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Tracking the many faces of the global credit implosion. You can pull sub-categories from this feed by adding a ?tags=a,b,c,... style parameter. The category tags (which can be given as numbers or handles) are : id handle category description 1 ho


IMF revises up global growth forecast helped by Trump tax cuts (FOR NOW)

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 15:53:44 GMT

The Fund revised up its forecast for global growth to 3.9 percent for both 2018 and 2019, a 0.2 percentage point change from its last update in October.

It also said that economic activity in Europe and Asia was surprisingly stronger than expected last year, and global growth in 2017 was now estimated to have reached 3.7 percent, 0.1 percentage point higher than the Fund projected in October.

"The U.S. tax policy changes are expected to stimulate activity, with the short-term impact in the United States mostly driven by the investment response to the corporate income tax cuts," the IMF said in the update, which was released on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

"The effect on the U.S. growth is estimated to be positive through 2020, culminating to 1.2 percent through that year," it said, cautioning that after 2022 the tax cuts were expected to lower growth for a few years.

This magically-appearing "growth" sounds a lot like the passion of late-stage global QE...

Inside Amazon's surveillance-powered no-checkout convenience store

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 15:51:13 GMT

Overall I'm impressed with the seamlessness of the system, and I can see these things successfully operating here and there.

On the philosophical side, I'm troubled, of course -- a convenience store you just walk out of is a friendly mask on the face of a highly controversial application of technology: ubiquitous personal surveillance.

It's a bit overkill, I think, to replace a checker or self-checkout stand with a hundred cameras that unblinkingly record every tiny movement. What's to gain? 20 or 30 seconds of your time back? Lack of convenience has hardly been a complaint for this market -- it's right there in the name: "convenience store."

Seems obvious the big "win" here is for Amazon -- eliminating human employees. Though it's hard to fault any company for wanting to eliminate these sort of jobs (and who really "wants" such jobs anyways?)

Catalonia's Puigdemont Is Put Forth For President, Despite New Calls For Arrest

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 15:13:18 GMT

The leader of Catalonia's parliament has nominated Carles Puigdemont to a new term as president, adding another twist in the story of the separatist leader who was ousted from power by Spain last year.

The move comes as Spain's Supreme Court rejects prosecutors' call to renew a European arrest warrant against Puigdemont. Prosecutors were calling for Puigdemont to be arrested in Denmark, where he traveled on Monday.

Puigdemont left Spain and took refuge in Belgium last fall, facing the threat of arrest over his efforts to make Catalonia independent. Spain rescinded its European arrest warrant against him in December, when it became clear Belgian authorities would not cooperate.

An arrest warrant for Puigdemont was just refused.

Amazon Mothership's Inventory Dictates Leave Whole Foods Store Shelves Bare

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 19:23:36 GMT

A new corporate-mandated inventory system has left shelves -- sometimes even entire aisles -- barren at Whole Foods stores across the U.S.

Customers and employees alike are troubled by food shortages at the organic grocer, caused primarily by cost-saving stocking procedures to which managers are strictly adhering, Business Insider reported this week.

The system is called "order-to-shelf," or OTS, and involves taking products straight from delivery trucks to the aisles, Business Insider says. The intent of OTS is to cut costs and reduce wasted product, but the result is that stock runs out and is not quickly replaced, angering some customers.

A review of Whole Foods Market Inc. internal documents obtained by Business Insider also found rules preventing employees from covering up gaps with other inventory, keeping those shelves looking especially empty -- and store managers can be penalized if they break this rule.

Can't have the "waste" of having any inventory in the back...

Shutdown Day 2: Congress Seems Far Apart on a Resolution

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 19:20:35 GMT

Congress appeared to make little headway early Sunday toward ending a two-day-old government shutdown, trading blame as lawmakers reconvened for another rare weekend session to try to find a resolution before the workweek began.

With the Senate meeting at 1 p.m. and the House to follow at 2, lawmakers remained mired in partisan disputes. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, said he would move ahead with a vote on a temporary spending bill, which would occur by 1 a.m. Monday, unless Democrats allowed it to proceed sooner.

