Category Archives: Business

How Amazon and Silicon Valley Seduced the Pentagon, by James Bandler, Anjali Tsui and Doris Burke

Big Tech’s relationship with the Pentagon and intelligence agencies is the very definition of crony socialism. From James Bandler, Anjali Tsui and Doris Burke at propublica.org:

Tech moguls like Jeff Bezos and Eric Schmidt have gotten unprecedented access to the Pentagon. And one whistleblower who raised flags has paid the price.

From left: Eric Schmidt, the former chairman of Google’s parent company, James Mattis, the former secretary of defense, and Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon. (Nate Kitch, special to ProPublica)

ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up for ProPublica’s Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox as soon as they are published.

This article was co-published with Fortune.

On Aug. 8, 2017, Roma Laster, a Pentagon employee responsible for policing conflicts of interest, emailed an urgent warning to the chief of staff of then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis. Several department employees had arranged for Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, to be sworn into an influential Pentagon advisory board despite the fact that, in the year since he’d been nominated, Bezos had never completed a required background check to obtain a security clearance.

Mattis was about to fly to the West Coast, where he would personally swear Bezos in at Amazon’s headquarters before moving on to meetings with executives from Google and Apple. Soon phone calls and emails began bouncing around the Pentagon. Security clearances are no trivial matter to defense officials; they exist to ensure that people with access to sensitive information aren’t, say, vulnerable to blackmail and don’t have conflicts of interest. Laster also contended that it was a “noteworthy exception” for Mattis to perform the ceremony. Secretaries of defense, she wrote, don’t hold swearing-in events.

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Soy Soup, by Eric Peters

Remember when car companies’ main job was to make cars for people who wanted to buy them and generate profits for their shareholders? From Eric Peters at ericpetersautos.com:

They must serve soy at GM’s corporate cafeteria. It could account for the strange statement released the other day by GM’s CEO Mary Barra. It says that the main purpose of GM is to make sure that “each person . . . lead(s) a life of meaning and dignity.”

Wasn’t it to make cars?

Emphasis on was. It isn’t anymore – apparently.

“The purpose of a corporation,” the statement continues “is to serve all of its constituents, including employees, customers, investors and society at large.”

Italics added

“Society at large”? This smacks of social(ist) studies rather than STEM.

But that’s what happens when a person with a background in human resourcesbecomes the head of a car company.

And it’s not just Barra.

Ford CEO Jim Hackett affixed his John Hancock to this opus – this thesis, in the Martin Luther sense – as well. Along with Borg Warner CEO Frederic Lissalde and Tom Linebarger of Cummins and 181 titans of American business. Many of these businesses have been losing market share for years. The whole of GM today has about 8 percent less market share than Chevrolet by itself had in 1970.

Which may explain the ennui of these businessmen about business.

It’s like a chapter from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged come to life.

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The Disaster of Negative Interest Policy, by Thorsten Polleit

Negative interest rates are a creature of central banks and an indictment of their policies. From Thorsten Polleit at mises.org:

hose who had hoped that things could not get worse with the monetary policy of the European Central Bank (ECB) have been proven wrong. At its last meeting on 25 July 2019, the Governing Council of the ECB kept interest rates unchanged: the main refinancing rate was kept at 0.00% and the deposit rate at -0.40%. At the same time, however, ECB President Mario Draghi has prepared the ground to lower interest rates even further in the coming months. What is the reasoning behind that?

According to the ECB Governing Council, inflation is too low, and the euro area economy is too weak. It was precisely this assessment that signaled to the markets to expect a rate cut in the near future. It has now become very likely that the deposit rate will be lowered by 0.2 percentage points to -0.60% at the next ECB meeting in September; and the main refinancing rate could drop to -0.20%. The continued path into the negative interest world, however, has quite dramatic consequences.

The Essence of the Interest Rate

This becomes clear when considering what the interest rate stands for. In short, it represents the value discountthat a later satisfaction of a want suffers compared to an earlier satisfaction of the same want (under otherwise identical circumstances). The “pure” or “originary” interest rate is positive — always and everywhere. It cannot disappear, it cannot go to zero, let alone fall below the zero line; the logic of human action informs us that the pure interest rate cannot be thought away from human actions and values.

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The Real Reasons Why The Media Is Suddenly Admitting To The Recession Threat, by Brandon Smith

The media is admitting to the recession threat because we’re heading into a recession. From Brandon Smith at alternative-media.com:

One thing that is important to understand about the mainstream media is that they do tell the truth on occasion. However, the truths they admit to are almost always wrapped in lies or told to the public far too late to make the information useful.   Dissecting mainstream media information and sifting out the truth from the propaganda is really the bulk of what the alternative media does (or should be doing).  In the past couple of weeks I have received a rush of emails asking about the sudden flood of recession and economic crash talk in the media.  Does this abrupt 180 degree turn by the MSM (and global banks) on the economy warrant concern?  Yes, it does.

The first inclination of a portion of the liberty movement will be to assume that mainstream reports of imminent economic crisis are merely an attempt to tarnish the image of the Trump Administration, and that the talk of recession is “overblown”.  This is partially true; Trump is meant to act as scapegoat, but this is not the big picture.  The fact is, the pattern the media is following today matches almost exactly with the pattern they followed leading up to the credit crash of 2008.  Make no mistake, a financial crash is indeed happening RIGHT NOW, just as it did after media warnings in 2007/2008, and the reasons why the MSM is admitting to it today are calculated.

