Monday, January 13, 2014

The United States of Poverty?

Or is it the United States of government dependency?



  1. Private equity and Washington: A love story

    The stream of government officials who have been snatched up by PE companies recently has raised inevitable questions about Washington’s revolving door and whether former officials are cashing in on their government connections.

    “Without a doubt, the private equity firms hired Geithner, [David] Petraeus and Genachowski because of their close connections with federal policymakers in both the executive and legislative branches — and I suspect at a very high price,” said Craig Holman, a government affairs lobbyist at the public advocacy group Public Citizen. “These are examples of revolving-door abuse in which wealthy private businesses attempt to buy access to the government through well-connected former officials.”

    Read more:

  2. Dollar stores are now getting too expensive for many Americans

    There’s a catch. While about 50% of Americans own some kind of stocks—either individual shares or mutual funds—the richest Americans own most of the market. That means most of the exceptional stock market gains accrued to what Federal Reserve research describe as “a small number of wealthy families.”

    No, the poor rely not on asset prices, but on wages, Social Security, and government transfer payments for their income. That hasn’t been a good place in recent years. Wages have been stagnant. Government transfer payments have been under fire. (Extended unemployment benefits expired late last month for roughly 1.4 million Americans after a federal program lapsed. And it seems like the US Congress is set to cut transfer payments such as the US food stamps program.)
    Economists argue that things like food stamps and unemployment act as crucial bits of stimulus when the economy is weak. Cutting them can act as a headwind to growth. That’s certainly the case for low-end retailers such as Family Dollar. The store chain’s shares fell sharply this week after it reported disappointing earnings. Family Dollar CEO Howard Levine had this to say on the subject:

  3. JPMorgan and Madoff Were Facilitating Nesting Dolls-Style Frauds Within Frauds

    By Pam Martens: January 13, 2014

    This was an operation structured like those Russian nesting dolls, with the Ponzi scheme as the outside doll with many more frauds layered inside the big one.

    After reading the documents released by the Justice Department in connection with the settlement, the Los Angeles Times asked in a photo caption of a smirking Madoff outside of Federal Court: “Bernie Madoff: Was he part of the JPMorgan ring, or was JPMorgan part of his ring?”

    Interestingly, the folks in sunny California, 2400 miles away from Wall Street, had an epiphanous moment in that photo caption while the Times assumed an all too common ostrich position when it comes to Wall Street.

    According to the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), the Justice Department prosecutors who settled the case against JPMorgan Chase used the investigative material from Picard to bring their charges and settle the case. Those court filings show layers upon layers of frauds within the Ponzi scheme.

    JPMorgan Chase loaned $145 million to Madoff’s business at a time when the bank was on “notice of fraudulent activity” in Madoff’s business account and when, in fact, Madoff’s business was insolvent. The reason for the JPMorgan Chase loans was because Madoff’s business account, referred to as the 703 account, was “reaching dangerously low levels of liquidity, and the Ponzi scheme was at risk of collapsing.” JPMorgan, in fact, “provided liquidity to continue the Ponzi scheme,” according to Picard.

    Clearly, this is fraud number two on the part of someone – loan fraud.