Category Archives: Financial Crisis

The Deep State Hiding in Plain Sight

In 2014 Bill Moyers was joined by Mike Lofgren, a congressional staff member for 28 years, to talk about what he calls Washington’s ‘Deep State’, in which elected and unelected figures collude to protect and serve powerful vested interests. “It is how we had deregulation, financialization of the economy, the Wall Street bust, the erosion or our civil liberties and perpetual war,” Lofgren tells Moyers. Lofgren also authored an essay titled: Anatomy of the Deep State(Moyers & Company)

How Blair and Clinton created the conditions for Brexit and Trump

Thomas G. Clark writes for Another Angry Voice:

[…] In my view the ruptures in British and American politics happened in the 1990s with the accession of Bill Clinton in 1993 and Tony Blair in 1997. These were men who inherited the Democratic Party of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Labour Party of Clement Attlee, but instead of pursuing the kind of prosperity yielding democratic socialism of their predecessors they adopted a “third way” strategy.

Clinton and Blair held onto power by slightly slowing down the radical and destructive right-wing neoliberalisation agenda rather than actively working to reverse the worst of the damage. Of course they seemed like an improvement after the chaotic crisis-ridden 1980s, but both men slowly continued the progress of the right-wing zealotry introduced by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.

One of Clinton’s most overt moves towards hard-right economic dogma was a piece of legislation called the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 which exempted all manner of derivatives trading from financial regulation. a move that unleashed the frenzy of speculative derivative trading that resulted in the 2007-08 global financial sector insolvency crisis.

Aside from the extraordinarily dodgy PFI privatisation scams and the commodification of the higher education system through the introduction of student fees (aspiration taxes), one of Tory Blair’s most blatant rightward lurches saw the de facto privatisation of the Bank of England and the establishment of what turned out to be an astoundingly weak tripartite system of financial sector regulation.

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Cash, Cruises and Sex Parties: Inside Ex-HBOS Manager’s £245m Scam

Simon Goodley reports for The Guardian:

Image result for HBOS Manager's £245m Scam[…] Now it can be reported for the first time that Scourfield, 54, is corrupt,and pleaded guilty last year to six counts relating to his role in a scheme that cost the bank £245m.

On Monday his business associate David Mills, 60, who ran a small business turnaround consultancy Quayside Corporate Services (QCS), Mills’s wife. Alison, 51, plus their associates Michael Bancroft, 73, and Tony Cartwright, 72, were all convicted for their roles in helping to run Scourfield’s scam.

A sixth man, Mark Dobson, 56, who worked for Scourfield at HBOS, was also convicted, while one other defendant, Jonathan Cohen, 57, was acquitted.

Despite his absence from the courtroom having changed his plea last year, Scourfield’s presence loomed over proceedings each day of the four-month trial.s

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From ‘Drain the Swamp’ to Government Sachs

John Cassidy reports for The New Yorker:

Gary Cohn (far right) has suggested that the Trump Administration will attempt to significantly roll back post-2008 regulatory reform on Wall Street.Until now, Gary Cohn, the former president of Goldman Sachs, has been the invisible member of the Trump Administration. Now we know why: he has been busy preparing favors for his old pals on Wall Street. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, Cohn said that Trump was preparing to sign an executive order designed to pave the way for a broad rollback of the regulatory regime that the Obama Administration and Congress introduced after the disastrous financial crisis of 2008 and 2009.

Although Cohn gave few specifics, his comments suggested that the Trump Administration wants to hobble the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which Congress created to protect the interests of ordinary Americans and investors; reduce the amount of capital that big banks such as JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America have to hold in reserve; spare some non-bank financial firms—such as major insurers—from the enhanced scrutiny they have been subjected to in recent years; and scythe away other key elements of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. “This is a table setter for a bunch of stuff that is coming,” Cohn said in reference to the executive order, which Trump signed on Friday.

During last year’s campaign, Trump portrayed both Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton as pawns of Goldman Sachs. And after the self-described “Leninist” Steve Bannon took over as his campaign C.E.O., Trump broadened his critique, at one point depicting Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman’s C.E.O. and Cohn’s old boss, as a member of a cabal of global financiers who had “robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth, and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities.” Even when it was happening, though, it was clear that all this rabble-rousing was mainly for show.

