Sunday, January 31, 2016

George Soros Gives $6 Million to Back Clinton

Billionaire George Soros  is backing Hillary Clinton big time. According to CNN, the latest federal election records show that he has contributed $6 million into a super PAC backing Hillary's campaign.

   -RW

Hedge Fund Manager Steven Cohen Gives $2 Million to Chris Christie Super PAC

Billionaire Steven Cohen, whose former hedge fund became embroiled in a federal insider trading investigation three years ago, donated another $2 million late last year to boost New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's presidential campaign, new filings show, according to USA Today.

The $2 million contribution from Cohen and wife, Alexandra, to a pro-Christie super PAC accounted for nearly 40% of the $5.1 million America Leads raised during the last half of 2015.

The new contributions, made in December, brought to $4 million the amount the couple has donated to America Leads.

Several other prominent political and business figures wrote checks to the pro-Christie super PAC, year-end reports show, They include Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman, $100,000; former U.S. Senate candidate and professional wrestling magnate Linda McMahon, $250,000; and billionaire investment banker Herb Allen, $50,000.

Cohen has spent much more on art than politicians. In 2012, he purechased Picasso's Le Reve  from Steve Wynn for $150 million.

$150 million purchase.


$4 million purchase.
   -RW

This TED Talk Has Been Viewed 31 Million Times

Apartment Rents Surged 5% in the Fourth Quarter

The median asking rent for an apartment in the US jumped by over 5% in the 4th Quarter alone!  Year-over-years the increase is about 7%.


But, hey, it is all good according to Fed president John Williams who says wagse climb faster than price inflation (SEE: VIDEO San Francisco Fed President Explains Why the Fed Has a 2% Price Inflation Target)

(via Buisness Insider)

San Francisco Fed Prez Blames Foreign Investors: "One of the Reasons US Real Estate Prices Are Going Through the Roof"

On Friday, San Francisco Federal Reserve president John Williams at a media availability following a  Commonwealth Club of San Francisco event said that US real estate was being seen by foreign investors as a safe haven. He specifically singled out, San Francisco, New York, Miami, Seattle and Honolulu as cities attracting foreign money.



   -RW

CALENDAR ALERT: Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer at the Council on Foreign Relations

 Council on Foreign Relations building in New York City.

This is a potential market mover.

Federal Reserve Vice-Chairman Stanley Fischer will discuss in New York City the U.S. economy, recent economic developments, and monetary policy, live on Monday, February 1, from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. (EST) at the Council on Foreign Relations.

I view Fischer as part of the money manipulation policy troika of Fischer, Fed chair Janet Yellen and New York Federal Reserve President William Dudley.

The event can be watched online here.


   -RW

CLAIM Koch Brothers Backed Bankster Bailout

I have already written that lefty author Jane Mayer appears to written a well researched new book that contains a heavy focus on the Koch brothers,  Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right.

I am just now starting to delve deep into the book and came across this fascinating claim by Mayer:
[M]any reporters assume...Kochs opposition to Obama as stemming from their principal disagreement over issues such as the TARP bail out. But none of this was true. Had people checked the record carefully they would have found it  quite revealing. At first the Kochs' political organization, Americans for Prosperity (AFP), had in fact taken what appeared to be a principled libertarian position against the bailouts. But the organization quickly and quietly reverse sides when the bottom began to fall out of the stock market threatening the Kochs' vast investment portfolio...

 [A]fter the unexpected House vote as the measure was about to be considered by the Senate, a list of conservative groups now supporting the bailouts was circulated behind the scenes to Republican legislators in hopes of persuading them to vote for the bailouts. Among the groups now listed as supporters was Americans for Prosperity. Soon after the Senate passed harp with overwhelming bipartisan support. A source familiar with the Kochs' thinking says that Americans for Prosperity's flip- flop mirrored their own.

   -RW

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The 8 Types of Salespeople

Video here.

Venezuela is on the Brink of a Complete Economic Collapse



WaPo even gets it:
The only question now is whether Venezuela's government or economy will completely collapse first.
The key word there is "completely." Both are well into their death throes.
How did this happen? Typical nutjob socialist policies. WaPo again:
The first step was when Hugo Chávez's socialist government started spending more money on the poor, with everything from two-cent gasoline to free housing. Now, there's nothing wrong with that — in fact, it's a good idea in general — but only as long as you actually, well, have the money to spend. And by 2005 or so, Venezuela didn't.

Why not? The answer is that Chávez turned the state-owned oil company from being professionally run to being barely run. People who knew what they were doing were replaced with people who were loyal to the regime, and profits came out but new investment didn't go in. That last part was particularly bad, because Venezuela's extra-heavy crude needs to be blended or refined — neither of which is cheap — before it can be sold. So Venezuela just hasn't been able to churn out as much oil as it used to without upgraded or even maintained infrastructure. Specifically, oil production fell 25 percent between 1999 and 2013.

This has been followed by crazed central bank money printing:
 The rest is a familiar tale of fiscal woe. Even triple-digit oil prices, as Justin Fox points out, weren't enough to keep Venezuela out of the red when it was spending more on its people but producing less crude. So it did what all poorly run states do when the money runs out: It printed some more. And by "some," I mean a lot, a lot more. That, in turn, became more "a lots" than you can count once oil started collapsing in mid-2014. The result of all this money-printing...is that Venezuela's currency has, by black market rates, lost 93 percent of its value in the past two years...
And it's only going to get worse. That's because Socialist president Nicolás Maduro has changed the law so the opposition-controlled National Assembly can't remove the central bank governor or appoint a new one. Not only that, but Maduro has picked someone who doesn't even believe there's such a thing as inflation to be the country's economic czar. "When a person goes to a shop and finds that prices have gone up," the new minister wrote, "they are not in the presence of 'inflation,' " but rather "parasitic" businesses that are trying to push up profits as much as possible. According to this — let me be clear — "theory," printing too much money never causes inflation. And so Venezuela will continue to do so.

