Tuesday, January 15, 2019

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Spain Teaches Catalonia a Lesson about the Power of Money

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by Don Quijones, Wolf Street:

Money is fickle and fearful.

Within 48 hours this week, Catalonia, Spain’s largest regional economy, lost three of its seven biggest homegrown multinational corporations and several large national companies — if only on paper — to cities in other regions of Spain.

The first important company to “leave” since Sunday’s referendum was mid-sized pharmaceutical company Oryzon Genomics SA, which announced on Wednesday that it was departing Catalonia for Madrid. The same path has been traveled recently by firms like Derby Hotels, Unico Hotels, WPP and Schibsted.

But it wasn’t until Banc Sabadell, Spain’s fifth largest bank, announced that it was changing its registered company address to Alicante, a provincial city on Spain’s south-eastern coast, that the threat of a corporate exodus from Catalonia began to be taken seriously.

Banc Sabadell is as Catalan as the town that bears its name, but its management has been warning for years that it would move out of the region in the event of Catalan independence. That threat wasn’t taken seriously until Thursday.

But the move is only on paper — something that is not being reported nearly as clearly as it should be in much of the Spanish and foreign press. For the moment Sabadell is not moving its head office, nor is it relocating any of its workers. All it has done is change its legal address, and what’s more with minimal fiscal fanfare — in most of Spain (with the exception of the Basque Country and Navarre), all corporate tax is paid into the central coffers.

There are three main reasons for Sabadell’s (administrative) move:

  1. Within Spain the Catalan market only represents 26{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} of Sabadell’s operations today, whereas the rest of the Spanish market accounts for 74{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528}. The bank also has operations in the UK and the US. But its biggest market is the Spanish mainland (outside Catalonia) and if independence occurs, it could end up being stranded from it.
  2. As a Catalan-based (albeit Spanish-registered) bank, it was beginning to suffer a run on deposits as customers began moving their money to other Spanish banks, either because they were afraid of what could happen to their funds in the event of independence or as punishment for its Catalan connection. Now, ironically, it could face the wrath of the other side of the divide.
  3. Most importantly, if Catalonia declares independence, its two main banks (Sabadell and Caixabank) could be cut off from European Central Bank funding, though it would be exceedingly difficult to pull off as they also have substantial operations in the rest of Spain. And if that were to happen, it would mean no more virtually interest-free loans from the ECB or access to Europe’s repo markets. In other words, a death sentence.

Read More @ WolfStreet.com

Vegas shooting: real vs. fake

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by Jon Rappoport, No More Fake News:

These are a few observations leading to a hypothesis.

First, there is a video, taken at ground level, of a man going from victim to victim lying on the ground at the concert. He is checking their pulses, asking if they’re all right, calling for medical help. Notice the color of the blood on the ground and on the victims. It is a quite bright red. Would real bloodstains on the ground be that color, or would they be darker?

Next, there is the matter of how Stephen Paddock, the accused shooter, brought 23 weapons and ammo into the Mandalay Hotel and up to his suite.

He was a well-known high-stakes gambler. Hotel personnel surely knew him. They knew he lived in the Vegas area. Yet there he is with a number of suitcases—or over the course of a few days, he appears in the lobby with another suitcase or two each time.

These hotels are security-conscious to the max. No suspicion was aroused? And Paddock risked exposure to take weapons he would never use up to his suite?

Did Paddock bring in the weapons through another hotel entrance with the help of staff? Was this part of the operation an inside job?

Did he actually bring in all these weapons? Or was his hotel suite staged as a prop by others? Was it set up as a showcase for gun-control advocates who, after the fact, would push for new restrictive laws?

The photos of the hotel suite—when were they taken? In the immediate aftermath of the shooting? Where are the hundreds or thousands of shell casings that would have been ejected from the weapon(s)? The photos of the floor show very little brass. My understanding is these casings would have been quite hot. Where are all the burn marks on the carpet and furniture and walls?

This whole “hotel suite” scenario is very murky and needs much more investigation.

