Tag Archives | Business

The Coming Backlash Against Silicon Valley

facebookVia the Economist, Adrian Wooldridge on seeing the giant tech corporations for what they really are:

Geeks have turned out to be some of the most ruthless capitalists around. A few years ago the new economy was a wide-open frontier. Today it is dominated by a handful of tightly held oligopolies. Google and Apple provide over 90% of the operating systems for smartphones. Facebook counts more than half of North Americans and Europeans as its customers.

The lords of cyberspace have done everything possible to reduce their earthly costs. They employ remarkably few people: with a market cap of $290 billion Google is about six times bigger than GM but employs only around a fifth as many workers.

At the same time the tech tycoons have displayed a banker-like enthusiasm for hoovering up public subsidies and then avoiding taxes. The American government laid the foundations of the tech revolution by investing heavily in the creation of everything from the internet to digital personal assistants.

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Third Prominent Banker In Six Days Found Dead Of Apparent Suicide

fed_banker In what seems like a bizarre coincidence, top officials from JPMorgan Chase, Deutsche Bank, and the Federal Reserve seemingly took their own lives last week, HousingWire notes:

Bloomberg is reporting this morning that former Federal Reserve economist Mike Dueker was found dead in an apparent suicide near Tacoma, Washington. Dueker, 50, a chief economist at Russell Investments, had been missing since Jan. 29 and was reportedly having troubles at work.

Normally HousingWire wouldn’t cover deaths in the industry, but what’s strange is that Dueker is the third prominent banker found dead since Sunday.

On Sunday, William Broeksmit, 58, former senior manager for Deutsche Bank, was found hanging in his home, also an apparent suicide. On Tuesday, Gabriel Magee, 39, vice president at JPMorgan Chase & Co’s London headquarters, apparently jumped to his death from a building in the Canary Wharf area.

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The Occult On Wall Street: The Art Of Financial Astrology

zodiac

The Telegraph claims that a surprising number of mainstream investment bankers make decisions based on astrology. Can you envision this growing into a quasi-religious cult?

Donald Bradley’s method of foreseeing changes in the market involved assigning a numerical value to the position of the planets and stars and plotting the values on a graph. The peaks and troughs of that line should, in theory, plot “turns” in the fortunes of stocks, bonds and commodities. It sounds utterly mad, but the model has been described by market watcher Peter Eliades as “eerily accurate”.

I wanted to do a statistical analysis of his method and use it if it worked,” says Crawford. Back in the library, Crawford found records of the Dow Jones going back to 1885 and a book outlining the details of planetary positions. After comparing the two, he was impressed.

So Crawford began using astrology alongside his technical analysis. Over the years, Crawford found his predictions working out so well that, in 1977, he set up business as a full-time astrological adviser.

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Switzerland To Vote On Radically Limiting CEOs’ Pay Nationwide

ZurichMontageMost likely with fists clenched and all the blood drained from its face, the Wall Street Journal reports:

Switzerland is expected to vote later this year on a proposal to place further limits on executive pay, the latest effort to govern corporate compensation in a country that recently approved some of the world’s strictest say-on-pay rules.

The Young Socialists have collected more than 100,000 signatures—the threshold needed to call a vote—in support of a referendum to limit executive salaries to 12 times those of a company’s lowest-paid employee.

The campaign, dubbed the 1:12 Initiative for Fair Pay, is named for the organizers’ belief that no one in a company should earn more in one month than the lowest-paid employee makes in a year.

The Swiss Federal Council, the country’s cabinet, has advised the parliament to recommend that voters reject the proposal. However a poll earlier this month showed 49.5% of respondents were in favor of the 1:12 Initiative, 40.5% against and 10% undecided.

