theory explains everything, but needs some footnotes:
-These middle men are specifically encouraged to cheat us, it’s written in their holy books
-they regard us as animals in human form, with either no souls or much lesser souls
-they regard us as having been created ONLY to serve them.

NOW the theory makes perfect sense!

Louis Hissink , says: September 28, 2020 at 8:05 am GMT

Biological lifeforms endure parasites. Perhaps understanding parasitism might be a usefal path to travel?

Alfred , says: September 28, 2020 at 10:29 am GMT
@J ain. The Jews did not profit from German hyperinflation to buy up property cheaply. Always the victims.

Due to Brexit, Jews seek passports from countries that oppressed their ancestors
Concerned over losing valuable rights for traveling and staying in the 26-country Schengen Area, more Jewish Brits are turning to Spain, Portugal and Germany for citizenship

Mefobills , says: September 28, 2020 at 1:08 pm GMT

Let’s fix Bonacich’s comment and add to it:

The modern industrial capitalist treats his workers impartially as economic instruments; he is as willing to exploit his own son as he is a stranger. This universalism, the isolation of each competitor, is absent in middleman economic activity, where primordial ties of family, region, sect, and ethnicity unite people against the surrounding, often individualistic economy.

The modern finance capitalist …..

Industrial capitalism after it was invented in the American Colonies, was characterized by injection of state capital (not Jewish finance capital) into industry, to then improve the labor value of the population. American labor was in short supply relative to the large land mass available.

Industrial Capitalist will treat his workers as valuable contributors, because their labor value is constantly being improved upon by improved public health, and improved infrastructure such as roads and phone systems. Industrial Capitalist economic method is to raise up the existing people, and not import low wage “coolie labor.”

The highest form of industrial capitalism was probably Germany, which adopted the American System through Frederick List.

Workers in industrial capitalist Germany had access to best facilities of that era, their work hours were made sensible (no longer exploitative). Autobahns were built, and industry was built up using state capital (not finance capital) to high levels of productivity.

Finance Capitalism is Jewish usury method. Finance Capitalism is middleman theory taken to extremes.

The middleman is a hidden string puller whose god is Moloch. The middleman is the third entity in man’s relations, usurping the role of the King.

It is the King who is to have the role of settling disputes, dispensing with just law, and overseeing high civilization. It is impossible to have high civilization with Jews operating as middlemen.

Finance capitalism’s big bang event is traced to Amsterdam’s Jews invading Britain.

1) Debt Spreading Private Banking .. the Bank of England in 1694. This event stripped the sovereign King of his money power and transferred it to hidden bank stock owners.

2) Stock Market Capital. Absentee ownership of Companies. Hidden String Pullers control corporations, rather than the employees of said companies. The first manifestation was both the Dutch and English India Companies.

3) Allowing Company stock to be on-sold into markets. The logic of prices and money (Moloch) is now tied to private banking ledger credit entry. BOE creates the private bank credit that is used in “free markets.”

4) Corporation charters are now perpetual, and corporations are held up as being more than a god created human. Being perpetual is more than being a human, where said human has a finite life span.

Jews are anti-logos, so everything they touch turns to shit. There is a religious and spiritual element to Jews, who are against the natural order.

Virtually all of the “American System” politicians were assassinated. Countries that attempted to adopt “industrial capitalism” of the American system were invaded and destroyed in world wars. The world wars were engineered in back room deals, using hidden string pulling tactics.

America was turned in 1912, and is now under Jewish finance capitalism control. The founding fathers of America would be appalled if they were alive today.

Moi , says: September 28, 2020 at 1:20 pm GMT
@Sher Singh

Hindus are like Jews–they love money and believe themselves to be a special people (as exemplified by your PM Modi and his RSS buddies). Because of the caste system, Hindus barely tolerate lower caste Hindus.

Mefobills , says: September 28, 2020 at 2:15 pm GMT

This comment is aimed at Andrew Joyce, the writer of the article. Good job Andrew.

In addition to finance big bang event I discuss above, there was also the attack on Christianity. So the big bang event was multi-dimensional, and informs today’s reality.

Here is your quote on Sombart:

For Sombart, the origins of the worst of modern capitalism can be found in the early middleman role of the Jews, their medieval semi-nomadic quest for usury-derived profit and Victorian hawking of shoddy goods being a precursor to modern advertising and the mass production of superfluous and quickly obsolete consumer products.

Here is another quote from Sombart, which I think is critical:

https://www.unz.com/mhudson/finance-capitalism-vs-industrial-capitalism/#comment-3876284

Werner Sombart in his book “The Jews and Modern Capitalism” came to an important conclusion.”That which is called Puritanism is in reality Judaism.”

Our Jewish friends in Amsterdam created puritan Judeo-Christianity, which is a perversion of Jesus’ teachings. Jesus started his mission on the Jubilee year, aiming precisely at the Pharisee class. Jesus also whipped the money changers, his only act of violence.

Weber also has some problems in his non treatment of usury:

Max Weber’s book, “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism,” created a split definition. Jewish capitalism on one side, and Puritan (Calvanist) on the other. Jewish capitalism was speculative pariah capitalism, while Puritan was bourgeois organization of labor. Weber excluded the problem of usury, thus obscuring what is necessary to see. The Puritan was excluded from blame.

AaronB , says: September 28, 2020 at 2:23 pm GMT
@J m their own country won’t either).

Let that sink for a moment. I think you understimate – as did I – just how radical this site and it’s owner are, as well as the majority of the commenters, and just what they are tiptoeing around, and have been for some time. I also think within another few years, their position will become explicit.

Incidentally, I argely agree that in a few decades most Jews will be flourishing in Israel, but I do think the US will always have a large and prosperous Jewish community as well, forever. It isn’t going anywhere.

Richard B , says: September 28, 2020 at 3:03 pm GMT
@Tom Verso th the surface of JSI’s success that they rarely, if ever, see beheath that surface to what is obviously the real cancer of the human race. That’s why what we’re witnessing today is nothing less than

The Pyrrhic Victory of Jewish Supremacy Inc.

For evidence look at the following:

City – New York
State – California
Country – The USA
Continent – Europe
Civilization – The West

They have conquered the above the way a tumor conquers a human organism.

AaronB , says: September 28, 2020 at 3:46 pm GMT
@Not Only Wrathful

He can’t – yet – express what he is really trying to say clearly and simply, he has to bury it in a thicket of dense verbiage which is tedious to cut through.

In a few years, I think Unz will have developed to the point where writers like Joyce can make their point crystal clear in simple language.

Not Only Wrathful , says: September 28, 2020 at 4:32 pm GMT
@AaronB e that they have developed may eventually topple under its own weight, thereby liberating them from their tragic quest to find and hold external phantoms responsible for their own traumas.

Clarity for Joyce would likely be something like “my father was mean, controlling and made me feel bad, he was always trying to bring me low to make him feel big, I now need to heal to come to terms with it.”

Sorry Joyce that you feel bad. That’s real. Stop doing yourself the disservice of pretending your hurt is actually your concern for the world or whatever. That is stupid.

Anon [381] • Disclaimer , says: September 28, 2020 at 5:08 pm GMT

Judaism is an ethnic/religious supremacist ideology that sees the rest as nothing more than cattle to be exploited, so according to Jewish dogmas if you don’t declare the Jews to be your masters, you are technically anti-Semitic.

BEING FREE IS LITERALLY ANTI-SEMITIC

[Sep 20, 2020] The Criminal Prosecution Of Boeing Executives Should Begin by Mike Shedlock

Sep 20, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk,

Damning details of purposeful malfeasance by Boeing executives emerged in a Congressional investigation.

FAA, Boeing Blasted Over 737 MAX Failures

On Wednesday, the Transportation Committee Blasted FAA, Boeing Over 737 MAX Failures

The 238-page document, written by the majority staff of the House Transportation Committee, calls into question whether the plane maker or the Federal Aviation Administration has fully incorporated essential safety lessons, despite a global grounding of the MAX fleet since March 2019.

After an 18-month investigation, the report, released Wednesday, concludes that Boeing's travails stemmed partly from a reluctance to admit mistakes and "point to a company culture that is in serious need of a safety reset."

The report provides more specifics, in sometimes-blistering language, backing up preliminary findings the panel's Democrats released six months ago , which laid out a pattern of mistakes and missed opportunities to correct them.

In one section, the Democrats' report faults Boeing for what it calls "inconceivable and inexcusable" actions to withhold crucial information from airlines about one cockpit-warning system, related to but not part of MCAS, that didn't operate as required on 80% of MAX jets.

Other portions highlight instances when Boeing officials, acting in their capacity as designated FAA representatives, part of a widely used system of delegating oversight authority to company employees, failed to alert agency managers about various safety matters .

Boeing Purposely Hid Design Flaws

The Financial Times has an even more damning take in its report Boeing Hid Design Flaws in Max Jets from Pilots and Regulators .

Boeing concealed from regulators internal test data showing that if a pilot took longer than 10 seconds to recognise that the system had kicked in erroneously, the consequences would be "catastrophic" .

The report also detailed how an alert, which would have warned pilots of a potential problem with one of their anti-stall sensors, was not working on the vast majority of the Max fleet . It found that the company deliberately concealed this fact from both pilots and regulators as it continued to roll out the new aircraft around the world.

In Bed With the Regulators

Boeing's defense is the FAA signed off on the reviews. Lovely. Boeing coerced or bribed the FAA to sign off on the reviews now tries to hide behind the FAA.

There is only one way to stop executive criminals like those at Boeing. Charge them with manslaughter, convict them, send them to prison for life, then take all of their stock and options and hand the money out for restitution.

adr , 1 hour ago

Remember, Boeing spent enough on stock buybacks in the past ten years to fund the development of at least seven new airframes.

Instead of developing a new and better plane, they strapped engines that didn't belong on the 737 and called it safe.

SDShack , 21 minutes ago

What is really sad is they already had a perfectly functional and safe 737Max. It was the 757. Look at the specs between the 2 planes. Almost same size, capacity, range, etc. Only difference was the 757 requires longer runways, but I would think they could have adjusted the design to improve that and make it very similar to the 737Max without starting from scratch. Instead Boeing bean counters killed the 757 and gave the world this flying coffin. Now the world bean counters will kill Boeing.

Tristan Ludlow , 1 hour ago

Boeing is a critical defense contractor. They will not be held accountable and they will be rewarded with additional bailouts and contract awards.

MFL5591 , 1 hour ago

Can you imagine a congress of Criminals Like Schiff, Pelosi and Schumer prosecuting someone else for fraud? What a joke. Next up will be Bill Clinton testifying against a person on trial for Pedophilia!

RagaMuffin , 1 hour ago

Mish is half right. The FAA should join Boeing in jail. If they are not held responsible for their role, why have an FAA?

Manthong , 1 hour ago

"There is only one way to stop executive criminals like those at Boeing.

Charge them with manslaughter, convict them, send them to prison for life, then take all of their stock and options and hand the money out for restitution."

Correction:

There is only one way to stop regulator criminals like those in government.

Charge them with manslaughter, convict them, send them to prison for life, then take all of their pensions and ill gotten wealth a nd hand the money out for restitution.

Elliott Eldrich , 43 minutes ago

"There is only one way to stop executive criminals like those at Boeing.

Charge them with manslaughter, convict them, send them to prison for life, then take all of their stock and options and hand the money out for restitution."

Ha ha ha HA HA HA HA HA! Silly rabbit, jail is for poors...

Birdbob , 1 hour ago

Accountability of Elite Perps ended under Oblaba's reign of "Wall Street and Technocracy Architects" .White collar criminals were granted immunity from prosecution. This was put into play by Attorney Genital Eric Holder. This was the beginning of having an orificial Attorney Genital that facilitated the District of Criminals organized crime empire ending the 3 letter agencies' interference. https://www.blogger.com/blog/post/edit/8310187817727287761/1843903631072834621

Dash8 , 1 hour ago

You don't seem to understand the basic principle of aircraft design...it must not require an extraordinary response for a KNOWN problem.

Think of it this way; Ford builds a car that works great most of the time, but occasionally a wheel will fall off at highway speeds...no problem, right? ....you just guide the car to the shoulder on the 3 remaining wheels and all good.

Now, put your wife and kids in that car, after a day at work and the kids screaming in the back.

Still feel good about your opinion?

canaanav , 1 hour ago

I wrote software on the 787. You are right. This was not a known problem and the Trim Runaway procedure was already established. The issue was that the MAX needed a larger horizontal stab and MCAS would have never been needed. The FAA doesnt have the knowledge to regulate things like this. Boeing lost talent too, and gets bailouts and tax breaks to the extent that they dont care.

Dash8 , 1 hour ago

But it was a known problem, Boeing admits this.

Argon1 , 41 minutes ago

LGBT & Ethnicity was a more important hiring criteria than Engineering talant.

gutta percha , 1 hour ago

Why is it so difficult to design and maintain reliable Angle Of Attack sensors? The engineers put in layers and layers of complicated tech to sense and react to AOA sensor failures. Why not make the sensors _themselves_ more reliable? They aren't nearly as complex as all the layers of tech BS on top of them.

Dash8 , 1 hour ago

It's not, but it costs $$....and there you have it.

Argon1 , 37 minutes ago

Its the Shuttle Rocketdyne problem, the upper management phones down to the safety committee and complains about the cost of the delay, take off your engineer hat and put on your management hat. All of a sudden your project launches on schedule and the board claps and cheers at their ability to defy physics and save $ millions by just shouting at someone for about 60 seconds..

canaanav , 1 hour ago

Each AOA sensor is already redundant internally. They have multiple channels. I believe they were hit with a maintenance stand and jammed. That said, AOA has never been a control system component. It just runs the low-speed cue on the EFIS and the stick shaker. It's an advisory-level system. Boeing tied it to Flight Controls thru MCAS. The FAA likely dictated to Boeing how they wanted the System Safety Analysis (SSA) to look, Boeing wrote it that way, the FAA bought off on it.

Winston Churchill , 43 minutes ago

More fundamental is why an aerodynamically stable aircraft wasn't designed in the first place,love of money.

HardlyZero , 13 minutes ago

Yes. In reality the changed CG (Center of Gravity) due to the larger fan engine really did setup as a "new" design, so the MAX should have been treated as "new" and completely evaluated and completely tested as a completly new design. As a new design it would probably double the development and test cost and schedule...so be it.

DisorderlyConduct , 1 hour ago

"Lovely. Boeing coerced or bribed the FAA to sign off on the reviews now tries to hide behind the FAA."

No - what a shoddy analysis.

The FAA conceded many of their oversight responsibilities to Boeing - who was basically given the green light to self-monitor. The FAA is the one that is in the wrong here.

Well, how the **** else was that supposed to end up? This is like the IRS letting people self-audit...

Astroboy , 1 hour ago

Just as the Boeing saga is unfolding, we should expect by the end of the year other similar situations, related to drug companies, pandemia and the rest.

https://thenewroads.com/2019/12/09/forecast-for-2020/

https://thenewroads.com/2020/07/21/great-conjunction-jupiter-and-saturn-next-to-the-solstice-of-december-2020/
play_arrow

highwaytoserfdom , 1 hour ago

It is political economy...

8. The internet was invented by the US government, not Silicon Valley

Many people think that the US is ahead in the frontier technology sectors as a result of private sector entrepreneurship. It's not. The US federal government created all these sectors.

The Pentagon financed the development of the computer in the early days and the Internet came out of a Pentagon research project. The semiconductor - the foundation of the information economy - was initially developed with the funding of the US Navy. The US aircraft industry would not have become what it is today had the US Air Force not massively subsidized it indirectly by paying huge prices for its military aircraft, the profit of which was channeled into developing civilian aircraft.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-06-20/what-piketty-didnt-say-13-facts-they-dont-tell-you-about-economics

LoneStarHog , 1 hour ago

People believe that corporate executives are immune from prosecution and protected by the fact that they are within the corporation. This is false security. If true purposeful and intended criminal activities are conducted by any corporate executive, the courts can do what is called "Piercing The Corporate Veil" . It is looking beyond the corporation as a virtual person and looking at the actual individuals making and conducting the criminal activities.

Jamie Dimon should be first on this list.

[Aug 31, 2020] Economics Quotes

Aug 31, 2020 | quotes.cat-v.org

Just as a poetic discussion of the weather is not meteorology, so an issuance of moral pronouncements or political creeds about the economy is not economics. Economics is a study of cause-and-effect relationships in an economy.

-- Thomas Sowell


The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.

-- Thomas Sowell


Economics is the painful elaboration of the obvious.


The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.

-- Friedrich von Hayek


I can't imagine economists admitting how little they actually know. If they admitted to themselves, it would hurt their ego. If they admitted to others, it would hurt their job prospects.

-- Joseph Mattes, Vienna (The Economist, letters December 04, 2010)


The use of mathematics has brought rigor to economics. Unfortunately, it has also brought mortis .

-- Attributed to Robert Heilbroner


A study of economics usually reveals that the best time to buy anything is last year.

-- Marty Allen


Economic statistics are like a bikini, what they reveal is important, what they conceal is vital

-- Attributed to Professor Sir Frank Holmes, Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand, 1967.


Doing econometrics is like trying to learn the laws of electricity by playing the radio.

-- Guy Orcutt


Economists

-- David Wildasin


"Murphys law of economic policy": Economists have the least influence on policy where they know the most and are most agreed; they have the most influence on policy where they know the least and disagree most vehemently.

-- Alan S. Blinder


An economist is someone who, when he finds something that works in practice, tries to make it work in theory.


The purpose of studying economics is not to acquire a set of ready-made answers to economic questions, but to learn how to avoid being deceived by economists.

-- Joan Violet Robinson


An economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday didn't happen today.

-- Laurence J. Peter


Having a[n in] house economist became for many business people something like havinga resident astrologer for the royal court: I don't quite understand what this fellow is saying but there must be something to it.

-- Linden. (Jan. 11, 1993). Dreary Days in the Dismal Science. Forbes. Pp. 68-70.


Economics is the only field in which two people can get a Nobel Prize for saying exactly the opposite thing.


Economists do it with models.

