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BREAKING: Obama Administration ‘Laundered’ U.S. Cash to Iran Via New York Federal Reserve, European Banks

These disclosures shine new light on how the Obama administration moved millions of dollars from U.S. accounts to European banks in order to facilitate three separate cash payments to Iran totaling $1.7 billion.

  reports: A member of the House Intelligence Committee is accusing the Obama administration of laundering some $1.7 billion in U.S. taxpayer dollars to Iran through a complicated network that included the New York Federal Reserve and several European banks, according to conversations with sources and new information obtained by the lawmaker and viewed by the Washington Free Beacon.

New disclosures made by the Treasury Department to Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.), a House Intelligence Committee member, show that an initial $400 million cash payment to Iran was wired to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY) and then converted from U.S. dollars into Swiss francs and moved to an account at the Swiss National Bank, according to a copy of communication obtained exclusively by the Free Beacon.

“By withholding critical details and stonewalling congressional inquiries, President Obama seems to be hiding whether or not he and others broke U.S. law by sending $1.7 billion in cash to Iran. But Americans can plainly see that the Obama administration laundered this money in order to circumvent U.S. law and appease the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Once the money was transferred to the Swiss Bank, the “FRBNY withdrew the funds from its account as Swiss franc banknotes and the U.S. Government physically transported them to Geneva” before personally overseeing the handover to an agent of Iran’s central bank, according to the documents.

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“Think about this timeline: the U.S. withdraws $400 million in cash from the Swiss National Bank and then physically transports it to another city to hand-off to Iranian officials—three days before Iran releases four American hostages. But it gets worse: less than a week after this, the U.S. again sends hordes of cash to Iran.  As we speak, Iran is still holding three more Americans hostage and I fear what precedent this administration has set.”

These disclosures shine new light on how the Obama administration moved millions of dollars from U.S. accounts to European banks in order to facilitate three separate cash payments to Iran totaling $1.7 billion.

“For the first settlement payment in January, Treasury assisted the Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS) in crafting a wire instruction to transfer the $400 million in principal from the Iran FMS [Foreign Military Sales program] account on January 14, 2016.”

— Rep. Mike Pompeo

The latest information is adding fuel to accusations the Obama administration arranged the payment in this fashion to skirt U.S. sanctions laws and give Iran the money for the release of U.S. hostages, in what many have called a ransom.

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Congress has been investigating the circumstances surrounding the payment for months and said the administration is blocking certain requests for more detailed information about the cash transaction with Iran.

“By withholding critical details and stonewalling congressional inquiries, President Obama seems to be hiding whether or not he and others broke U.S. law by sending $1.7 billion in cash to Iran,” Pompeo told the Free Beacon. “But Americans can plainly see that the Obama administration laundered this money in order to circumvent U.S. law and appease the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

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As new details emerge, congressional critics such as Pompeo and Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) are beginning to suspect the U.S. government laundered the money in order to provide Tehran with immediate access. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tighter Monetary Policy Signal Spooks Markets, Global Stock Selloff Continues

Loose Money Party Peaks, Hangover Anticipation Looms.

Rica Gold reports: Global stocks started the week sharply lower amid concerns about tighter monetary policy, resuming declines that have halted two months of calm summer trading.
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“Central banks get most of the credit for the calm and upward-moving market over the summer, but I don’t think we can depend on that going forward.”

— Jeff Layman, chief investment officer at BKD Wealth Advisors

Markets in Europe and Asia retreated Monday amid signs the world’s central banks will be less accommodative than previously expected.APPROVED-non-stop-panic

“Bourses in Asia closed with steep declines, with shares in Hong Kong off around 3.3%, Shanghai down 1.9%, Japan down 1.7% and Australia down 2.2%.”

“Central banks get most of the credit for the calm and upward-moving market over the summer, but I don’t think we can depend on that going forward,” said Jeff Layman, chief investment officer at BKD Wealth Advisors.

