“Corker Kickback” Scandal Grows As Orrin Hatch Suddenly ‘Misremembers’ When Provision Was Added

Late last week, the GOP tax reform legislation looked to be a done deal after Senator Corker (R-TN) – who has publicly feuded with President Trump and famously compared the West Wing to an “adult daycare center” – announced he would support the tax bill after previously voting against it.
Then, Corker’s sudden change of heart took another surprising turn when it was discovered over the weekend that it came only after new language was inserted that could be worth roughly $1 million to him personally…language which has since been dubbed the “Corker Kickback“.
Now, adding to a scandal that Democrats will undoubtedly attempt to leverage in their last minute efforts to block tax reform, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) admits that he drafted the controversial language that helped flip Corker to a ‘yes’ vote, but his memory is a little more ‘fuzzy’ when it comes to recalling whether or not the provision was already incorporated in previous versions of the bill. Despite Hatch’s insistence that a similar provision was passed in the House version of the GOP’s tax bill, tax experts interviewed by the International Business Times say that’s simply not true:

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 18, 2017.

18/11/17: ECB Induces Double Error in the EU Policy Markets

In economics, two key market asymmetries/biases lead to the severe reduction in markets efficiency often marking the departure from theoretical levels of efficiency (speed, with which markets incorporate new relevant information into pricing decisions of markets agents) and the practical outcomes. These asymmetries or biases are: information asymmetry and agency problem.
For those, uninitiated into econospeak, information asymmetry (sometimes referred to as information failure), is a situation, in which one party to an economic transaction possesses greater knowledge of facts, material or relevant to the decision, than the other party. For example, a seller may know hidden information about a car on offer that is not revealed to the buyer. In more extreme example, a seller might actively conceal such information from a buyer. This can happen when a seller ‘prepares’ the car for sale by cleaning the engine, thus removing leaks and accumulations of oil and / or coolant that can indicate the areas where the problems might be.
The agency problem, also referred to as principal-agent problem, arises when an agent, acting on behalf of the principal, has distinct set of incentives from the principal. The resulting risk is that the agent will act in self-interest to undermine the goals and objectives of the principal. An example here would be a real estate agent contracted by the seller, while taking a commission kickback from the buyer. Or vice versa.

This post was published at True Economics on Saturday, November 18, 2017.

Enter The NatGas Cartel

The King Dollar is mortally wounded. Many notice but the masses seem largely unaware. Since 1971, the Gold Standard has been removed from its anchor position. But since 1973, the Petro-Dollar has taken its place. It has called for crude oil sales led by the Saudis and OPEC to be transacted in USDollar terms, for oil surpluses to be stored in USTreasury Bonds, and for some kickbacks from the Saudis to the USMilitary complex for weapons purchases. Of course, the US is ready willing and able to create strife and to foment wars whereby the Arab oil monarchs will need more weapons. Since 2014, many events have pointed to the crippled condition of the important link between the USDollar and crude oil. The price has plunged by 50% of more, and not recovered. It is currently lurching in the nether bounds near the $45 level. Anything less than $65 to $70 per barrel is very dangerous for keeping the oil sovereigns afloat and for keeping the US energy sector solvent. Witness the Wall Street banks having tremendous problems with impaired bonds and toxic energy portfolios. They seem not resolvable. They cannot keep the oil price over $50, a sign of their impotence.
Not enough financial analysts connect the new normal of a much lower crude oil price with the eventual vanishing act of the Petro-Dollar. The Wall Street banks are deeply exposed on their entire energy portfolios, which include both bonds and commercial loans. Tens of $billions will have to be written off as loss, beyond the $billions already declared as losses. These corrupt banks have worked their magic to lift the oil price above the $50 level, but failed. They worked the task for over a year, but failed. They need an oil price over $60, but failed. The Saudis did not help the cause, by their ongoing extra output to finance their filthy Yemen War. The Saudis earned the anger of their OPEC partners, especially the Gulf Arab allies. The Wall Street banks deeply resent the Saudis for this deed, but the USMilitary complex loves the Saudis. The other Arab oil producers also harbor consider rancor toward the Saudis, who really have no friends in the entire Persian Gulf region. They are so worthy of a palace coup, which would bring clamors of rejoicing in many corners of the West if it were to occur. The day might be close.

