Is The NY Fed Really Run By Goldman?

Allegations have long existed that the New York Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States was a revolving door for regulators and bankers.  Many have said the relationship was too cozy and that Goldman Sachs held an unfair advantage due to this snuggly relationship.

Well now it seems that at least in one instance, this was absolutely true. Zero Hedge reports today on a New York Times story stating that a former Fed regulator turned Goldman banker was busted colluding with other officials at the NY Federal Reserve Bank, sharing confidential information on another bank that the Fed regulated.


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Zero Hedge states:

Naturally, “the emergence of the leak comes as questions mount about a perceived coziness between the New York Fed and Wall Street banks — Goldman in particular. Revelations from a former New York Fed employee, Carmen Segarra, recently stoked that debate. Ms. Segarra released taped conversations suggesting that her supervisors went soft on Goldman, specifically over a deal that one regulator called “legal, but shady.””

This story is a big deal and has not received the amount of coverage and notoriety in the press as you would expect after the 2008 real estate crisis, the Occupy Wall Street movement, and the lack of prosecutions by the Obama administration of perceived Wall Street criminals like former Goldman banker Jon Corzine, who allegedly stole billions in client funds and illegally used them for other purposes.  Today, he walks around scot free.

The bottom line is that if Goldman receives information in front of other market participants, they have a huge advantage.  That information could take the form of a heads-up on future monetary policy moves by the Fed, information of other competitors as it was seemingly in this case, or possible communications by the Fed on market conditions.

There is a term in the market called “frontrunning.” It means putting on trades in front of your competitors with illegally gained information. This is very serious business.


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If the market is not fair to all concerned, then obviously it’s not a free market.  Goldman Sachs has worked hard to change its image, true or not, of making obscene profits at the expense of the American people. This revelation is a setback in that effort.

I believe this story deserves more investigation by Congress and the administration. Where there is smoke, there usually is fire.  However, our leaders may fail in that effort in their quest for Wall Street campaign contributions.

Photo credit: Michael Daddino (Flickr)

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.


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It’s Happening: NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio doesn’t think Hillary is progressive …

Appearing at a Politico breakfast this week, progressive icon and New York City mayor Bill de Blasio effusively praised his fellow liberal, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), but his plaudits for likely Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was far more reserved.

In May, Clinton delivered a fiery,“populist” speech, according to press accounts, denouncing the scourge of income inequality. “Economists have documented how the share of income and wealth going to those at the very top — not just the top 1 percent but the top 0.1 percent, the 0.01 percent of the population — has risen sharply over the last generation,” the former secretary of state exclaimed. “Some are calling it a throwback to the Gilded Age of the robber barons.”

Either he simply did not catch that speech, or even these stratospheric levels of hyperbolic pandering to the left were just not good enough for Mayor de Blasio. “I think whoever runs has to address income inequality. They have to do it morally and they have to do it politically,” he said, in a veiled effort to drive Clinton to the left. “The absence (of which) will lead to failure.”

After saying that he thinks it is “necessary” for the next Democratic nominee to focus heavily on that issue which so energized the Occupy Wall Street protests in 2011, the NYC mayor added that he would be “honored” to offer his services to the next nominee (as he did when he served as campaign manager for Clinton’s 2000 U.S. Senate bid) to help him or her craft that message.

“The Democrat should be willing to challenge the status quo,” de Blasio said of the eventual Democratic nominee. “The Democrat should be willing to challenge wealthy and powerful interests and should marry that with a grass-roots organizing strategy that epitomizes the message.”

As for Clinton, de Blasio is still waiting to hear that populist income inequality speech she gave in May. “I don’t think we’ve had the opportunity to hear from her on this new (post-recession) reality,” he said, according to The New York Post.

When even your former campaign manager believes you do not accurately represent the party from which you are seeking the presidential nomination…

The curious condition here is that Clinton did not depart from the ideological center of gravity of the Democratic Party, the ideological center of gravity left her. In 2006, well after de Blasio committed to get Clinton elected to the Senate, the junior New York senator was described as the party’s scion of the “liberal wing.” Today, despite her slavish efforts to appease the restless progressive elements within her party by mimicking their tired dogma, Clinton cannot shed the image that she is a squishy centrist.

