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Trumps Goldman Boys: seek to sell off public assets to private financial firms

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Satyagraha

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Trump Administration Conflicts Of Interest: How Gary Cohn Could Sell U.S. Infrastructure To Goldman Sachs
http://www.ibtimes.com/political-capital/trump-administration-conflicts-interest-how-gary-cohn-could-sell-us-infrastructure

BY JOSH KEEFE @THEJOSHKEEFE AND DAVID SIROTA @DAVIDSIROTA
ON 05/26/17 AT 6:00 AM


National Economic Director Gary Cohn (left) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin end their briefing
after unveiling the Trump administration's tax reform proposal in the White House briefing room in Washington, D.C.,
April 26, 2017. Photo: Reuters

President Donald Trump's administration this week
touted an infrastructure plan that would sell off public assets to private financial firms.

Left unsaid in the White House promotional materials was any mention that the Trump aide who is overseeing the initiative comes from a Wall Street firm that says it is seeking to buy up the very same kind of assets the Trump administration plans to sell off.

Leading the White House privatization initiative is Gary Cohn, the former president of Goldman Sachs, who received a $285 million dollar payout upon leaving the bank and taking a job as the director of Trump’s National Economic Council. As Cohn has led the infrastructure privatization initiative from that perch, Goldman Sachs declared that it continues to look at “new business initiatives” that revolve around taking ownership of public assets, according to Securities and Exchange Commission documents reviewed by International Business Times.

Read: Trump Administration Distances Itself From Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman Amid Call For Recusal

Cohn is spearheading the administration’s infrastructure policy despite a White House official telling Bloomberg News in February that he “will recuse himself from participating in any matter directly involving his former employer.” That pledge seemed at the time to show that Cohn was following ethics rules Trump enacted in January. Those rules require federal officials to sign an ethics pledge in which they agree to wait two years before they “participate in any particular matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially related to my former employer.”

Those rules, however, empower Trump to waive the restrictions whenever he wants. Whether or not Cohn has received such a waiver remains secret: the administration has not released a list of waivers, and has moved to block federal agencies from disclosing such waivers to federal ethics regulators.

As a result, ethics experts say, there is no way to know if Cohn is wading into ethically murky waters.

“Because of the White House’s refusal to provide basic information relating to its ethics program that every other White House of both parties have been willing to put forward, it’s very difficult to fully assess the ethics posture of its members, including Mr. Cohn,” Norm Eisen, a fellow at the Brookings Institute and the Obama administration's first ethics czar, told IBT. “I do think it is appropriate to view with extreme skepticism decision making that Mr. Cohn does that may benefit Goldman Sachs.”

The White House did not respond to IBT’s questions.
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Satyagraha

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Like maybe they'll start with this...

Trump proposes to privatize air-traffic control
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/03/16/trump-privatize-air-traffic-control/99216578/


You know who does this?
You know who likes to sell The People's assets to private financial 'firms' ?



Meet the stoligarchs, Putin's pals who control a fifth of the Russian economy
http://www.intellinews.com/meet-the-stoligarchs-putin-s-pals-who-control-a-fifth-of-the-russian-economy-99918
By Ben Aris in Moscow July 11, 2016



President Vladimir Putin has set up a twin economic system in Russia. The apolitical part of the economy is subject to the laws of the free market. In parallel to this is the political part of the economy, where

large state-owned structures control massive amounts of money flowing into and out of the budget,
and is controlled by a handful of his friends, or what we call the “stoligarchs”.


Thanks to the economic mismanagement that comes with this system, Russia’s economy will probably stagnate and for the first time in Putin’s decade and half in power the country faces the very real possibility of a systemic collapse. As long as the stoligarchs are in charge of as much as a fifth of Russia’s economic activity, the economic reforms currrently being discussed will, at best, allow Russia to only muddle through.

