Auditioning for Wall Street

Yesterday, Wall Street on Parade reported on how the corrupt tentacles of Wall Street have engulfed the mindset of our newly minted law school graduates.
Getting one’s resume noticed from those of a stack of competitors previously meant using a good grade ivory linen stock instead of cheap white copy paper. Today, the word is apparently out that getting one’s resume noticed at a major Wall Street bank requires advertising one’s special knack, inside track, or secret sauce for ripping off society for the profit advantage of the big dogs on Wall Street.
On November 20, Senator Carl Levin and the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations released a 396-page report and 8-inch stack of exhibits exposing more shocking Wall Street secrets that have been heretofore protected from daylight by timid or captured regulators. Among the exhibits was a resume submitted to JPMorgan Chase by a young, recent graduate of George Washington University Law School – a man that society might rightfully expect to conduct himself in an honorable and professional manner in the business world.
This young man, instead, attempted to set himself apart from the pack of recent law grads applying for jobs at JPMorgan by advertising at the very top of his resume that during his job in power procurement at Southern California Edison, he had ‘identified a flaw in the market mechanism Bid Cost Recovery that is causing the CAISO [the California grid operator] to misallocate millions of dollars.’ In case that was too subtle, the young job applicant went on to note that he had ‘showed how units in reliability areas can increase profits by 400%.’
There are a number of troubling assumptions this young man appears to be making: first, he appears to assume that no lawyer at JPMorgan will show this resume nor report the ‘flaw’ to a Federal regulator. He also appears to believe that his ability to exploit electricity markets in California will be quickly embraced by JPMorgan personnel and cue his resume to the front of the line. And, finally, he seems to intuitively perceive that this is how Wall Street operates in general.
Stunningly, the new law grad was right on every one of his assumptions. Part of the same exhibit 76 is a JPMorgan email from the person who would become this young man’s boss, Francis Dunleavy, advising: ‘Please get him in ASAP.’

This post was published at Wall Street On Parade By Pam Martens and Russ Marte.

Putin Offers Full Amnesty For Money Repatriation, Threatens Crackdown Against FX Speculators

Earlier today Putin used his his annual speech to both houses of parliament, delivered in a chandeliered ceremonial hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow, to give a pep talk to an economy that has been faltering in recent months as a result of, if not so much western sanctions which have hurt Europe more than Russia, then certainly tumbling oil prices. As Bloomberg notes, “the ruble is near a record low, the economy is headed for a recession and banks are pleading for state aid.” It was Putin’s task to try to persuade Russians today that panic isn’t the answer to their economic pain.
In his speech, Putin on one hand appealed to Russian patriotism. As reported by AP, he evoked religious imagery and defended the Kremlin’s aggressive foreign policy as necessary for his country’s sheer survival. Putin described Crimea as Russia’s spiritual ground, “our Temple Mount,” and added that national pride and sovereignty are “a necessary condition for survival” of Russia.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 12/04/2014.

Politicians to Business Owners: Drop Dead

Senator Ted Stevens once explained that the Internet is a ‘series of tubes’ and ‘not a big truck.’ Steven’s comments made me a little sad, since I worried we’d never again hear such idiocy from a senior government official. Had we reached peak stupid on Capitol Hill?
There was a ray of hope a few years back when Congressman Hank Johnson shared, in Committee, his fears that if too many people move to Guam it might ‘tip over and capsize.’
Johnson is a well-known fool, though, so I was cautious yet. Maybe we just got lucky. Maybe stupid really was over.
So imagine my sheer joy when another well-known DC fixture, one Hillary Clinton, addressed her considerable analytic talents to the question of job creation during 2014′s election cycle.
Speaking at a Boston rally, Clinton opined, ‘Don’t let anybody tell you it’s corporations and businesses create jobs. You know that old theory, ‘trickle-down economics’. That has been tried, that has failed. It has failed rather spectacularly.’
Strictly speaking, ‘trickle-down economics’ is a specific type of economic policy identified with Reaganomics in the 1980s. But given the context of her speech, it’s clear that Clinton was using the phrase to invoke the broad leftist assertion that any fiscal policy that is relatively kind toward business growth and private wealth accumulation is somehow putting wage earners and other non-business owners at some kind of disadvantage.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on DECEMBER 4, 2014.

