Spain’s ‘secret credit card banker’ Blesa found shot dead

Miguel Blesa, 69, is thought to have shot himself at a country estate in the southern province of Crdoba.
Blesa was for 13 years the chairman of the Caja Madrid savings bank. He was found guilty over secret “black credit cards” handed out to bank board members and advisers, who used them to buy luxury goods and entertainment.
Miguel Blesa was given a six-year sentence but died before his appeal could be heard.
He was found guilty of misappropriating 436,700 of funds. Pictures emerged of the former chairman on hunting trips, showing off his spoils including a dead hippopotamus.
The case ensnared more than 60 bank executives and ex-board members. Among them was Rodrigo Rato, the illustrious ex-head of the International Monetary Fund, who was handed four and a half years in jail.

This post was published at BBC

Our Financial Buffers Are Thinning

The fragility of our financial buffers will only be revealed when they fail in the next crisis.
While buffer has a specific meaning in chemistry, I am using the word in the broad sense of a reserve resource that absorbs the initial destructive impacts of crises or system overloads. Marshland along a sea coast is a buffer against destructive storm waves, for example. A savings account acts as a buffer against financial drawdowns or losses of income that would otherwise quickly cascade into a full-blown crisis. Redundancy of resources can act as a buffer. If an airline maintains an aircraft in reserve, this reserve plane acts as a buffer against the disruption to the airline’s scheduled flights should one of its aircraft be unexpectedly removed from service by a mechanical failure. The reserve aircraft can replace the plane that was withdrawn from service with minimal disruption.

This post was published at Charles Hugh Smith on WEDNESDAY, JULY 12, 2017.

Saudi Grants Qatar 2-Day Ultimatum Extension As Saudi King Unexpectedly Skips G-20 Summit

With the original ultimatum issued by four Arab states accusing Qatar of supporting terrorism, expiring at midnight on Sunday, the Saudi-led coalition agreed to extend the deadline for Doha to comply with its list of demands until late on Tuesday a, even as U. S. President Donald Trump voiced concern to both sides about the dispute. According to a joint statement posted on Saudi state news agency SPA, the four countries agreed to a request by Kuwait to extend by 48 hours Sunday’s deadline for compliance. They have not specified what further sanctions they could impose on Doha, but commercial bankers in the region believe that Saudi, Emirati and Bahraini banks might receive official guidance to pull deposits and interbank loans from Qatar.
As Reuters adds, foreign ministers from the four countries will meet in Cairo on Wednesday to discuss Qatar, while Arab media reported that Qatari foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani arrived in Kuwait on Monday to deliver Doha’s formal response to the Arab demands. Mediation efforts, including by the U. S., have so far proven fruitless after the four states cut diplomatic and commercial ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of supporting terrorism, meddling in their internal affairs and advancing the agenda of regional foe Iran, all of which Qatar denies.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 3, 2017.

THE DEEP STATE – 50 Year Old Recording Explains Why The World Is Going Crazy | ORDER OUT OF CHAOS

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The US Taxpayers Have Spent Enough on the War in Afghanistan

Former Navy SEAL and Blackwater founder, Erik Prince, recently penned an Op-Ed for the Wall Street Journal calling for a MacArthur Plan for Afghanistan that rests on two pillars: a central Viceroy acting with complete authority to direct development activities and a privatized East India Company model for securing key areas to bolster economic growth. He goes on to posit mineral resource extraction and agriculture cultivation as the means of funding Afghanistan’s rise into the ranks of civilized nations.
Of course, leftists immediately denounced the idea as war profiteering and corporate undermining of state authority. In terms of political economy, Prince is correct to point out the tremendous waste of money the US led coalition is costing the taxpayers of participating countries. After more than 16 years of occupation, the military campaign has become a quagmire and preventing the rise of future threats emanating from Afghanistan requires a comprehensive redesign and philosophical approach. Citing the expected $45 billion investment projected for 2017, Prince claims that his privatized security plan under a unified governor would cost only $10 billion. While this would be a significant savings and an improvement from the status quo, it still places the American taxpayer on the hook for subsidizing someone else’s security while adding nothing to their own. It still rests on a justified notion of foreign interventionism that makes every American an accomplice to aggressive invasion.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on June 13, 2017.

Another Red Flag Emerges in the Auto Securitization Market

Irresponsible and dangerous lending practices in the U. S. automobile market have been flagged by many people for a long time, but nobody knows exactly when it will all come to a head and create real problems. Today, I want to flag the latest warning sign.
Bloomberg reports:
Subprime auto bonds issued in 2015 are by one key measure on track to become the worst performing in the history of car-loan securitizations, according to Fitch Ratings.
This group of securities is experiencing cumulative net losses at a rate projected to reach 15 percent, which is higher even than for bonds in the 2007, Fitch analysts Hylton Heard and John Bella Jr. wrote in a report Thursday.

This post was published at Liberty Blitzkrieg on Jun 12, 2017.

U.S., Russia hold secret talks over south Syria safe zone

U.S. and Russian officials have quietly stepped up contacts in recent weeks to try to advance a deal on the creation of a safe zone in southern Syria, Al-Monitor has learned.
The talks included a meeting in Jordan in late May, a former diplomat from the region said on condition of anonymity. Russia, Iran and Turkey negotiated the creation of four zones aimed at de-escalating tensions between Bashar al-Assad’s forces and the armed Syrian opposition in early May, and the Donald Trump administration is now trying to see what role the United States can play.
‘Last week, the Americans and Russia met in Jordan with the Jordanians to discuss these zones in the south,’ the former diplomat said. ‘The meeting in Jordan was one part where the U.S. and Russia, Israel and Jordan can work together to have de-escalation zone in the south of Syria.’
The United States is particularly concerned that any deal over the future of Syria preserves the stability of its close allies Israel and Jordan. Israel for its part has said it would not tolerate an Iranian presence on its border with Syria.
The source said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is “in charge of dealing with Russia” amid allegations that the Trump presidential campaign conspired with Moscow. The former diplomat said Brett McGurk, the U.S. special presidential envoy to the global coalition against the Islamic State, and U.S. Syria envoy Michael Ratney participated in the Jordan talks. Neither official responded to queries.

This post was published at ALMONITOR

Oil Tumbles After OPEC Ends With A Whimper; Agrees Only To Nine Month Extension

Two delegates say: consensus reached for 9 month extension #OOTT #OPEC but other items on addenda
— Amena Bakr (@Amena__Bakr) May 25, 2017

The OPEC Vienna meeting has not officially concluded just yet, but moments ago a delegate told the WSJ and Reuters that the oil producing cartel had decided to do what had been widely telegraphed previously, and merely extend output cuts by nine months to March 2018. While the full quota breakdown has not been released yet, the cuts are likely to be shared again by a dozen non-members led by top oil producer Russia, while several nations like Iran and Nigeria will remain exempt from production caps.
OPEC cuts had helped push oil back above $50 a barrel this year, giving a fiscal boost to producers, many of which rely heavily on energy revenues and have had to burn through foreign-currency reserves to plug holes in their budgets, however in recent weeks oil dropped to the mid-$40s again, forcing OPEC to agree to the production extension in hopes of creating backwardation in the oil strip, in order to eliminate shale producers from the question. The rebound in oil prices has in turn spurred growth in shale output, which is not participating in the output deal and whose breakeven prices have tumbled, slowing the market’s rebalancing with global crude stocks still near record highs while US producers steal market share from Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 25, 2017.

Global Collapse: Children Are Literally Starving To Death In Venezuela And Yemen

Venezuela and Yemen were both once very prosperous nations, but now parents are literally watching their children starve to death as the economies of both nations continue to utterly collapse. Just like so many here in the United States, most of those living in Venezuela and Yemen would have called you completely crazy if you would have warned them that this was going to happen five years ago. In particular, Venezuela has more proven oil reserves than almost anyone else on the planet, and so to most of their citizens it was unimaginable that things could ever get this bad. But it has happened, and the collapse that has already begun in parts of South America, Africa and the Middle East will soon spread elsewhere.
When I said that children are literally starving to death in Venezuela, I was not exaggerating one bit. The following comes from the Wall Street Journal…
Jean Pierre Planchart, a year old, has the drawn face of an old man and a cry that is little more than a whimper. His ribs show through his skin. He weighs just 11 pounds.
His mother, Maria Planchart, tried to feed him what she could find combing through the trash – scraps of chicken or potato. She finally took him to a hospital in Caracas, where she prays a rice-milk concoction keeps her son alive.
READ MORE

This post was published at The Economic Collapse Blog on May 5th, 2017.

Student Loans and Healthcare – Two Issues that Will Define American Politics Going Forward

Poverty demoralizes. A man in debt is so far a slave; and Wall-street thinks it easy for a millionaire to be a man of his word, a man of honor, but, that, in failing circumstances, no man can be relied on to keep his integrity.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson, Wealth
Liberty Blitzkrieg readers know that I’ve been extremely critical of our modern U. S. economy for nearly a decade now. I’ve used harsh, but entirely appropriate language, such as rent-seeking, parasitic and criminally corrupt to describe our current financial/economic system. These are not words I use lightly.
I have absolutely no problem with wealth differences within a society, even large discrepancies are fine as long as the general population is benefits substantially from overall growth trends. This is not the case in today’s economy.
I support a real free market economy where barriers to entry are low, and in which small business and competition thrives. Unfortunately, this is not the case in today’s economy. Rather, America has largely become a neo-feudal society where a mass of debt slaves are lorded over by government protected, monopolistic, rent-seeking oligarchs and racketeers.
Societies work when people think the system is fair enough and have genuine opportunity for success and standard of living improvement. Societies work when the people who become fabulously wealthy are individuals who have created a product or service that benefits society at large. In contrast, people shouldn’t become wealthy by preying on their fellow citizens and driving them into destitution and debt bondage, but that’s precisely what is happening in many industries today. Our society rewards the worst sort of behavior, and as we observed in the aftermath of the financial crisis, protects and further empowers white collar criminals for destroying the global economy.

