Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for May 16th, 2012

The new growth industry: Abaddon (destruction)

Posted by Charles II on May 16, 2012

Via Barry Rithholtz, an article from Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone:

It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes God smiles on us. Last week, he smiled on investigative reporters everywhere, when the lawyers for Goldman, Sachs slipped on one whopper of a legal banana peel, inadvertently delivering some of the bank’s darker secrets into the hands of the public.

The lawyers for Goldman and Bank of America/Merrill Lynch have been involved in a legal battle for some time – primarily with the retail giant Overstock.com, but also with Rolling Stone, the Economist, Bloomberg, and the New York Times. The banks have been fighting us to keep sealed certain documents that surfaced in the discovery process of an ultimately unsuccessful lawsuit filed by Overstock against the banks.

The lawsuit between Overstock and the banks concerned a phenomenon called naked short-selling [which amounts to selling a stock without owning its shares]

“Fuck the compliance area – procedures, schmecedures,” chirps Peter Melz, former president of Merrill Lynch Professional Clearing Corp. (a.k.a. Merrill Pro), when a subordinate worries about the company failing to comply with the rules governing short sales.

Was Goldman really disclosing “nonpublic data concerning customer short positions” to its big hedge fund clients?

Thus in this document we have another former Merrill Pro president, Thomas Tranfaglia, saying in a 2005 email: “We are NOT borrowing negatives… I have made that clear from the beginning. Why would we want to borrow them? We want to fail them.”

Trafaglia, in other words, didn’t want to bother paying the high cost of borrowing “negative rebate” stocks. Instead, he preferred to just sell stock he didn’t actually possess.

The process of how banks circumvented federal clearing regulations is highly technical and incredibly difficult to follow. These companies were using obscure loopholes in regulations that allowed them to short companies by trading in shadows, or echoes, of real shares in their stock. They manipulated rules to avoid having to disclose these “failed” trades to regulators.

The import of this is that it made it cheaper and easier to bet down the value of a stock, while simultaneously devaluing the same stock by adding fake supply. This makes it easier to make money by destroying value, and is another example of how the over-financialization of the economy makes real, job-creating growth more difficult.

this document all by itself shows numerous executives from companies like Goldman Sachs Execution and Clearing (GSEC) and Merrill Pro talking about a conscious strategy of “failing” trades – in other words, not bothering to locate, borrow, and deliver stock within the time alotted for legal settlement. For instance, in one email, GSEC tells a client, Wolverine Trading, “We will let you fail.”

More damning is an email from a Goldman, Sachs hedge fund client, who remarked that when wanting to “short an impossible name and fully expecting not to receive it” he would then be “shocked to learn that [Goldman’s representative] could get it for us.”

Meaning: when an experienced hedge funder wanted to trade a very hard-to-find stock, he was continually surprised to find that Goldman, magically, could locate the stock. Obviously, it is not hard to locate a stock if you’re just saying you located it, without really doing it.

Jail is too good for these guys. Maybe waterboarding has a place. Not to extract information. Just to give people a measure of justice on earth so they won’t face its full force on Judgment Day.

Posted in corruption, stock market | 6 Comments »

ALEC is not the only “corporate bill mill”

Posted by Charles II on May 16, 2012

Sara Blaskey and Steve Horn, Truthout:

ALEC, though, is not the only “corporate bill mill” playing this game.

“Taxpayer-subsidized stealth lobbyists” have upped the ante and skillfully advanced their agendas through bipartisan “trade associations” for state government officials – in particular, the Council of State Governments (CSG) whose multimillion-dollar budget is mostly funded by taxpayers. …

Upon being sworn into office, all state-level legislators (there are about 7,500 of them total), as well as their respective legislative staffs, automatically become CSG members. The organization’s membership also includes representatives from the executive and judicial branches of state governments.

Between 2009 and 2011, CSG’s Internal Revenue Service (IRS) 990 forms indicate revenue between $29 and $34 million annually. … $8.4 to $9.9 million of these funds – come from what it describes as “entrepreneurial efforts” which can be loosely interpreted to mean anything from publication sales to a sizable chunk from corporate patronage.

Some perspective is warranted: 990s filed by ALEC in 2010 placed its entire budget at just under $6 million.

To date, CSG is responsible for publishing between 30-40 model bills annually, in a process called Suggested State Legislation (SSL). These bills are distributed to the states as templates of bipartisan “best practices” often promoting the agendas of multinational corporations.

Most recently, the 2013 SSL docket includes legislation written by and for the shale gas industry on hydraulic fracturing (fracking), as well as a corporate-backed, union-busting collective bargaining “reform” bill.
….
Until now, the virtual charter school agenda has been linked exclusively to ALEC, though this is far from the case. It is common to see corporations and special interests groups use both CSG and ALEC to promote their agenda – a two-pronged attack, if you will.

A little-known fact is that the NRA also played a role in promoting a slightly tamer – and much less controversial – pro-gun model through CSG.

CSG and ALEC have also broken bread over the so-called “tort reform” agenda.

The most damning evidence of [another organization, The National Council of State Legislatures] NCSL’s shenanigans comes from an October 2010 report from ABC News’ “Nightline” on the July 2010 NCSL Legislative Summit, which took place in Louisville, Kentucky.

NCSL – due to ABC’s reporting – was the inspiration for a broader US Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation on corruption in state politics. “Nightline” went so far as to describe state governments as the new “ground zero of influence peddling” for corporate lobbyists, using NCSL as a case in point. [Golfing, groping, dancing, drimking, and horse races]

Though not directly responsible for any policy positions, per se, the [And yet anotherorganization] State Legislative Leaders Foundation (SLLF), with an annual budget in the $2.5 to $3 million range, can best be described as a corporate-funded tutelage academy for majority and minority state-level legislative leaders nationwide.
(emphasis added)

I really don’t think that “FFFFFF” is too strong a statement about people who claim to be for private enterprise while using the US Treasury to bribe and indoctrinate public officials into the task of busting up the bedrock of civil society to create a one-party corporate state,

Posted in corporatists, cronies, Democrats, Republicans, The Plunderbund | 1 Comment »

Homophobia: A Weapon Of Sexism

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 16, 2012

I’ve long ago found that whenever I have a really good idea, chances are good somebody else had it long before I did. So it is with my linking homophobia to sexism.

I’ve always held that homophobic societies are by their very nature sexist and misogynist societies, since if women were held to be of equal value to men then it wouldn’t freak out homophobes to see men “adopting the woman’s role” and vice versa. And no, ancient Greece wasn’t pro-homosexuality as much as it was pro-penetrator — and thus very patriarchal and misogynistic. Those who were penetrated — women and certain boys and men — were not allowed to be citizens. In other words, the rules of prison applied: It’s not ‘gay’ (that is, it’s not harmful to one’s status as a man and thus a citizen) if you’re the ‘guy’ (that is, you’re the penetrator).

It turns out that, back in 1988, Suzanne Pharr had similar insights, and elaborated upon them. The result is this book, Homophobia: A Weapon of Sexism. It’s a very quick read and quite informative.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , | Comments Off on Homophobia: A Weapon Of Sexism

 
%d bloggers like this: