Category Archives: Banksters

Panama Papers: The case of the silent watchdog

Back in the fictional London of 1897, if criminals struck the prominent, there was only one person to call, Sherlock Holmes.

In The Adventure of Silver Blaze, Arthur Conan Doyle wrote about the case of a famous racehorse, abducted before a major race.

After visiting the scene of the crime, a rural farm, Holmes discusses his findings with Inspector Gregory of Scotland Yard, when the Inspector asks a question:

“Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”

“To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”

“The dog did nothing in the night-time.”

“That was the curious incident,” remarked Sherlock Holmes.

Needless to say, as Holmes had correctly inferred, the case was an inside job.

Fast forward 119 years and the same question is equally relevant in the wake of the Panama Papers leak, that massive cache of data revealing the names of the members of the global elite — including some of the planet’s mpost powerful drug cartels and criminal syndicates — who available themselves of the services of a Panamanian law firm specializing in create covert tax shelters hidden under a bizarre network of pseudonyms and false fronts.

It’s been three months since the documents were first leaked to journalists and findings were reported in some of the planet’s leading publications and many governments have requested their own copies.

Many governments, except the government of the world’s richest nation, where no requests have come from the Department of Justice of those committees of the House of representatives and Senate charged with oversight of the institutions of power.

From the McClatchy Washington Bureau:

The inaction raises questions about the response by Congress and the Obama administration to the unprecedented leak that rocked governments in Iceland, Pakistan and the United Kingdom and prompted investigations worldwide.

“The biggest financial scandal involving offshores is greeted with a yawn by U.S. law enforcement officials?” said Charles Intriago, a former federal prosecutor and money-laundering expert in Miami. “It doesn’t make any sense that a pot of evidentiary gold is going unpursued by the U.S. Department of Justice.”

In the weeks following the April 3 publication of stories across the globe about hidden offshore fortunes, President Barack Obama vowed to work with Congress to tackle reform aimed at offshore companies. His Justice Department declared that it “takes very seriously all credible allegations of high-level, foreign corruption that might have a link to the United States or the U.S. financial system.”

Yet as of June 23, Panama said it had not received a single request from the United States for access to the data seized by Panamanian authorities from Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the heart of the Panama Papers, said Sandra Sotillo, spokeswoman for Panamanian Attorney General Kenia Porcell.

On Capitol Hill, there is also little movement.

Obama’s proposed legislation to change reporting on the true owners of companies does not appear to have found any sponsor. The White House did not respond to questions.

Odd, ain’t it?

Or maybe not, considering all that dark money that fuels the American political machine. . .

France turns thumbs down on the TTIP

Yep, that Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership pushed so eagerly by the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton during her tenure as Secretary of State has met with a solid rebuff from Paris.

From RT:

France’s Foreign Minister Manuel Valls has dismissed the possibility of an agreement on the US-EU transatlantic trade deal, since it goes against the interests of the European Union.

“No free trade agreement should be concluded if it does not respect EU interests. Europe should be firm. France will be vigilant about this,” Valls said addressing members of the governing Socialist Party on Sunday, AFP reported.

“I can tell you frankly, there cannot be a transatlantic treaty agreement. This agreement is not on track,” Valls added.

Valls pointed that the agreement “would impose a viewpoint which would not only be a breeding ground for populism, but also quite simply be a viewpoint that would be bad for our economy.”

The TTIP – or Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – is a EU-US free trade treaty project that was dubbed as controversial the moment it was proposed three years ago and has been criticized for its secretiveness and lack of accountability ever since.

The TTIP is also against the interests of any democratic government, given that it creates a secret court in which corporations and banksters can sue governments for any revenues lost because of laws and regulations designed to protect human beings, with no transcripts ever provided to folks who wonder why their health and well being is valued less than the bottom line.

If only Paris had demonstrated similar independence during the Bush/Obama military adventures that gave rise to ISIS. . .

The Brexit Boogie: A vote that shook the world

Is the world headed into another Great Recession even before that shockwaves of the last one have settled down?

When one of the world’s two major financial centers pulls out of its continental base, there’s good cause for concern.

But that’s just one of the issues raised by Thursday’s vote.

Here’s a roundup of rumbles. . .

British buyers remorse?

Even before the dust settled, Brits were flocking online to sign a petition for a do-over.

From Agence France-Presse:

More than two million people have signed a petition calling for a second referendum, after a shock vote to pull Britain out of the EU, an official website showed Saturday.

The website of the parliamentary petition at one point crashed due to the surge of people adding their names to the call for another nationwide poll following Thursday’s historic vote.

“We the undersigned call upon HM Government to implement a rule that if the remain or leave vote is less than 60 percent based (on) a turnout less than 75 percent there should be another referendum,” says the petition.

The blame game begins

Guess who’s catching the heat?

Hint: He’s already resigned his job in disgrace.

From euronews:

Blame for the failure to convince British voters to remain in the European Union lies at the door of David Cameron, European Commissioner Günther Oettinger told Euronews.

The Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society told Euronews that the decision by the Prime Minister to “order” the Commission to stay “out of the game” was a mistake.

Asked whether Cameron was to blame, Oettinger responded: “ I think so, yes. What he did is not acceptable.”

The Commissioner insisted that Scotland and Northern Ireland, which both voted overwhelmingly for ‘remain’, could only rejoin the European Union as independent nations. He predicted that Scotland would “probably” split from the rest of the United Kingdom.

And fear runs rampant

Shrinks call it Separation Anxiety Disorder, and it’s an ailment running rampant these days, especially in Berlin.

From Sky News:

Germany fears France, Austria, Finland, the Netherlands and Hungary may follow the UK and leave the EU, a government paper says.

The finance ministry strategy paper expresses concern that the UK’s historic vote may trigger a Brexit domino effect across Europe, according to the German newspaper Die Welt.

It recommends that the EU enters into negotiations aimed at making the UK an “associated partner country” for the remaining 27 nations.

As it stands, the UK’s exit may cause Germany’s contribution to the EU’s budget to rise by 3bn euros (£2.44bn) a year, the paper adds.

And there’s good cause to worry, reports Reuters:

Britain’s vote to leave the European Union fired up populist eurosceptic parties across the continent on Friday, giving fresh voice to their calls to leave the bloc or its euro currency.

Right-wing and anti-immigrant parties in the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and France demanded referendums on membership of the union, while Italy’s 5-Star movement said it would pursue its own proposal for a vote on the euro.

Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch anti-immigrant PVV party, said he would make a Dutch referendum on EU membership a central theme of his campaign to become prime minister in next year’s parliamentary election.

“I congratulate the British people for beating the political elite in both London and Brussels and I think we can do the same,” Wilders told Reuters. “We should have a referendum about a ‘Nexit’ as soon as possible.”

After the jump, Boldness in Bratislava, a British downgrade, trillions in losses, the pain in Spain, grief in Greece, troubles in Tokyo, and a Schadenfreude alert. . . Continue reading

Headline of the day II: And the echoes continue

From the Guardian:

FTSE 100 closes 4% lower in global market sell-off as Brexit recession looms – live

World markets have slumped in Europe, America and Asia, as economists predict that Brexit vote will push UK into recession

IMF sounds an early U.S. economic warning signal

It’s not that things are really bad yet, says IMF chief Christine Lagarde, abut that storm clouds are visible on the horizon.

From her statement [emphasis added]:

At the outset, I would like to emphasize we think that the U.S. economy is in good shape, despite some setbacks in very recent months. Unemployment is well below 5 percent, in the past year an average of 200,000 new jobs were created every month, and household incomes are rising at a healthy clip.

Having said this, today we will look beyond the important recent achievements and look forward to what will be needed to ensure strong, sustained and balanced growth in the years ahead. I would highlight in particular “four forces” that pose a challenge to future growth.

What are those four forces? Declining labor force participation, falling productivity growth, polarization in the distribution of income and wealth, and high levels of poverty in the U.S. Let me elaborate.

First, labor force participation is declining.

  • The U.S. population is aging and, as a result, a smaller share of the population will be active in the labor force in the coming years.
  • The workforce makes up the backbone of the U.S. economy. Mitigating the effects of population aging on labor supply and demand should therefore be a priority – both here in the U.S. but also in many of the advanced economies.

Second, productivity growth has also declined.

  • It has fallen from 1.7 percent in the decade prior to 2007 to 0.4 percent in the past five years.
  • Much of the gains in average per capita incomes in the 20 years before the financial crisis were from gains in productivity, innovation, and efficiency.
  • The fall in productivity growth seems, at least in part, to be linked to falling dynamism both in the U.S. labor markets and in the formation of new and productive enterprises.

Third, the distribution of income and wealth has steadily become more and more polarized. This is a double edged sword.

  • On the one hand, since 2000 around one quarter of a percent of the population has moved from earning close to the median income to earning 1.5 or more times the median. This is a good thing and has raised living standards for those families.
  • On the other hand, though, more than 3 percent of the population has moved into the group that earns less than half of the median income. For that group, economic insecurity and flat real incomes have resulted in either a stagnation or decline in living standards.
  • Our calculations suggest that since 1999, this polarization of the income distribution has knocked around 3½ percent off of badly needed consumer demand. That is around one year’s consumption over a period of 15 years.

Fourth, the share of the population living in poverty is at very high levels.

  • The latest data shows almost 15 percent of Americans—or 46.7 million people—living in poverty.1 Poverty is even higher for certain minority groups; for single parent (and particularly female-headed) households; for children; and for those with disabilities.
  • With such a large share of the population living below the poverty line, this undoubtedly is an important macroeconomic issue.
  • Not only does poverty create significant social strains, it also eats into labor force participation, and undermines the ability to invest in education and improve health outcomes. By holding back economic and social mobility, it creates an inter-generational persistence of poverty.

