Category Archives: Banana republic

Finance Sector Wages: Explaining Their High Level and Growth

Individuals who work in the finance sector enjoy a significant wage advantage. This column considers three explanations: rent sharing, skill intensity, and task-biased technological change. The UK evidence suggests that rent sharing is the key. The rising premium could then be due to changes in regulation and the increasing complexity of financial products creating more asymmetric information.

Read more...

US Corporate Executives to Workers: Drop Dead

The Washington Post has a story that blandly supports the continued strip mining of the American economy. Of course, in Versailles that the nation’s capitol has become, this lobbyist-and-big-ticket-political-donor supporting point of view no doubt seems entirely logical. The guts of the article: Three years ago, Harvard Business School asked thousands of its graduates, many […]

Read more...

Is New Jersey Fudging Its Pension Fund Results to Defuse a Christie Scandal?

You cannot make stuff like this up. New Jersey, in its attempt to diffuse a pension fund scandal that implicates Chris Christie (it roused him to respond in public), looks to have committed the classic crisis management blunder of a cover-up worse than the original crime.

Read more...

The ECB as Enabler: Doubles Down on Failed Monetary Policies

The ECB took a few surprise measures on Thursday mainly as a signal that central banks are willing to Do Something, even when sort of somethings they can do are at best unproductive. But the weak tea of lowering the benchmark rate by 10 basis points to 0.05% and announced it would be implementing a watered-down version of QE, in which it will start buying asset backed securities and covered bonds nevertheless pleased investors initially. bu the enthusiasm proved to be short lived; in the US, the modest stock market lift in the morning had gone into reverse by the close of trading. The announcement did produce one tangible positive outcome for the flagging European economy, which was to lower the value of the euro.

Read more...

Tony West’s Departure Ends Era of Pathetic Bank Settlements

With the imminent departure of Tony West from the Justice Department, we can assuredly close the book on this latest round of financial fraud settlements. West was a co-chair of the vaunted task force known as the RMBS Working Group: of the original members, only U.S. Attorney for Colorado John Walsh and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman remain. And West was the point person inside the Justice Department for the JPMorgan, Citigroup and Bank of America cases (“Top Nemesis of Big Banks,” screams the New York Times for some reason).

Read more...

New Zealand: How Crooks’ Buddies at WhaleOil Bounced Out the Chief of the Serious Fraud Office, and More

New Zealand: a tangled writhing heap of politicians on the make, spin merchants on commission, journalists looking for copy, chattering policemen, and bloggers on a sort of nihilistic spree. Like everywhere else.

Read more...

Gillian Tett’s Astonishing Defense of Bank Misconduct

I don’t know what became of the Gillian Tett who provided prescient coverage of the financial markets, and in particular the importance and danger of CDOs, from 2005 through 2008. But since she was promoted to assistant editor, the present incarnation of Gillian Tett bears perilous little resemblance to her pre-crisis version. Tett has increasingly used her hard-won brand equity to defend noxious causes, like austerity and special pleadings of the banking elite.

Today’s column, “Regulatory revenge risks scaring investors away,” is a vivid example of Tett’s professional devolution.

Read more...

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 […]

Read more...

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.

Read more...

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.

Read more...

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!”

Read more...

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.”

Read more...