Category Archives: Finance

Headline of the day: Trump’s foreign policy

From El País:

When Donald Trump blusters, the Mexican peso trembles

But when he stumbles, as during Wednesday night’s presidential debate, the currency gains

Charts of the day II: Monsanto’s lobbying outlay

From Monsanto Lobbying: an attack on us, our planet and democracy, an important new report from Corporate Europe Observatory, two revealing charts, first of Big Agra/GMO giant’s lobbying and election spending in the U.S. [including, in small print, the $8.1 million spent to fight a GMO labeling referendum in California]:


And the corporation’s outlays in the European Union, including company-sponsored front groups:


As CEO reports:

Corporations like Monsanto have limitless resources to buy political power through lobbying. Not only are they represented by numerous lobbying associations at every level from local to global, they also have an army of hired-gun lobbyists, fund scientists to act as their mouthpiece, and participate in ‘greenwashing’ projects.

EU institutions and the US government often actively solicit corporations to lobby them, giving corporations privileged access to decision-making. This perverse symbiosis allows corporations to capture decision-making, but leads to hollowed out democracy, environmental disaster, and grave social injustice.

There are roughly three fields of industry lobbying: directly targeting decision-makers; PR and propaganda; and undermining science. Broadly three types of actors exist: those giving the orders, those following them, and those who are accomplices to these attempts.

Quote of the day: Hillary’s promised payoff

From Jon Schwarz, writing for the Intercept, on one of the secret deals promised by Hillary Clinton in her avid pursuit of corporateer big bucks:

American multinational corporations are currently stashing a staggering $2.4 trillion in profits — about 14 percent of the size of the entire U.S. economy — overseas. Multinationals are required by U.S. law to pay the statutory 35 percent tax on profits they earn anywhere on earth, but the tax is not assessed until the profits are brought back to the U.S.

This has allowed Corporate America to essentially hold U.S. tax revenue hostage, refusing to pay its taxes until Americans become so desperate that they will cut a deal giving multinationals a special new tax rate.

This strategy has already paid off once, in 2004, when multinationals got Congress to let them bring back $312 billion in profits at a one-time rate of about 5 percent. The legislation required that the cash be used to hire Americans or conduct research and development. Corporations ignored these provisions and instead used the money to enrich their executives and stockholders, while cutting U.S. jobs.

Both Hillary and Bill Clinton clearly envision cutting a similar deal during a Hillary Clinton presidency, although presumably they intend for the corporations to keep their part of the bargain this time.

Hillary Clinton, the bankster’s and frackster’s BFF

We’ve characterized Campaign 2016 as a contest between the Despicable [Donald Trump] and the Deplorable [Hillary Clinton].

Events of recent days have done nothing to change our opinion and everything to confirm it, most notably the leaked Trump tape and the massive cache of Democratic Party and Clinton campaign emails handed over to Wikileaks.

Today’s we focus on the massive Clinton documents, confirmation that Trump’s got one thing exactly right: She really is Lying Hillary, campaigning as a candidate who favors strong financial regulation and opposes fracking, while privately telling industry folks she opposes the former and favors the latter.

From Democracy Now!:

Leaked Hillary Clinton Emails: Could Bernie Sanders Have Won Primary If Leak Occurred Earlier?

From the transcript:

LEE FANG: These emails are very interesting. They provide a window into Clinton and her experiences, certainly her speeches. I don’t believe that there are any huge bombshells, that this will change the course of the general election. Maybe if these emails came out earlier in the year, during the Democratic primary, that could have maybe changed history. But this won’t change the course of the general election.

That being said, the emails really show, including the transcripts, that Hillary Clinton is far more conservative, far more business-friendly, when she’s speaking with aides, when she’s giving speeches to these Wall Street banks. Also, the emails show that Clinton’s inner circle is filled with wealthy people, Wall Street types, Washington insiders, that are kind of part of a—what you might call a Washington bubble. They are very quick to attack and show a lot of contempt for anyone that they perceive on their political left, whether that’s activists or certain journalists. So, you know, these are interesting emails, but for folks who have followed Hillary Clinton’s tenure in government, they aren’t particularly surprising. They certainly fit a larger pattern.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Lee, they do reveal that, especially with Wall Street firms or commercial interests, that they expect to be able to be heard, given the money that they contribute. They also show, though, some of the major labor unions in the country also seeking to get heard because of their donations, as well, to the Clinton campaign, don’t they?