When Putin assumed office in 2000, the very first thing he did was kick the Yeltsin-era oligarchs out of the Kremlin. The original seven and their proteges dominated business and politics under Boris Yeltsin and had helped themselves to the country’s choicest assets. Putin himself is widely believed to have been chosen by Russia’s uber-oligarch at the time, Roman Abramovich, who was known as the “cashier to the Family”, a reference to the tight clique around the ailing former president.

Putin quickly organised the so-called oligarch meeting in July 2000, gathering the country’s  leading businessmen, and laid down the law. Boris Nemtsov, then leader of the Union of Right Forces party who helped to organise the meeting, told bne IntelliNews at the time: “This is the end of the oligarchs in Russia. All the businessmen present agreed to live under equal conditions and that there would be no more special conditions for anyone.”

Today, of those seven oligarchs only Vladimir Potanin is still actively in the game; he also happens to be the richest man in Russia at the moment, worth a cool $14.7bn, according to a Bloomberg ranking. The rest are leaving, left long ago or are dead.

Putin’s relationship with the oligarchs has been evolving steadily since he took office. After ousting the old guard he encouraged the emergence of a new one, co-opting the oligarchic system and turning it into what bne IntelliNews dubbed ZAO Kremlin (closed joint stock company Kremlin) in a cover story in 2007. In addition to being head of state, Putin controlled the businessmen as if they were a corporation. CEO Putin held regular face-to-face meetings with the captains of industry, who had to seek approval for their investment projects. Putin retained the power to “fire” any oligarch who disagreed with him.

The new regime was made clear to everyone present at that infamous meeting 16 years ago, Potanin told bne IntelliNews at the time: “Putin confirmed that he will meet the businessmen on a regular basis. I think he perceives the businessmen more as partners than as enemies.”

Over the last few years, the ZAO Kremlin model, a form of “state capitalism”, has been refined further. Putin has gone from meeting with the businessmen and listening to their plans, to effectively employing the oligarchs and giving them direct orders. The system allows him to formally and informally control the biggest flows of capital into and out of the budget. Perhaps he became tired of the oligarsch’s greed, their perennial interference with politics and the ostentatious lifestyle of many of their number.

Potanin once spent $95,000 on 4kg of white truffles, an innocent excess, but his protege Mikhail Prokhorov personally embarrassed Putin after being arrested on pimping charges (later dropped) in the French resort of Chamonix with a gaggle of girls, only a week after Putin personally awarded him with a medal for services to the Motherland. Putin personally called Prokhorov in his French prison cell to give him a tongue lashing, according to a bne IntelliNews source with knowledge of the affair.

In the last three years, the circle around the president has shrunk to only a handful of close associates from government and business, according to bne IntelliNews sources. Increasingly, it seems that Putin is personally involved in their work, but leaves running the rest of the economy to the liberal faction that sits in the economy and finance ministries, as well as the Central Bank of Russia (CBR).

Between them, this tight clique of stoligarchs controlled just over a fifth (21.7%) of Russia’s GDP at the end of 2015, according to bne IntelliNews estimates based on their company revenues (and assuming Russia’s current economic worth is $1.2 trillion). The stoligarch banks and companies had combined sales of at least $260bn in 2015, according to reported financials of just the easily identified businesses. On a valuation basis they do slightly worse (not all their companies are listed) and are worth a collective $176bn, or 14.7% of GDP.

The politics of business

More than half the stoligarchs are bosses of Russia’s biggest state-owned enterprises, but a few are private businessmen who unsuprisingly do a lot of business with the state.

Forbes magazine has dubbed three of Putin’s closest stoligarch allies – Gennady Timchenko and the Rotenberg brothers, Boris and Arkady – the “Emperors of State Tenders”. Arkady Rotenberg’s firms, including construction company Stroygazmontazh, have amassed a total of RUB555bn ($8.6bn) of state contracts over the last three years, according to Forbes, including the job of building the RUB384bn ($6bn) Kerch bridge between Russia and the recently annexed region of Crimea, as well as a RUB200bn ($3.1bn) contract to build part of the Power of Siberia gas pipeline between Russia and China. The bridge and the pipeline are the two most politically sensitive projects in the country and both were awarded without holding tenders for the work.