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‘Spectacular Betrayal’ as Trump Rolls Back Wall Street Regulations

Deirdre Fulton reports for Common Dreams:

President Donald Trump is set to hand the U.S. economy “back over to Wall Street” on Friday, with a regulatory rollback that critics say could put consumers and the financial system at risk.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Trump plans to sign executive orders Friday “establish[ing] a framework for scaling back the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial-overhaul law” and rolling back an Obama-era regulation requiring advisers on retirement accounts to work in the best interests of their clients. That rule was set to go into effect in April.

Trump plans to sign the orders surrounded by bank CEOs.

“The Wall Street bankers against whom Trump ran are making policy now,” said Robert Weissman, president of watchdog group Public Citizen.

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Extreme Vetting, But Not for Banks

Matt Taibbi writes for Rolling Stone:

Donald Trump, the man who positioned himself as the common man’s shield against Wall Street, signed a series of orders today calling for reviews or rollbacks of financial regulations. He did so after meeting with some friendly helpers.

Here’s how CNBC described the crowd of Wall Street CEOs Trump received, before he ordered a review of both the Dodd-Frank Act and the fiduciary rule requiring investment advisors to act in their clients’ interests:

“Trump also will meet at the White House with leading CEOs, including JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon, Blackstone’s Steve Schwarzman, and BlackRock’s Larry Fink.”

Leading the way for this assortment of populist heroes will be former Goldman honcho Gary Cohn, now Trump’s chief economic advisor.

Dimon, Schwarzman, Fink and Cohn collectively represent a rogues gallery of the creeps most responsible for the 2008 crash. It would be hard to put together a group of people less sympathetic to the non-wealthy.

Trump’s approach to Wall Street is in sharp contrast to his tough-talking stances on terrorism. He talks a big game when slamming the door on penniless refugees, but curls up like a beach weakling around guys who have more money than he does.

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Government Sachs: Protesters Decry Financial Giant Swamping Trump Administration

In New York City, over 100 people set up a protest encampment outside the headquarters of financial giant Goldman Sachs, which they are calling “Government Sachs.” At least six of Trump’s top advisers and Cabinet picks are tied to Goldman Sachs: treasury secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, Trump chief strategist Stephen Bannon, Securities and Exchange Commission chairman nominee Jay Clayton, senior White House adviser Anthony Scaramucci and senior counselor for economic initiatives Dina Habib Powell. (Democracy Now!)

Joe Biden to Davos: The Top 1% Must Pay Its Fair Share or Else…

Jay Yarow reports for CNBC:

Image result for Joe Biden to DavosIn his final speech as vice president, Joe Biden warned that the top 1 percent needed to pay their fair share, or else.

Biden delivered his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland, which is attended by world leaders, top executives, investors and members of the press.

The outgoing vice president started his speech by noting that there is a “palpable sense of uncertainty about the state of the world,” and we need to ask ourselves, “What kind of world are we going to leave for our children?”

The main theme of his speech was that the “liberal international world order” is at risk of collapse, as bad actors like Russia meddle in elections and try to undermine the progressive values of the United States and Europe.

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Davos Elite Seeks Fixes to Defend the System From Populists

Jeff Black and John Follain report for Bloomberg:

Image result for Davos Elite Seeks Fixes to Defend the System From PopulistsThe great and the good of Davos agree they have a problem with populism. Finding a solution is the hard part.

On the second day of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in the Swiss Alps, delegates disagreed on how best to address the upending of the western political order, a debate made doubly urgent by the string of elections in Europe this year where anti-establishment parties could gain more ground.

While International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde urged a list of policies from programs to retrain workers to more social spending, others fretted that the turbulence is only starting. Hedge Fund billionaire Ray Dalio warned on a panel chaired by Bloomberg Television’s Francine Lacqua that “we may be at a point where globalization is ending, and provincialization and nationalization is taking hold.”

That leaves technocrats trying to patch together potentially expensive remedies to make the current system of global trade, banking and business links that the Davos club represents acceptable to the public at a time when newcomers like U.S. president elect Donald Trump threaten to dismantle it by scrapping trade deals and introducing tariffs.

