The FED’s Christmas Present to Big Banks

December 19, 2014 by  
Filed under Economy

WASHINGTON — Christmas came early for Wall Street this year. The Federal Reserve on Thursday granted banks an extra year to comply with a key provision of the Volcker Rule, a move that gives financial lobbyists more time to kill the new regulation before it goes into effect.

The Volcker Rule is a key element of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law that bans banks from engaging in proprietary trading — speculative deals that are designed only to benefit the bank itself, rather than its clients. Thursday’s move by the Fed gives banks an additional year to unwind investments in private equity firms, hedge funds and specialty securities projects. The central bank also said it plans to extend the deadline by another 12 months next year, which would give Wall Street a two-year reprieve through the 2016 presidential election.

The Fed’s delay comes less than a week after Congress granted Wall Street a reprieve from another reform that had been mandated by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law. The measure, known as the swaps push-out rule had eliminated federal subsidies for trading in risky derivatives — the complex contracts at the heart of the 2008 banking meltdown. Bank watchdogs say the Volcker Rule delay adds insult to injury.

“Swaps push-out was a club,” said Marcus Stanley, policy director for Americans for Financial Reform. “This is a stiletto.”

Big banks including Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have billions of dollars invested in private equity firms that they would have to sell at a loss based on current prices, according to a Bloomberg report from early December. Dodd-Frank gave banks four years to unwind their investments in speculative enterprises, setting a deadline of July 21, 2014. The Fed had previously extended that deadline by one year, and now plans to push it out to July 2017.

(For the rest of the story, click the link.)

Continue Reading on www.huffingtonpost.com

OR  http://teapartyeconomist.com/2014/12/19/feds-christmas-present-big-banks/#B2MUhhU0D37V5jTO.99

Tennessee to vote whether Income Tax Unconstitutional

October 29, 2014 by  
Filed under Economy

VOTE YES! (Story come from MSM whom are in the bag for the FED / IRS)

 

Is State Income Tax Unconstitutional?

 

Washington Examiner

Tennessee is one of nine states that does not have an income tax.

Anti-tax advocates want to make sure it stays that way. Next week, Tennessee voters will be asked whether the state constitution should be amended to forever prohibit income and payroll taxes.

“Not having an income tax has already brought jobs to Tennessee, and voting ‘yes’ on [question] 3 will bring even more jobs,” said state Sen. Brian Kelsey, a Republican who sponsored the legislation leading to the amendment.

That’s the common argument made by income tax foes — economic growth more than makes up for the money a state loses in revenue from not having an income tax.

But is that true?

The picture is mixed when comparing states with no income taxes to those with the highest marginal rates.

Some statistics, particularly on job growth, back up tax opponents. And people in those states pay fewer taxes in general. But by other measures, such as household income, states with the highest taxes do better (CRAP).

Eight states in addition to Tennessee do not have an income tax: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.

Since 2000, those nine states posted stronger median employment growth than the nine states with the highest top marginal income tax rates (California, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Wisconsin), averaging 11.5 percent job growth compared to the latter group’s rate of 2.9 percent, according to the Census Bureau.

A low income tax encourages people and businesses to move to a state, said Jonathan Williams, director of the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council’s Center for State Fiscal Reform.

“The way to increase tax revenue is not to increase the taxes but to increase the number of taxpayers,” Williams said.

States with no income tax have a lower overall tax burden. Residents of high-rate states fork out $4,773 in taxes, over $1,300 more than residents in states without an income tax.

And states with no income tax also tend to be more business-friendly, as five of them have no corporate tax rate. Only Alaska and New Hampshire have corporate tax rates that are comparable to the ones in the high-rate states, running between 7 and 12 percent.

The no-tax states have higher rates of economic growth, too. Their economies grew by 3.3 percent on average since 2005, compared with 2 percent for the high-tax states, according to an August report by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. The averages are thrown off somewhat by sparsely populated Wyoming growing at 8.4 percent, but some high-population, no-tax states also enjoyed strong growth, such as Texas at 4.3 percent and Florida at 3.7 percent.

States with no income tax must get their revenue from somewhere, though. Sales taxes are one way: They average 4.5 percent, but residents of Tennessee and Nevada pay as much as 7 percent.

