Monthly Archives: August 2016

Trump is Goldman’s Golden Goose

By William K. Black
August 23, 2016     Kansas City, MO

The reporting of Susanne Craig of the New York Times and David Cay Johnston, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting when he was with that paper, and has recently published The Making of Donald Trump, combine to allow us to draw a critical insight about Trump and Goldman Sachs.  From Susanne Craig, we learn:

[A]n office building on Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan, of which Mr. Trump is part owner, carries a $950 million loan. Among the lenders: the Bank of China, one of the largest banks in a country that Mr. Trump has railed against as an economic foe of the United States, and Goldman Sachs, a financial institution he has said controls Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, after it paid her $675,000 in speaking fees.

Goldman Sachs is infamous for two things, both of them relevant here.  Its senior managers encourage the most incestuous of relationships between the government and the firm.  The revolving door is an exclusive penthouse elevator that rockets Goldman executives back and forth from positions of immense power in government and the firm.  As the then President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City (now, Deputy Chair of the FDIC) told a small group of us several years ago: “For the last 20 years we’ve been holding an auction to fill the position of U.S. Treasury Secretary – and of late Goldman Sachs has been winning.”

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There Are Real Reasons to Bring Back Glass-Steagall

When both major parties endorsed restoring the Glass-Steagall Act in their campaign platforms last month, they reaffirmed the powerful hold that the Glass-Steagall principle of separating commercial and investment banking has on the public imagination.

Glass-Steagall has become politically popular for good reason. The public understands that reducing the size and (especially) the complexity of our major publicly supported banking institutions is crucial to a healthier financial system. Restoring some version of the Glass-Stegall firewall between commercial and investment banking is a direct and powerful means to that end. There’s also an understanding that the financial system was generally more stable during the 60 years in which Glass-Steagall was in force.

Unfortunately, much of the inside-the-beltway commentary on Glass-Steagall does not add depth and substance to the public debate and is often inappropriately dismissive and shallow. A number of respected experts on the banking system, such as Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Vice Chairman Thomas Hoenig, are strong supporters of Glass-Steagall. But too many other commenters dismiss Glass-Steagall for reasons that are at best half-truths and at worst censor the robust debate that we need to have about our current system of universal banking.

Read on.

Someone Using The Email Address Of Trump’s Doctor Demanded Money For An Interview

Certainly, the email address and website raises red flags….

Someone using an email address connected to Harold Bornstein, Donald Trump’s doctor, apparently doesn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to cash in on the GOP presidential nominee’s campaign.

Bornstein wrote a letter in December saying Trump would be “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.” The doctor told NBC News on Friday that he had written the letter in five minutes while a limo waited outside.

A Huffington Post reader pointed out that the letter mentioned a website that wasn’t actually registered until several months after the endorsement of Trump’s health was written, so I sent an email on Saturday afternoon to the Gmail address listed in the letter’s header.

Someone replied from the address a little after 1 a.m. on Sunday, saying he or she wanted money to talk.

“325 per hour in advance,” the person wrote.

THE HUFFINGTON POST
HuffPost’s initial inquiry to Harold Bornstein’s email address.

I asked the person to confirm that they were in fact Trump’s doctor. HuffPost would not pay for an interview, I wrote, but would this person still be willing to answer some questions?

The response was curt: “No.”

THE HUFFINGTON POST

Was he or she declining to do an interview, or were saying they weren’t Trump’s doctor?

“Yes, no,” the person wrote back.

Read on.

And the doctor’s office phone and fax numbers seem correct according to information on doctor’s website:

Gastroenterology, Internal Medicine

Practice locations:

  • Harold N. Bornstein, MD
    101 East 78th Street
    New York, NY 10075

    Fax: (212) 988-6602

Here is Hillary Clinton’s doctor letter on her health that was dated July 28, 2015. And here is Clinton’s doctor Dr. Lisa R. Bardack, MD’s information on the medical office website:

Lisa R. Bardack, MD

Director of Internal Medicine, Mount Sinai Health System at CareMount Medical

Awarded Top Doctor

Primary Specialty Internal Medicine

Mount Kisco Office: 914-242-1370Locations

On a side note: As of February 2016, Mount Kisco Medical Group (MKMG) changed its name to CareMount Medical.

Senators probing EpiPen price hike received donations from Mylan PAC

Well, well, well….

A political committee for Mylan has donated to most of the Senate committee that has asked the drugmaker to explain price increases for allergy treatment EpiPen and could grill executives in a hearing on the matter.

The Mylan Inc. PAC has given $13,500 to four current members of the Senate Judiciary Committee since 2014, including $5,000 to ranking Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont and $5,000 to the Senate’s likely next Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York. Since 1999, the PAC has donated more than $60,000 to 11 current members of the 20-person judiciary committee. Most of those donations came after 2008.

This illustrates the reach of Mylan’s political effort, which extended to candidates and political action committees in 22 states between December, 2014, to the end of 2015. The Mylan PAC had $95,500 in political contributions for that period, while incurring $319,000 in indirect lobbying expenses as part of trade association membership.