All in all, our assessment is that, if left unchecked, these four forces—participation, productivity, polarization, and poverty—will corrode the underpinnings of growth (both potential and actual) and hold back gains in U.S. living standards.

Another Brazilian coup gov’t member in trouble

Yet one more cabinet member of the hard Right government installed by the conspirators who led the move to impeach Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is facing possible criminal charges.

From teleSUR English:

Brazil’s coup imposed Education Minister Mendonca Filho is being investigated for allegedly receiving an illegal bribe of US$29,000 for the purpose of financing his 2014 re-election campaign, Brazil’s General Prosecutor Rodrigo Janot announced Friday, making him the latest official in Temer’s administration who could be forced to stand down.

During a Supreme Court hearing Friday, General Prosecutor Janot argued that “evidence of possible bribes for his [Mendonca Filho’s] political campaign” would result in the court having jurisdiction to investigate potential criminal practices.

The allegations stem from records and documents obtained by Brazilian authorities belonging to the former financial director of UTC, Walmir Pinheiro, who last year agreed to a plea bargain testimony. The owner of UTC, Ricardo Pessoa, was also arrested last November after previously admitting to acts of corruption.

The new evidence made public Friday to the Supreme Court reveals that Education Minister Filho was the recipient of a US$29,000 donation from the UTC financial group in 2014, according to UTC company bank account records.

Building globalized dam$ to kill the Amazon

Globalization is all about control of the world’s resources into the hands of multinational corporations and their banks.

And the key to a globalized world is energy, without which the free flow of resources is impossible, absent a return to era of draft horses and sailboats.

Another key resource is water; without it agriculture is impossible. And, of course, human life itself.

With petroleum and natural gas reserves finite by nature, the world is left, ultimately, with hydroelectricity, wind power, solar, and nuclear, with the last being phased out in many countries because of its inherent and long-lived dangers.

Currently, hydroelectricity, generated almost exclusive by generators power by dam-enclosed water, constitute the world’s number two source of power behind the fossil fuel triad.

The dams providing the stored gravitational energy used to power the generators also provide a means of regulating supplies of water for agricultural and industrial uses, as well as for human consumption, making them especially valuable resources.

But by their ability to control the flow of water downstream, dams also prfoundly alter the environment, both by disrupting the natural flooding essential to soil renewal as well as by providing a source for agricultural irrigation.

Out a dam in one of the world’s last great remaining rainforest and savannah landscapes, and profound environmental changes are inevitable, both in the form of destruction of the natural environment and through the displacement of indigenous peoples never before exposed to a wide range of diseases or the disruption by an utterly alien way of life.

But just such a change is coming to the Amazon, fueled by a global consortium of multinationals.

From the Guardian:

Construction of 40 major dams in the Brazilian Amazon would destroy the heart of the world’s largest rainforest, severely affect indigenous people and is not economically justifiable, says Greenpeace in a major new report.

The five large dams and 35 others planned for the Tapajós river and its tributaries south of Santarém have been promoted by the government and global engineering and energy companies as a solution to Brazil’s recession and severe electricity shortages.


Plans for the dam are currently on hold after Brazil’s environmental agency, Ibama, suspended the licensing process over concerns about its impact on the indigenous community in the region.

“The Munduruku people have been fighting for the Brazilian government to formally recognise their land for many years. Greenpeace have sent activists to the Munduruku villages to assist in physically demarcating their land and installing solar power systems, as well as campaigning internationally in support of their cause,” says the report.

“This is an important battle not just for the Munduruku people, but for everyone around the world since we are talking about one of the biggest forests that still exist on the planet,” said Juarez, the Munduruku chief of the Sawré Muybu indigenous land.

From Greenpeace, a graphic depiction of the potential beneficiaries of just one of those dams:

BLOG Dam map

More from the Greenpeace report, Damning the Amazon, The Risky Business of Hydropower in the Amazon:

Many companies from a range of different sectors are involved in the construction of hydropower dams like the SLT project: utility companies that oversee the building of the dam and then operate it and sell the electricity it generates; contractors that undertake the construction work; suppliers of materials, equipment and services; and the project’s insurers and financiers.

The annex of this report lists all the main companies involved in the Belo Monte hydropower scheme, giving an indication of how broad the scope is of those that seek to profit from such projects. Although some of the companies listed have already made it clear that they want to be part of the SLT project, it is hard to predict how many others will join. Below, we detail the members of the two consortia that have already shown an interest in bidding to construct and operate the SLT project, and highlight some of the key players involved in the other critical sectors for new hydropower schemes. Some of these companies. . .have been linked to, or investigated in the context of, major corruption scandals, including around other large hydropower projects in Brazil. Nearly all of them have environmental and human rights policies that should oblige them to steer clear of the SLT project and the rest of the Tapajós hydropower complex. Will they stand by those policies and refrain from being involved in the SLT project?