Angry Danes Refuse To Sell 19% Of Their DONG To Goldman Sachs

With the (emerging) world suddenly collapsing, appropriately enough on the Chairsatan’s last FOMC conference, here is an amusing update from Denmark where apparently the locals are less than excited about giving away their DONG (that would be Danish Oil & Natural Gas for the perverts) to Goldman Sachs. Specifically, over the past several days, a whopping 186,000 Danes have signed a petition to stop the sale of a 19% stake with extraordinary minority stakeholder rights in DONG to Goldman Sachs. Then again, every DONG has its price…

Some background on the reasons why from the Copenhagen Post:

Resistance to the planned sale of 19 percent of the state-owned energy company DONG to US investment bank Goldman Sachs has exploded over the past few days.

 

An online petition against the sale has reached nearly 150,000 signatures, becoming the most popular petition ever on the website skrivunder.net. There has been more than a doubling of signatures since Saturday, when the number sat at around 68,000.

 

The petition, ‘Nej tak til statens salg af DONG til Goldman Sachs’ (no thanks to the state’s sale of DONG to Goldman Sachs), points out that the state-brokered deal gives the American firm veto rights over any changes in DONG’s leadership and strategy, even though Danish law states that such rights are normally only conferred with at least a 33 percent stake in a company.

 

Goldman Sachs’s plans to administrate its ownership from shell corporations in Luxembourg, the US state of Delaware and the Cayman Islands – all well-known tax havens – has also come under intense scrutiny.

 

In addition to the online petition, a protest against the planned sale of DONG has been scheduled for Wednesday at 4pm outside of Christiansborg. Some 3,000 attendees have signed up via Facebook.

 

Inside Christiansborg, far-left party Enhedslisten and the far-right Dansk Folkeparti have long been vocal critics of the Goldman Sachs deal. But now MPs of ruling coalition party Socialdemokraterne have spoken out against the deal, which was brokered by the the party’s own Bjarne Corydon, the finance minister.

 

“We need a timeout in the partial sale of DONG to Goldman Sachs,” Bjarne Lautsen (S) told DR Nyheder. “Many negative things have emerged and there has also been a new offer from Danish pension companies.”

 

Corydon has refuted earlier reports that the Finance Ministry was offered a bid from the pension firm PensionDanmark that was more lucrative than the one from Goldman Sachs.

The reason for the pick up in public resentment is because Corydon will face a parliamentary hearing tomorrow about the planned sale, where he is expected to be grilled by Parliament’s Finance Committee on the Goldman Sachs deal. The same committee will vote on the sale on Thursday. Despite the public scepticism of the deal, the Finance Ministry has stood by its decision and has been publicly backed by PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

Of course, if Goldman is involved, it guarantees future benefits for the Vampire Squid. For everyone else – except the occasional corrupt legislator – anything but.

The Danish petition can be found here.


    



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SocGen Takes Its Morning After Mea Culpa Pill

From the analyst (SocGen’s Benoit Anne) who just over 12 hours ago (despite our various caveats) said this…

Hats Off To The CBRT

 

The CBRT did not disappoint tonight. The CBRT just announced a massive 425bp rate hike. Governor Basci, you have avoided a domino crisis in EM. The policy response to severe financial stability risks was punchy, aggressive and credible. An amazing job overall. The CBRT is now back in the game after going through a few tough weeks during which its credibility was heavily challenged by emerging market investors. Is Turkey out of the woods? Not quite of course. There are still two major issues. On the domestic side, the political environment continues to be quite challenging, with little sign this will improve anytime soon. Meanwhile, the global  backdrop remains quite challenging for GEM at this point, and we are still very much in the middle of our Doom phase. So while the CBRT has done a great job at containing financial stability risks, there is going to be more work to do. In any case, I definitely feel much better about the TRY, at least on a tactical basis. Hence we just entered a long TRY/ZAR targeting a tactical move to 5.10. The TRY crisis is over.

Comes this…

We take profit on our TRY/ZAR trade recommendation which we entered last night at a level of 4.92. At the time of writing, the level is 4.968 resulting in a gain of 1.0% before carry. The short-lived relief rally in the TRY was swiftly interrupted by a shift in market sentiment, with the updated policy implementation failing to deliver the intended improvements in clarity. On the other hand, an unimpressive 50bp hike from SARB on the heels of CBRT’s punchier response fell short of expectations. Overall, the market continues to trade in a panic mode, notwithstanding the monetary policy responses spreading fast across EM, as real policy rates come increasingly under scrutiny.

All one can say is: “LOL”


    



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IRA confiscation: it’s happening

January 29, 2014
Santiago, Chile

I have an old acquaintance named Sam who has a hell of a deal for you.

