Britain: 400 people earned more than £10 million a year, only 65 of them paid income tax

Taxman targets 100,000 top earners to claw back millions

More than 200 years after rules on tax status were introduced to meet the cost of the Napoleonic wars, a new battle is being waged against Britons and foreign workers.

Scrutiny of the tax affairs of wealthy individuals, foreign workers, entrepreneurs and celebrities has gathered pace since the Labour Government came to power. High earners are being pursued with new vigour by the authorities, which are under immense pressure to bolster Treasury coffers and deliver hundreds of millions of pounds.

Their persistence is paying off. According to data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by McGrigors, a law firm and tax investigation specialist, compliance activity focusing on high-net-worth taxpayers and wealthy foreigners resident in Britain by Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has yielded astonishing results: in 2008-09, tax teams netted £373 million. Four years before that they collected only £81 million.

The figures represent the work of the Revenue’s expatriate and complex personal returns teams, now replaced by one dedicated team. Launched last year, the high-net-worth unit is made up of about 500 staff, each dealing with just ten wealthy taxpayers.

The department has not specified the level of wealth for individuals to fall under scrutiny, but accountants suggest it could be in excess of £10 million. Figures published in 2007 showed that while about 400 people earned more than £10 million a year in Britain, only 65 of them paid income tax.

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CNN: Austin plane crash was deliberate – Confirmed Suicide Letter Written By Joe Stack



(CNN) — An Austin, Texas, resident with an apparent grudge against the Internal Revenue Service set his house on fire Thursday and then crashed a small plane into a building housing an IRS office with nearly 200 employees, officials said.

Federal authorities identified the pilot of the Piper Cherokee PA-28 as Joseph Andrew Stack, 53.

Two people were injured and one person was missing, local officials said. There were no reported deaths.

A message on a Web site registered to Stack appears to be a suicide note.

See iReport photos and videos from the scene

“If you’re reading this, you’re no doubt asking yourself, ‘Why did this have to happen?’ ” the message says. “The simple truth is that it is complicated and has been coming for a long time.”

In the lengthy, rambling message, the writer rails against the government and, particularly, the IRS.

See text of the note (PDF)

The building into which the airplane crashed is a federal IRS center with 199 employees.

February 18, 2010 — Updated 2012 GMT (0412 HKT)

Full article: CNN


Here is the suicide letter in full:

If you’re reading this, you’re no doubt asking yourself, “Why did this have to happen?”  The simple truth is that it is complicated and has been coming for a long time.  The writing process, started many months ago, was intended to be therapy in the face of the looming realization that there isn’t enough therapy in the world that can fix what is really broken.  Needless to say, this rant could fill volumes with example after example if I would let it.  I find the process of writing it frustrating, tedious, and probably pointless… especially given my gross inability to gracefully articulate my thoughts in light of the storm raging in my head.  Exactly what is therapeutic about that I’m not sure, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

We are all taught as children that without laws there would be no society, only anarchy.  Sadly, starting at early ages we in this country have been brainwashed to believe that, in return for our dedication and service, our government stands for justice for all.  We are further brainwashed to believe that there is freedom in this place, and that we should be ready to lay our lives down for the noble principals represented by its founding fathers.  Remember? One of these was “no taxation without representation”.  I have spent the total years of my adulthood unlearning that crap from only a few years of my childhood.  These days anyone who really stands up for that principal is promptly labeled a “crackpot”, traitor and worse.

While very few working people would say they haven’t had their fair share of taxes (as can I), in my lifetime I can say with a great degree of certainty that there has never been a politician cast a vote on any matter with the likes of me or my interests in mind.  Nor, for that matter, are they the least bit interested in me or anything I have to say.

Why is it that a handful of thugs and plunderers can commit unthinkable atrocities (and in the case of the GM executives, for scores of years) and when it’s time for their gravy train to crash under the weight of their gluttony and overwhelming stupidity, the force of the full federal government has no difficulty coming to their aid within days if not hours?  Yet at the same time, the joke we call the American medical system, including the drug and insurance companies, are murdering tens of thousands of people a year and stealing from the corpses and victims they cripple, and this country’s leaders don’t see this as important as bailing out a few of their vile, rich cronies.  Yet, the political “representatives” (thieves, liars, and self-serving scumbags is far more accurate) have endless time to sit around for year after year and debate the state of the “terrible health care problem”.  It’s clear they see no crisis as long as the dead people don’t get in the way of their corporate profits rolling in.