The Stoxx Europe 600 shed 1.9% early in the session, while futures pointed to a 0.6% opening loss for the S&P 500 after its biggest daily drop since the U.K.’s EU referendum.

Bourses in Asia closed with steep declines, with shares in Hong Kong off around 3.3%, Shanghai down 1.9%, Japan down 1.7% and Australia down 2.2%.

The Federal Reserve Building in Washington, U.S. There are heightened expectations for an interest rate rise by the Fed later this year.

The Federal Reserve Building in Washington, U.S. There are heightened expectations for an interest rate rise by the Fed later this year. Photo: Reuters

Stocks and long-dated government bonds sold off on Friday after comments from Federal Reserve Bank of Boston President Eric Rosengren heightened expectations for an interest rate rise later this year. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Cruz’s CNBC Economy Interview

Cruz just had a very interesting hour-long interview on CNBC this morning with Joe Kernen, Becky Quick and Andrew Ross Sorkin on the Squawkbox financial program. The CNBC gang hit Cruz with everything from Japanese and German basis points, to negative global interest rates, to bank bailout policies, tax reform, economic effects of climate change proposals, opposition to various kinds of VAT taxing, instability of commodity prices, Fed monetary policy, etc.

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Reagan administration economist Arthur Laffer, one of the architects of Cruz’s tax plan, weighs in for an extra helping of tax and quantitative easing wonkishness.

…This is a much more in-depth discussion than the stump speech snippets we’ve all heard many times…(more)

Source: RedState


Slowdown in Chinese Manufacturing Deepens Fears for Economy

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Factory activity cools for fifth month running as overseas demand for Chinese goods continues to fall

A further slowdown in China’s vast manufacturing sector has intensified worries about the year ahead for the world’s second largest economy.

“Against the backdrop of a faltering global economy, turmoil in the country’s stock markets and overcapacity in factories, Chinese economic growth has slowed markedly. The country’s central bank expects growth in 2015 to be the slowest for a quarter of a century.”

The latest in a string of downbeat reports from showed that activity at China’s factor ies cooled in December for the fifth month running, as overseas demand for Chinese goods continued to fall.

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Against the backdrop of a faltering global economy, turmoil in the country’s stock markets and overcapacity in factories, Chinese economic growth has slowed markedly. The country’s central bank expects growth in 2015 to be NON-STOP-PANIC-EXthe slowest for a quarter of a century.

After growing 7.3% in 2014, the economy is thought to have expanded by 6.9% in 2015 and the central bank has forecast that it may slow further in 2016 to 6.8%.

A series of interventions by policymakers, including interest rate cuts, have done little to revive growth and in some cases served only to heighten concern about China’s challenges.

Friday’s figures showed that the manufacturing sector limped to the end of 2015. The official purchasing managers’ index (PMI) of manufacturing activity edged up to 49.7 in December from 49.6 in November.

The December reading matched the forecast in a Reuters poll of economists and marked the fifth consecutive month that the index was below 50, the point that separates expansion from contraction. Read the rest of this entry »


China’s Renminbi Is Approved as a Main World Currency 

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The I.M.F. decision will help pave the way for broader use of the renminbi in trade and finance, securing China’s standing as a global economic power.

HONG KONG — Keith Brasher reports: The International Monetary Fund on Monday approved the Chinese renminbi as one of the world’s main central bank reserve currencies, a major acknowledgment of the country’s rising financial and economic heft.

The I.M.F. decision will help pave the way for broader use of the renminbi in trade and finance, securing China’s standing as a global economic power. But it also introduces new uncertainty into China’s economy and financial system, as the country was forced to relax many currency controls to meet the I.M.F. requirements.

NYT China-Espionage

The changes could inject volatility into the Chinese economy, since large flows of money surge into the country and recede based on its prospects. This could make it difficult for China to maintain its record of strong, steady growth, especially at a time when its economy is already slowing.

