I've been watching "Pirate Television" on Free Speech TV this weekend, enjoying listening to Thom Hartmann giving his well-informed opinions on so many issues, especially about how we should view solutions for the current Gilded Age and how the last Gilded Age was ameliorated/cured through great suffering (The Great Depression) for those at the bottom of the wealth pyramid (and eventual world war).
As a side note before you start reading these very informative essays on economics and current events, did you know that the Republican presidents, before Hoover was elected (just prior to the Crash of 1929), ran on the platform of "deregulate, cut taxes and privatize government functions?" These actions lead to the commodification of almost everything - and with two systemic failures in the last 75 years, the U.S. seems to be on track to either sell everything to the highest bidder (or head to another American Revolution).
Commodifing our world always leads to very rich people at the top who benefit greatly as everything is turned into money and then becomes merely a product with which to make more money, which, of course, plays into the hands of those with the most money (and eventual grinding poverty for all those below the top 0.01%). And paying off the debts incurred with the already beginning to occur loss of guaranteed pension savings is the price that the 99% pay for this systemic theft (for the rest of their shortened lives).
"Exploitation of the many for the few is the Hallmark of the West, a decrepit, corrupt and collapsing entity."
And you thought the Klown Kar Kandidates were a joke on them.
Welcome to the future.
Hope you're among the rich.
American Caesar: How the English Magna Carta Ultimately Created the Middle Class and How Propagandized Fear and War Makers' Rule Have Eviscerated It and Why They Should Be Prosecuted.
Ukrainians Dispossessed ("Useless Eaters" Get Lost or Die!): Americans Next.
Economic Update with Richard D. Wolff, Professor of Economics Emeritus, rdwolff.com, democracyatwork.info.
Who Else Knew About Dennis Hastert's Cover Up?
After Katrina, the Residents of New Orleans Saved Themselves (The U.S. Gov't and Red Cross Were Tearful But Uninvolved)
From our very good friends Pam and Russ Martens at "Wall Street on Parade:"
By Pam Martens and Russ Martens
June 11, 2015
New York University, which has been rocked by revelations of providing multi-million dollar residences, forgivable mortgages, and sweet-deal, in-house financing for luxurious vacation homes to an elite group of staff and faculty, is now linked to the Hillary and Bill Clinton cash-by-the-truckload scandal.
According to an analysis by the "Washington Post," since leaving the White House in January 2001, Bill Clinton was paid $104.9 million for speaking fees through January 2013 when Hillary stepped down as Secretary of State. In addition, their nonprofit, the Clinton Foundation, has reported over $2 billion in donations from corporations and foreign governments around the world. In May, Hillary released a new financial disclosure form in conjunction with her candidacy for President. That form covered the period from January 2014 through May of this year, showing that the Clintons earned an additional $25 million for speeches.
On May 21 of this year, the Clinton Foundation revealed that there was an additional $26.4 million in speaking fees that had been paid to Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton that had not previously been broken out to the public because the fees had been donated to the Clinton Foundation. The payments came from universities, foreign sources, and corporations. The Foundation said the funds had previously been reported to the IRS as “revenue” rather than donations and that is why the donors’ names had not previously been reported.
Two speeches given by Bill Clinton at NYU Commencements are missing from both Hillary’s financial disclosures for herself and Bill, as well as missing from the Clinton Foundation’s disclosures. One of those speeches was highly controversial and not likely to be a missed reporting detail.
On May 19, 2014, the "New York Times" dropped a front-page bombshell on the already disgusted faculty at NYU which had given its President, John Sexton, a no-confidence vote at five of its schools in 2013. The Times reported that NYU’s campus in Abu Dhabi had been built on the backs of abused immigrant laborers. The Times reported that “men described having to work 11 or 12 hours a day, six or seven days a week,” had their passports taken, and some men “lived in squalor, 15 men to a room.” The workers also reported having to pay up to a year’s wages in recruitment fees to get their jobs and, despite NYU’s statement on labor standards, contractors had not reimbursed the fees. Striking workers had been beaten, jailed and deported.
Just six days after that article ran, Bill Clinton was standing in front of the first graduating class at NYU Abu Dhabi on Sunday, May 25, 2014, with dozens of stern-eyed Sheikhs clad in white robes staring him down from the front rows. Here’s what Clinton had to say about the labor abuses to the graduating class in his commencement address:
“The recent controversy in the American press over the question of whether the labor conditions and living conditions of people who worked to build this campus actually complied with the standards that NYU and its Abu Dhabi partners articulated. It’s dominated the coverage. I wish the coverage this week had been about you. About who you are, where you’re from, what you’ve done. This astonishing experiment.
“But, it does offer NYU, and you, the opportunity to address in concrete, real, flesh and blood form, one of the representative issues of equality and identity in the 21st Century. We all know that the treatment of immigrant labor all across the world has not been free of difficulty. Not just here, not just in this region but everywhere in the world for a long time.
“We all know that there has been widespread acceptance of unequal treatment by people whose identity is considered to be inherently less worthy of protection and advancement than the folks who live in whatever the locality is.
“NYU sought to change all that here by coming up with a code of conduct strongly supported by its Abu Dhabi partners and by the government of the UAE to lift living conditions and lift working conditions and lift some of the other burdens that immigrants faced, including having to give up their passports and other documents to their employers so they couldn’t move to another job that might pay them more. And maybe paying an advance fee just to get the job, which might be up to a year’s salary – which meant they probably had no chance to work themselves out of poverty and send money home…
“When this story came out, instead of going into an immediate denial, the University did something that reflected the values you have been taught here. The University and the government promised to look into the charges, to do it quickly, to do it honestly, and most importantly, among all the world’s skeptics, to do it transparently. And if the charges were well founded, to take appropriate, remedial action promptly.
“Remember what President Sexton said, we don’t live in a perfect world, we live in a world where we have an obligation to do better. And that means none of us can ever afford to live in denial. So, I’m betting NYU will make good on its word. I’m betting that the response will make you proud.”
Talk about living in denial: Clinton’s efforts to recast a serious investigation by the "New York Times" in a land already called out by "Human Rights Watch" for serial human rights violations as practices that occur “all across the world” is improper conduct for a former United States President.
In its 2014 World Report, "Human Rights Watch" had this to say:
“Nearly five years after "Human Rights Watch" first revealed systematic human rights violations of migrant workers on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island, a development project which will host branches of the Louvre and Guggenheim museums and New York University, some employers continued to withhold wages and benefits from workers, failed to reimburse recruiting fees, confiscated worker passports, and housed workers in substandard accommodation. . . . Domestic workers, a predominately female subset of the migrant worker population, continued to experience a range of abuses. Some accused their employers of having physically abused them, confined them to the homes in which they worked, and confiscated their passports. Many said their employers failed to pay the full wages due to them; forced them to work excessively long hours without breaks or days off; or denied them adequate food, living conditions or medical treatment. Some workers continued to be employed in circumstances that amount to forced labor, slavery, or trafficking.”
Was Bill Clinton correct in his assessment that the graduates would be proud of the eventual response to the labor abuses? In March of this year, the emirates banned Andrew Ross, a professor at NYU who had been critical of the exploitation of workers in Abu Dhabi, from traveling to the country.
