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How ‘Fearless Cow’ Didn’t Happen

The financial company that installed the “Fearless Girl” statue on Wall Street to help market a female mutual fund originally wanted to commission the bronze in the shape of a cow, according to an email exchange between the company’s rep and City Hall obtained by The Post.

Moo-cifully, three months before having it cast and installed opposite the existing “Charging Bull” sculpture for International Woman’s Day, it dawned on State Street Global Advisors a heifer might be misconstrued as sexist. Read the rest of this entry »

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OH YES HE DID: Pissed-Off Artist Adds Statue of Urinating Dog Next to ‘Fearless Girl’ 

Gee whiz, artists are so sensitive!

Nick Fugallo and Max Jaeger report: City sculptor Alex Gardega — seething over the “Fearless Girl” statue being placed across from Wall Street’s “Charging Bull” — has decided to retaliate with a work of his own.

Gardega created a statue of a small dog, titled “Pissing Pug,” and his sloppily crafted pooch takes direct aim at “Fearless Girl” — or, at least, at her left leg.

“This is corporate nonsense,” Gardega told The Post of “Fearless Girl,” saying it was put opposite artist Arturo Di Modica’s famed bull as a publicity stunt by a Boston-based financial firm.

Alex Gardena next to “Fearless Girl” and his “Pissing Pug”Gabriella Bass

Alex Gardena next to “Fearless Girl” and his “Pissing Pug”Gabriella Bass

“It has nothing to do with feminism, and it is disrespect to the artist that made the bull,” he said. “That bull had integrity.”

The Upper West Side artist sniffed that he even made his dog particularly poorly just to stick it to “Fearless Girl” even more.

“I decided to build this dog and make it crappy to downgrade the statue, exactly how the girl is a downgrade on the bull,” said Gardega, who has never met the other statues’ creators. Read the rest of this entry »


Obama Denounces ‘Special Interests’ At The University of Chicago . . . And Then Quietly Accepts $400,000 For First Speech From Wall Street Special Interests

JONATHAN TURLEY

President Barack Obama was at my alma mater yesterday and used his first public statements to decry how  “special interests dominate the debates in Washington.” Then will now be setting off for his first speech . . . to Wall Street special interests at Cantor Fitzgerald, which will pay him $400,000.  This is the same politician who called such banks “fat cats” who exercise undue influence over our leaders.

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[VIDEO] Soros Lost Nearly $1 Billion After Trump Win

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[VIDEO] Will the Dow hit 20,000 before January 20th? 

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[VIDEO] Here’s Why the Donald Trump Stock Market Rally Is Still Going..But

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Hollywood’s Views of Capitalism

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The free enterprise system is not inherently corrupt.

Oliver Stone’s Wall Street leads the movie-goer to believe that the securities industry is a rigged game, and that capitalism is inherently corrupt. Hard work as a means to success in the financial community is debunked, only to be supplanted by corruption and law breaking, as securities trading is seen as a game with little or no productive value. Stone presents a harsh judgment on an economic system he fundamentally misunderstands.

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Wall Street has come to be the historical revisionists’ cinematic representation of the 1980s—the so-called “decade of greed.” It, unfortunately, offers a view prevailing not only in the film industry, but in academia and the media as well. In many ways, Wall Street perpetuates a class warfare myth, with contrasts being drawn between so-called haves and have nots, or the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.

The movie’s antagonist is Gordon Gekko, a corporate raider. Gekko’s speech at the stockholders meeting of Telder Paper, his takeover target, is meant by Stone to reflect the corrupt nature of capitalism. In fact, Stone managed—knowingly or not—to provide a glimpse of why corporate raiders provide a positive service in a free market economy. Gekko states:

Telder Paper has 33 different vice presidents, each making over $200,000 a year . . . . Our paper company lost $110,000,000 last year, and I’ll bet half of that was spent in all the paperwork going back and forth between all these vice presidents. The new law of evolution in corporate America seems to be survival of the unfittest. . . . I am not a destroyer of companies; I am a liberator of them. The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed for a lack of a better word—is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms, greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed—you mark my words—will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the United States of America.

Greed or Self-Interest?

The word “greed” in such a speech is Stone’s carrier of corruption. It is his word of choice designed to elicit a specific response from the movie-going audience. After all, how could one view greed favorably? In fact, “self-interest” would have been a more apt term, which was understood over two centuries ago by Adam Smith, the father of capitalism. Smith wrote in An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.” Self-interest removes the judgmental nature of Stone’s presentation, while encompassing not only greed, but also industry, charity, self-improvement, and altruism, i.e., any human motivation.

[Read the full story here, at Foundation for Economic Education]

Gekko’s later statements lend greater clarity to Stone’s view of the world. In reference to a Gekko plan to liquidate the holdings of an airline company, Budd Fox (the movie’s symbol of redemption as he in the end rejects the greed Gekko represents) asks, “Why do you need to wreck this company?” Gekko’s answer: “Because it’s wreckable!” Stone views the breakup of a firm as pure destruction. He is unable to understand what Joseph Schumpeter termed “creative destruction.” That is the notion that resources might be more efficiently used if freed from less profitable ventures and reinvested elsewhere. This is the dynamic aspect of capitalism that allows for renewal and growth.

