We have discussed the 'downside' of America's "black gold" rush and the town of Williston, North Dakota is the poster child for the costs and benefits of this exuberance. But, as The BBC reports, there is some silver lining for those willing to deal..."Strippers can earn $2,500 per shift here," says a bouncer, "but the men here are 100% worse. It's horrible. They're animals."
Mr. Bowden, who heads the SEC’s examinations unit, speaking at a private equity conference, explained that “more than 50 percent of private equity firms it has audited have engaged in serious infractions of securities laws.” What is so incredible about the talk, is that while Bowden goes into details of shady practice after shady practice, he ultimately admits that the SEC isn’t being particularly aggressive with the private equity industry because “we believe that most people in the industry are trying to do the right thing, to help their clients, to grow their business, and to provide for their owners and employees.” What the SEC is basically admitting, is that private equity firms are also “too big to regulate” and, of course, “too big to jail.”
The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending April 19 was 2,832,693, an increase of 10,353 from the previous week (on an unadjusted basis) but the headlines will gloat of the drop in initial claims after last week's rather disturbing spike (which temporarily destroyed the pent-up demand post-weather meme). Initial claims dropped 26k to 319k, beating expectations. New York and Massachusetts saw the largest increase in claims while Michigan and New Jersey the largest drop.
While every state has at least some residents who are looking for greener pastures; as Gallup reports, nowhere is the desire to move more prevalent than in Illinois and Connecticut. In both of these states, about half of residents say that if given the chance to move to a different state, they would like to do so (against an average 33% of all Americans who would prefer to live in another state than their own). The 'greenest pasture' or least disliked, according to Gallup, is Hawaii and Montana (where only 23% would prefer to leave). The biggest factor driving the desire to leave the current state - unsurprisingly - jobs (or business opportunities)... and Nevada residents (thank you Harry Reid) the most anxious to leave in the next 12 months.
America’s massive prison system is creating a long list of unintended consequences, some of which will effect all of us in the coming years. To help explain just how bad things have gotten, we’ve compiled this list of the most stunning facts and statistics on the America’s prison system today.
Since stupidity rapidly goes mainstream, the same excuse used to "explain" away housing and economic deterioration was instantly (ab)used by a barrage of public company CEOs, whose earnings results were disappointing for only one reason (in their minds) - the weather. Because one always needs a narrative - any narrative - to explain away stories such as this: "Q1 Earnings Season Summary: More Than Half Have Missed Revenues"...
"The amount of experience he has is ridiculous," says former JPM prop trader Galuti, adding "- in a positive way," as he explains why former Clinton Commerce secretary (and Obama chief of staff) Bill Daley has joined the small Swiss-based hedge fund. The revolving door of favors continues as Daley, who The FT reports will be based in Chicago and oversee US expansion (as well as provide macroeconomic and political advice), joins an ever-growing number of former Obama administration officials to have taken jobs in the financial sector.
One of the most consistent debates emanating out of Washington in the past 6 years has been that dealing with income tax. Whether high, low, "fair" or "unfair", said discussions, however, focus solely on tax paid at the Federal level, and largely ignore that "other" key tax: state. Which is surprising, considering some states such as California demand a total contribution amounting to a third of the highest marginal Federal tax bracket, which could make some wonder if those bracing sea breezes are really worth it. But what about the other states? Here is the full breakdown of the states with the top income tax rates, those with the lowest, and all the states inbetween.
There is now a systemic two-tier justice system operating in these United States, and the result will unquestionably be tyranny if the trend continues unabated. The latest example of a lowly citizen being subject to a disproportionate use of the law, is Jon Daniel of Peoria, Illinois. Jon was behind a parody Twitter account that mocked Peoria mayor Jim Ardis, and his biggest mistake was not making it clear that it was a parody. As a result, Twitter had already suspended the account weeks ago. Problem solved, right? Wrong. The tough guy mayor was so offended that a plebe would dare criticize his royal highness that he ordered a police raid on the home of Jon Daniel and his roommates.
It’s perplexing that analysts are perplexed by the rout.
Initial jobless claims dropped 10k this week to 311k - the lowest in 4 months - offering little bad-news-is-good-news hope for renewed un-tapering to pump stocks back up. Illinois, New York, and Pennsylvania (all weather-related) saw the biggest drops in claims in the prior week. Continuing claims also fell 53k to 2.82 million, its lowest in 3 months.
The latest foreclosure news out of RealtyTrac is out, and provides the latest proof that if there is a housing recovery somewhere, it sure isn't in the US, where the dislocations in the supply/demand for real estate are so profound that one in five homes in the foreclosure process has been vacated by the distressed homeowner. To wit: "As of the first quarter of 2014, a total of 152,033 U.S. properties in the foreclosure process (excluding bank-owned properties) had been vacated by the distressed homeowner, representing 21 percent of all properties in the foreclosure process." This means that neither the distressed homeowner or the foreclosing lender taking responsibility for maintenance and upkeep of the home, leading to a veritable army of Vacant Dead housing units that are spreading like zombies across the nation in the most improbable housing "recovery" of all time.
While the Fed's interventions have certainly bolstered asset prices by driving a "carry trade," these programs do not address the central issue necessary in a consumer driven economy which is "employment." In an economy that is nearly 70% driven by consumption, production comes first in the economic order. Without a job, through which an individual produces a good or service in exchange for payment, there is no income to consume with. With the Federal Reserve now effectively removing the "patient" from life support, we will see if the economy can sustain itself. If this recent Bloomberg poll is correct, then we are likely to get an answer very shortly, and it may very well be disappointment.
Moments ago, a hearing started in which the ongoing investigation of the George Washington bridge closure will focus on the role of Bridget Anne Kelly, Christe's former deputy chief of staff. The state legislative committee investigating the matter seeks to retrieve subpoenaed documents from Bridget Anne Kelly, and Bill Stepien, his former campaign manager. Just like in the case of IRS commissioner Lois Lerner, so Kelly is expected to plead the fifth. Watch the hearing below.