Is this cycle topping out?
Can't Anybody Here Play This Game?
Mr. Nunes received information earlier this week from a whistleblower, but not you typical whistleblower. The "normal" whistleblower takes information, usually classified, to a member of the press in order to bring attention to wrong doing or lies by the government. He or she goes outside of channels. In this regard the Nunes' whistleblower is different. This person passed classified material to a person cleared for the classified material, i.e. Nunes [as chair of the House Intelligence Committee].…
… there will be more information coming out today that will buttress the claims Nunes made earlier this week. This could be the start of the worm turning and former member of the Obama intelligence community and White House staff could find themselves facing legal peril.….
Visits to shopping malls have been declining for years with the rise of e-commerce and titanic shifts in how shoppers spend their money. Visits declined by 50% between 2010 and 2013, according to the real-estate research firm Cushman & Wakefield.Not just Sears.
Dennis Bernstein: A former high-level FBI whistleblower says Trump is vindicated on his claims of being surveilled by the previous administration. Joining us to take a close look at what’s been going on, what’s been unfolding in Washington, D.C. is Coleen Rowley. She’s a former FBI special agent and division council. She wrote a May 2002 memo to the FBI director that exposed some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures, major failures. She was Time magazine’s person of the year in 2002. … Help us explain what chairman Nunes reported in terms of the collecting process and Trumps innocence or guilt?...Consortium News
The failure to repeal and replace Obamacare would be a stinging defeat for Trump. But it would be an even bigger defeat for Paul Ryan, who has all but staked his Speakership on passing this bill. And in the hall of mirrors that is Washington, the big winner to emerge out of the health-care debacle could be Steve Bannon. That’s because Bannon has been waging war against Ryan for years. For Bannon, Ryan is the embodiment of the “globalist-corporatist” Republican elite. A failed bill would be Bannon’s best chance yet to topple Ryan and advance his nationalist-populist economic agenda.…Palace intrigue.
President Donald Trump signaled he was finished with trying to repeal and replace Obamacare, telling reporters at the White House he was ready to move to tax reform.The purpose of the Ryan Plan was supposedly to make space for tax reform.
Despite analyst expectations that the Russian central bank (CBR) would hold steady, the bank cut the key rate by 25bps to 9.5%.…Asia Times
As Vox and The Hill among others have reported, Republicans are trying to reduce premiums by eliminating the ACA's list of 10 mandated benefits insurers must provide. These provisions regarding prescription drug coverage, hospitalization, out-patient treatment, mental health care, pregnancy and maternity care and much more not only set a baseline for insurance offerings under Obamacare, but also help spread the risk for insurers across a much larger pool of policyholders. And that, CBO warned Obamacare repealers in December, is a big problem as far as the agency is concerned...PERRspectives
Unlike many other Eurozone economies like Spain, Ireland Portugal, Italy did not experience a real estate or stock market bubble in the 2000s; nor were its banks heavily exposed to the financial derivatives that helped spread the fallout from the U.S. subprime crisis all around the world. As such, Italy has not had cause to bail out its financial system — until now.…
Italy’s current predicament is a multi-headed hydra: a banking crisis, an economic crisis, a debt crisis, and a political crisis all rolled into one, and all coming to a head at the same time. It’s the reason why economists including Deutsche Bank AG’s Marco Stringa are calling Italy, not France or Greece, the “main risk” to euro-area stability....
The purpose of this paper is to provide a political history, overview and critical evaluation of the social democratic tradition in Western politics with some reference to the Canadian experience. It serves as a starting point for the Broadbent Institute’s new initiative exploring social democratic renewal in Canada, a project that will feature essays from a wide range of left perspectives on the future of social democracy in this critical moment of upheaval, inequality and erosion in democracies around the globe.Broadbent Institute
South Centre Chief Economist Yilmaz Akyuz explains why a correct understanding of contemporary globalization requires class, rather than nation, as the central unit of analysis.The global ownership class is vacuuming up the bulk of income and wealth. This is inherent in the institutional design of capitalism, which favors owners (capital) over workers (labor) and the environment (land).
The cyber security firm outsourced by the Democratic National Committee, CrowdStrike, reportedly misread data, falsely attributing a hacking in Ukraine to the Russians in December 2016.…
The report sheds further skepticism on CrowdStrike’s findings and objectivity in their conclusions, which several cyber security experts and former CIA and NSA officials have cast doubt on, especially given that several media outlets reported in early January 2017 that the DNC never allowed the FBI to examine their servers themselves, rather the FBI relied on forensic data gathered by CrowdStrike.
The investigation methods used to come to the conclusion that the Russian Government led the hacks of the DNC, Clinton Campaign Chair John Podesta, and the DCCC were further called into question by a recent BuzzFeed report by Jason Leopold, who has developed a notable reputation from leading several non-partisan Freedom of Information Act lawsuits for investigative journalism purposes. On March 15 that the Department of Homeland Security released just two heavily redacted pages of unclassified information in response to an FOIA request for definitive evidence of Russian election interference allegations. Leopold wrote, “what the agency turned over to us and Ryan Shapiro, a PhD candidate at MIT and a research affiliate at Harvard University, is truly bizarre: a two-page intelligence assessment of the incident, dated Aug. 22, 2016, that contains information DHS culled from the internet. It’s all unclassified — yet DHS covered nearly everything in wide swaths of black ink. Why? Not because it would threaten national security, but because it would reveal the methods DHS uses to gather intelligence, methods that may amount to little more than using Google.”