-- Heard at the LSE


Bentley's second Law of Economics: The only thing more dangerous than an economist is an amateur economist!

Berta's Fundamental Law of Economic Rents.. "The only thing more dangerous than an amateur economist is a professional economist."


Definition: Policy Analyst is someone unethical enough to be a lawyer, impractical enough to be a theologian, and pedantic enough to be an economist.




Economists have forecasted 9 out of the last 5 recessions.


An econometrician and an astrologer are arguing about their subjects. The astrologer says, "Astrology is more scientific. My predictions come out right half the time. Yours can't even reach that proportion". The econometrician replies, "That's because of external shocks. Stars don't have those".


When an economist says the evidence is "mixed," he or she means that theory says one thing and data says the opposite.

-- Attributed to Richard Thaler, now at the Univ of Chicago


The last severe depression and banking crisis could not have been achieved by normal civil servants and politicians, it required economists involvement.


Taxes

State run lotteries: think of them as tax breaks for the intelligent.

-- Evan Leibovitch


Inflation

Inflation is the one form of taxation that can be imposed without legislation.

-- Milton Friedman


Having a little inflation is like being a little pregnant–inflation feeds on itself and quickly passes the "little" mark.

-- Dian Cohen


Trade and Trade Barriers

Tariffs, quotas and other import restrictions protect the business of the rich at the expense of high cost of living for the poor. Their intent is to deprive you of the right to choose, and to force you to buy the high-priced inferior products of politically favored companies.

-- Alan Burris, A Liberty Primer


Perhaps the removal of trade restrictions throughout the world would do more for the cause of universal peace than can any political union of peoples separated by trade barriers.

-- Frank Chodorov


When goods don't cross borders, soldiers will.

-- Fredric Bastiat, early French economist


The primary reason for a tariff is that it enables the exploitation of the domestic consumer by a process indistinguishable from sheer robbery.

-- Albert Jay Nock


Regulation

Regulation - which is based on force and fear - undermines the moral base of business dealings. It becomes cheaper to bribe a building inspector than to meet his standards of construction. A fly-by-night securities operator can quickly meet all the S.E.C. requirements, gain the inference of respectability, and proceed to fleece the public. In an unregulated economy, the operator would have had to spend a number of years in reputable dealings before he could earn a position of trust sufficient to induce a number of investors to place funds with him. Protection of the consumer by regulation is thus illusory.

-- Alan Greenspan


You fucking academic eggheads! You don't know shit. You can't deregulate this industry. You're going to wreck it. You don't know a goddamn thing!

-- Robert Crandall, boss of American Airlines, to an unnamed Senate lawyer in 1971


Government

The direct use of physical force is so poor a solution to the problem of limited resources that it is commonly employed only by small children and great nations.

-- David Friedman


Government Spending

See, when the Government spends money, it creates jobs; whereas when the money is left in the hands of Taxpayers, God only knows what they do with it. Bake it into pies, probably. Anything to avoid creating jobs.

-- Dave Barry


I don't think you can spend yourself rich.

-- George Humphrey


Capitalism and Free Markets

A major source of objection to a free economy is precisely that it gives people what they want instead of what a particular group thinks they ought to want. Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.

-- Milton Friedman


The most important single central fact about a free market is that no exchange takes place unless both parties benefit.

-- Milton Friedman


The only thing worse than being exploited by capitalism is not being exploited by capitalism.

-- Joan Violet Robinson


Manufacturing and commercial monopolies owe their origin not to a tendency imminent in a capitalist economy but to governmental interventionist policy directed against free trade and laissez faire.

-- Ludwig Mises, "Socialism"


If an exchange between two parties is voluntary, it will not take place unless both believe they will benefit from it. Most economic fallacies derive from the neglect of this simple insight, from the tendency to assume that there is a fixed pie, that one party can only gain at the expense of another.

-- Milton Friedman


States with central-planning regimes [ ] do tend to consume much less energy (and much less of everything else) [ ] than do Americans. There is a word for that: poverty.

-- The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism


Central Banks

Any system which gives so much power and so much discretion to a few men, [so] that mistakes – excusable or not – can have such far reaching effects, is a bad system. It is a bad system to believers in freedom just because it gives a few men such power without any effective check by the body politic – this is the key political argument against an independent central bank To paraphrase Clemenceau: money is much too serious a matter to be left to the Central Bankers.

-- Milton Friedman


A central banker walks into a pizzeria to order a pizza.

When the pizza is done, he goes up to the counter get it. There a clerk asks him: "Should I cut it into six pieces or eight pieces?"

The central banker replies: "I'm feeling rather hungry right now. You'd better cut it into eight pieces."


Intellectual Property

For one thing, there are many "inventions" that are not patentable. The "inventor" of the supermarket, for example, conferred great benefits on his fellowmen for which he could not charge them. Insofar as the same kind of ability is required for the one kind of invention as for the other, the existence of patents tends to divert activity to patentable inventions.

-- Milton Friedman


Slavery

From the experience of all ages and nations, I believe, that the work done by freemen comes cheaper in the end than the work performed by slaves.

The work done by slaves, though it appears to cost only their maintenance, is in the end the dearest of any. A person who can acquire no property can have no other interest but to eat as much and to labour as little as possible.

Whatever work he does, beyond what is sufficient to purchase his own maintenance, can be squeezed out of him by violence only, and not by any interest of his own.

-- Adam Smith


Prohibition

It is because it's prohibited. See, if you look at the drug war from a purely economic point of view, the role of the government is to protect the drug cartel. That's literally true.

-- Milton Friedman


In the Long Run
Minimum Wage and Unemployment

The real minimum wage is zero: unemployment.

-- Thomas Sowell


All of the progress that the US has made over the last couple of centuries has come from unemployment. It has come from figuring out how to produce more goods with fewer workers, thereby releasing labor to be more productive in other areas. It has never come about through permanent unemployment, but temporary unemployment, in the process of shifting people from one area to another.

-- Milton Friedman

Misc

Talk is cheap. Supply exceeds Demand.


It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.

-- Upton Sinclair


When you start paying people to be poor, you wind up with an awful lot of poor people.

-- Milton Friedman


of course the country could never listen to this guy .it just makes too much damn sense.

-- ryanx0 about Milton Friedman [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Se_TJzB9-z0]


Every individual necessarily labors to render the annual revenue of society as great as he can. He generally neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. He intends only his own gain, and he is, in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was not part of his intention.

-- Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations



Back during the Solidarity days, I heard that the following joke was being told in Poland:

A man goes into the Bank of Gdansk to make a deposit. Since he has never kept money in a bank before, he is a little nervous. 
"What happens if the Bank of Gdansk should fail?" he asks. 
"Well, in that case your money would be insured by the Bank of Warsaw." 
"But, what if the Bank of Warsaw fails?" 
"Well, there'd be no problem, because the Bank of Warsaw is insured by the National Bank of Poland." 
"And if the National Bank of Poland fails?" 
"Then your money would be insured by the Bank of Moscow." 
"And what if the Bank of Moscow fails?" 
"Then your money would be insured by the Great Bank of the Soviet Union." 
"And if that bank fails?" 
"Well, in that case, you'd lose all your money. But, wouldn't it be worth it?"

All models are wrong but some are useful.

-- George Box


I'd rather be vaguely right than precisely wrong.

-- J.M.Keynes; Found in Forbes magazine 01/25/1999 issue. In the Numbers Game column by Bernard Cohen


Far better an approximate answer to the right question, which is often vague, than an exact answer to the wrong question, which can always be made precise.

-- J. Tukey


There is an entirely leisure class located at both ends of the economic spectrum

[Aug 24, 2020] Tesla market cap $300B v. Exxon at $190B.

Aug 24, 2020 | peakoilbarrel.com

Stephen Hren Ignored says: 08/16/2020 AT 1:03 PM

Tesla market cap – $300B v. Exxon at $190B.

Wall Street is very story driven. They wasted a decade throwing money at tight oil and lost billions. It's hard to see how this tight oil story gets resuscitated. The '10s saw free debt, low regulatory regime, no effective alternatives to oil, skilled work force, entrenched globalized oil markets, no pandemics, etc, and they STILL lost hundreds of billions. Wall Street wants to lose their money in new ways. At least they get some novelty out of it.

[Aug 23, 2020] A Love Letter To The Fed From The Adoring Stock Market -

Aug 23, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Michael Regan via Bloomberg (emphasis ours),

Dear Fed,

Hey there! It's me, the stock market. I know it's weird to write you like this, but I felt like I needed to drop a quick thank-you note for everything you've done for me this year. I mean, your big ol' balance sheet is almost $3 trillion larger since early March! You're backing up the truck and loading it with Treasuries and corporate bonds and bond ETFs, all to keep the competition to stocks from fixed-income yields as limited as Jim Cramer's understanding of me. It's been a dream come true, honestly. I mean, fess up: Have you been reading my diary?!

... ... ...

So please do me a solid and keep this thank-you note in mind when you host your virtual Jackson Hole summit. No cowboy stuff, OK? If I hear anybody mutter something about "irrational exuberance," I swear I'm gonna blow my top and hurt a few of these Robinhood types, you got that? The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. It's what I do -- and I'm good at it! But right now, this is still a lot of fun for me...

https://lockerdome.com/lad/13084989113709670?pubid=ld-dfp-ad-13084989113709670-0&pubo=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zerohedge.com&rid=www.zerohedge.com&width=890

...  and when I do end up burning folks, do you really want to be the one who gets thrown under the bus?

I mean, you know you're going to catch all the blame, right?

NEVER MISS THE NEWS THAT MATTERS MOST

ZEROHEDGE DIRECTLY TO YOUR INBOX

Receive a daily recap featuring a curated list of must-read stories.

C'mon, Fed. We both know you're smarter than that. What's another few trillion?

With sincere and deepest gratitude,

The Stock Market

[Aug 19, 2020] Some Shocking Facts on the Concentration of Ownership of the US Economy

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the world has not seen these levels of concentration of ownership. The Soviet Union did not die because of apparent ideological reasons but due to economic bankruptcy caused by its uncompetitive monopolistic economy. Our verdict is that the US is heading in the same direction. ..."
"... In a future instalment of this report, we will show that the oligarchization of America – the placing it under the rule of the One Percent (or perhaps more accurately the 0.1%, if not 0.01%) - has been a deliberate ideologically driven long-term project to establish absolute economic power over the US and its political system and further extend that to involve an absolute global hegemony (the latter project thankfully thwarted by China and Russia). ..."
"... In present-day United States a few major investors – equity funds or private capital - are as a rule cross-owned by each other, forming investor oligopolies, which in turn own the business oligopolies. ..."
"... A study has shown that among a sample of the 1,500 largest US firms (S&P 1500), the probability of one major shareholder holding significant shares in two competing firms had jumped to 90% in 2014, while having been just 16% in 1999. (*2). ..."
"... Institutional investors like BlackRock, Vanguard, State Street, Fidelity, and JP Morgan, now own 80% of all stock in S&P 500 listed companies. The Big Three investors - BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street – alone constitute the largest shareholder in 88% of S&P 500 firms, which roughly correspond to America's 500 largest corporations. (*3). Both BlackRock and Vanguard are among the top five shareholders of almost 70% of America's largest 2,000 publicly traded corporations. (*4). ..."
May 19, 2019 | russia-insider.com

A close-knit oligarchy controls all major corporations. Monopolization of ownership in US economy fast approaching Soviet levels

Starting with Ronald Reagan's presidency, the US government willingly decided to ignore the anti-trust laws so that corporations would have free rein to set up monopolies. With each successive president the monopolistic concentration of business and shareholding in America has grown precipitously eventually to reach the monstrous levels of the present day.

Today's level of monopolistic concentration is of such unprecedented levels that we may without hesitation designate the US economy as a giant oligopoly. From economic power follows political power, therefore the economic oligopoly translates into a political oligarchy. (It seems, though, that the transformation has rather gone the other way around, a ferocious set of oligarchs have consolidated their economic and political power beginning from the turn of the twentieth century). The conclusion that the US is an oligarchy finds support in a 2014 by a Princeton University study.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the world has not seen these levels of concentration of ownership. The Soviet Union did not die because of apparent ideological reasons but due to economic bankruptcy caused by its uncompetitive monopolistic economy. Our verdict is that the US is heading in the same direction.

In a later report, we will demonstrate how all sectors of the US economy have fallen prey to monopolization and how the corporate oligopoly has been set up across the country. This post essentially serves as an appendix to that future report by providing the shocking details of the concentration of corporate ownership.

Apart from illustrating the monopolization at the level of shareholding of the major investors and corporations, we will in a follow-up post take a somewhat closer look at one particularly fatal aspect of this phenomenon, namely the consolidation of media (posted simultaneously with the present one) in the hands of absurdly few oligarch corporations. In there, we will discuss the monopolies of the tech giants and their ownership concentration together with the traditional media because they rightfully belong to the same category directly restricting speech and the distribution of opinions in society.

In a future instalment of this report, we will show that the oligarchization of America – the placing it under the rule of the One Percent (or perhaps more accurately the 0.1%, if not 0.01%) - has been a deliberate ideologically driven long-term project to establish absolute economic power over the US and its political system and further extend that to involve an absolute global hegemony (the latter project thankfully thwarted by China and Russia). To achieve these goals, it has been crucial for the oligarchs to control and direct the narrative on economy and war, on all public discourse on social affairs. By seizing the media, the oligarchs have created a monstrous propaganda machine, which controls the opinions of the majority of the US population.

We use the words 'monopoly,' 'monopolies,' and 'monopolization' in a broad sense and subsume under these concepts all kinds of market dominance be it by one company or two or a small number of companies, that is, oligopolies. At the end of the analysis, it is not of great importance how many corporations share in the market dominance, rather what counts is the death of competition and the position enabling market abuse, either through absolute dominance, collusion, or by a de facto extinction of normal market competition. Therefore we use the term 'monopolization' to describe the process of reaching a critical level of non-competition on a market. Correspondingly, we may denote 'monopoly companies' two corporations of a duopoly or several of an oligopoly.

Horizontal shareholding – the cementation of the oligarchy

One especially perfidious aspect of this concentration of ownership is that the same few institutional investors have acquired undisputable control of the leading corporations in practically all the most important sectors of industry. The situation when one or several investors own controlling or significant shares of the top corporations in a given industry (business sector) is referred to as horizontal shareholding . (*1). In present-day United States a few major investors – equity funds or private capital - are as a rule cross-owned by each other, forming investor oligopolies, which in turn own the business oligopolies.

A study has shown that among a sample of the 1,500 largest US firms (S&P 1500), the probability of one major shareholder holding significant shares in two competing firms had jumped to 90% in 2014, while having been just 16% in 1999. (*2).

Institutional investors like BlackRock, Vanguard, State Street, Fidelity, and JP Morgan, now own 80% of all stock in S&P 500 listed companies. The Big Three investors - BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street – alone constitute the largest shareholder in 88% of S&P 500 firms, which roughly correspond to America's 500 largest corporations. (*3). Both BlackRock and Vanguard are among the top five shareholders of almost 70% of America's largest 2,000 publicly traded corporations. (*4).

Blackrock had as of 2016 $6.2 trillion worth of assets under management, Vanguard $5.1 trillion, whereas State Street has dropped to a distant third with only $1 trillion in assets. This compares with a total market capitalization of US stocks according to Russell 3000 of $30 trillion at end of 2017 (From 2016 to 2017, the Big Three has of course also put on assets).Blackrock and Vanguard would then alone own more than one-third of all US publicly listed shares.

From an expanded sample that includes the 3,000 largest publicly listed corporations (Russell 3000 index), institutions owned (2016) about 78% of the equity .

The speed of concentration the US economy in the hands of institutions has been incredible. Still back in 1950s, their share of the equity was 10%, by 1980 it was 30% after which the concentration has rapidly grown to the present day approximately 80%. (*5). Another study puts the present (2016) stock market capitalization held by institutional investors at 70%. (*6). (The slight difference can possibly be explained by variations in the samples of companies included).

As a result of taking into account the common ownership at investor level, it emerges that the US economy is yet much more monopolized than it was previously thought when the focus had been on the operational business corporation alone detached from their owners. (*7).

The Oligarch owners assert their control

Apologists for monopolies have argued that the institutional investors who manage passive capital are passive in their own conduct as shareholders as well. (*8). Even if that would be true it would come with vastly detrimental consequences for the economy as that would mean that in effect there would be no shareholder control at all and the corporate executives would manage the companies exclusively with their own short-term benefits in mind, inevitably leading to corruption and the loss of the common benefits businesses on a normally functioning competitive market would bring.

In fact, there seems to have been a period in the US economy – before the rapid monopolization of the last decade -when such passive investors had relinquished control to the executives. (*9). But with the emergence of the Big Three investors and the astonishing concentration of ownership that does not seem to hold water any longer. (*10). In fact, there need not be any speculation about the matter as the monopolist owners are quite candid about their ways. For example, BlackRock's CEO Larry Fink sends out an annual guiding letter to his subject, practically to all the largest firms of the US and increasingly also Europe and the rest of the West. In his pastoral, the CEO shares his view of the global conditions affecting business prospects and calls for companies to adjust their strategies accordingly.

The investor will eventually review the management's strategic plans for compliance with the guidelines. Effectively, the BlackRock CEO has in this way assumed the role of a giant central planner, rather like the Gosplan, the central planning agency of the Soviet command economy.

The 2019 letter (referenced above) contains this striking passage, which should quell all doubts about the extent to which BlackRock exercises its powers:

"As we seek to build long-term value for our clients through engagement, our aim is not to micromanage a company's operations. Instead, our primary focus is to ensure board accountability for creating long-term value. However, a long-term approach should not be confused with an infinitely patient one. When BlackRock does not see progress despite ongoing engagement, or companies are insufficiently responsive to our efforts to protect our clients' long-term economic interests, we do not hesitate to exercise our right to vote against incumbent directors or misaligned executive compensation."

Considering the striking facts rendered above, we should bear in mind that the establishment of this virtually absolute oligarch ownership over all the largest corporations of the United States is a relatively new phenomenon. We should therefore expect that the centralized control and centralized planning will rapidly grow in extent as the power is asserted and methods are refined.

