Meet George Jetson

When losing $2.8 billion in one year is harshing your mellow, there’s always vaporware:

On Tuesday, Uber will kick off its very first “Elevate Summit,” a three-day conference in Dallas on vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft — more commonly known as “flying cars.”[…]

These VTOL (pronounced vee-toll) aircraft would operate using fixed wings with tilt prop-rotors. In other words, they would take off vertically like a helicopter, and then accelerate into forward flight using wing-borne lift.

Most notably, Uber said it wasn’t going to build its own flying car, but stood ready to “contribute to the nascent but growing VTOL ecosystem and to start to play whatever role is most helpful to accelerate this industry’s development.”

At least Uber isn’t building VTOL aircraft, because if they worked as well as their self-driving cars, they would be dropping from the sky on a regular basis. That would be some serious “disruption”.

Donald Trump’s Bank Is Tottering

It seems like we might want something new to talk about, and I think I’ll follow John’s advice and focus on something other than the miseries of the day.

So how about this:

Donald Trump has a problem with bankers — or they with him:

Other Wall Street banks, after doing extensive business with Mr. Trump in the 1980s and 1990s, pulled back in part due to frustration with his business practices but also because he moved away from real-estate projects that required financing, according to bank officials. Citigroup Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley are among the banks that don’t currently work with him.

At Goldman Sachs Group Inc., bankers “know better than to pitch” a Trump-related deal, said a former Goldman executive. Goldman officials say there is little overlap between its core investment-banking group and Mr. Trump’s businesses.


That’s why, to a great extent, the Trump organization has come to rely on Deutsche Bank, the one global bank that will do significant business with him:

While many big banks have shunned him, Deutsche Bank AG has been a steadfast financial backer of the Republican presidential candidate’s business interests. Since 1998, the bank has led or participated in loans of at least $2.5 billion to companies affiliated with Mr. Trump, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of public records and people familiar with the matter.

All that’s in trouble now:

Deutsche Bank started the year by announcing a record-setting loss in 2015 of €6.8 billion.


In [recent] weeks, here’s what happened:

  • May 16, 2016: Berenberg Bank warns that DB’s woes may be “insurmountable”, noting that DB is more than 40x levered.
  • June 2, 2016: Two ex-DB employees are charged in ongoing U.S. Libor probe for rigging interest rates. Meanwhile, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority says there are at least 29 DB employees involved in the scandal.
  • June 23, 2016: Brexit decision hits DB hard. The bank is the largest European bank in London and receives 19% of its revenues from the UK.
  • June 29, 2016: IMF issues statement that “DB appears to be the most important net contributor to systematic risks”.
  • June 30, 2016: Federal Reserve announces that DB fails Fed stress test in US, due to “poor risk management and financial planning”.

The DB share price has been cut almost in half since the start of the year, and is at 8% of its all time high.

Will the bank survive? Damned if I know.  This isn’t my field and I’ve just stumbled on the latest reports of its woes.  But one thing seem obvious.

Y’all may have noticed that Herr Drumpf is a candidate for an office that has a significant role in the regulation of credit markets. We’ve never had anyone this close to the presidency whose wealth was so personally at play in decisions that he and his administration would have to make, were that evil day ever to arrive.  As Russ Choma and David Corn note in Mother Jones,

…the presumptive GOP nominee also has a tremendous load of debt that includes five loans each over $50 million. (The disclosure form, which presidential candidates must submit, does not compel candidates to reveal the specific amount of any loans that exceed $50 million, and Trump has chosen not to provide details.) Two of those megaloans are held by Deutsche Bank, which is based in Germany but has US subsidiaries. And this prompts a question that no other major American presidential candidate has had to face: What are the implications of the chief executive of the US government being in hock for $100 million (or more) to a foreign entity that has tried to evade laws aimed at curtailing risky financial shenanigans, that was recently caught manipulating markets around the world, and that attempts to influence the US government?

There’s a little schadenfreude to be added to the terror that Herr Drumpf might actually reach the office in which that conflict of interest becomes real.  That, of course, comes in the thought that [I so devoutly hope] on November 8, the Donald will return to a business wholly dependent on other people’s money, to face a financial community in which there’s no one left willing to lend him a dime.

A boy can dream….

Image:  Marinus van Reymerswaele A Banker and His Wifefirst half of the 16th century.

Panic At The Disco

Speaking of Trump tirades and GRAIN-STORING PYRAMID, it’s time to check in with BuzzFeed writer Ivor Tossell’s “Five Stages Of Trump” tweet once again.

Hello, Stage Five!

Less than three months before the kickoff Iowa caucuses, there is growing anxiety bordering on panic among Republican elites about the dominance and durability of Donald Trump and Ben Carson and widespread bewilderment over how to defeat them.

Party leaders and donors fear that nominating either man would have negative ramifications for the GOP ticket up and down the ballot, virtually ensuring a Hillary Rodham Clinton presidency and increasing the odds that the Senate falls into Democratic hands.

