Thread Rating:
  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
The economy - oops
lol remember when Larry Kudlow said most Americans don't want more stimulus money because Donald Trump made working cool again?
A whistleblower is saying Wall Street has engaged in widespread manipulation of mortgage funds:

Quote:Among the toxic contributors to the financial crisis of 2008, few caused as much havoc as mortgages with dodgy numbers and inflated values. Huge quantities of them were assembled into securities that crashed and burned, damaging homeowners and investors alike. Afterward, reforms were promised. Never again, regulators vowed, would real estate financiers be able to fudge numbers and threaten the entire economy.

Twelve years later, there’s evidence something similar is happening again.

Some of the world’s biggest banks — including Wells Fargo and Deutsche Bank — as well as other lenders have engaged in a systematic fraud that allowed them to award borrowers bigger loans than were supported by their true financials, according to a previously unreported whistleblower complaint submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission last year.

Whereas the fraud during the last crisis was in residential mortgages, the complaint claims this time it’s happening in commercial properties like office buildings, apartment complexes and retail centers. The complaint focuses on the loans that are gathered into pools whose worth can exceed $1 billion and turned into bonds sold to investors, known as CMBS (for commercial mortgage-backed securities).

Lenders and securities issuers have regularly altered financial data for commercial properties “without justification,” the complaint asserts, in ways that make the properties appear more valuable, and borrowers more creditworthy, than they actually are. As a result, it alleges, borrowers have qualified for commercial loans they normally would not have, with the investors who bought securities birthed from those loans none the wiser.

ProPublica closely examined six loans that were part of CMBS in recent years to see if their data resembles the pattern described by the whistleblower. What we found matched the allegations: The historical profits reported for some buildings were listed as much as 30% higher than the profits previously reported for the same buildings and same years when the property was part of an earlier CMBS. As a rough analogy, imagine a homeowner having stated in a mortgage application that his 2017 income was $100,000 only to claim during a later refinancing that his 2017 income was $130,000 — without acknowledging or explaining the change.

It’s “highly questionable” to alter past profits with no apparent explanation, said John Coffee, a professor at Columbia Law School and an expert in securities regulation. “I don’t understand why you can do that.”
So, Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc used the bailout to get a $9.7 million refund.

It then declared bankruptcy and gave its executives $9.7 million in bonuses.

That's an impressive amount of sleaze.

Quote:As it headed toward bankruptcy, Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc. took advantage of a little-noticed provision in the stimulus bill Congress passed in March to get a $9.7 million tax refund. Then, it asked a bankruptcy judge to authorize the same amount as bonuses to nine executives.

The rig operator is one of dozens of oil companies and contractors now claiming hundreds of millions of dollars in tax rebates. They are employing a provision of the $2.2 trillion stimulus law, called the CARES act, that gives them more latitude to deduct recent losses.

“This is a stealth bailout for the oil and gas industry,” said Jesse Coleman, a senior researcher with Documented, a watchdog group tracking the tax claims. It’s geared to companies “that have been losing money over the last few years -- and now they get that money back as a check from the taxpayers. That’s exactly what the oil industry has been doing.”

The change wasn’t aimed only at the oil industry. However, its structure uniquely benefits energy companies that were raking in record profits in 2018 as crude prices reached $76.41 per barrel, only to see their fortunes flip a year later.

More than $1.9 billion in CARES Act tax benefits are being claimed by at least 37 oil companies, service firms and contractors, according to a Bloomberg News review of recent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Besides Diamond Offshore, which declined to comment, recipients include oil producer Occidental Petroleum Corp. and refiner Marathon Petroleum Corp.

Other oil companies say they didn’t lobby Congress for the change, which is widely available across all industries. “We did not request any benefit, but we are obligated to follow the tax laws as passed by Congress, which apply to all corporate manufacturers nationwide,” said Jamal Kheiry, a spokesman for Marathon, which got a $411 million benefit.

