Regulators in the US, UK and Switzerland are poised to hit banking giant UBS with a whopping $1.5 billion fine The latest episode in the Libor rate rigging scandal involves over 30 employees, and several traders have already been arrested (The Telegraph).
Libor is the benchmark reference rate used to calculate interest on trillions of dollars of loans and derivatives. It has been controlled by the British Bankers Association (BBA), and stands for London Interbank Borrowing Rate, the rate banks charge each other. Major London banks submit rate quotes for loans in various currencies and of various maturities; the BBA averages them and quotes the official Libor rate for that data pair. The latest scandal involves the yen-pound sterling rate. Users of Libor rates generally take a given Libor rate and add a credit spread to it to determine the all-in rate they charge a customer.
Why does this matter in an environment of record low interest rates? First, the gaming started when rates were considerably higher. Traders would fudge a rate to avoid damaging a trading position they owned. At other times, they would understate a quoted rate to mask credit problems at their bank and its actual costs of funding. Even in a low rate environment, the cumulative costs can be staggering. For example, if a bank fudged a Libor-USD rate and bumped the average from .50% to .55%, that would add five thousand dollars of interest annually to a ten million dollar loan. If it did the reverse, it would be victimizing its depositors and shareholders by a like amount. When one plays these calculation games with trillions of dollars of financial instruments, staggering distortions in the credit markets occur.
The financial markets do not need another scandal right now. They are already shaken by the real estate bubble of the last decade, the inventory of hugely troubled assets, insider trading scandals and now this. Financial markets require a baseline of trust and transparency to operate properly. The government cannot regulate everything, and its own credibility has been badly damaged by defacto imposition of price controls via extremely aggressive quantitative easing programs designed to artificially lower rates.
The whole mess reminds me of one of my favorite English sayings: “Too clever by half”. Indeed.
Graphic courtesy of moneysigns.net
From the Washington Post:
Hawaii Democratic Sen. Daniel Inouye has died at age 88, his office confirmed Monday night.
His last words, according to a statement released by his staff, were “Aloha”.
Inouye has been hospitalized since early December due to respiratory problems. His cause of death was “respiratory complications”.
Dec. 7, 2012: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a news conference at Stormont Castle in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (REUTERS)
The State Department has released additional details about the purported concussion sustained by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, saying the incident occurred early last week at her home.
The agency said doctors diagnosed the injury Thursday and repeated it was the result of Clinton becoming being sick and fainting.
The doctors did not determine the concussion to be “severe,” a State Department official said on the condition of anonymity.
Dr. Lisa Bardack of the Mt. Kisco Medical Group and Dr. Gigi El-Bayoumi of George Washington University said Saturday that Clinton was suffering from a stomach virus and fainted after becoming extremely dehydrated.
The 65-year-old Clinton is recovering at home and has been advised by her doctors to avoid strenuous activity and cancel all work events this week — including scheduled open testimony on Capitol Hill regarding the deadly terror attacks at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.
U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killing in the Sept. 11 attacks.
It’s time to address mental health and gun-free zones.
A few things you won’t hear about from the saturation coverage of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre:
Mass shootings are no more common than they have been in past decades, despite the impression given by the media.
In fact, the high point for mass killings in the U.S. was 1929, according to criminologist Grant Duwe of the Minnesota Department of Corrections.
Incidents of mass murder in the U.S. declined from 42 in the 1990s to 26 in the first decade of this century.
The chances of being killed in a mass shooting are about what they are for being struck by lightning.
Until the Newtown horror, the three worst K–12 school shootings ever had taken place in either Britain or Germany.
Almost all of the public-policy discussion about Newtown has focused on a debate over the need for more gun control. In reality, gun control in a country that already has 200 million privately owned firearms is likely to do little to keep weapons out of the hands of criminals. We would be better off debating two taboo subjects — the laws that make it difficult to control people with mental illness and the growing body of evidence that “gun-free” zones, which ban the carrying of firearms by law-abiding individuals, don’t work.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley will tap Rep. Tim Scott to replace outgoing GOP Sen. Jim DeMint, making Scott the first African-American senator from the South since Reconstruction.
The Associated Press has confirmed the Scott appointment, which will be formally announced by Haley at a news conference Monday at the Statehouse in South Carolina.
DeMint, an influential conservative and Tea Party favorite, will resign in January to become president of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank. His replacement will serve until a special election is held in 2014.
“This is historic for all of the South,” said David Woodard, a political scientist at Clemson University. Tim Scott is “conservative and he’s Republican. … What African Americans need are capitalism and conservative values, and Tim Scott is a great vehicle for that. He represents a generation that is interested in entrepreneurship, conservative principles and volunteerism.”