Most of the capital of those institutional investors consists of so-called passive capital, that is, such cases of investments where the investor has no intention of trying to achieve any kind of control of the companies it invests in, the only motivation being to achieve as high as possible a yield. In the overwhelming majority of the cases the funds flow into the major institutional investors, which invest the money at their will in any corporations. The original investors do not retain any control of the institutional investors, and do not expect it either. Technically the institutional investors like BlackRock and Vanguard act as fiduciary asset managers. But here's the rub, while the people who commit their assets to the funds may be considered as passive investors, the institutional investors who employ those funds are most certainly not.

Cross-ownership of oligarch corporations

To make matters yet worse, it must be kept in mind that the oligopolistic investors in turn are frequently cross-owned by each other. (*11). In fact, there is no transparent way of discovering who in fact controls the major institutional investors.

One of the major institutional investors, Vanguard is ghost owned insofar as it does not have any owners at all in the traditional sense of the concept. The company claims that it is owned by the multiple funds that it has itself set up and which it manages. This is how the company puts it on their home page : "At Vanguard, there are no outside owners, and therefore, no conflicting loyalties. The company is owned by its funds, which in turn are owned by their shareholders -- including you, if you're a Vanguard fund investor." At the end of the analysis, it would then seem that Vanguard is owned by Vanguard itself, certainly nobody should swallow the charade that those funds stuffed with passive investor money would exercise any ownership control over the superstructure Vanguard. We therefore assume that there is some group of people (other than the company directors) that have retained the actual control of Vanguard behind the scenes (perhaps through one or a few of the funds). In fact, we believe that all three (BlackRock, State Street and Vanguard) are tightly controlled by a group of US oligarchs (or more widely transatlantic oligarchs), who prefer not to brandish their power. It is beyond the scope of this study and our means to investigate this hypothesis, but whatever, it is bad enough that as a proven fact these three investor corporations wield this control over most of the American economy. We also know that the three act in concert wherever they hold shares. (*12).

Now, let's see who are the formal owners of these institutional investors

In considering these ownership charts, please, bear in mind that we have not consistently examined to what degree the real control of one or another company has been arranged through a scheme of issuing different classes of shares, where a special class of shares give vastly more voting rights than the ordinary shares. One source asserts that 355 of the companies in the Russell index consisting of the 3000 largest corporations employ such a dual voting-class structure, or 11.8% of all major corporations.

We have mostly relied on www.stockzoa.com for the shareholder data. However, this and other sources tend to list only the so-called institutional investors while omitting corporate insiders and other individuals. (We have no idea why such strange practice is employed

[Jul 25, 2020] The USA is home to the father of protectionism: Alexander Hamilton. He stated that a national industry in its infancy should be protected from its more mature competition. The USA followed his advice and protected its nascent industry from the British threat.

Jul 25, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , Jul 24 2020 21:09 utc | 46

The American Revolution was a catastrophe for its economy, which had to endure decades of reconstruction. In order to neutralize the threat of the British Empire, it stroke multiple trade deals with it.

The USA is home to the father of protectionism: Alexander Hamilton. He stated that a national industry in its infancy should be protected from its more mature competition. The USA followed his advice and protected its nascent industry from the British threat.

When the British Empire begun to degenerate, the Americans used the cheap British capital in excess in the financial markets to build up their infrastructure, specially their railways. Australia did the same.

The Founding Fathers did what they had to do in order to protect their country and make it flourish. When the ideology of the time stated they shouldn't, they invented a new ideology that stated they should. And the could: when the British and French tried to destroy the USA through a sea embargo, they responded in kind (Embargo Act of 1807) and prevailed; they did not cave in to the then imperial powers.

So, I don't understand why so many Americans are offended with China. The capitalist world tried to keep China poor and as a raw material exporter, sweatshop conglomeration. China didn't accept this, and decided to fight back. The result is here for all of us to see.

[Jul 16, 2020] If Pompeo has a functioning brain, he should realize that all these blatant efforts to reserve markets for America by sanctioning all its competitors out of the picture is having the opposite effect, and frightening customers away from becoming dependent on American products

Jul 16, 2020 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

MOSCOWEXILE July 15, 2020 at 7:58 am

Fat bully boy speaks for Bully Boy state:

"Today the Department of State is updating the public guidance for CAATSA authorities to include Nord Stream 2 and the second line of TurkStream 2. This action puts investments or other activities that are related to these Russian energy export pipelines at risk of US sanctions. It's a clear warning to companies aiding and abetting Russia's malign influence projects and will not be tolerated. Get out now or risk the consequences".

Pompeo speaking at a press conference today.

CAATSA -- Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act

So Russia and Turkey are "adversaries" of the USA?

In what way?

Do these states wish to wage war against the USA?

Is it adversarial to United States interest to compete economically with the hegemon?

MOSCOWEXILE July 15, 2020 at 7:59 am

Link to above:

https://sputniknews.com/world/202007151079893067-us-plans-to-add-nord-stream-2-turkstream-to-list-of-projects-to-be-sanctioned/

MARK CHAPMAN July 15, 2020 at 3:51 pm

Who cares? Really, is Pompeo still scary? If he has a functioning brain, he should realize that all these blatant efforts to reserve markets for America by sanctioning all its competitors out of the picture is having the opposite effect, and frightening customers away from becoming dependent on American products which might be withheld on a whim when America wants political concessions. 'Will not be tolerated' – what a pompous ass. Sanction away. The consequence is well-known to be seizure of assets held in the United States or an inability to do business in the United States. That will frighten some into submission – like the UK, which was threatened with the cessation of intelligence-sharing with the USA (sure you can spare it?) if it did not drop Huawei from its 5G networks. But others will take prudent steps to limit their exposure to such threats, in the certain knowledge that if they work, they will encourage the USA to use the technique again.

[Jul 14, 2020] The good news is that the unstoppable juggernaut of globalization has fallen to it's knees

Jul 14, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Tod , Jul 13 2020 20:05 utc | 18

The good news is that the unstoppable juggernaut of globalization has fallen to it's knees. Countries and societies around the world will have to look at ways they came become independent and self sufficient,at least to some degree. It's like "War of the Worlds" really, the best effort of humanity to contain the plague fails, but a random natural occurrence saves humanity from the brink of destruction. Hopefully some real scientists will be allowed to mitigate the medical disaster, but one thing is for sure, the grand plan of turning everyone into a nomad competing for pennies on the international market, for the sole benefit of the richest among the rich, is dead. Some really hard times are coming for the international nomads/ parasites, and hopefully humanity will move to some more beneficial culture, and have a real chance to survive as a species, in the long term.

[Jul 03, 2020] The world s economy is in contraction. Although capital, what actual capital exists, will have to try and do something productive, it is confronted by this fact, that everything is facing contraction.

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... I agree that globalism is/will be heading into the dumpers, but I see no chance that US-based manufacturing is going to make any significant come-back. ..."
"... What market will there be for US-manufactured goods? US "consumers" are heavily in debt and facing continued downward pressures on income. ..."
"... There will certainly be, especially given the eye-opener of COVID-19, a big push to have medical (which includes associated tech) production capacities reinvigorated in the US. ..."
"... More "disposable" income goes toward medical expenditures. Less money goes toward creating export items; wealth creation only occurs through a positive increase in balance of trade. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, death, the US will likely continue, for the mid-term, to export weaponry; but, don't expect enough growth here to mean much (margins will drop as competition increases, so figure downward pressure on net export $$). ..."
"... the planet cannot comply with our economic model's dependency on perpetual growth: there can NOT be perpetual growth on a finite planet. US manufacturing requires, as it always has, export markets; requires ever-increasing exports: this is really true for all others. Higher standards of living in the US (and add in increasing medical costs which factor into cost of goods sold) means that the price of US-manufactured goods will be less affordable to peoples outside of the US. ..."
"... I'll also note that the notion of there being a cycle, a parabolic curve, in civilizations is well noted/documented in Sir John Glubb's The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival (you can find electronic bootlegged copies on the Internet)- HIGHLY recommended reading! ..."
"... All of this is pretty much reflected in Wall Street companies ramp-ups in stock-buy-backs. That's money that's NOT put in R&D or expansion. I'm pretty sure that the brains in all of this KNOW what the situation is: growth is never coming back. ..."
"... Make no mistake, what we're facing is NOT another recession or depression, it's not part of what we think as a downturn in the "business cycle," as though we'll "pull out of it," it's basically an end to the super-cycle ..."
"... We are at the peak (slightly past peak, but not far enough to realize it yet) and there is no returning. Per-capita income and energy consumption have peaked. There's not enough resources and not enough new demand (younger people, people that have wealth) to keep the perpetual growth machine going. ..."
Jul 03, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Seer , Jul 3 2020 10:34 utc | 125

NemesisCalling @ 28

I agree that globalism is/will be heading into the dumpers, but I see no chance that US-based manufacturing is going to make any significant come-back.

The world's economy is in contraction. Although capital, what actual capital exists, will have to try and do something "productive," it is confronted by this fact, that everything is facing contraction. During times of contraction it's a game of acquisition rather than expanding capacity: the sum total is STILL contraction; and the contraction WILL be a reduction in excess, excess manufacturing and labor.

What market will there be for US-manufactured goods? US "consumers" are heavily in debt and facing continued downward pressures on income. China is self-sufficient (enough) other than energy (which can be acquired outside of US markets). Most every other country is in a position of declining wealth (per capita income levels peaked and in decline). And manufacturing continues to increase its automation (less workers means less consumers).

There will certainly be, especially given the eye-opener of COVID-19, a big push to have medical (which includes associated tech) production capacities reinvigorated in the US. One has to look at this in The Big Picture of what it means, and that's that the US population is aging (and in poor health).

More "disposable" income goes toward medical expenditures. Less money goes toward creating export items; wealth creation only occurs through a positive increase in balance of trade. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, death, the US will likely continue, for the mid-term, to export weaponry; but, don't expect enough growth here to mean much (margins will drop as competition increases, so figure downward pressure on net export $$).

Lastly, and it's the reason why global trade is being knocked down, is that the planet cannot comply with our economic model's dependency on perpetual growth: there can NOT be perpetual growth on a finite planet. US manufacturing requires, as it always has, export markets; requires ever-increasing exports: this is really true for all others. Higher standards of living in the US (and add in increasing medical costs which factor into cost of goods sold) means that the price of US-manufactured goods will be less affordable to peoples outside of the US.

And here too is the fact that other countries' populations are also aging. Years ago I dove into the demographics angle/assessment to find out that ALL countries ramp and age and that you can see countries' energy consumption rise and their their net trade balance swing negative- there's a direct correlation: go to the CIA's Factbook and look at demographics and energy and the graphs tell the story.

I'll also note that the notion of there being a cycle, a parabolic curve, in civilizations is well noted/documented in Sir John Glubb's The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival (you can find electronic bootlegged copies on the Internet)- HIGHLY recommended reading!

All of this is pretty much reflected in Wall Street companies ramp-ups in stock-buy-backs. That's money that's NOT put in R&D or expansion. I'm pretty sure that the brains in all of this KNOW what the situation is: growth is never coming back.

MANY years ago I stated that we will one day face "economies of scale in reverse." We NEVER considered that growth couldn't continue forever. There was never a though about what would happen with the reverse "of economies of scale."

Make no mistake, what we're facing is NOT another recession or depression, it's not part of what we think as a downturn in the "business cycle," as though we'll "pull out of it," it's basically an end to the super-cycle.

We will never be able to replicate the state of things as they are. We are at the peak (slightly past peak, but not far enough to realize it yet) and there is no returning. Per-capita income and energy consumption have peaked. There's not enough resources and not enough new demand (younger people, people that have wealth) to keep the perpetual growth machine going.

[Jul 01, 2020] The elites have two or three passports, own businesses overseas, own houses.

Jul 01, 2020 | www.unz.com

Jeff Stryker , says: June 30, 2020 at 5:59 pm GMT

@Rev. Spooner bout the Bill of Rights or the Constitution or community. Those are a joke to people whose money is made transnational.

The lumpens who have never traveled out of their state have no concept of geographic dimensions. They have never even left home. They think everyone is as patriotic as them and will fight and die for their country and their community.

I assure none of the elite care a whit. Penthouses look the same from Manhattan to Tokyo.

Ask the Boers in South Africa or Polish in Detroit who did not "sniff the wind" in time.

The guy who has a gun loaded in his pocket as an insurance policy has a plan and it does not end well for the person who hit him.

The elites have two or three passports, own businesses overseas, own houses.

[Jun 16, 2020] Trump Just Fulfilled His Billionaire Pal s Dream by David Sirota

Highly recommended!
Jun 16, 2020 | jacobinmag.com

Trump just changed the rules to let Wall Street's most predatory industry get its hands on hundreds of billions of dollars of ordinary workers' retirement savings. Now his friends in private equity are celebrating.

If politics is the art of the sleight of hand, then Donald Trump is one of the deftest magicians of all time -- a master of creating mesmerizing spectacles, while his minions quietly rob everything in sight. This David Copperfield routine has become so mundane we are practically numb to it, but the trick Trump just pulled off for his billionaire pals was something particularly special -- it could end up being one of the single biggest financial heists in history.

As news cycles were consumed by Trump deliberately inflaming social unrest and threatening a domestic military invasion , the president's political appointees were approving a regulatory change that could transfer hundreds of billions of dollars of Americans' retirement savings to private equity firms. Those are the Gordon Gekko–run outlets that have become famous for fleecing investors , laying off workers , gutting local economies , strip-mining media outlets and creating public health and environmental disasters -- all while minting Wall Street billionaires.

The Trump administration's new directive came just a few months after private equity billionaire Stephen Schwarzman -- who had been pushing for the change -- poured $3 million into a super PAC backing Trump's reelection bid.

"A Windfall of $435 Billion"

To the casual onlooker, the information letter from the Employee Benefits Security Administration reads like every other impenetrable passage of stereo instructions that fills the Federal Register -- but this was no routine piece of paperwork. The guidance to Switzerland-based investment firm Partners Group effectively changed the enforcement of federal law protecting workers' retirement savings.

While long-standing worker-protection regulations have prevented 401(k) plans from investing in high-risk private equity firms, the letter now permits corporations to funnel that money to those firms, which charge notoriously giant fees.

Trump's administration argued that workers should feel fortunate and thankful that the administration will now let employers turn their savings over to private equity barons.

"This information letter will help Americans saving for retirement gain access to alternative investments that often provide strong returns," labor secretary Eugene Scalia said in a statement announcing the new policy. "The letter helps level the playing field for ordinary investors and is another step by the department to ensure that ordinary people investing for retirement have the opportunities they need for a secure retirement."

Scalia previously represented Wall Street banks and investment firms at the law firm Gibson Dunn, including Goldman Sachs, which has been working to raise more money for its private equity funds .

In practice, private equity firms will now be allowed to access -- and skim fees off of -- the $9 trillion in 100 million workers' 401(k) plans and IRAs.

"If just 5 percent of the money in these retirement funds were available to private equity, it would be a windfall of $435 billion -- real money even to private equity millionaires and billionaires," wrote Eileen Appelbaum of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).

"A Huge Opportunity for the Firm"

From the beginning, Trump's White House has been operating as a de facto subsidiary of the private equity industry : his reelection campaign is being bankrolled by private equity donors; his commerce secretary is a private equity kingpin ; his SEC chairman was a Wall Street lawyer at a firm that represents private equity clients ; his first National Economic Council was the president of a private equity giant ; and his top outside adviser is Schwarzman, the CEO of the world's largest private equity firm , Blackstone.

The Labor Department letter is the result of all that private equity influence -- and at a particularly opportune time. The industry -- including Partners Group -- has recently been fretting about a decline in fees during the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter offers the potential for a bailout for the industry, paid for by millions of workers' retirement savings.

That said, this is not some temporary relief during a fleeting crisis -- this is the culmination of a long-term campaign by Schwarzman. Six days after Trump was inaugurated, the Blackstone chief said that he had been dreaming of a president who would change the law to let his firm make bank off workers' 401(k) savings.

"In life you have to have a dream," Schwarzman told analysts in January 2017 , days after Trump's inauguration. "One of the dreams is our desire and the market's need to have more access at retail to alternative asset products . . . A lot of people are not allowed to put those into retirement vehicles and other types. And one of the interesting issues when you have a new government is whether they want to continue that type of prohibition or not. Because what it's doing is denying people sort of a better retirement, and if there's a change in that area that becomes a huge opportunity for the firm."

In the ensuing years, Schwarzman and other private equity moguls continued to deliver cash to Trump's national Republican Party while the industry pushed for the changes in law that would allow them to raid 401(k) savings.

"This Wealth Transfer Might Be One of The Largest in the History of Modern Finance"

https://www.youtube.com/embed/ROYuupoGarQ?feature=oembed

Like Shelley Levene's smarmy real-estate sales pitch in Glengarry Glen Ross , Schwarzman's argument is that private equity offers ordinary Americans terrific untapped investment upside. In his telling, workers have been unfairly deprived of these opportunities under the old laws -- and not surprisingly, both the Trump Labor Department and some of the business press have credulously echoed that line.

"Everyday investors may soon be able to get a piece of private equity action," effused the lede of the New York Times ' report on the Labor Department letter, as if this is a sweet get-rich-quick opportunity for the average working man.

But only days after the change, a landmark study was released, telling the real story of private equity.

The report by University of Oxford professor Ludovic Phalippou shows that in the last fifteen years, private equity firms generally have not provided better returns to investors than low-fee stock index funds. In the process, a handful of private equity firms and their executives have raked in roughly $230 billion in fees from investors like public pension funds and university endowments.

"This wealth transfer might be one of the largest in the history of modern finance: from a few hundred million pension scheme members to a few thousand people working in private equity," Phalippou concludes.

Politicians have enabled this redistribution.

In Washington, federal lawmakers have preserved a tax loophole that allows private equity moguls to classify their winnings as capital gains rather than income, thereby paying far lower tax rates than ordinary workers.

