Thursday, December 8, 2011

Corzine: ‘Don’t know’ where MF Global customers’ $1.2B went

Jon Corzine
Testifying under subpoena at a House Agriculture Committee hearing, Corzine, a former U.S. senator and ex-Goldman Sachs chief, portrayed himself as “stunned” about the massive shortfall that emerged as regulators and federal investigators began probing MF Global’s Oct. 31 bankruptcy.

“I simply do not know where the money is, or why the accounts have not been reconciled to date,” said Corzine, 64, in his first public remarks since his resignation after the bankruptcy.
Corzine also said he was unaware whether there were “operational errors at MF Global or elsewhere, or whether banks and counterparties have held onto funds that should rightfully have been returned to MF Global.”

The proceeding is the first of three Capitol Hill hearings for which Corzine has been subpoenaed to testify.
The brokerage’s implosion, Wall Street‘s largest since the 2008 bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, was triggered in part by $6 billion in bad bets on European sovereign debt.

Challenging public criticism that has focused on those investments, Corzine’s statement said the brokerage’s decision to seek bankruptcy court protection was largely due to a $119.4 million write-off of tax benefits that could no longer be classified as assets.

Corzine called the European debt investments “prudent” and said he advocated them last year as one way to improve MF Global’s flagging profits and commissions amid increased competition from online brokerages and high-frequency traders.

In his statement, Corzine told the House panel “I accept responsibility” for that investment strategy. But he pointedly added that the transactions were approved by MF Global’s directors and were disclosed to the brokerage’s senior officers and accountants, as well as to investors, through public filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“As of today, none of the foreign debt securities” involved in the European debt transactions “has defaulted or been restructured,” Corzine said.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority directed MF Global last summer to increase the brokerage’s net capital with regard to the European debt. Acknowledging he tried, unsuccessfully, to change that decision, Corzine said in the statement that the brokerage “promptly complied” in August.
Addressing criticism since the bankruptcy that MF Global took on too much risk in European debt and other deals, Corzine said the brokerage’s level of leverage, the use of borrowed capital for investment, was consistently around 30 during his tenure.

“In fact, MF Global reduced leverage,” he said.
Until the bankruptcy, New York-headquartered MF Global had been one of the world’s leading brokers in markets for commodities and listed derivatives. The brokerage, most of whose 2,870 employees have been let go since the collapse, was also a broker-dealer in markets for commodities, fixed-income securities, equities and foreign exchange.

The MF Global collapse has caused financial uncertainty and problems for many U.S. ranchers and farmers who turned to MF Global to make commodities market trades as financial hedges designed to protect them against swings in agriculture prices.

Many have had thousands of dollars tied up as a court-appointed bankruptcy trustee tries to transfer and distribute $2.1 billion in MF Global funds frozen by the bankruptcy. A bankruptcy judge in New York is scheduled to consider that issue Friday.

Darwin Rieck, 64, a Luzerne, Iowa, farmer and MF Global customer, said in a recent interview with USA TODAY he had to send more money to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to meet margin calls on several pending commodities futures trades. Although his brokerage account held sufficient excess funds, that money was frozen by the bankruptcy, he said.

“If I hadn’t sent the money, they would have liquidated the trades,” said Rieck, who works with his son-in-law raising corn, soybeans and feed cattle. “It just doesn’t seem like the way it’s supposed to be.”
Trying to address such concerns, Corzine ended his statement by returning to a penitent note.
“I sincerely apologize, both personally and on behalf of the company, to our customers, our employees and our investors, who are bearing the brunt of the impact of the firm’s bankruptcy,” the statement said.


Donell Jones
KANSAS CITY – R&B sensation Donell Jones performed in Kansas City a few months ago during the much-hyped Intimacy Tour at Municipal Auditorium. Those in attendance received a special treat as they were serenaded by the silky smooth sounds of R&B sensations KEM, Donell Jones and Ledisi.
KEM performed his popular hit “Love Calls.”

And Jones rocked the audience with his popular tune “Where I Wanna Be.”
Afterward, I sat down with Jones one-on-one to discuss his career, his wonderful mother and his exciting new album “Lyrics.”

See our Q&A below.

CRYSTAL: How are you enjoying Kansas City so far?
DONELL: It has been awesome! Man I’m loving it. It’s a beautiful city.
CRYSTAL: How long have you been in the music business?
DONELL: I’ve been in the music business about 17 years. I started when I was about 19 years old. I’ve been doing it ever since.
CRYSTAL: Who are some of your early music influences?
DONELL: Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, The Isley Brothers, Jean Carn, Alisha Meyers, Teddy Pendergrass. I could go on for days. There are so many great artists that inspired me: Marvin Gaye, Nat King Cole. So many of our black artists you know, that put it down back in the day really inspired me growing up.
CRYSTAL: I notice you have your mom with you. Has she been your biggest fan?