Stunning Video Footage Of Chernobyl Devastation Captured By Drone

With the Fukushima disaster having disappeared from all media coverage in recent months (and with the plan to encapsulate the radioactive plant in an ice sarcophagus recently scrapped, Japan has still to reveal what its plans are for dealing with the disaster area), the world occasionally needs a reminder of the waste land that follow when nuclear power goes horribly wrong.
For that we go back to the original nuclear disaster, Chernobyl, and US photographer Phillip Grossman who, while having taken numerous pictures of the radioactive sarcophagus and its surroundings in the past, has produced his most amazing work yet courtesy of a camera-equipped drone. It allowed him to use a high powered camera and get a bird’s eye view of the surrounding landscape.
The stunning result is shown in the video below.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 12/04/2014.

Kazakhstan keen on TAPI gas pipeline

Kazakhstan is interested in taking part in the multilateral natural gas pipeline project extending east from Turkmenistan, its government said.
Last month, the governments of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, India and Pakistan created a joint venture project to steer the development of the 1,000-mile pipeline, which has financial backing from the Asian Development Bank.
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said during a Tuesday visit with his counterpart in Turkmenistan his government stands by and is ready to take part in the project, described as part of a "new Silk Road."
Kazakhstan is one of the region's largest oil producers and much of its natural gas reserves are associated with those deposits. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates the country has proven natural gas reserves of 85 trillion cubic feet.

This post was published at UPI

Major Domestic Benefits with Plunging Ruble

Russian manufacturers reported improving conditions for a fifth month in November, exceeding forecasts by economists as a weaker currency spurred output and pushed input-price growth to the fastest in more than 16 years.
The Russia Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index rose to 51.7, the highest in more than a year, from 50.3 in October, HSBC Holdings Plc said in a statement, citing data compiled by Markit Economics. That exceeded all estimates in a Bloomberg survey of six economists, whose forecasts ranged from 49.9 to 50.2. Readings above 50 indicate expansion.
“Input prices surged at a rate not yet seen in this century,” Alexander Morozov, chief economist for Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States for HSBC in Moscow, said in the statement. “Manufacturers either benefit from substitution of expensive imports or just misinterpret a temporary spike in demand driven by the increased inflationary expectations.”
President Vladimir Putin is counting on domestic producers taking advantage of the ruble’s record plunge to shield an economy battered by nosediving oil prices and sanctions imposed over the conflict in Ukraine. The surge of input costs raises the likelihood of “double-digit” inflation in the coming months and boosts the case for an increase in interest rates by the central bank, according to HSBC.

This post was published at Russia Insider

Italy seen as corrupt as Greece, Romania and Bulgaria

Italy, Greece, Romania and Bulgaria are seen as equally corrupt among E.U. countries, while Denmark is the least graft-prone country, according to the yearly corruption perception index published by Transparency International on Wednesday (3 December).
The index scores and ranks countries around the world based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be.
Finland and Sweden also score well, coming in directly after Denmark, according to the index which relies on a combination of surveys and assessments.
Even as E.U. countries have higher scores than countries like Russia, Ukraine or Turkey, Transparency International notes that in 2014 there were numerous scandals in "old Europe".

This post was published at EU Observer

Failure to Deliver Mistral Ships Is ‘Absurd’: French Trade Union

According to the French General Confederation of Labor (CGT), France had created an “absurd situation” by postponing deliveries of Mistral-class ships – the authorities have jeopardized the national shipbuilding industry and showed their weakness, French Le Telegramme reported.
“Champs-Elysees [the French government] had an opportunity to show the United States that France could make its own decisions. However, they demonstrated their weakness and created an absurd situation at the expense of national production and future contracts,” CGT said, as quoted by Le Telegramme.
“CGT is bitter that the French government, instead of promoting French technology, has compromised the image of its shipbuilding industry to please the United States and others? Even if Russia decides not to seek sanctions or financial compensation, France will be a nation incapable of honoring its contracts,” CGT further said.

