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A Shuffle of Aluminum, but to Banks, Pure Gold

Posted on July 21st, 2013 at 13:35 by John Sinteur in category: Robber Barons

[Quote]:

Hundreds of millions of times a day, thirsty Americans open a can of soda, beer or juice. And every time they do it, they pay a fraction of a penny more because of a shrewd maneuver by Goldman Sachs and other financial players that ultimately costs consumers billions of dollars.


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Comments:

  1. Break em up, Re-impose Glass Steagall, off with the robber barons heads, and while I am dreaming, organize mass protests against the supreme court until the Citizens United is repealed. After that, enact strict anti lobbying laws.

  2. Crikey, Mykolas! What would we have left to complain about after that? :-)

Interview: HSBC Swiss Bank Whistleblower Herve Falciani on Tax Evasion

Posted on July 16th, 2013 at 22:53 by John Sinteur in category: Robber Barons

[Quote]:

SPIEGEL: Still, authorities in Spain and France have convicted a number of prominent tax evaders based on the data you gave them.

Falciani: That’s true, but so far not even 1 percent of the information I supplied has been analyzed, because the authorities are only interested in client names. But this information can also be used to expose the system banks have installed to make tax evasion and money laundering possible. For me, it has always been about calling attention to the banks’ behavior, after I failed to change it from inside.

SPIEGEL: The bank denies you ever pointed out problems from inside.

Falciani: I did, but to no avail. Most Swiss banks do have a whistleblower program, but they use it to punish those who avail themselves of it.

SPIEGEL: Did you also offer your information to German authorities?

Falciani: Three years ago, I offered my help and made direct contact through my lawyer.

SPIEGEL: And?

Falciani: Nothing happened.

SPIEGEL: Why was that?

Falciani: I ask myself the same question. We’re talking about a total of 127,000 clients and over 300,000 accounts.


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The Ruling That Could Change Everything For Disabled People With Million-Dollar Trusts

Posted on July 15th, 2013 at 19:16 by John Sinteur in category: Robber Barons

[Quote]:

When Judge Kristen Booth Glen walked into her Manhattan Surrogate’s courtroom one day in 2007, she had no idea she was about to challenge the nation’s top banks on behalf of tens of thousands of disabled people.

Before her stood lawyer Harvey J. Platt, who was petitioning to become the legal guardian of Mark Christopher Holman, a severely autistic teen who lived in an institution upstate.

Holman had been left an orphan nearly three years earlier after the eccentric millionaire who adopted him passed away. According to doctors, he had the communication skills of a toddler, unable to bathe, dress, or eat by himself.

But before Judge Glen would grant this seemingly perfunctory petition, she had a few questions for Platt.

“How often have you visited Mark Holman?” she asked the lawyer.

“Since his mother died, I have not visited him,” said Platt.

“And when you say you haven’t visited him since then, how often had you visited him prior to that?”

“I haven’t seen him since he was eight or nine,” responded the lawyer. “His mother used to bring him to our office with his brother, just to show him my face and so forth and so on, so I haven’t seen him probably since 1995 or 1996.”

It was around that time that Platt helped Mark’s mother, Marie Holman, draft her will and create trusts for him and his older brother. A decade later, when she was dying, Platt promised Marie he’d apply to become Mark’s guardian.

“And have you visited the institution which he currently resides in?” Glen asked.

“No, I intend to, but I have not as yet,” Platt said, sounding weary. “I don’t think even a visit has much significance anyway. He’s totally nonverbal—he’s never spoken a word. He’s potentially aggressive.”

This didn’t sit well with Judge Glen. When it came to signing away the rights of disabled people to guardians, she was perhaps the most cautious judge in New York. But what came next would floor her.

Platt informed her that Mark’s trust had reached nearly $3 million. But while his trustees—Platt and JP Morgan Chase—had collected thousands of dollars in commissions, they hadn’t spent a penny on Mark. Medicaid covered his basic care at the institution upstate, but neither the lawyer nor the bank had considered how his mammoth trust might further aid his quality of life.


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Comments:

  1. This posting seems to be missing an end tag or something. It’s breaking the page!

  2. fixed, thx!

If You Put $250 in a Chase “Savings Account,” You’ll Get 12.5 Cents in Yearly Interest — And Maybe Charged $4 a Month

Posted on July 13th, 2013 at 14:25 by John Sinteur in category: Robber Barons

[Quote]:

If you are a working stiff and can squirrel away $250 to put in a Chase “savings account,” Chase will pay you 12.5 cents a year (.05% APY at a “standard rate”). Furthermore, if you don’t make any transactions, they will charge you $4 a month, meaning that you will be left with $202 at the end of a year, plus your 2.5 cents.


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Can we tame the banks?