The best hope for a breakthrough appeared to reside with a group of about 20 moderate senators from both parties who met for much of Saturday to try to hammer out a compromise to present to Mr. McConnell and the Democratic leader, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York.

The group was considering various proposals, including one that would keep the government open through early February, provide disaster funding for states ravaged by last year's hurricanes and ensure long-term funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program. It would also include a promise of some sort to hold votes on an immigration deal in the coming weeks.

US shutdown: Senate in bid to end impasse

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 14:45:14 GMT

``The US Senate is due back in session to try to end a budget impasse before the start of the working week when the shutdown of many federal services will be felt around the country.''

Jersey Shore's Mike Sorrentino AKA The Situation Pleads Guilty To Tax Evasion

Sat, 20 Jan 2018 17:34:38 GMT

Jersey Shore's Mike Sorrentino aka "The Situation" admitted today to violating federal tax laws. Sorrentino's brother Marc also pleaded guilty to violating federal tax laws. The Mike and Marc Sorrentino were charged in 2014. The brothers were also charged again last year with multiple counts related to nearly $9 million in income from the show.

Felony Lane Gang Leader Indicted For ID Theft and Bank Fraud

Sat, 20 Jan 2018 16:38:53 GMT

Acting United States Attorney Daniel L. Lemisch in Detroit announced the indictment against Kyle Cameron of Fort Lauderdale. The government has charged Kyle Cameron with 17 counts of bank fraud and aggravated ID theft. Kyle Cameron executed the bank fraud scheme in Michigan in 2015. He also ran the scheme in 3 other states including New York. Cameron allegedly traveling to Michigan to break into homes and cars. They would also steal women's purses. Cameron's intent was to obtain identification documents and financial transaction information such as checks. As result of the burglary, he or his crew would pose as the victim of the theft at the bank to obtain cash from the bank. He would also use the drive-thru lane farthest from the teller window to present these records at banks. Cameron and his gang used this lane to make it harder for the teller to detect the fraud.  The USAO in Detroit has charged more than ten people doing the same fraudulent activity in 2015 and 2016. Cameron's co-defendant Dennis Jones provided the government with information about the scheme at his December 2017 detention hearing. As result, the banking industry has referred to the Cameron and his co-defendants as the "Felony Lane Gang."

Government shutdown: Who is affected and what's next?

Sat, 20 Jan 2018 15:13:23 GMT

``The federal government stopped operating at midnight, halting all but essential services, after the Senate came 10 votes short of reaching a temporary, last-minute funding deal that would have kept the government open through February 16. The shutdown comes on the anniversary of President Trump's inauguration, and with the GOP in control of both chambers of Congress and the White House.''

