Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Posts Tagged ‘Wall Street’

To What Extent is the American Economy Propped Up by Arms Sales?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What should one expect when the whole damn defense industry has been whored out to arm the krazees of the world?

In a very prophetic manner, in his Farewell Address to the nation, January 17, 1961, then-President Dwight David Eisenhower warned about the “military industrial complex,” saying:

“We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United State corporations.

“This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence-economic, political, even spiritual-is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

“We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

US sells $11 BILLION worth of arms to Qatar

Published time: July 15, 2014 09:46
Edited time: July 16, 2014 12:55

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (L) and Qatar's Minister of State for Defense Affairs Hamad bin Ali al-Atiyah (C) arrive for a weapons sales signing ceremony at the Pentagon on July 14, 2014 in Washington, DC. (AFP Photo / Mandel Ngan)

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (L) and Qatar’s Minister of State for Defense Affairs Hamad bin Ali al-Atiyah (C) arrive for a weapons sales signing ceremony at the Pentagon on July 14, 2014 in Washington, DC. (AFP Photo / Mandel Ngan)

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (L) and Qatar’s Minister of State for Defense Affairs Hamad bin Ali al-Atiyah (C) arrive for a weapons sales signing ceremony at the Pentagon on July 14, 2014 in Washington, DC. (AFP Photo / Mandel Ngan)

Washington and Doha have signed the largest arms deal of the year, preparing to enhance Qatar’s military capabilities with $11 billion-worth of Apache assault helicopters, PAC-2 missile defense complexes and Javelin man-portable anti-tank missiles.

The deal has been signed on Monday in Pentagon by US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Qatari Defense Minister Hamad bin Ali al-Attiyah. Altogether Qatar is buying 10 batteries of Patriot missile defense systems and 500 Javelin anti-tank missiles manufactured by US defense industry giants Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, and 24 Apache helicopters made by Boeing, an anonymous US official told the AFP.

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Is a college education ~really~ all it’s cracked up to be… anymore? Or, why has tuition increased 300% in 30 years?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, June 24, 2014

College costs expose the false meritocracy of the American dream

The cost of an education in America has risen so much that only the wealthy and indebted can attend. The system doesn’t work

Post by Chris Arnade Photography.

 Chris Arnade received his PhD in physics from Johns Hopkins University in 1992. He spent the next 20 years working as a trader on Wall Street. He left trading in 2012 to focus on photography. His "Faces of Addiction" series explores addiction in the south Bronx neighbourhood in New York City. Follow him on Twitter: @Chris_arnade


Chris Arnade received his PhD in physics from Johns Hopkins University in 1992. He spent the next 20 years working as a trader on Wall Street. He left trading in 2012 to focus on photography. His “Faces of Addiction” series explores addiction in the south Bronx neighbourhood in New York City. Follow him on Twitter: @Chris_arnade

theguardian.com, Wednesday 18 June 2014 07.30 EDT

watermelons

As a college student, Chris Arnade picked Florida watermelons to pay for school. His daughter can’t do the same.
Photograph: Alamy

When I entered Wall Street in 1993 with a PhD, I was an anomaly. One of my bosses was a failed baseball player, another a frustrated jazz musician. One of the guys running one of the most profitable businesses, in both my firm and all of Wall Street, was a former elevator repairman. Their college degrees – if they even had them – were from all sorts of schools, not simply the Ivy leagues.

By the time I left Wall Street a few years ago, the only people being hired were the “play it safe kids”. The ones with degrees from Princetons and Harvards. You know, the ones who had organized a soup kitchen in eighth grade (meaning, really their parents had) to load their resumes. The ones who had gone to the state science fair (meaning their parents or nannies had spent many weekends and nights helping with a science project).

 Few of these hires where rags-to-riches stories. Most had parents very much like those already working on Wall Street – wealthy and dedicated to getting their children whatever they needed, regardless of cost. Many were in fact the children of Wall Street parents.

It is not just Wall Street. Most of the best paying jobs now require a college degree, or post-college degree, and still rarely hire from state schools. They want Ivy schools, or similar. That feels safe.

This is a problem. Businesses have abdicated their primary role in hiring, handing it over to colleges, which have gladly accepted that role, and now charge a shit-load for it. Want a job kid? Pay $60,000 a year for four years. Then maybe pay for another two to get a MBA.

Yet, those best schools do not teach kids anything radically different from what the average colleges do. They do not prepare them better for the day-to-day work of Wall Street. Those finance skills are learned with experience and instinct after two years of training – on the job.