And justice? You’ve got to be kidding!

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South Carolina Rep. Mike Pitts Seeks to Ban Federal Currency

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South Carolina Rep. Mike Pitts has introduced legislation that would mandate that gold and silver coins replace federal currency as legal tender in his state.

As the Palmetto Scoop first reported, Pitts, a Republican, introduced legislation this month banning “the unconstitutional substitution of Federal Reserve Notes for silver and gold coin” in South Carolina.

In an interview, Pitts told Hotsheet that he believes that “if the federal government continues to spend money at the rate it’s spending money, and if it continues to print money at the rate it’s printing money, our economic system is going to collapse.”

“The Germans felt their system wouldn’t collapse, but it took a wheelbarrow of money to buy a loaf of bread in the 1930s,” he said. “The Soviet Union didn’t think their system would collapse, but it did. Ours is capable of collapsing also.”

The lawmaker believes that a shift to an economy based on gold and silver coins would give the state a “base of currency” should that collapse come. As one expert told the Scoop, however, his bill would likely be ruled unconstitutional because it “violates a perfectly legal and Constitutional federal law, enacted pursuant to the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, that federal reserve notes are legal tender for all debts public and private.”

In addition, since gold and silver regularly fluctuate in value, they could not easily function as stable currency.

But Pitts maintains that his state is better off with something he can hold in his hand and barter with as opposed to federal currency, which he described to the Scoop as “paper with ink on it.” He says he resents what he considers the federal government’s intrusions on states’ rights.

Though he did not offer a timeframe, Pitts told Hotsheet that he anticipates a nationwide economic collapse “if our federal government continues the course it’s been traveling under the previous administration and this administration.”

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Internet Censorship: France leapfrogs past Australia in Big Brother stakes

Lock up your kids and lock down your PC’s

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France yesterday put in its bid for an unlikely prize, becoming the first western country to make even Australia look liberal when it comes to state powers of internet censorship.

In the teeth of fierce opposition both inside and outside parliament, the National Assembly approved, by 312 votes to 214 against, a first reading of a bill on Internal Security – the quaintly titled “LOPPSI 2”.

LOPPSI – otherwise known as Loi d’Orientation et de Programmation pour la SÈcuritÈ IntÈrieure (pdf)- is a ragbag of measures designed to make France a safer place. Like similar UK legislation – most notably the various Criminal Justice acts brought in over the last decade – LOPPSI brings together a number of apparently unrelated proposals which would severely restrict individual rights in all walks of life.

Last week, for instance, the Assembly agreed to include within the new law a measure that would allow Prefects to sign off on a curfew for children aged under 13, out unaccompanied between the hours of 11 pm and 6 am.

The bill also includes measures that would increase police spend on “security”, create additional penalties for counterfeiting and ID theft, increase CCTV surveillance, and widen access to the Police DNA database.

However, it is in the online area that some of the most radical proposals are to be found, with the criminalisation of online ID theft, provision for the police to tap online connections in the course of investigations, and most controversially of all, allowing the state to order ISPs to block (filter) specific internet URLs according to ministerial diktat.

It has also been suggested that the state should have the right to plant covert trojans to monitor individual PC usage.

Whilst the latter measures are put forward on the grounds of child protection, critics have been quick to point out that, in the absence of any judicial oversight mechanism, this is a power just waiting to be abused.

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Australian Government Requests Google To Censor YouTube

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Not that we already have more than enough censorship!


Google says it will not “voluntarily” comply with the government’s request that it censor YouTube videos in accordance with broad “refused classification” (RC) content rules.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy referred to Google’s censorship on behalf of the Chinese and Thai governments in making his case for the company to impose censorship locally.

Google warns this would lead to the removal of many politically controversial, but harmless, YouTube clips.

University of Sydney associate professor Bjorn Landfeldt, one of Australia’s top communications experts, said that to comply with Conroy’s request Google “would have to install a filter along the lines of what they actually have in China”.

