Spain Charges Its Central Bankers: “Six Current and Former Directors of the Bank of Spain Testify”

arrest-bankers

This article was written by Claire Bernish and originally published at The Free Thought Project.

Editor’s Comment: If this would ever take hold in the U.S., then maybe we could get somewhere. Even now, Europe remains on the verge of breaking down, and many of the worst vulnerabilities for Spain, Italy, Ireland, Greece and other nations at risk of default were created by the central bankers. Unwinding the ball of yarn will not be easy, and institutional excuses will likely be dished out like candy. Yet, putting a foot down and sending the message may remind bankers in countries everywhere to think twice before swindling their populations. Iceland did it, and much of their financial problems of entanglement and institutional risk were sorted out.

The signal at home in America remains: you are above the law, a god over the little people, and too smart and too well-connected to ever be held into account. That signal is long overdue for a change… from Goldman Sachs on down through every major megabank. Otherwise, we are playing with fire, and it can all too easily happen again.

Spain Sets Massive Precedent — Charges Its Central Bankers in Court

by Claire Bernish

First, Iceland, and now Spain has taken on the Big Bankers responsible for financial calamity, as the country’s highest national court charged the former head of Spain’s central bank, a market regulator, and five other banking officials over a failed bank leading to the loss of millions of euros for smaller investors.

This, of course, markedly departs from the mammoth taxpayer giveaway — commonly referred to as the bailout — approved by the U.S. government ostensibly to “save” the Big Banks and, albeit unstated, allow the enormous institutions to continue bilking customers without the slightest fear of penalty.

Errant bankers and financiers, it would seem, typically manage to either evade actually being charged, or escape hefty fines and time behind bars.

Spain’s Supreme Court last year ruled “serious inaccuracies” in information about the listing led investors to back Bankia in error, thus the bank has since paid out millions of euros in compensation.

But Spanish authorities could not abide the telling findings of a years-long investigation into the failed listing, as Wolf Street explains,

As part of the epic, multi-year criminal investigation into the doomed IPO of Spain’s frankenbank Bankia – which had been assembled from the festering corpses of seven already defunct saving banks – Spain’s national court called to testify six current and former directors of the Bank of Spain, including its former governor, Miguel Ángel Fernández Ordóñez, and its former deputy governor (and current head of the Bank of International Settlements’ Financial Stability Institute), Fernando Restoy. It also summoned for questioning Julio Segura, the former president of Spain’s financial markets regulator, the CNMV [National Securities Market Commission] (the Spanish equivalent of the SEC in the US).

The six central bankers and one financial regulator stand accused of authorizing the public launch of Bankia in 2011 despite repeated warnings from the Bank of Spain’s own team of inspectors that the banking group was ‘unviable.’

As AFP reports, “The National Court validated conclusions made by prosecutors who concluded that when ‘an unviable entity has been listed on the stock market, its administrators or auditor should not shoulder all the responsibility.’”

Specifics of the charges have not yet been made apparent, but as The Economist reports:

The court is questioning why they allowed Bankia to sell shares in an initial public offering in 2011, less than a year before Bankia’s portfolio of bad mortgage loans forced the government to seize control of it. It said there was evidence the regulators had ‘full and thorough knowledge’ of Bankia’s plight. After its nationalisation, it went on to report a €19.2bn ($24.7bn) loss for 2012, the largest in Spanish corporate history.

Internal emails and documents played a crucial role in ultimately bringing the central banking officials to task for the failure of Bankia — inspectors bringing issues to the attention of superiors were allegedly ignored. One email cited by The Economist came from an inspector who warned Bankia was “a money-losing machine,” for which an IPO would not solve.

Another report, deemed “devastating by the court,” saw an inspector advise Bankia to seek a private buyer rather than proceed with the listing.

An inquiry into “the participation of other players, such as officials in the central bank,” was also urged by the National Court.

As The Economist points out, Spanish judges are generally reluctant to sentence first-time financial criminals to prison; though five Novacaixagalicia executives had five-year suspended sentences — levied for embezzlement in 2015 — abruptly enforced in January.

Meanwhile, taxpayers in the United States have yet to see Big Bankers criminally responsible for the financial ruin of so many Americans brought to any semblance of justice for their wrongdoing.

This article was written by Claire Bernish and originally published at The Free Thought Project.

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Sweden Accepted 162k Refugees in 2015, Guess How Many Have Jobs

http://www.renegadetribune.com/sweden-accepted-162k-refugees-2015-guess-many-jobs/

 

Renegade Editor’s Note: I personally am glad the “refugees” are not getting jobs or assimilating, as it will make it easier on everyone to eventually send them back to their own lands, which must happen.

By Daniel Lang of The Daily Sheeple

When it comes to the migrant crisis in Europe, the two most important questions that need to be asked is, will these refugees ever return to their homelands, and if not, will they ever be able to function in European societies? So far, the answer to the latter of those two questions is a hard no.

Take Sweden for instance; a country that on a per capita basis, has probably taken in more refugees than any other European nation. In 2015 alone, they brought in 162,000 refugees. Now if these people were making assimilating into Sweden, you would see thousands of them finding jobs, finding homes, and learning the language. But by at least one of those metrics they are utterly failing. Out of those 162,000 refugees, guess how many have found a job since they reached Swedish shores?