Meanwhile, in states and cities, local officials have continued to direct more and more of government workers' pension savings to politically connected private equity firms. Those officials have been hoping that private equity investments would produce outsize returns that might forestall tax hikes necessary to raise revenue and fund the pension benefits promised to public-sector workers. But overall, those returns were not significantly better than the stock market, and they came with giant fees.

In its letter, the Trump administration actually acknowledged some of these pitfalls of private equity investments, noting that they involve "more complex, and typically, higher fees." But that wasn't enough to stop the Labor Department from shoving millions of unwitting workers and retirees into private equity's maw just a few years after Blackstone and other major private equity firms were sanctioned by regulators for fleecing investors.

The Quest for Dumb Money

The private equity industry is hardly short on cash -- the industry was sitting on roughly $1.5 trillion of undeployed capital at the end of 2019. The reason the Labor Department letter is so important to the industry is because 401(k)s and IRAs represent a particular kind of capital that private equity firms love -- so-called "dumb money."

Unlike a share of publicly traded stock whose price is the same for all investors, a private equity investment's fees can vary widely from investor to investor. Private equity firms are therefore always eager to find investors willing to accept the highest possible fees. "Dumb money" refers to such investors -- entities like pension funds, 401(k) plans, and university endowments that are pools of other people's money directed by officials with no personal skin in the investment decisions.

Wall Street sees these funds as "dumb" -- and particularly lucrative -- because the officials negotiating on retirees' or universities' behalf may not drive as hard a bargain on fees and terms as, say, an individual billionaire or an insurance company trying to protect its cash reserves.

This wiggle room with dumb money can be enormously lucrative for private equity firms: a recent study by Stanford and Harvard researchers found that had public pensions all received the same private equity fee rates, they "would have earned nearly $45 billion more on their investments."

In other words: that is $45 billion of earnings that could have gone to retirees, but instead went to private equity firms and other wealthy investors because pension fund managers didn't secure better fees and terms.

That part about "other unobserved investors" is key -- private equity firms explicitly say in their SEC filings that they can and will offer different investors different fees and terms on the exact same investments. It is a situation that has caused some retirees to wonder whether their dumb money is being used to pad the profits of smarter, politically connected investors who negotiate better terms in the same private equity investments.

Now that Trump's Labor Department has opened the floodgates, a lot more money could end up flowing into these opaque deals, enriching private equity executives and their friends -- while leaving workers' meager retirement savings even further depleted.

End Mark

David Sirota is editor-at-large at Jacobin . He edits the Too Much Information newsletter and previously served as a senior adviser and speechwriter on Bernie Sanders's 2020 presidential campaign. You can subscribe to David Sirota's newsletter "Too Much Information" here . Andrew Perez contributed research to this story.

Further Reading

[Jun 12, 2020] PE-Owned Hospitals Paid Owners Millions and Got Low Care Ratings by Lauren Coleman-Lochner and Jeremy Hill

Private equity is essential a mafia style business: they aid to blled thier victim dry.
Notable quotes:
"... By the end of 2018, available cash was so tight that Prospect got a $41 million infusion from Leonard Green and members of its management, according to Moody's. The ratings firm downgraded Prospect deeper into junk last year at B3, citing "shareholder-friendly policies" and the higher leverage resulting from the $457 million dividend. ..."
"... Meanwhile, care quality ratings for seven of the 10 Prospect hospitals evaluated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, have declined since 2016, according to HMP Metrics, a health-care facility analytics service. CMS ranks facilities from 1 to 5 stars, with 5 being the best. ..."
"... Most Prospect hospitals sit at the bottom rungs of quality assessments, according to the agency's hospital comparison database. Nine have a two-star rating or below, placing them in the lowest 30% of rated hospitals, according to CMS data. Just one Prospect-owned hospital -- Roger Williams Medical Center in Rhode Island -- earned a three-star rating. ..."
"... "Private equity owners, seeking high returns, may be even more willing to cut costs in crucial ways than even other for-profit health care companies," she said in an interview. ..."
Jun 12, 2020 | www.bloomberg.com

[Jun 09, 2020] This is worse the circus: Mitt Romney, a private equty shark the specilaty of whom is to fleece poor marched with BLM

Notable quotes:
"... How much of this is virtue signalling by Mitt Romney and others of the elite? Is he willing to disgorge himself of the the hundreds of millions he took from Americans through his company Bain? ..."
Jun 09, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

>

Victor_the_thinker engineerscotty 21 hours ago

These far right social conservatives lost yesterday and they don't even realize it. Mitt Romney marched with BLM. Mitt is no radical on social issues (he certainly is on. Taxes on the rich) you won't convince a single one of these hard right wing people that systemic racism is real, even when you give examples like the North Carolina Republican Party disenfranchising blacks "with surgical precision" or the direct evidence of the commenter Dukeboy who states he is a retired police officer and is obviously a white supremacists. But you don't need to convince them of anything. This is the same group who would have been against the civil rights protests in the '60's. They aren't needed to create a massive change.

The hubris to think that your feelings of guilt would be meaningful to black people is off the charts.
"My local school has been underfunded for generations due to the property tax funding system and redlining but Karen feels bad about it so all is right with the world!"-Said no black person ever.

joeo 17 hours ago

How much of this is virtue signalling by Mitt Romney and others of the elite? Is he willing to disgorge himself of the the hundreds of millions he took from Americans through his company Bain?

Moonbeam joeo 15 hours ago • edited

How much? 100% of it. Romney is a vicious corporate raider who has destroyed countless jobs and by extension, lives. How many suicides have followed in the wake of Bain's corporate takeovers? When Romney lived in Belmont, MA, he and his wife petitioned the town to not allow ambulances to go down their street with sirens on. Seriously.

[Jun 09, 2020] Galbraith 'Disillusion' Is America's One Big Growth Sector Right Now

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Moreover, people do distinguish between needs and wants. Americans need to eat, but they mostly don't need to eat out. They don't need to travel. Restaurant owners and airlines therefore have two problems: they can't cover costs while their capacity is limited for public-health reasons, and demand would be down even if the coronavirus disappeared. This explains why many businesses are not reopening even though they legally can. Others are reopening, but fear they cannot hold out for long. And the many millions of workers in America's vast services sector are realizing that their jobs are simply not essential. ..."
"... America's economic plight is structural. It is not simply the consequence of Trump's incompetence or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's poor political strategy. It reflects systemic changes over 50 years that have created an economy based on global demand for advanced goods, consumer demand for frills, and ever-growing household and business debts. This economy was in many ways prosperous, and it provided jobs and incomes to many millions. Yet it was a house of cards, and COVID-19 has blown it down. ..."
Jun 09, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

In the 1960s, the US had a balanced economy that produced goods for both businesses and households, at all levels of technology, with a fairly small (and tightly regulated) financial sector. It produced largely for itself, importing mainly commodities.

Today, the US produces for the world, mainly advanced investment goods and services, in sectors such as aerospace, information technology, arms, oilfield services, and finance. And it imports far more consumer goods, such as clothing, electronics, cars, and car parts, than it did a half-century ago.

And whereas cars, televisions, and household appliances drove US consumer demand in the 1960s, a much larger share of domestic spending today goes (or went) to restaurants, bars, hotels, resorts, gyms, salons, coffee shops, and tattoo parlors, as well as college tuition and doctor's visits. Tens of millions of Americans work in these sectors.

Finally, American household spending in the 1960s was powered by rising wages and growing home equity. But wages have been largely stagnant since at least 2000, and spending increases since 2010 were powered by rising personal and corporate debts. House values are now stagnant at best, and will likely fall in the months ahead.

Mainstream economics pays little attention to such structural questions. Instead, it assumes that business investment responds mostly to the consumer, whose spending is dictated equally by income and desire. The distinction between "essential" and "superfluous" does not exist. Debt burdens are largely ignored.

But demand for many US-made capital goods now depends on global conditions. Orders for new aircraft will not recover while half of all existing planes are grounded. At current prices, the global oil industry is not drilling new wells. Even at home, though existing construction projects may be completed, plans for new office towers or retail outlets won't be launched soon. And as people commute less, cars will last longer, so demand for them (and gasoline) will suffer.

Faced with radical uncertainty, US consumers will save more and spend less. Even if the government replaces their lost incomes for a time, people know that stimulus is short term. What they do not know is when the next job offer – or layoff – will come along.

Moreover, people do distinguish between needs and wants. Americans need to eat, but they mostly don't need to eat out. They don't need to travel. Restaurant owners and airlines therefore have two problems: they can't cover costs while their capacity is limited for public-health reasons, and demand would be down even if the coronavirus disappeared. This explains why many businesses are not reopening even though they legally can. Others are reopening, but fear they cannot hold out for long. And the many millions of workers in America's vast services sector are realizing that their jobs are simply not essential.

Meanwhile, US household debts – rent, mortgage, and utility arrears, as well as interest on education and car loans – have continued to mount. True, stimulus checks have helped: defaults have so far been modest, and many landlords have been accommodating. But as people face long periods with lower incomes, they will continue to hoard funds to ensure that they can repay their fixed debts. As if all this were not enough, falling sales- and income-tax revenues are prompting US state and local governments to cut spending, compounding the loss of jobs and incomes.

America's economic plight is structural. It is not simply the consequence of Trump's incompetence or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's poor political strategy. It reflects systemic changes over 50 years that have created an economy based on global demand for advanced goods, consumer demand for frills, and ever-growing household and business debts. This economy was in many ways prosperous, and it provided jobs and incomes to many millions. Yet it was a house of cards, and COVID-19 has blown it down.

"Reopen America" is therefore an economic and political fantasy. Incumbent politicians crave a cheery growth rebound, and the depth of the collapse makes possible some attractive short-term numbers. But taking them seriously will merely set the stage for a new round of disillusion. As nationwide protests against systemic racism and police brutality show, disillusion is America's one big growth sector right now.

[Jun 04, 2020] When recruiters or job ads say "flexible working hours" all I hear is "you must be flexible to work whatever hours we give you"

Jun 04, 2020 | www.youtube.com

Suadela , 4 months ago

When recruiters or job ads say "flexible working hours" all I hear is "you must be flexible to work whatever hours we give you"

[Jun 03, 2020] RussiaGate for neoliberal Dems and MSM honchos is the way to avoid the necessity to look into the camera and say, I guess people hated us so much they were even willing to vote for Donald Trump

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Russiagate became a convenient replacement explanation absolving an incompetent political establishment for its complicity in what happened in 2016, and not just the failure to see it coming. ..."
"... Because of the immediate arrival of the collusion theory, neither Wolf Blitzer nor any politician ever had to look into the camera and say, "I guess people hated us so much they were even willing to vote for Donald Trump ..."
Mar 31, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

psychohistorian , Mar 30, 2019 7:51:28 PM | link

Here is an insightful read on Trump's (s)election and Russiagate that I think is not OT

Taibbi: On Russiagate and Our Refusal to Face Why Trump Won

The take away quote

" Russiagate became a convenient replacement explanation absolving an incompetent political establishment for its complicity in what happened in 2016, and not just the failure to see it coming.

Because of the immediate arrival of the collusion theory, neither Wolf Blitzer nor any politician ever had to look into the camera and say, "I guess people hated us so much they were even willing to vote for Donald Trump ."

As a peedupon all I can see is that the elite seem to be fighting amongst themselves or (IMO) providing cover for ongoing elite power/control efforts. It might not be about private/public finance in a bigger picture but I can't see anything else that makes sense

[May 28, 2020] Protestors Criticized For Looting Businesses Without Forming Private Equity Firm First

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... "I understand that people are angry, but they shouldn't just endanger businesses without even a thought to enriching themselves through leveraged buyouts and across-the-board terminations..." ..."
May 28, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

"I understand that people are angry, but they shouldn't just endanger businesses without even a thought to enriching themselves through leveraged buyouts and across-the-board terminations..."

"Look, we all have the right to protest, but that doesn't mean you can just rush in and destroy any business without gathering a group of clandestine investors to purchase it at a severely reduced price and slowly bleed it to death," said Facebook commenter Amy Mulrain, echoing the sentiments of detractors nationwide who blasted the demonstrators for not hiring a consultant group to take stock of a struggling company's assets before plundering.

" I understand that people are angry, but they shouldn't just endanger businesses without even a thought to enriching themselves through leveraged buyouts and across-the-board terminations.

It's disgusting to put workers at risk by looting. You do it by chipping away at their health benefits and eventually laying them off. There's a right way and wrong way to do this. "

At press time, critics recommended that protestors hold law enforcement accountable by simply purchasing the Minneapolis police department from taxpayers.

Source: The Onion

[May 24, 2020] Private Equity Is Ruining Health Care, Covid Is Making It Worse: Investors have been buying up doctor s offices, cutting costs, and, critics say, putting pressure on physicians by Heather Perlberg

Highly recommended!
So not only ambulance service was destroyed by private equity, they now added other specialties. I wonder is those criminals who insert unnecessary stents in patients are connected to private equity.
Images removed
Notable quotes:
"... "You can't serve two masters. You can't serve patients and investors" ..."
"... Morganroth's defense of pandemic Botox might seem odd, but it made perfect sense within the logic of the U.S. health-care system, which has seen Wall Street investors invade its every corner, engineering medical practices and hospitals to maximize profits as if they were little different from grocery stores. At the center of this story are private equity firms, which saw the explosive growth of health-care spending and have been buying up physician staffing companies, surgery centers, and everything else in sight. ..."
"... But some doctors say that the private equity playbook, which involves buying companies, drastically cutting costs, and then selling for a profit -- the goal is generally to make an annualized return of 20% to 30% within three to five years -- creates problems that are unique to health care. "I know private equity does this in other industries, but in medicine you're dealing with people's health and their lives," says Michael Rains, a doctor who worked at U.S. Dermatology Partners , a big private equity-backed chain. "You can't serve two masters. You can't serve patients and investors." ..."
"... Yet over the past decade, lawyers devised a structure that allows investors to buy a medical practice without technically owning it: the MSO, or management service organization. Today, when an investment firm buys a doctor's office, what it's actually buying are the office's "nonclinical" assets. In theory, physicians control all medical decisions and agree to pay a management fee to a newly created company, which handles administrative tasks such as billing and marketing. ..."
"... Businessweek ..."
"... When individual doctors sell, they generally receive $2 million to $7 million each, with 30% to 40% of that paid in equity in the group. After the acquisition, doctors get a lower salary and are asked to help recruit other doctors to sell their practices or to join as employees. ..."
"... Patients, for the most part, are in the dark. Unlike when your mortgage changes hands, you usually aren't notified when a big investment firm buys your doctor. Sometimes the sign on the door bearing the physician's name stays put, and subtle changes in operations or unfamiliar fees may be the only clues that anything has happened. ..."
"... At Advanced Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery , the largest private equity-backed group in the field, with more than 150 locations across the U.S., that sense of discomfort came shortly after Audax Group bought a controlling stake in what was then a much smaller chain in 2011. The new management team introduced a scorecard that rewarded offices with cash if they met daily and monthly financial goals, according to a lawsuit filed in 2013 against the company by one of its dermatologists. The doctor alleged that the bonus program encouraged staff to do as many procedures as possible, rather than strictly addressing patients' medical needs. ..."
"... Most dermatologists use outside labs and pathologists, but private equity-owned groups buy up existing labs and hire their own pathologists. Then doctors are encouraged to refer patients within the group and send biopsy slides to the company-owned labs, keeping the entire chain of revenue in-house. ..."
"... Now comes the cost-cutting. This is supposed to be the hallmark of private equity, and, done right, it can work to the benefit of doctors and patients. But there are pitfalls unique to medicine, where aggressive cuts can lead to problems, some of them merely inconvenient and some potentially dangerous. ..."
"... A doctor at Advanced Dermatology says that waiting for corporate approvals means his office is routinely left without enough gauze, antiseptic solution, and toilet paper. Even before the great toilet paper shortage of 2020, he would travel with a few rolls in the trunk of his car, to spare patients when an office inevitably ran out. The company declined to comment. ..."
"... One paradox of the Covid-19 pandemic has been that even as the virus has focused the entire country on health care, it's been a financial disaster for the industry. And so, while emergency room doctors and nurses care for the sick -- comforting those who would otherwise die alone, and in some cases dying themselves -- private equity-backed staffing companies and hospitals have been cutting pay for ER doctors. These hospitals, like the big medical practices, make a large portion of their money from elective procedures and have been forced into wrenching compromises. ..."
"... For investors with capital, on the other hand, the economic fallout from the virus is a huge opportunity. Stay-at-home orders have left small practices more financially strained than they've ever been. That will likely accelerate sales to private equity firms, according to Marc Cabrera, an investment banker focused on health-care deals at Oppenheimer & Co. Independent doctors or groups that previously rebuffed offers from deep-pocketed backers "will reconsider their options," he says. ..."
"... Many doctors may ultimately come to regret cashing out, but it's hard to get out once you're in. As part of an acquisition, the private equity groups typically require doctors to sign yearslong contracts, with noncompete clauses that prevent them from working in the surrounding area. ..."
May 20, 2020 | www.bloomberg.com

Not long after Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, ordered the state's 40 million residents to stay home to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, Dr. Greg Morganroth called his team of doctors and said their dermatology group was staying open.

Morganroth is chief executive officer of the California Skin Institute , which he founded in 2007 as a single office in Mountain View. He's since expanded to more than 40 locations using a financing strategy that's become exceedingly common in American health care: private equity. In this case, he took out a loan from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. that could eventually convert to an equity stake. CSI is now the largest dermatology chain in California.

But the Covid-19 pandemic put Morganroth in a precarious position. Most medical procedures were characterized as nonessential by government officials and practitioners. Doctors were closing offices, and patients were staying away to limit their potential exposure to the virus.

CSI took a different approach. Morganroth explained his thinking on April 2 in a Zoom call with more than 170 dermatologists from around the country organized by the Cosmetic Surgery Forum, an industry conference. Contrary to what they might have heard, Morganroth told them, they should consider staying open during the pandemic. "Many of us are over-interpreting guidelines," he said.

