Barclays has given new meaning to the term 'fixed interest rates'.
Lying As A Business Model: No one is amazed or dumbfounded, only mildly disappointed that even our low expectations of bankers are far too high. It turns out that LIBOR has been “a long running confidence trick.” This LIBOR rate fixing episode should be the last straw, but it will be shrugged off just like all the other crimes of the financial elite. Yes, Barclays rigged the Libor rates for years. Yes, the BOE and Fed were probably aware. Yes, another dozen or more crooked bankers from crooked banks were involved. No, none of them can be trusted. Yes they corrupted transactions on $360 trillion or more in assets. No, no one is going to jail for the largest, most extensive financial crime in history.
Apocalypse Now: If you want a glimpse of some of the worst of global warming, scientists suggest looking out the window or – if you still have electricity – turning on the TV.
All For One and One For All? In less than an hour the world's central banks dropped their
pants interest rates and increased their purchases of bonds in the biggest round of synchronized stimulus yet. Participating were the ECB, the People's Bank of China, Bank of England, and the Central Bank of Keyna. Denmark topped them all, not only cutting its key interest rate to 0.2% but also cutting its rate on certificates of deposit to a negative 0.2%. In the US, Ben Bernanke said the Fed – which has been buying longer term bonds - “will take more measures as needed.” The markets were not overly impressed, because five years of rate cuts has yet to do the job.
Stimulus Is A Four Letter Word: Europe has tried 'fiscal austerity' – it didn't work. But that's Europe & we've got nothing to learn from them. Things are different in the US, where the austerity movement is ideology, not economics, faith not facts.
Kinder, Gentler: In Hallandale Beach, FL, three lifeguards have been fired and four others quit when Jeff Ellis Associates fired one of the lifeguards for saving a drowning man who was outside the buoyed off area the company was hired to protect. The company said the lifeguard should have called 911 and watched the man die.
Invisible And Untouchable: If you make less than 100% of the Federal poverty level (about $12,000 for an individual) and your Republican governor rejects ACA's Medicaid expansion you will not qualify for federal tax credits to help you buy health insurance. So if your state has a lower cutoff for qualifying for Medicaid – which pretty much means if you're in a red state – you are out of luck. In AR if you earn more than 20% of the poverty level (that is you earn more than $2,500 a year) you lose. For TX and LA it's about the same. In VA, KS, WV, MD, ID if you earn more than $5,000 $6,000 a year, you get neither Medicaid nor federal help buying insurance. Go ahead, admit it – you're proud to have voted Republican!
Pssst: The United States has quietly moved significant military reinforcements into the Persian Gulf.
For A Few Dolalrs More: Last year farmers in West Texas lowered the Ogallala aquifer 2.56 feet watering essentially dead crops because if they did not water their hopeless crops, their USDA crop insurance would not pay for their losses.
Tea Leaves:The PBOC's interest rate cut – the second in a less than a month – is being seen as adding substance to recent speculation of a hard landing ahead for the Chinese economy. Perhaps more significantly, China is now allowing commercial banks to pay a premium of up to 10% above the benchmark deposit rate for deposits and to charge up to 20% off the lending rate – both aimed at simulating the economy.
Papers, Please: In Arizona, 96-year old Raul Castro was held and questioned by Border Patrol agents for 45 minutes outside of Tucson, AZ, before being sent on his way. Seems Mr. Castro had forgotten to carry with him his identification papers, which would have shown that he had been the Governor of Arizona, 1975 - 77. Can't be too careful.
The Parting Shot: