Category Archives: Banana republic

New Zealand Companies Office’s $612Mn Money-Laundering Snooze

The Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project recently (21st August) published one of their periodic investigations, concerning a rather large moneylaundering scheme: Call it the Laundromat. It’s a complex system for laundering more than $20 billion in Russian money stolen from the government by corrupt politicians or earned through organized crime activity. It was designed to not only […]

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New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, the Whale Oil Blog, and International Organized Crime

A new book is causing a stir in New Zealand. It’s called “Dirty Politics“. From the blurb:

Early in 2014 Nicky Hager was leaked a large number of email and online conversations from Cameron Slater’s Whale Oil blog. Many of these were between Slater and his personal allies on the hard right, revealing an ugly and destructive style of politics. But there were also many communications with the prime minister’s office and other Cabinet ministers in the National Government. They show us a side of Prime Minister John Key and his government of which most New Zealanders are completely unaware.

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Pending Suit Against Countrywide’s Angelo Mozilo: Yet More Politically-Driven Selective Enforcement

Let’s be clear: we are fans of going after bank execs who bear significant responsibility for damage to borrowers and the economy, rather than just the footsoldiers. We also prefer criminal prosecutions. But in this era when the elites just don’t think of white collar crime as criminal, at least if performed by people who have big titles are large institutions, we have to highlight whatever progress we do see on the “get tough with the bad guys” front.

One deserving target is Angelo Mozilo, head of Countrywide, the biggest and most efficient subprime originator.

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Algorithmic Regulation, “Code is Law,” and the Case of Ferguson

“Algorithmic regulation” is subject to bad and gamed data, accepts closed source code, and isn’t suitable for “automated intervention,” let alone the government of a free people. I also believe it presents problems as tractable that are in fact wicked, leading to project failure. But it’s great for “Investor Storytime!”

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Don Quijones: Spain Cranks Up Political Repression

Yves here. In contrast with the way that political repression is gradually becoming the new normal in America, Don Quijones chronicles how rapidly it is being put in place in Spain to curb protests against austerity and bank-favoring policies. The extreme form of shredding democracy to protect commercial interests was Chile, where as a writer put it, “People died so markets could be free.”

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Obamacare: Complexity and Crapification Mean Rescission Abuses Are Alive and Well

Yves here. Obamacare is proving to be a graduate-level course in the study of craponomics. What distinguished good old fashioned mere shoddiness from crapification is that crapification is institutionalized and on its way to becoming systemic. And as this discussion illustrates, one often-used ploy is unnecessary product complexity, so that what Elizabeth Warren called “tricks and traps” can be characterized as consumer neglect and error, meaning they and not the sneaky, misleading vendor are at fault.

We were early to point out that Obamacare would do nothing to eliminate the widespread practice by insurers of canceling coverage when policy-holders submit large claims, meaning when they expect the insurance to act like insurance. The reason was that it continues to allow insurers to cancel policies for fraud, and the definition of fraud is astonishingly broad.

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Quelle Surprise! SEC Goes Easy on Big Political Donors

David Sirota at the International Business Times wrote up a study by Maria Correira of the London Business School that examined how often firms that corrected their financial statements from 1996 to 2006 were subject to SEC enforcement actions. It should come as no surprise that big political donors get off easy. From Sirota’s account: […]

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Access Journalism, Agnotology, and Breeding for Elite Incompetence

There’s nothing quite like watching systems deliberately made worse, all in the name of better propaganda.

One rapidly escalating trend among officials and government agencies is making more and more information, including decades-old material, either impossible to obtain or accessible only to journalists who are “trusted,” meaning they are deferential to authority and will put the best possible spin on what they are fed.

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Argentina: Debt Default is a Solution, Not a Problem

Unless you just returned from holiday in some ultra-remote region lacking newspapers, television or internet access (is there such a place?), you are aware that the government of Argentina defaulted on its external debt on Wednesday. A New York federal court provided the immediate cause of the default with a ruling that rendered illegal an agreement reached between the Argentine government and creditors holding over 90% of the country’s external debt.

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Summer Rerun: Lazy Corporate Monopolies Are Why America Can’t Have Nice Things

This post first ran on January 7, 2013 By Matt Stoller, who writes for Salon and has contributed to Politico, Alternet, Salon, The Nation and Reuters. You can reach him at stoller (at) gmail.com or follow him on Twitter at @matthewstoller Throughout much of the United States, cell phone service is terrible (so is broadband, […]

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RI Treasurer Justifies Hedge Fund Secrecy With Need to “Minimize Attention” Re Pay, Protect Them From Poaching

Remember the infamous moment in The Untouchables, the PBS documentary on the failure to prosecute major financial firms for blowing the global economy, when assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer made it clear that he was more worried about harm to banks than harm to the public? Rhode Island is updating Breuer’s playbook.

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A Nation on the Brink: How America’s Policies Sealed Iraq’s Fate

Yves here. I’m publishing this piece on Iraq not just on its own merits, but as a vehicle for discussing America’s ever-more destructive foreign policies. I was disheartened by the events of yesterday. It wasn’t simply the tragedy of the Malaysian Airlines plane crash and the almost certain intensification of the Ukraine conflict, and the escalation in Gaza. It was also the speed with which some of the leftie hawks who’d eagerly called for the invasion of Iraq were quick to demonize Putin.

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