Finance

WHY THE PARTISAN SWAMP WILL SINK DONALD TRUMP’S TAX REFORM GOAL OF LOWERING RATES

It was a rare moment of optimism in Washington—and one that both parties could enjoy.On a crisp fall day in 1986, President Ronald Reagan sat at a desk on a stage on the White House’s South Lawn and signed a historic bill that changed the American tax code. Among its biggest backers: New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley, a Democrat, and New York Representative Jack Kemp, a Republican. Remarkably, the bipartisan law accomplished what lawmakers on the left and right had long advocated—eliminating crazy deductions and using that money to lower tax rates. “Millions of working poor will be dropped from the tax rolls altogether,” Reagan said. “We’re going to make it economical to raise children again. Flatter rates will mean more reward for that extra effort, and vanishing loopholes and a minimum tax will mean that everybody and every corporation pay their fair share.”Daily Emails and Alerts – Get the best of Newsweek delivered to your inboxMore than 30 years later, Republicans and Democrats are trying to revive that bipartisan spirit, and some are optimistic—at least publicly—that a sweeping tax bill is possible. “It is time to unleash the full potential of the American economy by creating a tax code that actually works for the middle class,” says House Speaker Paul Ryan. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin agrees: “This is about creating a fair tax system that’s good for the average, middle-class person.” Earlier this summer, dozens of Democratic senators offered to work with the GOP on a tax bill, provided it didn’t hurt the middle class.Related: With Republicans in charge, Trump can’t get anything doneNow for reality: The White House’s plan to change the American tax system will likely wind up like the GOP’s attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare—a partisan mess in which little or nothing gets done. If President Donald Trump really wants to change the tax system in any meaningful way, he’ll have to dive into the swampiest part of the swamp: the place where special interests guard their bottom lines.
Tax breaks galoreThe Trump team is probably aware of what it’s up against, but that doesn’t make it any easier. Mnuchin, for instance, says he’s determined to repeal the federal deduction for state and local income taxes. More than 88 percent of it goes to earners making more than $100,000. (Mnuchin, who made more than $1 billion on Wall Street, has joked that his friends in New York and Connecticut will get hit the hardest.) That’s overstating things, but this is the sixth-largest loophole, according to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation; it costs the federal government nearly $100 billion every year, which makes it a prime target for a cut.But legislators from those high-state-income-tax states, not to mention their constituents, are going to fight such a move. Already, 70 House members have signed a letter to Mnuchin urging him to leave it alone. Other big tax breaks likely to be targeted are retirement plans such as 401(k)s, which run close to $200 billion annually. But these deductions have their backers, as well.

Taking on special interests will be even harder for the president. The tax code offers countless breaks for everything from small insurance companies to teacher expenses. You can read all about them here. Pretty much every item must be scrutinized if the White House hopes to slash rates. And these special interests will fight back. The ethanol industry is gearing up to protect its favorable treatment in the tax code. Native American tribes are working hard to make sure they preserve their exemption from certain kinds of federal taxation. Many others are doing the same.Related: Will Democrats create new jobs?The big problem is the numbers. The president wants to get the corporate income tax rate down to 15 percent from its current rate of 35, which on its face, is among the highest in the world. But doing that is incredibly expensive. Cutting rates to 15 percent would increase the federal deficit by more than $2 trillion within a decade. That’s a lot of special interest deductions that would have to be cut. If Trump is going to lower rates, he’ll at least have to take on some popular items like the 401(k) loophole—just as lawmakers did in 1986. And even Trump’s allies in Congress have questioned whether the corporate tax rate could fall to even 25 percent without dramatically expanding the deficit.