Only 494 have jobs now. A majority of the refugees are qualified to receive work permits in Sweden. So far, roughly a third of them have received work permits (more would have them, but there are so many refugees that the government is struggling to issue them). And of those with permits, less than one out every hundred migrants has a job.

This has been a widespread problem across Europe with no real end in sight. Only Germany has managed to alleviate the problem somewhat, by making migrants exempt from minimum wage laws. Either way, the odds of these people ever assimilating into Western society is slim.

Either they’re going to be jobless and a chronic strain on the welfare systems of Europe, or they’re going to be resentful of the societies that welcomed them when they realize that they’re only ever going to be working for pennies on the dollar. They will become a permanent underclass, always dependent on the government, and with no motivation to ever accept Western values.


This article originally appeared on The Daily Sheeple.

Cashless Society Scam in Full Swing

http://www.renegadetribune.com/cashless-society-scam-full-swing/
By Russ Winter of The New Nationalist

The cashless-society Cabal/Crime Syndicate stickup didn’t take long to manifest itself. First, (((Bloomberg))) came up with a preposterous, thinly veiled op-ed calling for a cashless, or crypto, currency. As always, we are now being exposed to a series of virulent, dominant social memes (stories, aka lies) that will attempt to confuse the reality of what is actually happening.

At the last mucky muck Jackson Hole gathering, another Harvard professor arch-echoberg (((Ken Rogoff))) proposed not only taking $100s, but $50s AND $20s out of circulation. The argument given was not just fuzzy logic but once again nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt at controlling people on the plantation via electronic corralling.

Incidentally, a long list of be-forewarned key Tribe economist hacks and sycophants can be accessed here. It comes “unbiased” straight from a Jewish organization.

Bottom line consideration: Basically, you will need to have a bank account in the e-system and will be issued an e-card. Once this happens, you will have been given the equivalent of a microchip as all your economic life can be tracked and controlled.

A definitive false flag event will come that the Crime Syndicate (CS) will claim is demonstrative of how physical cash is the primary means of funding evil acts in the world. The false flag will be used as the excuse for an economic crisis.

The CS declares a date on which paper currency will become illegal. Until that date, it can be deposited into a bank. The big question will be whether all jurisdictions go along with the program, but for sure the countries controlled by Anglo-Zionist Cabalists (ZOG/banksters) will.

Besides the Bloomberg article, we’ve seen the following headlines in just the last few months:

Then last December throughout India, people were put into the grip of a hardcore, extreme and quite evil crime syndicate cabal operation: the confiscation of their cash and money holdings. Indians historically hoard stashes of currency, gold and silver. The reason is fundamental: They don’t trust banksters or the authorities — and rightly so.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who revealed himself as a Cheka-style tyrant of the worst kind, implemented a destabilizing confiscation and looting program. The set up is to invent a shadow language epithet, similar to “fake news,” called “black money.” This is classic, as the psychopaths practice their reverse-projection scams.

The next step was to eliminate as legal tender 500-rupee ($7.30) and 1,000-rupee notes ($14.60), which accounts for 85 percent of the money supply. This would be equivalent to taking current ten dollar $10 and euro bills out of circulation. Incredible! This is in a country where tens of millions are lucky to even have a few 1,000-rupee notes on hand as a safety net. How diabolical to run them through this evil drill. The idea is to create a plantation-style digital/cashless system by which the tyrants can monitor all personal and commercial activity.

Not surprisingly, India’s economy entered into a state of collapse. Only 35% of ATMs nationwide were operational. The shortage of cash continues to incentivize the use of alternate payments, including extension of informal credit and a return to barter systems. Addtionally, the slowdown in activity is dramatically reflected in lower tax collections. 

Of course, evidence suggests the politically connected and the rich were tipped off in advance. This is a classic Parasite Guild stealing operation, as the criminal kleptocrat class will scarf up the distressed bargains throughout India.

The next knock at the door in this criminal, Indian-Cheka operation is aimed at gold jewelry holders. This practice of holding gold is widespread throughout India and has been for millennia. Is it just a matter of time before we see checkpoint body scans and cavity searches for gold?

True to the bureaucratic hell-hole world that is India, the gubnut issued rules to “reduce the chaos and confusion,” stating, “Nothing would happen “if the gold holding is limited to 500 grams per married woman, 250 grams per unmarried woman and 100 grams per male.” This is a true definition of actual sexism, in this case reversed against Indian men. It also said that there would be no limit placed on jewelry “provided it is acquired … from inheritance.” Also, the “officer conducting the search has discretion to not seize an even higher quantity of gold jewelry.” Without a doubt, this is leading to bribes and an explosion in extortion corruption.

The New Nationalist (TNN) is feeling it and extends heart-felt sympathy and god speed to our fellow human beings in India, who are suffering under this insane, evil regime. We new nationalists are the true humanists, because as usual, hardly a word is being spoken in the hypocritical, nasty, (((mainstream media))), dream-world state about this exploding human tragedy. Where are all the crocodile tears, libtard human rights NGOs? Apparently they’re too busy in the Mediterranean running industrial-scale human trafficking operations. This lack of reaction is no doubt deliberate, as TNN worries that the rest of us are on the same menu. We are all in the grip, ladies and gentlemen, all of us.

So the components of the enslavement plan are as clear as daylight. E-cards will force individuals and business to rely upon some form of bank that issues the card. Cash transactions of more than 2,500 euros have already been banned in Spain. France and Italy have both banned cash transactions of more than 1,000 euros. And the ECB has killed the 500 euro note. Then you will be nickeled and dimed to death with fees and subjected to negative interest rates. In the Brave New World, you pay some zombie bank to hold your money.

