Category: Business


On his Friday November 12, 2010 radio show host Alex Jones had Max Keiser as a guest and during one of the station breaks Max has a eureka moment. He advocates buy and taking physical delivery of silver bullion. This is a self fulfilling spiral that will force JPMorgan to cover it short position on silver (which they cannot) and by default raise the price of silver. There’s been a huge response to Max’s rally cry and videos are popping up all over youtube of people showing their recently acquired silver bullion.

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Source: AlterNet

Nearly a dozen major banks and hedge funds, anticipating quick profits from homeowners who fall behind on property taxes, are quietly plowing hundreds of millions of dollars into businesses that collect the debts, tack on escalating fees and threaten to foreclose on the homes of those who fail to pay.

The Wall Street investors, which include Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase & Co., have purchased from local governments the right to collect delinquent taxes on several hundred thousand properties, many in distressed housing markets, the Huffington Post Investigative Fund has found.

In many cases, the banks and hedge funds created new companies to do their bidding. They gave the companies obscure, even whimsical names and used post office boxes as their addresses, masking Wall Street’s dominant new role as a surrogate tax collector.

In exchange for paying overdue real estate taxes, the investors gain legal powers from local governments to collect the debt and levy fees. At first, property owners may owe little more than a few hundred dollars, only to find their bills soaring into the thousands. In some jurisdictions, the new Wall Street tax collectors also chase debtors over other small bills, such as for water, sewer and sidewalk repair.

Some states allow the investors to tack on as much as 18 percent interest and a passel of legal fees and other charges. When property owners fail to make full payment, the investors can sue to foreclose – in some states within as little as six months.

In June, Bank of America snatched up liens on properties in Florida owned by low-income residents and nonprofit public interest groups, including a Salvation Army shelter, a preschool and a wildlife rescue group involved in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill cleanup, the Investigative Fund found in its examination. Bank of America also bought liens on properties of the wealthy, including a professional basketball star with the Los Angeles Lakers, Lamar Odom.

Continue Reading…

Source: YNETNEWS

Four American banks, including Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, have filed requests to open branches in Iran, a Tehran-based daily reported over the weekend.Goldman Sachs recently reported a significant improvement in its situation, with its first quarter reports for 2009 including a net profit of $1.66 billion. Citigroup, which received $45 billion in aid, also released positive reports for the first quarter of the year, after losing more than $18 billion in 2008.

According to the newspaper, the official requests were submitted to the Central Bank of Iran about 20 days ago, and if approved, the banks will be able to send delegations to the country’s free trade zone.

Later, if they prove to meet Iran’s banking laws, the four banks may open branches in the country’s big cities, including Tehran.

The newspaper notes that the new Obama administration in the United States enabled a slight improvement in the relations between the two countries. The American president was recently quoted as saying that he was ready to reach out to countries like Iran.

The new administration has also decided to hold direct talks between American representatives and Iranian envoys on the Iranian nuclear plan.

Goldman Sachs and Citigroup were badly hurt by the credit crisis and are looking for new markets in order to improve their financial situation.

Source: Zero Hedge

Here’s a news story that summates the US economy’s problems rather well:

The last major GE factory making ordinary incandescent light bulbs in the United States is closing this month, marking a small, sad exit for a product and company that can trace their roots to Thomas Alva Edison’s innovations in the 1870s.

Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/07/AR2010090706933.html?wpisrc=nl_headline

Here we have a product, invented by one of America’s Greatest inventors (if not THE greatest), of which the US was the premiere manufacturer, now being manufactured ENTIRELY overseas:

How could this have happened?

What made the plant here vulnerable is, in part, a 2007 energy conservation measure passed by Congress that set standards essentially banning ordinary incandescents by 2014. The law will force millions of American households to switch to more efficient bulbs.

The resulting savings in energy and greenhouse-gas emissions are expected to be immense. But the move also had unintended consequences.

