Consumer protection

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Frontrunning: April 15





  • China growth slowest in six years, more stimulus expected soon (Reuters)
  • EU charges Google over shopping searches, to probe Android (Reuters)
  • A Chinese Paradox: Slow Growth Is Good, Stock Bubbles Welcome (BBG)
  • Draghi Seen Dispelling Duration Doubts About QE Program (BBG)
  • IEA Sees OPEC Supply Jumping Most in Four Years on Saudi Surge (BBG)
  • SEC Reaches Settlement with Former Freddie Mac  (WSJ)
  • Kerry says confident Obama can get final deal on Iran (Reuters)
  • Regulators Call for Short-Term Loan Changes to Handle ‘Too-Big-to-Fail’ (WSJ)
  • Florida Doctor Linked to Sen. Robert Menendez Indicted for Medicare Fraud (WSJ)
 
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Meet Linebarger - The Government's Biggest Private Debt Collector





Collecting debt is a dirty business which is why The Federal Government turns it over to the private sector. Meet one of the biggest players in the industry, law firm Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson. It has worked for small-town school districts, the city of New York and at one point, the largest tax collector in the country: the Internal Revenue Service. As CNN reports, based in Texas, Linebarger works for 2,300 clients nationwide and collects $1 billion for its clients each year. But the collection system is far from perfect, leading to some nightmare scenarios. Despite decades of scandals over the way the firm gets business (and even jail time for one of its top executives) Linebarger still lands lucrative government contracts...

 
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Is China Starting To Crackdown On Alibaba's "Illegal Operations"?





It appears the Chinese government has decided it is time to remind the nation's richest man (and millions of retail investors in America) who is in charge. According to a report released by the Chinese government - citing closed-door meetings in July 2014 that were kept quiet so as not to affect the September IPO - there are at least 19 problems with Alibaba's various platforms. As Bloomberg reports, Alibaba failed to properly oversee merchants and allowed the sale of counterfeit products on its e-commerce platforms, according to a Chinese government report. The report concludes, rather ominously, "Alibaba not only faces the biggest credibility crisis since its establishment, it also casts a bad influence for other Internet operators trying to operate legally." While Alibaba has tried to clean-up its image, the report cites issues with counterfeit goods, merchant screening, false advertising, and lax controls.

 
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Bill Dudley Explains Why The New York Fed Is Not A Subsidiary Of Goldman Sachs - Live Webcast





Just days after the NY Fed ousted an employee for providing confidential information to a Goldman Sachs banker (who formerly worked at the NY Fed - and has since been fired by Goldman), Bill Dudley - the president of the NY Fed - will face a very skeptical Senate Banking Committee this morning investigating so-called "regulatory capture." Of course, their eyes were finally opened after Carmen Segarra, a former employee, leaked 47.5 hours of taped conversation (as we discussed in detail here), exposing the dismal reality of the relationship between the 'regulator' and the 'regulated' as New York regulators were deferential to Goldman bankers for a supposedly "shady" deal. Dudley's defense (not denial) so far:  "We understand the risks of doing our job poorly and of becoming too close to the firms we supervise. Of course, we are not perfect. We sometimes make mistakes."

 
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Meet The New Leadership Of Europe: Presenting The "Juncker Commission"





As reported ealier this morning, here, courtesy of Bloomberg, are the nominees for the next European Commission under the presidency of Jean-Claude "If Serioues Then lie" Juncker, with one from each of the European Union’s 28 countries. Job assignments were announced today by the incoming president, Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg. What do these appointments mean for the European Union? The attached flash analysis from Open Europe should answer most initial questions.

 
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Putin Considers Banning Jack Daniel's





We knew the blowback from western sanctions against Russia would get serious - and Europe is already finding that out the hard way - but Vladmimir Putin appears to have gone 'cruel-and-unusual' in his latest step. As ITAR-TASS reports, Russian consumer-protection agency Rospotrebnadzor will decide in next few days whether to seize Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey and Honey Liqueur after 'reportedly' finding "suspicious" chemicals in batch of flavored whiskey on sale in Sverdlovsk stores. Luckily Jack Lew has told us this will not impact the US economy (unless of course, you are Jack Daniels).

