Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Tag Archives: Bankruptcy

Federal Insurance Agency Backing Union Pensions Facing Crisis Itself

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, March 2, 2017: 

Logo of the United States Pension Benefit Guar...

When Teamsters Local 707’s pension plan ran out of money in February, it sought assistance from the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. Said PBGC Director Tom Reeder:

This is a big issue for us. It’s a big issue for Local 707 and it’s a big issue for others in the same situation across the country.

 

We’re projected to run out of money in eight to 10 years. Many union pension plans are projected to run out in 20 years.

The federal insurance agency is now paying out $1.7 million every month to the stranded retirees of Local 707.

707’s problems have been decades in the making.

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Trump Names Jay Clayton, Quintessential Wall Street Lawyer and Goldman Sachs Advisor, to Head SEC

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, January 4, 2017:

English: Logo of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc....

In announcing Jay Clayton as his pick to run the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), President-elect Donald Trump issued a statement that was both laudatory and a thinly veiled warning to Clayton: “Jay Clayton is a highly talented expert on many aspects of financial and regulatory law, and he will ensure our financial institutions can thrive and create jobs while playing by the rules at the same time.”

And then, as if quoting from the job description Trump no doubt created as he was sorting through prospective picks for the position:

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Trump Names Carl Icahn Special Advisor on Deregulation

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, December 22, 2016:

President-elect Donald Trump has named a longtime close friend as his “special advisor” on deregulation: multi-billionaire activist Carl Icahn. In acknowledging the honor, Icahn stated, “It’s time to break free of excessive regulation (see above) and let our entrepreneurs do what they do best: create jobs and support communities.”

Icahn started as a stock trader and then moved into a position where he could

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Will Mick Mulvaney Pull Trump’s Financial Fat Out of the Fire?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, December 19, 2016:  

English: Official portrait of US Rep. Mick Mul...

Michael “Mick” Mulvaney (shown) rode the Tea Party wave in 2010 into Congress, replacing a 14-term Democrat from South Carolina’s 5th District. He has been handily reelected ever since. He took his oath of office seriously, saying in 2010 that “If political reporters want to know what drives the Tea Partiers, it is their belief in the Constitution. That’s what has always driven me in politics and will guide me in Congress.”

He remained as true to his word as any of those riding the same wave,

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Boomers Are Retiring, Draining Pension Plans

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, December 12, 2016:

Roosevelt Signs The : President Roosevelt sign...

President Roosevelt signs Social Security Act, at approximately 3:30 pm EST on 14 August 1935.

In a moment of surprising candor, Danielle DiMartino Booth, a former advisor to the Federal Reserve, said in a Real Vision TV interview on Saturday that “the Baby Boomers are no longer an actuarial theory. They’re a reality. The checks [from their retirement plans] are being written.”

For years commentators have repeatedly asserted that “when” the Baby Boomers (that generation born between 1946 and 1964) start to retire, they will start using up funds set aside in pension plans, putting those plans into crisis. According to Booth, that day has arrived.

She pointed to the crisis in Dallas that threatens to put the city into bankruptcy, and the report from Calpers (the California Public Employees Retirement System),

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UPDATE: Dallas Pension Plan Stops Early Withdrawals

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, December 9, 2016:

English: Flag of Dallas, Texas Esperanto: Flag...

On November 21, The New American published an article entitled “Dallas to Declare Bankruptcy?” suggesting that the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System was in such poor shape that Dallas was looking more and more like Detroit.

It was pointed out that Moody’s declared that Dallas has higher unfunded pension liabilities, relative to its balance sheet, than any major American city except Detroit. The article noted that the plans’ present troubles dated back to a 1993 decision to offer a “retention perk” to keep officers considering retirement to stay on for a few more years.