Rather than setting off a boom in the U.S. manufacture of replacement lights, the leading replacement lights are compact fluorescents, or CFLs, which are made almost entirely overseas, mostly in China.

This story, more than anything else I’ve seen in recent weeks, summates beautifully the current political/ economic situation for the US today.

Congress which is comprised of individuals who know nothing about engineering, chemistry, manufacturing, or any other technical know-how, pass a law based on political agenda without even bother to consider the impact on the US economy.

As if that weren’t ignorant enough, Congress then proclaims that the new clean energy policies will CREATE jobs, once again proving they don’t have a clue what they’re talking about when it comes to real economic conditions in the US.

The end result?

An industry that has flourished in the US for over a century, founded by an American genius, has now been entirely outsourced overseas. That’s just one more nail in the coffin for the American manufacturing base. And one more wave of American workers finding themselves at the unemployment line (the last existing plant in Winchester, VA is laying off 200 people this month).

Please understand, I am not against Clean Energy at all. What I AM against is stupid policies losing Americans jobs just to fatten profit margins at the large multi-nationals.

The real winner of this whole set-up is of course the multi-national company, in this case GE, which, by the way, owes its very existence to tax payer bailout money from 2008. GE will very likely see a slight bump in profits by cutting down on the operational costs of its light-bulb manufacturing wing (labor is cheaper in China).

This hammers home one of the founding theses of my socio-political newsletter The Phoenix World Views Digest, that the US is comprised of two groups of people:  individual citizens and the large multi-nationals. These two operate under a completely different set of rules. And the system is entirely rigged to benefit the latter (the multi-nationals) at the expense of the former (individuals).

Until this changes, the US will remain as it has been for the last 30 years: an oligarchy masquerading as a democracy.

Good Investing!

Graham Summers

Source: TheEconomicCollapse

In 2010, education has been so “dumbed down” in America that most Americans don’t even know what the WTO is, and even fewer understand why the WTO is important. The truth is that the World Trade Organization is essentially a global government for world trade.  It is a “contract” that severely restricts the ability of member nations to direct their own economies and set their own trade policies.  The United Nations is perhaps the only international organization that has more power than the WTO.  It was created on January 1st, 1995 as a replacement for GATT (the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade).  Today, 153 nations representing more than 97% of total world trade are members of the WTO.  It has been largely responsible for the explosion in world trade that we have witnessed over the past several decades.  In fact, world trade is now over 15 times larger than it was 50 years ago.  But is this a good thing?

No, it is not.

The following are 10 reasons why the World Trade Organization is bad for America…..

1 – The WTO is not accountable to the American people or to any other voters around the globe.  It is a sprawling bureaucracy that wields an almost unbelievable amount of power that is completely unchecked by democratic processes.  The American people could try to elect a large number of politicians who are in favor of pulling the United States out of the WTO, but considering the fact that both major political parties are very much pro-WTO at this point, that is simply not going to happen.

2 – The WTO acts as the legislature, the executive and the judiciary in matters of world trade.  The WTO has the authority to impose punishments on member nations, and it has not been shy about exercising this authority.  In essence, the WTO is the judge, the jury and the executioner and if anyone does not like this it is too bad for them.

3 – Many of the WTO regulations were authored word for word by the big global predator corporations that now dominate the world economy.  It is an open secret that the WTO is dominated by international bankers, large international corporations and the most developed nations.  Whenever new negotiations are conducted, it almost always seems as though it is the “sharks” that end up winning in the end.

4 – Any nation that attempts to protect itself against the negative effects of globalism and free trade is quickly reprimanded by the WTO.  In essence, the WTO is the enforcement arm for the powerful interests who are determined to merge us all into a one world economy.

5 – The WTO allows countries to sue each other.  This has been primarily used by the wealthy countries to push around the smaller, less developed nations.

6 – The WTO allows global corporations to sue countries.  Forget about sovereign immunity in matters governed by the WTO.  Under the WTO, the monolithic corporations who benefit the most from free trade can easily push around the smallest and least developed nations.