Last month, a group of more than 400 faculty at NYU published a devastating report on how students at NYU in Manhattan are being systematically fleeced by Sexton’s policies. Titled The Art of the Gouge, the report shows draconian hidden fees and tuition costs resulting in some students sleeping on park benches while the University continues to buy lavish homes for an elite group of faculty and staff.
One home was described as a $3.6 million “luxury condo at 845 West End Ave., for housing Law School faculty.” The International Business Times described the condo as having four bedrooms with “ensuite baths with Calacatta gold marble, as well as radiant heat floors.”
Bill Clinton also delivered the 2011 Commencement address for NYU at Yankee Stadium on May 18, 2011. No speaking fee has been disclosed by the Clintons for that address either. On Monday of this week, we emailed the Clinton Foundation asking if Bill Clinton was paid for his NYU Abu Dhabi commencement address and, if so, what the amount of the fee was. We indicated our deadline was this Wednesday at 5 p.m. No response was received.
According to the May 21, 2015 disclosures by the Clinton Foundation, 20 colleges and universities have paid fees to the Clintons for speeches which they, in turn, have turned over to the Foundation. Many of those fees from institutions of higher education range from $100,000 to $250,000 per speech – an unconscionable “honorarium” when American students are currently saddled with crippling student loan debt totaling over $1.2 trillion. One university listed is the State University of New York at Albany, which paid Bill Clinton between $100,000 to $250,000 for a speech. SUNY Albany is a taxpayer funded university. Why would Bill Clinton charge a fee to a taxpayer funded university and not charge a fee to NYU Abu Dhabi?
Since 2011, according to the Associated Press, Bill Clinton has been paid at least $1.2 million in speaking fees by other entities connected to the United Arab Emirates, including Abu Dhabi.
See these related articles at "Wall Street on Parade:"
NYU Channels Wall Street: New Documents Show Lavish Pay, Perks and Secret Deals_ _ _ _ _ _ _
Wall Street Is Corrupting Everything – Even University Commencements
NYU President and Former NY Fed Chair John Sexton Signed Jack Lew’s $1.3 Million Loan
The Untold Story of Citibank’s Student Loan Deals at NYU
The NYU Scandal Has the Same Cast of Characters as NYSE-Grasso-Gate
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By Pam Martens and Russ Martens
June 10, 2015
Barclays High Yield Bond ETF (Symbol JNK) Is Slumping in Price
On Monday, Richard Berner worried aloud at the Brookings Institution about what’s troubling the smartest guys in the room about today’s markets.
Berner is the Director of the Office of Financial Research (OFR) at the Treasury Department. That’s the agency created under the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation to, according to their web site, “shine a light in the dark corners of the financial system to see where risks are going, assess how much of a threat they might pose,” and, ideally, provide the analysis to the folks sitting on the Financial Stability Oversight Council in time to prevent another 2008-style financial collapse on Wall Street.
Two notable concerns stood out in Berner’s talk. First was a concern about liquidity in bond markets evaporating rapidly for reasons they don’t yet “sufficiently understand.” Berner explained:
“…liquidity appears to have become increasingly brittle, even in the world’s largest bond markets. Although liquidity in these markets looks adequate during normal conditions, it seems to disappear abruptly during episodes of market stress, contributing to disorderly price changes. In some markets, these episodes are occurring with greater frequency. Examples include the mid-2013 sell-off in U.S. fixed-income markets, the October 2014 dislocation in U.S. Treasuries and futures markets, and the sharp moves in euro-area government bonds in early May of this year and in the past few days. None of these episodes disrupted U.S. financial stability, nor do we yet sufficiently understand their causes. But together they highlight a potential weakness in markets that could amplify the impact of financial shocks.”
Another major concern are the bond mutual funds and ETFs that have mushroomed since the 2008 crisis and are stuffed full of illiquid assets or assets which might become illiquid in a financial panic. Berner quoted SEC Commissioner Michael Piwowar on this issue, who has said:
“The growth of bond mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in recent years means that these funds now hold a much higher fraction of the available stock of relatively less liquid assets than they did before the financial crisis…their growth heightens the potential for a forced sale in the underlying markets if some event were to trigger large volumes of redemptions.”
Within 24 hours of Berner delivering his warnings, "Bloomberg News" was out with this nail biter:
“BlackRock’s $14.3 billion high-yield bond ETF plunged 1.6 percent in the six days through Monday as $940.5 million exited the fund, Bloomberg data show. State Street Corp.’s $10.7 billion junk-debt ETF dropped 1.7 percent, with $571.7 million of withdrawals.”
The "Financial Times" threw more fresh worry into the bond market disarray this week by noting that the investment grade corporate bond market, which had heretofore held up “reasonably well” during the ongoing tumbles in government debt markets, has now joined the chaos. According to the "Financial Times," “The average yield of debt issued by investment-grade companies has jumped from 2.8 per cent in mid-April to about 3.3 per cent, erasing investor gains made earlier this year.” (Bond prices move inversely to interest rates; when yields rise on existing bonds, their value falls in the market place.)
The "Financial Times" article noted the same concerns as those of the OFR, writing:
“Adding to the concerns of bond bears, the market’s liquidity — the ability of traders to buy and sell securities smoothly and without moving prices excessively — has diminished dramatically. That exacerbates sell-offs and could in the worst case turn a natural correction into a crash — especially if retail investors are frightened by the fact that their supposedly safe bond funds can lose money and dump the asset class.”According to Bloomberg data, corporations have issued an astounding $9.3 trillion of bonds since the start of 2009 as borrowing costs have plummeted as the Fed cut and maintained its Fed Funds rate in the zero bound range. Much of the proceeds of those corporate bond offerings found their way into the stock market through corporate share buybacks, pushing stock prices artificially higher.
When you put all of these factors together, it’s clear this is an unprecedented era of risk with little visibility on how markets will behave during periods of extreme stress.
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By Pam Martens and Russ Martens
June 9, 2015
Those complaining that Senator Elizabeth Warren went too far in her complaints against Mary Jo White’s leadership at the Securities and Exchange Commission obviously didn’t see yesterday’s Federal court decision coming. It now appears that Senator Warren would have had good grounds to also charge Mary Jo White with replicating the judicial practices of King George III – against whom the Declaration of Independence was drafted.
U.S. District Court Judge, Leigh Martin May, ruled yesterday in Atlanta that the SEC’s system of selecting in-house judges to hear and decide SEC cases brought against individuals charged with securities violations was “likely unconstitutional.” The Judge imposed a preliminary injunction in an SEC insider-trading case until she issues her final decision in the matter.
During the tenure of Mary Jo White at the SEC, the agency has increasingly used its own in-house judges to decide securities fraud cases. That practice is now being increasingly challenged by individuals demanding their right to have their cases heard before a federal judge and a jury of their peers as provided for under the Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The public is not widely aware that the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation, that was billed as a means of cleaning up Wall Street, gave the SEC the ability to unilaterally decide if it would bring its cases against unregistered individuals in a Federal Court, with full due process protections, or use one of its own, in-house Administrative Law Judges and its watered-down due process rules.