The I.M.F. will start including the renminbi in the fund’s unit of accounting, the so-called special drawing rights, at the end of September. The renminbi will take its place alongside the dollar, the euro, the yen and the pound.

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Many central banks follow this benchmark in building their reserves, so countries could start holding more renminbi as a result. China will also gain more influence in international bailouts denominated in the fund’s accounting unit, like Greece’s debt deal. Read the rest of this entry »


UNBRIDLED GREED: Government Workers Make 78 Percent More Than Private Sector

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 reports: Employees for the federal government earn far more than their counterparts in the private sector, according to a new study by the Cato Institute.

“Since the 1990s, federal workers have enjoyed faster compensation growth than private-sector workers…The federal government has become an elite island of secure and high-paid employment, separated from the ocean of average Americans competing in the economy.”

Federal workers’ pay and benefits were 78 percent higher than private employees, who earned an average of $52,688 less than public sector workers last year.

The study found that federal government workers earned an average of $84,153 in 2014, compared to the private sector’s average of $56,350. Cato based its findings on figures from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).

Ask AP

But when adding in benefits pay for federal workers, the difference becomes more dramatic. Federal employees made $119,934 in total compensation last year, while private sector workers earned $67,246, a difference of over $52,000, or 78 percent.

[Read the full story here, at Washington Free Beacon]

“Since the 1990s, federal workers have enjoyed faster compensation growth than private-sector workers,” according to the study, written by Chris Edwards, the director of tax policy studies at Cato. “In 2014 federal workers earned 78 percent more, on average, than private-sector workers. Federal workers earned 43 percent more, on average, than state and local government workers. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] China’s Latest Fashion Trend? Beansprout Hairpins: ‘The Highly Sought Illusion of a Plant Protruding from the Head’

Men, women, grandmothers and children in China are all donning the beansprout hairpin—a barrette that creates the highly sought illusion of a plant protruding from the head. Photo/Video: Menglin Huang/The Wall Street Journal


PEOPLE POWER! #SOCIALISM WORKS!


After Five Years, Dodd-Frank Is a Failure

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Before Dodd-Frank’s passage, former Sen. Chris Dodd said that ‘no one will know until this is actually in place how it works.’ Today we know. 

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling writes: Tuesday will mark five years since President Obama’s signing of the Dodd-Frank law, the most sweeping rewrite of the country’s financial laws since the New Deal. Mr. Obama told the country that the bankerlegislation would “lift our economy.” The statute itself declared that it would “end too big to fail” and “promote financial stability.”

“What is most disturbing about Dodd-Frank is the authority it gives bureaucrats to control huge swaths of the economy.”

None of that has come to pass. Too-big-to-fail institutions have not disappeared. Big banks are bigger, small banks are fewer, and the financial system is less stable. Meanwhile, the economy remains in the doldrums.

Dodd-Frank was based on the premise that the financial crisis was the result of deregulation. Yet George Mason University’s Mercatus Center reports that regulatory restrictions on financial services grew every year between 1999-2008. It wasn’t deregulation that caused the crisis, it was dumb regulation.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The law has crushed small banks, restricted access to credit, and planted the seeds of financial instability. 

“Oversight? CFPB funding is not subject to congressional appropriations, and Dodd-Frank requires courts to grant the bureau deference regarding its interpretation of federal consumer-financial law.”

Among the dumbest were Washington’s affordable-housing mandates, beginning in 1977, that led to a loosening of underwriting standards and put people into homes they couldn’t afford. The Federal Reserve played its part in the 2008 financial crisis by keeping interest rates too low for too long, inflating the housing bubble. Washington not only failed to prevent the crisis, it led us into it.

“Before Dodd-Frank, 75% of banks offered free checking. Two years after it passed, only 39% did so—a trend various scholars have attributed to Dodd-Frank’s ‘Durbin amendment,’ which imposed price controls on the fee paid by retailers when consumers use a debit card. Bank fees have also increased due to Dodd-Frank, leading to a rise of the unbanked and underbanked among low- and moderate-income Americans.”

