Thursday, January 31, 2013

Lloyds sacks two traders over 'rogue trader' scam

The “irregular” trades were discovered in 2011 in a portfolio of complex financial products that have lost Lloyds, which is 41pc owned by the taxpayer, £37m in the past two years.
Franck Kornmann, 40, the head of hybrid foreign exchange and interest rate trading, was dismissed by Lloyds last February. Another member of staff has also been sacked.

Politicians are considering rules to limit the exposure of retail banks to riskier investment activities, such as the type of trading in which Mr Kornmann was involved.

EES: Medical Marijuana Proves Itself As Viable Investment

Since we recommended buying Medical Marijuana (MJNA.PK) it's up 89%. Other pot stocks are also doing well, such as Cannabis Science (CBIS.OB) up more than 2% today. There wasn't any news release today that would cause the stock to rise so sharply. We suspect that the company has been discovered as a profitable investment for reasons we've outlined before, as well as a growing interest in the budding Marijuana industry.

Russ Senior gets 50 years in prison

Russell Wasendorf Sr., who admitted looting more than $100 million from broker Peregrine Financial Group in a scheme that shook confidence in the U.S. futures industry, was sentenced to 50 years behind bars on Thursday.

Wasendorf was ordered to pay $215.5 million in restitution.

Supporters of the disgraced 64-year-old executive had asked Chief Judge Linda Reade of the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Iowa for leniency, arguing that Wasendorf is in frail health and that he had helped others even in the midst of his 20-year fraud. Former Peregrine CEO Wasendorf gets 50 years in prison -

When the elite of the global futures industry gather in Boca Raton, Fla. next month for their annual parley, the man known to many as simply "Russ Senior" will be a noticeable absentee.
Russell R. Wasendorf Sr., who once funded lavish receptions at the event with celebrity speakers from business, sport and politics, has left the industry shaken and embarrassed by the fraud he perpetuated over almost 20 years. 'Russ Senior' Leaves Industry Shaken -

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

EES: PFG Best Fraud Case Continues To Unravel

The case involving the fraud perpetrated by Russ Wasendorf, Sr. continues to get worse as more information comes out.
The Iowa department of revenue announced that Russ Wasendorf, Sr. also duped them, out of approximately $14 Million in unpaid taxes:
Russ Wasendorf Sr. duped customers, regulators and his colleagues as he pulled off a 20-year, $100 million fraud at his Iowa-based brokerage. The state's tax collectors say he and his ex-wife also duped them, and that the former couple owes Iowa more than $14.1 million in unpaid taxes, interest and penalties.
The Iowa Department of Revenue filed an assessment in November against Russ and Connie Wasendorf, alleging they underreported their taxable income between 2001 and 2009 by about $75 million and dodged $6.6 million in taxes as a result, according to court records released this week.
This announcement comes at a bad time for the case, now seeing more bills associated with it adding up. PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the world's largest accounting firms, submitted a bill for $1.6 million for about 4,239 hours of work between July 22 and October 31, according to a filing in Peregrine's bankruptcy case on Monday. On Friday, Shaw Fishman Glantz & Towbin, the law firm representing Trustee Ira Bodenstein, submitted a bill for $671,417 for 1,508 hours of work between July 10 and October 31, according to court documents.
The case now has a number of the total fraud, according to documents recently released. $215 Million.
"Defendant claims the loss is less than $200 million," Acting Iowa U.S. Attorney Sean Berry said in a sentencing memorandum filed yesterday in federal court in Cedar Rapids. "The actual loss in this case can be determined with remarkable precision."
The National Futures Association, an industry self- regulator, announced the same day as the suicide attempt that about $200 million in customer funds the firm reported was on deposit at its bank were unaccounted for.
According to his plea agreement, Wasendorf started stealing from Peregrine in the early 1990s, covering his theft by altering statements from the company's bank and passing them to his chief financial officer and accountants.
Institutional Decay
If we are suspicious of our own institutions then who can we really trust? Our global financial system is comprised of a network of insittutions who custody our assets; it isn't possible for individuals to custody their own assets. If a trusted NFA Member who sat on the board of the NFA was capable of stealing $215 Million from clients over a period of many years without getting caught, what other monsters lurk in places we haven't yet looked?
In our article Modern Insitutional Decay we had outlined some facts that seem to point to a trend; the institutions that built the modern world are dead or dying.
The insituttions that watch the institutions, such as the ratings agencies, and the regulators, have also in some cases found guilty of conflicts of interest.
Traders need to rely on their own analysis, and try to obtain as much objective information as possible.
Forex Risk Disclosure - Click here to read
The risk of loss in trading foreign exchange markets (FOREX), also known as cash foreign currencies, or the FOREX markets, can be substantial.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Libor Lies Revealed in Rigging of $300 Trillion Benchmark