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But the essence of Stone’s limited vision is captured in Gekko’s definition of capitalism: “It’s a zero sum game. Somebody wins, somebody loses. Money itself isn’t lost or made, it’s simply transferred from one person to another—like magic. This painting here, I bought it ten years ago for $60,000. I could sell it today for $600,000. The illusion has become real, and the more real it becomes, the more desperate they want it. Capitalism at its finest . . . . I create nothing. I own . . . . You’re not naive enough to think that we live in a democracy, are you, Buddy? It’s the free market.” Stone does not understand that wealth can be created, not merely shifted around, and that the free market provides the incentives for individuals to create, innovate, and take risks. He sees a rise in the price of a painting as the pinnacle of capitalism. In fact, it is in those nations that have rejected free enterprise where the only source of value is to be found in a painting, for little else is created.

Wall Street presents a view of capitalism as being controlled by the few at the expense of the many—democracy versus the free market in Gekko’s words. Stone does not understand the nature of an exchange economy, missing a fundamental point that in a free enterprise system, one must first supply a service or good in order to demand; i.e., even the most greedy individuals must supply something that fulfills the needs or wants of another individual in order to participate in an exchange economy. Individuals vote with their dollars, if you will. The phrase “democratic capitalism” seems quite natural, for example, while “democratic socialism” seems oxymoronic. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Milton Friedman on the True Cause of the Great Depression 

Milton Friedman corrects the record on the cause of the Great Depression. Debunking the myth that is what from high speculation on wall street. Milton Friedman was an American economist who received the 1976 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

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16 Nov 1930, Chicago, Illinois, USA --- Notorious gangster Al Capone attempts to help unemployed men with his soup kitchen "Big Al's Kitchen for the Needy."  The kitchen provides three meals a day consisting of soup with meat, bread, coffee, and doughnuts, feeding about 3500 people daily at a cost of $300 per day. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

16 Nov 1930, Chicago, Illinois, USA — Notorious gangster Al Capone attempts to help unemployed men with his soup kitchen “Big Al’s Kitchen for the Needy.” The kitchen provides three meals a day consisting of soup with meat, bread, coffee, and doughnuts, feeding about 3500 people daily at a cost of $300 per day. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS


[VIDEO] OH YES THEY CAN: How Republicans Could Dismantle Dodd-Frank

President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to dismantle Dodd-Frank, but a full repeal of the financial regulation law is unlikely without 60 votes in the Senate. Instead, the GOP might weaken the law without tearing it up. WSJ‘s Shelby Holliday reports.

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[VIDEO] REWIND: ‘The Big Short’ and the 2008 Financial Crisis 

The arrival of The Big Short in 2015 – available on streaming services now – and its subsequent nominations at the 88th Academy Awards, has reignited interest in the causes of the 2008 financial crisis.

[Armond White Reviews The Big Short]

The film would have you think that private greed on Wall Street and a lack of regulation caused the economic crash. While stories like this might make for a fun movie, The Big Short fails to align with the facts.

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[The Big Short Spins Historical Lead into Oscar Gold]

Learn more about the 2008 financial crisis in Peter’s book “Hidden in Plain Site: What Really Caused the World’s Worst Financial Crisis and Why It Could Happen Again


China Facing Full-Blown Banking Crisis, World’s Top Financial Watchdog Warns

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China has failed to curb excesses in its credit system and faces mounting risks of a full-blown banking crisis, according to early warning indicators released by the world’.

A key gauge of credit vulnerability is now three times over the danger threshold and has continued to deteriorate, despite pledges by Chinese premier Li Keqiang to wean the economy off debt-driven growth before it is too late.

The Bank for International Settlements warned in its quarterly report that China’s “credit to GDP gap” has reached 30.1, the highest to date and in a different league altogether from any other major country tracked by the institution. It is also significantly higher than the scores in East Asia’s speculative boom on 1997 or in the US subprime bubble before the Lehman crisis.

Studies of earlier banking crises around the world over the last sixty years suggest that any score above ten requires careful monitoring.  The credit to GDP gap measures deviations from normal patterns within any one country and therefore strips out cultural differences.

It is based on work the US economist Hyman Minsky and has proved to be the best single gauge of banking risk, although the final denouement can often take longer than assumed. Indicators for what would happen to debt service costs if interest rates rose 250 basis points are also well over the safety line.

China’s total credit reached 255pc of GDP at the end of last year, a jump of 107 percentage points over eight years. This is an extremely high level for a developing economy and is still rising fast.

Outstanding loans have reached $28 trillion, as much as the commercial banking systems of the US and Japan combined. The scale is enough to threaten a worldwide shock if China ever loses control. Corporate debt alone has reached 171pc of GDP, and it is this that is keeping global regulators awake at night. Read the rest of this entry »


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 »


Bill Clinton On Sanders Supporters: ‘Just Shoot Every Third Person On Wall Street’


Shawn Macomb: Sandernistas on the March

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Grab your popcorn and enjoy the show.

Shawn Macomb writes: So now that the Democratic party is well and truly feeling the Bern, how should those of us who identify not as democratic socialists nor oligarchs nor oligarch-enablers feel about those lighter-shade-of-Mao “Bernie 2016″ yard signs reddening up the landscape?

“The Sandernistas on the march will be more fun to watch than a crossover season of Girls and The Walking Dead—if, that is, one could still stomach watching Lena Dunham now that she’s thrown in her lot with that pantsuited Goldman Sachs subsidiary who portrays Hillary Clinton on various debate stages and social media accounts.”

The perhaps counterintuitive answer is .  .  . thrilled. Ecstatic, even. The Sandernistas on the march will be more fun to watch than a crossover season of Girls and The Walking Dead—if, that is, one could still stomach watching Lena Dunham now that she’s thrown in her lot with that pantsuited Goldman Sachs subsidiary who portrays Hillary Clinton on various debate stages and social media accounts.

Skeptical? Allow me to relate a single line from Outsider in the House, Sanders’s memoir of his 1996 congressional campaign: “I’m not sure how many of them actually heard my fourteen-second speech about the dangers of Newt Gingrich, given when I stepped out of my tiger costume.”

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Sanders is describing his collaboration with the Bread and Puppet Domestic Resurrection Circus, “a political company whose accomplished theatrical productions are,” the then-congressman assured us, “truly radical”—radical enough to induce a sitting congressman to hold up the hind quarters of a tiger costume, anyway. “It’s better than being a horse’s ass,” Sanders writes, though whether he speaks from experience is not immediately clear.

“Alas, the charge of ‘insufficient Leninism’ is not the campaign-killer it once was. The Sandernistas don’t care about realpolitik lectures from ex-congressmen or the bitter ravings of the man whose 2000 campaign on the Green party ticket robbed the nation of four-to-eight glorious years of prime-time PowerPoint presentations from President Gore.”

Sure, the tiger-costume anecdote is a bit rich coming from the same guy who a few pages before slagged freshman Republicans who slept in their offices to save taxpayer cash back in ’95 as “total nuts” making “some kind of weird political statement.” But Sanders’s tale takes an even more absurdist turn as he recounts his address to the all-volunteer Mississquoi Valley Emergency Rescue Service later that same day. “Person after person,” Sanders notes, “talked about the trauma of seeing people die and the joy of saving people’s lives.” The contrast “from radical theatrics to community-based service,” he allows, “was striking.” Indeed. But “the differences strike me as more superficial than deep,” Sanders inexplicably feels compelled to add, as “both the rescue workers and the drama troupe are focused on .  .  . giving of themselves to build community.”

[Read the full story here, at The Weekly Standard]

Even if he isn’t plotting to replace America’s first-responders with a puppeteer corps, Bernie Sanders is clearly delusional enough to be president. But is he delusional in the appropriate way?

Many of his erstwhile ideological allies are not so sure. Former congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts, for example, snarked to National Journal, “I don’t understand what [Sanders] running for president would do other than frankly show that his viewpoint is not the majority viewpoint.” In a scathing Salon piece, writer Charles Davis averred that while, yes, Sanders “tosses rhetorical Molotovs at America’s 21st-century robber barons like few other national politicians,” he’s also “rather non-threatening, his politics reformist, not revolutionary—more old-school liberal than Leninist.” Read the rest of this entry »


Apple Reports Slowing Growth for iPhone Sales

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SAN FRANCISCO —Katie Benner reports: Apple’s iPhone has officially entered a slow-growth period.

Apple on Tuesday said that it sold 74.8 million iPhones in its fiscal first quarter, which ended Dec. 26, up less than 1 percent from the 74.5 million sold a year ago. That represented the slowest year-over-year rate of growth for the device since it was introduced in 2007.

“There will be some speed bumps ahead until we get to the iPhone 7 mega-product cycle later this year.”

— Daniel Ives, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets

The iPhone, Apple’s flagship product, is closely watched by investors because the smartphone accounts for two-thirds of the company’s annual revenue.

In total, Apple’s revenue for the quarter was $75.9 billion, up 1.7 percent from a year ago, and lower than Wall Street forecasts of $76.6 billion. Net profit was $18.4 billion, up from $18 billion a year earlier.

Apple’s rate of growth is not set to improve anytime soon. The company, based in Cupertino, Calif., also issued a lower-than-anticipated forecast for the current quarter, which ends in March. Apple projected revenue of $50 billion to $53 billion, down from $58 billion from a year earlier and lower than the $55.4 billion forecast by Wall Street, according to S&P Capital IQ.

The results and forecast reflect how Apple, under its chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, is grappling with becoming a maturing tech company. While Apple once delivered high double-digit revenue gains on the back of soaring sales of the iPhone and other devices, growth rates have slowed as the iPhone has begun saturating the market and the company has not introduced a new blockbuster device.

Investors are already treating Apple more like a value stock than a growth stock, associating the company with predictable business results and a reliable dividend rather than runaway revenue growth.

In the period leading up to the earnings announcement, investors had lowered expectations for the quarter based on the belief that demand for Apple’s latest iPhones, the 6S and 6S Plus, had been weak. Read the rest of this entry »


Hillary: How To Party Like It’s 1938

In The Wall Street Journal, Alan Reynolds says Hillary Clinton parties like it’s 1938—her capital-gains tax proposal has been tried before, by Franklin Roosevelt, with disastrous results….(read more)

Source: WSJ


Dow, Nasdaq Plunge 3% into Correction

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U.S. stocks closed deep in the red on Friday as global growth concerns accelerated selling pressure to push the Dow and Nasdaq into correction territory.
The major averages had their biggest trade volume day of the year and posted their worst week in four years.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed at session lows, off nearly 531 points and in correction territory for the first time since 2011 as all blue chips declined. The last time the index closed more than 500 points lower was on Aug. 10, 2011. In the last five years, the index has only had four instances with closing losses of more than 400 points.

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“For investors the momentum and the drive of the market is now lower (than) it used to be because there’s no place to hide,” said Lance Roberts, general partner at STA Wealth Management. “Every time we hit the major technical points we kept selling.”

