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Showing posts from January 28, 2016

Chairman of Uber Military: Tech companies should cooperate with intelligence agencies on encrypted data

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[I cannot believe there is such a thing as Uber Military to begin with. This is what happens when you hire the former head of the CIA, kids. *RON*]

By Paul Carr, Pando, 27 January 2016
Robert Gates is best known as the former Secretary of Defense and head of the CIA.

More recently, though, he has been enjoying a second career inside the tech industry, joining Uber as the Chairman of their not-at-all-sinister sounding “Uber Military” program.

It was an interesting move — a former political heavyweight joining a tech company. But, as Sarah writes on Pando today, not an unprecedented one.

Still, if Gates’ comments at a recent Politico event are any indication, he still has some way to go before he has fully embraced Uber’s — uh — values.

Is Bank of America on Life Support?

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["This is not because of any changes with respect to the company's business strategy. It's because no changes have been made." *RON*]
By Roger ArnoldReal Money, 26 January 2016

If the current economic trajectory for global recession holds, and I think it will, one of the victims is going to be Bank of America (BAC). And it probably won't survive.

This is not because of any changes with respect to the company's business strategy. It's because no changes have been made.

Since the Lehman-era crisis, Bank of America has been dealing with legacy issues, buying loan business by offering much lower interest rates to institutional borrowers on commercial and industrial (C&I) loans than the other money centers, and reducing costs by firing people.

That's not a business strategy, though. That's just hunkering down and trying to outwait the economy and business environment with the expectation of "this too will p…

Paul Allen megayacht destroyed most of Caribbean coral reef, officials say

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[Guillotine watch. Paul Allen was a co-founder of Microsoft. MV Tatoosh, Paul Allen’s 303-foot yacht, has destroyed about 80 percent of a protected coral reef — 14,000 square feet — in the Cayman Islands, according to officials there. *RON*]

By Matt Bonesteel, Washington Post / Seattle Times, 27 January 2016
One of Paul Allen’s big yachts has destroyed a high percentage of a protected coral reef in the Caribbean, according to officials in the Cayman Islands.

Yacht & Boating World reported that the Caymans’ Department of Environment has accused Allen, the Microsoft co-founder and owner of the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trail Blazers, of having caused serious damage to the protected coral reef in the West Bay replenishing zone.

After an inspection by local divers to assess the damage, officials have found that Allen’s 303-foot yacht MV Tatoosh wrecked a high percentage of the coral, which is essential for marine life.

The World’s Favorite New Tax Haven Is the United States

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[Moving money out of the usual offshore secrecy havens and into the U.S. is a brisk new business. "How ironic—no, how perverse—that the USA, which has been so sanctimonious in its condemnation of Swiss banks, has become the banking secrecy jurisdiction du jour." *RON*]

Jesse Drucker, Bloomberg Businessweek, 26 January 2016

Last September, at a law firm overlooking San Francisco Bay, Andrew Penney, a managing director at Rothschild & Co., gave a talk on how the world’s wealthy elite can avoid paying taxes.

His message was clear: You can help your clients move their fortunes to the United States, free of taxes and hidden from their governments.

Some are calling it the new Switzerland.

Office of Financial Research Warns of Corporate Debt Defaults, Particularly Related to Energy Loans, as Stability Risk

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[A lot of investment counselors, now that their customers are complaining nervously about stocks, are being told, "That's okay, I've moved you heavily into bonds." This is especially nerve-wracking for the retired elderly, who don't necessarily have the time needed to buy low and sell high. See also: The $29 Trillion Corporate Debt Hangover That Could Spark a Recession. *RON*]
By Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism, 28 January 2016

We’ve warned for some time that the debt loads on fracking companies were substantial, and had accounted for a high percentage of new lending in the US over the last five years. We also warned that the fall in energy prices, which was widely ballyhooed as a boon for the economy, would not only hit energy companies, but would have knock-on effects by lower revenues and employment in oil/shale boom towns, employment cuts at oilfield service providers, and a downturn in real estate prices in affected commu…

Fiscal Cost of Refugees in Europe

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[Data from Sweden shows that, even with generous support for refugees, the costs are not high. "If these figures are scaled up to 2015, current redistribution to refugees (excluding 2015 arrivals) is estimated to be 1.35% of GDP." *RON*]
by Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism, 28 January 2016

Yves here. We featured an earlier post which pointed out that the results of modeling the cost/benefits of allowing migration depend, not surprisingly, on the assumptions made. This study is useful in that it is empirical, using Swedish data, when Sweden has good information and also generous social support programs. This analysis concludes the “costs” are low, based on the conventional view that deficits must be financed. One could just as well argue that managing immigration well gives political cover for deficit spending that is useful in a world with underemployment and a deflationary undertow.

By Joakim Ruist, Research Fellow, University of Gothenburg.…

Clay Used By B.C. First Nations Is Killing 'Untreatable' Bacteria: UBC Research

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[Bacteria that are "essentially untreatable with antibiotics... were successfully killed with the Kisameet clay in recent lab tests." *RON*]
By Rhianna Schmunk, Huffington Post, 27 January 2016
Clay that's long been used by B.C. First Nations for healing purposes is killing bacteria that other drugs can't beat, according to researchers from the University of British Columbia.

The mud, found in Kisameet Bay about 400 kilometres north of Vancouver, has been used by the Heiltsuk First Nation to treat conditions including arthritis, colitis, skin irritations and burns for centuries.
UBC researchers Julian Davies and Shekooh Behroozian teamed up to test the clay against strains of ESKAPE bacteria — potentially deadly pathogens that are responsible for the majority of hospital infections in the U.S.

The bacteria are also "essentially untreatable" with antibiotics, said Davies in a media release. But 16 strains from Vancouver ho…

Canada's Federal Deficit To Total $50 Billion In Next Two Years, And That Might Be Good News

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[Canada’s debt-to-GDP ratio is 31 per cent, compared to 70 per cent among OECD countries, on average: "If the government wasn't spending years strengthening our nation's balance sheet to use it as a weapon against downside economic risks as is the case today, then what was the point of it all?" *RON*]
By Daniel Tencer, Huffington Post, 27 January 2016
$25 billion in deficits forecast for each of next two yearsImpact of oil crash on government finances ‘could prove long lasting’Larger deficit would be welcomed by some economists The federal government’s forecasts for economic growth are far too optimistic, and Ottawa faces $50 billion in deficits over the next two years, says a report from National Bank Financial.

The government’s 2016 forecast for nominal GDP -- which largely determines how much tax revenue it will take in -- is more than double what the country is likely to see, economists Krishen Rangasamy and Warren Lovely wrot…