“Former employees of the SEC routinely help corporations influence SEC rulemaking, counter the agency’s investigations, soften the blow of SEC enforcement actions, and win exemptions from federal law.” A damning report on how Wall Street insiders rotate in and out of the SEC—until Wall Street culture and personalities dominate the agency. Regulation and enforcement become a joke. A principle called, “Regulatory Capture.”
Contributed by Chriss Street. State tax collection beat Governor Brown’s Budget by $4.3 billion, or 39.1%, last month—due to two one-time events that took place by December. But in what should be very disturbing to giddy state politicians and lobbyists who are cranking up for a new spending spree, January sales taxes plunged by $582.7 million, or 27%.
Friday evening when no one was supposed to pay attention, Google announced that Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt would sell 3.2 million of his shares in 2013, after having already sold 1.8 million in 2012—suddenly dumping 53% of his Google shares, though he'd sold practically nothing from 2008 through 2011. And Google's reasons don't make sense.
The preannouncement came Thursday evening: PSA Peugeot Citroën, France’s largest automaker, would have a write-down of €4.7 billion. On top of a hefty operating loss. It would be colossal. An all-time record. Rumors spread immediately that PSA would need a bailout. The second in four months.
Despite optimism-mongering in the media, in certain quarters of Washington, and elsewhere, we’ve had indication after indication in the economic data that American workers have not benefited from whatever lousy progress has been made in nudging up GDP. But now we know from the horse’s mouth: they’re mired in a tough new reality that is getting worse.
Tuesday morning, the 168 remaining employees of DMI in Vaux, a tiny town near Montluçon in the Department of Allier, smack-dab in the middle of France, rigged about ten gas cylinders throughout the factory they’d been occupying and threatened to blow it up—unless their demands were met. Another day in the decline of the private sector à la Française.
Contributed by Chriss Street. With the average cost of attending college in America at $120,000, a family of four should expect their children’s college to cost more than a home. Yet, optimism about the value of education provided justification for students to borrow $42 billion from the US this year. And many of them will end up as student-loan debt slaves.
The drumbeat of layoffs and plant closures has been riling up desperate workers who have little hope of finding a job elsewhere, with unemployment at 10.5%. But now the Socialist government, worried about a “radicalization” of these angry workers, has instructed police intelligence services to keep an eye on them. Not exactly one of the campaign promises.
Contributed by Chriss Street. The Left’s premier economists blamed the “Great Recession” on the failures of capitalism and championed massive “government investment” as the medicine to revive growth. But after $6.2 trillion of deficit-spending and the worst recovery in US history, these academic geniuses are desperate to shift the narrative.
It should have been an exciting event for Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy: a tête-à-tête with German Chancellor Merkel. Afterwards, he’d stand next to her, illuminated by her glory. He’d brag about implementing structural reforms, cleaning up banks, and moving Spain forward. She’d endorse him with her benevolent smile. Instead, it was a slugfest about corruption.
Contributed by Oil & Energy Insider, of Oilprice.com. Egypt will hold parliamentary elections in April—against a backdrop of violent protests, a state of emergency in three key provinces, weapons caches discovered in Cairo, and growing calls from radical Salafi forces who think the Muslim Brotherhood’s agenda is far too moderate.
By now we should have gotten used to the odor emanating from banks—bailouts, money laundering, Libor rate-rigging, the other misdeeds. But in Europe over the last few days, it was particularly dense. “In this uncertain world, I cannot exclude anything,” said Deutsche Bank co-CEO reassuringly.
The California Division of Occupational Safety & Health just slammed Chevron with massive, record-breaking penalties related to the refinery in Richmond—the one that ended up in a fireball last August and caused 15,000 people to seek medical treatment. Purpose: to teach the mega-company an excruciatingly painful lesson. Alas....
Contributed by Jen Alic of Oilprice.com. Libya—awash with roving militias and undergoing a near-total evacuation of Westerners from oil-producing Benghazi—is doing its best to make cosmetic security changes in an atmosphere of growing uncertainty. But much of the country’s south and half of its border regions are not even under government control.
Ugly unemployment numbers are politically inconvenient in democracies. Red-faced politicians have to come up with excuses. Elections are lost over them. So, countries use inscrutable statistical systems to make unemployment look better. But France also has an administrative tool: removing tens of thousands of people every month from the unemployment rolls for spurious reasons.
Contributed by Chriss Street. Nature Journal's climate-change study, "Orbital Forcing Of Tree-Ring Data," shows through analysis of over 2000 years of tree-ring evidence that current climate models substantially underestimated European temperature levels during the Roman and Medieval Periods. After which temperatures declined sharply.
China has tried over the years to come to grips with its pandemic pollution, yet in Beijing, through a combination of factors, it reached catastrophic levels in mid-January and set another record. Result of the white-hot pace of economic growth. And of coal consumption: this year, China is set to burn more coal than the rest of the world combined!
LEAKED: Mario Draghi And His Triumvirate Shut Up German Finance Minister To Keep Cyprus From Blowing Up The Eurozone
The state-sponsored chorus about the end of the debt crisis is deafening. It even has feel-good metrics: the “Euro Breakup Index” fell to 17.2%. In July, it stood at 73%. For Cyprus, fifth country to ask for a bailout, it fell to 7.5%. “A euro breakup is no issue anymore,” the statement says. Just then, top Eurocrats expose what a con game they think these bailouts really are.
Americans are cynical about politicians. Congressional approval ratings were mired just above single-digit levels in 2012, hitting 10% twice. An expression of utter disdain. But the French—with their economy spiraling deeper into crisis—expressed disdain for their political class, as they call it, in another way: with a desire for authoritarian leadership, a “real leader” who would “reestablish order.”
Contributed by Ted Coine, Author, Speaker, Business Heretic. [Wolf here: this is a little different, but superb. A must-read if you've ever managed people, or if you're going to someday, or if you're starting a business, or if you're the CEO of a Fortune-500 company, or if you've been a working stiff all your life.]