7 – The WTO is widening the gap between rich and poor.  Under the globalized system of free trade we are all living under, all wealth is slowly but surely being transferred into the hands of the very wealthy while the rest of us are left standing around trying to figure out how the game was rigged.

8 – The WTO forces the United States to open its doors to unsafe products.  For example, the United States had been very concerned about the safety of Chinese poultry products.  But the WTO ruled in China’s favor and now the U.S. must allow China to import massive amounts of unsanitary chicken.

9 – Under the WTO, labor has become a global commodity.  Now American workers have been put in direct competition with the cheapest labor in the world.  Millions of American workers have lost their jobs and factories are closing across the United States at a staggering pace.

10 – The American people are deeply upset about the state of the economy, but they don’t even understand what is going on.  According to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, 81% of Americans rate the U.S. economy as “poor”.  Americans continue to get angrier and angrier about the economy and they want someone to “fix” it.  But what they don’t understand is that under the new global system that we are being merged into, it is intended that the standard of living for the poorer nations will go up while our standard of living goes down.  In the end, there is supposed to be “equality” all over the world.

But what kind of equality will that be?

If current trends hold up, the top 1% of all income earners will become fabulously wealthy, while the remainder of us will work our lives away for their giant global corporations for near slave labor wages.

A reader of my column named Joe recently left a comment that does a good job of summarizing the kind of world that we are heading into….

I still remember the 60 Minutes program that showed an old company in Massachusetts that made winter jackets and pants. The old timer who owned the company was a wonderful character. He worked hard all his life, made excellent clothes, and treated all his employee’s like his family. Dan Rather followed him throughout the mill as he interacted with each employee, the old man knew every job because he probably had to do them all at one time. This man had integrity, a hard work ethic, honesty, and every other leadership quality. His employees loved him and respected him.

Fast forward to today and we have companies like Nike and Gap who entrap their young girl employees with a scam ad in a newspaper about a job. Then they are caged into a factory with barbed wire and security guards and have to work for .35 cents per hour. The girls have to pay “rent” for a bunk bed and a little food, a debt they can never repay for their freedom. And we buy their clothes at Wal-Mart.

Where did we go off the tracks? How did we go so wrong?

The truth is that the giant global predator corporations are going to continue to use the WTO (and other globalist organizations such as the IMF and the World Bank) to rig the game in their favor and to push us all into one global market and into one global labor pool.

The WTO is not good for the U.S. economy and it never will be.

But the vast majority of our politicians are 100 percent behind this system which is designed to deindustrialize the United States, ship our jobs overseas and substantially lower our standard of living.

Will the American people wake up and realize what is going on?

No, “Dancing with the Stars” has just announced their new cast, American Idol is looking for some new judges and football season is starting, so the American people are going to have their hands full for a while.

Source: Businessweek

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. agreed to pay $550 million and change its business practices to settle U.S. regulatory claims it misled investors in collateralized debt obligations linked to subprime mortgages.

The penalty is the largest ever levied by the Securities and Exchange Commission against a Wall Street firm, the agency said in a statement announcing the accord today. Under the deal, Goldman Sachs acknowledged it made a “mistake” and that marketing materials for the instruments had “incomplete information,” the agency said.

For Goldman Sachs, the payment amounts to 14 days of earnings, based on first-quarter results. It’s the equivalent of 93 cents a share, said Brad Hintz, an analyst at Sanford Bernstein & Co., who had estimated a cost of $1.05.

“This appears to be negligence, not fraud,” Hintz said in an e-mail, citing the SEC’s use of words such as “mistake” and “incomplete information.” “Bottom line the SEC and the administration gets a headline and a ‘political win’ and GS gets an ‘economic win.’”