This is yet another confirmation that the Democratic Party of the Obama era is well to the left of the Democratic Party of the last decade.

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MoMA’s Schemes for Fixing Urban Problems Are Either Too Dainty or Too …

If there is one figure who distills everything that MoMA’s ideologues loathe, it’s Michael Bloomberg, the quintessential billionaire bureaucrat. Bloomberg’s administration saw rising land values as the ultimate measure of New York’s success, but it also delivered bike lanes, pedestrian plazas, temporarily car-free boulevards, pop-up cafés, small-business incubators, microapartments, prefab construction, community-­based zoning, and so on — a record that might have been extracted from the Street Plans Collaborative’s tactical urbanism manual. Mayor de Blasio has pursued his ostensibly more inclusive, progressive agenda with similar tools: a 25-mph speed limit, new street designs — and policies intended to encourage developers to keep doing what they do. These on-the-ground ironies get lost in the political muddle of MoMA’s analysis. Professor Nader Tehrani sounds the usual warnings against neoliberalism’s “pattern of privatization,” but also praises Bloomberg’s signature project, the High Line, as an example of “informal process” and a “testament to resilience.” Never mind that to create the High Line, activists collaborated with a sympathetic mayor, a gaggle of city agencies, the federal government, and the publicly traded freight company CSX — or that the main driver of its success has been the creation of billions in real estate. There’s nothing “informal” about Chelsea’s new super-luxury architectural zone, and in any case all the bashing of the wealthy and powerful feels disingenuous coming from an institution that has raised fortunes to take over virtually an entire city block.

We’re All Pirates Now

Do you feel like a thief when you click on a website link and find yourself reading an article or listening to a song you haven’t paid for? Should you? Are you annoyed when you can’t copy a movie you’ve paid for onto your computer’s hard drive? Should you be? Should copyright, conceived in England three centuries ago to protect writers from unscrupulous printers, apply the same way to creators and consumers in the digital age?

The sci-fi writer, blogger and general man-about-the-Web Cory Doctorow tries to answer some of…

What Matters To Online Communities? Breaking Free Of The Technology Trap

Technology changes conversation. It changes how people interact, and how they organize themselves. In the two decades since the Netscape IPO in 1994, the growth of digital networks from singular phenomenon to common thread that binds half of humanity in thought and commerce has forced a slow reckoning for organizations and causes in what I usually call the “social sector” – a term that is purposely broad enough to encompass almost any group of people working beyond profit for social benefit.

Yet it’s not really about technology. Yes, the software matters but too many organizations believe the IT department or tech consultants can close the authenticity gap with their supporters and the rest of the public. And in falling into the technology trap, they ignore their own unwillingness to engage with people where they find them in the online world.

That tension between the needs of organizations and individuals – really, between marketing and listening – has been on the mind of my friend and occasional colleague Allison Fine for the last decade. Today, her new book Matterness: What Fearless Leaders Know About the Power and Promise of Social Media hits the bookstores, virtual and otherwise. For nonprofit and cause leaders, it’s a terrific fulcrum for considering what stage they occupy in a movement toward digital relevance – a movement that has seen terrific foot-dragging and angst in the social sector. Matterness moves beyond the era of guideposts and manuals to the kind of post-nascency stance that demands active participation and relevance. It’s also a good read.

Here’s my recent back-and-forth with Allison on Matterness.

Tom Watson: Allison, we’ve known each other a long time. Yet your idea of “matterness” is completely new. You’ve coined a new one. What does it mean?

Allison Fine: Matterness is the sweet spot created between people and organizations where each is heard, their unique needs are met, and a greater whole is formed. Matterness is powered by social media that enables people to speak, but also requires organizations to listen.