Sam is actually a pretty famous guy with a big reputation. Unfortunately he has been a bit down and out on his luck lately… but he’s trying to make a comeback. And Sam is prepared to float you a really great investment opportunity.

Here’s the deal he’s offering: you give Sam your hard-earned retirement savings. Sam will invest your funds, and pay you a rate of return.

Granted, the rate of return he’s promising doesn’t quite keep up with inflation. So you will be losing some money. But don’t dwell on that too much.

And, rather than invest your funds in productive assets, Sam is going to blow it all on new cars and flat screen TVs. So when it comes time to make interest payments, Sam won’t have any money left.

But don’t worry, he still has that good ole’ credibility. So even though his financial situation gets worse by the year, Sam will just go back out there and borrow more money from other people to pay you back.

Of course, he will be able to keep doing this forever without any consequences whatsoever.

I know what you’re thinking– “where do I sign??” I know, right? It’s the deal of the lifetime.

This is basically the offer that the President of the United States floated last night.

And like an unctuously overgeled used car salesman, he actually pitched Americans on loaning their retirement savings to the US government with a straight face, guaranteeing “a decent return with no risk of losing what you put in. . .”

This is his new “MyRA” program. And the aim is simple– dupe unwitting Americans to plow their retirement savings into the US government’s shrinking coffers.

We’ve been talking about this for years. I have personally written since 2009 that the US government would one day push US citizens into the ‘safety and security’ of US Treasuries.

Back in 2009, almost everyone else thought I was nuts for even suggesting something so sacrilegious about the US government and financial system.

But the day has arrived. And POTUS stated almost VERBATIM what I have been writing for years.

The government is flat broke. Even by their own assessment, the US government’s “net worth” is NEGATIVE 16 trillion. That’s as of the end of 2012 (the 2013 numbers aren’t out yet). But the trend is actually worsening.

In 2009, the government’s net worth was negative $11.45 trillion. By 2010, it had dropped to minus $13.47 trillion. By 2011, minus $14.78 trillion. And by 2012, minus $16.1 trillion.

Here’s the thing: according to the IRS, there is well over $5 trillion in US individual retirement accounts. For a government as bankrupt as Uncle Sam is, $5 trillion is irresistible.

They need that money. They need YOUR money. And this MyRA program is the critical first step to corralling your hard earned retirement funds.

At our event here in Chile last year, Jim Rogers nailed this right on the head when he and Ron Paul told our audience that the government would try to take your retirement funds:



I don’t know how much more clear I can be: this is happening. This is exactly what bankrupt governments do. And it’s time to give serious, serious consideration to shipping your retirement funds overseas before they take yours.

(Note to members of our PREMIUM service: look for an upcoming actionable alert on this topic).

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The Essential 1970s Conspiracy Thrillers

I have an
article
up at io9 listing 10 essential 1970s
conspiracy thrillers. From the opening:

And the Academy Award for the best use of a picture of Thor in a feature film goes to...Techno-paranoia has become the
norm in our post-Snowden world, and hit shows like Person of
Interest
play on our fears of being watched. But the high-tech
conspiracy tale has its roots in the 1970s, which saw a great wave
of movies about assassins, surveillance, secret governments, and
corporate cabals. The result was a decade’s worth of paranoid
thrillers, many of them extremely entertaining….

Between the Watergate scandal and a series of ugly revelations
about the CIA, the FBI, and other federal agencies, the public was
more receptive to stories where the country’s leaders were the
villains. And with the rise of the so-called New Hollywood, a
younger, more countercultural group of filmmakers was ready to
deliver them.

These aren’t the best ’70s conspiracy thrillers—a couple
of them aren’t all that good, though they’re worth watching for
other reasons. They’re just the essential ones: necessary stops on
any extended tour of the genre.

The article is pegged to my book
The United States of Paranoia
, which discusses most of
these movies and much else besides. It’s been a while since I last
posted a roundup of United States of Paranoia coverage, so
here’s a few of the highlights from the last month or two:

• The Chicago Tribune included it in its
list
of 2013’s best books.

Boing Boing‘s podcast You Are Not So Smart

interviewed me
about it.

• Ed Driscoll
invoked it
 while discussing how “Beltway and Northeast
Corridor elites have plenty of conspiracy theories of their
own.”

• Arthur Goldwag, who had already posted one
review
of the book on his personal blog, published another

article
about it in The Washington Spectator. If you
read the piece, be sure to check the comments, where I take issue
with how he interpreted a part of the text.

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The Real State Of The Union: The Erosion Of Community

Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog,

The Central State and its core directives, central planning and ever-widening control of every aspect of life, is eroding the human essential: community.

Rather than the rah-rah phoniness of the President's State of the Union speech, which was predictably filled with Soaring Rhetoric ™ and promises of more central planning and state expansion, let's consider the real state of the union.