“It was 5 percent just a few years ago,” said Dick Williams, chairman of Tennesseans for Fair Taxation. That’s a bad deal for state residents, he argues, since sales taxes fall disproportionately on low-income consumers. “An income tax would grow more in line with people’s needs.”

But sales taxes in no-income-tax states are actually lower than in high-tax states, which charge an average 6 percent — 1.5 points higher.

And living in a state with a high income tax doesn’t mean that other taxes will be lower. In most cases, other tax rates are comparable to or even higher than the ones in states that lack an income tax:

• Gas taxes: People in no-income-tax states pay an average 43.4 cents for every gallon of gas they buy, while high-rate states charge 48.6 cents. The national average is 49 cents.

• Tobacco taxes: No-income-tax states charge $1.46 in taxes for every pack of cigarettes, while smokers pay an extra $2 in high-rate states. The national average is $1.54.

• Property taxes: Counties in no-tax states charge an average 1.1 percent of assessed value, while in high-rate states they charge 1 percent. Most counties nationwide charge between 0.5 percent and 1 percent.

“High income taxes do not necessarily translate into low sales taxes or even property taxes,” said Pete Sepp, president of the National Taxpayers Union, a conservative nonprofit group. “There is a strong correlation in the opposite way, in fact.”

Elizabeth McNichol, senior fellow at the liberal Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, notes that many of the no-income-tax states have special advantages that allow them to get by without one. Nearly a quarter of Nevada’s revenue comes from taxes on gambling, while Alaska earned a staggering 92 percent of its general fund revenue last year solely from taxes and royalties on oil drilling. The coffers overflow so much that the state sends annual royalty checks to residents. The latest checks, mailed earlier this month, were for $1,882.

“Other states [such as Wyoming] have mineral wealth. Texas has a lot of land and room for development,” McNichol said.

Tennessee and New Hampshire may not tax regular income, but they do tax dividend and interest income at 6 percent and 5 percent. The Granite State also has a 7 percent telecommunications tax.

Income taxes don’t seem to matter much in terms of the states’ budget health. “We really didn’t see a difference between the high and low income tax states” during the recession, McNichol said.

Part of the problem is that revenue from income taxes can be volatile, Sepp said, resulting in unexpected shortfalls.

Residents of states with high rates are generally doing better, though. They have an average annual income per capita of $45,480, almost $1,000 higher than residents of the no-income-tax states. Median household income is higher too, at $56,583, about $1,500 more.

“A lot of the high-tax states do have higher incomes but that is partly due to the fact that they have higher costs of living,” said ALEC’s Williams. “We think the gap is shrinking, though.”

IRS Seizing Bank Accounts of Innocent Americans

October 27, 2014 by  
Filed under Economy

The Internal Revenue Service has been seizing money from the bank accounts of individuals and businesses with no proof of any crimes nor any charges filed.

Now, the IRS claims that it will stop — but will it?

 

Newsmax

Using a law, the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000, that allows the feds to seize money from suspected gangsters, drug dealers and terrorists, the IRS has put innocent people into bankruptcy and massive debt and taken the money a military father saved from his paychecks to put his kids through college, solely by tracking the amounts that people put into their bank accounts.

When no criminal activity is charged, The New York Times reports, the IRS often negotiates to return only part of the seized money, leaving impoverished citizens with little option but to either accept the IRS’ offer or continue a lengthy and very expensive legal battle to try to get their legitimately earned money back.

The problem has been growing. The Institute for Justice estimates that from just 114 seizures in 2005, the IRS made 639 seizures in 2012, and in only 20 percent of the cases were any criminal charges ever pursued.

Under the Bank Secrecy Act, banks report transactions larger than $10,000 to federal authorities, but also report a pattern of regular, smaller deposits which appear designed to get around the act. This alone can be enough to trigger a seizure, the Times reports, and banks filed over 700,000 “suspicious” reports last year.

One involved a 27-year-old Long Island candy and cigarette distribution company, Bi-County Distributors, which made daily cash deposits, usually under $10,000. When the IRS seized $447,000 from the company, it refused to return it, despite the fact that there was no crime to prosecute, and instead offered a partial settlement.

The company is now $300,000 in debt and attorney Joseph Potashnik told the Times, “I don’t think they’re (the IRS) really interested in anything. They just want the money.”

