Financial News Stories
Excerpts of Key Financial News Stories in Major Media


Below are many highly revealing excerpts of important banking and finance news stories reported in the major media that suggest a major cover-up. Links are provided to the full stories on their mainstream media websites. If any link fails to function, read this webpage. These banking and finance news stories are listed by date posted to this webpage. You can explore the same articles listed by order of importance or by article date. By choosing to educate ourselves on these important issues and to spread the word, we can and will build a brighter future.


Financial News stories


Note: This comprehensive list of banking and finance news stories is usually updated once a week. Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.

The corporate ‘predator state’
2013-03-26, Washington Post
Posted: 2013-04-02 09:16:26
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/katrina-vanden-heuvel-the-corporate-pr...

Bipartisan agreement in Washington usually means citizens should hold on to their wallets or get ready for another threat to peace. Beneath all the partisan bickering, bipartisan majorities are solid for a trade policy run by and for multinationals, a health-care system serving insurance and drug companies, an energy policy for Big Oil and King Coal, and finance favoring banks that are too big to fail. Economist James Galbraith calls this the “predator state,” one in which large corporate interests rig the rules to protect their subsidies, tax dodges and monopolies. This isn’t the free market; it’s a rigged market. Wall Street is a classic example. The attorney general announces that some banks are too big to prosecute. Despite what the FBI called an “epidemic of fraud,” not one head of a big bank has gone to jail or paid a major personal fine. Bloomberg News estimated that the subsidy they are provided by being too big to fail adds up to an estimated $83 billion a year. Corporate welfare is, of course, offensive to progressives. But true conservatives are — or should be — offended by corporate welfare as well. Conservative economists Raghuram Rajan and Luigi Zingales argue that it is time to “save capitalism from the capitalists,” urging conservatives to support strong measures to break up monopolies, cartels and the predatory use of political power to distort competition. Here is where left and right meet, not in a bipartisan big-money fix, but in an odd bedfellows campaign to clean out Washington. For that to happen, small businesses and community banks will have to develop an independent voice in our politics.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the collusion between the US government and corrupt financial corporations, click here.




The 1% aren't like the rest of us
2013-03-22, Los Angeles Times
Posted: 2013-04-02 09:14:56
http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-page-wealth-and-politics...

Over the last two years, President Obama and Congress have put the country on track to reduce projected federal budget deficits by nearly $4 trillion. Yet when that process began, in early 2011, only about 12% of Americans in Gallup polls cited federal debt as the nation's most important problem. Two to three times as many cited unemployment and jobs as the biggest challenge facing the country. So why did policymakers focus so intently on the deficit issue? One reason may be that the small minority that saw the deficit as the nation's priority had more clout than the majority that didn't. We recently conducted a survey of top wealth-holders (with an average net worth of $14 million) in the Chicago area, one of the first studies to systematically examine the political attitudes of wealthy Americans. Our research found that the biggest concern of this top 1% of wealth-holders was curbing budget deficits and government spending. When surveyed, they ranked those things as priorities three times as often as they did unemployment — and far more often than any other issue. Our Survey of Economically Successful Americans [found that] two-thirds of the respondents had contributed money (averaging $4,633) in the most recent presidential election, and fully one-fifth of them "bundled" contributions from others. About half recently initiated contact with a U.S. senator or representative, and nearly half (44%) of those contacts concerned matters of relatively narrow economic self-interest rather than broader national concerns. This kind of access to elected officials suggests an outsized influence in Washington.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the collusion between the US government and corrupt financial corporations, click here.




