If you still harbor a shred of doubt that your government and its institutions really care about Main Street America, this should put those doubts to rest once and for all. And make you mad as hell in the process.
In the Wall Street Journal, former Federal Reserve bond buyer Andrew Huszar wrote a piece I’m sure he hopes will clear his conscience, even though, despite his own initial apprehension, in 2009 he became part of the biggest ongoing swindle of the American taxpayer in the history of the country.
Forget ballooning welfare and food stamp fraud. Put aside your concerns about Obamacare and its rate hikes and fees for a moment. Those of you still paying income taxes, lay down your resentment for the time being.
Because according to insider Huszar, your federal government – at the behest and direction of your Congress and your president – has stolen $4 trillion from you and your children, and in the process has once again created a looming economic crisis that will devastate Mr. and Mrs. America, while enriching the fattest of the fat cats on Wall Street.
At this point I must say that I’m a free-marketeer through and through. But like many of you, I’m sick and tired of taking it up the shaft by elitist members of America’s newest criminal class: Crony capitalists.
Here’s how they did it this time.
In case you’re not aware, the Federal Reserve has been purchasing a record number of bonds – $85 billion a month – through a process called “quantitative easing.” When the program began following the passage of the Troubled Asset Relief Program in 2008, its goal was to stem the financial hemorrhaging of the nation’s largest banks, while creating cheap lending conditions for average Americans so We the People could reestablish purchasing power and shore up the badly damaged economy.
What quantitative easing has turned into, according to Huszar, is the financial crime of the century:
I can only say: I’m sorry, America. As a former Federal Reserve official, I was responsible for executing the centerpiece program of the Fed’s first plunge into the bond-buying experiment known as quantitative easing. The central bank continues to spin QE as a tool for helping Main Street. But I’ve come to recognize the program for what it really is: the greatest backdoor Wall Street bailout of all time.
Five years ago this month, on Black Friday, the Fed launched an unprecedented shopping spree. By that point in the financial crisis, Congress had already passed legislation, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, to halt the U.S. banking system’s free fall. Beyond Wall Street, though, the economic pain was still soaring. In the last three months of 2008 alone, almost two million Americans would lose their jobs.
The Fed said it wanted to help—through a new program of massive bond purchases. There were secondary goals, but Chairman Ben Bernanke made clear that the Fed’s central motivation was to “affect credit conditions for households and businesses”: to drive down the cost of credit so that more Americans hurting from the tanking economy could use it to weather the downturn. For this reason, he originally called the initiative “credit easing.”
Four trillion dollars later, however, this is what happened:
Where are we today? The Fed keeps buying roughly $85 billion in bonds a month, chronically delaying so much as a minor QE taper. Over five years, its bond purchases have come to more than $4 trillion. Amazingly, in a supposedly free-market nation, QE has become the largest financial-markets intervention by any government in world history.
And the impact? Even by the Fed’s sunniest calculations, aggressive QE over five years has generated only a few percentage points of U.S. growth. By contrast, experts outside the Fed, such as Mohammed El Erian at the Pimco investment firm, suggest that the Fed may have created and spent over $4 trillion for a total return of as little as 0.25% of GDP (i.e., a mere $40 billion bump in U.S. economic output). Both of those estimates indicate that QE isn’t really working.
Unless you’re Wall Street. Having racked up hundreds of billions of dollars in opaque Fed subsidies, U.S. banks have seen their collective stock price triple since March 2009. The biggest ones have only become more of a cartel: 0.2% of them now control more than 70% of the U.S. bank assets.
As for the rest of America, good luck. Because QE was relentlessly pumping money into the financial markets during the past five years, it killed the urgency for Washington to confront a real crisis: that of a structurally unsound U.S. economy. Yes, those financial markets have rallied spectacularly, breathing much-needed life back into 401(k)s, but for how long? Experts like Larry Fink at the BlackRock investment firm are suggesting that conditions are again “bubble-like.” Meanwhile, the country remains overly dependent on Wall Street to drive economic growth.
So in the end, TARP, the QE and the other measures taken by the government (think “Dodd-Frank” financial reform) and the Fed to ensure that “too big to fail” didn’t happen again – has not occurred.