(Continued)

==============================

So you wonder what Jared Kushner was busy doing in the past six months?
Maybe setting up some 'deals' ...
Talking to the Russians,
Talking to the Israelis...
Maybe arranging some sales.

I doubt it was about collusion to 'win the election' ... it's about business.
Real Estate -- maybe OUR real estate -- maybe a national park or two, maybe a pipeline, maybe a wall, maybe something we wouldn't want to sell. So it might be disguised as a 'good idea'... for now...

Watch this space.
We'll post the sales as they begin.

“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”
Martin Luther King Jr.
 

 

EvadingGrid

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Piratization

The profane sheeple call it Privatisation and its enforced world wide through the likes of the IMF as a condition of the loan, down to Bilderberg's European Union. Its a particuarly sore point for me, as in the UK the Socialist Party, Labour have thrown around the idea of Nationalisation. This is verboten in the 4th Reich EU, so take a wild guess where they stand on the EU, and I'll hint that we are through the looking glass. So, did you guess correctly that naturally since its forbidden under they EU they are staunch Remainers... to contradict and sabotague there own policy. Do you think what I just told you has been mentioned on TV during the middle of a general election, which is really Brexit Vote Again.

Anyone see why I'm a little bit touchy about the subject ?

I'm sure you noticed I've taken zero interest in the General Election.
Now you know one of the reasons.
 
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Satyagraha

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You know when you want to sell your house, first you fix it up.
And if you're a property 'flipper' - you get an older house, fix it up, then sell it for profit?

I wonder if Trump is fixing up the ATC before he flips it...

Quote
Donald J. Trump‏Verified account
@realDonaldTrump
Following
More
Today, I announced an Air Traffic Control Initiative to take American air travel into the future - finally!
➡️http://45.wh.gov/pmRJsy

See details of fixer-upper, the ATC systems...
at link: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/06/05/remarks-president-trump-announcement-air-traffic-control-initiative
“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”
Martin Luther King Jr.
 

 

2Revolutions

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Long Article make sure you have a nice hot of coffee ready. 

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/06/trump-using-failed-australian-asset-recycling-justify-mass-privatizations.html

Trump Using Failed Australian “Asset Recycling” to Justify Mass Privatizations

Truth be told, I hadn’t devoted much blog space to Trump’s infrastructure plans because his version 1.0 was not going to lead to much activity of any sort. It was not going to be based on any Federal spending. Instead, it relied on the use of equity tax credits. As we wrote, not only was that a small market, but the deals in it are bespoke, meaning the financings take a long time to get done. That would add even more time to the usually drawn-out process of devising projects, bidding out the various contracts, and lining up the various pieces of the financing. In other words, even based on the default assumption that many of the deals would not be good deals, not many would be completed, hence any harm would be fairly limited.

But now Trump is attempting to use infrastructure spending, which is everyone’s favorite idea for boosting growth in the US right now, as a Trojan horse for large scale privatizations. The ruse here is to call its ‘asset recycling” and depict it as a vehicle for creating more infrastructure spending. Mind you, this central element wasn’t included in the White House’s 6 page napkin doodle; you had to get that critical bit of information the press conference, as reported by the Washington Post:

   
Trump advisers said that to entice state and local governments to sell some of their assets, the administration is considering paying them a bonus. The proceeds of the sales would then go to other infrastructure projects. Australia has pursued a similar policy, which it calls “asset recycling,” prompting the 99-year lease of a state-owned electrical grid to pay for improvements to the Sydney Metro, among other projects.

As the cross post below describes in sordid detail, the Australian asset recycling program was widely seen as a big failure, even among the Liberals, as in the conservative, pro-business party.

That isn’t the only thing not to like about the latest iteration of Trump’s infrastructure headfake. the new position paper says the Administration is only going to spend $200 billion in 10 years, which is peanuts. That means he’s relying on way too much in the way of Wall-Street enriching financial gimmickry, which means higher costs and fees, which means more rent extraction from the general public.