Hot Money Blues
2013-03-25, New York Times
Posted: 2013-04-02 09:08:43
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/25/opinion/krugman-hot-money-blues.html

Whatever the final outcome in the Cyprus crisis ... the island nation will have to maintain fairly draconian controls on the movement of capital in and out of the country. It will mark the end of an era for Cyprus, which has in effect spent the past decade advertising itself as a place where wealthy individuals who want to avoid taxes and scrutiny can safely park their money, no questions asked. But it may also mark at least the beginning of the end for something much bigger: the era when unrestricted movement of capital was taken as a desirable norm around the world. [With] the rise of free-market ideology, the assumption [is] that if financial markets want to move money across borders, there must be a good reason, and bureaucrats shouldn’t stand in their way. But the truth, hard as it may be for ideologues to accept, is that unrestricted movement of capital is looking more and more like a failed experiment. It’s hard to imagine now, but for more than three decades after World War II financial crises of the kind we’ve lately become so familiar with hardly ever happened. Since 1980, however, the roster has been impressive: Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Chile in 1982. Sweden and Finland in 1991. Mexico again in 1995. Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Korea in 1998. Argentina again in 2002. And, of course, the more recent run of disasters: Iceland, Ireland, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Cyprus. The best predictor of crisis is large inflows of foreign money: in all but a couple of the cases ... the foundation for crisis was laid by a rush of foreign investors into a country, followed by a sudden rush out.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the collusion between the US government and corrupt financial corporations, click here.




IMF's four steps to damnation
2001-04-28, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2013-03-25 15:44:59
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2001/apr/29/business.mbas

Joseph Stiglitz, ex-chief economist of the World Bank, ... was in Washington for the big confab of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. From sources unnamable (not Stiglitz), we obtained a cache of documents marked, 'confidential' and 'restricted'. Stiglitz helped translate one, a 'country assistance strategy'. There's an assistance strategy for every poorer nation, designed, says the World Bank, after careful in-country investigation. But according to insider Stiglitz, the Bank's 'investigation' involves little more than close inspection of five-star hotels. It concludes with a meeting with a begging finance minister, who is handed a 'restructuring agreement' pre-drafted for 'voluntary' signature. The Bank hands every minister the same four-step programme. Step One is privatisation. Stiglitz said that rather than objecting to the sell-offs of state industries, some politicians - using the World Bank's demands to silence local critics - happily flogged their electricity and water companies. After privatisation, Step Two is capital market liberalisation. Stiglitz calls this the 'hot money' cycle. Cash comes in for speculation in real estate and currency, then flees at the first whiff of trouble. A nation's reserves can drain in days. And when that happens, to seduce speculators into returning a nation's own capital funds, the IMF demands these nations raise interest rates to 30%, 50% and 80%. Step Three: market-based pricing - a fancy term for raising prices on food, water and cooking gas. Step Four: free trade. This is free trade by the rules of the World Trade Organisation and the World Bank, which Stiglitz likens to the Opium Wars. 'That too was about "opening markets",' he said.

Note: For an essay by John Perkins, an insider who was directly involved in these severe manipulations, click here. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on government collusion in financial corruption, click here.




Cypriot Bailout Sends Shivers Throughout the Euro Zone
2013-03-18, New York Times
Posted: 2013-03-19 09:31:16
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/18/business/global/facing-bailout-tax-cypriots...

Europe’s decision to force depositors in Cypriot banks to share in the cost of the latest euro zone bailout has sparked outrage in Cyprus and fears that a run on deposits over the weekend might spread to larger countries at risk like Spain and Italy. Under an emergency deal reached early Saturday in Brussels, a one-time tax of 9.9 percent is to be levied on Cypriot bank deposits of more than 100,000 euros, or $130,000, effective [March 19]. That will hit wealthy depositors — mostly Russians who have put vast sums into Cyprus’s banks in recent years. But smaller deposits will also be taxed, at 6.75 percent, meaning that the banks will be confiscating money directly from retirees and ordinary workers to help pay the tab for the 10 billion euro bailout or $13 billion. Most of the 10 billion euros will go to bail out Cypriot banks, which took a blow when their substantial holdings of Greek government bonds were written down as part of that country’s second bailout. The island’s banks are also laden with loans made to Greek companies and individuals, which have turned sour as Greece endures its fourth year of economic and financial crisis. The "deposit tax", which is expected to raise 5.8 billion euros, was part of a bailout agreement ... among finance ministers from euro countries and representatives of the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank. The Cypriot bailout follows those for Greece, Portugal, Ireland and the Spanish banking sector — and is the first where bank depositors will be touched.

