Showing posts from April 29, 2015

Record Financial Engineering Will Goose Stocks: Goldman

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[Why the corporatocracy loves free money: it uses the cash the buy back its own shares. Case in point: GE pulls a banner year for share prices and executive bonuses out of a $13.6 billion loss and declining revenues. Not only are they not doing anything useful for society or the economy, they are screwing up royally, and still enriching themselves massively in the process. And the best part of it all? When it all blows up they will be too big to fail! *RON*]
by Wolf Richter, Wolf Street, 28 April 2015

GE, in order to paper over a net loss of $13.6 billion and declining revenues in the first quarter, said on April 10 that it would buy back $50 billion of its own shares. That’s on top of the $10.8 billion in actual buybacks last year. The announcement was beat only by Apple’s $90 billion announcement last year, to which it added another $50 billion on Monday.

It’s going to be a great year, not for revenues and earnings, but for share buybacks. Hence …

Resistance Isn't Always Rational

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[Excellent piece. "We needn't endorse the means of desperate people to acknowledge their ends are worth fighting for." *RON*]

Elizabeth Nolan Brown, Reason, 27 April 2015
I agree with Robby Soave that non-defensive violence is not a good solution, both for moral and tactical reasons. But I nonetheless find myself filled with empathy for the people—rioters? protesters?— who have been engaging in acts of violence against police property, corporate property, and police themselves this afternoon and evening in Baltimore. That's not to say I condone their acts, but I find them understandable. Resistance isn't always rational, nor necessarily kind. Or, to say it another way, desperate people do desperate things. And it is very clear that there are a lot of people in this country in a state of desperation over our unaccountable, ever-encroaching, fee-mongering, violence-first police force and its myriad biases.

Bernie Sanders To Announce Presidential Run

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[I love Bernie's progressive politics, but the main effect of this is that now Hillary has someone to blame when she loses. *RON*]
By Bob Kinzel, Vermont Public Radio, 28 April 2015
VPR News has learned from several sources that Independent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders will announce his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday.

Sanders will release a short statement on that day and then hold a major campaign kickoff in Vermont in several weeks.

Sanders' entry into the Democratic race ensures that Hillary Clinton will face a challenge to win the support of the liberal wing of the party.

Sanders' basic message will be that the middle class in America has been decimated in the past two decades while wealthy people and corporations have flourished.

His opposition to a proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal (T.P.P.) shows how he plans to frame this key issue of his campaign.

"If you want to understand why the mid…

More Than 10,000 Enroll In Free University Course To Debunk Climate Science Denial

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[Sounds like a good course - and enrollment is still open. *RON*]

By Graham Readfearn, DeSmog Blog, 28 April 2015

More than 10,000 people from 150 countries have signed up for a free online university course that aims to explain the science of climate science denial and give the public the best tools to fight misinformation.

The course, from the University of Queensland in Australia, has recruited some of the world’s leading climate scientists, along with psychologists, science historians and even world famous natural history presenter Sir David Attenborough, who all gave interviews for Denial101x. Course instructors include scientists and contributors to the Skeptical Science website.

John Cook, course developer, instructor and Climate Communication Fellow at the university’s Global Change Institute, told DeSmogBlog the seven-week course would explain everything from the fundamentals of climate change science, to the techniques used by climate sci…

GDP figures: a blow for Osborne's growth and austerity mantra

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[Austerity ≠ economic growth. Austerity = unemployment & poverty. See also Top economist attacks Tory austerity – and Labour's limp response. *RON*]

Phillip Inman, The Guardian, 29 April 2015

What a gift to Labour. With just a few days to go before the general election, official figures have shown that Britain’s growth rate halved in the first three months of the year. And without the huge boost from lower oil prices to consumer spending and the transport sector, the economy could be heading back into recession.

Such is the lopsided, unequal character of Britain’s recovery that the Office for National Statistics put the spotlight on the hotel, restaurant and distribution sectors as among the fastest growing. A 1.2% increase in the last quarter compares with a 2.2% collapse across the entire construction industry and a meagre 0.1% increase in manufacturing since January.

U.S. worried about Canada’s ability to respond to oil spills, records reveal

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["...if the U.S. Coast Guard ranked an eight or nine out of 10 worldwide, then Canada’s Coast Guard would rank a one or two.... B.C. lacks authority over marine waters, and their federal regime is probably a couple of decades behind the system currently in place in Washington State.… When it is spilled, we are concerned that dilbit oil may be considerably more toxic and damaging, and far more difficult to clean up, than conventional crude from Alaska." *RON*]

Stanley Tromp, Special to The Globe and Mail, 28 April 2015
Newly released U.S. documents show American authorities are nervously eyeing Canadian proposals to triple the number of oil tanker voyages through the shared waters off B.C.’s coast, saying among themselves that Canadian standards to clean up a major spill are decades behind those of the U.S. and leave states vulnerable to environmental damage and costs.
After the MV Marathassa spilled sticky, toxic bunker fuel into Vancouv…

Spain's recovery - Not doing the job

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[Unemployment and underemployment tick up as workers sink into poverty. The effects of austerity continue to be felt in Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece. "Spaniards have a long tradition of keeping up appearances, and many of Elsa's neighbours are too ashamed to admit to their growing poverty. 'That's why you don't see it on the streets,' she says." *RON*]
The Economist, 24 April 2015

“THEY are good figures, we should celebrate,” said Mariano Rajoy, Spain’s prime minister, after data released on April 23rd showed the country’s recovering economy had created close to half a million jobs over the past year. Many Spaniards were feeling less than festive. Since the euro crisis hit in 2010, Spain’s astronomical unemployment rates have vied with Greece's for first place in Europe; they have fallen from a high of 27% in 2013, but slowly. Indeed, the unemployment rate increased slightly in the first quarter, to 23.8%. A…

Auditor General: Billions in tax breaks given without proper oversight

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[Time and again, Harper simply takes action based on ideology and the likelihood of political gains, ignoring any attempt to hold him accountable for results. No democratic government should be given this much rope to run with. *RON*]
 Jason Fekete, Ottawa Citizen, 28 April 2015

Finance Canada is failing to properly manage billions of dollars in tax credits it offers to Canadians and, in many cases, does not know if they are relevant, effective or achieving the government’s goals, says the federal auditor general.

The Finance Department also does not provide adequate information to parliamentarians on the tens of billions of dollars in so-called tax-based expenditures, Auditor General Michael Ferguson says in a stinging report released Tuesday.

Among his criticisms – which, coincidentally, come at the height of the tax season and just a week after a federal budget touting tax relief – is the government’s failure to include the projected future co…