Study: top bank execs saw the crash coming and sold off shares in their own institutions

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In a new working paper from the Center for Economic Policy Research, scholars look at the trading records of shareholders, directors and top executives of major financial institutions in the runup to the crash of 2007, and find that the sell-offs by the top five executives at a bank strongly correlated with that bank's losses in the crash, but that other stakeholders' trading do not correlate: in other words, the very top brass of banks knew that they were sitting on piles of worthless paper and sold before anyone else knew about it, and kept their shareholders, direct reports, and the board of directors in the dark. Read the rest

Negative Swiss 50-year bond yields just shattered the global insecurity barometer

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National treasury bonds are the safe option in times of global turmoil, and the more uncertain things are, the more people buy them, and the higher their prices go. Read the rest

Why did some of the richest, most powerful people in the UK support Brexit?

It's true that the vote for Brexit was carried by working-class people in some of the poorest and most excluded regions in the UK; but the actual referendum question was put before the British public thanks to a small faction of some of the richest, most powerful people in the country -- people who rely on the finance sector (which overwhelmingly supported Remain) for their privilege. Why? Read the rest

Nigel "Brexit" Farage, having tanked the UK economy, retires to "get his life back"

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Nigel Farage, a stock broker who spent years pretending to be a working class lad in a flat cap, has announced that he is quitting as leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party because now that he has "[his] country back" he wants to "get [his] life back." Read the rest

London luxury property prices plummet after Brexit vote

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A Russian home-buyer pulled out of a "agreed offer" of £6.95m for a six bedroom Kensington flat, now it's listed for £6.75m; a three-bedroom in Swiss Cottage is down to £1.05m from £1.5m; a £1.1m 2-bedroom in Whitechapel is now £720,000; a 2bm maisonette in Notting Hill fell from £1.59m to £1.35mk; a £1.3m 5br in St. Reatham is down to £850,000 and estate agents have mutually agreed to go back to calling it Streatham. Read the rest

One million machines, including routers, used to attack banks

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Akamai's Ryan Barnett reports on two attacks against the service's financial customers last year: attackers used nearly 1m compromised systems to attempt to log in to users' accounts using logins and passwords from earlier breaches. Read the rest

Goldman Sachs bribed Libyan officials with hookers, private jet rides, then lost all their money

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In 2006, western leaders decided that Gaddafi's oil was more important than his human rights record and complicity in terrorism and lifted sanctions against Libya, creating a massive pool of cash for the country that it turned into a sovereign wealth fund whose business was aggressively courted by Goldman Sachs. Read the rest

Microsoft will buy Linkedin for $26.2B

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The all-cash deal is expected to close by the end of the calendar year, and will be one of the largest acquisitions in tech business history. Read the rest

Every industry thinks it's special, but only finance gets treated that way

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Economist John Kay, who writes for the Financial Times, delivered a powerful, eminently readable critique of the finance industry last month at the Bank of International Settlements conference. Read the rest

Banks confront negative interest rates with plans to store titanic bundles of money on-site

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The world's central banks, freaked out about huge leverage by financial institutions and borrowers and unwilling to engage in economic stimulus themselves, have been moving interest rates lower and lower, until now, many banks are offering negative interest rates, meaning that buying $100 worth of treasury bills today will return $99 in cash tomorrow -- hoping that this will incentivize banks to issue enough loans to make up for politically impossible governmental fiscal stimulus. Read the rest

When Brad Birkenfeld blew the whistle on UBS, the US government paid him $104M and sent him to jail

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This interview with UBS whistleblower Brad Birkenfeld is as neat a case study in financial corruption as you could ask for: Birkenfeld's disclosures detailed 19,000 US tax evaders, including the bank's super-secretive list of "politically exposed persons," including people who laundered money for terrorists, and the US government threw him in prison (as well as paying him the largest reward in US history), declined to prosecute three quarters of those implicated, and then put him in prison. Read the rest

Wealthy families are most responsible for American wealth segregation

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Inequality in Children’s Contexts, USC Sociologist Ann Owens's paper in American Sociological Review (Scihub mirror), investigates the factors that contribute most to the unequal lives of wealthy and poor American children, and concludes that the single most significant factor is the neighborhood that the children's parents live in. Read the rest

Wells Fargo, who preyed on black borrowers, sponsors Black Lives Matter luncheon

Wells Fargo has been widely criticized for its predatory, deceptive practice of targeting black mortgage borrowers with subprime mortgages (whose teaser rates ballooned into unsustainable long-term rates after a few years), rather than offering those borrowers much cheaper and better mortgages that would not have led to widespread bankruptcy, foreclosure, and the destruction of hardworking families' live savings. Read the rest

Anonymous Analytics: self-proclaimed Anon "faction" that tanks companies through stock reports

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Anonymous Analytics describes itself as "a faction of Anonymous" that uses its "unique skills to expose fraud and corruption among public companies." Read the rest

Judge OKs potentially lethal lawsuit against the world's largest banks

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The biggest banks in the world have admitted to rigging LIBOR, a key interest rate that determines the value of trillions of dollars' worth of assets -- they paid billions in fines as a result. Read the rest

Banker implicated in one of history's biggest frauds says boss beat him with a tiny baseball bat

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Jonathan Mathew is one of the bankers at Barclays who participated in the Libor rigging fraud, which cost people all over the world trillions of dollars in higher payments on mortgages, government bonds, student loans, and other assets totalling $350 trillion. Read the rest

German publishers owe writers €100M in misappropriated royalties

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In Germany, media that can make or store copies (drives, copiers, blank optical discs) is subject to a "private copying levy" that is meant to compensate rightsholders for the works that will be copied to it (in return, the levy confers a limited right to make those copies to the purchaser). Read the rest

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