Although no one can be sure of Buffett's motives, it would be naïve to believe that someone as intelligent as Buffett has not considered the benefits of pushing through this tax structure. Higher taxes are always problems for entrepreneurs and regular people in the economy. However, they're often beneficial to the well-connected, who receive government bailouts and favors. And with Buffett even on the president's lips, he is becoming more connected to the power mechanism in D.C. every day. With many of Berkshire's companies, your loss as a taxpayer will be their gains.
These January jobs numbers make the Obama administration look good, at least relative to how it’s looked in the previous 12 months. However, they’re not reflecting as positively on two of Obama’s primary support groups: Wall Street and the US Federal Reserve.
The bearish sentiment following Moody’s overnight catch-up move to S&P failed to have a long-lasting effect on sentiment today. Instead, better than expected German ZEW, together with another well bid Italian debt auction saw equities stage an impressive rally which in turn lifted indices into positive territory. As a result, Bund futures are trading back below the 138.00 level, while peripheral bond yield spread are generally tighter on the session. The risk on sentiment also boosted the energy complex which saw WTI crude futures climb back above 101.00 level (note: Brent March future expiry). Looking elsewhere, EUR/USD advanced above 1.3200 level after triggering stops. Of note, intraday option expiries are seen at 1.3220 and then at 1.3300 (large). USD/JPY is up after the BoJ announced that it will undertake additional monetary easing action and expand its asset-purchase fund by JPY 10trl, while touted buying by Russian names also supported the pair this morning.
If the U.S. and Israel sponsor terrorism, then Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser was correct when he told the Senate in 2007: the war on terror is “a mythical historical narrative”.
Just over a week ago we highlighted the desperate plight of cash-strapped California. With a $3.3bn short-term 'hole', they were looking for cash-management solutions under every rock and hard place they could find. Today we hear that California joins the Obama bank foreclosure settlement enabling $18bn of bank-funded cash (implicitly via Federal Reserve/Government coffers) can flow to the left coast. Los Angeles alone will receive $4bn which while eventually wending its way down to the consumer (to be spent and implicitly spurring further economic activity or perhaps more likely to pay down other debt in this balance sheet recessionary environment), as Bloomberg asks, "Why should a taxpayer in Houston or Wichita bail out irresponsible California homeowners, banks and the state’s public employees’ retirement fund?" To add to California's 'aid', BofA has become the first bank to sign up for the 'Keep your Home' program where Federal dollars are given to banks to encourage them to reduce mortgage balances on struggling (over-levered and perhaps once greedy) California homeowners. Certainly it is a happy coincidence that perhaps a short-term cash crisis could be band-aided in the Golden State by this well-timed joining of California to the settlement.
US To Settle Fraudclosure For $25 Billion Even As It Channels Fake Tough Guy In Meaningless Lawsuit Against Very Same BanksSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/08/2012 22:08 -0500
Remember robosigning and the whole fraudclosure scandal? In a few days you can forget it. Because in America, the cost of contractual rights was just announced, and it is $25 billion: this is the amount of money that banks will pay to settle the fact that for years mortgages were issued and re-issued without proper title and liens on the underlying paper, courtesy of Linda Green et al. Why is this happening? Because staunch hold outs for equitable justice (at least until this point), the AGs of NY and California folded like cheap lawn chairs (we can't wait to find what corner office of Bank of America they end up in), but not before the one and only intervened. From the WSJ: "The Obama administration made a full-court press over the past four days to secure the support of key state attorneys general, including those from Florida, California and New York." Nothing like a little presidential persuasion to help one with overcoming one's conscience. Because in America the push to abrogate the very foundation of contractual agreements comes from the very top. But wait, there's more - just to wash its hands of the guilt associated with this settlement which shows once and for all that the Democratic administration panders as much if not more to the banking syndicate as any republican administration, as it announces one settlement with one hand, with the other the US will sue banks over the mortgage reps and warranties issue covered extensively here, in the most glaringly obtuse way to distract that it is gifting trillions worth of contingent liabilities right back to the banks, not to mention discarding the whole concept of justice. From the WSJ: "Federal securities regulators plan to warn several major banks that they intend to sue them over mortgage-related actions linked to the financial crisis, according to people familiar with the matter. The move would mark a stepped-up regulatory effort to hold Wall Street accountable for its sale of bonds linked to subprime mortgages in 2007 and 2008. At issue is whether the banks misrepresented the poor quality of loan pools they bundled and sold to investors, the people said." Wait, let us guess -that particular lawsuit will end up in a... settlement? Ding ding ding. We have a winner. All today's news succeed in doing is finally wrapping up any and all legal loose ends, so that banks can finally wrap all outstanding litigation overhangs at pennies on the dollar. And if at the end of the day, they find themselves cash strapped, why the US will simply loan them more cash of course.
