Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Exorbitant Cost Of Getting Ahead In Life

Some 84 percent of Americans claim that a higher education is a very or extremely important factor for getting ahead in life, according to the National Center for public policy and Higher Education.

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So, it’s worth the exorbitant cost, but not everyone can pay, and outsized costs in the U.S. are giving much of the rest of the developed world the higher education advantage.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), people with a Bachelor’s Degree earn around 64 percent more per week than those with a high school diploma, and around 40 percent more than those with an Associate’s Degree. In turn, those with an Associate’s degree earn around 17 percent more than those with a high school diploma.

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The Federal Reserve Bank of New York says that college graduates overall earn 80 percent more than those without a degree.

There’s also job security to consider.

Individuals with college degrees have a lower average unemployment rates than those with only high school educations. Among people aged 25 and over, the lowest unemployment rates occur in those with the highest degrees.

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From this perspective, it’s no surprise that students are willing to bite the bullet and take on a ton of debt to finance education.

About three-fourths of students who attend four-year colleges graduate with loan debt. And this number is up from about half of students three decades ago.

The average student loan debt for Class of 2017 graduates was $39,400, up 6 percent from the previous year. Over 44 million Americans now hold over $1.5 trillion in student loan debt, according to Student Loan Hero.

According to College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2017–2018 school year was $34,740 at private colleges, $9,970 for state residents at public colleges, and $25,620 for out-of-state residents attending public universities.

The U.S. is one of the most expensive places to go obtain a higher education, but there are pricier venues, too.

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If you want a free higher education, try Europe—specifically Germany and Sweden. Denmark, too, doles out an allowance of about $900 a month to students to cover their living expenses. But don’t try to study in the UK on the cheap. The UK is the most expensive country in Europe, with college tuition coming in at an average of $12,414.

In Australia, graduates don’t pay anything on their loans until they earn about $40,000 a year, and then they only pay between 4 percent and 8 percent of their income, which is automatically deducted from their bank accounts, reducing the chances of default.

For Japan—a country that sees more than half of its population go to college—the highly respected University of Tokyo only costs about $4,700 a year for undergraduates, thanks to government subsidies. The Japanese government spends almost $8,750 a year per student because it sees the massive value in having a highly educated citizenry.

For Americans, while student loans may still be a good investment overall, the idea of taking a lifetime to pay off the debt may become increasingly unattractive. And it’s only going to get worse, according to JPMorgan, which predicts that by 2035 the cost of attending a four-year private college will top $487,000.

Source: ZeroHedge

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Bank of America Contributed To $102 Million Ponzi Scheme: lawsuit

Plaintiffs charged that BofA lent the scheme an air of legitimacy and provided critical support

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Bank of America Corp. was accused in a lawsuit of providing more than 100 accounts used to perpetrate what the U.S. regulators called a $102 million Ponzi scheme.

The class-action suit filed on behalf of people who lost money follows a complaint last week by the Securities and Exchange Commission alleging that five men and three companies defrauded more than 600 investors.

One of the alleged ringleaders once commissioned a song about himself for a party in Las Vegas with lyrics celebrating his $10,000 suits and his partner’s affinity for champagne, according to Monday’s complaint in federal court in Ocala, Florida.

The brother and sister who sued to recover losses from their late father’s investment claim the fraudsters “could not have perpetuated their scheme without the knowing assistance of their primary banking institution, Bank of America, which lent the scheme an air of legitimacy and provided critical support, including at times when the scheme would have otherwise collapsed,” according to the complaint.

Bank of America spokesman Bill Halldin had no immediate comment on the suit.

The lender is accused of failing to spot suspicious activity, including deposits of hundreds of thousands of dollars into accounts with relatively small, negative or nonexistent balances, followed by transfers within the same week to other accounts or investors seeking to cash out.

The architects of the scheme promised they would put investor funds into profitable and perhaps dividend-paying companies, according to the SEC. But they spent $20 million from the investment pool to enrich themselves, made $38.5 million in “Ponzi-like payments” and transferred much of the rest away from the companies that were supposed to receive the money, the regulator said.

Source: Investment News

Soros Backs Personal Injury Lawsuits in Market With 20% Returns

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(Bloomberg) — The billionaire George Soros has found a new way to make money from personal-injury lawsuits.

Soros Fund Management is pushing into a branch of litigation finance that few hedge funds have entered. His family office is bankrolling a company that’s creating investment portfolios out of lawsuits, according to a May regulatory filing.

The development is the latest twist on the litigation funding market, which has drawn criticism for monetizing and encouraging the lawsuit culture in the U.S. The firm Soros is backing, Mighty Group, bundles cash advances that small shops extend to plaintiffs in personal injury suits in return for a cut of future settlements. Mighty Group’s approach opens the door to another potential development: securitizing individual lawsuit bets for sale to other investors.

“There are all the ingredients there to securitize these things,” said Adrian Chopin, a managing director at legal finance firm Bench Walk Advisors. “A diversified, granular pool with predictable outcomes. The problem is, you can’t yet get these things rated” by credit agencies.