Army Sgt. Jeff Cortazzo was saving up for his daughters’ college education when the IRS seized $66,000 of his money – it cost him $21,000 to get the remainder back.

Richard Weber, the chief of Criminal Investigation at the IRS, said in a written statement in response to the Times story, “After a thorough review of our structuring cases over the last year… IRS-CI will no longer pursue the seizure and forfeiture of funds associated solely with ‘legal source’ structuring cases unless there are exceptional circumstances justifying the seizure and forfeiture and the case has been approved at the director of field operations (D.F.O.) level.”

Related Stories

 

Is the Fed is deliberately stealing from savers

October 22, 2014 by  
Filed under Economy

The Federal Reserve is NOT Federal and has no reserves! New Fed Chair Janet Yellen has already made statements about you putting your money into savings accounts…. They don’t want you to. They punish those who wont listen. – JB 

Market Watch

Recently Janet Yellen expressed both concern and puzzlement over the rising wealth inequality in America.

I found her speech to be disingenuous and disturbing. Why? Because it is the Fed’s very own policies that are driving the expansion of the wealth gap. Read Yellen’s speech.

Either Yellen thinks we cannot be trusted with the truth (worrisome), or the Fed is clueless as to how its own policies operate (scarier).

The academic name for the Fed’s current policy is financial repression. But a more apt name would be “Throw granny under the bus,” because the program boils down to taking from savers and fixed-income recipients and transferring that purchasing power to other entities.

The cornerstone element of financial repression is negative real interest rates, of which the Federal Reserve is the prime architect and owner.

From the start of the Fed’s post-crisis intervention through 2013, the total cost of these negative real interest rates was over $750 billion just to savers alone. The loss of income to fixed-income investments (such as bonds held in pensions and money markets) was even larger.

It’s actually more appropriate to ask if the Federal Reserve is compatible with values rooted in our nation’s history.

But here’s the rub. That loss of income and purchasing power didn’t just vanish. It was transferred from pocket A to pocket B.

It magically appeared again in record Wall Street banking bonuses, in shrinking government deficits (due to lower than normal interest rates), in rising corporate profits (mainly benefiting the already rich), in record stock buybacks (ditto), and in rising wealth inequality.

More directly, when the Fed buys financial assets with printed money and — by definition — drives up the price of those assets, it cannot then act mystified why the main owners of financial assets have grown wealthier. Doing so simply insults our intelligence.

With that as background, I found myself struggling to remain calm as I read Yellen’s recent remarks.

Yellen has created the wealth gap by printing money

Why Fed Chair Janet Yellen is “greatly” concerned about growing inequality

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen on Friday expressed deep concern over widening economic inequality in the country and called for tackling issues such as early childhood education and encouraging entrepreneurship to help narrow the gap.

Comment: Did she really just deflect the consequences of the Fed’s policy of financial repression towards early childhood education? That’s like a burglar lecturing homeowners that they need to support better metallurgical research as the means of preventing their doors from being kicked in so easily in the future.

In a speech at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Yellen said steady growth in inequality over the past several decades represents the most sustained rise since the 19th century. Living standards for most Americans have been “stagnant,” while those at the very top have enjoyed significant wealth and income gains, she said.

Comment: Glad the Fed finally noticed that those at the very top have been making out like bandits! This was something I said explicitly would happen as a consequence of future Fed printing back in 2008, before any QE had even started. How is it that I predicted that this would happen back in 2008 and the Fed is just now noticing? Is my one-man research department more capable than the entirety of the Fed’s? In fact this is a very well known and easy to understand process. That the Fed is feigning ignorance speaks volumes about how ignorant they believe we all are. This is a sure sign that we are trapped in a dysfunctional relationship with an abusive partner.

“I think it is appropriate to ask whether this trend is compatible with values rooted in our nation’s history, among them the high value Americans have traditionally placed on equality of opportunity,” Yellen said.

Comment: Once we accept that the Fed is openly and specifically creating the wealth gap as a matter of active and ongoing policy, which it is, then it’s actually more appropriate to ask if the Federal Reserve is compatible with values rooted in our nation’s history. The answer, if you believe in a level economic playing field, is “no.”

Yellen listed four factors that can influence economic opportunity: investing in education for young children, making college more affordable, encouraging entrepreneurship and building inheritance.