Good call Gov. Haley!
Many in the American Jewish community are aghast to discover that President Obama is planning to appoint former Senator Chuck Hagel to serve as Defense Secretary. If you want the skinny on how Hagel has come to be known as one of the few ferociously anti-Israel senators in the past generation, Carl from Jerusalem at Israel Matzav provides it.
Meantime, all I can say is I don’t understand how anyone can possibly be surprised. Shortly after word came out that Hagel is the frontrunner for the nomination, I read a quaint little blog post written by a conservative leaning commentator voicing her belief that Obama wouldn’t want to risk his relations with Israel’s supporters by appointing Hagel. But as Powerline pointed out today, this is the entire point of the nomination. Obama isn’t stupid. He picks fights he thinks he can win. He hasn’t always been right about those fights. He picked fights with Netanyahu thinking he could win, and he lost some of those.
But he is right to think he can win the Hagel fight. The Republican Senators aren’t going to get into a fight with Obama about his DOD appointee, especially given that it’s one of their fellow senators, even though many of them hate him. The Democrats are certainly not going to oppose him.
Obama wants to hurt Israel. He does not like Israel. He is appointing anti-Israel advisors and cabinet members not despite their anti-Israel positions, but because of them.
Some commentators said that Susan Rice would be bad because she was anti-Israel and they hoped that Obama would appoint someone pro-Israel. But John Kerry is no friend of Israel. And as far as I was concerned, we would have been better off with Rice on the job.
Unlike Kerry, Rice is politically inept. She walked into Sen. John McCain’s office with the intention of convincing Sens. McCain, Lindsey Graham and Oympia Snowe that she was competent to serve as Secretary of State despite the fact that she deliberately misled the public on what happened at the Sept. 11 jihadist attack on the US consulate in Benghazi.
But she failed. In commenting on the meeting, all three senators said they were more concerned after speaking with Rice than they were before they did. That is, they said she was a political incompetent. Can there be any doubt that Sen. Kerry will be able to play the politics of Capitol Hill far more effectively than Rice?
And what reason does anyone have to believe that Assad’s great defender will be any more supportive of Israel than Rice would have been? But with him in the driver’s seat now, instead of having a political incompetent whom no one can stand serving as the spokesman for Obama’s anti-Israel foreign policy, in Kerry we will have a competent, reasonably popular politician on the job.
It’s time for people to realize the game has changed. Obama won.
Obama won with 70 percent of the Jewish vote despite the fact that his record in his first term was more hostile to Israel than any president since Jimmy Carter. No one can expect him now, after his victory, to feel even slightly constrained in his desire to weaken the US relationship with Israel.
So far, he has made clear that he feels no constraints whatsoever. Take the Palestinians at the UN for example. Obama enabled the Palestinians to get their non-member state status at the UN by failing to threaten to cut off US funding to the UN in retaliation for such a vote.
Both Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush issued such threats during their tenures in office and so prevented the motion from coming to a vote. Given that the Palestinians have had an automatic majority in the General Assembly since at least 1975, the only reason their status was only upgraded in 2012 is because until then, either the PLO didn’t feel like raising the issue or the US threatened to cut off its financial support to the UN if such a motion passed. This year PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas said he wanted to have a vote and Obama responded by not issuing a threat to cut off UN funding. So the Palestinians got their vote and, as expected, it passed overwhelmingly.
Seeing the upgrade as a Palestinian move is a mistake. It was a joint Palestinian-American move.
And Obama made that move and no one balked. Indeed some New York Jews applauded it.
Let there be no doubt, Obama will get Hagel in at Defense. And Hagel will place Israel in his crosshairs.
The only way to foil Obama’s ill intentions towards Israel even slightly is to be better at politics than he is. And he’s awfully good.
Moreover, one of his strongest advantages is that Israel’s supporters seem to have never gotten the memo. So here it is: Obama wants to fundamentally transform the US relationship with Israel.
He isn’t playing by the old rules. He doesn’t care about the so-called Israel lobby or the Jewish vote. As he sees it, to paraphrase Jim Baker, “F#&k the Jews, they voted for us anyway.”
As strange as it may sound, I am slightly relieved by Hagel’s appointment, and by my trust that Kerry will be a loyal mouthpiece of Obama’s hostility. The more “in our faces” they are with their hostility, the smaller our ability to deny their hostility or pretend that we can continue to operate as if nothing has changed. As we face four more years of Obama – and four years of Obama unplugged — the most urgent order of business for Israelis is to stop deluding ourselves in thinking that under Obama the US can be trusted.