But it’s even worse than that. As the Economic Policy Institute points out, if you look at the budget, it tells a very different story:

    If you’re not willing to say forthrightly how you’re going to pay for infrastructure investments, you really cannot be serious about it. As the old adage goes, “show me your budget and I’ll tell you what you value”.

    The recently released Trump federal budget plan guts infrastructure, period. Read the link—the damage the Trump budget would do to public investment and infrastructure is staggering. This alone should make any open-minded person extraordinarily skeptical of their claims to value infrastructure spending.

    The Trump campaign plan on infrastructure was notable only for its shallowness and its determination to increase cronyism in infrastructure provision. The plan claimed that the problem with American infrastructure investment was a lack of innovative financing, and that the private sector could somehow be convinced to build infrastructure at no cost to taxpayers. This was obviously false. Even long-standing, bipartisan efforts to leverage private sector financing of infrastructure have ranged from disappointing to disastrous. And in no case did they provide a free lunch to taxpayers—unless taxpayers have a huge preference to paying tolls to private companies rather than the same amount of tolls or taxes to governments.
 

 

Satyagraha

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This reminds me of the Ports controversy... when the UAE bought ports in the US: there was a backlash in Congress...

Dubai Ports World controversy
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dubai_Ports_World_controversy

The Dubai Ports World controversy began in February 2006 (Ed: George W. Bush) and rose to prominence as a national security debate in the United States.

At issue was the sale of port management businesses in six major U.S. seaports
to a company based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE),
and whether such a sale would compromise port security.


The controversy pertained to management contracts of six major United States ports. The purchaser was DP World (DPW), a state-owned company in the UAE. The contracts had already been foreign-owned, by Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O), a British firm taken over by DPW (completed in March 2006). Although the sale was approved by the executive branch of the United States Government, various United States political figures argued that the takeover would compromise U.S. port security.

U.S. President George Bush argued vigorously for the approval of the deal, claiming that the delay sends the wrong message to U.S. allies. Legislation was introduced to the United States Congress to delay the sale.

Background

DP World is a company owned by the government of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, via a holding company. This holding company is under the direct control of the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is also the prime minister of the UAE.
Chronology[edit]

In mid-October 2005, DP World approached the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to clear regulatory hurdles for a possible acquisition of the British firm P&O. The CFIUS is the multi-agency federal panel that passes judgment on deals with foreign corporations that raise antitrust or national security questions, Soon after, DPW began negotiating the terms of the takeover with P&O.[1] They were advised by former President Bill Clinton to submit to a 45-day review of the acquisition.[2]
In December 2005, Coast Guard intelligence officials raised the possibility of significant security risks associated with the management of some U.S. port operations by a Dubai company, stating in a report that broad intelligence gaps prevented them from assessing the risks.[3]
In February 2006, the stockholders of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O), a British firm, agreed to a sale of that company to DPW over a bid by PSA International of Singapore. As part of the sale, DPW would assume the leases of P&O to manage major U.S. facilities at the Port of New York and New Jersey, Port of Philadelphia, Port of Baltimore, Port of New Orleans, and the Port of Miami, as well as operations in 16 other ports.
After P&O stockholders approved the deal, the arrangement was reviewed by the CFIUS headed by the U.S. Treasury Department. The transfer of leases was approved.

When the deal appeared in the business press, it was noticed by Eller & Company, a Florida firm. Eller has two joint ventures with P&O and it feared becoming an "involuntary partner of DP World", said Michael Kreitzer, Eller's lawyer.[4] According to Kreitzer, Eller hired semi-retired lobbyist Joe Muldoon as a last-ditch effort to persuade Congress to block the deal. Soon Muldoon and Kreitzer got the attention of Democratic New York Senator Charles E. Schumer and an Associated Press reporter. Within days, Schumer held a press conference calling for a review and the AP ran the story nationally.[4]