All that has occurred is the preservation and enlargement of the same criminal banking cabal that has existed for a century, all at taxpayers’ expense. In other words, it is the same shit that former Congressman Ron Paul – you know, “that crazy guy from Texas” – warned about for years.
Perhaps now you know why scumbag posers like Barack Obama, Harry Reid, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the Big Government Establishment fight so hard against guys like Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Louie Gohmert. The same Establishment turds who just extracted $4 trillion from yours and your kids’ future are not about to voluntarily relinquish their control over your destiny.
I have no doubt that, were the founding fathers somehow reincarnated today, they would be leading a second American revolution.
Top 10 Travel Destinations to the Start the New Decade
For many, traveling offers an opportunity to disconnect from the everyday and experience new places and cultures. With the beginning of a new decade, it is the perfect time to start deciding your next travel adventures.
When booking your future destinations, consider these spots and tips recommended by travel expert and Bank of America ambassador, Lee Abbamonte, the youngest American to visit every country plus the North and South Poles.
From its deserts to tropical beaches, Australia is a beautiful country to explore. While many people might be familiar with the Sydney Opera House and the unique wildlife, there are many hidden gems in Australia.
“I’ve been to Australia 10 times and I still can’t get enough,” Abbamonte said. “One of my favorite cities is Melbourne. While it’s one of the largest cities in Australia, the heart of the city is hidden and secretive. It comes to life when you visit the alleys, laneways and arcades. The vibrant city has so much to offer: cafes, a unique street culture and street art.”
2. New Zealand
If you are going to New Zealand for the first time, Abbamonte recommends boogie boarding down the sand dunes, hiking up a volcano and visiting the Moeraki Boulders. However, if you are really interested in getting the blood pumping, take a leap from Nevis Bungy near Queenstown. It is among the highest bungy jumping experiences in the world, measuring 440 feet.
“Mexico City has two of my favorite things – great food and sports,” Abbamonte said. “The street tacos are to die for, and I love going to soccer games at Estadio Azteca.”
In 2020, there will be many festivals to explore. The city is a cultural hub with music, theater, dance and food events throughout the year. While experiencing the festivities, it is also an opportune time to take a step back and enjoy Chapultepec Park.
One of Abbamonte’s favorite waterfalls is Iguazu Falls located on the border of Brazil and Argentina. While Iguazu Falls might be well known, the falls themselves are truly unique. The waterfall system consists of 275 falls that stretch over approximately 1.68 miles. The Devil’s Throat is the tallest fall with a drop of more than 262 feet.
While traveling internationally can be fun and exhilarating, there are also places throughout the United States that offer memorable activities:
5. Scottsdale, Arizona
If you enjoy being outdoors, Scottsdale is an ideal place to visit. There are many trails to explore in Camelback Mountain, Papago Park and Hole in the Rock. After hiking, follow Abbamonte’s example and golf at The Short Course at Mountain Shadows.
“Scottsdale has some of the most beautiful sunsets in the States, and from The Short Course at Mountain Shadows, I get to enjoy the view while practicing my swing,” he said.
6. Boston, Massachusetts
“I love sports, so I visit Boston regularly for the professional games,” Abbamonte said. “I’m also fortunate that Boston is a beautiful city I can enjoy along the way.”
Boston is one of the oldest cities in the country. Founded in 1630, Boston is filled with history, museums and universities. If you are interested in a more unique attraction, check out the Warren Anatomical Museum, which is one of the last of its kind in the United States.
7. Portland, Oregon
What makes Portland unique are the bizarre and wonderful things you can do when you visit. For example, you can try bone marrow ice cream, stop by Mill Ends Park (the world’s smallest park) or attach your wish to The Wishing Tree.
“Portland is absolutely beautiful,” Abbamonte said. “It has a bit of everything – restaurants, bars, parks – and I enjoy the people watching. Portland has some of the nicest people while maintaining an edgy vibe.”
8. Tampa, Florida
Tampa might be known for its spring break party scene, but it has so much more to offer. For example, the city’s zoos and aquariums provide opportunities to interact directly with animals. Then you can take a break at Clearwater Beach, which is known for its soft, white sand and calm waters.
9. Santa Barbara, California
“I go to Santa Barbara when I want to recharge,” Abbamonte said. “I enjoy the food, walking around, talking to the locals and even watching a football game or two.”