That “perk,” referred to as DROP  — Deferred Retirement Option Plan — allowed those agreeing to stay on to

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Chicago Dreaming

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, December 5, 2016:  

Chicago Public School Officials were so sure that they would get another bailout from the state that they actually put it into next years budget. The city is behind on making a $730 million pension payment due its teachers pension plan, and the $215 million they were expecting from the state would allow them to make it.

The bill that passed the state senate unanimously and the house overwhelmingly was headed for Governor Bruce Rauners desk for signing until Rauner (pictured) learned that the Democratic leadership had no intention of keeping their promise to institute significant pension reform in order to get the bailout.

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Dallas to Declare Bankruptcy?

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, November 21, 2016:  

The New York Times just reported that the Dallas police and firefighters pension plan is $7 billion short of meeting its obligations and needs an immediate bailout of $1 billion just to stay afloat. The problem is that Dallas’ annual budget is $3 billion.

Three years ago Dallas wasn’t on anyone’s “watch” list.

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What Does “Collapse” Look Like? See Venezuela.

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, October 19, 2016:

State flag of Venezuela.

State flag of Venezuela.

The term “economic collapse” has been bandied about for so long by so many that the phrase has largely lost its meaning. Michael Snyder has been able to make a living from his blog, “The Economic Collapse,” and there’s even a feeble attempt to define the term by contributors to Wikipedia:

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Frederic Bastiat Wouldn’t Approve of Social Security

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, October 12, 2016:  

Frédéric Bastiat

Frédéric Bastiat

Frederic Bastiat was a “classical liberal” who lived briefly in the first half of the 19th century in France. But his legacy, including his development of the fallacy of the broken window through his Parable of the Broken Window continues to resonate today. He is perhaps best known for his definition of “legal plunder”:

But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.

When it was enforced at the point of a pistol by a government bureaucrat, Bastiat opposed it:

I do not dispute [politicians’] right to invent social combinations, to advertise them, to advocate them, and to try them upon themselves, at their own expense and risk. But I do dispute their right to impose these plans upon us by law – by force – and to compel us to pay for them with our taxes.

There’s little doubt, then, that Bastiat would support the philosophy of The Bastiat Society, founded a dozen years ago:

Capitalism is the only economic system to produce widespread peace and prosperity. But if those in the private sector do not understand the intellectual and cultural institutions that make entrepreneurship and peaceful trade possible, what chance do they have to withstand a steady series of attacks from those who desire to bring capitalism and personal freedom to an end?

One of the battles that freedom lost was Social Security. Enacted as part of FDR’s Great Society, it remains a fixture that appears to be immovable. Today the only conversation heard is how to keep it from going bankrupt.

All manner of “fixes” are proposed. Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform came up with ten fixes while The Motley Fool proposed 15:

  1. Cut benefits across the board right now;
  2. Change the COLA;
  3. Raise the earnings cap;
  4. Allow beneficiaries to invest in the stock market;
  5. Do nothing and cut benefits when the [trust fund] is depleted;
  6. Do nothing and enact payroll tax hikes when the [trust fund] is depleted;
  7. Offer a buyout [to the wealthy, removing them from the program];
  8. Link life expectancies to benefit levels;
  9. Means-test [to qualify] for benefits;
  10. Raise the full retirement age;
  11. Use the Estate Tax to cover Social Security [shortfalls];
  12. Freeze the purchasing power of benefits [i.e., eliminate COLA altogether];
  13. Freeze the … benefits on a sliding scale;
  14. Transfer [some] costs to [the] government [now]; and/or
  15. Increase the payroll tax on everyone right now.

Social Security has the peculiar characteristics similar to Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme: eventually it is exposed and it ends in bankruptcy. The difference is that Social Security is enforced by people with guns and badges: everyone must be covered and forced to support everyone else, or else.

No one questions the math: the program’s “trust fund” is slowly being liquidated to cover the annual shortfalls between revenues and benefits. Thanks to the Baby Boomers, the liquidation is increasing more rapidly: those Boomers have developed the nasty habit of living longer, far beyond the original mortality tables predicted back in the mid-1930s. There’s also the declining birth rate, which is reducing the number of new entrants into the system whose taxes are needed to support it.

