Daily Archives: July 27, 2014



Bartons win

Great news, and I can’t put it any better than SAFE activist Josh Farris:

“We punched capitalism in the nuts and we won a battle.”

So what exactly happened?  The Stranger reports:

“A group of activists from Standing Against Foreclosure and Eviction (SAFE) sat outside Mayor Ed Murray’s office for four hours today, asking that he intervene to prevent the eviction of veteran and his wife from their West Seattle home, until the mayor and his chief of staff came out and met with them this afternoon.

According to SAFE organizer Josh Farris, Murray told them “the SPD is not coming” to evict Byron and Jean Barton, and that he’d let the activists know if anything changes.

As I reported on Friday, SAFE—joined by members of Socialist Alternative, including state house candidate Jess Spear—surrounded the Bartons’ West Seattle bungalow when King County Sheriff deputies arrived that morning to…

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Bank outlets shutter as mobile services grow

Bank branches are falling like tree limbs in a storm and emptying Manhattan’s corner retail spaces.

America’s profit-hungry banks are dismantling more of their brick-and-mortar outposts with lower-cost, increasingly popular tech and mobile services — and the accelerating trend will force more widespread closures and layoffs, analysts say.

US banks shuttered a net 1,487 branches nationwide last year, an-all-time record, according to SNL Financial. Bank of America accounted for 189 of that total.

Until late 2012, Bank of America hadn’t seen the impact of smartphones and tablet computers that allow customers to snap and deposit checks. Today, that accounts for some 10 percent of BofA’s check deposits.

Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan told analysts earlier this year that branch closures were part of the company’s continuing cost-cutting campaign. He noted how many customers were now, in effect, carrying “a branch in their pocket.”

Read on.

House Panel Won’t Budge In Face Of SEC Subpoena

Law360, New York (July 27, 2014, 12:02 PM ET) — A U.S. House of Representatives committee in New York federal court Friday stood its ground against a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission subpoena for documents in connection with a health care insider trading probe, calling it a “fool’s errand” with no legal backing.

In a second memorandum supporting its motion to dismiss the SEC’s request for documents, House attorneys reiterated that the Ways and Means Committee and aide Brian Sutter are protected from the subpoena by sovereign immunity, especially since the SEC has no allegations against…

Source: Law360

Statement by USA Discounters in Response to ProPublica Article

An article published by ProPublica, an online news service, about USA Discounters inaccurately portrays the practices and policies of our company and our dealings with military customers.

USA Discounters is proud of our long and important relationship with the military community. The company has always held that the men and women who serve and sacrifice for our country should be treated with the honor and respect they deserve. And we consistently work to meet that standard.

ProPublica reported on claims being made by a handful of military customers who defaulted on their payments for items they purchased from USA Discounters. Prior to publication, we pointed out to the reporter that it is against the law for USA Discounters to discuss the cases of individuals who purchased items from us on credit and defaulted on their payments. The company asked ProPublica to obtain permission from these customers for us to release those details – which would have told a very different story than the one they reported. ProPublica was unable to obtain that permission, which left us unable to provide the accurate details. We believe it is irresponsible for the media to report on allegations of this nature, knowing that there is another side to the story and knowing that the subject of the allegations is legally barred from telling it.

Read on.

Top regulator opposed new bank regs while job hunting

A former top regulator at the Commodities Futures Trading Commission was allowed to weigh in on controversial rules for big banks — even after he alerted ethics officers at the CFTC he was in talks for a job with a lobbying group seeking to block those same rules.

Scott O’Malia, a former Republican commissioner at the CFTC, came out against rules that would stop global banks from using their overseas subsidiaries to skirt US regulations in a July 17 speech.

That’s more than a month after he entered talks to become the CEO of the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, a lobbying group for the estimated $600 trillion derivatives industry, according to a person familiar with the talks.

O’Malia was first contacted in early June by a headhunter, who asked broadly about post-employment opportunities, according to this person.

Once the commissioner was aware that he was negotiating with the ISDA, he signed recusal forms and didn’t participate in any rule-making or enforcement actions, the person said.

Read on.

After foreclosure, trying to buy their house back

After 20 years in their house, Jaime and Juana Coronel lost it to foreclosure when Jaime’s landscaping work dried up in the recession and the couple fell behind on payments.

As the eviction process dragged on, the Coronels regained their financial footing and wanted to buy the house back from its new owner, Fannie Mae. The mortgage finance firm was eager to offload the modest ranch house in a working class suburb just east of Los Angeles.

“We asked, ‘Why don’t you sell it to us?’ ” Juana said

But an independent regulator that holds enormous sway over the mortgage market essentially put the kibosh on those kinds of arrangements, triggering a public confrontation with the Obama administration and even a lawsuit.

Millions of “underwater” borrowers like the Coronels were left without equity in their homes after the housing market tanked and home values plunged. These borrowers owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth, making it tough to refinance or sell if they run into financial trouble.

Read on.

Deutsche Bank, HSBC Accused of Silver Fix Manipulation

Deutsche Bank AG (DBK), HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA) and Bank of Nova Scotia were accused in a lawsuit of rigging the price of billions of dollars in silver, an allegation similar to earlier suits involving the London gold fix.

The banks unlawfully manipulated the price of the metal and its derivatives, an investor claims in a complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Manhattan. The banks abused their position of controlling the daily silver fix to reap illegitimate profit from trading, hurting other investors in the silver market who use the benchmark in billions of dollars of transactions, according to the suit.

“The extreme level of secrecy creates an environment that is ripe for manipulation,” according to the complaint. “Defendants have a strong financial incentive to establish positions in both physical silver and silver derivatives prior to the public release of silver fixing results, allowing them to reap large illegitimate profits.”

The lawsuit is the latest to be brought against banks alleging manipulation of a benchmark. Suits have been filed against Deutsche Bank and Bank of Nova Scotia, HSBC and other banks in federal court in New York over allegations involving the London gold fix.

Read on.

Detroit Shuts Off Water to Residents but Not to Businesses Who Owe Millions

More than 15,000 households have had their taps turned off for being past due. Yet the bankrupt city hasn’t touched 40 businesses who owe $9.5 million in total.
DETROIT — In Detroit, even the most basic necessity cannot be taken for granted.

Some 15,000 residential customers have lost water service, and tens of thousands more are in danger of losing it, thanks to past due bills. But businesses owing hundreds of thousands of dollars have not been disconnected, Detroit Water and Sewerage Department records show.

According to a department list, the top 40 commercial and industrial accounts have past-due accounts totaling $9.5 million. That list includes apartment complexes, the Chrysler Group, real estate agencies, a laundromat and even a cemetery.

Read on.

Credit Suisse : Swiss banks face lower fines than feared in U.S. tax case

About 80 of the 106 Swiss banks that signed up for a deal with U.S. tax authorities could be fined less than they had feared for their role in helping wealthy Americans cheat on their taxes, but must widen their cooperation, a Swiss newspaper reported.

The banks, which include Geneva-based Lombard Odier and Zurich firm EFG International (>> EFG International AG), came forward under a program brokered by the Swiss and U.S. governments, after criminal investigations of roughly a dozen Swiss banks including Credit Suisse (>> Credit Suisse Group AG) in the United States.

So-called second category banks will escape prosecution if they detail their wrong-doing with U.S. clients and pay fines under the program agreed last year.

But they must cooperate more fully with U.S. prosecutors before reaching non-prosecution agreements, Finanz und Wirtschaft reported on Saturday, citing unnamed legal sources.

Read on.