This post was published at Sputnik News

Dutch Companies Demand Compensation for Losses Over Anti-Russia Sanctions

Dutch businesses are increasingly pressing the government and the European Union to pay compensation for losses incurred by the anti-Russia sanctions, Russian Trade Representative in the Netherlands Alexander Cherevko told RIA Novosti.
"Today Dutch business is more persistent in demanding the [Dutch] government and the European Union compensate for their losses.
Moreover, leading Dutch companies blame the government more frequently for supporting their competitors on the Russian market by backing the E.U. sanctions," Cherevko told RIA Novosti in an interview.
"Many Dutch companies actively advocate a normalization of relations with Russia to further develop their business," Cherevko continued, adding that the "companies are still viewing Russia as a big promising market".

This post was published at Russia Insider

The Oil-Drenched Black Swan, Part 4: The Head-Fake Disruption Ahead

Add these factors up and we conclude there is no visible price limit on oil after supply falters.
I’ve been discussing the concept of an Oil Head-Fake since 2008, most recently in The Oil Head-Fake: The Illusion that Lower Oil Prices Are Positive (September 29, 2014)
Oil: One Last Head-Fake? (May 9, 2008)
The basic idea is straightforward: as global demand slackens, oil producers are incapable of reducing supply due to their dependence on oil revenues. This leads to oversupply which further depresses prices, to the point that marginal wells are shut off and costly exploration-development projects are shelved.
This process is far from orderly, as the low prices destabilize oil-dependent governments and regions. Geopolitical turmoil is only half the story; the immense mountain of debt that’s been built on the collateral of oil collapses as cash-starved borrowers default on bonds and loans. This meltdown of oil-based debt then destabilizes an increasingly fragile global financial system.
Supply can be turned off easily enough, but it can’t be expanded as easily. Costly deepwater wells that were shelved in the price bust can be restarted, but it takes many years to bring these hyper-expensive projects online.

This post was published at Charles Hugh Smith on WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 03, 2014.

South Stream Dies

$5 Billion Down the Drain Russia’s Gazprom has finally thrown the towel on the South Stream pipeline, after spending $5 billion on it. This follows repeated attempts by the EU to shoot itself in the foot using its ‘competition rules’ as a pretext. These nonsensical rules are employed as a pretext for a great many things, but the protection of consumers ranges most definitely at the very bottom of priorities. South Stream would have circumvented the Ukraine and brought Russian natural gas to a number of countries (many in the Balkans, plus Austria and Italy) which are nearly 100% dependent on Russian gas already. Germany presumably doesn’t care because, tada! – it gets its gas via ‘North Stream’. For unknown reasons the ‘competition commission’ had nothing against that pipeline. One wonders why? We think the only European newspaper that came closest to the truth was the Italian paper La Republicca. While it (wrongly) blamed the decline in energy prices for the decision, it wrote in an aside:
‘The latest jolt sweeps away South Stream. The maxi-pipeline – dear to Vladimir Putin, supported by the former Berlusconi government, opposed by the United States – will not be built’
The truth is, the EU’s ‘competition commission’ rigmarole was a pretext for what is at its core a political, not an economic decision. The US opposes South Stream solely for geopolitical reasons, as it has zero commercial importance for it. The EU has neither valid commercial and nor indeed valid political reasons to oppose the pipeline. Europe has been buying energy from Russia even back when it was still part of the evil Soviet Union, the communist empire that was an actual enemy. And yet, as German vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel remarked in an address (in which he admitted that German subsidies for various ‘alternative energy’ nonsense needed to end), Russia has never reneged on its energy deliveries, not even in the most tense moments of the cold war.

This post was published at Acting-Man on December 3, 2014.

Syria Goes Dark

Syria Then and Now ‘Arab Spring’ situations have an inexorable tendency to go pear-shaped (Tunisia, the first country to experience one is the lone exception, but even there the ‘old guard’ is reportedly making a comeback, so the whole thing was essentially for nothing in the end). In Egypt, the revolution went from bringing an Islamist to power whose economic policies were either useless or were sabotaged by the organization that actually owns Egypt (the army controls 40% of the economy), back to someone who suspiciously looks like the old boss, with the only difference that he’s even worse. Nothing about the situation even remotely resembles democracy at this juncture. Getting jailed and tortured in Egypt and getting sentenced to death in mass show trials is once again par for the course.
Libya has disintegrated into a so-called ‘failed state’ and is wracked by an ongoing civil war between the same factions that faced each other in Egypt: Islamists and the army, whereby in Libya there is also a dash of warlordism in play. The official government doesn’t even control the capital.
Syria however is arguably the worst case. The country, fought over by once again the very same types of factions (the army of a secular tinpot dicator and Islamists) has been rendered a pile of rubble in many places. We were reminded of a picture we have recently come across that illustrated this fact rather starkly. It shows a satellite image of Syria at night, before and after the civil war: The lights have gone out in Syria’s largest cities.