Finally, now that your money is totally captured, you will be looted via bank bail-ins. On Jan. 1, a new bail-in system went into effect in Europe. On Oct. 14, new “break the buck” rules for money markets went into effect.

Once your money is captured, it becomes a simple matter to actually microchip the population, which then allows complete martial law, rationing and tracking.

Most people on this New Plantation will be so poor that the e-system is a moot point. Those people who don’t comply wouldn’t be GMO-fed and thus starve, so the system can actually corral them with ease.

Taking guns from the hands of the population swings open the door to low-resistance extractions and roundups of those who are resistant or non-compliant. A form of gulag awaits.

images

In America, the population has become so depraved and debouched that there is no way you would want to end up in a FEMA Gulag. As a clue of what’s in store, here is a story of how common anal hazing is among young people. Enter “anal hazing” as a Google search term and you will see thousands of porn entries. Any kid can click on and avail themselves without restriction.

Would you really want to end up in the hands of such depraved, brain-washed Americans today? You can be 100% assured that criminals will run the gulags and use these “pizzagate” perverts.

This is going to be hard to overcome, but the first step is to anticipate the New Plantation e-system and convert as much of your wealth into something tangible so that the prospect for escape or hiding are enhanced. Gold will probably be used as real money, but I anticipate it will be highly concentrated and monopolized into the hands of elite kleptocrats. They will mark up the price. There will be huge demand for smaller bills still in circulation.

A sleeper currency might be Jefferson nickels, but you will need a lot space to store many and it won’t be portable. Cupronickels consists of 75% copper and 25% nickel. Coinflation tracks its “melt value,” which is currently about 3 cents. With returns on savings nearly zero, a nickel is an open-ended call with a floor on both inflationary spikes in these metals and moves by the U.S. Mint to melt down the Cupronickels and reissue a cheaper version, thus putting Gresham’s Law into play.

For more well-to-do people on the New Plantation, gold and silver will be a quasi-black market with large participation. Since you will be chipped and electronically spied upon, precious metals may be hard to hide. Your jurisdiction will be critical.

The advantage is that it is portable and relatively light weight. But the risk of holding precious metals is far less than being robbed, looted and tracked under the e-system. Bitcoin is nothing but a fraudulent extension of the e-money system. Goldmoney has major Cabal backers (such as Soros) and should be viewed with suspicion.

This is a topic in motion, and I will be tracking developments; but recent news is very alarming.

#DayWithoutImmigrants: One-Day Strike Closes Businesses Around Country

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/social-media-campaign-proposes-one-day-immigrant-strike-n721621?cid=eml_nnn_20170216

 

Just how much does the U.S. rely on immigrants? Americans are finding out.

In cities across the country, businesses closed their doors on Thursday to show support for the #DayWithoutImmigrants campaign. Spread on social media and messaging apps, the day aimed to make a point about the economic impact immigrants have on the U.S. labor force.

Foreign-born residents of the U.S. were asked to stay home from work or school — and to refrain from shopping. Rallies and marches are taking place in Washington D.C., Chicago and Denver, as well as other cities.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

In Staten Island, site of recent , many immigrant-owned stores have shut to join .

Celebrity chef José Andrés, who was born in Spain, decided to close most of his eateries Thursday to observe the day.

“It seems immigrants, especially Latinos, it seems we are under attack,” said Andrés. “It seems we are part of the American dream, but somehow it seems that America is not recognizing what we are doing.”

The plan for the national “strike” spread over social media with #DayWithoutImmigrants trending on Twitter across the U.S. early Thursday.

Thousands in Chicago march Sign reads: “We are hard workers – not rapists”

Some restaurant chains announced plans to close, amid fears that many employees will not show up for work. In California’s Bay Area, Chavez Supermarket closed all 10 of its businesses, while in New York’s Staten Island the owners of Cafe Con Pon bakeries closed their three locations.

Even at the Pentagon, employees at food concessions including national chains like Sbarro’s and Taco Bell said they would not be coming to work.

Saru Jayaraman, co-founder of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, an advocacy group for restaurant workers, issued a statement supporting the one-day boycott.

“Immigrants are the lifeblood of the restaurant industry,” Jayaraman said. “At ROC, we honor the major contributions of immigrants in the restaurant industry — an industry that employs perhaps more immigrants than any other in the U.S. We applaud and support restaurants and workers who, by participating the the Day Without Immigrants, affirm the dignity of workers. Furthermore, we call on all Americans to recognize the influence and importance of immigrants in our communities, economy and daily lives.”

A North Carolina teacher says that majority of his students didn’t show up to class on Thursday because of the campaign, which prompted him to share a post on Instagram. The teacher, whose Instagram only identifies him as Claudio said his students are immigrants or come from immigrant families and many decided not to show up in order to show the rest of the U.S. what the country is without them.

“This is what happens when you force people to feel scared. People fight back,” Claudio said via Instagram. “Only having 3 out of 54 students, and only having an average of 10 children in each classroom are clear evidence that we are tired of oppression and being belittled.”

Hollywood captured a somewhat similar idea in the 2004 film “A Day Without A Mexican,” in which all Mexicans in California disappear grinding the state to a halt and wreaking economic havoc. In protest of immigration reform proposals in 2006, a Great American Boycott was also organized for May Day.