Note: What gives anyone the right to seize the deposits of ordinary bank account holders? Is this the first step towards establishing a precedent for governments to seize anything they want from ordinary citizens? For a report indicating that the Cypriot people may not take this attack lying down, click here.




Realities Behind Prosecuting Big Banks
2013-03-11, New York Times
Posted: 2013-03-19 09:11:39
http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/03/11/big-banks-go-wrong-but-pay-a-little-pr...

Are banks too big to jail? If there was any doubt about the answer to that question, Eric H. Holder Jr., the nation’s attorney general, last week blurted out what we’ve all known to be true but few inside the Obama administration have said aloud: Yes, they are. “I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if we do prosecute — if we do bring a criminal charge — it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy,” Mr. Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I think that is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large.” Mr. Holder continued, acknowledging that the size of banks “has an inhibiting influence.” To put this in the proper perspective, Mr. Holder said, for the first time, that he has not pursued prosecutions of big banks out of fear that an indictment could jeopardize the financial system. Does this mean that our banks are still too big to fail? Should we prosecute corporations? Should the size of an institution or its systemic importance influence the decision of prosecutors? “It has been almost five years since the financial crisis, but the big banks are still too big to fail,” [Senator Elizabeth] Warren, a Democrat, said in a statement. “Attorney General Holder’s testimony that the biggest banks are too-big-to-jail shows once again that it is past time to end too-big-to-fail.”

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the collusion between government and finance, click here.




Elizabeth Warren Wants HSBC Bankers Jailed for Money Laundering
2013-03-07, ABC News
Posted: 2013-03-19 09:07:10
http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2013/03/elizabeth-warren-wants-hsbc-bank...

Elizabeth Warren has a question: How much money does a bank have to launder before people go to jail? Warren ... posed that question numerous times to financial regulators at a Senate Banking Committee hearing [on] banks and money laundering. In December, U.S. Justice Department officials announced that HSBC, Europe’s largest bank, would pay a $1.92 billion fine after laundering $881 million for drug cartels in Mexico and Colombia. The two regulators, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen and Federal Reserve Governor Jerome H. Powell, deflected Warren’s questions, saying that criminal prosecutions are for the Justice Department to decide. An exasperated Warren said, as she wrapped up her questioning, “If you’re caught with an ounce of cocaine, the chances are good you’re going to jail. If it happens repeatedly, you may go to jail for the rest of your life. But evidently, if you launder nearly a billion dollars for drug cartels and violate our international sanctions, your company pays a fine and you go home and sleep in your own bed at night — every single individual associated with this — and I just think that’s fundamentally wrong.”

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the collusion between government and finance, click here.




It’s time to tax financial transactions
2013-03-05, Washington Post
Posted: 2013-03-12 09:12:01
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/katrina-vanden-heuvel-its-time-to-tax-...

On Friday at midnight, the sequester kicked in, triggering $85 billion in deep, dumb budget cuts that sent “nonessential personnel”— such as air traffic controllers — packing. Not to worry, though: Wall Street’s day was pretty much like any other. Billions of dollars in profits were made off of trillions of dollars in financial transactions. And the vast majority of those transactions were conducted tax-free. We don’t need a team of policymakers to tell us this isn’t good policy, or that it needs changing. Policymakers propose exactly that: a change. Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), along with Rep. Pete DeFazio (D-Ore.), unveiled a bill that would place a light tax on all financial transactions — three pennies on every $100 traded. It’s so small, Wall Street could easily afford it and the average E-Trade investor would barely notice it. This insignificant tax raises a significant amount of revenue — $352 billion over the next 10 years, or enough to refund about one-third of what the sequester will slash from the federal budget. The high-frequency traders that now dominate our markets would be hardest-hit by the tax. Analysts fear that such mass trading strategies could lead to disaster if markets behave unexpectedly. The new tax would discourage these kinds of trades, which would be a good thing. Europe, at least, seems to agree. Eleven nations, led by the conservative German government, are on track to start collecting the tax by January 2014. Expected revenues: $50 billion per year.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on financial corruption, click here.




Don’t Blink, or You’ll Miss Another Bailout
2013-02-17, New York Times
Posted: 2013-02-25 16:37:41
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/17/business/dont-blink-or-youll-miss-another-b...