Comment: OMG. She just blamed the victims. According to Yellen, if people are finding themselves getting poorer what they need to do is stop scrimping on their kids, become an entrepreneur and go back in time and have rich parents somehow. This statement of hers calls for pitchforks and torches. Without a shred of decency, she has shifted all blame from the Fed to the victims. How corrupt or morally adrift does someone have to be to blame the victim? In a criminal case this would be used as evidence of sociopathic if not psychopathic behavior and be used by a prosecutor to call for a maximum sentence.

Yellen did not address in her prepared text whether the Fed has contributed to inequality.

Comment: No surprise there. Those who blame victims always avoid looking in the mirror.

At this point, based on Yellen’s testimony, I think it’s time to say what everybody is already thinking: if the Fed were an individual, we’d call its behavior pathological. Psychopaths blame their victims.

In a more evolved society than ours, Yellen would have been immediately booted from the stage, and the president would already be asking for her resignation. Sadly, she remains safely in charge, and utterly tone deaf.

We don’t need more lectures from her on our perceived failures to spend enough on our kids, have enough entrepreneurial talent, or have rich parents. What we need is a return to the level playing field that originally made this country great.

Chris Martenson is is an economic researcher and futurist specializing in energy and resource depletion, and co-founder of PeakProsperity.com.

Thiel: We are in a government bubble of massive size

October 13, 2014 by  
Filed under Economy

This is likely the news you are to be distracted from hearing…

YES we know that MR Thiel is a Bilderberger etc…

 

CNBC (GE / Comcast)

Silicon Valley venture capitalist Peter Thiel told CNBC on Monday that we are in a “government bubble of massive size,” and that the bond market is the most distorted of all the markets. (see metals too..) 

In a wide-ranging interview on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street,” Thiel also spoke about tech investing, the PayPal-eBay split, Alibaba, cybersecurity and Elon Musk.

“I think the thing that is most distorted is the bond market and fixed income, and perhaps less on the equity side, but we certainly are back on a government bubble of massive size,” he said.

Tech stocks are quite a different story, he added.

Read MoreCNBC NEXT List: Peter Thiel

“They’re somewhat overvalued but that’s not the core of the insanity,” he said. “Tech investors always overrate growth and always underrate durability. You can measure growth but you can’t measure durability.”

He said he thinks Airbnb is undervalued.

US SLIPS TO 12TH IN ECONOMIC FREEDOM?

October 13, 2014 by  
Filed under Economy

A new report of “economic freedom” around the world finds the US ranked 12th among 152 countries, tied with the United Kingdom, and lower than neighbor Canada or Australia. The index, published by the Cato Institute and Canada’s Fraser Institute, has been published since 1996. As recently as 2000, the US ranked 2nd in the world, in terms of boasting a free economy. The US’s declining ranking will lower future economic growth.

The index, built on decades of research by Nobel laureates and dozens of leading scholars, measures 5 broad factors that impact the economy: 1. Size of government; 2. Legal structure and security of property rights; 3. Access to sound money; 4. Freedom to trade internationally and; 5. Regulation of Credit, Labor and Business. Countries where citizens are freer to engage in business and trade and property and legal rights are protected by the rule of law will score higher on the index. According to economic research, though, these countries will also do better economically and create and generate more wealth.

The 10 freest economies in the world are: Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, Mauritius, United Arab Emirates, Canada, Australia, Jordan, and Chile and Finland tied for 10th.

America’s descent down the ladder of economic freedom is unsettling, in itself. More troubling, however, is the chief factor behind the US decline. The biggest drop in US economic freedom has been in the country’s legal structure. The report notes that, “increased use of eminent domain to transfer property to powerful political interests, the ramifications of the wars on terrorism and drugs, and the violation of the property rights of bondholders in the auto-bailout case have weakened the tradition of strong adherence to the rule of law in United States.”

The rule of law has long been the foundation of America’s economic prosperity and liberty. The US ranking in this area has plummeted to a terrible 36th place in the world. This, combined with increased regulation is stifling US economic growth. The report observes, “[t]o a large degree, the United States has experienced a significant move away from rule of law and toward a highly regulated, politicized, and heavily policed state.”

The report estimates the cost of the decline of economic freedom in the US. On current trends, future economic growth will be half the historic average of a 3% yearly gain. The past few years have schooled us on the impact low growth has on the labor market and economic outlook.