Posted on July 10th, 2013 at 21:19 by John Sinteur in category: Robber Barons

[Quote]:

As Andrew Haldane, director of stability at the Bank of England, put it in a historical overview a few years ago, ‘there is one key difference between the situation today and that in the Middle Ages. Then, the biggest risk to the banks was from the sovereign. Today, perhaps the biggest risk to the sovereign comes from the banks. Causality has reversed.’ Yes, it has: and the sovereign at risk is us. The reason for that is that in the UK bank assets are 492 per cent of GDP. In plain English, our banks are five times bigger than our entire economy. (When the Icelandic and Cypriot banking systems collapsed the respective figures were 880 and 700 per cent.) We know from the events of 2008 and subsequently that the financial sector, indeed the whole world economy, is in an inherently unstable condition. Put the size together with the instability, and we are facing a danger that is no less real for not being on the front page this exact second. This has to be fixed, and it has to be fixed soon, and nothing about fixing it is easy.

[..]

In the UK, the government has spent magic money on QE to the tune of £375 billion, 23.8 per cent of our GDP. An amount equal to a quarter of our entire annual economic activity has therefore been willed into being in an attempt to stimulate the economy. If they’d just given the money directly to the public, perhaps in the form of time-limited, UK-only spending vouchers, it would have amounted to just under £6,000 for everyone, man, woman or child, in the country. Can anyone doubt that the stimulus effect of that would have been much bigger?

But you can’t trust little people with all that money, can you? Giving banks money is the only way out of our mess, right? The trouble with just giving people money is that they’ll go out and buy things with it, effectively wasting it on foolish nonsense like food, and housing.


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Tougher capital rules proposed for 8 largest U.S. banks

Posted on July 10th, 2013 at 19:30 by John Sinteur in category: Robber Barons

[Quote]:

The nation’s eight largest banks would have to meet tougher financial ratios than required under international standards as part of proposed rules designed to protect taxpayers from another financial crisis.

Under the plan, Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., Wells Fargo & Co. and four other U.S. bank holding companies designated as “systemically important financial institutions” would each have to hold capital equal to at least 5% of total assets.

In addition, their federally insured bank subsidiaries, such as Citibank and Chase bank, would have to hold capital equal to at least 6% of assets, according to the proposed rules.

Other U.S. banks and bank holding companies have to meet only a 3% leverage ratio under rules adopted by regulators as part of an international agreement known as Basel 3.

Michael Milken (of junk-bond infamy) once said:

[Quote]:

“When I was on Wall Street, we rarely had more than 1:1 leverage, and the highest I recall in my career was 4:1. The idea of leveraging 30:1 or more, as many financial institutions did recently, is not a business.”

When the guy responsible for a market meltdown based largely on not being able to cover losses tells you your leverage is off, it might be a good idea to listen.


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Daily CEO Pay Now Exceeds the Average Worker’s Annual Salary

Posted on July 6th, 2013 at 21:08 by John Sinteur in category: Robber Barons

[Quote]:

In 1965, the average CEO made 20 times the average worker. Now the ratio is 273 to 1, meaning the average CEO makes in a day what their workers make in a year.


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Jeff Olson Found ‘Not Guilty’ Of Vandalism For Anti-Bank Chalk Messages

Posted on July 2nd, 2013 at 20:41 by Paul Jay in category: Robber Barons

[Quote]:

Jeff Olson was found not guilty of vandalism today after writing anti-bank messages about Bank of America on public sidewalks in water-soluble chalk last year.

Olson was charged with 13 counts of vandalism and faced 15 years in jail, plus $13,000 in fines.

Olson had written the anti-bank messages in front of three Bank of America buildings in San Diego, California.

Darrell Freeman, Vice President of Bank of America’s Global Corporate Security, pushed San Diego authorities to prosecute Olson for writing messages such as: “No thanks, big banks” and “Shame on Bank of America.”

San Diego Deputy City Attorney Paige Hazard was in communication with Bank of America, assuring the multinational corporation that Olson would be charged.

As reported by the San Diego Reader, Judge Howard Shore banned Olson’s lawyer from mentioning the “First Amendment.”

Despite that highly-questionable ruling, the jury still voted “not guilty” in Olson’s case, notesNBC San Diego.

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner had called the prosecution of Olson by San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith “a stupid case,” reported the Los Angeles Times.


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Comments:

  1. I guess the US will have to revoke their free trade agreement.

  2. Stupid indeed. A bank employee with a watering can could have saved all this trouble.

  3. Sue, you do know tort reform was only for the 99%.

  4. That’s OK, the Streisand Effect is for the rest…

  5. So the bank, angry that someone said that they weren’t nice, had the State Attorney prosecute the guy for telling the world that they weren’t nice?

    It would seem that banks are fully capable of informing the public that (without any help from others) they are money-grubbing, untrustworthy trolls with the warmth & compassion of an anal cyst. And no-one else is allowed to elbow in on spreading that message, the banks can do it all by themselves…

EU charges 13 banks, ISDA, Markit with breaching EU antitrust rules

Posted on July 2nd, 2013 at 15:07 by John Sinteur in category: Robber Barons

[Quote]:

Financial data company Markit, the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) and 13 banks were charged with blocking two exchanges from entering the credit derivatives market in the last decade in breach of European Union (EU) antitrust rules.

