With the revelations of systemic, widespread corporate criminality of banking institutions in recent years, it is clear that global Bank CEOs are becoming the new Drug Lords.
- Scots spurn independence in historic vote but demand new powers (Reuters)
- Salmond’s Journey as Scotland’s Leader Ends Short of Destination (BBG)
- European Stocks Rally to 6 1/2-Year High on Scottish Vote (BBG)
- Jack Ma Planning Personal Roadshow With Clinton to Immelt (BBG)
- Some consumers say Apple is losing its 'cool' factor (Reuters)
- Gold IPhones at $3,600 as China Delay Fuels Black Market (BBG)
- This Man's Job: Make Bill Gates Richer (WSJ)
- Mom-and-Dad Banks Step Up Aid to First-Time Home Buyers (BBG)
- France says it launches first air strikes in Iraq (Reuters)
Are you ready to have your veins scanned every time you use your bank account? Are you ready to use a "digital tattoo" or a microchip implant to unlock your telephone? Once upon a time we read about such technologies in science fiction novels, but now they are here. The era of widespread biometric identification and microchip implants is upon us, and it is going to change the way that we live. Proponents of these new technologies say that they will make our private information and our bank accounts much more secure. But there are others that warn that these kinds of "Big Brother technologies" will set the stage for even more government intrusion into our lives. In the wrong hands, such technologies could prove to be an absolute nightmare.
The penny stock mafia are at it again...
The global economy is structured to systematically funnel wealth to the very top of the pyramid, and this centralization of global wealth is accelerating with each passing year. According to the United Nations, 85 super wealthy people have more money than the poorest 3.5 billion people on the planet combined. Seven out of every ten people on the planet live in countries where the gap between the wealthy and the poor has increased in the last 30 years... And when our fundamentally flawed financial system finally does collapse, it will be the poor that will suffer the worst.
Would you like to have a digital identity card that is automatically issued to you at birth? In one European nation, residents use such a card when they go to the hospital, when they do their banking, when they go shopping and even when they vote. This card has become so popular that this particular European country actually plans to start issuing them to millions of non-citizens all over the planet who request them. Never heard about this? Neither had I before this week. The Economist is calling for the entire planet to adopt this “national identification system” that the little nation of Estonia has adopted. The Economist is touting all of the “benefits” of a “national identification card”, but are there dangers as well? Could adopting such a system potentially open the door for greater government tyranny than we have ever known before?
Let Us Count the Ways ...
As student loan bailouts rain down from Washington, we thought it may be useful to consider where the world's wealthiest University alumni are. As Private Wealth reports, following a survey of 70,000 millionaires around the world, eight of the top ten universities with the highest number of rich alumni are based in the U.S., with the U.K. home to the other two. Engineering degrees produced the most millionaires, although most engineering grads made money as entrepreneurs, the study revealed. MBAs, law, accounting, and finance degrees also led to financial success.
The massive consolidation of wealth, combined with the removal of any limits on money in campaigns, has allowed for the purchase of our government. Americans know that something is wrong, deeply wrong. They see signs of the problem everywhere: income inequality, growing concentration and power of mega corporations, political donations/corruption, the absence of jobs with decent salaries, the explosion of the US prison population, healthcare costs, student loan debt, homelessness, etc. etc. However, the true causes and benefactors behind these problems are purposely hidden from view. What Americans see is Kabuki Theater of a functioning form of capitalism and democracy, but beyond this veneer our country has devolved into the exact opposite.
There can be little doubt that Thomas Piketty's new book Capital in the 21st Century has struck a nerve globally. In fact, the Piketty phenomenon (the economic equivalent to Beatlemania) has in some ways become a bigger story than the ideas themselves. However, the book's popularity is not at all surprising when you consider that its central premise: how radical wealth redistribution will create a better society, has always had its enthusiastic champions (many of whom instigated revolts and revolutions). What is surprising, however, is that the absurd ideas contained in the book could captivate so many supposedly intelligent people.
- Vietnam, China trade accusations after Vietnamese fishing boat sinks (Reuters)
- SEC Set to Spur Exchange Trading (WSJ)
- Bank of Japan quietly eyes stimulus exit (Reuters)
- Japan Risks Low Growth Even as Easing Spurs Inflation (BBG)
- Hello Japan: Bond Market Message to Fed: Your 4% Rate Outlook Is Too High (BBG)
- Malaysia, UK firm release satellite data on missing MH370 flight (Reuters)
- Fighting rages in eastern Ukraine city, dozens dead (Reuters)
- Bad Credit No Problem as Balance-Sheet Bombs Rally 94% (BBG)
- Draghi’s Asset-Backed Drive Rouses Academic Skeptics (BBG)
- For-Profit Colleges Face Test From State, Federal Officials (WSJ)
In recent weeks the concept of capital has been thoroughly, and incorrectly, deconstructed by Marxists and Keynesians alike now that, suddenly, the world caught up with what we said would be the crux issue back in 2011: record wealth inequality (who could have possibly foreseen it following $10 trillion in central bank balance sheet expansion in the last decade), and finding "fair" ways of confiscating the wealth of the rich to - at least on paper - help the poor even if in reality all it would do is simply lead to more government theft, embezzling, corruption, and capital misallocation. It is now time to get an Austrian perspective and courtesy of unrepentant "Austrian" Sean Corrigan we just got one.
Is man altruistic by nature? Very stupid question really since we all know that man is man’s worst enemy.
None other than status-quo-hugger Berkshire Hathaway's Charlie Munger took aim at the scourge of HFT this morning; blasting high-frequency traders as "the functional equivalent of letting rats into a granary," and exclaims "it does the rest of civilization no good at all." Buffett reminds that HFT is "not a liquidity provider, " explaining that while it does produce volume, that is not the same as liquidity; and while the Oracle opines (incorrectly) that the small investor has never had it so good, Munger is quick to point out that the money HFT makes does not come from heaven and in fact it is the small investor who is hurt by the fact that large investors (who mostly act on small investors' behalf) are severely impacted. Even the usually abstinent Bill Gates remarks upon HFT as "adding no value.. because when the liquidity is needed, it isn't there." Munger sums it up: "I don't like it."