There are cell-phone videos taken at ground level at the concert, while you can hear automatic gunfire. A reader brings up an interesting point. Many of these shots would miss human targets. Instead, they would hit solid objects and either remain embedded or bounce. Where are the loud sounds, on the videos, of ricochets—not just a few sounds, but many.

Now here is a hypothesis. Obviously, it applies to more than just the Vegas shooting. In SOME of these events, we see a MIX of fake and real happenings. There are real victims and fake victims. This confusion and conflation of the fake and the real stimulate different and opposing lines of independent investigation.

Some say all the victims are fake. Others say all the victims are real. Both viewpoints tend to generalize from a few sets of facts.

The result? This is perfect for those who are actually behind the operation in the shadows, who want to engender false trails and dead ends and “unsolvable” anomalies.

And conflict among independent researchers who, after all, are the only real threat to the party line.

“Look, here is a group of obvious crisis actors. They’re fakes. Therefore, the whole event is a fake.”

“Here are real victims. Therefore, the whole event is real. There was nothing fake about it.”

Then, on top of this, the mainstream press, in its usual fashion, cherry picks the most far-out “conspiracy theories,” presents them, and says: “Look how ridiculous ALL these people are who question the official investigation.” Another generalization. A way to discredit all independent researchers.

When you think about it, the hypothesis I’m presenting is not strange at all. What do major media news broadcasts do? They mix real facts and fake facts. This is SOP. They mix and stir and derive bizarre conclusions that mislead the public.

“Real or fake” is not always the correct formulation, although that is what many people want to decide. “It must be black or white, yes or no, this or that.” We’re looking at a trap, we’re looking at many minds disposed to function in this fashion.

In certain cases, it can be “real and fake.”

And when it is, and when it’s intentional, it confuses people and they throw up their hands and walk away.

Which is the desired effect.

“Was the whole thing real or fake? I have to know.”

It was both.

Read More @ NoMoreFakeNews.com

Confirmed: Authorities LIED About Las Vegas Shooter’s Hotel Check-In Date – What Else Are They Hiding?

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by Alex Thomas, SHTFPlan:

Over the last few days the alternative media has spent countless hours conducting their own investigations into what actually happened during the mass shooting in Las Vegas that left 59 dead and over 500 injured. From reports of multiple shooters to officials seemingly covering up the ISIS connection, many different theories have been put forth that counter the mainstream narrative.

Now, new information released by investigative reporter Laura Loomer proves that authorities have directly lied to the American people about the case at least once by claiming that supposed shooter Stephen Paddock checked into the Mandalay Bay Hotel on September 28th when valet records (with photos) prove he actually arrived three days earlier.

According to Loomer, she obtained the image from a source which shows that Paddock’s car first arrived September 25th. The photo even has a handwritten note that was reportedly written by an FBI agent – proving that the FBI specifically lied to the country.

The picture “proves FBI misled public about #StephenPaddock’s check in date,” Loomer Tweeted.

Shockingly, another Tweet by Loomer also revealed that the license plate numbers given out by police after the horrific shooting DO NOT match the actual license plate of Paddock’s vehicle.

Read More @ SHTFPlan.com

Catalonia to Defy Spain, Declare Independence Next Week

by Jason Ditz, The Anti Media:

Spain’s Constitutional Court does not appear to be having much luck stopping an imminent Catalan declaration of independence. After ruling on Thursday that the regional parliament won’t be allowed to meet on Monday to declare independence, Catalonia looks to be doing an end around: they’re going to make the announcement Tuesday.

Spain has been struggling to find roadblocks to put in the way of the independence declaration by Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, but suspending a Monday session that was never even officially announced appears to have been useless. Catalan officials say Puigdemont will be addressing parliament Tuesday at 6 p.m., and MPs are expecting he’ll be submitting the declaration to the assembly at the time.

Catalan MPs say the text of the declaration is still being debated, but that at this point there’s no reason to expect any further delays. Spanish courts are unlikely to have time to try to block another session of parliament before it takes place.

Catalan voters overwhelmingly approved secession over the weekend, and a violent crackdown by Spanish police has only added to calls to quickly split from Spain. Spanish officials insist the referendum didn’t count because the courts forbade it. Catalonia’s leaders, however, maintain that the vote was valid and will stand.

