Daily Archives: July 10, 2016

Wikileaks leaked classified doc of the Trans-Pacific Partnership: A deal that Obama favors while Sanders, Clinton and Trump all oppose

There is certainly a divide over the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP between Obama, Sen. Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, the American public, and political parties. Here is what TPP is. From Truthout:

The TPP is one of the largest and also one of the most controversial trade deals; it connects the US to Japan, Brunei, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Mexico, Vietnam, Canada, Singapore and Peru. The trade deal is deeply criticized because it could increase the gap of economic inequality.

The 12 member nations that signed the trade deal account for 40 percent of the world economy. The pact allows more trade flexibility in nations that are ruled by strict state-driven laws and poor working conditions. But opponents of the TPP have underlined human rights, environmental and sovereignty concerns around the agreement.

However, TPP deal is negotiated largely in secret:

The TPP claims to write “the rules for global trade,” but its negotiation process has largely been carried out in secret. Raising questionson the confidentiality of TPP, Sanders says, “If TPP was such a good deal for America, the administration should have the courage to show the American people exactly what is in this deal, instead of keeping the content of the TPP a secret.”

While the TPP benefits are mentioned broadly on the website, a leaked classified document posted by WikiLeakshighlights intellectual property concerns. The classified document observes that under the TPP deal, foreign firms will be allowed to “sue” governments for “unlimited compensation.” Such arrangements could raise environmental and legal issues, leading to a conflict between domestic and international interests. Moreover, once adopted, TPP cannot be reversed or amended without the approval of all of its 12 member nations.

More from Wikileaks website:

The TPP Investment Chapter, published today, is dated 20 January 2015. The document is classified and supposed to be kept secret for four years after the entry into force of the TPP agreement or, if no agreement is reached, for four years from the close of the negotiations.

Julian Assange, WikiLeaks editor said: “The TPP has developed in secret an unaccountable supranational court for multinationals to sue states. This system is a challenge to parliamentary and judicial sovereignty. Similar tribunals have already been shown to chill the adoption of sane environmental protection, public health and public transport policies.”

Current TPP negotiation member states are the United States, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei. The TPP is the largest economic treaty in history, including countries that represent more than 40 per cent of the world´s GDP.

The Investment Chapter highlights the intent of the TPP negotiating parties, led by the United States, to increase the power of global corporations by creating a supra-national court, or tribunal, where foreign firms can “sue” states and obtain taxpayer compensation for “expected future profits”. These investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) tribunals are designed to overrule the national court systems. ISDS tribunals introduce a mechanism by which multinational corporations can force governments to pay compensation if the tribunal states that a country’s laws or policies affect the company’s claimed future profits. In return, states hope that multinationals will invest more. Similar mechanisms have already been used. For example, US tobacco company Phillip Morris used one such tribunal to sue Australia (June 2011 – ongoing) for mandating plain packaging of tobacco products on public health grounds; and by the oil giant Chevron against Ecuador in an attempt to evade a multi-billion-dollar compensation ruling for polluting the environment. The threat of future lawsuits chilled environmental and other legislation in Canada after it was sued by pesticide companies in 2008/9. ISDS tribunals are often held in secret, have no appeal mechanism, do not subordinate themselves to human rights laws or the public interest, and have few means by which other affected parties can make representations.

The TPP negotiations have been ongoing in secrecy for five years and are now in their final stages. In the United States the Obama administration plans to “fast-track” the treaty through Congress without the ability of elected officials to discuss or vote on individual measures. This has met growing opposition as a result of increased public scrutiny following WikiLeaks’ earlier releases of documents from the negotiations.

The TPP is set to be the forerunner to an equally secret agreement between the US and EU, the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership).

Negotiations for the TTIP were initiated by the Obama administration in January 2013. Combined, the TPP and TTIP will cover more than 60 per cent of global GDP. The third treaty of the same kind, also negotiated in secrecy is TISA, on trade in services, including the financial and health sectors. It covers 50 countries, including the US and all EU countries. WikiLeaks released the secret draft text of the TISA’s financial annex in June 2014.