Some social media users, however, suggested that Thursday would be an excellent time for people born in the United States to reclaim the jobs they say that immigrants have taken away.

This is not the first time that advocates for immigrants have tried to point out what they say is their value to the American economy. Advocates say immigrants often do work that other residents of the U.S. do not want to do.

Image: Protesters against Donald Trump's immigration policies in Milwaukee on Feb. 13, 2017
Protesters gather at the Milwaukee County Courthouse during a rally against President Donald Trump’s immigration policies on Monday. Darren Hauck / Getty Images

Cheap lettuce, for example, is said by supporters of immigrants to be available because of migrant farm workers. Chicken is affordable in super markets, advocates contend, because Mexicans and other immigrants work in chicken plants, sometimes in undesirable conditions.

The federal government has long acknowledged that a majority of farm workers in U.S. fields are undocumented.

This has been a theme advanced for many years by supporters of immigrants in the U.S., whether documented or undocumented. They contribute to the economy rather than harming it, advocates say.

More than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies have been founded by immigrants and their children, according to a Partnership for A New American economy

Think the TPP Is Gone? Wrong — It’s About to Get Replaced with Something Much Worse

http://www.renegadetribune.com/think-tpp-gone-wrong-get-replaced-something-much-worse/

 

By Melissa Dykes of The Daily Sheeple

On January 23rd, many Americans rejoiced as Donald Trump formally withdrew the United States from the TPP.

The only problem is, the TPP is about to get replaced with something even worse.

Quietly in the background, discussed in meetings even more secretive than those under which the TPP was negotiated, some 50 countries have been formulating the Trade in Services Agreement known as TiSA.

Negotiations for TiSA have been going on since April 2013 and have primarily been led by the US, the EU, and Australia.

Coming to the TiSA negotiations, it is common knowledge that three members—the US, the EU, and Australia—led the negotiations for the past five years ostensibly for crafting an “ambitious” and “comprehensive” trade agreement. It is supposed to be based on the best provisions of the bilateral and regional trade agreements already signed by some of the participants. (source)

So far these nations have gone through at least 21 rounds of negotiations on this agreement.

Countries involved include (but obviously aren’t limited to) Australia, Canada, Chile, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Costa Rica, the European Union, Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Peru, South Korea, Switzerland, Turkey, US, Pakistan and Mauritius.

So, why is TiSA so bad? What would TiSA do?

According to Counterpunch:

The Trade In Services Agreement (TISA) … if passed would prohibit regulations on the financial industry, eliminate laws to safeguard online or digital privacy, render illegal any “buy local” rules at any level of government, effectively dismantle any public advantages to be derived from state-owned enterprises and eliminate net neutrality.

Earlier draft versions of TISA’s language would prohibit any restrictions on the size, expansion or entry of financial companies and a ban on new regulations, including a specific ban on any law that separates commercial and investment banking, such as the equivalent of the U.S. Glass-Steagall Act. It would also ban any restrictions on the transfer of any data collected, including across borders; place social security systems at risk of privatization or elimination; and put an end to Internet privacy and net neutrality. It hasn’t gotten any more acceptable.

As Counterpunch put it, the implementation of TiSA will be the equivalent of letting megabanks decide what is good for us, as “not even the TPP contemplated the entire elimination of regulations of any kind against the financial industry.”

Counterpunch also notes that, “Hypocritically, TISA would prohibit developing countries from adopting measures that countries like the United States used to facilitate its industrial development when it was an emerging country in the 19th century.”

Interestingly, China has been kept out of TiSA negotiations specifically at the behest of the United States:

Significantly, the US has ensured that China is kept out of the TiSA brigade, despite overwhelming support for its inclusion. The US repeatedly blocked Beijing’s application for joining the TiSA talks in 2012, despite support from the EU and a majority of the participants. Meetings were largely held at the American, EU, and Australian missions in utter secrecy. At times, the participants also congregated at the Centre William Rappard that houses the WTO. (source)

One thing is clear; TiSA has always been the backup plan in case the TPP and TIPP failed. In fact, TiSA was reportedly modeled directly off of the TPP.

Although Trump did mention reinstituting Glass-Steagall on the campaign trail, filling his cabinet to the brim with Goldman Sachs and even House of Rothschild now that he has been elected seems to directly contradict that sentiment.

So… what will Donald Trump do with TiSA?


This article was originally published on The Daily Sheeple.

Inflation picks up to multi-year highs in China as cbank eyes tighter policy

China’s producer price inflation picked up more than expected in January to near six-year highs as prices of steel and other raw materials extended a torrid rally, adding to views that global manufacturing activity is building momentum.

China consumer inflation also rose more than expected, nearing a three-year high as fuel and food prices jumped, data showed on Tuesday.

Much of the pick up in consumer prices was likely due to higher food and travel costs heading into the long Lunar New Year holiday, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said.

But mounting price pressures in China and many other countries have sparked talk of tighter monetary policy this year, after years of super-loose settings aimed at reviving economic growth.

China’s central bank raised short-term interest rates in recent weeks as it looks to contain risks from an explosive growth in debt, while India’s central bank last week unexpectedly signaled an end to its longest easing cycle since the global financial crisis, citing inflation risks.

Some analysts, however, believe the ramp up in price pressures in China may be short-lived, noting that a jump in January food prices was likely seasonal and that producer price gains slowed by half on a month-on-month basis.