As it prepares to introduce legislation within weeks forcing ISPs to block a blacklist of RC websites, the government says it is in talks with Google over blocking the same type of material from YouTube.

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Paul Craig Roberts: America – A Country of Serfs Ruled By Oligarchs

See also: Paul Craig Roberts: It Is Now Official: The U.S. Is A Police State


Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during President Reagan’s first term. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, and Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

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Paul Craig Roberts

The media has headlined good economic news: fourth quarter GDP growth of 5.7 percent (“the recession is over”), Jan. retail sales up, productivity up in 4th quarter, the dollar is gaining strength. Is any of it true? What does it mean?

The 5.7 percent growth figure is a guesstimate made in advance of the release of the U.S. trade deficit statistic. It assumed that the U.S. trade deficit would show an improvement. When the trade deficit was released a few days later, it showed a deterioration, knocking the 5.7 percent growth figure down to 4.6 percent. Much of the remaining GDP growth consists of inventory accumulation.

More than a fourth of the reported gain in Jan. retail sales is due to higher gasoline and food prices. Questionable seasonal adjustments account for the rest.

Productivity was up, because labor costs fell 4.4 percent in the fourth quarter, the fourth successive decline. Initial claims for jobless benefits rose. Productivity increases that do not translate into wage gains cannot drive the consumer economy.

Housing is still under pressure, and commercial real estate is about to become a big problem.

The dollar’s gains are not due to inherent strengths. The dollar is gaining because government deficits in Greece and other EU countries are causing the dollar carry trade to unwind. America’s low interest rates made it profitable for investors and speculators to borrow dollars and use them to buy overseas bonds paying higher interest, such as Greek, Spanish and Portuguese bonds denominated in euros. The deficit troubles in these countries have caused investors and speculators to sell the bonds and convert the euros back into dollars in order to pay off their dollar loans. This unwinding temporarily raises the demand for dollars and boosts the dollar’s exchange value.

The problems of the American economy are too great to be reached by traditional policies. Large numbers of middle class American jobs have been moved offshore: manufacturing, industrial and professional service jobs. When the jobs are moved offshore, consumer incomes and U.S. GDP go with them. So many jobs have been moved abroad that there has been no growth in U.S. real incomes in the 21st century, except for the incomes of the super rich who collect multi-million dollar bonuses for moving U.S. jobs offshore.

Without growth in consumer incomes, the economy can go nowhere. Washington policymakers substituted debt growth for income growth. Instead of growing richer, consumers grew more indebted. Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan accomplished this with his low interest rate policy, which drove up housing prices, producing home equity that consumers could tap and spend by refinancing their homes.

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George Soros More Than Doubled Gold ETF Stake in 4th Quarter

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George Soros, chairman and founder of Soros Fund Management LLC, speaks at an open discussion at the University of Hong Kong in Hong Kong, on Feb. 3, 2010. (Bloomberg)

Feb. 17 (Bloomberg) — Billionaire George Soros’s Soros Fund Management LLC more than doubled its holding in the biggest gold exchange-traded fund in the fourth quarter after bullion advanced 8.9 percent to a record.

The $25 billion New York-based firm became the fourth- largest holder in the SPDR Gold Trust, adding 3.728 million shares valued at $421 million, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday. Its investment was worth about $663 million, the fund’s largest single investment, as of Dec. 31.

Soros joined China Investment Corp. and central banks including those in China and India in acquiring gold. China Investment, the $300 billion sovereign wealth fund based in Beijing, took a 1.45 million-share stake in the SPDR Gold Trust worth $155.6 million, according to a SEC 13F filing posted on Feb. 5.

“The dollar is weak and people are just shifting their money into a safer haven,” Tetsuya Yoshii, vice president for derivative products at Mizuho Corporate Bank Ltd., said from Tokyo today. “Central banks are adding gold to their reserves and we’re going to see more people adding gold to their investment portfolio as they shift into safer stuff.”

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UK Annual Inflation Jumps, Prompts Bank Of England Explanatory Letter

Quantitative easing (= creating money out of thin air = printing money = increasing the money supply = creating inflation.) works!

