Posts Tagged ‘business’

eanda logoajclogo2

by @anarchyroll
4/27/2014

The stock market in the United States is rigged like crooks who have the fix in on a casino table game.

Many skeptics and people who have lost money have been saying this under their breaths at bars and loudly at family gatherings for decades now. But since the economic collapse of 2008, many people who have watched even the most sanitized network news show that Wall Street is an insider social club with insider language, insider trading, meant for only those in the club to benefit at the expense of those on the outside.

Do you know what flash trading is?

Whether or not you have any money in the stock market you need to know about it. Because if you’re smart, then one day, you will have some money in the stock market. Like it or not, most wealth generation is created by people who are able to make money in the stock market. The US stock market, though rigged, is the gold standard of using money to make more money in the world we live in. High Frequency Trading or Flash Trades leverages technology to rig the game for those in the know.

A con using fiber optic cables is still a con. The great author Michael Lewis recently exposed flash trades to the world for the con that it is. If flash trading wasn’t/isn’t a con, then why are both the SEC and Congress already looking to enact laws to make it illegal?

If flash trading isn’t as shady as it gets, why has a separate stock exchange called the IEX opened for business on a foundation of being able to prevent flash trading? If flash trading isn’t a con, why has the IEX gotten both so much positive press, high level start-up capital, and high-profile clients/traders?

I first heard of flash trading when the Flash Crash of 2010 become public knowledge. I also remember reading an article in TIME about buildings in Manhattan being bought and turned into server farms. Considering the price of Manhattan real estate, the fact that buildings would be bought and not turned into residential or commercial property to collect rent of any kind should raise an eyebrow.

Flash trading is the epitome of why my economics blog is called Excess and Algorithms. Excess and Algorithms is what flash trading is all about. Flash trading symbolizes what Wall Street has become over the past 25 years. Shady, dishonest, illegal but allowed to exist because of high level bribery, blackmail, and under the table handshakes between those in power and those in the know. The pervasiveness of flash trading in turning the stock market into a rigged game shows why the movement was called Occupy Wall Street. #OWS tried to teach and preach many things. Their critics would argue, too many. Two of the aspects related to business and Wall Street were/are:

  • Bailouts for citizens > Bailouts for banks
  • Jail for economic collapse architects > Bonuses paid to economic collapse architects
  • Cash > Credit
  • Credit Unions > Banks

Now, thanks to Michael Lewis we know one more thing about Wall Street to adapt to going forward:

  • IEX > NYSE & NASDAQ

Act accordingly…

sportsroll

by @anarchyroll
3/28/2014

Whether you know it or not, college athletics changed forever this week.

Northwestern University’s football players were found to be employees of the school, not merely student athletes, by the National Labor Relations Board in Chicago. This means the players now have collective bargaining rights with the school. That means the players now have a say in terms of monetary compensation for their time and effort on the football field beyond an athletic scholarship. Why is this a big deal?

The student athlete paradigm has been crumbling over the past decade. EA Sports no longer puts out it’s NCAA Football or Basketball video game franchises. Why? Because former student athletes filed multiple class action lawsuits and won (one) because they were not being royalties (residual checks) for the use of their likenesses. EA settled but the NCAA is vowing to take the case(s) to the Supreme Court. The NCAA is also saying they will take the NU case to the highest possible court/governing body. Why? Money.

The NCAA is exposing itself for what it is, a money laundering operation. They exist solely to make money off the time, energy, effort, blood, sweat, and tears of 18-21 year old men and women at Division I universities in the United States of America. They care nothing about graduation rates of the players. They care nothing about their health and medical costs. They only care about how much money they can make off of television contracts for the Bowl Championship Series and March Madness.

By exposing themselves as money hungry pigs, the NCAA is losing it’s battle in the court of public opinion. Rather than evolving and paying the students who are making NCAA and the universities billions of dollars (with a B) each year, they are trying to keep them as scholarship slaves. Scholarships are fine for athletes and universities that aren’t on national television on a daily and/or weekly basis. Scholarships are fine for academics. But NCAA Division I athletics is about money, nothing more, nothing less. If it wasn’t then ESPN and CBS wouldn’t be allowed to make anything more than enough money to cover operational costs to broadcast the sporting events.

But that’s not the way it is. It’s not 1960 anymore. Sports equals business in America. So pay the employees what they earn by destroying their bodies in the primes of their lives for the glory and admiration of their parents and peers. The times they are a changin’. You don’t want to pay students who are on national TV every week? Then;

  • Take the games off national TV.
  • Revoke all contracts outside of local public access.
  • Force all coaches to make the same as the professors.
  • Don’t allow schools to travel out of state to play away games.
  • Disperse all funding equally between all sports played at each school.

Don’t want to do any of those? That list is unrealistic and naive? Yeah, no shit. So pay the players. Don’t give them straight cash homey. Pay them in gift cards so they can buy;

  • food
  • clothes
  • tutors
  • laptops
  • plane tickets to go back home during breaks

If the students can afford these things themselves they won’t be dependent on their parents, boosters, or shady gamblers who get them into point shaving schemes. No one is saying pay the quarterback of Notre Dame $1 million a year. But how about you give the kids some money to have fun on the weekends so you can stop putting schools on probation, stripping wins, taking down banners, and expunging winning records?

Why is NU winning union rights important? It changes the face of college athletics forever. How? Because students will be looked as employees. The tide has turned on this issue. Much like gay rights and marijuana legalization, there is no going back, only forward. It is only a matter of time before all major universities are affected by this. That will affect scheduling, coaches contracts, television contracts, merchandise rights, and tuition costs. The college experience as a whole can and will be changed by this going forward. We have just witnessed the tip of the iceberg.

eanda logoajclogo2

by @anarchyroll
3/22/2014

Janet Yellen chaired her first Fed meeting this past week. Afterwards she announced Fed policy going forward regarding her baby, quantitative easing. She helped construct QE at the height of the economic downturn several years ago, a topic written about repeatedly on this website. Yellen announced that QE will continue to taper down at a rate of $10 billion per month until the end of the year.

That is good, QE needs to end, the sooner the better. The problem is the economy has become somewhat dependant on it. The markets took a small but sudden dive at just the announcement about anything QE related. Yellen also said that QE coming to a total end will depend partially on unemployment numbers.

If you haven’t noticed the unemployment problem is a deeper wound in the economy and in the country not seen since the Great Depression. Not only are a huge number of people out of work, but even more are underemployed and wages have been stagnant for over a decade. When the  markets react negatively to even the mention of QE ending, which it does every time there is an official announcement on the subject, employment numbers are likely to take a hit.

Why? Because the 1% who employ the other 99 have their assets all up in the casino stock market. So if/when those numbers go down unemployment goes up, underemployment goes up, wages stay stagnant or go down. So tying QE to the employment numbers is an out to keep QE going indefinitely since the unemployment crisis could be indefinite. What will the effect of a possible government mandated rise of the minimum wage? All these moving parts will affect whether QE ultimately comes to an end.

The minimum wage debate will be the subject of the next Excess and Algorithms article.

eanda logoajclogo2

by @anarchyroll
3/5/2014

A lot has been written about student loan debt, but apparently not a lot of research has been done into the subject. The Department of Education releases default rates once a year, but that is just about it. Are you surprised at this? So was the New York State Federal Reserve Bank. Two analysts working their essentially had to do a bulk of the research that is now often cited by the media and protest groups.

They found that the percentage of 25-year-old college graduates with student loan debts essentially doubled while the average loan balance increased 91% from 2003 to 2012.

Economists are looking at education borrowing as the next bubble that could burst and drag down the US economy along with it. Much like the housing bubble, there are a lot of government backed loans being given away with a rubber stamp to large amounts of people who are unable to immediately if ever repay. Government officials are openly comparing student borrowing to the mortgage-backed security crisis of 2008. And remember, this article opened with the fact that there has been little study and even less data available on the subject.

Mortgage backed securities, credit default swaps, and derivatives trading are all complicated things. Let’s keep the education bubble concept simple.

Student loan debt in America = $1.2 trillion (with a T) more than any other form of consumer debt.

Much like the series of articles written about quantitative easing (QE), there will be multiple articles written about student loan debt as well as the debate over raising the minimum wage. These are the three economic issues I feel most passionately about and wish to shine light upon. Let those numbers listed above wash over you for a bit. Do you know anyone dealing with student loan debt? How are they doing? What is their quality of life?

It’s not just the loan or the interest, it is the unemployment, underemployment, or complete non-existence of careers in the fields thousands if not millions of students are graduating with each year. It’s not just the monthly payment on the loan(s). It’s the monthly payment on the loan plus rent, utilities, food, transportation, etc.

The Education Bubble and the student loan debt crisis are one and the same. They are intertwined, they are two terms describing essentially the same thing.

