Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Today's links

1---Ralph Nader on stock buybacks, cp


Mr. Hanauer is speaking before business and political groups, including the Democratic senators at their recent Baltimore retreat, about a favorite cause of mine—the utterly damaging waste of massive corporate profits known as stock buybacks. Stock buybacks are so massive—6.9 trillion since 2004—that it justifies Mr. Hanauer’s description of them as “the biggest scam bankrupting business and the middle class.”


Hear him out: “Our crisis of income inequality wasn’t principally caused by the rich not paying enough tax, even though we don’t. Rather, it is largely the product of the $1 trillion a year that once went to wages, but now goes to corporate profits. And this consumer demand and investment-killing trillion-dollar-a-year transfer of wealth from the bottom 80 percent of households to the top 1 percent is the direct result of the economic and regulatory policies both Republicans and Democrats have imposed since the dawn of the trickle down era.” That was in 1982 when President Reagan loosened the rules that had made stock buybacks a form of illegal stock manipulation, he adds.


Between 2003 and 2012, stock buybacks amounted to an astounding 54% of corporate profits which could have gone to “higher wages or increased investments in plants and equipment or in public investment,” such as infrastructure, all of which would have increased consumer demand, the engine of economic growth, he notes....


“Wal-Mart has spent [over ten years] more than$65.4 billion on stock buybacks — about 47 percent of its profits. That’s an average of more than $6.5 billion a year in stock buybacks, enough to give each of its 1.4 million U.S. workers a $4,670-a-year raise. It is also, coincidentally, an amount roughly equivalent to the estimated $6.2 billion Wal-Mart costs U.S. taxpayers every year in food stamps, Medicaid, subsidized housing, and other public assistance to its many impoverished employees. In this context, how can stock buybacks be either morally or economically justified?”


For more information, see Hanauer’s True Patriot Network.


2--Options Market Signals 2007-Like Crash Risk, Goldman Warns, ZH,


Here’s Goldman:
Long-dated crash put protection costs on the SPX have more than doubled over the past 9 months. We believe it is an important development to watch as it implies investors are increasingly concerned about downside risk even as US equities trade near all-time highs. Based on our conversations with investors over the past few months, it appears the increase in long-dated put prices has largely gone unnoticed among equity and credit investors. In fact, Investment Grade credit spreads have actually tightened slightly over the same period. The rise in long-dated equity put prices may signal an increasing fear that a substantial market correction is on the horizon, despite low short-term put prices which suggest low probably of a near-term drawdown vs history.


3---Greece Faces Cash Crunch This Friday Without "Plan A Or Plan B": What Happens Next, ZH


4--Top Russia Public Intellectual: Western Financial System Is Driving It to War, RI


"In order to survive and preserve its leading role on the international stage, the US desperately needs to plunge Eurasia into chaos, (and) to cut economic ties between Europe and Asia-Pacific Region.....Russia is the only (country) within this potential zone of instability that is capable of resistance. It is the only state that is ready to confront the Americans. Undermining Russia’s political will for resistance... is a vitally important task for America." Nikolai Starikov, Western Financial System Is Driving It to War, Russia Insider


5--1 in 3 US families classified as 'working poor,' higher for minorities, RT


6--China cuts back on US debt for 5th month in a row RT


7--Germany, France, Italy to join Chinese-led Asian bank,  yahoo


8--Major American Allies Ignore U.S. Pleas and Join China’s Development Bank, NC


9--Nomi Prins: The Volatility/Quantitative Easing Dance of Doom, NC


10--A shadow banking sector has gotten 65 times larger, CNBC


11--Bull market is ‘closer to the end’ than investors think , Marketwatch


12--Stratfor's George Friedman at the Chicago Council on Foreign Affairs
12 min video


13--Iran, Hezbollah left off US terror threat listing, RT


14---Putin:  “Direct attempts to silence history, to distort and rewrite history are inadmissible and immoral. Behind these attempts often lies the desire to hide one’s own disgrace, the disgrace of cowardice, hypocrisy and treachery, the intent to justify the direct or indirect collaboration with Nazism,” the Russian leader stated, as he spoke in the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow at an event dedicated to the 70th anniversary of Auschwitz’s liberation.
In places where they imprint the ideas of ethnic and moral supremacy into people’s heads, where they destroy or scoff at human values, civilization is being quickly and inevitably replaced by barbarity,” Putin noted, adding that the process is often accompanied by war and aggression.


15--Neo Nazis turn to US for help, sputnik


64 years ago, on March 17, 1951, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), notorious collaborators of Nazi Germany during the Second World War, called upon the United States to provide it with military assistance aimed against the Soviet Union.
After the defeat of German Nazism in 1945, members of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and their paramilitary UPA units continued their struggle against the Soviet Union. Although former Nazi collaborators officially dissolved the UPA in 1949, many of them joined foreign subversive groups and intelligence agencies, dreaming of revenge....


The CIA and the US State Department also sponsored OUN leaders' immigration to the United States in 1949.
The collaboration between the OUN, the CIA and other intelligence services was mutually beneficial: former Nazi collaborators were shielded from prosecution for war crimes, while intelligence agents received valuable information about their Soviet adversaries. Furthermore, the CIA helped nationalist veterans to create "semiacademic" institutions and to assume high academic positions at established universities.

16--Maduro and Putin join forces, sputnik


17--Towards The End Of The U.S. Dominated International Money System, MOA


Welcome to the end of Brenton Woods and the Washington Consensus that defined the world money systems around U.S. controlled institutions and the U.S. dollar as the sole reserve currency.
Defying U.S., European allies say they'll join China-led bank
Germany, France and Italy said on Tuesday they had agreed to join a new China-led Asian investment bank after close ally Britain defied U.S. pressure to become a founder member of a venture seen in Washington as a rival to the World Bank. The concerted move to participate in Beijing's flagship economic outreach project was a diplomatic blow for the United States, reflecting European eagerness to partner with China's fast-growing economy, the second largest in the world.
It comes amid prickly trade negotiations between Brussels and Washington, and at a time when EU and Asian governments are frustrated that the U.S. Congress has held up a reform of voting rights in the International Monetary Fund due to give China and other emerging economies more say in global economic governance.
Especially under the Obama administration the U.S. abused its important role in international finance to further its political pet projects at the cost of other participants in the system.
On Washington's insistence the International Monetary Fund is breaking its rules to finance a civil war in Ukraine. U.S. spying on the SWIFT banking information exchange is used to sanction U.S. enemies by excluding them from the international banking system. Foreign banks get punished with huge fines because they conduct business with countries the U.S. sees as unpalatable. Wall Streets huge mortgage scam and selling of worthless derivatives to foreign entities left the world economy in shambles and investors and whole countries bankrupt but went completely unpunished.
Enough. Over time the world will no longer adhere to the rules set in Washington. The global banking system will evolve into a multipolar system where different public international banks will act and where monetary information exchanges can be conducted on various systems under various jurisdiction.
This will be a huge loss to the coercive power of the U.S. and thereby a good step towards a more Westphalian world where power is more equally distributed. International sanctions against countries that defy U.S. regime change orders will no longer be sustainable.


18--Zugzwang




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