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Government Shutdown Doesn’t Slow Negotiations On The Trans-Pacific Partnership

tpp

Democracy Now! reports the latest on the previously discussed sinister and corporate power-grab:

As the federal government shutdown continues, Secretary of State John Kerry heads to Asia for secret talks on a sweeping new trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The TPP is often referred to by critics as “NAFTA on steroids,” and would establish a free trade zone that would stretch from Vietnam to Chile, encompassing 800 million people and nearly 40 percent of the global economy. While the text of the treaty has been largely negotiated behind closed doors and, until June, kept secret from Congress, more than 600 corporate advisers reportedly have access to the measure, including employees of Halliburton and Monsanto.

“This is not mainly about trade,” says Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. “It is a corporate Trojan horse. The agreement has 29 chapters, and only five of them have to do with trade.

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How Monsanto Is Planning To Profit From Climate Change

Landscape

Not everyone is either worried or skeptical regarding man-made global warming. Mother Jones on how Monsanto is eagerly banking on it:

Data to help farmers grow crops in a changing climate. Climate Corporation, which Monsanto is acquiring, sells detailed weather and soil information to “help…manage and adapt to climate change.” Monsanto thinks the ag data business will be a $20-billion market.

Insurance for when it’s too hot, cold, dry, wet, or otherwise extreme outside. Climate Corporation currently sells both federally subsidized crop insurance and supplemental plans.

Drought-resistant corn. Monsanto lists the effects of climate change-related precipitation changes and droughts as a potential “opportunity.” This year, Monsanto started rolling out a new line of patented, first-of-its-kind genetically engineered corn seeds that are resistant to drought.

Cotton that needs less water to grow. The company is piloting genetically modified cotton that that can grow while using less water and survive drought.

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Surveillance State Hurts U.S. Economy: Lavabit Likely to Move Overseas

via chycho

CaptureIn a sign of things to come for the U.S. tech industry, Ladar Levison, the owner of Lavabit, the secure private encrypted email provider that shut down after 10 years of operation (2, 3) because he decided not to abide by the demands made by the United States government to spy on their 400,000 plus users, explains that if he loses his case against the U.S. government he will most likely hand over his company to someone overseas and let them run it. It’s important to note that the U.S. government already new that this would be the end result, that revelations about NSA’s PRISM program would hurt American Technology companies, but they didn’t really care.

Levison clarifies his position in the following interview on Democracy Now!. The segment in which he makes these comments occurs at approximately the 11 minute mark, but the whole interview is well worth watching, especially the part just before these comments where he explains how the U.S.Read the rest

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U.S. government knew that revelations about NSA’s PRISM program would hurt American Technology companies, but they didn’t “really really care”, Bart Gellman

via chycho
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When details of NSA’s PRISM surveillance program were revealed, American technology companies shuttered in fear, not because they were concerned about criminal prosecution – both the Bush administration and the Obama administration had authorized the program – they shuttered in fear because they knew the revelations would negatively impact their business.

In the following interview on Democracy Now!, when Juan Gonzalez asks Alan Rusbridger, the editor of The Guardian, the British newspaper that first reported on the Snowden affair (2), what his thoughts are on the impact of the revelations of the surveillance program on the world stage, Rusbridger replies (segments of interest occur at approximately 38:00 and 47:00 – emphasis added):

ALAN RUSBRIDGER [38:00]: Well, I think, the bit that is sometimes missing from the American debate, the President places great emphasis on the fact that America doesn’t spy on Americans in American territory, as if that was the only thing that mattered.

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Contracts With Workers Vs. Contracts With Banks

contracts

When are contracts ironbound, and when are they optional? Via the Center for Economic & Policy Research, Dean Baker writes:

The debate over public pensions clearly shows the contempt that the elites have for ordinary workers. While elites routinely preach the sanctity of contract when it works to benefit the rich and powerful, they are happy to treat the contracts that provide workers with pensions as worthless scraps of paper.

We see this attitude on display currently in the Detroit bankruptcy proceedings. It is even more clearly on display in efforts by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to default on the city’s pension obligations.

The basic story in both cases is that the contracts that workers had labored under are being laughed at by the elites because they find it inconvenient to carry through with the terms.

In Detroit, paying for pensions or anything else without outside assistance poses a real problem.

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