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Trump Treasury Pick Steven Mnuchin’s Former Bank Accused of Widespread Misconduct

Juan Gonzalez and Amy Goodman speak to The Intercept reporter David Dayen, author of Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Great Foreclosure Fraud, about Trump’s pick for Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, who faces scrutiny for his role at OneWest, a bank which has been called a “foreclosure machine” that profited from the collapse of the housing market. Dayen recently wrote about Mnuchin for The Intercept in an article titled: Treasury Nominee Steve Mnuchin’s Bank Accused of “Widespread Misconduct” in Leaked Memo(Democracy Now!)

Nomi Prins: My Political-Financial Road Map for 2017

Nomi Prins, former managing director at Goldman Sachs and author of All The Presidents’ Bankers, writes:

Happy New Year! May yours be peaceful, safe and impactful!

As tumultuous as last year was from a global political perspective on the back of a rocky start market-wise, 2017 will be much more so. The central bank subsidization of the financial system (especially in the US and Europe) that began with the Fed invoking zero interest rate policy in 2008, gave way to international distrust of the enabling status quo that unfolded in different ways across the planet. My prognosis is for more destabilization, financially and politically.  In other words, the world’s a mess.

Over 2016, I circled the earth to gain insight and share my thoughts on this path from financial crisis to central bank market manipulation to geo-political fall out, while researching my new book, Artisans of Money. (I’m pressing to hand in my manuscript by February 28th – the book should emerge in the Fall.)

I traveled through countries Mexico, Brazil, China, Japan, England and Germany, nations epitomizing various elements of the artisanal money effect. I spoke with farmers, teachers and truck-drivers as well as politicians, private and central bankers. I explored that chasm between news and reality to investigate the ways in which elite power endlessly permeates the existence of regular people.

In last year’s roadmap, I wrote we were in a “transitional phase of geo-political-monetary power struggles, capital flow decisions, and fundamental economic choices. This remains a period of artisanal (central bank fabricated) money, high volatility, low growth, excessive wealth inequality, extreme speculation, and policies that preserve the appearance of big bank liquidity and concentration at the expense of long-term stability.”

That happened. Going forward, as always, there’s endless amount of information to process. The state of economies, citizens and governments remains more precarious than ever. Major areas on the upcoming docket include – central bank desperation, corporate defaults and related job losses, economic impact of political isolationism, conservatism and deregulation, South America’s woes, Europe’s EU voter rejections, and the ongoing power shift from the West to the East.

For now, I’d like to share with you some specific items – which are by no means exhaustive, that I’ll be analyzing in 2017.

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Capitalism Is Collapsing, and There Is Nothing Rising to Replace It

Crawford Kilianwrites for The Tyee/AlterNet:

Some anonymous wise person once observed that it is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism. But Wolfgang Streeck, a 70-year-old German sociologist and director emeritus of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, thinks capitalism’s end is inevitable and fast approaching. He has no idea what, if anything, will replace it.

This is the premise of his latest book, How Will Capitalism End?, which goes well beyond Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century. Piketty thinks capitalism is getting back into the saddle after being ruined in two world wars. Streeck thinks capitalism is its own worst enemy and has effectively cut itself off from all hope of rescue by destroying all its potential rescuers.

“The end of capitalism,” he writes in the introduction, “can then be imagined as a death from a thousand cuts… No effective opposition being left, and no practicable successor model waiting in the wings of history, capitalism’s accumulation of defects, alongside its accumulation of capital, may be seen… as an entirely endogenous dynamic of self-destruction.”

According to Streeck, salvation doesn’t lie in going back to Marx, or social democracy, or any other system, because there is no salvation at all. “What comes after capitalism in its final crisis, now under way, is, I suggest, not socialism or some other defined social order, but a lasting interregnum — no new world system equilibrium… but a prolonged period of social entropy or disorder.”

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The Vampire Squid Occupies Trump’s White House

Matt Taibbi writes for Rolling Stone:

[…] One surprise election result and a mountain of jubilant #draintheswamp hashtags later, Donald Trump has filled his White House with, you guessed it, Goldman veterans.