 
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As "Housing Recovery" Fizzles A New Scheme Emerges: Boost FICO Scores By Changing The Definition





Now that the the fourth dead cat bounce in US housing since the Lehman crisis is rapidly fading, and laundered Chinese "hot money" transfers into US luxury real estate no longer provides a firm base to the ultra-luxury segment, the US government is scrambling to find ways to boost that all important - and missing - aspect of any US recovery: the housing market. This is further amplified by the recent admission by the Fed that it is in fact encouraging asset bubbles, not only in stocks but certainly in all assets, such as houses. Well, the government may have just stumbled on the solution to kick the can yet again and force yet another credit-driven housing bubble, a solution so simple we are shocked some bureaucrat didn't think of it earlier: changing the definition of the all important FICO score, the most important number at the base of every mortgage application.

 
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Russia To Ban Several McDonalds Burgers Including Royal And Filet-O-Fish





Think only the US can engage in the farce known as "sanctions" (why theater, because until Obama sanctions Gazprom, yeah right... crickets... it is nothing but populist theater)? Think again. Overnight Russia's consumer protection agency, filed a lawsuit in a Moscow court - which clearly has nothing to do with recent geopolitical bickering between the former Cold War enemies - seeking to ban some of McDonald's Corp's burgers along with its milk shakes and ice cream, a court spokeswoman said on Friday. The reason for the ban: as Reuters reports, a regional branch of the consumer protection agency Rospotrebnadzor asked the court to declare production and sales of some products illegal due to "inappropriate physical-chemical parameters."  The lawsuit's list of contested products named the fast-food chain's Royal Cheeseburger, Filet-o-Fish, Cheeseburger and Chicken Burger but not its Big Mac burger.

 
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Frontrunning: July 23





  • Here come the gates which we predicted in 2010: SEC Is Set to Approve Money-Fund Rules (WSJ)
  • Dick's cuts 400 jobs as golf now less popular (MW)
  • Kerry arrives in Israel, pushes for peace (Reuters)
  • Pay Penalty Haunts Recession Grads as U.S. Economy Mends (BBG)
  • Appeals Courts Issue Conflicting Rulings on Health-Law Subsidies (WSJ)
  • Rebel Stronghold Donetsk Holds Breath as Shellfire Mounts (BBG)
  • Business executive wins Georgia Republican runoff in U.S. Senate race (Reuters)
  • Five held in China food scandal probe, including head of Shanghai Husi Food (Reuters)
  • Jobs Hold Sway Over Yellen-Carney as Central Banks Splinter (BBG)
 
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Ackman Has 6 Months Left To Come Up With The Devastating-est HLF Presentation Ever





UPDATE: This is now the biggest single-day rise in HLF's history...

Bill Ackman's "most important presentation of his career" is not going so well. The 'Death Blow' expectations Ackman created yesterday (that sent the stock down 13%) have been entirely wiped away as a 2-hour presentation, 100s of slides, and nothing really new sent stocks 16% higher today... It appears time is running out for Mr. Ackman as his massive put position (bleeding value every day that passes) is set to expire in six months... and we suspect Carl Icahn can outlast Ackman's view of market 'irrationality'.

 
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$1 Million A Month - What Ex-NSA Chief Alexander Charges Wall Street For "Advice"





So what’s a Peeping Tom, anti-democratic, Constitution-trampling intelligence crony to do after leaving decades of “public service?” Move into the private sector and collect a fat paycheck from Wall Street, naturally. So what is Mr. Alexander charging for his expertise? He’s looking for $1 million per month. Yes, you read that right. That’s the rate that his firm, IronNet Cybersecurity Inc., pitched to Wall Street’s largest lobbying group the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA)

 
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Bart Chilton Joins America's Largest Law Firm As Policy Advisor





It seems like it was only yesterday (actually it was early November) when infamous CFTC commissioner, legendary threat to gold manipulators nowhere, and Alexander Godunov impersonator, Bart Chilton made a very dramatic exit stage left. At the time, we asked rhetorically if said dramatic depature was just for show. The rhetorical answer to the rhetorical question: of course it was, confirmed moments ago when Chilton became just the latest "regulator" to take the great revolving door out of a worthless public service Washington office into a just as worthless, but much better paying private-sector Washington office. Presenting the latest employee of DLA Piper, the largest law firm in the US, and possibly the world, by number of partners - Bart Chilton, poet.

 
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