So Now Is The Time To Get Your Financial Priorities In Order
- Greeks Struggle to Resolve Their Differences (WSJ)
- China May See Deeper Slowdown on Crisis: IMF (Bloomberg)
- Banks to take a hit on US home loans (FT)
- Europe’s banks face challenge on capital (FT)
- Smaller Interest-Rate, Credit-Default Swap Trades Seen On Horizon (WSJ)
- Pro-European elected Finland president (FT)
- Push Sputters for Credit-Default Swap Futures (WSJ)
- China Money Rate Rises as Central Bank Gauges Demand for Bills (Bloomberg)
- China Takes On Skeptics of Aid to Euro Zone (WSJ)
Labor Unions Demand Escalation Of Trade War With China, Ask Obama To Restrict Chinese Auto Part ImportsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/31/2012 14:52 -0500
Because the last time the administration got involved in the car space the results were so positive (for the unions if not so much for creditors), it appears we may be approaching another episode where central planning will make the decisions in the US auto space. Only this time instead of creditors, the impaired party will be China. Reuters reports: "Midwestern U.S. lawmakers and union groups on Tuesday urged President Barack Obama to restrict imports of auto parts from China that they said benefited from massive illegal subsidies and threatened hundreds of thousands of American jobs. "We need to stand up to the bully on the block," U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, said, referring to Beijing. "The bully on the block continues to take our lunch money and we need to stop that," she said." Odd - China was not complaining when the Obama administration was providing massive subsidies (whether or not illegal remains to be seen - surely Holder is all over it) to the solar and other "green" industries. In other words, just like Solyndra and Ener1, who are merely the first of many artificially subsidized entities, provided such great if highly transitory results for US employment, let's recreate the experiment at the wholesale level, by implicit subsidies and while also angering America's biggest creditor. Something tells us this proposal has a definite probability of passing. In the meantime, central planning for everyone.
ACTA: “Would Usurp Congressional Authority”, "Threatens Numerous Public Interests", a "Backroom Special Interest Deal"Submitted by George Washington on 01/29/2012 23:44 -0500
Unconstitutional ... in any language.
Which is why we were delighted that after months of modest confusion on the topic, the Congressional Committee on Financial Services (including subcommittee chairman Ron Paul), have demanded that not only Geithner make his stance on a US-funded IMF bailout of Europe crystal clear, but that they are openly opposed to "American taxpayer dollars being used to bail out Europe...through additional contributions to the IMF." We are curious to see just how Geithner will weasel his way out of responding to this: perhaps the only logical stall tactic is to reply that he will be busy helping Mitt Romney in his tax "revisions" over the next several months.
Remember that one keyword that oddly enough never made it's way into the president's largely recycled SOTU address - "Solyndra"? It is about to make a double or nothing repeat appearance, now that Ener1, another company that was backed by Obama, this time a electric car battery-maker, has filed for bankruptcy. Net result: taxpayers lose $118.5 million. The irony is that while Solyndra may have been missing from the SOTU, Ener1 made an indirect appearance: "In three years, our partnership with the private sector has already positioned America to be the world’s leading manufacturer of high-tech batteries." Uh, no. Actually, the correct phrasing is: "...positioned America to be the world's leading manufacturer of insolvent, bloated subsidized entities that are proof central planning at any level does not work but we can keep doing the same idiocy over and over hoping the final result will actually be different eventually." We can't wait to find out just which of Obama's handlers was may have been responsible for this latest gross capital misallocation. In the meantime, the 1,700 jobs "created" with the fake creation of Ener1, have just been lost. Yet nothing, nothing, compares to the irony from the statement issued by the CEO when the company proudly received taxpayer funding on its merry way to insolvency: " "These government incentives will provide a powerful stimulus to a vital industry and help ensure that the batteries eventually powering millions of cars around the world carry the stamp 'Made in the USA'." Brilliant - and no, they are laughing with us, not at us.
Humans are a flawed species. Our minds are easily manipulated. We don’t like pain. We prefer instant gratification. We are susceptible to mass delusion. We will often choose hope over critical thought. Those with higher IQs will regularly attempt to take advantage of those with lower IQs. Fear and greed are the two motivations used by the minority in power to control and manipulate the majority. The American people have been led astray by a small group of powerful men. We were herded through a door in the wall of perception that promised an American dream of material goods, entitlements and pleasure with no obligations or responsibility to future generations. There is only one choice that can save this country from ruin. Each individual must make a choice to either to continue supporting the manipulative, corrupt status quo or coming back through the Door in the Wall.
“The man who comes back through the Door in the Wall will never be quite the same as the man who went out. He will be wiser but less sure, happier but less self-satisfied, humbler in acknowledging his ignorance yet better equipped to understand the relationship of words to things, of systematic reasoning to the unfathomable mystery which it tries, forever vainly, to comprehend” – Aldous Huxley
Even with rigged electronic voting, media manipulation, and political co-option, I feel our efforts this year will resonate for many decades to come. Whether we are able to take back social power for regular citizens is not as important as making them aware that they have allowed themselves to lose that power in the first place. The elections of 2012, ultimately, should be treated as a vehicle for enlightenment, and this enlightenment begins when we are able to recognize the lies we live, and the men who sell them to us…