The "Wall Street Journal"’s Jean Eaglesham revealed in an article on October 21, 2014 that “The Securities and Exchange Commission is increasingly steering cases to hearings in front of the agency’s appointed administrative judges, who found in its favor in every verdict for the 12 months through September.”
Mary Jo White was sworn in as Chair of the SEC on April 10, 2013 and the practice has proliferated under her reign.
That kind of tyranny is what the founding fathers alleged against King George III in the Declaration of Independence. They stated in the historic document that King George III “has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries” and, furthermore, he was “depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury.”
Not to put too fine a point on it, but this nation fought an epic, bloody revolution to preserve the very freedoms that Mary Jo White is now cavalierly usurping. Thomas Jefferson said that trial by jury is “the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.”
In his amended complaint, Charles Hill, the plaintiff who won the preliminary injunction against the SEC yesterday, told the Federal Court in Atlanta the following:
“Mr. Hill is an ordinary citizen unregistered with the Commission. He is not a broker. Nor is he an investment advisor. Yet he was still compelled three months ago to participate in an unconstitutional administrative proceeding brought by the SEC to prosecute alleged insider trading violations and impose stiff civil penalties.In her preliminary decision, Judge Leigh Martin May noted that “SEC administrative proceedings vary greatly from federal court actions.” She wrote that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Evidence do not apply; hearsay is permissible; defendants are generally barred from taking depositions; counterclaims are not permissible; and motions testing the sufficiency of the allegations are not allowed.
Instead of defending himself before an impartial arbiter in a federal court providing fundamental procedural and constitutional safeguards, such as the right to a trial by jury and the right to conduct depositions and other discovery under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Mr. Hill is forced to take part in a proceeding where the prosecutor, judge, and initial appeals court are all instruments in an SEC machinery that operates largely outside the judiciary’s purview. Addressing the SEC’s pursuit of remedies in administrative proceedings, one federal judge recently remarked that ‘[o]ne might wonder: from where does the constitutional warrant for such unchecked and unbalanced administrative power derive?’ ”
In responding to the SEC’s view that Hill could appeal to a Federal Court after his administrative proceeding was concluded, Judge Martin May wrote:
“Plaintiff’s claims go to the constitutionality of Congress’s entire statutory scheme, and Plaintiff specifically seeks an order enjoining the SEC from pursuing him in its ‘unconstitutional’ tribunals. If Plaintiff is required to raise his constitutional law claims following the administrative proceeding, he will be forced to endure what he contends is an unconstitutional process. Plaintiff could raise his constitutional arguments only after going through the process he contends is unconstitutional — and thus being inflicted with the ultimate harm Plaintiff alleges (that is, being forced to litigate in an unconstitutional forum). By that time, Plaintiff’s claims would be moot and his remedies foreclosed because the Court of Appeals cannot enjoin a proceeding which has already occurred.”Unfortunately, the Judge appeared to make her ruling based on the fact that the in-house judges were “not appointed by the President, a department head, or the Judiciary” rather than a finding that Hill’s constitutional right to a jury trial had been denied.
What the SEC has created is the latest expansion of Wall Street’s private justice system. (See Judicial Apartheid: Wall Street’s Kangaroo Courts Part I and Part II.) Wall Street’s epic corruption that collapsed the U.S. financial system in 2008 grew significantly out of its ability to keep its escalating crimes shielded from the sunshine of courthouses open to the public and press. Instead, Wall Street enforced then, and now, a private justice system of mandatory arbitration which bars both the public and press from the hearings, imposes crippling hearing fees on the parties, and strips the parties of the substantive due process protections of Federal Court.
It is a fundamental principle of democracy that government should not be able to take away someone’s right to life, liberty or property until it has convinced a jury of one’s peers of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Our Constitution’s Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Amendments spell out those protections in the clearest of terms:
Amendment VI: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.”When we, the citizens, of a participatory democracy allow the key constructs of our Bill of Rights to be arbitrarily whittled away by revolving door bureaucrats, we enshrine for our children and their children a very dark future indeed.
Amendment VII: “In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.”
Amendment VIII: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”
By Pam Martens and Russ Martens
June 8, 2015
The chickens are coming home to roost in the campaign of the quintessential Wall Street Democrat, Hillary Clinton. The mountains of cash sluiced into the Clinton pockets and their Foundation together with Hillary’s destruction of emails from her stint as Secretary of State caught up with her last week in two devastating polls showing that a majority of Americans don’t think she is trustworthy.
As cynical as we’ve become as a nation, surely a requirement to occupy the highest office in the land should include the belief by your fellow Americans that one is trustworthy.
On June 2, a CNN/ORC poll was released showing that 57 percent of those polled, up from 49 percent in March, say Hillary is not honest and trustworthy.
The same day, the "Washington Post" published the findings from a poll conducted by itself and ABC, summarizing the findings as follows: “Clinton’s favorability ratings are the lowest in a Post-ABC poll since April 2008, when she was running for president the first time. Today, 41 percent of Americans say she is honest and trustworthy, compared with 52 percent who say she is not — a 22-point swing in the past year.”_ _ _ _ _ _
A reader comment below the "Washington Post" article, posted by “Tobit” may be an epiphany. The reader noted that: “…Clinton’s favorability is at its lowest point since she ran for president two elections ago. This seems to indicate that the more people get to know Hillary, the less they like her. Of course her election ‘hide in plain sight’ strategy won’t work.”
Kyle Wingfield, writing in his blog at the "Atlanta Journal Constitution" on June 3, explained that the loss of confidence is dramatic among voters who identify as independents. Wingfield writes:
“In the course of just six weeks, Clinton’s standing with independents on the ‘cares about people like you’ question went from plus 51 to minus 17. Equally stunning is her drop on the ‘is honest and trustworthy’ question: from plus 37 to minus 24.On June 4, Dana Milbank explained at the "Washington Post" how the $2 billion that the Clinton Foundation has sucked in from corporations, Wall Street firms, and foreign governments around the world can now tie it to “virtually any skullduggery.” Milbank writes:
“Those do not look like the periodic gyrations that political candidates face over the course of a long campaign. They look like a hard flip from an overwhelmingly positive view of her to a sharply negative view of her.”
“ … Clinton and her husband have only themselves to blame for making themselves vulnerable to guilt-by-association attacks. They have managed to make Hillary Clinton conspicuously out of tune with the mood of the 2016 electorate: At a time of rising populist backlash against Wall Street, inequality and wealth-purchased privilege, there is no Democrat more closely tied to the rich and the powerful than Clinton. At a time when Democrats need to draw contrasts with Republicans by sticking up for the little guy, Clinton’s solicitation of — and favors for — the powerful make her an inauthentic messenger.”Revelations of the Clintons’ money machine have been devastating. In June of last year, the "Washington Post" reported that Bill Clinton was paid “$104.9 million for 542 speeches around the world between January 2001, when he left the White House, and January 2013, when Hillary stepped down as secretary of state, according to a "Washington Post" review of the family’s federal financial disclosures.” This is their personal financial take, not monies flowing to the Clinton Foundation which has raked in over $2 billion.
Of that $104.9 million in personal income, $19.6 million came from speaking engagements at Wall Street firms and other financial institutions like hedge funds.
