Here's a two-word summary of why the American healthcare system is fundamentally broken and cannot be fixed with policy tweaks: perverse incentives.
The total tonnage of economic malarkey being shoveled over the American public these days would make the late Dr. Joseph Goebbels (Nazi Minister of “Public Enlightenment and Propaganda”) turn green in his grave with envy. It’s a staggering phenomenon because little about it is conspiratorial; rather, it’s the consensual expression of a public that wants desperately to believe things that are untrue, and an economic leadership equally credulous, unmanned, and avid to furnish the necessary narratives that might preserve their jobs and perqs.
France Responds To US BNP Fine, Will Train Hundreds Of Russian Seamen To Operate French-Made WarshipSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/04/2014 09:03 -0400
France has suddenly found itself battling two populist fronts: on one hand it had to continue its foreign policy track of siding with NATO and the US when it comes to Russian developments; on the other it had to responds to howls of protest from the population bashing the US for having the temerity to punish its flagship bank (recall "France Furious At US $10 Billion BNP "Masterful Slap", "Racketeering" Fine"). Today, it was revealed that in weighing the two evils, it picked what it thought was the lesser one, and as the WSJ reports "a group of 400 Russian sailors are scheduled to arrive on June 22 in the French Atlantic port of Saint-Nazaire to undergo months of instruction before some of them pilot the first of two Mistral-class carriers back to Russia in the fall, said one of these people."
With Eric Holder suddenly playing hardball with the banks (most notably not US banks), it has not gone unnoticed among the largest European newspapers. The potential $10 billion penalty for BNP Paribas - France's largest bank - for alleged dealings with a sanctioned Iran has been called a "masterful slap," by Le Monde and Le Figaro said the U.S. was making an example of BNP to deflect criticism it had been "lenient with the American banks responsible for the financial crisis." This could make for an awkward week for Obama, not only facing Putin as he visits Europe to celebrate D-Day but as the allies themselves turn on him with France's Hollande likely to raise the matter and, as Bloomberg reports, newly elected National Front party called on the French government to "defend the national interest" in the case.
"I am owed 28,296 Bitcoins. I do not accept United States dollars, as it is the preferred currency of criminal organizations such as the FBI, DOJ, ATF, and Federal Reserve and I do not assist criminal racketeering enterprises."
Funny how, in the current national rapture of techno-narcissism, it is harder than ever to do something that for generations used to be as simple as pie: to get somebody on the telephone. To some degree, this situation represents the sheer diminishing returns and unintended consequences of technology. In a nation infatuated with technology, these entropic effects are always ignored. We just don’t want to hear about it, and our related infatuation with feel-good public relations bullshit spews a fog of concealment over it. It ought to be self-evident that this could only happen in a profoundly corrupt, dishonest, and degenerate society, because it took the form of a social compact that accepted this sort of behavior as okay.
We’ve been hearing a lot about the so-called Deep State lately. What to make of this shadowy monster? Some observers link it to the paranoid fantasy called the New World Order, a staple of political talk radio (and a hobgoblin I don’t believe in). In popular movies such as the Jason Bourne epics and Mission Impossible, the Deep State launches hyper-complex schemes that work flawlessly and never fail. That is exactly why they have such high entertainment appeal. Viewers are thrilled by the precision, by the conceit of seeming infallibility. The Deep State definitely exists; it just doesn’t work the way it is depicted in the movies. We like to say that we're allergic to conspiracy theories because human beings are generally too inept to carry out schemes at the grand scale, as well as being poor secret-keepers. Insider knowledge is almost always swapped around, even in secretive organizations, often recklessly so, because doling it out confers status, tactical advantage, and sometimes money for the doler-outer. But the Deep State isn’t a secret. It operates in plain sight.
The wonder is that more Americans are not ticked off about the state of our country than whatever is happening ten thousand miles away. The disintegration of Ukraine would be best understood by Americans as a mirror of ourselves and our sclerotic republic, poised to sink into poverty and disorder. Everything we do and say rings hollow now. What used to be called The Establishment has run out of ways to even pretend to save itself. We have no idea what’s next, but it’s not going to be more of what’s been.
- Putin playing the long game over Russian kin in Ukraine (Reuters)
- U.S.-Russia Relations Come Full Circle After Ukraine (WSJ)
- Japan PM makes offering to Yasukuni Shrine, angers China, South Korea (Reuters)
- In Gold Miners' Talks, Scale Is Crucial: Combined Barrick-Newmont Would Be Able to Trim Costs (WSJ)
- SEC Said to Weigh Shining Light on Brokers’ Stock Routing (BBG)... and protmply unweigh it
- Exelon Beating Facebook in S&P 500 After Valuation Scare (BBG)
- Court Case May Help Define 'Insider Trading' (WSJ)
- Spanish banks face tough rivalry in small companies bet (Reuters)
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.
Chart Of The Day: JPMorgan's $30 Billion In Legal Fees And Expenses Since 2010 (And Why The New Compliance Officer Just Quit)Submitted by Tyler Durden on 02/25/2014 14:59 -0400
The number: since 2010 JPM has paid a mindblowing $29.8 billion in "one-time, non-recurring" legal fees, charges, settlements, and otherwise expenses that in theory at least should not be part of its ongoing business operations.... but are.
Someone ought to explain to Gibson why this would be a runnaway hit...
Ukrainian protesters erected more street barricades and occupied another government ministry building on Friday after the failure of crisis talks with President Yanukovich, as opposition leader Klitschko feared "more deaths" pointing to a weekend of increasingly violent protests. Reuters reports that Yanukovich's party stated "the situation has grown sharper throughout the country," and called on people to disregard the calls of "radical troublemakers" to turn out for protest rallies. Klitschko punched back, "Yanukovich has declared war on his own people. He is trying to hold on to power at the price of blood and de-stabilization of the situation in the country. He has to be stopped." The international community is getting involved with Hollande calling for "dialogue" but it is Biden's threat of "consequences" that spurred a different protest at the US embassy - "The US is behind everything that is happening in Kiev’s downtown right now."
If party politics are weak, muddled, and contradictory, the divisions between Americans are starkly clear: wealth in America has never been so unevenly distributed — the fabled one percent versus everyone else. Despite the election of a mixed-race president, and the wish-fulfillment fantasies of Hollywood, race relations in the USA remain tense. Divisions between men and women are tragically compounded by the dangerous dynamics of work in America that leave many men (especially men) in a vacuum of purpose, meaning, and potency. It is almost impossible these days for low-skilled men to support a family. The indignity of this thunders through broken communities and the penitentiary cellblocks. The ongoing national culture war pits the “traditional values” faction against the sexual libertarians; the red states against the blue states; urban against the conflated suburban and rural; the Christian fundamentalists against an array of other positions and belief groups; the entitlement “socialists” against the “free market” conservatives. Perhaps most divisive of all will be the schism between the young and the old over the table scraps of the dying industrial economy.
The so-called Volcker Rule for policing banking practices, approved by a huddle of federal regulating agency chiefs last week, is the latest joke that America has played on itself in what is becoming the greatest national self-punking exercise in world history. The Glass Steagall Act of 1933 was about 35 pages long, written in language that was precise, clear, and succinct. It worked for 66 years. The Volcker rule comes in the form of nearly 1,000 pages of incomprehensible legalese written with the “help” of lobbyist-lawyers furnished by the banks themselves. Does this strain your credulity? Well, this is the kind of nation we have become: anything goes and nothing matters. There really is no rule of law, just pretense.