U.S. Banks Take Global Lead – By JUSTIN BAER And MAX COLCHESTER Updated July 30, 2015 7:59 p.m. ET

UBS’s trading floor in Stamford, Conn., in 2011. European banks poached star bankers and expanded operations in Asia and the U.S., including building massive trading floors in Stamford that were conceived as a satellite to Wall Street.

UBS’s trading floor in Stamford, Conn., in 2011. European banks poached star bankers and expanded operations in Asia and the U.S., including building massive trading floors in Stamford that were conceived as a satellite to Wall Street. Photo: Douglas Healey/Bloomberg News

In the trans-Atlantic rivalry for investment-banking supremacy, the Americans are running up the score.

European bank executives over the past week have delivered a series of dour proclamations about their need to shrink and further dial back their global ambitions. Meanwhile U.S. banks are preparing to pounce, with executives touting the gloom emanating from their European counterparts as a big opportunity to press their newfound advantage.

On Thursday, Deutsche Bank AG ’s new co-Chief Executive John Cryanwrapped up the first half’s earnings period for major European banks by warning of more pain to come. “We must shrink our balance sheet,” he said, indicating plans for the German bank to pull back from a number of countries and businesses.

Those remarks followed Barclays PLC Chairman John McFarlane, who on Wednesday conceded that the big Wall Street firms are “an enormous threat”to European investment banks. “They have the scale that we no longer have to be global,” he said.

Slavery Didn’t End in the 19th Century – By Jeff Nesbit July 28, 2015 | 1:36 p.m. EDT

Modern slavery is a problem few people are talking about.

A staggering number of people around the globe, and even in the U.S., are slaves.85

No one knows the number. That’s what’s so scary.

It could be more than at any time in human history. It might be less (though that’s doubtful). What is true is that there are millions who are trapped, with virtually no recourse. And very few leaders are even paying attention, much less actively doing anything about it.

Yes, the State Department issues reports. They’ve issued one every year for the past 15 years. The United Nations issues reports. Both just issued their most recent reports. Pope Francis has recently highlighted the issue as one that deserves our utmost attention.

The Associated Press


Thailand Remains Blacklisted by U.S. for Human Trafficking

“I have high hopes, and believe that the United Nations must take a greater interest in this phenomenon, especially human trafficking caused by environmental issues, and the exploitation of people,” the pope said at a recent Vatican conference with mayors from around the world.

Yet, for all of the reports and the high-minded talk, we still don’t know the number. We don’t know the actual toll of suffering.

I’m talking about modern slavery – and it is beyond comprehension that in an era where virtually every CEO in any industry you can name knows the precise consumer habits of nearly all of us, we still don’t know how many people are actually subject to forced labor, human trafficking in sexual slavery, forced marriage and domestic servitude.

“At present, there is no sound estimate of the number of victims of trafficking in persons worldwide. Due to methodological difficulties and the challenges associated with estimating sizes of hidden populations such as trafficking victims, this is a task that has so far not been satisfactorily accomplished,” the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in its most recent report on Global Trafficking in Persons.

Article continues:



The Siege Of Aden – Vice News Published on Jul 31, 2015

VICE News filmmaker Medyan Dairieh spent two weeks in Yemen’s seaport city of Aden. Surrounded by Houthi militia rebels and under siege “from air, land, and sea,” Adenis the focal point of the Yemeni Southern Resistance.

Amid an ongoing humanitarian crisis, enduring the chaos of near-constant shelling and menace of snipers, he films with refugees, local politicians, and a training camp teaching young Yemenis to continue fighting the Houthi forces.

Dairieh also visits the frontlines, where his group comes under incoming fire. The conflict is also taking its toll on innocent children and in a Médecins Sans Frontières hospital we witness the graphic cost of war.

Watch “Inside War-Torn Yemen: Sanaa Under Attack” –  http://bit.ly/1cBKnJ4

Read “Saudi-led Coalition Announces Ceasefire in Yemen Shortly After Airstrike Kills 80” –  http://bit.ly/1HUO3RM

The $1-a-week school – The Economist Aug 1st 2015 | From the print edition

ACROSS the highway from the lawns of Nairobi’s Muthaiga Country Club is Mathare, a slum that stretches as far as the eye can see. Although Mathare has virtually no services like paved streets or sanitation, it has a sizeable and growing number of classrooms. Not because of the state—the slum’s half-million people have just four public schools—but because the private sector has moved in. Mathare boasts 120 private schools.

This pattern is repeated across Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. The failure of the state to provide children with a decent education is leading to a burgeoning of private places, which can cost as little as $1 a week (see article).

The parents who send their children to these schools in their millions welcome this. But governments, teachers’ unions and NGOs tend to take the view that private education should be discouraged or heavily regulated. That must change.