Just three weeks ago, the "Washington Post" reported that between January 2014 and May of this year, Hillary and Bill “earned in excess of $25 million for delivering 104 speeches,” calling it a “huge infusion to their net worth as she was readying for a presidential bid.”
A review of Hillary’s financial disclosure forms by "Wall Street On Parade" shows that UBS, which pleaded guilty to a felony for engaging in a conspiracy to rig the Libor interest rate benchmark on May 20, paid Bill Clinton a total of $675,000 for three speaking engagements: one on May 19, 2014; another on October 14, 2014; and a third on February 19, 2015.
Both Hillary and Bill each delivered a speech to Deutsche Bank during the period. In April of this year, Deutsche Bank paid $2.5 billion to settle charges it had conspired to rig Libor. A subsidiary of the bank agreed to a criminal guilty plea. Hillary’s talk at Deutsche Bank came on October 7, 2014 at a fee of $260,000. Bill gave his speech on August 27, 2014 for $10,000 more than Hillary – a fee of $270,000, yielding the couple a total of $530,000.
The "Washington Post" was back again on May 21 of this year, revealing that the Clinton Foundation, “has received as much as $26.4 million in previously undisclosed payments from major corporations, universities, foreign sources and other groups.” (Because the Foundation uses a wide range in reporting contributions, the amount was actually between $12 million and a max of $26.4 million.)
More Wall Street money came floating to the surface that had previously not been disclosed. The funds were fees for speeches by Hillary, Bill and their daughter, Chelsea Clinton but were treated as revenue rather than donations, which is why the contributors had not been listed according to the Foundation. The speaking fees were turned over to the Foundation by the Clintons and are separate from the mammoth speaking fees they have kept as personal income.
According to the Clinton Foundation web site, Hillary received between $250,000 to $500,000 for speeches given at Citibank, a unit of Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase. No dates are listed for the speeches. On May 20, a unit of Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase pleaded guilty to a felony count of conspiring to rig foreign currency trading. Goldman Sachs is currently under investigation for potential involvement in rigging precious metals markets according to media reports. Bill had previously not reported receiving $100,000 to $250,000 in fee income from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, another Wall Street bank that has been serially fined for market abuses.
The speaking fees are not the only source of Wall Street money flowing into the Clinton Foundation. Barclays Capital is listed as having donated between $1 million to $5 million. Barclays PLC is listed as donating $500,000 to $1 million. Barclays also pleaded guilty on May 20 to conspiring to rig foreign currency trading.
On top of the Wall Street money flowing directly into the Clintons’ pockets or into the Clinton Foundation, there is the massive flow of campaign money from Wall Street flowing into Hillary’s campaign coffers. As we reported on October 27, the Center for Responsive Politics reports that four of the top six donors to Hillary’s failed bid to capture the Democratic nod for the Presidency in 2008 were employees, family members or PACs of major Wall Street firms:
JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley.
By Pam Martens and Russ Martens
June 4, 2015
Maybe we’re thinking about today’s stock market all wrong. As the largest corporations in America take on more and more debt to buy back their own shares and boost dividends to dress up their earnings and attract more investors, the stock market is looking more and more like a bond market in drag as equity. Bonds are backed by debt of the company; common stock represents equity in the business operations. But the business operations are now taking a backseat to the binge of stock buybacks.
Jody Lurie, a credit analyst at Janney Montgomery Scott was quoted at "Bloomberg News" this week with this observation on the buyback phenomenon: “Companies have said, ‘We don’t have an ability to grow organically, so we can distract shareholders instead. When they buy back shares, all it does is optically make earnings per share look better.”
The media frenzy this week over buybacks was fueled by a research note released by Goldman Sachs which likened today’s buybacks at high market multiples to the bad investment decisions on buybacks that corporate CFOs made just before the market crashed in 2008. Goldman noted in its research release that:
“Exhibiting poor market timing, buybacks peaked in 2007 (34% of cash spent) and troughed in 2009 (13%). Firms should focus on M&A [mergers and acquisitions] rather than pursue buybacks at a time when P/E [price to earnings] multiples are so high.”
In September of last year, the "Harvard Business Review" published its own study on buybacks titled “Profits Without Prosperity.” The findings are outlined as follows:
“Corporate profitability is not translating into widespread economic prosperity. Five years after the official end of the Great Recession, corporate profits are high, and the stock market is booming. Yet most Americans are not sharing in the recovery. While the top 0.1% of income recipients — which include most of the highest-ranking corporate executives — reap almost all the income gains, good jobs keep disappearing, and new employment opportunities tend to be insecure and underpaid. The allocation of corporate profits to stock buybacks deserves much of the blame.”There, in five plain English sentences, is your Doctoral thesis in who’s benefitting from stock buybacks. If you haven’t guessed by now just who it is that is driving this trend, the "Harvard Business Review" fills in more details:
“Why are such massive resources being devoted to stock repurchases? …in the short term buybacks drive up stock prices. In 2012 the 500 highest-paid executives named in proxy statements of U.S. public companies received, on average, $30.3 million each; 42% of their compensation came from stock options and 41% from stock awards. By increasing the demand for a company’s shares, open-market buybacks automatically lift its stock price, even if only temporarily, and can enable the company to hit quarterly earnings per share (EPS) targets.”
According to data from Birinyi Associates, for calendar years 2006 through 2013, corporations authorized $4.14 trillion in buybacks of their own publicly traded stock in the United States. "Bloomberg News," citing research from Goldman Sachs, reports that companies in the Standard and Poor’s 500 “will dole out more than $1 trillion, or two-thirds of their cash, buying back stocks and repaying dividends this year.” According to Goldman, that $1 trillion eclipses the $921 billion the same firms will spend running their business and on research and development.”
The debt these companies are taking on to work this alchemy could prove to be a future time bomb in the making. In 2013 alone, corporations authorized $754.8 billion in stock buybacks while simultaneously borrowing $782.5 billion from credit markets.
Data compiled by Bloomberg shows that “Investment-grade non-financial companies issued $366 billion in bonds in the past two quarters. The $194.6 billion they sold in the first quarter was the most in history.”
According to data released by FactSet.com on March 16, Apple was the largest spender in the S&P 500 during the last quarter of 2014, making $6.1 billion in share repurchases. The study showed that on a trailing 12-month basis, Apple had spent the highest amount on buybacks, $57 billion, of all companies in the S&P 500 index.
Another concern is who is conducting these share repurchase programs for the corporation and is it being done in an opaque manner. "Dark Pools" owned by the big Wall Street firms, also known as ATS or Alternative Trading Systems, frequently conduct stock buyback programs. Barclays, the firm that was charged last year by the New York State Attorney General with falsifying data to customers about what was really going on in its dark pool, told "Traders Magazine" in September 2013 that its "Dark Pool" pitches its execution franchise to corporations with buyback programs:
“…when companies buying back shares meet with institutions in the firm’s alternative trading system, both sides of the transaction benefit. Having corporate buybacks handled by the electronic trading side of the firm gives Barclays an advantage over competitors…”
Last month, Barclays, along with Citi, JPMorgan Chase, and Royal Bank of Scotland pleaded guilty to one felony count each for engaging in a criminal conspiracy to rig foreign currency markets. UBS pleaded guilty to engaging in a conspiracy to rig the Libor interest rate benchmark. More investigations of market rigging are underway.
Last year, "Wall Street On Parade" conducted a study of trading in Apple stock in "Dark Pools" for the weeks of May 26 through June 23. (Until last year, data on "Dark Pool" trading had not been available to the public.) During that period, "Dark Pools" traded over 103.6 million shares of Apple stock. The heaviest week was the week of June 9, 2014 when 39.9 million shares traded in "dark pools." Goldman Sachs was responsible for trading 2,444,350 shares of Apple that week in its "Dark Pool," Sigma-X, and has been in the top tier of dark pools trading Apple stock in all subsequent weeks of our review period. (On July 1 of last year, the self-regulator, FINRA, administered a minor wrist slap to Goldman for what was clearly very serious pricing irregularities in its "dark pool.")
Goldman Sachs has also been an enabler to Apple taking on debt to finance its stock buybacks. Goldman Sachs was the co-lead manager with Deutsche Bank in April of 2013 when Apple launched a $17 billion corporate debt offering in order to buy back its shares and increase its dividend. Apple’s $17 billion debt deal was the largest in corporate history at that point. Goldman was also Apple’s advisor in 1996 when the company was warding off bankruptcy and Goldman managed its $661 million convertible debt offering.
Could taking on debt and buying back shares become an addiction? One year after the April 2013 $17 billion debt deal by Apple, Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank co-led another $12 billion debt offering for Apple in April of 2014. So far this year, Apple has issued $6.5 billion in debt in February and another $8 billion on May 6. Goldman Sachs & Co., Bank of America Merrill Lynch and J.P. Morgan were involved in Apple’s May offering, which was specifically earmarked for share buybacks and dividends.
As we write this column, Apple is offering approximately $2 billion in yen-denominated bonds to Japanese and international investors today. The deal is being underwritten by Goldman Sachs and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial.
For all of its advice to corporations to halt share buybacks, Goldman certainly seems to still have both feet in the game.
("WallStreetOnParade.com" is a financial news site operated by Russ and Pam Martens to help the investing public better understand systemic corruption on Wall Street. Ms. Martens is a former Wall Street veteran with a background in journalism. Mr. Martens' career spans four decades in printing and publishing management.)
And the money being "invested" by the country's owners to ensure their never-ending ownership just grows and grows with each election.
But what brand of fascism does it buy?
_ _ _ _ _ _ _
By Lee Fang
At least one small slice of the American public looks forward to the non-stop, sleazy political advertisements set to inundate viewers during the 2016 elections: media executives and their investors.
Peter Liguori, the chief executive of Tribune Company, said earlier this month that the next presidential campaign presents “enormous opportunity” for advertising sales. Speaking at a conference hosted by J.P. Morgan Chase, Liguori, whose company owns television stations, referenced Super PAC spending as a key factor for why he thinks Tribune Co. political advertising revenue will rocket from $115 million in 2012 to about $200 million for the 2016 campaign cycle.
Vince Sadusky, the chief executive of Media General, the parent company of 71 television stations across the country, told investors in February that his company is positioned to benefit from unlimited campaign spending, referencing decisions by the Supreme Court. “We are really looking forward to the 2016 elections with spending on the presidential race alone estimated to surpass $5 billion,” Sadusky said, according to a transcript of his remarks.
In 2012, Les Moonves, president and chief executive of CBS, memorably said, “Super PACs may be bad for America, but they’re very good for CBS.”
His views appear unchanged. In a February investor call, Moonves predicted “strong growth with the help of political spending,” particularly on television. He added dryly, “looking ahead, the 2016 presidential election is right around the corner and, thank God, the rancor has already begun.”
In recent months, executives from media companies such as Nexstar Broadcasting, Gannett, and E.W. Scripps Co. have told investors that they are expecting a big jump in revenue from the 2016 political ad buys.
"The New York Times" and "Bloomberg" have chronicled the rising political revenue to broadcast media companies, a trend accelerated by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which effectively removed limits on individual, corporate and union spending.
A single station in Columbus, Ohio, for example, “grossed about $50 million in advertising [in 2012], of which at least $20 million was attributed to campaign spending,” according to the "Times." And the 2016 campaign cycle is expected to be the first time digital advertising alone will reach $1 billion, making big money groups a lucrative source of revenue for online publications.
Media watchdog groups worry that news outlets won’t investigate the special interests buying advertisements if their companies become dependent upon the same groups for revenue. Tim Karr, senior director at "Free Press," compared six television markets over a set period and found “a near-complete station blackout on local reporting about the political ads they aired.”
Reliance on political ad spending has already led some media interests to fight against reforms designed to make the American election system cleaner.
For nearly two decades, the National Association of Broadcasters, a lobby group for media corporations, has fought bipartisan efforts to provide free airtime to candidates, a reform advocates say would reduce the moneyed barriers to political entry for candidates.
Such an idea was proposed by President Bill Clinton and was a key plank of the campaign finance reform legislation championed by former Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisc., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. But the NAB lobbied aggressively to kill the idea, eventually succeeding in stripping it out of the McCain-Feingold bill and pressuring the Federal Communications Commission to back down from pursuing the free airtime rule.
In a 2002 interview on CNN, McCain complained that the NAB is “the most powerful lobby in Washington.” Not only because they spend money on campaign contributions, but because “these are the people that shape the opinion to a large degree of the people who are your constituents,” McCain said.
Retired Sen. Robert G. Torricelli, D-N.J., lamenting “one of the great acts of corporate hypocrisy,” once said “the media that have been so critical of the campaign finance system should be ashamed that their own corporations are paying lobbyists to defeat meaningful reform.”
In more recent years, media companies have attempted to obstruct FCC rules promulgated during the Obama administration to digitize mandatory forms revealing information about political ad buys.
Even that minor reform was too much. In addition to the NAB, News Corp., owner of the "Wall Street Journal" and "Fox News;" NBC Universal, parent of "NBC News" and "MSNBC;" and Allbritton, which owns television stations and "Politico," were among the media companies to protest the 2012 rule, according to "ProPublica"’s Justin Elliott.
In spite of declining television advertising revenue expected this year, credit rating agencies recently gave broadcast companies a sunny two-year outlook. The reason, Carl Salas, Moody’s senior credit officer, told the "Los Angeles Times," is that political ad spending is expected to boom next year thanks in large part to the Citizens United decision. “Political advertising revenue defies gravity,” Salas remarked.
(This post is from our blog: Unofficial Sources. Correction: The "Los Angeles Times" was spun off from the Tribune Company to Tribune Publishing in 2014.)
By David Sirota and Andrew Perez
May 26 2015
Under Hillary Clinton, the State Department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to 20 nations whose governments had given millions to the Clinton Foundation.
Even by the standards of arms deals between the United States and Saudi Arabia, this one was enormous. A consortium of American defense contractors led by Boeing would deliver $29 billion worth of advanced fighter jets to the United States' oil-rich ally in the Middle East.
Israeli officials were agitated, reportedly complaining to the Obama administration that this substantial enhancement to Saudi air power risked disrupting the region's fragile balance of power. The deal appeared to collide with the State Department’s documented concerns about the repressive policies of the Saudi royal family.