The European Commission said the group, which included Goldman Sachs and UBS, shut out Deutsche Boerse and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange from the Credit default swaps (CDS) business between 2006 and 2009.

CDS are over-the-counter contracts that allow an investor to bet on whether a company or country will default on its bonds within a fixed period of time. Lack of transparency on such derivatives is a key target of regulators following the 2007-2009 crisis.

The case is one of several opened by the EU antitrust regulator into the financial services since the crisis. Banks and other companies involved could be fined up to 10% of their global turnover if found guilty of infringing EU rules.


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Setback for Hollande’s transparency drive

Posted on June 27th, 2013 at 15:17 by Sueyourdeveloper in category: News, Robber Barons

Quote

French politicians have diluted President Francois Hollande’s plans to make politicians declare their wealth in a transparency drive. They have also backed harsh penalties for journalists who publish the information.

After the resignation of a budget minister over a secret Swiss bank account, Hollande’s government drafted a bill in April to force politicians to declare their assets and income to an independent authority.

However, members of the National Assembly, the lower house of France’s parliament, who worried about their privacy, including Hollande’s own Socialist Party, voted on Tuesday in favour of an amended version of the bill.

The new version would only provide the information to people who specifically requested it.

Besides, it would ban publication of the details: any reporter who publishes the information would be subject to a jail sentence of one year and could pay a fine of 45,000 euros ($58,000).

They are so worried about their privacy poor lambs. Off with their heads!


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Wall Street is winning the long war against post-crash regulation

Posted on June 17th, 2013 at 9:47 by John Sinteur in category: Robber Barons

[Quote]:

US banks needed bailouts. The German banks needed bailouts. European banks needed bailouts. Lawsuits funneled through the courts on two continents. We’re still living the consequences. 

All of which is to say, the financial system is global. There are no such things as borders in the world of finance; it’s an integrated whole. A fellow sitting in an office in Hamburg or London is as likely to change our financial world as the guy sitting in a trading room on Wall Street.

That’s why it’s so baffling that the House of Representatives came down, this week, on the side of ignoring abuses of US-made derivatives – known as swaps – as soon as they’re wired overseas. These swaps were at the heart of the London Whale trading debacle, which lost $6bn for JP Morgan Chase. The bank was otherwise sound, and survived the stupid move easily. But not every bank is JP Morgan, and the next stupid swap deal could come at a cost to taxpayers if another bank needs a bailout or government support.

The House voted overwhelmingly to let the measure – labeled the London Whale Loophole Act by critics – pass. It’s one of several measures that the House has taken to weaken oversight of derivatives; the other two will come up for debate soon.

It will surprise no cynic that there is a financial connection between the members of Congress who approve these measures and the industry they are supposed to regulate.


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Comments:

  1. There are many things that can go wrong as a consequence of large scale financial disruption. Stronger regulation would rein in the horses; the danger is that we’ll end up in such bad circumstances that we’ll then agree to shoot the horses.

Big banks lose 2.4m customers in protest against scandals

Posted on June 15th, 2013 at 13:19 by John Sinteur in category: Robber Barons

[Quote]:

An estimated 2.4 million customers quit the UK’s five biggest banks in 2012 as people “voted with their feet” in response to a string of scandals, according to latest figures.

The Move Your Money UK campaign and website, which issued the figures, said they showed a “mass movement” away from the big banking groups: Lloyds, Royal Bank of Scotland/NatWest, Barclays, HSBC and Santander.

Laura Willoughby, Move Your Money chief executive, said: “The constant slew of scandals last year has opened the floodgates, and people are beginning to realise they don’t have to put up with the arrogance of the big banks.”


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Woman sues McDonald’s franchisee for payroll debit

Posted on June 15th, 2013 at 12:50 by John Sinteur in category: Robber Barons

[Quote]:

She spent her days serving up Happy Meals, but when it came time to get paid, Natalie Gunshannon says a local McDonald’s franchisee gave her an unhappy deal.

The Shavertown McDonald’s forces workers to be paid only one way: with a payroll debit card that burdens workers with hefty fees to obtain their hard-earned cash, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday on behalf of Ms. Gunshannon and other McDonald’s workers.

[..]

The J.P. Morgan Chase payroll card carries fees for nearly every type of transaction, according to the lawsuit, including a $1.50 charge for ATM withdrawals, $5 for over-the-counter cash withdrawals, $1 to check the balance, 75 cents per online bill payment and $10 per month if the card is left inactive for more than three months.


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Comments:

  1. Just when I thought that I’d heard every kind of exploitation of low-pay workers, some bright spark comes up with a wheeze like this…I wonder what kick-back is given by JPMC to the McD franchise to do this? Corrupt practices corporatized…

  2. This has been going on for at least 10 years. I know because I used to work for a company that started offering this option. At the time I wondered who would be so stupid as to choose this option. Well now I know. The people that choose this option, choose it because they have no other option. Since the banksters own the US Congress, this will have to be fought at the state and local level. Companies should be forced to either pay the fees to extract the workers pay or offer them a paycheck (or direct deposit.) But good luck Amerika, your government is under control of corporations who have more money to spend on the politicians than do you as individuals.

Bank’s Lobbyists Help in Drafting Financial Bills

Posted on May 24th, 2013 at 15:20 by John Sinteur in category: Robber Barons

[Quote]:

Bank lobbyists are not leaving it to lawmakers to draft legislation that softens financial regulations. Instead, the lobbyists are helping to write it themselves.

One bill that sailed through the House Financial Services Committee this month — over the objections of the Treasury Department — was essentially Citigroup’s, according to e-mails reviewed by The New York Times. The bill would exempt broad swathes of trades from new regulation.

[..]

The bank chief also delivered something of a pep talk.

“America has the widest, deepest and most transparent capital markets in the world,” he said. “Washington has been dealt a good hand.”

And the public has been dealt a good hand job.


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Comments:

  1. Anyone who thinks that the U.S. is a democracy is either mentally incompetent or simply delusional

  2. I’m getting OFPS (Onion-false-positive syndrome).

  3. No, a good hand job is enjoyable. Bankers put on sandpaper gloves when they “help a buddy out.”

  4. From the linked article: ““I won’t dispute for one second the problems of a system that demands immense amount of fund-raisers by its legislators,” said Representative Jim Himes, a third-term Democrat of Connecticut, who supported the recent industry-backed bills and leads the party’s fund-raising effort in the House. A member of the Financial Services Committee and a former banker at Goldman Sachs, he is one of the top recipients of Wall Street donations. “It’s appalling, it’s disgusting, it’s wasteful and it opens the possibility of conflicts of interest and corruption. It’s unfortunately the world we live in.””

The slow-going process of compensating victims of housing violations

Posted on May 20th, 2013 at 16:02 by John Sinteur in category: Robber Barons

[Quote]:

Banks have paid less than half the $5.7 billion in cash owed to troubled homeowners under nearly 30 settlements brokered by the government since 2008, delaying help to the millions of victims of discrimination and shoddy lending that epitomized the housing crisis, according to a Washington Post analysis of government data.

[..]

But in order to determine how much each borrower was owed, the banks planned to review each foreclosure one by one. After 12 months, no homeowners had received a dime. But the eight consultants managing the process on behalf of the banks were paid nearly $2 billion.


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12-year old girl explains world debt

Posted on May 12th, 2013 at 18:09 by John Sinteur in category: Robber Barons


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Comments:

  1. Yes, the emperor has no clothes!

  2. And this kid should be then next Treasury Minister of Canada – she obviously has a better appreciation of the issues than those currently in charge!

  3. @Spaceman: Quite a number of “those currently in charge” are Goldman Sachs alumni and such. I don’t think they misunderstand…

  4. Their pay depends on them misunderstanding, so you can be pretty sure they misunderstand very well!

  5. And at the end a 6 year old raised her hand and asked why in the 12 year old’s scheme the government has to bother to pay interest to the Bank of Canada as its just taken from taxes. Just print the money and be done with it!

  6. @Desiato — In other words, why not take a page from the Ben Bernanke play book.

The Rich Have Gained $5.6 Trillion in the ‘Recovery,’ While the Rest of Us Have Lost $669 Billion

Posted on May 5th, 2013 at 1:02 by John Sinteur in category: Robber Barons

[Quote]:

Oh, are we getting ripped off. And now we’ve got the data to prove it. From 2009 to 2011, the richest 8 million families (the top 7%) on average saw their wealth rise from $1.7 million to $2.5 million each. Meanwhile the rest of us –  the bottom 93% (that’s 111 million families) — suffered on average a decline of $6,000 each.

Do the math and you’ll discover that the top 7% gained a whopping $5.6 trillion in net worth (assets minus liabilities) while the rest of lost $669 billion. Their wealth went up by 28% while ours went down by 4 percent.

It’s as if the entire economic recovery is going into the pockets of the rich. And that’s no accident.


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Comments:

  1. The middle are getting squeezed, the poor are being crushed…and the rich have a private jet.

  2. Off with their heads!

When a million isn’t enough

Posted on May 3rd, 2013 at 16:33 by John Sinteur in category: Boo hoo poor you, Robber Barons

[Quote]:

In theory, a seven figure annual pay packet should be more than enough to live on. In the UK, only the top 1% of income taxpayers earn anything more than £150k according to figures from the Office of National Statistics. In the US, the top 1% of people earn more than $370k according to the Internal Revenue Service. And yet, some bankers in the top bracket are having money troubles.

“It’s really not that unusual to find Wall Street bankers who are close to declaring themselves bankrupt,” said Gary Goldstein, co-founder of U.S. search firm Whitney Partners. “Some people are really struggling.”

Claims that bankers are having problems making ends meet won’t do much to ingratiate them to the public. At last week’s Barclays Annual General Meeting, Joan Woolard, a pensioner from the north of England berated Barclays for overpaying its bankers. Anyone who wanted more than £1m ($1.5m) a year was simply a “greedy b*stard,” said Woolard.