This latest report is a sobering look at the scale of challenges facing the US. Curtailing government’s leviathan isn’t simply solving a math problem, i.e. getting revenue and spending figures for government to balance. A far larger threat is the accumulation of thousands of rules and regulations that not only stifle innovation but also undermine our personal and property rights.

A balanced federal budget is insignificant and meaningless if the rule of law has been subverted. No single election or administration can repair that damage. That is a task that must be tackled by a generation.

MORE HERE

Tax refunds will be cut for ACA (Obama Care) recipients

September 22, 2014 by  
Filed under Economy

Slap in the face? Maybe… However we still believe that “tax credits” are a joke of extortion, and a Protection racket extending straight to the Federal Reserve. How many major corporations will get to keep their “Pre-funds” while the rest are chased and potentially jailed?

Actual Solutions for US healthcare NEVER get considered without paying off Corps O’merica their cuts!

 

 

USA Today

A significant benefit of the Affordable Care Act is the opportunity to receive money-saving tax credits up front to cut the overall cost of health insurance, but now hundreds of thousands of consumers could owe back some of that money next April.

Those affected took advance payments of the premium tax credit for health insurance. Some married couples could owe $600 or $1,500 or $2,500 or even more. It might feel like a raw deal for some who are already suffocating under the escalating costs of health insurance.

“Health insurance is confusing enough, and now they’re adding the complexities of the Tax Code,” said Lorena Bencsik, a member of the Michigan Association of CPAs and owner of Prime Numbers in Ferndale.

When you file that 2014 tax return next year, the Internal Revenue Service will compare your actual income for the year with the amount you estimated when applying for exchange-based health insurance under the health insurance law.

The next open enrollment period begins Nov. 15. But notices were sent this week to some consumers whose incomes don’t match up to such things as 2012 tax return information.

On Monday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said at least 279,000 households reported incomes that still don’t match what the government has on record. Supporting documents are needed by Sept. 30.

What can you do to avoid tax-time problems?

Experts say people need to realize early on that they should report changes in income and other changes in one’s life, such as a marriage, throughout the year. See HealthCare.gov to report “income and life changes.”

Of course, many people may have no idea that they’d need to report changes.

The IRS put out some more details on the issue mid-month.

What should you report? A move, an increase or decrease in income, a marriage or divorce, the birth or adoption of a child, whether you started a job that offers health insurance and whether you gained or lost eligibility for other health care coverage.

Best spots for information: HealthCare.gov and IRS.gov/aca.

Karen Pollitz, senior fellow with the Kaiser Family Foundation, said many people who qualify for these tax credits aren’t working 9-to-5 jobs with regular salaries. So guesstimating one’s income for the coming year can be very tough.

“It’s people in transition. Maybe they’re in and out of work,” she said. Or maybe they’re self-employed.

People who lose a job would want to report that change during the year, as well, because that change can lead to a higher advance payment for the credit.

“Life changes can drive tax changes,” said Mark Steber, chief tax officer for Jackson Hewitt Tax Service.

Steber stressed that people need to make sure to update information via HealthCare.gov or their state insurance exchanges.

The Kaiser Family Foundation site has a calculator to help figure out potential tax credits, based on one’s situation.

Premium tax credits are available to individuals and families with incomes between 100% of the federal poverty line ($23,550 for a family of four this year) and 400% of the federal poverty line ($94,200 for a family of four) who purchase coverage in the health insurance marketplace in their state.

The tax credits are paid directly to the insurer, if taken in advance. People are not required to take the entire credit in advance. Realistically, if you cannot afford insurance, you’d need some credit in advance.

To be sure, there are some caps on the amount filers must pay back and the cap is based on household income. The cap ranges from $300 to $1,250 for some single taxpayers and $600 to $2,500 for married taxpayers, again based on income.

But if the income is 400% or more above the poverty line, there is no cap and the taxpayer must pay back the full amount.

Rules exist for qualifying for the premium tax credit: You must buy health insurance through the marketplace; you’re not eligible for coverage through an employer or government plan; your income must be within certain limits; you do not file a married-filing-separately federal tax return (unless you meet certain exceptions, such as victims of domestic abuse and spousal abandonment) and you cannot be claimed as a dependent by another person.

The actual credit would vary based on how close your are to the federal poverty level, your age, the size of your family and where you live.