But now, in late 2011, Hillary Clinton’s State Department was formally clearing the sale, asserting that it was in the national interest. At a press conference in Washington to announce the department’s approval, an assistant secretary of state, Andrew Shapiro, declared that the deal had been “a top priority” for Clinton personally. Shapiro, a longtime aide to Clinton since her Senate days, added that the “U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army have excellent relationships in Saudi Arabia.”
These were not the only relationships bridging leaders of the two nations. In the years before Hillary Clinton became secretary of state, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia contributed at least $10 million to the Clinton Foundation, the philanthropic enterprise she has overseen with her husband, former president Bill Clinton. Just two months before the deal was finalized, Boeing - the defense contractor that manufactures one of the fighter jets the Saudis were especially keen to acquire, the F-15 - contributed $900,000 to the Clinton Foundation, according to a company press release.
The Saudi deal was one of dozens of arms sales approved by Hillary Clinton’s State Department that placed weapons in the hands of governments that had also donated money to the Clinton family philanthropic empire, an International Business Times investigation has found.
Under Clinton's leadership, the State Department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to 20 nations whose governments have given money to the Clinton Foundation, according to an "IBTimes" analysis of State Department and foundation data. That figure - derived from the three full fiscal years of Clinton’s term as Secretary of State (from October 2010 to September 2012) - represented nearly double the value of American arms sales made to the those countries and approved by the State Department during the same period of President George W. Bush’s second term.
The Clinton-led State Department also authorized $151 billion of separate Pentagon-brokered deals for 16 of the countries that donated to the Clinton Foundation, resulting in a 143 percent increase in completed sales to those nations over the same time frame during the Bush administration. These extra sales were part of a broad increase in American military exports that accompanied Obama’s arrival in the White House.
American defense contractors also donated to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state and in some cases made personal payments to Bill Clinton for speaking engagements. Such firms and their subsidiaries were listed as contractors in $163 billion worth of Pentagon-negotiated deals that were authorized by the Clinton State Department between 2009 and 2012.
The State Department formally approved these arms sales even as many of the deals enhanced the military power of countries ruled by authoritarian regimes whose human rights abuses had been criticized by the department. Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar all donated to the Clinton Foundation and also gained State Department clearance to buy caches of American-made weapons even as the department singled them out for a range of alleged ills, from corruption to restrictions on civil liberties to violent crackdowns against political opponents.
As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton also accused some of these countries of failing to marshal a serious and sustained campaign to confront terrorism. In a December 2009 State Department cable published by "Wikileaks," Clinton complained of “an ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist financing emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority.”
She declared that “Qatar's overall level of CT cooperation with the U.S. is considered the worst in the region.” She said the Kuwaiti government was “less inclined to take action against Kuwait-based financiers and facilitators plotting attacks.” She noted that “UAE-based donors have provided financial support to a variety of terrorist groups.” All of these countries donated to the Clinton Foundation and received increased weapons export authorizations from the Clinton-run State Department.
Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Clinton Foundation did not respond to questions from the "IBTimes."
In all, governments and corporations involved in the arms deals approved by Clinton’s State Department have delivered between $54 million and $141 million to the Clinton Foundation as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments to the Clinton family, according to foundation and State Department records. The Clinton Foundation publishes only a rough range of individual contributors’ donations, making a more precise accounting impossible.
Winning Friends, Influencing Clintons
Under federal law, foreign governments seeking State Department clearance to buy American-made arms are barred from making campaign contributions - a prohibition aimed at preventing foreign interests from using cash to influence national security policy. But nothing prevents them from contributing to a philanthropic foundation controlled by policymakers.
Just before Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State, the Clinton Foundation signed an agreement generally obligating it to disclose to the State Department increases in contributions from its existing foreign government donors and any new foreign government donors. Those increases were to be reviewed by an official at the State Department and “as appropriate” the White House counsel’s office. According to available disclosures, officials at the State Department and White House raised no issues about potential conflicts related to arms sales.
During Hillary Clinton’s 2009 Senate confirmation hearings, Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., urged the Clinton Foundation to “forswear” accepting contributions from governments abroad.
“Foreign governments and entities may perceive the Clinton Foundation as a means to gain favor with the secretary of state,” he said. The Clintons did not take Lugar’s advice. In light of the weapons deals flowing to Clinton Foundation donors, advocates for limits on the influence of money on government action now argue that Lugar was prescient in his concerns.
“The word was out to these groups that one of the best ways to gain access and influence with the Clintons was to give to this foundation,” said Meredith McGehee, policy director at the Campaign Legal Center, an advocacy group that seeks to tighten campaign finance disclosure rules. “This shows why having public officials, or even spouses of public officials, connected with these nonprofits is problematic.”
Hillary Clinton’s willingness to allow those with business before the State Department to finance her foundation heightens concerns about how she would manage such relationships as president, said Lawrence Lessig, the director of Harvard University’s Safra Center for Ethics.
“These continuing revelations raise a fundamental question of judgment,” Lessig told "IBTimes." “Can it really be that the Clintons didn't recognize the questions these transactions would raise? And if they did, what does that say about their sense of the appropriate relationship between private gain and public good?”
National security experts assert that the overlap between the list of Clinton Foundation donors and those with business before the the State Department presents a troubling conflict of interest.
While governments and defense contractors may not have made donations to the Clinton Foundation exclusively to influence arms deals, they were clearly “looking to build up deposits in the 'favor bank' and to be well thought of,” said Gregory Suchan, a 34-year State Department veteran who helped lead the agency’s oversight of arms transfers under the Bush administration.
As Hillary Clinton presses a campaign for the presidency, she has confronted sustained scrutiny into her family’s personal and philanthropic dealings, along with questions about whether their private business interests have colored her exercise of public authority.
As "IBTimes" previously reported, Clinton switched from opposing an American free trade agreement with Colombia to supporting it after a Canadian energy and mining magnate with interests in that South American country contributed to the Clinton Foundation.
"IBTimes" ’ review of the Clintons’ annual financial disclosures also revealed that 13 companies lobbying the State Department paid Bill Clinton $2.5 million in speaking fees while Hillary Clinton headed the agency.
Questions about the nexus of arms sales and Clinton Foundation donors stem from the State Department’s role in reviewing the export of American-made weapons. The agency is charged with both licensing direct commercial sales by U.S. defense contractors to foreign governments and also approving Pentagon-brokered sales to those governments.
Those powers are enshrined in a federal law that specifically designates the secretary of state as “responsible for the continuous supervision and general direction of sales” of arms, military hardware and services to foreign countries. In that role, Hillary Clinton was empowered to approve or reject deals for a broad range of reasons, from national security considerations to human rights concerns.
The State Department does not disclose which individual companies are involved in direct commercial sales, but its disclosure documents reveal that countries that donated to the Clinton Foundation saw a combined $75 billion increase in authorized commercial military sales under the three full fiscal years Clinton served, as compared to the first three full fiscal years of Bush’s second term.
The Clinton Foundation has not released an exact timetable of its donations, making it impossible to know whether money from foreign governments and defense contractors came into the organization before or after Hillary Clinton approved weapons deals that involved their interests.
But news reports document that at least seven foreign governments that received State Department clearance for American arms did donate to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was serving as secretary: Algeria, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Thailand, Norway and Australia.