It’s the ideology: freedom versus force. So-called conservatives want to fix it, as do liberals. Conservatives, when pressed, question the intergenerational conflict that requires young people to contribute to a plan paying benefits to seniors. They question the use of resources: tax and spend now, or save and invest for later. Conservatives even argue over who should control the money. They never question its morality.

Liberals think it’s a proper function of government, going along with the Supreme Court’s decision in Helvering v. Davis that the program is constitutional, the Tenth Amendment notwithstanding.

As economist Herb Stein noted: “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.” With Social Security it will continue as long as it can be patched up with temporary fixes. Eventually the mathematics and the bond market will end it.

Former Goldman Sachs Head Avoids Trial, Gets Slap on the Wrist Instead

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, October 7, 2016: 

Then Senator Jon Corzine (D-NJ)

Jon Corzine

Five years ago this summer, former New Jersey Governer Jon Corzine’s high-risk futures and options trading company, MF Global, began having liquidity problems, thanks to risky trades that he had made with company money. When those trades began going sour the firm’s lenders starting issuing margin calls. When he couldn’t meet them, instead of admitting he’d erred by liquidating the failed trades and taking his losses, he simply called up the company’s treasurer and ordered her to raid customers’ accounts to meet the demands.

It’s one thing to risk one’s own money. It’s another thing entirely to push that risk onto unsuspecting and uninformed customers. Even worse, it’s wrong to lie that he never intended to do it.

Now Corzine will pay a small fine and move on.

The details of the final days of MF Global were spelled out by the New York Times last Thursday:

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With Brazil’s Primary Cancer Excised, Can the Country heal?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, September 16, 2016:  

Português: Logomarca da Petrobras.

If one assumes that collectivism in any form is like a cancer (eating away its host’s vital organs until the host dies), then Cancer Treatment Centers of America’s strategy is apropos to Brazil:

At CTCA our cancer experts use state-of-the-art technologies to treat cancer … we help you maintain the strength and stamina to continue treatment and get back to life.

Deltan Dallagriol used state-of-the-art technology to treat the Lula cancer that has been infecting Brazil for decades: he created a flowchart of all the criminals tied into the Petrobras scandal showing Lula at the center, and then presented it on public television on Wednesday. Said Dallagriol:

Lula was the commander of the scheme. Lula was the conductor of this big orchestra formed to loot the resources of Petrobras and other public organs. Lula was the common and necessary link between [his] party and the government scheme….

 

Lula was the big boss of the Petrobras corruption scheme. Lula was on top of the power pyramid. Lula appointed several senior executives at Petrobras so that they could raise funds for political parties in the governing coalition….

 

Without Lula’s decision power, it would be impossible for this scheme to exist.

Lula hasn’t been arrested yet, but for all intents and purposes the magic is gone. The emperor has been exposed and is naked, and any chance for a comeback in the 2018 elections by Brazil’s former president has evaporated.

Aside from the inherent corruption attendant to any form of government, especially unlimited government, the temptation to tap into Petrobras was simply overwhelming. The numbers were too large, and access to them was too easy, for Lula not to take advantage.

Petrobras first announced huge oil finds in 2006 and then again in 2011, which would require massive billions to develop. Petrobras itself set aside $150 billion to start the development. Contracts were to be let. Opportunities for fraud were ubiquitous.

By setting up operatives inside Petrobras, Lula arranged to funnel hundreds of millions from overpriced contracts arranged by company executives with equally hungry developers into Lula’s Workers Party. Part of the scam was uncovered when it was learned that Lula was paying $12,000 a month to politicians in exchange for their votes. The Mensalao scandal nearly ended Lula’s administration.

Examples abound. One will suffice: OAS. OAS is (or was) a gigantic construction company employing 100,000 people at its peak. It enjoyed special treatment from Lula and in appreciation it purchased and renovated a private residence for Lula and his wife, Marisa, to enjoy on holiday.

