Posts tagged banks

Eric Holder Gives Pass to Banking Criminals at Credit Suisse

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Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

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Eric Holder Gives Pass to Banking Criminals at Credit Suisse

 

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He gave a huge one to HSBC which laundered hundreds of millions of dollars for Mexican drug cartels because if he prosecuted he said it could destabilize the financial system. To big to jail.

Now another one. Holder is retiring soon to defend banks in court (like he did before) so we shouldn’t be surprised. Credit Suisse may very well become a future client. (After a cooling off period of course, to keep things kosher.)

 

I have to say that at this late hour I am taken by how many people still think Obama’s a good guy.

(From PJMedia.com)
 
Swiss bank Credit Suisse has perpetrated a criminal enterprise on American soil by intentionally fleecing the federal government of billions of dollars in taxes, yet top political leaders at the U.S. Department of Justice refuse to pursue criminal charges against all of the bank officials engaged in the scheme.

Click here for the article.

Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org


Nick Sorrentino
About Nick Sorrentino

Nick Sorrentino is the co-founder and editor of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. A political and communications consultant with clients across the political spectrum, he lives just outside of Washington DC where he can keep an eye on Leviathan.

 

The Crisis is Not Over! A Conversation with Legendary Investor Jim Rogers

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The Crisis is Not Over! A Conversation with Legendary Investor Jim Rogers

 

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Published by Stefan Molyneux

Stefan Molyneux speaks with legendary investor Jim Rogers about the future of the world economy, the coming economic shift and how to prepare for the future.

Jim Rogers is an American businessman, investor and author. He is currently based in Singapore. Rogers is the Chairman of Rogers Holdings and Beeland Interests, Inc.

You can get “Street Smarts: Adventures on the Road and in the Markets” and other books by Jim Rogers at http://www.fdrurl.com/jimrogers

Get more from Stefan Molyneux and Freedomain Radio including books, podcasts and other info at: http://www.freedomainradio.com

 

More High Stakes Appointments to the Federal Reserve

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Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

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More High Stakes Appointments to the Federal Reserve

 

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It will still be the Obama Fed long after this president has gone.

 

The Obama administration has repeatedly complained about Republican blocking tactics in the Senate. In this context, it is worth remembering that the Democrats blocked President’s Bush’s last three nominees to the Federal Reserve Board. The Democrats calculated that a member of their party might win the White House in 2008 and why not wait in the hopes that a Democrat could shape the Federal Reserve for a generation to come.

This bet paid off, in that the seven member board is now comprised entirely of Obama appointees. Moreover Fed member terms are for 14 years, so a president’s choices may influence monetary policy long after he has left office.

Does any of this matter? Yes, the Federal Reserve has more power over the economy than the president himself. But isn’t monetary policy a non-partisan affair? Surely Fed members don’t operate with R’s or D’s on their backs.

Actually the idea of appointing non-partisan Fed members is even more of a fairy tale than the similar idea of appointing non-partisan judges. No one doubts anymore that the appointment of a Supreme Court Justice is about politics. The illusion has persisted a little longer that we just need “good people” at the Fed, regardless of political and economic orientation, but illusion it is. As in the rest of politics, the Fed represents a battle between ideas and special interests.

The pretense of non-partisanship lasted longer at the Fed because until recently both Republicans and Democrats largely agreed about what they wanted from it. With the exception of Ronald Reagan, they were Keynesians who wanted more dollars printed and lower interest rates, because that was seen as the route to getting elected or re-elected, and why worry about the long run consequences, since as Keynes pointed out “in the long run we are all dead.”

This is now changing. Republicans succeeded in blocking Obama’s nomination of radical economist Peter Diamond to the Fed in 2011. After Democrats invoked the “nuclear option” of restricting the filibuster, Republicans could no longer repeat this performance. But 28 of them voted against Obama’s nomination of Janet Yellen to be the new Fed chairman. Only 11 of them voted to confirm: Flake (Ariz.); Kirk (Ill.); Corker (Tenn.); Coburn (Okla.); Collins (Maine); Coats (In.); Chambliss (Ga.); Burr (N.C.); Alexander (Tenn.); Ayotte (N.H.); and Murkowski (Alaska).

Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) exemplifies the confused Republican of today. He grasps that current monetary policy favors endless expansion of government control over the economy, with huge pay-offs to Wall Street and other special interests along the way, but falls for the circular argument that Fed members are “well qualified” precisely because they come from Keynesian university economics departments, government, or Wall Street.

In retrospect, there was something notable about George W. Bush’s last three appointees to the Fed board—the ones that were blocked by the Democrats. None of them had advanced degrees in economics. This was a throw-back to the old days when Fed appointees were rarely academic economists, but a sharp departure from current practice, when most are.

Respected financial writer Jim Grant jokes that today’s Fed has replaced the gold standard with the “Phd standard.” The problem, of course, is not Phds, but the economics departments they are coming from, and the lack of common sense in those departments. The Phd standard has given us the likes of the last Fed chairman, Ben Bernanke, who bet the future of the US and indeed the world on a completely unproven and untested economic theory while literally smirking at those few unintimidated souls who, like Congressman Ron Paul, dared question him.

President Obama has now given us three more nominees to the Fed and the Senate has had a chance to interview them. The first and most important is Stanley Fischer, aged 70, nominee for vice chairman as well as a regular member.

The most curious thing about Fischer’s resume is that, having been born in Zambia, and naturalized as an American in 1976, he accepted Israeli citizenship in 2005 in order to become head of Israel’s central bank. Today he holds dual citizenship. Prior to living in Israel, he worked as a vice chairman of Citigroup from 2002-5, the years leading to the bank’s bail-out, and prior to that was deputy director of the International Monetary Fund, chief economist of the World Bank, and professor at MIT, where he taught Ben Bernanke among others. Somewhere along the way, he acquired a personal fortune of between $14 and $56mm.

We are thus to understand that President Obama, having searched the entire length and breadth of our land, could find nobody better than a 70 year old with Wall St. and International Monetary Fund baggage who had most recently worked for a foreign government.

The second nominee after Fischer is Lael Brainard, who has recently worked at the Treasury as an undersecretary. Ms. Brainard told senators that the Fed should protect “the savings of retirees.” She did not bother to explain how refusing to allow interest to be paid on savings, or seeking to foster inflation higher than interest would do so.

The final nominee, Jerome Powell, would be a reappointment. Although not a Phd economist and nominally a Republican from the George H. W. Bush administration, he fits the Obama mold in other ways, notably by being from Wall Street, and by being willing to keep quiet and go along. His most daring moment came when he called the Fed’s money creation machine under Bernanke and now under Janet Yellen “innovative and unconventional” and added that “likely benefits may be accompanied by costs and risks.” He has been a reliable vote for Bernanke and likely will be for the Yellen/Fischer regime as well.

Senator Corker waxed enthusiastic about this group of three, saying “I’m impressed,” and leading bond manager Mohamed El-Erian describes them as a “dream team” together with Yellen.

This does indeed seem to be a “dream team” for Wall Street, for corporations boosting profits to record levels with the help of government deficits, for other special interests feeding off the stimulus trough, and for government employees. For everyone else, it just promises more and eventually even worse economic misery.

 

Most recent book by Hunter Lewis:

Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

 


Hunter Lewis
About Hunter Lewis

Hunter Lewis is co-founder of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. He is co-founder and former CEO of global investment firm Cambridge Associates, LLC and author of 8 books on moral philosophy, psychology, and economics, including the widely acclaimed Are the Rich Necessary? (“Highly provocative and highly pleasurable.”—New York Times) He has contributed to the New York Times, the Times of London, the Washing­ton Post, and the Atlantic Monthly, as well as numerous websites such as Breitbart.com, Forbes.com, Fox.com, and RealClearMarkets.com. His most recent books are Crony Capitalism in America: 2008–2012, Free Prices Now! Fixing the Economy by Abolishing the Fed, and Where Keynes Went Wrong: And Why Governments Keep Creating Inflation, Bubbles, and Busts. He has served on boards and committees of fifteen leading not-for-profit organizations, including environmental, teaching, research, and cultural and global development organizations, as well as the World Bank.