Congress embedded the tax change governing losses in the stimulus measure early on, as lawmakers moved rapidly in March to steer trillions of dollars in aid to coronavirus-ravaged workers and companies. Alongside expanded unemployment payments and payroll loan programs, lawmakers saw an opportunity to harness the tax code to help get cash flowing to companies struggling to pay rent, workers and insurance.

It “was sold as help for the little guy -- help for small business,” said Steve Rosenthal, a senior fellow with the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. “In the name of ‘small business,’ we’re shoveling out billions of dollars to big corporations and rich guys.”

I don't think I ever related to an article less than this one:

Quote:It’s a modern quandary for the ultra-wealthy: a yacht awaits at harbor, but how to safely reach it without risking exposure to the germ-ridden masses?

Global aviation company VistaJet has a solution. Spurred by member demand, clients can reserve a freshly sanitized jet to fly them to a yacht moored in Malta (where, as it happens, VistaJet is based). Lest anyone be worried that the island nation itself is germ-ridden, a press release notes that “The World Health Organization singled out Malta as a role model for other countries in the fight against Covid-19.”

Malta is the only destination for this service, so if your yacht is moored in Antibes or Porto Cervo, you’re out of luck. But if you’re the type of person who’s serious about yachting during a pandemic, then Malta is probably a place you should check out.

In addition to multiple yacht marinas and a mild Mediterranean climate, the country levies zero taxes on income or capital gains earned outside Malta and there’s no estate tax, making it a popular choice for the ultra-rich when it comes to buying a second citizenship. Yes, buying. A Maltese passport can be yours for just 1.2 million euros ($1.3 million) in cash and property.
You leave Dire Straits out of this!

That sounds like a solid philosophy until it doesnt work (which is inevitable).
He's not wrong about the disconnect between the stock market and the economy, though.
"Nooj's true feelings on any given subject are unknown and unknowable. He is the butterfly flapping its wings in Peking. He is chaos and destruction and you shall never see his true form." - Merriweather

My Steam ID: yizashigreyspear
But... "Stocks only go up"?!?
Gamertag: Tweakee
Stocks definitely don't just go up. But the stock market is not the economy. Realising that is the only thing that has helped me vaguely understand it. The news and the government talk about it like it is though (probably because they and their masters want their shares to go up)
I know this: Hertz filed for bankruptcy about 2 weeks ago. At the time, their stock was trading for around $.56. People who bought that price have made a fortune as it was at around $5.50 just two days ago.
I wonder if it's the case that if a stock price changes that change is more likely to be a small increase, while decreases are less frequent but larger.
If I could change to liquid, I'd fill the cracks and bend the rocks.
I don't doubt that algorithmic trading is one of the main factors that is driving the swings in the market.

When the market drops, it can trigger a different set of buy/sell calculations that allow people to take advantage of 'deals' and make a quick profit.

Conversely, these speed-of-light trades can be the trigger for the drops...a program set to 'sell' when it starts to 'see' negative trending...????
I used to be with "it", but then they changed what "it" was. Now, what I'm with isn't "it", and what's "it" seems weird and scary to me.   -Grandpa Simpson
Basing the US economy on how well the stock market is doing is like basing the Las Vegas economy on how well the players at the high rollers table are doing.
Just this guy, you know?
(06-10-2020, 11:26 AM)Judas Booth Wrote: I know this: Hertz filed for bankruptcy about 2 weeks ago.  At the time, their stock was trading for around $.56.  People who bought that price have made a fortune as it was at around $5.50 just two days ago.

Let's hope no-one bought at 5.50 given today's developments!
Weirdly, this was the third item down in the article -

Quote:[b]No transparency[/b] — In a stunning move, the Trump administration is signaling that it won’t disclose the recipients of more than $500 billion in bailout money delivered to 4.5 million businesses through the PPP. Mnuchin says it’s “proprietary” and “confidential” information. The GAO told POLITICO that the Small Business Administration is also withholding PPP loan data the agency requested as part of its oversight efforts.
Im sure its all perfectly legal, and very cool.
(06-11-2020, 02:41 PM)Mangy Wrote: Weirdly, this was the third item down in the article -

Quote:[b]No transparency[/b] — In a stunning move, the Trump administration is signaling that it won’t disclose the recipients of more than $500 billion in bailout money delivered to 4.5 million businesses through the PPP. Mnuchin says it’s “proprietary” and “confidential” information. The GAO told POLITICO that the Small Business Administration is also withholding PPP loan data the agency requested as part of its oversight efforts.

I made a couple of posts about the stunning lack of transparency in regards to the Covid19 "bailout" mechanisms.

While linking the discussion to Trump of course garners more interest, you can read some prior discussions of the frightening lack of oversight of multi-billion/trillion dollar bailouts here:


You give these guys a mile, they'll ask for the inch too:

Quote:Unions say AT&T has informed them that the company will be laying off another 3,400 employees over the next few weeks.

For those playing along at home, that's 41,000 job cuts since Trump gave AT&T a $42 billion tax cut in 2017.

Oh, the death of #netneutrality consumer protections were also supposed to create jobs and result in massive network investment. In both cases the exact opposite happened.
A really interesting read on COVID-19 revealing fundamental flaws in U.S. capitalism:

Quote:In 1906, the psychologist and pacifist William James gave a speech in search of “the moral equivalent of war,” a phrase that has lived on indelibly ever since. “All the qualities of a man acquire dignity when he knows that the service of the collectivity that owns him needs him,” he noted, lamenting that war has functioned like no other human activity to motivate the “surrender of private interest” and spur “the supremest out of human nature.”

So, the pacifist wondered, what might be substituted for war that would still call nations toward likewise noble sacrifice—something that could build and heal, rather than kill and ruin? The charge has haunted us ever since. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter thought he had found one, and gave his own historic “moral equivalent of war” speech, asking America to wean itself off fossil fuels. Carter’s fellow citizens largely rejected his quest. A moral equivalent to war continued to elude us.

Until now. Enter the Covid-19 pandemic. Except now that an existential threat on par with war has come, America has refused the challenge—choosing for its battle cry: “Let us get back to business!”

Covid-19 has sucked the world into a vortex of interlocking crises that demand collective sacrifice to resolve. The world’s most powerful nation has revealed itself as tragically unequal to the challenge—unwilling to transcend private interest. From the deranged Republicans running the White House and the Senate to the penny-pinching Democrats running the House of Representatives, from ordinary folks who can’t be bothered to wear a mask to corporate titans scouring the horizon for profit-taking opportunities—it all marks the distillation of a national ideology: selfishness, über alles. As long as this creed unites us, no war, moral or otherwise, has ever—can ever—be won.

Capitalist societies have regularly reorganized themselves for collective sacrifice during national emergencies. Once upon a time, it happened all the time. The question is whether America’s embrace of individualist marketplace logic has become such a death grip that such reorganization is no longer possible.

Napoleon supposedly labeled England a “nation of shopkeepers” and, therefore, ripe for conquest. Englishmen, instead, rallied to enlist, and historians have credited the “total war” that followed the French invasion with the first forging of a true British national identity—a collectivity worth surrendering private interest for, even unto death. If England had proven merely a nation of shopkeepers, it might not exist.

One hundred forty years later, another tyrant learned a similar lesson. Shortly before Pearl Harbor, Adolf Hitler observed, “I don’t see much future for the Americans. It’s a decayed country.” His first reason was the predictable one: The United States was “half Judaized, and the other half Negrified,” he said. But his second one paralleled Napoleon’s remark about England: In America, “everything is built on the dollar.”

Hitler had another thing coming. I once spent a riveting afternoon working my way through the 1943 University of Illinois yearbook. Every club, team and university unit competed to one-up the others in sacrifice for the common good. At the time, meat, butter, coffee, tires and gasoline were all rationed. The production of private automobiles was banned. Industry surrendered basic direction to the government about what to produce and how, as determined by Director of the Office of Economic Stabilization James Byrnes—who had himself sacrificed a Supreme Court appointment to take the job. 