Read on.

Lawmakers eye protections for reverse-mortgage borrowers

New York lawmakers are moving to boost protections for reverse-mortgage borrowers in foreclosure — after a report by The Post.

Last month, The Post broke the story about a rising tide of foreclosures on reverse mortgages, risky home equity loans made to senior citizens. This wave of foreclosures threatens to throw some of New York’s most vulnerable residents out on the street.

Now Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein (D-Brooklyn) and Sen Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester) have introduced bills aimed at providing second-mortgage holders with the same protections as first-mortgage borrowers.

There are two key changes. The first is written notification, including a notice with contact information for free nonprofit foreclosure-prevention assistance, to the borrower 90 days before the lender files a foreclosure case. In addition, the new law will mandate a settlement conference for borrower and lender to try to work out a deal under the watchful eye of a judge or court-appointed referee.

Read on.

JPMorgan Chase Getting Into The Car-Buying Business

JPMorgan Chase is getting into the car-buying business, gearing up to launch a digital offering that enables customers to shop for a car and get financing for their purchase using a computer or smartphone.

According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, the new service, dubbed Chase Auto Direct, will be powered by TrueCar, which is an online car-buying site. The idea behind the partnership is to speed up the car-buying process, and it is the latest example of a financial services company getting into bed with a financial technology firm.

In 2015, JPMorgan inked a partnership with OnDeck to develop an online small business loan portal for the bank’s customers. With the OnDeck partnership, the online lender’s name was featured on the product, but with this car-buying initiative, TrueCar will remain behind the scenes.

Auto finance customers will start at Chase.com, navigate to a TrueCar site and then end up back at Chase’s site to apply for the secure financing. With the service, customers will be able to find and look at financing options for new and used cars and get approved for their loan. They can compare prices that other consumers pay and see options among different dealerships that are part of the bank’s network. The service will be available to existing customers in 30 states in the U.S., with it being rolled out further in phases at the beginning of next year.

Read on.

The EpiPen Scandal Is Worse Than You Think: What You’re Not Being Told

Zerohedge:

Submitted by Alice Salles via TheAntiMedia.org,

The EpiPen is a useful device for individuals who suffer from severe allergies. So when news broke that Mylan, the sole maker of the autoinjector “pens” in America, had hiked the prices of its products from $57 each in 2007 to $600 for a package of two in 2016, news outlets had a field day.

Promptly after, politicians seized the opportunity to bank on this crisis by promising to “do something.”

Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton urged Mylan to voluntarily slash the prices of its products whilepromising that, once she’s elected, her plan to address exorbitant drug price hikes like these” will be finally implemented. This is a particularly empty promise considering Mylan has donatedbetween $100,000 and $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation, which was recently revealed to be peddling influence in exchange for cash.

Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) are also pressuring the manufacturer to disclose more about its pricing. Even Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) — whose own daughter, Heather Bresch, serves as Mylan’s CEO — weighed in, claiming he, too, shares his colleagues’ “concerns about the skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs.”

But none of what these politicians are saying rings true to anyone who’s paying attention. Here’s why.

The Monopolistic Origins of the EpiPen

The autoinjector known as the EpiPen provides injections of epinephrine in cases of serious or even life-threatening allergy attacks. It is derived from another product known as the Mark I NAAK ComboPen, a device created for a monopoly: the U.S. military.

The device was designed by Sheldon Kaplan for Survival Technology, Inc., a company with a long history of working with the Pentagon. Once the ComboPen was created, it was sent to the U.S. military to treat soldiers who had been exposed to nerve agents.

In 2007, Mylan “purchased the generic drugs division of Germany’s Merck KGaA for $6.7 billion,” acquiring the EpiPen brand of autoinjectors. Under Merck, the devices cost $7 each, which resulted in just $200 million in gains each year, a mere 5 percent of Merck’s revenue at the time.

But Bresch saw potential in this simple plastic device and focused on how to make the newly purchased brand something that could be widely used. For her dream to come true, she needed the assistance of experts in the monopoly business. That’s when she turned to the U.S. government for help.

The FDA, Washington, and Crony Capitalism Are All to Blame

Though the EpiPen is not covered by patent protection, Bresch’s close relationship with Washington may have helped her company ensure competition wasn’t an issue.

In an article for the Mises Institute, Jonathan Newman writes that Mylan has been repeatedly protected from competition, and it has repeatedly (and predictably) increased the price of EpiPens in response.”

According to Bloomberg, Mylan has been aggressive in its approach to regulators.

For the past seven years, Bresch has been “[turning] to Washington for help. Along with patient groups, Mylan pushed for federal legislation encouraging states to stock epinephrine devices in schools.”