His chief strategist, the unabashed white-supremacist loon Steve Bannon, is a former Goldman banker, as is adviser Anthony Scaramucci. Steve Mnuchin marks the fourth Goldman-pedigreed treasury secretary in the last four presidencies, after Bob Rubin, Lawrence Summers and Hank Paulson.

But the real shocker is the recent appointment of Goldman Chief Operating Officer Gary Cohn to the post of director of the National Economic Council. Bannon and Mnuchin were former, past Goldmanites. Cohn, meanwhile, is undoubtedly at least the number-two figure at the world’s most despised bank, if not the outright co-head with Blankfein. He has been at the center of many of its most infamous episodes, including the Greek affair.

So much for draining the swamp.

The new party line, emanating both from Washington and from Alt-Right yahoos on the Internet, is that people like Gary Cohn are no longer the swindling scum-lords Trump said they were a few months ago, but simply smart businessmen.

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Trump’s Great Gatsby Government Will Be a Gift to the Rich

Nomi Prins writes for The Guardian:

Image result for Trump's Great Gatsby government[…] Despite all his populist slogans, Trump was born with a golden spoon in his mouth. He understands having money because he never had to understand not having money. He understands bending the rules because he’s made money doing that. He became president doing that. He boasted about it during the election.

He gravitates to people similar to him, billionaires and up and coming millionaires. His cabinet choices are pedigreed and skilled at using the government to their profit advantage. We are supposed to believe that because they know how that game is played, that as public officials they will divert those talents on our behalf. The only fly in that ointment is that they have no reason to do so.

We have Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary nominee, whose hedge fund took over a California bank in 2009 on the cheap, got the government to back the risk of the deal and proceeded to foreclose on 36,000 homes between 2009-2015, reaping a profit for him and his group of around $1.5bn. He’s not going to regulate the industry that handed him that windfall. Then, there’s Commerce secretary nominee Wilbur Ross who made billions taking over flailing steel and other industrial companies, pushing costs like pension payments onto the government and firing people in the process. He’s not about to advocate for unions or higher minimum wages or equal pay for women in the workplace.

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Stephen Hawking: This Is The Most Dangerous Time For Our Planet

Stephen Hawking writes for The Guardian:

Image result for planet earthAs a theoretical physicist based in Cambridge, I have lived my life in an extraordinarily privileged bubble. Cambridge is an unusual town, centred around one of the world’s great universities. Within that town, the scientific community that I became part of in my 20s is even more rarefied.

And within that scientific community, the small group of international theoretical physicists with whom I have spent my working life might sometimes be tempted to regard themselves as the pinnacle. In addition to this, with the celebrity that has come with my books, and the isolation imposed by my illness, I feel as though my ivory tower is getting taller.

So the recent apparent rejection of the elites in both America and Britain is surely aimed at me, as much as anyone. Whatever we might think about the decision by the British electorate to reject membership of the European Union and by the American public to embrace Donald Trump as their next president, there is no doubt in the minds of commentators that this was a cry of anger by people who felt they had been abandoned by their leaders.

It was, everyone seems to agree, the moment when the forgotten spoke, finding their voices to reject the advice and guidance of experts and the elite everywhere.

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Bankers Behind ‘Great Foreclosure Machine’ Join Trump’s Cabinet as Treasury and Commerce Secretaries

Amy Goodman speaks to David Dayen, journalist and author of Chain of Title, about two of Donald Trump’s Cabinet picks: Steven Mnuchin for treasury secretary and Wilbur Ross for commerce secretary. Dayen’s most recent for The Nation is ‘Wilbur Ross and Steve Mnuchin—Profiteers of the Great Foreclosure Machine—Go to Washington‘. (Democracy Now!)

Trump Reportedly Considering JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon For Treasury Secretary

Linette Lopez reports for Business Insider:

jamie dimonPresident-elect Donald Trump is considering offering the post of Treasury secretary to JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, CNBC’s Kate Kelly is reporting.

A lifelong Democrat, Dimon supported Barack Obama in 2008 and during the aftermath of the financial crisis.