Read More @ TheAntiMedia.com

The UnderNews – Oct 4 2017 – Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

from KVMR:

Jeanie Keltner interviews Dr. Paul Craig Roberts about Russiagate.

Click HERE to listen.

Read More @ KVMR.org

They’re Censoring Vegas Shooting News – ‘The Ministry Of Truth’ AKA Tech Giants, Hide Differing Views To Control The Information And Manipulate The Masses

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by Susan Duclos, All News Pipeline:

YouTube is removing videos and Facebook is blocking people from sharing, and in one case that I know of so far, actually banning people from sharing any news on the Las Vegas shooting that doesn’t toe the line and spew only the “official story. They are doing this under the guise of protecting the masses from “fake news.”

CHAOS OF REPORTING & LIBERAL MSM DOUBLE STANDARDS

Having done many live update articles about events that were ongoing, I can personally vouch for the fact that during the event in question, information is reported, corrected, edited and updated, with a note at the bottom usually saying corrections and edits are being made as new information becomes available…….. that is what I call the chaos of reporting during a live event.

Mistakes happen, not just to Independent Media, but some very high profile MSM personalities have incorrectly named suspects in initial reporting, just to have to issue corrections later.

A perfect example of this was the Boston Marathon bombing, where multiple MSM reporters, including Ross Neumann from Reuters, Vice and Digg, former Politico reporter, and now Senior reporter for CNN, Dylan Byers,  all misidentified one of the bombing suspects. Another example is when The Daily Beast misidentified one of the San Bernardino shooting suspects.

No one accused these folks of deliberately publishing or sharing “disinformation,” because it falls under the category of “stuff happens,” during the chaos of reporting an ongoing event. Media outlets excuse these mistakes, offer corrections, and move on.

In the case of the Vegas shooter this past week, an Independent News site misidentified the shooter, inaccurately naming Geary Danley, who was the ex-husband of Marilou Danley, the woman that lived with the actual shooter Stephen Paddock, and all of a sudden what is considered chaos of reporting, and a mistake in the cases mentioned above when a MSM reporter or outlet does it, the left is screaming it was deliberate “disinformation,” and “Fake News.”

In the case of the Boston Bombing suspect, media outlets instantly highlighted that the MSM got the suspects name wrong because of some Reddit user, and in the case of the recent mistake by Gateway Pundit, they are accusing them of deliberately spreading fake news because of a theory posed on 4chan.

The only difference between the MSM misidentifying previous suspects and when Gateway Pundit did so, is the left and media outlets instantly blamed Reddit for “smearing” and innocent man when the MSM inaccurately reported, but in the case of the Vegas shooting they are blaming GP and calling it “fake news,” while accusing Facebook, Google and other platforms of allowing fake news to show up in their feeds.

No one said a word about that back in 2013 when the wrong person’s name was shared all over social media as a suspect for the Boston Bombing, or when The Daily Beast story named the wrong suspect in the San Bernardino shooting, but let an Independent Media site make the same innocent mistake and it is all of a sudden the crime of a century and demands for online censorship are blared in every headline.

Nice double standard there, eh?

FAKE NEWS VERSUS DIFFERING VIEWPOINTS

Facebook, Google and its video platform YouTube is now trying to appease the liberal media and leftists across the internet, while implementing measures to make them the “ministry of truth,” by tweaking their algorithms to remove what they determine is “fake news,” and in the process, under the guise of removing disinformation, they are also removing differing viewpoints if those views don’t align with the”official narrative,” being pushed by “authoritative sources.”
 

YouTube this week surfaced videos peddling misinformation, hateful messages and conspiracy theories to users searching about mainstream news events — problems that caused the site to change its search results to promote more authoritative sources.

For example, the fifth result when searching “Las Vegas shooting” on YouTube late Tuesday yielded a video titled “Proof Las Vegas Shooting Was a FALSE FLAG attack — Shooter on 4th Floor.” The video said there were multiple shooters in Sunday’s mass shooting, a claim refuted by law enforcement. Posted by a channel called the End Times News Report, it had amassed more than 1.1 million views in about 27 hours.