 

Bank of England Drops a Bombshell on Parliament: It Shredded Its Crisis Era Records

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Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

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Bank of England Drops a Bombshell on Parliament: It Shredded Its Crisis Era Records

 

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No reason to keep records of what happened at one of the world’s most powerful central banks during the height of the 2008 Crash. Nothing important to know there. No reason to look back and remember what worked and what didn’t. No reason to keep the evidence.

 

Oh I’m sorry. Did I say evidence?

(From Wall Street on Parade)
 
The bombshell came in the following exchange between the Chair of the Treasury Select Committee, Andrew Tyrie, and a very frightened appearing Paul Fisher, the Executive Director of Markets at the BOE, who has served in that position since 2009. Apparently neither Parliament nor the public knew prior to this exchange that the records of the pre-crisis year of 2007, the financial collapse in 2008, and the monetary policy maneuvers in subsequent years to prevent another Great Depression had been destroyed in one of the world’s most important financial centers; not to mention the fact that critical recordings potentially relevant to the Foreign Exchange probe are also gone.

Click here for the article.

Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org
 

We Are In FAR Worse Shape Than We Were Just Prior To The Last Great Financial Crisis

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Source: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com

By Michael Snyder

We Are In FAR Worse Shape Than We Were Just Prior To The Last Great Financial Crisis

 

Crushed-Car-By-UCFFool-300x300None of the problems that caused the last financial crisis have been fixed.  In fact, they have all gotten worse.  The total amount of debt in the world has grown by more than 40 percent since 2007, the too big to fail banks have gotten 37 percent larger, and the colossal derivatives bubble has spiraled so far out of control that the only thing left to do is to watch the spectacular crash landing that is inevitably coming.  Unfortunately, most people do not know the information that I am about to share with you in this article.  Most people just assume that the politicians and the central banks have fixed the issues that caused the last great financial crisis.  But the truth is that we are in far worse shape than we were back then.  When this financial bubble finally bursts, the devastation that we will witness is likely to be absolutely catastrophic.

 

Too Much Debt

One of the biggest financial problems that the world is facing is that there is simply way too much debt.  Never before in world history has there ever been a debt binge anything like this.

You would have thought that we would have learned our lesson from 2008 and would have started to reduce debt levels.

Instead, we pushed the accelerator to the floor.

It is hard to believe that this could possibly be true, but according to the Bank for International Settlements the total amount of debt in the world has increased by more than 40 percent since 2007…

The amount of debt globally has soared more than 40 percent to $100 trillion since the first signs of the financial crisis as governments borrowed to pull their economies out of recession and companies took advantage of record low interest rates, according to the Bank for International Settlements.
 
The $30 trillion increase from $70 trillion between mid-2007 and mid-2013 compares with a $3.86 trillion decline in the value of equities to $53.8 trillion in the same period, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The jump in debt as measured by the Basel, Switzerland-based BIS in its quarterly review is almost twice the U.S.’s gross domestic product.

That is a recipe for utter disaster, and yet we can’t seem to help ourselves.

And of course the U.S. government is the largest offender.

Back in September 2008, the U.S. national debt was sitting at a total of 10.02 trillion dollars.

As I write this, it is now sitting at a total of 17.49 trillion dollars.

Is there anyone out there that can possibly conceive of a way that this ends other than badly?

Too Big To Fail Is Now Bigger Than Ever

During the last great financial crisis we were also told that one of our biggest problems was the fact that we had banks that were “too big to fail”.

Well, guess what?

Those banks are now much larger than they were back then.  In fact, the six largest banks in the United States (JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley) have collectively gotten 37 percent larger since the last financial crisis.

Meanwhile, 1,400 smaller banks have gone out of business during that time frame, and only one new bank has been started in the United States in the last three years.

So the problem of “too big to fail” is now much worse than it was back in 2008.

The following are some more statistics about our “too big to fail” problem that come from a previous article

-The U.S. banking system has 14.4 trillion dollars in total assets.  The six largest banks now account for 67 percent of those assets and all of the other banks account for only 33 percent of those assets.

-Approximately 1,400 smaller banks have disappeared over the past five years.

-JPMorgan Chase is roughly the size of the entire British economy.

-The four largest banks have more than a million employees combined.

-The five largest banks account for 42 percent of all loans in the United States.