Watson: I have heard you talk about the many “big small towns” that we live in the digital world – some friendly, some mean, some heterogeneous and others wildly diverse. Why is it important for organizations to understand this organizational idea?

Fine: I really love the idea of “big small towns.” Big Small Towns are the sum of on-land and online communities that combine the intimacy and caring of old-fashioned towns combined with the ease of connections, expansiveness, and never-ending resources of the Internet. Traditional organizations, and the people who lead them, have too often dismissed the online ecosystem as a distraction from the “real” world. However, every successful social change effort over the past decade has combined on land organizing (for which there is no substitute) and online social networks.

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 10.03.46 AM

These include the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, Ferguson, and now the student protests in Hong Kong. These kinds of efforts are going to ebb and flow as the passions and energy of individuals wane over time.

That’s why still need organizations to sustain these kinds of efforts through lulls by continuing to train and organize people, develop new strategies and build grassroots capacity for future protests.

Hong Kong Moves to Clear Out Occupy Protesters: CRT’s Live Blog

With the bailiffs filing onto buses and leaving the protest site around Citic Tower, attention turns to what the next clearance steps will be. The injunction for the Mong Kok area, to be enforced on Thursday, was published in local newspapers today. Another injunction for the rest of the much larger Admiralty site is still being heard in court.  

Today’s clearance helped the government achieve the goal of shrinking the protest site without resulting in ugly scenes of confrontation between police and protesters, unlike in previous occasions in Mong Kok when attempts by police or anti-Occupy people to dismantle barriers have led to physical tussles. Having the bailiffs, rather than police, take the lead in clearing barriers might have helped keep things civil, but the real test will come Thursday when authorities go back to Mong Kok.

It’s time for Hong Kong’s protesters to think long-term

Tuesday morning saw the beginning of the end of the pro-democracy protests that have wracked Hong Kong for nearly two months. Armed with a court order to clear part of the main protest site in the city’s Admiralty district, bailiffs dismantled and removed barricades with little opposition. Several protesters vowed to continue occupying the streets until Beijing meets their demands for open nominations for Hong Kong’s next leader. Their numbers are dwindling fast, though, and Hong Kong authorities are understandably confident that the remaining sites can be cleared in coming days.

It’s time to admit the obvious: The protests have run their course. The Hong Kong government, which had once sat down across from idealistic student leaders, now declines to meet with them. Over the weekend, a poll revealed that almost 70 percent of Hong Kong’s public want the protesters to go home. Clinging to their few tent encampments would only further undermine the movement’s credibility — as ultimately happened with the listless and unpopular Occupy Wall Street.

That’s a pity, because unlike Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Central actually has a definable and sympathetic goal: holding China to its promises of full suffrage for Hong Kong. What it needs is a strategy for keeping up that fight over years, not weeks. Here’s where protest leaders might start:

First, send everyone home. Clear the sites in Admiralty, Causeway Bay and the gritty Mong Kok neighborhood, and do so peacefully. The protesters need a break, and so does Hong Kong. Nobody will look askance if Occupy leaders simply announce that their message has gotten out, and that it’s now time to stop inconveniencing fellow citizens.

Next, figure out who is actually in charge of the movement. Is it the students? Is it the professors and professional legislators? Which students? Which professors? In late October, in one of the Occupy movement’s most embarrassing episodes, the various pro-democracy groups supporting the protests canceled a vote on how to take the movement forward. Why? Because they couldn’t agree on how to phrase the poll questions. If the various protest groups can’t even coalesce around an informal vote, what makes them think Hong Kong citizens should embrace their pro-democracy message?

Third, the movement needs to revise its goals downward, at least in the near-term. Stunts, such as last weekend’s failed attempt by three student leaders to fly to Beijing and demand a meeting with Premier Li Keqiang, should be abandoned — as should unrealistic demands. Beijing is not about to reverse its decision that candidates be vetted by a nominating committee. While truly open nominations can remain an ultimate ambition, protest organizers should be much more focused on wresting what influence they can now and using that as a foundation to push for more changes in the future.