The video in question was taken by a taxi driver at the time of the shooting, showing what appeared to be muzzle flashes matching the timing of shots that could be heard fired. While some point out that a strobe light capturing those flashes was noted before the shooting started, and was not actually another shooter on the fourth floor, that is neither here nor there.

The point here is the video was highlighting something that appeared to be different from what was being reported, it was a differing viewpoint, taken live while events were occurring and was not put out to deliberately mislead, yet in response to criticisms that the videoreceived so much attention (now has 1.4 million views), YouTube is “accelerating the rollout of planned changes to its search engine,” by “promoting more authoritative sources in search results, especially for those about major news events.”
 

Jake Morphonios, who runs the End Times News Report along with a damaged-inventory-liquidation business in Kernersville, N.C., said the video eventually reached 2.5 million views. “It was a hot topic, of course, and was going to get some views anyway, but it really did get caught in [YouTube’s] algorithm and went viral from there,” he said. “Clearly it got into featured videos or something.” The 43-year-old said he has posted about 800 videos and typically gets about 5,000 views each.

Mr. Morphonios said YouTube gave his account its first strike for the video. YouTube terminates accounts that get three strikes within three months. He said he aims to offer viewers information on news events that mainstream news sources won’t. “I know I’m not as authoritative as The Wall Street Journal or New York Times,” he said. “I’m just a guy with a computer offering an opinion, and to get punished for that is draconian.”

We will get to those “authorative sources” later in the article.

YouTube is not only tweaking their search algorithms though, as noted in an email this morning by Tony over at A Minute to Midnite, YouTube is actively removing content that offers differing viewpoints, while Facebook is preventing sharing and has banned him from posting for a week because of his differing views.

Via the email:
 

Hi Susan, I made a 6 minute video the other day about the shooting. I used a screenshot of one of your articles in the videoand made sure it was clearly seen that it was ANP and you had written the article.

The video was up for about 2 days and had at least 34,000 views before Youtube took it down. Facebook also banned the video and has banned me from posting in any groups for a week. 

I subsequently have uploaded the video to our A minute To Midnite website and written an in depth article analysing some aspects of the shooting……..

The article provided analysis and information widely known at this point, but the banned videodetailed what they saw as Illuminati connections, numerology, and number occult numeric sequences, which is also analysed in the article, and because they were highlighting what they saw as an Illuminati connection, because that is not an “official” narrative by liberals and the giant tech companies like Google/Youtube and Facebook, his video was removed and his Facebook account blocked from sharing anything for a week.

The two examples above are the deliberate censorship by YouTube and Facebook of differing views, while the one below, is an example of how fake news goes viral.

In March 2017, there was a robbery and shooting on the Vegas strip. A woman published a video from inside the Bellagio, showing how the hotel was in lockdown, describing bullets flying, hiding under a table, saying I don’t know what the news is reporting, but this is what is happening here.

After the recent Vegas shooting which killed over 50 people and injured over 500 others, multiple people have re-uploaded that older video, claiming it was from the night of the Vegas massacre, offering it as proof there were multiple shooters. Because of the inconsistencies in the news that has been made public, which has many thinking we are not being told the entire story and the police scanner audio from that night where an officer says “two active shooters” were confirmed, some independent outlets have reported on the re-uploaded video, believing it was new.

The original re-uploaded video came out on October 2, 2017, titled “Las Vegas Proof Not one Shooter Last Night,” with the video description stating “Video taken last night during hotel lockdown at the Bellagio by Rene Downs. Mainstream media not reporting correctly on situation in Vegas.” A search directly for Rene Downs brings up four videos, the original and three others uploaded yesterday, all incorrectly associating the Bellagio lockdown from March with the shooting on October 1st.

The point here is that we have seen this time and time again, where an event happens and old videos are re-uploaded with claims that they are new and related to a recent event, they go viral and next thing you know people are reporting on it.

A look through the account that re-uploaded the Rene Downs video on October 2, 2017, indicates the channel owner has differing views from the MSM official narratives, but was most likely sent this Bellagio video and told it was new, not a deliberate attempt on his part to mislead, but whoever sent it to them, was deliberately trying to push fake news.