Sadly, it’s fair to say some people will see some unexpected, unpleasant surprises on their tax returns next year.

Joe Biden Reminds Us Who Owns the USA

September 22, 2014 by  
Filed under Economy

 

Here is just another piece of evidence showing who owns the country–the Elite “Global Money Paradigm”.

 

From the local Aspen Daily News out of Colorado we read,

Vice President Joe Biden is in town through this evening for an event sponsored by the private equity firm Forstmann Little & Co. (see below)
The invite-only gathering is an annual autumn affair in Aspen, and typically attracts big names from the worlds of politics, business and entertainment for off-the-record discussions. A sitting vice president would be one of the bigger gets in recent memory.

Biden’s 40-car motorcade sped to Aspen after landing at the Eagle County Regional Airport, arriving in town around 8:30 p.m. Law enforcement personnel escorting the motorcade blocked every intersection as the caravan passed along the 70-mile route using Interstate 70 and Highway 82. The operation, which a Pitkin County sheriff’s deputy said went smoothly, will be repeated in reverse this evening when Biden leaves town.

“I’ve never got here that fast from Vail before,” said a local who was hired to drive one of the cars and asked not to be identified because they are not authorized to speak to the press.

The area around the St. Regis hotel was crawling with Secret Service agents, local cops and private security shortly after the vice president’s arrival. Around 9:45 p.m., a second motorcade left the St. Regis for the Hotel Jerome.

Biden is said to be participating in a discussion with noted interviewer Charlie Rose today.

In case you are thinking that we need a few “sunshine laws” to put these “off the record” discussions on the record, here’s an indication that “the most transparent Administration in history” would rather keep things in the dark.

According to Biden’s public schedule at the www.whitehouse.gov website, Biden held a roundtable discussion on domestic violence in Denver at 3:30 p.m. on Friday. His schedule listed no public events through the rest of the weekend.

Well, I guess, since this is a private group with private access to a Vice-President it is none of the public’s business.

That’s quite a government we’ve got.

Forstmann, Little & Company is a private equity firm, specializing in leveraged buyouts (LBOs). At its peak in the late 1990s, Forstmann Little was among the largest private equity firms globally

Ted Forstmann (Yale University) was a golfing partner of Derald Ruttenberg at the Deepdale Country Club on Long Island. He arranged for Ruttenberg to meet Henry Kravis and Jerry Kohlberg of the start-up Kohlberg Kravis Roberts. Kravis and Kohlberg proposed what they called a leveraged buyout. After the two had left, Ruttenberg suggested that Forstmann could do the same himself.

Successful acquisitions include Gulfstream Aerospace, Topps Playing Cards, Dr Pepper, Stanadyne Inc., and General Instrument. The company has usually been successful in making a profit on such purchases, selling Gulfstream to General Dynamics, and General Instrument to Motorola.

One prominent episode in the life of the company was the 1988 bidding war for RJR Nabisco. Forstmann Little offered to acquire RJR Nabisco, but the management (chiefly F. Ross Johnson) instead chose Shearson Lehman Hutton. In the end, the board of directors chose Forstmann Little’s arch-rival, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.. The episode was popularized in the book Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco.

Other headline transactions the firm participated in include Revlon (1985), which resulted in the so-called Revlon Duty, and Citadel Broadcasting, of which Forstmann Little owns 27%, following a merger with ABC Radio in 2006. In 2004, Forstmann Little acquired IMG in a $750 million deal, and in 2005 bought 24 Hour Fitness for $1.6 billion.

In December 2006, newspaper reports on the inquiry into the death of Diana, Princess of Wales alleged that U.S. intelligence agencies had bugged Forstmann’s phone or plane and monitored his relationship with Diana. She and her sons were said to have planned to visit him in summer 1997, but British security reportedly blocked the visit over security concerns related to the bugging.

All of the founder have recently died (cancer) and it appears that KKR is running FL and co as a shell corp.

Read more at Political Outcast

Ron Paul’s ‘Audit the Fed’ bill returns to Congress

September 15, 2014 by  
Filed under Economy

 

He is not Congress any more, but his “Audit the Fed” bill lives on after him.

House Republican leaders scheduled a vote on the legislation for sometime this week, as one of a series of pre-election bills designed to highlight lawmakers’ stances just before they go home to face voters.