“We don’t expect such high rates of inflation to last,” Capital Economics China economist Julian Evans-Pritchard said in a note.

“Tighter monetary policy, slowing income growth and cooling property prices should keep broader price pressure contained over the medium-term,” he added, noting that weak prices early last year may have exaggerated the strength of a reflationary trend seen in recent months.

Consumer inflation quickened to 2.5 percent in January from a year earlier, the highest since May 2014.

But it is still well within the government’s comfort zone of 3 percent, and is showing few signs yet that the jump in producer prices is filtering through to the broader economy, analysts say.

Analysts polled by Reuters had predicted the consumer price index (CPI) would rise 2.4 percent, after a 2.1 percent gain in December.

Food prices, the biggest component of CPI, rose 2.7 percent in January, led by a 7.1 percent increase in the price of pork.

Fuel costs surged 16.5 percent on-year, the biggest increase among CPI components, likely due to a low comparison in the year-ago period when fuel prices fell.

Capital Economics expects consumer prices to rise only 2.0 percent this year.

Producer price inflation accelerated to 6.9 percent — the fastest since August 2011 — from December’s rise of 5.5 percent.

Gains in the producer price index (PPI) were driven by a 31.0 percent increase in mining costs as coal prices rise, the biggest jump in that category since early 2010.

The market had expected producer prices to rise 6.3 percent on an annual basis.

But on a monthly basis, they only rose 0.8 percent, down from December’s 1.6 percent gain.

China’s massive imports of coal, crude oil, iron ore and industrial materials have helped fuel a sharp rebound in global resources prices in recent months, boosting profits for producers and processors.

Iron ore futures in China rose for a sixth session in a row on Tuesday, hitting their highest in more than three years, while London copper futures have climbed to around 20-month highs.

Price gains in China have been further amplified by government efforts to reduce industrial overcapacity.

Investors are cashing in on the global reflationary trade. Shares of Jiangxi Copper Co Ltd (600362.SS)(0358.HK), China’s biggest integrated copper producer, have surged over 60 percent in the past year in Shanghai and 85 percent in Hong Kong.

But heady increases in China’s commodity futures market, especially for iron ore, metal reinforcing bars and coking coal used in steel production, have added to policymakers’ worries about speculative price bubbles.

Worries about speculation and debt risks led the central bank to move to a tightening bias in recent months, not inflation, analysts say.

“Inflation is not the main driver of monetary policy at the moment…I do think they are going to tighten more this year, but the main driver is credit risk and concerns of leverage and what’s going on in the property market,” said Capital Economics’ Evans-Pritchard.

Banks in some big Chinese cities have started to reduce discounts on mortgage rates for first-time home buyers, newspapers have reported, joining recent steps to curb financial risks stemming from years of loose credit conditions.

Senate confirms former banker Mnuchin as Treasury secretary

WASHINGTON (AP) — A bitterly divided Senate on Monday confirmed Steven Mnuchin as treasury secretary despite strong objections by Democrats that the former banker ran a “foreclosure machine” when he headed OneWest Bank.

Republicans said Mnuchin’s long tenure in finance makes him qualified to run the department, which will play a major role in developing economic policy under President Donald Trump.

“He has experience managing large and complicated private-sector enterprises and in negotiating difficult compromises and making tough decisions — and being accountable for those decisions,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, chairman of the Finance Committee.

Votes on President Donald Trump’s Cabinet picks have exposed deep partisan divisions in the Republican-controlled Senate, with many of the nominees approved by mostly party-line votes.

The vote on Mnuchin followed the same pattern. He was confirmed by a mostly party-line vote of 53-47. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia joined the Republicans.

The Senate also confirmed a less divisive nominee Monday evening, physician David Shulkin, to be secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The vote was unanimous.

David Shulkin, the Under Secretary of Health at the Department of Veterans Affairs, leaves a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower, Monday, Jan. 9, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

David Shulkin, the Under Secretary of Health at the Department of Veterans Affairs, leaves a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower, Monday, Jan. 9, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Like others in Trump’s Cabinet, Mnuchin is a wealthy businessman. He is a former top executive at Goldman Sachs and served as finance chairman for Trump’s presidential campaign.

As Treasury secretary, Mnuchin is expected to play a key role in Republican efforts to overhaul the nation’s tax code for the first time in three decades. Trump has promised to unveil a proposal in the coming weeks.

Mnuchin will also be in charge of imposing economic sanctions on foreign governments and individuals, including Russia.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Mnuchin “is smart, he’s capable, and he’s got impressive private-sector experience.”

Democrats complained that Mnuchin made much of his fortune by foreclosing on families during the financial crisis.

In 2009, Mnuchin assembled a group of investors to buy the failed IndyMac bank, whose collapse the year before was the second biggest bank failure of the financial crisis. He renamed it OneWest and turned it around, selling it for a handsome profit in 2014.

“Mr. Mnuchin has made his career profiting from the misfortunes of working people,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. “OneWest was notorious for taking an especially aggressive role in foreclosing on struggling homeowners.”

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., said, “I simply cannot forgive somebody who took a look at that banking crisis and took a look at the pain that Wall Street had sent in a wave across all of America, and thought, ‘Ah, there’s a great new way to make money, foreclosing on people.’”

Rep. Maxine Waters of California, the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, called Mnuchin “the foreclosure king.”

Mnuchin has said he had worked hard during the financial crisis to assist homeowners with refinancing so that they could remain in their homes.