Dodd-Frank was supposedly aimed at Wall Street, but it hit Main Street hard. Community financial institutions, which make the bulk of small business loans, are overwhelmed by the law’s complexity. Government figures indicate that the country is losing on average one community bank or credit union a day.

“Because of Dodd-Frank, financial markets will have less capacity to deal with shocks and are more likely to seize up in a panic. Many economists believe this could be the source of the next financial crisis.”

Before Dodd-Frank, 75% of banks offered free checking. Two years after it passed, only 39% did so—a trend various scholars have attributed to Dodd-Frank’s “Durbin amendment,” which imposed price controls on the fee paid by retailers when consumers use a debit card. Bank fees have also increased due to Dodd-Frank, leading to a rise of the unbanked and underbanked among low- and moderate-income Americans. Read the rest of this entry »


Chinese Web Censors Not Happy About Uniqlo’s Changing-Room Sex Viral Video

Uniqlo sex video: Police investigate smartphone footage showing couple doing the ‘secret communist handshake’ in Uniqlo’s Beijing flagship store changing room

Laura Lorenzetti reports: A sex tape filmed in a changing room of Uniqlo’s Beijing flagship store went viral on Chinese social media, sending national authorities into a tizzy.

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“Uniqlo, which is owned by Fast Retailing, denies any such association, releasing a statement that customers should ‘abide by social ethics, maintain social justice and correctly and properly use the fitting spaces.’”

The short video, which features a black-clad male having sex with a naked woman, was condemned by Chinese officials as going “severely against socialist core values,” according to the South China Morning Post.

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Internet censors scrambled to ban and eliminate the clip after it spread across popular social networks like Weibo and WeChat Tuesday. It has reportedly been removed from the Internet by the Cyberspace Administration of China and an investigation has been launched to find out who made the clip.

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Chinese authorities have also ordered social media executives to help uncover the source of the video, while Uniqlo has come under fire for using it as a publicity ploy. Read the rest of this entry »


Sweden’s Multicultural Expert on Islamaphobia Excited About New Career Opportunity

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Previously, Michael Skråmo worked to counter what he described as an unfair and misleading picture of Muslims as violent fanatics. Now Skråmo preaches jihad and calls Swedish jihadists to leave Sweden and join the holy war

The 29-year-old Swede, who today calls himself “Abdul Samad al Swedi”, grew up in Gothenburg. He converted to Islam during a field trip to Egypt about ten years ago and has since been engaged in a series of tax-funded Muslim organizations.

In 2009 he was invited to SVT, where he told Swedish viewers how Muslim phobia (Islamophobia) and hatred was spread around Europe.

Previously, the Swede have been heavily involved to counter what he described as a misleading picture of Muslims as violent fanatics. In an episode of SVT debate, which can be seen on Youtube, he attacked the malicious picture of Muslims spread in Europe.

“This fear is based on ignorance of Islam,” Michael Skråmo said. […]

Michael Skråmo, 29, took the whole family – his little four children and wife – to the IS-controlled area inside Syria. Now Skråmo filmed a propaganda video outside the Syrian city Kobane where he preaches jihad and calls Swedish jihadists to leave Sweden and join the “holy war”. Read the rest of this entry »


James Pethokoukis: How Crony Capitalism is Slowing Global Economic Growth

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 writes: US productivity growth, at least as measured, has been in low gear for a decade. And especially so since the Great Recession, averaging just 0.6% annually from 2010 through 2014. We’re aren’t going to consistently hit 3% GDP growth, much less 4%, like that.

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Then again, productivity growth has slowed in most OECD countries over the past decade. A new OECD research note doesn’t think the problem is a lack of innovation, so much as an inability to spread innovation broadly throughout advanced economies. “A breakdown of the diffusion machine” is what the OECD calls it.