Goldman Sachs created and sold the CDOs in 2007, as the U.S. housing market faltered, without disclosing that hedge fund Paulson & Co. helped pick the underlying securities and bet against the vehicles, the SEC said in an April 16 lawsuit. Billionaire John Paulson’s firm earned $1 billion on the trade and wasn’t accused of wrongdoing.

‘It Was a Mistake’

“It was a mistake for the Goldman marketing materials to state that the reference portfolio was ‘selected by’ ACA Management LLC without disclosing the role of Paulson & Co. Inc. in the portfolio selection process,” the SEC’s statement quoted Goldman Sachs as saying in settlement documents.

The bank, based in New York, didn’t admit or deny wrongdoing under the accord, the SEC said. The payment includes a $300 million fine and $250 million as restitution to investors. IKB Deutsche Industriebank AG, the first German lender bailed out during the subprime crisis, will receive $150 million, and Royal Bank of Scotland Plc will get $100 million, the SEC said.

Shares of Goldman Sachs, which closed today at $145.22, dropped 21 percent since April 15, the day before the suit was filed, and jumped 4.4 percent today after the SEC said it planned a “significant announcement.” The S&P 500 Financial Index declined 13 percent since the SEC filed suit.

“This takes a cloud off the stock,” said Peter Sorrentino, senior portfolio manager at Huntington Asset Advisors in Cincinnati, which manages $13.3 billion including Goldman Sachs shares. For Goldman Sachs, the settlement means “we’re done, turn the spotlight off, we’re out of here,” he said.

Fabrice Tourre’s Case

Sorrentino said his firm may still reduce its holdings in Goldman Sachs on any price gains because he’s concerned about the effect of financial regulatory legislation passed today by the Senate. Goldman Sachs said the agency doesn’t ‘‘anticipate’’ it will bring more claims linked to collateralized debt obligations.

Fabrice Tourre, the only Goldman Sachs worker targeted by the SEC, remains an employee of the firm and is on leave, said Lucas van Praag, a company spokesman. The firm promised to cooperate with the SEC in the case against Tourre and other “ongoing litigation,” the agency’s deputy enforcement director, Lorin Reisner, told reporters in Washington.

SEC Enforcement Director Robert Khuzami called the settlement “a stark lesson to Wall Street firms that no product is too complex, and no investor too sophisticated, to avoid a heavy price if a firm violates the fundamental principles of honest treatment and fair dealing.”

Source: Picasso Dreams

In a recent New York Times’ article “Less Toxic Dispersants Lose Out in BP Oil Spill Cleanup”, journalist Paula Quinlan questions why BP is using the 100 % toxic, 54 percent effective dispersant Corexit to clean up the oil when twelve other dispersants proved more effective in EPA testing.

BP spokesman Jon Pack defended the use of Corexit, which he said was decided in consultation with EPA. He called Corexit “pretty effective” and said the product had been “rigorously tested.”

“I’m not sure about the others,” Pack said. “This has been used by a number of major companies as an effective, low-toxicity dispersant.”

BP is not considering or testing other dispersants because the company’s attention is focused on plugging the leak and otherwise containing the spill, Pack said.    “That has to be our primary focus right now,” he said.

Nalco spokesman Charlie Pajor said the decision on what to use was out of his company’s hands. He also declined to comment on EPA comparison tests, saying only that lab conditions cannot necessarily replicate those in the field. “The decision about what’s used is made by others — not by us,” he said.

Quinlan only looks at part of the picture.  She associates BP’s investment in Nalco and oil industry representation on the board as the main reasons that Corexit was used instead of Dispirsit, which EPA testing shows to be twice as effective and a third less toxic.  Yes, BP is hedging its losses with the profit it will make with its investment in Nalco, but who else benefits?

Follow the money…and the money goes to Goldman Sachs and friends.  Instead, Quinlan (or her editor) goes after Exxon.

Critics say Nalco, which formed a joint venture company with Exxon Chemical in 1994, boasts oil-industry insiders on its board of directors and among its executives, including an 11-year board member at BP and a top Exxon executive who spent 43 years with the oil giant.

“It’s a chemical that the oil industry makes to sell to itself, basically,” said Richard Charter, a senior policy adviser for Defenders of Wildlife.

In defense of the oil industry, it makes financial sense that Exxon and BP were the initial investors in this type of dispersant.  It’s not surprising that oil executives sit on the board.  I am not defending the toxicity of their product, the integrity of their board members or the likely Halliburton-stye billing process that will kick in when BP decides it is no longer responsible for  the impact of the “very, very modest” oil blowout that is already twice as large as Exxon-Valdez and is far more devastating economically and let the bankrupt US Treasury cover the bills.  (To be fair, BP has accepted full responsibility and within days of the accident and without a court order, BP gave the states of Louisiana, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi each $25 million to help with the immediate damage.)

But BP’s investment in Nalco is the token diversion.  The real players are Goldman Sachs and their fellow Sexually Inadequate Masters of the Universe, the Blackstone Group and Apollo Management.

From Nalco’s website:

2003

USFilter and Ondeo Nalco enter into a strategic partnership providing equipment, chemicals and service to industrial customers.

The Blackstone Group, Apollo Management L. P. and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners buy Ondeo Nalco.

Nalco Company, a recognized symbol of strength around the world, unveils new logo.

Never mind item three, the logo change executives consider one of the three most important events in Nalco’s 2003 history, hence its prominence on the Nalco corporate history webpage.  Look at item number two.

If for no other reason that Goldman Sachs is newsworthy, I think that their $4.3 billion purchase of Nalco in 2003 would be worth mentioning, especially in light of their short trade on TransOcean.  The shorts are another missing item in the business section of The Times, as is any information on Goldman’s role in the 9-11 put options on American and United for that matter.  “All the lies that are fit to print…” on their banner would be more apropos. Seems someone is treating the demon children at GS with kid gloves.

Continue Reading…

Source: Picasso Dreams

In a recent New York Times’ article “Less Toxic Dispersants Lose Out in BP Oil Spill Cleanup”, journalist Paula Quinlan questions why BP is using the 100 % toxic, 54 percent effective dispersant Corexit to clean up the oil when twelve other dispersants proved more effective in EPA testing.

BP spokesman Jon Pack defended the use of Corexit, which he said was decided in consultation with EPA. He called Corexit “pretty effective” and said the product had been “rigorously tested.”

“I’m not sure about the others,” Pack said. “This has been used by a number of major companies as an effective, low-toxicity dispersant.”

BP is not considering or testing other dispersants because the company’s attention is focused on plugging the leak and otherwise containing the spill, Pack said.    “That has to be our primary focus right now,” he said.

Nalco spokesman Charlie Pajor said the decision on what to use was out of his company’s hands. He also declined to comment on EPA comparison tests, saying only that lab conditions cannot necessarily replicate those in the field. “The decision about what’s used is made by others — not by us,” he said.

Quinlan only looks at part of the picture.  She associates BP’s investment in Nalco and oil industry representation on the board as the main reasons that Corexit was used instead of Dispirsit, which EPA testing shows to be twice as effective and a third less toxic.  Yes, BP is hedging its losses with the profit it will make with its investment in Nalco, but who else benefits?

Follow the money…and the money goes to Goldman Sachs and friends.  Instead, Quinlan (or her editor) goes after Exxon.

Critics say Nalco, which formed a joint venture company with Exxon Chemical in 1994, boasts oil-industry insiders on its board of directors and among its executives, including an 11-year board member at BP and a top Exxon executive who spent 43 years with the oil giant.

“It’s a chemical that the oil industry makes to sell to itself, basically,” said Richard Charter, a senior policy adviser for Defenders of Wildlife.