Complicating matters is that Democrats insist that no middle-class voters get squeezed. They’ve also said any tax plan can’t reduce or increase the overall amount of tax revenue the federal government takes in. Both of those goals will be difficult to achieve, given how the middle class benefits from the tax breaks without even knowing it. One of the largest giveaways is the exemption of employer contributions to health insurance. You don’t get taxed on your boss’s part of the bill, even though it’s essentially income by another name. That costs the government $260 billion annually.To Trump’s chagrin, congressional leaders have already scuttled one way to potentially increase revenue. As late as July, lawmakers were considering a border adjustment tax on goods manufactured abroad, regardless of whether they were made by an American company. But congressional Republicans and the Trump administration couldn’t agree on the terms. Nixing this kind of tax is a win for the conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch. (Several of the conservative groups they fund fought it.) It’s also a blow to Trump’s campaign promise to slap tariffs on goods made abroad.Another big problem for Trump is that he’s put so little work into developing a plan. Part of the reason the 1986 bill succeeded is because the Treasury Department under Secretaries James Baker and Donald Regan came up with detailed proposals that helped speed the process along. The Trump administration, however, has been mired in chaos and controversy. This past spring, Trump surprised his economic team by saying he was going to unveil a tax plan very soon. Mnuchin and other top officials scrambled and then put out a laughably vague statement that included things like “eliminate targeted tax breaks that mainly benefit the wealthiest taxpayers.” Calling for vague cuts without knowing how to pay for them is like saying you’re going to lose weight without diet and exercise.
Bruising budget fightTo be fair, there are a few reasons for optimism. Plenty of lobbying groups want to change the tax code. Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers–backed group, has an elaborate (and expensive) plan for drumming up support for a tax overhaul, including buying television ads in the home states and districts of Senate and House members who might be wavering. It kicked off its campaign at an August 2 event at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. Meanwhile, the American Action Network, a Republican-leaning group, is talking about spending $20 million to get a big tax bill passed. And mainstream business groups like the Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable are pushing especially hard to lower the corporate rate, something many Democrats favor, too.Related: When centrists ruled and Democrats wonYet to get a tax plan through committees and the House and Senate this fall, Congress must first resolve a contentious budget battle. And that’s going to be a partisan mess. The federal government will need to raise the debt ceiling by September 29 to avoid a potentially catastrophic blow to the financial markets, which would call into question the faith and credit of the U.S. to pay its debts. Like administrations before it, the Trump White House wants a “clean” debt limit hike—one with no preconditions. But Republicans and Democrats have plenty in mind, especially the GOP, which wants to use the debt ceiling to cut spending and fund a border wall. If the congressional calendar is too cluttered, forget about a new tax plan.Congress wasn’t all hugs and smooches in ’86, but it was a much less divided place. Party leaders had far more control over their unruly members. There were plenty of centrists willing to work with the other side. And even then, lobbyists nearly destroyed the bill, and they later succeeded in clogging up the tax code with new deductions.It’s going to be much, much harder this time, and Donald Trump is no Ronald Reagan. In all likelihood, the best we can expect is a reduction in the corporate rate. But real changes to the tax code for businesses and individuals? The swamp will prevail.

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‘BITCOEN’ TO BECOME FIRST ELECTRONIC CURRENCY SPECIFICALLY FOR JEWS

 

Coming soon to your community may be the first ever international Jewish currency, dreamed up by a Russian entrepreneur.

BitCoen, an electronic crytopcurrency based off of the idea of BitCoin, is set to launch in September. Businessman Viacheslav Semenchuk, the brains behind the operation, told a Russian media outlet that he and his partners are in talks with almost 100 trading platforms, discussing the prospects of the currency’s ability to be used for purchasing.

The currency will be based on the value of the US dollar, with each BitCoen token available for one dollar. The plan is to initially issue 100 million BitCoens.The company hopes that they will be able to circulate up to $1.5 billion in the first two years.

While anyone can purchase tokens, the company will be managed by a ‘Council of Six’ made up solely of Jewish representatives. The representatives will likely be prominent leaders in both public and private sectors, though there is no word yet as to the planned demography of the leaders.

As the currency is aimed specifically at Jewish communities, there will be an automation option so that trading operations may take place on Shabbat, when the handling of money is prohibited by Jewish law.

Semenchuk told reporters that the initial ‘bit book’ for investments has been filled, meaning that the project is viable.

The Sins of High Finance

http://www.renegadetribune.com/sins-high-finance/

This excerpt is translated from the rare 1927 German original “Die Sünden der Großfinanz” by Theodor Fritsch. Fritsch was one of the most famous anti-Jewish authors of that era.

Our generation faces all kinds of puzzles. While our intellect can brag of amazing progress in science and technology, while the outer facet of life strives toward ever new perfection, we perceive on the other hand depressing manifestations that put the future of the whole of mankind into question. Aside from the unmistakable bodily deformation of the civilized nations, which expresses itself in decrease of births, weakening of physical and mental constitution, increase of sickness and frailty, a frightening moral decline moves along. The increase of crime creates a total insecurity of life; feeling of duty and conscience are hardly still known; the social sense that commands the human being to feel himself as member of a large community – in the consciousness that to its thriving his own is tied, diminishes more and more. A coarse self-interest, which lets any other consideration be forgotten beyond one’s own advantage, dares to show itself ever more shamelessly. The corruption encompasses all circles down to those professions which as representatives of state power are supposed to present good examples to the folk: higher officialdom.

No less serious is the wildness of the youth, which panders to all kinds of excesses, which often escalates to the total destruction of racial energy and manifest themselves in the uncanny increase of sexual diseases. Although a portion of these depressing manifestations may be traced back to the after effects of the ruinous Great War, the careful observer must nonetheless admit that the foundations for the decomposition manifestations were present already before the war. If one adds the social and political carelessness that divides the whole folk into innumerous hostile camps, which view their main goal in reciprocal injury and annihilation, then not just optimism, rather mental blindness is required in view of these facts to comfort oneself in lack of worry – or the intentional will to keep the stupid mass in self-deception over these things in order to seek one’s own advantage in the increasing confusion.

$10 on Third Reich Books

For the clarification of these manifestations, many create a comfortable mental escape, in that they designate all this as the unavoidable consequences of “development”. They speak of degeneration and decay that they portray as the self-evident results of human culture. Because a number of old folks and states of the occidental circle of culture perished from such decay, they want to view this manifestation as a kind of law of nature. They forget in the process that the folks of East Asia, Chinese and Japanese, look back at a 4,000 year history and still prove themselves quite virile. They also forget that a folk tribe among us brags of a 3,000 year history and is in no way inclined to leave life’s stage, rather precisely now sets about unfolding its greatest life energy.