 

Mr. Paul made the bill one of his causes, and after years of trying finally pushed it through the House in 2012 on an overwhelming 327-98 vote. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who had previously said he supported an audit of the Federal Reserve, reversed himself.

“If Harry Reid refuses to hold the vote before the Senate leaves town, you can help us make sure the American people hear about it all the way until Election Day and build so much pressure by the time Congress returns, the Senate will be forced to act in the Lame Duck,” Mr. Paul said in an email to supporters from his advocacy group, Campaign for Liberty.

Mr. Paul retired from the House after the last Congress. The current House version of the legislation is sponsored by Rep. Paul Broun, a Georgia Republican. His version cleared the House oversight committee on a voice vote in July, suggesting continued bipartisansupport.

The bill would order the Government Accountability Office, which is Congress’s chief investigative arm, to review the Fed’s decision-making — particularly on monetary policy.

 

Congress established the Federal Reserve nearly a century ago. The system, which consists of a board of governors and 12 regional banks, act as lenders of last resort to the country’s banking system, and it is charged both with fighting inflation and with promoting economic growth and employment.

The Congressional Budget Office said the bill would cost about $5 million for the staff required to conduct the audit. The CBO also said the Federal Reserve would spend money complying with the review, which would end up costing the government about $3 million in lower revenue from the Fed over the next decade.

The previous chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, had opposed an audit, saying it could lead to politicians second-guessing the secretive board’s decisions. When Mr. Paul’s bill came up for a vote in 2012, Mr. Bernanke called it a “nightmare scenario.”

Mr. Paul’s son, Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, has a companion bill in the Senate, but that has not seen any action with Democrats controlling the chamber.

Despite Democratic leaders’ opposition, a number of rank-and-file Democrats support the legislation.

Indeed, 19 Democrats in the House are co-sponsors of Mr. Broun’s bill, while in the Senate, Sen. Mark Begich, Alaska Democrat, is a co-sponsor. Mr. Begich even bragged about his support for the legislation in a recent Senate campaign debate.

Read more:  Washington Times 

PAPER: Rand Paul distancing himself from libertarian past…

MAG: Where Does Rand Stand?

Wages Down 23% Since 2008… Bank Profits Near Record Levels

August 12, 2014 by  
Filed under Economy

Fed Official Warns ‘Disappointing’ Growth Could Foretell Future…

Sluggish jobs market points to structural problems…

Bank Profits Near Record Levels…

Banks are lending to companies and individuals at the fastest pace since the financial crisis, helping propel profits to near-record levels.

U.S. banks posted $40.24 billion in net income during the second quarter, the industry’s second-highest profit total in at least 23 years, according to data from research firm SNL Financial. The latest profits are just below the record $40.36 billion recorded in the first quarter of 2013.

Banks are lending to companies and individuals at the fastest pace since the financial crisis, helping propel profits to near-record levels. Saabira Chaudhuri joins MoneyBeat with Paul Vigna. Photo: Getty Images.

The rebound comes even as bank executives say rising costs of regulation are hurting their businesses.

Banks set aside less money to cover soured loans, helping to boost profits. At the same time, overall loan growth increased at its fastest quarterly pace since the financial crisis, topping $8 trillion in total loans outstanding for the first time since SNL began tracking the data in 1991.

Commercial lending rose at an annualized 12.6% rate in the second quarter.

Growth in consumer lending, particularly student lending, auto loans and credit cards, also has picked up, to about 6% from 3% a year ago.

On the heels of the financial crisis, some lawmakers, regulators and consumers complained that banks weren’t lending enough. But steady improvement in credit quality, or borrowers’ ability to repay loans, is prompting banks not only to lend more but also to ease their standards.

The improving picture reflects a healing of the U.S. economy five years after the official end of the recession that began in late 2007. White House officials on Friday said the U.S. labor market is about 80% back to precrisis levels.

“Everyone is delighted to see a resurgence of bank earnings that is consistent with the economic recovery nationwide,” said John Kanas, an industry veteran who is now chief executive officer of BankUnited Inc., a lender based in Miami Lakes, Fla.

So far, the results haven’t impressed investors, who remain concerned about a range of headwinds facing the industry, from growing regulatory costs and stubbornly low interest rates to steep slowdowns in mortgage lending and securities-trading revenue. Such issues have weighed on other measures of bank health, such as the returns lenders generate on their equity.