20% Returns

Wall Street has been betting for a while on commercial litigation, which provides financing of big corporate suits with millions or even billions of dollars at stake. Soros is focused on the consumer side, where plaintiffs receive advances of $2,000 on average for legal claims typically tied to auto and construction accidents. The advances are used to cover personal expenses, such as medical bills and rent.

Soros along with Apollo Capital Management are among the first money managers to jump into this niche of the lawsuit-funding market. It offers steady and predictable returns, which historically have averaged about 20 percent a year at relatively low risk, said Chopin of Bench Walk.

“Everybody is looking for yield, and people are also looking for assets that are not correlated with the major equity and debt markets,” said Christopher Gillock, a managing director at Colonnade Advisors, an investment bank that specializes in financial services. “Litigation funding falls into that category.”

Joshua Schwadron, a co-founder of Mighty, declined to comment on the firm’s investors. Michael Vachon, a spokesman for Soros Fund Management, the billionaire’s New York-based family office, declined to comment.

Political Risk

The investments come with risk from both sides of the political spectrum. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the insurance industry criticize litigation financing for clogging the courts with frivolous lawsuits and driving up the costs of settlements. Regulators, on the other hand, have taken the side of consumers, moving to rein in the advances, casting them as loans subject to usury laws.

Industry proponents say the funding helps people win appropriate payouts instead of settling for pennies on the dollar under the pressure of medical bills or missed income from work. In addition, plaintiffs don’t have to pay back the advances if they lose their cases.

“These funding companies are allowing the folks who are injured through some accident to be able to stick around long enough to get paid,” said Joel Magerman, chief executive officer of Bryant Park Capital, an investment bank.

The funding companies don’t always get fully paid since other claims on settlements, such as attorney fees, have priority. This risk of underpayment makes advances difficult to bundle into securities, said Eric Schuller, president of the Alliance for Responsible Consumer Legal Funding, an industry trade group. In contrast to advances, most securitizations are backed by tangible items like a home or car.

“If the case goes south, there is nothing there to go after,” Schuller said. “It’s just a piece of paper.”

Apollo’s Investment

Mighty, originally a software provider, announced in March it had raised more than $100 million from major institutional investors to help litigation finance firms access capital. The May filing shows that a Soros affiliate agreed to provide Mighty with financing, which can also be used to back lawyers’ contingency fees and medical bills slated to be paid when cases settle.

Soros’s move into consumer legal funding is somewhat akin to another investment his family office made last year. It participated in a joint deal to buy as much as $5 billion of loans from Prosper Marketplace, a pioneer in peer-to-peer lending.

Although this form of litigation financing dates back to the mid-1990s, hedge funds had mostly steered clear because the advances and firms that issued them are so small. Only the largest players have been able to obtain financing from big investment firms. For example Leon Black’s Apollo Capital, through its MidCap Financial affiliate, backs Golden Pear Funding of New York, one of the biggest providers of advances.

Magerman anticipates that more investors will jump in the market. “It’s a small niche asset class,” he said. “There is a lot of additional money that can come in.”

***

Here’s your need to know about George Soros…

Host

You’re a Hungarian Jew who escaped the holocaust by posing as a Christian.

Soros

Right.

Host

And you watched lots of people get shipped off to the death camps?

Soros

Right, I was 14 years old and I would say that’s when my character was made.

Host

In what way?

Soros

That one should understand and anticipate events… It was a tremendous threat of evil. It was a very personal experience of evil.

Host

My understanding is that you went out with this “protector” of yours who swore that you were his adopted godson.

Soros

Yes.

Host

… went out, in fact, and helped in the confiscation of property of the Jews.

Soros

That’s right. Yes.

Host

That sounds like an experience that would send lots of people to the psychiatric couch for many, many years. Was it difficult??

Soros

Uh. Not at all, not at all. Maybe as a child you don’t see the connection but it created no problem at all.

Host

No feeling of guilt?

Soros

No.

Host

For example, “I’m Jewish and here I am watching these people go. I could just as easily be there. I should be there.” None of that?

Soros

Well. Of course I could be on the other side. I could be the one from whom the thing is being taken away, uh, but there was no sense I shouldn’t be there because there was – Well, actually, (in a) funny way it’s just like in markets that if I weren’t there (of course I wasn’t doing it) somebody else would be taking it away anyhow. Whether I was there or not (I was only a spectator) the property was being taken away. So – I had no role in taking away that property so I had no sense of guilt.

Host

Are you religious?

Soros

No.

Host

Do you believe in God?

Soros

No.

Source: By Miles Weiss | Bloomberg

 

“By Securing The Border, Trump Is Threatening Money-Flow For Lots Of Connected Interests”

President Trump doubled-down on his plan for “immediate” deportation of illegal immigrants this morning, explaining in a tweet that “hiring many thousands of judges, and going through a long and complicated legal process, is not the way to go,” adding that this deterrence approach “is the way to go to stop illegal immigration in its tracks.”

But, as NBC News reports, that hasn’t stopped civil rights attorneys from flocking to the Texas border to ‘protect’ the rights of illegal immigrant parents not to be separated from their children – the exact same policy that is utilized on American parents when they commit a crime with children in tow.

Attorneys have become a lifeline for migrants in detention, responding as would clergy to a disaster or tragedy, as the legal labyrinth of immigration has become more complicated.

Although many are accustomed to the immigration system’s complexities, attorneys are finding the situation created by the Trump “zero-tolerance” prosecutions full of never-before-seen hurdles and restrictions that hamper their access to children and parents and are making their work to ensure those with valid asylum and other claims get to stay more difficult.

Ali Rahnama, an immigration attorney from Washington, D.C. who works on public policy and high impact litigation, said he woke up last Monday and felt he needed to be on the border. He found a private donor to pay for him and a few colleagues to fly to the border.

Another attorney, Sirine Sheboya, is choking back emotion over the lengths mothers and fathers are going to be reunited with their children.

“We have people in there who are considering not continuing on with really strong asylum claims,” she said stopping to catch her breath as the emotion breaks through, “because they think that maybe they will get reunified with their kids faster if they give up their claim. That’s just wrong.

“We have men and women saying, ‘My 5- and 6-year-old was holding my leg and was taken away,'” said Rahnama, who visited parents and guardians being held in the Port Isabel Detention Center. “They go to court and are told their child will be there when they come back and they come back and there is no child,” he said.

Of course, it’s not just attorneys, Democratic politicians are descending for their moment of social justice and never-Trump warrior glory.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., spent 2½ hours in the Port Isabel Detention Center on Sunday night. After the visit, she told reporters stationed outside the center that officials of Immigration and Customs Enforcement told her that the center isn’t where parents and children will come together as federal officials have said.

“The [immigration] officials made clear this is not a reunification center. There will be no children brought here. There will be no families brought together in this place,” Warren said. “All that’s happening here is the detention of mothers and fathers who lost their children.”

Warren said she spoke to nine mothers and none the whereabouts of their children or had spoken to them.

“They are crying they are weeping,” she said. “They have said they will do anything … just, please, let them have their babies back.”

One quick question to Ms.Warren – what would you do with the children of an American parent, who took his children along with him as he committed a crime? Do they deserve better or worse treatment under the law than an illegal immigrant – who crosses the border not at a port of entry and then proclaims they are seeking asylum?

NBC News reports that DHS said late Saturday that some of the more than 2,000 children – about 522 – have been reunited with parents. Officials said Port Isabel would be its reunification center.

Sometimes it’s not just children who attorneys have to locate, but some of the parents as well. Efrén Olivares of the Texas Civil Rights Project can no longer find three clients who were part of a group of five parents who complained in a petition filed with the Inter-American Human Rights Commission, part of the Organization of American States, about the child separations.

They were either released to the U.S. with notice to appear (at a court at a later date) or were deported. We are looking diligently to contact them. We gave them a number and asked them to contact us if they were released,” Olivares said.

“We have not heard from them.”

Surprise!

Here is immigration expert Steve Cortes corrected host Fredricka Whitfield on the reality of family separation at the U.S. southern border during CNN’s Newsroom Sunday (via The Daily Caller)…

The U.S. Border Patrol does not separate immigrant families who claim asylum if they appear at a legal point of entry to the U.S., Cortes, the former head of President Donald Trump’s Hispanic Advisory Council, said.

Until recently, only the families that tried to come into the country outside a point of entry – making them illegal immigrants – were separated.

Trump issued an executive order Wednesday that directed the Border Patrol to detain illegal immigrant families together and to begin reuniting children with their detained parents.

Whitfield asked Cortes how he thought Trump’s plan to reunite “immigrant families” would work out.

“Look, it will be a difficult process, but here’s the thing. The best way for — when you say immigrant families, by the way, it’s important to say illegal immigrant families,” Cortes responded, pointing out the omission. “That’s a very, very important adjective to add in there. Immigrant families have never been separated.”

“Illegal immigrant families have been separated, and I would say separated for a very good reason,” Cotez continued. “Why? Because their parents, unfortunately, or guardians … decided to commit a crime with children in tow. Much like an American committing a crime with children in tow, you get separated from you children. And that’s a terrible consequence for the kids.”

Whitfield defended her characterization of immigrants crossing the border illegally, pointing out that many were crossing the border seeking asylum.

“If you show up to a port of entry in the United States with your children and request asylum lawfully, you are not separated from your family,” Cortes shot back, referring to the difference between applying for affirmative and defensive asylum.

Affirmative asylum applies to immigrants entering the U.S. at a port of entry, or immigrants who apply within a year of entering the U.S., whether or not their entry was legal. Immigrants entering the country illegally can apply for defensive asylum while they are being processed for deportation.

“It’s not [legal]. You have to come to a check point, raise your hand and say, ‘I’m here for asylum,’” Cortes said.

“You can’t sneak across the border and then say, once you’re caught, ‘Oh, I meant to apply for asylum. That’s just not correct.”