There was, it is true, plenty of profiteering in the war industries. (One Democratic senator from Missouri, Harry Truman, turned himself into vice presidential timber by ruthlessly investigating it.) And the purity of sacrifice is complicated by the fact that war production ultimately enriched consumers and corporations enough to end the Depression.

But for the most part, sacrifice for the common good was everywhere—viral, you might say. Labor agreed to, and mostly honored, a no-strike pledge. The Revenue Act of 1942 doubled income taxes, with the system of automated payroll deductions beginning in 1943. Before the war, only 4 million Americans paid income tax at all; by its end, 42.8 million did—and were generally proud to do so. They sang along with a hit Irving Berlin song, “You see those bombers in the sky? Rockefeller helped build them and so did I. I paid my income tax today!”

America proved itself far more than a nation of shopkeepers, at least for the duration of that existential crisis. During our current one, our leaders think of themselves only as shopkeepers, and the nation as a mall—which need only “open up” to win the war.
The hospital chain Community Health Systems recorded a $0.15 per-share profit in the first quarter this year, its first quarterly profit in four years. And it was all thanks to those coronavirus tax breaks.
The worst airline is making another terrible decision:

Quote:If you travel by plane this summer, you could be stepping onto a completely full aircraft, even as the number of coronavirus cases in the United States continues to rise.

American Airlines said in a statement Friday that it will resume booking flights to capacity beginning July 1. The airline, which had previously limited capacity, said it will continue to notify customers of full flights and let them change flights at no cost. They'll also let passengers change seats on the plane provided there is room and they stay in the same cabin.

Delta and Southwest previously announced that they will block middle seats through the end of September. Alaska Airlines is blocking middle seats through the end of July.

United, meanwhile, told ABC News it does not "block middle and/or adjacent seats" and does not have a cap on capacity. United said it also offers rebooking options and notifications to customers if they "expect a flight to be more full."

"So far very few customers have rebooked," United said.
Hello, police, I'd like to report a looting in progress:

Quote:The US Treasury is giving a $700 million loan to YRC Worldwide, a troubled trucking company that warned in May it was in danger of going out of business.

That's an enormous sum for a company whose stock had plunged 27% this year and was worth only $70 million as of Tuesday's close. And here's the kicker: The government sued YRC for ripping it off.

Long-term competitive problems had taken the company's stock down 85% over the last five years. But shares of YRC (YRCW) shot up 60% in early trading on the news of the bailout.

US taxpayers will end up owning 30% of the company's stock as part of the loan agreement.

The loan is not part of the federal CARES Act meant to help small businesses. Instead, it is meant to provide help to businesses critical to national security. Treasury's statement said the loan was justified by the fact that the company provides a majority of the trucking services moving pallet-sized shipments of freight for the US military, a segment of the industry known as "less-than-truckload" or LTL.

"Treasury's determination was based on a certification by the Secretary of Defense that YRC is critical to maintaining national security," said Treasury in its statement.

But according to a recent filing by YRC, it is in the process of being sued by the Defense Department.

The suit, filed in December of 2018, alleges YRC overcharged the Defense Department as well as failing to comply with the contract terms and related government procurement rules, along with unjust enrichment and breach of contract, according to YRC's filing. YRC has filed a motion seeking to dismiss the complaint and it said in intends to vigorously defend itself.

The civil complaint charges that YRC "reweighed thousands of shipments and suppressed the results whenever they indicated that a shipment was actually lighter than its original estimated weight." The suit said the practice went on for seven years and cost the Defense Department millions of dollars.

"This case should serve as a warning to any organization that enters into a contract with the federal government -- if you try to rip us off, be prepared to pay a heavy price," said US Attorney James Kennedy in a statement at the time the suit was filed.