For some people working in financial services, however, £1m is simply what’s needed to cover the cost of living.

“You get a lot of people who have a very expensive lifestyle,” said Louise Cooper, a former Goldman Sachs salesperson and financial analyst at Cooper City. “They will always have a nanny, private schools for the children and they will have a very big expensive house. All of this has to be paid for out of taxable income,” she points out. “With a top tax rate of 45%, this means that you need to be earning nearly double what you’re spending.”


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Comments:

  1. I think Ms. Woolard is going to make a fine tricoteuse. And I’ve got some nice wool. Might knit some of those Firefly hats or something…

  2. I thought you were supposed to budget your expenses to meet your income, not demand an income to justify your costs. I could definitely get used to having a modestly sized mansion, a nanny, a maid, private schools for the children I don’t have yet… I wonder if my boss will give me a raise if I start spending more.

Robert Reich (A Story for May Day: The Fed, Apple, and Trickle-Down Economics)

Posted on May 3rd, 2013 at 14:10 by John Sinteur in category: Apple, Robber Barons

[Quote]:

It would be one thing if Apple and other giant companies were borrowing in order to expand operations and create new jobs. But that’s not what’s going on. Apple, remember, is still sitting on $145 billion.

The reason big companies aren’t creating more jobs is consumers aren’t buying enough to justify the expansion. And government is cutting back on spending.

Big corporations are borrowing simply in order to push stock prices up and reward their investors.

It’s a sump pump with the Fed on one end buying up bonds to keep interest rates low, and shareholders on the other end raking in the returns.

Get it? Easy money from the Fed can’t get the economy out of first gear when the rest of government is in reverse.

Trickle-down economics is the first cousin of austerity economics. Austerity is nuts when so many millions are out of work. And as we’ve learned before, trickle-down is a fraud. Nothing ever trickles down.


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Check Out Who’s Hiding $32 Trillion in Offshore Accounts

Posted on May 1st, 2013 at 22:32 by John Sinteur in category: Robber Barons

[Quote]:

More than two million emails that shed light on the biggest tax dodge in history – trillions of dollars hidden in offshore accounts – have been uncovered by the British newspaper The Guardian and the Washington, D.C.-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

Some $32 trillion has been hidden in small island banking hubs which host a bevy of trust funds, shell corporations and other tax havens, the Tax Justice Network estimates.

[..]

Let that sink in for a moment. The implications are stupefying. The real effects of this are far more subtle, and pernicious, but this makes for a fun thought exercise – even setting aside the fact that only some percentage of this huge sum would fairly be taken as tax revenue.

The “CIA World Factbook” estimates the nominal Gross World Product is $71.83 trillion as of 2012. If you shine a light on that $32 trillion, and put it back on the books, the entire planet’s total product jumps by more than 44%. Every country on Earth would get a $163.2 billion windfall. High-speed rail and space programs for everyone!

If all $32 trillion was added to government coffers, that would be enough to give every man, woman and child alive on Earth today a roughly $4,600 “stimulus” check.

Maybe we could all enjoy a two-week vacation in the British Virgin Islands. After all, it seems to be the destination of choice for monied types…


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Comments:

  1. Hey John, just curious… when record labels make it unattractive to buy music by putting high prices and DRM on it, you say that it’s OK to download music until they change their business model and make it more attractive to buy music. So when countries make it painful to do your taxes and the tax rates are high, it’s OK to move your money somewhere else, right, until the tax regime becomes more attractive?

  2. Also, the idea that when you “shine a light” on that $32 trillion, you can suddenly confiscate it all seems a bit bizarre. How so? The assumption is that it was illegitimately obtained? (I’m sure a lot of it was, but where’s the due process?) Guilty until proven innocent? Isn’t that like convicting “hackers” merely for having hacking tools on their machine, etc.?

  3. you say that it’s OK to download music

    I don’t think I ever said that. I usually say I stop being their customer and won’t buy their product. Funny how people automatically assume I therefore download, although I understand where that comes from.

    And about moving to tax havens: For example, the Netherlands has a 25% tax on interest you earn savings you have (above a certain amount of money – a fairly large amount, actually) – and the tax authority assumes that interest rate you earn to be 4%. Effectively you have to pay 1% of everything over a certain amount. If you stuff your money overseas and keep it hidden, you’re doing something illegal. If, on the other hand, you move yourself as well, and start living in a better tax regime, that’s legal.

    In a way that situation is unfair – companies can easily construct legal loopholes to park their money elsewhere, individuals usually cannot – but that’s problem for another post. Using trust funds and such can help, but in the end the individual owning the money will want to use it at some point in time, so there’s often still a very clear link to an individual.

    So, if the tax collector in the Netherlands finds out somebody living in the Netherlands has parked a few million in an overseas bank account, he has two questions for that person: did you pay the ‘vermogensrendementheffing’ I mentioned above in ‘box 3′ of your tax form? And by the way, where did the money come from? Did you declare it as income in the past? Usually the burden of proof in these cases lie heavily on the person who parked their money in a foreign account, perhaps again something for another post, but “shining a light” on the money can help tax collectors quite a lot. But the practical upshot is that money owned by individuals living in the Netherlands under Dutch tax rules, and kept hidden from those rules, is at risk.