Before we get to that, we should examine how the media reacted during the lead up to the crash of 2008.

Multiple mainstream outlets ignored all the crash signals in 2005 and 2006 despite ample warnings from alternative economists. In fact, they mostly laughed at the prospect of the biggest bull market in the history of stocks and housing (at that time) actually collapsing. Then abruptly the media and the globalist institutions that dictate how the news is disseminated shifted position and started talking about “recession” and “crash potential”. From the New York Times to The Telegraph to Reuters and others, as well as the IMF, BIS and Federal Reserve officials – Everyone suddenly started agreeing with alternative economists without actually deferring to them or giving them any credit for making the correct financial calls.

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All along the watchtower: The follies of history, by Pepe Escobar

The US wants to bring China to heel; there’s no way China is going to allow that to happen. From Pepe Escobar at asiatimes.com:

All along the watchtower: The follies of history

Bayon temple, Angkor World Heritage site in Siem Reap, northern Cambodia. File pic by Bruno Morandi, Robert Harding Heritage / AFP
The ultimate American imperial dream is to engineer a Chinese vassal state

There must be some kind of way outta here
Said the joker to the thief
There’s too much confusion
I can’t get no relief

Business men, they drink my wine
Plowmen dig my earth
None were level on the mind
Nobody up at his word

-Bob Dylan, All Along the Watchtower (immortalized by Jimi Hendrix)

Nothing beats the beguiling, stony smiles at the Bayon temple near Angkor Wat in Cambodia’s Siem Reap to plunge us back into history’s vortex, re-imagining how empires, in their endless pursuit of power, rise and fall, usually because they eventually get the very war they had sought to avoid.

The Bayon was built as a state temple at the end of the 12th century by the undisputed superstar of Khmer empires, Jayavarman VII. Its magical narrative reliefs convey a mix of history and mythology while depicting daily life in Khmer society.

We still don’t know today the identity of the faces shown on the temple’s giant stone carvings. They could be a representation of Brahma, or of Jayavarman himself – a practicing Buddhist. What we do know is that the glorious Khmer empire – incomparable in art and architecture, and even benign in the sense that the mandate for power was based on the king’s relationship with the gods, started to fade after the 15th century, dismembered by war against the Thai and later the Vietnamese.

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Italy and Salvini Face Real Crisis Now, by Tom Luongo

Italian politics would be a tempest in a teapot except Italy is a significant part of the EU, it has a lot of debt, and its banking system is a mess. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

With the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte the future of Italy is now up in the air. There are many things that come into play with Conte resigning before the No-Confidence vote tabled by Lega Leader Matteo Salvini could take place.

The euro popped 40 pips, back above support at $1.11 on the news. The forex markets realize this was a Brussels-friendly move.

Conte didn’t want to chance getting voted out of office. That makes it difficult for President Sergei Mattarella to call for a new government without snap elections. The Italian Senate would have formally rebuked Mattarella’s compromise pick for Prime Minister, Conte.

Conte was there to effectively keep the children in line – Euroskeptics Lega and Five Star Movement (M5S). So, Conte used his time to take the bully pulpit and excoriate Salvini for twenty minutes. This gives the U.S. and European media plenty of chum to make their case against Salvini.

You will hear a lot about how non-partisan Conte did this for the sake of Italy to stop the mad, selfish and unprofessional Salvini from taking power.

It’s good political theater but it’s as disingenuous as the day is long and very much the truth. No one in power in Brussels wants what Salvini is selling. Not many in Rome do either.

Because had he not resigned Mattarella could have faced impeachment for not going to elections. He only relented to let M5S and Lega take power under that threat last year.

So Conte has set the stage for Mattarella to take charge again. They will put the veneer of legitimacy on this process to protect Italy from Salvini. In reality, the only people they are protecting are in Brussels.

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Just when you think you own your own private property… by Simon Black

Here’s an outrageously stupid story about how five people almost stopped a man from selling his property for almost $5 million. They would have forced him to accept an offer of virtually nothing. From Simon Black at sovereignman.com:

The year was 1967. Ronald Reagan had just become governor of California. Aretha Franklin was belting out R-E-S-P-E-C-T on the radio. Marxist revolutionary leader Che Guevara was captured and executed in Bolivia.

And a restaurant chain called The White Spot opened its newest location in Denver, Colorado.

It was a popular diner; the White Spot served pancakes and milkshakes to customers for decades, and ownership of the Denver location eventually changed hands when an entrepreneur named Tom Messina bought the diner in 1999.

He changed the name from the White Spot to Tom’s Diner, and he’s been serving Denver customers for the last 20 years.

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But Tom turned 60 recently, and he’s thinking about retirement. After two decades of cracking eggs and frying bacon, he’s ready to spend more time with his family.

And fortunately for Tom, he’s sitting on an extremely valuable asset: his real estate. Tom’s diner is located in downtown Denver in an area that has been heavily redeveloped.

Decades ago the land wasn’t worth very much. But in recent years, Denver became one of the fastest growing cities in the country. Property prices skyrocketed.

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