He said his bank had extended more than 100,000 loan modifications to borrowers.

But several Democratic senators raised examples of residents in their states who they said were not treated fairly by OneWest, including elderly homeowners and members of the military.

Democrats also complained that Mnuchin failed to disclose nearly $100 million in assets on forms he filed with the Senate Finance Committee.

Mnuchin called his failure to disclose assets an oversight. After meeting with committee staff Mnuchin amended his disclosure forms and also disclosed his position as director of Dune Capital International in the Cayman Islands, a well-known offshore tax haven.

When pressed by Democrats to explain the omissions, Mnuchin said: “I did not use a Cayman Island entity in any way to avoid taxes for myself. There was no benefit to me.”

The Treasury Department is responsible for a wide range of activities, including advising the president on economic and financial issues. The department oversees the IRS, negotiates tax treaties with other countries, imposes economic sanctions against foreign governments and individuals, and targets the financial networks of terrorist groups and drug cartels.

The department also issues the bonds that finance the government’s deficit spending.

Republicans and Democrats praised Shulkin, who is charged with delivering on Trump’s campaign promises to fix long-standing problems at Veterans Affairs.

Shulkin, 57, a former Obama administration official, has been the VA’s top health official since 2015. He secured the backing of Senate Democrats after pledging at his confirmation hearing to always protect veterans’ interests, even if it meant disagreeing at times with Trump.

He has ruled out fully privatizing the agency and says wide-scale firings of VA employees are unnecessary, describing the VA workforce as “the best in health care.”

Cash No Longer King: Europe Moves to Begin Elimination of Paper Money

http://www.renegadetribune.com/cash-no-longer-king-europe-moves-begin-elimination-paper-money/

 

Shaun Bradley of The AntiMedia

In the shadow of Donald Trump’s spree of controversial actions, the European commission has quietly launched the next offensive in the war on cash. These unelected bureaucrats have boldly asserted their intention to crack down on paper transactions across the E.U. and solidify a trend that has been gaining momentum for years.

The financial uncertainty amplified by Brexit has incentivized governments throughout Europe to seize further control over their banking systems. France and Spain have already criminalized cash transactions above a certain limit, but now the commission has unilaterally established new regulations that will affect the entire union. The fear of physical money flowing out of the trade bloc has manifested a draconian response from the State.

The European Action Plan doesn’t mention a specific dollar amount for restrictions, but as expected, their reasoning for the move is to thwart money laundering and the financing of terrorism. Border checks between countries have already been bolstered to help implement these new standards on hard assets. Although these end goals are plausible, there are other clear motivations for governments to target paper money that aren’t as noble.

Negative interest rates and high inflation are a deadly combination that could further destabilize the already fragile union in the future. With less physical currency circulating, these trends ensure that the impact of any additional central bank policies will be maximized. If economic conditions deteriorate, the threat of citizens pulling cash out of their accounts and starting a bank run is eliminated in a cashless system. So long as the people’s wealth is under centralized control, funds can be shifted at will to conceal any underlying problems. But the longer this shell game is allowed to persist, the more painful it will be when reality overrides the manipulation.

Since former Chief Economist at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Kenneth Rogoff, published a paper last year advocating for the U.S. $100 bill to be removed, governments around the world have pushed forward their agendas towards a cashless society. He wrote:

There is little debate among law-enforcement agencies that paper currency, especially large notes such as the U.S. $100 bill, facilitates crime: racketeering, extortion, money laundering, drug and human trafficking, the corruption of public officials, not to mention terrorism. There are substitutes for cash—cryptocurrencies, uncut diamonds, gold coins, prepaid cards—but for many kinds of criminal transactions, cash is still king. It delivers absolute anonymity, portability, liquidity and near-universal acceptance.”

This announcement comes just months after the 500 euro note was discontinued, and it follows India’s lead in subverting the financial independence of their citizens. The incremental steps currently being taken may look trivial in isolation, but the ultimate end is to lay the foundation for an entire network for economic repression.

The German people have placed themselves in strong opposition to the action and previously pushed back hard against domestic legislation that would have limited cash. Nearly 80% of all transactions in Germany are made with paper currency, putting Europe’s economic engine in direct conflict with the vision coming out of Brussels.

The spillover effect has affected new forms of investment, like Bitcoin, which witnessed an astronomical rise over the last months and has been brought back into the discussion as a viable alternative to fiat currencies. Of course, the E.U. Commission is also attempting to impose similar limitations on crypto-currencies to make sure no transactions fall outside of their domain. The ECB and BOJ are working towards a trojan horse blockchain network that will serve only to entrap those naive enough to trust it.

Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers wrote last year that the E.U. would likely be the trailblazer of the West towards this new digital model:

But a moratorium on printing new high denomination notes would make the world a better place. In terms of unilateral steps, the most important actor by far is the European Union. The €500 is almost six times as valuable as the $100. Some actors in Europe, notably the European Commission, have shown sympathy for the idea and European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi has shown interest as well.”

Since the public’s attention has been drawn to emotional manipulations and political stunts, the threat the war on cash represents has gone unrecognized. Instead of feeding energy into systems meant to divide and conquer, individuals must educate themselves to secure their own financial futures. By submitting to the hive mind and following the media down whichever rabbit hole they choose, the most important issues of today will go unnoticed. The value of advocating for decentralized and physical alternatives to the banking system may not be easily grasped by the activists of today, but few other things have the potential to erode freedom on such a massive scale.