This post was published at GoldSeek on July 5, 2017.

The Hunt for Taxes is Global

Taxes are the root of all evil for this is the confrontation against the people that historically leads to civil unrest and then revolution. The American and French Revolutions were over taxes. Historically, even the Roman Empire was forced from time to time to grant tax amnesty as was the case in 119AD. You even have Roman Emperors such a Trajan (98-117AD) engaging in social legislation known as the Alimenta, which was a welfare program that helped orphans and poor children throughout Italy. The Alimenta provided general funds, food and subsidized education for children. The funding came from the Dacian War booty initially. When that ran out, it was funded by a combination of estate taxes and philanthropy. The state provided loans like Fannie Mae providing mortgages on Italian farms (fundi). The registered landowners in Italy received a lump sum from the imperial treasury. In return, the borrower was expected to pay yearly a given proportion of the loan to the maintenance of an Alimentary Fund – a kickback so to speak. Taxes and social programs have been a very long time.

This post was published at Armstrong Economics on May 5, 2017.

This One Photo Captures Why Americans Can’t Win Against Wall Street

There are 15 U. S. Senators who are members of the U. S. Senate Banking Committee’s Subcommittee on Securities, Insurance, and Investment that has been investigating the charges that the stock market is rigged by the stock exchanges along with dark pools run by large broker-dealers that are operated as opaque, unregulated quasi stock exchanges, high frequency traders at hedge funds, conflicted payment for order flow, and tricked-up order types – to mention just a few of the ways the public investor is getting fleeced.
The Subcommittee held a critically important hearing yesterday to review what progress the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the self-regulatory Wall Street watchdog, were making to rein in the abuses on Wall Street.
Despite the lack of trust the public feels toward Wall Street and the abysmal 14 percent approval rating of Congress (according to the most recent Gallup poll), 73 percent of the Senators on this hearing panel couldn’t be bothered to show up for the hearing. Outside of the Republican Chair of the hearing, Senator Mike Crapo, not one other Republican out of a total of eight on the Subcommittee attended. Out of the seven Democratic Senators on the panel, three showed up: Senator Mark Warner, the Ranking Member, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Senator Joe Donnelly.
Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat from New York, whom one might think would have an interest in restoring trust in Wall Street, was noticeably absent. Schumer derives substantial campaign financing sums from Wall Street and what Wall Street wants is business as usual.
Adding to the apathy that prevents any meaningful reform of Wall Street’s serial crimes against the public, major media were no-shows as well. We could not find one major newspaper that covered what transpired in the hearing yesterday. The New York Times gave it one sentence that seriously failed to capture the essence of the hearing. The Times wrote: ‘A Senate hearing today will examine how the pricing structure of the computer-driven U. S. stock market became so convoluted.’
The wire service, Reuters, did write about the hearing but covered only one of the many topics, the maker-taker model, a fancy name for a rebate kickback scheme to attract order flow at competing exchanges.

This post was published at Wall Street On Parade By Pam Martens and Russ Marte.

Brazil’s Disastrous Debt Dynamics Could “Create Contagion” For Emerging Markets, Barclays Warns

Last week, we got the latest round of abysmal economic data out of Brazil. To summarize: GDP is in ‘free fall mode’ (to quote Barclays), inflation hit double digits for the first time in over a decade, and unemployment soared to 7.9% in August, up sharply from just 4.3% a year earlier.
Put simply: it’s a full on economic meltdown.
The situation is made immeasurably worse by the country’s seemingly intractable political quagmire. The standoff between President Dilma Rousseff (who has been accused of cooking the fiscal books) and House Speaker Eduardo Cunha (who has been implicated in a kickback scheme tied to Petrobras) has led to a veritable stalemate that’s made it exceedingly difficult for Rousseff and her embattled finance minister Joaquim Levy to push through badly needed austerity measures.
Rousseff scored a victory on the austerity front on Wednesday when lawmakers approved her veto of a bill that would have raised retirement payments alongside the minimum wage, but this is an uphill battle and while incremental wins may be enough to give the beleaguered BRL some temporary respite, the medium- to long-term outlook is abysmal.
As Brazil continues to muddle through what has become a stagflationary nightmare, Barclays is out with a fresh look at the country’s debt dynamics and unsurprisingly, the picture isn’t pretty.
The road ahead depends on fiscal policy, Barclays begins, and that, given the current dynamic, is not a good thing. ‘Even if politics were uncomplicated and policy unconstrained, Brazil would still face enormous challenges adjusting to far less supportive local and global conditions,’ the bank notes, referencing the now familiar laundry list of EM problems including slumping commodity prices, lackluster demand from China, the yuan deval (bye, bye trade competitiveness), and the incipient threat of a Fed hike and thus an even stronger USD.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 11/22/2015.