Many people became rightfully upset about bailouts given to big banks during the mortgage crisis. But it turns out that they are still going on, if more quietly, through the back door. The existence of one such secret deal, struck in July between the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Bank of America, came to light just last week in court filings. Not only do the filings show the New York Fed helping to thwart another institution’s fraud case against the bank, they also reveal that the New York Fed agreed to give away what may be billions of dollars in potential legal claims. The New York Fed said in a court filing that in July it had released Bank of America from all legal claims arising from losses in some mortgage-backed securities the Fed received when the government bailed out the American International Group in 2008. One surprise in the filing, which was part of a case brought by A.I.G., was that the New York Fed let Bank of America off the hook even as A.I.G. was seeking to recover $7 billion in losses on those very mortgage securities. What did the New York Fed get from Bank of America in this settlement? Some $43 million, it seems, from a small dispute the New York Fed had with the bank on two of the mortgage securities. At the same time, and for no compensation, it released Bank of America from all other legal claims. For zero compensation, the New York Fed released Bank of America from what may be sizable legal claims, knowing that A.I.G. was trying to recover on those claims.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the collusion between regulators and financial corporations, click here.




The “People’s Bailout” Was Just the Beginning: What’s Next for Strike Debt?
2012-12-13, Yes! Magazine
Posted: 2013-02-25 16:32:16
http://www.yesmagazine.org/new-economy/peoples-bailout-just-the-beginning-wha...

Syracuse University art professor Thomas Gokey earned his Master of Fine Arts degree five years ago, but remains chained to his alma mater by $49,983 of debt. Soon after he graduated, the grim prospect of indefinite payments inspired its own art piece. Gokey put his debt up for sale in reconstituted squares of shredded money from the Federal Reserve. This year, together with the activist group Strike Debt, he helped organize a bold "People's Bailout" called the Rolling Jubilee, which has raised over $465,000. Bringing that money to the marketplace where collections companies buy and sell debt for pennies on the dollar, Strike Debt intends to purchase about $9 million of Americans' medical and educational debt—and then cancel it. Strike Debt, which grew out of Occupy Wall Street, wants to foment conversation about the debt we rack up in pursuit of basic needs, and the industries that profit from that debt. Gokey is currently on a year-long unpaid leave from teaching to help organize the Rolling Jubilee and upcoming Strike Debt projects. Thomas Gokey: Since I'm an educator, I'm thinking about the ways in which my students and I seem to be getting taken advantage of. We look at how much it's costing each one of my students to take one of my classes, and how much I'm getting paid to teach the class. And we look at each other and think, why don't we just go hold our classes at the public library? Somebody's obviously making money off both of us, so can't we cut out that middleman and focus on education?

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on income inequality, click here.




Senator Elizabeth Warren grills regulators, ending quiet first month in office
2013-02-14, Boston Globe
Posted: 2013-02-19 09:58:10
http://www.boston.com/politicalintelligence/2013/02/14/senator-elizabeth-warr...

After campaigning last year as an outspoken consumer advocate and Wall Street critic, Senator Elizabeth Warren was surprisingly quiet during her first month on Capitol Hill. But that changed on [Feb. 14] at the Massachusetts senior senator’s first hearing, when she rebuked federal regulators for settling civil cases with big banks instead of taking them to trial. Looking at the seven regulators arrayed before the Senate Banking Committee, and noting that she had often sat at the same witness table before becoming a senator, she used her new power to question why the federal government has not been more aggressive. “The question I really want to ask is about how tough you are — about how much leverage you really have,” Warren said. “Tell me a little bit about the last few times you’ve taken the biggest financial institutions on Wall Street all the way to trial.” None of the witnesses — representing the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and others — offered a response. Warren seized the hearing to chide regulators for not taking legal stands against Wall Street, saying that the threat of trial is an important tool in keeping big banks in line, despite the vast resources required to do so. “If a party is unwilling to go to trial — either because they’re too timid or they lack resources — the consequence is they have a lot less leverage,” Warren said. “If [banks] can break the law and drag in billions in profits and then turn around and settle paying out of those profits, they don’t have that much incentive to follow the law.”

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the corrupt regulation of financial activities, click here.




Justice Department sues S&P over mortgage bond ratings
2013-02-04, Los Angeles Times
Posted: 2013-02-12 10:15:46
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-sandp-justice-20130205,0,1104883.story

The federal government is ... going after Wall Street's biggest credit rating firm for its role in pumping up the housing bubble. The Justice Department filed a lawsuit [on Feb. 4] against Standard & Poor's Corp. The suit accuses the company's analysts of issuing glowing reviews on troubled mortgage securities whose subsequent failure helped cause the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. The action marks the first federal crackdown against a major credit rater, and it signals an untested legal tack after limited success in holding the nation's banks accountable for the part they played in the crisis. The government selected Los Angeles as the venue to file the lawsuit in part because it was one of the regions hardest hit when the bottom fell out of the housing market. Hundreds of thousands of California residents lost their homes to foreclosure, and others saw their wealth evaporate as properties plummeted in value. In addition to the Justice Department, several state attorneys general are investigating the ratings agency. States such as California and New York are expected to pursue their own investigations and legal action, people familiar with the matter said. The federal action does not involve any criminal allegations. Critics have complained that the government has yet to send any senior bankers or Wall Street executives to jail for potential illegal behavior that led to the crisis. But civil actions typically require a much lower burden of proof.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the criminal practices of the financial industry, click here.




'Who knew' mortgage defense falling apart
2013-02-07, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
Posted: 2013-02-12 10:12:36
http://www.sfgate.com/business/bottomline/article/Who-knew-mortgage-defense-f...

The "who knew?" defense [was] thrown down by financial institutions and their senior executives to ward off accusations that they were somehow responsible for the disaster that befell the country. That defense is now crumbling by the day, thanks in part to their own employees' admissions. Citing internal e-mails, California joined the federal government and 15 other states this week in filing multibillion-dollar civil fraud lawsuits against the nation's leading credit ratings agency, Standard & Poor's, for allegedly deliberately "downplaying and disregarding the true extent of the credit risks" of the financial instruments it had rated as rock-solid. S&P says the charges are "without factual or legal merit," while adding that it, "like everyone else, did not predict the speed and severity of the coming crisis and how credit quality would ultimately be affected." Stack that up against an S&P executive who warned in an internal memo in December 2006, "This market is a wildly spinning top which is going to end badly." Or the 2007 e-mail from an analyst that read, "Job's going great, aside from the fact that the MBS (residential mortgage-backed securities) is crashing." Foreknowledge seemed to be apparent at JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley as well. Internal documents in a lawsuit filed by Dexia SA, a French-Belgian bank, alleging "egregious fraud" by JPMorgan in the sale of $1.7 billion of mortgage-backed bonds, suggested executives at JPMorgan, Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual ... intentionally covered up the unworthiness of the securities they were selling.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the criminal practices of the financial industry, click here.




Rate-Rigging Investigation Rolls On
2013-02-07, New York Times
Posted: 2013-02-12 10:10:18
http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/02/07/rate-rigging-investigation-rolls-on/

The global investigation into interest-rate manipulation has emboldened prosecutors to crack down on banks, and the settlement with the Royal Bank of Scotland on [Feb. 6] underscored that strategy. As part of the $612 million deal that American and British authorities reached with R.B.S., the bank’s Japanese unit was required to plead guilty to criminal wrongdoing, echoing an earlier action taken against a subsidiary of UBS. The cases announced so far give other banks some idea of what to expect. Three questions come into play: how much it will cost, whether a guilty plea will be required and whether embarrassing e-mails will be released. The winners in all this may be the lawyers and other advisers. The trove of internal e-mails and employee interviews, filed as part of a lawsuit by one of the investors in the securities, offers a fresh glimpse into Wall Street’s mortgage machine, which churned out billions of dollars of securities that later imploded. The documents reveal that JPMorgan, as well as two firms the bank acquired during the credit crisis, Washington Mutual and Bear Stearns, flouted quality controls and ignored problems, sometimes hiding them entirely, in a quest for profit.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the criminal practices of the financial industry, click here.




Doubt Is Cast on Firms Hired to Help Banks
2013-01-31, New York Times
Posted: 2013-02-12 10:08:08
http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/01/31/doubt-is-cast-on-firms-hired-to-help-b...

Federal authorities are scrutinizing private consultants hired to clean up financial misdeeds like money laundering and foreclosure abuses, taking aim at an industry that is paid billions of dollars by the same banks it is expected to police. The consultants operate with scant supervision and produce mixed results, according to government documents and interviews with prosecutors and regulators. In one case, the consulting firms enabled the wrongdoing. The deficiencies, officials say, can leave consumers vulnerable and allow tainted money to flow through the financial system. The pitfalls were exposed last month when federal regulators halted a broad effort to help millions of homeowners in foreclosure. The regulators reached an $8.5 billion settlement with banks, scuttling a flawed foreclosure review run by eight consulting firms. In the end, borrowers hurt by shoddy practices are likely to receive less money than they deserve, regulators said. Critics concede that regulators have little choice but to hire outsiders for certain responsibilities after they find problems at the banks. The government does not have the resources to ensure that banks follow the rules. Some banks that work with consultants continue to run afoul of the law. At other times, consultants underestimate the extent of the misdeeds or facilitate them, preventing regulators from holding institutions accountable.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the criminal practices of the financial industry, click here.




Sucker Alert? Insider Selling Surges After Dow 14,000
2013-02-05, CNBC
Posted: 2013-02-12 10:06:28
http://www.cnbc.com/id/100435847

Insiders have been pulling out of stocks just as small investors are getting in. Selling by corporate executives has surged recently as the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit 14,000 and retail investors flooded into stocks. The amount of insider selling has usually preceded market selloffs. "In almost perfect coordination with an equity market that was rushing toward new all-time highs, insider sentiment has weakened sharply — falling to its lowest level since late March 2012," wrote David Coleman of the Vickers Weekly Insider report, one of the longest researchers of executive buying and selling on Wall Street. "Insiders are waving the cautionary flag in an increasingly aggressive manner." There have been more than nine insider sales for every one buy over the past week among NYSE stocks, according to Vickers. The last time executives sold their company's stock this aggressively was in early 2012, just before the S&P 500 went on to correct by 10 percent to its low for the year. "Insiders know more than the vast majority of market participants," said Enis Taner, global macro editor for RiskReversal.com. "And they're usually right over a long period of time." "Insiders (are) showing a remarkable ability of late to identify both market peaks and troughs," states the Vickers report. For selling to be big enough that firms like Vickers raise a bearish flag, the bulls may want to take heed.

Note: For more on this, click here.




Oil supply grows, but so does price
2013-01-25, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
Posted: 2013-02-05 10:21:58
http://www.sfgate.com/business/article/Oil-supply-grows-but-so-does-price-422...

Since 2008, oil production in the United States has surged ... 28 percent as the controversial practice of fracking unlocks new supplies in North Dakota and Texas. At the same time, use of oil and petroleum products has fallen 4 percent, as Americans switch to more efficient cars. In theory at least, both of those factors should have pushed the price of crude down. Instead, it's gone up. Since bottoming out during the financial crisis, oil futures traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange have nearly tripled in value, climbing from $33.87 per barrel in December 2008 to roughly $95 this month. Oil still costs substantially more now than it did in 2007, before the recession began. The high price illustrates a brutal truth of today's interconnected world - oil is a global commodity, bought and sold in a global marketplace. Even while demand falls in the United States, it's growing in countries such as China and India. Critics say the price paradox undercuts the oil industry's efforts to drill in more of America's public lands and coastal waters. "It really debunks the myth of 'Drill, baby, drill,' that if we just produce more oil, prices will stay low or go lower," said Michael Marx, director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Oil campaign. Will all that extra petroleum finally mean lower prices? "It's a difficult question to answer, because there's not a one-for-one (relationship) between an increase in production and a decrease in prices," said Doug MacIntyre, director of the Energy Information Administration's office of petroleum statistics. "There are so many other factors."