The party establishment is paralyzed. Big money is still on the sidelines. No consensus alternative to the outsiders has emerged from the pack of governors and senators running, and there is disagreement about how to prosecute the case against them. Recent focus groups of Trump supporters in Iowa and New Hampshire commissioned by rival campaigns revealed no silver bullet.

In normal times, the way forward would be obvious. The wannabes would launch concerted campaigns, including television attack ads, against the ­front-runners. But even if the other candidates had a sense of what might work this year, it is unclear whether it would ultimately accrue to their benefit. Trump’s counterpunches have been withering, while Carson’s appeal to the base is spiritual, not merely political. If someone was able to do significant damage to them, there’s no telling to whom their supporters would turn, if anyone.

Dr. Heckle and Mr. Jive here haven’t just upended the apple cart, they’ve set it on fire and are throwing flaming apples at everyone they can find. They’ve taken the bread and circuses grift to the endpoint and everyone’s all stunned to see that in the era of reality show politics that the hooting masses love the guys that aren’t supposed to have any chance of winning.

Oh, and there’s this.

According to other Republicans, some in the party establishment are so desperate to change the dynamic that they are talking anew about drafting Romney — despite his insistence that he will not run again. Friends have mapped out a strategy for a late entry to pick up delegates and vie for the nomination in a convention fight, according to the Republicans who were briefed on the talks, though Romney has shown no indication of reviving his interest.

And the Republicans will look up and shout, “Save us!”

And Mitt Romney will look down and whisper “47 percent.”

Oh well, I guess those sidelined mega-donors will have to console themselves with all the local, state, and House races that they’ve bought over the last five years. I’m sure they’ll be okay even if they don’t win the White House.

The rest of us?  Well…not so much.

Afternoon Open Thread: Pay Attention To The Magistrate

Mittens on Hillary and Baltimore:

In an interview with Fox News on Monday, Romney said, “I was concerned that her comments really smacked of the politicization of the terrible tragedies that are going on there.”

We don’t have mass incarcerations in America. Individuals are brought before tribunals, and they have counsel, they’re given certain rights. Are we not going to lock people up who commit crimes, is that what she’s suggesting?”

Gods above and below, let this man be the 2016 pinata again.  Pleeeeeeease.

Open thread otherwise (And May the Fourth be with you!)

Can the Kochs Deliver the Mail Better than Florida Man?

kochrepAs I mentioned in comments on a thread yesterday, the Florida mailman who landed a gyrocopter at the US Capitol to draw attention to the corrupting influence of money in politics lives in the same media market I do and had informed a local paper of his plans prior to taking off. His stunt is therefore receiving more attention and in-depth coverage here than elsewhere.

The mailman is disappointed that the national corporate media outlets are focusing almost exclusively on the security vulnerabilities his flight revealed rather than the two-page campaign finance document he prepared for each congresscritter. The local outlets, having access to the mailman and greater interest due to the regional angle, are covering the campaign finance aspect. Not in sufficient depth, but at least they aren’t ignoring it altogether. The mailman won’t let them. Read more


Whatever you think about Matt Stoller, he’s all over the bullshit in Geithner’s bio:

So why did Geithner actually release this book? Perhaps he wants to make himself look good. It wouldn’t be the first time for a DC memoir. Or maybe the reason is more prosaic—maybe the book actually helps Tim Geithner make money. Geithner left Treasury and is now the President of Warburg Pincus, a powerful private equity group that buys and sells companies. Geithner has no understanding of this business, but he was hired anyway to run it, or at least appear like he runs it. Why? Sure, he’s a talented guy, but one obvious reason is because of his network of contacts in government and in the banking world. Elites like Geithner trade on their credibility, so he must have his fictionalized version of the crisis in print. If he doesn’t, then officials might eventually listen to the version put out by Elizabeth Warren, Neil Barofsky, and others and tune him out. While Geithner can’t block Elizabeth Warren from telling her story, at least he can throw sand in the umpire’s face.

Thanks to reader J for sending this in.

Open Thread: Moroni Bologna

moroni_visitationThis will never get anywhere, but I like the idea:

Legal experts gobsmacked after British judge orders Mormon leader to prove faith’s origins

A disgruntled former Mormon has convinced an English court to file two summonses to appear against Thomas S. Monson, the current president of the Mormon Church.

Tom Phillips based his complaint on the Fraud Act of 2006, a British law that outlaws making a profit off of false representations. According to Phillips, this is precisely what the Mormon Church does — it uses statements it knows to be factually untrue in order to secure tithes from members of the Church.

The facts in question, court records show, are tenets of the Mormon faith, including that Joseph Smith translated The Book of Mormon from ancient gold plates, that Native Americans are descendants of a family of Israelites, and that death didn’t exist on this planet until 6,000 years ago.

“These are not statements of mere ‘beliefs’ or opinions or theories,” Phillips wrote. “They are made as actual facts and their truthfulness can be objectively tested with evidence.”

Sometimes, companies that make absurd claims to shake down people for money are prosecuted for fraud. If their CEOs had any sense, they’d claim a talking hat gave them the product formula. Then they’d not only be off the hook for fraud, they wouldn’t have to pay taxes either.