   -RW

Another eCurrency Entrepreneur Headed to the Slammer

This is just sad.

The creator of Liberty Reserve pleaded guilty Friday to laundering hundreds of millions of dollars through his digital currency exchange.

Arthur Budovsky, 42 years old, is the fifth defendant to plead guilty as part of the Liberty Reserve case. The  plea comes three days before he was scheduled to begin trial in Manhattan federal court.

Budovsky admitted Friday that he specifically designed Liberty Reserve to help users conduct illegal transactions anonymously and laundered more than $250 million.

Budovsky pleaded guilty to one charge of conspiracy to launder money and faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.

Liberty Reserve had more than a million users world-wide.

The company made its financial transactions "anonymous and untraceable" through its own digital currency, similar to bitcoin.

The idea that any current electronic currencies are "anonymous and untraceable" is absurd.

-RW

The Explosive Change Occurring in the San Francisco Real Estate Market (More Powerful Than an Earthquake)

Business Insider's Andrew Stern does an excellent job of reporting on what is going on in San Francisco on the real estate front.

He shows all views, or I should say all the central planning views (That's all there is)---including some of the problems with many current interventionist real estate laws..

There is nothing in the documentary, however, that indicates that artists, and middle class apartment dwellers, being displaced will simply find new communities to live in, which they will. It's not like artists are going to disappear.

Artists traditionally live on the edges of bustling cities becasue they can never afford the rents at the center of a city.

The technology boom in the Silicon Corridor combined with Federal Reserve money printing is causing a boom and expansion of the high rent core of SF. This is urban economics 101. Change happens, but apparently even artists hate change--if it is change beyond that splashed on a canvas.





  -RW

A Statist Incomes Policy Is Gaining Ground In Silicon Valley

Cora Lewis reports:
This week, the startup incubator Y Combinator put up a job listing for a researcher to study basic income, a policy where the government would, as described by Y Combinator boss Sam Altman, give all citizens “enough money to live on with no strings attached.”
There are other ways to describe the UBI (“universal basic income”), the cutest being “mincome” (short for minimum income), but the general parameters include just that: all citizens get a base amount of money, unconditional on employment status or other factors.
Why am I not surprised "libertarian" Peter Thiel is in favor of the idea? SEE: The Truth About Peter Thiel.

Lewis continues, I guess thinking that Thiel is a libertarian:
It’s an idea that has united Marxists and libertarians, making unlikely comrades of anarchist anthropologist David Graeber and billionaire investor Peter Thiel. Some proponents argue the policy would raise the standard of living, return a degree of labor market power to working people, and compensate unwaged work by women. Others believe direct cash payments are a more efficient way for the government to distribute money than the current welfare system.
For the record, any plan that requires government, to take by coercion money from some and give to others, can not be libertarian since it is a violation of the fundamental libertarian principle of non-aggression.

Altman, Thiel and Graeber are simply central planners here. If they think giving money to non-workers is a grand idea then they should just do it. When they call on government to get involved, which, again, brings in to the picture coercion, they are suffering from what Friedrich Hayek called the fatal conceit, that they know best how society should be ordered and they would like to see everyone coerced into following their plan.

“I’m fairly confident that at some point in the future, as technology continues to eliminate traditional jobs and massive new wealth gets created, we’re going to see some version of this at a national scale,” Altman wrote, reports Lewis.

Which, btw, means that Altman isn't even aware that Silicon Valley is in the middle of another Federal Reserve created bubble.

The website of Altman's company, Y Combinator, boasts "Our companies have a combined valuation of over $65B."

Let's see where that stands after the next crash.

Again, if Altman, Thiel and Graeber want to give their money to others who do nothing, they should be free to do so. However, to demand that all follow their lead at the point of a gun is not about freedom and creativity, it is about leaders in the line of Lenin, Stalin and Mao.

  -RW

(ht Chandra Duggirala)

UPDATE

I should add that this wacko proposal exists at a time when the government run retirement program, Social Security. will run out of money to pay just retirees---who have coercively  paid into the program for their retirement!

Are Gasoline Prices About to Spike?



The average U.S. price for a gallon of regular gasoline stood at $1.806 late Friday, according to GasBuddy.com. That’s down 23.6 cents from last year’s average of $2.042 a gallon.

According to Myra Saefong at Market Watch, Michael Green, a spokesman for AAA, said that if crude stabilizes above $30 a barrel, “then most drivers may soon pay more at the pumps.”

“We are entering the time of year when gas prices can jump very quickly,” Green said. “ It’s common for gas prices to jump this time of year as refineries conduct seasonal maintenance, which means the days of paying less than $2 for gas might be numbered.”