So welcome aboard Secretary Hagel. Bring it on.
Originally posted at CarolineGlick.com.
We are very excited to announce that FrackNation will premiere January 22, 2013 at 9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT on AXS TV!
The story was reported in Hollywood Reporter this morning.
This is an excellent opportunity to get the truth about fracking to homes across America.
Thank you for your patience and incredible support during the filmmaking process. We couldn’t have done it without you.
We hope you tune in and encourage your friends and family to do the same. Help us fight the misinformation and lies!
AXS TV is available in the U.S. via AT&T U-verse, Charter, Comcast/Xfinity, DIRECTV, DISH Network, Insight, Suddenlink, Verizon FiOS, and other TV providers.
Ann, Phelim and Magdalena
MSNBC HOST MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY WINS QUOTE OF THE YEAR
Bozell: “2012 was the end of the world – for serious journalism”
Alexandria, VA – The Media Research Center (MRC) is proud to announce the Best Notable Quotables of 2012: The 25th Annual Awards for the Year’s Worst Reporting with MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry taking home the “Quote of the Year” honor. This year’s winners were selected by a distinguished panel of radio talk show hosts, magazine editors, columnists, editorial writers, and expert media observers.
Although challenged by perennial favorite and eternal gasbag, Chris Matthews, Harris-Perry’s underdog victory should send a thrill up any media observer’s leg. Harris-Perry delivered her award-winning Notable Quotable on the July 1 edition of her eponymous MSNBC talk show when she wished America “happy birthday” the MSNBC way:
“The land on which they [the Founders] formed this Union was stolen. The hands with which they built this nation were enslaved. The women who birthed the citizens of the nation are second class….This is the imperfect fabric of our nation, at times we’ve torn and stained it, and at other moments, we mend and repair it. But it’s ours, all of it. The imperialism, the genocide, the slavery, also the liberation and the hope and the deeply American belief that our best days still lie ahead of us.”
There are two runners-up this year. First is Yahoo! News Washington bureau chief and former political director for ABC News David Chalian, whose racial open mic joke about the Romneys during ABCNews.com coverage of the RNC on August 28 earned him a pink slip along with consideration for this year’s top honor:
“They are happy to have a party with black people drowning.”
The other runner-up is Harris-Perry’s MSNBC cohort, Chris Matthews, who was much happier about Superstorm Sandy on November 7 than the residents of Staten Island:
“I am so proud of the country, to re-elect this President….A good day for America. I’m so glad we had that storm [Hurricane Sandy] last week, because I think the storm was one of those things — no, politically I should say, not in terms of hurting people — the storm brought in possibilities for good politics.”
MRC President Brent Bozell reacts to this year’s winners:
“Give the Mayans some credit. 2012 was the end of the world – for serious journalism. So many so-called news reporters eagerly sacrificed their integrity on the altar of Obama to keep their false god in power. Their contributions to his re-election campaign were truly remarkable, and will not soon be forgotten. It was a daunting task to pick which true believers to honor this year. So we say ‘bravo’ to you, the selfless journalists across America who joined arms, cast aside your ethics, and in lock step marched Barack Obama right back into the White House. It takes true commitment to overlook this Administration’s disastrous economy and crumbling foreign policy, but you found a way to put lipstick, eyeliner, and a prom dress on that pig. We congratulate your fierce determination to never let the truth stand in the way.”
The winners were selected by a panel of 46 judges, including nationally syndicated columnist Cal Thomas, RedState.com managing editor Erick Erickson, nationally syndicated talk radio host Lars Larson, Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby, radio personality Mike Rosen, and former nationally syndicated talk show host and author Neal Boortz.
Other highlights include:
The “Never Let a Crisis Go to Waste” Award for Exploiting Tragedy to Promote Liberalism
“There is a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado page on the Colorado Tea Party site as well, talking about him joining the Tea Party last year. Now, we don’t know if this is the same Jim Holmes. But it’s Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado.”
— ABC correspondent Brian Ross on Good Morning America, during July 20 coverage of the movie theater shooting. A few hours later, Ross appeared on ABC to confess: “An earlier report that I had was incorrect, that he was connected to the Tea Party.”
The Politics of Personal Destruction Award for Ripping Romney
“This man does not have a soul. If you opened up, you know, his chest, there’s probably a gold ticking watch in there and not even a heart. This is not a person. This is just a robot who will do whatever it takes, whatever he’s told to do, to make it to the White House.”