Sales Flowed Despite Human Rights Concerns
Under a presidential policy directive signed by President Bill Clinton in 1995, the State Department is supposed to specifically take human rights records into account when deciding whether to approve licenses enabling foreign governments to purchase military equipment and services from American companies. Despite this, Hillary Clinton’s State Department increased approvals of such sales to nations that her agency sharply criticized for systematic human rights abuses.
In its 2010 Human Rights Report, Clinton’s State Department inveighed against Algeria’s government for imposing “restrictions on freedom of assembly and association” tolerating “arbitrary killing,” “widespread corruption,” and a “lack of judicial independence.” The report said the Algerian government “used security grounds to constrain freedom of expression and movement.”
That year, the Algerian government donated $500,000 to the Clinton Foundation and its lobbyists met with the State Department officials who oversee enforcement of human rights policies. Clinton’s State Department the next year approved a one-year 70 percent increase in military export authorizations to the country.
The increase included authorizations of almost 50,000 items classified as “toxicological agents, including chemical agents, biological agents and associated equipment” after the State Department did not authorize the export of any of such items to Algeria in the prior year.
During Clinton’s tenure, the State Department authorized at least $2.4 billion of direct military hardware and services sales to Algeria - nearly triple such authorizations over the last full fiscal years during the Bush administration.
The Clinton Foundation did not disclose Algeria’s donation until this year - a violation of the ethics agreement it entered into with the Obama administration.
The monarchy in Qatar had similarly been chastised by the State Department for a raft of human rights abuses. But that country donated to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was running the State Department.
During the three full budgetary years of her tenure, Qatar saw a 14-fold increase in State Department authorizations for direct commercial sales of military equipment and services, as compared to the same time period in Bush’s second term. The department also approved the Pentagon’s separate $750 million sale of multi-mission helicopters to Qatar. That deal would additionally employ as contractors three companies that have all supported the Clinton Foundation over the years: United Technologies, Lockheed Martin and General Electric.
Clinton foundation donor countries that the State Department criticized for human rights violations and that received weapons export authorizations did not respond to "IBTimes" ’ questions.
That group of arms manufacturers - along with Clinton Foundation donors Boeing, Honeywell, Hawker Beechcraft and their affiliates - were together listed as contractors in 114 such deals while Clinton was secretary of state.
NBC put Chelsea Clinton on its payroll as a network correspondent in November 2011, when it was still 49 percent owned by General Electric. A spokesperson for General Electric did not respond to questions from "IBTimes."
Defense Contractors Donated To The Clinton Foundation
The Clinton Foundation accepted donations from six companies benefiting from U.S. State Department arms export approvals.
Defense Contractor Donation Min. ($) Boeing 5,000,000 General Electric 1,000,000 Goldman Sachs (Hawker Beechcraft) 500,000 Honeywell 50,000 Lockheed Martin 250,000 United Technologies 50,000
The other companies all asserted that their donations had nothing to do with the arms export deals.
“Our contributions have aligned with our longstanding philanthropic commitments,” said Honeywell spokesperson Rob Ferris.
"Even The Appearance Of A Conflict"
During her Senate confirmation proceedings in 2009, Hillary Clinton declared that she and her husband were “committed to ensuring that his work does not present a conflict of interest with the duties of Secretary of State.” She pledged “to protect against even the appearance of a conflict of interest between his work and the duties of the Secretary of State” and said that “in many, if not most cases, it is likely that the Foundation or President Clinton will not pursue an opportunity that presents a conflict.”
Even so, Bill Clinton took in speaking fees reaching $625,000 at events sponsored by entities that were dealing with Hillary Clinton’s State Department on weapons issues.
In 2011, for example, the former president was paid $175,000 by the Kuwait America Foundation to be the guest of honor and keynote speaker at its annual awards gala, which was held at the home of the Kuwaiti ambassador. Ben Affleck spoke at the event, which featured a musical performance by Grammy-award winner Michael Bolton. The gala was emceed by Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, hosts of "MSNBC" ’s "Morning Joe" show.
Boeing was listed as a sponsor of the event, as were the embassies of the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar - the latter two of which had donated to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.
The speaking fee from the Kuwait America Foundation to Bill Clinton was paid in the same time frame as a series of deals Hillary Clinton’s State Department was approving between the Kuwaiti government and Boeing.
Months before the gala, the Department of Defense announced that Boeing would be the prime contractor on a $693 million deal, cleared by Hillary Clinton’s State Department, to provide the Kuwaiti government with military transport aircraft. A year later, a group sponsored in part by Boeing would pay Bill Clinton another $250,000 speaking fee.
“Boeing has sponsored this major travel event, the Global Business Travel Association, for several years, regardless of its invited speakers,” Gordon Johndroe, a Boeing spokesperson, told "IBTimes." Johndroe said Boeing’s support for the Clinton Foundation was “a transparent act of compassion and an investment aimed at aiding the long-term interests and hopes of the Haitian people” following a devastating earthquake.
Boeing was one of three companies that helped deliver money personally to Bill Clinton while benefiting from weapons authorizations issued by Hillary Clinton’s State Department. The others were Lockheed and the financial giant Goldman Sachs.
Lockheed is a member of the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt, which paid Bill Clinton $250,000 to speak at an event in 2010.
Three days before the speech, Hillary Clinton’s State Department approved two weapons export deals in which Lockheed was listed as the prime contractor.
Over the course of 2010, Lockheed was a contractor on 17 Pentagon-brokered deals that won approval from the State Department. Lockheed told "IBTimes" that its support for the Clinton Foundation started in 2010, while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.
“Lockheed Martin has periodically supported one individual membership in the Clinton Global Initiative since 2010,” said company spokesperson Katherine Trinidad.
“Membership benefits included attendance at CGI annual meetings, where we participated in working groups focused on STEM, workforce development and advanced manufacturing.”
In April 2011, Goldman Sachs paid Bill Clinton $200,000 to speak to “approximately 250 high level clients and investors” in New York, according to State Department records obtained by "Judicial Watch".
Two months later, the State Department approved a $675 million foreign military sale involving Hawker Beechcraft - a company that was then part-owned by Goldman Sachs. As part of the deal, Hawker Beechcraft would provide support to the government of Iraq to maintain a fleet of aircraft used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. Goldman Sachs has also contributed at least $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation, according to donation records.
“There is absolutely no connection among all the points that you have raised regarding our firm,” said Andrew Williams, a spokesperson for Goldman Sachs.
Federal records show that ethics staffers at the State Department approved the payments to Bill Clinton from Goldman Sachs, and the Lockheed- and Boeing-sponsored groups without objection, even though the firms had major stakes in the agency’s weapons export decisions.
Stephen Walt, a Harvard University professor of international affairs, told "IBTimes" that the intertwining financial relationships between the Clintons, defense contractors and foreign governments seeking weapons approvals is “a vivid example of a very big problem - the degree to which conflicts of interest have become endemic.”
“It has troubled me all along that the Clinton Foundation was not being more scrupulous about who it would take money from and who it wouldn’t,” he said. “American foreign policy is better served if people responsible for it are not even remotely suspected of having these conflicts of interest. When George Marshall was secretary of state, nobody was worried about whether or not he would be distracted by donations to a foundation or to himself. This wasn’t an issue. And that was probably better.”