There is no easy solution to con-artists, they exist offline and they exist online, it is a fact of life, but YouTube, Facebook and Google thinking they have the right to ban, block, hide and punish any narrative that doesn’t toe the official line, labeling them all “fake news,” is not the answer to preventing these types of online cons. Cons will happen, it is up to us, readers and writers, to dig deeper and find the truth, it is not up to YouTube or other tech giants to declare themselves the “ministry of truth,” and hide whatever they don’t want people to see.

Read More @ AllNewsPipeline.com

Market Report: Lower in declining volume

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by Alasdair Macleod, GoldMoney:

Gold and silver drifted lower in declining volume. On Tuesday, the day of tonight’s Commitment of Traders report, gold’s Comex turnover fell to 211,897 contracts, compared with more normal days of 300,000 to 450,000. When turnover drops like this, it often indicates downside exhaustion and precedes a technical rally.

Gold fell a further $12 from last Friday’s close to $1268 in early European trade this morning (Friday), and silver by 10 cents to $16.59.

These are holiday numbers, and probably reflect China’s annual Golden Week holidays, which are this week. Ironically, it is the one week that’s not golden for markets, removing the largest source of physical demand for gold for a whole week. This is likely to be a big part of the reason why precious metal trading has ground to a halt.

If this is the case, there could be a pick-up in physical demand next week. More importantly perhaps, is the Chinese 19th Party Congress, which commences on 18th October, after which plans for future development are likely to be confirmed and will proceed. This should lead to renewed demand for base metals, likely to be reflected in futures prices in the coming days. There is therefore a reasonable prospect of silver prices outpacing gold.

Part of the reason for precious metals being weak is a continuing dollar rally. The USD Index Future has risen 3.1{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} since 8 September, when gold topped out. Ms Yellen warned last week that USD interest rates may have to rise quicker than originally thought, and doubtless this has helped the dollar. It certainly gave sterling a boost when Mark Carney echoed her thoughts, though sterling has since declined on political turmoil, following the Conservative party conference.

The dogs that have yet to bark in the night are the European and Japanese central banks, still stuck with negative interest rates. However, the minor weakness in these currencies is likely to be temporary, once the interest rate debate devolves their way.

Our next chart shows the effect of gold’s recent weakness in the four major currencies.

Gold measured in euros is now down 1{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} on the year, and in sterling up only 4{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528}. It will be interesting to see whether these low prices stimulate public demand for physical metal.

Read More @ GoldMoney.com

Rationality Versus The Market

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by John Rubino, Dollar Collapse:

The late stages of financial bubbles are always tough for rational analysts. Focused as they are on the numbers, such analysts are relatively immune to the emotion that drives the action at market extremes, so they find themselves making predictions that turn out to be “wrong” for months and sometimes years.

Then the cycle turns and the rational analyst is vindicated – though often far too late for his bruised ego and diminished client base to easily recover.

[Recall the scene in The Big Short where hedge fund manager Michael Burry, after suffering months of abuse from his clients for shorting the 2006 housing bubble a bit early, is lambasted by a client who can’t believe Burry has, after the crash, gone long equities — because they’re clearly going to zero. In both cases Burry was right and his clients wrong, but he nevertheless closed up shop and quit the business.]

Anyhow, we’re there again, with governments manipulating all major markets to valuation levels at which previous crashes have occurred. This is leading analysts who focus on historical norms to issue warnings, which turn out to be wrong (stocks are setting new records as this is written), which draw derision from people who see no reason why the party ever has to end.

A good example is John Hussman, whose eponymous family of funds has been on the wrong side of this market for an uncomfortably long time. Yet he persists, because the numbers don’t lie. From his most recent report to clients:

So the mindset, I think, goes something like this. Yes, market valuations are elevated, but, you know, low interest rates justify higher valuations. Besides, there’s really no alternative to stocks because you’ll get what, 1{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} annually in cash? Look at how the market has done in recent years. There’s no comparison. Value investors who thought stocks were overpriced in recent years have been wrong, wrong, and wrong again, and even if they’re eventually right, being early is just the same as being wrong. The best bet is just to invest in a passive index fund for the long-term, and ignore the swings. There’s really no alternative.