A trader noted that investors stopped looking at technicals and were plowing through them.

“It’s an expiration day and it looks like they’re to have for sale on the close maybe as much as a billion dollars,” said Art Cashin, director of floor trading for UBS.

The Nasdaq Composite lost 3.5 percent, also closing in correction territory and joining the other major averages in negative territory for the year.

Apple declined 6 percent, in bear market territory, and the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB) plunged 3.1 percent.

“Right now there is a feeling of fear in the marketplace and all news is interpreted negatively and it’s interpreted indiscriminately,” said Tom Digenan, head of U.S. equities as UBS Global Asset Management…(read more)

Read the rest of this entry »


It Was #Socialism, Not #Austerity or Alexis Tsipras, That Wrecked #Greece

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Matt Purple writes: The stock market is getting walloped today and the reason is grave: Greece, dogged by enormous debt and an anemic economy, may be about to walk away
Marx-TVfrom its German creditors.

“Thanks to Greece’s socialist policies, its economy has long been creaking under the weight of crushing debt. It only endured in the debt-averse European Union because, with the help of Wall Street honchos like Goldman Sachs, it cunningly concealed its red ink for over a decade.”

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has called for a referendum over the latest concessions demanded by Germany and the European Commission. Votes will be cast on Sunday and Tspiras is actively campaigning against Greek cooperation. Four days earlier comes Tuesday, which is the deadline for Greece forking over an additional 1.6 billion euros to the International Monetary Fund. It’s now unknown whether Tspiras intends to default.

Greeks protest in Athens in 2010. (Photo: Thanassis Stavrakis, AP, 2010)

What is known is that the uncertainty is causing Greeks to party like it’s 1930. NBC News reports:

Greece imposed restrictions on money withdrawals and banking transactions to keep its financial system from collapsing due to a run on the banks.

Anxious Greeks rushed to ATMs to withdraw cash after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called late Friday for a referendum on the creditors’ reform proposals. …

Meanwhile, retirees lined up just after dawn at bank branches hoping they would be able to receive their pensions, which were due to be paid Monday. The finance ministry said the manner in which pensions would be disbursed would be announced later in the afternoon.

The euro tumbled to a nine-year low Monday as new worries flared over Greece, where a woman in Athens passed a currency-changing business. Associated Press

The president of the European Commission has declared that Greece’s departure from the euro is not an option, but even the most impenetrable of Eurocrats must comprehend that their little science project is falling apart.

[Read the full text here, at Rare]

This weekend’s referendum isn’t just about the current bailout package; a “no” vote will effectively jettison Greece from the euro and resurrect their old drachma currency. A “Grexit,” the prospect of which has long triggered dramatic sting music in the minds of European financial ministers, is looming over the Continent.

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“That debt is often attributed to the fact that ‘Greeks don’t pay their taxes,’ which has now reached near-aphorism status among economic writers. But rarely does anyone explore the reasons for all this tax dodging.”

And why not? The referendum is likely a leverage tactic by Tspiras—who’s resorted to such risibly desperate measures in the past as calling on Germany to pay Greece Nazi war reparations—but it intersects with one of the seminal themes of his election campaign last year: giving the Greek people a choice. Why should Athens, fuzzily remembered as the “birthplace of democracy,” have its finances determined in the back room of a foreign accounting office? Read the rest of this entry »


THE PANTSUIT REPORT: Hillary Clinton Surprises with Early Attack on CEO Pay

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WASHINGTON/NEW YORK/DES MOINES, Iowa (Reuters) – Hillary Clinton, under pressure from the left wing of her Democratic Party to aggressively campaign against income inequality, voiced concern about the pantsuit-reporthefty paychecks of some corporate executives in an email to supporters.

“I definitely see the push from the left wing, which I think is great.”

— Jared Milrad, a Clinton supporter who appeared in a video launching her campaign

Striking a populist note, Clinton, who announced on Sunday she was running for president in 2016, said American families were still facing financial hardship at a time “when the average CEO makes about 300 times what the average worker makes.”

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In a tightly scripted campaign launch in which there were few surprises, the comments were unexpected, at least by progressives, who saw them as an early sign she may shift away from the centrist economic policies pursued by her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

“So far we don’t know very much. I hope Clinton clarifies where she stands on these issues.”

—  Zephyr Teachout, a one-time New York gubernatorial candidate.

“I definitely see the push from the left wing, which I think is great,” said Jared Milrad, a Clinton supporter who appeared in a video launching her campaign for the presidency.

Milrad said he saw the populist rhetoric as a sign that Clinton “has been listening” to backers such as himself who want her to embrace some of the economic policies pushed by Senator Elizabeth Warren, a hero of liberal Democrats. Warren favors tighter regulation of big banks and a bolstering of the social safety net.

The enthusiasm of some progressives was tempered by the fact that they have yet to see the details of Clinton’s policy proposals. Read the rest of this entry »


Wall Street Firm Develops New High-Speed Algorithm Capable Of Performing Over 10,000 Ethical Violations Per Second

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NEW YORK—Calling it a major breakthrough that will significantly expedite and streamline its daily operations, Wall Street financial firm Goldman Sachs revealed Thursday it has developed a new high-speed algorithm that is capable of performing more than 10,000 ethical violations per second.

