John Corzine’s failed brokerage, MF Global, like all brokers, was supposed to keep its clients’ money in a “segregated account”, completely separate from its own funds. Except regulators are now saying the segregated fund is a little short, about $600 million short.
So if you were either smart enough, or lucky enough, to get your money
out before MF went toes up, you’ re probably breathing a sigh of relief, right? Well, you might not be out of the woods after all.
At issue is MF Global’s “segregated accounts” — client money meant to be kept strictly separate from the broker’s s own funds, but which regulators say is now $600 million short.
Reuters reports that the bitllionaire Koch brothers were among the smart, or lucky ones (How could they have amassed all those billions if they weren’t lucky?) who withdrew their fundsre prior to MF Global’s bankruptcy.
The Koch Brothers (Charles Koch and David Koch) who are richer than you are (unless you happen to be Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, or Larry Ellison) are about to launch a massive database comprised of people who share their conservative views. The Guardian Reports today,
The secretive oil billionaires the Koch brothers are close to launching a nationwide database connecting millions of Americans who share their anti-government and libertarian views, a move that will further enhance the tycoons’ political influence and that could prove significant in next year’s presidential election.
Charles Koch and David Koch together, own nearly all of Koch Industries, a Wichita, Kansas based conglomerate with annual revenues in the neighborhood of hundred billion dollars. According to Forbes, each of the Koch Brothers has a net worth of $25 billion.
The name of the database is named Themis, after the Greek goddess of the same name. Themis in Greek means “divine law”.
The Koch’s have been vilified by The Left for having funded Tea Party related candidates and for promoting the idea that the cause of global warming is not man made (if in fact it exists at all). The liberal and dependably snarky Daily Kos pondered, “are they aware of the Greek word Atë? Of course that doesn’t apply to them because they are Wealth Creators.”
Mogulite described Themis as “Facebook for the Right.”
Of course Charles and David have been embraced as heroes by The Right. Embroiled GOP contender Herman said of them, “I am the Koch Brothers brother from another mother.
Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Ted Turner, are conspicuously absent from the just released, Philanthropy 50, a list of the fifty most generous Americans published by Philanthropy.com. However, the aforementioned billionaires did not exhibit totally scrooge-like behavior in 2011.
Some of America’s biggest charitable donors don’t appear on the current Philanthropy 50 even though they were still writing big checks to charity. The list doesn’t include people who are paying off pledges made in previous years, and in 2011 several of the nation’s big donors were busy making payments, not new commitments. Among those philanthropists are Warren E. Buffett, Bill and Melinda Gates, and Ted Turner.
Buffett honored a prior pledge (2006) to donate shares of his Berkshire Hathaway to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The value of the shares that Buffett donated in 2011 was nearly $1.5 billion.
In 2004 Bill and Melinda Gates pledged $3.3 billion to their foundation. In 2011 they contributed $67.9 million. According to Philanthropy.com “The couple has paid a total of more than $2.8-billion toward their 2004 commitment and have about $500-million remaining to pay on that pledge.”
Philanthropy.com also reported that Ted Turner continues to make good on his previous pledge.
Another big donor, Mr. Turner, gave $50-million to the United Nations Foundation and the Better World Fund in 2011. Mr. Turner made the donation through his Turner Global Foundation, which was established in 2004. The grant was payment toward a $1-billion pledge the philanthropist made in 1997 to establish the United Nations Foundation and the Better World Fund.
To date, the media mogul has paid slightly more than $900-million toward the pledge.
The late Margaret A. Cargill topped the list with a contribution valued at close to $6 billion. Click here to read how the Cargill Corp.’s sale of its huge position in Fertilizer giant Mosaic Corp. resulted in a windfall for Ms. Cargill’s charities.
The late William S. Dietrich II was “runner-up” on Philanthropy.com’s list. Dietrich, who died in October of 2011, donated about a $500 million to various causes, the largest of which was Carnegie Mellon University.
Among the living, Microsoft co-founder and Seattle sports franchise owner, Paul Allen, was the most generous American. Allen reached into his deep pockets for $372.6 million in new donations. Most of his charitable giving went to The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, which supports arts and culture.
George Soros took the fourth slot. Some would argue that the $335 million Soros donatated to the Open Society Foundations is anything but a charitable contribution. Open Society describes itself as follows
The Open Society Institute works to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens. To achieve its mission, OSI seeks to shape public policies that assure greater fairness in political, legal, and economic systems and safeguard fundamental rights. On a local level, OSI implements a range of initiatives to advance justice, education, public health, and independent media. At the same time, OSI builds alliances across borders and continents on issues such as corruption and freedom of information. OSI places a high priority on protecting and improving the lives of people in marginalized communities.
However, Ron Arnold who is Executive Vice-President of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, views Open Society somewhat differently. He publishes a blog called Undueinfluence.com. Arnold wrote this about Soros’s Open Society
A global network of dozens of Soros entities that have paid millions to overthrow governments in the Soviet Union, Serbia, Georgia, and the United States. The American agenda of Soros foundations has little system and is more a hodge-podge of Soros’ personal interests, which tend to be leftist provocations more than steady programs. His personal attitudes about America are very negative and he regards capitalism to be the major threat to the world, as he once regarded communism to be. Soros makes no secret of his beliefs: he has written several books including “The Bubble of American Supremacy” and “Reforming Global Capitalism.” The man who made it big because of America and capitalism now hates both and seeks to destroy them.