DONELL: Yes. My mother is my biggest fan and my biggest supporter. She goes on the road with me. And it’s great having her around. In the beginning of my career, I had my boys with me. But now that I’m older, I want to spend as much time with my mom as I can. So that’s why I got her with me.
CRYSTAL: With the songs that you’ve had in your career, what is your favorite?
DONELL: “Where I Wanna Be” would be my favorite song. That song meant a lot to me and it’s one of my favorites to sing.

CRYSTAL: Tell me a little about your new album?
DONELL: The new album is called “Lyrics”. I really wanted to make a statement with the record as far as throughout my career I pride myself on writing great lyrics and that’s pretty much why I named this album “Lyrics”. There’s a lot of great stories on the album. It’s really all about love. Love ain’t going nowhere. You have good sides of love and bad sides of love. People cheat. People wanna make love to be happy in love. That’s what it’s really about. The good and bad sides of love.

CRYSTAL: How would you describe your music style?
DONELL: My style is really just smooth R&B. It’s really laid back. It’s something that I don’t gear towards any age group. I think anybody can listen to it and get some inspiration from or relax to it. Ya know, have a glass of wine. So, that’s how I classify my music. Just something really smooth.
Donell Jones and Crystal Booker
Donell and Crystal talk R&B music
CRYSTAL: What do think about the music industry right now?
DONELL: The way I feel about R&B right now is it’s a little crazy. The music business is not what it used to be. Everybody and they mama who got a computer want to be a producer and or artist. I think the reason why is because it’s watered down. It’s not enough people who really perfect their craft and try to learn the history about music. Hopefully, it’ll get better. But there are some great, talented young brothers out here that’s really serious about it. So hopefully, we’ll get the chance to see them shine.

CRYSTAL: What advice do you have for up and coming artists?
DONELL: Don’t try to be like anyone else. Create your own style, your own sound. Those are the people that last a long time and have a lot of longevity. Believe that you can make it. And never give up.
CRYSTAL: If somebody wanted to know what’s going on with you, how would they do so?
DONELL: If yall wanna hit me up, go to and twitter/donelljones96
CRYSTAL: I want to thank you for taking time to speak with me. It’s been a pleasure.
DONELL: Thank you Crystal.

Crystal BookerCrystal Booker, a distinguished member of the Kansas City Film Critic’s Circle, is the movie critic of Kansas City’s Magic 107.3 FM. She is also a contributing writer to I Love Black To view her movie reviews, click here. For the latest reports and celebrity interviews, check out “Crystal on the Scene.” She welcomes both your questions and comments 24/7 at

Europe’s Question Mark

By Robert Romano
Europe has absolutely no idea how it is going to get itself out of its current predicament, as evidenced by a wide range of proposals now under consideration to bail out banks that bet poorly on the debts of Greece, Italy, and other troubled sovereigns.

Chief among the proposals would be ratification of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), a new treaty that would host a €500 billion permanent bailout fund intended to perpetually refinance European debt should the need arise.

This new fund would exist alongside the current €440 billion European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), even though ESM was originally intended to replace the “temporary” EFSF. The trouble with the original is that there’s only about €250 billion left, not enough to even help Italy refinance €400 billion of debt coming due next year. 

All together, Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, and Spain (PIIGS) have over €3 trillion of consolidated debts, and it is thought that the only way to contain the crisis — restoring investor confidence in the debts — is for somebody to guarantee every bit of that.

So far, the European Central Bank (ECB) has bought about €200 billion of PIIGS debt on secondary markets, although it is said it has a natural limit of about €300 billion that it is fast approaching. The bank is prohibited from making direct purchases by the Lisbon Treaty, making it an unsuitable candidate to carry forth the bailout on its own.

For its part, the International Monetary Fund has thus far provided €78.5 billion to prop up Portugal, Greece, and Ireland, and has about €290 billion left to lend.
Get full story here.

You Stink!

Get permalink here.

Senate may vote on Mari Del Carmen Aponte appointment to Ambassador to El Salvador

By Rick Manning

Americans for Limited Government led the charge against the confirmation of Barack Obama’s appointee to the ambassadorship of El Salvador, Mari Del Carmen Aponte until August of 2010, when Obama gave her a recess appointment to serve until Congress went out of session in 2011.

Now, Aponte’s name is back in the news as Senate Democrats moved her nomination through the Foreign Relations Committee on a party line vote. The White House is pushing for her nomination to be brought up for a full vote of the Senate as her temporary appointment is scheduled to end in January, 2012.

Aponte’s nomination has been in trouble since the outset due to “unanswered questions” related to her 1990s romantic relationship with Cuban spy, Roberto Tamayo, and because those questions go to the heart of whether the nominee can be trusted with U.S. national security sensitive information, Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson believes Aponte’s nomination should be rejected.

“Because Aponte refused to submit to a polygraph test, the American people still have not received a full, public accounting of the extent of Aponte’s relationship with Tamayo. Instead, all they have received are vague assurances from Senators who claim to have seen the FBI records regarding Aponte and Tamayo,” Wilson said.