Hence quite special circumstances must play a role, if folks that achieved an uncommon cultural height, such as the Egyptians, Sumerians, Indians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, went into an abrupt decline. We will become acquainted with the causes of the same, but simultaneously we will have to admit that – out of ignorance of certain psychological and ethnological facts –we are in the process of imitating the mistakes of the old, fallen folks.

Given a detailed illumination of all accompanying manifestations, we will discover that the source of the deformation of our culture is ultimately to be sought in economic connections: in the degeneration of the essence of capital. I do not hesitate to trace the great portion of all manifestations shaming and undermining present-day mankind to one cause: the unscrupulous rule of the money people.

The decline of the old culture folks always went hand in hand with the degenerating money economy, which was always accompanied by increasing corruption, moral degeneracy, race-mixing and racial decay. We are moving on the same track.

Movie Theater Stocks Plummet as Internet Media Threatens to Crush Hollywood

http://www.renegadetribune.com/movie-theater-stocks-plummet-internet-media-threatens-crush-hollywood/

 

By The Anti-Media

The movie theater industry is in trouble. Box office bombs and the changing manner in which people consume their entertainment have sent their stocks plummeting. From the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday:

AMC Entertainment Holdings, the world’s largest movie theater owner, took a big hit on Wall Street after it reported worse-than-expected earnings amid an unusually weak box office.”

Continuing, the Times reported that AMC’s stock fell more than 25 percent for the quarter ending June 30, which amounts to about a $178 million loss. AMC’s report falls in line with second-quarter reports from other theater chains like Regal Entertainment and IMAX.

After noting on Thursday that, all told, the value of stock in the top four theater operators in North America has dropped $1.3 billion since August 1 alone, Bloomberg pointed out the obvious — namely, that a theater can’t sell tickets if no one wants to see the movies:

The concern is that the slump isn’t just a run of bad luck. Cinema operators have managed for years to keep increasing sales by raising ticket prices amid stagnant attendance, but a sharp drop in filmgoing would make that harder to sustain.”

Bloomberg observes that the “tried-and-true formula of churning out big-budget sequels and cinematic universes populated with superbeings seems to be wearing on filmgoers,” pointing out that “once-reliable draws Jack Sparrow, the Transformers and the Mummy did poorly in the U.S.”

Aside from Hollywood pumping out duds, streaming services have emerged as a formidable competitor in the entertainment field, as Bloomberg notes:

Netflix Inc. and other digital distributors are creating more original movies, and consumers have more demands on their attention than ever, from Snapchat to YouTube. Further exacerbating the trend, studios are expected to push for a new premium video-on-demand window this year.”

In reporting on AMC’s market crash on Tuesday, CNN Money agreed that “part of the problem could be that more people are choosing to stay home and wait for movies to come out on Netflix, Amazon and other services.”

Meanwhile, Bloomberg explained how AMC will, at least in part, be tackling the profit loss problem:

The company will also pursue ‘strategic pricing’ — possibly selectively charging more for hot tickets or offering discounts to fill seats — and cut back on investments in improvements to its theaters, such as reclining seats.”


This article originally appeared on The Anti-Media.

DONALD TRUMP BACKTRACKS, SAYING CHINA IS NOT A CURRENCY MANIPULATOR

Donald Trump has backtracked on a campaign statement accusing China of being “currency manipulators” and confirmed that Beijing will not be named and shamed in a report due to be published in April.

In a Wall Street Journal interview Trump said China has not been a currency manipulator “for some time” and had instead been trying to prevent its currency from weakening. His comments come after Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the U.S. last week.

It marks a significant shift in Trump’s position throughout his election campaign, when he said that the U.S. was allowing China “to rape our country”  by having a high number of exports. On his first day in office he claimed China was manipulating the yuan to get ahead in trade, and spoke of his plans to reduce Chinese imports.

Though he has acknowledged making lots of money doing business in the country and at one campaign rally claimed to “love China,” Trump has generally spoken disparagingly about China many times in the past. On Good Morning America in November 2015, he said: “Because it’s an economic enemy, because they have taken advantage of us like nobody in history. They have; it’s the greatest theft in the history of the world what they’ve done to the United States. They’ve taken our jobs.”

But his tone has shifted since Xi visited Mar a Lago on April 6. After the talks, the president said that Washington and Beijing had made “tremendous progress” and has spoken of his “great chemistry” with Xi Jinping, and “friendship.”

A Treasury spokesperson later confirmed to press that China would not be included in an annual report on global currency manipulation that outlines the foreign exchange policies of America’s trading partners. Trump also warned that a strong dollar could eventually hurt the U.S. economy.

“I think our dollar is getting too strong, and partially that’s my fault because people have confidence in me. [It is] very, very hard to compete when you have a strong dollar and other countries are devaluing their currency,” he said.

Russia: U.S. Sanctions Tantamount to ‘Full-Fledged Economic War’

LONDON — Russia’s prime minister has called U.S. sanctions tantamount to economic war on his country, adding that measures signed into law by President Donald Trump reveal the American administration’s “total impotence.”

