Thursday, December 22, 2016

Trump Names “Corporate Raider” Carl Icahn as Special Advisor to the President on Regulatory Reform

December 22,2016
the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Ridgewood NJ, President-elect Donald J. Trump today announced that Carl Icahn has agreed to serve as a special advisor to the President on issues relating to regulatory reform. Over the course of six decades, Mr. Icahn has distinguished himself as one of America’s most successful businessmen and investors. Mr. Icahn was one of President-elect Trump’s earliest supporters, and his intimate knowledge of what businesses need to grow and thrive makes him a trusted voice in developing President-elect Trump’s America First economic agenda. Icahn will be a leader in helping American entrepreneurs shed job-killing regulations that stifle economic growth.

“Carl was with me from the beginning and with his being one of the world’s great businessmen, that was something I truly appreciated,” said President-elect Trump. “He is not only a brilliant negotiator, but also someone who is innately able to predict the future especially having to do with finances and economies. His help on the strangling regulations that our country is faced with will be invaluable.”

“I am proud to serve President-elect Trump as a special advisor on regulatory reform,” said Mr. Icahn. “Under President Obama, America’s business owners have been crippled by over $1 trillion in new regulations and over 750 billion hours dealing with paperwork. It’s time to break free of excessive regulation and let our entrepreneurs do what they do best: create jobs and support communities. President-elect Trump is serious about helping American families, and regulatory reform will be a critical component of making America work again.”

Mr. Icahn is a New York City native and grew up in Far Rockaway, Queens. After receiving a degree in philosophy from Princeton University in 1957, he attended medical school at New York University and then joined the Army. Carl began his career on Wall Street in 1961. In 1968, he formed Icahn & Co., and has gone on to become one of the most well-known and influential investors in America, holding substantial or controlling positions in numerous American companies over the years, including RJR Nabisco, Texaco, Philips Petroleum, Western Union, Gulf & Western, Viacom, Revlon, Time Warner, Motorola, Chesapeake Energy, Dell, Netflix, Apple, and eBay. His efforts have improved the competitiveness of American companies in a wide range of industries, including real estate, telecommunications, transportation, industrial services, oil refining and manufacturing.

Carl has been deeply involved in many charitable endeavors for years. In 2012, in recognition of Carl’s gift of $200 million, the Mount Sinai School of Medicine was renamed the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the Institute of Genomics was renamed the Icahn Genomics Institute. The School of Medicine also established the Icahn Scholars Program to attract world-class physician-scientists. He also funded the Icahn Medical Institute Building at Mount Sinai Hospital and the Institute of Genomics, a genomics and multi-scale biology research program. Carl serves as a trustee on the boards of the School of Medicine and Mount Sinai Hospital.

In the realm of education, Carl established seven Icahn Charter Schools in The Bronx borough of New York City. The mission of the schools is based on the belief that all students deserve a rigorous academic program through which they will increase their capacity to learn. At Choate Rosemary Hall, a premiere boarding school located in Wallingford, Connecticut, where he previously served on the board of trustees, he endowed the Icahn Scholars Program, which has awarded a large number of scholarships to underprivileged students.

Carl has also made significant donations to the Randall’s Island Sports Foundation, where he previously served as a trustee, for the construction of Icahn Stadium, a track and field stadium located on Randall’s Island. In addition, he has served as a trustee on the board of Lincoln Center.

Carl Icahn will be advising the President in his individual capacity and will not be serving as a federal employee or a Special Government Employee and will not have any specific duties.

Trump Nominates former Chairman of NYMEX and West Point Grad Vincent Viola as Secretary of the Army

December 23,2016
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, President-elect Donald J. Trump today announced he intends to nominate former U.S. Army infantry officer and current Virtu Financial Founder and Executive Chairman Vincent “Vinnie” Viola as Secretary of the Army.

As Secretary of the Army, Viola will combine a deep background in national security affairs with an impressive track record of leading and managing high-performing teams within the military and the private sector. Viola is a West Point graduate and U.S. Army veteran. He was trained as an Airborne Ranger infantry officer and served in the 101st Airborne Division. Viola has long been engaged with national security issues even after his military service.

Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, Viola worked tirelessly to support the Army philanthropically in the areas of counterterrorism, cybersecurity and leadership development, including helping to found the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. He has also founded multiple high-value companies, including Virtu Financial, and chaired the New York Mercantile Exchange. Viola’s business experience makes him well positioned to help guide a Fortune 10-sized company, the U.S. Army, to accomplish its broad mission in the most innovative and efficient way possible.