How is higher education a bubble akin to the dot-com, real estate bubbles, and other asset bubbles? We’ll cover that in part 2…

eanda logoajclogo2by @anarchyroll
2/27/2014

There are very few things that can actually change the American and/or global economy. The reason there are few things is because each one is not just big but gigantic in scope, nature, and application apparatus. A overhaul of the US tax code has been proposed by Michigan Republican David Camp of Michigan.

The banks hate it, retailers love it, Democrats say it’s dead on arrival, and Republicans aren’t really saying anything since it involves raising taxes on top earners. But it is a start, it is a physical, tangible bill, put on the table. The White House has acknowledged at least that much.

Many tax exemptions and tax breaks would be eliminated. Taxes would go down for individuals but go up for companies and corporations that earn X number of dollars. Income earned from investments would be taxed more which is very important. But there are multiple aspects that will prevent it from going anywhere, but it’s a start.

979 pages, which is the length of the bill, doesn’t exactly scream…simplified. But there must be a starting point on this issue, there must. The tax code in the United States is ridiculous and causes more problems than it solves. It favors the rich and hurts the poor. Too much money is hidden, sheltered, and shipped offshore, all of which must end.

Warren Buffet has famously said he should not pay a lower marginal tax rate than his secretary. The fact that is currently the norm, tells you all you need to know about the current tax code and tax policy in the United States. David Camps starting point is truly nothing more than a starting point but you can’t walk before you crawl. Camp’s bill begins the crawl forward, and forward is always the way to go.

eanda logoby @anarchyroll
2/20/2014

What is money velocity? It is the speed at which the M2 money supply moves from one transaction to another.  What is the M2 money supply? It is all the liquid cash assets in the country from cash, savings accounts, mutual funds, certificate of deposits (CDs), checking deposits, or basically any kind of money stored in any kind of account, or mattress if you’re old and senile.

How can money velocity be used to gauge economic strength? Because money velocity ends up being the ratio of the size of a country’s economy to the size of the money supply. So there shouldn’t be more cash than there is gross domestic product (GDP) or less than. If there is more/less, then inflation/deflation occurs as a market correction.

I may sound very smart with the above explanation, but a recent article in Bloomberg Businessweek did all the heavy lifting for me. The article is short, quick, to the point, and keeps everything in plain language, as I try to do with this blog.

The concept of money velocity fascinated me because; I had never even heard or come across the term before, was unaware it is a relatively accurate economic indicator, and was surprised that the slower money moves the safer we are from inflation or another recession. Why is that? Hasn’t the Fed been flooding the markets with freshly printed money for over three years? They have, but people and businesses aren’t spending it, they’re saving it. Which is good for now because inflation could stop the economic recovery in its tracks.

But the money will have to start flowing sooner than later. Especially as QE gets tapered off over the next 18 months. Fading out QE and fading in inflation wouldn’t do much damage to the economy. It would be like getting autumn before winter or spring before summer, our bodies acclimate to the changing weather because of a gradual transition. This could be the case with money velocity. It was refreshing to learn that the low money velocity we are seeing now is historically normal, and has in the 60s and 80s preceded boom periods.

But those booms were just bubbles. We all must keep one eye on Wall Street to make sure that our country isn’t held hostage by a bursting bubble again. That is why they teach consumer ed in high schools folks, it’s not just to give an elective teacher a pay bump.

So now you know what money velocity and M2 money supply are. It’s used as an economic indicator because of its ratio to GDP. Lower velocity means lower prices and deflation while higher velocity means higher prices and inflation. Drop those in conversation at the cocktail lounge but not the night club, depending on how fast you want to move the cash in your wallet to keep the other parties interested…

eanda logoby @anarchyroll
2/9/2014

$100 million dollars is a lot of money. A big round number that looks especially good in a press release touting charitable contributions. When a company makes $4.6 billion each financial quarter however, that $100 million sounds a little less charitable. When the people receive the charity are saying they don’t need the money, they need better infrastructure and a cheaper bill, well, welcome to America.

In an excellent piece written for the  Washington Post, Brian Fung very politely writes why the nine figure monetary donation is bullshit. Again, he puts it much more politely than I. After all, what good are a bunch of iPads if the school either doesn’t have broadband or can’t afford it? Which is plenty of schools, not just the ones in the ghettos are facing.

Have you noticed your internet bill going down in the last decade? Exactly, imagine what a municipal internet bill is. No such thing as a free lunch. If we charge people to not die of cancer, what hope do kids who want to save their homework to the cloud have?

Good thing we have a socialist, liberal, communist, democratic president in office whose going to stick it to the billion dollar corporations to help the schools out right? Spoiler alert, Obama has is a moderate conservative. Nothing has been asked or demanded of the telcomm companies to provide free or even discounted rates on new infrastructure or service to schools in rural areas of America or in impoverished urban areas either (both of which still run on dial up in some cases).