“The hope that our relations with the new American administration would improve is finished,” Dmitry Medvedev said Wednesday on his Facebook page.

Image: Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Alexei Nikolsky / AP

“Trump’s administration has demonstrated total impotence by surrendering its executive authority to Congress in the most humiliating way,” he wrote.

“The U.S. establishment has fully outwitted Trump — the president is not happy about the new sanctions, yet he could not but sign the bill,” he added. “New steps are to come, and they will ultimately aim to remove him from power.”

Medvedev, a close ally of Vladimir Putin, is not considered as powerful as the president, and has seen his reputation tarnished at home with the opposition alleging he was involved in large scale corruption.

The Russian Foreign Ministry put out a more measured response to the sanctions, saying they reserve “the right to other countermeasures.”

The statement on the ministry’s website added: “It is high time the American fans of sanctions, which have plunged the United States into Russophobic hysteria, got rid of their illusions and realized that no threats or attempts to exert pressure will compel Russia to change its course or sacrifice its national interests.”

Earlier, Trump put to rest questions about whether he would support the legislation passed overwhelmingly by Congress last week. But he still excoriated the measure, which limits the ability of the president to lift the sanctions unilaterally, calling it “significantly flawed.”

The bill sanctions Russia — citing its cyberhacking and involvement in Ukraine and Syria — while also slapping new sanctions on North Korea and Iran.

The president signed the bill behind closed doors, afterward stating he did so “for the sake of national unity.”

In one White House statement released after the signing, referred to as the official signing statement, the president called some of the provisions “clearly unconstitutional.”

In a second statement the president said: “The Framers of our Constitution put foreign affairs in the hands of the President. This bill will prove the wisdom of that choice.”

Lawmakers pushed the sanctions in spite of the president’s conciliatory tone toward the country whose government U.S. intelligence agencies concluded meddled in the 2016 presidential election. Russian government officials have denied the allegations, both in the press and to Trump directly.

Last week, Putin accusing the U.S. of attempting to use “geopolitical advantages in competition to pursue economic interests at the expense of [U.S.] allies.”

Trump has hedged repeatedly on the question of Russian responsibility for election meddling last year, saying it is possible Russia was involved but other countries could have had a role.

London’s New Subway Symbolized the Future. Then Came Brexit.

LONDON — Up an alley, beyond some hoarding, through what can feel like Harry Potter’s secret portal, the underworld of an unfinished Crossrail station sprawls beneath the traffic and commotion of Tottenham Court Road. Escalator banks descend through a sleek, silent black ticket hall where towering, empty, white-tiled passageways snake toward the new, vaulted train platform, curving like a half moon into the subterranean darkness.

Crossrail is not your average subway. London’s $20 billion high-speed train line, which plans to start taking passengers late next year, is Europe’s biggest infrastructure project.

It will be so fast that crucial travel times across the city should be cut by more than half. The length of two soccer pitches, with a capacity for 1,500 people, its trains will be able to carry twice the number of passengers as an ordinary London subway. While Londoners love to moan about their public transit network, by comparison New York has barely managed to construct four subway stops in about a half-century and its aged, rapidly collapsing subway system now threatens to bring the city to a halt.

But standing one recent morning on that empty Crossrail platform, where construction workers in orange gear and hard hats hauled shiny metal panels to line the walls, I still couldn’t help wondering whether the new train leads toward another glorious era for this city, or signals the end of one.

Before Britain voted last summer to leave the European Union, Crossrail was conceived for a London open to the world and speeding into the future. Now, with Brexit, the nightmare scenario is that this massive project, to provide more trains moving more people more quickly through a growing city, ends up moving fewer people more quickly through a shrinking city.

 

Crossrail was built by a Britain whose strength grew, for better and worse, out of a longstanding, stodgy but reliable confidence that the country knew itself and where it hoped to go in the century ahead. It is no longer even certain that Prime Minister Theresa May will survive the year.

It was an especially unpromising sign this spring when Mrs. May’s Conservative government, as if fearing exactly what anti-Brexiters predicted about an economic downturn, issued a campaign manifesto that conspicuously omitted funding for Crossrail 2, the long-planned, $39 billion critical north-south sequel to Crossrail’s east-west line.

Since then, the government’s transport secretary has endorsed the project — provided that the city pay half the whopping cost, upfront. The semi-reversal suggested a grudging acknowledgment that, whatever the political fallout or economic prospects, Britain ultimately needs a thriving London all the more after Brexit.

Losing London

During the past three decades, London has been transfigured by wild growth, much of it the consequence of government-sustained megaprojects: Along with Crossrail, there have been the stupendous renovations to King’s Cross and St. Pancras Stations, the wholesale invention of Canary Wharf, the addition of the Jubilee subway line, the Olympic makeover at Stratford in East London and the expansion of Heathrow Airport.

These megaprojects, in different ways, helped remake London into the great global city-state of Europe, a 21st-century melting pot and Sybaris of culture and free-market prosperity — at the same time that they clearly exacerbated underlying urban inefficiencies and stirred resentment elsewhere in England toward the city.