“With this new automated program, we’ll be able to systematically deceive investors, engage in conflicts of interest, and execute thousands of other blatantly unethical dealings in the time it takes to press a button.”

…said John Waldron, co-head of Goldman Sachs’ investment banking division, who added that the high-frequency impropriety system will be able to break more rules in a minute than an entire floor of morally suspect securities traders, financial analysts, and portfolio managers could over the course of a week.

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“In the past, if one of our brokers wanted to exploit a questionably legal regulatory loophole or breach the covenant of good faith with an investment client, that would require hours of manually contravening the basic principles of professional integrity. But this innovative system will allow millions of such transgressions to go through every single day. Going forward, I expect this revolutionary program to be the cornerstone of our business.”

— John Waldron, co-head of Goldman Sachs’ investment banking division

Read the rest of this entry »


U.S. Department of Labor’s Big Fat Lie

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None of them will tell you this: If you, a family member or anyone is unemployed and has subsequently given up on finding a job — if you are so hopelessly out of work that you’ve stopped looking over the past four weeks — the Department of Labor doesn’t count you as unemployed. That’s right. 

Jim Clifton writes: Here’s something that many Americans — including some of the smartest and most educated among us — don’t know: The official unemployment rate, as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor, is extremely misleading.

Right now, we’re hearing much celebrating from the media, the White House and Wall Street about how unemployment is “down” to 5.6%. The cheerleading for this number is deafening. The media loves a comeback story, the White House wants to score political points and Wall Street would like you to stay in the market.

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“There’s no other way to say this. The official unemployment rate, which cruelly overlooks the suffering of the long-term and often permanently unemployed as well as the depressingly underemployed, amounts to a Big Lie.”

None of them will tell you this: If you, a family member or anyone is unemployed and has subsequently given up on finding a job — if you are so hopelessly out of work that you’ve stopped looking over the past four weeks — the Department of Labor doesn’t count you as unemployed. That’s right. While you are as unemployed as one can possibly be, and tragically may never find work again, you are not counted in the figure we see relentlessly in the news — currently 5.6%. Right now, as many as 30 million Americans are either out of work or severely underemployed. Trust me, the vast majority of them aren’t throwing parties to toast “falling” unemployment.

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“And it’s a lie that has consequences, because the great American dream is to have a good job, and in recent years, America has failed to deliver that dream more than it has at any time in recent memory.”

There’s another reason why the official rate is misleading. Say you’re an out-of-work engineer or healthcare worker or construction worker or retail manager: If you perform a minimum of one hour of work in a week and are paid at least $20 — maybe someone pays you to mow their lawn — you’re not officially counted as unemployed in the much-reported 5.6%. Few Americans know this.

Yet another figure of importance that doesn’t get much press: those working part time but wanting full-time work. If you have a degree in chemistry or math and are working 10 hours part time because it is all you can find — in other words, you are severely underemployed — the government doesn’t count you in the 5.6%. Few Americans know this. Read the rest of this entry »


Obama: Okay, Maybe This Wasn’t the Best Week To Fundraise on Economic Good News

Image source: Mad Magazine

Image source: Mad Magazine


New York Post Sept. 11, 2014: ‘Call to Arms’, ‘FUMBLE’, Rice Video Given to NFL in APRIL

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New York Post, New York Post front page for Thursday, September….


Americans Move Toward More Active Foreign Policy, Views of Democrats Largely Unchanged

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Patrick O’Connor reports: When President Barack Obama addresses the nation Wednesday to outline his plan for combating Islamic militants destabilizing the Middle East, his audience will have a stronger appetite for foreign engagements than it did back in the spring.

The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found 27% of registered voters would like to see the U.S. play a more active role in world affairs, up from 19% back in April. A plurality of 40% still believes the U.S. should be less active on the world stage, but that is down from 47% in April.

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Full results of the poll will be released at 6:30 p.m ET Tuesday.

Republicans, in particular, are decidedly more inclined to support a more robust foreign policy. In April, 45% of self-identified Republicans wanted the U.S. to be less active in the world, while 29% said the country should be more active. In the September survey, Republicans wanted the U.S. to play a greater role in world events by a margin of 41%-34%.

Similar swings occurred among conservatives and people with post-graduate degrees. Read the rest of this entry »


Federal Reserve Report Reveals: Under Obama, Only the Richest 10 Percent Saw Incomes Rise

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Incomes fell for most families in past three years, while top 10 percent prospered

For the Washington TimesJennifer Pompi reports: Under President Obama, the richest 10 percent were the only income group of Americans to see their median incomes rise, according to a survey released this week by the Federal Reserve.

“The wealth share of the top 3 percent climbed from 44.8 percent in 1989 to 51.8 percent in 2007 and 54.4 percent in 2013. … The share of wealth held by the bottom 90 percent fell from 33.2 percent in 1989 to24.7 percent in 2013.”

The Fed data covered the years 2010-2013, during which period Mr. Obama constantly campaigned against income inequality and won re-election by painting his Republican rival as a tool of Wall Street plutocrats.

AFL-CIO

“One of our biggest concerns is who is the candidate’s economic team, because if the present economic team doesn’t change, you are going get the same results.”

— AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka

“Data from the 2013 [Survey of Consumer Finances] confirm that the shares of income and wealth held by affluent families are at modern historically high levels,” the report said in noting that the median income fell for every 10-percent grouping except the most affluent 10 percent.

