Monthly Archives: June 2011

DSK Prosecution on the Verge of Collapse

The conspiracy theorists in France will have a field day with this development. And I must say, with good reason.

The New York Times reports that even though the forensic evidence makes clear there was a sexual encounter between the former head of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the prosecutors (!) have found the witness to have told enough lies to them to put their case in jeopardy. She may have connections to drug dealers and criminal rings.


Jane Hamsher: What Obama Fights For – Giving $9.55 Billion to North Korea to Spend on Nukes

Yves here. This issue may seem a bit off topic to NC readers, but this subsidy to a state we treat as a mortal danger, and at a time of severe expenditure-cutting, illustrates the degree to which business interests drive American policy.

By Jane Hamsher. Cross posted from FireDogLake.

Yesterday the White House took the last step to owning all three leftover Bush NAFTA-expansion deals with Korea, Colombia and Panama by

. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that we’ll lose 159,000 jobs with the Korea deal alone.

At a time of high unemployment, it’s difficult to fathom why the President would be fighting to increase our trade deficit and ship tens of thousands of jobs overseas.

Even more stunning, however, is the loophole in the Obama deal that will hand billions over to North Korea to spend on their nuclear weapons program (PDF).


BofA “Settlement”: Not a Done Deal, and Not a Good Deal for Investors

The so called Bank of America settlement, in which the Charlotte bank is set to pay $8.5 billion to settle representation and warranty liability on 530 mortgage trusts representing $424 billion of par value, is being hailed as a possible template for other mortgage issuers and servicers.

I sure hope not, because some of the things I see in this deal look plenty troubling.


US Bank Halts Evictions in Oregon After Judge Reverses Foreclosure

Oregon judges have delivered a series of setbacks to servicers and securitization trusts. A recent decision, Hooker v. Northwest Trustee Services, ruled that assignments of the beneficial interest (as in, transfers of the note) needed to be recorded. That makes any foreclosure in the name of the mortgage registry MERS a non-starter, since MERS was never and could never be the holder of the beneficial interest. This will have little impact going forward, since MERS has instructed servicers to stop foreclosing in its name, but there are plenty of foreclosures in the pipeline that were initiated in the name of MERS.

The latest move is that Judge Grand reversed a foreclosure sale due to the failure of the parties representing the lender to satisfy the requirements of Oregon’s recording statute


Marshall Auerback: “Extend and Pretend” Continues in the Euro Zone

By Marshall Auerback, a portfolio strategist and hedge fund manager. Cross posted from New Deal 2.0.

Markets are celebrating the triumph of an anti-labor, pro-capital agenda. But is social unrest the consequence?

The Europeans genuinely must genuinely believe that they can get blood out of a stone. Or perhaps resort to a modern day equivalent of turning lead into gold. There’s no other reason to explain the euphoria now prevalent in the markets, in light of the approval by Greece’s lawmakers to pass a key austerity bill, thereby paving the way for the country to get its next bailout loans that will prevent it from defaulting next month.


Andrew Sheng Says Sustainability Means Caging Godzillas

Andrew Sheng, Chief Adviser to the China Banking Regulatory Commission, is wonderfully straightforward and realistic for an economist. He is willing to say, as he does in this video, things that are obvious yet somehow unacceptable to ‘fess up to in policy circles, like the planet simply cannot support 3 billion people in Asia living European lifestyles. He warns of the danger of creating the mother of all crises if governments cannot stem the tide of leveraged capital flows, and also discusses the role of China on the global stage.


Bank of America Likely to Settle Case with NY Fed, Pimco, Blackrock for $8.5 Billion

I must confess I am surprised that Bank of America is close to settling a litigation threat by a group of investors headed by the New York Fed, Pimco, and Blackrock, which was discussed in the media quite a bit last fall for a reported $8.5 billion.

While most threatened litigation is settled out of court, this case in theory had to overcome procedural hurdles for any suit to be filed, and no group of investors had ever surmounted this impediment. Chris Whalen similarly noted that BofA could simply tell the investors to “pound sand.” However, we had noted that if it moved forward, that this type of case, a representation and warranties case, is always settled because they are too expensive to fight in court.


“Somalia has slightly higher standards than Wyoming and Nevada” (Corporate Secrecy Edition)

We’ve taken an interest in tax havens thanks to Nicholas Shaxson’s book Treasure Islands, which is a must read. Although the book gives a historical account of the rise of what he calls “offshore”, which includes forms of tax avoidance that extend beyond the use of secrecy jurisdictions, which gives the UK the leading role, Shaxson discusses is that the US is the now the biggest tax haven in the world. He discussed briefly the role of Wyoming, which has incorporation rules that are so lax that it is trivial to hide the owners of Wyoming domiciled companies.

An article in Reuters fleshes out this topic in more detail. I encourage you to read it in full. Key extracts:


On Eurozone budgetary constraints

Cross-posted from Credit Writedowns “Slovenia becomes the new problem child of the EU”. This is the headline today in Handelsblatt, a leading German financial newspaper. Below is a translation of that article and a few comments: Slovenia was long regarded as a model country. But now it is becoming a new problem case for the […]


Philip Pilkington: Economic Fetishism – Three Objects of Perverse Intellectual Pleasure

By Philip Pilkington, a journalist and writer based in Dublin, Ireland

Watch out, I have a large, very large fur, with which I could cover you up entirely, and I have a mind to catch you in it as in a net.
– Leopold von Sacher-Masoch

Many aspects of contemporary economic theory certainly seem to have their origins in the mythic and the moral rather than in the realm of the rational. But while this seems to be an accurate description of the system as a whole, it does not seem quite able to account for certain aspects of this system which appear to be rather obsessive in the minds of its adherents.

These obsessions, or ‘fetishes’, can be explained in like terms, that is: compared to certain primitive rituals and superstitions. To do so we will first have to form a better understanding of the fetish itself; an Enlightenment concept that has a long and interesting history.

The specific fetishes we will explore will be the most important today: the government, inflation and gold. All these phenomena are interconnected in neoclassical economic theory (yes, even gold, or at least the ghost thereof), however, they tend to lead their own individual existence outside of the Grand Neoclassical System itself. In and of themselves they are, for economists and economic commentators, fetishes that can be worshipped in dark rooms away from the great hall. They are like fragments of the main theory that adherents smuggle out of the temple and obsess over in their own private shrines.