-Bank of America accounts for about a third of all business loans all by itself.

-Wells Fargo accounts for about one quarter of all mortgage loans all by itself.

-About 12 percent of all cash in the United States is held in the vaults of JPMorgan Chase.

The Derivatives Bubble

Most people simply do not understand that over the past couple of decades Wall Street has been transformed into the largest and wildest casino on the entire planet.

Nobody knows for sure how large the global derivatives bubble is at this point, because derivatives trading is lightly regulated compared to other types of trading.  But everyone agrees that it is absolutely massive.  Estimates range from $600 trillion to $1.5 quadrillion.

And what we do know is that four of the too big to fail banks each have total exposure to derivatives that is in excess of $40 trillion.

The numbers posted below may look similar to numbers that I have included in articles in the past, but for this article I have updated them with the very latest numbers from the U.S. government.  Since the last time that I wrote about this, these numbers have gotten even worse…

JPMorgan Chase

Total Assets: $1,989,875,000,000 (nearly 2 trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $71,810,058,000,000 (more than 71 trillion dollars)

Citibank

Total Assets: $1,344,751,000,000 (a bit more than 1.3 trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $62,963,116,000,000 (more than 62 trillion dollars)

Bank Of America

Total Assets: $1,438,859,000,000 (a bit more than 1.4 trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $41,386,713,000,000 (more than 41 trillion dollars)

Goldman Sachs

Total Assets: $111,117,000,000 (just a shade over 111 billion dollars – yes, you read that correctly)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $47,467,154,000,000 (more than 47 trillion dollars)

During the coming derivatives crisis, several of those banks could fail simultaneously.

If that happened, it would be an understatement to say that we would be facing an “economic collapse”.

Credit would totally freeze up, nobody would be able to get loans, and economic activity would grind to a standstill.

It is absolutely inexcusable how reckless these big banks have been.

Just look at those numbers for Goldman Sachs again.

Goldman Sachs has total assets worth approximately 111 billion dollars (billion with a little “b”), but they have more than 47 trillion dollars of total exposure to derivatives.

That means that the total exposure that Goldman Sachs has to derivatives contracts is more than 427 times greater than their total assets.

I don’t know why more people aren’t writing about this.

This is utter insanity.

During the next great financial crisis, it is very likely that the rest of the planet is going to lose faith in the current global financial system that is based on the U.S. dollar and on U.S. debt.

When that day arrives, and the U.S. dollar loses reserve currency status, the shift in our standard of living is going to be dramatic.  Just consider what Marin Katusa of Casey Research had to say the other day

It will be shocking for the average American… if the petro dollar dies and the U.S. loses its reserve currency status in the world there will be no middle class.
 
The middle class and the low class… wow… what a game changer. Your cost of living will quadruple.

The debt-fueled prosperity that we are enjoying now will not last forever.  A day of reckoning is fast approaching, and most Americans will not be able to handle the very difficult adjustments that they will be forced to make.  Here is some more from Marin Katusa…

Imagine this… take a country like Croatia… the average worker with a university degree makes about 1200 Euros a month. He spends a third of that, after tax, on keeping his house warm and filling up his gas tank to get to work and get back from work.
 
In North America, we don’t make $1200 a month, and we don’t spend a third of our paycheck on keeping our house warm and driving to work… so, the cost of living… food will triple… heat, electricity, everything subsidized by the government will triple overnight… and it will only get worse even if you can get the services.

All of this could have been prevented if we had done things the right way.

Unfortunately, we didn’t learn any of the lessons that we should have learned from the last financial crisis, and our politicians and the central banks have just continued to do the same things that they have always done.

So now we all get to pay the price.

This article first appeared here at the Economic Collapse Blog.  Michael Snyder is a writer, speaker and activist who writes and edits his own blogs The American Dream and Economic Collapse Blog. Follow him on Twitter here.

 

 

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Image credit: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com

 

Your new landlord lives on Wall Street

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Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

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Your new landlord lives on Wall Street

 

Probably not Wall Street renting this one.

Probably not Wall Street renting this one.

 

In the wake of the housing crash, wide swathes of the desert Southwest, Florida, Atlanta, parts of California, and other places were littered with relatively new homes which were empty. The pre-seeded lawn turf often hadn’t even taken root before the foreclosures began.