Chalk and fees

Education in most of the developing world is shocking. Half of children in South Asia and a third of those in Africa who complete four years of schooling cannot read properly. In India 60% of six- to 14-year-olds cannot read at the level of a child who has finished two years of schooling.

Most governments have promised to provide universal primary education and to promote secondary education. But even when public schools exist, they often fail. In a survey of rural Indian schools, a quarter of teachers were absent. In Africa the World Bank found teacher-absenteeism rates of 15-25%. Pakistan recently discovered that it had over 8,000 non-existent state schools, 17% of the total. Sierra Leone spotted 6,000 “ghost” teachers, nearly a fifth the number on the state payroll.

Article continues:



Rio’s waters are so filthy that 2016 Olympians risk becoming violently ill and unable to compete – Brad Brooks and Jenny Barchfield, Associated Press Jul. 30, 2015, 1:38 AM

Brazil 2016 Olympics

In this July 28, 2015 photo, workers remove garbage collected by floating waste barriers in a canal at the Mare slum complex, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Athletes competing in next year’s Summer Olympics here will be swimming and boating in waters so contaminated with human feces that they risk becoming violently ill and unable to compete in the games, an Associated Press investigation has found.

An AP analysis of water quality revealed dangerously high levels of viruses and bacteria from human sewage in Olympic and Paralympic venues – results that alarmed international experts and dismayed competitors training in Rio, some of whom have already fallen ill with fevers, vomiting and diarrhea.

It is the first independent comprehensive testing for both viruses and bacteria at the Olympic sites.

Brazilian officials have assured that the water will be safe for the Olympic athletes. But the government does not test for viruses.

Extreme water pollution is common in Brazil, where the majority of sewage is not treated. Raw waste runs through open-air ditches to streams and rivers that feed the Olympic water sites.

As a result, Olympic athletes are almost certain to come into contact with disease-causing viruses that in some tests measured up to 1.7 million times the level of what would be considered hazardous on a Southern California beach.

Despite decades of official pledges to clean up the mess, the stench of raw sewage still greets travelers touching down at Rio’s international airport. Prime beaches are deserted because the surf is thick with putrid sludge, and periodic die-offs leave the Olympic lake, Rodrigo de Freitas, littered with rotting fish.

“What you have there is basically raw sewage,” said John Griffith, a marine biologist at the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project. Griffith examined the protocols, methodology and results of the AP tests.

“It’s all the water from the toilets and the showers and whatever people put down their sinks, all mixed up, and it’s going out into the beach waters. Those kinds of things would be shut down immediately if found here,” he said, referring to the U.S.

Article continues:


Rick Perry just rolled out a surprisingly progressive agenda on Wall Street regulation – Updated by Matthew Yglesias on July 30, 2015, 7:00 a.m. ET

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Rick Perry has a plan to change the way the federal government regulates Wall Street and it is … kind of left-wing. Almost shockingly so for the very conservative governor of Texas.

He laid out his plan in a Wednesday speech. He hits on many familiar conservative themes, but also some not so familiar ones. For example, he credited Texas’ relatively strong weathering of the Great Recession in part to strict financial regulation. “But there’s another thing we have in Texas that the rest of the country could learn from,” he said “we regulate, in an intelligent way, the use of a type of mortgage called ‘cash-out refinancing.'”

The Perry campaign does not have a ton of specific details to offer about his ideas, and financial regulation is certainly an area in which the devil is frequently in the details. But in broad strokes, Perry has some pretty good ideas combined with a standard Republican aversion to any kind of consumer financial protection. His proposals are aimed, overwhelmingly, at reducing the amount of debt in the financial system both by regulating big banks but also by reducing the tendency of federal programs to encourage middle class households to borrow heavily to buy houses. The total impact would be a financial system that is considerably less fragile, albeit one in which it is also easier for financial firms to make a quick buck by pulling the wool over consumers’ eyes.

Rick Perry calls for something like Glass-Steagall

The headline here is that Perry comes close to calling for a breakup of big multi-line financial conglomerates, with his fact sheet saying that “requiring banks to separate their commercial lending and investment banking practices should be considered.” This is something liberals have made a lot of noise about since the financial crisis, and that Hillary Clinton has declined to endorse even as Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders have. But Perry’s backup idea “alternatively, require these banks to hold a significant additional capital cushion for their trading activities” is probably a better idea.

What this means is that Perry would make a more complicated bank be more cautious about borrowing money than a similarly-sized by less-complicated entity would have to be.

This would make complexity less profitable and create a financial incentive to shrink and simplify unless you’re really reaping massive efficiency gains. At the same time, it would ensure that a complicated bank is especially unlikely to go bust — and thus that difficult questions about how to deal with the failure of such a bank are unlikely to arise.

Article continues: