Ridiculous Things Bought By Billionaires

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-07-25/presenting-most-ridiculous-things-ever-bought-billionaires

Despite the protestations of an indignant Ben Bernanke, seven years of global QE have not only failed to ignite the illusory “trickle down” wealth effect but have in fact served to widen the gap between the rich and the poor the world over.

The explanation for this phenomenon is simple: when you deliberately inflate the value of the assets most likely to be concentrated in the hands of the wealthy, the class divide will grow in lockstep.

Perhaps the best evidence of the above can be found on Wall Street where Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein have now become billionaires. Because we wanted to do our part to help Jamie and Lloyd decide what to buy now that their wealth is virtually inexhaustible, we present the following video which counts down the 10 most absurd examples of conspicuous consumption in modern history.

Enjoy.

Lifecycle of Bureaucracy

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-06-23/collapse-part-2-nine-dynamics-decay

Submitted by Charlkes Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog,

Rome didn’t fall so much as erode away. That’s the template for collapse. 

While collapse may be sudden, the decay that generated the collapse had been rotting away the foundation for years or decades. In distilling the vast literature on collapse into nine dynamics, I am drawing upon many other authors’ work, including:The Collapse of Complex Societies
The Great Wave: Price Revolutions and the Rhythm of History
The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change
The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
The Long Descent: A User’s Guide to the End of the Industrial Age
Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Example and American Prospects
Here are the nine dynamics of decay that lead to collapse:
1. complacency and intellectual laziness
2. profound political disunity
3. rise of unproductive complexity
4. those bearing the sacrifices opt out/quit
5. decay of effective leadership
6. rise of bread and circuses social welfare and entertainment to distract/placate restive citizenry
7. decline of wealth-producing capacity–status quo living off financial trickery
8. sclerosis–status quo controlled by vested interests
9. resource depletion/environmental damage
All of these dynamics are currently in play around the globe.
Michael Grant touched on many of these dynamics in his excellent account The Fall of the Roman Empire, a short book I have been recommending since 2009:
There was no room at all, in these ways of thinking, for the novel, apocalyptic situation which had now arisen, a situation which needed solutions as radical as itself. (The Status Quo) attitude is a complacent acceptance of things as they are, without a single new idea.
This acceptance was accompanied by greatly excessive optimism about the present and future. Even when the end was only sixty years away, and the Empire was already crumbling fast, Rutilius continued to address the spirit of Rome with the same supreme assurance.
This blind adherence to the ideas of the past ranks high among the principal causes of the downfall of Rome. If you were sufficiently lulled by these traditional fictions, there was no call to take any practical first-aid measures at all.
If our idea of intellectual rigor is Paul Krugman dancing around the Neo-Keynesian Cargo Cult campfire waving dead chickens and spewing nonsensical claims of grand success, we’re doomed. Placing our faith in failed monetary-legerdemain and policies of the past is the height of hubris and complacency. There is a cost to complacency and it’s called collapse.
A lengthier book on the same subject by Adrian Goldsworthy, How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower, found that a key driver of decline was the constant political struggle for power drained resources and led to ineffective leadership.
This profound political disunity is not the usual staged battles of the Demopublicans vs. the Republicrats. The real disunity is between a doomed Status Quo and those willing to deal with reality. Right now those willing to deal with reality are few, but they have the distinct advantage of reality on their side, while the Status Quo has only propaganda, artifice, phony political theater and empty promises.
Another dynamic of decay is expansive, sclerotic bureaucracies that lose sight of their purpose while piling on unproductive complexity. The top leadership abandons the pursuit of the common good for personal gain, wealth and power, and this rot at the top soon spreads down the chain of command to infect and corrupt the entire institutional culture.
Grant describes how key classes of productive citizens opt out as their sacrifices are squandered on propping up rapacious elites. Those making the sacrifices look around at what they’ve sacrificed to maintain and decide it’s no longer worth it. So they opt out or quit, draining the status quo of talent, drive and wealth-producing assets.
As the masses become debt-serfs or dependents on the state, the costs of providing bread and circuses becomes unsustainable. The state and central banks are currently papering over this mismatch by printing or borrowing money in the trillions of dollars. But financial trickery is no substitute for actual wealth creation: printing money is not the same as printing real-world wealth.
As for resource depletion and environmental damage–look no further than aquifer depletion, soil erosion, the stripmining of the seas and the poisoning of our air/water/soil on a grand scale.
Rome didn’t fall so much as erode away, its many strengths squandered on in-fighting, mismanagement of resources, complacency and personal aggrandizement/ corruption. That’s the template for collapse, and you see it in every status quo globally.