Finally, we note another of President Trump’s tweets this morning that sums the state of America and its media up very well…

And while we are well aware that comprehending the facts behind this sudden maelstrom of migrant misery headlines, here is the reality of how this all started courtesy of ‘The Last Refuge’ excellent twitter thread

1. Once you see the strings on the marionettes you can never watch the pantomime the same way you did before you noticed them.

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2. DATELINE – May 2011 – President Obama travels to the Rio Grande sector of the border to push for his immigration platform (ie. Amnesty). He proclaims the border is safe and secure and famously attacks his opposition for wanting an “alligator moat”.

3. November 2012 – Election year campaign(s). Using wedge issues like “War on Women”, and “Immigration / Amnesty”, candidate Obama promises to push congress for “amnesty”, under the guise of “Comprehensive Immigration Reform”, if elected. 

President Obama wins reelection.

4. December 2012 – Immediately following reelection President Barack Obama signs an Executive Order creating the “Deferred Action Program“, or DACA. Allowing millions of illegal aliens to avoid deportation.

5. According to White House own internal documents and research, this Deferred Action Program is what the Central American communities immediately began using as the reason for attempted immigration.

6. In both (A) Border Control Study; and (B) DHS intelligence report; the DACA program is mentioned by the people apprehended at the border in 2013 and 2014.

7. May 2013 – President Barack Obama visits South America. Following a speech for Mexican entrepreneurs, Obama then traveled to Costa Rica, his first visit as president.

8. cont.. In addition to meetings with Costa Rican President Laura Chincilla, President Obama attended a gathering of leaders from the Central American Integration System, (CAIS).

9. The regional network includes the leaders of Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. President Obama meets with the leaders of the Central American Countries.

10. Summer 2013Numbers of Illegal Unaccompanied Minors reaching the Southern U.S. border from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua doubles. 20,000+ reach U.S. Southern border by travelling through Mexico. Media primarily ignores. fpc.state.gov/documents/orga…

11. October 2013 – At the conclusion of the immigrant travel season. White House receives notification that tens of thousands of illegal Unaccompanied Minors should be anticipated to hit the Southern U.S. border the following Summer [2014].

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12. An estimated 850% increase in the number of Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC’s) were reported to the White House. fpc.state.gov/documents/orga…

[In 2012 less than 10,000 were projected]

13. January 2014 – In response to the projections, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) posts a jobs notification seeking bids to facilitate 65,000 Unaccompanied Alien Children. fbo.gov/index?s=opport…

14. IMPORTANT. This job posting was January 2014. The Obama administration was *planning for* 65,000 childhood arrivals. In January 2014 they were taking contractor bids for services to be used later in year. Almost no-one noticed.

15. On January 29, 2014, the federal gov. posted an ad seeking bids for a vendor contract to handle “Unaccompanied Alien Children“. Not just any contract mind you, a very specific contract – for a very specific number of unaccompanied minors: “65,000.” fbo.gov/index?s=opport…

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16. [*Two Weeks Later*] February 2014 – President Obama visits Mexico for “bilateral talks”, in an unusual and unscheduled one day visit:

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17. Spring 2014 – With a full year of DACA, successful transport and border crossing without deportation – DHS begins to notice a significant uptick in number of criminal elements from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua; which have joined with UAC’s to gain entry.

18. Additionally, 2014 internal administration DHS documents reveal the “refugee” status is now being used by both criminal cartels, and potentially by Central American government(s) to send prison inmates into the U.S.

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19. June 2014 – Tens-of-thousands of UAC’s from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua hit the border and the headlines. Despite the known planning, and prior internal notifications, the White House claims it did not see this coming.

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20. Internal documents including a –DHS Border Security Alert– show that in March, 2014, fully three months earlier, the White House was aware of what was coming in June.

21. June 20th 2014 – Congressional leadership and key Latino Democrats from the Democrat Hispanic Caucus meet with representatives from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico. kfgo.com/news/articles/…

22. June/July 2014 – By the end of June the media have picked up the story and it’s called “A Border Crisis”. However, the White House is desperate to avoid exposure to the known criminal elements within the story.

23. July 3rd, 2014 – President Obama requests $3,700,000,000 ($3.7 billion) in supplemental budget appropriations to deal with the border crisis. Only $109 million is for actual border security or efforts to stop the outflow from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

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24. Hidden inside the massive budget request is Obama seeking legal authorization to spend taxpayer funds for lawyers and legal proceedings on behalf of UAC’s and their families. Congress is being asked to approve/fund executive branch’s violation of immigration law (DACA).

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25. Section 292 of Immigration and Nationality Act prohibits representation of aliens “in immigration proceedings at government expense“. President Obama was seeking authorization to use taxpayer funds to provide Illegal Aliens with government lawyers.

26. July 10th, 2014 – Facing pushback from congress as well as sticker shock at the amount he is requesting, President Obama sends his DHS team to Capitol Hill to ramp up anxiety, and threats of consequences: politico.com/story/2014/07/…

27. “We are preparing for a scenario in which the number of unaccompanied children apprehended at the border could reach up to 90,000 by the end of fiscal 2014,” Johnson’s testimony reads: politico.com/story/2014/07/…

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28. Not only did the White House know what was going to happen (as far back as 2012), but White House actually constructed events to fall into a very specific pattern and intentionally did NOTHING to stop the consequences from the DACA executive order issued in December 2012.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/DgfNMStVQAAJF6T.jpg?itok=ZHr2dZAt

29. This is the origin of the crisis. It all started with DACA. Having tracked this issue so closely through the years it often feels futile to discuss. It is an ongoing insufferable political game/scheme within the issue of illegal immigrants and “children”.