“Is Aponte a loyalty risk or not? It is up to the U.S. Senate’s confirmation process to answer this fundamental question and if there is any doubt, reject her nomination,” Wilson explained.
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), had defended Aponte after he said he had seen some of the FBI's materials on Aponte and Tamayo. Wilson said that was “not good enough.”
Get full story here.

Paul Krugman’s big government prescription for Europe proves that U.S. liberals are stuck in a time warp

By Nile Gardiner

All over Europe governments have begun to implement austerity measures in an effort to rein in spending and reduce crippling budget deficits. It is hard to find a major European leader these days still advocating the kind of large-scale stimulus spending championed by the Obama Administration in the United States over the past three years. Ironically, the most vocal supporters of greater government spending in the EU can be found today in America.

In yet another hectoring New York Times piece last week on the European financial crisis (a follow-up to his November 10 article “Legends of the Fail”), imaginatively entitled “Killing the Euro”, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman attacked “deficit scolds and inflation obsessives”, completely dismissing the idea that the EU debt disaster has anything to do with out-of-control spending:

“How did things go so wrong? The answer you hear all the time is that the euro crisis was caused by fiscal irresponsibility. Turn on your TV and you’re very likely to find some pundit declaring that if America doesn’t slash spending we’ll end up like Greece. Greeeeeece!

“But the truth is nearly the opposite. Although Europe’s leaders continue to insist that the problem is too much spending in debtor nations, the real problem is too little spending in Europe as a whole. And their efforts to fix matters by demanding ever harsher austerity have played a major role in making the situation worse.

“So the next time you hear someone claiming that if we don’t slash spending we’ll turn into Greece, your answer should be that if we do slash spending while the economy is still in a depression, we’ll turn into Europe. In fact, we’re well on our way.”
Get full story here.

Putin Lashes Out At SoS Clinton

Clinton speaking in Bonn, Germany.
After rampant cheating in Monday’s elections in Russia, thousands of citizens protested in Moscow in an effort to show their outrage at Vladimir Putin’s continued control of the country. International monitors said that the elections held at the beginning of the week were unfairly slanted in favor of Putin’s United Russia party, and that the government used its own funds to pay and support for that party’s campaign costs.

Secretary of State Hilary Clinton spoke out against those practices Tuesday while at a conference in Bonn, Germany. She called the elections “dishonest and unfair”, a charge that Putin says incited the protests in Moscow. Well over 300 people have been arrested during the protests, the largest demonstration in well over twelve years, the time that Putin first came to power as prime minister.

Clinton ignored criticism from Putin and continued to speak out against the elections Thursday while attending another conference in Brussels. She said that while she acknowledges the importance of a close relationship with Russia, the United States must balance another agenda :“At the same time, the United States and many others around the world have a strong commitment to democracy and human rights. It’s part of who we are. It’s our values. And we expressed concerns that we thought were well founded about the conduct of the election. We are supportive of the rights and aspirations of the Russian people to make progress and to realize a better future for themselves, and we hope to see that unfold in the years to come.”

Putin has gone as far as to claim Clinton’s comments and other criticisms from around the globe in the wake of elections is a form of meddling in Russian politics that challenges the nation’s sovereignty. He claims that the protesters were “taking orders from foreign states”, and that people can express themselves only to the point where they stay within the bounds of Russian law. Russian NATO representative has also voiced similar sentiments while in Brussels, and encouraged other nations to let Russia deal with its own problems.

Holder Suggests Fast And Furious Guns Will Show Up At Crime Scenes In U.S. And Mexico For “Years To Come”…

And the Obama admin will be accessories to murder for years to come.
WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric Holder suggested Thursday that weapons lost during the course of the failed “Fast and Furious” gunrunning operation will continue to show up at crime scenes in the U.S. and Mexico “for years to come.”
Holder, in testimony on Capitol Hill that comes as the congressional investigation into the program expands, decried the “gun-walking” tactic used in the operation as “inexcusable” and “wholly unacceptable.” But a day after an influential senator called for the resignation of one of Holder’s top deputies over the scandal, Holder denied department leaders played any role in the crafting of Fast and Furious.
He continued to assert that top Justice officials were not told about the “inappropriate tactics” until they were made public.
Still, the top law enforcement official in the country conceded that, as a result of Fast and Furious, guns lost by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives remain in the hands of criminals.
“Although the department has taken steps to ensure that such tactics are never used again, it is an unfortunate reality that we will continue to feel the effects of this flawed operation for years to come,” he said. “Guns lost during this operation will continue to show up at crime scenes on both sides of the border.”
Keep reading…

Posted by ZIP

Braking News: Shots Fired at Virginia Tech

CNN is reporting that Virginia Tech is on lockdown after shots were fired on campus. The university's website says the suspect is a white male wearing gray sweatpants, a gray sweatshirt and a maroon hoodie. He is carrying a backpack and was last seen on foot.

Check out for updates.