What’s notable about this mindset is its excruciating reliance on three ideas. The first is that low interest rates “justify” rich valuations. The second is that market returns simply emerge as a kind of providence from a higher power, perhaps magical gnomes, or the Federal Reserve if you like, and that those returns have no particular relationship to valuations even in the long-term. The third is that market returns during the recent advancing half-cycle are an accurate guide to future outcomes.

In effect, stocks are viewed as good investments because they have been going up, and the evidence that stock prices will go up is that stock prices have gone up. Every additional market advance makes stocks look even better, based on past returns. Indeed, the more extreme valuations become, the more convinced investors become that extreme valuations don’t matter.

And that’s why we’re all gonna die.

A few insights may help to deconstruct this mindset. First, if one is going to invest one’s financial future in the stock market here, it’s worth making at least a cursory study of 5, 10 or even 20-year growth rates in population, labor force, productivity, S&P 500 revenues, earnings, real GDP, nominal GDP, and virtually every other measure of fundamentals. That exercise will quickly inform investors not only that the growth rate of fundamentals has persistently slowed from post-war norms in recent decades, but also that the underlying drivers of growth (primarily labor force demographics and productivity growth) are now running at rates that are likely to produce real GDP growth on the order of just 1{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} annually over the coming decade, while even a sizeable jump in productivity would likely result in sustained real GDP growth below 2{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} annually.

Unfortunately, this has implications for how one responds to interest rates, because the argument that “low interest rates justify higher valuations” relies on the assumption that the growth rate of underlying cash flows is held constant. Any basic discounted cash flow analysis will demonstrate that if interest rates are low because growth is also low, then no market valuation premium is “justified” by the low interest rates at all. Indeed, if both growth rates and interest rates are x{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} lower than their historical norms, then even a historically normal level of market valuation would be associated with subsequent market returns that are x{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} below historical norms. No valuation premium is required to produce this result.

The most reliable valuation measures we identify (those most strongly correlated with actual subsequent market returns) are about 2.5 to 2.7 times their historical norms here. Paying a valuation premium in this case simply causes prospective future market returns to collapse.

In order to provide the longest perspective possible, and also to offer a measure that can be easily calculated and validated should one choose to do so, the chart below shows my variant of Robert Shiller’s cyclically-adjusted P/E (CAPE), which has a correlation near 90{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} or higher with actual subsequent 10-12 year S&P 500 total returns in market cycles across history.

What investors presently take as a comfortable environment of pleasant market returns and mild volatility is actually, quietly, the single most overvalued point in the history of the U.S. stock market.

Read More @ DollarCollapse.com

The U.S. Justice System Must Focus on Elite Criminality

by Michael Krieger, Liberty Blitzkrieg:

Two very important articles published in recent days serve to once again highlight America’s metastasizing elite criminality problem. A problem which our justice system simply refuses to address. This corrupt two-tier justice system is something I’ve been focused on from the very beginning of my writings, and I continue to see it as a civilization-level threat for this country if not aggressively addressed and confronted in the very near future.

The two articles in question focus on different aspects of untouchable elite culture in America. The first relates to the continued fraud pervasive in America’s largest financial institution, while the second covers a thirty year history of predatory sexual behavior by one of Hollywood’s biggest moguls, Harvey Weinstein. In both cases, countless people have known and reported on repeated abuses perpetrated by both the institution and the man, yet the U.S. justice system and the vast majority of “elite” culture happily help shield them from justice. Predators are predators, and elite predators are far more dangerous to society that your average street crook, so why does our justice situation deal with it in the exact opposite way?

Let’s start with the blockbuster article published in The Nation by the always informative David Dayen. The article is titled, How America’s Biggest Bank Paid Its Fine for the 2008 Mortgage Crisis—With Phony Mortgages!