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30. Massive illegal immigration is supported by both sides of the professional political machine. There are few issues more unifying for the K-Street purchased voices of DC politicians than keeping the borders open and the influx of illegal aliens as high as possible.

31. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce pays politicians to keep this system in place. All Democrats and most Republicans support mass immigration. Almost no DC politicians want to take action on any policy or legislation that stops the influx.

32. There are billions at stake. None of the GOP leadership want to actually stop illegal immigration; it’s a lucrative business. Almost all of the CONservative groups and politicians lie about it.

33. The religious right is also part of the problem. In the past 15 years illegal immigration and refugee settlement has been financially beneficial for them.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/DgfPmztX0AAScdi.jpg?itok=BMEl7HKm

34. There is no greater disconnect from ordinary Americans on any singular issue than the policy positions of Democrats and Republicans in Washington DC surrounding immigration.

President Donald Trump is confronting their unified interests.

35. All political opposition to the Trump administration on this issue is structured, planned & coordinated. The issue is a valuable tool for the professional political class to sow chaos amid politicians. The resulting crisis is useful for them; therefore they fuel the crisis.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/DgfQLg1WAAAVX7R.jpg?itok=eZsuGL3g

36. Washington DC and the activist media, are infested with illegal immigration supporters; the issue is at the heart of the UniParty. Follow the money. It’s the Acorn business model:

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/DgfQX3mWAAEC_fU.jpg?itok=cSzFwZjY

37. Southwest Key has been given $310,000,000, in taxpayer funds so far in 2018. And that’s just one company, in one part of a year. Prior CTH research showed this specific “Private Company” nets 98.76% of earnings from government grants. taggs.hhs.gov/Detail/RecipDe…

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/DgfQryhW4AIEqr7.jpg?itok=ziRo33yd

38. Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, which provides foster care and other child welfare services to migrant children. “Faith Based Immigration Services” is a code-speak for legalized human smuggling. taggs.hhs.gov/Detail/RecipDe…

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/DgfROYJWkAIl1RY.jpg?itok=SIo3cckF

39. The “faith-based” crew don’t want it to stop, because facilitating illegal alien import is now the financial bread and butter amid groups in their base of support. taggs.hhs.gov/Detail/RecipDe…

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/DgfRot2W4AMpqJi.jpg?itok=mIiXPmYz

40. The man/woman in the pew might not know; but the corporation minister, preacher or priest (inside the process) surely does. BIG BUSINESS !! taggs.hhs.gov/Detail/RecipDe…

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/DgfR-aMW4AIR6RF.jpg?itok=-c04PP92

41. These immigration groups, get *MASSIVE* HHS grants and then pay-off the DC politicians and human smugglers. Billions of dollars are spent, and the business end of immigration has exploded in the past six years.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/DgfSkf3WkAAAzQP.jpg?itok=kmccb9_5

42. It’s a vicious cycle. Trafficked children are more valuable than adults because the organizations involved get more funding for a child than an adult. Each illegal alien child is worth about $56,000 in grant money. The system is full of fraud.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/DgfTBZ6WkAIjUfQ.jpg?itok=a0x0Y48o

43. Approximately 65% of the money HHS provides is spent on executive pay and benefits, opaque administrative payrolls, bribes, kick-backs to DC politicians and payoffs to the South American smugglers who bring them more immigrants.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/DgfTgq_WAAIp45G.jpg?itok=yV8wKz5V

44. As best it can be determined, approximately 35% ($19,000) of HHS funds are spent on the alien/immigrant child; maybe. It gets really sketchy deep in the accounting.

45. All of those advocates gnashing their teeth and crying on television have no idea just who is controlling this process; and immigration idiots like Ted Cruz are only adding more fuel, more money, to the bottom line:

46. By threatening to secure the border, President Trump is threatening a Washington DC-based business model that makes money for a lot of connected interests.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/DgfUzgZWkAEMGyM_0.jpg?itok=EZrr88DQ

47. Beyond enrichment schemes, the entire process of immigration, and Washington-DC legalized human smuggling, has side benefits for all the participants; child sexploitation, child labor, and yes, much worse (you can imagine).

48. So the next time you see this type of terribly misplaced “crying girl” corporate propaganda:

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/DgfV6X8XcAYSfl4.jpg?itok=rjd3DF55

49. Maybe, just maybe, we can remember the *real* consequences of actual legalized human smuggling that has been created -within the business- by U.S. political policy.  This “crying girl”:

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/DgfWh9SXUAE_zmK.jpg?itok=_NJsSFDB

50. /END

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/DgfW6l8WsAA3X6J.jpg?itok=BVZYlmB0

Source: ZeroHedge

 

Did Trump’s SALT Deduction Limit Trigger A New Housing Glut In NYC?