In lieu of substantive evidence provided to the public that the alleged hacks which led to Wikileaks releases of DNC and Clinton Campaign Manager John Podesta’s emails were orchestrated by the Russian Government, CrowdStrike’s bias has been cited as undependable in its own assessment, in addition to its skeptical methods and conclusions. The firm’s CTO and co-founder, Dmitri Alperovitch, is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, a think tank with openly anti-Russian sentiments that is funded by Ukrainian billionaire Victor Pinchuk, who also happened to donate at least $10 million to the Clinton Foundation.
In 2013, the Atlantic Council awarded Hillary Clinton it’s Distinguished International Leadership Award. In 2014, the Atlantic Council hosted one of several events with former Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who took over after pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted in early 2014...Counterpunch
Trump is Obama’s Legacy. Will this Break up the Democratic Party?Michael Hudson
Uncertainty surrounding the Republican plan to replace Obamacare is forcing some U.S. hospitals to delay expansion plans, cut costs, or take on added risk to borrow money for capital investment projects, dealing an economic blow to these facilities and the towns they call home.…Across the country, hospitals are shifting to a more conservative stance as they await sweeping changes to the nation's healthcare law that for the first time in U.S. history would reverse a government healthcare entitlement program. The Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, provided coverage to 20 million Americans and brought higher revenues to many hospitals.
The law's likely overhaul puts many hospitals in a uniquely daunting position of being unable to predict how many of their patients will be insured and what type of coverage they will have in the future. As a result, many are more wary than in years past to invest in expensive capital projects, issue debt, or expand into new regions, said healthcare experts and hospital executives....
Hospital jobs increased after the Affordable Care Act expanded coverage. Now, amid increasing uncertainty around the nation’s healthcare law, hospital jobs are on the decline.But, but, but, we are "saving money."
It’s official: The Germans will not allow debt relief for Greece. Instead, Berlin wants to send in the repo man.
The untold story of the Greek “bailouts” is that it wasn’t a “bailout” — it was an auction of Greek assets. Real, tangible things with real, tangible value were seized in exchange for pieces of paper that guarantee Athens will be chained to Berlin and Brussels for the foreseeable future.
It’s your basic extortion racket....
A bit too melodramatic? We forgot — we are supposed to use the friendly neoliberal term for this policy of national enslavement and communal suicide: “voluntary privatization.”...Events prove Michael Hudson right again about predatory lending funneling assets from the periphery to the core. Neoliberalism implies neo-imperialism and neocolonialism.
A perfect crime. After all, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs helped cook the books so Greece could join the eurozone.
This really is a golden age for international criminal cabals. Al Capone was a chump.Defend Democracy Press
The Koch brothers' network of well-funded outside groups says it will spend millions to protect Republicans who oppose the party's health care bill from political fallout.
Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners, the Koch network's big budget grass-roots activism and advertising groups, are teaming up to create a "seven-figure" reserve fund to support lawmakers who buck President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan on the health care vote, as the threat of primaries looms over some opponents of the bill. The Koch groups will spend the money on paid media, direct mail and grass-roots canvassing.
Freedom Partners called the GOP bill "Obamacare 2.0" and said it falls short of truly repealing the 2010 law....
The Koch groups argue that the GOP's bills refundable tax credits to make health coverage more affordable are a new entitlement….The GOP goes to war with itself over purity versus practicality.
… when people pay taxes their bank accounts are debited and correspondingly the government account at the central bank is replenished. During an accounting period, government expenditure will have been funded by tax revenues received, sale of bonds to the private sector, plus the increase in central bank money....
US private military company Frontier Services Group (FSG) is planning operations in China’s Xinjiang Province that will support the One Belt, One Road initiative, Chinese state media reported Wednesday.
FSG’s chairman, Eric Prince, is better known as the founder of the Blackwater military company, which played a large role in the US-Iraqi war. Prince told China’s Global Times that “FSG has expanded its geographic focus from purely Africa to include the Northwest corridors of the One Belt and One Road initiative.”
Seemingly at odds with plans to provide military services in China, Prince has close ties to the White House. His sister is a member of the president’s cabinet, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and he was a frequent radio guest of White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s Breitbart....
Yesterday, Ally Financial warned that profits would underperform expectations. Now, they dd not say that profits would fall or that they were taking credit writedowns. Neverthless, the warning is an important marker and should be of grave concern. Here’s why....Credit Writedowns
Regular readers will recall a few of my blogs where I have demonstrated that the US economy is still nowhere near to what one might call full employment, even though that concept is highly contested and can span a range of outcomes depending on the ideological disposition one takes. I have also done some research decomposing the marked decline in the US participation rate since around 2000 into age-related effects and what I call the discouraged worker effects (workers giving up looking for jobs because of the slow employment growth). This week (March 20, 2017), research published by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco bears on this topic –
How Tight Is the U.S. Labor Market? – and they essentially concur with my previous assessments. There work is interesting because it reaches the same conclusion from a variety of methods, which is always a good sign because it means the result is not method-specific. However, there are those who for their own ideological reasons want to argue that the US economy is already at full employment. If they were correct, it would mean the quality of that ‘full employment’ had shifted markedly – lower – as a consequence of the GFC and its aftermath and that the associated underutilisation levels had risen.
Russia has introduced safeguards against the risk of being shut out of international transaction systems such as Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) after anti-Russian sanctions introduced by the West, Russian Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina said Wednesday.…
"There was the threat of being shut out of SWIFT. We updated our transaction system, and if anything happens, all SWIFT-format operations will continue to work, we created an analogous system," Nabiullina said during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.