The Treasury Department did not respond Wednesday morning to a request for comment on the suit. YRC said the suit, is "a contractual dispute which originated in 2009 and predates the current board and CEO by more than a decade."
U.S. contractors sure have made lots of cash on grid reconstruction in Puerto Rico:

Quote:Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, the state-owned power monopoly, has awarded $4.4 billion in contracts to companies hired to repair the extensive damage to the island’s aging electrical grid. But outages are an enduring and lethal fact of life in Puerto Rico, where the grid remains fragile. An earthquake in January 2020 plunged the island into darkness once again, and now they are looking at a hurricane season forecast to be one of the most active in years.

A joint analysis by HuffPost and NBCLX finds that the vast majority of grid reconstruction-related contracts have gone to American firms, including fossil fuel companies, construction firms connected to the Trump administration and consultants such as former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ®. Of the publicly available information on deals awarded since 2017, mainland U.S. contractors received roughly 84%, totaling $3.7 billion.

PREPA, meanwhile, is currently hammering out a deal to hand over control of the electrical distribution system for 15 years to a trio of private operators: Houston-based grid manager Quanta Services, North Carolina-headquartered disaster response firm IEM, and ATCO Ltd., a gas firm based in Calgary, Canada. That contract has not yet been released.

The share of contracts directed to companies outside the United States’ largest territorial possession is not necessarily surprising. But the finding raises new questions about who is benefiting most from Puerto Rico’s rebuilding process, stoking century-old tensions over the colonial relationship between the United States and its largest territorial possession, whose decadeslong debt crisis spurred ongoing and brutal austerity cuts. 

Workers have borne the brunt of those economic sacrifices, and they ― and their unions ― say they could do PREPA’s repair work for much less money. 

“I think the U.S. is seeing Puerto Rico like a business base to secure its gains at the expense of the Puerto Rican people,” said Ángel Figueroa Jaramillo, the head of the Unión de Trabajadores de la Industria Eléctrica y Riego, which represents the island’s utility workers. 

Controversies over PREPA’s contracts began just months after the hurricane, when the utility awarded a $300 million contract to Whitefish Energy Holdings, a tiny Montana firm with ties to then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, which months earlier had been on shaky financial grounds. PREPA quickly canceled the contract amid a national firestorm over the deal. But the state-owned power monopoly continued awarding hefty contracts to U.S. companies at prices Puerto Rican union officials say far exceeded what local workers would charge. 

Months later, PREPA agreed to pay the Florida-based construction firm MasTec $400 per streetlight it repaired, even though the union proposed to carry out the same work for $60 per light. Yet the total payout of $5 million was dwarfed by the $500 million contract PREPA gave MasTec in May 2018 to restore transmission lines. The deal drew criticism from Puerto Rico’s fiscal control board, the panel of officials Congress put in charge of the island’s public budget in an effort to ensure the territory’s Wall Street creditors were repaid. MasTec did not respond to a request for comment.

“We have presented to the governor, and to previous administrations, proposals that are, economically speaking, much cheaper than what these private companies offer, detailed, line by line,” Figueroa Jaramillo said. “Not hypothetical offers, but line by line how much it costs. And unfortunately, it has fallen on deaf ears.” 
(06-26-2020, 09:55 PM)Iron Maiden Wrote: The worst airline is making another terrible decision:

Sen. Merkley:

Quote:@AmericanAir: how many Americans will die bc you fill middle seats, w/ your customers shoulder to shoulder, hour after hour. This is incredibly irresponsible. People eat & drink on planes & must take off masks to do so. No way you aren’t facilitating spread of COVID infections.

Stock market now (blue) vs stock market going into the Great Depression (red)

[Image: EcUs6gBUYAIpyEU?format=jpg&name=medium]

Big trouble for the Big Boy.  Stocks are all he has left to run on.  Stocks and racism.
That great American company Coca-Cola saw sales drop 33%. Theatre, restaurant, and stadium closures are hitting them.
Guess who's #25 in the World Misery Index!

Hint: They have amber waves of grain.
Those are rookie numbers!

