Cab medallion owners sue NYC, blame Uber for ruining business

“A medallion is required to operate a New York City yellow taxicab, the only type of vehicle allowed to accept passengers who hail cabs on the street. Until recently, those medallions could sell for over $1 million. Companies like White & Blue Group, one of the plaintiffs in the case, managed fleets of licensed taxicabs by leasing out the medallions. ‘With companies like Uber operating in the marketplace free of regulatory burdens… licensed taxicab drivers have left the taxicab industry in droves, choosing instead to drive for Uber,’ states the complaint.  Companies like White & Blue ‘have been forced to repeatedly slash daily lease rates to compete,’ it continues.”

As Distressed Debt Climbs, High-Yield Bonds Underperform

“The increase in distressed debt is being driven by low and falling commodity prices. Yields on many energy issues—which make up 14% of the high-yield market—have risen, pushing their prices lower and leading to a greater number of distressed bonds.  Distressed debt as a percentage of the high-yield corporate market has risen to its highest level since August 2012.  Investors lowering their credit quality in search of better returns haven’t been rewarded. The bonds that offered the highest yields at the end of last year have generated the lowest total return to date, and vice versa. Caa-rated bonds have suffered the largest price declines.”

We Haven’t Seen This Big Red Flag since the Great Recession

“When the economy slows down, companies in poor financial shape feel the pain first. That’s why junk bonds often point out problems before other assets do.   On Monday, one of the biggest junk bond ETFs hit its lowest level in over six years.  Yesterday, Financial Times reported that half of all corporate bonds have a junk rating, and that companies are defaulting on bond payments at the highest rate since the financial crisis. Last month, The Wall Street Journal reported that corporate downgrades are at their highest level since the Great Recession. The Federal Reserve has encouraged companies to borrow obscene amounts of money, which is a big reason for this mess…”

European banks sitting on €1tn mountain of bad debt, survey finds

“European banks are sitting on bad debts of €1tn – the equivalent to the GDP of Spain – which is holding back their profitability and ability to lend to high street customers and businesses.  The €1tn (£706bn) of so-called non-performing loans amount to almost 6% of the total loans and advances of Europe’s banks and 10% when lending to other financial institutions are excluded. The equivalent figure for the US banking industry is around 3%. As well as bad debts, the EBA pointed to the cost inefficiencies and the cost of so-called conduct issues, such as fines, compensation and legal costs, which absorb almost 4% of banks’ operating income.”

4,000 silver coins found in Roman treasure trove in Swiss orchard

“The coins’ excellent condition indicated that the owner systematically stashed them away shortly after they were made, the archaeologists said. For some reason that person had buried them shortly after 294 and never retrieved them. Some of the coins, made mainly of bronze but with a 5% silver content (an unusually high amount), were buried in small leather pouches.  The archaeologists said it was impossible to determine the original value of the money due to rampant inflation at the time, but said they would have been worth at least a year or two of wages. How much the coins were worth today was beside the point, Matter said.”

Worst. Retirement. Option. Ever.

“Roth IRAs, which is what the MyRA is, already exist and can be funded with as little as a few hundred dollars.  So the gap that supposedly exists doesn’t really exist at all.  Sure, the MyRA is extremely easy to join and backed by the U.S. government — which doesn’t say much when you look at the extreme level of debt our government has. But it generates a paltry 3% return at best. Almost any other diversified mutual fund will generate substantially better returns over time.  Therefore, the MyRA doesn’t really serve a purpose at all, except for providing the government with buyers of its debt at a time when the largest buyer — the Federal Reserve — has stopped buying.”

Family Gets $4.9M After Calif. Cops Beat Homeless Son to Death on Video

“Because the assailants who beat Kelly Thomas to death on the streets of Fullerton, California were swaddled in government-issued costumes and clothed in ‘qualified immunity,’ the killers went free, and the city’s taxpayers will have to underwrite a $4.9 million civil settlement with the victim’s family, reports the Orange County Register. Video recordings of the assault captured the anguished screams of the helpless, unarmed, 160-pound man as he was slugged, kicked, tasered, and clubbed as the attackers bellowed, ‘Stop resisting!’ With his last words Kelly pleaded for his father Ron Thomas, a retired sheriff’s deputy.”

Pew Poll: More Than 1 In 4 Americans Believe Government Is The Enemy

“The findings suggests that 57 percent of voters feel frustrated with the government, while 22 percent feel angry and 18 percent feel ‘basically content.’  The majority of Americans feel the federal government has room for serious improvement, with 59 percent saying the government needs ‘very major reform.’ Only 37 percent of voters felt that way in 1997. Other findings include that few think the government is run for the benefit of all the people and that it is viewed as wasteful and inefficient. About 3 in 4 Americans say the federal government is ‘run by a few big interests’ and 57 percent say the ‘government is almost always wasteful and inefficient.'”

Biggest corporate political interests spend billions, get trillions [2014]

“After examining 14 million records, including data on campaign contributions, lobbying expenditures, federal budget allocations and spending, we found that, on average, for every dollar spent on influencing politics, the nation’s most politically active corporations received $760 from the government. The $4.4 trillion total represents two-thirds of the $6.5 trillion that individual taxpayers paid into the federal treasury.  Welcome to the world of ‘Fixed Fortunes,’ a seemingly closed universe where the most persistent and savvy political players not so mysteriously have the ability to attract federal dollars regardless of who is running Washington.”

Democrats Work To Block Regulations, After Flood Of Campaign Cash

“The Obama administration’s efforts to rein in Wall Street face opposition from members of the president’s own party.  Since 2011, after Dodd-Frank became law, Democrats have raised over $330 million from the financial industry, and their party’s presumptive incoming Senate leader, New York’s Chuck Schumer, is considered a close ally of the financial sector.  As the year-end legislative wrangling intensifies, here are the other Democrats who have been Wall Street’s key allies in fighting the Obama administration. They have all raised big money from the financial industry.”