Rather, a prestigious education is a badge given to students who can follow the established rules, run through the maze, jump through hoops, color between the lines, and sit quietly. It shows that they really, really want to be a grown-up. For that, they pay $60,000 per year.

It has become a test. Are you part of the meritocracy?

It also has become a barrier of entry to professionalism – a very costly barrier of entry.

Harvard University
A rigid system of ‘feeder’ schools is in place for parents who want their children to attend schools like Harvard, which have a reputation for then ‘feeding’ major Wall Street firms. Photograph: Porter Gifford/Corbis

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Who Pays Unskilled Labor US $80,000/year?!

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, June 22, 2014

“For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.”
-1Tim5:18

Lately, much has been made of raising the Minimum Wage, which does nothing more than establish a minimum standard.

But who cares about minimums?

We should strive to exceed!

Some well-known, publicly-traded, highly profitable firms, however, revel in greed, and wallow in the slop, when they can do far better for the employees who operate their businesses.

The question is often asked “why pay unskilled workers $10 or even more per hour?”

It’s a valid question, and deserves a genuinely thoughtful response.

So, let’s pose that question to BIG OIL COMPANIES in Williston, North Dakota, where…

“oilfield companies pay unskilled 19 year-olds $80,000 a year.”

 

http://www.marketplace.org/topics/economy/mall-middle-what-used-be-nowhere

by Dan Weissmann
Monday, June 16, 2014 – 15:21

Williston, North Dakota, has the nation’s highest rents. Thanks to the fracking boom, a basic apartment in Williston costs more than something similar in New York or San Francisco. And it comes with a lot fewer amenities.

For instance, shopping. If Walmart doesn’t have it, the nearest outlet is at least two hours away. Now, a Swiss investment firm has announced plans to Read the rest of this entry »

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Analysis – Examining the Record: Is Alabama Governor Bentley a “Jobs Creator” or a Drag on the State Economy?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, April 12, 2014

When campaigning for the office of Alabama’s Governor, Robert Bentley – a retired dermatologist physician who at the time was an elected representative from Tuscaloosa County – promised if elected governor that, “I will forgo a salary as state representative for the rest of my term and will not accept a salary as Governor until Alabama reaches full employment.”
ref: http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2010/06/robert_bentley_extends_no-sala.html

When pressed on the matter, he later defined “full employment” as having state unemployment somewhere around 5%. It is a promise to which, as of the date of this entry – 12 April 2014 – he has kept. In other words, Alabama has NOT reached “full employment,” and he has not been paid a salary. He has, however, been compensated for out-of-pocket expenses (the governor’s office has a budget, so why would he personally have any such expenses for work in an official capacity?), though he has received – as legislator, a legally-mandated $1.00 per month salary. Since his election to the governorship, he has not received a salary.

Let’s examine Governor Bentley‘s employment record.

During Governor Robert Bentley’s watch, International Paper – the large paper mill formerly known as Champion Paper, in Courtland, and the largest employer in Lawrence County – closed and cost the area economy & state 1100 jobs. Those jobs were Read the rest of this entry »

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BIG OIL’s Corrupting Influence in American Politics: Propping up Corrupt Regimes to Prop Up Profits

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, March 7, 2014

Report

Slick Moves

The SEC could help tackle corruption in resource-rich countries around the world — but the oil industry is getting in the way.

Angola, Africa’s second-largest oil producer, is regarded as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. And American oil lobbyists are only making the situation worse: They are exploiting Angola by seeking to delay and weaken the implementation of a crucial U.S. transparency law.

That law, Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Act, also known as the Cardin-Lugar amendment, promises a breakthrough in preventing dirty deals and illicit payments being made for natural resources around the world, similar to the shady transaction recently uncovered by Foreign Policy. If implemented fully, the law would make U.S. oil and mining companies disclose the payments they make to governments across the world, including in Angola. However, oil lobbyists have been making misguided arguments that laws in Angola and three other countries prevent the required disclosures.

Off Shore Oil Drilling Rig

Off Shore Oil Drilling Rig – MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images

Angolan officials secretly profiting from the country’s oil riches is not a surprise. It is only the latest episode in a sad history that goes back for decades. Global Witness, where we work, began exposing the complicity of the international oil and banking industries in the plundering of state assets during Angola’s 40-year civil war in our 1999 report A Crude Awakening. This was followed by our 2002 report All the Presidents’ Men, which called on the oil companies operating in Angola to “Publish What You Pay” (PWYP). Under this rallying call, Global Witness co-launched the PWYP campaign, which is now an international coalition of more than 790 civil society organizations in over 60 countries, including Angola, advocating for transparency laws such as Section 1504.

These efforts are intended to prevent scandals similar to the Trafigura deal covered in Foreign Policy, which provide a glimpse of the endemic corruption in Angola‘s oil industry. Only a few days before Foreign Policy published its story, media reports about leaked documents relating to other corruption claims caused the share price of SBM Offshore, a Dutch oil services company operating in Angola, to plummet 17.9 percent when markets opened. SBM released a statement challenging the validity of the leaked documents, saying that they are partial, taken out of context, contain outdated information, and are not representative of the facts. SBM had also already disclosed to its investors that it was conducting an internal investigation into questionable payments in Angola. However, the dramatic stock drop suggests that SBM investors had not anticipated the scale of the corruption risk exposure.

Another oil services company active in Angola, Weatherford International, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and headquartered in Switzerland, has recently pleaded guilty to violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), including bribery of the executives of Sonangol, Angola’s state oil company. It has agreed to pay fines of $253 million to settle the case, one of the largest FCPA settlements ever.

These cases illustrate the urgent need for transparency in Angola’s oil sector. The successful implementation of Read the rest of this entry »

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In Defense of #Infrastructure Spending

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, February 22, 2014

At the federal level, TEApublican types have decried our national deficit, much – if not most – of which came about as a result of placing the price of a decade of warfare on a proverbial credit card. I refer, of course, to the Persian Gulf War, Gulf War II, Operation Desert Shield/Storm and the invasion of Afghanistan, etc., all of which occurred during the previous administration.

Compounding that problem was that corporate and personal income tax rates upon the wealthiest was cut, while simultaneously, the veritable house of cards was crumbling, having been built upon the miry, sinking sands of Wall Street deregulation & greed gone wild.

Nevertheless, as our nation has struggled and clawed its way back to some semblance of fiscal sanity, there have been voices arising whom assert that the federal government’s “bailout” of banks & other large, corporate enterprise has been a gross mistake, and that such a bailout should have never occurred. And, while there will doubtless be volumes written, and debates held about the good and the bad of the ordeal, what’s been done, has been done, and it’s practically all over, but the crying. So the only thing we can do now, is live & learn, and move on.

And yet, respecting one underlying problem which arose corollary to the matter, is the loss of jobs here at home. Again, it was complicated by ‘globalization,’ which – good, bad, or indifferent – is Read the rest of this entry »

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Research: WalMart’s Low Wages Burden Taxpayers

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, November 23, 2012

The high cost of low living…

“Walmart’s employees receive $2.66 billion in government help every year, or about $420,000 per store.
They are also the top recipients of Medicaid in numerous states.
Why does this occur?
Walmart fails to provide a livable wage and decent healthcare benefits, costing U.S. taxpayers an annual average of $1.02 billion in healthcare costs.

This direct public subsidy is being given to offset the failures of an international corporate giant who shouldn’t be shifting part of its labor costs onto the American taxpayers.”

You’re the life of the party, everybody’s host
Still you need somewhere you can hide
All your good time friends
And your farewell to has-beens
Lord knows, just along for the ride

You think you’re a survivor
But boy, you better think twice
No one rides for nothin’
So, step up and pay the price

Dedicated to the GOP & other radical TEApublicans who worship the “almighty” dollar, tax cuts for the über wealthy, and their multinational corporate prophets.


Hidden Taxpayer Costs

Disclosures of Employers Whose Workers and Their Dependents are Using State Health Insurance Programs

Updated January 18, 2012

Since the mid-20th Century, most Americans have obtained health insurance through workplace-based coverage. In recent years there has been a decline in such coverage caused by a rise in the number of jobs that do not provide coverage at all and growth in the number of workers who decline coverage because it is too expensive.

Faced with the unavailability or unaffordability of health coverage on the job, growing numbers of lower-income workers are turning to taxpayer-funded healthcare programs such as Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

This trend is putting an added burden on programs that are already under stress because of fiscal constraints caused by medical inflation and federal cutbacks. Many states are curtailing benefits and tightening eligibility requirements.

It also raises the issue of whether states are being put in a position of subsidizing the cost-cutting measures of private sector employers.

