Monday, 13 August 2012
Help for Heroes slammed by troops for subsidising building projects rather than helping injured veterans
Jul 24, 2012 JOHN STODDER, MBJ national affairs correspondent
Last month, one of the biggest financial scandals in history came to light, involving many of the most pre-eminent banks in the world. But public reaction has been so muted that a Los Angeles Times columnist was compelled to ask, “Why aren’t more people furious about the Libor scandal?”
In fact, people are.
The news media soon will be full of stories of outrage concerning the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor), the daily interest calculation that underlies hundreds of trillions of dollars in loans and option transactions; about how Barclays and other international banks managed to manipulate it to bolster profits and buttress their stock prices, and how the manipulations subverted capitalism, robbed pensioners. Regulators, congressional investigators and plaintiffs’ attorneys are massing around the scandal, ready to attack both banks and U.S. and U.K. bank regulators who, some allege, knew about a persistent pattern of rate manipulation and cartel-like behavior but turned a blind eye.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, for example, will be grilled about how much he knew about Libor manipulations when he headed the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. According to the Washington Post, the New York Fed had received “occasional anecdotal reports from Barclays of problems with Libor” beginning in 2007, enough that in 2008, Geithner asked British officials whether the rate was being manipulated.
According to numerous media reports, officials in California, Connecticut, Florida, New York and Maryland are looking into possible legal action against the banks, blaming Libor manipulation for higher borrowing costs and lower investment yields that affected public treasuries. Joe Dear, head of the California Public Employee Retirement System, the nation’s biggest public pension fund, which has been beset by falling investment yields since 2008, called for prosecuting bank executives if it is shown that the Libor manipulations affected long-term investors such as pension funds.
Every weekday morning before 11 a.m. GMT executives at up to 19 large banks, including three U.S.-based banks that participate in the London Interbank money market, provide what the British Bankers’ Association (BBA), which runs the Libor-fixing process, terms its “lowest perceived rate” for inter-bank loans at that moment. It is an estimate of what interest they would be charged that day for unsecured loans from other banks.
The rates are averaged together with the four highest and four lowest figures tossed out. The results are reported as that day’s Libor rates, published by Thomson Reuters.
The Libor rates immediately become that day’s benchmarks for pricing a vast number of loans, securities and derivatives around the world.
Libor affects the health of pension plans and city and state budgets, the profits and losses for derivative traders, and rates for mortgages, student loans, auto loans and small-business lending.
From at least 2005 until 2009, according to investigators for the U.S, U.K. and the European Union, some of the participating banks gamed the Libor rate. When Libor rates rose, consumer and business borrowing became more expensive. When Libor rates fell, investment yields were reduced. When Libor rates were manipulated, there were winners and losers, depending on the direction of the manipulation. What was clearly sacrificed, however, was the integrity of the banking system.
First up, Barclays
Barclays was the first and so far the only bank to admit it manipulated the Libor rate between 2005 and 2009, in a settlement with U.S. and U.K. regulators in June. Its CEO, Robert Diamond, Jr., has resigned despite claiming he knew nothing about the false submissions. The bank has agreed to pay U.K. and U.S. regulators $453 million in civil fines.
Investigators believe it would have been impossible for Barclays to increase its profits and or reduce losses from false reports without acting in collusion with other banks. According to the New York Times’ DealBook, HSBC, Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase are among other Libor-setting banks being investigated. Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports that the EU Competition Commission views the collusion as “a cartel arrangement.” Investigators say two motives influenced Barclays’ manipulation of the Libor rate. E-mails throughout the four-year period show bank traders brazenly requesting bank executives’ help in forestalling an anticipated move in the Libor rate to protect profits from a particular trading position, then thanking those executives, saying things like, “Dude. I owe you big time!”
Then, as the financial crisis of 2007-2008 evolved, the banks had institutional incentives to manipulate the rates. When the Libor rate is published, the individual banks’ submissions are published along with it. The bankers knew that investors, analysts and regulators could use that information to gauge each bank’s financial health during the financial crisis beginning in 2008. Quoting a lower borrowing rate conveyed that the bank had more reserves than it really had, and tended to boost Barclays’ stock price at a time when reserves were thin.
Much still remains to be discovered about both the scandal itself and its effects on the economy, leading into and following the Wall Street collapse. At this point, it is unclear who the winners and losers were, but it is possible that some of the financial institutions preparing to sue for losses will learn, when all the facts are known, that the unplanned effect of Libor manipulation was to improve their financial positions.
The biggest cost to be borne by businesses and investors is arguably going to be destroyed confidence in the banking system, and in the leadership of the major banks.