Interesting read on why the stock market doesn't really care if the economy is good or not:

Quote:The stock market has been on a tear, yet the economy is in the dumps. So why do so many people believe -- undoubtedly incorrectly -- that the stock market has decoupled from reality?

The economy many people experience, while bleak, is local, personal and, for the most part, either not publicly traded or plays only a small part in the stock market’s moves. To explain why these personal experiences have so little effect on equity markets, we must look more closely at the market role of the weakest industry sectors.

The surprising conclusion: The most visible and economically vulnerable industries are also among the smallest, based on their market-capitalization weight in major indexes such as the S&P 500. Markets, it turns out, are not especially vulnerable to highly visible but relatively tiny industries. The 30 most economically damaged industry categories could be de-listed before tomorrow’s market open, and it would hardly shave more than a few percentage points off the S&P 500.

This is so despite the worst U.S. economic collapse since the Great Depression. All of the economic data is so bad that figures on gross domestic product, unemployment and initial jobless claims must be re-scaled to even fit on charts.

But the U.S. economy is not the stock market and vice versa. As we discussed before, ignoring overseas strength is a major oversight. The so-called FAANGs (along with Microsoft) 1  derive about half -- and in some cases even more -- of their revenue from abroad. Beyond that, the pandemic lockdown in the U.S. has benefitted the giant tech companies’ sales and profits. No wonder the Nasdaq Composite 100 Index, which is dominated by big tech companies, is up about 26% this year.

But a reasonable person might argue that GDP fell by about a third in the second quarter and the S&P 500 should be in synch with that. What’s more, of the 500 companies in the S&P 500, about 450 of them are doing terribly. Industries such as retail, travel, energy, entertainment, dining have seen sales evaporate. Bankruptcies are piling up -- legendary retailer Lord & Taylor is just the latest -- and more are surely coming. Yet, the S&P 500, after a huge plunge in March, is up 2% this year.

More at the link.
all praise to the gods of corruption...

The White House–Kodak Controversy Has a New Angle: A Billionaire’s Huge Stock Gift to a Synagogue
Why did investor George Karfunkel donate shares worth up to $180 million to a little-known congregation?

Quote:In the middle of this spree, Karfunkel, a major investor in Kodak, and his wife, Renee, donated those 3 million shares to an entity called Congregation Chemdas Yisroel, according to an SEC filing. They did so on July 29, the day the stock price hit $60, so those shares could have been worth as much as $180 million at the time of the gift. If the donation was executed at the end of the trading day, its value would have been $99.6 million. Given that Congregation Chemdas Yisroel is registered as a tax-exempt religious organization, the Karfunkels will be able to claim this donation as a tax deduction. That means they could pocket a deduction between $52.5 million and $180 million for a bloc of stocks that two days earlier was worth $6.39 million. (The donation also lowered the Karfunkels’ holdings in Kodak to 4.4 percent—which is below the 5 percent threshold that requires investors in a publicly traded company to report their stock transactions.)
Quote:UPDATE: After the above story was published, the Wall Street Journal also reported on George Karfunkel’s donation of Kodak shares to the Congregation Chemdas Yisroel. The newspaper noted that (K)Garfunkel* is listed as the president of the synagogue in New York State charity-registration records.

wsj article on this -

*I believe this is a typo in the article...either that or Art Garfunkel has some explaining to do.
I used to be with "it", but then they changed what "it" was. Now, what I'm with isn't "it", and what's "it" seems weird and scary to me.   -Grandpa Simpson
Anyone have any good Jeff Daniels .gifs?

And you know Joe Rogan is somewhere going...

"There's only one question to resolve. I'm scared. I feel a little crazy. I'm not lucid. The assumptions are right. I can feel my fear growing. Now is the time for the answer. Just one question. One question to answer.


Do you know what else is inherently kafkaesque? People turning into insects.

Look I don't think we should put Musk on trial, here. High up in his castle, it's hard for him to relate when he is going through so many changes. I imagine there are times he feels lost in America.

Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread: 9 Guest(s)