Inflation is a hidden tax on monetary assets.

“By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.”
– John Maynard Keynes


Rise in value-added tax had ‘significant impact’ on CPI

quantitative-easing

LONDON (MarketWatch) — British consumer prices in January rose 3.5% compared to the same month last year, requiring Bank of England Governor Mervyn King to pen an explanatory letter to the Treasury.

The Office for National Statistics said a rise in the value-added tax back to 17.5% in January after the expiration of a temporary cut to 15% had a “significant impact” on the inflation rate.

The outcome was hardly a surprise. King, in a news conference last week following the release of the central bank’s latest quarterly inflation report, had once again highlighted expectations for a near-term surge in inflation driven in part by the expiration of the VAT break. Read about the BOE’s inflation expectations.

In an open letter released after the data, King wrote that that the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee expects the January rise in annual U.K. consumer inflation to be a “temporary deviation” from the 2% target. King said the situation was comparable to two previous occasions when he has had to pen letters to the chancellor explaining missed targets.

Weak spending has created a “substantial margin of spare capacity” in the economy that is expected to bear down on inflation over time. King said the MPC is committed to taking “whatever actions are necessary” to ensure the inflation outlook remains in line with the 2% target.

King is required to write a letter to Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling if inflation misses the 2% annual target by more than a full percentage point.

In a reply, Darling noted that the MPC’s remit allows it to “look through short-term movements in inflation” and said the committee’s long-term outlook for inflation is similar to the forecast set out in the Treasury’s December Pre-Budget Report. Read the letters.

The ONS said consumer prices fell 0.2% between December and January, the smallest decline on record.

Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast a 0.2% monthly rise and a 3.7% year-on-year increase.

The British pound rose 0.2% versus the U.S. dollar to change hands at $1.5693.

In last week’s inflation report, the BOE projected inflation would fall back below target in coming months after a temporary spike higher.

“While the inflation numbers look worrying at first glance, “we do buy the BOE view that the inflation rate will dip over the remainder of the year,” said Peter Dixon, U.K. economist at Commerzbank.

The VAT expiration was a one-time event, while the inflationary impact of a weaker pound was mainly an issue for 2009, Dixon said, with import prices stabilizing after a surge in late 2008.

William L. Watts is a reporter for MarketWatch in London.

Feb. 16, 2010, 6:33 a.m. EST
By William L. Watts, MarketWatch

Source: MarketWatch

Foreign Demand For US Teasuries Falls By Largest Amount On Record

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WASHINGTON — The government said Tuesday that foreign demand for U.S. Treasury securities fell by the largest amount on record in December with China reducing its holdings by $34.2 billion.

The reductions in holdings, if they continue, could force the government to make higher interest payments at a time that it is running record federal deficits.

The Treasury Department reported that foreign holdings of U.S. Treasury securities fell by $53 billion in December, surpassing the previous record of a $44.5 billion drop in April 2009.

The big drop in China’s holdings meant that it lost the top spot in terms of foreign ownership of U.S. Treasuries, dropping to second place behind Japan.

Japan also reduced its holdings of U.S. Treasuries, cutting them by $11.5 billion to $768.8 billion in December, but that amount was still more than China’s December total of $755.4 billion.

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BBC Scotland Investigative Reporters Threatened To Stop Documentary Or Get Sacked; Reporter Robert Green On The Hollie Greig Abuse Case And The Aberdeen Paedophile Ring

YouTube has now removed all 5 videos I had posted before!

That was fast. I have found replacements.

Please leave a comment, if any video doesn’t work anymore.


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Added: 13. Februar 2010

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Robert Green RELEASED update here :
http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Arti…

REGULAR UPDATES FROM HOLLIE’S BLOG HERE : http://stolenkids-hollie.blogspot.com/

UPDATE ON ROBERT GREEN ARREST HERE : http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Arti…

Earlier report on Hollie Greig’s abuse case here : http://www.ukcolumn.org/2010/02/02/ch…

In the October 2009 print edition of the UK Column, we reported in our article BBC Hides Truth of Girls Sexual Abuse Ordeal the shocking ordeal of Downs Syndrome girl, Hollie Greig, who was horribly abused by an Aberdeen paedophile ring, over a period of ten years. After investigating and planning a documentary, the BBC abruptly dropped the case, despite admitting that Hollie was a reliable and accurate witness. It is important to stress that both the police and qualified medical experts have described Hollie as a competent and entirely honest witness.