    As for the question if it’s OK to move your money somewhere else until the tax regime becomes more attractive: sure, go ahead, but make sure you follow the rules. Usually that means you find better tax rules to live in, and emigrate. Not emigrating usually indicates you want to be part of a society with all it’s facilities (roads, hospitals, etc) but unwilling to pay your share of the upkeep of that society.

The 1 Percent’s Solution

Posted on April 26th, 2013 at 15:38 by John Sinteur in category: Robber Barons

[Quote]:

The austerity agenda looks a lot like a simple expression of upper-class preferences, wrapped in a facade of academic rigor.


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  1. The fact that the Austerity argument may not be very good, or that it has become the subject of satire will probably make no difference. When we come to vote we find that the system is not offering alternative candidates, too often the choice is between competing plutocrats. The first past the post voting system favours the two main established parties, both oppose any change in the system. Control of the news media by the 1% prevents the airing of critical voices or allows dissent to be drowned out with scaremongering rhetoric.
    It doesn’t help that an ideology of personal freedom has helped eclipse the formation of unions, the struggle for fair wages, reasonable working hours and safe working conditions has a long and bloody history, take for exemple The Centrailia outrage in 1919.
    I’ve been reading Louis Adamic’s 1931 book Dynamite – a century of class violence in America 1830-1930. He has a chapter on The Centrailia outrage – you can read about the strike at http://intylergence.com/rebels/6.htm. Adamic’s book describes how the management of the opposition to the strike resulted in it being broken:
    “The entire country, war blinded, turned against the IWW. Armed mobs of patriotic businessmen, some of them wearing uniforms, attacked IWW halls and offices, looted the desks, smashed all windows and furniture, burned books and papers. Union secretaries were abducted and made to run the gauntlet. The thousands of people in prisons and bull pens were not fed for days at a time. The whole story of atrocities in that strike will, perhaps, never be known. To kill as wobbly was a more patriotic deed than to kill a German”

Everything is Rigged: The Biggest Financial Scandal Yet

Posted on April 26th, 2013 at 15:37 by John Sinteur in category: Robber Barons

[Quote]:

Conspiracy theorists of the world, believers in the hidden hands of the Rothschilds and the Masons and the Illuminati, we skeptics owe you an apology. You were right. The players may be a little different, but your basic premise is correct: The world is a rigged game. We found this out in recent months, when a series of related corruption stories spilled out of the financial sector, suggesting the world’s largest banks may be fixing the prices of, well, just about everything.

You may have heard of the Libor scandal, in which at least three – and perhaps as many as 16 – of the name-brand too-big-to-fail banks have been manipulating global interest rates, in the process messing around with the prices of upward of $500 trillion (that’s trillion, with a “t”) worth of financial instruments. When that sprawling con burst into public view last year, it was easily the biggest financial scandal in history – MIT professor Andrew Lo even said it “dwarfs by orders of magnitude any financial scam in the history of markets.”

That was bad enough, but now Libor may have a twin brother. Word has leaked out that the London-based firm ICAP, the world’s largest broker of interest-rate swaps, is being investigated by American authorities for behavior that sounds eerily reminiscent of the Libor mess. Regulators are looking into whether or not a small group of brokers at ICAP may have worked with up to 15 of the world’s largest banks to manipulate ISDAfix, a benchmark number used around the world to calculate the prices of interest-rate swaps.


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PBS Drops Another Bombshell: Wall Street Is Gobbling Up Two-Thirds of Your 401(k)

Posted on April 26th, 2013 at 0:19 by John Sinteur in category: Robber Barons

[Quote]:

If you work for 50 years and receive the typical long-term return of 7 percent on your 401(k) plan and your fees are 2 percent, almost two-thirds of your account will go to Wall Street. This was the bombshell dropped by Frontline’s Martin Smith in this Tuesday evening’s PBS program, The Retirement Gamble.

This is not so much a gamble as a certainty: under a 2 percent 401(k) fee structure, almost two-thirds of your working life will go toward paying obscene compensation to Wall Street; a little over one-third will benefit your family – and that’s before paying taxes on withdrawals to Uncle Sam.

To put it another way – you work for Wall Street. You are their slave, their lackey and as long as their toadies dominate in Congress, nothing is going to change on the legislative front to stop the looting.


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Comments:

  1. Looting? That’s a bit strong. You are allowed to keep some of it. Let’s call it farming, shall we?

  2. I believe THE GREAT HOLY FATHER (Reagan) was the one that turned over the retirement plans to Wall St.

Banks Revive Risky Loans and Mortgages

Posted on April 20th, 2013 at 21:39 by John Sinteur in category: News, Robber Barons

[Quote]:

The alchemists of Wall Street are at it again.