Two related truths are self-evident: that community is essential to human progress, communication, development and well-being, and that the current global systems of the central state (socialism) and cartel-state capitalism (capitalism) actively dismantle community.

These basics inform the view that the only way forward is a community-based economy that recognizes and restores community as the foundation of human life.
On the most fundamental survival level, if humans were isolated, solitary hunter-gatherers, humans would likely have gone extinct long ago, as we simply aren't as capable as our competitors. If the species did endure, it would be equivalent to other solitary Great Apes–small in number and isolated to small pockets where it could survive.

Our dominance ("success" if you prefer) as a species flows directly from our social nature and the development of ways to spread better techniques, i.e. knowledge and cooperation, via spoken and eventually written language.

Yes, opposable thumbs boosted our toolmaking abilities and year-round fertility boosted our reproduction rates, but these advantages would be marginal were we a species of isolated individuals. Indeed, the fundamentals of sociobiology support the notion that human longevity results partly from the genetic advantages 
bestowed by grandparents, i.e. a generation of elders who can aid in child-rearing and serve as a repository for experiential knowledge/wisdom that would be lost to short-lived species.

In our current system, the impersonal state replaces the core value created by participating in community with welfare checks; there is no need to bother cooperating and working with others once the state provides the basics of life.

A similiar dynamic is implicit in corporate capitalism, which assumes that large corporations dedicated to pursuing profit wherever such profits might be greatest can successfully replace communities with corporate "communities" of workers and supervisors.

In The Strange Disappearance of Cooperation in America (submitted by correspondent Cheryl A.), The author proposes that social cooperation waxes and wanes with wealth inequality: as inequality rises, so too does polarization. People become less cooperative and socially engaged as polarization increases.

The correlation between loss of community and wealth inequality is only the first step. This sociological perspective misses the political point, which is the structure of our centralized state-dominated economy leads to both wealth inequality and the loss of community from the same dynamic: the substitution of the state/corporation as the organizing/controlling structure for society, displacing community.

Want to Reduce Income/Wealth Inequality? Abolish the Engine of Inequality, the Federal Reserve (January 28, 2014)

Our state-cartel system creates aimless armies of unemployed people who receive just enough from the state that the incentive to rebel is eroded, but this does not fill the gap left by the destruction of community with anything positive or fulfilling: it simply maintains the void via bribery.

The entire notion that corporations pursuing maximization of profit for their shareholders can organize society to benefit everyone is nonsensical; how could organizations dedicated to reaping profits replace multi-layered communities that meet needs that cannot necessarily be commoditized for a profit?

Longtime correspondent Bart D. cogently summed up these issues:
 

"When boiled down to real world conditions, for a society and economy to operate sustainably and successfully, people have to do things for and with each other, and BE SEEN to be doing it.

From an evolutionary perspective a community would form the basis of the economy in which individuals lived their lives. Each participant would have known, in social terms, every other participant to some degree.
In such a ‘traditional’ system, individual participants were heavily incentivised to be valued by others. Being valued for your good works and deeds increased your chances of having other individuals help you out when you were individually unable to support yourself for some reason (sickness, old age, personal disaster).

In economies of small and local scale you really strived to have others feel they owed you something based purely on their sense of fairness and conscience, because people interacted economically and socially with the same people. This creates a pool of good will that functions as ‘social security’ (This has since been transmuted into the Frankenstein of ‘debt’ and ‘taxes’ both of which are grudging rather than volunteered.)

That type of interaction has been and is continuing to be eroded away in the modern economic system that seeks desperately to separate social relationships from economic relationships.

Thus we have the disconnect between small business taxpayers and welfare recipients that sets up the perfect conditions for corporatocracy and the bizarre ever-expanding debt economic models of the west.

What the architects of these current systems have lost sight of is that the illusion they created by pumping free credit into the system only works on some parts of the economic system and at the cost of GREATLY undermining the social component of the system."

Richard Dawkins makes much the same point in this interview published in The New Republic:

"Now, there is another kind of altruism that seems to go beyond that, a kind of super-altruism, which humans appear to have. And I think that does need a Darwinian explanation. I would offer something like this: We, in our ancestral past, lived in small bands or clans, which fostered kin altruism and reciprocal altruism, because in these small bands, each individual was most likely to be surrounded by relatives and individuals who he was going to meet again and again in his life. And so the rule of thumb based into the brain by natural selection would not have been, Be nice to your kin and be nice to potential reciprocators. It would have been, Be nice to everybody, because everybody would have been included."

This is not to suggest there isn't a role for the state and profit-seeking organizations in society or the economy; it is simply to state the obvious that the wholesale replacement of community by the state has eroded an essential of human life that cannot be filled by impersonal states and corporations. States and corporations cannot "fix" what's broken with the model of state-cartel capitalism/socialism because the model itself is the problem.


