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Atlantic Ocean must reduce Sodium content by 2018


It is common knowledge that the Atlantic Ocean is the saltiest in the world. This Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that, to make the ocean “safer for both wildlife and humans,” the Atlantic must reduce its sodium content from 3.3% to 2.4% over the next five years.

“As the Atlantic is the biggest offender in the war against salt, it was only natural that it would be the first target on our list,” claims a senior EPA ecologist. “We realize that the Atlantic faces many issues: oil pollution, trash build-up, pelicans…however it is our sincere belief that salinity is the first problem the Atlantic must address. We’ve come to this conclusion mainly because it was our committee’s decision.”

Salt Water Fish to wear Saltine patches!

Though the reduction was applauded by public safety advocates, residents of the Atlantic ocean are not pleased. This includes coral reefs, fish, and a dude on a houseboat. The Middle Oceanic Fraternal Order of Seahorses and Related Species (or MOFOS, as it is more commonly known) is an opposition group which has been vocal about what they see as an encroachment of their basic rights as oceanic inhabitants. “This aggression will not stand!” shouts their spokesperson, the dude on the houseboat.

In a letter published by The Atlantic (no relation), the Atlantic Ocean defended itself in its own words:

“I feel that I’m being very unfairly targeted by the EPA’s mandate. The Pacific Ocean is nearly double my size, and the Dead Sea is nearly twice as salty, and yet I’m taking all the guff. Is it merely a convenient coincidence that both The Dead Sea and the Pacific Ocean are major contributors to the campaigns of several top-level appointees in the EPA? You be the judge!”

When asked for comment, New York City major Michael Bloomberg said “now why didn’t I think of that!”

via Atlantic Ocean must reduce Sodium content by 2018 | The Haddock Funny news, Parody spoof news satire & satirical newspaper.

via Atlantic Ocean must reduce Sodium content by 2018 | The Haddock Funny news, Parody spoof news satire & satirical newspaper.

Enda Kenny’s Childhood Photograph


Enda Kenny‘s Childhood Photograph

 

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Enda Kenny awash with cash from day one and now folks you are adding to his stash

Goldman Sachs -Rigging the I.P.O. Game


ONCE upon a time, in a very different age, an Internet start-up called eToys went public. The date was May 20, 1999. The offering price had been set at $20, but investors in that frenzied era were so eager for eToys shares that the stock immediately shot up to $78. It ended its first day of trading at $77 a share.

The eToys initial public offering raised $164 million, a nice chunk of change for a two-year-old company. But it wasn’t even close to the $600 million-plus the company could have raised if the offering price had more realistically reflected the intense demand for eToys shares. The firm that underwrote the I.P.O. — and effectively set the $20 price — was Goldman Sachs.

After the Internet bubble burst — and eToys, starved for cash, went out of business — lawyers representing eToys’ creditors’ committee sued Goldman Sachs over that I.P.O. That lawsuit, believe it or not, is still going on. Indeed, it has taken on an importance that transcends the rise and fall of one small company during the first Internet craze.

The plaintiffs charge that Goldman Sachs had a fiduciary duty to maximize eToys’ take from the I.P.O. Instead, Goldman purposely set an artificially low price, so that its real clients, the institutional investors clamoring for the stock, could pocket that first-day run-up. According to the suit, Goldman then demanded that some of those easy profits be kicked back to the firm. Part of their evidence for the calculated underpricing of eToys, according to the plaintiffs’ complaint, was that Lawton Fitt, the Goldman executive who headed the underwriting team and was thus best positioned to gauge the market demand, actually made a bet with several of her colleagues that the price would hit $80 at the opening. (Through a Goldman Sachs spokesman, Fitt declined to comment. Goldman denies that it did anything wrong, about which more shortly.)

On some level, this argument — between those who believe companies are routinely sold down the river by their underwriters and those who insist that underwriting requires a complex balancing of the interests of both company and investors — has been going on ever since. Just a couple of years ago when the social media company LinkedIn went public and the stock quickly doubled, I wrote that the company had been scammed by its underwriters, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch unit. Money that rightly belonged to the company had instead gone to investment clients, I argued. A number of market observers responded by saying that I lacked a nuanced understanding of the complicated dynamics between companies, investors and underwriters.