Ted Butler Quote of the Day 05-21-15

Where do I get off accusing the COMEX and CME of running a crooked shop whether you call it market making or a bookie operation? For nearly 30 years I’ve argued that COMEX silver has facilitated the silver manipulation in violation of the terms of commodity and interstate commerce law; but let me do so today in terms of what constitutes a crooked bookie. If there’s one thing in which no one would disagree, a bookie would be considered unquestionably crooked if he took measures to ensure the outcome of a sporting event, such as paying players in a college basketball game to deliberately shave points in a game or otherwise perform badly enough to affect the outcome. In essence, that’s exactly what the COMEX has encouraged in silver. How so?

First, if a bookie never lost when he took a big line on any sports event that should raise suspicions of rigged games. After all, there is no way a freely contested event could always fall within the odds to the bookie’s favor. Let me stop here and agree that it’s not the COMEX or the CME taking the bets that never lose, but certain favored members, like JPMorgan and other large institutions. The CME provides the infrastructure that enables the real bookies to take the bets of speculators (technical funds) in silver, gold, copper and other commodities. The CME gets kickbacks from everyone who places bets on the COMEX, but sees to it that the most favored member bookies always win.

Data from the federal commodities regulator, in the form of the weekly Commitments of Traders Report (COT) confirm that the biggest bookies, like JPMorgan, have never, to my knowledge, incurred any losses in taking the other side to what the technical funds have ever bet. Some smaller bookies or commercial traders have suffered a rare setback or two over the years, but the biggest silver bookies, like JPMorgan? Never have they lost. That’s the sure sign that the COMEX silver game is fixed –  when the biggest bookies never lose.

A small excerpt from Ted Butler’s subscription letter on 05-20-15.

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JPM Non-GAAP Revenues Beat, Earnings Rise On Reduces Legal Charges

Following countless quarters in which JPM suffered about $30 billion in legal charges, the tempets in Jamie Dimon’s legal settlement teapot may be quieting down, with a quarter in which JPM experienced “only” $687 million in pre-tax legal expenses, or about $0.13 in EPS.

As a result of this reduced kickback to the government to continue operating, JPM managed to beat expectations on both the top and bottom line, printing revenues and EPS of $24.8 billion amd $1.45 respectively, fractionally higher than the $24.5 Bn and $1.41 expected.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 04/14/2015.

Technical Analysis: Expect Contratrend Rallies In Most Metals

The following is an excerpt from Yamada’s latest monthly update for premium subscribers, released today. We highly recommend subscribing to the monthly in-depth analysis of Louise Yamada on http://www.lyadvisors.com.
Bear market declines are in place for nearly all the commodities except for a strong Palladium.. Kickback rallies (contratrend rallies) are in place or in progress; some already may be failing. What to watch for is a test of the lows, which may result in a further breakdown, and lower lows, or contrarily, a decline that fails to achieve the former low, thus holding at a higher level, which could suggest the potential for another rally over the weeks / months ahead.
Gold – Lack of Direction Gold Spot price (GOLDS-1,213, see Figure 30) failed to rally beyond the 2013 downtrend, instead pulling back below the long-term uptrend as well as below the MAs, uncertain as to the next direction. The weekly momentum appears poised to roll over into another negative bias, with the monthly negative, but trying to turn positive. Sideways action may continue to baffle over the short term, but the bear market forces may not yet be over. The parameters for a trading area stand between resistance 1,300 and support 1,177-1,131. Pushing through either level would suggest the direction of the next move for Gold.

This post was published at GoldSilverWorlds on March 1, 2015.