  -RW

Upcoming Walter Block Speeches


Prof, Walter Block emails:

 A few of my upcoming speeches

Princeton University, February 17. MYtopic: my Defending the Undefendable series of books, I, II and III At 5 pm
Where: Whig Hall Senate ChamberHosted by Princeton LibertariansCo-sponsored byYoung Americans for Liberty Princeton Chapter & Cliosophic Society

Free State Project, New Hampshire, February 19. By skype. For details: https://freestateproject.org/; https://freestateproject.org/events/liberty-forum. My topic: Living liberty? No, promoting liberty; my series of books on privatizing roads, oceans and space colonization

Acapulco, Mexico, February 20-21. For details: http://anarchapulco.com/. My topic: free market anarchism, abortion, immigration

Sao Paulo and Rio, Mises Institute Brazil, February 26-28. For details gean@mises.org.br. My topic: Austrian economics.

Buenos Aires, Argentina. March 30. By skype. For details: ivancachanosky@hotmail.com. My topic: Austrian economics and liberty

Auburn Alabama, Mises Institute, March 31-April 2. For details https://mises.org/events/austrian-economics-research-conference-2016. My topic: Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and libertarianism. I still have room in my car for a few more people. Well, Rev Larry Beane’s larger van. This is a free trip for students! C’mon, join me, us. It will be the experience of a life time.

Another Open Letter to Barack Obama

President Barack Obama
White House
Washington, DC
Mr. Obama:
In remarks today supporting government regulations designed to close the so-called gender pay gap, you asked rhetorically “What kind of example does paying women less set for our sons and daughters?”
I’m tempted to ask different questions, such as: What kind of example does your abuse of statistics in order to politically grandstand set for our sons and daughters?  (Surely you know that this ‘gap’ virtually disappears when the statistics are properly controlled for differences in women’s and men’s career choices.)  Or what kind of example does your incurable itch to officiously second guess and to coercively interfere with voluntary contractual arrangements between consenting adults set for our sons and daughters?
But instead I’ll grant, for argument’s sake, the premise of your complaint about the “pay gap” and ask a different question: What kind of example does your own White House – in which, as documented by economist Mark Perry, the median salary of female employees is 16 percent lower than the median salary of male employees – set for your two daughters?
Perhaps you should stop shoving your nose into other people’s affairs and attend to your own.
Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
and
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030
The above originally appeared at Cafe Hayek.

Friday, January 29, 2016

HOT Swiss Suspect $4 Billion ‘Misappropriated’ by Malaysian State Companies; A Goldman Sachs Connection?

The Swiss attorney general’s office investigating Malaysian state-owned development fund 1MDB said on Friday it suspects that about $4 billion has been misappropriated from “Malaysian state companies, ” reports the WSJ

A criminal investigation conducted by the Swiss attorney general’s office has revealed “serious indications that funds have been misappropriated,” the Swiss prosecutor said in a statement.

So far four cases involving allegations of criminal conduct between 2009 to 2013 have been discovered, the attorney general’s office said. Each involved a “systematic course of action carried out by means of complex financial structures,” the statement said.

One has to wonder how this ties in with Tim Leissner, who has taken perosnal leave from Goldman and has left Asia for Los Angeles.

FT has previously reported. My Bold:
Goldman’s relationships in Malaysia first came to the fore in 2013 when the bank collected a $300m fee on a $3bn bond arranged for 1MDB...Usually bond fees are a fraction of that amount. ..
Mr Leissner was a key player in the bank’s relationships with power brokers in Kuala Lumpur, including Mr Najib , who chairs 1MDB’s advisory board....Mr Leissner’s wife has tweeted pictures of herself with Mr Najib’s wife, Rosmah, whom she described as “my friend”.

  -RW

VIDEO San Francisco Fed President Explains Why the Fed Has a 2% Price Inflation Target

By Robert Wenzel

Following a forum discussion by San Francisco Federal Reserve president John Williams, along with Stanford economist John Taylor, at the Nikko Hotel in San Francisco, as part of the regular Commonwealth Club of San Francisco forums, a separate press conference was held for the financial media with Williams.

I was able to ask Williams about a comment that Steve Forbes made during an interview with Money Metals Exchange.

The interview has not yet been published but a copy was provided to me and I received permission from Money Metals to ask Williams about this Forbes comment:
One other example on that is Janet Yellen, the head of the Federal Reserve, says that we should have two percent inflation, which in her mind is seeing the prices rising two percent a year. If you take a typical American family making fifty thousand bucks a year, that means their costs would go up a thousand dollars a year, two percent of fifty thousand. Who gave her the authority to raise the cost of living, which is an effective tax, a thousand dollars on a typical American family? Yet Congress, they just nod their heads. It's a travesty.
The response by Williams is below. Please note, the nature of these type press conferences is such that you can't really debate. It's ask your question then the next questioner  is up. So I pushed it by even asking Williams about 3% inflation, there was no way I could debate him on the entire concept that inflation somehow magically boosts productivity,

But, anyway, I believe Williams' answer provides a general reflection on how Fed members now think about inflation and their justification for creating price inflation.





Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher at EconomicPolicyJournal.com and at Target Liberty. He is also author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics

UPDATE: The full Steve Forbes interview is now online here.

SF Prez: I expect unemployment to keep coming down

If it wasn't for overseas headwinds the economy would be growing at 3% to 4%, he said.

SF Prez: I don't see any obvious signs of recession.


We  are on a path of moving interest rates to a more normal level, he said. It will be data driven increases. A normal interest rate level might be at 3% to 3.50% level, he said

SF Prez: I Am Optimistic

SF Fed president John Williams said today in San Francisco at The Commonwealth Club that he is optimistic that the U.S. economy can weather overseas turmoil.