Today OAS is a shell of its former self. Once the deal was exposed, the company’s funding sources dried up. It was forced to declare bankruptcy for nine of its units, suspend dividends, and sell off valuable properties.

Of course, Lula declares himself to be innocent. After all, he didn’t own the property!

“Operation Car Wash” exposed the pay-to-play scheme: funds from overpriced contracts were funneled through Petrobras employees to corporate executives and politicians, with the bulk of the funds going to support Lula’s communist Workers Party. The funds were so large that recipients couldn’t hide them in local banks without being detected so they tried to launder money through the accounts of an electronic components manufacturer. When the owner uncovered the scheme, he called the police in 2008. Through plea bargains with those charged, the whole plan slowly began to be revealed. Initially, four large criminal rings were uncovered, but the total soon expanded. Some of the funds were moved offshore through a bank transfer agency located in a building operated by a car wash company, hence the name “Operation Car Wash.”

It was just a matter of time before the entire scheme was exposed. Hundreds of warrants were issued and dozens were jailed, including top executives of some of Brazil’s largest construction companies.

Lula is going to have his hands full. Not only is he facing these charges, he was just indicted by a court in Brasilia for obstruction of justice stemming from his involvement in trying to silence a Petrobras executive from testifying against him in the Petrobras scandal. Other charges are still to come, according to Marcos Troyjo, a former Brazilian diplomat. Said Troyjo:

That means [that] the Workers Party, which may have thought it would move comfortably into the opposition after Dilma [Rousseff’s] impeachment, will confront extreme challenges.

 

It’s certainly the beginning of the end to Lula’s presidential aspirations for 2018.

Back to CTCA: once the Lula cancer is excised, is the patient strong enough and healthy enough to recover? Is the patient, like a young man – sturdy, strong, resilient, going to be able to recover following an extended period of rehab? Or is Brazil more like an older person – already weakened through years of abuse and neglect – whose chances of recovery are marginal, and the reappearance of cancer more likely in just a few years?

With Lula gone, will Brazil recover? Or will another cancer, perhaps even more vicious than the one just removed, invade the weakened patient?


Sources:

Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Reuters: Brazil’s Lula charged as ‘top boss’ of Petrobras graft scheme

BBC:   Brazil ex-president Lula and wife face charges in corruption scandal

Bio of Lula

The Wall Street Journal: Brazil Prosecutors File Charges Against Ex-President da Silva and His Wife

Washington Post: Former Brazilian president Lula charged in massive corruption scandal

Zacks: Petrobras and Oil Discoveries

Forbes: Brazil’s Petrobras Says Its Discoveries Developing Faster Than Gulf Of Mexico

History of Operation Car Wash

The Wall Street Journal: OAS files for bankruptcy

The Mensalao Scandal

Brazil’s Former President Charged in Petrobras Scandal

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, September 15, 2016:  

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, 35th President of t...

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva – Lula

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, popularly known simply as Lula, was formally and publicly charged by federal prosecutor Deltan Dallagriol with heading up a massive money-laundering and political-kickback scheme dating back to at least 2005. Lula and his wife, Marisa Leticia, were charged in a public presentation Wednesday carried live on Brazil’s main news stations, with flow charts showing the network of politicians, corporate executives, and Petrobras employees being linked directly or indirectly to Lula.

Said Dallagriol:

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The Global Recession Claims its First Victim: Hanjin Shipping

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, September 9, 2016:  

English: Hanjin container ship

One of Hanjin’s container ships looking for a place to unload.

When the question about a tree falling in the forest is asked, it’s usually posed as a philosophical one: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” The question is never asked: “What if someone is around who doesn’t want to hear it?”

