Showing posts from August 22, 2016

New Book Reveals Trump Is Actually Sleazier and Slimier Than We Ever Thought

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["There is no moral core inside Donald Trump." The press is doing a marvelous job of demonstrating to the US electorate that it has no one worth voting for. For see also: Hillary Clinton’s Ethics Problems Are Worse Than She Understands, and Hillary scrubs sexual assault pledge after allegations against Bill resurface. *RON*]
By Steven RosenfeldAlterNet, 19 August 2016

David Cay Johnston has been one of the nation’s premier investigative reporters for decades, specializing in the ways government works for the wealthy at the expense of everyday Americans. He first met and covered Donald Trump in the 1980s. In his latest book, The Making of Donald Trump, he profiles the many ways the Republican presidential nominee has gotten wealthy by bilking others, colluding with criminals, evading prosecution, and romancing the press. I spoke with Johnston recently about his new book.

Steven Rosenfeld: What are you trying to show readers about Don…

A top Wall Street strategist explains why everything about markets seems broken right now

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[An intriguingly wrong-headed piece. I agree that relying exclusively on the rather small bag of tools that central banks possess was an approach that was ultimately doomed to failure. But what puzzles me is Udland characterizing the central banks as "bull-headed," as if the neoliberal monetarist approach wasn't what Wall Street demanded of government. The need for government stimulus is still anathema to his ilk and it would never enter their minds for an instant. Instead, they are merely puzzled and depressed. An excellent illustration from elsewhere today: HSBC: The government is about to spend big — but it could lead to an 'unsustainable debt spiral'. I.e., what we're doing doesn't work but proposing anything else would be tragic. *RON*]

Myles Udland, Business Insider, 21 August 2016

"The market is broken."

This sentiment has become more or less the received wisdom in the investing world over the last s…

Fifteen Fatal Fallacies of Financial Fundamentalism: A Disquisition on Demand Side Economics

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[A 20 year old piece that does a beautiful job of demonstrating that neoliberalism rests upon "incomplete analysis, contrafactual assumptions, and false analogy." This one is a keeper, to be flourished forth whenever your right-wing acquaintances trot out these economic chestnuts. Nota bene that in 1996 Vickrey said, "should the implied policies be fully carried out in terms of a 'balanced budget,' we could well be in for a serious depression." *RON*]

William Vickrey, Columbia University, 5 October 1996

Much of the conventional economic wisdom prevailing in financial circles, largely subscribed to as a basis for governmental policy, and widely accepted by the media and the public, is based on incomplete analysis, contrafactual assumptions, and false analogy. For instance, encouragement to saving is advocated without attention to the fact that for most people encouraging saving is equivalent to discouraging consumption a…

The wealthy have nearly healed from recession. The poor haven’t even started.

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[As a result of the recession the poor sank 13 times farther into debt, and the middle class lost 40% of its wealth, while the wealthiest recovered nearly all their losses. *RON*]

By Jim Tankersley, Washington Post, 18 August 2016

The Great Recession and the subsequent recovery from it have deepened the wedge between the very wealthy and everyone else in America, plunging the poor deeper into debt and wiping out two-fifths of the wealth held by families in the heart of the middle class. The wealthiest Americans, meanwhile, appear close to regaining all their losses over the same period, according to a new analysis released Thursday by the Congressional Budget Office.

The analysis shows the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans now hold three-quarters of the nation's wealth, up from two-thirds in 1989, and a three percentage-point increase from the start of the recession. Most Americans found themselves with less wealth in 2013 than Americans of…

The Path of the Sociopath

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[Another attempt to get themselves even filthier richer while the world goes to hell in a handbasket they did their very best to weave.
By D.R. Tucker, Washington Monthly, 20 August 2016

They did it while Louisiana drowned.

U.S. Army fudged its accounts by trillions of dollars, auditor finds

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["...the Army made $2.8 trillion in wrongful adjustments to accounting entries in one quarter alone in 2015" Let's hear that story about the need for austerity again? How we can't afford social services? *RON*]
By Scot J. Paltrow, Reuters, 19 August 2016
The United States Army’s finances are so jumbled it had to make trillions of dollars of improper accounting adjustments to create an illusion that its books are balanced.

The Defense Department’s Inspector General, in a June report, said the Army made $2.8 trillion in wrongful adjustments to accounting entries in one quarter alone in 2015, and $6.5 trillion for the year. Yet the Army lacked receipts and invoices to support those numbers or simply made them up.

As a result, the Army’s financial statements for 2015 were “materially misstated,” the report concluded. The “forced” adjustments rendered the statements useless because “DoD and Army managers could not rely on the data in t…

A clubby oligopoly that is overdue for reform

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[The corporatocracy at work. "Right now, the Big Four firms audit 98 per cent of FTSE 350 companies and 95 per cent of the Fortune 500." Florida court case illustrates industry practices. "Part of the problem stems from auditors getting too close to their customers. There are also financial pressures to make nice. In some cases, audit clients are also big purchasers of more lucrative services, such as consulting... Critics say that the real problem is that the Big Four have grown fat and unaccountable." *RON*]

Brooke Masters, Financial Times, 19 August 2016

Fifteen years after the collapse of Enron, the big names in the corporate auditing sector are once again under the microscope. This week, a Florida jury has been hearing testimony in a $5.5bn lawsuit against PwC, the largest civil claim against a Big Four accounting firm to reach trial.
At issue is whether PwC should have to compensate Taylor, Bean & Whitaker, a failed…