This is Really Going to Mess With the NYC Taxi Industry



Uber is going for the jugular in the escalating Big Apple cab wars — with a substantial drop in prices that was scheduled to go into effect Friday morning, reports NyPo.

The base fare in NYC goes from $3 to $2.55 and the per mile rate will go from $2.15 to $1.75 while the per minute rate will go from 40 cents to 35 cents.

Taxi drivers are incensed by the move, notes NyPo. Unlike black cars, their prices are set by the Taxi and Limousine Commission, so they can’t drop their prices to compete.

“Uber is keeping its drivers in poverty wages just so that the company can try to monopolize,” said Bhairavi Desai executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance “This is horrible.”

In fact, Uber drivers are happy with the rate cut.

NyPO reports:
The last time Uber dropped its prices – in July of 2014 – time that the drivers spent without a fare in the car dropped by 42 percent. They expect to shave even more idle time off this time.
Some drivers, who claim they sometimes wait for up to 30 minutes between fares, say they are happy with the change.
“We need to to do something to increase the money, go ahead and do it,” said Adalgisa Sanchez, 51, who has been driving for Uber for three years. Sanchez said she takes home about $1,800 if she works 45 hours a week.
The only losers are the government sanctioned and controlled taxi cartel.

Go Uber!

-RW

Test

Test.

The Greatest Shareholder Letter Ever Written by a Bankster

By John Maxfield

Jamie Dimon's 2006 letter to shareholders is like fine wine -- it gets better with age. This is especially true when you compare it to the letters written that year by Dimon's counterparts at what were then the two biggest banks in America.
Even with the benefit of hindsight, it was impossible to predict that a crisis was around the corner when JPMorgan Chase's (NYSE:JPM) CEO wrote his letter at the beginning of 2007. His bank earned record profits the previous year. Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) did, too. And the only reason earnings fell at Citigroup (NYSE:C) in 2006 was because it was up against a historic performance in 2005.
These results fueled a sense of invincibility at JPMorgan Chase's biggest competitors, as they have at countless other imprudent firms at inopportune moments in time. Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis was one of many who insinuated that credit risk had been tamed:
We believe we are in a good position to weather any credit issues we currently see on the horizon. [...] Our ability to distribute credit risk through the securitization of various asset classes adds further stability. And as our risk managers analyze information about our customers in ever more sophisticated ways, we can grow our portfolio without significantly increasing our risk profile. In fact, in some parts of our business we are actually saying "yes" to more customers while at the same time improving the average quality of our loans.
Citigroup's Charles Prince made similar claims, though he at least had the foresight to use subtler language:
Helping our bottom-line results were lower credit costs, which reflected the continued favorable credit environment globally, including a very low level of bankruptcy filings in our U.S. Consumer business.
As we look to 2007, we believe the credit environment around the world, with some exceptions, is good, but we are very focused on managing our exposure. We expect moderate deterioration in credit in 2007 and are managing our portfolio accordingly.
I firmly believe that we have embarked on an era of renewed growth and that the changes we are making will lead to sustainable growth in shareholder value.
It was into this sea of optimism, in turn, that Dimon pitched his own shareholder letter. But while Lewis and Prince's missives were undisguised homilies to growth at all cost, Dimon's revealed an almost apocryphal sense of impending doom:
We do not know exactly what will occur or when, but we do know that bad things happen. There is no question that our company's earnings could go down substantially. But if we are prepared, we can both minimize the damage to our company and capitalize on opportunities in the marketplace.
Dimon then shared a list of things JPMorgan Chase had done right in 2006, including:
  • We did not originate option ARMs or other negative amortization loans.
  • We applied the same underwriting standards to all of our subprime loans, whether originated by us or purchased from third parties.
  • We sold substantially all of our 2006 subprime originations.
  • We were very careful in certain parts of the United States and were especially careful to seek accurate property appraisals.
He concluded his comments on credit risk with what may go down in history as the most prescient paragraph ever written by an American banker:
We do not yet know the ultimate impact of recent industry excesses and mismanagement in the subprime market. Bad underwriting practices probably extended into many mortgage categories. As government officials investigate the market and losses mount, the industry is tightening underwriting standards by reducing loan-to-value ratios and using more conservative property values. There will be more due diligence on incomes and credit quality. More rigid standards increase foreclosures and make it more difficult to buy homes. This will lead to a lower number of sales and a reduction in home values.
Read the rest here. 

Nutjob Gathering in Kenya to Torch 120 Tons of Ivory; DiCaprio, Soros, Kidman, Buffett, Bloomberg



Kenya will host a major global summit on illegal poaching and wildlife trafficking this April that will count Hollywood celebrities, business leaders, world dignitaries and politicians as attendees, according to local reports.

Additionally, in an effort to boost elephant conservation, Kenya will also use the two-day event to set fire to its massive stockpile of ivory that has an estimated black market price of $270 million.

“Kenya plans to use the occasion to torch as many as 120 tonnes of ivory, the largest stockpile of ivory ever destroyed by any country, as proof of our commitment to zero tolerance for poaching and illegal ivory trade,” Presidential Spokesman Manoah Esipisu told reporters.

Actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Nicole Kidman, and business tycoons George Soros, Paul Allen, Howard Buffet (son of Warren Buffett) and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg are expected to attend the Elephant Protection Initiative held April 29 – April 30.

Elton John and former NBA player Yao Ming are also on the guest list.

