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October 10, 2012

Wells Fargo being sued by New York for massive banking fraud

U.S. Sues Wells Fargo: Yet Another Bailed-Out Bank Accused of Fraud | Matt Taibbi | Rolling Stone
Wells Fargo is being sued by the State for vast fraud in the mortgage markets. The U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, yesterday brought a case against WF seeking "hundreds of millions of dollars" in damages for what it says is a decade of fraudulent behavior, in which WF wrongfully certified more than 100,000 mortgages as being eligible for federal mortgage insurance. Basically, Wells Fargo screwed the FHA and HUD by mass-approving loans without regard for whether they were defective or not. From the L.A. Times: When Wells Fargo discovered problems with the loans, it failed to notify HUD, which administers the FHA program, as required, the suit said. The action alleges more than 10 years of misconduct. "The extremely poor quality of Wells Fargo's loans was a function of management's nearly singular focus on increasing the volume of FHA originations – and the bank's profits – rather than on the quality of the loans being originated," Bharara's office said in a statement. The action by the U.S. Attorney here in New York comes on the heels of another suit against Chase brought last week by Eric Schneiderman in Obama's Mortgage Fraud Task Force. That action alleges similar mortgage-related scumbaggery by Bear Stearns, which Chase acquired in another government-brokered, market-concentrating shotgun wedding in early 2008. So in just a week, we've seen two pretty big actions brought against the Coke and the Pepsi of the American commercial banking world. We'll see how they pan out, but it's interesting, if nothing else.

October 08, 2012

Self-published ebook romances are dominating the sales charts

Self-Published Titles Shoot up E-Book Best-Seller List | The Passive Voice
Think it takes a big publishing house or an established author to make a best-seller? Think again. Two of the top ten best-selling e-books last week were self-published, On Dublin Street by Samantha Young and Down to You by M. Leighton. While these books have sold well for some time, this is their first appearance on the top 25 overall e-book best-seller list. What ties these titles together — aside from their best-seller status and that they were self-published — is that they’re both “adult contemporary romance” books, meaning that they are romance books not intended for young audiences and contain plenty of sex. . . . . Also of note is that both of these titles are priced at $3.99, bucking the notion that self-published best-sellers are priced in the $2.99-or-less range.

October 04, 2012

Finally, A Way We Can Just Pay Our Taxes Directly to the Job Creators and Cut Out the Middle Man

What the hell? Finally, A Way We Can Just Pay Our Taxes Directly to the Job Creators and Cut Out the Middle Man
According to investigative journalist and author David Cay Johnston, you might already be doing so without even knowing it, which he seems to think is bad, but REALLY aren’t we just cutting out the middle man here by paying our taxes directly to our corporate overlords, instead of waiting for them to get multibillion dollar tax benefits or carryback provisions? Take a look at your pay stub. In all but six states, workers will see a deduction for state income taxes … In a growing number of states, your state income taxes will also be increasing the profits of your employer. You read that right. Many employers in nineteen states can now keep state income taxes withheld from paychecks. General Electric, Goldman Sachs and Procter & Gamble have these deals, along with a host of foreign firms from the German computer maker Siemens to the Swedish appliance maker Electrolux and a host of Canadian, European and Japanese banks. In all more than 2,700 companies get to pocket the state income taxes withheld from some of their workers’ paychecks. . . .
*Thanks, Dorian*

October 02, 2012

How Romney used elite offshore tax dodges to make lots of money while not paying for schools or wars

Bain’s Offshore Strategies Grew Romneys’ Wealth - NYTimes.com
Mr. Romney, responding to opponents’ barbs about his use of overseas tax havens, has offered a narrow defense, saying only that the investments, many made through the private equity firm he founded, Bain Capital, have yielded him “not one dollar of reduction in taxes.” A review of thousands of pages of financial documents and interviews with tax lawyers found that in some cases, the offshore arrangements enabled his individual retirement account to avoid taxes on its investments and may well have reduced Mr. Romney’s personal income tax bills. But perhaps a more significant impact of Mr. Romney’s offshore investments has been on the profit side of the ledger — in the way Bain’s tax-avoidance strategies have enhanced his income. Some of the offshore entities enabled Bain-owned companies to sidestep certain taxes, increasing returns for Mr. Romney and other investors. Others helped Bain attract foreign investors and nonprofit institutions by insulating them from taxes, again augmenting Mr. Romney’s bottom line, since he shared in management fees based on the size of each Bain fund. The documents — which include confidential Bain prospectuses and foreign regulatory filings, many previously unreported — illustrate how these tax-avoidance strategies are woven into the fabric of Bain’s deal making. While hardly a novel concept and not unique to Bain, the inevitable result is that elite investors like Mr. Romney are able to increase their fortunes in ways unavailable to most taxpayers.