Libor Lies Revealed in Rigging of $300 Trillion Benchmark

Every morning, from his desk by the bathroom at the far end of Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc’s trading floor overlooking London’s Liverpool Street station, Paul White punched a series of numbers into his computer.
White, who had joined RBS in 1984, was one of the employees responsible for the firm’s submissions for the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, the global benchmark for more than $300 trillion of contracts from mortgages and student loans to interest-rate swaps. Behind him sat Neil Danziger, a derivatives trader who had worked at the bank since 2002.
On the morning of March 27, 2008, Tan Chi Min, Danziger’s boss in Tokyo, told him to make sure the next day’s submission in yen would increase, Bloomberg Markets magazine will report in its March issue. “We need to bump it way up high, highest among all if possible,” Tan, who was known by colleagues as Jimmy, wrote in an instant message to Danziger, according to a transcript made public by a Singapore court and reported on by Bloomberg before being sealed by a judge at RBS’s request.
Danziger typically would have swiveled in his chair, tapped White on the shoulder and relayed the request to him, people who worked on the trading floor say. Instead, as White was away that day, Danziger input the rate himself. There were no rules at RBS and other banks prohibiting derivatives traders, who stood to benefit from where Libor was set, from submitting the rate -- a flaw exploited by some traders to boost their bonuses.

Monday, January 28, 2013

EES: Clear Direction On Yen Decline

The Japanese Yen (FXY) has been on a decline since the new government led by Shinzo Abe has been pursuing a policy of currency debasement to boost their economy. 

Bitcoin’s Gains May Fuel Central Bank Concerns

An increase in the value of bitcoin, the world’s largest online currency, may fuel concerns that virtual money could undermine the role of central banks.
The CHART OF THE DAY shows that bitcoin has more than doubled in the past 12 months, strengthening to $16.37 from $5.88, according to data from Mt. Gox, the world’s largest bitcoin exchange. The money, issued by a decentralized network of computers, has recovered after falling to $2.14 in November 2011 from a high of $29.58 five months earlier.

Bitcoin’s Gains May Fuel Central Bank Concerns: Chart of the Day - Bloomberg

Sunday, January 27, 2013

World's oldest bank gets bailout

Shareholders of the world's oldest bank have approved a plan needed to get a state bailout amid revelations that it concealed loss-making risky trades.
Italy's Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena and regulators are investigating the trades.
The Bank of Italy defended its role in supervising Italian banks, denying knowledge of the trades.
Banca Monte needs 3.9bn euros (£3.3bn, $5.2bn) in government aid to meet European banking rules.
The Tuscan bank, founded in 1472, confirmed this week that the three trades - named Alexandria, Santorini and Nota Italia - would be investigated in full to "precisely assess the impact of the transactions and consequently adopt any measures needed, including a retrospective restatement of their accounting representation".
Reports have suggested the trades could lead to another 720m euros of losses.
This has raised the prospect of further losses, and the trades are being investigated by regulators. Banca Monte plans to report on its internal investigation into the trades by mid-February.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti has offered to recall parliament to discuss the growing scandal and President Giorgio Napolitano said that he had full faith in the country's central bank.

BBC News - Banca Monte dei Paschi trades probed in Italy

Velocity of Money: British Economy worse than during depression

Velocity of money is the frequency with which a unit of money is spent on new goods and services. It is a far better indicator of economic activity than GDP, consumer prices, the stock market, or sales of men’s underwear (which Greenspan was fond of ogling). In a healthy economy, the same dollar is collected as payment and subsequently spent many times over. In a depression, the velocity of money goes catatonic. Velocity of money is calculated by simply dividing GDP by a given money supply. This VoM chart using monetary base should end any discussion of what ”this” is and whether or not anybody should be using the word “recovery” with a straight face...