In April, an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal titled “So Long, California. Sayonara, New York,” published by conservative economists Arthur Laffer and Stephen Moore, warned about a provision within the brand- new tax bill that could trigger a mass migration of roughly 800,000 people — fleeing California and New York for low-tax states over the next several years.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/manhattan-real-estate-market.png?itok=Qn9jr73s

Now that the SALT subsidy is passed, how bad will it get for high-tax blue states, and more specifically New York?

New evidence suggests that New York City could be the first visible region where the mass migration could begin. Take, for example, the number of homes listed for sale in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens had a parabolic spike in May, with inventory across 60 percent of the boroughs reaching all-time highs, according to the latest StreetEasy Market Report. While residential inventory traditionally peaks at the end of May, this year — the supply set new record highs and could continue through summer.

Laffer and Moore’s prophecy (above) of the great migration from New York – triggered by Trump’s new tax bill could be the most logical explanation of why NYC homeowners are rushing all at once to sell their homes.

Housing inventory in Manhattan rose 16.7 percent compared to last year, the largest y/y increase on StreetEasy record. Brooklyn and Queens saw similar spikes, with inventory up 23.4 percent and 42.8 percent, respectively.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/Screen-Shot-2018-06-22-at-9.07.17-AM.png?itok=N4jLv7Tg

With housing inventory piling up across much of the boroughs, the total number of sales declined for the third consecutive month. StreetEasy said sales plummeted in every submarket across Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens; with more significant declines visible in the Upper East Side, Midtown and the Rockaways. Despite the flood of new inventory threatening to stall the market, the StreetEasy Price Index advanced in all three boroughs since last year.

“Sellers are betting on a wave of demand from the peak shopping season, but this summer’s market has turned out to be a crowded one,” says StreetEasy Senior Economist Grant Long.

“However, prices are high and continue to rise. More affordable homes are the hardest to find, and are sure to sell quickly. But higher-end homes, particularly those joining the market from the ongoing stream of new development, will be pressured to lower prices or linger on the market.

This summer is poised to offer an excellent negotiating opportunity for buyers with big budgets.”

As Bloomberg notes, the abnormal amount of supply hitting the NYC residential markets is not sufficiently being met with demand, which could eventually be problematic for prices and serve as a potential turning point. Recently, the mainstream media cleverly changed their narrative and called the ‘housing shortage,’ a ‘housing affordability crisis,’ as it sure seems that the housing bubble, or whatever you want to call it, is in the later innings.

May 2018 Key Findings — Manhattan

  • Sale prices rose in all submarkets but one. The StreetEasy Manhattan Price Index increased 0.6 percent to $1,157,995. Prices rose in four of the five submarkets, led by an increase in the Upper East Side, where the median home price rose 1.9 percent to $1,038,046. Prices in Downtown Manhattan remained flat at $1,691,204.
  • Inventory rose at a record pace. Sales inventory in Manhattan rose 16.7 percent year-over-year. The Upper East Side experienced the largest increase, with inventory up 20.2 percent since last year.
  • One out of every six homes received a discount. Sixteen percent of homes for sale were discounted, an increase of 3.6 percentage points year-over-year.
  • For-sale homes spent less time on the market. Units in the borough spent a median of 55 days on the market, a three-day dip from last year. The Upper East Side and Upper West Side were the only submarkets where homes lingered longer — up 10 days and 17 days, respectively.
  • Rents rose in every Manhattan submarket. The StreetEasy Manhattan Rent Index [iv] rose 1.4 percent to $3,183. Rents in Upper Manhattan rose the most — up 2.5 percent to $2,307.
  • Fewer rentals offered a discount. Sixteen percent of rentals in Manhattan were discounted in May, a decrease of 1.6 percentage points from last year.

May 2018 Key Findings — Brooklyn

  • Prices reached new highs in North Brooklyn. The StreetEasy North Brooklyn Price Index increased 11.1 percent to $1,229,838, a record high for the submarket despite the looming L train shutdown. Borough-wide, prices rose by just 1.1. percent since last year, to $720,555.
  • The number of homes with a price cut reached an all-time high. The share of sales with a price cut reached an all-time high of 12.4 percent, a rise of 3.3 percentage points from May 2017.
  • Sales inventory continued to climb, except in North Brooklyn. Sales inventory in the borough reached a record high — up 23.4 percent over last year. Inventory rose the most in South Brooklyn, which saw a 44.7 percent increase over last year. North Brooklyn was the only submarket where inventory dropped, by 6.7 percent since last year.
  • Brooklyn homes spent more time on the market. Homes stayed on the market for a median of 53 days in the borough, 6 more days than last year. North Brooklyn homes are coming off the market after an average of 43 days — 26 days faster than last year.
  • Rents rose in all submarkets except North Brooklyn. The StreetEasy Brooklyn Rent Index increased 1.4 percent year-over-year to $2,562. South Brooklyn experienced the largest spike: up 2.6 percent to a median rent of $1,885. North Brooklyn was the only submarket where rents stagnated, likely because of the L train shutdown starting in April 2019. Rents in the submarket remained flat at $3,062.