Across the country, policymakers and others concerned about the healthcare system are pressing for disclosure of information on those employers whose workers (and their dependents) end up in taxpayer-funded programs.

The following is a summary of the employer disclosure that has come to light so far. It includes two cases (Massachusetts and Missouri) in which the information was produced as a result of legislation. The other cases involved requests by legislators or reporters. The latter situations have sometimes resulted in data that are incomplete or imprecise, which suggests that only legislatively mandated, systematic disclosure will tell the whole story.

This compilation was originally produced by Good Jobs First as part of its preparation of testimony given before the Maryland legislature on an employer disclosure bill. A version of that testimony can be found here [1].

Alabama
In April 2005 the Mobile Register published an article citing data from the Alabama Medicaid Agency on companies in the state with employees whose children are participating in Medicaid. The newspaper obtained a list from the agency of 63 companies whose employees had 100 or more children in the program as of mid-March 2005. At the top of the list was Wal-Mart, whose employees had 4,700 children in the program. Following it were McDonald’s (1,931), Hardee’s (884) and Burger King (861). The data were similar to information obtained from the same agency by the Montgomery Advertiser two months earlier.

Sources: Sean Reilly, “Medicaid Providing Health Care for Kids of Working Families,” Mobile Register, April 17, 2005 and John Davis and Jannell McGrew, “Health Plans Not Family Friendly,” Montgomery Advertiser, February 22, 2005, p.B6.

Arizona
In July 2005 the state Department of Economic Security issued data on the largest private employers with workers receiving taxpayer-financed medical insurance through the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System. At the top of the list was Wal-Mart, with about 2,700 workers–or 9.6 percent of its Arizona workforce–participating in the program. It was followed by Read the rest of this entry »

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Hostess Twinkies go Bye-Bye… for now. But why? Who’s to blame?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, November 17, 2012

Who’s to Blame for the Hostess Bankruptcy: Wall Street, Unions, or Carbs?

By Jordan Weissmann

Try all of the above.

There are two important things to realize about this rather sad situation. First: Twinkie, Wonder, and all the other high-calorie marvels of culinary science Hostess sells aren’t going to disappear from shelves for good. One of its competitors will likely swoop in, buy them up, and restart production. So you can stop bidding on $100 boxes of Sno Balls on eBay.


Hostess Brands, the maker of Twinkie and Wonder Bread, is getting ready to bake its last corn-syrupy snack cake. After failing to win major contract concessions from one of its key labor unions, the beleaguered 82-year-old company has asked a federal bankruptcy court for permission to start liquidating its assets — or, in real person speak, begin the process of selling off pieces of the company to the highest bidder while laying off most of its 18,500 workers. (Reuters)

Second: This is not a simple story that anybody should try to slot neatly into their political talking points. It’s not just about Wall Street preying on Main Street, or big bad labor unions sucking a wholesome American company dry. It’s about an entire galaxy of bad decisions that will cost many people their jobs and money.

As David Kaplan chronicled at length for Fortune earlier this year, the roots of this debacle go back to when Hostess entered its first bankruptcy in 2004. Not unlike the situation automakers would find themselves in a few years later, the company was collapsing under the weight of flagging sales, overly generous union contracts replete with ridiculous work rules, and gobs of debt. But unlike the automakers, the five years Hostess spent trying to fix itself in Chapter 11 didn’t fix its fundamental problems.

Instead, they set the stage for its eventual demise. A private equity company, Ripplewood Holdings, paid about $130 million dollars to take Hostess private, and the company’s two major unions, the Teamsters and the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, sacrificed about $110 million in annual wages and benefits. But Read the rest of this entry »

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The Oracle at Delphi: Mitt Romney’s direct tie to increased unemployment in North Alabama

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, October 20, 2012

The average reader may not be aware that there was once a huge Delphi plant in Limestone county, Alabama, which facility was located directly across from Calhoun Community College.

American Industry... closed. - M1510 h712

Mitt Romney owned a significant interest in a firm that profited by laying off workers, dumping their pensions, moving to China, and then profiting rapaciously from the TARP bailout. That large plant – one among many, with the largest one being in Alabama – was the Delphi Steering Gear facility in Tanner, near Decatur, in Limestone County.

It was one of North Alabama‘s LARGEST employers – with emphasis on “was.”

The men & women who made careers there, whose labors enabled their children to attend college, provided their families’ clothing, groceries, housing & healthcare, and provided for their own retirement, and which was a union shop, was shuttered several years ago.