UPDATE (7:38pm, 5/26/15): In an emailed statement, a spokeswoman for the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office told "IBTimes:" "Taiwan’s 2003 donation was for the fund to build the Clinton Presidential Library. This was way before Mrs. Clinton was made the U.S. Secretary of State. We have neither knowledge nor comments concerning other issues."______________
I hate to read Ellen Brown.
She always gives us the hard data that has eluded most reporters.
Bail-ins (the Big Disaster Coming), GMO Foods, Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)
The Public Bank Solution
California Dreamin': Why I’m Running for State Treasurer in 2014
Ellen Brown, author, attorney, speaker, activist
Posted on June 11, 2015 by Ellen BrownIt is well enough that the people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.
— Attributed to Henry Ford
In March 2014, the Bank of England let the cat out of the bag: money is just an IOU, and the banks are rolling in it. So wrote David Graeber in "The Guardian" the same month, referring to a BOE paper called “Money Creation in the Modern Economy.” The paper stated outright that most common assumptions of how banking works are simply wrong. The result, said Graeber, was to throw the entire theoretical basis for austerity out of the window.
The revelation may have done more than that. The entire basis for maintaining our private extractive banking monopoly may have been thrown out the window. And that could help explain the desperate rush to “fast track” not only the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), but the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA). TiSA would nip attempts to implement public banking and other monetary reforms in the bud.
The Banking Game Exposed
The BOE report confirmed what money reformers have been saying for decades: that banks do not act simply as intermediaries, taking in the deposits of “savers” and lending them to borrowers, keeping the spread in interest rates. Rather, banks actually create deposits when they make loans. The BOE report said that private banks now create 97 percent of the British money supply. The US money supply is created in the same way.
Graeber underscored the dramatic implications:
. . . [M]oney is really just an IOU. The role of the central bank is to preside over a legal order that effectively grants banks the exclusive right to create IOUs of a certain kind, ones that the government will recognise as legal tender by its willingness to accept them in payment of taxes. There’s really no limit on how much banks could create, provided they can find someone willing to borrow it.Politically, said Graeber, revealing these facts is taking an enormous risk:
Just consider what might happen if mortgage holders realised the money the bank lent them is not, really, the life savings of some thrifty pensioner, but something the bank just whisked into existence through its possession of a magic wand which we, the public, handed over to it.If money is just an IOU, why are we delivering the exclusive power to create it to an unelected, unaccountable, non-transparent private banking monopoly? Why are we buying into the notion that the government is broke – that it must sell off public assets and slash public services in order to pay off its debts? The government could pay its debts in the same way private banks pay them, simply with accounting entries on its books. What will happen when a critical mass of the populace realizes that we’ve been vassals of a parasitic banking system based on a fraud – that we the people could be creating money as credit ourselves, through publicly-owned banks that returned the profits to the people?
Henry Ford predicted that a monetary revolution would follow. There might even be a move to nationalize the whole banking system and turn it into a public utility.
It is not hard to predict that the international bankers and related big-money interests, anticipating this move, would counter with legislation that locked the current system in place, so that there was no way to return money and banking to the service of the people – even if the current private model ended in disaster, as many pundits also predict.
And that is precisely the effect of the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), which was slipped into the “fast track” legislation now before Congress. It is also the effect of the bail-in policies currently being railroaded into law in the Eurozone, and of the suspicious “war on cash” seen globally; but those developments will be the subject of another article.
On June 3, 2015, "WikiLeaks" released 17 key documents related to TiSA, which is considered perhaps the most important of the three deals being negotiated for “fast track” trade authority. The documents were supposed to remain classified for five years after being signed, displaying a level of secrecy that outstrips even the TPP’s four-year classification.
TiSA involves 51 countries, including every advanced economy except the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). The deal would liberalize global trade in services covering close to 80% of the US economy, including financial services, healthcare, education, engineering, telecommunications, and many more. It would restrict how governments can manage their public laws, and it could dismantle and privatize state-owned enterprises, turning those services over to the private sector.
Recall the secret plan devised by Wall Street and U.S. Treasury officials in the 1990s to open banking to the lucrative derivatives business.
To pull this off required the relaxation of banking regulations not just in the US but globally, so that money would not flee to nations with safer banking laws. The vehicle used was the Financial Services Agreement concluded under the auspices of the World Trade Organization’s General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).
The plan worked, and most countries were roped into this “liberalization” of their banking rules. The upshot was that the 2008 credit crisis took down not just the US economy but economies globally.
TiSA picks up where the Financial Services Agreement left off, opening yet more doors for private banks and other commercial service industries, and slamming doors on governments that might consider opening their private banking sectors to public ownership.
Blocking the Trend Toward “Remunicipalization”
In a report from Public Services International called “TISA versus Public Services: The Trade in Services Agreement and the Corporate Agenda," Scott Sinclair and Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood note that the already formidable challenges to safeguarding public services under GATS will be greatly exascerbated by TiSA, which blocks the emerging trend to return privatized services to the public sector.
Communities worldwide are reevaluating the privatization approach and “re-municipalizing” these services, following negative experiences with profit-driven models. These reversals typically occur at the municipal level, but they can also occur at the national level.
One cited example is water remunicipalization in Argentina, Canada, France, Tanzania and Malaysia, where an increasing frustration with broken promises, service cutoffs to the poor, and a lack of integrated planning by private water companies led to a public takeover of the service.
Another example is the remunicipalization of electrical services in Germany. Hundreds of German municipalities have remunicipalized private electricity providers or have created new public energy utilities, following dissatisfaction with private providers’ inflated prices and poor record in shifting to renewable energy. Remunicipalization has brought electricity prices down. Other sectors involved in remunicipalization projects include public transit, waste management, and housing.
Sinclair and Mertins-Kirkwood observe:
The TISA would limit and may even prohibit remunicipalization because it would prevent governments from creating or reestablishing public monopolies or similarly “uncompetitive” forms of service delivery. . . .
Like GATS Article XVI, the TISA would prohibit public monopolies and exclusive service suppliers in fully committed sectors, even on a regional or local level. Of particular concern for remunicipalization projects are the proposed “standstill” and “ratchet” provisions in TISA.
The standstill clause would lock in current levels of services liberalization in each country, effectively banning any moves from a market-based to a state-based provision of public services. This clause . . . would prohibit the creation of public monopolies in sectors that are currently open to private sector competition.
Similarly, the ratchet clause would automatically lock in any future actions taken to liberalize services in a given country. . . . [I]f a government did decide to privatize a public service, that government would be unable to return to a public model at a later date.
That means we can forget about turning banking and credit services into public utilities. TiSA is a one-way street. Industries once privatized remain privatized.
The disturbing revelations concerning TiSA are yet another reason to try to block these secretive trade agreements.
For more information and to get involved, visit:
Flush the TPP
The Citizens Trade Campaign
Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch
Eyes on Trade
Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books including the best-selling Web of Debt. Her latest book, The Public Bank Solution, explores successful public banking models historically and globally. Her 300+ blog articles are at EllenBrown.com.
Feb. 25, interview of Paul Craig Roberts on "It's Our Money." Listen here .
Listen to the archive here.