To that end, protesters should take up pro-Beijing lawmaker Regina Ip’s suggestion that the students be given seats on the nominating committee. That might seem like selling out, and indeed, China’s Communist Party has a long and infamous history of coopting onetime opponents. But what better way to highlight all that’s wrong with the committee than by revealing its flaws from within? As long as they hold true to their convictions, protest leaders can work to open up the system bit by bit.

And finally, they should remember that they always have the option of returning to the streets. The point is to avoid making protests an irritating chronic feature of the Hong Kong landscape (much like Occupy Wall Street). Instead demonstrations should be rare, well-organized, timed for maximum turnout and — above all — concise in their aims.

Certainly it will not be easy to draw tens of thousands of average citizens into the streets again. But if pro-democracy leaders can show themselves to be effective representatives for ordinary Hong Kongers, both within and without the system, they can credibly project an important message: There’s a generation in Hong Kong that doesn’t feel a part of what their city is becoming, and they need to be heard and respected.

_ Adam Minter is based in Asia, where he covers politics, culture, business and junk.

Copyright © 2014, Chicago Tribune

It’s time for Hong Kong’s protesters to think long-term

Tuesday morning saw the beginning of the end of the pro-democracy protests that have wracked Hong Kong for nearly two months. Armed with a court order to clear part of the main protest site in the city’s Admiralty district, bailiffs dismantled and removed barricades with little opposition. Several protesters vowed to continue occupying the streets until Beijing meets their demands for open nominations for Hong Kong’s next leader. Their numbers are dwindling fast, though, and Hong Kong authorities are understandably confident that the remaining sites can be cleared in coming days.

It’s time to admit the obvious: The protests have run their course. The Hong Kong government, which had once sat down across from idealistic student leaders, now declines to meet with them. Over the weekend, a poll revealed that almost 70 percent of Hong Kong’s public want the protesters to go home. Clinging to their few tent encampments would only further undermine the movement’s credibility — as ultimately happened with the listless and unpopular Occupy Wall Street.

That’s a pity, because unlike Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Central actually has a definable and sympathetic goal: holding China to its promises of full suffrage for Hong Kong. What it needs is a strategy for keeping up that fight over years, not weeks. Here’s where protest leaders might start:

First, send everyone home. Clear the sites in Admiralty, Causeway Bay and the gritty Mong Kok neighborhood, and do so peacefully. The protesters need a break, and so does Hong Kong. Nobody will look askance if Occupy leaders simply announce that their message has gotten out, and that it’s now time to stop inconveniencing fellow citizens.

Next, figure out who is actually in charge of the movement. Is it the students? Is it the professors and professional legislators? Which students? Which professors? In late October, in one of the Occupy movement’s most embarrassing episodes, the various pro-democracy groups supporting the protests canceled a vote on how to take the movement forward. Why? Because they couldn’t agree on how to phrase the poll questions. If the various protest groups can’t even coalesce around an informal vote, what makes them think Hong Kong citizens should embrace their pro-democracy message?

Third, the movement needs to revise its goals downward, at least in the near-term. Stunts, such as last weekend’s failed attempt by three student leaders to fly to Beijing and demand a meeting with Premier Li Keqiang, should be abandoned — as should unrealistic demands. Beijing is not about to reverse its decision that candidates be vetted by a nominating committee. While truly open nominations can remain an ultimate ambition, protest organizers should be much more focused on wresting what influence they can now and using that as a foundation to push for more changes in the future.

To that end, protesters should take up pro-Beijing lawmaker Regina Ip’s suggestion that the students be given seats on the nominating committee. That might seem like selling out, and indeed, China’s Communist Party has a long and infamous history of coopting onetime opponents. But what better way to highlight all that’s wrong with the committee than by revealing its flaws from within? As long as they hold true to their convictions, protest leaders can work to open up the system bit by bit.

And finally, they should remember that they always have the option of returning to the streets. The point is to avoid making protests an irritating chronic feature of the Hong Kong landscape (much like Occupy Wall Street). Instead demonstrations should be rare, well-organized, timed for maximum turnout and — above all — concise in their aims.