 

Abbey Wood, on the historically neglected southeast side of the Thames River. Credit Andrew Testa for The New York Times
Crossrail was intended as a kind of democratizing corrective, at once shrinking the city and expanding on a vision of London as a great, inclusive metropolis. While it will whisk bankers at new speeds from their office towers and multimillion-dollar aeries to Heathrow, it will also help millions of now-marginalized, lower-income workers, unable to afford runaway home prices in and around the center of the city, to live in cheaper neighborhoods often far from their jobs.

But what if the flow of incoming bankers slows, if immigrants look elsewhere, if the excesses of European money and human capital that helped drive growth begin to dry up? As Brexit skeptics warned, the pound has lost value and inflation is starting to rise. Some companies are already making plans to move employees out of London.

And as London goes, so goes Britain.

 

I spent a few days traveling the Crossrail route, trying to decipher what it might mean for London. In one respect, the train underscores and extends the city’s centuries-old, traditional identity as a sprawling, horizontal capital, an agglomeration of disparate, far-flung villages.

Extending roughly 70 miles, it is built to speed about 200 million passengers a year in a kind of Y from far to the west of the city, in the county of Berkshire, through Heathrow, to the heart of London, forking east to Shenfield in Essex and to the neighborhood called Abbey Wood, on the historically neglected southeast side of the Thames River. Linked with the existing Underground subway network, it will be rechristened the Elizabeth Line, inserting what is in effect a new steel-and-wheels spine into Britain’s capital.

“Crossrail is a culmination of years of serious thinking by experts and public officials about what London needs, the imbalance of east and west and how to unite the city,” said Ricky Burdett, an architect, city adviser and director of LSE Cities at the London School of Economics.

London, Mr. Burdett noted, is historically poor in the east, rich in the west and along the periphery, although that east-west distinction has eroded as gentrification has seeped outward. Underserved and long-disconnected East London neighborhoods like Shoreditch and Whitechapel in recent years have become chic and largely unaffordable to many Londoners. The city has added light-rail lines to help some of those areas, but only Crossrail is capable of “tying together many of the developments that have transformed London,” Mr. Burdett said.
No development on the west end of the Crossrail line is more ambitious than Heathrow. John Holland-Kaye, the airport’s chief executive officer, met me one morning in an empty conference room near the airport and instantly ticked off some figures.

Heathrow is not only Britain’s busiest airport. It is hoped that the airport’s expansion, based on the prospect of a new runway, might generate up to 180,000 new jobs across Britain, roughly 40,000 of them in London. Crossrail now promises to bring six million people and 80 percent of London’s corporations within an hour’s commute of the airport, up from three million and 50 percent today.

“When Crossrail is done, our employees could just as easily come from East London as from our local community,” Mr. Holland-Kaye said. “The train effectively opens up the whole of the city.”

Transit as Economic Engine

But Brexit threatens Heathrow’s economy with more restrictive customs and immigration rules. Mr. Holland-Kaye acknowledged the threat but framed Crossrail as a kind of hedge against Brexit. He cited as a precedent the area around King’s Cross, once notorious for drugs and prostitution, metamorphosed after the renovation of the decrepit King’s Cross station and its neighbor St. Pancras, now serving the Eurostar express train to Paris and other cities in Europe.

King’s Cross today is home to an art school, The Guardian, a cluster of high-tech medical research centers and Google’s future European headquarters. The point: Major, long-term infrastructure projects support game-changing investments. Crossrail proves Britain’s continuing commitment to this steel and concrete approach, Mr. Holland-Kaye said.
From Heathrow, riders will need just over a half-hour via Crossrail to travel east to Canary Wharf, the defunct docklands turned world financial hub, which today employs more than 112,000 people. When the site opened in the late 1980s, the aptly named Narrow Street was its only real access road. Canary Wharf went belly up. Then London broke ground for the Jubilee subway line, linking Canary Wharf by mass transit to the heart of the city, and international banks started moving in.

This is one reason George Iacobescu, Canary Wharf’s longtime chairman, helped lead the push for Crossrail. “London’s future prosperity depends on it,” he said. He summoned me into a big, bright white office where he stood behind a giant tabletop display of London (think Goldfinger’s model of Fort Knox). Mr. Iacobescu flicked switches on the table. One by one, they lit up various rail lines that today serve Canary Wharf, each line coinciding with increases in jobs and revenues. Theatrically, he paused before the last switch.

It illuminated Crossrail.

“We are home to many of the world’s great financial institutions,” Mr. Iacobescu said, pointing on the model to where Foster & Partners, the celebrated London-based architecture firm, has designed Canary Wharf’s Crossrail Station, a spectacular glass and timber tubular structure, docked like a giant cruise ship beside the firm’s HSBC tower. Nearby, Canary Wharf plans to build thousands of new luxury (and some affordable) homes and other developments by high-end architects like Herzog & de Meuron to turn Canary Wharf into more of a neighborhood. “We expect to create thousands more jobs,” Mr. Iacobescu said.