Each vacant home represented a personal economic disaster for someone. Families moved in with grandparents. Pets were left in shelters which were filled far beyond capacity. It was only a couple of years ago. For many the memory is still very fresh.

But at about the same time parts of Tuscon started to be reclaimed by tumbleweeds a few hedge funds (and banks) figured that there was yield to be made from renting the homes which were now unused back to the people who could no longer afford to own them. If the homes could be pooled along with the rents, perhaps the investments could even be sold as derivatives.

Market solution right?

Wrong.

Why did the Crash of 2008 happen?

The version we hear now is that Wall Street created all these bizarre instruments for investing, got greedy, and then it all toppled on itself. That’s the version one will hear from outlets like The Washington Post or Time.

Then there’s another version which is liked by the more conservative folks which holds that the Community Reinvestment Act  signed by Clinton encouraged home ownership in places where people really had no business taking on a mortgage. Then the poor risks imploded the market.

Both narratives have a lot of truth to them. Yes Wall Street got greedy. Yes it did create overly complex instruments which went haywire. And yes the Community Reinvestment Act, an insane act of social engineering if there ever was one helped to collapse the market.

But these things are only a part, and not the main part of the story.

The Crash of 2008 occurred because Allan Greenspan panicked in the wake of the 2000 recession and the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. He cut interest rates to low and kept them there for too long.

After folks had gotten hammered in the tech bubble collapse of the late 1990s they looked around for a new way to grow money. Baby boomers were staring right at retirement. Suddenly they discovered residential property which could be financed at next to nothing thanks to the Fed keeping rates lower than they should have. Plus many people rationalized, real estate was tangible, unlike tech stocks. Baby boomers, and then their children, piled in because of all the cheap money from the Fed. Before Greenspan knew it he had ignighted a worldwide fire fueled by easy money. The crash was only a matter of time.

But when the carnage came most of the banks (especially the megabanks) emerged. Some, like Goldman Sachs, stronger than ever.  First they were bailed out by the US taxpayer directly to the tune of probably more than a $trillion (we don’t really know.) Then after the acute phase – you know the time when families across the country were waiting in in humiliation for the banks to kick them out of their homes (remember that?)- the Fed began the quantitative easing infusion of monetary junk into the arm of the financial sector.

With time the banks were recapitalized (even if they were now easy money junkies) and fat bonuses were had by many courtesy of the taxpayer.

The former homeowners were not recapitalized however, and found that they had just rejoined the rental market – if they were lucky enough to have a stream of income. 2010- 2011 were especially hard years for many Americans. They were record years for a few of the megabanks.

Now a few years on the recapitalized banks, the insiders, the friends of the Fed, have picked up the homes which were in distress to rent them back to great unwashed. How nice of them. Especially having been bailed out by the great unwashed.

But that is life in a crony capitalist economy. If one has friends in the government one gets hooked up. If one doesn’t one gets to rent one’s house from a faceless PO Box in downtown Manhattan.

And make sure the rent is on time. You wouldn’t want to have us kick you out of your home again would you?

Click here for the article.

Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org


Nick Sorrentino
About Nick Sorrentino

Nick Sorrentino is the co-founder and editor of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. A political and communications consultant with clients across the political spectrum, he lives just outside of Washington DC where he can keep an eye on Leviathan.

 

“Too Big To Fail” designation of banks makes economic disaster more likely

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Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

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“Too Big To Fail” designation of banks makes economic disaster more likely

 

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The big banks, which in 2008 nearly went belly-up because they were overleveraged and needed a taxpayer funded bailout in order to survive a reversal in the economic tide, are even bigger today. They pose more risk than they did 5 years ago. Because they have been designated as “too big to fail” the megabanks now enjoy an implicit subsidy courtesy of you and me. Their borrowing costs are lower because we backstop them. Because of the backstop and lower costs bankers are incentivized to take on more risk. Sooner or later this will create major instability as the market mechanism has been distorted and will seek to correct for this distortion.

 

(From Bloomberg.com)
 
Do markets still view the nation’s largest banks as too big to fail? Have regulators failed to eradicate the perception that, when the next crisis comes, the government will again come to the rescue?
 