This post was published at Liberty Blitzkrieg on May 4, 2017.

I never knew how screwed up global banking was until I started my own bank

By late 2014 I’d finally had enough.
After so many run-ins with the bitter incompetence and bureaucratic indignity of the banking system, I decided once and for all that I would start my own bank.
I probably should have had my head examined, but instead I called one of my attorneys to talk through the options.
Had I known then what I know now, I think I still would have made the same decision… but in total honesty I was completely unprepared for the torrential shit storm I was about to enter.
The deeper I went, the more overwhelming my discoveries of how shockingly inept, obsolete, and out of touch the industry is.
It’s one thing to read about it in the headlines. It’s quite another to experience it first hand as an insider.

This post was published at Sovereign Man on May 2, 2017.

Baby Boomers Borrowed $100BN In Student Loans For Their Children And Now Defaults Are Soaring

America’s snowflake millennials aren’t used to being told ‘no’, especially by their parents. Perhaps that’s why, as we pointed out a few days ago, more millennials than ever are now living at home with mom and roughly one quarter of them don’t even both to enroll in classes and/or find a job (see “A Quarter Of Millennials Living At Home Neither Work Nor Study“). But, when it comes to racking up massive student loans for their lazy, millennial, snowflakes, we suspect a healthy portion of about 3.5 million Baby Boomers are wishing they had a do-over to do just that.
Unfortunately, rather than making some difficult decisions about affordability and/or forcing their kids to pay for their own education, Baby Boomers have incurred nearly $100 billion in student loans so that little Johnny and/or Susie could get that Anthro degree they always wanted.
In fact, as the Wall Street Journal notes today, so-called “Parent Plus Loans” have soared over the past 15 years as parents have increasingly found it impossible to cover college tuition costs.
Parent Plus, created by Congress in 1980, allows parents to borrow to cover tuition and living expenses – often after their children borrow the maximum in undergraduate federal loans, capped by law at $5,500 a year for freshmen, $6,500 for sophomores and $7,500 for juniors and seniors. There is no limit to how much parents can borrow. Supporters say the program ensures students can go to schools of their choice.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Apr 24, 2017.

Where Are The Handcuffs? (Drugs)

Note the nostrum here….
One of Donald Trump’s few universally welcomed campaign promises was to do something about the prices of pharmaceutical drugs. Most Americans recognize that prices are too high, and are bothered by the rise of pharmaceutical price gouging…..
The key power is found in the ‘import relief’ law – an important yet unused provision of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 that empowers the Food and Drug Administration to allow drug imports whenever they are deemed safe and capable of saving Americans money. The savings in the price-gouging cases would be significant. Daraprim, the antiparasitic drug whose price was raised by Mr. Shkreli to nearly $750 per pill, sells for a little more than $2 overseas. The cancer drug Cosmegen is priced at $1,400 or more per injection here, as opposed to about $20 to $30 overseas.
The remedy is simple: The government can create a means for pharmacies to get supplies from trusted nations overseas at much lower prices.
In other words Trump has the ability to administratively put a stop to the drug-price rape.
But let me point out that while this article is informative and points out a means by which Trump can irrespective of Congressional interference put a stop to the scam in one area of the medical system it ignores — intentionally — a much-larger and more-powerful hammer that every President has had available to them for the last 30 years and yet has refused to use.

This post was published at Market-Ticker on 2017-04-23.

Ocwen Crashes Over 50% After N.C. Bank Commissioner Issues Cease And Desist Letter

Former hedge fund hotel-darling and mortgage servicer Ocwen Financial plunged over 50% after the North Carolina Commissioner of Banks and state mortgage regulators from over 20 states issued a Cease and Desist order to subsidiaries of Ocwen to address mishandling of consumer escrow accounts and a deficient financial condition. Specifically, the order prohibits the acquisition of new mortgage servicing rights and the origination of mortgage loans by Ocwen Loan Servicing.
The summary findings from the C&D (link)
The Commissioner of Banks (‘Commissioner’) having determined that Ocwen Financial Corporation has engaged in, or is engaging in, or is about to engage in, acts or practices constituting violations of state and federal law and applicable regulations, hereby issues the following FINDINGS OF FACT and ORDER TO CEASE AND DESIST.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Apr 20, 2017.