As post-financial-crisis Dodd-Frank regulation started to make an impact on the American financial system, however, he became much more critical.

On Wednesday, after Trump won Tuesday’s presidential election, Dimon sent a memo to JPMorgan employees calling them to come together for the nation. He also made a subtle dig at Trump’s stances on immigration and race.

[…] JPMorgan declined comment to Business Insider about Trump’s possible interest in Dimon as Treasury secretary. Steven Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs official, is also reportedly in the running for the position.

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Donald Trump and the Bonfire of the Certainties

John Authers writes for the Financial Times:

Behold the bonfire of the certainties. In combination with June’s Brexit vote, the political reaction that many assumed would hit in 2009 has finally come to pass. The US wants to reverse globalisation, as does the UK, while France, Germany and Italy all have a chance to upend the status quo at the ballot box in the coming months.

The certainties that had reassured investors and financiers since the era of Thatcher and Reagan, and that are now in question, include a global commitment to free trade, independent central banks, a financialised version of capitalism, and relatively limited social safety nets. Although many of those voting for British exit from the EU, and for a Donald Trump presidency, have a deep distrust of governments, the likely result is more interventionist governments.

Mr Trump’s character adds a layer of uncertainty. As President Barack Obama argued, to no avail, it is worrying when someone who will now have control of the nuclear codes cannot be trusted with their own Twitter account. This uncertainty will itself damage securities prices and shake confidence.

Putting Mr Trump’s personal character to one side, in the broader picture the result should not have been a surprise. Back in 2008, as the financial crisis broke, many thought a political crisis would ensue within months. Capitalism appeared broken, and some form of populist reaction an inevitability. The surprise is that the denouement has been so long delayed.

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Globalisation Is Dead, and White Supremacy Has Triumphed

Paul Mason writes for The Guardian:

Image result for Globalisation Is Dead[…] This is not some two-dimensional revolt against poverty and wage stagnation. It is a three-dimensional revolt against the impacts of neoliberalism – both positive and negative.

Freemarket economics unleashed two forces that have now collided: the rapid rise in inequality, and a route to the top percentile for the talented female, black or gay person. As long as it delivered not just growth but a growth story, a foreseeable better future, those disempowered by neoliberalism could stand it.

But neoliberalism no longer works. It is broken. If it survived it would have delivered at best zombie growth fuelled by central bank money and at worst stagnation. But it will not survive. Last summer I predicted that if we do not break with the economics of high inequality, high debt and low productivity, populations will vote to dismantle the global order. With Brexit and Trump that process is inexorable – and the next wave of the tsunami will hit Italy and Austria in their plebiscites on 4 December.

In the next weeks, our denial reflexes will be in full swing. Like Auden’s generation we will “cling to our average day”. But one set of people now faces a moment where only honesty will suffice. It is the economists, journalists, civil servants, bankers and policy wonks who have rubbished the idea of the existential threat.

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How Did Neoliberalism Help Create Trumpism? Interview with Nomi Prins

Author of ‘All The Presidents Bankers’ Nomi Prins joins Paul Jay and panelists to discuss the economics behind Donald Trump. (The Real News)

Would Wall Street Have a Place in a Clinton Administration?

Alec MacGillis writes for ProPublica:

On Oct. 29, 2013, Hillary Clinton joined Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, for a discussion at its Builders and Innovators Summit, at the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain resort, near Tucson. During the discussion — one of more than 50 appearances for which Clinton received $225,000 since leaving the State Department — she lamented that the public’s wariness of Wall Street had made it difficult for top people in finance to move into government. For one thing, in order to avoid conflicts of interest, they often faced demands to relinquish financial holdings. “There is such a bias against people who have led successful and/or complicated lives. You know, the divestment of assets, the stripping of all kinds of positions, the sale of stocks — it just becomes very onerous and unnecessary,” she said, according to a transcript released last month by WikiLeaks.