This event, of course, ignores the fact that dwindling elephant and other wildlife populations are the result of a lack of property rights in the areas where these animals roam. With property rights and the desire by some to nurture different animal species, the problem goes away.

Further, the burning of the ivory tusks cuts the supply, which will boost the price of ivory and provide even more incentive for poaching.

It's time to privatize the jungles.

-RW

TWITTER BATTLE: Prince Alwaleed bin Talal vs. Donald Trump

Donald Trump tweeted out this photoshopped pic.



Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Tala, whose holding company Kingdom Holdings up until recently held a 6.6%stake  in FOX parent News Corp,,responded:



 Alwaleed purchased New York City's Plaza Hotel from Trump in 1995,  when he was in financial trouble.  Alwaleed's website has called the purchase "a bailout valued at $325 million."

Trump had bought the posh hotel for $400 million in 1988. Trump remained a minority partner in the hotel after the sale, the paper reported, but assumed "a substantially reduced role" in its operations. 

Alwaleed also purchased Trump's yacht, "The Trump Princess," after it was taken over by creditors in 1991.

-RW

U of Maryland Economist: Trump is Right About Nationalistic Trade Stance

Peter Morici, a professor at the University of Maryland, is all in favor of Trump's bizarre call for trade wars.

“Trump’s proposals for fixing trade — starting with China — address the salient issues of currency, trade barriers and subsidies,” Morici writes at Newsmax.

 -RW

Donald Trump With a Not Exactly Ayn Rand-Type Comment (Another Self-Hating Rich Guy---Who, BTW, Won't Give Up His Money)



At his “Special Event for Veterans” in Des Moines, Iowa last night, Donald Trump said that “my whole life I’ve been greedy, greedy for money — but now I want to be greedy for the United States.”

“I’m going grab all that money, all that money — for the United States.”

“But I always feel guilty,” he added, “because all my life I made money, I’m really creative at it, all my life I did well. My father always said, ‘everything my boy touches, turns to gold.'”

This guy really has no clue about the capitalist system---and that is very, very dangerous in a politicla leader.

 -RW

BREAKING Bank of Japan Adopts Unprecedented Negative Interest Rate



The Bank of Japan has just that it will adopt a negative interest rate policy for the first time.

The central bank said it cut the deposit rate it pays on cash parked at the BOJ by commercial banks in excess of legally required reserves, to minus 0.1% from the previous plus 0.1%.

The bank decided to introduce negative rates to “pre-empt the manifestation of [downside] risk and to maintain momentum to achieve the price stability target of 2%,” the BOJ said in a statement released after a two-day policy meeting.

“We will cut the interest further into negative territory if judged as necessary,” the central bank said.

The vote count was 5-4 in favor of negative interest rates.

We are in a near global crazed money printing phase. This is not going to end well.

 -RW

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Stanford Tops Harvard in FY 15 Contributions


After taking the top spot in 2014, Harvard fell to second in an annual ranking of universities by donations. In Fiscal Year 2015, Harvard received $1.05 billion in gifts, a number that does not include most of John Paulson’s $400 million gift to the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences or Gerald Chan’s gift to the School of Public Health, reports The Harvard Crimson.

Stanford has led this ranking, compiled by the Council for Aid to Education, for nine of the last 10 years. This year, Stanford’s cash receipts totaled $1.63 billion, which includes four gifts of $100 million or more. The largest gifts came in the form of artwork from two branches of a San Francisco Bay Area family, with the two gifts valued at over $600 million.

According to The Crimson, many gifts to Harvard—including those from Paulson and Chan as well as a donation to financial aid from Kenneth C. Griffin ’89— have been made as pledges of support to be fulfilled over an agreed number of years. Property gifts, in contrast, are transferred to the University in one fell swoop. The value of property gifts is included in the fiscal year calculations.

Uber is Now More Popular than Taxis or Car Rental with Business People

. Every quarter Certify, a business-expense software firm, collects data from millions of travel-expense claims in America in order to spot market trends. If there has been one story this year, it has been the incredible rise in the proportion of business travellers using Uber. Within the space of 12 months, the car-sharing service has gone from having the lowest share of “ground transportation” journeys, when compared with regular taxis and car rentals, to the most, reports Economist magazine.


Has the White House Ever Been Involved in Influencing Federal Reserve Policy?

Of course, but you only learn about it decades later.

From a January 27, 1963 talking points memo to President  Lyndon Baines Johnson by then-Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers Walter Heller on an up-coming meeting by the President with then-Federal Reserve Chairman Bill Martin:

Monetray policy coordination: Martin should connsult with the President and/or his major economic polic advisers before making significant policy changes--he does a good deal of this  now with Treasury, but use of our "Quadriad" group for such coordination would be appropriate.
---
Martin should use his influence to achieve some leavening of the boards of directors of the 12 Federal Reserve Banks by at least occasional appointment of New Frontier types to "Class C: directorships--e.g. Jim Tobin or Bob Solow at the Boston Fed. One liberal or moderate really shouldn't threaten the foundations of the Federal Reserve System.  

Tobin ended up a member of the Board of Governors of Federal Reserve System for several terms.

From Managing Macroeconomic Policy: The Johnson Presidency



 -RW

CRASH TEST: 2009 Chevy Malibu vs 1959 Bel Air

This is just one of the ways our standard of living is improving: Advances in passenger protection.