As many commentators have noted, the Barclays’ emails show major, respected institutions infected with greed – a dramatic change from the staid image of bankers as risk-averse professionals who cared about the soundness of their banks above all.
The banks were permitted to establish Libor, a crucially important benchmark for capital, without any regulatory oversight only because every financial entity that used Libor as a benchmark for pricing loans assumed the world’s leading bankers could be trusted. That presumption of trustworthiness is gone, but it is uncertain what can replace it.
••• John Stodder is national affairs correspondent for The Mississippi Business Journal.
Source article:- MBJ Business blog
Friday, 10 August 2012
BRITAIN’S trade deficit hit a record high in June, as exports tumbled during a month in which economic activity was disturbed by the Queen’s Jubilee. The trade gap widened to £4.3bn in June, up from £2.7bn in May, as shipments of goods collapsed by 8.4 per cent. Exports of services rose 1.7 per cent, failing to offset the slump in goods shipments. Services produced a surplus of £5.8bn, while the trade in goods registered £10.1bn shortfall. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said June was affected by May’s bank holiday being moved back a month, coupled with events surrounding the Queen’s Jubilee. For the second quarter, exports fell 3.3 per cent from their level a quarter earlier (excluding oil and erratic items). Imports slipped by 0.5 per cent in the second quarter, suggesting that economic troubles are taking their toll on trade. “Looking through the monthly volatility, it is clear that the Eurozone woes are having a major impact on our exporters,” said Mark Gregory, Ernst & Young’s chief economist. “Export volumes to EU countries fell by 3.7 per cent in the three months to June, in contrast to a fall of 2.4 per cent to non-EU countries.” Exports to France crashed by £269m in June, by £233m to the Netherlands, and by over £100m to both Italy and Spain. Bucking the trend, exports to Germany rose by £109m. “In the short-term the outlook for exports remains fragile,” Gregory added.
Source Article:- City AM
Tuesday, 7 August 2012
The Track of the Jew through the Ages
Translated with Notes and Introduction by Alexander Jacob
Historical Review Press, 2012
English language translations of any of Alfred Rosenberg’s works are going to be of value to scholars and laymen with an interest in the Third Reich or the philosophy of National Socialism. This volume is of particular interest because it is Rosenberg’s first published work as a refugee from Bolshevism, who fled his native Estonia to Germany, having seen a great deal of the excesses of the Jewish champions of the Russian proletariat.
Another good source, Barbara Lane and Leila Rupp’s translations in Nazi Ideology Before 1933: A Documentation (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1978), includes articles by Rosenberg on “The Russian Jewish Revolution” (1919), “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Jewish World Policy,” an extract from a 1923 book on The Protocols; and “The Folkish Idea of State,” an extract from a 1924 book by Rosenberg.
From a historical perspective The Track of the Jews shows the sources from which Rosenberg derived his ideological anti-Semitism: his encounter with Jewish Bolsheviks in Russia. Dr. Jacob states that Rosenberg was already in Germany in 1918 and had joined the German Workers Party in 1919, several months prior to Hitler.
At 26, Rosenberg’s mentor in Germany was the well-known dramatist Dietrich Eckart, who was also to mentor Hitler. Rosenberg’s first work as a writer and editor was for Eckart’s periodical, Auf gut Deutsch, then for the NSDAP newspaper Münchener Beobachter, purchased by the party from the Thule Society in 1920. After Eckart’s death in 1923, Rosenberg assumed an editorial role (Jacob, p. i.).
In 1933, Rosenberg became head of the foreign political department of the party and in 1934 headed philosophical education within the NSDAP. In 1941, with the invasion of the USSR, he was appointed Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories. (Jacob, p. ii.), and was to take fatal responsibility — at Nuremberg — for the half-witted Slavophobic policy of the Third Reich in the Eastern Territories, despite his resistance to it.
Despite the ministerial appointments and party roles, Rosenberg, I think it fair to say, was one of those sincere idealists, like the economist Gottfried Feder and the agricultural minister Walther Darré, who was sidelined in favour of careerists, opportunists, and functionaries. However, like Julius Streicher, who welded little or no influence under the Third Reich, Rosenberg’s reputation as the NSDAP philosopher alone would have assured his lynching at Purim 1946 (as Streicher described it). His own disillusionment with the way National Socialism was applied under the Third Reich, with the ascendancy of opportunists, is recounted in his memoirs.
What, however, of the content of The Track of the Jew? At first glance one might get the impression that it is standard anti-Semitic fare and has nothing to say other than what is repeated over the Internet a million times and often in maniacal ways. However, Rosenberg applies his scholarly discipline to present a volume that is thoroughly documented, not overstated, not fanatical in presentation, drawing mainly from Jewish sources. This is augmented by Dr. Jacob’s many footnotes, accompanying those of Rosenberg, that explain the significance of each personality.