Bad Policy Has Us Stuck

We are stuck in a depression because the government has done all of the wrong things, and has failed to address the core problems.
Instead of bringing in new legs, we keep on recycling the same old re-treads who caused the problem in the first place [61].
For example:
  • The government is doing everything else wrong, as well. See this [72] and this. [73]
This isn’t an issue of left versus right … it’s corruption and bad policies which help the super-elite but are causing a depression for the vast majority of the people.

Olafur Ragnar Grimsson Iceland president 'Let banks go bankrupt'

Japan policy sparks Davos fears of ‘currency war'

Japan’s controversial new economic policy emerged as one of the hot topics at this year’s Davos forum, with talk of currency wars and strong rebuttals from Japanese officials.
The new government in Tokyo, led by Shinzo Abe, has pushed the Bank of Japan (BOJ) to step up efforts to battle nearly two decades of deflation and sluggish growth in the world’s third-largest economy.
The BOJ on Tuesday unveiled a new inflation target of 2 per cent and a massive programme of asset purchases to pump money into the economy, sparking accusations it had bowed to political pressure and compromised central bank independence.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Fed Pushes Into ‘Uncharted Territory’ With Record Assets

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s unprecedented bond buying pushed the Fed’s balance sheet to a record $3 trillion as he shows no sign of softening his effort to bring down 7.8 percent unemployment.
The Fed is purchasing $85 billion of securities every month, using the full force of its balance sheet to stoke the economic recovery. The central bank began $40 billion in monthly purchases of mortgage-backed securities in September and added $45 billion in Treasury securities to that pace this month.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Forex volume slows even more based on FXCM, IG data

FXCM December 2012 Stats

From the table, we can clearly see that forex trading volume for both retail and institutional clients slipped in December. Compared to the November, retail trading volume declined by around 16% while institutional trading volume fell 11%. Year-on-year, retail and institutional trading volume dropped 11% and 23%, respectively.
Data on retail and institutional average trading volume per day were mixed. For retail, it decreased month-on-month but increased year-on-year. For institutional accounts, average trading volume fell both month-on-month and year-on-year.
IG Group, another major online broker, also reported a drop in trading revenue across all regions. Take a look at the table below:
IG Stats

Woah, that's a lot of red marks! Not a single region reported an increase in first-half revenue as global forex trading revenue slipped by 14% compared to the same period the previous year. The number of active clients also dropped, with a 29% decrease in Japan and a 14% decline in the U.K.

Read more:

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

U.S. Bank Deposits Drop Most Since 9/11 Terror Attacks

Clients of the largest U.S. banks withdrew funds this month at the fastest weekly pace since the Sept. 11 attacks as a deposit-insurance program ended and customers tapped into their year-end cash hoards.
Net withdrawals at the 25 largest U.S. lenders totaled $114.1 billion in the week ended Jan. 9, pushing deposits down to $5.37 trillion, according to Federal Reserve data released last week. The magnitude of the drop was second only to the decline after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, according to Jason Goldberg, a New York-based analyst at Barclays Plc.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

EES: Pot Stocks Higher, But Is There Room To Grow?

Since the legalization of Marijuana for recreational and medicinal purposes in several states, the jury has been out if this is really a viable industry. In several articles we've posed that the possibility exists thatMarijuana may be the next big growth sector. We built a pot portfolio and narrowed it down to 2 issues, Medical Marijuana (MJNA.PK) and Medbox (MDBX.PK), the latter being the larger in terms of market cap.

Pot Stocks Higher, But Is There Room To Grow? - Seeking Alpha

Financial transactions tax in Europe given go-ahead

EU ministers have given the go ahead for 11 eurozone members, including France and Germany, to prepare a new financial transactions tax.
The approval under "enhanced co-operation" rules allows the smaller group to pioneer the tax.
Governments previously failed to agree to impose the tax across the entire 27-member EU or 17-member eurozone.
The UK and 15 other EU members will not introduce the tax, which is intended to discourage speculative trading.
Some European governments have blamed speculators and excessive trading for exaggerating the swings in financial markets during the 2008 crash and the recent eurozone crisis.
"It is a milestone for EU tax policy, as it paves the way for more ambitious member states to progress on a tax file, even when unanimity could not be achieved," said Algirdas Semeta, the European Commissioner for tax.
"Those who want to move ahead, and who appreciate the merits of working more closely on taxation at EU level, can do so."