“I am proud to have such an incredibly accomplished and selfless individual as Vincent Viola as our Secretary of the Army,” said President-elect Donald J. Trump. “Whether it is his distinguished military service or highly impressive track record in the world of business, Vinnie has proved throughout his life that he knows how to be a leader and deliver major results in the face of any challenge. He is a man of outstanding work ethic, integrity, and strategic vision, with an exceptional ability to motivate others. The American people, whether civilian or military, should have great confidence that Vinnie Viola has what it takes to keep America safe and oversee issues of concern to our troops in the Army.”

“It is an honor to be nominated to serve our country as President-elect Trump’s Secretary of the Army,” said Viola. “If confirmed, I will work tirelessly to provide our President with the land force he will need to accomplish any mission in support of his National Defense Strategy. A primary focus of my leadership will be ensuring that America’s soldiers have the ways and means to fight and win across the full spectrum of conflict. This great honor comes with great responsibility, and I will fight for the American people and their right to live free every day.”

Viola is living proof of the American dream. He was born and raised in an Italian immigrant family in Brooklyn, and his father worked a truck driver. Viola was inspired to join the military after witnessing his father’s service in the U.S. Army in World War II. Viola was the first member of his family to attend college, and after graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1977, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army that same year. After graduating from the Infantry Officer Basic Course and Ranger School, Viola reported to duty with the 101st Airborne Division. Viola remained a member of the U.S. Army Reserve after the completion of his active duty service. In 1983, he received his J.D. from New York Law School.

In the 1980s, Viola worked as a trader on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) and also founded the first of many business ventures, including Pioneer Futures and the Independent Bank Group. After a long and influential career, Viola was appointed Chairman of NYMEX in March 2001.

Viola’s leadership of NYMEX on and after 9/11 resulted in the board of Exchange recognizing his actions with a citation that included this statement: “His heroic leadership served as a beacon to thousands of Exchange members and staff, providing us with the fortitude to resume operations and preserve the efficiency of the American economy and global energy and metals markets in the face of this great tragedy.” In 2008, Viola founded Virtu Financial, a global leader in electronic market making, and took the company public in 2015.

Viola has also been deeply involved in a number of philanthropic causes. Viola has endowed the Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J. Chair in Catholic Theology at Fordham University and is a major supporter of the Catholic Leadership Institute and its mission to provide world-class leadership formation to bishops, priests and deacons. He is also the owner of the NHL’s Florida Panthers.

Viola lives in New York City with his wife Teresa. They have three adult sons.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

House Financial Services Committee Chair Issues Warning on SEC refusal to stop “midnight regulations”

December 14,2016
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) issued the following statement concerning SEC Chair Mary Jo White’s refusal to stop “midnight regulations” in the waning days of the Obama Administration:

“The press is characterizing Chair White’s decision to try to rush through a mountain of midnight regulations as ‘defying Republicans,’ but in reality she’s defying the will of the American people and good government. Such midnight rulemaking is neither conducive to sound policy nor consistent with the principles of democratic accountability. The American people chose a new direction for our country, and the incoming Trump Administration and Congress should have the opportunity to review pending regulations and fully assess their costs and benefits. As the clock runs down on the Obama Administration, Chair White and all other regulators who may be tempted to hastily impose another pile of complicated regulations on our economy should know that Congress will scrutinize their actions and – if appropriate – overturn them.”

Mary Jo White has already announced plans to step down as chair of the powerful Securities and Exchange Commission before President-elect Donald Trump takes office.White’s term at the helm of the SEC hadn’t been scheduled to expire until June 2019.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Banks to Donald Trump: Don’t Kill Dodd-Frank

pic CEO of JP Morgan Jamie Dimon

Bankers admit they love the guaranteed bailouts, lack of competition and regulated margins of Dodd-Frank
December 10, 2016
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, Big banks have an unexpected message for President-elect Donald Trump: Don’t trash the Dodd-Frank Act.“We’re not asking for wholesale throwing out Dodd-Frank,” J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. chief James Dimon said at a financial-services conference this week where he and other big-bank executives spoke, often addressing potential regulatory changes for the first time since the election.

During his presidential campaign, Republican Donald Trump said he would "get rid of" Dodd-Frank — the sweeping legislation passed in 2010 to address problems underlying the 2008-2009 financial crisis. Dodd-Frank a 2200 page monstrosity , was passed by congress like Obamacare without anyone reading the legislation , that is except for former NJ Congressmen Scott Garrett.