Ask AP

“The 2013 SCF reveals substantial disparities in the evolution of income and net worth since the previous time the survey was conducted, in 2010,” the report stated. The SCF is conducted by the Federal reserve triennially and compiles information about family incomes, credit use, net worth and finances. Read the rest of this entry »


GLOBAL PANIC OF 2014: Bubble Paranoia Worries Wall Street as S&P 500 Surges

panic_300Two years of uninterrupted gains in U.S. stocks are sowing anxiety among financial professionals, with three in five saying the market is on the verge of a bubble or already in one, the Bloomberg Global Poll found.

Forty-seven percent of those surveyed said the equity market is close to unsustainable levels while 14 percent already saw a bubble, according to a quarterly poll of 562 investors, analysts and traders who are Bloomberg subscribers. Almost a third of respondents called the market for lower-rated corporate debt overheated and most said stock swings will increase within six months, the July 15-16 poll showed….(read more)

S&P 500 Surge Stirs Angst…

Bloomberg


Polling Data and Dem Think-Tank Messaging Tells Obama ‘Class Warfare’ Rhetoric Needs to be Replaced With ‘Gender Gap’ Rhetoric

president-barack-obama-speech-big-head

All Politics All The Time

From Today’s Washington Post:

“…The shift also underscores the ongoing dispute between the Democratic Party’s liberal and moderate wings over how to address inequality issues. Whereas the left takes a more combative tone, seeking to focus on the income gap and what it views as the harmful influence of big business and Wall Street, more centrist forces in the party favor an emphasis on less-divisive issues.

White House officials say the change in the president’s rhetoric was driven by a desire to focus not just on the problem — economic inequality — but also on solutions that could address it. Others close to the White House contend that the move is at least partly driven by Democratic polling that found that talking about income inequality does not register strongly with the American public and risks accusations of class warfare.

“It was clear in 2013 that income inequality was the top narrative for the White House, but they abruptly switched away from it. Income inequality seems like it’s on the back burner now — at least in terms of their rhetoric.”

—  Jim Kessler, senior vice president for policy at Third Way, a Democratic think tank

The shift hints at a broader repositioning of Democratic messaging ahead of the midterm elections and, perhaps, the 2016 presidential race….”

Obama-joker-Ha

Zachary A. Goldfarb –  The Washington Post


Dawn of the Age of Oligarchy: the Alliance between Government and the 1%

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Thanks to their cozy relationship with the Obama administration, a new class of super-wealthy oligarchs keeps getting more powerful while the country’s middle class shrinks.

For The Daily BeastJoel Kotkin writes: When our current President was elected, many progressives saw the dawning of a new epoch, a more egalitarian and more just Age of Obama. Instead we have witnessed the emergence of the Age of Oligarchy. The outlines of this new epoch are clear in numerous ways. There is the diminished role for small business, greater concentration of financial assets, and a troubling decline in home ownership
Barack_Obama_and_Dmitry_Medvedev_in_Kremlin-1

[Also see A Glimpse into the Political Future – city-journal.org]
On a cultural level, there is a general malaise about the prospect for upward mobility for future generations.Not everyone is suffering in this new age. For the entitled few, these have been the best of times. With ever more concentration of key industries, ever greater advantage of capital over labor, and soaring real estate values in swanky places such as Manhattan or San Francisco which , as one journalists put it, constitute “vast gated communities where the one percent reproduces itself.” The top hundred firms on the Fortune 500 list has revenues, in adjusted dollars, eight times those during the supposed big-business heyday of the 1960s.
This shift towards oligarchy well precedes President Obama’s tenure. It was born from a confluence of forces: globalization, the financialization of the economy, and the shift towards digital technology. Obama is not entirely to blame, it is more than a bit ironic that these measurements have worsened under an Administration that has proclaimed income inequality abhorrent.
clas-conf
[Check out Joel Kotkin‘s book The New Class Conflict at Amazon.com]

Despite this administration’s occasional rhetorical flourishes against oligarchy, we have seen a rapid concentration of wealth and depressed conditions for the middle class under Obama. The stimulus, with its emphasis on public sector jobs, did little for Main Street. And under the banner of environmentalism, green cronyism has helped fatten the bank accounts of investment bankers and tech moguls at great public expense.

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] 1st Interview with New House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R. Calif.), fresh off his election to House majority leader this week following Eric Cantor’s unexpected loss to David Brat, defended his conservative bona fides in an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday.

Wallace asked him how he’d respond to tea-party supporters who see him as a Washington insider who’s in politics to go along and get along. “I’m a conservative. I believe in the idea of freedom and liberty, but more importantly look at my voting background,” McCarthy said, citing his opposition to bailing out Wall Street and tax increases. “I come from the grassroots.”

“You’re generally seen as less conservative than the man you’re replacing,” Wallace pushed back, citing the fact that the Club for Growth rated Cantor as more conservative….(read more) National Review Online


REFORMICONS REJOICE! The Pork Stops Here: Eric Cantor Loss Gives Republicans Chance to Become People’s Party

BlackstoneNY

For the Washington ExaminerTimothy P. Carney writes: Eric Cantor‘s single largest source of campaign contributions was Blackstone Group, the high-rolling financial titan in Midtown Manhattan.

Dave Brat‘s largest source of campaign cash was Baugh Auto Body on West Broad Street in Richmond.

Baugh-Auto-Body

Brat’s stunning landslide win over Cantor in the June 10 primary gives Republicans the opportunity to change from being the party of Blackstone to the party of Baugh.

