US banks: Here we go again

In Banks on 27/11/2015 at 2:21 pm

Banks seem to lurch from ome crisis to another. From NYT Dealbook

BANKS WEIGHED DOWN BY PILES OF LEVERAGED LOANS Investors have grown skittish about buying the debt of companies with weak credit ratings, leaving big Wall Street banks stuck with piles of debt, Peter Eavis and Leslie Picker report in DealBook. They are starting to book multimillion-dollar losses writing down the value of these positions.

Banks make loans to companies with junk credit ratings in the hope of selling the debt on to investors that include mutual funds, hedge funds and entities called collateralized loan obligations. Investors snap up the debt obligations, attracted by high returns.

The investment banks that focus on the market appear to be sitting onpotential losses that may exceed $600 million.

Private equity firms finance their purchases of companies with the loans, then put the debt on the balance sheet of the acquired company.

A large part of the paper losses comes from debt issued by Veritas, the software company that Carlyle Group is buying in a $5.5 billion leveraged buyout. Morgan Stanley and Bank of America led the transaction and a lack of demand for the debt has left it on the books of the banks.

The hits are a fraction of those suffered by the banks in the 2008 financial crisis and the market for such debt may well recover, but this could weigh on merger activity. Banks that are unable to sell debt may become more stringent in their lending for acquisitions.

If the Federal Reserve raises interest rates next month, that could limit the flow of money that has buoyed speculative markets, including the one for leveraged loans, in recent years.

Banking regulators had discouraged leveraged loan deals that would overburden companies with debt after the crisis, but the market has still ballooned.

Banks do put financial cushions in deals to protect themselves, but on some deals the prospective prices have fallen so far that they might havedropped through those buffers, leaving the banks at a loss.

Human rights kay pohs don’t do “fixers” and “jihadists”

In Public Administration on 27/11/2015 at 5:12 am

The Court of Appeal ordered the release of alleged match-fixer Dan Tan release from detention on Nov 25. (Bit strange as he should have released on Oct 15)

The Court of Appeal ordered Tan’s release and called his detention without trial “unlawful”. The court not only gave the reasons for their decision but also also addressed the scope of the Home Affairs Minister’s powers in such cases.



He has been detained without trial since October 2013, under the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act. The Act gives the Home Affairs Minister power to detain without trial “a person who has been associated with activities of a criminal nature … if the Minister deems it necessary in the interests of public safety, peace and good order”.

He was arrested in September 2013 for allegedly being the “leader and financer of a global football match-fixing syndicate operating from Singapore”. Between 2009 and 2013, Tan had been linked to match-fixing activities in Egypt, South Africa, Nigeria, Turkey and Trinidad and Tobago. Tan also allegedly recruited runners and agents in Singapore to help in these illegal activities.

Originally detained for one year, Tan’s detention was extended for another year, until October 2015. Tan’s first appeal to review his detention was dismissed by the High Court in September 2014. The Court of Appeal heard Tan’s application against this dismissal.


Below is something I wrote in Jan 2014 about the case and what it showed abiut the human rights kay pohs, Below it is an excerpt from CNA on judges’ reasoning.

(Btw, since the Paris murders, HomeTeam has renewed the detention of several alleged jihadists. Maruah and the rest of the kay pohs are silent but had earlier this yr rushed to the defence of Amos Yee, Mummy’s Boy Fantastic. They scared of being killed by jihadists?)

Govt detains without trial S’poreans: No outrage meh activists?

It might be the season to be jolly and of peace and goodwill, what with the Christmas and NY hols gone and the CNY hols coming, but the human rights activists have really got my goat.A man dressed as Krampus in Austria … pretty scary, huh?

The contrast between their vocal support for FT deportess, and their seeming indifference to S’poreans detained without trial make me sick. The Holly Man outside the Globe Theatre in London

Last Friday, it was reported by CNA that, “MHA has placed the son of Singapore Jemaah Islamiyah leader Mas Selamat Kastari under a two-year detention. Masyhadi Mas Selamat, 25, was detained on 21 November 2013 on an Order of Detention under the ISA.”