New York mayor Michael Bloomberg rounds out the list of the five most generous Americans. As might be expected of a successful politician,
Hizzoner’s gifts were considerably less controversial than Mr. Soros’s. According to Philanthropy.com
Mr. Bloomberg, 69, gave a total of nearly $311.3-million to 1,185 nonprofits that support the arts, human services, public affairs, and other causes.
The famous, or infamous (depending on your point of view) Koch Brothers, Charles and David, failed to make this year’s Philanthropy 50. Their less famous (and much less wealthy) brother William was ranked #23. Charles and David Koch are ranked by Forbes as the 4th and 5th richest Americans, with each having a net worth of $25 billion. Black sheep William Koch is only worth $4 billion. Philanthrophy.com also notes that David Koch (William’s twin brother) has made their list four times since 2006.
The Walmart Waltons, Christy, Jim and Alice, who are ranked 6th, 9th and 10th on The Forbes List, with a combined net worth of $66 billion; also failed to make The Philanthropy 50.
Some fine feathers and furs are going to be ruffled by a report that was published today by the International Forum on Globalization (IFG). The title of the report is “Outing the Oligarchy, Billionaires Who Benefit From Today’s Climate Crisis.”
No matter how you feel about their conclusions, IFG certainly deserves an A for effort. This is a big piece of work. Your left leaning Poli. Sci. prof would have loved it for its thoroughness and its 100+ properly documented references. The report even cites the Forbes Billionaire’s List, twice.
What I’m looking forward to with eager anticipation (while not holding my breath), is to see how, or if, Forbes covers this report. I’m guessing that they might offer a few tepid props to IFG (along with some smug, self congratulatory comments about how “even they rely on us for their data.”). Forbes could conceivably agree with them; that a couple of the “bad ones” are in fact guilty of dumping a lot of schmutz into the environment.
The report states right up front that it “aims to inform both the climate community and the Occupy movement by ‘following the money’ to the very top”. So you can bet your next billion that if Forbes deigns to comment on it, they will have some snarky things to say about IFG and “their ilk”. (To be fair, compared to Fox News, Forbes’ attitude toward climate change is almost tree-huggerish. ) Climate change: Not as bad as we thought it was going to be.
52 individuals are named in the report. Every continent (except Africa) is represented. (The report lists Rupert Murdoch as an American, but I don’t think he will mind if I call him “an Aussie”. Australia’s a continent, isn’t it? Aside from the Russians, the only European who made the list, is former Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi.
The sequence of the list is based on how rich Forbes thinks you are. So Mexico’s Carlos Slim ($63.3 billion) bats first, followed by The Koch Brothers ($50 Billion) and then Brazil’s Eike Batista ($30 Billion). The rest of the list is comprised of non-household names. (Well, nobody in our house knows them, except for the household member who writes the blog, Billionairechronicles.net.)
Highly ranked Forbes Billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, failed to make the “Dirty Billionaires” but even they don’t escape being criticized by IFG.
In addition to profiling what it considers to be the environmental harm done by these “folks”, the report includes a 34 page “treatise” (by Jack Santa Barbara, Ph.D) entitled “Wealth, Power, and the Future of The Planet: Four Arguments Against the Extreme Concentration of Wealth”. Santa Barbara suggests that “Wealth accumulation is often accomplished by illegal means, but can also derive from the unjust (but legal) pressure that the wealthy use to influence lawmakers to legislate in their favor.” (I would add, judges adjucating.) He continues, “The accumulation of extreme wealth is the result of laws that inappropriately reward the marginal contributions of individual innovation but ignore the vastly larger contributions that flow from the heritage of common knowledge. This extreme wealth which, which has gone into private hands, truly belongs in the public purse. The wealthy didn’t earn it and don’t deserve it.”
Jeez Jack, did you make all that up yourself? You could make a fortune writing copy for “the other side.” Just love “the public purse.” Seriously, Adam Smith and Milton Friedman might have to pause for a moment, thinking about how they might respond.
I’m afraid that I might be getting into an area that’s way above the pay grade of my economics academic credentials (none), but just for laughs and giggles, I’ll take a crack at it. It seems that what Professor Santa Barbara is rightly complaining about, is not so much the inefficiency of “the market” or even the justness of allowing the market to provide the means to determine how wealth is distributed. (His “Public Purse” does make me a little squeamish.) I’d like to think that what he’s getting at is; The market is not the problem. The problem is, the market is rigged.
According to the always reliable Forbes, there are about 1,000 (give or take a few) billionaires on the planet. I say, the other 6,840,506,000 of us, need to do a better job making sure that our billionaire brethren keep their mitts off the “invisible hand.” I am suggesting that we should actually try to implement the law of supply and demand, and put an end to the golden rule*
*He who has the gold rules.