“Cantor’s closeness to Wall Street was supposed to be a strength. It proved a liability. This is true for the GOP as a whole.”

Brat beat Cantor, despite being outspent $5.5 million to $250,000, by running against corporate welfare. “I will fight to end crony capitalist programs that benefit the rich and powerful,” Brat said in his victory speech Tuesday night.

“Cantor’s defeat is the opportunity for the Republican Party to declare independence from Wall Street. Let the bankers flock to Hillary Clinton and Schumer.”

Brat explained on the trail that he’s pro-business, but “I’m against Big Business in bed with Big Government.”

Of Wall Street bankers who precipitated the 2008 crisis, Brat said, “instead of going to jail, they went on Eric’s Rolodex.” Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] George Will: The Anti-Cronyism Movement Played as Much of a Role in Eric Cantor’s Primary Loss as Immigration Did

Cantor’s Nexus Between Congress and Wall Street Led to Loss

Cantor’s relationship with the financial industry and his support of institutions such as the Export-Import Bank became a “symbol of crony capitalism” for his challenger Dave Brat and his constituents, Will said on Fox News Sunday

“Cantor is the nexus between the Republicans in the House and Wall Street and the financial community…this man is an insider not paying attention to normal people.”

…As a result, voters wanted Cantor out….(read more)

National Review Online


The incredible shrinking President

op-ed-incredible-shrinking-president

Drew Dzwonkowski/New York Daily News

Hour by hour he gets smaller and smaller!

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

For NY Daily NewsWalter Russell Mead writes: Less than two years after voters gave President Barack Obama a strong mandate for a second term, the White House is struggling against perceptions that it is losing its grip.

At home, the bungled rollout of the Obamacare website and the shocking revelations about an entrenched culture of incompetence and fraud in the VA have undercut faith in the President’s managerial competency.

“…Why, then, does a feisty President with more power than any of his peacetime predecessors, one who is determined to use those powers to the max, look so much a victim of events he can’t control?”

Abroad, a surging Russia, an aggressive China, a war torn Middle East and a resurgent terror network are putting his foreign policy credentials to the test. With the GOP hoping to seize control of the Senate in November’s midterm elections, and the inevitable decline in presidential power that occurs as second term presidents move toward lame-duck status, Obama risks being sidelined and marginalized for the remaining two years of his term. Read the rest of this entry »


U.S. Economy Shifts into Reverse

The US economy shifted into reverse in the first three months of 2014 shrinking by an annualized rate of 1%, official estimates have shown.

Grasping for rationalizations to explain the economic slowdown, "Ummm...unusually bad winter weather?" the US Commerce Department said.

Grasping for rationalizations to explain the economic slowdown, “Ummm…unusually bad winter weather? It snowed a lot? It was rainy and windy, too”, the US Commerce Department said. (Photo: Penny Pritzker, Secretary of Commerce)

Worst economic performance since the first quarter of 2011.

It is also a big fall on the 2.6% rise in economic output in the final quarter of last year. The US Commerce Department’s first reading of gross domestic product (GDP) showed the economy grew at an annualised rate of just 0.1%.

obama_in_limo_pd_12913

“Severe weather, just say that. Really bad weather…”

The fall in output was blamed on an unusually cold and disruptive winter – one of the coldest in the US for 20 years – and a plunge in business investment.

“The White House said the GDP revision was subject to a number of notable influences, including the severe winter weather, which temporarily lowered growth.”

Economists estimate the weather could have cost up to 1.5 percentage points of GDP.

However, the Commerce’s Department’s report did not estimate the effect of the winter weather.

The fall was also twice as big as economists expected. Read the rest of this entry »


A Glimpse into the Political Future: Jonathan Chait’s Advance Apologia for the Democrats’ Defeat in November

obama-kids-schoolFred Siegel writes:  Jonathan Chait has written a thoughtful, if debatable, 6,000-word article on race in the Obama years that has stirred a good deal of discussion. It can be read as an advance apologia for the Democrats’ defeat in the 2014 elections. Chait’s thesis, as he sums it up in an online surrebuttal, is that “American politics in the age of Obama has become balkanized not along racial lines, but by how people think about race.” In other words, Chait argues, “the Obama era has produced a cleavage along ideological rather than racial lines,” so that neither black conservatives who support the Tea Party nor the far more numerous white liberals who nod in agreement with Al Sharpton’s preachings on MSNBC are as anomalous as partisans assert. “Liberals,” Chait writes, “dwell in a world of paranoia of a white racism that has seeped out of American history in the Obama years and lurks everywhere, mostly undetectable.” Similarly, he goes on, “Conservatives dwell in a paranoia of their own, in which racism is used as a cudgel to delegitimize their core beliefs. And the horrible thing is that both of these forms of paranoia are right.”

“Parts of the public, not necessarily on the right, have caught on to Obama’s double game, in which his administration has been rhetorically egalitarian and operationally elitist.”

One can commend Chait for his evenhandedness—which has stirred a hornet’s nest of opposition from liberals—without accepting the equivalence he draws between these two views. But the real problem with his essay comes when he steps out of the realm of ideology and into the world of practical outcomes. Six years into the Obama presidency, Americans have ample grounds, independent of race, to dislike him.

[Check out Fred Siegel‘s book: The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism Has Undermined the Middle Class at Amazon]

Read the rest of this entry »


8 Suicides in High-Finance Sector Mystify Experts

skyscraper-suicide

New York Post‘s Michael Gray writes: The financial world has been rattled by a rash of apparent suicides, with some of the best and brightest among the finance workers who have taken their lives since the start of the year.