The silence on his detention from the usual human rights kay pohs is deafening.

TOC, Maruah, Vincent Wijeysingha, Rachel Zeng, Kirsten Han etc etc were all up in arms demanding justice for the manual migrant workers detained by the police after the riot. They were upset many of those detsined were then given air-tickets to move on out of S’pore, rather than sent for trial. Some had the charges  withdrawn and the court granted them discharges amounting to acquittals and then were deported, while many were never charged, just deported. They demanded “due process” for these FTs, even though as someone posted on Facebook, ” Rightly or wrongly, deportation is more lenient than jail and caning.” A lot more, so is it fair to insist as the kay pohs do that the courts must be involved in “due process”? One could even argue that the govt is being easy on “alleged” rioters.

The deportation law is draconian but there are more draconian laws that true blue S’poreans are subject to: the Internal Security Act and the Criminal Law Temporary Provision Act.

They allow the govt to detain almost indefinitely people who never had the benefit of a trial. The former is nowadays used to detain alleged “Islamic” terrorists,  while the latter is used to detain Dan Tan (the guy alleged to have fixed footie matches) and alleged drug dealers (mules get murdered, judicially, after due process if they don’t have useful evidence).

Yes, yes, I know that TOC and Maruah have spoken out against these laws (albeit once upon a time) and have called for their abolition (again once upon a time), and I’m sure Vincent, Kirsten, Rachel etc etc, if asked, will say they oppose these laws and want them abolished.

Still, their silence*, or indifference(?) whenever the govt and mainstream media report these detentions (and they do) when contrasted with the chorus of disapproval and outrage over what is happening to the alleged rioters, and deportees is disturbing at the very least. Double standards?

I have never heard any activist say about Dan Tan, Masyhadi or any other alleged Islamic terrorist, or drug dealer, “Activists, while often faced with heart-wrenching stories, are not just bleeding hearts. Behind the criticism lies a much bigger issue: that of access to justice and due process … But we are obliged to ensure that they have access to justice.” (Kirsten Han in

As I wrote last year: The coming deafening silence [referring to Dan Tan’s case] of the usual human rights kay pohs will tell us a lot of their prejudices: they are supportive of FT drug mules, and middle class anti-PAP activists. But not working class criminal suspects (no-one is complaining that Vui Kong’s alleged drug lord is held under ISA CLTPA) or those whom the govt alleges are Islamic radicals. Touch a FT or a middle class anti-PAP activist, and the screams will be deafening, even if it’s juz a policeman paying a home visit.

Are S’poreans too not worthy of “justice and due process”, Ms Han? They too like FTs are human

 59   not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs,
 60   dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with
 61   the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
 62   to the same diseases, healed by the same means,
 63   warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as
 64   a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
 65   if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison
 66   us, do we not die?

(Shylock in The Merchant of Venice)

A wicked, cynical, unworthy and doubtless mistaken tot. Could it because our kay pohs know that ang mohs are not too fussed when alleged drug dealers, footie fixers and Islamic terrorists are detained? Only when migrant workers are?

Since the CIA and MI6 are pretty relaxed about working with countries that do not give alleged Islamic terrorists “access to justice and due process”, one can legitimately (if unreasonably) ask if these agencies have managed to influence our kay pohs.

Let me be clear, the kay pohs like Ms Han etc have every right to champion and fight any cause they like: if they want justice for FTs, taz their right. They also have the right not to want justice for S’poreans. They are free to do what they want to do. But I, and other S’poreans, are entitled to make judgements based on their actions, silence and inaction.

My judgement is that “FTs tua kee” attitude is not confined only to the govt: our kay pohs too take pride in it too. Why like that meh? Hath
 59   not a S’porean eyes? hath not a S’porean hands, organs,
 60   dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with
 61   the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
 62   to the same diseases, healed by the same means,
 63   warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as
 64   a FT is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
 65   if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison
 66   us, do we not die?