Former IMF Head: “I Only Had 12 Sex Parties In Three Years”

Former IMF Head: “I Only Had 12 Sex Parties In Three Years”

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-02-10/former-imf-head-i-only-had-12-sex-parties-three-years

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 02/10/2015 11:28 -0500

Ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK) – who denies charges of pimping – has told a court in northern France that prosecutors had greatly exaggerated the frequency of his “licentious evenings.” In fact, as The BBC reports, DSK explained (with a straight face) that he took part in only a few rare sex parties – “only 12 parties the last 3 years.”

As The BBC reports,

 Mr Strauss-Kahn is accused of helping procure sex workers for a prostitution ring based at a hotel in Lille.

He has argued that he did not know the women were prostitutes.

Although using prostitutes is not illegal in France, supplying them or assisting in supplying them is. Prosecutors have been quoted as saying Mr Strauss-Kahn, 65, played a pivotal role in facilitating the orgies, describing him as the “party king”.

If found guilty, the one-time potential candidate for the French presidency could face up to 10 years in jail and a €1.5m (£1.13m) fine.

As he took the stand on Tuesday, Mr Strauss-Kahn said: “I committed no crime, no offence.”

“The prosecution gives the impression of unbridled activity,” he told the court. But, he added: “There were only 12 parties in total – that is four per year over three years.”

Mr Strauss-Kahn also denied organising the parties he took part in.

 “I am in no way the organiser of these parties. I did not have the time to organise any party,” he said.

“He did it for fun. We had some lovely evenings,” he told French radio earlier, adding that five or six couples would be involved.

As he arrived in court in Lille earlier, three topless protesters from the Femen activist group jumped on his car, with “pimps, clients, guilty” painted on their chests. They were taken away by police.

Two other cases against him, concerning allegations of sexual assault and gang rape, have already been dropped.

*  *  *

One wonders whether DSK looked away as this happened…

Deutsche Banker And Former SEC Enforcement Attorney Commits Suicide

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-10-25/deutsche-bank-lawyer-and-former-sec-enforcement-attorney-found-dead-apparent-suicide

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 10/26/2014 17:52 -0400

Back on January 26, a 58-year-old former senior executive at German investment bank behemoth Deutsche Bank, William Broeksmit, was found dead after hanging himself at his London home, and with that, set off an unprecedented series of banker suicides throughout the year which included former Fed officials and numerous JPMorgan traders.

Following a brief late summer spell in which there was little if any news of bankers taking their lives, asreported previously, the banker suicides returned with a bang when none other than the hedge fund partner of infamous former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Khan, Thierry Leyne, a French-Israeli entrepreneur, was found dead after jumping off the 23rd floor of one of the Yoo towers, a prestigious residential complex in Tel Aviv.

Just a few brief hours later the WSJ reported that yet another Deutsche Bank veteran has committed suicide, and not just anyone but the bank’s associate general counsel, 41 year old Calogero “Charlie” Gambino, who was found on the morning of Oct. 20, having also hung himself by the neck from a stairway banister, which according to the New York Police Department was the cause of death. We assume that any relationship to the famous Italian family carrying that last name is purely accidental.

Here is his bio from a recent conference which he attended:

 Charlie J. Gambino is a Managing Director and Associate General Counsel in the Regulatory, Litigation and Internal Investigation group for Deutsche Bank in the Americas. Mr. Gambino served as a staff attorney in the United Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Enforcement from 1997 to 1999. He also was associated with the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate Meagher & Flom from 1999 to 2003. He is a frequent speaker at securities law conferences. Mr. Gambino is a member of the American Bar Association and the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.

As a reminder, the other Deutsche Bank-er who was found dead earlier in the year, William Broeksmit, was involved in the bank’s risk function and advised the firm’s senior leadership; he was “anxious about various authorities investigating areas of the bank where he worked,” according to written evidence from his psychologist, given Tuesday at an inquest at London’s Royal Courts of Justice. And now that an almost identical suicide by hanging has taken place at Europe’s most systemically important bank, and by a person who worked in a nearly identical function – to shield the bank from regulators and prosecutors and cover up its allegedly illegal activities with settlements and fines – is surely bound to raise many questions.

The WSJ reports that Mr. Gambino had been “closely involved in negotiating legal issues for Deutsche Bank,including the prolonged probe into manipulation of the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, and ongoing investigations into manipulation of currencies markets, according to people familiar with his role at the bank.”

He previously was an associate at a private law firm and a regulatory enforcement lawyer from 1997 to 1999, according to his online LinkedIn profile and biographies for conferences where he spoke. But most notably, as his LinkedIn profile below shows, like many other Wall Street revolving door regulators, he started his career at the SEC itself where he worked from 1997 to 1999.

“Charlie was a beloved and respected colleague who we will miss. Our thoughts and sympathy are with his friends and family,” Deutsche Bank said in a statement.