Given that the largest banks are now even bigger than they were before the last financial crisis, it’s a pressing question. Unfortunately, a careful look at the data suggests the answer is less encouraging than many policy makers think.
 
Expectations of government bailouts create dangerous distortions. When, for example, creditors assume they’ll get rescued in an emergency, they don’t demand higher interest rates from banks that take on bigger risks. This lack of market discipline gives bankers a strong incentive — consciously or not — to engage in behavior that makes disasters more likely. Taxpayers effectively end up subsidizing activity that threatens their own well-being.

Click here for the article.

Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org


Nick Sorrentino
About Nick Sorrentino

Nick Sorrentino is the co-founder and editor of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. A political and communications consultant with clients across the political spectrum, he lives just outside of Washington DC where he can keep an eye on Leviathan.

 

Does The Trail Of Dead Bankers Lead Somewhere?

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Source: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com

By Michael Snyder

Does The Trail Of Dead Bankers Lead Somewhere?

 

Trail-Photo-by-Ws47-300x300What are we to make of this sudden rash of banker suicides?  Does this trail of dead bankers lead somewhere?  Or could it be just a coincidence that so many bankers have died in such close proximity?  I will be perfectly honest and admit that I do not know what is going on.  But there are some common themes that seem to link at least some of these deaths together.  First of all, most of these men were in good health and in their prime working years.  Secondly, most of these “suicides” seem to have come out of nowhere and were a total surprise to their families.  Thirdly, three of the dead bankers worked for JP Morgan.  Fourthly, several of these individuals were either involved in foreign exchange trading or the trading of derivatives in some way.  So when “a foreign exchange trader” jumped to his death from the top of JP Morgan’s Hong Kong headquarters this morning, that definitely raised my eyebrows.  These dead bankers are starting to pile up, and something definitely stinks about this whole thing.

What would cause a young man that is making really good money to jump off of a 30 story building?  The following is how the South China Morning Post described the dramatic suicide of 33-year-old Li Jie…

An investment banker at JP Morgan jumped to his death from the roof of the bank’s headquarters in Central yesterday.
 
Witnesses said the man went to the roof of the 30-storey Chater House in the heart of Hong Kong’s central business district and, despite attempts to talk him down, jumped to his death.

If this was just an isolated incident, nobody would really take notice.

But this is now the 7th suspicious banker death that we have witnessed in just the past few weeks

- On January 26, former Deutsche Bank executive Broeksmit was found dead at his South Kensington home after police responded to reports of a man found hanging at a house. According to reports, Broeksmit had “close ties to co-chief executive Anshu Jain.”
 
- Gabriel Magee, a 39-year-old senior manager at JP Morgan’s European headquarters, jumped 500ft from the top of the bank’s headquarters in central London on January 27, landing on an adjacent 9 story roof.
 
- Mike Dueker, the chief economist at Russell Investments, fell down a 50 foot embankment in what police are describing as a suicide. He was reported missing on January 29 by friends, who said he had been “having problems at work.”
 
- Richard Talley, 57, founder of American Title Services in Centennial, Colorado, was also found dead earlier this month after apparently shooting himself with a nail gun.
 
- 37-year-old JP Morgan executive director Ryan Henry Crane died last week.
 
- Tim Dickenson, a U.K.-based communications director at Swiss Re AG, also died last month, although the circumstances surrounding his death are still unknown.

So did all of those men actually kill themselves?

Well, there is reason to believe that at least some of those deaths may not have been suicides after all.

For example, before throwing himself off of JP Morgan’s headquarters in London, Gabriel Magee had actually made plans for later that evening

There was no indication Magee was going to kill himself at all. In fact, Magee’s girlfriend had received an email from him the night before saying he was finishing up work and would be home soon.

And 57-year-old Richard Talley was found “with eight nail gun wounds to his torso and head” in his own garage.

How in the world was he able to accomplish that?

Like I said, something really stinks about all of this.

Meanwhile, things continue to deteriorate financially around the globe.  Just consider some of the things that have happened in the last 48 hours…

-According to the Bangkok Post, people are “stampeding to yank their deposits out of banks” in Thailand right now.

-Venezuela is coming apart at the seams.  Just check out the photos in this article.