— New York Times columnist Charles Blow on MSNBC’s The Last Word, July 17.
The Throwing Granny off a Cliff Award for Portraying Romney and Ryan as Heartless
“Repeal equals death. People will die in the United States if ObamaCare is repealed. That is not an exaggeration…. They [the Obama Campaign] can bring death into the conversation and say, ‘No, we’re not calling Mitt Romney a murderer. What we are saying is that if he’s elected President, a lot of people will die.’”
— Ex-Newsweek senior editor Jonathan Alter, now an MSNBC political analyst, on The Ed Show, August 9.
The Barbra Streisand Political IQ Award for Celebrity Vapidity
“First of all, give an honor to God and our Lord and savior Barack Obama!”
— Actor Jamie Foxx during the Soul Train Awards, November 26 on BET.
Taxpayers Don’t Stand a Chance is an in-depth case study on the perennial election battleground State of Ohio, including a microanalysis of Ohio’s political landscape. It describes how Ohio went from being an economic and political leader to a national laggard. As shown by specific examples, Ohio’s fall occurred because the political system puts entrenched interests ahead of taxpayers, and politicians spend precious resources on the wrong issues or make things worse. With the news media’s failure to give equal coverage to conservative ideas and to expose government excesses, voters are unable to make informed decisions. The political and journalistic failures stop key economic reforms from being implemented, make it impossible for Ohioans to prevent higher taxes, and keep Ohio indentured to labor unions. These failures are not just occurring in Ohio but are happening in states and localities everywhere. In Taxpayers Don’t Stand a Chance, Matt Mayer lays out major reforms aimed at giving taxpayers everywhere a chance to fight back and win.
Matt A. Mayer is the President of Provisum Strategies which provides strategic and tactical political and policy advice to public and private-sector clients. He also serves as President of Opportunity Ohio, as a Visiting Fellow with The Heritage Foundation, and as a Research Fellow at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. He previously served as President of the Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions, Ohio’s top free market think tank.
The politically correct “blame America first” syndrome has reared its absurd head again—this time in a proposed Army manual for troops in Afghanistan (see Fox News story below, highlights added).
In effect, the manual is implying that the increase in Afghan soldier attacks on Americans is due to insensitivity to Afghan culture.
This latest politically correct outrage is so bad that Marine Gen. John Allen, the top military commander in Afghanistan, isn’t happy with it.
Good. A voice of reason.
Proposed Army manual tells G.I.s not to insult Taliban, speak up for women
Published December 12, 2012
A proposed new handbook for Americans serving in Afghanistan warns them not to speak ill about the Taliban, advocate women’s rights or criticize pedophilia, and the general in charge is not happy with it.
The draft of the newest Army handbook seems to suggest that ignorance of Afghan culture is to blame for deadly attacks by Afghan soldiers against the coalition forces, according to The Wall Street Journal, which got a peek at the 75-page document. But its message of walking on eggshells around the locals is not going over well with U.S. Marine Gen. John Allen, the top military commander in Afghanistan.
“Gen. Allen did not author, nor does he intend to provide, a foreword,” said Col. Tom Collins, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan. “He does not approve of its contents.”
More than three dozen attacks by Afghan soldiers have claimed the lives of some 63 members of the U.S.-led coalition this year. The insider attacks could jeopardize plans to transfer full security control to Afghan forces in 2014.
“He does not approve of its contents.” – Col. Tom Collins, a spokesman for U.S. Marine Gen. John Allen
But a claim by their own government that they’re to blame is not likely to buoy the spirits of Americans risking their lives to serve.
“Many of the confrontations occur because of [coalition] ignorance of, or lack of empathy for, Muslim and/or Afghan cultural norms, resulting in a violent reaction from the [Afghan security force] member,” the Journal quotes the draft handbook as saying.
The version reviewed by the Journal is still subject to revisions, Lt. Gen. David Perkins, commander of the Army’s Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., told the Journal.
The study, based on interviews with 600 members of the Afghan security forces and 200 American soldiers, painted a grim portrait of opposing cultures with simmering disdain for their counterparts.
The draft handbook includes a summary stating that some U.S. soldiers consider Afghan forces to be “basically stupid” thieves, “gutless in combat,” “profoundly dishonest” and engaged in “treasonous collusion and alliances with enemy forces.”
The draft handbook offers a list of “taboo conversation topics” that soldiers should avoid, including “making derogatory comments about the Taliban,” “advocating women’s rights,” “any criticism of pedophilia,” “directing any criticism toward Afghans,” “mentioning homosexuality and homosexual conduct” or “anything related to Islam,” according to the Journal.