The banks that created risky amalgams of mortgages and loans during the boom — the kind that went so wrong during the bust — are busily reviving the same types of investments that many thought were gone for good. Once more, arcane-sounding financial products like collateralized debt obligations are being minted on Wall Street.

You’d think they’d have learned their lesson from the prosecutions, the forced break-ups, the clawbacks, the re-regulation, and our simple, pitiless lassez-faire approach of simply letting the worst of them fail.


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Elizabeth Warren’s Foreclosure Settlement Bombshell: Banks Determined the Number of Victims of Their Own Foreclosure Frauds

Posted on April 13th, 2013 at 11:50 by John Sinteur in category: Robber Barons

[Quote]:

Senator Warren: I just want to take a look at the Independent Foreclosure Review Payment Agreement details. I think you’ve probably all seen this one page agreement that lists all of the things that the banks did wrong and then boxes for how many people fall into each category and how much money they’re going to be paid. Is that right? You’ve all seen this? [Panel indicates they have seen it.] And this was put out – who put this out? I think this is put out by the OCC and Federal Reserve. Is that right? As part of the settlement details. So I just want to ask you about this. It has some pretty amazing categories here. The first category is about service members who were protected by Federal law whose homes were unlawfully foreclosed. It’s got people who were current on their payments whose homes were foreclosed. It’s got people who were performing all of the requirements under a modification who lost their homes to foreclosure. And it tells how many people fall into each category and how much money the people in that category will receive. And, it ultimately resolves what will happen to 3,949,896 families. So the question I have is having resolved this nearly 4 million families, who put the people, the families, into each of these boxes. Is that what your firms did. Mr. Ryan? 

Owen Ryan, Partner, Deloitte & Touche LLP: No, Senator, we did not. 

Senator Warren: So who put them in. 

Ryan: I’m not sure how that schedule is prepared. I saw it for the first time yesterday. 

Senator Warren: Mr. Flanagan? 

James Flanagan, Leader, U.S. Financial Services Practice, Pricewaterhouse Coopers LLP: Same response. We were not involved in the accumulation of that information. 

Senator Warren: Mr. Alt? 

Konrad Alt, Managing Director, Promontory Financial Group: Senator, I’ve seen the schedule but I’m not familiar with the basis for its preparation. 

Senator Warren: So let me understand this. You ran the independent reviews, right. That’s what you got paid to do. And yet, I presume, the only one left is the banks must have put them in these boxes and you made no independent review of their going into these boxes. You were not asked to do that? Mr. Alt. 

Alt: No Senator, we were not asked to do that. 

Senator Warren: Mr. Flanagan. 

Flanagan: No we were not. 

Senator Warren: Mr. Ryan. 

Ryan: We were not Senator. 

Senator Warren: So that leaves us with the banks that broke the law were then the banks that decided how many people lost their homes because of their lawbreaking. And, as a result, how many people would collect money in each of these categories. Is that right Mr. Alt? 

Alt: Senator, I’m not familiar with the basis for the scheduling. 

Senator Warren: So far as you know, there’s no independent review of the banks’ analysis…you looked at 100,000 cases and the banks have now put 4 million people into categories and resolved finally how much they will get from this review by the OCC and the Federal Reserve.   


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Comments:

  1. I don’t know enough about the foreclosure scandal to make an objective comment, but the system of self regulation is well known in England where the police investigate themselves, lawyers investigate themselves, the financial service sector is largely self regulated and up to recently our press investigated themselves as well.
    Unsurprisingly they rarely find any problems, and the penalties for when there are transgressions are pitifully inadequate. Why this self regulation is regarded as satisfactory is not difficult to see, the individuals who make the laws are drawn from the same section of society involved in its administration.
    The whole circus of the ‘circulation of elites’ was described by Vilfredo Pareto in The Mind and Society and as ‘Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracies’ in Robert Michels Political Parties.
    I think you will find these books extremely useful when is comes to erecting barricades in the forthcoming revolution.

  2. On erecting barricades, I would recommend Structures: Or Why Things Don’t Fall Down, by JE Gordon.

  3. Good luck with those barricades in the age of tear gas and drones.

  4. That’s how I feel with the claim that the 2nd amendment is meant as a defense against a government. Is your AR-15 going to take down an Abrams?

  5. @Simon: Ooh, materials science porn! Professor Gordon is one of my childhood heroes!

  6. Sorry to say that there doesn’t seem to be any justice for the little people. These big banks took homes from people that was away fighting a war for they’re country and committed fraud to steal other people houses and no one goes to jail. Victims are suppose to just take this LITTLE money $300-$600(what most will get)for having there lives turned upside down this is the big settlement. What a great country!!!

How Apple Inc. got swarmed

Posted on April 10th, 2013 at 20:10 by John Sinteur in category: Apple, Robber Barons

[Quote]:

“Swarming,” writes Mal Spooner, a Canadian money manager and financial columnist, “is the term now applied to the crime where an unsuspecting innocent bystander is attacked by several culprits at once… Because swarming at street level involves violence, it is criminal. However in financial markets it is perfectly legal.”