This post was published at Acting-Man on December 3, 2014.

Plummeting Oil Prices Could Destroy The Banks That Are Holding Trillions In Commodity Derivatives

Could rapidly falling oil prices trigger a nightmare scenario for the commodity derivatives market? The big Wall Street banks did not expect plunging home prices to cause a mortgage-backed securities implosion back in 2008, and their models did not anticipate a decline in the price of oil by more than 40 dollars in less than six months this time either. If the price of oil stays at this level or goes down even more, someone out there is going to have to absorb some absolutely massive losses. In some cases, the losses will be absorbed by oil producers, but many of the big players in the industry have already locked in high prices for their oil next year through derivatives contracts. The companies enter into these derivatives contracts for a couple of reasons. Number one, many lenders do not want to give them any money unless they can show that they have locked in a price for their oil that is higher than the cost of production. Secondly, derivatives contracts protect the profits of oil producers from dramatic swings in the marketplace. These dramatic swings rarely happen, but when they do they can be absolutely crippling. So the oil companies that have locked in high prices for their oil in 2015 and 2016 are feeling pretty good right about now. But who is on the other end of those contracts? In many cases, it is the big Wall Street banks, and if the price of oil does not rebound substantially they could be facing absolutely colossal losses.
It has been estimated that the six largest ‘too big to fail’ banks control$3.9 trillion in commodity derivatives contracts. And a very large chunk of that amount is made up of oil derivatives.
By the middle of next year, we could be facing a situation where many of these oil producers have locked in a price of 90 or 100 dollars a barrel on their oil but the price has fallen to about 50 dollars a barrel.
In such a case, the losses for those on the wrong end of the derivatives contracts would be astronomical.
At this point, some of the biggest players in the shale oil industry have already locked in high prices for most of their oil for the coming year. The following is an excerpt from a recent article by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard…

This post was published at The Economic Collapse Blog on December 3rd, 2014.

Name That Collapsing Nation

These 3 charts show 3 different nations. According to the mainstream media memes:
one of these is an oil-rich socialist utopia on the verge of bankruptcy; one is a nation nearing an economic renaissance thanks to devaluing its currency, money-printing, and fiscal irresponsibility; and
one is a nation that is isolated, sanctioned, economically-ravaged, resource-rich, that has hoarded gold…
So which is which?

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 12/03/2014.

No Indictment in Eric Garner Grand Jury, DOJ to open ‘civil rights’ investigation

21st Century Wire says…
Only a week has passed since rioting, looting and arson broke in Ferguson, Missouri, and another police incident and Grand Jury verdict involving a black victim in New York City – is threatening to push American streets over the edge again tonight…
According to the 23 member Grand Jury that convened in New York, the arrest and subsequent ‘choke-hold’ or carotid restraint administered by officer Daniel Pantaleo of the New York City Police Dept. – did not rise to the level of criminality, so therefore the prosecutor announced there will be no indictment of the officers involved in this case.
This does not however, rule out charges of police misconduct and excessive force which would result in a suspension or dismissal, or a ‘wrongful death’ civil law suit (the use of the choke-hold was already prohibited by policy guidelines issued to NYPD officers) which is likely to be brought against both the officer and the municipality for an estimated $75 million.

This post was published at 21st Century Wire on DECEMBER 4, 2014.

Reality is not a Video Game: Norweigen F-16 Near Miss with Russian Mig-31 (Video)

The encounter was approximately 20 meters. Let that sink in as the high speed pass to intimidate the pilots from Norway occurs in this video via the Wall Street Journal:

I’m almost positive that former Vietnam war veteran and medal recipient along champion windsurfer, sailor, wealthy MILF marrying Secretary of State John Kerry will issue a stern email any moment now.
Too bad and too funny that Putin and Lavrov have him on the ‘spam’ list.