Most of what news I recall about it centered around how corporate traders, not unions, were wanting even more & more profit when they were already profitable. Time and time again, the workers took cuts in benefits & pay to keep their jobs for as long as they could… all to no avail.

Like a gazelle savaged on the plains of the Kalahari Desert in Africa, that once prosperous plant has been laid to waste, and there are only industrial skeletal remains. Even the human buzzards, scavenging metal for recycling from the industrial carcass, have left. For many years now, the hollow exterior hulk, instead of employees, materials & labor, has been drawing cobwebs, dust & rust. And soon, like all things left unattended, it too will crumble.

There are no taxes paid to Limestone county, or to nearby Decatur, Athens or Huntsville, or to Alabama for roads, schools, police & fire protection. But there is an even greater issue, one which is exceedingly more weighty and sorrowful. As a result of it all, there is no hope, there are no jobs, and there is no future.

Here’s the even more disturbing part: Mitt Romney had his hand in that pie.

And yet the saddest and most perplexing part is, that most Alabamians will vote for the GOP nominee/candidate.

Following the economic investigative report are historical local news reports that show the progression about the issue (which validate the economic investigative report by Greg Palast), from the:
Decatur Daily,
Huntsville Times,
• Associated Press,
• Athens-Limestone News Courier,
• Saginaw News (via MLive.com), and
• Wall Street Journal,
dating 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009 & 2010.

For the benefit of the reader, Greg Palast is an economist and financial investigator turned journalist whose series on vulture funds appeared on BBC Television’s Newsnight. He is the author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy (Penguin) and, most recently, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps (Seven Stories). For additional information about him, his website is: http://www.gregpalast.com.

Mitt Romney’s Bailout Bonanza

Greg Palast, October 17, 2012   |    This article appeared in the November 5, 2012 edition of The Nation.

This investigation was supported by the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute and by the Puffin Foundation. Elements of it appear in Palast’s new book, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps (Seven Stories). Research assistance by Zach D. Roberts, Ari Paul, Nader Atassi and Eric Wuestewald.

Mitt Romney

2012 GOP Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Mitt Romney’s opposition to the auto bailout has haunted him on the campaign trail, especially in Rust Belt states like Ohio. There, in September, the Obama campaign launched television ads blasting Romney’s November 2008 New York Times op-ed, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.” But Romney has done a good job of concealing, until now, the fact that he and his wife, Ann, personally gained at least $15.3 million from the bailout—and a few of Romney’s most important Wall Street donors made more than $4 billion. Their gains, and the Romneys’, were astronomical—more than 3,000 percent on their investment.

It all starts with Delphi Automotive, a former General Motors subsidiary whose auto parts remain essential to GM’s production lines. No bailout of GM—or Chrysler, for that matter—could have been successful without saving Delphi. So, in addition to making massive loans to automakers in 2009, the federal government sent, directly or indirectly, more than $12.9 billion to Delphi—and to the hedge funds that had gained control over it.

One of the hedge funds profiting from that bailout—
$1.28 billion so far—is Elliott Management, directed by 
Paul Singer. According to TheWall Street Journal, Singer has given more to support GOP candidates—$2.3 million—than anyone else on Wall Street this election season. His personal giving is matched by that of his colleagues at Elliott; collectively, they have donated $3.4 million to help elect Republicans this season, while giving only $1,650 to Democrats. And Singer is influential with the GOP presidential candidate; he’s not only an informal adviser but, according to theJournal, his support was critical in helping push Representative Paul Ryan onto the ticket.

Singer, whom Fortune magazine calls a “passionate defender of the 1%,” has carved out a specialty investing in distressed firms and distressed nations, which he does by buying up their debt for pennies on the dollar and then demanding payment in full. This so-called “vulture investor” received $58 million on Peruvian debt that he snapped up for $11.4 million, and $90 million on Congolese debt that he bought for a mere $20 million. In the process, he’s built one of the largest private equity firms in the nation, and over decades he’s racked up an unusually high average return on investments of 14 percent.

Other GOP presidential hopefuls chased Singer’s endorsement, but Mitt chased Singer with his own checkbook, investing at least $1 million with Elliott through Ann Romney’s blind trust (it could be far more, but the Romneys have declined to disclose exactly how much). Along the way, Singer gained a reputation, according to Fortune, “for strong-arming his way to profit.” That is certainly what happened at Delphi.