“The danger with Brexit,” he added, “is that if Britain gets out of the European Union and doesn’t keep the U.K. an attractive place for financial institutions, they will think twice about growing here. The issue isn’t banks leaving Canary Wharf. Most of them have long-term leases. The issue will be the pace of growth.”
But that’s not quite true. Because of Brexit worries, construction plans for several of Canary Wharf’s new buildings have already been put on hold. And long-term leases can always be broken.
“The bottom line is that nobody has the faintest idea yet what the Brexit effect will be,” Tony Travers, a veteran urban policy expert, told me. “Investments from the European Union may shrink. But why would investors from India or Canada or the United States be put off? If anything, Brexit may make Britain more likely to give them what they want.”

Lately, the Leadenhall Building, otherwise known as the Cheesegrater, the tallest tower in the old, central financial district called the City of London, designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners, sold to a Chinese property tycoon for $1.5 billion, the second-highest-ever sale of a building in Britain. Qataris were behind the Shard, the Renzo Piano-designed tower that is London’s sleekest skyscraper. Malaysians are developing the former Battersea Power Station, where Apple is an anchor tenant.

“The trajectory of real estate investment here is not only based on Europeans,” Mr. Burdett stressed.

 

Connectivity is destiny in the farthest reaches of East London. Thamesmead, a social housing development from the 1960s, lies a half-hour or so by bus beyond the train’s final stop and its ripple effects. Equivalent in area to all of central London, it is home to just 50,000 residents, once nearly all of them white and working-class, but today, increasingly, Nigerians. Peabody, a nonprofit housing organization, has announced plans to build hundreds more apartments in Thamesmead. Some lovely, neatly tended homes already exist alongside Brutalist blocks, rundown but now stylish (this is where “A Clockwork Orange” was filmed). That said, with the lowest average income in London, Thamesmead has few stores, little street life and an abundance of sewage treatment plants and prisons. It suffers from its isolation.

“Thamesmead was built on a promise of transit connectivity that never happened,” Teresa Pearce, a member of Parliament who represents the district, told me. “You see the results.”
By comparison, the final stop on that southeast spur of Crossrail is Abbey Wood, where Sainsbury’s, the chain store and a bellwether of gentrification and commercial investment, has lately opened a shop in anticipation of the train. Streets here are lined with terrace houses now occupied by plasterers and truck drivers. Record numbers of landlords in the area have been filing applications for renovations, believing that Crossrail will attract bankers and lawyers. Property values are expected to rise on average 10 percent around all future stations along the Crossrail route.

Change is even more acute one stop before Abbey Wood, in Woolwich. The Berkeley Group, a big British real estate company, is building 5,000 sleek, mostly high-end apartments around the future Crossrail station, which the developer paid millions to help construct.

Hugging the Thames River, Woolwich is the former site of the Royal Arsenal and Henry VIII’s dockyard, where Charles Darwin’s Beagle was built. Historically working-class, it, too, used to be all white but has come to attract Caribbean and Asian immigrants, with nearly 40 percent of residents today living in social housing. Berkeley’s development and the Woolwich Crossrail station are separated from the rest of Woolwich by a highway called Plumstead Road. On one side of the road, old Woolwich is a warren of modest shops and aged social housing.
On the other, baristas now dispense macchiatos on leafy patios. Signs advertise luxury apartments. A single, 31-year-old corporate lawyer employed in the City, Calum Docherty, who is hunting for a home, was intrigued by the Berkeley development. “But I’m still looking,” he told me. “Woolwich wasn’t anywhere on my radar before Crossrail. The train has expanded my concept of London.

“That said, it’s a bit of a mental jump to commit to borrowing half a million pounds,” he added. “With Brexit and all.”

Wells Fargo faces angry questions after new sales abuses uncovered

NEW YORK (Reuters) – New revelations that Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N) spent years enrolling unknowing borrowers in costly auto insurance has put the bank under new pressure to answer for a months-long scandal over sales practices that have harmed millions of Americans.

The latest news that 800,000 Wells Fargo auto borrowers were improperly charged for insurance rattled investors yet again, and sent its stock down 2.6 percent on Friday.

Shareholders, analysts, lawmakers and consumer advocates demanded answers about how the situation manifested, and why Wells Fargo did not disclose the problems sooner, given existing turmoil over phony deposit and credit card accounts opened in customers’ names without their permission.

“This is a full-blown scandal — again,” said New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, who oversees public pension funds that hold roughly 11.6 million Wells Fargo shares. “It’s unbelievable, outrageous, sad, and yet quintessential Wells Fargo. This isn’t just a corporate debacle. It’s caused real human harm.”

Stringer called on the bank to install a new independent chair and “immediately” disclose more information.

Wells Fargo first became aware of potential problems a year ago, when the auto lending business began receiving an unusually high number of complaints, Franklin Codel, head of consumer lending, said in an interview.

The auto insurance program was quickly suspended, and the problem escalated to senior management, the board and regulators, he said. Wells Fargo planned to delay public disclosure until it could notify affected customers and reimburse them.

“The problem with disclosing to the marketplace today or several months ago is customers start calling and asking when they’re going to get their money,” he said. “It’s not a great customer experience to say, ‘Yeah, we’ll get back to you.'”

