Testimony

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It Begins: "Central Banks Should Hand Consumers Cash Directly"





"Rather than trying to spur private-sector spending through asset purchases or interest-rate changes, central banks, such as the Fed, should hand consumers cash directly.... Central banks, including the U.S. Federal Reserve, have taken aggressive action, consistently lowering interest rates such that today they hover near zero. They have also pumped trillions of dollars’ worth of new money into the financial system. Yet such policies have only fed a damaging cycle of booms and busts, warping incentives and distorting asset prices, and now economic growth is stagnating while inequality gets worse. It’s well past time, then, for U.S. policymakers -- as well as their counterparts in other developed countries -- to consider a version of Friedman’s helicopter drops. In the short term, such cash transfers could jump-start the economy...  The transfers wouldn’t cause damaging inflation, and few doubt that they would work. The only real question is why no government has tried them"...

 
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"Disturbing Pattern" Continues, Administration Broke The Law With Bergdahl Swap, GAO Says





"In our view, the meaning of the (law) is clear and unambiguous," the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) wrote, The Pentagon broke the law when it swapped Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, a prisoner in Afghanistan for five years, for five Taliban leaders. As AP reports, the GAO charges that the administration failed to notify the relevant congressional committees at least 30 days in advance of the exchange, and furthermore, used $988,400 of a wartime account to make the transfer without express appropriation - breaking the Antideficiency Act. So it seems The White House's previous statement that it "acted lawfully" are once again false. As Republican Senator Susan Collins exclaimed, "The president's decision is part of a disturbing pattern where he unilaterally decides that he does not have to comply with provisions of laws with which he disagrees."

 
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Hilsenrath Warns Fed Rate-Hike Timing Debate Intensifying





The Wall Street Journal's Jon Hilsenrath unleashed an instantaneous reaction to today's FOMC minutes and the message is clear - markets are much less uncertain than the Fed about the timing (sooner rather than later) of the first rate-hike. The minutes of the meeting, Hilsy notes, provide fresh evidence of an intensifying debate inside the central bank about when to respond to a surprisingly swift descent in the unemployment rate and rising consumer prices. The minutes appeared to reflect a slightly more aggressive stance than Ms. Yellen's testimony.

 

 
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5 Things To Ponder: Multifarious Cogitation





This weekend’s “Things To Ponder” is comprised of a variety of readings that cover a fairly broad spectrum from educational to informative and even a little bit sarcastic.

 
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It's Not Just Healthcare That's Bankrupt - It's Our Legal System, Too





Yes, there is malpractice, but our current system is insane.

 
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Meet OIRA – The Secretive White House Office With Disturbing Regulatory Powers





Have you ever heard of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, otherwise known as OIRA? OIRA was created in 1980, and shortly thereafter the Reagan administration greatly expanded its powers by signing an executive order that gave the office the authority to review all federal rules. Ever since then, it has been used to rewrite or entirely block regulations from almost every regulatory body imaginable. Simply put, this powerful organization operating in the shadows of America’s faux democracy is used by lobbyists and large corporate interests to further entrench the established oligarchic power structure.

 
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How To Sell A War





With the spigot of propaganda wide open and Washington appearing increasingly bent on instigating the next war, we thought lessons from past "wars" might help the people when thinking about what is spoon-fed to them each and every day. "To Sell A War" is a documentary that first aired in December 1992 exposing the Citizens for a Free Kuwait campaign as public relations spin to gain public opinion support for the Gulf War. Among other things, it reveals that Nurse Nayirah was in fact Nijirah al-Sabah, the daughter of Kuwait's ambassador to the United States Saud Nasir Al-Sabah, coached by Hill & Knowlton to forge her infamous testimony about Iraqi soldiers removing babies from incubators, which was widely reported and repeated throughout the media.

 
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FOMC Preview: Dashboards, Dissent, & "Degree-Of-Accommodation" Differences





"More of the same," should summarize today's FOMC statement. There will be no press conference or refresh of the 'dot plot' economic projections. The Fed is expected to continue to taper by $10 billion with confirmation that the "growth meme" is playing out just as they projected (especially after today's GDP print). Goldman believes the focus will be on the jobs 'dashboard' and recent inflation data enables the dovish Fed to argue recent moves were noise and stay easier for longer. The downside risk (for markets) may be that Fed hawks will likely have little luck in altering the way forward guidance is employed by the Fed (and chatter over a Fisher dissent is possible).

 
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Asset Forfeiture – How To Steal Americans' Hard Earned Cash With Zero Repercussions





While the epidemic of law enforcement theft is problematic throughout the country (see these egregious examples from Tennessee and Michigan), it appears Texas has a particularly keen love affair with the practice. Not only did last year’s story take place in Texas, today’s highlighted episode also takes place in the Lone Star State. This time in a town of 150 people called Estelline, which earns more than 89% of its gross revenues from traffic fines and forfeitures. In other words, from theft.

 
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Most Transparent Insider Trading Congress Ever Tells SEC To Shove it





"Do as we say, not as we do," appears the modus operandi of the current administration's increasingly totalitarian regime. Today's edition of 'wait, what?' comes from The WSJ who report that The U.S. House of Representatives told a federal court Friday it should dismiss a lawsuit filed by the SEC (regarding the long-running insider-trading investigation) because Congress is lawfully allowed to ignore requests to turn over records and testimony to the executive branch agency. Arguing "sovereign immunity" and responding in a rather snarky (almost "do you know who we are?" manner), House attorneys blasted the SEC's "fool's errand."

 
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ObamaFraud: GAO Study Finds Almost All Fake Applicants Are Approved For Subsidized ObamaCare





Well the hits just keep on coming. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), recently conducted a study in which investigators attempted to use fake identities to sign up for subsidized healthcare under ObamaCare. The results are frightening. All but one phony applicant was successful. Moreover, the GAO more broadly notes that “about 2.6 million ‘inconsistencies’ existed among applicants who had chosen a health plan.”...  The GAO’s account of fictitious applicants obtaining subsidized coverage goes beyond a related problem that surfaced this spring and that the investigators also cited: The government may be paying incorrect insurance subsidies to a significant share of the 5.4 million Americans who signed up for health plans for this year through the federal marketplace.

 
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Chinese Premier Li Admits Central Planning May Not Be Optimal





In an odd admission of the possible fallibility of a centrally-planned economy, none other than Chinese Premier Li recently noted, "we should never assume that we few at the top have more insight or power but should try to mobilize the intelligence and creativity of the many thousands of our people so as to create unrivaled value." Perhaps the Federal Reserve would do well to listen. However, Li did not excuse himself from the need to spin how well things were going. On the heels of our 11 awkward Chinese fact charts, Li explains "the Chinese market is booming, the economy strong [sic]. Enterprises are the mainstay of the market." However, as Diapason Commodities' Sean Corrigan, when trying to confirm this 'fact', "discrepancies abound."

 
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IMF's Christine Lagarde Joins The Chorus, Warns Market Is "Too Upbeat"





"The head of the International Monetary Fund warned on Friday that financial markets were "perhaps too upbeat" because high unemployment and high debt in Europe could drag down investment and hurt future growth prospects." To summarize: first the BIS, then the Fed and now the IMF are not only warning there is either a broad market bubble or a localized one, impacting primarily the momentum stocks (which is ironic in a new normal in which momentum ignition has replaced fundamentals as the main price discovery mechanism), they are doing so ever more frequently.

 
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