Showing posts from November 1, 2015

Inside the Secretive Circle That Rules a $14 Trillion Market

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[So-called 'free' markets always have structures, processes, rules and regulations. The important thing is who gets to decide what these are. The verdicts of these credit insurance referees affect retirees with investments in bond mutual funds. In the case of the 15-member ISDA committee trading Credit Default Swaps, the foxes are plainly in charge of the chicken coop, and they intend to keep it that way. *RON*]

Nabila Ahmed, Bloomberg, 27 October 2015

Fifteen of the biggest players in the $14 trillion market for credit insurance are also the referees.

Firms such as JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. wrote the rules, are the dominant buyers and sellers and, ultimately, help decide winners and losers.

Has a country such as Argentina paid what it owes? Has a company like Caesars Entertainment Corp. kept up with its bills? When the question comes up, the 15 firms meet on a conference call to decide whether a default has trigg…

How Muni Bonds ‘Yield’ 4% in a 2% World

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[If you see fat 4% “yields” for the municipal bonds in your brokerage-account statement, don’t believe them. We wouldn't want to interfere with a 'free' market, now would we? “I don’t think [such disclosure] is misleading,” says John Bagley,head of market structure at the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board. “But could it be confusing to some investors? Yes, I think that’s possible.” *RON*]

By Jason Zweig, Wall Street Journal, 30 October 2015

If you see fat 4% “yields” for the municipal bonds in your brokerage-account statement, don’t believe them.

Overstating the expected income on municipal bonds in brokerage or advisory accounts is one of the most pervasive and persistent ways the financial industry fools the investing public. It was going on when I was a cub bond-market reporter in 1988, and it still is going strong. It is high time investors fought back.

The Barclays Municipal Bond Index, a measure of the market for these tax-free…

Study on online charter schools: ‘It is literally as if the kid did not go to school for an entire year’

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[Education and the corporatocracy. Or, privatization sucks. See also: High-Profile New York Charter School Kept List of Kids It Wanted to Force Into Quitting (i.e., good stats are easy when you cherry-pick your student population). *RON*]
By Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, 31 October 2015
A new study on the effectiveness of online charter schools is nothing short of damning — even though it was at least partly funded by a private pro-charter foundation. It effectively says that the average student who attends might as well not enroll.

The study was done by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes, known as CREDO, and located at Stanford University, in collaboration with the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington and Mathematica Policy Research. CREDO’s founding director, Margaret Raymond, served as project director. CREDO receives funding from the pro-charter Walton Family Foundation, which provided support…

Limbo in Lisbon

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[The pendulum between the left and right is currently stuck in the middle. Portugal’s new government looks doomed to be the shortest ever. *RON*]
By Paul Ames, Politico, 30 October 2015
LISBON — Portugal swore in a center-right government Friday but the new administration headed by Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho looks doomed to go down as the shortest-lived in the country’s democratic history.

The left-wing majority in parliament is vowing to vote down the government in early November, prolonging the political limbo in which Lisbon has languished since inconclusive elections on October 4.

Voters made Passos Coelho’s right-of-center coalition the biggest faction in parliament but left it eight seats short of an overall majority.

The second-placed Socialists are teaming up with the Communist Party and the radical Left Bloc to form an unprecedented anti-austerity alliance that commands a majority in the Assembleia da República. They can bring down…

Justin Trudeau, Benjamin Netanyahu Hold 'Very Warm' Phone Call

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[Oh-oh. "Mr. Trudeau has been very consistent from the very beginning of his campaign, in expressing his support for Israel," said [Rafael] Barak [Israel's ambassador to Canada]. "I'm sure maybe the style will change," the envoy added. "But I don't feel there will be a change on the substance. I'm really reassured." *RON*]
By Mike Blanchfield, Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 30 October 2015

OTTAWA — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has offered his congratulations to prime minister designate Justin Trudeau in a telephone call affirming the friendship of the two countries — even if it won't always be shouted from Canada's rooftops.

Rafael Barak, Israel's ambassador to Canada, said the call from Netanyahu took place last Friday, and left his country assured that relations between Canada and the Jewish state will remain strong after the defeat of the Harper Conservatives on Oct. 19.


'More than 70 children dead' since Alan Kurdi

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[Charity warns of winter crisis after dozens of refugee children die trying to cross the Aegean Sea to Greece. See also Healthcare workers around Australia protest against 'child abuse' of detention. *RON*]

Source: Al Jazeera And Agencies, 30 Oct 2015

More than 70 child have died attempting the same crossing between Turkey and Greece as three-year-old Syrian boy Alan Kurdi, whose body was found face down on a Turkish beach last month - prompting worldwide outrage about the plight of refugees travelling to Europe.

In a statement issued on Thursday night, Save the Children said the short Aegean Sea crossing was becoming more deadly as winter weather set in.

The statement was issued as an extensive search continues off a Greek island for at least 34 people missing after their boat sank in one of the largest maritime disasters since a massive refugee influx began earlier this year.