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The Fed Wants Your Retirement Account

“Quietly, behind the scenes, the groundwork is being laid for federal government confiscation of tax-deferred retirement accounts such as IRAs. Slowly, the cat is being let out of the bag.

Last January 18th, in a little noticed interview of Richard Cordray, acting head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Bloomberg reported “[t]he U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau [CFPB] is weighing whether it should take on a role in helping Americans manage the $19.4 trillion they have put into retirement savings, a move that would be the agency’s first foray into consumer investments.”  That thought generates some skepticism, as aptly expressed by the Richard Terrell cartoon  published by American Thinker.

Days later On January 24th President Obama renominated Cordray as CFPB director even though his recess appointment was not due to expire until the end of 2013.

One day later, in the first significant resistance to President Obama’s concentration of presidential power, a three judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington DC unanimously said that Obama’s Recess Appointments to the National Labor Relations Board are unconstitutional.  Similar litigation testing the Cordray appointment to the CFPB is in the pipeline.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) created by the 2,319 page Dodd-Frank legislation is a new and little known bureau with wide-ranging powers.  Placed within the Federal Reserve, a corporation privately owned by member banks, the CFPB is insulated from oversight by either the President or Congress, its budget not subject to legislative control.  It is not even clear that a new President can replace the CFPB director on taking office.

Unusual legal and political environments have a significant impact on the CFPB. With Cordray’s recess appointment in doubt several questions remain unanswered.

1) What will become of the CFPB when Cordray’s appointment is found invalid?  An indicator comes from the NRLB, which operated unconstitutionally for years without a quorum.  In 2007 the Senate threatened no NLRB nominations reported out of committee.

The NLRB continued operating with two members.  Then a Supreme Court ruling in June of 2010 invalidated the NLRB decisions for lack of a quorum.  Fisher & Phillips give the details about what was done next.

But recovery from the Supreme Court’s sting was quick, with Liebman and Schaumber still on the Board and with two new Members confirmed, … the suddenly full-strength Board simply added a new Member to the “rump panel” of the original decisions and managed to rubber-stamp many of the disputed Orders – at a record-setting pace – with the same result…

This may explain why President Obama renominated Cordray a year early.  Once confirmed Cordray can rubber-stamp decisions made while he was unconstitutionally appointed.  Otherwise those decisions will be invalidated.

2) What will the CFPB do with your money?  The CFPB incursion into individual personal savings, in order to control how you invest your money, isn’t a new idea. Current proposals grew from a policy analysis as disclosed by Roger Hedgecock.

On Nov. 20, 2007, Theresa Ghilarducci, professor of economic policy analysis at the New School for Social Research in New York, presented a paper proposing that the feds eliminate the tax deferral for private retirement accounts, confiscate the balance of those accounts, give each worker a $600 annual “contribution,” assess a mandatory savings tax on every worker and guarantee a 3 percent rate of return on the newly titled “Guaranteed Retirement Accounts,” or GRAs.

How would that be accomplished?  The Carolina Journal reported Ghilarducci’s 2008 testimony to Nancy Pelosi’s House.

Democrats in the U.S. House have been conducting hearings on proposals to confiscate workers’ personal retirement accounts “including 401(k)s and IRAs” and convert them to accounts managed by the Social Security Administration.

Your Government universal GRA investment savings account is an annuity managed by Social Security….”
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A Frightening Look at Student Debt

“US student loan debt has soared to $966 billion, nearly tripling from 2004 to 2012, according to new data from the New York Federal Reserve.

The Fed offers five reasons to explain this trend:

  • More people attend college and graduate school
  • Parents take out student loans for their children
  • Students stay longer in college and more often attend graduate school
  • Lower repayment rates as borrowers delay payments through deferments and forbearances
  • Discharging student debt is very difficult and the balance stays with the borrower

Meanwhile, 17 percent of borrowers are now late on their debt payments.  This is up from 10 percent in 2004.

What follows is the Fed’s presentation showing the incredible rise of student debt and how it is quickly becoming a big problem.