$100 million is a lot of money, but when that is how much money is made in 8 out of 8,765 hours of operation, it’s a token gesture meant to distract and distort. Nothing more, nothing less. Not to mention we haven’t talked about the students who go to school starving for food, not for playing Candy Crush during home room.

sportsrolleanda logo
by @anarchyroll
2/4/2014

Did you know the NFL makes $9 billion in net profits each year and pays ZERO dollars in taxes?  How? They are classified as a 501(c)(6) trade organization, which enables tax exempt status.  When did they get this sweet hart deal? Back in the 60s. Were the politicians who enabled this high on dope like the hippies? No, just corrupt as hell.  The NFL spends $1.5 billion each year lobbying to maintain their tax exempt status.

Why was this allowed? The NFL was allowed to act as a monopoly in terms of their trade organization status, television contract negotiations, and stadium funding negotiations in exchange for not running games against high school and college games.

What is being done about this? The Properly Reducing Overexemptions For Sports Act has been introduced to the United States Congress. Who? Republican Senator Thomas Coburn of Oklahoma and Independent Senator Angus King are cosponsoring the bill. The bill is presently sitting in the Senate Finance Committee, where it has been since September of last year (2013).

The concept of the NFL not paying any taxes is of course, bullshit. The bill that gave them this status was given no name in order to keep it secret. Individual teams already get tax breaks to build their stadiums and get sweetheart deals to avoid property taxes on them as well as their practice facilities.  The only exemption that may allowed to remain would be the Green Bay Packers, who are publically owned by the town/city.

$9 billion a year annually means they can afford to pay a nominal tax rate. No need to go crazy socialist on the league.  1-5% per individual team in addition to off the top of the league as a whole will be more than sufficient to start. Now, should a back taxes penalty be paid? Considering all the charitable contributions of the league makes each year, that might not be necessary.

But when a Republican United States Senator is proposing a bill that raises taxes, I think we can all agree that the time has come for the NFL to pay their fair share of revenue and help state and federal governments build roads, schools, firehouses, police stations, and libraries.

Click here to sign online petition to revoke the NFL’s tax exempt status.

eanda logoby @anarchyroll
2/1/2014

Part One  |  Part Two

Ex cons have a hard time getting jobs in America due to a stigma that they can’t be trusted due to past actions. Even though going through the incarceration process is supposed to bring you the other end rehabilitated with a clean slate, the reality of the situation is often quite the opposite. It also often only applies to racial minorities who commit blue collar crimes as opposed to white collar criminals who not only don’t go to jail but often barely get a metaphoric slap on the wrist.  In the spirit of the latter example, Janet Yellen is the new Fed Chief.

Janet Yellen is a much better choice than Larry Summers.  Summers is one of the forgotten architects of the 2008 economic collapse thanks to his economic policy of derivatives deregulation during the Clinton administration during the 1990s.  Summers was thought to be getting the job last year before the liberal wing of the Democratic party threatened rebellion in the midterm elections if it happened.

Ben Bernanke who Yellen is replacing, well he is to the economy what George W Bush is to national security.  9/11 happened on Bush’s watch, the 2008 collapse happened on Bernanke’s watch, that’s all you need to know.

Janet Yellen was recently featured in a TIME magazine cover story since she is about to become the most powerful person in the economic world. Why does she fit into the Quantitative Easing conversation? Two reasons. One, she helped create it in 2010. Two, she will be responsible for the tapering (fading out of) and ending of it. But do drug dealers and drug addicts often voluntarily quit their habit? Or do they continuously justify their habit to themselves?

Yellen and QE have been, are presently, and will be in the future tied together for better and for worse.  Wall Street has benefited immensely from QE. The massive bond buying program has held down interest rates (QE’s stated intent).  This has allowed the casino that is the stock market to function smoothly and at times on steroids, seeing unprecedented highs.

But these highs are drug induced. When a person does blow, crack, or meth they get an intense high for a limited amount of time.  Someone who drops acid sees walls melt and a new world of colors birth before their very eyes. But these things do not last, because they are induced by an outside substance.  The crash afterwards can be brutal, even from a simple alcohol or marijuana high. The high may feel real, but not as real as the hangover.

The American economy was high after the recovery from the dot com bubble burst. Deregulation, default swaps, and derivatives were the drug of choice of the early 2000s and the high was tremendous making houses as affordable as cars, cars as affordable as vacations, and vacations as affordable as a credit card induced weekend shopping spree. The hangover that started in 2008 was and is very real. Make no mistake we are still in recession, the recovery is false.

The recovery is false because it is also drug induced, stock market highs snorted, smoked, and shot up thanks to quantitative easing.  Asset bubbles have been created, inflation is inevitable, and any time tapering is stated or hinted at the stock market nose dives.

Tapering is occurring at about $5 to $10 billion a month, which is a good thing.  Yellen has publically stated her support for stricter economic regulation and has the backing of Elizabeth Warren.  My concern is that Yellen is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. In addition to being an architect of the current quantitative easing policy written about here, she is also proponent of trickle-down economics or Reaganomics.

The last paragraph of her TIME interview is a quote which that TIME tries to spin as “a rising tide can lift all boats” and then point out that phrase was first used by President Kennedy.  The problem is Yellen states that the purpose of QE is directly tied to trickle-down theory. The more money rich people have, the more they will spend, and that will mean more money for the poor by osmosis.  Aka when a drunk person drinks a lot, they’ll piss a lot more. QE is nothing more than a tax cut substitute in the Reaganomics equation. She claims to have main street on her mind, but her economic actions indicate she is looking out for the people at the top, hoping their crumbs become big enough to feed the poor when they trickle down after their hedge fund has enough capital freed up to buy another section of homes.

Better than Larry Summers? Yes. Does she deserve some time as the Fed Chair to prove herself? Yes. But QE is her baby. The stock market and unemployment numbers are her master.  She is going to nurture her baby and serve her master as long as they are tied together.  And all economic indicators show that QE is directly tied to stock market gains and losses as well as the unemployment numbers.  Yellen has stated as long as unemployment remains high, QE will remain.

Drug cartel kingpins tend not to be at the forefront of legalization movements. Why? Because the status quo makes them rich.  Janet Yellen helped devise QE and now she’s in charge of ending it? Next thing you know you’re going to tell me the insurance companies helped write the Affordable Health Care Act…..

eanda logoby @anarchyroll
1/28/2014

Click Here for Part One

Getting high, if it wasn’t fun, why would so many people do it? The only problem is that the high doesn’t last forever. The come down is often a crash, back to reality, damnit there’s still the law of gravity. Oh no, the stash is gone. What to do? Face life and the world as it is? Okay, but only for as long as it takes to get the next hit.

The sky was falling in the fall of 2008.  Not just millions, not just billions, but TRILLIONS of dollars evaporated from the global economy.  The wound wasn’t just opened, it was hemorrhaging blood.  What to do? Let the free market run free until it corrected itself?  Use taxpayer money to try and plug the leak? Bomb another middle eastern country?

Desperation causes people to do things that they don’t fully understand. Under intense stress and scrutiny many human beings seek a temporary escape from reality in mind or mood altering chemical substances produced naturally or artificially known to many simply as drugs.  Coffee, cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, molly, mushrooms, lsd. cocaine, heroin, meth, crack.  Those who shake their head and thumb their nose at drug users often substitute adrenaline, food, binge screen watching, and other socially accepted mind altering reality escapes in place of the illicit stuff, but it’s all the same.

The federal government and federal reserve bank of the United States of America is run by human beings. Human beings susceptible to the same highs, lows, pros, cons, disciplines, and vices as you and me.  In the midst of panic, desperation, and catastrophe a series of steps were taken to stop the economic bleeding, stabilize the markets, and attempt to spur future growth.  However, the policies were all nothing more than reality escaping substances on a meta scale.

First came TARP. Then came the auto industry bailout.  Those got the headlines and the public ire or support depending if you’re a political elephant or jackass.  However another, much less sexy, but equally if not more important was the Federal Reserve Bank’s $85 billion per month bond buying program known as Quantitative Easing.

There have been three waves of QE from 2009 through present, it is expected to end in 2015.  But if it’s expected to end clean, at a predetermined time, why the drug analogy?

The problem, is that the markets have become dependent, on the fed flooding the market with cash, now there is a new bubble, that could bring the market(s) down in flames.

So the withdrawal pains, in the form of inflation and higher interest rates, could cause a relapse into recession or worse for both the US and global economy.  QE has been like an alcoholic going to rehab and starting a two pack a day cigarette habit.  Our recovery has been artificially enhanced by QE. We haven’t quit cold turkey, we’re on synthetic drugs. It isn’t until all the meds are out of our system that we’ll know if the economy has recovered or not.

Where does QE go from here?  I’ll cover that in part 3…