Note: Though the author refers to "so many other factors," he doesn't even mention greed and corruption which almost everyone knows are rampant. When will the media focus their attention on these fundamental challenges of our world?




Peer-to-Peer Lending: No Longer Just a Curiosity
2013-01-20, Bloomberg Businessweek
Posted: 2013-02-05 10:18:06
http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-01-20/peer-to-peer-lending-no-longe...

Peer-to-peer lending most immediately brings to mind the largely feel-good act of extending small-time money to small businesses and individuals with quirky projects—a curiosity at best and no threat to the lending hegemony of big banks. What’s less appreciated is how successful peer-to-peer lending platforms such as Prosper and Lending Club have been in connecting wholesale numbers of individual lenders and borrowers. Renaud Laplanche is the founder and chief executive officer of Lending Club, which has been at least doubling its loan originations every year since it started in June 2007 at the onset of the financial crisis. He says he came up with the idea when he realized he was paying 18 percent on his credit-card debt while the issuing bank was paying out 2 percent to depositors. Lending Club mitigates risk—its default rate has remained in the low single digits throughout the financial crisis—by serving prime and superprime borrowers and turning down 90 percent of loan applications. Prosper, perhaps Lending Club’s main rival, has similarly posted nice risk-adjusted returns across its loan portfolio. Its management and board are studded with venture capitalists and Wall Street names. The value proposition to borrowers, obviously, is access not just to capital that the banks aren’t willing to lend them, but capital at a lower cost should they make the grade.




Conscious Capitalism ready for spotlight
2013-01-26, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
Posted: 2013-02-05 10:16:39
http://www.sfgate.com/business/bottomline/article/Conscious-Capitalism-ready-...

Conscious Capitalism Inc. [is] an organization that came to public attention ... with the publication of a book with the same title and the controversial comments made by its author, Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey. Not the capitalism that's been "hijacked by the 'story-of-me,' " explained the organization's CEO, Doug Rauch. "It should be the story of us. "Us" as in employees, customers, investors, surrounding communities, the environment - also known as "stakeholders" - to whom business leaders owe an obligation over and above the bottom line and mere shareholder value. These are not new ideas - they've been expressed by a number of business leaders, including Nobel Peace Prize-winner Muhammad Yunus, founder of the microlending Grameen Bank ... and pushed by organizations like San Francisco's Business for Social Responsibility. Still, Conscious Capitalism - registered trademark - has rounded up a number of corporate chieftains in addition to Mackey, including those running Patagonia, The Container Store, Southwest Airlines, Motley Fool, Zappos, Herman Miller, Gibson Guitars and Nordstrom. POSCO, the giant South Korean steel company, is a major financial contributor. Up to now, the 6-year-old nonprofit has been operating mostly under the radar, but with a $1 million annual budget - funded by individual and corporate contributions and revenue from conferences - Conscious Capitalism appears ready to spread its wings.




11 EU nations to plan tax on financial transactions
2013-01-22, Los Angeles Times
Posted: 2013-01-29 09:22:31
http://www.latimes.com/news/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-11-eu-tax-financial-trans...

Pressing ahead where others have balked, 11 European countries received the green light ... to plan a financial transaction tax that could generate billions of dollars in revenue for cash-strapped governments. Led by Germany and France, the European Union’s two heavyweights, the nations will now work out how to introduce a levy on the buying and selling of stocks and bonds and on the use of complex financial instruments known as derivatives. Advocates say such a tax is not only necessary to help discourage risky transactions like those that precipitated the 2008 global financial meltdown but also a fair way to make financial institutions pay to help clean up the leftover mess. The U.S., at the urging of Wall Street, has opposed a financial transaction tax; so has Britain, which is home to Europe’s largest financial trading hub. Hesitation in London as well as some other European capitals stalled a proposal, made in September 2011, to charge a unified financial transaction tax across the 27-nation EU. The 11 countries, all of which share the euro as their currency, decided to forge ahead on their own, deepening integration among a subset of EU members that together account for more than half of the region’s economic output. EU-wide, officials had estimated that a levy of just 0.1% on trades of stocks and bonds and 0.01% on derivatives could bring in $75 billion a year.

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