The KBW Bank Index, which tracks the stocks of 24 banks, is down 0.9% so far this year, compared with a 4.8% rise for the S&P 500 index.

Still, it has taken years for the nation’s banks to get back on track since getting pummeled in the financial crisis by soured loans and bad investments.

“The second quarter was an inflection point in the profitability story for banks,” said SunTrust analyst Eric Wasserstrom. “The bad is starting to bottom out, the good is starting to gain momentum.”

In part, the recovery has been slow because the depth and breadth of the financial crisis took many bank executives by surprise, coming after years of bumper profits driven by the housing boom and low default rates on loans. Banks earned $40.21 billion in the last three months of 2006, the industry’s third-most-profitable quarter, as mortgage lending surged. Figures from SNL, which is based in Charlottesville, Va., aren’t adjusted for inflation.

This time, the growth is being driven primarily by business loans.

“It’s definitely a lot easier [to get a loan]. There is no question about it,” said Randy McCullough, chief executive of Charles & Colvard Ltd, a jewelry company based in Morrisville, N.C. The company recently closed on a three-year, $10 million credit facility with Wells Fargo  WFC -0.12%  & Co.

Banks’ willingness to lend has also been good news for STW Resources Holding Corp., a water-reclamation and oil-field-services company that recently received a $3.5 million line of credit.

“Credit lines are opening up nicely in the form of equipment and project finance,” said Paul DiFrancesco, the head of finance and business development for the Midland, Texas, company. Mr. DiFrancesco declined to name the bank that granted the credit.

Regional banks reported the strongest growth in commercial and industrial lending during the second quarter. Cleveland-based KeyCorp, for example, posted a 13.4% increase in commercial, financial and agricultural loans from the year-earlier period, to $26.4 billion, helping to drive a 5.5% gain in loans overall.

Citigroup  Inc. C +0.15%  delivered a 3.7% gain vs. the year before in total loans outstanding. Wells Fargo & Co. and J.P. Morgan Chase  JPM -0.15%  & Co. logged gains of 3.6% and 2.9%, respectively.

The higher loan levels come as banks are easing up on their underwriting standards to borrowers. A Federal Reserve survey of senior loan officers released last week found that lenders were loosening standards and loan terms for commercial and industrial loans and commercial real-estate loans.

Several large banks had said they had eased standards, raised credit limits and reduced the minimum required credit score for credit-card loans, according to the survey.

Banks also saw their second-quarter profits lifted by a reduction in the amount of money they set aside to cover future bad loans. So-called provision expenses fell to $6.59 billion in the second quarter from $7.61 billion in the first quarter and $8.53 billion in the second quarter of 2013.

Big banks are still releasing some of those reserves, an action that pumps up profits. The four largest U.S. banks—J.P. Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America  Corp.BAC -0.17%  and Wells Fargo—released a total of $2.25 billion of reserves in the second quarter, up about 20% from the first quarter.

The improving profit picture isn’t trickling down to bank investors, however, because analysts and investors remain concerned about the long list of obstacles facing the industry.

One important measure of bank profitability is return on equity, or the amount of profit a bank generates as a percentage of shareholders’ equity.

RBC Capital Markets analyst Gerard Cassidy notes that the 20 largest banks he covers reported a median return on equity of 9.3% in the second quarter, up from 8.4% in the first quarter. But a return on equity below 10% “is one of the biggest obstacles to higher stock valuations,” he said.

Wages Down 23% Since 2008…

U.S. jobs pay an average 23% less today than they did before the 2008 recession, according to a new report released on Monday by the United States Conference of Mayors.

In total, the report found $93 billion in lost wages.

Jobs lost during the recession paid an average $61,637. As of 2014, jobs in the same sectors paid an average of $47,171 annually.

“Under a similar analysis conducted by the Conference of Mayors during the 2001-2002 recession, the wage gap was only 12% compared to the current 23%–meaning the wage gap has nearly doubled from one recession to the next,” stated the Conference of Mayors in a statement.

The report also found that 73% of metro area households earn salaries of less than $35,000 a year.

President Barack Obama, who is on a two-week vacation at Martha’s Vineyard, has yet to comment on the dour economic findings.

 

Next Page »

jbroku