Kushner's Deutsche Bank-Backed Times Square Property Stung by Tenant Troubles

Sat, 20 Jan 2018 01:41:53 GMT

In a six-floor retail space near Times Square, the Guy Fieri restaurant has closed and construction hasn't begun on celebrity chef Todd English's food hall. A tourist attraction featuring a 1/87th scale model of New York City was behind on rent for two months as of December, according to loan documents. It wasn't supposed to be this way. When Kushner Cos. bought the property for $296 million in 2015, then-Chief Executive Officer Jared Kushner had big plans to capitalize on the tens of millions of tourists who visit the area every year. Deutsche Bank AG financed the endeavor before selling most of the debt to investors across Wall Street a year ago. Those investors were shown disclosures describing the retail space as 100 percent occupied and estimating it would throw off $24 million of rent annually. But Fieri, English and Gulliver's Gate, the operator of the miniature Manhattan, account for $9.9 million of that rent estimate, which underpinned a market-defying appraisal boost and helped justify $370 million of loans, the disclosures show. Problems with these spaces could make the economics challenging. Last year, New York prosecutors requested documents from Deutsche Bank related to the property, where the Kushners used the debt to take out $59 million in cash. It isn't clear what prosecutors are looking for. But mortgages granted under generous financial assumptions then sold to others who will bear the risk have piqued their interest in other cases. A spokesman for the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney declined to comment, as did a spokesman for Deutsche Bank....Gulliver's Gate was cited due to a technicality and payments were only a few days late, she said. The company has a letter of intent for the Fieri space from a prestigious tenant at a higher rent, and the operator of the food hall is making final adjustments to its plan, she added, saying the changes are increasing the value of the property and will attract more visitors. A spokeswoman for Gulliver's Gate said that it "is up to date on their rent and paid in full on their lease" and there are "no concerns" about its future there....Even if they were brief, the missed payments by Gulliver's Gate, the second most lucrative tenant, triggered a clause in the Kushners' loan documents allowing creditors to demand any excess cash from the property until the problem was resolved, according to reports from debt servicers. Managers also put the retail space on watch lists for potentially troubled debt because it lost money for nine months through September 2017 after accounting for interest payments, the reports show. That's because new tenants were given millions in free rent, a common tactic used to fill store spaces. Kushner Cos. set aside $11 million of the loans for the free rent. Disclosures don't describe that figure as including funds for vacancies....In truth, maintaining full occupancy looked tough from the start. When the debt was sold to investors, the 500-seat Guy's American Kitchen & Bar had been beset by negative reviews, and Todd English and his partners hadn't yet taken possession of the space for his food hall. The chef, who has pulled out of another project, was scheduled to open for business there last April. Gulliver's Gate, reportedly a $40 million endeavor, had not yet opened and was an untried competitor amid the glitz of Times Square....When Kushner Cos. bought the property in 2015 from Africa-Israel, the distressed firm of Russian diamond magnate Lev Leviev, online retailers were ascendant, and the future of brick-and-mortar stores was uncertain. So filling the property with tenants offering experiences seemed smart....The expected surge in income preceded a new appraisal in October 2016 at $445 million plus additional cash in accounts, indicating a stunning growth in value that far outstripped the bro[...]

Trump and Senators Scramble to Avoid Midnight Government Shutdown

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 23:05:56 GMT

By Friday afternoon, it appeared that only a last-minute congressional deal could stop what would be a rare shutdown of a federal government under one-party control. The House cleared stopgap spending legislation on Thursday night that would keep the government funded through Feb. 16, but Senate Democrats were intent on withholding their votes until they secured concessions that would protect from deportation young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, increase domestic spending, aid Puerto Rico and bolster the government's response to the opioid epidemic.

Mr. Trump did not appear able or willing to suggest his own solution. Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Senate Republican, said the White House chief of staff, John F. Kelly, had told him "there were no agreements with Senator Schumer."

"The president told him to go back and talk to Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell and work it out," Mr. Cornyn said, referring to the House speaker and Senate majority leader.''


with the clock ticking, no votes were even scheduled before federal funds are to run out, and White House officials were not optimistic. Perhaps the best chance to avert a crisis lay in a proposal simply to keep the government open for another four or five days.

Are we a banana republic yet?

U.S. CFTC sues three virtual currency operators for fraud

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 22:39:05 GMT

The U.S. derivatives watchdog said on Friday that it has filed charges against three separate virtual currency operators alleging the defendants had defrauded customers and broken other commodity trading rules, in a further sign regulators globally are cracking down on the emerging asset class.


The CFTC charged New York resident Patrick McDonnell and his company CabbageTech with stealing money from customers that he had solicited for providing virtual-currency trading and other services.

In the second case the CFTC alleged Dillon Michael Dean of Colorado and his UK-registered company Entrepreneurs Headquarters Ltd operated a Ponzi scheme in which he solicited $1.1 million in bitcoin from more than 600 investors, promising them that their cash would be pooled and invested.

Not that there aren't sketchy crypto schemes out there, and outright scams -- but we all know the regulators have to "take some scalps" to quell public concern about "bubbles" (not in the stock or real estate markets, of course), as well as for "allowing" any crypto financial products in the first place...

House Spending Bill Changes Law to Let Trump Administration Secretly Shift Intelligence Money

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 22:36:35 GMT

``... without any obligation to spend funds as specifically authorized, there is no obligation to inform Congress if that's not happening...''