Congressional politicians were quick to respond after Schumer's press conference and the AP story put the Dubai Ports deal in the national spotlight. Both Democratic and Republican members of Congress started to question the approval. Republican leaders Dennis Hastert and Bill Frist, who usually work closely with the office of the President, publicly questioned the deal. Frist said "If the administration cannot delay the process, I plan on introducing legislation to ensure that the deal is placed on hold until this decision gets a more thorough review."[5]

On February 22, 2006, President Bush threatened to veto any legislation passed by Congress to block the deal, a veto that would be his first. In a statement to reporters, Bush claimed, "It would send a terrible signal to friends and allies not to let this transaction go through."[6] DP Worlds Chief Operating Officer, Ted Bilkey engaged a number of high-profile lobbying firms to garner congressional support for the deal.[4]

The controversy created a public and unusually high-profile dispute within the Republican Party, and between the Republican-controlled Congress and the Republican-controlled White House.

On February 23, 2006, DPW volunteered to postpone its takeover of significant operations at the ports to give the White House more time to convince lawmakers that the deal poses no increased risks from terrorism.

On February 24, 2006, it was reported that there are 22 U.S. ports in the deal, not just the six major ports mentioned in initial news stories and reports.[7] According to the website of P&O Ports, the port-operations subsidiary of P&O, DPW would take over stevedore services at 12 East Coast ports including the Port of Portland (Maine); Port of Boston; Port of Davisville; New York City; Port Newark; Port of Philadelphia; Port of Camden; Port of Wilmington; Port of Baltimore; and Virginia locations at Newport News, Norfolk, and Portsmouth.

Additionally, DPW would have taken over P&O stevedoring operations at nine ports along the Gulf of Mexico including the Texas ports of Beaumont, Port Arthur, Galveston, Houston, Freeport, and Corpus Christi, plus the Louisiana ports of Lake Charles and New Orleans.
Former Senate Majority Leader and 1996 Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole was hired by Dubai Ports World to lobby Congress on its behalf against bipartisan criticism of the deal. Mr. Dole was a special counsel in the Washington office of the law firm of Alston & Bird. DP World hired the firm in 2005 to help shepherd its purchase of the British-based firm P&O.[8]

On March 8, 2006 the House Panel voted 62–2 to block the deal, and senator Charles Schumer added amendments to a senate bill to block the deal, causing an uproar in the senate.[9]

On March 9, 2006, Dubai Ports World released a statement saying they would turn over operation of U.S. ports to a U.S. "Entity".[10]

Later that same day, American Enterprise Institute scholar Norm Ornstein reported on PBS's "News Hour" that DP World was considering selling its U.S. operations to Halliburton.[11]
(Ed: <--- George H.W. Bush company, along with Cheney...)

Dubai Ports World eventually sold P&O's American operations to American International Group's asset management division, Global Investment Group for an undisclosed sum.[12]

(continued)

===========================

Interesting that there is such interest in selling off our ports, and now in selling off the Air Traffic Control system to private companies...
What's up with this?
Why the travel systems ... in and out of mainland US?
“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”
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Satyagraha

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Dubai Ports World eventually sold P&O's American operations to American International Group's asset management division, Global Investment Group for an undisclosed sum.[12]

(continued)


Remember AIG?
http://swiftcodes.org/bank/american-international-group-global-investment-gro/

Think: 911, 2008 financial meltdown in the US, Kroll Associates...
Watch: (btw, the beginning seven minutes are odd, you can fast forward beyond it, because this is an excellent documentary, and worth your time to watch...)


Who Killed John O'Neill?

“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”
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EvadingGrid

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Privatization

Taking what the public paid for and selling it to buy votes.

Now people write humongous essays as they frantically distort reality to fit either the left or right wing ideology. The trouble is, the above sentence really does capture the essence of privatization. Since we have a right wing govt, its trivial to debunk :

Selling Assets is not necessarily bad, if the govt is composed of saints & angels surely the money will be put to good and just use . . . ooops right wing states govt is evil and composed of thieves and demons.
In other words, if you believe in small govt, privatization is bad, relax because the end justifies the means.
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