“Jumping is much less common as a method for suicide in general, so I am struck by the number that have occurred in recent months in this industry…”

A majority of the eight suicides of 2014 have been very public demonstrations, which has suicide-prevention experts puzzled.

“The suicide-research literature doesn’t help very much with the question of why the method of these suicides is so out in the open.”

— Dr. Christine Moutier, chief medical officer of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Read the rest of this entry »


Noonan’s Blog: ‘Our Decadent Elites’

roman-excess

Peggy Noonan writes:  Watching Season 2 of “House of Cards.” Not to be a scold or humorless, but do Washington politicians understand how they make themselves look when they embrace the show and become part of its promotion by spouting its famous lines?

“America sees Washington as the capital of vacant, empty souls, chattering among the pillars…”

Congressmen only work three days a week. Each shot must have taken two hours or so—the setup, the crew, the rehearsal, the learning the line. How do they have time for that? Why do they think it’s good for them?

elites

House of Cards” very famously does nothing to enhance Washington’s reputation. It reinforces the idea that the capital has no room for clean people. The earnest, the diligent, the idealistic, they have no place there. Why would powerful members of Congress align themselves with this message? Why do they become part of it? I guess they think they’re showing they’re in on the joke and hip to the culture. I guess they think they’re impressing people with their surprising groovelocity.

House-BW-Spacey

Or maybe they’re just stupid.

But it’s all vaguely decadent, no? Or maybe not vaguely. America sees Washington as the capital of vacant, empty souls, chattering among the pillars. Suggesting this perception is valid is helpful in what way?

Read the rest of this entry »


Grey Lady Down part 2: New York Times Profit Falls 12%; Print, Digital Revenues Still Falling

NYT-down

Joel. B. Pollak writes:  The New York Times announced Thursday that operating profits had fallen 12% in the fourth quarter of 2013 compared to the same period a year before.

[See Gray Lady Down: What the Decline and Fall of the New York Times Means for America at Amazon]

Earnings per share dropped by roughly two-thirds, from $0.76 to $0.24. Total revenues were down 5.2% and advertising revenues were down 6.3%, with print advertising revenues falling by 7.0% and digital by 4.3% over 2013…

Recall from our previous post, citing a New York Observer report, internal dissent at the NYT has “reached the boiling point”. The complaints—collected in interviews with more than two dozen current and former Times staffers—include reporters expressing frustration at the editorial page’s decline:

“As for the columnists, Friedman is the worst. He hasn’t had an original thought in 20 years; he’s an embarrassment. He’s perceived as an idiot who has been wrong about every major issue for 20 years…”

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] K-Street Cronyism Has its Own Action Figures: Meet The Kronies

Over at the CornerVeronique de Rugy has this treat:  Like every year, we can expect that bankers, farmers, green-energy providers, defense contractors, health insurers, and other protected industries will be among the winners of the agenda the president outlines in tomorrow night’s State Of Union Address. Well, now they have hot new toys to represent them and this very funny video to tell their story:

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] The Surprising Gimme Shelter

Gimmie-Shelter

The film Hollywood tried to stop

Anne Morse  writes:  G​imme Shelter, a film with a powerful pro-life message that opened yesterday in theaters around the country, almost didn’t make it to the screen; certain forces in Hollywood thought it might be a bit too influential. After all, this was no low-budget film with unknown actors and a hit-you-over-the-head faith message aimed primarily at churchgoers.

Instead, Gimme Shelter has big stars and an award-winning director who has created a film with enough power and subtlety to inspire a wide spectrum of Americans. And that’s what made it so dangerous to the fanatically pro-abortion Hollywood crowd.

“It’s a miracle that this film is even being released,” says director Ron Krauss, who has also directed films about disabilities and human trafficking. “I can’t tell you what I went through to get this film out.” After shooting Gimme Shelter, “I spent literally almost a year pushing and pushing people to get this movie out. A lot of people in Hollywood actually went out of their way to make sure this movie would not come out. People tried to pay me off — and I just kept saying, No no no no no. And then I came across someone who was willing to help me.”

shelter-poster-snip

Read the rest of this entry »


S&P: Torches and Pitchforks

pitchfork-obama

The Obama administration retaliates with a fraud suit . . . or is it a fraudulent suit? 

Andrew C. McCarthy writes:  A dour President Obama was in no mood to hear about Wall Street’s troubles. “My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks,” he warned a room full of the nation’s banking titans.

They’d been summoned to the White House woodshed over what Dear Leader had decided was excessive compensation for industry execs. The president had been on the job for less than three months, but his community-organizer roots were already showing: the fraudulent narrative — in this instance, “income inequality” — helped along by whatever arm-twisting the occasion required. The narrative camouflages execution of the statist game-plan: (1) government creates problem, (2) government locates scapegoat, and (3) government exploits scapegoat to juxtapose itself as savior — rationalizing more regulation and more power.

pitchforks-mob

The pitchfork imagery leapt to mind this week because Timothy Geithner, Obama’s tax-challenged former Treasury secretary, was back in the news — specifically, the extortion news. Turbo Tim had been in the room back in 2009, absorbing the boss’s lesson in Alinsky-style government-corporate relations. Now we learn, at least according to Standard & Poor’s top honcho, that Geithner made the Obama method his own.

Read the rest of this entry »