Jeddah Tower, the world's next tallest skyscraper, set to open in Saudi Arabia

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 15:01:32 GMT

When the 3,280-feet-tall (1,000-meter-tall) Jeddah Tower, in Saudi Arabia, opens in 2020, it will knock Dubai's iconic Burj Khalifa off its throne as the tallest skyscraper in the world by 236 feet (72 meters). Construction of the landmark is estimated to cost $1.4 billion... While today the site is surrounded by desert, upon completion the tower will be the center of the Jeddah Economic City development... Jeddah Tower's construction fits into Saudi Vision 2030, a government plan that aims to diversify the economy in the kingdom and reduce its dependence on oil...

But the project hasn't been smooth sailing. There have been various delays since construction began in 2013. Since November 2017, two of the project's most prominent backers -- Saudi Arabia's Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, a prolific investor and businessman, and Bakr Bin Laden, chairman of Jeddah Tower's construction company Bin Laden Group -- have been caught up in the kingdom's anti-corruption purge, which saw hundreds questioned on accusations of corruption.

Apple HQ2: Where Will the iPhone Maker's Second Campus Go?

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 14:51:05 GMT

``The tech giant on Wednesday announced plans to invest billions of dollars in the U.S. as part of a broader effort to repatriate nearly a quarter-trillion dollars in overseas cash to the U.S. Apple also said that it will create 20,000 new jobs over the next five years. Those jobs will be created at its existing campus, as well as "a new one."''

Weirdly-Evasive Hedge Fund Expat Browder is All Over Simpson Russia Testimony... And No One Notices

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 18:54:40 GMT

``Given Browder's prominence as a widely sought after commentator and his designation as a leading anti-corruption activist, surely his past business practices in Russia, as well as his questionable behavior relating to the Prevezon case, are worthy of some scrutiny.''

Amazon narrows list of headquarters cities to 20 finalists

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 18:52:07 GMT

``The finalist cities are: Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Boston; Chicago; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas; Denver; Indianapolis; Los Angeles; Miami; Montgomery County, Maryland; Nashville, Tennessee; Newark, New Jersey; New York; Northern Virginia; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Raleigh, North Carolina; Toronto; and Washington D.C.''

Ataris Bassist Michael Davenport Accused Of Running $27M Fraud Scheme

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 04:54:46 GMT

Ataris Bassist Michael Davenport Accused Of Running $27 Million Real Estate Fraud Scheme Using Craigslist

Government shutdown watch: Are enough House Republicans on board?

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 20:00:24 GMT

Republican leaders are full speed ahead on a short-term funding bill -- now they just need the votes for it. House GOP leaders are cautiously optimistic they can muster the votes for their short-term funding bill released Tuesday night.

Senate Republicans leaders have convinced themselves Democrats will have to peel off to support the spending package the House would send over. Senate Democrats, for their part, are still keeping their cards close to their chest.


How does a deal to address the expiring Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program get done, asks one senior Republican aide. "No idea. Ask the President. Until he decides what he really wants, nothing moves."


The Freedom Caucus is precisely why Senate Democrats were mostly keeping their powder dry on Tuesday regarding a possible shutdown. No sense in taking a hard position when, as one aide put it, "House Republicans have a history of stepping on their own rakes."

BofA Tops IBM, Payments Firms With Most Blockchain Patents

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 22:43:48 GMT

Bank of America Corp. may not be willing to help customers invest in Bitcoin, but that doesn't mean it isn't plowing into the technology underlying the cryptocurrency.

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based lender has applied for or received at least 43 patents for blockchain, the ledger technology used for verifying and recording transactions that's at the heart of virtual currencies. It is the largest number among major banks and technology companies, according to a study by EnvisionIP, a New York-based law firm that specializes in analyses of intellectual property.

"Based on what's publicly out there, the technology sector hasn't embraced blockchain as much as the financial-services industry," Maulin Shah, managing attorney for EnvisionIP, said in an interview.

International Business Machines Corp., which has targeted blockchain and artificial intelligence for future growth, tied with Mastercard Inc. for second on the list, with 27 each.