BBC News - Financial transactions tax in Europe given go-ahead

Monday, January 21, 2013

EES: Currency Markets Continue To Baffle Traders, Except The Yen

Keynes said markets can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent. This is especially true for currency traders. For the last 3 months, data indicates the majority of traders have been on the wrong side of the market.

Yen Gains as BOJ Meets; Most Europe Stock Rise, Oil Falls

The yen rebounded from its lowest level since June 2010 against the dollar as the Bank of Japan (8301) began a two-day policy meeting. Most European stocks rose as finance chiefs gathered for the first time this year.
Japan’s currency strengthened 0.5 percent to 89.65 per dollar at 9:45 a.m. in New York. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index added 0.2 percent, with the volume of shares changing hands 31 percent less than the 30-day average. Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures gained 0.1 percent. In Canada, the S&P/TSX increased 0.1 percent. Oil dropped from a four-month high. U.S. natural gas climbed to its highest level since Dec. 7.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

EES: Boeing Reaches Endgame, Culmination Of Decade Of Problems With 'Nightmareliner'

The Dreamliner has become the Nightmareliner for Boeing (BA), a company struggling to regain its top place as the world's leading airplane manufacturer since the days of the 747. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Europe fires shot in new currency war

The alert from the country that chairs the Group of 20 came as Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker complained of a “dangerously high” euro and officials in Norway and Sweden expressed exchange-rate concern.
The push for weaker currencies is being driven by a need to find new sources of economic growth as monetary and fiscal policies run out of room. The risk is as each country tries to boost exports, it hurts the competitiveness of other economies and provokes retaliation.
Yesterday “will go down as the first day European policy makers fired a shot in the 2013 currency war,” said Chris Turner, head of foreign-exchange strategy at ING Groep NV in London.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Ben Bernanke: Get rid of the debt ceiling, it has no practical value

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke criticized the debt ceiling as an unusual device that can be used to prevent the United States from paying it’s bills, as he suggested that the country would be better off if the debt limit did not exist.
“I think it would be a good thing if we didn’t have [the debt ceiling],” Bernanke told students at the University of Michigan today. “I don’t think that’s going to happen. I think it’s going to be around.” Those remarks put Bernanke in agreement with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, who has said that Congress should eliminate the debt ceiling.
The conversation began when Bernanke was asked if the debt ceiling had any “practical value” as a matter of fiscal policy. “No, it doesn’t really have — it’s got symbolic value,  I guess, but . . . no other countries in the world have this particular institution,” he said.
“If the Congress is approving spending and it’s approving taxing, and those two things are not equal,” Bernanke continued, “the way to addres it is by having a sensible plan for spending and a sensible plan for revenue and make decisions about how big the government should be or how small it should be.”

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Hitting the debt limit: What bills would be paid?

WASHINGTON (AP) -- In the summer of 2011, when a debt crisis like the current one loomed, President Barack Obama warned Republicans that older Americans might not get their Social Security checks unless there was a deal to raise the nation's borrowing limit.
After weeks of brinkmanship, Republicans consented and Obama agreed to a deficit-reduction plan the GOP wanted. Crisis averted, for a time.
Now that there's a fresh showdown, the possibility of Social Security cuts -and more - is back on the table.

The government could run out of cash to pay all its bills in full as early as Feb. 15, according to one authoritative estimate, and congressional Republicans want significant spending cuts in exchange for raising the borrowing limit. Obama, forced to negotiate an increase in 2011, has pledged not to negotiate again. Inside Bay Area - Associated Press content

UBS Retreat Plotted at Castle as Credit Suisse Cuts Costs

In September, UBS AG Chief Executive Officer Sergio Ermotti gathered the bank’s top executives at Switzerland's Wolfsberg castle.
Switzerland’s 437-year-old Wolfsberg castle has welcomed the likes of Alexandre Dumas and Franz Liszt. In September, UBS AG (UBSN) Chief Executive Officer Sergio Ermotti gathered the bank’s top executives there for dinner.
UBS had been under pressure since losing more than $57 billion during the financial crisis. So had its main competitor, Credit Suisse Group AG. In 2011, Swiss lawmakers approved some of the strictest capital and liquidity rules in the world, forcing the banks to cut risk taking and boost equity at the expense of profit in their securities units.
The end of banking secrecy, which had helped the firms attract funds from rich clients around the world, was challenging a century-old wealth-management model. A 32-year-old former UBS employee, Kweku Adoboli, would go on trial in London the next week in connection with a $2.3 billion loss, the largest from unauthorized trading in British history.
“For banks domiciled in Switzerland, doing business and making money has become more difficult,” central bank President Thomas Jordan told financiers at a conference in Zurich two days before UBS’s Wolfsberg meeting. “Pressure on the Swiss financial center has been intensifying.”