Dodd-Frank turned banks into utilities and did nothing to solve the ills that caused the banking crisis in 2008 ,it basically institutionalized the bad behavior that created the problem, put the bad debt in suspended animation and put taxpayers on the hook with its "too big to fail" provisions creating "Bailout Nation".Too big to fail also implies the corollary to big to really succeed.

Former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan called "too big to fail" legislation a "moral hazard" , giving bankers the excuse to engage in activities that would otherwise risk their livelihoods, feeling confident in ever larger government ie taxpayer bailouts.

Some in Washington have called for full repeal of Dodd-Frank, the legislation passed in 2010 that imposed new constraints on banks and created new agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. A proposal that would effectively replace Dodd-Frank, by Rep. Jeb Hensarling, the Republican chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has gained momentum since the election.

The Trump team has talked about dismantling the law, although it has yet to state clearly whether this would involve a repeal of Dodd-Frank. Bank stocks have soared about 20% since the election, partly on the belief President-elect Donald Trump in some way will lighten banks’ regulatory load.

While banks favor a paring back of regulation, they tend to think in practical terms, rather than ideologically. And their core message seems to be: Make regulation simpler and less costly but don’t return banking to the Wild West days that preceded the financial crisis.

In many ways that is understandable. Banks have spent half a dozen years and hundreds of millions of dollars to adapt to the new landscape. This has caused them to exit businesses such as proprietary trading, rejig their corporate structures to make them safer and focus more on clients’ needs. While tearing up Dodd-Frank would seem to unshackle banks, starting with a new regulatory playbook would upend their new business models and divert management.

One of the biggest concerns for banks is that things don’t get worse. “The first thing I would ask for is nothing new, no new rules,” Citigroup Inc. finance chief John Gerspach said at the conference. “If you haven’t figured out yet how all the existing rules work together, don’t put on anything else.”

Banks acknowledge benefits to the new rules, noting they have helped improve the way firms manage risks and view their businesses. U.S. bankers have also said that having been forced to hold more capital, and build it quickly after the financial crisis, made their firms far stronger than troubled European peers.

So what would the big banks like to see changed?

Stress Tests—These annual exercises conducted by the Federal Reserve have become hugely important because they govern the amount of capital banks can return to shareholders, either through buybacks or dividends.

Banks want these to be based more on objective criteria and they want to have more of a view into the testing process and the Fed’s decision-making. And they should take less time and money to comply with, bankers say.

Bill Demchak, CEO of PNC Financial Services Group Inc., said his bank could theoretically get all the benefits of the stress-testing process with “60% of the effort.” He said that to comply with the tests, “you bring the place to a grinding halt once a year.”

The Volcker Rule— Banks say they aren’t eager to get back into the business of speculating on market moves using their own balance sheets. But they want the process around the Volcker Rule to be less burdensome and administered by fewer than five agencies.

Changes in this area could “probably make it easier to make markets” and improve liquidity, likely benefiting investors and other issuers, said Mr. Dimon.

“You have active market-marking in lumber, rebar, chicken, pork, cotton; we need it in financial instruments, it’s not different,” he said. "I do think a little more liquidity could be good.”

Mr. Gerspach said Citigroup would like less paperwork. “We don’t want to do proprietary trading,” he said. “But I also would love to work with regulators to lessen the burden of proving that we’re not engaging in proprietary trading.”

Capital and Liquidity—Banks say there are so many new rules relating to so many areas of their balance sheets that they too often run the risk of working against each other. And it isn’t clear when enough capital really is enough.

Wells Fargo chief Timothy Sloan cited differences between rules about how much capital a bank must hold and the amount of liquid assets a firm has to keep on hand. The intersections of these rules, bankers argue, hampers lending.

Bankers would also like more clarity around how much capital is enough for banks. Regulators have applied various capital surcharges to the biggest banks and these can change as regulations evolve.

“It’s getting certainty around the ability to have access to your capital return once you’ve met all the hurdles and whether those hurdles move up or down because of various people’s point of view,” said Bank of America Corp. chief Brian Moynihan.

J.P. Morgan’s Mr. Dimon said that regulators’ authority should be “cut back a little bit. It should be more prescriptive in exactly what they’re trying to accomplish.”

For all that, bankers are taking a wait-and-see stance before making any big changes to their businesses. “I think the difference going into 2017 is that we do have hope,” Citigroup’s Mr. Gerspach said. “But…we can’t build a plan on hope.”

The fact that the culprits of the Financial Crisis in 2008 are now opposing the repeal of Dodd-Frank is further evidence that things need to change dramatically . The entire financial sector of the economy has been moribund under Dodd-Franks government imposed socialism . A vital and growing financial sector is paramount to an active and growing economy .