That appears to explain the kept media’s deafness over the state of the global economy. Even when the Wall Street Journal reported on the bankruptcy of Hanjin Shipping, the world’s seventh largest container shipping company, not one word was spent on asking why. Instead

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Hanjin Bankruptcy: a Harbinger for the Global Economy?

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, September 8, 2016:  

English: A Delmas operated Container ship NICO...

South Korea’s Hanjin Shipping was the world’s seventh-largest container shipping company, moving (until last week) 100 million tons of cargo on its 200 cargo ships from manufacturers to retailers across the globe. Last week, following years of losses as the global economy has slowed, Hanjin declared bankruptcy. That move stranded 90 of those ships as off-loading companies refused to unload them over concerns that they wouldn’t be paid.

Even an offer of $90 million from what’s left of Hanjin (including $36 million from the personal assets of its chairman) fell far short of the necessary $543 million estimated to unload all of its ships that are now circling ports around the world.

Concerns are mounting that

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The Coming Puerto Rican Bailout

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, August 29, 2016:  

On or before September 1, President Obama will complete the eight appointments to the oversight board created when he signed PROMESA (Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act) into law on June 30. Those already on the board include Republican Senators Orrin Hatch and Marco Rubio, Democrat Senator Bill Nelson and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez.

In theory the board will have the power to override the island’s government, delay litigation, fire government workers, and “suggest” other ways the island can begin to recover from its present economic implosion. It has been described as a “de facto” Chapter 9 bankruptcy. In practice it is likely that,

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Vulture Funds Expecting to Profit Handsomely from Puerto Rico’s Problems

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, August 29, 2016:  

English: Map of Peuto Rico, with inset showing...

Map of Peuto Rico, with inset showing it’s position in relation to American continents.

George W. Plunkitt was not the world’s first dishonest politician, but he might have been one of the first ones to be honest about his dishonesty. Plunkitt was a Tammany Hall pol who served in the New York State Assembly and then in the New York State Senate around the turn of the 20th century. He called what he did – and what made him wealthy – “honest graft.” He defined “dishonest graft” as efforts to work solely for his own interests. “Honest graft,” on the other hand, was graft that worked for the interests of his own party.

He made his money by

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Comeuppance in the Oil Patch

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, August 3, 2016:  

Looking down from Heaven, George Mitchell must be pleased with what’s going on below: oil inventories are growing to the point where offshore tankers and railroad tank cars are having to be used for storage, oil and gas prices are dropping along with the costs of all the other 6,000 consumer products made from petroleum, rig counts are increasing, production costs are dropping, and, best of all, OPEC’s influence is waning daily.

The Economist called Mitchell the father of fracking in its eulogy following his death in July, 2013. They referred to him as

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U.S. Oil Shale Producers Putting OPEC Into Financial Bind

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, August 2, 2016:  

This wasn’t supposed to happen. When OPEC decided in November 2014 to keep producing crude oil at or near maximum rates, it was following an unspoken strategy to force the U.S. oil shale industry to back off. That would allow prices to rise back to levels needed to fund the cartel’s military adventures and their welfare states.

Marginal producers in the United States did declare bankruptcy, while other producers stacked most of their oil rigs, cutting daily production in the country from 9.7 million barrels per day (mpd) to 8.5 mpd. This caused crude oil prices to rise from the low 30s to the mid 50s.

But then oil prices levelled off and began to decline,

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Undercover Video Confirms Hillary’s Strategy to Ban All Firearms

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, July 26, 2016:  

Rules for Radicals

The first 57 seconds of James O’Keefe’s latest undercover video interview, of a Clinton delegate from California, confirms what many have long suspected: Hillary Clinton’s real goal of complete and total confiscation of all firearms from every American citizen is being hidden behind benign and persuasive phrases such as “common sense gun control” and “protect our families,” etc.

It also reveals what happens when the “useful idiot” in the video learns that she has been exposed for what she is: a mouthpiece for the movement to disarm America and ultimately turn it into a totalitarian state.

Most importantly it reveals

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Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.