Going back to the previous suicide by a DB executive, the bank said at the time of the inquest that Mr. Broeksmit “was not under suspicion of wrongdoing in any matter.” At the time of Mr. Broeksmit’s death, Deutsche Bank executives sent a memo to bank staff saying Mr. Broeksmit “was considered by many of his peers to be among the finest minds in the fields of risk and capital management.” Mr. Broeksmit had left a senior role at Deutsche Bank’s investment bank in February 2013, but he remained an adviser until the end of 2013. His most recent title was the investment bank’s head of capital and risk-optimization, which included evaluating risks related to complicated transactions.

A thread connecting Broeksmit to wrongdoing, however, was uncovered earlier this summer when Wall Street on Parade referenced his name in relation to the notorious at the time strategy provided by Deutsche Bank and others to allow hedge funds to avoid paying short-term capital gains taxes known as MAPS (see How RenTec Made More Than $34 Billion In Profits Since 1998: “Fictional Derivatives“)

From Wall Street on Parade:

 Broeksmit’s name first emerged in yesterday’s Senate hearing as Senator Carl Levin, Chair of the Subcommittee, was questioning Satish Ramakrishna, the Global Head of Risk and Pricing for Global Prime Finance at Deutsche Bank Securities in New York. Ramakrishna was downplaying his knowledge of conversations about how the scheme was about changing short term gains into long term gains, denying that he had been privy to any conversations on the matter.

Levin than asked: “Did you ever have conversations with a man named Broeksmit?” Ramakrishna conceded that he had and that the fact that the scheme had a tax benefit had emerged in that conversation. Ramakrishna could hardly deny this as Levin had just released a November 7, 2008 transcript of a conversation between Ramakrishna and Broeksmit where the tax benefit had been acknowledged.

Another exhibit released by Levin was an August 25, 2009 email from William Broeksmit to Anshu Jain, with a cc to Ramakrishna, where Broeksmit went into copious detail on exactly what the scheme, internally called MAPS, made possible for the bank and for its client, the Renaissance Technologies hedge fund. (See Email from William Broeksmit to Anshu Jain, Released by the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.)

At one point in the two-page email, Broeksmit reveals the massive risk the bank is taking on, writing: “Size of portfolio tends to be between $8 and $12 billion long and same amount of short. Maximum allowed usage is $16 billion x $16 billion, though this has never been approached.”

Broeksmit goes on to say that most of Deutsche’s money from the scheme “is actually made by lending them specials that we have on inventory and they pay far above the regular rates for that.”

It would appear that with just months until the regulatory crackdown and Congressional kangaroo circus, Broeksmit knew what was about to pass and being deeply implicated in such a scheme, preferred to take the painless way out.

The question then is just what major regulatory revelation is just over the horizon for Deutsche Bank if yet another banker had to take his life to avoid being cross-examined by Congress under oath? For a hint we go back to another report, this time by the FT, which yesterday noted that Deutsche Bank will set aside just under €1bn towards the numerous legal and regulatory issues it faces in its third quarter results next week, the bank confirmed on Friday.

 In a statement made after the close of markets, the Frankfurt-based lender said it expected to publish litigation costs of €894m when it announces its results for the July-September period on October 29.

The extra cash will add to Deutsche’s already sizeable litigation pot, where the bank has yet to be fined in connection with the London interbank rate-rigging scandal.

It is also facing fines from US authorities over alleged mortgage-backed securities misselling and sanctions violations, which have already seen rivals hit with heavy fines.

Deutsche has also warned that damage from global investigations into whether traders attempted to manipulate the foreign-exchange market could have a material impact on the bank.

The extra charge announced on Friday will bring Deutsche’s total litigation reserves to €3.1bn. The bank also has an extra €3.2bn in so-called contingent liabilities for fines that are harder to estimate.

Clearly Deutsche Bank is slowly becoming Europe’s own JPMorgan – a criminal bank whose past is finally catching up to it, and where legal fine after legal fine are only now starting to slam the banking behemoth. We will find out just what the nature of the latest litigation charge is next week when Deutsche Bank reports, but one thing is clear: in addition to mortgage, Libor and FX settlements, one should also add gold. Recall from around the time when the first DB banker hung himself: it was then that Elke Koenig, the president of Germany’s top financial regulator, Bafin, said that in addition to currency rates, manipulation of precious metals “is worse than the Libor-rigging scandal.”

It remains to be seen if Calogero’s death was also related to precious metals rigging although it certainly would not be surprising. What is surprising, is that slowly things are starting to fall apart at the one bank which as we won’t tire of highlighting, has a bigger pyramid of notional derivatives on its balance sheet than even JPMorgan, amounting to 20 times more than the GDP of Germany itself, and where if any internal investigation ever goes to the very top, then Europe itself, and thus the world, would be in jeopardy.

