Category Archives: Wall Street

Fun With Deportation

The NYT decided to actually investigate something this week because they thought the result would embarrass Obama (their main criteria for greenlighting political exposes). It does. It also embarrasses the whole Democrat party.

With the Obama administration deporting illegal immigrants at a record pace, the president has said the government is going after “criminals, gang bangers, people who are hurting the community, not after students, not after folks who are here just because they’re trying to figure out how to feed their families.”

But a New York Times analysis of internal government records shows that since President Obama took office, two-thirds of the nearly two million deportation cases involve people who had committed minor infractions, including traffic violations, or had no criminal record at all. Twenty percent — or about 394,000 — of the cases involved people convicted of serious crimes, including drug-related offenses, the records show.

Aside from the usual circumstance of Obama’s mouth writing checks his administration can’t – or won’t – cash, this is a classic example of standard Democrat duplicity: doing what they see as expedient and then blaming progressive activists for making his job dealing with batshit crazy Pubs more difficult. According to Obama and his people, when progressives call him on his bullshit, they are hurting him; when they try to help him achieve his stated goals, they are hurting him; when they won’t follow him as he surrenders to conservative insanity, they are hurting him. In fact, it seems that the very existence of progressives is a threat to him. Continue reading

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The New Wall Street Reality

Bruce Beattie, Daytona Beach News-Journal

Oh, I Thought I Recognized Your Style

Wiley

wiley1

Democrats Support Secret Trade Deal that Lets Corps Evade Taxes

David Sirota has another round-up of the latest on the secret trade deal the Democratic leadership is developing with Bush out of the range of cameras or witnesses – or its own rank and file. The deal as a whole involves Peru, Panama, South Korea and Columbia, with different provisions that apply to each country separately as well as a group of provisions they hold in common. Sirota lists half-a-dozen articles and they’re all disturbing but I want to key on the one that is most indefensible: the deal with Panama.

Economist and investment/globalization specialist Peter Riggs of the Tax Justice Network, which describes itself as an outfit devoted to “combating tax evasion by corporations and the rich”, took a good long look at the Panama trade deal. After noting that the Panama and Peru deals have been considered “relatively non-controversial and will probably pass”, he explains that the deal with Panama has nothing to do with trade.

Indeed, the proposed bilateral trade agreement with Panama has skated through without much attention at all. But the agreement with Panama is highly significant. The problem is, the trade agreement with Panama isn’t really about trade. It’s about foreign investor rights, money laundering, and tax dodging. And the United States should in no way reward this notorious offshore tax haven with a “gold star” Free Trade Agreement.

***

Panama has two major areas of “economic comparative advantage” in the region. One, obviously, is the Canal. But the other is much more insidious-and major U.S. corporations are hoping that no one draws any attention to it.

Panama’s other economic comparative advantages are in the area of tax and banking secrecy, and the ease with which U.S. companies can create subsidiaries in Panama for purposes of dodging taxes.

Panama is already home to a lot of U.S. corporate subsidiaries. How many? Tens of thousands of U.S. corporations have hung out a shingle-or should we say, set up an email box-in that country.

Panama boasts a total of 400,000 registered corporations-second only to Hong Kong as a home to corporations and corporate subsidiaries. Subsidiaries whose sole purpose, in many cases, is to help transnational companies avoid taxes.

(emphasis added)

In the last few years, Panama has been consistently condemned by the G-7’s Financial Action Task Force for “resisting international norms in combating tax evasion and money laundering.” The Clinton Administration several times “vigorously expressed its concern about loose corporate accountability standards in Panama, and the murkiness of the Panamanian banking sector.” But the Bush Administration’s deal with Panama – a deal the Democratic leadership is pushing hard – is not only enshrining those low standards and “murkiness” in law, it’s going one step further and allowing corporations to evade both trade laws and courts.

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SEC Opens Door to Accounting Fraud – Again

We all know about movement conservatives’ mania for “personal responsibility” – if somebody of limited means overextends their credit and gets hit with massive hidden charges or makes their payments late and gets hit with outlandish late fees, why, that’s their “responsibility” and they should have known better. Now they have to pay the price of their ignorance.