This article (Cash No Longer King: Europe Moves to Begin Elimination of Paper Money) was originally created and published by The Anti-Media.

How Trump’s Immigration Policies Could Nearly Double the Price of Milk

President Trump’s plan to build a border wall between the United States and Mexico is a bad idea for many reasons, from insulting a close trading partner to harming migrating wildlife to the fact that the wall won’t actually improve current border defenses.

According to a 2009 study conducted by the Migration Policy Institute, a nonprofit independent think tank, 97 percent of undocumented migrants are still able to make it into the United States, even with walls constructed at various points along the border. “There is no barrier known to man that will stop someone who has traveled hundreds of miles to feed his family,” a border patrol agent told the Daily Beast. “He will go over, under, or around anything you put up.”

But let’s say Trump’s wall does get built and it succeeds in preventing illegal immigration along the Mexican border. And say he also goes through with his plan to deport millions of undocumented immigrants already in the U.S. One of the biggest impacts will be seen on America’s farms, and consequently, Americans’ dinner tables. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s National Agricultural Workers Survey, between 50 and 70 percent of farmworkers in the the nation are undocumented. Based on these estimates, between 1.2 million to 1.75 million farmworkers are undocumented. These workers pick the vast majority of produce grown in the United States.

What’s more, legal residents and citizens don’t want these jobs. A 2014 report commissioned by the nonprofit American Farm Bureau Federation found that U.S. citizens and legal residents are simply not interested in the farmworker positions that are ultimately filled by undocumented migrants.

“Given the limited skills required for farm work and the manual nature of the work, the majority of Americans apparently believe that they have ‘outgrown’ farm work as reflected in their unwillingness to take farm jobs even temporarily despite being unemployed,” write the researchers, who identified three generic immigration reform alternatives: enforcement only (e.g., Trump’s border wall); enforcement plus a pathway to legalization; and enforcement plus a pathway to legalization and a guest worker program for sectors with special labor needs, like agriculture. “While the generally low wages to paid farmworkers are consistent with the low-skill nature of the work, far more Americans are willing to accept even lower minimum wage jobs rather than work in agriculture.”

“The United States already allows a significant amount of legal immigration from Mexico under the ‘guest-worker’ program—1.6 million entries by legal immigrants and 3.9 million by temporary workers from Mexico over the past 10 years—because farmers can’t find enough native-born Americans to pick crops,” writes political commentator Robert Reich.

“There are growers out there screaming for labor,” Carlos Castañeda, a California farm labor contractor, told Politico. “The people who are coming in are doing the work that not a single American would like to do.”

So, if undocumented migrants if  are prevented from entering and taking on farm work, and Americans won’t do those jobs, what will happen to the nation’s farms that rely on undocumented laborers? The enforcement-only option, according to the AFBF report, “would have a significant disruptive impact on agriculture, leading to large enough losses in farm income by the end of a 5-year implementation and adaptation period to trigger a large scale restructuring of the sector, higher food prices and greater dependence on imported products.”

“Without workers, farmers will have no choice but to watch their crops rot in the fields, creating shortages that will hit the grocery store,” writes S.E. Smith in an article recently published by Truthout. Noting that “not all foods are created equal,” Smith envisions the potential agricultural fallout from Trump’s border wall:

Fruit prices will likely start to rise first, followed by vegetables, because both are very labor intensive. Next will be animal products, beginning with dairy and moving to meat and eggs. Staples like grains and beans, which can be harvested mechanically, will eventually follow. On average, food prices could rise by around six percent. Imported foods aren’t as subject to these circumstances, but their prices may go up as well—especially as dwindling U.S. supply puts pressure on imports to make up the difference.

While a six percent increase is significant, the impact of Trump’s border wall on milk prices is much greater. Economists at Texas A&M University conducted a study in 2015 commissioned by the National Milk Producers Federation. They found that if the nation’s milk industry were to experience a 50 percent decrease in the current workforce, which includes around 80,000 immigrant laborers, milk prices would increase by 42.5 percent. The average price of a gallon of milk would rise from $2.72 to $3.90.

Simple enforcement of immigration laws by building a border wall would be the most disruptive reform action President Trump could take. If he must build his wall, he would be well advised also to establish a path to legalization for at least some of the undocumented workers already in the U.S., and also boost guest worker programs for the sectors of the economy that have become dependent on immigrant labor; namely, agriculture.

Every year, farmer Harold McClarty relies on thousands of undocumented laborers to pick peaches and plums on his California farm. He told Politico, “Trump is terrible for agriculture.”

By preventing laborers from entering the country—and worse, deporting the 11 million undocumented immigrants who are currently here—Trump will not only create problems for America’s farmers and consumers, but will negatively impact public health, particularly among the poor. “These effects will hit low-income Americans especially hard,” writes Smith. “Many already struggle to get enough fresh fruit and vegetables in their diets, and these foods could turn into pricey luxuries.”

Another pricey luxury is Trump’s border wall. Although he claims it would cost $12 billion, a Washington Post analysis puts the figure closer to $25 billion. As Reich flatly puts it, “There’s no reason for the wall.” With Mexico adamantly refusing to pay for it, the burden would fall on American taxpayers. Americans would be forced to pay for Trump’s bad idea—and would then be socked with higher food prices as a result.

Reynard Loki is AlterNet’s environment and food editor. Follow him on Twitter @reynardloki. Email him at reynard@alternet.org.