* * *

Delphi, once the Delco unit of General Motors, was spun off into a separate company in 1999. Read the rest of this entry »

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U.S. Attorney General Charges 530 in Mortgage Probe With $1 Billion in Fraud Losses

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, October 9, 2012

U.S. Charges 530 in Mortgage Probe With $1 Billion in Losses

The U.S. brought charges against 530 people over mortgage schemes that cost homeowners more than $1 billion, Attorney General Eric Holder said today.

More than 73,000 homeowners were victims of various frauds for which charges were filed during a year-long crackdown, including “foreclosure rescue schemes” that take advantage of those who have fallen behind on payments, the Justice Department said in a statement.

“These comprehensive efforts represent Read the rest of this entry »

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The Theory of Everything

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, October 7, 2012

I’m elated to learn that there is a “Theory of Everything.”

As I delved further into it, I found that Read the rest of this entry »

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Taxpayers’ $182B TARP bailout of AIG Now Fully Recovered

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, September 11, 2012

As the president and others – nonpartisan and partisan alike – have noted, BIG BUSINESS should NOT need a bailout. They should be operated in such a manner as to allow the Free Market to decide how, to what extent, and if they prosper. As part of that process, ironclad and strong regulation to prevent fraud and abuse should be vigorously enforced. And chief executives Read the rest of this entry »

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The Biggest Economic Challenge of Obama’s Second Term

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, September 10, 2012

Investing in economic infrastructure is ALWAYS a sound decision because
1.) Materials and Manpower ALWAYS comes from the private sector (and always will), and;
2.) Economic capacity and economic opportunity expands.

Note also these two remarks:

Corporations won’t hire more workers just because their tax bill is lower and they spend less on regulations. In case you hadn’t noticed, corporate profits are up. Most companies don’t even know what to do with the profits they’re already making. Not incidentally, much of those profits have come from replacing jobs with computer software or outsourcing them abroad.

“Meanwhile, the wealthy don’t create jobs, and giving them additional tax cuts won’t bring unemployment down. America’s rich are already garnering a bigger share of American income than they have in eighty years. They’re using much of it to speculate in the stock market. All this has done is drive stock prices higher.”

The Biggest Economic Challenge of Obama’s Second Term

Monday, September 10, 2012

The question at the core of America’s upcoming election isn’t merely whose story most voting Americans believe to be true – Mitt Romney’s claim that the economy is in a stall and Obama’s policies haven’t worked, or Barack Obama’s that it’s slowly mending and his approach is working.

If that were all there was to it, last Friday’s report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showing the economy added only 96,000 jobs in August – below what’s needed merely to keep up with the growth in the number of eligible workers — would seem to bolster Romney’s claim.

But, of course, congressional Republicans have never even given Obama a chance to try his approach. They’ve blocked everything he’s tried to do – including his proposed Jobs Act that would help state and local governments replace many of the teachers, police officers, social workers, and fire fighters they’ve had to let go over the last several years.

The deeper question is what should be done starting in January to boost a recovery that by anyone’s measure is still anemic. In truth, not even the Jobs Act will be enough.

At the Republican convention in Tampa, Florida, Romney produced Read the rest of this entry »

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Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, September 2, 2012

Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital

How the GOP presidential candidate and his private equity firm staged an epic wealth grab, destroyed jobs – and stuck others with the bill

by: Matt Taibbi

Rolling Stone 20120827-mitt-romney-x306-1346104394

Mitt Romney illustration / Illustration by Robert Grossman

The great criticism of Mitt Romney, from both sides of the aisle, has always been that he doesn’t stand for anything. He’s a flip-flopper, they say, a lightweight, a cardboard opportunist who’ll say anything to get elected.

The critics couldn’t be more wrong. Mitt Romney is no tissue-paper man. He’s closer to being a revolutionary, a backward-world version of Che or Trotsky, with tweezed nostrils instead of a beard, a half-Windsor instead of a leather jerkin. His legendary flip-flops aren’t the lies of a bumbling opportunist – they’re the confident prevarications of a man untroubled by misleading the nonbeliever in pursuit of a single, all-consuming goal. Romney has a vision, and he’s trying for something big: We’ve just been too slow to sort out what it is, just as we’ve been slow to grasp the roots of the radical economic changes that have swept the country in the last generation.