Rosenberg states that Jews are a race, and he concedes no positive traits them. He establishes a dichotomy between the Germanic and the Semitic that is metaphysical and biological. The Jews are Semites, and their religious fanaticism and intolerance is a reflection of the Semitic race, which includes the Arabs and Islam.
Much of the volume is devoted to a study of the Jewish religion, especially the Talmud. Rosenberg frequently reminds his readers that the Jew is not the product of the Talmud, but vice-versa. The Talmud is examined under the heading “The Jewish Mind.” Rosenberg carefully documents a bizarre penchant for hair-splitting over doctrinal details, which brings to mind Marxist doctrinal interpretation. In the past, such discussions were indignantly denounced as “anti-Semitic lies” about Judaism. Now we have books by heretical Jews such as Dr. Israel Shahak (Jewish History, Jewish Religion, and Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel) and Evelyn Kaye (The Hole in the Sheet) that confirm these claims.
Of particular interest are the details on usury. Jews were not only welcomed into states throughout history but were accorded privileges under law far above those of Christian subjects. Jews were granted the rights to be judged under their own laws by their own authorities, even to the point of exempting them from Christian judgements and testimony. According to Rosenberg, usury, privileges, the crass display of wealth, and undisguised hatred of Christ were the causes of anti-Semitism. These contentions broadly align with what the Jewish writer Bernard Lazare stated a few decades earlier his book Antisemitism.
One learns, for example, that Jews were originally permitted membership in the craft guilds, and much effort was made by Christian rulers to assist the Jews into taking up crafts and agriculture, with little success. Eventually they even started giving up haggling in the markets and focused on usury. The many laws that were passed against this parasitism were of little avail, and the princes and bishops found themselves in hock to Jewish money-lenders, who were so arrogant as to enter churches during communion to collect their interest.
In France under Louis IX, interest rates were set, for example, at 40%. However, such laws were circumvented. (Rosenberg, p. 78). Under Charles VII (1388) they had been permitted to take 80% at compound interest. “And when a loud murmuring went through the people, the king passed an edict according to which the Jews were protected from all complaints for ten years” (Rosenberg, p. 80). In 1394 an incident, which Rosenberg states was of itself unimportant, sparked a reaction against Jewish usury, and they were driven out of France (Rosenberg, p. 81).
The revelations regarding the character of the Talmud were primarily from Jewish converts to Christianity. However, Rosenberg states that even here the intolerance of the Jewish character was merely grafted onto the Church, and the most fanatical Inquisitors were Jewish converts. This reflects Rosenberg’s sympathy for heretical Christian sects, discussed in more detail in Dr. Whisker’s Philosophy of Alfred Rosenberg, and his anti-Catholicism, despite the Church being the primary — albeit often insufficient — bastion against Judaization.
However, Rosenberg alludes in the Track of the Jew to the thoroughly non-Jewish person and doctrine of Christ, and the demand that the New Testament must be divorced from the Old. He documents the Talmudic teachings that Christ was the son of a whore who is in hell stuck in excrement, and so forth. If read elsewhere, one would assume them to be the rantings of a Satanist. Again, there is no serious doubt as to the authenticity of these teachings among Orthodox Jewry.
Rosenberg devotes a great deal of attention to Freemasonry. The cosmopolitan doctrines of Masonry were inherently at odds with National Socialism or any doctrine that upholds national values. It was the largely Masonic revolution in France that opened the doors to Jews that had been closed since their excesses in Medieval times. Jews entered Masonry like they were soon to enter the socialist movements. Whether Masonry is nothing more than a Jewish tool is another matter. However, Masonic doctrines were certainly well-adapted to subverting traditional societies in favor of the new dispensation under which live today, and Jews used Masonry to great advantage. Masonry and the revolutionary movement converged in the French Revolution, then in the Young Europe movement of Mazzini et al. (Rosenberg, p. 112). (A more specific account of Masonry’s role in Marxism, including Marx’s own Masonic affiliations, is a matter documented by this reviewer in a forthcoming Arktos book.)