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Blackwater Executives Get Slap on Wrist in 6-Year Criminal Case

“Former leaders of the security firm once known as Blackwater have avoided serious punishment following a plea deal with the U.S. Department of Justice.


In 2010, federal prosecutors charged five ex-Blackwater executives with violating U.S. firearms laws, filing false statements and obstructing justice. The case grew out of the 2008 conviction of two former Blackwater employees who helped the Justice Department build its case.


But last week the government gave up on the case, and dropped all charges against three of the defendants. The two remaining defendants, Gary Jackson and William Mathews Jr., pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor weapons recordkeeping charge.


They were sentenced to three years probation, four months of house arrest, and a $5,000 fine….”

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Collapse of a Corrupt Inequitable Monetary System

“The typical articles over the last many years have featured a particular theme. In the last few months, the central theme in Jackass articles has been the isolation and demise of the USDollar, how it is happening, why it must happen, and its importance in the restoration of the global financial structure. But this week, a sudden urge has come to address an overwhelming list of critical gritty questions. They crop up with clients, colleagues, and friends. More than a crisis, it is more accurately described as a collapse of a corrupt inequitable monetary system, and a desperate defense by the major Western bankers to preserve their power over nations and their governments, alongside a vile vicious violent attempt by the United States to maintain its privilege as owner of the vast USDollar counterfeit machinery, as controller of vast banking pillars of paper columns, and as commander of a vast military. The current monetary system has a debt foundation, which is collapsing in lockstep with the rapid breakdown in the sovereign bond market. The last four years have seen a long drawn-out unstoppable process, where the collapse cannot be avoided and must happen. The pathogenesis is obvious to those in the Sound Money camp. The blossom of corruption and complete banker criminal immunity has only hastened the urgent need for the collapse. The cadaver in Intensive Care cannot be revived with more intravenous applications of contaminated money, the body dead since September 2008. Insolvent systems rush to the crash zone, where efforts can only delay the outcome.

The central banks are finally in crosshairs of focus, for not producing a solution, more recently for worsening the problem. They have confused their function from providing liquidity, in the belief that they are creating wealth. They have destroyed the system as costs rise relentlessly. Perversely, their efforts to dampen demand so as to reduce price inflation has added to the economic destruction. The outcome will be shocking in its power shift to the East, shocking in its evaporation of paper wealth, and shocking in the simplicity of the new financial structure that rises from the ashes based in barter and gold payments. However, the United States will be left behind, due to its basic ownership of the global reserve currency being scrapped. The extreme corruption cannot be reformed. The US financial system must be extinguished, and with it extreme damage to the USEconomy, which has been hopelessly dependent upon asset bubbles for two decades. No single theme in this article, just an attempt to answer in a straightforward manner some extremely difficult and appropriate questions for this ongoing crisis. Some effort is made for the topics to be presented in a logical flow, with answers not lengthy. For much more detailed analysis, look to the Hat Trick Letter paid reports with a subscription, offered each month.


To be sure, a collapse is not only coming. It is happening before our eyes in what used to be ultra-slow motion. Each year the pace quickens. Two years ago, the MFGlobal client account theft episode was preceded by another red-line event a few months before, and followed by another a few months after. But nowadays, the crisis events occur every month or every week. With $1.2 trillion doled out by the USFed to European banks in January, the Germans demanding repatriation of their official gold account, the Italians electing a comedian to halt the property tax hikes that bail out banks, the British sponsoring a Chinese Yuan Swap Facility, the attack on Mali to wrest its gold for German repayment, the move to shut down the Mongolian copper & gold mine by Rio Tinto, the raids larger and bolder of the GLD inventory, the USFed preparing for QE5 (or rather QE187), the US facing a fiscal cliff, the Japanese ratcheting up the competitive currency devaluations, the Swiss managing their Euro-Franc peg, the Russians hosting a G-20 Meeting of finance ministers to coordinate the alternative to US$-based trade, the Iranian sanctions coming to a conclusion in US acquiescence, and a gathering of five aircraft carriers in the Chesapeake (against all rules, angering the Pentagon), to be sure, the pace of extreme events is quickening. All these have occurred just since the new year began less than two months ago. Extreme events have become the norm. A series of climax events is coming very soon. The changes will be rapid and breath-taking.


Some mid-sized seemingly minor bank will fail. It will have linkage to another big bank in a corresponding role. The obligations will not be possible to cover. The contagion will spread to numerous large banks across Europe to London and New York. The derivatives could be involved, very unmanageable. If not a mid-sized bank, then a major bank will fail from the inability to contain the profound insolvency and massive bleeding during capital flight. The Greek zone has been contained, where disaster runs its course. But larger Italy, Spain, and France are rapidly breaking down, each in its own unique important way. A great many fuses lie, each waiting to be lit.


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The U.S. is a Third World Hell Hole…..According to Police

“What else can explain their actions and attitudes?

Law enforcement agencies in America are using the No More Hesitation series of cardboard and paper targets for shooting practice. The Minneapolis-based Law Enforcement Targets Inc. (LET) has produced at least eight of them, with photos ranging from a young boy to a pregnant woman in her third trimester, both of whom are pointing guns. Other posters include an elderly man in his home holding a shotgun and a young mother with her daughter in a playground. There does not yet appear to be a baby in a playpen target. Available for 99 cents a sheet, the posters are approximately two-feet-wide by three-feet-tall. (Note: all the posters I’ve seen are of white people; perhaps it is too controversial to shoot a non-white pregnant woman or child?)

LET is a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) supplier. It has contracts worth at least $5,471,126 with several federal agencies, and it boasts of providing training materials throughout the military and to “thousands of law enforcement agencies at the municipal, county, and state levels.” Law enforcement customers are admonished to “Mix & Match ‘No More Hesitation’ targets for best pricing.” Presumably, officers who shoot the elderly man will also want the companion elderly woman target.

Under an advertised image of a pregnant woman….”

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Unearthing Dark Money

“Virginia-based charity Donors Trust has promised anonymity to donors who seek to fund “sensitive or controversial” issues.

A Center for Public Integrity report last week lifted that veil — at least partially — revealing dozens of conservative foundations that together in recent years have given tens of millions of dollars to Donors Trust .

Donors Trust, in turn, has funded a nationwide network of free-market think tanks, media outlets and university programs to the tune of nearly $400 million since 2002.

Recently, much of that funding has gone toward state-based policy efforts. For example, Donors Trust provided 95 percent of the funding for a conservative media clearinghouse called the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, which runs a network of state-based blogs.

While many of the charity’s 193 donors remain anonymous, a variety of media reports have shown where Donors Trust money ends up:

Climate change-denial

In late February, The Guardian reported that 46 percent of Donors Trust grants in 2010 went to groups opposing climate science. Between 2002 and 2010, the group gave $118 million to about 100 such groups.

A detailed 2012 report published on DeSmog Blog ties Donors Trust to a vast climate science denial machine through its generous support for the Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based think tank that mobilized support for the tobacco industry before shifting its focus to climate change.

An October episode of PBS Frontline said Donors Trust has become “the number one supporter” of climate denial groups like Heartland and the Koch brothers-fundedAmericans for Prosperity after industry giants such as ExxonMobil curtailed funding to Heartland following public protest.

Islamic radicalism 

Donors Trust made its largest grant in 2007 to a New York-based group called Clarion Fund. The $17 million donation went toward the production of a documentary called “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West.”

Seven weeks before the 2008 election of Barack Obama as president, Clarion distributed millions of copies of the movie, which stirred fear about Islamic radicalism, by inserting DVDs as ads in daily newspapers nationwide.

Reports later suggested that Chicago businessman Barry Seid may have passed the $17 million through Donors Trust to Clarion. Seid and Donors Trust director Whitney Ball co-chair another foundation called Chicago Freedom Trust.

