Category Archives: Banana republic

In Rebuke to Cronyistic New York Fed, TBTF Bank Supervision Shifted to Fed Board of Governors

The Wall Street Journal has published an important account of a behind-the-scenes power struggle at the Federal Reserve over authority for regulation. The result that the New York Fed has had significant amounts of its authority shifted to the Board of Governors in Washington, DC. This is a major win for Fed governor Dan Tarullo, who has emerged as one of the toughest critics of big financial firms at the Fed in the wake of the crisis. It is also a loss for the banks, since the New York Fed is widely recognized as close to Wall Street. Moreover, the Board of Governors is more accountable to citizens (its governors are Federal employees, the Board of Governors is subject to FOIA, although confidential supervisory of all financial regulators is exempt), while the regional Feds can best be thought of as public/private partnerships with weak governance structures,* so this move in theory is also a gain in terms of accountability to the public. However, since Greenspan holdover, deregulation enthusiast and Dodd Frank opponent Scott Alvarez remains as the general counsel of the Board of Governors, it’s unlikely that any newfound serious intent by the Board of Governors will go all that far in practice, given the powerful role that Alvarez exerts over matters regulatory.

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Do Greece, the Troika, and the Eurogroup Actually Have a Deal?

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard has a new article on Greece’s scramble to find the funds to meet it March IMF payments, which are €1.5b in total, with €300 due on Friday. Note that IMF payment dates aren’t as hard and fast as credit card due dates; the agency allows borrowers some leeway if they have a clear intent to pay.

Nevertheless, Evans-Pritchard’s most important observation may be the one at the close of his article:

Whatever piece of paper they signed in Brussels 10 days ago, the two sides are still talking past each other.

In other words, the two sides disagree profoundly as to what the memo means. And that may mean that in reality, there is no deal at all.

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Nurses Unite to Stop TransPacific Partnership Fast Track

In case you haven’t noticed, nurses unions have emerged as a particularly powerful and credible labor/lobbying group. So it’s encouraging to see them use their bully pulpit to rally voters to contact their Congresscritters and voice opposition to the upcoming vote on so-called fast track authority for the TransPacific Partnership. I’m heartened to see, in the Real News Network video below, that the nurses’ representative puts forward compact, factually sound arguments as to why this misnamed “trade deal” is a sop to major corporations at the expense of citizens.

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Bill Black: HSBC CEO – My Pay Was so Outrageous I Had to Use Tax Havens to Hide it from My Peers

This tidbit from HSBC reveals a new low in the standards of banking, which given how low those already are, amounts to an accomplishment of sorts. Perhaps we should create a Stuart Gulliver Award for other instances of creative extreme seaminess. Nominees?

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Mathew D. Rose: Greece – Dead Man Walking

Rose focuses on an issue that reader Swedish Lex and other have pointed out: the heavy-handed actions of Germany in the tempestuous negotiations between the Eurozone and Greece have wound up being a major own goal.

But the bigger issue that Rose raises is that last week’s ugly negotiations, in combination with the fiasco in Ukraine, is exposing Germany as a lousy hegemon, which he argues is producing a political crisis in Germany and fracture lines in Europe.

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The Mitt Romney Connection: How the Scammers Behind Virgin Gold Mining Corporation Bit Off More Than They Could Chew (VII)

… while FBI agents, moved from white collar fraud investigations, help search behind bushes for an Al Qaeda terrorist, hundreds of swindlers roam Utah. – Lynn Packer, utahpoliticalcapitol.com Mitt would make a good Moses. Think about it. – Former Romney campaign official By Richard Smith Let’s start in 2006, with one of The Seattle Times’ […]

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Gaius Publius: Tobacco Deaths, TPP and the “Trade” Courts

Obama’s pending trade deals, the TransPacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, have few fans at Naked Capitalism. But we are always looking for ways for like-minded readers to to alert friends and colleagues to the dangers of the proposed pacts and hopefully take action against them. This post gives concrete, accessible examples of some of the uses made of investor-state dispute settlement panels, which Gaius calls trade courts (even though they are actually secret arbitration panels) by Big Tobacco.

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TransPacific Partnership: Fast Track to Financial Instability

In his State of the Union speech, President Obama said he would submit a bill to Congress that would grant him the fast track authority to finalize the TransPacific Partnership (TPP)—a trade pact with Pacific Rim countries such as Japan, Malaysia, Peru, and Chile.  While free trade has brought benefits in the past, tariffs in the world economy are at an all time low and new deals like the TPP offer few new gains in terms of growth and jobs for the American people. And the TPP in particular comes at unacceptably high cost.

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