At this point it is probably worth reminding to what great lengths regulators would go just to make sure that Deutsche Bank would never be dragged into a major litigation scandal: recall that the chief enforcer of the SEC during the most critical period following the great crash of 2008, Robert Khuzami, worked previously from 2002 to 2009 at, drumroll, Deutsche Bank most recently as its General Counsel (see“Robert Khuzami Stands To Lose Up To $250,000 If He Pursues Action Against Deutsche Bank” and “Circle Jerk 101: The SEC’s Robert Khuzami Oversaw Deutsche Bank’s CDO, Has Recused Himself Of DB-Related Matters“). The same Khuzami who just landed a $5 million per year contract (with a 2 year guarantee) with yet another “law firm”, Kirkland and Ellis. One wonders: if and when the hammer falls on Deutsche Bank, will it perchance be defended by the same K&E and its latest prominent hire, Robert Khuzami himself?       

But usually it is best to just avoid litigation altogether. Which is why perhaps sometimes it is easiest if the weakest links, those whose knowledge can implicate the people all the way at the top, quietly commit suicide in the middle of the night…

Every American Can Fight Terrorism With Just One Finger

How Every American Can Fight Terrorism With Just One Finger

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 12/23/2014 20:14 -0500
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-12-23/how-every-american-can-fight-terrorism-just-one-finger

 

Canada Warns Its Citizens Not To Take Cash To The USA

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-09-24/canada-warns-its-citizens-not-take-cash-usa

Canada Warns Its Citizens Not To Take Cash To The USA

 

Submitted by Martin Armstrong via Armstrong Economics,

The Canadian government has had to warn its citizens not to carry cash to the USA because the USA does not presume innocence but guilt when it comes to money. Over $2.5 billion has been confiscated from Canadians traveling to the USA, funding the police who grab it.

If you are bringing cash to the land of the free, you will find that that saying really means they are FREE to seize all your money under the pretense you are engaged in drugs with no evidence or other charges.

It costs more money in legal fees to try to get it back so it is a boom business for unethical lawyers to such an extent than only one in sixth people ever try to get their money back and the cops just pocket it. That’s right. Money confiscated is usually allowed to be kept by the department who confiscated it.

This is strangely working its way into funding police and pensions.

This is identical to the very issue that resulted in the final collapse of Rome when the armies began to sack cities to pay for their pensions. We are at that level now with respect to seizing whatever they want knowing you will have to spend more in legal fees to assert your rights that do not really exist.

Those trying to flee tyranny elsewhere can not bring money with them for the police get to take it on this end.

This pretend war on terrorism is really a wholesale war against the people. It serves as the justification to seize whatever they desire ever since 9/11 as reported by the Washington Post.

 

No Drinking Water In Venezuela Until Bankers Get Paid Back

www.zerohedge.com

2013 was a good year for Goldman Sachs investments in Emerging Markets, most notably Venezuelan bonds (as they bet on socialism and won). A year later and Goldman’s EM debt portfolio is still loaded with Venezuelan bonds… and the arrears are mounting.

As Bloomberg reports, at a time whenVenezuela’s record $25 billion in arrears to importers has its citizens waiting hours in line to buy drinking water and crossing borders in search of medicine, President Nicolas Maduro is using the nation’s dwindling supply of dollars to enrich bondholders.

As Bloomberg reports,

 Venezuela, which imports just about everything, and its state oil producer have paid $2.8 billion in interest to overseas creditors this year, according to Barclays Plc. Including debt principal, bondholder outlays will balloon to almost $10 billion by year-end, the London-based firm estimates.

By putting off the local companies responsible for supplying everything from diapers to cancer medications, Maduro can preserve access to debt markets and protect oil shipments that would be vulnerable to bondholder seizure, said Alejandro Arreaza, an analyst at Barclays. Even if that means fanning the world’s fastest inflation and inflaming protests over shortages that have left at least 42 people dead since February.

The government’s priority is to pay the sovereign debt,” Alejandro Arreaza, an analyst at Barclays Plc, said in a telephone interview from New York.

Of course, it’s not just the government debt but state-owned entities that need the USD and are getting priority over the thirsty population…

 State oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA is seeking a loan to pay off $3 billion of debt that matures this year and isn’t planning additional dollar bond sales in 2014, a company official said yesterday. PDVSA, as the Caracas-based company is known, is working to refinance an additional $11.9 billion of dollar debt due through 2017 to bring its annual maturities to no more than $3 billion, said the official, who asked not to be identified because he isn’t authorized to speak publicly.

It’s the first time that it’s ever reached this critical level,” he said by telephone. “And it’s clear that they can’t pay it off at once.”

“There has been a divergence between what happens to Venezuelan bonds in the international market and what happens to businesses that operate inside of Venezuela,”

As one analysts noted… just like everywhere else in the world…

 “The market is giving Venezuela the benefit of the doubt and hopes that it applies other economic measures that in one form or another will guarantee its capacity to repay bondholders,”

 


 

And so it goes…