Academic coups?…”

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European Bank Default Credit Risk Insurance Hits Three Month Highs

“The cost of insuring against default on European bank debt surged to the highest in three months on concern deadlock in Italy’s elections will trigger a flight from risky assets as a political vacuum roils markets.

The Markit iTraxx Financial Index of credit-default swaps on 25 banks and insurers climbed 12 basis points to 163, at 11:30 a.m. in London, the highest since Nov. 28 and headed for the biggest monthly increase since May. Contracts insuring Italy’s bonds rose 43 basis points to a 2 1/2-month high of 293, the biggest jump since December 2011.

Italy’s inconclusive election re-ignited jitters over Europe’s sovereign crisis, sparking concern a rejection of austerity measures will spill into other heavily indebted countries. Italy faces months of political turbulence which may see President Giorgio Napolitano install an interim government to write a new election law as the prelude to another vote.

“Gridlock in parliament means gridlock in the economy,” Alberto Gallo, the head of European macro credit research at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc in London, wrote in a client note. “The longer the instability lasts, the more the recession can deepen, pushing up unemployment, defaults and bad loans. In the worst-case scenario, the weaker banks could see deposit outflows re-emerge.” …”

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How to Skim $83 Billion From the Taxpayer


“On television, in interviews and in meetings with investors, executives of the biggest U.S. banks — notably JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Jamie Dimon — make the case that size is a competitive advantage. It helps them lower costs and vie for customers on an international scale. Limiting it, they warn, would impair profitability and weaken the country’s position in global finance.

So what if we told you that, by our calculations, the largest U.S. banks aren’t really profitable at all? What if the billions of dollars they allegedly earn for their shareholders were almost entirely a gift from U.S. taxpayers?

Granted, it’s a hard concept to swallow. It’s also crucial to understanding why the big banks present such a threat to the global economy.

More from Bloomberg View:

Let’s start with a bit of background. Banks have a powerful incentive to get big and unwieldy. The larger they are, the more disastrous their failure would be and the more certain they can be of a government bailout in an emergency. The result is an implicit subsidy: The banks that are potentially the most dangerous can borrow at lower rates, because creditors perceive them as too big to fail.

Lately, economists have tried to pin down exactly how much the subsidy lowers big banks’ borrowing costs. In one relatively thorough effort, two researchers — Kenichi Ueda of the International Monetary Fund and Beatrice Weder di Mauro of the University of Mainz — put the number at about 0.8 percentage point. The discount applies to all their liabilities, including bonds and customer deposits.

Big Difference

Small as it might sound, 0.8 percentage point makes a big difference. Multiplied by the total liabilities of the 10 largest U.S. banks by assets, it amounts to a taxpayer subsidy of $83 billion a year. To put the figure in perspective, it’s tantamount to the government giving the banks about 3 cents of every tax dollar collected.

The top five banks — JPMorgan, Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., Wells Fargo & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. – – account for $64 billion of the total subsidy, an amount roughly equal to their typical annual profits (see tables for data on individual banks). In other words, the banks occupying the commanding heights of the U.S. financial industry — with almost $9 trillion in assets, more than half the size of the U.S. economy — would just about break even in the absence of corporate welfare. In large part, the profits they report are essentially transfers from taxpayers to their shareholders.

Neither bank executives nor shareholders have much incentive to change the situation. On the contrary, the financial industry spends hundreds of millions of dollars every election cycle on campaign donations and lobbying, much of which is aimed at maintaining the subsidy. The result is a bloated financial sector and recurring credit gluts. Left unchecked, the superbanks could ultimately require bailouts that exceed the government’s resources. Picture a meltdown in which the Treasury is helpless to step in as it did in 2008 and 2009.

Regulators can change the game by paring down the subsidy. One option is to make banks fund their activities with more equity from shareholders, a measure that would make them less likely to need bailouts (we recommend $1 of equity for each $5 of assets, far more than the 1-to-33 ratio that new global rules require). Another idea is to shock creditors out of complacency by making some of them take losses when banks run into trouble. A third is to prevent banks from using the subsidy to finance speculative trading, the aim of the Volcker rule in the U.S. and financial ring-fencing in the U.K…..”