(ht Mark Perry)

Bankster Operation Buys Naming Rights to New Golden State Warriors Arena



This is the most exciting thing  in sports naming rights since the naming rights for the stadium the Houston Astors play in was bought by Enron in 2000.

The Asros facility had been called Enron Field since it opened in 2000. Enron, the bankrupt energy company, had agreed to pay $100 million over 30 years to have its name on the facility during that time.

Despite the company's bankruptcy filing, Enron was current in payments to the team but the team filed a motion with the bankruptcy court to get the naming rights back, saying it was being hurt by the association with the Houston-based company and that it was concerned that Enron would seek to resell the naming rights for the stadium without the team's approval. It is now known as Minute Maid Park.

The facility where the Golden State Warriors will play in San Francisco, beginning in 2009, will be known as Chase Center.

The Warriors currently play in Oakland, CA at Oracle Center.

 -RW





Walgreens Temporarily Closing Its Henry Kissinger-Connected Theranos Wellness Center

Walgreens said it is temporarily closing its Theranos Wellness Center in Palo Alto, Calif., after federal inspectors found “deficient practices” at Theranos’s Newark, Calif., lab that “pose immediate jeopardy to patient health and safety,” reports WSJ.

The tests at the Henry Kissinger connected Theranos have been suspicious for years. In 2014, I tried to locate a center to get my blood tested, as a world-recognized scientist, specializing in blood diagnostics, tipped me off to problems with the tests. I was going to match the results up against standard tests.

My phone conversations and email exchanges in October 2014 with Jim Graham in Walgreens public relations proved unhelpful. In visiting San Francisco Walgreens pharmacies, none of them were familiar with the tests.

The world-recognized expert pointed out to me several problems with the claims bing made by Theranos, years before the concerns now being raised by government regulators.

The high-profile board members and/or consultants at Theranos include Henry Kissinger, former State Department and Treasury Secretary George Schultz and former Senator Sam Nunn.

According to Fortune, investors in Theranos include:

Draper Fisher Jurvetson, ATA Ventures, Tako Ventures, former board member Don Lucas and Oracle  founder Larry Ellison.

BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners, Continental Properties Co., Esoom Enterprise (Taiwan), Jupiter Partners, Palmieri Trust, Partner Fund Management, Dixon Doll, Ray Bingham and B.J. Cassin.


 -RW

How Wealthy of a Society is America? Our Toilet Paper Provides a Clue

Don Boudreaux explains:
I just returned from a post-blizzard run to the supermarket.  While there I noticed that Charmin and many other brands of toilet paper feature embossed designs on their products....

Think of this astonishing fact: someone had the idea to beautify with such designs a product that literally gets flushed down the toilet; other people spent time coming up with these designs; yet other people engineered machines to have the capacity to emboss such designs onto toilet paper; and all of this was done because market forces drive toilet-paper manufactures to compete for consumer patronage.

We are such a wealthy society that, to please ordinary consumers, we spend resources beautifying toilet paper.

TERRIBLE Karl Marx is the Most Assigned Economist in U.S. College Classes

Tom Bemis reports that according to data from Open Syllabus project, which tracks books and other works assigned to students in more than 1 million syllabi, that a:
 search for “economics” shows Paul Krugman at the top of the list with his iconic “Economics,” which gets a count of 1,081 and score of 89.4...
Karl Marx’s classic receives a count of 3,189 and a score of 99.7. It doesn’t actually show up under economics texts either, as it is generally taught along with philosophy texts such as “The Social Contract,” by Jean-Jacques Rousseau; “Leviathan,” by Thomas Hobbes; and “On Liberty,” by John Stuart Mill....The only books assigned more frequently than “The Communist Manifesto” were “The Elements of Style,” the writing guide by William Strunk which was popularized by E.B. White, and “The Republic,” by Plato.

The best antidote  to Karl Marx is Gary North's 1968 book, Marx's Religion of Revolution: Regeneration Through Chaos. Unfortunately, it is out of print and quite expensive as a second-hand book, but relative to the junk students are being taught in college, the price is a bargain:




 -RW

In 2009, Newt Gingrich Saw the Oil Production Boom Coming...and Tore Al Gore to Shreds

Krugman as Part of the Vichy Left Brand Cover for the Democratic Party Messaging Apparatus

Yves Smith, quite correctly, lays into Krugman for being a political hatchet man/apologist for the Obama regime, rather than a serious economist:
Paul Krugman’s recent posts have been most peculiar. Several have looked uncomfortably like special pleading for political figures he likes, notably Hillary Clinton. He has, in my judgement, stooped rather far down in attacking people well below him in the public relations food chain, violating one of the unwritten rules of discourse: if you are going to kick someone, you kick up or at least sideways.

Perhaps the most egregious and clearest cut case is his refusal to address the substance of a completely legitimate, well-documented article by David Dayen outing Krugman, and to a lesser degree, his fellow traveler Mike Konczal, in abjectly misrepresenting Sanders’ financial reform proposals and attacking that straw man....

What so irritated Krugman, and led him to issue not one but two posts going after Dayen on a bizarre no-name, no-link basis? ...

Krugman’s first post, Wonks and Minions, went full bore ad hominem. Members of his audience who would not know that Krugman was settling a particular score would mistakenly see this as an effort to depict many of Sanders’ backers as hysterics and unsound, clearly less trustworthy than established fauxgressive brand names like Ezra Klein, Jonathan Cohn, and Jonathan Chait. Treating this list as if it were a pantheon of intellectual accomplishment is a big tell as to where Krugman is coming from. Established readers will recognize Klein as a shallow apologist for neoliberalism; we’ve referred to him as Baghdad Bob...