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[Read the full text here, at AEIdeas]

The gap between high productivity firms and low productivity firms is increasing. (Maybe also helping to explain rising inequality.) So why aren’t innovations spreading as fast as they used to? The WSJ’s analysis of the paper sums it up nicely:

One key reason appears to be that the process of “creative destruction” identified by Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter as essential to capitalism’s dynamism appears to have lost some of its ferocity. In the OECD’s words, “market selection is weak.” One reason for that is government policy, which the OECD said favors incumbents across a whole range of areas, from regulations designed to protect the environment, to taxation. As a result, older firms that suffer from low productivity growth endure, often “trapping” workers in jobs for which they are over qualified. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTO] Waiting in ATM Lines in Athens to Withdraw Money: Who Are They?

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“…Bank runs are expected on Monday, and a friend in Athens reports almost all the ATM machines have already run out of cash. Obviously, even those who work at the Greek parliament don’t have confidence in the system…”

Read more…

via John Fund

Photo via Zacharias Zacharakis, Twitter

National Review Online


The Fed: Say Goodbye to Easy Money, The Musical Edition, Featuring Rickie Lee Jones

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read more…WSJ


Currency Crises Abroad Are Benefiting the U.S.

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If this looks like good news, think again. Being the ‘best looking horse in the glue factory’ isn’t an enviable position to be in.

Christopher Matthews writes:  Analysts are calling them “The Fragile Five,” a catchy sobriquet for five countries–Turkey, Brazil, India, South Africa and Indonesia–that have been experiencing serious turmoil in their economies and currencies in recent weeks.

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Victor Albrow / Getty Images

To one degree or another these five economies have been rocked by foreign investors who are taking their money and parking it in safer and increasingly more lucrative investments in developed countries like the U.S. This capital flight has caused these nations’ currencies to plummet in value, forcing central banks to raise interest rates and possibly weaken economic growth at home. This week, the Turkish Central Bank raised its interest rate a stunning 4.5%, hoping to convince investors to keep their money in Turkey.

So what exactly does a currency crisis in Turkey or India have to do with the U.S.? In recent days, foreign leaders like Brazilian President Dilma Roussef reportedly laid blame for economic troubles in her country at the feet of the United States’Federal Reservesaying ”the withdrawal of the monetary stimulus in developed countries” was fueling “market volatility.” Some analysts have dismissed this as simple scapegoating, but according to Eswar Prasad, a Cornell economist and author of a forthcoming book on the international monetary system, The Dollar Trap,  the analysis is not entirely off the mark. Volatility in places like Brazil “isn’t an indictment of Federal Reserve policy, but it certainly is a side effect,” he says.

Read the rest of this entry »


Armed Men Steal $54 Million in Cash in Libya

A rebel fighter loyal to Libya's interim government kicks a football as a battle rages nearby in Sirte October 12, 2011. Anis Mili / Reuters

A rebel fighter loyal to Libya’s interim government kicks a football as a battle rages nearby in Sirte. Anis Mili-Reuters

Thieves hit central bank van in daring raid

 reports:  Ten heavily armed men reportedly made off with approximately $54m in several currencies after executing a high-stakes heist near the Libyan city of Sirte on Monday.

The bandits attacked a van as it was transporting the money from the airport to a central bank branch in Sirte. The van was reportedly escorted by one security vehicle; however, the accompanying guards were unable to fend off the heavily armed thieves.  According to the AFP, robbers hit two banks in Sirte in July and stole approximately $400,000.

Following the collapse of the Muammar Gaddafi’s dictatorship in 2011, the weak central government has failed to rein in the myriad armed militias active across the country. Earlier this month, a former rebel group briefly kidnapped interim Libya’s Prime Minister Ali Zeidan in the increasingly lawless state.

[Al Jazeera]  TIME.com