Friday, May 9, 2014

Serious Crony Plotting at the Treasury Today

This morning, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will meet with members of The Business Council to discuss the state of the economy.

From the Business Council's web site:
The Business Council is an association of the Chief Executive Officers of the world's most important business enterprises....the Council meets three times a year in a collegial atmosphere to share and explore ideas. As a gathering of peers from many fields, the Council is entirely an educational and deliberative forum. 

 The  members of the 2013-2014 Executive Committee of the Business Council are:


    Andrew N. Liveris, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, The Dow Chemical Company

Vice Chairmen:

    Ursula M. Burns, Chairman & CEO, Xerox Corporation
    Richard K. Davis, Chairman, President & CEO, U.S. Bancorp
    Henry R. Kravis, Co-Chairman & Co-CEO, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.
    Douglas R. Oberhelman, Chairman & CEO, Caterpillar Inc.


    Jeffrey L. Bewkes, Chairman & CEO, Time Warner Inc.
    Jeffrey P. Bezos, Founder & CEO,
    Louis R. Chenevert, Chairman  & CEO, United Technologies Corporation
    James Dimon, Chairman & CEO, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
    Ellen J. Kullman, Chair of the Board & CEO, E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company
    Gregory R. Page, Executive Chairman, Cargill, Incorporated
    Nancy C. Southern, President & CEO, ATCO Ltd. & Canadian Utilities Ltd.
    Randall L. Stephenson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, AT&T Inc.
    Peter R. Voser, Retired Chief Executive Officer, Royal Dutch Shell plc
    John S. Watson, Chairman & CEO, Chevron Corporation
    Patricia A. Woertz, Chairman, CEO & President, Archer Daniels Midland Company

Executive Director:

    Marlene M. Colucci


  1. Item 1 ....Minimum wage Increase Subsidies.
    Item 2....Pending Anti-Dog-eat-Dog Legislation
    Item 3....Getting everyone's figures right involving this new SDR global currency.

    1. Maybe henry can speak to this?

      Documents contradict Blackstone CEO’s boasts about high-fee alternative investments

      Yesterday Pando reported on secret documents showing that Wall Street behemoth Blackstone was quietly charging enormous fees to public pension funds.

      We didn’t specifically contrast the firm’s record with the public declarations of the firm’s CEO, Stephen Schwarzman. However, that’s something worth doing — especially considering Schwarzman’s recent comments defending the controversial high-fee investments that his firm oversees.

      Before getting to those statements, recall that Schwarzman is the same CEO who infamously insisted that increasing taxes on the wealthy is “like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.” Recall, too, that Schwarzman is famous for throwing himself a $3 million birthday bash and for his generally opulent lifestyle. With the Wall Street Journal reporting that “about $37 of every $100 of Blackstone’s $111 billion investment pool comes from state and local pension plans,” that lifestyle is effectively supported by public employees’ retirement nest eggs.

      Because of Schwarzman’s headline-grabbing flamboyance, his incendiary rhetoric and his status as a billionaire, the Blackstone chief has developed a prominent platform, and in recent days, he has used that platform to try to shape the debate over Wall Street’s high-fee firms. Indeed, during a conference last week, he urged individual investors to follow public pension funds in putting more of their savings into hedge funds, private equity firms and other so-called “alternative investments.”

      The comments stand in stark contrast to those like Warren Buffett who have said exactly the opposite. And so to further justify his position, Schwarzman offered up some numbers:

      “The stuff we do, the alternative class, tends to make around 1,000 basis points more than the stock market,” Schwarzman said today in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Erik Schatzker and Stephanie Ruhle at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California. Investors shouldn’t be concerned about a “stomach issue” since Blackstone loses virtually no money in its funds, he said.

      It all sounds great, except for one thing: Schwarzman’s figures appear to be contradicted by data PandoDaily analyzed in its investigation of Blackstone and public pension investments.

  2. Now Sheldon Adelson Has an ALEC-Like Lobbying Network in the States

    Billionaire Sheldon Adelson is probably best known for having spent a fortune on the last presidential election and last month’s “Adelson Primary,” in which Republican presidential aspirants make a pilgrimage to Las Vegas to seek the mega donor’s support.

    But Tom Hamburger reports for The Washington Post that Adelson has also been “quietly developing” a state-level lobbying network. So far, its primary goal has been to kill off competition with his casino business from online gaming operations.

    Hamburger writes:

    Hamburger goes on to detail how Adelson is expanding his reach beyond his conservative allies to woo Democrats who might help advance his agenda in states like California.

  3. Maybe it's just a book club meeting?

    The Gold Cartel by Dimitri Speck

    Statistical Studies

    When Frank Veneroso published a study on gold lending in 1998, many people probably heard the term 'gold carry trade' for the first time. However, it became a staple of deliberations about the gold market in subsequent years. A superficially legitimate (if ultimately slightly dubious) business activity, namely the hedging of future gold output by mining companies, had apparently been turned into a major and potentially explosive financial engineering scheme. However, research was hampered by the fact that the carry trade involved gold held by central banks. It was shrouded in secrecy and its size could only be estimated. While Veneroso's work was path breaking, it was marred by its lack of precision, which partly resulted from the difficulty of obtaining good data.

    Central bank accounting for gold was (and in most cases remains) rather peculiar: gold receivables and bullion still in their vaults are treated as a single line item in their balance sheets. This makes it nigh impossible for outsiders to ascertain how much of their gold is actually on loan. Central banks used inter alia the alleged need to protect the trade secrets of their business partners as an excuse to avoid publishing the data. This flimsy pretext naturally fanned speculation about the amounts involved as well as the planners' motives. It was no secret that central banks once upon a time intervened in the gold market quite openly. Given gold's nature as the 'political metal', it didn't seem a big stretch to suspect them of still doing so clandestinely.

    Estimates of the size of the carry trade published by researchers varied enormously (the more establishment-friendly they were, the smaller their estimates would be). Enter Dimitri Speck, who has delivered what is to date probably the best such estimate ever produced by an independent gold market analyst, not least because he actually employed sound statistical analysis. His estimate of the amount of gold lent out by Germany's Bundesbank over time, calculated from the meager tidbits of information that could be gleaned from the BuBa's balance sheet, confirmed the soundness of his methods. The BuBa recently relented in the face of public pressure and finally lifted the veil of secrecy from the data, so we know how close the estimate came (the BuBa is no longer lending out gold by the way).

    'The Gold Cartel' presents the results of painstaking statistical analysis of the gold market from every conceivable angle.