Rosenberg’s account of Adolph Cremieux’s Alliance Universlle Israélite as an example of Jewish philanthropy as a political force (p. 116) would have benefitted from a discussion of The Protocols of Zion, which is not mentioned at all in The Track of the Jews. Rosenberg would have known of The Protocols at this time, as they had been introduced to Germany by Russian émigrés in 1918. However, they were not published in a German edition until 1920. Rosenberg did devote a book to the subject in 1923. (To digress somewhat, despite the offhanded way by which The Protocols are dismissed as a “Czarist forgery,” under other circumstances an anonymous letter to the London Times would not be sufficient to “prove” anything. If The Protocols are similar to a satirical work by the French propagandist Joly, then perhaps this is because Joly was a protégée of Cremieux, who was not only head of the Alliance Universlle Israélite, but of Grand Orient Masonry and other Orders linked to Martinism and the Illuminati.)
Zionism is discussed only briefly by Rosenberg (pp. 128–35), as is the Bolshevik Revolution (pp. 135–44). Perhaps, however, like The Protocols of Zion, Rosenberg thought that extended discussions of such subjects were best left for other times and places. What is surprising is that Rosenberg grants nothing positive to Czarism, and feels that revolution against the Czar was justified, albeit a calamity because it had been taken over by Jewish interests. Jewry at the time had no greater enemies than the Church and the Czar, and the latter was — and continues to be — vilified by sources that, in the English-speaking world, began with Jacob Schiff funding of an American journalist, George Kennan, to do a popular hatchet job on Czarism.
Rosenberg concludes the volume with a philosophical or, better yet, a metaphysical discussion of the gulf between the Jewish and the German mentalities and how this manifests in culture. He focuses for this purpose on a critical evaluation of Heinrich Heine.
In conclusion Rosenberg makes some recommendations on how to deal with the “Jewish problem.”
Rosenberg urges attacking the economic roots of Jewish power: :
The goals are clear, now briefly the means: Economically the Jew has acquired power through interests, usury, money. Earlier, directly, now through banks and stock-exchanges. The breaking of the finance slavery, a means that has not succeeded for so long, is sounded today again as a battle cry. If this could be achieved even only partially the axe would have been laid to the life-tree of the Jew. (Rosenberg, pp. 188–89)
Rosenberg also recommends denying Jews citizenship and civil rights in their host countries. He insists, however, on a distinction between “human rights” and “civil rights.” Much of what he recommends involves the abrogation of the “civil rights” of the Jews in Germany, while insisting that their “human rights” — namely the right to life – should be maintained, should they choose to remain in a state where all influence will be denied to them.
For Rosenberg, the ultimate solution to the Jewish Question is Zionism: “Zionism must be actively supported” to transport “a certain number of German Jews” to Palestine (Rosenberg, p. 189). Whether Rosenberg supported a Jewish state within Palestine, a Jewish-dominated Palestine as per present day Israel, or some other arrangement, is not stated. Whatever the case, he shows little sympathy to the Jews’ fellow Semites. Thus on Rosenberg’s account, German Nazism had much in common Jewish Nazism (Zionism).
August 7, 2012
Shares in Standard Chartered tumbled as much as 20 per cent in morning trading after the New York State financial regulator accused the UK merchant bank of hiding $250bn of transactions with the Iranian government.
The New York state Department of Financial Service claimed on Monday that the bank had concealed about 60,000 transactions with Iranian clients from US regulators, violating sanctions against the Iranian government, and labelled the UK bank a “rogue institution”.
StanChart’s shares dived on fears that the bank could lose its clearing licence for US dollars, which could wipe 30-40 per cent off the group’s earnings, according to analysts at Sanford C Bernstein.
“If you lose your US dollar clearing permission, you cannot be a wholesale bank in Asia. If you lose that licence, you cannot be a trade bank,” said Chirantan Barua, an analyst at Sanford C Bernstein.
Other analysts thought it unlikely that StanChart would be stripped of its clearing licence. “It’s difficult to think that the bank could lose its licence, but you can’t rule it out,” said Chintan Joshi, at Nomura, which downgraded the bank from “buy” to “neutral” on Monday night.
StanChart, led by chief executive Peter Sands, issued a trenchant rebuttal to the US regulator, claiming that the DFS did not present “a full and accurate picture of the facts”.
The statement said: “As we have disclosed to the authorities, well over 99.9 per cent of the transactions relating to Iran complied with the U-turn regulations [which enable non-US countries to trade with Iran using dollars]. The total value of transactions which did not follow the U-turn was under $14m.”
The drop in its London share price accelerated losses on Standard Chartered’s dual listing in Hong Kong, with the group’s fall more than doubling after the London open.
A spokesman for the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, the Chinese territory’s banking regulator, said it was “reviewing the order concerning the Standard Chartered Bank issued by the New York State Department of Financial Services, to see if there are issues that have relevant implications for Hong Kong”.
The Financial Services Authority in London could not be reached for comment.
Shares in the group were down 16 per cent at £12.31 just before 9am.
By Duncan Robinson