Recently, however, I came across a cache of documents related to the eToys litigation that seem to tilt the argument in favor of the skeptics. Although the documents were supposed to be under seal, they were sitting in a file at the New York County Clerk’s Office, available to anyone who asked for them. I asked.

What they clearly show is that Goldman knew exactly what it was doing when it underpriced the eToys I.P.O. — and many others as well. (According to the lawsuit, Fitt led around a dozen underwritings in 1999, several of which were also woefully underpriced.) Taken in their entirety, the e-mails and internal reports show Goldman took advantage of naïve Internet start-ups to fatten its own bottom line.

Goldman carefully calculated the first-day gains reaped by its investment clients. After compiling the numbers in something it called a trade-up report, the Goldman sales force would call on clients, show them how much they had made from Goldman’s I.P.O.’s and demand that they reward Goldman with increased business. It was not unusual for Goldman sales representatives to ask that 30 to 50 percent of the first-day profits be returned to Goldman via commissions, according to depositions given in the case.

“What specifically do you recall” your Goldman broker wanting, asked one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers in a deposition with an investor named Andrew Hale Siegal.

“You made $50,000, how about $25,000 back?” came the answer. “You know, you made a killing.”

“Did he ever explain to you how to pay it back?” asked the lawyer.

“No. But we both knew that I knew how,” Siegal replied. “I mean, commissions, however I could generate.”

In one e-mail, a Goldman Sachs executive named David Dechman described hot I.P.O. deals as “a currency.” He asked, “How should we allocate between the various Firm businesses to maximize value to GS?”

Robert Steel, who was then co-head of equity sales at Goldman Sachs and is now one of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s top deputies, sent an e-mail to one of the firm’s biggest clients, Putnam Investments in Boston, in which he wrote bluntly, “It is my view that we should be rewarded with additional secondary business for offering access to capital market product” — like hot I.P.O.’s.

Did the clients knuckle under?

Are you kidding?

According to data compiled by the plaintiffs, Capstar Holding, an investing client, made a series of pointless trades solely for Goldman’s benefit. The lawsuit quotes an investment manager at the firm, Christopher Rule, as saying that 70 percent of his trading activity in May 1999 was done to generate commissions for Goldman, “pursuant to an ‘understanding’ with his Goldman broker that he needed to generate money for Goldman in order to receive I.P.O.’s.”

On Thursday, Goldman Sachs issued a statement that read, in part, “We did not engage in quid pro quos for allocation of hot I.P.O.’s, and none of the decade-old documents distorted by the eToys litigants suggests otherwise.” I have posted a variety of the documents on The Times’s Web site, so that readers can decide for themselves what story they really tell.

Goldman supporters also point out that it was hardly the only underwriter to allocate shares of Internet public offerings based on what it would get in return. In the aftermath of the bubble, Goldman wound up paying fines to the Securities and Exchange Commission for I.P.O. excesses. But so did a lot of other firms. None of the government’s allegations, by the way, were related to the kind of practices alleged in the eToys lawsuit. As for the litigation itself, Goldman has argued that, contrary to popular belief, underwriters do not have a fiduciary duty to the companies they are underwriting. In recent years, this argument has held sway in the New York court system, although it has yet to be argued before the Court of Appeals.

GOLDMAN also pointed me to an e-mail Lawton Fitt wrote the day before the I.P.O., hoping to prevent firms that “are not long-term investors/aftermarket buyers” from getting too large an allocation. Even so, that e-mail made it clear that the “flippers” who didn’t care about eToys were still going to get around 20 percent of the allocation. The e-mail isn’t quite the ringing defense that Goldman makes it out to be.

What is undeniably true, of course, is that the documents are old. Some will dismiss them as relics of another era. But I continue to believe that the mind-set created by the I.P.O. madness of the late 1990s never really went away. To this day, an I.P.O. with a big first-day jump is considered a success, even though the company is being short-shrifted. To this day, investors know that they are expected to find ways to reward the firms that allocate them hot I.P.O. shares. The only thing that is truly different today is that few on Wall Street are so foolish as to put such sentiments in an e-mail.