The bank was prompted to issue a press release on Thursday evening after the New York Times reported that 800,000 of its auto borrowers were charged for insurance they did not need from January 2012 to July 2016.

Wells plans to return $80 million to 570,000 customers who qualify for a refund.

The latest revelations echo what happened at Wells Fargo branches across the United States for years. Under pressure to hit aggressive sales targets, thousands of employees signed up customers for deposit and credit-card accounts without their permission over a period of several years.

As part of a $190 million regulatory settlement in September, Wells said as many as 2.1 million phony accounts were opened. A class-action lawsuit against Wells Fargo puts the figure at 3.5 million.

Matthew Preusch, an attorney with Keller Rohrback, which filed that lawsuit, said his firm is looking into whether auto borrowers have claims against the bank.

“It’s likely to result in consumer litigation,” Preusch said.

Wells Fargo has previously said that it found no evidence of improper sales practices outside its retail banking operation.

An April report by the board of directors following an internal investigation did not mention auto insurance problems, nor did executives discuss them during a day-long investor event in May, nor while presenting at conferences and hosting calls to discuss quarterly results.

Behind the scenes, Wells Fargo’s auto lending business has been going through an overhaul to improve risk management and install fresh leadership. Dawn Martin Harp, who headed the unit during the sales abuses, retired in April. Her deputy, Bill Katafias, also departed this year.

“Both of those executives, in my view, were held accountable for their actions,” Codel told Reuters, including “from a compensation perspective.”

Katafias did not return a call to his office at auto lender CRB Auto, where he is now CEO, and Martin Harp could not be reached.

Wall Street analysts expect the financial damage to go beyond the $80 million in reimbursements.

In a note on Friday, Piper Jaffray’s Kevin Barker predicted the true cost would be “multiples” of that figure, with lawsuits and further customer remediation. The added cost of insurance pushed 274,000 customers into delinquency, and led to at least 20,000 wrongful repossessions, according to the Times.

Since 2012, the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has received 1,826 complaints about Wells Fargo vehicle loans or leases.

Many customer narratives in the regulator’s public database detail being charged for insurance when the car was already insured elsewhere, not being able to have erroneous insurance charges removed, and problems with making payments.

One customer from 2014 called Wells immediately after realizing unneeded insurance had been added to a financing package, but still was charged over several months for the guaranty. When the customer asked for it to be removed, Wells only promised to investigate.

“I feel I am being and have been scammed,” the car buyer wrote to the CFPB.

Money: Basics of Bitcoin

http://www.renegadetribune.com/money-basics-bitcoin/

 

Is bitcoin the world currency that is going to slam the jail-cell door on humankind for the next thousand years? Or is it the saving grace that is finally going to stop usurious jewry from carving out a slice of nearly every financial transaction on Earth? Perhaps it will just snap, crackle, pop and die. These questions are open for debate.

One thing is sure: the battleground is always money. On this field oppressors will ultimately be smashed.

Following are 10 things you may not know about bitcoin:

1. It is open source.

This means that anyone may look at the source code and check the algorithms to confirm that the system is fair and precisely what it claims to be; thousands have.

2. Bitcoin is NOT currently private.

Though the one you send bitcoin to may not be able to figure out who you are, those who have access to the vast databases of the internet likely can.

If you use the Tails operating system, you can purchases your coins in person or by using ‘cash by mail,’ and be 99.9% sure the transaction is indeed private. Even so, if your wallet is ever compromised by a single non-private transaction, the entire history of your coins may become as easy to read as a book.

3. Only a few people in the world, if any, understand the bitcoin protocol completely.

4. There are a finite number of bitcoins.

There will only ever be just less than 21,000,000 bitcoins. The first 50 coins were removed from the system along with the “genesis block” and, contrary to claims in the video below, the last coin will never actually be mined. Satoshi Nakamoto, the chimerical creator of bitcoin, is believed to own about 1,000,000 of the coins worth an astounding 2.6 billion USD. The “Satoshi wallets” remain dormant.

5. Many bitcoins have been lost.

Hardware failures, lost passwords and carelessness (back when one could pick up a few bitcoins for a quarter) take a toll. Estimates of coins that are “gone forever” range from 300,000 to 3,000,000. More bitcoin is lost every year. An educated guess is about 2,000,000 coins on the ledger can no longer be accessed.

6. Each bitcoin is divisible to the eighth decimal place.

.00000001 bitcoins is the smallest unit and it is called a “satoshi.” One satoshi is worth about twenty six millionths of a penny today. Just a few bitcoins could handle all world monetary needs nicely.

7. All other cryptocurrencies are a subset of bitcoin.

This topic, no doubt, is highly controversial. Bitcoin is only designed to do one thing; it is money. The protocol is very difficult to change and the network is designed primarily for security with a low surface area of attack. Bitcoin blockchain technology is what all other “alt coins” rely on, and most of these other coins can only be purchased easily by using bitcoin. Any slick new idea that can be applied to another alt coin can in theory be applied to bitcoin itself.

Though beyond the scope of this post, the coming implementation of Segregated Witness, expected around August 7th, will allow for “side chains” and other enhancements. Developers will soon be able to attach many new technologies to the bitcoin blockchain. Look for rapid changes in the coming months.

8. Bitcoin technology is energy intensive.

This is one of the most complex topics to discuss about bitcoin and one of the most important. The bitcoin network by some estimates is currently using about as much power as the nation of Turkmenistan or about 14.7 TWh per year. This is approaching half the energy needs of the state of Denmark or put another way about 2.7 more TWh per year than the city of San Jose, California.

9. Bitcoin relies on positive-sum game theory.

“Positive-sum game, in game theory, a term that refers to situations in which the total of gains and losses is greater than zero. A positive sum occurs when resources are somehow increased and an approach is formulated in which the desires and needs of all concerned are satisfied. One example would be when two parties both gain financially by participating in a contest, no matter who wins or loses. Positive-sum outcomes occur in instances of distributive bargaining where different interests are negotiated so that everyone’s needs are met.”
source: https://www.britannica.com/topic/positive-sum-game

10. Bitcoin is a deflationary currency, ergo its value is expected to rise.

For the first time in 100 years we have a way to save money without paying the hidden tax of inflation to jewish interests. We may now become our own bank, so there is no way for an “account” to be tapped without our permission. Each of us becomes solely responsible for securing our own money. True responsibility is something most are not accustomed to these days, and perhaps this kind of thinking will snowball into other aspects of our lives.

The state of bitcoin is comparable to the state of the internet in 1998, give or take. Issues like privacy, transactions per second and intensive energy use will be solved over coming years. In fact, it is impossible to even imagine what creative folk will do with this technology as the current 88.2 billion dollar market cap of bitcoin, combined with the 1000 or so other cryptocurrencies, continues to grow.

The battleground is money; by learning about bitcoin and comparing it to traditional banking which is completely controlled by jewish interests and an instrument of theft, we can arm ourselves to the teeth.

Bitcoin: How Cryptocurrencies Work (10 min)

Get a Wallet: https://electrum.org

Get Bitcoin: https://localbitcoins.com

Bolivia’s Evo Morales Declares ‘Total Independence’ from World Bank & IMF

http://21stcenturywire.com/2017/07/24/bolivias-evo-morales-declares-total-independence-from-world-bank-imf/

 

21st Century Wire says…

Since Bolivian leader Evo Morales came to power in 2006, the country’s overall standard of living has risen. Increases in spending on health, education, and lifting residents out of poverty programs has increased by more than 45%. Much of Bolivia’s success has been credited to its decoupling from the global neoliberal, predatory financial system.

Following his recent speech at the Mercosur Summit in the city of Mendoza, Morales live-tweeted:

“In view of the global financial crisis of capitalism, we are in a moment of integration for the liberation of the people.”

During the regional forum with many other international leaders present, Morales also spoke of “First the Great Homeland,” and warned that, “Our Mercosur cannot repeat the bitter history of the Organization of American States (OAS): for political or ideological reasons expel or exclude some nations.”

Morales is not shy about articulating the nature of the geopolitical threat. He added, “Interventions in Libya, Iraq and other countries are conducted to appropriate natural resources. The main purpose in Venezuela is oil.”

Currently, Venezuela is being targeted by the US and its intelligence agencies for regime change.

Will the US also make a move against Bolivia too?

TeleSUR

Since 2006, a year after Morales came to power, social spending on health, education, and poverty programs has increased by over 45 percent.

Bolivia’s President Evo Morales has been highlighting his government’s independence from international money lending organizations and their detrimental impact the nation.

“A day like today in 1944 ended Bretton Woods Economic Conference (USA), in which the IMF and WB were established,” Morales tweeted. “These organizations dictated the economic fate of Bolivia and the world. Today we can say that we have total independence of them.”

Un día como hoy en 1944 finaliza la Conferencia Económica de Bretton Woods (EEUU), en la que se acuerda la creación del FMI y BM.

Estos organismos dictaron el destino económico de Bolivia y del mundo. Hoy podemos decir que tenemos total independencia de ellos.

Morales has said Bolivia’s past dependence on the agencies was so great that the International Monetary Fund had an office in government headquarters and even participated in their meetings.

Bolivia is now in the process of becoming a member of the Southern Common Market, Mercosur and Morales attended the group’s summit in Argentina last week.

Bolivia’s popular uprising known as the The Cochabamba Water War in 2000 against United States-based Bechtel Corporation over water privatization and the associated World Bank policies shed light on some of the debt issues facing the region.

“The Bank and the IMF have been requiring these countries (in the Global South) to accept “structural adjustment,” which includes opening markets to foreign firms and privatizing state enterprises, including utilities,” the New Yorker reported.

At the time, the World Bank had stated, “Poor governments are often too plagued by local corruption and too ill equipped” and “no subsidies should be given to ameliorate the increase in water tariffs in Cochabamba.”

The New Yorker, reported, “Most of the poorest neighborhoods were not hooked up to the network, so state subsidies to the water utility went mainly to industries and middle-class neighborhoods; the poor paid far more for water of dubious purity from trucks and handcarts. In the World Bank’s view, it was a city that was crying out for water privatization.”…