Read the Secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) – Investment chapter

Bank Overdrafts ‘Cost More Than Payday Loans’

Bank customers with unarranged overdrafts are being charged up to 12 times more than payday lenders.

Some banks are charging customers several times the fees of payday lenders to borrow money, an investigation by Which? has found.

Looking at unarranged overdraft charges, the consumer group found that consumers needing as little as £100 could be charged over 12 times more by major high street banks than the amount the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) allows payday lenders to charge.

Which? compared the cost of borrowing £100 for 28 days and found that charges at some high street banks were as much as £90 – up to four times the maximum charge of £22.40 on a payday loan.

It found that some RBS customers could face costs of £90, while customers at Lloyds, HSBC and TSB could face £80 in costs.

Unarranged overdrafts have already come under the spotlight recently as the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has proposed that banks should set their own monthly unauthorised overdraft charge cap, which they would have to show clearly.

Read on.

UBS to face French court over billions of euros of tax fraud, report

Swiss bank UBS, along with several of its former executives, is to face legal action for encouraging tax fraud that could cost it five billion euros, if judges accept a public prosecutor’s …

France’s financial crimes prosecutors’ office has recommended that UBS AG, UBS France and a half dozen former company executives should face trial for “aggravated money-laundering for tax fraud” and/or “illicit banking procedures”, Le Mondenewspaper reported Friday.

If Judge Guillaume Daïeff accepts the recommendation, they could face fines of five billion euros, since the penalty can be up to half of the value of the money laundered and investigators estimate that to be at least 10 billion euros between 2004 and 2012, the paper says.

Solicited tax-dodgers’ custom

UBS has denied the allegations but in June one of the accused, the former number two at UBS France Patrick de Fayet, reportedly wrote to prosecutors accepting he was guilty of illicit banking procedures.

The prosecutors’ 126-page report says that UBS solicited the custom of tens of thousands of French taxpayers, most of them very wealthy, to help them dodge French tax.

Read on.

UBS : chief says Swiss government is leaving banks exposed

Switzerland’s politicians have done too little to protect the country’s banks from demands for data from foreign governments, UBS Chief Executive Sergio Ermotti said in an interview published by the SonntagsZeitung newspaper on Sunday.

Since the financial crisis, cash-strapped governments around the world have clamped down on tax evasion, with authorities investigating Swiss banks in Germany, France and the United States.

But Switzerland’s attempts to negotiate with other governments have not provided legal certainty or closed the book on issues of the past, Ermotti said.

“This is unacceptable and opens the door for a new offensive against Swiss banks,” he told the paper, adding that the government had been too ready to hand over customer data and that it is perhaps too late to get a better deal after years of negotiations.

“On some issues, the train has left the station,” he said.

Read on.

Jamie Dimon Goes To Rome In Hopes Of Making London Jealous


While visiting Rome yesterday, Jamie Dimon apparently sat down with the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore and had an interesting little chat about his thoughts on Brexit.

Here’s Jamie on the Brexit flavored uncertainty currently looming over Europe ‘s economy:

In the meantime we at J.P. Morgan will continue to bank our clients. With that I mean that Brexit does not change anything that we do, we will continue to do what we do and serve our clients in Italy, in Europe, in the world.

Ah, so same old “nothing to see here”… Oh wait, there’s one more line:

The only thing is, maybe one day we might have to move our people in a Eurozone company to serve our clients in the Eurozone.

Ruh roh. The guy who employs about 16,000 people throughout the UK just officially opened the door on the notion of a substantial JPMexit. And this isn’t a rumor, it’s the CEO saying that he’s looking at office space on The Continent.

While pressing Dimon on what he meant, the Italian reporter essentially asked if Jamie has met with any realtors in Milan and Dimon doubled-down on his JPMexit musings.