For a moment there was an awkward silence. Doctors had thought they were signing up for advice on how to apply for government money that would help them meet payroll while they were shut down; they hadn't expected to be told not to shut down at all. Morganroth continued: "We are going to be in a two-year war, and we need to make strategic plans for our businesses that enable us to survive and to rebound."

Back at CSI, the company's front-office staff was working the phones, calling patients in some of the worst-hit areas and reminding them to show up for their appointments, even for cosmetic procedures such as Botox injections to treat wrinkles. During the videoconference, Morganroth argued that offering Botox in a pandemic wasn't so different from a grocery store allowing customers to buy candy alongside staples.

"If I had a food supply company and had to stay open, and I had meat, bread, and milk, would I stop making lime and strawberry licorice?" Morganroth asked. "I would make everything and go forward."

From a public-health point of view, some of the doctors believed, this was questionable. Common reasons for visiting a dermatologist's office -- skin screenings, mole removals, acne consultations -- aren't particularly time sensitive. Serious matters, such as suspected cancers and dangerous rashes, can be handled, at least initially, with telemedicine consultations . Then doctors can weigh the risks for their patients and determine who needs to come in. In a statement, CSI says that it followed local and state laws for staying open, while providing "necessary care" for patients, and that it had not required doctors to come to work.

"You can't serve two masters. You can't serve patients and investors"

Morganroth's defense of pandemic Botox might seem odd, but it made perfect sense within the logic of the U.S. health-care system, which has seen Wall Street investors invade its every corner, engineering medical practices and hospitals to maximize profits as if they were little different from grocery stores. At the center of this story are private equity firms, which saw the explosive growth of health-care spending and have been buying up physician staffing companies, surgery centers, and everything else in sight.

Over the past five years, the firms have invested more than $10 billion in medical practices, with a special focus on dermatology, which is seen as a hot industry because of the aging population. Baby boomers suffer from high rates of two potentially lucrative conditions: skin cancer and vanity. Some estimates suggest that private equity already owns more than 10% of the U.S dermatology market. And firms have started to expand into other specialties, including women's health, urology, and gastroenterology.

There's nothing inherently wrong with any of this. But some doctors say that the private equity playbook, which involves buying companies, drastically cutting costs, and then selling for a profit -- the goal is generally to make an annualized return of 20% to 30% within three to five years -- creates problems that are unique to health care. "I know private equity does this in other industries, but in medicine you're dealing with people's health and their lives," says Michael Rains, a doctor who worked at U.S. Dermatology Partners , a big private equity-backed chain. "You can't serve two masters. You can't serve patients and investors."

Investment firms, and the practices they fund, say these concerns are overblown. They point out that they're giving doctors a financial shelter from the rapidly changing medical environment, a particularly attractive prospect now, and that money from private equity firms has expanded care to more patients. But they've also made it next to impossible to track the industry's impact or reach. Firms rarely announce their investments and routinely subject doctors to nondisclosure agreements that make it difficult for them to speak publicly. Bloomberg Businessweek spoke to dozens of doctors at 10 large private equity-backed dermatology groups. Those interviews, along with information obtained from other employees, investors, lawyers, court filings, and company records, reveal how the firms operate, and why they sometimes fail patients.

The process is never exactly the same, but there are familiar patterns, which tend to play out in five steps.

Step 1: Marriage

The strange thing about private equity money in medicine is that for-profit investors have long been prevented from buying doctor's offices. Corporate ownership goes against a doctrine set by the American Medical Association , the main trade group for doctors in the U.S., and is prohibited by law in many states, including Texas and New Jersey. For most of the past 100 years, if you wanted to make money on a medical practice, you needed to have a medical license.

Yet over the past decade, lawyers devised a structure that allows investors to buy a medical practice without technically owning it: the MSO, or management service organization. Today, when an investment firm buys a doctor's office, what it's actually buying are the office's "nonclinical" assets. In theory, physicians control all medical decisions and agree to pay a management fee to a newly created company, which handles administrative tasks such as billing and marketing.

In practice, though, investors expect some influence over medical decision-making, which, after all, is connected to profits. "When we partner with you, it's a marriage," said Matt Jameson, a managing director at BlueMountain Capital, a $17 billion firm that recently invested in a women's health company, while speaking at a conference in New York in September. "We have to believe it. You have to believe it. It's not going to be something where clinical is completely not touched." (When contacted by Businessweek , Jameson asked to clarify his comments. "Doctors and other qualified healthcare professionals at the providers we've invested in make medical decisions," he said in a statement.)

The typical buyout starts with the acquisition of a big, popular practice, often with multiple doctors and several locations, for as much as $100 million. (Investors typically pay between 9 and 12 times annual profit.) This practice functions as an anchor, like a name-brand department store at a shopping mall, attracting patients and doctors to the new group as it expands. Then comes the roll-up: The private equity firm purchases smaller offices and solo practices, giving the group a regional presence.

As part of the new structure, investors deal with paperwork and save money by buying medical supplies in bulk. Crucially they also negotiate higher insurance reimbursement rates. One dermatologist who sold her practice to the California Skin Institute says she was surprised to find out the bigger group's payouts from insurers were $25 to $125 more per visit.

When individual doctors sell, they generally receive $2 million to $7 million each, with 30% to 40% of that paid in equity in the group. After the acquisition, doctors get a lower salary and are asked to help recruit other doctors to sell their practices or to join as employees.

At first, doctors are generally thrilled by all of this. They have financial security and can focus on treating patients without the stress of running a business. Patients, for the most part, are in the dark. Unlike when your mortgage changes hands, you usually aren't notified when a big investment firm buys your doctor. Sometimes the sign on the door bearing the physician's name stays put, and subtle changes in operations or unfamiliar fees may be the only clues that anything has happened.

Step 2: Growth

The promise of more patients is a big draw for doctors. By sharing marketing costs and adding locations, the new companies can advertise more and attract customers. Private equity-owned practices have been diligent users of social media, announcing newly added doctors and posting coupons on Twitter and Instagram. But these practices can be aggressive in ways that make some doctors uncomfortable.

At Advanced Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery , the largest private equity-backed group in the field, with more than 150 locations across the U.S., that sense of discomfort came shortly after Audax Group bought a controlling stake in what was then a much smaller chain in 2011. The new management team introduced a scorecard that rewarded offices with cash if they met daily and monthly financial goals, according to a lawsuit filed in 2013 against the company by one of its dermatologists. The doctor alleged that the bonus program encouraged staff to do as many procedures as possible, rather than strictly addressing patients' medical needs.

In some of the company's Florida offices, the doctor alleged, medical assistants responded to the bonus structure by ticking extra boxes on exam reports, stating that doctors checked many more areas of the body than they actually had. That led to higher patient bills, defrauding the government under its Medicare program, according to the lawsuit. The federal government declined to join the case, and it was dismissed about a year after it was filed. Advanced and Audax declined to comment.

One-Stop Skin Care

By buying up labs and adding specialists, private equity-owned dermatology groups get paid at every step of a patient's treatment.

Data: Estimated Medicare reimbursement rates for the Miami area, Sensus Healthcare sales presentation

Private equity-backed practices also try to increase revenue by adding more-lucrative procedures, according to doctors interviewed by Businessweek . In dermatology, this means more cosmetics, laser treatments, radiation, and especially Mohs surgeries -- a specialized skin cancer procedure that removes growths from delicate areas like the face and neck one layer at a time, to limit scarring. The surgery involves expensive equipment and specialized doctors, so some large medical groups keep costs down by assembling traveling Mohs teams, who fly in from other states. Others create mobile labs in vans that set up in clinics' parking lots.

Most dermatologists use outside labs and pathologists, but private equity-owned groups buy up existing labs and hire their own pathologists. Then doctors are encouraged to refer patients within the group and send biopsy slides to the company-owned labs, keeping the entire chain of revenue in-house. This takes advantage of a regulatory quirk that has made dermatology, and a handful of other specialties, attractive to private equity. Under the 1989 Stark Law, doctors aren't allowed to make patient referrals for their own financial gain. An exception was made for some fields because it's more convenient for patients, explains Dr. Sailesh Konda, a Mohs surgeon and professor at the University of Florida. "But that can be abused."

Step 3: Synergy

Now comes the cost-cutting. This is supposed to be the hallmark of private equity, and, done right, it can work to the benefit of doctors and patients. But there are pitfalls unique to medicine, where aggressive cuts can lead to problems, some of them merely inconvenient and some potentially dangerous.

A doctor at Advanced Dermatology says that waiting for corporate approvals means his office is routinely left without enough gauze, antiseptic solution, and toilet paper. Even before the great toilet paper shortage of 2020, he would travel with a few rolls in the trunk of his car, to spare patients when an office inevitably ran out. The company declined to comment.

At the country's second-biggest skin-care group, U.S. Dermatology Partners , a former doctor says a regional manager switched to a cheaper brand of needles and sutures without consulting the medical staff. The quality was so poor, she says, they would often break off in her patients' bodies. Mortified, she'd have to dig them out and start over. She complained to managers but couldn't get better supplies, she says. Paul Singh, U.S. Dermatology's CEO, says the company uses a "reputable, global vendor for medical supplies." "While our group may have standardized purchasing processes, individual providers have the autonomy to procure specific supplies that they need for a particular patient situation or patient population," he says in a statement.

Doctors who join a private equity-backed group generally sign contracts that state they'll never have to compromise their medical judgment, but some say that management began to intervene there, too. Dermatologists at most of the companies say they were pushed to see as many as twice the number of patients a day, which made them feel rushed and unable to provide the same quality of care. Others were forced to discuss their cases with managers or medical directors, who asked the doctors to explain why they weren't sending more patients for surgery. Multiple practices also encouraged doctors to send home Mohs surgery patients with open wounds and have them come back the next day for stitches -- or to have a different doctor do the closure the same day -- because that would allow the practice to collect more from insurers.

That's if doctors are performing the procedures at all. At Advanced Dermatology, several doctors say they were asked to claim that physician assistants, or PAs, were under their supervision when they weren't seeing patients in the same building, or even the same town. Because PAs are paid less than dermatologists, this allowed the company to keep costs low while growing the business. In a statement, Eric Hunt, Advanced's general counsel and chief compliance officer says that having PAs on staff enables the company to "provide access to quality dermatological care to more patients."

Step 4. Rolling Up the Roll-Up

Advanced Dermatology was sold in 2016 by Audax to Harvest Partners LP , following a pattern that's typical in the industry. At some point, after costs have been cut and profits maximized, most private equity-owned medical groups will be sold, often to another private equity firm, which will then try to somehow make the company even more profitable.

Having reduced most of the obvious costs, Advanced Dermatology began skimping on more important supplies, including Hylenex, according to doctors and other employees. The drug is an expensive reversal agent used when cosmetic fillers, which are supposed to make skin look plumper, go wrong. Not having enough is dangerous: Patients who get an injection that inadvertently blocks a blood vessel can be left with dead sections of skin or even go blind if they don't get enough Hylenex in a matter of hours. The company says that it stocks Hylenex in every office that performs cosmetic procedures, and that it "has no records of any provider being denied an order for this medication."

Advanced Dermatology also started giving even more authority to PAs, according to doctors and staff. Without enough oversight some were missing deadly skin cancers, they say. Others were doing too many biopsies and cutting out much larger areas of skin than necessary, leaving patients with big scars. Doctors who complained about the bad behavior say they saw PAs moved to other locations rather than fired or given more supervision. Hunt, the company's lawyer, says that all PAs get six months of training and are supervised by experienced doctors.

The staff coined a new medical diagnosis, "pre- pre- pre-cancer"

Advanced Dermatology also put more pressure on doctors to send biopsies to in-house labs. The move made sense financially, but some of the doctors didn't trust the lab. One of its two pathologists in Delray Beach, Fla., Steven Glanz, had a history of misdiagnosing benign tumors, which led patients to undergo surgeries that were later found to be unnecessary, according to doctors who worked with him. Dermatologists who warned that Glanz was a danger to patients say that their complaints to Dr. Matt Leavitt, the group's founder and CEO, were ignored. More procedures, doctors knew, brought in more money.

Glanz, who had been with the practice since its early days, was known to read slides under a microscope with a pistol on his desk. After he was arrested with a handgun, a folding knife, and a vial of methamphetamine crystals, he was fired and Florida's state medical board fined him $10,000, requiring him to complete a five-hour course on ethics before he could resume practicing. But his former colleagues were unsettled; they knew Glanz's signature was on years of reports that determined treatment for patients. Some slides were reevaluated, and pathologists noticed mistakes. Managers told some doctors and their staff that patients, even those who'd been misdiagnosed and had unnecessary procedures, were not to be told. Glanz pleaded guilty to stalking and a firearms violation and was sentenced to probation. When a reporter called his office and identified herself, the receptionist hung up. Further attempts to reach Glanz were unsuccessful. Advanced's Hunt says that he was "formally released from employment three years ago," but did not comment further.

Of course, some doctors pushed ethical boundaries long before private equity came into the picture. But critics of the industry, including doctors and investors, say management teams put in place by private equity firms tend to look the other way as long as a medical practice is profitable. Of the dermatologists with the highest biopsy rates in the country (between 4 and 11 per patient, per year), almost 25% were affiliated with private equity-backed groups, according to Dr. Joseph Francis, a Mohs surgeon and data researcher at the University of Florida.

Medical providers may have also been blurring ethical lines at U.S. Dermatology Partners, which was until recently on its second private equity owner, Abry Partners LLC . At four of the company's offices in Texas, a doctor and his PAs were doing more biopsies than necessary, according to employees. These employees say the staff routinely called patients with benign lichenoid keratosis, small brownish blotches that usually go away on their own, and told them the growths should be removed. Under instruction from the doctor, the staff coined a new medical diagnosis, "pre- pre- pre-cancer," and then talked patients into coming in for removal, employees say. Singh, the U.S. Dermatology CEO, says that the company trusts doctors to make the right decisions and that it monitors them through routine audits.

Step 5: Sell-Off

In some cases the cost-cutting either becomes impossible or leads to compromises in care too obvious to ignore. In 2016 a DermOne LLC office in Irving, Texas, had been using a faulty autoclave machine to sterilize surgical equipment -- the state and county health departments identified 137 patients that needed to get tested for blood-borne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis. By 2018, DermOne's backer, Westwind Investors, wanted out.

Westwind had been one of the earliest firms to build a big dermatology business -- with practices in five states -- but others had grown larger. After the debacle in Irving, the Nevada-based firm sold DermOne's medical records and patient lists, as well as some of its offices, to other groups. It dissolved the remaining offices, leaving some patients abruptly without care. Westwind did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Two other private equity-backed groups, TruDerm and Select Dermatology LLC, have also gone out of business in the past two years.

The surviving chains have been saddled with large piles of debt they're now struggling to repay. In January, U.S. Dermatology Partners defaulted on a $377 million loan, meaning the private equity backer, Abry Partners, had to hand over the keys to its lenders, Golub Capital , Carlyle Group , and Ares Management , which will now oversee a chain with almost 100 locations, receiving 1 million visits from patients a year. Abry did not respond to requests for comment .

For the medical groups that make it, the game plan is to eventually sell to the largest players, such as KKR , Blackstone Group , and Apollo Global Management . Pioneering investors, including Audax, are now buying practices in other fields -- a concerning development to critics who note that the areas that are currently attracting investment, such as urology, generally involve more invasive procedures. Should doctors performing vasectomies be thinking about the dollar-rate returns for KKR -- or any private investor?

"It's ultimately going to backfire," says Dr. Jane Grant-Kels, a veteran dermatologist and professor at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. "There's a limit to how much money you can make when you're sticking knives into human skin for profit."

One paradox of the Covid-19 pandemic has been that even as the virus has focused the entire country on health care, it's been a financial disaster for the industry. And so, while emergency room doctors and nurses care for the sick -- comforting those who would otherwise die alone, and in some cases dying themselves -- private equity-backed staffing companies and hospitals have been cutting pay for ER doctors. These hospitals, like the big medical practices, make a large portion of their money from elective procedures and have been forced into wrenching compromises.

For investors with capital, on the other hand, the economic fallout from the virus is a huge opportunity. Stay-at-home orders have left small practices more financially strained than they've ever been. That will likely accelerate sales to private equity firms, according to Marc Cabrera, an investment banker focused on health-care deals at Oppenheimer & Co. Independent doctors or groups that previously rebuffed offers from deep-pocketed backers "will reconsider their options," he says.

Many doctors may ultimately come to regret cashing out, but it's hard to get out once you're in. As part of an acquisition, the private equity groups typically require doctors to sign yearslong contracts, with noncompete clauses that prevent them from working in the surrounding area.

As governors throughout the nation ease restrictions on businesses, Advanced Dermatology is opening its most profitable offices first. The company received an undisclosed sum under the Cares Act, as part of the government relief package intended for health-care workers. Hunt, Advanced's chief compliance officer, told employees in an email earlier this month that the money would be used for protective gear, such as masks, and to replace "millions of dollars" in lost revenue.

The group had closed most of its offices since the stay-at-home orders were issued in March, cutting pay for doctors and furloughing staff. With cities and states beginning to consider reopening, doctors and PAs say they've been told they should be prepared for a full schedule. Hunt says the company is following the appropriate safety measures, but employees fear it will be nearly impossible to keep patients apart in waiting rooms. Opening in a reduced capacity, they understand, is not an option.

Read more: Private Equity Ate Finance, and Now It's Taking Over the World

[May 24, 2020] Trump's 'Uncreative Destruction' of the U.S.-China Relationship - FPIF by John Feffer

May 20, 2020 | fpif.org

Trump's economic war on China comes in the shadow of an even deadlier military escalation. And it may not stop after November, no matter who wins the election.

Economists like to think of the wreckage caused by stock market downturns, widespread bankruptcies, and corporate downsizing as "creative destruction." As it destroys the old and the dysfunctional, the capitalist system continually spurs innovation, much as a forest fire prepares the ground for new growth.

Or so the representatives of the dismal science argue.

Donald Trump, who is neither economist nor scientist, has his own version of creative destruction. He is determined to destroy the Affordable Care Act and replace it with his own health insurance alternative. He has torn up the Iran nuclear deal in favor of negotiating something brand new with Tehran. He has withdrawn from the Paris climate accord and argues that the United States is reducing carbon emissions in its own superior manner.