    



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"No Brainer" AAPL Breaks Below $500; Lowest In 3 Months

For the first time since mid-October, “no brainer” investment AAPL has dropped below the maginot line of $500. We are sure Carl Icahn will be buying another $500 million worth of shares today… AAPL is now down over 13% from its December highs.

 

 

 

Meet you in the middle?


    



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“No Brainer” AAPL Breaks Below $500; Lowest In 3 Months

For the first time since mid-October, “no brainer” investment AAPL has dropped below the maginot line of $500. We are sure Carl Icahn will be buying another $500 million worth of shares today… AAPL is now down over 13% from its December highs.

 

 

 

Meet you in the middle?


    



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Here Comes The Economist-In-Chief: Obama Takes Unilateral Charge

First MyRA, now this:

  • OBAMA SAYS HE’S PREPARED TO ACT WITHOUT CONGRESS ON ECONOMY
  • OBAMA SAYS WASHINGTON CAN EITHER HELP OR HINDER ECONOMIC GROWTH

So how long until the Economist-In-Chief extends presidential term limits with executive order.


    



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Photos of Fayette Snow Jam 2014

Fayette County folks took photos of the traffic mess Tuesday caused by snowfall and slippery roads. here are some of them.

Photo at right was taken by Kathy Gesslein at approximately 2:30 p.m. 1/28/14 on Ga. Highway 54 looking east from Bank of Georgia at Old Norton Road.

Below, Peachtree City Police Lt. Mark Brown shot this photo of a car off the road in brush.

read more

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Obama’s State of the Union Misleads on Obamacare

President Obama’s State of the
Union address last night was in no small part an attempt to
rehabilitee himself and his party after the damage done by the
botched rollout of Obamacare. That’s why so little of the speech
was focused on the law, which has never been popular, and has
become even
less so
over the last few months.

But he had to say something about his signature
legislation. And so, at the end of a section of providing Americans
financial security, he segued into a brief litany of upbeat
statements about how the law has changed health care for the
better. The problem is that not all of it was exactly true.

For example, he said that the law’s benefits came “while adding
years to Medicare’s finances.” But the only way you get to that
conclusion is through gimmicky double counting. Now, since gimmicky
double counting is how the program keeps track of its trust fund,
Obama’s statement was, on paper, true. But as the Congressional
Budget Office has explained rather clearly, the “savings”
attributed to Medicare’s trust fund are actually the same dollars
being used to finance the law’s coverage expansion. 

“To describe the full amount of [Medicare] HI trust fund savings
as both improving the government’s ability to pay future Medicare
benefits and financing new spending outside of Medicare would
essentially double-count a large share of those savings and thus
overstate the improvement in the government’s fiscal position,” the
budget office said
in a 2009 letter. That’s not just CBO’s judgment. It’s also the
position of Medicare’s chief actuary, Richard Foster. While he was
still with the program, he
explained
several
times
that the Medicare savings were basically an illusion
created by the program’s accounting conventions.

A few lines later, Obama also touted enrollment in health
coverage through Obamacare. “Already, because of the Affordable
Care Act, more than three million Americans under age 26 have
gained coverage under their parents’ plans,” he said. “More than
nine million Americans have signed up for private health insurance
or Medicaid coverage.”

The first half is correct. But it’s not right to credit
Obamacare with providing private coverage or Medicaid to more than
nine million Americans.

That number comes from combining the six million people the
federal government says have signed up for Medicaid coverage since
Obamacare’s exchanges went live in October with the three million
people it says have signed up for private coverage. 

The Medicaid count dramatically overstates the effect of the
law, however, because it includes people who were already enrolled
in Medicaid and merely renewed their coverage. More than half of
the enrollments in the first two months were in states that didn’t
even participate in the Medicaid expansion.
As Sean Trende recently pointed out
, the true number of people
enrolled in Medicaid because of the law is likely an order of
magnitude smaller than these counts suggest.

As for the three million private coverage sign-ups—they’re just
that: sign-ups. It’s the number of people who have selected a plan,
whether or not they have paid a premium. And given the lags and
delays in payment deadlines, it seems safe to assume that
collecting payments has been a bumpy process so far. One
well-connected insurance industry consultant has said that we
should
expect a 10-20 percent attrition rate
as a result of
nonpayment.

And of course, none of this tells us how many people are
newly insured as a result of the law. Insurers and
consumer surveys have suggested that the majority of the sign-ups
so far have come from people who already carried health
insurance.

It’s a sign of how big a disaster the law has been for Obama and
for Democrats that in the same year its biggest changes go into
effect, the most consequential legislative achievement of the Obama
era is shuffled reluctantly into the most high-profile policy
speech of the year. And it’s even more telling that not only does
Obama still have to downplay his signature achievement, he has to
rely on misleading statements to promote it. 

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