Here’s just brief excerpt:

JPMorgan’s share of the settlement was $5.3 billion, but only $1.1 billion had to be paid in cash; the other $4.2 billion was to come in the form of financial relief for homeowners in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure. The settlement called for JPMorgan to reduce the amounts owed, modify the loan terms, and take other steps to help distressed Americans keep their homes. A separate 2013 settlement against the bank for deceiving mortgage investors included another $4 billion in consumer relief.

A Nation investigation can now reveal how JPMorgan met part of its $8.2 billion settlement burden: by using other people’s money.

Here’s how the alleged scam worked. JPMorgan moved to forgive the mortgages of tens of thousands of homeowners; the feds, in turn, credited these canceled loans against the penalties due under the 2012 and 2013 settlements. But here’s the rub: In many instances, JPMorgan was forgiving loans on properties it no longer owned.

The alleged fraud is described in internal JPMorgan documents, public records, testimony from homeowners and investors burned in the scam, and other evidence presented in a blockbuster lawsuit against JPMorgan, now being heard in US District Court in New York City.

Sounds hard to believe, but it’s true. Not only that, but as we’ve come to expect from the “rule of law” in America, it somehow never applies to that group of people with the greatest ability to financially destroy people and their lives. Bankers. For example, here’s some more from the same piece:

Federal appointees have been complicit in this as well. E-mails show that the Office of Mortgage Settlement Oversight, charged by the government with ensuring the banks’ compliance with the two federal settlements, gave JPMorgan the green light to mass-forgive its loans. This served two purposes for the bank: It could take settlement credit for forgiving the loans, and it could also hide these loans—which JPMorgan had allegedly been handling improperly—from the settlements’ testing regimes.

“No one in Washington seems to understand why Americans think that different rules apply to Wall Street, and why they’re so mad about that,” said former congressman Miller. “This is why.”

Most of the loans that JPMorgan released—and received settlement credit for—were all but worthless. Homeowners had abandoned the homes years earlier, expecting JPMorgan to foreclose, only to have the bank forgive the loan after the fact. That forgiveness transferred responsibility for paying back taxes and making repairs back to the homeowner. It was like a recurring horror story in which “zombie foreclosures” were resurrected from the dead to wreak havoc on people’s financial lives.

Federal officials knew about the problems and did nothing. In July 2014, the City of Milwaukee wrote to Joseph Smith, the federal oversight monitor, alerting him that “thousands of homeowners” were engulfed in legal nightmares because of the confusion that banks had sown about who really owned their mortgages. In a deposition for the lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase, Smith admitted that he did not recall responding to the City of Milwaukee’s letter.

Few would expect Jeff Sessions’s Justice Department to pursue such a case, but what this sorry episode most highlights is the pathetic disciplining of Wall Street during the Obama administration.

JPMorgan’s litany of acknowledged criminal abuses over the past decade reads like a rap sheet, extending well beyond mortgage fraud to encompass practically every part of the bank’s business. But instead of holding JPMorgan’s executives responsible for what looks like a criminal racket, Obama’s Justice Department negotiated weak settlement after weak settlement. Adding insult to injury, JPMorgan then wriggled out of paying its full penalties by using other people’s money.

The larger lessons here command special attention in the Trump era. Negotiating weak settlements that don’t force mega-banks to even pay their fines, much less put executives in prison, turns the concept of accountability into a mirthless farce. Telegraphing to executives that they will emerge unscathed after committing crimes not only invites further crimes; it makes another financial crisis more likely. The widespread belief that the United States has a two-tiered system of justice—that the game is rigged for the rich and the powerful—also enabled the rise of Trump. We cannot expect Americans to trust a system that lets Wall Street fraudsters roam free while millions of hard-working taxpayers get the shaft.

Of course, this is just the latest when it comes to JP Morgan. I highlighted the firm’s rap sheet in last month’s post, Which is Fraudulent – Bitcoin or JP Morgan?

How many JP Morgan executives have gone to jail?

Now onto Harvey Weinstein, a guy whose cretinous behavior has been the biggest non-secret in Hollywood for decades. Just like with banker crooks, he mere settles cases and continues to walk around, freely hunting the next defenseless victim.

Read More @ LibertyBlitzkrieg.com