Earlier this week, I tracked down Toby Lenk, the founder and former chief executive of eToys. Back when the S.E.C. was investigating I.P.O. excesses, the government deposed him. During the deposition, he mostly defended Goldman Sachs, even though he had the uneasy feeling that eToys had been taken advantage of.

After the deposition, he recalled, the S.E.C. lawyers began to show him some Goldman Sachs documents. He saw that one big firm after another had been allocated shares — and had immediately flipped them, even though Goldman had promised that its clients would support the stock. “That’s when I thought, ‘We really got screwed,’” Lenk told me.

Although the experience still angered him, he now has 14 years’ worth of perspective. “Look at what has happened since then,” he said. “If you think eToys got screwed, what do you think happened to the country?”

“What Wall Street did to us in 1999 pales in comparison to what they did to the country in 2008,” he said.

via Rigging the I.P.O. Game – NYTimes.com.

via Rigging the I.P.O. Game – NYTimes.com.

A US ELECTION 2012 -A View from France 24


Is ‘Mr Business’ Romney losing his grip?

Is 'Mr Business' Romney losing his grip?With the US election just days away, both Republican candidate Mitt Romney and incumbent Barack Obama are hustling for an edge in the race. Yet in recent weeks, the president has been boosted by those traditionally considered Romney allies.

In what has turned into a razor-close race, US President Barack Obama has relied heavily on endorsements from all the usual suspects – liberal-minded movie stars, musicians and writers, as well as the who’s who of the Democratic party. In the past couple of weeks, however, it looks as though the president has also enjoyed a slight boost in support from a less-likely milieu – figures from the political right and finance.

London-based newspaper The Economist stepped forward in support of Obama in its November 3 issue, albeit in a rather reluctant tone. Although the publication, which also endorsed Obama during his 2008 bid, called the president’s first term “patchy”, it justified its decision by comparing the two candidates’ track records. While an endorsement from an international newspaper may not seem like a big deal at first, the fact that it is a highly-respected business publication matters.

Since campaigning began, Republican candidate Mitt Romney has striven to portray Obama’s handling of the country’s struggling economy as ineffectual and horribly mismanaged. The Economist pleads a different case, applauding the president’s wherewithal for having “helped avert a Depression”, and thereby undermining a pillar of Romney’s campaign. What’s more, the newspaper gashes the Republican candidate’s own approach to the economy, calling him “the great flipflopper” and saying his macroeconomics are off the mark. Regardless, a reported 60 percent of the $1.8 billion in business-related contributions thus far in the election have gone to Republicans.

Just two days before The Economist’s tepid endorsement, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg stepped into the presidential campaign after publishing a soberly worded statement endorsing Obama’s re-election bid on Thursday. A registered Independent, Bloomberg cited climate change as his principle reason for throwing his weight behind Obama.

While Bloomberg’s position on issues like gay marriage, abortion and gun control make it unlikely that he will sway voters in more conservative states, his status as a shrewd businessman and multi-billionaire may come as a check to Romney, who has attempted to tout his own business experience as a strength when it comes to tackling the country’s economy. Bloomberg’s endorsement carries all the more weight considering that the mayor, who Forbes rated as the 17th most powerful person in the world in 2011, declined to take sides during the last presidential election in 2008.

Most surprisingly, however, is New Jersey’s Republican Governor Chris Christie. Known for his free-flying opinions and fierce criticism of the president, the governor has had only good things to say about Obama in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Christie, who has already endorsed Romney and was a speaker at the Republican National Convention, rattled other members of his party after stating that he “doesn’t give a damn about Election Day” and gushing that Obama deserved “great credit” for his deft response to the “superstorm”.

Christie’s compliments came a little more than a week after another prominent Republican and George W. Bush’s former secretary of state, Colin Powell, also endorsed the president’s re-election bid in an interview with CBS television. While Powell’s support came as no real surprise (he backed the Obama/Biden ticket in 2008), he did offer some searing commentary of Romney, saying that although he respected the Republican candidate, he had concerns over his stance on foreign policy.

“The governor… was saying things that were quite different from what he said earlier. I’m not quite sure which Governor Romney we would be getting with respect to foreign policy,” Powell said in the October 25 interview.