The problem, of course, is that Trump is very good at destruction but, despite his previous job as a real estate mogul, exceedingly bad at construction. Indeed, there's abundant evidence that he never intended to replace what he is destroying with anything at all. Trump has never offered any viable alternative to Obamacare or any new negotiating framework with Iran. And prior to the recent economic downturn, U.S. carbon emissions were increasing after several years of decline.

Perhaps the most dangerous example of Trump's uncreative destruction is his approach to China.

Previously, Trump said that he simply wanted to level the playing field by placing trade with China on a fairer and more reciprocal basis, strengthening the regime of intellectual property rights, and stopping Beijing from manipulating its currency.

He was willing to go to great lengths to accomplish this goal. The tariffs that Trump imposed on Chinese products precipitated a trade war that jeopardized the livelihoods of millions of American farmers and workers. The initial trade deal that the United States and China signed in January, even though many of the U.S. tariffs remain in place, was supposed to be the grand alternative to the old and dysfunctional trade relationship.

But here again, Trump is not telling the truth. He and his team have a very different set of objectives. As with so many other elements of his domestic and foreign policy, Trump wants to tear apart the current system -- in this case, the network of economic ties between the United States and China -- and replace it with absolutely nothing at all.

Oh sure, Trump believes that U.S. manufacturers can step up to take the place of Chinese suppliers. More recently, as the administration "turbocharges" its efforts to isolate China in response to its purported pandemic mistakes , it has talked of creating an Economic Prosperity Network of trusted allies like South Korea, Australia, India, and Vietnam. But this is all whistling in the dark, because the administration doesn't really understand the consequences -- for the world economy, for the U.S. economy -- of tearing apart the global supply chain in this way.

Just how poorly Trump understands all this is reflected in his statement last week that "we could cut off the whole relationship" with China and "save $500 billion." This from the president who erroneously believes that China is paying the United States "billions and billions of dollars of tariffs a month." What else do you expect from a man who received a BS in economics from Wharton?

Unlike many of the administration's other policies, however, its hardline approach to China has some bipartisan support. Engagement with China has virtually disappeared as a policy option in the Democratic Party. Joe Biden, the Democrats' presumptive presidential candidate, has attempted to present himself as the tougher alternative when it comes to China, a misguided effort to fend off charges of his bedding down with Beijing.

Finger to the wind, Biden is crafting policies in response not just to Trump but to public opinion. In 2017, 44 percent of Americans had a favorable view of China, compared to 47 percent who held an unfavorable opinion of the country, according to Pew. In this year's survey , only 26 percent looked at China positively versus 66 percent who viewed it negatively. The latter category includes 62 percent of Democrats.

Writing for the Atlantic Council, Michael Greenwald sums up the new conventional wisdom of the centrists:

The United States can no longer remain content with the notion of a Chinese economic threat arising in the distant future. The advent of COVID-19 has made it more apparent than any other time including the US-China trade war that now is the moment for the United States, European Union, and other like-minded countries to diversify supply chains away from China.

That's what makes Trump's uncreative destruction vis a vis China so dangerous. It may not stop after November, no matter who wins the election.

The Great Disentanglement

China's economic shutdown at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic disrupted many global supply chains, prompting a number of countries and corporations to accelerate their strategy of reducing their dependency on China for components.

Rising labor costs in China, concerns over human rights abuses there, but especially the trade war between Washington and Beijing had contributed to the U.S. fashion industry and tech firms like Apple rethinking their own supply chains. Japan, heavily dependent on Chinese trade, is using $2 billion in economic stimulus funds to subsidize the move of Japanese firms out of China.

The Trump administration is thus swimming with the current in its effort to isolate China. It has imposed sanctions because of China's violations of Uyghur human rights. It has levied penalties against China for its cooperation with Iranian firms. And it has threatened to add another set of tariffs on top of the existing ones for China's handling of the coronavirus.

Its latest initiative has been to tighten the screws on the Chinese technology firm, Huawei. Last week, the administration announced sanctions against any firms using U.S.-made equipment that supply the Chinese tech giant. The chief victim of these new restrictions will be the Taiwanese firm TSMC, which supplies 90 percent of Huawei's smartphone chips.

In other words, the Trump administration is committed not only to severing U.S. economic connections with China. It wants to put as much pressure on other countries as well to disentangle themselves from Chinese manufacturing. Taiwan, of course, has no particular love for Mainland China. It battles Beijing on a daily basis to get international recognition -- from other countries and from global organizations like the World Health Organization.

But the Taiwanese economy is also heavily dependent on its cross-strait neighbor. As Eleanor Albert points out :

China is Taiwa n's largest trading partner, accounting for nearly 30 percent of the island's total trade, and trade between the two reached $150.5 billion in 2018 (up from $35 billion in 1999). China and Taiwan have also agreed to allow banks, insurers, and other financial service providers to work in both market s.

And it probably won't be Huawei but Taiwan that suffers from the U.S. move. As Michael Reilly notes , "Huawei's size in the global market means its Taiwanese suppliers cannot easily find an alternative customer of comparable standing to replace it." China, meanwhile, will either find another source of chips outside the U.S. sphere, or it will do what the United States has been threatening to do: bring production of critical components back closer to home.

Another key player in the containment of China is India. Trump's friendship with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a right-wing Hindu nationalist, is more than simply an ideological affection. Trump sealed a $3 billion in military sales deal with India in February, with a trade deal still on the horizon.

Modi, in turn, is hoping to be the biggest beneficiary of the falling out between Washington and Beijing. "The government in April reached out to more than 1,000 companies in the U.S. and through overseas missions to offer incentives for manufacturers seeking to move out of China," reports Bloomberg . "India is prioritizing medical equipment suppliers, food processing units, textiles, leather, and auto part makers among more than 550 products covered in the discussions."

Vietnam is another regional competitor that the United States is supporting in its containment strategy. With only a couple hundred reported coronavirus cases and zero deaths, Vietnam is poised to emerge from the current crisis virtually unscathed. With low labor costs and an authoritarian government that can enforce deals, it is already a favored alternative for corporations looking for alternatives to China. But wildcat strikes have been happening in greater numbers in the country, and the Vietnamese government recently approved the country's first independent trade union.

Yet with a more technologically sophisticated infrastructure, China will continue to look more attractive to investors than India or Vietnam.

Don't Count Out China

If your image of the Chinese economy is stuck in the 1980s -- cheap toys and mass-produced baubles -- then you probably think that severing economic ties with the country is no big deal. America can produce its own plastic junk, right?

But China is no longer hurrying to catch up to the West. In some ways, the West is already in China's rearview mirror.

Huawei is well-known for the part it's playing in the rollout of 5G networks worldwide. China is not only ahead of the curve in upgrading to 5G domestically, it is busy manufacturing all the new tech that will run on these high-speed networks, like virtual reality and augmented reality and AI-driven devices.

Perhaps more to the point, China is not simply part of the global supply chain. It is using these new technologies to revolutionize the global supply chain.

For instance, it's using 3-D modeling to shorten product development. It has long integrated drones into its distribution networks. "Chinese supply chain companies are incorporating groundbreaking technologies like cloud-based systems, data analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI) and using them to redesign supply chain operations," writes Adina-Laura Achim.

And don't discount the role of a well-financed, centralized, authoritarian government. The Trump administration is, frankly, at a huge disadvantage when it tries to pressure companies to relocate their operations. Writes Manisha Mirchandani:

The global technology and consumer electronics sectors are especially reliant on China's infrastructure and specialized labor pool, neither of which will be easy to replicate. The Chinese government is already mobilizing resources to convince producers of China's unique merits as a manufacturing location. Zhengzhou, within Henan Province, has appointed officials to support Apple's partner Foxconn in mitigating the disruptions caused by the coronavirus, while the Ministry of Finance is increasing credit support to the manufacturing sector. Further, the Chinese government is likely to channel stimulus efforts to develop the country's high-tech manufacturing infrastructure, moving away from its low-value manufacturing base and accelerating its vision for a technology-driven services economy.

The Trump administration is playing the short game, trying to use tariffs and anti-Chinese sentiment to hobble a rising power. China, on the other hand, is playing the long game, translating its trade surpluses into structural advantages in a fast-evolving global economy.

Will the Conflict Turn Hot?

Despite the economic ravages of the pandemic, the Pentagon continues to demand the lion's share of the U.S. budget. It wants another $705 billion for 2021, after increasing its budget by 20 percent between 2016 and 2020.

This appalling waste of government resources has already caused long-term damage to the economic competitiveness of the United States. But it's all the money the Pentagon is spending on "deterring China" that might prove more devastating in the short term.

The U.S. Navy announced this month that it was sending its entire forward-deployed sub fleet on "contingency response operations" as a warning to China. Last month, the U.S. Navy Expeditionary Strike Group sailed into the South China Sea to support Malaysia's oil exploration in an area that China claims. Aside from the reality that oil exploration makes no economic sense at a time of record low oil prices, the United States should be helping the countries bordering the South China Sea come to a fair resolution of their disputes, not throwing more armaments at the problem.

There's also heightened risk of confrontation in the Taiwan Strait, the East China Sea, and even in outer space . A huge portion of the Pentagon's budget goes toward preparing for war with China -- and, frankly, provoking war as well.

What does this all have to do with the Great Disentanglement?

The close economic ties between the United States and China have always represented a significant constraint on military confrontation. Surely the two countries would not risk grievous economic harm by coming to blows. Economic cooperation also provides multiple channels for resolving conflicts and communicating discontent. The United States and Soviet Union never had that kind of buffer.

If the Great Disentanglement goes forward, however, then the two countries have less to lose economically in a military confrontation. Trading partners, of course, sometimes go to war with one another. But as the data demonstrates , more trade generally translates into less war.

There are lots and lots of problems in the U.S.-China economic relationship. But they pale in comparison to World War III. Share this:

John Feffer is the director of Foreign Policy In Focus.

Issues: Labor, Trade, & Finance , War & Peace

Regions: Asia & Pacific , China , India , North America , United States , Vietnam

Tags: 5G , Donald Trump , global supply chain , globalization , great disentanglement , huawei , Joe Biden , tariffs , trade war , U.S. military spending

Sign up for updates Get the latest from FPIF in your inbox.

Subscribe More

View more in North America :

Related Topics Donald Trump Terrorism military spending World Bank oil immigration climate change Refugees United Nations Vladimir Putin development diplomacy Military Intervention austerity Iraq Mexico taliban syrian civil war NATO Russia Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/likebox.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fpages%2FForeign-Policy-In-Focus%2F126648970682757&width=292&height=258&show_faces=true&colorscheme=light&stream=false&show_border=false&header=false&appId=229260323752355 Related Posts

Foreign Policy In Focus - A project of the Institute for Policy Studies
Content under a Creative Commons Attribution licence

[May 23, 2020] China is still in great danger: it is still greatly dependent on the West to development and still is a developing country.

May 23, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , May 22 2020 21:02 utc | 27

China is still in great danger. Of the existing 30 or so high-tech productive chains, China only enjoys superiority at 2 or 3 (see 6:48). It is still greatly dependent on the West to development and still is a developing country.

So, yes, the West still has a realistic chance of destroying China and inaugurating a new cycle of capitalist prosperity.

What happens with the "decoupling"/"Pivot to Asia" is that, in the West, there's a scatological theory [go to 10th paragraph] - of Keynesian origin - that socialism can only play "catch up" with capitalism, but never surpass it when a "toyotist phase" of technological innovation comes (this is obviously based on the USSR's case). This theory states that, if there's innovation in socialism, it is residual and by accident, and that only in capitalism is significant technological advancement possible. From this, they posit that, if China is blocked out of Western IP, it will soon "go back to its place" - which is probably to Brazil or India level.

If China will be able to get out of the "Toyotist Trap" that destroyed the USSR, only time will tell. Regardless, decoupling is clearly not working, and China is not showing any signs so far of slowing down. Hence Trump is now embracing a more direct approach.

As for the USA, I've put my big picture opinion about it some days ago, so I won't repeat myself. Here, it suffices to say that, yes, I believe the USA can continue to survive as an empire - even if, worst case scenario, in a "byzantine" form. To its favor, it has: 1) the third largest world population 2) huge territory, with excellent proportion of high-quality arable land (35%), that basically guarantees food security indefinitely (for comparison, the USSR only had 10% of arable land, and of worse quality) 3) two coasts, to the two main Oceans (Pacific and Atlantic), plus a direct exit to the Arctic (Alaska and, de facto, Greenland and Canada) 4) excellent, very defensive territory, protected by both oceans (sea-to-sea), bordered only by two very feeble neighbors (Mexico and Canada) that can be easily absorbed if the situation asks to 4) still the financial superpower 5) still a robust "real" economy - specially if compared to the micro-nations of Western Europe and East-Asia 6) a big fucking Navy, which gives it thalassocratic power.

I don't see the USA losing its territorial integrity anytime soon. There are separatist movements in places like Texas and, more recently, the Western Coast. Most of them exist only for fiscal reasons and are not taken seriously by anyone else. The Star-and-Stripes is still a very strong ideal to the average American, and nobody takes the idea of territory loss for real. If that happens, though, it would change my equation on the survival of the American Empire completely.

As for Hong Kong. I watched a video by the chief of the PLA last year (unfortunately, I watched it on Twitter and don't have the link with me anymore). He was very clear: Hong Kong does not present an existential threat to China. The greatest existential threat to China are, by far, Xinjiang and Tibet, followed by Taiwan and the South China Sea. Hong Kong is a distant fourth place.

Those liberal clowns were never close.


Jen , May 22 2020 21:55 utc | 32

VK @ 28:

One problem with your scenario is that the US navy may be over-extended in parts of the world where all the enemy has to do is to cut off supply lines to battleship groups and then those ships would be completely helpless. US warships in the Persian Gulf with the Strait of Hormuz sealed off by Iran come to mind.

Incidents involving US naval ship collisions with slow-moving oil tankers in SE Asian waters and some other parts of of the the world, resulting in the loss of sailors, hardly instill the notion that the US is a mighty thalassocratic force.

It's my understanding also that Russia, China and maybe some other countries have invested hugely in long-range missiles capable of hitting US coastal cities and areas where the bulk of the US population lives.

And if long-range missiles don't put paid to the notion that projecting power through sending naval warships all over the planet works, maybe the fact that many of these ships are sitting ducks for COVID-19 infection clusters might, where the US public is concerned.

vk , May 22 2020 22:16 utc | 33
@ Posted by: Jen | May 22 2020 21:55 utc | 33

I agree the new anti-ship missile technology may have changed the rules of naval warfare.

However, it's important to highlight that, contrary to the US Army, the USN has a stellar record. It fought wonderfully against the Japanese Empire in 1941-1945, and successfully converted both the Pacific and the Atlantic into "American lakes" for the next 75 years. All the Americans have nowadays it owes its Navy.

But you may be right. Maybe the USN is also susceptible to degeneration.

Richard Steven Hack , May 22 2020 23:51 utc | 38
Posted by: vk | May 22 2020 21:02 utc | 28

Of the existing 30 or so high-tech productive chains, China only enjoys superiority at 2 or 3 (see 6:48). It is still greatly dependent on the West to development and still is a developing country.

Based on what I've read, China is on a fast track to develop technology on their own. In addition, technology development is world-wide these days. What China can not develop itself - quickly enough, time is the only real problem - it can buy with its economic power.

"if China is blocked out of Western IP, it will soon "go back to its place" - which is probably to Brazil or India level."

Ah, but that's where hackers come in. China can *not* be blocked out of Western IP. First, as I said, China can *buy* it. Unless there is a general prohibition across the entire Western world, and by extension sanctions against any other nation from selling to China - which is an unenforceable policy, as Iran has shown - China can buy what it doesn't have and then reverse-engineer it. Russia will sell it if no one else will.

Second, China can continue to simply acquire technology through industrial espionage. Every country and every industry engages in this sort of thing. Ever watch the movie "Duplicity"? That shit actually happens. I read about industrial espionage years ago and it's only gotten fancier since the old days of paper files. I would be happy to breach any US or EU industrial sector and sell what I find to the Chinese, the Malaysians or anyone else interested. It's called "leveling the playing field" and that is advantageous for everyone. If the US industrial sector employees can't keep up, that's their problem. No one is guaranteed a job for life - and shouldn't be.

"1) the third largest world population"

Which is mostly engaged in unproductive activities like finance, law, etc. I've read that if you visit the main US universities teaching science and technology, who are the students? Chinese. Indians. Not Americans. Americans only want to "make money" in law and finance, not "make things."

"2) huge territory, with excellent proportion of high-quality arable land (35%), that basically guarantees food security indefinitely"

In military terms, given current military technology, territory doesn't matter. China has enough nuclear missiles to destroy the 50 Major Metropolitan Areas in this country. Losing 100-200 millions citizens kinda puts a damper on US productivity. Losing the same number in China merely means more for the rest.

"3) two coasts, to the two main Oceans (Pacific and Atlantic)"

Which submarines can make irrelevant. Good for economic matters - *if* your economy can continue competing. China has one coast - but its Belt and Road Initiative gives it economic clout on the back-end and the front-end. I don't see the US successfully countering that Initiative.

"4) excellent, very defensive territory, protected by both oceans (sea-to-sea)"

Which only means the US can't be "invaded". That's WWI and WWII thinking the US is mired in. Today, you destroy an opponent's military and, if necessary, his civilian population, or at least its ability to "project" force against you. You don't "invade" unless it's some weak Third World country. And if the US can't "project" its power via its navy or air force, having a lot of territory doesn't mean much. This is where Russia is right now. Very defensible but limited in force projection (but getting better fast.) The problem for the US is China and Russia are developing military technology that can prevent US force projection around *their* borders.

"bordered only by two very feeble neighbors (Mexico and Canada) that can be easily absorbed if the situation asks"

LOL I can just see the US "absorbing" Mexico. Canada, maybe - they're allies anyway. Mexico, not so much. You want a "quagmire", send the US troops to take on the Mexican drug gangs. They aren't Pancho Villa.

"4) still the financial superpower"

Uhm, what part of "Depression" did you miss? And even if that doesn't happen now, continued financial success is unlikely. Like pandemics, shit happens in economics and monetary policy.

"a big fucking Navy, which gives it thalassocratic power."

That can be sunk in a heartbeat and is virtually a colossal money pit with limited strategic value given current military technology which both China and Russia are as advanced as the US is, if not more so. Plus China is developing its own navy quickly. I read somewhere a description of one Chinese naval shipyard. There were several advanced destroyers being developed. Then the article noted that China has several more large shipyards. That Chinese long coast comes in handy for that sort of thing.

China Now Has More Warships Than the U.S.
But sometimes quantity doesn't trump quality. [My note: But sometimes it does.]
https://tinyurl.com/y7numhef

That's just the first article I found, from a crappy source. There are better analyses, of course.

"I don't see the USA losing its territorial integrity anytime soon. There are separatist movements in places like Texas and, more recently, the Western Coast. Most of them exist only for fiscal reasons and are not taken seriously by anyone else."

I'd agree with that. I hear this "California secession" crap periodically and never believe it. However, for state politicians, the notion of being "President" of your own country versus a "Governor" probably is tempting to these morons. State populations are frequently idiots as well, as the current lockdown response is demonstrating. All in all, though, if there are perceived external military threats, that is likely to make the states prefer to remain under US central control.

[May 23, 2020] HK is protected against US tarrifs imposed on China goods. China exports a good chunk of goods through HK. If Trump were really serious he would remove HK's protected status.

May 23, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Kay Fabe , May 23 2020 0:09 utc | 42

"Britain had to agree to the pact because it had lost the capability to defend the colony.".."

That was the excuse. I believe HK was offered to China in return for Deng to open up and turn China capitalist. Deng was not the one who
demanded HK return. Britain initiated the discussions. Deng gladly accepted although he insisted on maintaining their authoritarian form of undemocratic government and left HK's fate ambiguous so Britain could get support from their people and the HK elite. The party elites were happy to be able to join the Western Elites in accumulating an unequal share of the wealth. The Soviet elites led by the US Globalist puppet Gorbachev chose the same path although they chose Fake Democracy and rule of the oligarchs as in the US rather than party control of China

HK is protected against US tarrifs imposed on China goods. China exports a good chunk of goods through HK. If Trump were really serious he would remove HK's protected status.

vk , May 23 2020 0:30 utc | 47

@ Posted by: Kay Fabe | May 23 2020 0:09 utc | 42

The timing doesn't add up. China opened up in 1972 (the famous Nixon-Mao handshake), while the UK's agreement to give HK back was from 1984 - well into the Thatcher Era.

The most likely reason for the UK to decide to obey the lease deal was of military nature: the valuable land necessary to defend HK was the flatland adjacent to the city proper, where potable water comes from. It already part of the Mainland, thus rendering the defense of HK virtually impossible without an outright invasion of the Mainland itself.

Margaret Thatcher probably didn't want to obey the treaty (99-year lease), as a good neoliberal she was, but her military advisors probably warned her of the practical difficulties, and, since it was a 99-year lease anyway, she must've agreed to simply allow the treaty to be followed.

It is important to highlight that, in 1984, there were a lot of reasons the capitalist world should be optimist about China becoming capitalist. After all, it really got off the Soviet sphere after 1972, and Deng's reforms were - from the point of view of a vulgar (bourgeois) economist - indeed a clear path to a capitalist restoration. It didn't cross Thatcher's mind that China could stand its ground and remain socialist - at least not in 1984. If you read the sources of the time, you will easily see the Western elites treated China's return to capitalism as a given.

[May 23, 2020] China is still in great danger. Of the existing 30 or so high-tech productive chains, China only enjoys superiority at 2 or 3

Highly recommended!
May 23, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , May 22 2020 21:02 utc | 28

China is still in great danger. Of the existing 30 or so high-tech productive chains, China only enjoys superiority at 2 or 3 (see 6:48).

It is still greatly dependent on the West to development and still is a developing country.

So, yes, the West still has a realistic chance of destroying China and inaugurating a new cycle of capitalist prosperity.

What happens with the "decoupling"/"Pivot to Asia" is that, in the West, there's a scatological theory [go to 10th paragraph] - of Keynesian origin - that socialism can only play "catch up" with capitalism, but never surpass it when a "toyotist phase" of technological innovation comes (this is obviously based on the USSR's case). This theory states that, if there's innovation in socialism, it is residual and by accident, and that only in capitalism is significant technological advancement possible. From this, they posit that, if China is blocked out of Western IP, it will soon "go back to its place" - which is probably to Brazil or India level.

If China will be able to get out of the "Toyotist Trap" that destroyed the USSR, only time will tell. Regardless, decoupling is clearly not working, and China is not showing any signs so far of slowing down. Hence Trump is now embracing a more direct approach.

As for the USA, I've put my big picture opinion about it some days ago, so I won't repeat myself. Here, it suffices to say that, yes, I believe the USA can continue to survive as an empire - even if, worst case scenario, in a "byzantine" form. To its favor, it has: 1) the third largest world population 2) huge territory, with excellent proportion of high-quality arable land (35%), that basically guarantees food security indefinitely (for comparison, the USSR only had 10% of arable land, and of worse quality) 3) two coasts, to the two main Oceans (Pacific and Atlantic), plus a direct exit to the Arctic (Alaska and, de facto, Greenland and Canada) 4) excellent, very defensive territory, protected by both oceans (sea-to-sea), bordered only by two very feeble neighbors (Mexico and Canada) that can be easily absorbed if the situation asks to 4) still the financial superpower 5) still a robust "real" economy - specially if compared to the micro-nations of Western Europe and East-Asia 6) a big fucking Navy, which gives it thalassocratic power.

I don't see the USA losing its territorial integrity anytime soon. There are separatist movements in places like Texas and, more recently, the Western Coast. Most of them exist only for fiscal reasons and are not taken seriously by anyone else. The Star-and-Stripes is still a very strong ideal to the average American, and nobody takes the idea of territory loss for real. If that happens, though, it would change my equation on the survival of the American Empire completely.

As for Hong Kong. I watched a video by the chief of the PLA last year (unfortunately, I watched it on Twitter and don't have the link with me anymore). He was very clear: Hong Kong does not present an existential threat to China. The greatest existential threat to China are, by far, Xinjiang and Tibet, followed by Taiwan and the South China Sea. Hong Kong is a distant fourth place.

Those liberal clowns were never close.

[May 22, 2020] They Saw This Day Coming - Huawei Forges Alliances With Rival Chipmakers As Washington's Crackdown Intensifies

May 22, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

"They Saw This Day Coming" - Huawei Forges Alliances With Rival Chipmakers As Washington's Crackdown Intensifies by Tyler Durden Fri, 05/22/2020 - 18:05 The US Commerce Department's latest move to block companies from selling products to Huawei that were created with American technology, equipment or software has undoubtedly hurt the Chinese telecoms giant. But it won't be nearly enough to take it down.

Since Washington launched its campaign against Huawei two years ago (when the trade tensions between the US and China started to heat up, as President Trump started slapping more tariffs on foreign goods) the company has been strengthening ties with contract chipmakers in Taiwan and elsewhere, while ramping up its own microchip-technology arm, known as HiSilicon Technologies.

On Friday, Nikkei reported that Huawei had initiated conversations with other mobile chipmakers to try and figure out where it might source certain essential components for its handsets (remember, Huawei is the second-largest cellphone maker by sales volume) and other products.

Of course, the crackdown cuts both ways, as several American companies relied heavily on Huawei's business (they can still apply for licenses to continue selling to Huawei...so long as Commerce approves).

As we reported earlier this week , it's not just American chipmakers that are distancing themselves from Huawei: some Taiwan-based chipmakers are also dropping the telecoms giant for fear of being targeted by Treasury sanctions, including TSMC, the world's largest contract chipmaker.

Now, Huawei is reportedly in talks with MediaTek, the world's second-largest contract chip producer.

Huawei Technologies is seeking help from rival mobile-chip makers to withstand a U.S. clampdown aimed at crippling the Chinese company, sources familiar with the matter told the Nikkei Asian Review.

Huawei is in talks with MediaTek, the world's second-largest mobile chip developer after Qualcomm of the U.S., and UNISOC, China's second-largest mobile chip designer after Huawei's HiSilicon Technologies unit, to buy more chips as alternatives to keep its consumer electronics business afloat, the sources said.

To work with a contract chipmaker, Huawei would still need to design its own chips. Over the past two years, Huawei has expanded its team of engineers working on chip design to more than 10,000, Nikkei said.

To be sure, MediaTek already makes low- and medium-end chips for Huawei, evidence that the company, which was founded by a veteran of China's PLA, and purportedly maintains strong links to the Chinese military, has been bracing for the other shoe to drop. MediaTek, meanwhile, is still trying to figure out if it can meet Huawei's latest bid.

"Huawei has foreseen this day coming. It started to allocate more mid- to low-end mobile chip projects to MediaTek last year amid its de-Americanization efforts," one of the sources said. "Huawei has also become one of the key clients for the Taiwanese mobile chip developer's mid-end 5G mobile chip for this year."

MediaTek is evaluating whether it has sufficient human resources to fully support Huawei's aggressive bid, as the Chinese company is asking for volume 300% above its usual procurement in the past few years, another source familiar with the talks said.

The situation has also created an opportunity for small Chinese chipmakers (working, we imagine, mostly with technology stolen from American and Taiwanese companies) to expand.

Huawei also seeks to deepen its collaboration with UNISOC, a Beijing-backed mobile chip developer that relies mostly on smaller device makers as customers and mainly supports entry-level products and devices for emerging markets. Previously, Huawei used only very few UNISOC chips for its low-end smartphone and tablet offerings, sources said.

"The new procurement deals would be a great boost to help UNISOC further upgrade its chip design capability," said a chip industry executive. "In the past, UNISOC was struggling quite a bit, because it could not really secure big contracts with global leading smartphone makers as these top smartphone makers could find better offerings elsewhere. This time could be an opportunity that it could really seek to match the international standard."

UNISOC last year accelerated its 5G chip development to catch up with Qualcomm and MediaTek, Nikkei has reported. More recently, the company received 4.5 billion yuan ($630 million) from China's national integrated circuit fund, the so-called Big Fund.

UNISOC is preparing to list on the Shanghai STAR tech board, the Chinese version of Nasdaq, later this year. Qualcomm has needed a license from the U.S. Department of Commerce to supply Huawei since mid-May of 2019.

Huawei has already expanded production of in-house mobile processors for its smartphone business to 75%, up from 69% in 2018 and 45% in 2016, according to to data from GF Securities cited by Nikkei. Huawei shipped 240 million smartphones in 2019. And with China now throwing caution to the wind and cracking down on Hong Kong, we wouldn't be surprised to see more Huawei drama in the headlines next week, with serious market repercussions for the US semiconductor industry.

[May 21, 2020] Pompeo Lays Out the Case For Cold War II With China by Matthew Petti

That will be an interesting chess party. The USA moved way to many plants to Chine to get out of this conflict without major losses
Notable quotes:
"... Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slammed China as “hostile to free nations,” portraying Beijing as fundamentally opposed to the United States, on Wednesday. ..."
"... But the Secretary of State pointed to deeper issues in the relationship, claiming that “the nature of the regime is not new.” “For several decades, we thought the regime would become more like us through trade, scientific exchanges, diplomatic outreach, letting them in the [World Trade Organization] as a developing nation,” he said. “That didn’t happen.” ..."
May 20, 2020 | nationalinterest.org

'The regime is ideologically and politically hostile to free nations.'

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slammed China as “hostile to free nations,” portraying Beijing as fundamentally opposed to the United States, on Wednesday.

Tensions between the United States and China have reached a fever pitch during the coronavirus pandemic. Pompeo’s speech at a Wednesday morning press conference laid out a vision of a global clash between two fundamentally different societies.

“China’s been ruled by a brutal, authoritarian regime, a communist regime since 1949,” he said. “We greatly underestimated the degree to which Beijing is ideologically and politically hostile to free nations. The whole world is waking up to that fact.”

He added that a focus on the coronavirus pandemic “risks missing the bigger picture of the challenge that’s presented by the Chinese Communist Party.”

The pandemic has accelerated U.S.-China tensions.

Last week, a Chinese Communist Party news threatened sanctions against U.S. lawmakers for attempting to sue the Chinese government for the pandemic, and U.S. law enforcement accused Chinese hackers of cyberattacks against U.S. researchers.

But the Secretary of State pointed to deeper issues in the relationship, claiming that “the nature of the regime is not new.” “For several decades, we thought the regime would become more like us through trade, scientific exchanges, diplomatic outreach, letting them in the [World Trade Organization] as a developing nation,” he said. “That didn’t happen.”

Pompeo accused the World Health Organization’s director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of “unusually close ties to Beijing” that “started long before this current pandemic.”

The Trump administration has accused China of covering up information about the novel coronavirus—even implying that the virus emerged from a lab accident in Wuhan, China—and pointed the finger at the World Health Organization for aiding China’s coverup.

The Secretary of State slammed the public health group for excluding Taiwan in his Wednesday speech, touching on a sensitive topic for Beijing.

Taiwan, an island that was once ruled by China, has ruled itself since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1950. Beijing considers the island a breakaway Chinese province that must be reunited with the mainland, while Taiwan’s ruling Pan-Green Alliance leans towards independence.

“The democratic process in Taiwan has matured into a model for the world,” Pompeo said, congratulating President Tsai Ing-wen on her re-election. “Despite great pressure from the outside, Taiwan has demonstrated the wisdom of giving people a voice and a choice.”

But he shied away from changing U..S. policy towards Taiwan..

Pompeo said that work that “comports with the history of the agreements between the United States and China is the right solution to maximize the stability there in the straits.”

The United States acknowledged the Chinese position that “there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China” as part of a 1979 joint communique with Beijing, and does not officially recognize Taiwan as a state, but maintains close informal ties with the Taiwanese government and opposes attempts to change the island’s government by force.

“The President talked about how we’re going to respond [to China], how he’s beginning to think about responding to the calamity that has befallen the world as a result of the actions of the Chinese Communist Party,” Pompeo said. “I don’t want to get ahead of him in terms of talking about how the administration will respond to that, but you can already begin to see the outlines of it.”

Matthew Petti is a national security reporter at the National Interest. Follow him on Twitter: @matthew_petti. This article initially stated that the United States “recognized that ‘there is but one China and Taiwan is a part of China’ in a 1979 joint communique.” The communique actually states that the United States “acknowledges” this as the Chinese position. The article has been updated to more correctly reflect the communique. Image: Reuters.

[May 20, 2020] Washington wants to prevent Russia and China supplanting US interests but The China-US relationship is the most important bilateral relationship in the world and involves huge interests of the two countries, as well as the rest of the world. Therefore, it is not something Trump can cut off emotionally

Notable quotes:
"... The Chinese will not start a shooting war and the US has no guts for one. Its industry has been hollowed out not just by outsourcing but by corruption as well. The campaign of demonization against China is very obvious, how far it is working I have no way of telling. Among the 5-eyes probably quite well, in the rest of the World rather less well, I would imagine. Notably, the British economy has been hollowed out in exactly the same manner as the US's. Canada's, Australia's, NewZealand's? Could they, would they support a war? ..."
"... Right now, China is leading the vaccine race and has developed an antibody treatment for Covid-19 that should be ready this year. ..."
"... Interesting article by Escobar. If one cares to notice, this anti-China cold war is a neocon based aggression. The primary movers of it are mostly neocons or the sorts who follow the neocon lead. ..."
"... "Again! Trump is talking nonsense." Trump seems to be losing his mind right now. Even he has such crazy ideas of cutting ties with China, US politicians, businessmen and Americans would not allow him to do so, Xin Qiang, deputy director of the Center for US Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times. ..."
"... Jin Canrong, the associate dean of Renmin University of China's School of International Studies in Beijing, told the Global Times on Thursday that Trump made very irresponsible and emotional remarks in the interview. ..."
"... "For Trump, fantasy is power; bluffing is power, so he might use the future of his country to gamble with China. Although China always believes cooperation is the only right choice for the two countries to solve the problems together, if the US unilaterally and irrationally chooses all-out confrontation, China also needs to be prepared." ..."
May 20, 2020 | www.unz.com

peter mcloughlin , says: Show Comment May 19, 2020 at 6:02 pm GMT

Washington wants to prevent Russia and China supplanting US interests. Moscow and Beijing pursue what they see as their own legitimate interests. What we face is not a "hybrid" war or "New Cold War" but a world war.
https://www.ghostsofhistory.wordpress.com/
foolisholdman , says: Show Comment May 19, 2020 at 8:09 pm GMT
@peter mcloughlin

What we face is not a "hybrid" war or "New Cold War" but a world war.

Honestly, I don't see it. My reasoning is simple, maybe too simple. The Chinese will not start a shooting war and the US has no guts for one. Its industry has been hollowed out not just by outsourcing but by corruption as well. The campaign of demonization against China is very obvious, how far it is working I have no way of telling. Among the 5-eyes probably quite well, in the rest of the World rather less well, I would imagine. Notably, the British economy has been hollowed out in exactly the same manner as the US's. Canada's, Australia's, NewZealand's? Could they, would they support a war?