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

EES: Windows 8 and Microsoft

Microsoft (MSFT) has not changed much since 2000, since Steve Ballmer replaced Bill Gates. But the same could be said for a lot of stocks during the 2000 - 2010 era. The Dow is only slightly higher during the same time, peaking near 12,000 in 2000 and now being at 13,350.
Operating Systems ((OS)) are the core business of Microsoft, although they have now expanded into hundreds of niche industries from making keyboards, video games and business applications.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Banks Win 4-Year Delay as Basel Liquidity Rule Loosened

Global central bank chiefs gave lenders four more years to meet international liquidity requirements and watered down the measures in a bid to stave off another credit crunch.
Banks won the delay to fully meet the so-called liquidity coverage ratio, or LCR, following a deal struck by regulatory chiefs meeting yesterday in Basel, Switzerland. They’ll be able to pick from a longer list of approved assets including equities and securitized mortgage debt as they seek to build up buffers of liquidity for use in a financial crisis.

Banks Win 4-Year Delay as Basel Liquidity Rule Loosened - Bloomberg

10 Banks Agree to Pay $8.5B for Foreclosure Abuse

(WASHINGTON) — Ten major banks and mortgage companies agreed Monday to pay $8.5 billion to settle federal complaints that they wrongfully foreclosed on homeowners who should have been allowed to stay in their homes.
The banks, which include JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, will pay billions to homeowners to end a review process of foreclosure files that was required under a 2011 enforcement action. The review was ordered because banks mishandled people’s paperwork and skipped required steps in the foreclosure process.

10 Banks Agree to Pay $8.5B for Foreclosure Abuse |

Fannie Deal Resolves a Bank of America Mortgage Headache

Bank of America Corp. BAC -0.50% reached an $11.6 billion settlement with mortgage-finance giant Fannie Mae FNMA +8.37% to settle a long-running standoff over nearly a decade's worth of home loans, the bank's latest bid to resolve its biggest hangover from the acquisition of Countrywide Financial Corp. five years ago.

Fannie Deal Resolves a Bank of America Mortgage Headache -

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Swiss bank Wegelin to close after US tax evasion fine