This post was published at John Galt Fla on December 2, 2014.

When Deceptions Go Unchallenged by Our Free Press

A willing ‘suspension of disbelief’ is essential to enjoy a good play or other fiction but it’s a disaster when the media adopts it in place of skepticism – especially toward those in government.
And yet, that is exactly what happened with the Affordable Care Act. It’s hard to not to conclude that the media willingly suspended disbelief when it came to the many claims made by President Obama, legislators and supporters of the Affordable Care Act. The now obvious 2013 ‘Lie of the Year’, for example, was anything but obvious to most Americans before millions lost the insurance coverage they liked. Why?
Taken together with MIT economist Jonathan Gruber’s recently revealed admissions that deception was part of the plan all along, it’s fair to ask, ‘What happened to our watchdog press?’ There has been much gnashing of teeth over Professor Gruber’s candor but virtually no self-examination by the media of its role in helping to perpetrate a fraudulent sales job on the American people.
Indeed, in retrospect it appears as if the Administration counted on a compliant media not asking the hard questions. This disinterest in the truth, as much as the lies themselves, has contributed to the mistrust and anger that divides the nation. So far the media has refused to take any responsibility.
When the CIA failed to predict the fall of Iran there was acid and deserved criticism of its failure to fulfill its fundamental mission. That same kind of criticism should be a part of the public conversation now about the role of the media in missing deliberate efforts by this Administration to employ outright falsehoods to pervert ‘consent of the governed’. Only with deception, said Dr. Gruber, could the law win enactment. He embraced government deception ‘for the greater good’ but the media should not have. It was a failure of the media’s most fundamental duty in a free society.

This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on December 3rd, 2014.

Goon Thug Cops Murder At Will – Paul Craig Roberts

Another gang of goon thug gratuitous murderers has been let off by a racist grand jury and a racist non-prosecutor. Read the verbiage spewed by NY mayor Bill de Blasio and the Obama Puppet:They are so sorry about the collateral damage of protecting the public from criminals and terrorists. Without the death of innocents, none of us would be safe. Our safety depended on the NYPD murder of Eric Garner, a father of six who was a threat to no one.
Another police murder of a US citizen who was no threat to anyone – just more collateral damage – as the US military calls it when US forces blow up kids’ soccer games, weddings, funerals, and birthday parties. Any concentration of people, regardless of what they are doing, is considered to be an enemy force and legitimate target. This includes people picking their crops in fields.
Unfortunate perhaps, on occasion, but soldiers and police and US presidents have the right to make mistakes. Only a dangerous ‘domestic extremist’ would think that a goon thug should be held accountable for a mistake. I mean, after all, the 21st century American courts have established that those in the executive branch are above the law.

This post was published at Paul Craig Roberts on December 3, 2014.

17 States Sue Obama Over “Unconstitutional” Executive Action On Immigration

A year ago, following the whole Supreme Court farce, a bevy of states proved there are more than just “idiot voters” left in the US, when they decided to sue Obamacare outright over one or more of its provisions. They were promptly shut down by a judicial system that is as corrupt as the government itself (needless to say, both working at the behest of their true financial puppetmaster: Wall Street). And yet, in the aftermath of the now epic fiasco that is Obamacare, and not to mention the violent reaction to the administration as demonstrated in the midterm elections, the president may have a tougher time to brush away the next round of adverse reactions against his latest hugely unpopular executive order, one involving the amnesty of over 5 million illegal immigrants.
According to AP, Texas is leading a 17-state coalition in suing over the Obama administration’s recently announced executive actions on immigration.
While many top Republicans have denounced Obama’s unilateral illegal immigration clemency move designed to spare as many as 5 million people living illegally in the United States from deportation, or, as some put it, win the democrats 5 million heretofore non-existing voters, earlier today Texas Gov.-elect Greg Abbott took it a step further Wednesday, filing a lawsuit in federal court in the Southern District of Texas. And once he did, the seal broke and everyone wanted in on the action, and Texas was quickly joined by 16 other, mostly southern and Midwestern states, including Alabama, Georgia, Idaho and Indiana.
Abbott argued Wednesday that Obama’s action “tramples” portions of the U. S. Constitution. Which, let’s be honest here, never stopped the “constitutional scholar” before.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 12/03/2014.