That is not the kind of thing that Sen. Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, likes to hear. Warren supports Clinton, and has been one of her most effective advocates during the current campaign, but she has also made it clear that, if Clinton is elected, she will closely monitor the people she names to key posts. On Sept. 21, in a speech at the Center for American Progress, a left-of-center think tank based in Washington, Warren said, “Personnel is policy. When we talk about personnel, we don’t mean advisers who just pay lip service to Hillary’s bold agenda, coupled with a sigh, a knowing glance, and the twiddling of thumbs until it’s time for the next swing through the revolving door — serving government, then going back to the very same industries they regulate. We don’t mean Citigroup or Morgan Stanley or BlackRock getting to choose who runs the economy in this country so that they can capture our government.”

People with experience in business or finance are a necessity in Washington, but the specter of a privileged executive elite circulating in and out of government and the private sector — especially Wall Street — has shadowed the American political system for more than half a century. The financial industry still favors the Republican Party, but, since the 1990s, it has become more closely affiliated with the Democrats, and that has provoked a resurgent left, led by Warren and by Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont.

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Wall Street Saddles Up for a Hillary Clinton Presidency: Interview with Nomi Prins

Sharmini Peries speaks to former Goldman Sachs managing director, author and journalist Nomi Prins. She says just one example of Wall Street influence in running the government is Jack Lew, Secretary of the Treasury, who was the former Citigroup COO and a former Deputy Secretary of State under Clinton and Chief of Staff at the White House. Her latest piece is titled Waking Up In Hillary’s America(The Real News Network)

Waking Up in Hillary Clinton’s America

Nomi Prins writes for TomDispatch:

As this endless election limps toward its last days, while spiraling into a bizarre duel over vote-rigging accusations, a deep sigh is undoubtedly in order. The entire process has been an emotionally draining, frustration-inducing, rage-inflaming spectacle of repellent form over shallow substance. For many, the third debate evoked fatigue. More worrying, there was again no discussion of how to prevent another financial crisis, an ominous possibility in the next presidency, whether Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton enters the Oval Office—given that nothing fundamental has been altered when it comes to Wall Street’s practices and predation.

At the heart of American political consciousness right now lies a soul-crushing reality for millions of distraught Americans: the choices for president couldn’t be feebler or more disappointing. On the one hand, we have a petulant, vocabulary-challenged man-boar of a billionaire, who hasn’t paid his taxes, has regularly left those supporting him holding the bag, and seems like a ludicrous composite of every bad trait in every bad date any woman has ever had. On the other hand, we’re offered a walking photo-op for and well-paid speechmaker to Wall-Street CEOs, a one-woman money-raising machine from the 1% of the 1%, who, despite a folksiness that couldn’t look more rehearsed, has methodically outplayed her opponent.

With less than two weeks to go before E-day—despite the Trumptilian upheaval of the last year—the high probability of a Clinton win means the establishment remains intact. When we awaken on November 9th, it will undoubtedly be dawn in Hillary Clinton’s America and that potentially means four years of an economic dystopia that will (as would Donald Trump’s version of the same) leave many Americans rightfully anxious about their economic futures.

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HyperNormalisation by Adam Curtis

Documentary by British filmmaker Adam Curtis released on 16th October 2016 exclusively on BBC iPlayer. (BBC)

Hedge Fund Managers Struggle to Master Their Miserable New World

Saijel Kishan reports for Bloomberg:

[…] It’s an existential crisis for former masters of the universe who once prided themselves on their trading prowess. Now they’re questioning their wisdom and their ability to generate profits that made them among the richest in finance.

The $2.9 trillion industry has posted average annual returns of 2 percent over the past three years, well below those of most index funds, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That meager performance and complaints about high fees from pension plans and other investors led to $51.5 billion being withdrawn from hedge funds in the first nine months of the year, the most since the financial crisis, data compiled by Hedge Fund Research Inc. show. About 530 funds were liquidated in the first half, on pace for the most shutdowns since 2008.

Managers blame a wall of index-fund money and algorithmic trading for warping markets. They bemoan central bank near-zero-rate policies, political and economic decisions made overseas and government regulation for undermining their craft. Add to that global economic uncertainty and an onslaught of technology that’s changing the investing process. It’s enough to have the so-called best and brightest second-guessing themselves.