From the age of just six, Hollie was repeatedly sexually abused by her father, Denis Charles Mackie. Later, Mackie began sharing his daughter with a gang of paedophile swingers that has been operating in Aberdeen for many years. The identities of a further seven child victims are already known. There is no question that the gang are well-connected, efficiently organised and totally ruthless. Our frightening story is that they are protected by individuals of high standing within the Scottish establishment.

In 2000, after 14 years of terrified silence, Hollie eventually told her mother, Anne, about the abuses. Formal statements were made to Grampian Police, providing all the horrifying details and the names of the abusers. They included a senior Scottish Sheriff, a policeman, social workers, a nurse, a solicitor, an accountant, a fire officer, married couples and others. Some of the rapes were carried out at the homes of these individuals, including that of the Sheriffs sister. Other children were sometimes involved, including children of the paedophiles themselves.

The latest chapters in this astonishing and horrifying story about Hollie, and the seven other abused children, have taken place over the past few weeks. The key issues are a continued refusal by Grampian police to fully investigate the overwhelming evidence for the paedophile rapes, and a wall of silence by the Scottish establishment.

Whilst there has been some general Scottish media coverage, notably in The Firm and the Aberdeen Press and Journal, the media has been largely silent on what must be one of Scotlands worst top level paedophile scandles. A key figure in the press silence is the Lord Advocate, in her former role as Procurator Fiscal in Aberdeen, when in 2000 she is alleged to have effectively buried the case. Was this to prevent her associate and most influential member of the paedophile ring, Sheriff X, from being investigated, along with the other named members of the fifteen-strong rape gang?

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Australia: Economist Steve Keen Warns of Bubble in Nation’s Housing

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Economist Steve Keen

HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — Australia’s seemingly bulletproof economy could soon face fallout from high debt levels and purportedly misguided policies designed to pump up asset prices, according to an outspoken skeptic of the nation’s housing boom.

Economist Steve Keen of the University of Western Sydney, who claims to have accurately foreseen the global financial crisis, said he’s been dismayed by what he sees as a growing nationwide housing bubble stoked by government efforts to forestall economic pain.

Keen points to a first-time homebuyer subsidy program, various other stimulus programs, and a 4-percentage-point reduction in interest rates — policies introduced in the wake of the 2008 crash and which he termed “The Boost” — as having helped fueled a new housing boom and a 6% rise in mortgage debt last year.

“The Boost has … given Australia a dubious distinction when compared to the rest of the OECD. Yes, we are the only country that avoided a technical recession; but we are also the only country where debt levels are rising once more compared to GDP, rather than falling,” Keen wrote in comments posted on his Web site, keenwalk.com.au.

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New Nanoscale Material Developed For Electric Cars

Electric Cars: Put A Battery In Your Roof

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Lithium-ion batteries used in the current generation of plug-in vehicles depend on dwindling supplies of lithium


PARIS — A nanoscale material developed in Britain could one day yield wafer-thin cellphones and light-weight, long-range electric cars powered by the roof, boot and doors, researchers have reported.

For now, the new technology — a patented mix of carbon fibre and polymer resin that can charge and release electricity just like a regular battery — has not gone beyond a successful laboratory experiment.

But if scaled-up, it could hold several advantages over existing energy sources for hybrid and electric cars, according to the scientists at Imperial College London who developed it.

Lithium-ion batteries used in the current generation of plug-in vehicles are not only heavy, which adds to energy consumption, but also depend on dwindling supplies of the metal lithium, whose prices have risen steadily.

The new material — while expensive to make — is entirely synthetic, which means production would not be limited by availability of natural resources.

Another plus: conventional batteries need chemical reactions to generate juice, a process which causes them to degrade over time and gradually lose the capacity to hold a charge.

The carbon-polymer composite does not depend on chemistry, which not only means a longer life but a quicker charge as well.

