Yesterday, to much fanfare, the White House blasted that it was Obama's desire to appoint Allan R. Landon, a Hawaiian community banker, to serve on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. To wit: "President Obama said, “Allan Landon has the proven experience, judgment and deep knowledge of the financial system to serve at the Federal Reserve during this important time for our economy. He brings decades of leadership and expertise from various roles, particularly as a community banker.” Apparently what he also brings as Bloomberg's Dawn Kopecki reminds us, is the usual near-criminal cronyism and corruption that we have all grown to love and expect from every single Fed governor in recent history. It turns out in 2005 Landon agreed to step down as SFHLB board member due to the "appearance of impropriety" when he "failed to comply with a rule requiring the disclosure of conflicts of interest by a director."
“Don’t look back - something might be gaining on you,” Satchel Paige famously warned. For connoisseurs of civilizational collapse, 2014 was merely annoying, a continued pile-up of over-investments in complexity with mounting diminishing returns, metastasizing fragility, and no satisfying resolution. So we enter 2015 with greater tensions than ever before and therefore the likelihood that the inevitable breakdown will release more destructive energy and be that much harder to recover from.
That markets are rigged, at both the macro level, through central banks, and micro, through HFTs, dark pools and purposeful market fragmentation, should be painfully obvious to everyone by now. But when even the regulators engage in "jury rigging", or in this case blocking prominent HFT-critic Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel prize winning economist (a prize which doesn't count for much on these pages but should - at least on paper - impress such statist cronies as the SEC), has been blocked from a government panel that will advise regulators on issues facing U.S. equity markets, it becomes clear as day that the rigging is not just in the markets: worse, it is openly involves the market's "regulator" and "enforcer."
- Economists sceptical ECB bond-buying would revive eurozone (FT)
- Indonesia naval captain says may have located missing plane's tail section (Reuters)
- Oil hits five and a half year low under $55 (Reuters)
- Samaras Warns of Euro Exit Risk as Greek Campaign Starts (BBG)
- The death of active investing: Vanguard Sets Record Funds Inflow (WSJ) - thank you Fed
- Oil Downturn Has Many Wondering How Lone Star State Will Weather a Bust (WSJ)
- Hollande Says France Must Exceed 1% Economic Growth to Spur Jobs (BBG)
The author of what Paul Krugman called "the most important economics book of the year - and maybe the decade," has turned down a prestigious award from the French government because, he does "not think it is the government's role to decide who is honorable." The irony of Thomas Piketty's revulsion at the Legion d'Honneur award is juxtaposed with his socialist epithets that government should decide everything else... like confiscatory taxes, big government, and, as Mish perfectly describes it, the "save the local bookstore mentality." Even more ironic though, Piketty's rejection of the award occurred on the same day that Hollande finbally gave up on his 75% supertax scheme (which has led to record unemployment).
"where are the opponents to the ethos that anything goes and nothing matters? Where are the political figures who can sustain a complaint long enough, and loudly enough, to keep it in the public consciousness clearly enough to make a difference? The more conspiracy-minded might say that the security apparatus (the NSA and its servelings) or Wall Street actually run the country and somehow suppress opposition. I don’t believe that. I do believe that cultures go through tragic periods when they lose their bearings and the will to be truthful to themselves."
- Welcome to the recovery:
- Oil Extends Retreat With European Stocks as Dollar Gains (BBG)
- California police, protesters clash again after 'chokehold' death (Reuters)
- Ruble’s Rout Is Tale of Failed Threats, Missteps (BBG), not to be confused with "Yen's Rout Is Tale Of Keynesian Success, Prosperity"
- Uber banned from operating in Indian capital after driver rape (Reuters)
It appears Lazard's investment banker Antonio Weiss' "help" in tax inversions is not 'unpatriotic' enough to scare President Obama off - as we suspect Weiss' bundling and donating help more than offset any ethical challenges. However, in a somewhat eye-opening financial disclosure, Bloomberg reports that Obama's nominee for undersecretary of Treasury for domestic finance, has between $54 million and $203 million in assets spread across various family trusts and his anticipated compensation in 2014 is between $5 million and $25 million. It's good to know the 'people' are well-represented once again in Washington...
One really just can't make this up. Perhaps the Fed inspector general, when he is done "fixing" the corruption at the NY Fed will be so kind to take a look at the Goldman takeover of the US judicial system next.
As Hilary Clinton starts to ponder the curtains she wants to hang in the Oval Office, there is only one person who can realistically stand in her way: Rand Paul.
- Scuttled deals worth $580 billion put hedge funds on back foot (Reuters)
- Mounting Pressure on OPEC Spurs More Wagers on Oil Rally (BBG)
- It's not just US real estate: Chinese Students at U.S. Universities Jump 75% in Three Years (BBG)
- Frankfurt Open for Yuan Clearing as Liquidity Rises (BBG)
- Obama defends healthcare law after adviser criticism (Reuters)
- Michael Hasenstab Bets Big in Controversial Places (WSJ)
- Facebook seeks foothold in your office (FT)
- Russia Seen as Greatest Threat in Poll as Oil Erodes Putin Power (BBG)
- Falling Oil Prices Test OPEC Unity (WSJ)
while almost all oligarchs are extremely wealthy (or have access to extreme wealth), not all people with extreme wealth are oligarchs. The term oligarch is reserved for those with extreme wealth who also want to control the political process, policy levers and most other aspects of the lives of the citizenry in a top-down tyrannical and undemocratic manner. They think they know best about pretty much everything, and believe unelected technocrats who share their worldview should be empowered so that they can unilaterally make all of society’s important decisions. The unwashed masses (plebs) in their minds are unnecessary distractions who must to be told what to do. Useless eaters who need to be brainwashed into worshipping the oligarch mindset, or turned into apathetic automatons incapable or unwilling to engage in critical thought. Either outcome is equally acceptable and equally encouraged. These oligarchs and the centralized institutions they control pose the greatest threat to humanity at this time.
Meet the next piece of work...
"Solutions to the world's problems are not produced in a meeting between Bill Gates and George Soros... Renewal has to come from below... Limiting the influence [of the richest] is of the utmost importance... so that today's upper-class, high-finance capitalism can once again revert to being a capitalism of the real economy and the societal center."
This should fix it and calm the panic:
*OBAMA SAID TO APPOINT RON KLAIN AS EBOLA CZAR, CNN TWEETS
Forget medical experience, what the USA needs to combat the worst Ebola pandemic ever is "an American lawyer and political operative best known for serving as Chief of Staff to two Vice Presidents - Al Gore (1995–1999) and Joseph Biden (2009–2011)" Gotta wonder how Tom Frieden feels about this...