Related post: Kirsten Han wants S’poreans to have a dialogue with the govt on FTs, despite fact that as a HR activist she should know that the govt doesn’t do dialogue .

*WP asked about Dan Tan in parly getting the standard non-answer. BTW, surprised that DPM Teo didn’t ask Auntie, “Bookie ask WP to ask question meh?”. But then, DPM Teo’s late father was a gentleman and must have brought up DPM Teo the “right” way. BTW2, I understand that Maruah had planned to denounce Dan Tan’s detention, but that the media release got lost. An honest mistake, I assume? Like holding a seminar in Little India on “struggle for workers’ rights” weeks after a riot there, albeit on a day unlikely to have many workers in the area?

From CNA on the Dan Tan judgement


In coming to their decision to free Tan, the Chief Justice and Judges of Appeal Chao Hick Tin and Andrew Phang Boon Leong examined in detail the proper scope of the Act. “At its inception, the Act was intended to deal with real and physical threats of harm within Singapore,” the judges noted, citing times when Singapore had been terrorised by “gangsters, secret society members, and drug traffickers with underworld and international syndicate connections”.

The criminal activities must be of a “sufficiently serious nature” to come under the ambit of the Act. While the “precise range of activities caught by the Act had broadened over time, their core characteristics have not”, the CJ pointed out, saying that the act should not have a “loose or open-ended remit”.


The apex court also came to a landmark judgement regarding the scope of the power vested in the minister, and ruled that in Tan’s case, the minister’s action “fell outside the limits of his power”.

The Act provides for detention without trial if the criminal activities have a “prejudicial effect” on the public safety, peace and good order of Singapore. This is the “entire reason” for the Act, CJ Menon wrote, emphasising that the activities need not have occurred here, but that they must threaten our public safety, peace and order.

However, there is “nothing to indicate that (Tan) did engage in any activities of so serious a nature” as to warrant detention without trial under the Act, CJ Menon wrote. Furthermore, Tan’s criminal acts had ceased almost two and a half years before he was served with a detention order, he noted.

Though Tan has been linked to syndicated international match-fixing activities, his actions at best “amount to a slew of corrupt practices”, CJ Menon said. “As reprehensible as they undoubtedly are, (they) cannot be said to rise to the level of gravity that they would have to in order to come within the scope of the Minister’s power to act.”

Dr Chee’s kind of Us president

In Uncategorized on 26/11/2015 at 10:19 am

Spend and Spend not Pap And Pay.

A Bernie Sanders White House would be $8 trillion in the hole over a decade. The socialist U.S. presidential hopeful wants to shake up the U.S. economy with dramatically more spending. His promises from free college tuition to a government health system, which he is likely to outline during Tuesday’s Democratic presidential debate, would cost far more than additional taxes would bring in.

The Vermont senator’s most expensive idea is to convert the American healthcare market to a national system with the government as the single payer. Sanders would essentially extend the current Medicare program, which is for retired people, to everyone. Breakingviews calculates that this would cost some $9.6 trillion more than current projections over the usual 10-year budget period, based on 2010 healthcare spending and other assumptions including a 25 percent discount thanks to Medicare-style negotiating power and price controls.

Sanders wants another $1 trillion to spend on infrastructure. U.S. roads, bridges, trains and the like need investment, but it’s still a hefty sum. And Breakingviews estimates that his call for free public college for everyone who wants it will cost almost as much again, while universal daycare will weigh in at around $500 billion. Along with four other proposals, this yields $12 trillion in new spending. That’s about 25 percent more than currently projected over 10 years.

The candidate running under the slogan “Feel the Bern” isn’t shy about boosting government revenue, too. He would institute a Wall Street trading tax, aiming to raise $1.5 trillion over 10 years. His corporate tax plan would eliminate most loopholes and deductions but leave today’s 35 percent rate intact and applicable to global profit, which Breakingviews calculates would bring in another $1 trillion. Lifting the income ceiling for Social Security payroll tax would bring in a similar amount. All-in, Sanders would lift revenue by about $4 trillion over a decade.


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