The other reason I think a shooting war is less likely than might appear, is that the the MIC is doing so well with the current cold war; that it would seem stupid to allow the massive disruption and uncertainty that a shooting war would cause to interrupt the torrent of cash being shoveled its way at the moment.

d dan , says: Show Comment May 19, 2020 at 8:34 pm GMT
"Hard landing" vs "Well and alive". Who wins?

source: comment #313 by Godfree Roberts
https://www.unz.com/article/objections-to-an-independent-investigation-of-china/

[Hide MORE]
1990. China's economy has come to a halt. The Economist
1996. China's economy will face a hard landing. The Economist
1998. China's economy's dangerous period of sluggish growth. The Economist
1999. Likelihood of a hard landing for the Chinese economy. Bank of Canada
2000. China currency move nails hard landing risk coffin. Chicago Tribune
2001. A hard landing in China. Wilbanks, Smith & Thomas
2002. China Seeks a Soft Economic Landing. Westchester University
2003. Banking crisis imperils China. New York Times
2004. The great fall of China? The Economist
2005. The Risk of a Hard Landing in China. Nouriel Roubini
2006. Can China Achieve a Soft Landing? International Economy
2007. Can China avoid a hard landing? TIME
2008. Hard Landing In China? Forbes
2009. China's hard landing. China must find a way to recover. Fortune
2010: Hard landing coming in China. Nouriel Roubini
2011: Chinese Hard Landing Closer Than You Think. Business Insider
2012: Economic News from China: Hard Landing. American Interest
2013: A Hard Landing In China. Zero Hedge
2014. A hard landing in China. CNBC
2015. Congratulations, You Got Yourself A Chinese Hard Landing. Forbes
2016. Hard landing looms for China. The Economist
2017. Is China's Economy Going To Crash? National Interest
2018. China's Coming Financial Meltdown. The Daily Reckoning.
2019 China's Economic Slowdown: How worried should we be? BBC
2020. Coronavirus Could End China's Decades-Long Economic Growth Streak. NY Times

=========

source: b
https://www.moonofalabama.org/2020/05/this-illusion-is-alive-and-well.html#more

Godfree Roberts , says: Website Show Comment May 19, 2020 at 11:26 pm GMT
Chinese strategists like Liu He publicly acknowledge that epidemics can catalyze geopolitical changes.

Right now, China is leading the vaccine race and has developed an antibody treatment for Covid-19 that should be ready this year.

If development is successful and if it donates the cure to the world as Xi promised and if WHO's investigation shows China is not the source of the virus, and if China's economy is firing on all cylinders in November, it's game over: 3-0 China.

I put the odds of that conjunction at 2:1.

FB , says: Website Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 4:28 am GMT
@d dan LOLOLOL

You gotta love these headline fails I mean how is it even possible to be so spectacularly WRONG about everything time after time after time ?

Folks if you want to know why the US is screwed, it's because the same kind of geniuses that write these headlines are in charge of EVERYTHING

One day these people will be studied by psychologists dealing with MASSIVE DELUSION

anon [161] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 4:39 am GMT
@Godfree Roberts Do you have any odds on Trump v. Biden?
vot tak , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 4:54 am GMT
Interesting article by Escobar. If one cares to notice, this anti-China cold war is a neocon based aggression. The primary movers of it are mostly neocons or the sorts who follow the neocon lead. China is one country the zionazi-gays have not been able to dominate. Coupled with China's economic rise and appeal to developing countries, these zionazi oligarchs are going apeshit trying to bring China down. In addition to other articles referenced in the article, see also this Global Time report:

Chinese ridicule Trump's China 'cut-off' threat

https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1188437.shtml

"Americans will suffer

[MORE]
"Again! Trump is talking nonsense." Trump seems to be losing his mind right now. Even he has such crazy ideas of cutting ties with China, US politicians, businessmen and Americans would not allow him to do so, Xin Qiang, deputy director of the Center for US Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times.

He noted that Trump is bluffing and acting tough toward China to win more support. Fox News, which has been regarded as Trump's defender and is notorious for a lack of professionalism, is also making eye-catching news to draw attention.

Jin Canrong, the associate dean of Renmin University of China's School of International Studies in Beijing, told the Global Times on Thursday that Trump made very irresponsible and emotional remarks in the interview.

"The China-US relationship is the most important bilateral relationship in the world and involves huge interests of the two countries, as well as the rest of the world. Therefore, it is not something he can cut off emotionally," Jin said.

"If the US unilaterally cuts off ties, the American people will pay a heavier price than us, because China's domestic market is huge and 75-80 percent of Chinese manufacturers are supplying China's market, and the 2 to 5 percent that supply the US can also be absorbed by the domestic market," he noted.

China has nothing to be afraid of as "in the past, we didn't solve the Taiwan question because we wanted to maintain the China-US relationship, and if the US unilaterally cuts it off, we can just reunify Taiwan immediately since the Chinese mainland has an overwhelming advantage to solve this long-standing problem."

"Trump is like a giant baby on the brink of a meltdown as he faces tremendous pressure due to massive failures that caused such a high death toll," Shen Yi, an expert from Fudan University, told the Global Times. "It's like someone who wants to show his guts when he passes by a cemetery in midnight. He needs to shout to give himself the courage," he said.

Shen also noted that the American companies and industries would suffer the most severe consequences, because the supply chain has been integrated with China.

"The Chinese public would only take such bluffing as a joke," Shen said, adding that there has been no US president in the history who has made such a ridiculous statement against China, not even during the Cold War.

Yuan Zheng, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), said he could not even remember any US leader who took a similar action. "His flip-flop rhetoric is unprecedented, but we need to take a look at whether Trump will take real action," he said, noting that there is no need to pay attention to claims that are unrealistic and meaningless.

"For Trump, fantasy is power; bluffing is power, so he might use the future of his country to gamble with China. Although China always believes cooperation is the only right choice for the two countries to solve the problems together, if the US unilaterally and irrationally chooses all-out confrontation, China also needs to be prepared."

Change that Matters , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 5:11 am GMT
@Godfree Roberts China's economy won't be firing on all cylinders by November, but the important parts of it will be. The manufacturers I talk to have weathered the worst of it, and their order books for Q4 are more or less back to what they were in January (or at least healthy enough to prevent soft skill losses). Many are upbeat about the future. (Not all of them will survive, and the ones that die probably should have done so years ago.)

Compare this to the rest of Asia (Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Cambodia, Myanmar, and others): they are a mess. Bangladesh put all its eggs in the huge volume low quality basket and will now pay a fatal price. Pakistan was dead before corona, and is now in a manufacturing death spiral. India has the capacity to succeed, but is hamstrung by a caste-based barbarism that has jettisoned all pretense of decency by throwing migrant workers in the informal economy to their deaths. This will not be forgotten and I predict years of trouble. The others only have a manufacturing sector because the Chinese moved their factories there. Vietnam has some chance, and should be a big winner as China moves out of low- to middle-end manufacturing.

Countries in South America have lost their opportunity. China passed them by years ago. It's a tragedy, but they really have themselves to blame for it. And Africa, the last frontier, is already dominated by China (15 years ago I'd bump into Chinese businessmen who'd ship a 40-foot container of – 'insert any product you can think of' – to some back of beyond place in Africa and refuse to come home until everything was sold). They've moved up the ladder since then. Ethiopia, the fastest-growing economy on the continent, is essentially an industrial zone for Chinese manufacturing.

Australia has become a mine/farm for China. New Zealand and Canada likewise, and a nice place to send your teenagers to get educated and perhaps for retirement.

The EU, led by Germany, will be back on track soon. The winners here should be the former USSR countries, with low labor costs and strong soft skills. With EU companies wanting to bring the supply chain closer to home, this is their moment. If they screw it up, they will spend another 30 years wondering what went wrong. I hope they won't, but if you spend any time working with these people you know they often fail at the final hurdle (as though on purpose – the psychology of self-destruction is their Achilles heel).

It's China's game to lose. And quite frankly, at this point, I don't see how. This has been in the making since the late 70s. Perhaps earlier. I admire them for their intelligence, their work ethic, their organizational capacity, their can-do spirit, and – yes – their creativity (if you think China is Japan in the 60s, you need to spend some serious time with younger Chinese in China).

The Chinese problem is, of course, its culture of responsibility avoidance. But even with this issue, they are on track for a knockout victory. Most people in the West have no idea what going on, which is exactly how You Know Who likes it.

I have no intention of letting my tribe be overrun by Chinese. But I have enough experience to know they're smarter than my tribe, and it would be a wise thing to start thinking more strategically and tactically about how to carve out a space in a new world most people are unable to imagine (which is less than 10 years away).

Weston Waroda , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 5:19 am GMT
@Godfree Roberts

The center of gravity of global economic power keeps moving, inexorably, toward Asia.

it's game over

While the U.S. spent recent decades policing the world in pointless wars, China was about the business of building an infrastructure in which all roads lead to Beijing, railroad cars and boatloads of wealth. Just keep it coming, folks. Those roads and railroads and shipping are linking nothing less than Eurasia, Sir Halford's World Island. It took this coronavirus to show the imperial subjects that the Empire is naked and that China had already surpassed it economically several years ago. It seems like it really is game over. I'm sad in a way, but I would rather have a normal country than a hegemon; that is, if normalcy is still a possibility.

Bronze Age Persecutor , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 5:35 am GMT
What about the biggest hybrid war going on since centuries ago: jews (including crypto-jews, hybrids and minions) versus everybody else?
The chinese had the full cooperation of diaspora jews (and their sayanim network) and israelis. Specially the Chabad Lubavich.
Miro23 , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 6:09 am GMT
From the referenced Global Times article, the US attack on Huawei (with its 5G leadership + NSA proof encryption ) is at the heart of the story:

Based on Global Times sources, if the US further pinches Chinese telecommunication giant Huawei by blocking companies such as TSMC from providing chips to the company, China will carry out countermeasures, such as including certain US companies into its list of "unreliable entities," imposing restrictions on or investigating US companies such as Qualcomm, Cisco and Apple, and suspending purchases of Boeing aircraft.

The US would lose this fight. Apple for example manufactures in China with only a small percentage of the sales price staying in China. If Apple manufacturing is shut down then Apple is the big loser. They're already trying to move manufacturing to India but that's not going to work.

We must be clear that coping with US suppression will be the key focus of China's national strategy. We should enhance cooperation with most countries. The US is expected to contain China's international frontlines, and we must knock out this US plot and make China-US rivalry a process of US self-isolation.

China has plenty of alternative markets. US corporations mostly only sell to the US using (now very sophisticated) Chinese manufacturing. Take this away, and Apple for example, have no alternative supplier for the volumes, quality, sub-contractor network and export infrastructure required.

General Qiao dismisses the possibility that Vietnam, the Philippines, Bangladesh, India and other Asian nations may replace China's cheap workforce: "Think about which of these countries has more skilled workers than China. What quantity of medium and high level human resources was produced in China in these past 30 years? Which country is educating over 100 million students at secondary and university levels? The energy of all these people is still far from being liberated for China's economic development."

True.

This will imply a concerted offensive, trying to enforce embargoes and trying to block regional markets to Chinese companies. Lawfare will be the norm. Even freezing Chinese assets in the US is not a far-fetched proposition anymore.

If the US steals the $ trillions China has invested in US treasuries, then the US dollar also forfeits its claim to be the world reserve currency (safe place to hold international trade balances).

Still, scores of nations are being asked, bluntly, by the hegemon to position themselves once again in a "you're with us or against us" global war on terror imperative.

9/11 was fakery pumped up by the MSM to target Iraq/Iran and Covid-19 is more of the same – this time targeting China. European states are getting tired of this game. For example they were all dragged into supporting the Venezuela CIA coup that fizzled, and are now trying to disentangle from it.

General Qiao counsels, "Don't think that only territorial sovereignty is linked to the fundamental interests of a nation. Other kinds of sovereignty – economic, financial, defense, food, resources, biological and cultural sovereignty – are all linked to the interests and survival of nations and are components of national sovereignty."

If the US public look carefully at General Qiao's list they will realize that they have already lost more than 50% of these sovereignties.

Anon [392] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 6:10 am GMT
" General Qiao dismisses the possibility .. India and other Asian nations may replace China's c: "Think about which of these countries has more skilled "

Everyday US. news are amplifying the bipartisan chorus against China . India is begging for favors from USA while serenading USA with reinforcing American position.

India is stealing land from Nepal and Indian media thinks that ultranationalist of Nepal are to blame for questioning Indian stance .

China is under a real threat of concerted attacks by the US 's opportunistic vassals. There will be a seismic change affecting the alliances and the future .
Can China persuade Nepal Bangladesh Pakistan Sri Lanka Afghanistan Iran and Myanmar to work together and persuade them move out of India's hegemony ?.

Natt , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 6:42 am GMT
Nice fluff piece. China is fucked. Demographically, economically and militarily.
Carlos22 , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 7:06 am GMT
They are probably looking past Trump as they think he may not get back in.

Nov is just a few months away.

The question is what will the democrats do?

Not that I particularly want that of course.

carlusjr , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 7:48 am GMT
It's always astounding to read a geopolitical analysis by a journalist who completely ignores the climate pollution crisis with it's impending effects overhanging every strategy any state may envision to dominate the planet. It's as if the writer lives in an imaginary world devoid of nature, along with his supposed expert sources and well placed powerful state movers and shakers. This is delusional. China's cheap forced labor, making more crap for the planet's shrinking population of affluent consumers, competing with other countries with equally desperate workers. Countries competing to build the most dangerous bio-weapons in their unsafe, leaky level 4 labs. All the while the atmosphere is being polluted to the point of melting all the ice on the planet, the air is being degraded to the point of being disgusting to see and carcinogenic to breath, the fresh water supply is being depleted and polluted, the oceans degraded into radioactive chemical cesspools (soon to be a brown sludge inhabited by only bacteria, viruses and fungus), the land ceded with thousands of chemicals that have no purpose other than to kill. The existential threshold is within a few years. The geopolitical strategy of the US and China can be summarized as a strategy to kill all sentient life on the planet in order to have a some sort of imaginary strategic dominance. It is mass psychosis.
Biff , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 7:58 am GMT
@anon

Do you have any odds on Trump v. Biden?

I've got 2 to 1 odds the voting machines will be electing Biden. They got this far didn't they?

paranoid goy , says: Website Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 8:13 am GMT
@foolisholdman Old man, don't be foolish, they all hate us human scum, and will gladly go to war, are at war. Remember how, in Catch 22, the opposing sides eventually saved a crap load of money by geting Milo de Milo to bomb their own airfields using his supply planes? Its already happening, us plebs are just in the way. In the end, the Protocols calls for one government ruling what's left of mankind "with an iron staff." I cannot tell you (yet) what Zion's hold on Beijing is, but be assured, "bring on the war" is the swill of Zion being lapped up by little globalist piggies trying to get to the trough.
People think 'hybrid warfare" is some kind of technological term. Zion chooses its words very carefully, and your first defence is your dictionary. The USAGE of words change with time, the MEANING is constant. Now let's go find them hybrids, before Bill Gates can create enough microcephalics to man his man/machine interfaced battle 'droids armed with depleted uranium bullets and virally-delivered vaccines.
paranoid goy , says: Website Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 8:28 am GMT
@carlusjr Pollution sure is an important issue, one of the most important of our time, yes. The subject matter at hand though, is mostly military, with economics as a condiment to explain the sour taste. China might be the one manufacturing plastic turds, but it is the so-called western media that is teaching your children the dire need to own the latest version of plastic poop. China would not bother with plastic poop, but you voted for people who decided China makes the best poo at the lowest cost and highest profit. Don't blame China for taking advantage of YOUR leadership's desire to disown YOU and hand your habitat over to those who "know how to make a profit" from your suffering, while dangling a piece of plastic poop in front of you, calling it ambition, and deplatforming you if you refuse their offer of improved turdiness.
But yah, now we know you hate pollution. Soon we will close down all the factories, and ban all cars, and only those on "official business" will be alowed on aeroplanes, and then you can breathe freely, as you stand in line, so the Special Agents can see if you have the Bill Gates vaccine licence to visit the plastic poop and soylent green depository that we used to call a supermarket.
Buzz Mohawk , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 9:04 am GMT

A toxic racism-meets-anti-communism matrix is responsible for the predominant anti-Chinese sentiment across the US, encompassing at least 66% of the whole population.

No it isn't.

A hint of what is responsible is this from the same article:

"They have state of the art technology, but not the methods and production capacity. So they have to rely on Chinese production."

Our jobs, our industry, our hard-earned intellectual property, and our money have all gone to China. Our own leaders of industry and government are to blame for our predicament, but our anger at China is the result.

Funny this from the Chinese General Qiao:

"as a producing country, we still cannot satisfy our manufacturing industry with our own resources and rely on our own markets to consume our products."

No kidding, General. Your country built itself up by selling to us! We made you into our own rival. Thanks are in order, but instead you plot to weaken us.

Tor597 , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 9:10 am GMT
Just wanted to point out the excellent concept of cultural sovereignty as something that is akin to territorial sovereignty.

Both are needed, but cultural sovereignty is ever more important to inoculate your citizens against globe homo.

Half-Jap , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 9:14 am GMT
@Godfree Roberts Sounds like a man who has no understanding of the science regarding the matter, but so doesn't most of the world. Vaccine? Anti-body treatment? Does anybody know what they are and how they work (or doesn't) or mean? From those tests to those invasive ventilators, it shows me how people can easily be herded towards slaughter, for their safety, ofc, because "science." And just over a mild cold no less.
So much for China's brilliance; they are as dumb or brainwashed by 'accepted science' as the next moronic authority figure.
But exploiting the situation, that's something else that should be appreciated.
anon [232] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 9:17 am GMT
@Godfree Roberts

China is leading

Godfree, we will bury you and your beloved CCP.

Wood Stove , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 9:42 am GMT
@carlusjr Ok Karen
Adûnâi , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 9:45 am GMT

This will be China's contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries." The Global South is paying attention.

Do the underdeveloped (hate the PC term "developing") countries even want a vaccine? They have too many people anyway, any moderate dying will be an advantage to their societies. And another point is that the anti-vaxxer movement there might be on the rise, just as it is in America – remember how the Philippines government was watching a conspiracy video about evil Bill Gates? I have talked to anti-vaxxer people in my Ukrainian university!

"Containment" will go into overdrive. A neat example is Admiral Philip Davidson – head of the Indo-Pacific Command – asking for $20 billion for a "robust military cordon" from California to Japan and down the Pacific Rim, complete with "highly survivable, precision-strike networks" along the Pacific Rim and "forward-based, rotational joint forces" to counteract the "renewed threat we face from great power competition."

My prediction is the US goes into a civil war > the liberals start losing > the liberals invite the Chinese into California > the Chinese exterminate all Americans and get a large Lebensraum in the East.

Anon [397]