The incredible untold story of the 2012 election so far is that Romney’s run has been a shimmering pearl of perfect political hypocrisy, which he’s somehow managed to keep hidden, even with thousands of cameras following his every move. And the drama of this rhetorical high-wire act was ratcheted up even further when Romney chose his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin – like himself, a self-righteously anal, thin-lipped, Whitest Kids U Know penny pincher who’d be honored to tell Oliver Twist there’s no more soup left. By selecting Ryan, Romney, the hard-charging, chameleonic champion of a disgraced-yet-defiant Wall Street, officially succeeded in moving the battle lines in the 2012 presidential race.

Like John McCain four years before, Romney desperately needed a vice-presidential pick that would change the game. But where McCain bet on a combustive mix of clueless novelty and suburban sexual tension named Sarah Palin, Romney bet on an idea. He said as much when he unveiled his choice of Ryan, the author of a hair-raising budget-cutting plan best known for its willingness to slash the sacred cows of Medicare and Medicaid. “Paul Ryan has become an intellectual leader of the Republican Party,” Romney told frenzied Republican supporters in Norfolk, Virginia, standing before the reliably jingoistic backdrop of a floating warship. “He understands the fiscal challenges facing America: our exploding deficits and crushing debt.”

Debt, debt, debt. If the Republican Party had a James Carville, this is what he would have said to win Mitt over, in whatever late-night war room session led to the Ryan pick: “It’s the debt, stupid.” This is the way to defeat Barack Obama: to recast the race as a jeremiad against debt, something just about everybody who’s ever gotten a bill in the mail hates on a primal level.

Last May, in a much-touted speech in Iowa, Romney Read the rest of this entry »

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Bain Capital among firms subpoenaed by NY AG – suspected of tax evasion

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, September 2, 2012

The noose tightens.

UPDATE 2-New York probes private equity tax strategy – source

Sun Sep 2, 2012 8:00am IST

* NY AG subpoenas at least 12 private equity firms
* AG probing conversion of fees into fund investments
* Bain, Romney’s former firm, among those subpoenaed
* KKR, Apollo, Silver Lake, TPG also get subpoenas

By Karen Freifeld and Greg Roumeliotis

Sept 1 (Reuters) – At least a dozen U.S. private equity firms have been subpoenaed by the New York state attorney general as part of a probe into whether a widely used tax strategy that saved these firms hundreds of millions of dollars is proper, a source familiar with the situation said on Saturday.

Among the firms that were subpoenaed are Bain Capital LLC, KKR & Co LP, TPG Capital LP, Apollo Global Management LLC and Silver Lake Partners LP, the source said.

Bain was once headed by Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate who hopes to unseat President Barack Obama in the Nov. 6 election.

The subpoenas, which were sent out in July, seek documents related to Read the rest of this entry »

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Today Mitt Romney spoke out of the _?_ side of his mouth, and said:

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, August 14, 2012

“And you know what he did with it? He’s used it to pay for Obamacare, a risky, unproven, federal takeover of health care.” -Mitt Romney

Government estimates say that more than 6,000 jobs statewide and 20 percent of Iowa‘s electricity needs come from wind power, and the state’s senior GOP leaders all support renewing an extension of a wind tax credit that Romney opposes.

Romney’s campaign did not respond to repeated quests for his position on the other portions of the bill, which includes items such as a tax break for developers of NASCAR facilities and purchasers of electric motorcycles.


http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2012-08-14/gop-ticket-faces-growing-pains-as-dems-attack

FACT: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has determined that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is fully paid for, Read the rest of this entry »

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Oil prices crashed and Chevron still made nearly $24 a barrel

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, July 28, 2012

Must be something to what those kooky Occupy Wall Street type folks, and the evil Democrats are saying.

Oil prices crashed and Chevron still made nearly $24 a barrel

By Ronald D. White; July 27, 2012, 1:32 p.m.

Take just about any business situation in which the value of a company’s primary product suddenly falls by more than 29% and it could be time to panic. Then there is the oil patch, where billions of dollars in profits are possible even after that kind of collapse in crude prices. Chevron Corp. of San Ramon, Calif., is just such an example.

Even with the sharp drop in oil prices that began in the first quarter and ran through the end of the second quarter — a decline from $109.41 a barrel to $77.69 a barrel — Chevron had a positive margin of $23.53 on every barrel of crude it produced, according to analysts. Chevron said its margin was actually $26 a barrel. Read the rest of this entry »

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TARP: They got the Gold Mine, you got the shaft. -OR- Where’s MY f*ckin’ Bailout?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, July 23, 2012

Surely this doesn’t surprise anyone.

