Thursday, November 10, 2011

Rant for the Revolution T-Shirt (End The Fed Edition)

Thanks goes to Stan at for the below graphic. Just got myself a new T-Shirt with this that I'll be sporting at the gym. If you want you can order a T-Shirt or Sweatshirt with this on Zazzle steal the image and go somewhere to save a few bucks. If you choose to order it through me anyway, thanks!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Who is Best at Winning Business With Bribes?

Below is an interesting graph of the results from the latest Transparency International survey dubbed the "2011 Bribe Payers Index" . Higher scores means there is a lower perception of bribery by companies from those countries. Therefore, companies from the Netherlands are considered the least shady and companies from Russia are considered the most shady of the 28 countries involved in the survey. However, the report notes the obvious "The index shows that there is no country among the 28 major economies whose companies are perceived to be wholly clean and that do not engage in bribery."

A little background on the survey
"Transparency International’s 2011 Bribe Payers Survey asked more than 3,000 business executives worldwide about their views on the extent to which companies from 28 of the world’s leading economies engage in bribery when doing business abroad (Appendix A). The score for each country is based on the views of the business executives who had come into contact with companies from that country."
The survey then breaks it down by industry.....again the lower the score the higher the perception of bribery.

The survey clearly shows it is well known among business executives that "Public works contracts and construction" is where the most bribing is taking place by a significant margin. Although, I find it interesting that "banking and finance" is ranked where it is. However, I suppose this is a survey about the illegal activity of bribing vs the legalized shady practices of the Federal Reserve system, which in conjunction with the Primary Dealers, engages in what amounts to robbery from savers and tax payers I guess in that way it makes sense!

An interesting tidbit from the survey points out that prior to May 2011 it was not even a criminal offense for Chinese companies to bribe foreign government officials (not that it means it will actually be enforced). Besides, even when it is considered illegal, many companies just consider the resulting slap on the wrist the cost of doing business. We can be sure the recent AstraZeneca case is just business as usual.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party should focus on their core ideas not their ideologies

It annoys me to no end to continuously read about how Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party have completely opposing views. As the The Atlantic puts it
"Thanks to Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party, America now has two national protest movements at opposite ends of the ideological spectrum, exemplifying our frenetic political culture. At last, there are diametric outlets for all the angst."
 There have been attempts to talk about their similarities.....such as the below chart from LA Weekly

However, that focuses more on the similarities of the participants than their ideas. 

Then we have this from Slate which says "The Venn diagram below plots the concerns, allies, heroes, and inspirations of the two movements."

Again that was trying to visualize more then just their ideas but it begins to get closer to the main hot button issues which fueled the rise of both movements.

Then there is this venn diagram from James Sinclair and made a little more attractive to the eyes by Ty Mortensen. This hits a lot more on the key issue.

However, I think the reality goes a step further then just this. Corporations have done more then just 'lobby' the government. Corporations have infiltrated the government! This was touched on in a 2009 article "The Quiet Coup" by The Atlantic (Read it if you didn't when it came out, it's just as relevant today, if not more). As it says in the article
"The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government"
Putting aside the irony of someone formerly from the IMF talking about corruption (a rant for another day), it goes on to point out a few of the connections at the time (a web that has only grown since).
"One channel of influence was, of course, the flow of individuals between Wall Street and Washington. Robert Rubin, once the co-chairman of Goldman Sachs, served in Washington as Treasury secretary under Clinton, and later became chairman of Citigroup’s executive committee. Henry Paulson, CEO of Goldman Sachs during the long boom, became Treasury secretary under George W.Bush. John Snow, Paulson’s predecessor, left to become chairman of Cerberus Capital Management, a large private-equity firm that also counts Dan Quayle among its executives. Alan Greenspan, after leaving the Federal Reserve, became a consultant to Pimco, perhaps the biggest player in international bond markets.
These personal connections were multiplied many times over at the lower levels of the past three presidential administrations, strengthening the ties between Washington and Wall Street. It has become something of a tradition for Goldman Sachs employees to go into public service after they leave the firm. The flow of Goldman alumni—including Jon Corzine, now the governor of New Jersey, along with Rubin and Paulson—not only placed people with Wall Street’s worldview in the halls of power; it also helped create an image of Goldman (inside the Beltway, at least) as an institution that was itself almost a form of public service."
We all know where Jon Corzine went after being governor...ya corrupt and now defunct MF global. As Dealbook points out about the MF global investigation.
"In a more surprising development, Gary Gensler, head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, will no longer participate in the investigation due to his long acquaintance with Mr. Corzine"
Take a wild guess where they knew each other from?
"Mr. Gensler had worked for Mr. Corzine while both were at Goldman Sachs in the 1990s." 
Ya, that was a little too easy. However, my point is not to discuss in detail the depth of corporations infiltration of our government and our regulatory agencies. My point is that the corruption and blurring of the lines between corporations and government is at the heart of both OWS and the Tea Party movements.

By focusing on their CORE IDEAS the movements together have hope of getting something accomplished. Otherwise it seems their messages will get watered down, twisted by the media, and turned into nothing but expressions of the ideologies of the "left" and "right"....something both movements were expressly against.

Both movements from the very start focused on the Federal Reserve. Why not start there? End the Fed.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Rant for a Revolution

I have meant to start this blog for awhile. In fact, I registered the domain in December of last year (and that was after much procrastination!). I must admit the Occupy Wall St. protests have made the Wall Street Rant name appear to have a very strong association with it. While I can't say I have participated in any of the protests, I do support many of their ideas.

I didn't start this blog for so long because I was somewhat obsessed with laying out my core criticisms from the start about the financial industry, the political system, the media and people in general.........then I realized that is the purpose of a book not a blog. So I have decided to stop over-thinking and just do. Besides, I'll be lucky if anyone is reading my posts anyway.

The enthusiasm behind the Occupy Wall St. movement helped push me to finally start this blog. Like many people, camping out to support the cause is not an option. However, real movements are more then just protests on the street. Movements that lead to revolutions are about changing the way people think. It's not just about bombarding the streets with people, it's about bombarding people with facts where ever they are. Hopefully I can do my part on this blog, through the discussion of individual ideas instead of ideologies. I will always be hesitant to associate myself with a specific movement, because movements can be hijacked. Therefore, I will always choose to put my support behind ideas instead of labels.

If you have found my blog, I encourage you to subscribe via RSS or e-mail (links always on the right side) to hear my future rants. I encourage all comments, so feel free to rant back.