RECESSION 2017? THINGS ARE HAPPENING THAT USUALLY NEVER HAPPEN UNLESS A NEW RECESSION IS BEGINNING

economy broken

Is the U.S. economy about to get slammed by a major recession? According to Gallup, U.S. economic confidence has soared to the highest level ever recorded, but meanwhile a whole host of key economic indicators are absolutely screaming that a new recession is beginning. And if the U.S. economy does officially enter recession territory in 2017, it certainly won’t be a shock, because the truth is that we are well overdue for one. Donald Trump has inherited quite an economic mess from Barack Obama, and it was probably inevitable that we were headed for a significant economic downturn no matter who won the election.

One of the key indicators to watch is average weekly hours. When the economy shifts into recession mode, employers tend to start cutting back hours, and that is happening right now. In fact, as Graham Summers has pointed out, we just witnessed the largest percentage decline in average weekly hours since the recession of 2008…

Average Weekly Hours

In addition to the decline in hours, Summers has suggested that there are a number of other reasons to believe that a new recession is here…

The fact is that the GDP growth of 4%-5% is not just around the corner. The US most likely slid into recession in the last three months. GDP growth collapsed in 4Q16, with a large portion of the “growth” coming from accounting gimmicks.

Consider the following:

  • Tax receipts indicate the US is in recession.
  • Gross private domestic investment indicates were are in a recession.
  • Retailers are showing that the US consumer is tapped out (see AMZN’s recent miss).
  • UPS, another economic bellweather, dramatically lowered 2017 forecasts.

To me, even more alarming is the tightening of lending standards. In our debt-based economy, the flow of credit is absolutely critical to economic growth, and when credit starts to get tight that almost always leads to a recession.

So the fact that lending standards have now tightened for medium and large sized firms for six quarters in a row is very bad news. The following comes from Business Insider

“Although modest over the past couple of quarters, it is still worth noting that this is now the sixth quarter in succession that standards have tightened for large and medium sized firms,” Deutsche Bank economist Jim Reid wrote in a research note to clients.

“This usually only happens in recessions.”

Reid is 100 percent correct on this point. This is precisely the kind of thing that we would expect to see if a new recession was beginning, and if this trend continues it is hard to imagine that the U.S. economy will be able to continue to grow.

And it is interesting to note that job growth at S&P 500 companies has gone negative for the first time since the last recession, and so large firms are definitely starting to feel the pressure.

Simultaneously, lending standards are also tightening up for consumers

“The most notable tightening in standards though was in consumer loans,” the Fed said. “During the quarter, banks reported an 8.3% net tightening in credit standards for credit cards and 11.6% net tightening for auto loans.”

US consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of economic activity and is thus a key driver of growth in the world’s largest economy.

Those numbers for credit cards and auto loans are major red flags.

It is very simple. Tighter credit means less economic activity which means slower economic growth. The U.S. economy grew at a dismal 1.9 percent annual rate during the 4th quarter of 2016, and it would be absolutely no surprise if we end up with a negative number for the first quarter of 2017.

One of the big reasons why lending standards are tightening is because bankruptcies are rising.

As I reported the other day, consumer bankruptcies just rose on a year-over-year basis in back to back months for the first time in almost seven years. Commercial bankruptcies had already been rising on a year-over-year basis throughout 2016, and so the fact that consumer bankruptcies have now joined the party is a very bad sign.

And we have also just learned that real median household income declined in 2016

Its official! The spectacular Obama/Fed “recovery” produced no increase in real medin household income in 2016 (the last year of Obama’s reign of [economic] error). In fact, real median annual household income in December 2016 ($57,827) was 0.9 percent lower than in December 2015 ($58,356).

Yes, I understand that there is a tremendous amount of optimism out there right now because of Donald Trump.

But the truth is that it is literally going to take some sort of an economic miracle to avoid a recession.

And if a recession is going to happen anyway, the Trump administration should want it to occur as quickly as possible.

You see, if a recession starts a year from now, it will be much more difficult for Trump to blame it on Obama. But if a recession starts right now, he will definitely be able to argue that it happened because of the mess that he inherited from the last administration.

In addition, the sooner the next recession ends the sooner the next recovery can begin. If a recession is still going on during the 2020 campaign, that would be really bad for Trump, but if a recovery is well underway by then that would be really good for his chances.

If you doubt this, just go back and look at the 1984 campaign. After a very difficult recession, the U.S. economy bounced back strongly and Ronald Reagan was able to ride that momentum to an easy victory.

So this may sound very strange to many of you, but the truth is that if a new recession is coming Trump supporters should want it to happen as rapidly as possible.

Unfortunately, once a new recession begins it may not play out like recessions normally do. The U.S. government is 20 trillion dollars in debt, we are in the midst of one of the biggest stock market bubbles in history, and our planet is becoming more unstable with each passing day. So even though Trump is in the White House and Obama is gone, let there be no doubt that a catastrophic economic crisis could literally erupt at any moment. I continue to encourage my readers to do all that they can to get prepared, because those that are prepared in advance will have the best chance of successfully getting through what is coming.

Unfortunately, a lot of people out there seem to believe that all of our problems have somehow evaporated just because Donald Trump is now living in the White House.

That is simply not true, and we all need to be praying for guidance and wisdom for Trump and his team as they prepare to deal with the great challenges that are ahead for our nation.

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