In 2010, when the FDA launched new federal guidelines related to epinephrine prescriptions, Mylanstopped selling single pens, switching to twin-packs. Bloomberg reports that, at the time, “35 percent of prescriptions were for single EpiPens,” but as the new rules were implemented, Mylan “changed label rules to allow the devices to be marketed to anyone at risk.” While the guidelines targeted persons who had severe allergic reactions only, Bresch saw the rule changes as “big events that we’ve started to capitalize on,” she said in October of 2011.

After a seven-year-old died due to an allergic reaction to peanuts at a Virginia school, Congress passed a law pressuring states to ensure its schools had epinephrine devices on hand at all times. The year this bill passed, Mylan spent over $1 million in lobbying alone. Now, Bloomberg reports, “47 states require or encourage schools to stock the devices.”

As part of the EpiPen popularization plan, Mylan started handing out “free EpiPens to more than 59,000 schools” in 2012. In 2014, the company allegedly spent $35 million on TV ads, and in 2015, Mylan signed a deal with Walt Disney, stocking theme parks and cruise ships with the devices. Between 2012 and 2015, the company also spent over $6 million in lobbying.

Over the past seven years, Bresch’s persistence and power-driven attitude helped the company spread the EpiPen far and wide, causing its use to grow 67 percent in the United States. EpiPen prescriptions are now so common that pediatric allergist Robert Wood from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine says EpiPen is the new “Kleenex.”

But making the EpiPen so popular wasn’t an easy task, mostly because Mylan finally bumped into some competition along the way.

Trump’s Doctor Has An Amazing Explanation For That Bizarre Medical Report

He says he only spent five minutes writing the note.

Donald Trump’s personal physician told NBC News that he wrote a now-infamous medical report about the candidate in just five minutes.

Dr. Harold Bornstein, a gastroenterologist who has been Trump’s doctor for more than three decades, released a brief note last December declaring the reality TV star would be “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.” The four-paragraph letter, which billed Trump’s health as “astonishingly excellent,” was far less detailed than medical reports traditionally released by presidential candidates.

In an interview with NBC airing Friday, Bornstein said he spent “five minutes” on the letter while a car sent by Trump waited for him outside his office in Manhattan.

“I get rushed and I get anxious when I get rushed, so I try to get four or five lines done as fast as possible,” Bornstein explained. “In a rush, I think some of those words didn’t come out exactly the way they were meant.”

The doctor stood by his assessment of the reality TV star’s wellness.

“His health is excellent, particularly his mental health,” he said.

He also defended the claim that Trump would be the healthiest president in history.

“I like that sentence to be quite honest with you, and all the rest of them are either sick or dead,” he said.

Read on.

AIG’s Post-Bailout Tax Suit Faces Jury Trial

MANHATTAN (CN) — Since receiving a $182 billion bailout, the American International Group has been roundly mocked for lawsuits demanding more government money, but the insurer’s lawyers agreed on Friday to let a jury decide the last of these cases.
As U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton noted at a hearing this morning, AIG did not have much of a choice.
The government already filed a demand for a jury trial on AIG’s lawsuit from six months after its bailout, which seeks a $306 million refund over tax credits from seven foreign transactions in Ireland, France, New Zealand and elsewhere during the mid-1990s.
The lawsuit has been on a four-year pause since early 2013, when Stantonrefused AIG’s motion for summary judgment, leading to a series of appeals.
Friday morning’s proceedings ending that hiatus opened informally around a conference table, where Judge Stanton presided in a suit instead of his judicial robes.
In a faux-naive tone, Stanton asked the lawyers: “What have you been up to since I saw you last?”
Quite a lot, as it turned out.
Since the parties last met, two other attempts by AIG’s ex-CEO Maurice “Hank” Greenberg — through AIG’s shareholder Starr International Co. — to recover $40 billion in damages over the terms of the government’s bailout crashed and burned. (AIG itself was not a plaintiff these lawsuits, but a storm of public outrage followed a New York Times report from 2013 that its board considered joining them.)
The Federal Reserve conditioned AIG’s rescue on it holding a roughly 80 percent stake in the company.

Read on.

Donald Trump Loses Bid To Block Experts In Trump U. Suit

SAN DIEGO (CN) — A federal judge heard arguments Friday from attorneys on both sides of a class action claiming Trump University tricked students into paying for bogus real estate tips, as the lawyers tried to convince the judge that a host of experts should be excluded from testifying.
U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel issued a tentativeorder Thursday granting in part and denying in part motions from lead class-action plaintiff Art Cohen and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump asking to bar witnesses retained for the 3-year-old case.
Cohen and the other plaintiffs sued Trump in 2013 under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, or RICO, Act, claiming he knowingly defrauded students out of thousands of dollars when they paid for Trump University seminars based on the claim that they would learn insider real estate secrets from instructors “handpicked” by Trump himself.
The experts at issue at Friday’s hearing were retained to determine the educational value of a Trump University education.
Cohen’s expert Paul Habibi found that a real estate education from Trump University was worth nothing, while Trump’s expert Alan Wallace found a Trump University education did, in fact, have value.

Read on.