And here’s the priceless part in Krugman’s faux high ground post: he acts as if he’s riding in to defend Konczal when Dayen’s article was almost entirely about Krugman. And Krugman’s failure to offer a substantive response means he’s resorting to old trick of trial lawyers at the end of their rope: “When the facts are on your side, pound the facts. When the law is on your side, pound the law. When neither is on you side, pound the table.” The post is full of cheap slurs...

This is remarkable, and in a very bad way. Krugman conflates the content of his inbox with Dayen’s post via the “minions” in the headline and text, tarring Dayen with being emotional and accusing his of depicting Krugman and Konczal as evil. Moreover he simply chooses to deny the evidence presented by Dayen in his post,..

Is Krugman off his meds? Where does this paranoid “those who challenge my positions and those of my allies are calling me evil and a corrupt crook” lunacy come from? Straw manning isn’t an adequate depiction of what is going on here, since “straw man” is a misrepresentation of the content of a position. Krugman goes well beyond that to accuse Dayen of personal enmity and moraL abolutism.

The Krugman that was early to stand up to the Iraq War, who was incisive before and during the crisis has been very much in absence since Obama took office. It’s hard to understand the loss of intellectual independence. That may not make Krugman any worse than other Democratic party apparatchiks, but he continues to believe he is other than that, and the lashing out at Dayen looks like a wounded denial of his current role. Krugman and Konczal need to be seen as what they are: part of the Vichy Left brand cover for the Democratic party messaging apparatus. Krugman, sadly, has chosen to diminish himself for a not very worthy cause.
Note, I have purposely left out of this post Yves' defense of Sanders' view on banking regulation, a view I am not fond of. I have merely focused on the brilliant exposure that Yves has brought to Krugman's role as, well, a Vichy Left brand cover for the Democratic party messaging apparatus.

The full Yves Smith essay is here: Krugman’s Cowardly, Dishonest Attack on David Dayen Over Krugman’s Misrepresentation of Sanders’ Financial Reforms.

 -RW


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

An Unsolicited Email From an EPJ Daily Alert Subscriber

I recently put out two brief videos for EPJ Daily Alert subscribers and received this unsolicited email:
I greatly enjoyed the two videos you recently shared here with the Alert.  I learned more in the 30 minutes and change of video than I ever expected... Your alert has taught me more about economics than I learned in my entire college career.  Can't thank you enough.

Subscribe to the EPJ Daily Alert and receive the two videos as part of your welcome package: click here.

Germany Repatriates More Gold; US Federal Reserve Gold Holdings Continue to Shrink



Germany's Bundesbank took more than 200 tonnes of its gold back to Frankfurt from overseas last year, the central bank reported today.

Just over 40 percent of itsgold  reserves, which Germany started building in the post-war boom years, is now held underground at the Bundesbank in Frankfurt.

According to the World Gold Council Germany has 3,384.2 tons of gold, the second largest central bank gold holdings.

Until recently, Germany stored 69% of its gold abroad in London, Paris and New York. By 2020 the German Bundesbank claims they will have half of their gold in Germany, 37% at the New York Federal Reserve and 13% in London at the Bank of England.

Meanwhile, gold held by the Federal Reserve for foreign countries continues to fall as Germany and other countries continue to pull their gold holdings from the Fed vaults.


 -RW

(ht  Smaulgld.com)

The 13 Banksters Firms That Have Invested in a Blockchain Technology Company

Digital Asset Holdings, a blockcahin technology company, has just completed a round of financing that netted it $52 million.

The company is headed by the former JPMorgan Chase CFO Blythe Masters.

The 13 bankster firms that have provided the funding are:

ABN AMRO
Accenture
ASX Limited
BNP Paribas
Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc.
Citi
CME Ventures
Deutsche Börse Group
ICAP
J.P. Morgan
Santander InnoVentures
The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation
The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.


 -RW

BREAKING Theranos Lab Practices Pose "Immediate Jeopardy" to Patient Health, Regulators Say ( Henry Kissinger, Counselor)

Federal health inspectors have found serious deficiencies at Theranos Inc.’s laboratory in Northern California that could put the facility at risk of losing its certification, according to a letter from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, reports WSJ.

In 2014, I detailed the Kissinger connection. SEE: The Very Creepy, Kissinger Connected, Theranos.

I noted in the same piece:
This comment former Secretary of State and Treasury, and current Bechtel Corporation capo, George Shultz (Riley P. Bechtel-Chairman of the Board and a Director of Bechtel also sits on the board of Theranos):
 In a conversation about a year ago, Secretary Shultz said Ms. Holmes could be "the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. "
When I put it to him again on my recent visit, he smiles slyly. "This is not the last thing she's going to invent or create."
Also see my October 2015 post: Major Theranos Scandal Brewing; Henry Kissinger Involvement 

-RW

(ht Robert Blumen)

UPDATE:

The largely establishment Republican board and counselors of Theranos as listed on its web page:

Elizabeth Holmes-Theranos Chairman, CEO and Founder

BOARDS OF DIRECTORS AND COUNSELORS:
Sunny Balwani: President and COO - Director
Riley P. Bechtel - Director
David Boies - Director
William H. Foege
William H. Frist
Henry A. Kissinger
Richard Kovacevich
James N. Mattis - Director
Sam Nunn
William J. Perry
Gary Roughead
George P. Shultz

Attention Rand Paul and Ted Cruz: A Value-Added Tax is a Terrible Idea

By Diana Furchtgott-Roth

The misguided valued-added tax seems like a magic money-making bullet to the nation’s deficit problems. The Tax Foundation estimates that Sen. Ted Cruz’s 16% VAT would net $25 trillion over the next decade. Sen. Rand Paul proposes a 14.5% “business activity tax” that would operate much like a European value-added tax, or VAT.

But once the VAT is put in place, it is practically impossible to get rid of it. In countries that have it, the VAT rises over time incrementally and gives government immense power. Cruz and Paul are in favor of smaller government, but their suggested VATs would expand government clout.

VATs harm consumers through increased prices and broader tax bases. Although Cruz and Paul suggest it as a substitute for other taxes, in advanced countries, parliaments, congresses, and assemblies don’t get rid of other taxes. They add the VAT on top of existing levies...

Unlike state sales taxes, VATs are charged in small amounts along the entire supply chain. The final tax is hidden... Due to their hidden nature, VATs tend to grow over time, and 26 of the 33 advanced nations with VATs have raised their rates.

From 1975 to the present, VAT rates have risen in the U.K. from 8% to 20%. In Norway, they increased from 20% to 25%. These taxes are in addition to European income taxes that are relatively high by American standards.

For instance, when imposed in 1967, Denmark’s VAT was 10%; it is now 25%, in addition to a top income tax rate of 56%. In 1968, Germany levied a 10% VAT. Germans are more fortunate; their VAT has risen “only” to 19%, and their highest income tax rate is “only” 48%...

Cruz and Paul make the VAT the centerpiece of their tax-reform plans. But America needs to move away from European policies, not towards them.

Read the rest here.

SABRIN: Abolish the New Jersey State Income Tax!

Murray Sabrin has a must-read op-ed out calling for the abolishment of the New Jersey state income tax.

From the piece:
In a free society, which is based upon a market economy, all participants make voluntary choices in order to improve their lives. I call this a Mutual Consent Society, where no one is coerced to buy or sell any good or service against their will. Isn't this the "American" way? The freedom to choose?
---
An income tax, whether it is progressive (tax rate increasing as incomes increase) or flat (one rate on all incomes, usually with a substantial standard deduction, making a flat tax somewhat progressive in reality), is a classic example of legal plunder, because it is a gross violation of private property.
---
The reforms needed to create a Mutual Consent Society in New Jersey is clear: Abolish the state income tax and eliminate taxpayer funding for K–12 education and pre-K, so education decisions can be made by parents and provided by competent teachers instead of career bureaucrats in Washington and Trenton.

In addition, abolishing the income tax would provide the fuel for a more robust economy, the best anti-poverty program there is.
Read the full piece here.
.

Fed Leaves Rates Unchanged

As expected by pretty much everyone, the Federal Reserve left the rates they control unchanged at the FOMC monetary policy meeting they just concluded.

In the statement, the Fed left the window for more rate hikes this year but indicated that any rate hikes will be at a gradual pace.

The full statement is here.

Norway Wants to Phase Out Cash

By Joseph T. Salerno
Norway's largest bank, DNB, has joined the relentless campaign by governments and big banks the world over to abolish cash, the physical embodiment of a nation's monetary unit and the last tangible, if tenuous, link to the 19th-century gold standard.  Almost all of today's national currency notes, notably excluding the euro,  originated as claims to a definite weight of gold (or silver).  Predictably, a DNB spokesman justified its proposal to completely eliminate the use of cash in favor of digital checking accounts by claiming that the abolition of cash would reduce crimes such as money laundering:
Today, there is approximately 50 billion kroner in circulation and [the country’s central bank] Norges Bank can only account for 40 percent of its use. That means that 60 percent of money usage is outside of any control. We believe that is due to under-the-table money and laundering.  There are so many dangers and disadvantages associated with cash, we have concluded that it should be phased out.  
Note the ominous implication of this absurd statement: any large or even moderate-sized financial transaction that people manage to keep private must involve criminal activity.  Indeed, in 2013, a Norwegian man had his home ransacked by police  after he purchased a PC, TVs and a washing machine for 80,000 kroner in cash from an inheritance he had received. 
DNB suggests that the first step in implementing its program to abolish cash is to get rid of the 1,000 kroner note (worth about $114 at the current exchange rate).  The aim of progressively withdrawing larger denomination notes from circulation is, of course, to make cash payments less convenient and to habituate the public to paying for even small transactions electronically. DNB and the second largest bank in Norway, Nordea, have already stopped handling cash in their branch offices.
What is the real reason for the all-out war against goal by government bureaucrats and their crony banksters?  The answer, according to Zero Hedge, is chilling:  
The answer appears to be that the banks and government authorities are anticipating bail-ins, steeply negative interest rates and hefty fees on cash, and they want to close any opening regular depositors might have to escape these forms of officially sanctioned theft. The escape mechanism from bail-ins and fees on cash deposits is physical cash, and hence the sudden flurry of calls to eliminate cash as a relic of a bygone age — that is, an age when commoners had some way to safeguard their money from bail-ins and bankers’ control.
The above originally appeared at Mises.org 

RW note: The elimination of cash also makes it very easy for governments to track transactions. With the banning of cash, I see an underground movement developing back to gold and silver.