Switzerland's oldest bank is to close permanently after pleading guilty in a New York court to helping Americans evade their taxes.
Wegelin, which was established in 1741, has also agreed to pay $57.8m (£36m; 44m euros) in fines to US authorities.
It said that once this was completed, it "will cease to operate as a bank".
The bank had admitted to allowing more than 100 American citizens to hide $1.2bn from the Internal Revenue Service for almost 10 years.
Wegelin, based in the small Swiss town of St Gallen, started in business 35 years before the US declaration of independence.
It becomes the first foreign bank to plead guilty to tax evasion charges in the US.
Other Swiss banks have in recent years moved to prevent US citizens from opening offshore accounts.
US Attorney Preet Bharara said: "The bank wilfully and aggressively jumped in to fill a void that was left when other Swiss banks abandoned the practice due to pressure from US law enforcement."
He added that it was a "watershed moment in our efforts to hold to account both the individuals and the banks - wherever they may be in the world - who are engaging in unlawful conduct that deprives the US Treasury of billions of dollars of tax revenue".
Otto Bruderer, a managing partner at the bank, admitted that Wegelin had sheltered US clients from tax between 2002 and 2010, and said it was aware that its conduct had been "wrong".
Mr Burderer's further admission that assisting tax evasion was common practice in Switzerland has caused huge concern among the Swiss banking community, according to the BBC's Switzerland correspondent, Imogen Foulkes.
"Some Swiss financial analysts are already speculating that Wegelin's $58m fine, which many had expected to be higher, was kept low by the US authorities in return for Wegelin clearly implicating the rest of the Swiss banking community in tax evasion," she said.
Inevitable demise
Wegelin effectively ceased to function as a Swiss bank almost a year ago.
US criminal accusations against three of its executives prompted the bank to sell off its core Swiss and other non-US businesses in January 2011.
The rushed sale protected Wegelin's non-US clients from the fall-out of any legal battle, and reflected fears that few clients would want to continue doing business with a bank being pursued by the US anyway.
The businesses were bought by Raiffeisen Bank, Switzerland's co-operative bank, which has since severed the few business ties that it had with the US.
The sale left Wegelin responsible only for its American clients, including those at the centre of the US authorities' probe.
Wegelin as an institution was then itself indicted by US authorities in February last year, and later declared a fugitive from justice when the bank's executives failed to appear in a US court.
The bank had vowed to fight the charges, claiming that because it only had branches in Switzerland, it was bound only by its home country's relaxed banking laws.
Its decision to cave in, and wind down its one remaining business, has made the bank's demise inevitable.
"Usually when you cave in to the USA, you do it because you just want to get rid of it," said Dr Peter V Kunz, an economic law professor at the University of Bern.
Having sold off all its non-US businesses, Mr Kunz believes the bank's partners would have been keen to end a potentially interminable legal dispute with the US in order to recover as much of the sale proceeds as possible from what had in effect become a shell company.
The desire to end the legal battle would have been given added pique by the fact that Wegelin's partners have personal financial liability for the bank.
'Aggressively pursuing'
Jeffrey Neiman, a former US federal prosecutor who was involved in a previous investigation into Swiss banks, said: "It is unclear whether the bank was required to turn over American client names who held secret Swiss bank accounts.
"What is clear is that the Justice Department is aggressively pursuing foreign banks who have helped Americans commit overseas tax evasion."
It remains to be seen whether US authorities will continue with, or drop, parallel charges against three Wegelin bankers, Michael Berlinka, Urs Frei and Roger Keller.
The decision to throw in the towel also marks a turnaround for Konrad Hummler, Wegelin's managing director since 1991, and one of the partners whose own personal finances were potentially at stake.
Mr Hummler, who is also chairman of the Swiss daily newspaper Neuer Zuercher Zeitung, has previously been unusually outspoken among Swiss bankers in calling for the country's authorities to block any disclosure of banking client details to the US authorities.
The Wegelin case comes four years after a far larger Swiss bank, UBS, agreed to pay a $780m fine to US authorities related to tax evasion charges. UBS also agreed to reveal the details of US account holders.
However, UBS neither pleaded nor was found guilty. Instead it and US prosecutors came to what is called a deferred prosecution agreement, with the fine being paid in exchange for the charges being dropped.
Switzerland's other major bank, Credit Suisse - with over a trillion dollars in total assets and another trillion in clients' money - remains under investigation by the US authorities, as does another high profile bank, Julius Baer, which is about a fifth of the size of Credit Suisse, as well as 11 other mainly local, cantonal banks.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Barter Currency "Tem" used in Greece to beat economic crisis

It's been a busy day at the market in downtown Volos. Angeliki Ioanitou has sold a decent quantity of olive oil and soap, while her friend Maria has done good business with her fresh pies.
But not a single euro has changed hands – none of the customers on this drizzly Saturday morning has bothered carrying money at all. For many, browsing through the racks of second-hand clothes, electrical appliances and homemade jams, the need to survive means money has been usurped.
"It's all about exchange and solidarity, helping one another out in these very hard times," enthused Ioanitou, her hair tucked under a floppy felt cap. "You could say a lot of us have dreams of a utopia without the euro."

Where The Jobs Are: "55 And Older"

A good jobs report? Sure, if one is 55 and over. In December the American jobs gerontocracy continued its relentless course, and as the two charts below summarize since Obama's first term, some 2.7 million jobs in the 16-55 year old category have been lost. The "offset": 4 million jobs for Americansbetween 55 and 69. For all those young people graduating from college (with $150,000 in student loans) who are unable to get a job, here is our advice: tell your parents, and grandparents, to retire already. Oh wait, they can't because Bernanke destroyed their savings. Oops - better luck next time.
Job "gains" for all Americans 54 and younger vs those 55 and older:
And the same broken down by segment:
Source: BLS