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RBS ‘Dash for Cash’ Scandal: 500 Firms Suing Bank Turn Anger on Regulator

Ian Fraser, author of Shredded: Inside RBS, the Bank That Broke Britain, writes for the Scottish Herald:

RBS ‘Dash for Cash’ scandal: 500 firms suing bank turn anger on regulatorA group of almost 500 businesses suing the Royal Bank of Scotland for allegedly destroying their firms and seizing their assets is threatening legal action against the Financial Conduct Authority if it does not immediately publish its long-awaited report into the scandal.

The central allegation of the so-called “Dash for Cash” scandal was that firms – in some cases healthy ones – were preyed on by RBS which effectively bankrupted the companies, bought the assets and made a profit from their suffering. RBS denies the allegations. David Stewart, spokesman for the RBS GRG Business Action Group, said:“Unless the FCA gives an immediate commitment to publishing the Section 166 report, we will initiate judicial review proceedings against them.”

The FCA, the financial regulator, launched a probe into the Dash for Cash scandal in January 2014. The report, produced by consultants Promontory and Mazars, was handed to the FCA in late summer but the regulator only confirmed receipt on October 5.

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Ex-Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf Deserves Jail – Not a Plush Retirement

Nomi Prins, author of All The President’s Bankers, writes for The Guardian:

Image result for Wells Fargo CEO John StumpfFor former Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf, this will be his first weekend as a wealthy retiree. So it goes in a world where big banks can screw over customers and the public, and the CEO who presided over these practices can slink off into the sunset unencumbered by the kind of real retribution that plagues small-time drug users and petty thieves. They go free. We pay the price.

Two days before the bank’s quarterly earnings announcement, Stumpf announced his immediate resignation. That decision came about a month after the firm was slapped with a $185m settlement for a fee-stealing scam that resulted in the axing of 5,300 low-level employees. He did not resign after settlements for any of the prior wrongdoing that took place under his purview for which the firm paid about $10bn in fines.

Make no mistake. Stumpf was the captain and commander of this $1.9tn empire. Its culture, as in all Wall Street culture, was defined from the top down, not the other way around. For his penance, all Stumpf had to do was forfeit $41m in restricted stock awards (stock he didn’t even fully own yet).

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Nomi Prins on Boom Bust Discussing the Wells Fargo Scandal

Edward Harrison speaks to former banker Nomi Prins, author of All the President’s Bankers, who discuss everything from the IMF to Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf. The segment runs from approximately 15:00 to 22:20(Boom Bust)

Leaked Emails Show Citigroup Had Major Role in Shaping and Staffing Obama’s First Term

Pam Martens and Russ Martens report for Wall Street on Parade:

President Obama Walking in Cross Hall at the White House. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.)The Presidential election of 2008 was held on November 4, with Barack Obama winning on a promise of delivering “hope” and “change” to a nation in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. At that time, Citigroup was a financial basket-case. It had already received $25 billion from the government’s bailout program known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) in October; it was secretly receiving hundreds of billions of dollars more each month in below-market rate, revolving loans from the Federal Reserve — information which the Fed refused to make public despite multiple Freedom of Information Act requests from the media; and Citigroup was just 19 days from more hemorrhaging, requiring an additional government infusion of $20 billion and asset guarantees of more than $300 billion. Citigroup’s stock was at $13.99, a decline of 63 percent in just 12 months and it was on its way to eventually trade as a penny stock, at 99 cents.

Citigroup had been serially charged by its regulators for abusing its customers and targeting the poor and financially uneducated. But key executives at the bank had played major roles in raising funds for the Barack Obama campaign so it was richly rewarded for that.

According to emails released by WikiLeaks yesterday, which came from a hack of the email account of John Podesta, a co-chair of Obama’s 2008 Transition Team,  we learn that despite the obvious fact that Citigroup was both corrupt and derelict in handling its own financial affairs, Barack Obama gave executives of that bank an outsized role in shaping and staffing his first term.

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How RBS Squeezed Struggling Businesses For Profit

Thousands of confidential documents obtained by Newsnight and BuzzFeed News reveal how the bank systematically squeezed struggling businesses with fees and higher interest rates. RBS said it had let some small business customers down in the past but denied it deliberately caused them to fail. Andy Verity reports. (BBC Newsnight)