Archive | #OccupyWallStreet

Oh, look. What a surprise!

Dear U.S Secretary of State Mr. Rex Tillerson

One would almost think that every single Trump appointee is a crony capitalist. So far, he’s batting 1.000:

Rex Tillerson, the businessman nominated by Donald Trump to be the next US secretary of state, is the long-time director of a US-Russian oil firm based in the tax haven of the Bahamas, leaked documents show.

Tillerson – the chief executive of ExxonMobil – has been a director of the oil company’s Russian subsidiary, Exxon Neftegas, since 1998. His name – RW Tillerson – appears next to other officers who are based at Houston, Texas; Moscow; and Sakhalin, in Russia’s far east.

The leaked 2001 document comes from the corporate registry in the Bahamas. It was one of 1.3m files given to the Germany newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung by an anonymous source. The registry is public but details of individual directors are typically incomplete or missing entirely.

Though there is nothing untoward about this directorship, it has not been reported before and is likely to raise fresh questions over Tillerson’s relationship with Russia ahead of a potentially stormy confirmation hearing by the US senate foreign relations committee.

The great bank robbery

So it looks like the plan over at OMB is to make Trump and his advisers even richer:

On Friday, Trump’s transition team announced his selection of Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) as the nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget. Earlier this year, Mulvaney introduced legislation blocking payments by the housing lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to funds that support low income housing unless both Fannie and Freddie are recapitalized and released.

This is exactly the policy desired by hedge fund billionaire John Paulson, head of Paulson & Co., among other large investors. He feted Trump for a fundraiser in June at a chic midtown French restaurant built into the Bloomberg building where he donated $250,000 to support the campaign. He then led Trump’s economic advisers for the remainder of the campaign and now sits on the transition team advising him on economic policy.

When the housing market tanked and the Great Recession of 2007-2009 began, the federal government took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, both deeply underwater, sending their stock prices plummeting. The Obama administration has since insisted on keeping the housing lenders under government authority and has redirected their profits into government coffers.

During this time speculators like Paulson bought up stock at bargain basement prices and began lobbying the government to end federal control and oversight of the lenders and then recapitalize them and release them back to the private market. Such a policy would, undoubtedly, send the stock price soaring and those who had tens of millions worth of penny-stock would see billions in profit ― including Paulson. Trump had invested between $3 million and $15 million into Paulson’s funds, according to the president-elect’s most recent disclosure report filed in May.

Remember this motto from the Bush years? “Socialize losses, privatize profits.” Here we go again.

The battle for Social Security and Medicare begins today

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It seems that I spend years of my life fighting to protect Social Security and Medicare, and here we are again as the GOP unleashes their new plan. From Josh Marshall:

Unlike the Bush-era plan to partially phase out Social Security and replace it with private investment accounts, this plan takes a different approach. Through a variety of mechanisms, this plan simply cuts benefits and introduces means testing. To look at specific cuts, changes in eligibility and so forth look at pages 2 and 3 on this official Social Security Administration scoring document analyzing the plan. The benefit cuts appear to hit everyone but are weighted toward more affluent recipients.

[..]

The plan with this new GOP bill is to proactively solve this problem entirely with cuts and really big cuts. Out over 75 years, the GOP proposal has the Trust Fund growing substantially out into the infinite horizon. In other words, a lot of the cuts are more than are necessary to pay for all benefits even if you leave the ‘cap’ in place.

I will say that this new bill is different and I think not as bad (extremely low bar) as the partial phase out of Social Security which President Bush tried to push in 2005. Because you have the same essential mechanisms in place. This is a huge benefit cut. Benefits could later be raised again if there was the political will to do so. The means testing component probably does more to endanger the future of the program in political terms.

The last day of session before Christmas break, and a Friday afternoon? Let’s not forget that every single House member is up for reelection in 2018, and none of them ran on cutting Social Security.

So I think something else is happening. This looks like a Trojan horse, used to manufacture a new “emergency” in Social Security funding. Polls and focus groups always show the same thing: No one will consider any kind of reform or privatization unless they think it’s the only way to save it.

You can see where that sense of crisis is useful. Remember, the goal has always been to get that money into private accounts, where Wall Street makes money and charges us hefty fees.

Make sure you call your reps Monday and tell them no.

Pretty darned excited about this election

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At the possibility of winning back the House and the Senate. (I get geek chills, just thinking about it.) Here’s why.

Some of the policies on the table:

  • Expanding Social Security;
  • Expanding Medicare to age 50 and up;
  • Anti-trust emphasis in the DoJ (be still, my heart!);
  • Putting honest-to-God liberals into every open seat on the Supreme Court;
  • Paid parental leave;
  • Raising taxes on the wealthy;
  • No-debt college (I’m too lazy to go into it, but making this income-based is actually more effective at redistributing wealth than free college for everyone);
  • Big bump in the minimum wage;

And lots more.

The Penny Stock Chronicles

Penny Stock Wants To Do Everything To Help You Trade Successfully

David Dayen wrote a fascinating series on likely fraud by major banks in the penny stock market. If you’re an investor, you will want to read this:

All seven installments can be found here.
Part 1: The Money is Gone
Part 2: Big Players, Little Stocks, and Naked Shorts
Part 3: Naked Shorts Can’t Stay Naked Forever (or can they?)
Part 4: Calling the SEC
Part 5: Turning Up Like a Bad Penny
Part 6: Were Paper Losses the Goal All Along?
Part 7: The Half Billion Dollar Glitch

More banks were using scams. Imagine that.

THE WELLS FARGO SCAM............

I figured as much, especially the rearranging of debit card charges for overcharge fees. I’ve had that happen to me:

Most Americans were shocked when they learned that thousands of Wells Fargo employees had opened millions of fake accounts.
People who work at other banks weren’t surprised at all.
Nearly a dozen current and former employees at large and regional banks such as Bank of America (BAC), Citizens Bank, PNC (PNC), SunTrust (STI), and Fifth Third (FITB) tell CNNMoney that a sales obsession pervades their banks. They say they too are under immense pressure to get customers to open multiple accounts.
They described a focus to push as many different products — think debit cards or new online accounts — as they can, an industry practice known as cross-selling.
“Wells Fargo is not the exception (with its) absurd sales culture,” said one former manager of two large regional banks.
Related: 5,300 Wells Fargo workers fired over 2 million phony accounts
‘Industry-wide problem’
No other major banks have been accused by regulators of widespread opening of phony accounts like Wells Fargo (WFC) has been.
But Thomas Curry, one of the country’s chief banking regulators, said that “banks are under enormous margin pressure. That could be a bad environment.”
Curry, the head of the Office of Comptroller of the Currency, told a Senate panel this week that the agency is investigating whether other banks have employed high-pressure sales tactics that led to fake accounts.
One former banker at a regional bank told CNNMoney he witnessed the practice at his company.
“The customers wouldn’t even know,” said the banker, who insisted his name not be used. “Wells Fargo isn’t the only one. This is an industry-wide problem.”
Another scam this banker witnessed involved employees rearranging debit charges on customer accounts to maximize the size of the overdraft fees they experienced.

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