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Bank Of America To Pay $36.8 Million To Military Members For Improper Foreclosures

Posted on April 8th, 2013 at 8:11 by John Sinteur in category: Robber Barons

[Quote]:

Bank of America will pay $36.8 million to members of the military it improperly foreclosed on between 2006 and 2010, according to a settlement it reached with the federal government in 2011, the Justice Department announced this week.

Bank of America was already paying 142 military members under the original 2011 agreement, but a further review required by the settlement found 155 additional military homeowners who were subject to improper foreclosures, the Justice Department said.

Imagine other crimes punished like banking institutions:

“You are charged with the theft of one 1995 Honda Accord, how do you plead?” “I admit no wrongdoing.” “That’s fine. You are thus hereby fined $5.33 for your crime, I can only hope this will deter you from further violations of the law.”


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Leaks reveal secrets of the rich who hide cash offshore

Posted on April 4th, 2013 at 13:06 by John Sinteur in category: Robber Barons

[Quote]:

Millions of internal records have leaked from Britain’s offshore financial industry, exposing for the first time the identities of thousands of holders of anonymous wealth from around the world, from presidents to plutocrats, the daughter of a notorious dictator and a British millionaire accused of concealing assets from his ex-wife.

The leak of 2m emails and other documents, mainly from the offshore haven of the British Virgin Islands (BVI), has the potential to cause a seismic shock worldwide to the booming offshore trade, with a former chief economist at McKinsey estimating that wealthy individuals may have as much as $32tn (£21tn) stashed in overseas havens.

In France, Jean-Jacques Augier, President François Hollande’s campaign co-treasurer and close friend, has been forced to publicly identify his Chinese business partner. It emerges as Hollande is mired in financial scandal because his former budget minister concealed a Swiss bank account for 20 years and repeatedly lied about it.

In Mongolia, the country’s former finance minister and deputy speaker of its parliament says he may have to resign from politics as a result of this investigation.

But the two can now be named for the first time because of their use of companies in offshore havens, particularly in the British Virgin Islands, where owners’ identities normally remain secret.

The names have been unearthed in a novel project by the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists [ICIJ], in collaboration with the Guardian and other international media, who are jointly publishing their research results this week.


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Comments:

  1. Not just the BVI. There are data from at least 10 tax havens in this leak.

    Pure speculation, but if you have seen the way that banks and tax havens have been cudgeled into tightening up their records (revealing their secrets to governments) in the last few years, it doesn’t seem unreasonable for this leak to be deliberate. You couldn’t release this for “privacy” reasons but you could accidentally drop the hard drive off at the house of a journo who had just accepted the presidency of the ICIJ :-)

Economy built for profits not prosperity

Posted on April 3rd, 2013 at 5:43 by Sueyourdeveloper in category: bleeding obvious, No shit, sherlock, Robber Barons

Quote  via Economist’s View

Newly released data on corporate profitability for 2012 show the continuation of historic levels of profitability despite excessive unemployment and stagnant wages for most workers. Specifically, the share of capital income (such as profits and interest, which are hereafter referred to as ‘profits’) in the corporate sector increased to 25.6 percent in 2012, the highest in any year since 1950-1951 and far higher than the 19.9 percent share prevailing over 1969-2007, the five business cycles preceding the financial crisis…

We now have an economy built to assure high corporate profitability even when it’s operating far below capacity and when most families and workers are faring poorly. This is further evidence that there is a remarkable disconnect between the fortunes of business and those best-off (high-income households) and the vast majority.

More of the same. Can’t make up my mind about the category.


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Comments:

  1. Workers should form corporations that provide labor to other enterprises. Since existing corporations love outsourcing, they’ll love outsourcing labor to these corporations. Win-win!

    :-p :-p :-p

  2. “More of the same. Can’t make up my mind about the category.”
    Try “sharks”…

Troops betrayed in Cyprus bank grab as Russians seize £2billion

Posted on March 27th, 2013 at 14:55 by John Sinteur in category: Robber Barons

[Quote]:

FURY erupted yesterday as it emerged that rich Russians withdrew £2billion BEFORE a tax raid on bank savings in Cyprus was announced.

The revelation came as Eurozone ministers proposed a plan to protect investors with under 100,000 euros (£85,700).

But British troops on the Mediterranean island were left fearing they may still lose out as the UK Government watered down a guarantee to safeguard their cash.

An earlier scheme to grab 6.75 per cent of smaller savings would see an estimated 60,000 British ex-pats — with £1.7billion in Cypriot banks — potentially losing thousands.

The controversial one-off tax was announced on Saturday as part of a 10billion euro bailout.

But Russian oligarchs and big investors emptied accounts in the days beforehand, prompting claims they were tipped off by bank insiders. A source told The Sun: “It leaked out. Bankers warned their best clients. Government officials warned their friends and relatives.

“Billions disappeared from accounts in days, most from accounts held by Russians.”


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Comments:

  1. There are British soldiers who have more than €100,000 in cash in the bank in Cyprus? Reeeaaalllllyyyy?


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