-The unemployment rate in South Africa is above 24 percent.

-Ukraine is on the verge of total collapse

Three weeks of uneasy truce between the Ukrainian government and Western-oriented protesters ended Tuesday with an outburst of violence in which at least three people were killed, prompting a warning from authorities of a crackdown to restore order. Protesters outside the Ukrainian parliament hurled broken bricks and Molotov cocktails at police, who responded with stun grenades and rubber bullets.

-This week we learned that the level of bad loans in Spain has risen to a new all-time high of 13.6 percent.

-China is starting to quietly sell off U.S. debt.  Already, Chinese U.S. Treasury holdings are down to their lowest level in almost a year.

-During the 4th quarter of 2013, U.S. consumer debt rose at the fastest pace since 2007.

-U.S. homebuilder confidence just experienced the largest one month decline ever recorded.

-George Soros has doubled his bet that the S&P 500 is going to crash.  His total bet is now up to about $1,300,000,000.

For many more signs of financial trouble all over the planet, please see my previous article entitled “20 Signs That The Global Economic Crisis Is Starting To Catch Fire“.

Could some of these deaths have something to do with this emerging financial crisis?

That is a very good question.

Once again, I will be the first one to admit that I simply do not know why so many bankers are dying.

But one thing is for certain – dead bankers don’t talk.

Everyone knows that there is a massive amount of corruption in our banking system.  If the truth about all of this corruption was to ever actually come out and justice was actually served, we would see a huge wave of very important people go to prison.

In addition, it is an open secret that Wall Street has been transformed into the largest casino in the history of the world over the past several decades.  Our big banks have become more reckless than ever, and trillions of dollars are riding on the decisions that are being made every day.  In such an environment, it is expected that you will be loyal to the firm that you work for and that you will keep your mouth shut about the secrets that you know.

In the final analysis, there is really not that much difference between how mobsters operate and how Wall Street operates.

If you cross the line, you may end up paying a very great price.

This article first appeared here at the Economic Collapse Blog.  Michael Snyder is a writer, speaker and activist who writes and edits his own blogs The American Dream and Economic Collapse Blog. Follow him on Twitter here.

 

 

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Image credit: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com

 

Researchers Find MASK Virus Targeting Governments & Banks

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Source: http://www.occupycorporatism.com

By Susanne Posel
Occupy Corporatism

Researchers Find MASK Virus Targeting Governments & Banks

 

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Kaspersky Lab has discovered a “sophisticated” computer virus called Mask that is purposed with invading the financial systems of governments and banking institutions.

This software appears to have been created by “a nation state” and Kaspersky have monitored its movements since they found it.

Mask has reportedly infected 31 nations and 380 corporations.

The software utilizes techniques that compromise targets by identifying weaknesses in securities and breaking through. This includes steal documents, encryption keys, private network credentials and remote access information.

Mask is able to decipher the operating system of the target; whether it is a laptop, tablet, PC or smartphone.

• Adobe Flash Player
• Windows
• Mozilla/Firefox
• Google Chrome

Targets for Mask include:
• Brazil
• UK
• France
• Spain
• Private equity firms
• Embassies
• Petrol corporations
• Gas companies
• Research laboratories
• Activists

Kaspersky researchers explained that Mask is what hackers refer to as the “main backdoor program” (MBP).

The report reads: “When active in a victim system, The Mask can intercept network traffic, keystrokes, Skype conversations, PGP keys, analyze WiFi traffic, fetch all information from Nokia devices, screen captures and monitor all file operations,” the Kaspersky researchers said in the research paper. “The malware collects a large list of documents from the infected system, including encryption keys, VPN configurations, SSH keys and RDP [remote desktop protocol] files. There are also several extensions being monitored that we have not been able to identify and could be related to custom military/government-level encryption tools.”

Last year, Kaspersky Lab uncovered Operation Red October, (Rocra) a 5 year scheme by the Chinese and Russians to steal diplomatic, industrial and scientific data from Eastern Europe, North America and Asian organizations. Beginning in 2007, intelligence gathering operations were conducted in the form of attacks by cyber criminals toward Western nations. The thought is that this is in retribution on behalf of Iran for the damage caused to their country.