With polls putting the race at neck and neck just days before the vote on November 6, both candidates are scrambling to fine tune their messages and rustle up support in swing states. As Obama and Romney kick their campaigns into overdrive, anything from The Economist’s unenthusiastic endorsement to Christie’s recent adulation could give the president a slight edge in his re-election bid – an advantage neither candidate can afford to ignore at this late stage in the game.

via Is ‘Mr Business’ Romney losing his grip? – US ELECTION 2012 – FRANCE 24.

via Is ‘Mr Business’ Romney losing his grip? – US ELECTION 2012 – FRANCE 24.

Sandy has the last word in a bitter election -Think or Swim


Ever wonder what, in a world where the media took its cues from peer-reviewed science rather than energy industry shills, the front covers of even our business magazines might look like?

Well, wonder no more. Below, is the amazing cover of Bloomberg Business Week, dated November 5-11, 2012 in the aftermath of the so-called Frankenstorm, Sandy. Maybe it helps that its proprietor, the eponymous Mike Bloomberg is also Mayor of the benighted New York city. Either way, this is extraordinary not in its self-evident message, but rather, in the fact that a major US publishing house owned by a high-profile politician is prepared to stick its head above the rising flood waters and call this (latest) mega-disaster for what it is…

Meanwhile, as the global energy corporations rake in the largest profits in their (extremely profitable) history, inflated further by huge subsidies and tax breaks thanks to the control they exert via lobbying cash over elected politicians, the hapless taxpayers pay for the mega-cleanups for these emissions-stoked disasters. Oil giants Exxon and Shell have already raked in $54 billion in 2012, while benefiting from a whopping $800 million in tax breaks. If ever there was a blatant case of privatising profits while socialising risks, then this, surely is it.

New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo said this week: “we have a 100-year flood every two years now”, adding: ”There has been a series of extreme weather incidents. That is not a political statement. That is a factual statement. Anyone who says there’s not a dramatic change in weather patterns, I think is denying reality.” To us folks in Europe, this might not sound dramatic, but, from the US, and just days before the election, this is dynamite.

Obama bitterly disappointed his many supporters (including this writer) in his first term by ducking the issue of climate change almost entirely. However, given the toxic level of Congressional opposition by the wave of Tea Party anti-science creationists who have controlled the Houses since 2010, this is, however tragic, understandable.

However, his opponent is a man credulous enough to – literally – believe in magic underwear and whose allegiance is to faith first, fellow plutocrats second and, um, country and wider humanity, somewhere waaay further down the list. Mitt Romney has shape-shifted relentlessly in the course of recent years, and even more so in the months leading to November 6th.

Even by the low standards of modern US politics, Romney has shown himself singularly prepared to say and do absolutely anything, no matter how demonstrably false or contradicory, if it nudges him one millimetre closer to the Oval Office. If he succeeds, it will be a red letter day for market fundamentalism – and a stake through the heart of any remaining ingenue still clinging to the belief that humanity could yet awaken from its stupor for long enough to begin the Sisyphean task of heading off a looming global catastrophe by mid-century.

via Sandy has the last word in a bitter election | ThinkOrSwim (the Climatechange.ie Blog).

via Sandy has the last word in a bitter election | ThinkOrSwim (the Climatechange.ie Blog).

 

Hurricane Sandy 2012: Bloomberg warns New York faces ‘days’ in darkness


One in four New York buildings without power… and Mayor Bloomberg warns Manhattan blackout could last for days

Infrastructure in America‘s largest city struggles to resume business after post-tropical storm causes damage

Homes damaged, streets flooded and city plunged into darkness, causing misery and chaos for millions of residents

Floodwater causes electrical substation to explode, causing power outages in Manhattan

Residents demand answers as officials remain vague over when New York can expect to get back on its feet

City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says 750,000 New Yorkers are without power

Mayor admits it could take up to five days to have the city’s subway system running again

Governor Andrew Cuomo: ‘It was as bad as anything I have experienced in New York’

via Hurricane Sandy 2012: Bloomberg warns New York faces ‘days’ in darkness | Mail Online.

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