We also know that the concept of “responsibility” does not extend to corporations as far as they’re concerned. If corporations duck taxes or make their profits look bigger than they are through unethical accounting tricks a la Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, et al, why, that’s not something they need to take “responsibility” for and regulators need to get off their backs. In fact, armies of lobbyists will descend on legislators to argue that the poor corporations are victims of governmental abuse and in need of relief.

The Republican-dominated SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) which is supposed to regulate corporate financial accounting to make them “responsible” and keep them from stealing from their investors, the Treasury, and us, apparently agrees. Led by Bush appointee Christopher Cox, it just disemboweled the Sarbanes-Oxley law passed a few years ago to prevent more Enrons and Arthur Andersons.

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Wolfowitz, Gonzales, and Conservative “Ethics”

This is almost too perfect.

Paul Wolfowitz (AP photo by Yves Logghe), along with Richard Perle one of the main architects of the Iraq invasion and shoved upstairs to be President of the World Bank, may be about to lose his job for using his influence to get his girlfriend a job in the Bush Administration for which she was, shall we say, marginally qualified. Brought before a World Bank investigating committee, Wolfie promptly blamed…the World Bank.

In a 10-page statement addressed to the chairman of the investigating committee, Wolfowitz reiterated his assertion that he was merely following the instructions of the bank’s ethics committee when he arranged a job transfer and substantial pay raise for his companion, Shaha Riza, shortly after arriving at the bank.

But in a new characterization, Wolfowitz asserted that the ethics dispute, far from an indictment of him personally, amounts to a shared institutional breakdown. He portrayed the crisis as a misunderstanding — the product of decent intentions gone awry, combined with vague and dubious bank rules.

“While I am prepared to acknowledge that we all acted in good faith at the time and there was perhaps some confusion and miscommunication among us, it is grossly unfair and wrong to suggest that I intended to mislead anyone, and I urge the committee to reject the allegation that I lack credibility,” Wolfowitz wrote. “Rather than attempt to adjudicate between our conflicting interpretations of the events that occurred here, the board should recognize that this situation is the product of ambiguous bank rules and unclear governance mechanisms.”

Amazing, isn’t it? The president of one of the most complex financial organizations in the world didn’t realize that nepotism was wrong because the WB’s ethics rules confused him.

There are two things you can say about the conservative American oligarchy and their elitist enablers that are undeniably true.

  1. There is no bottom to their greed. They want it all, and they want it without so much as a smell of accompanying responsibility or risk.
  2. They can’t tell right from wrong without a scorecard.

Maybe that’s why corporations and the out-of-control rich don’t like rules: they don’t understand them.

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Trickle-Down Economics: The 4th Conservative Failure

By the time David Stockman, Reagan’s budget czar, had become disillusioned with supply-side, “trickle-down” economics, the damage had already been done.

The magnitude of the fiscal wreckage and the severity of the economic dangers that resulted are too great to permit such an easy verdict. In the larger scheme of democratic fact and economic reality there lies a harsher judgment. In fact, it was the basic assumptions and fiscal architecture of the Reagan Revolution itself which first introduced the folly that now envelops our economic governance.

The Reagan Revolution was radical, imprudent, and arrogant. It defied the settled consensus of professional politicians and economists on its two central assumptions. It mistakenly presumed that a handful of ideologue were right and all the politicians were wrong about what the American people wanted from government.

File that under “No shit, Sherlock”. I could have told them that. In fact, I did. Anybody could have told them that who wasn’t blinded by the prospect of a trough of money they didn’t have to share with, say, their employees.

Trickle-down was a disaster for everyone in the country except the top 10% of “earners”, seeing as how they made damn sure “trickle” was the operative word. Although the 80’s were a productive and highly profitable time for Wall Street, the rest of us were struggling just to get by. The “trickle” was just that: a mean, tiny drip of the money-pot like a leak in your roof so small you might not notice it for years. The pool stayed at the top, so deep you could have set up a diving board.

The economy – for us ordinary folk, anyway – went so far into the tank after Reagan that Bush I lost his re-election bid due to so many people being out of work and him being so happy about it. They didn’t take kindly to his transparent joy in their financial misery. They threw him out and brought in a Democrat to clean up the mess because Poppy was so “out of touch” (the kindest possible interpretation they could have put on the way he protected the investor class at the expense of the rest of the country).

You’d think conservatives would have learned from all that but apparently not. Continue reading