Encrypted files and decryption keys used by the European Union and NATO have been compromised. The countries under attack are:

• The Russian Federation
• Kazakhstan
• Azerbajian
• Belgium
• India
• Afghanistan
• Armenia
• Ukraine
• Turkmenistan

Kaspersky said: “The information we have collected so far does not appear to point toward any specific location; however, two important factors stand out: The exploits appear to have been created by Chinese hackers, (and) the Rocra malware modules have been created by Russian-speaking operatives.”

Rocra appears to have been controlled by 60 command-and-control servers that were held in Germany and Russia. It is suspected that there is another “mother ship” server based in an unknown location.

Some of the attacks appear to be tailor-made for the victim with an estimated 1,000 different modules that preformed specific attacks. Kaspersky explained: “For instance, the initial documents are customized to make them more appealing and every single module is specifically compiled for the victim with a unique victim ID inside (and) later, there is a high degree of interaction between the attackers and the victim. Compared to Flame and Gauss, which are highly automated cyber-espionage campaigns, Rocra is a lot more ‘personal’ and finely tuned for the victims.”

The software is broken down to continually run within the system until triggered to activate. Examples are stealing information from a connection made by a mobile phone or siphoning mail servers and downloading emails.

Image credit: http://www.occupycorporatism.com


About the author:

Susanne Posel Chief Editor, Investigative Journalist OccupyCorporatism.com Radio Host: The Region 10 Report, Live Thursdays 1-3PM PST on American Freedom Radio.

 

“We could witness a crash of a magnitude never before seen” (Soon)

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Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

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“We could witness a crash of a magnitude never before seen” (Soon)

 

china-bubble5

 

China is the ultimate crony capitalist state. It is a country which is built on lies on top of more lies on top of more lies on top of more lies.

7 years ago I went to a talk given at Regent University by James McGregor the author of 1 Billion Customers. At the time China truly could do no wrong in the eyes of the investing and business world and business people from all over packed the sizable auditorium to hear the former Wall Street Journal bureau chief in Hong Kong give his take. Everyone wanted to know how they could get a piece of the Chinese boom.

What the business people heard however, was not a “go get em’ boys” speech. Having read the book prior to the talk I knew it wouldn’t be. McGregor, though optimistic cautioned his audience. The Chinese have monumental social problems he warned. The Chinese system of accounting was often of the Enron school. All the business leaders were politicians and vice versa. Every palm had to be greased somehow. Permits could take forever. Intellectual property was not property and blueprints were exploited as soon as they were in-country. There was no transparency in government . And banks, McGregor explained, were a nightmare.

As opaque as China was 7 years ago, it remains largely the same today. No one knows what’s really going on in China economically. The numbers which come out are widely regarded as being way off. The second largest economy in the world operates in government created shadows. We know the red dragon is dipping, but we don’t really know by how much. We know that there is a property bubble which dwarfs the one which deflated in the West but we don’t know at what stage the bubble is. It may have already started deflating, it may be just about to. Imports are down. More and more news of banks failing trickles out.

If China were to begin crashing, crashing at a rate which couldn’t be hidden, things could get very unstable quickly. The markets of course would be first impacted. But the geopolitical ramifications would likely be significant too. A wounded China is probably a dangerous China.

(From Bloomberg.com)
 
But could a crash there take the entire global economy down with it?
 
Absolutely, says Charlene Chu, who until recently was Fitch’s headline-generating analyst in Beijing. Chu has fearlessly trod into an area that China is trying desperately to keep off limits: its vast shadow-banking system. Now that she’s working for a private firm that doesn’t have to rely to governments for revenue, as do rating companies, Chu is free to speak completely openly. And is she ever.
 
“The banking sector has extended $14 trillion to $15 trillion in the span of five years,” Chu, who is now with Autonomous Research, told the Telegraph. “There’s no way that we are not going to have massive problems in China.” What’s more, she added, China “could trigger global meltdown.”

Click here for the article.

Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org


Nick Sorrentino
About Nick Sorrentino

Nick Sorrentino is the co-founder and editor of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. A political and communications consultant with clients across the political spectrum, he lives just outside of Washington DC where he can keep an eye on Leviathan.

 

 

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