“I love Italy, I would love to spend more time in Italy, I am a bit Italian myself as my family has some Italian roots. I look at the “book end” of the question: we need a passport rule, like the one we have now in London. If we have that passport after Brexit, we likely would not have to make any change at all. But I think the European Union will not accept that. It will put more conditions on the UK and might force banks to become smaller in London. We do not know what is going to happen: the worst case is that we might have to relocate a few thousand people to other offices in the Eurozone, though the majority would stay in the UK.”

Tony Blair Holding Jamie Dimon’s Hand Through Brexit Anxiety


Indeed, while telling the public that the country he used to run “will pay a significant economic penalty” for its foolishness, Blair has spent most of his time walking JPMorgan employees through the disaster, holding their hands and whispering softly into their ears.

Mr. Blair has served as chairman of the bank’s J.P. Morgan International Council, a group of influential politicians and company executives that meet annually to share perspectives on economic, political and social trends across the world. And, with Brexit very much a concern, Mr. Blair was at J.P. Morgan’s side [last] week. In between chats with chief James Dimon, Mr. Blair has participated in events for the bank’s clients and employees. On Monday afternoon he popped into the Waldorf Astoria on Park Avenue in New York to give a keynote address at J.P. Morgan’s inaugural Energy Equity Investor Conference…And his duties didn’t end there…Mr. Blair participated in a videocast chat spearheaded by J.P. Morgan’s private bank – geared toward its wealthiest clients — with Michael Cembalest, the unit’s chairman of market and investment strategy. Thousands of private bank and investment management clients called into the fireside chat as well as thousands of employees. “It was a big deal,” said one person who listened in.

J.P. Morgan’s Brexit Ace Up Its Sleeve: Tony Blair [WSJ]

Tax bills hit Chicago mailboxes, taxpayers hit roof

Jines Martinez is going to have to dig deep to pay the tax bill that arrived at his Avondale home this week. Martinez’s bill shot up 40 percent from last year, from $3,900 to $2,673, and his increase reflects a double-whammy that hit residents in many Chicago neighborhoods: last year, all property in the city was reassessed for the first time since 2013, and the city passed a $588 million tax hike. While many of his neighbors might be in the same boat, Martinez said Friday that he might soon be in the market for new neighbors. “I’ve lived in the city my whole life. It’s a beautiful city, but it’s becoming really hard to afford to live here,” said Martinez, 54, who works part-time doing odd jobs.

“It’s a beautiful city. But it’s becoming really hard to afford to live here. The water bill went up. Then, they started with the fee for the garbage. I might have to leave.”

Cook County Clerk David Orr estimated that an average Chicago homeowner will see an increased property tax bill of about 12 percent, or about $413.

Read on.


Special interests look to influence political conventions — discreetly

Protestors will shout. Delegates may revolt. Factions will haggle over rules and platform proposals.

But come later this month, no amount of friction will stop corporations, unions and special interests from spending tens of millions of dollars to bankroll nonstop partying at the Democratic and Republican national conventions. Thank federal campaign finance rules that allow unlimited contributions to support them.

Special interests concerned about chaos under their corporate logos shouldn’t fret. There are plenty of ways to show support for the quadrennial bacchanalias and discreetly secure access to lawmakers and political power players without earning unwanted attention.

Certainly some high-profile companies and individual donors — the list includes billionaire Paul Singer, Apple, Coca-Cola, Microsoft and Wal-Mart — are scaling back on giving to the host committees this time.

Some reportedly want to distance themselves from controversies surrounding presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee-in-waiting, is also historically unpopular with the public and attempting to weather fallout from her State Department email imbroglio, in which the FBI this week deemed her conduct “extremely careless,” although not worthy of criminal charges.

Meanwhile, many special interests, from Comcast Corp. to financial giant JPMorgan Chase to insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield, will participate in convention-related activities, but they’ve become more creative in how they influence conventioneers — or are altogether refusing to discuss their convention plans.

“They want to show up, they want to rub elbows with everyone at the conventions, they just don’t want the corporate name out there,” said Craig Holman, a government affairs lobbyist for advocacy group Public Citizen, who has long tracked influence efforts at the conventions. “They’ll be looking for lower-key ways of doing the same thing they’ve always done.”

Read on.