Bailout

The expressed sentiment of many American citizens.

There were voices decrying bailing out WALL STREET STOCK BROKERAGE HOUSES, BIG INSURANCE, BIG BUSINESS, “TOO BIG TO FAIL” BANKS, to the disadvantage of the American people.

From one perspective, TARP was a “good deal” because most of the money loaned has been repaid on time.

However, from another perspective (or two), the people (who make the economy run) were NOT “bailed out” and continue to suffer. That is, the objective (economic recovery) did not occur – at least to the extent it was hoped would occur. And their input into the economy continues to be abysmal, which in turn means that our national economy at large remains significantly unrecovered.

There are some who argue that the “bailout money” should have gone directly into the hands & pockets of American citizens & consumers because their spending would have stimulated the economy.

However, as it has been, the “bailout money” has gone to WALL STREET STOCK BROKERAGE HOUSES, BIG INSURANCE, BIG BUSINESS, “TOO BIG TO FAIL” BANKS, and the results have been – to put it politely – less then stellar.

Behind the scenes of the bank bailouts

Tess Vigeland: It’s been almost four years since Lehman Brothers went under and the world’s financial system started to spin out of control. The fall of 2008 was all about Henry Paulson‘s bazooka, the Troubled Asset Relief Program — TARP — a $700 billion bailout for the banks. The bailout legislation created a special inspector general at the Treasury Department to oversee where all that money was going.

Neil Barofsky performed the job until he resigned early in 2011. Now he’s out with a tell-all book of his experiences in Washington, including the time he was pretty sure Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was about to haul off and punch him. It’s called Read the rest of this entry »

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“TOO BIG TO FAIL” is just BIG enough to rob you blind: How Goldman Sachs robbed an American entrepreneur of $580 Million, and screwed over the American economy in the process

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Honestly (and some use that word lightly), is there any reason why Banks should NOT be heavily regulated?

Is there any reason why Stock Brokerage Houses should not be similarly heavily regulated?

Is there any legitimate reason why Insurance Companies should not be regulated?

Finally, is there any compelling reason why those BIG THREE financial businesses should be allowed to be in each other’s business?

Why do people NOT see these horrible things?

Where is the disconnect that they’re not able to put 1 + 1 together and come up with 2?

This is FRAUD – FRAUD – FRAUD!!!

And we’re just gonna’ let it slide by?

Please!

July 14, 2012

Goldman Sachs and the $580 Million Black Hole

By LOREN FELDMAN

THE business deal from hell began to crumble even before the Champagne corks were popped.

The deal, the $580 million sale of a highflying technology company, Dragon Systems, had just been approved by its board and congratulations were being exchanged. But even then, at that moment of celebration, there was a sense that something was amiss.

The chief executive of Dragon had received a congratulatory bottle from the investment bankers representing the acquiring company, a Belgian competitor called Lernout & Hauspie. But he hadn’t heard from Dragon’s own bankers at Goldman Sachs.

Dragon 15-GOLDMAN-articleLarge

Janet and Jim Baker at home. They are fighting Goldman Sachs over its work in 2000 on the all-stock sale of their business, Dragon Systems, to a company that later collapsed, leaving them shut out. / Photo: Gretchen Ertl for The New York Times

“I still have not received anything from Goldman,” the executive wrote in an e-mail to the other bank. “Do they know something I should know?”

More than a decade later, that question is still reverberating in a brutal legal battle between Goldman and the founders of Dragon Systems — along with a host of other questions that go to the heart of how financial giants like Goldman operate and what exactly they owe their clients.

James and Janet Baker spent nearly two decades building Dragon, a voice technology company, into a successful, multimillion-dollar enterprise. It was, they say, their “third child.” So in late 1999, when offers to buy Dragon began rolling in, the couple made what seemed a smart decision: they turned to Goldman Sachs for advice. And why not? Goldman, after all, was the leading dealmaker on Wall Street. The Bakers wanted the best.

This, of course, was before the scandals of the subprime mortgage era. It was before the bailouts, before Occupy Wall Street, before ordinary Americans began complaining about “banksters” and “muppets” and “the vampire squid.” In short, before Goldman Sachs became, for many, synonymous with Wall Street greed.

And yet, even today what happened next to the Bakers seems remarkable. With Goldman Sachs on the job, the corporate takeover of Dragon Systems in an all-stock deal went terribly wrong. Goldman collected millions of dollars in fees — and the Bakers lost everything when Read the rest of this entry »

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