May 2018 Key Findings — Queens

  • Price cuts rose to an all-time high. The share of homes with a price cut reached a new high in Queens at 11.1 percent, an increase of 3.5 percentage points over last year.
  • Sales inventory swelled. Queens saw the largest year-over-year increase in inventory, rising 42.8 percent. All five submarkets in the borough saw a surge in inventory.
  • Queens homes are selling slightly faster than last year. The median number of days on market for Queens homes was 56, down 2 days from last year. Homes in Northeast Queens and Northwest Queens took longer to sell than last year, with an increase of 12 days and 6 days on the market, respectively.
  • Rents remained flat. The StreetEasy Queens Rent Index held at $2,113. But rents in South Queens rose 6.9 percent year-over-year, to a median of $1,775.
  • Queens was the only borough with an increase in the share of discounted rentals. Seventeen percent of Queens rentals offered discounts: up 2.9 percentage points over last year, and the highest share of the three boroughs analyzed.

Source: ZeroHedge

Truffles: The Most Expensive Food in the World

What Are Truffles and Why Are They So Expensive?

Truffles, the darling of the food scene, are not the chocolate treats that bear the same name. Not dessert truffles, true truffles are a rare delight and not an opportunity to be missed. While they are typically considered expensive food, there are ways to get your truffle fix in the United States through avenues such as truffle oil.

There are white and black truffles, and they’re as different as night and day. There are some similarities – they’re both a subterranean fungus that grows in the shadow of oak trees. However, there are over seven different truffle species found all over the world, from the Pacific Northwest to China to North Africa and the Middle East.

Truffles can be found concentrated in certain areas around the world, with the Italian countryside and French countryside being rich places of growth. Black truffles grow with the oak and hazelnut trees in the Périgord region in France. Burgundy truffles can be found throughout Europe in general, like the black summer truffle.

White truffles are typically found in the Langhe and Montferrat areas of northern Italy around the Piedmont region. Additionally, the countrysides of Alba and Asti are popular truffle hunting areas. White truffles are also found in the hill regions of Tuscany in Italy near certain trees.

Not just localized to Europe, however, New Zealand Australia also see truffles growing. The first black truffle produced in the Southern Hemisphere was in New Zealand in 1993. In Australia, Tasmania was the origin of the first truffle harvests and the largest truffle from Australia, weighing in at 2 pounds, 6 ounces) was harvested by Michael and Gwynneth Williams.

In the Pacific Northwest of the U.S., four species of truffles are commercially harvested: the Oregon black truffle, the Oregon spring white, Oregon winter white truffle, and the Oregon brown truffle.

In the South, the pecan truffle is often found alongside fallen pecans. While farmers once discarded them, the gourmet food scene is slowly starting to incorporate them into seasonal dishes.

Depending which country they hail from, they’re sniffed out by specially trained dogs or pigs, then dug up by the “hunter”. They’re located through the natural aroma they release when they interact with certain plants, mammals, and insects. These interactions also encourage new colonies of the truffle fungus to appear through spore dispersal.

https://i0.wp.com/cdn0.wideopeneats.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Croatia-London-5452-1024x1024.jpgWhite Truffle fresh from the hunt

Both white and black truffles share the same appearance, that of a lumpy potato, but it’s in taste and shelf-life they differ.

Each kind of truffle is firmly in the “umami” category of taste – very earthy and doesn’t need a lot of salt to trip your tastebuds.

The black truffle is far more common, even in haute cuisine. Available for six to nine months a year, it has a stronger taste and pungent aroma that often needs acquiring. I’ve experienced a black truffle-and-olive tapenade, a perfect use for it, because it evokes a black olive-type taste.

Because of the long season and easier odds of being found, black truffles are more affordable. They’re also freezable, making a less-risky purchase for a restaurant, further enabling them to keep prices down.

On the flip-side are white truffles, Earth’s gold. Typically valued at as much as $3,000 per pound, they inspire a big black market. Even legally, they can be outrageous in price. The Atlantic writes“In 2010, Macau casino tycoon Stanley Ho spent $330,000 on two pieces that weighed 2.87 pounds.”

Internationally, white truffles are big industry. Autumn may yield a truffle experience for you even here. The USA is currently third world-wide for truffle harvest volumes. Stick to truffle towns where restaurants hunt their own, and you maybe be surprised at bargains you find. I was shocked to only spend $20 for my white truffle meal in Croatia.

White truffles cannot be frozen and have a short shelf-life, up to about 10 days. They’re best devoured as soon as possible. Their season is short too – only three to four months each year, September through to as late as January.

I’ve heard of their seasons ending as early as November, though. They’re more elusive to find, often in different forest clusters than their black counterparts. All this computes to costing big bucks.

Even if you dislike black truffles, try fresh white truffles if you ever can. They’re a completely different flavor profile. Instead of black olives, think Parmesan cheese meets mushrooms. It’s a delicate, aromatic flavor – still earthy, but far from overbearing.

