Wednesday, November 20, 2013

JPMorgan and Uncle Sam Now Partners in Pillaging of America: Ritholtz | Breakout - Yahoo Finance

JPMorgan and Uncle Sam Now Partners in Pillaging of America: Ritholtz - Yahoo Finance
"It's really about $2 or $3 billion if you back out various components," says Barry Ritholtz ofRitholtz Wealth Management. It's not clear exactly how the money will be distributed, but based on the details from the previously announced $4 billion settlement between JPMorgan, the Justice Department, and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, it illustrates the squishy nature of the punishment. That $4 billion, which is included in the $13 billion being bandied about, includes $1.5 billion in loan forgiveness and $500 million in mortgage adjustments. JPMorgan was unlikely to see much if any of this $2 billion with or without a deal."
"Stranger still is the remaining $2 billion being split between giving JPMorgan credit for demolishing abandoned houses and issuing new loans for low and moderate income income borrowers. In other words, JPMorgan is going to be forced to do more business with high-risk borrowers as punishment for offering mortgages for unqualified would-be homeowners.
The Justice Department reserves the right to pursue criminal charges against bank officials, but the clock is ticking on the statute of limitations. Ritholtz says the absence of a credible threat regarding criminal charges all but legitimizes the settlement as a one-off charge in business as usual for JPMorgan.
Ritholtz draws a parellel to the settlement and the reltationship between a gambler and a bookie. The message according to Ritholtz is that "Uncle Sam is now your partner. You're going to have to cut off a little vig to the Fed, but you still get to rape and pillage."

Even pro-business Swiss look at limiting CEO pay - Matthew Lynn's London Eye - MarketWatch

Even pro-business Swiss look at limiting CEO pay  - MarketWatch
"On Sunday, Switzerland will hold a referendum that if passed, would force companies to limit the highest salary they pay to 12 times the lowest. According to the polls, the vote is on a knife-edge and could easily go either way. Business groups are issuing the predictable dire warnings about an exodus of managerial talent if the law gets passed , with dire consequences for the giants of Swiss industry."
"But, in fact, the Swiss might be doing a world a favor. The gap between what the people running companies and the people working for them earn has exploded. And yet there is very little evidence that companies are better run, or more productive, or make more money for their shareholders, as a result. If the Swiss call time on what looks increasingly like a racket, they may well set a useful example for the rest of the world.
Switzerland is no one’s idea of a radical nation. A more sober, right-wing, low-tax and small-government country it would be hard to imagine."

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

How Munich rejected Steve Ballmer and kicked Microsoft out of the city - Feature - TechRepublic

How Munich rejected Steve Ballmer and kicked Microsoft out of the city  - TechRepublic
"Munich says the move to open source has saved it more than €10m, a claim contested by Microsoft, yet .. the point of making the switch was never about money, but about freedom."
"If you are only doing a migration because you think it saves you money there's always somebody who tells you afterwards that you didn't calculate it properly," ..

Sunday, November 17, 2013

This Man Was Sentenced to Die in Prison for Shoplifting a $159 Jacket: This Happens More Than You Think | Alternet

This Man Was Sentenced to Die in Prison for Shoplifting a $159 Jacket: This happens more than you think - Alternet
"At about 12.40pm on 2 January 1996, Timothy Jackson took a jacket from the Maison Blanche department store in New Orleans, draped it over his arm, and walked out of the store without paying for it. When he was accosted by a security guard, Jackson said: “I just needed another jacket, man.”
A few months later Jackson was convicted of shoplifting and sent to Angola prison in Louisiana. That was 16 years ago. Today he is still incarcerated in Angola, and will stay there for the rest of his natural life having been condemned to die in jail. All for the theft of a jacket, worth $159.
Jackson, 53, is one of 3,281 prisoners in America serving life sentences with no chance of parole for non-violent crimes. Some, like him, were given the most extreme punishment short of execution for shoplifting; one was condemned to die in prison for siphoning petrol from a truck; another for stealing tools from a tool shed; yet another for attempting to cash a stolen cheque."
"The ACLU's report, A Living Death, chronicles the thousands of lives ruined and families destroyed by the modern phenomenon of sentencing people to die behind bars for non-violent offences. It notes that contrary to the expectation that such a harsh penalty would be meted out only to the most serious offenders, people have been caught in this brutal trap for sometimes the most petty causes.
Ronald Washington, 48, is also serving life without parole in Angola, in his case for shoplifting two Michael Jordan jerseys from a Foot Action sportswear store in Shreveport, Louisiana, in 2004. Washington insisted at trial that the jerseys were reduced in a sale to $45 each – which meant that their combined value was below the $100 needed to classify the theft as a felony; the prosecution disagreed, claiming they were on sale for $60 each, thus surpassing the $100 felony minimum and opening him up to a sentence of life without parole."
"Until the early 1970s, life without parole sentences were virtually unknown. But they exploded as part of what the ACLU calls America's “late-twentieth-century obsession with mass incarceration and extreme, inhumane penalties.”
The report's author Jennifer Turner states that today, the US is “virtually alone in its willingness to sentence non-violent offenders to die behind bars.” Life without parole for non-violent sentences has been ruled a violation of human rights by the European Court of Human Rights. The UK is one of only two countries in Europe that still metes out the penalty at all, and even then only in 49 cases of murder."