In defense of the oil industry, it makes financial sense that Exxon and BP were the initial investors in this type of dispersant.  It’s not surprising that oil executives sit on the board.  I am not defending the toxicity of their product, the integrity of their board members or the likely Halliburton-stye billing process that will kick in when BP decides it is no longer responsible for  the impact of the “very, very modest” oil blowout that is already twice as large as Exxon-Valdez and is far more devastating economically and let the bankrupt US Treasury cover the bills.  (To be fair, BP has accepted full responsibility and within days of the accident and without a court order, BP gave the states of Louisiana, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi each $25 million to help with the immediate damage.)

But BP’s investment in Nalco is the token diversion.  The real players are Goldman Sachs and their fellow Sexually Inadequate Masters of the Universe, the Blackstone Group and Apollo Management.

From Nalco’s website:

2003

USFilter and Ondeo Nalco enter into a strategic partnership providing equipment, chemicals and service to industrial customers.

The Blackstone Group, Apollo Management L. P. and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners buy Ondeo Nalco.

Nalco Company, a recognized symbol of strength around the world, unveils new logo.

Never mind item three, the logo change executives consider one of the three most important events in Nalco’s 2003 history, hence its prominence on the Nalco corporate history webpage.  Look at item number two.

If for no other reason that Goldman Sachs is newsworthy, I think that their $4.3 billion purchase of Nalco in 2003 would be worth mentioning, especially in light of their short trade on TransOcean.  The shorts are another missing item in the business section of The Times, as is any information on Goldman’s role in the 9-11 put options on American and United for that matter.  “All the lies that are fit to print…” on their banner would be more apropos. Seems someone is treating the demon children at GS with kid gloves.

Continue Reading…

Source: LA Times

A top government banking regulator wants Senate Democrats to let banks keep most of their business in complex — and profitable — securities known as derivatives.

A sweeping overhaul of banking regulations pending in the Senate would require banks to spin off their derivatives business.

Sheila Bair, the chairwoman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., said that provision could shift the creation of derivatives contracts outside the reach of regulators.

“If all derivatives market-making activities were moved outside of bank holding companies, most of the activity would no doubt continue, but in less regulated and more highly leveraged venues,” Bair wrote in a letter to Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) and Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.).

The derivatives measure pushed by Lincoln would require banks to set up separate subsidiaries, with their own source of capital, to run what has been a highly profitable derivatives business. Derivatives are the complex speculative and risk-hedging instruments blamed for helping plunge Wall Street into a near meltdown in 2008.

The Obama administration also has indicated it does not support the provision. The FDIC is at least the second bank overseer to oppose the ban. Federal Reserve officials, in a letter to senators, also have called on the Senate to remove the spin-off requirement.

Dodd agreed to keep that restriction after negotiating with Lincoln last weekend. The decision stunned the bank industry, which immediately mobilized to get it removed.

But even if that provision is ultimately removed, there is bipartisan support for restricting banks from trading in derivatives with their own accounts for purely speculative purposes.

Indeed, in her three-page letter, Bair said that neither banks nor bank holding companies should engage in speculative derivatives trading. But she said banks have a legitimate need for derivatives to help them hedge against interest rate fluctuations.

Moreover, she said, banks “play an essential role” creating markets for commercial firms that enter into derivatives contracts to manage their risks.

Source: Reuters

There were no injuries, and navigation was not affected by the incident in the Charenton navigation channel south of U.S. 90 near Morgan City, Coast Guard spokesman Mike O’Berry said.

“This is not a major waterway,” he said. “Nobody was on board. It was being towed.”

The incident followed the April 20 explosion of the Transocean Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico, in which 11 people died. The rig sank and a disastrous oil spill has ensued.

A 210-foot-long barge rig, which worked swampland and shallow water oil and gas prospects, was involved in Friday’s incident, the Coast Guard said.

It had a 20,000-gallon diesel tank but carried only about 200 gallons of fuel when it capsized. Spill containment boom was put around it as a precaution, the Coast Guard said.

O’Berry said the rig was owned by T. Moore Services in Franklin, Louisiana. A telephone call to the company was not returned.

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