Wine and food pairings must let the white truffle take center stage, lest they overpower it. Think polenta with lots of Parmesan and excessive shavings on top.

If you can’t have the real truffle experience, you can buy truffle products flooding the market. These include truffle-infused oils, jams, tapenades, and so forth. Some will use extracts, which are as authentic to the real thing as any extract is. Think orange or lemon or almond extracts. Are they true to the real experience? Not really, but they have their own appeal.

With a growing popularity on the world market, cunning agriculturalists and truffle hunters are trying to farm truffles with mixed results. So far it seems truffles are Earth’s alchemy – a rare treat to remain rare.

Speaking for myself, I was sure I’d hate the pungent fungus, but I felt obligated to try them. Black truffles were a taste I could grow to appreciate, but I’m not a big fan of black olives either. I had decadently expensive dark chocolate-and-black truffle ice cream, though, and that was tasty.

Still, I long for the day I cross paths with white truffles again. The simple dish of polenta and white truffles stands as one of the greatest meals of my life.

There’s a reason they’re sometimes literally worth more than their weight in gold.

Source: By Steffani Cameron | Wide Open Eats

 

Gold Surges Against Emerging Market Currencies

Gold Surges To Record In Turkey and Other Emerging Markets as Currencies Collapse

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  • Turkey’s election angst, geopolitical risk and collapse of the lira is driving up demand for gold
  • Turkish lira has collapsed versus gold and now the lowest on record (see chart)
  • Significant demand for gold coins in Turkey and central bank has repatriated gold and added to gold reserves
  • “Having the gold physically at home allows countries to feel like they are in control of their reserves” Dr Brian Lucey
  • Gold acting as a hedge and has been “expensive” not to own gold in Turkey, Syria, Venezuela, Argentina, Angola, Russia and many other countries in the Middle East, Asia, South America, Africa and Europe (see table of worst performing currencies in 2018 including the Swedish krona)

from Bloomberg:

With just a month until elections, shopkeepers at Turkey’s biggest bazaar say they’re seeing a jump in demand for gold coins.

“Turkish people have an interesting behavior — they buy gold when the prices are rising, they think it’s gonna rise more,” said Gokhan Karakan, 32, who runs a gold exchange office in the heart of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. “People think there is a trend here and choose to buy gold until uncertainty is out of the way.”

On Friday afternoon, at the Grand Bazaar — one of the world’s oldest covered markets — shopkeepers said more customers were buying gold, instead of selling it, in hopes that the metal will keep its worth as the value of the lira plunges.

Gold priced in lira is more “expensive” than ever, but that’s not deterring buyers, who are looking for a safe haven.

“Turkish people love gold,” said Tekin Firat, 30, who owns and runs a gold store the bazaar. “People think that it will never lose in the long run.”

Citizens are buying up gold as the lira plunges in latest currency crisis. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who’s about to launch a re-election campaign that may provide the toughest electoral test of his 15 years in power, is an outspoken advocate of cheap money. He’s up against investors demanding higher returns to fund an economy beset by inflation and a swollen current account deficit.

Gold has a special importance in Turkey. The country is to home the ancient kingdom of Lydia, where the earliest known gold coinage originated in the 7th century B.C.

Turkey imported 118 metric tons of bullion, worth $5 billion at today’s prices, in first four months of this year, the most over that period, according to data going back to 1995 from the Istanbul Gold Exchange. Last year, imports reached a record.

It’s not just consumers that are snapping up gold. Official reserves have also increased over the past year. The central bank doesn’t comment on its gold strategy, but previously said the changes in its holdings are part of an effort to diversify its reserves.

The reported figure may be misleadingly high because the central bank allows commercial banks to deposit gold as part of their reserves. The government last year launched a campaign to get more “under-the-pillow gold” into the formal banking system. About half of the 216 ton inflow since the start of 2017 can be attributed to this alternative source, according to Matthew Turner, a strategist at Macquarie Group Ltd. in London.

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Even so, the purchases have happened a year after Erdogan urged Turks to convert their foreign currency savings into liras and gold, and tensions with the U.S. reached a new low.

“The central bank certainly has been more active in the gold market,” said Turner. “It seems the government would like a larger share of its reserves in assets that’s not related to the U.S. dollar.”

In 2017, the central bank withdrew of its 28.7 tons of gold, worth about $1.2 billion, from Federal Reserve vaults. It didn’t say where the gold went, but holdings increased at Borsa Instanbul, the Bank of England and Bank of International Settlements, according to a report released in April.

The decision for any country to withdraw gold from U.S. vaults is rare — happening only a handful of times in the past decade. Since 2011, Germany, the Netherlands, Hungary and Venezuela have repatriated their gold holdings from the U.S.

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Turkey’s decision to withdraw gold may have been a reaction to U.S. court cases against Turkish banks for alleged deals struck with Iran, said Cagdas Kucukemiroglu, a Middle Eastern gold analyst at research firm Metals Focus.

“Having the gold physically at home allows countries to feel like they are in control of their reserves,” said Brian Lucey, a professor of finance at Trinity Business School in Dublin.

Source: ZeroHedge