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You Really Like Those Organic Products From $WFM….Don’t Ya?

Not saying $WFM is guilty or privy to anything here, but a lot of their “organic” products are from China….

“(NaturalNews) When it comes to foods, superfoods and even nutritional supplements from China, “organic” is largely a hoax. This is my opinion, of course, but I’ve been researching the issue quite extensively as the key decision maker for new products in the Natural News Store. And I’ve come to the conclusion that “organic” from China is largely a fraud. Here’s why…

First off, you’re going to be shocked to learn that there is no limit to how much mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic and aluminum is allowed in “organic” products.

It’s a fact: USDA organic standards place NO LIMITS on levels of heavy metals contamination of certified organic foods. Even further, there is no limit on the contamination of PCBs, BPA and other synthetic chemicals that’s allowed in certified organic foods, superfoods and supplements.

At this point, you’re probably shaking your head in disbelief and thinking, “No, that can’t be true. Organic standards must check for heavy metals and chemical contamination, right?”

No! “Organic” certifies a process of how food is grown or produced. It certifies that the farmer doesn’t add pesticides, herbicides, petroleum-based fertilizer, metals or synthetic chemicals to the crop (among other things), and it certifies that the soil must be free from such things for a certain number of years before organic certification is approved.

But organic certification does nothing to address environmental sources of pollution such as chemtrails, contaminated irrigation water, and fallout from industrial or chemical factories that might be nearby. A certified organic farmer can use polluted water on their crops and still have the crops labeled “organic.”

For this reason: the environment in which organic foods are produced is critical to the cleanliness of the final product….”

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Corzine Escapes Lifetime Ban From the Industry for Now


“A U.S futures-market regulator said it will block Jon Corzine, the former chief executive of failed broker MF Global, from the industry unless he clears an investigation into his fitness as a participant.

However, the National Futures Association, which oversees brokers and asset managers, rejected a proposed lifetime ban for Corzine for now.

Publicly available information “raises issues” about Corzine’s fitness for membership, NFA Chairman Chris Hehmeyer said in a statement after a board meeting in Chicago.

Corzine, whose NFA membership has lapsed, will not be granted membership “unless NFA, after completing its fitness investigation, resolves those issues to its satisfaction,” Hehmeyer said.

MF Global failed in October 2011 after dipping into customer accounts in violation of industry rules, leaving a $1.6 billion hole in its customers’ accounts and shaking confidence in the futures industry.

No one has been charged in MF’s collapse, although U.S. congressional investigators have determined that Corzine failed to maintain the systems and controls necessary to protect customer funds….”

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Exposing China’s Cyber War Efforts

[youtube://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDqTrW4x3Mw 450 300]

Link for iPhone users: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDqTrW4x3Mw


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Classic Gubmint Behavior

“U.S. military leaders really don’t want the defense budget cut, and they’re willing to do some serious damage to vital programs to prove their point to Congress.

With automatic reductions set to kick in soon, the Department of Defense stands to lose about $48 billion, or 7.4% of the $645 billion it is set to receive this year.

But both civilian and military leaders at the Pentagon are adamant about not losing this money, and have resorted to what some have called “hysterics” to convince lawmakers to do something.

During testimony before the House and Senate armed services committees, the deputy secretary of defense and the entire Joint Chiefs of Staff reportedly depicted the coming cuts (referred to as sequestration) as unleashing “doomsday” on the nation’s military.

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Gone are the Days of Truth in Labeling

“Oceana, an international ocean advocacy group, has released a report on national seafood fraud [pdf], and the results are disconcerting. The report, which is one of the largest on seafood fraud to date, found that one-third of fish was mislabeled.