Because the material is composed of elements measured in billionths of a metre, “you don’t compromise the mechanical properties of the fibers,” explained Emile Greenhalgh, an engineer at Imperial College and one of the inventors.

As hard a steel, it could in theory double as the body of the vehicle, cutting the weight by up to a third.

The Tesla Roadster, a luxury electric car made in the United States, for example, weighs about 1,200 kilos (2,650 pounds), more than a third of which is accounted for by batteries, which turn the scales at a hefty 450 kilos (990 pounds). The vehicle has a range of about 300 kilometers (185 miles) before a recharge is needed.

“With our material, we would ultimately lose that 450 kilos (990 pounds),” Greenhalgh said in an interview. “That car would be faster and travel further.”

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Millions of credit card holders feel the crunch as interest rates soars

Millions of credit card holders are being squeezed by the highest interest rates in more than a decade, according to new research.

Despite the Bank of England’s base rate being at 0.5 per cent, average credit card interest rates have risen to 18.8 per cent.

Experts said that card providers were passing on the cost of an increase in defaults caused by rising unemployment and bad debts. The charges were also a consequence of tighter Government regulation.

Any credit card holders with a £5,000 debt, and who pay off the minimum 2.5 per cent each month, will repay on average £2,289 more than three years ago.

The last time interest rates hit today’s levels was in 1999, when the base rate was 6 per cent.

Borrowers who became used to switching their debts between cards promising 0 per cent introductory offers have been affected by a sharp tightening of lending critera. Figures from the UK Payment Association found that around half of all applications for credit cards were rejected last year.

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Has Goldman Sachs helped the UK to hide its debts too?

The UK is broke and the pound is soon to be worthless paper, thanks to the BoE and the government.


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Much noise this morning surrounding the news that Goldman Sachs (and a number of other banks) allegedly helped Greece to hide the full scale of its ballooning government debts through financial jiggery-pokery over the past decade or so. Eurostat has now demanded an explanation from the Greeks for $1bn of currency swaps it says it was unaware of (though Greece seems to be insisting the authorities did know).

The original story about Goldman’s involvement appeared in Der Spiegel last week (though the theme has been the subject of investigation by the excellent euro blog A Fistful of Euros for some time), and over the weekend the New York Times produced an excellent feature filling in the gaps. One of the more intriguing lines from that latter piece says: “Instruments developed by Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and a wide range of other banks enabled politicians to mask additional borrowing in Greece, Italy and possibly elsewhere.”

So, the obvious question goes, what about the UK? Did Britain hide its debts? Was Goldman Sachs involved? Should we panic?

To which the answers, respectively, are: yes, yes and no. Britain has been finding various ways to hide its debt off its balance sheet for years; Goldman Sachs was one of the prime movers in this industry, through its infrastructure arm; but the fact is we (and by extension, one presumes, investors) have known about this for quite some time. The chief modus operandi here was the private finance initiative, something which helped the Government remove just south of £50bn from the official balance sheet. Goldman was a big player in the industry. But let’s not get carried away by vampire squid criticism here – it was one of many players in a well-established industry. *

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US Banks Facing $1.4 Trillion Crisis Over Commercial Real Estate Loans

Commercial Real Estate Losses Could Hit $300 Billion: TARP Panel:

“The banks that are on the front lines of small-business lending are about to get hit by a tidal wave of commercial-loan failures,” said Elizabeth Warren, a law professor at Harvard University who heads the COP.

Warren and her fellow panel members warn that “a significant wave of commercial mortgage defaults would trigger economic damage that could touch the lives of nearly every American.”


• Commercial property set to lose $300bn on $1.4bn of loans

• Nearly 3,000 banks face dangerous exposure as loans mature

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Wall Street banks and other financial institutions may be heading for the wall as a further crisis looms in 2011 over commercial property loans. Photograph: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

America’s fragile high street banks are bracing themselves for a fresh financial crunch as a wave of commercial property mortgages go sour on offices, shops and factories, causing losses of up to $300bn (£192bn) hitting nearly 3,000 small- and medium-sized financial institutions.

A congressional oversight panel charged with scrutinising the Obama administration’s bailout efforts has warned that $1.4tn of loans covering commercial premises will reach maturity between 2011 and 2014. After a plunge in property prices, nearly half of these loans are underwater, with borrowers owing more than their underlying property is worth.