LEE FANG: Yeah, that’s right. You know, I think the Dodd-Frank comments are really interesting, the ones you just highlighted. You know, on the campaign trail, as she competed with Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton embraced Dodd-Frank, the big financial reform law passed by President Obama, called it a great law that she will defend. She was very proud of it. But, you know, speaking to bankers, she showed a contempt for the law. She sympathized with bankers who were opposed to this law, basically made the argument that it was only passed because of politics, that, you know, after the financial crisis of 2008, Democrats had to do something, and so they had to pass this. And she mentioned to Goldman Sachs in some of these paid speeches that she sees the financial sector, folks who work on Wall Street, that they know how to make the rules better than those in Washington. So it’s a stark contrast.

Brazilian regime seeks permanent austerity

It’s the worst possible scenario for millions of the poor in South America’s largest country and a neoliberal’s wet dream, and it seems inevitable.

From teleSUR English:

Unelected Brazilian President Michel Temer is a step closer to cementing his long-term austerity plan for the cash-strapped country as the lower house of Congress approved Monday a constitutional reform that would freeze public spending for the next two decades.

Critics argue that the aggressively neoliberal plan — known as PEC 241, the Portuguese acronym for Proposed Constitutional Amendment — dramatically undermines rights enshrined in the 1988 constitution, written in the early years of Brazil’s transition to democracy following the fall of the military dictatorship in 1985.

Progressive economists often warn that austerity deepens an economic downturn rather than reverses it, by depleting consumers of buying power. Public disinvestment, is, in effect, anti-Keynesian, and is akin to turning off the engine of a plane already in free-fall.

With a population of more than 200 million, Brazil’s income and wealth disparities are among the widest in the world, and the country is currently in the midst of its worst economic contraction since the Great Depression.  The PEC 241’s 20-year freeze on public spending will almost certainly produce an anemic economy because it will starve a demand economy of the very oxygen it needs — consumer demand — to thrive.

The controversial amendment passed with ease in the lower house by a 366 to 111 vote in favor, with two abstentions, after a marathon nine-hour session. The measure still needs a second vote in the lower house, where it is expected to pass the supermajority threshold in a vote scheduled for Oct. 24; if approved, it will be forwarded to the Senate for final approval.

Memo of the day: Banksters ‘message’ the Dems

From the latest cache of WikiLeaked memos, a summary compiled for Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, of a meeting between representatives of the DCCC and two lobbyists for the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, an organization representing Wall Street:

Met with Andy Blocker and Joseph Vaughan from SIFMA

  • Discussed 2016 strategy and map
  • Discussed Trump as a factor
  • Andy mentioned seeing the article about today’s messaging meeting
    • Andy mentioned they see this as a good sign
    • Need to get Blue Dogs, New Dems and Progressives on same page
  • Talked about Financial Services Messaging concerns
    • Lots of would be Democrats in Financial Services area
    • Feel that the party committee needs to be smarter and more thoughtful about this messaging
    • Upset around messaging demonizing Wall Street
      • Understand that Wall Street isn’t popular, but the message won’t win the day
      • Turns off Dems in Financial Services world when they are attacked just for working in the industry
      • Creates a larger problem when people don’t trust banks and financial institutions
    • Chairman talked about Clinton messaging around “bad actors” which is more palatable and crosses industries
    • BRL mentioned the article where Leader Pelosi said that Sen. Warren doesn’t speak for the party
      • Andy and Joseph thought this was an encouraging sign, but hadn’t seen this article before
  • There are areas where we can work together
    • Financial Literacy
      • BRL mentioned the possibility of working w/ SIFMA in districts to do literacy events
    • Saving for colleges
    • Capital for entrepreneurs
  • Concerned with Department of Labor Fiduciary Rule
    • Biggest concern is that if it becomes final, it will take a long time to change
    • BRL mentioned they should keep in touch with Chiefs moving forward through August
  • SIFMA cannot support the DCCC right now, in large part due to messaging
    • Did find the meeting helpful, feel we are moving in the right direction
    • Encouraged by meeting, will keep the door open and make further consideration of support down the road

Chart of the day: Global trade collapse in 3 charts

A stark picture of the collapse of global trade from World Economic Outlook — October 2016:

IMF World Economic Outlook, October 2016; Chapter 2: Global Trad