Certainly it will not be easy to draw tens of thousands of average citizens into the streets again. But if pro-democracy leaders can show themselves to be effective representatives for ordinary Hong Kongers, both within and without the system, they can credibly project an important message: There’s a generation in Hong Kong that doesn’t feel a part of what their city is becoming, and they need to be heard and respected.

_ Adam Minter is based in Asia, where he covers politics, culture, business and junk.

Copyright © 2014, Chicago Tribune

Beginning of the End in Hong Kong

Tuesday morning saw the beginning of the end of the pro-democracy protests that have wracked Hong Kong for nearly two months. Armed with a court order to clear part of the main protest site in the city’s Admiralty district, bailiffs dismantled and removed barricades with little opposition. Several protesters vowed to continue occupying the streets until Beijing meets their demands for open nominations for Hong Kong’s next leader. Their numbers are dwindling fast, though, and Hong Kong authorities are understandably confident that the remaining sites can be cleared in coming days.

It’s time to admit the obvious: The protests have run their course. The Hong Kong government, which had once sat down across from idealistic student leaders, now declines to meet with them. Over the weekend, a poll revealed that almost 70 percent of Hong Kong’s public want the protesters to go home. Clinging to their few tent encampments would only further undermine the movement’s credibility — as ultimately happened with the listless and unpopular Occupy Wall Street.

Hong Kong’s Autonomy

That’s a pity, because unlike Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Central actually has a definable and sympathetic goal: holding China to its promises of full suffrage for Hong Kong. What it needs is a strategy for keeping up that fight over years, not weeks. Here’s where protest leaders might start:

First, send everyone home. Clear the sites in Admiralty, Causeway Bay and the gritty Mong Kok neighborhood, and do so peacefully. The protesters need a break, and so does Hong Kong. Nobody will look askance if Occupy leaders simply announce that their message has gotten out, and that it’s now time to stop inconveniencing fellow citizens.

Next, figure out who is actually in charge of the movement. Is it the students? Is it the professors and professional legislators? Which students? Which professors? In late October, in one of the Occupy movement’s most embarrassing episodes, the various pro-democracy groups supporting the protests canceled a vote on how to take the movement forward. Why? Because they couldn’t agree on how to phrase the poll questions. If the various protest groups can’t even coalesce around an informal vote, what makes them think Hong Kong citizens should embrace their pro-democracy message?

Third, the movement needs to revise its goals downward, at least in the near-term. Stunts, such as last weekend’s failed attempt by three student leaders to fly to Beijing and demand a meeting with Premier Li Keqiang, should be abandoned — as should unrealistic demands. Beijing is not about to reverse its decision that candidates be vetted by a nominating committee. While truly open nominations can remain an ultimate ambition, protest organizers should be much more focused on wresting what influence they can now and using that as a foundation to push for more changes in the future.

To that end, protesters should take up pro-Beijing lawmaker Regina Ip’s suggestion that the students be given seats on the nominating committee. That might seem like selling out, and indeed, China’s Communist Party has a long and infamous history of coopting onetime opponents. But what better way to highlight all that’s wrong with the committee than by revealing its flaws from within? As long as they hold true to their convictions, protest leaders can work to open up the system bit by bit.

And finally, they should remember that they always have the option of returning to the streets. The point is to avoid making protests an irritating chronic feature of the Hong Kong landscape (much like Occupy Wall Street). Instead demonstrations should be rare, well-organized, timed for maximum turnout and — above all — concise in their aims.

Certainly it will not be easy to draw tens of thousands of average citizens into the streets again. But if pro-democracy leaders can show themselves to be effective representatives for ordinary Hong Kongers, both within and without the system, they can credibly project an important message: There’s a generation in Hong Kong that doesn’t feel a part of what their city is becoming, and they need to be heard and respected.

To contact the author on this story:


Adam Minter

at aminter@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor on this story:


Nisid Hajari

at nhajari@bloomberg.net