An analysis by the panel found that 2,988 of America’s 8,100 banks have potentially dangerous exposure to commercial property loans. The impact could damage hopes of a US economic recovery and could cause a further squeeze in the availability of credit to consumers and businesses.

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Wall Street Is A High-On-Crack Driver That Just Smashed Into Your House

Compared to Wall Street the US government and the Fed nuked the economy, the dollar and any bright future that the people in the US might have had. The people will experience the fallout very soon.

The ‘Greatest Depression’.

Cynthia McKinney is spot-on :

Cynthia McKinney at Munich Germany NATO Peace Rally: ‘My Country Has Been Hijacked By A Criminal Cabal’


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(This guest post comes from Tavakoli Structured Finance)

If a high-on-crack driver crashed his speeding rental car into your house and killed your spouse, you would be outraged if law enforcers took bribes and gave the driver a pass on a blood test. If the judge then merely fined the killer and ordered you to pay it, you would appeal, wondering what happened to justice. If the government then handed the crack-driver keys to a bigger rental car and presented you with the rental bill, you would certainly protest.

How is it, then, that you have remained largely silent in the face of the same sort of behavior by Wall Street and Washington? Bonus-seeking bankers careened off the right path and ran Ponzi schemes that nearly ruined our economy. Bureaucrats and elected officials bailed them out without demanding consequences. Bankers are revving their engines again.

Bankers Get Bonuses, the USA Gets the Great Recession

Taxpayers are asked to believe that over-borrowing by U.S. consumers created a global financial crisis. This myth aids and abets Wall Street. The economy was nearly destroyed because banks borrowed massively, and they borrowed many multiples more than they could afford. Wall Street pumped the Fed’s cheap money through financial meth labs, and deceptive financial vehicles ran over securities laws at top speed.

More than 20% of mortgage loans–including originally sound loans–are underwater, meaning the borrower owes more than the home is worth. Official unemployment numbers hover at around 10%. If you include underemployment, it is around 18%. In depressed areas where the nation’s poorest–chiefly minorities–have been hurt the most, unemployment has soared past 30%. For this destitute group, unemployment combined with underemployment exceeds 50%.

As U.S. soldiers fought wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Wall Street flattened Main Street. Our foreign wars drag on, while the U.S. battles a crippling recession at home.

Global Ponzi Scheme

Fraud by borrowers, fraud on borrowers, and speculation by people who thought home prices would rise forever have all tarnished mortgage lending. Yet this pales compared to the epidemic of predatory lending.

Predatory snipers committed financial murder as deliberately as British soldiers sold smallpox contaminated blankets to Native Americans. Honest homeowners were systematically targeted and actively misled into bad mortgage products. Loans were presented as gifts, but these Trojan horse loans hid destructive risk. “Disclosures” were acts of malice.

When Wall Street packaged these loans and sold deceptive “investments,” documents did not specifically disclose that credit ratings were misleading. If you know or should know a car’s gas tank will blow up, you cannot use a misleading third-party consumer report as an excuse. Yet bonus-seeking bankers used this sort of excuse to get through a few more highly-paid bonus cycles, before it all fell apart. Only the elite crowd of insiders prospered.*

This was the most massive Ponzi scheme in the history of the global capital markets. U.S. taxpayers became unwilling unsophisticated investors when we bailed out the financial system. We must hold Wall Street accountable for its fraud.

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Spanish intelligence probing debt ‘attacks’-report

MADRID, Feb 14 (Reuters) – Spain’s intelligence services are investigating the role of investors and media in debt market turbulence over the last few weeks, El Pais reported on Sunday.

Currencies

Citing unnamed sources, El Pais said the National Intelligence Centre (CNI) was looking into “speculative attacks” on Spain following the Greek debt crisis.

“The (CNI’s) Economic Intelligence division…is investigating whether investors’ attacks and the aggressiveness of some Anglo-Saxon media are driven by market forces and challenges facing the Spanish economy, or whether there is something more behind this campaign,” El Pais said.

Officials at the CNI were not available for comment.

The report comes days after Public Works Minister Jose Blanco protested “somewhat murky manoeuvres” were behind financial market pressure on Spain.

“None of what is happening in the world, including the editorials of foreign newspapers, is coincidental or innocent,” Blanco said.

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There Is No Recovery: Utah Proposes Scrapping 12th Grade; Nevada Rations Diapers; Harrisburg Heads For Bankruptcy; NBA Lockouts Loom

Prepare for collapse.


Here is a quick roundup with a general theme of “Hard Times”.

12th Grade Optional

Utah considers cutting 12th grade — altogether

At Utah’s West Jordan High School, the halls have swirled lately with debate over the merits of 12th grade. The sudden buzz over the relative value of senior year stems from a recent proposal by state Sen. Chris Buttars that Utah make a dent in its budget gap by eliminating the 12th grade.

Buttars has since toned down the idea, suggesting instead that senior year become optional for students who complete their required credits early. He estimated the move could save up to $60 million, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

The proposal comes as the state faces a $700-million shortfall and reflects the creativity — or desperation — of lawmakers all over.

“You’re looking at these budget gaps where lawmakers have to use everything and anything to try to resolve them,” said Todd Haggerty, a policy associate with the National Conference of State Legislatures. “It’s left lawmakers with very unpopular decisions.”

“The bottom line is saving taxpayer dollars while improving options for students,” said state Sen. Howard A. Stephenson, a Republican and co-chairman of the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee. “The more options we give to students to accelerate, the more beneficial it is to students and taxpayers.”

Jordan Utah School District To Lay Off 500

Jordan District to lay off 500 employees because of $30M shortfall

The Jordan School District will lay off 500 employees by July 1 as part of an effort to make up for a $30 million shortfall.

By a 6-1 vote, the Jordan Board of Education approved options to reduce the 2010-11 budget, which include personnel cuts, programs and services cuts, transfer of expenditures to other programs, compensation adjustments, class-size increases, and possible tax increases.

Between now and the end of March, the board will determine which positions and programs will be eliminated. As many as 250 teaching positions and 250 administrative/support staff positions will be cut.

Not a single teacher need be cut. All it takes is unions to lower salary demands and/or pensions. Any cuts are the direct responsibility of the Teachers’ union.

Harrisburg Pennsylvania Heads For Bankruptcy

Harrisburg excludes debt payments from 2010 budget

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, moved a step closer to defaulting on a bond payment when its city council passed a 2010 budget that does not include $68 million in debt repayments on an incinerator.

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Leading Scientist Warns of Ice Age: ‘Most of Europe Will Be Under Ice’

prof-vladimir-paar

Professor Vladimir Paar

A leading scientist has revealed that Europe could be just five years away from the start of a new Ice Age.

While climate change campaigners say global warming is the planet’s biggest danger, renowned physicist Vladimir Paar says most of central Europe will soon be covered in ice.

The freeze will be so complete that people will be able to walk from England to Ireland or across the North Sea from Scotland to northern Europe.

Professor Paar, from Croatia’s Zagreb University, has spent decades analysing previous ice ages in Europe and what caused them.


“Most of Europe will be under ice, including Germany, Poland, France, Austria, Slovakia and a part of Slovenia,” said the professor in an interview with the Index.hr.

“Previous ice ages lasted about 70,000 years. That’s a fact and the new ice age can’t be avoided.

“The big question is what will happen to the people of the Central European countries which will be under ice?

“They might migrate to the south, or might stay, but with a huge increase in energy use,” he warned.

“This could happen in five, 10, 50 or 100 years, or even later. We can’t predict it precisely, but it will come,” he added.

And the professor said that scientists think global warming is simply a natural part of the planet.

“What I mean is that global warming is natural. Some 130,000 years ago the earth’s temperature was the same as now, the level of CO2 was almost the same and the level of the sea was four metres higher.

“They keep warning people about global warming, but half of America no longer believes it as they keep freezing,” he said.

And he added: “The reality is that mankind needs to start preparing for the ice age. We are at the end of the global warming period. The ice age is to follow. The global warming period should have ended a few thousands of years ago, we should have already been in the ice age. Therefore we do not know precisely when it could start – but soon.”

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