Oceana performed DNA testing from 2010 to 2012 on 1,215 fish samples from 674 retail outlets in 21 states. In this study, Oceana found seafood fraud everywhere it tested, with rates hitting as high as 52 percent in Southern California. Here are the full results:


Source: Oceana 

The United States is the second largest seafood-consuming country worldwide (China is number one), and more than 90 percent of the seafood consumed is imported. Less than 1 percent is tested specifically for fraud.

Red snapper and tuna had the highest mislabeling rate across the U.S., at 87 and 59 percent, respectively. Out of the 46 fish types tested, 27 were found to be mislabeled (59 percent). Only seven of the 120 red snapper samples were actually red snapper. See more results here….”

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Despite the Feds Efforts Primary Dealers are in a Cash Shortage

“When one thinks of the US banking system, the one thing few consider these days is the threat of a liquidity shortage. After all how can banks have any liquidity strain at a time when the Fed has dumped some $1.7 trillion in excess reserves into the banking system? Well, on one hand aswe have shown previously, the bulk of the excess reserve cash is now solidly in the hands of foreign banks who have US-based operations. On the other, it is also safe to assume that with the biggest banks now nothing more than glorified hedge funds (courtesy of ZIRP crushing Net Interest Margin and thus the traditional bank carry trade), and with hedge funds now more net long, and thus levered, than ever according to at least one Goldman metric, banks have to match said levered bullishness to stay competitive with the hedge fund industry. Which is why the news that at noon the Fed reported that Primary Dealer borrowings from its SOMA portfolio, which amounted to $22.3 billion, just happened to be the highest such amount since 2011, may be taken by some as an indicator that suddenly the 21 Primary Dealers that face the Fed for the bulk of their liquidity needs are facing an all too real cash shortage….”

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WARNING: U.S. Banks are Twice The Size Than They Actually Appear

Didn’t i just tell you about this last week?

“Warning: Banks in the U.S. are bigger than they appear.

That label, like a similar one on automobile side-view mirrors, might be required of the four largest U.S. lenders if Thomas Hoenig, vice chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., has his way. Applying stricter accounting standards for derivatives and off-balance-sheet assets would make the banks twice as big as they say they are — or about the size of the U.S. economy — according to data compiled by Bloomberg….”

“Derivatives, like loans, carry risk,” Hoenig said in an interview. “To recognize those bets on the balance sheet would give a better picture of the risk exposures that are there.”

U.S. accounting rules allow banks to record a smaller portion of their derivatives than European peers and keep most mortgage-linked bonds off their books. That can underestimate the risks firms face and affect how much capital they need.

Using international standards for derivatives and consolidating mortgage securitizations, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co. would double in assets, while Citigroup Inc. would jump 60 percent, third- quarter data show. JPMorgan would swell to $4.5 trillion from $2.3 trillion, leapfrogging London-based HSBC Holdings Plc and Deutsche Bank AG, each with about $2.7 trillion.

World’s Largest…”

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Reinsurance Companies are Permitting U.S. Taxpayers to Defer Taxes Indefinitely

“Last year, about $450 million belonging to top executives at billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson’s New York firm took a quick round trip to Bermuda.

In April, the executives sent the money to a reinsurance company that they’d set up on the island 650 miles off the North Carolina coast. By June, the Bermuda company, which has no employees and sells far less reinsurance than the industry norm, had sent all the cash back to New York, to be invested in Paulson & Co. funds.

By recycling the funds through Bermuda-based Pacre Ltd., the Paulson executives are positioned to legally exploit a little-known tax loophole, reduce their personal income taxes and delay paying the bill for years.

“These types of reinsurance companies are permitting U.S. taxpayers to defer — indefinitely — U.S. tax,” said David S. Miller, a tax lawyer at Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft LLP. For some, he said, it’s “an unjustified benefit.”

A decade after the U.S. Internal Revenue Service threatened to crack down on what it said were abuses by hedge-fund backed reinsurers, more high-profile money managers are setting up shop in tax havens. Paulson, SAC Capital Advisors LP’sSteven A. Cohen and Third Point LLC’s Daniel Loeb have started Bermuda reinsurance companies since 2011, following a similar Cayman Islands venture by Greenlight Capital Inc.’sDavid Einhorn….”