There are wine tours, zoos, beaches, museums and restaurants. While taking in the city, also make time to visit the hidden gems such as Knapp’s Castle ruins.
10. England, Germany, Scotland, Azerbaijan and more
While technically more than one place, these locations have one thing in common: Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Euro 2020. The international soccer event marks the first time the games will be held across the continent in 12 host cities.
“The year is a big one for sports,” Abbamonte said. “From sporting events in Europe to Japan, it is a fun year for travel and to enjoy once-in-a-lifetime experiences.”
US Vows 100% Tariffs on French Champagne, Cheese, Handbags Over Digital tax
The US government on Monday said it may slap punitive duties of up to 100 percent on $2.4 billion in imports from France of Champagne, handbags, cheese and other products, after concluding that France’s new digital services tax would harm US tech companies.
The US Trade Representative’s office said its “Section 301” investigation found that the French tax was “inconsistent with prevailing principles of international tax policy, and is unusually burdensome for affected US companies,” including Alphabet Inc’s Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon.com.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the government was exploring whether to open similar investigations into the digital services taxes of Austria, Italy and Turkey.
“The USTR is focused on countering the growing protectionism of EU member states, which unfairly targets US companies,” Lighthizer said. His statement made no mention of proposed digital taxes in Canada or Britain.
The US trade agency said it would collect public comments through Jan. 14 on its proposed tariff list as well as the option of imposing fees or restrictions on French services, with a public hearing scheduled for January 7.
It did not specify an effective date for the proposed 100% duties.
CHAMPAGNE, ROUGE AND GRUYERE
The list targets some products that were spared from 25 percent tariffs imposed by the United States over disputed European Union aircraft subsidies, including sparkling wines, handbags and make-up preparations – products that would hit French luxury goods giant and cosmetics maker L’Oreal hard.
Gruyere cheese, also spared from the USTR aircraft tariffs levied in October, featured prominently in the list of French products targeted for 100 percent duties, along with numerous other cheeses.
The findings won favor from US lawmakers and US tech industry groups, who have long argued that the tax unfairly targets US firms.
“The French digital services tax is unreasonable, protectionist and discriminatory,” Senators Charles Grassley and Ron Wyden, the top Republican and Democrat, respectively, on the Senate Finance Committee, said in a joint statement.
Spokespeople for the French embassy and the European Union delegation in Washington could not immediately be reached for comment.
But prior to the release of the USTR’s report, a French official said that France would dispute the trade agency’s findings, repeating Paris’ contention that the digital tax is not aimed specifically at US technology companies.
“We will not give up on taxation” of digital firms, the official said.
France’s 3 percent levy applies to revenue from digital services earned by firms with more than €25 million ($27.86 million) in French revenue and €750 million (£644 million) worldwide.
The USTR’s report and proposed tariff list follow months of negotiations between French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin over a global overhaul of digital tax rules.
The two struck a compromise in August at a G7 summit in France that would refund US firms the difference between the French tax and a new mechanism being drawn up through the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
But Trump never formally endorsed that deal and declined to say whether his French tariff threat was off the table.
Andrew Yang Wants You to Make Money Off Your Data by Making it Your Personal Property
Andrew Yang, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, plans to regulate the tech industry by prioritizing in giving people the right to own their personal data (“data as a property right”), thus allowing them to make money by sharing it with companies. Currently, companies entirely own users’ data – users do not have much control over it.
Yang said, “our data is now worth more than oil” and gave emphasis to the great amount of data people create and how companies make money over it. “By implementing measures to increase transparency in the data collection and monetization process, individuals can begin to reclaim ownership of what’s theirs,” he said.
He also cited a report saying that the collection and use of Americans’ personal data has become a $198 billion industry. Yang believes that people should have more control over their data, such as being able to see how their data is being used and having the freedom to opt out if they choose.
Yang added that we need politicians “who understand technology and a modern way to regulate it,” as reported by Engadget. “In order to regulate technology effectively, our government needs to understand it. It’s embarrassing to see the ignorance some members of Congress display when talking about technology, and anyone who watched Congress question Mark Zuckerberg is well aware of this,” said Yang.
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