Anonymous stock-market manipulators behind $20B+ of "mispricing" can be tracked by their writing styles

In a new Columbia Law and Economics Working Paper, Columbia Law prof Joshua Mitts uses "stylometry" (previously) to track how market manipulators who publish false information about companies in order to profit from options are able to flush their old identities when they become notorious for misinformation and reboot them under new handles. Read the rest

Denmark's largest bank laundered €200B through its Estonian branch, ignoring glaring warning signs

Before Thomas Borgen was CEO of Danske Bank, he ran the bank's Estonian branch from 2009-2013, presiding over years of neglect of basic, commonsense money-laundering controls, allowing more than €200B to flow through the bank from well-known financial secrecy jurisdictions like the British Virgin Islands, as well as Russia. Read the rest

Tomorrow is the tenth anniversary of the collapse of 2008 and things are much, much worse

Nobody covered the Wall Street collapse, bailout, and corrupt resurgence better than Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi, from giving Goldman Sachs its unforgettable epithet to covering the hearings on the bailouts to documenting the foreclosure mills, to deep dives into the sweetheart deals the banks got; to the revolving door between finance regulators and the finance sector to the rise of Occupy; to the consolidation of financial primacy after the collapse; to the double-standard for criminal justice revealed by the collapse; to the frauds that surfaced after the crash; to the tiny bright spots where bankers were brought to justice; all capped by an incandescent, outstanding book about the crisis and the systematic racial and economic justice it revealed. Read the rest

Big Tech is losing the public's trust in just the same way that Big Finance has

Writing in the New York Times, Nathaniel Popper notes a new current running through our discourse: the idea that Big Tech is not to be trusted, and should be broken up. Read the rest

Facebook to banks: give us our users' financial data and we'll let them bank with Facebook

Facebook wants to "deepen user engagement" with Messenger, and to that end, it's been pitching America's giant banks on joint enterprises where Facebook will get to see all your financial info (especially info on where you're shopping and what you're buying) to help it suck you into using Messenger for longer. Read the rest

Consumer Reports now evaluates products' security and privacy

Consumer Reports is arguably America's most trusted source of product reviews -- published by Consumers Union, a venerable nonprofit with a deserved reputation for scrupulous care and neutrality -- and for years it has been wrestling with how to address privacy and cybersecurity in modern products (disclosure: I have advised them some on this). Read the rest

The UK's largest estate agency is on the verge of bankruptcy

Countrywide is the UK's largest property agents (they own estate agencies like Hamptons International, Bairstow Eves and Bridgfords), with 900 locations and 10,000 employees, and they're selling off shares at fire-sale prices in a desperate bid to raise £140 million to service their massive debts; the sum is 300% of the company's market cap, their shares are down 60% on the news, and the company blames plummeting London prices and Brexit jitters for their misfortunes. Read the rest

Wells Fargo: we stole houses and we're being investigated for dirty low-income housing credits

In its latest round of shareholder disclosures, Wells Fargo admitted that it "unnecessarily foreclosed" on 400-odd householders (that is, stole their houses) and failed to grant loan modifications to 625 qualified borrowers (this is just the latest revelation about Wells Fargo stealing houses); it's also being investigated for its practice of purchasing low-income housing credits. (via Naked Capitalism) Read the rest

Trump wants to hand a $100,000,000,000 tax cut to the super-rich, without Congressional approval

Trump finance secretary/supervillain Steve Mnuchin says he wants to unilaterally allow Americans to factor in inflation when calculating capital gains; the move would cost the US government $100 billion and 97% of that would go to the top 10% of US earners (66% would go to the 0.1% of US earners). Read the rest

As Chinese P2P lending bubble bursts, "investors" mob Chinese sports-stadiums used as temporary processing centers

China has (had) the world's biggest peer-to-peer lending industry, with $190B lent by 4.1m "investors" to 4.3m borrowers across 1,836 services. Read the rest

In-depth look at the Financial Times' weekly guide to ostentatious status goods for tasteless one-percenters

The Financial Times kicked off its "How To Spend It" section in 1967 as a single page in the Saturday issue (then called "A guide to good living"); the section grew to its own glossy magazine over the years, weathering lean years and good ones, and has found its niche half a century later, in an era of mass inequality as a weekly catalog of things that the super rich should buy to demonstrate their dominance over everyone else. Read the rest

Mining the Panama Papers and other leaks to reveal the hidden looting of West Africa by its corrupt elite

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists teamed up with the Norbert Zongo Cell for Investigative Journalism (Cenozo) to delve deep into 27.5 million files from the Offshore Leaks, Swiss Leaks, Panama Papers and Paradise Papers to investigate how the super-rich in 15 West African countries have looted their countries' wealth and then smuggled it offshore through a network of tax-havens, even as their countries starve. Read the rest

The Vatican dunks on the finance industry and its "amoral culture"

The Vatican has published “‘Oeconomicae et pecuniariae quaestiones’. Considerations for an ethical discernment regarding some aspects of the present economic-financial system” of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, 17.05.2018, a lengthy report on the wickedness of Wall Street, in which the finance industry is condemned in the strongest and most specific terms, accused of creating an "amoral culture" dedicated to the "profit of the strongest" instead of the "authentic good." Read the rest

Bipartisan amendment forces UK government to impose transparency on its offshore tax havens

One cute side-effect of Brexit is that it got the UK out of pending EU rules limiting financial secrecy as part of a crackdown on money laundering by looting dictators, one percenters, and criminals; the Tories had put a process in train to come up with a made-in-Britain version, which was always going to be weaksauce thanks to the outsize influence of the City of London and its finance bosses on UK politics, but even that was killed by Theresa May's disastrous snap elections last year. Read the rest

Scottish Tories defeat anti-money-laundering measure aimed at shutting down the Russian oligarch-Scotland pipeline

The Scottish Limited Partnership is a notorious financial secrecy vehicle that's been used to launder at least $80 billion, mostly from oligarchs and organised crime figures from the former USSR, in only four years. Read the rest

The UK is finally cracking down on its Russian money-laundry, but hasn't hired people to do the job

Scottish Limited Partnerships are a preferred money-laundering tool of the world's criminals, looters and oligarchs, especially favored by criminals from the former USSR, who have pumped an estimated $80B through them in the past four years alone. Read the rest

Trump's finance watchdog wants to make the taxpayer-funded database of crooked banks go dark

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is Elizabeth Warren's gift that keeps on giving -- one of the most effective US government agencies, handing out real punishment to banks that break the law, fighting loan-sharks that prey on poor people, and maintaining a database of vetted consumer complaints against banks that have ripped them off. Read the rest

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