By James K. Boyce, who teaches economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is co-author, with Léonce Ndikumana, of Africa’s Odious Debts: How Foreign Loans and Capital Flight Bled a Continent, to be published this year by Zed Books.
Tax havens have got a lot of press lately. In Britain, the UK Uncut movement has mounted demonstrations across the country against tax dodging by large corporations and wealthy individuals – making the connection between profits parked abroad and deficits and budget cuts at home.
Louise Story at the NYT has this: In the summer of 2007, as the first tremors of the coming financial crisis were being felt on Wall Street, top executives of JPMorgan Chase were raising red flags about a troubled investment vehicle called Sigma, which was based in London. But the bank chose not to move […]
Readers of this blog will notice a certain resemblance between Max Blanck and Isaac Harris, proprietors of the Triangle Waist Company, and today’s financial industry titans: serial fires (at least 4 previously, apparently at times with excess inventory, all conveniently insured), disregard for risk, blatant violation of governmental regulations and codes, use of corporate veils, aggressive legal representation, friendly “powers that be,” and continued unaltered conduct after the fact. Neither of them ever went to jail: both were beneficiaries of Judge Thomas C.T. Crain’s overly limiting jury charge in their trial for manslaughter in the death of 24-year old Margaret Schwartz, and both were cleared in the death of 23-year old Jacob Klein by Judge Samuel Seabury’s instructions to that jury to find for the defendants. (If you, humble reader, notice a certain pattern in judges named Crain and Seabury presiding in the cases of victims named Schwartz and Klein, let me not dissuade you.)
Ethisphere just published its annual list of the most ethical companies in the world. I am surprised to see Microsoft and General Electric included among the 110 singled out. GE is the only member of the “diversified industries” group; the other companies in the “computer software” cohort are Adobe, Salesforce.com, Symantec, and Teradata.
Some industries, such as arms merchants, Big Pharma, and US health insurers, are apparently so compromised as to have no representatives.
Gillan Tett’s latest offering in the Financial Times discusses the woes that have befallen various major companies that find themselves exposed as a result of having extended supply chains that have Japan-based manufacturing as an important part. She correctly depicts this as a symptom of a much larger problem, of having pushed the idea of wringing out production costs too far. But perhaps due to space constraints, she fails to draw out the most important conclusion: just as with financial engineering, management incentives favored ignoring risk, and the resulting blow ups were predictable.
We will probably see in the next few days whether the newspapers manage to get the super-injunction by Sir Fred Goodwin, the CEO of failed bank RBS, lifted. Since the facts of the matter, or “speculation” if you will, are now all over the Internet, keeping the super-injunction in place seems pretty pointless, as the Telegraph confirms in Sunday’s Links.
So what’s the real point of this circus? A demonstration of the superiority of the Web over the tabloid press as a mechanism for transmitting salacious tittle-tattle? A grandstanding MP working parliamentary privilege to get a bit of banker-bashing publicity? Naked Capitalism getting into the regulatory arbitrage game and thumbing its nose at the UK court order from the relative safety of its NYC-hosted web server? Or perhaps it is blogger Guido Fawkes sarcastically pointing out that the law is now officially an ass:
So there was this ****** bloke who worked closely with another ****** colleague, they apparently began an adulterous affair not long after the ****ing crisis of 2008. He went to Court to stop it getting out that he had been banging her. Because he is the most notorious ****** of his generation he also banned references to his profession lest he be identified. Guido would be in contempt of Court if he told you his name or profession…
Indeed, the law should not be mocked; but who’s mocking it? The UK certainly needs major overhauls of its privacy (and libel) laws, rather than the current abusive shambles, but in this particular case, one might contend that it’s Sir Fred who’s doing the mocking.
I’m not easily shocked these days, but I have to confess I gasped out loud when I read that the former managing director of McKinsey, and until recently board member of Goldman and Procter & Gamble, Rajat Gupta, had been charged by the SEC for insider trading. Why would someone with one of the most blue chip reputations in Corporate America, who has clearly done very well financially, risk it all to make a bit more? Not only is the downside considerable, but it also isn’t as if these moves would have made a meaningful difference in his lifestyle. He already had status others would kill for. And passing profitable tips to Raj Rajaratnam was never going to be a ticket to Hedgistan levels of wealth.
But the next interesting bit was to watch the reaction in terms of what this scandal meant for McKinsey. This event was a Rorschach tests on the firm, often with a bit of schadenfreude at another elite name being shown to have feet of clay. And even though I worked for McKinsey over 20 years ago and think the firm has a lot to answer for, some of the charges are a bit barmy.
So let’s dispatch with the uninformed inflammatory stuff first and get to the real dirt.
By Matt Stoller, a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. His Twitter feed is http://www.twitter.com/matthewstoller Mozilo’s emails expose a political philosophy borrowed from Ronald Reagan. I was combing through the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission resource materials, and I found an interesting email from former Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo to his senior executives. It was written in […]
By Ian Fraser, a financial journalist who blogs at his web site and at qfinance. His Twitter is @ian_fraser Lloyds Banking Group, the financial behemoth formed from the September 2008 “merger” of Lloyds TSB and basket-case Scottish lender HBOS, is a bank that never ceases to surprise me. Take the bizarre contortions the bank has […]
Not a bad couple of week’s work for the banks, since the “Project Merlin” publicity? Actually it’s taken a bit longer than that, and reconstruction of some of the behind-the-scenes action might be instructive. Although other banks get walk-on parts, the story is mostly about Barclays. Let’s start the timeline in September 2010, when John […]
Soon-to-be-unemployed sports team managers the world over know what it means when they receive an affirmation of full confidence from the club chairman. Accordingly, we know roughly what to make of this: ‘The Bank of England has credibility,’ said Osborne (pictured). ‘I have complete confidence in it.’ The chancellor will not alter the 2% inflation […]
Despite its artful packaging, Diamond’s presentation was yet another reminder of the banking industry’s continued extortion game, namely, that they can take outsized, leveraged risks and when they work out, pay themselves handsome rewards, and when they don’t, dump them on the taxpayer. And they’ve only been encouraged to up the ante. Not only did they get to keep their winnings from their last “wreck the economy” exercise, no senior executive was fired, no boards were replaced, and UBS was the only major bank required to give a detailed account of how its screwed up so badly as to need government support. And before you tell me Barclays was never bailed out, tell me exactly how well it would have fared had any other major UK or international bank failed, or had the officialdom not provided extraordinary liquidity support when interbank funding dried up.
Dylan Ratigan is leading town hall events in various cities to help spur the establishment of a job creation movement. The goal is to push for policies that foster higher employment than the ones we’ve seen over the last thirty years, which instead promoted financialization, the use of consumer debt to paper over lack of wage growth, asset inflation and speculation, and increasing income and wealth disparity.
Ratigan wants to create a dialogue among key political groups, including ordinary citizens, investors, small business operators, and corporate leaders. His sessions will focus on four issues, as he outlined in in the Huffington Post:
Terry Guy Hands has lost his lawsuit against Citigroup, wherein he accused Citigroup of defrauding his private equity group, Terra Firma Capital Partners, by lying about the number of competing bidders during the auction of the record company EMI, for which Terra Firma paid $6.8 Billion. This was one of those top-of the market deals […]