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Obama Administration Asks Banks to Regulate Their Own Foreclosure Abuses

“Having bungled the so-called independent review of foreclosure mistakes, the Obama administration has now decided that the best way to help homeowners is to have the banks—which were responsible for the foreclosure errors—examine the case files and decide how best to fix the situation.

In January, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) shut down the foreclosure review by independent consultants—which had already cost about $2 billion— after it was revealed that the banks had selected said consultants. The process also proved to be taking too long to resolve homeowner grievances, so the administration decided to reach a $3.6 billion settlement with the banks.

But before the money can be distributed to individuals wronged during the foreclosure crisis, more than four million cases need to be reviewed. Instead of federal regulators doing the work, they are trusting the financial institutions, including Bank of America and Wells Fargo, to do it properly this time…”

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Boomers and Gen Y Now Share the Same Credit Card Profile

“Sandy Harsh never expected to find herself with $16,800 in credit-card debt and her retirement dreams drifting farther away.

Harsh, an IT professional from Tuscola, Illinois, is 62, around the age at which a lot of people start actively planning to retire to a white-sandy beach with a frozen margarita in hand.

Harsh’s debt snuck up on her as she helped her two daughters with college and living costs. She went back to school after a divorce and dealt with unexpected expenses such as big dental bills. Now she has about $300 a month in minimum payments, spread across three credit cards, and the balance never seems to go down because of all the interest she is paying.

“I totally did not think this was what my future held,” says Harsh. “I don’t want to leave debt to my daughters. I guess I’m going to have to work until I die at my desk.”

Harsh is not alone in her predicament. According to new figures from the New York City-based policy research organization Demos, Americans over 50 are struggling with a surprising amount of credit-card debt. Low- and middle-income households of older Americans who owed credit-card companies for three months or more have racked up an average of $8,278 in debt, according to Demos.

“What was surprising was older Americans were carrying so much more credit-card debt than younger people,” says Amy Traub, a senior policy analyst at Demos, noting that those under 50 who had debt for at least three months had accumulated an average of $6,258. “It’s a troubling development, and it says that the tough economy has been taking a toll on American households.”


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Corporate Governance Test Show Large Banks Fail Miserably

“Large banks took a corporate governance test – and failed miserably.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency rated the 19 largest national banks on five factors, revealing the scorecards to bank directors at a closed door meeting, according to American Banker magazine, which obtained the results.

Not one met the regulator’s requirements for internal, auditing, risk management or succession planning, American Banker reported. Only two met requirements for defining the bank’s appetite for risk-taking and communicating it across the company. Only two banks have boards of directors willing to stand up to their CEOs….”

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A Computer Security Company Puts Out a Report on Cyber Espionage From China

“The Chinese army appears to be conducting cyberhacking and espionage against large US corporations, according to an extensive report from computer security firm Mandiant.

The report even identifies the unit and the building behind the cyberwar.

Beijing has long been suspected of espionage costing global corporations billions of dollars—such as when a hacking incident at Lockheed Martin was followed by the appearance of suspiciously familiar Chinese jets—though it was hard to find evidence.

Indeed, it makes sense that China, in its breakneck push to become a world power, would use all available technology to catch the west.

Following Mandiant’s 75-page report, however, the cyberwar is all but official.

have distilled the alarming report and uploaded the full Scribed copy below for your perusal.

According to Mandiant, what hacking program coordinators do is seek students with outstanding English skills who are hand picked for Advanced Persistent Threat training (APT). The APT teams are broken down into groups and divided among for locations in and around Shanghai, universities, commercial corridors, and largely innocuous places. Wherever they go, each team is assigned a Military Unit Cover Designator (MUCD). The MUCD is a five digit number by which the unit, its people, its location, and its work is referred to. The designation makes the teams more difficult to isolate and track.

MUCDs report all the way up to the Chinese equivalent to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to Mandiant. That implies this practice is part of China’s overt military policy against foreign nations…”

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