Connect with us

Uncategorized

House Committee Chair Calls For Probe Into ‘$60 Billion’ In Fake COVID-19 Unemployment Claims

House Committee Chair Calls For Probe Into ‘$60 Billion’ In Fake COVID-19 Unemployment Claims

Authored by Katabella Roberts via The Epoch…

Published

on

House Committee Chair Calls For Probe Into '$60 Billion' In Fake COVID-19 Unemployment Claims

Authored by Katabella Roberts via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-Mo.) is calling for an investigation into the “historic theft of taxpayer dollars from COVID-era unemployment programs” after a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that as much as $60 billion may have been spent on fraudulent claims for unemployment insurance during the pandemic.

People line up outside Kentucky Career Center prior to its opening to find assistance with their unemployment claims in Frankfort, Kentucky, on June 18, 2020. (Bryan Woolston/Reuters)

The report, released on Jan. 23, said that the Department of Labor (DOL) stated that about $878 billion in total unemployment benefits were paid from April 2020 through September 2022.

GAO said that at least $4.3 billion in unemployment insurance (UI) fraud has been formally confirmed by state workforce agencies, while at least $45 billion in payments have been flagged for potential fraud by the DOL’s Office of Inspector General.

The federal government started an unemployment aid program in March 2020. GAO added that it’s difficult to know for sure the extent of fraud in unemployment insurance programs across the system during the pandemic.

For example, it noted that the Labor Department, based on states’ reviews of samples of claims, estimates that as much as $8.5 billion was spent on fraudulent UI claims in 2021.

According to GAO, if that level were to be extrapolated to total spending across all UI programs during the wider pandemic period, it would suggest more than $60 billion in fraudulent payments were made.

People who lost their jobs wait in line to file for unemployment at an Arkansas Workforce Center in Fayetteville, Ark., on April 6, 2020. (Nick Oxford/Reuters)

‘Hard-Earned Tax Dollars Lost to Criminal Activity, Fraud’

The report notes, however, that the figure is an estimate, subject to limitations regarding its validity and accuracy, and should be “interpreted with caution” while the actual amount is unclear.

In a statement on Monday, Smith said that the GAO report “only scratches the surface of what is publicly known about the unprecedented scope, size, and severity of the fraud.”

This report proves what Republicans have already been saying. American families, whose wages have eroded under President [Joe] Biden’s inflation crisis, have watched as hundreds of billions of their hard-earned tax dollars were lost to criminal activity and fraud because Democrats refused to acknowledge the problem and repeatedly rejected Republican efforts to put basic safeguards in place to protect against this activity,” Smith said.

“Congressional Democrats walked away from their oversight responsibilities of getting to the bottom of how this happened, what they could do to prevent it, and even how much has fully been lost, leaving criminals to profit off the backs of taxpayers. Republicans are committed to investigating fraud and conducting rigorous oversight on behalf of working families,” he added.

The Missouri lawmaker also pointed to testimony (pdf) by DOL Inspector General Larry D. Turner in March last year stating that at least $163 billion in pandemic UI benefits could have been “paid improperly, with a significant portion attributable to fraud.”

According to The Washington Post, the government has so far recovered just over $4 billion of that, which amounts to just 2.4 percent of the wrongful payments.

In this photo illustration, a person files an application for unemployment benefits in Arlington, Va., on April 16, 2020. (Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)

Actual Unemployment Fraud Figure Could Be Much Higher

Smith also pointed to estimates by experts including Blake Hall, CEO of ID.me, who told Axios in 2021 that as much as $400 billion went on fraudulent unemployment claims. Half of all unemployment spending may have been stolen, Hall told the publication.

A statement issued in September 2022 by the DOL inspector general said that more than 190,000 investigations relating to UI fraud have been opened since the start of the pandemic, but so far just over 1,000 individuals have been charged.

While GAO noted in its report that the DOL has taken steps to address fraudulent jobless benefits, such as issuing guidance, providing funding to states, and deploying teams to recommend improvements to state unemployment insurance programs, the watchdog noted that as of December 2022, the department has “not yet developed an antifraud strategy based on leading practices in GAO’s Fraud Risk Framework.”

Read more here...

Tyler Durden Wed, 01/25/2023 - 17:40

Read More

Continue Reading

Uncategorized

Are You The Collateral Damage Of Central Planners?

Are You The Collateral Damage Of Central Planners?

Authored by MN Gordon via EconomicPrism.com,

The Conference Board – a nonprofit think…

Published

on

Are You The Collateral Damage Of Central Planners?

Authored by MN Gordon via EconomicPrism.com,

The Conference Board – a nonprofit think tank that delivers cutting edge research – recently published its latest Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the United States.  The findings were a giant bummer.  In December, the LEI dropped for the tenth consecutive month.

The LEI, if you’re unfamiliar with it, consolidates various measures of economic activity, including credit, interest rate spreads, consumer expectations, building permits, new orders of goods and materials, and several other items, to assess which way the economic winds are blowing.  Over the past six months, the LEI has fallen by 4.2 percent.  This is the fastest six-month decline since the great coronavirus panic.

This week, the Bureau of Economic Analysis provided its advance estimate of Q4 U.S. gross domestic product (GDP).  For the final quarter of 2022, real GDP increased at an annual rate of 2.9 percent.

How could it be that GDP is expanding while the LEI is contracting?

The most probable answer we can think of is the massive expansion of consumer debt.  For example, credit card balances hit a new record of $866 billion during Q3 2022.  That marks a year-over-year increase of 19 percent.

Americans are borrowing from their future to make ends meet today.  This may give GDP the appearance that it’s expanding.  But, in reality, the GDP expansion is merely a measurement of the rate that consumers are going broke.

The fact is the U.S. economy is traversing headlong into a recession at the worst possible time.  We expect things will get especially ugly, as consumers are operating in a world of chaos

World of Chaos

In a centrally planned economy, decisions are not made between individuals through free market mechanisms.  Instead, they’re made by politicians and bureaucrats through policies of mass market intervention.

The elites pass down their edicts.  Thou shall not use gas burning stoves, for example.  Or though shall burn corn in their gas tank.

The central planners, many of which are unelected administrators, force the decrees upon the populace.  Programs, forms, penalties, and whatever else are imposed.  Pounds of flesh must be exacted at every turn.

The real tragedy, however, the very thing that makes ultra-mega governments possible, is the monopoly on the control and issuance of money that’s granted to central bankers.  Without the Federal Reserve, the central bank to the U.S. government, and its seemingly endless supply of fake money, it would be impossible for Washington to cast its wide nets across the entire planet.

Feeding the Leviathan is only a small part of what the Fed does.  Through its control of the money supply the Fed causes a world of chaos to storm through the economy and financial markets.  When the money supply is inflated, a false demand is signaled.  Businesses and individuals change their behavior to exploit the apparent demand.

Then, when the money supply is contracted, and the rug is yanked out from under the false demand, disaster strikes.  Businesses go bankrupts.  People lose their jobs.  Stocks and real estate prices crash.

In short, the Fed’s money games make it exceedingly impossible for a wage earner to save, invest, and build real wealth.  The uncertainty this provokes turns regular wage earners into speculators and gamblers.  Here’s why…

Uncertainty and Instability

In a centrally planned economy, like America and most countries today, where people are compelled by legal tender laws to use fiat money, people must work, save, and invest with the recognition that the government will continue to arbitrarily change the rules.  The Fed may command ultra-low interest rates one year.  The next year it’s jacking them up by hundreds of basis points.

We know that central planners change course at whim and often for political reasons.  Where did the most campaign contributions come from?  Their decisions can be downright suicidal.

The 1930 Smoot-Hawley tariffs, for instance, turned a routine recession into the Great Depression.  Likewise, Fed tightening of monetary policy in 1987 drove interest rates up and triggered a massive stock market crash.

The great consumer price inflation of 2021 into the present marked the highest rate of inflation in 40 years.  And now it’s providing an instructive lesson to individuals and organizations about the uncertainty and instability that’s inherent to centrally planned economies.

As the Fed hikes rates and tightens its balance sheet in the face of a recession, many overleveraged businesses and individuals find themselves wholly unprepared for the central planner’s new set of rules.  Decisions were made in 2021 under a framework that’s radically different today.

Consider real estate investors.  Over the last decade, as interest rates were artificially suppressed by the Fed, their businesses flourished.  They could easily borrow money to buy properties to refurbish and resell at a profit.

But then raging consumer price inflation, which was manufactured by the Fed in the first place, became politically indefensible.  So, the Fed had to move to rein it in by restricting the money supply.  This pushed interest rates relatively higher and undermined the real estate market.

Investors who had planned for mortgage rates at 3 percent are being absolutely destroyed by mortgage rates at 6 percent.  Suddenly their investments don’t pencil out.  Real estate agents and mortgage brokers may find the years ahead to be extraordinarily challenging.

Are You the Collateral Damage of Central Planners?

When the Fed inflates the money supply it also inflates asset prices, including stocks, bonds, and real estate.  When it then yanks the rug, and contracts the money supply, businesses and investors face big losses.  And employees become collateral damage.

According to tech job tracker layoffs.fyi, there have been more than 200,000 technology jobs lost since the start of last year.  What’s more, in 2023 alone, not even one month into the New Year, technology companies have laid off over 67,000 employees.  What’s going on?

Right now, technology companies like Meta, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon, are discovering that the world they knew and loved over the last decade no longer exists.  As the supply of money has tightened, and the flow of speculative money into technology stocks has dried up, these companies have learned they have far too many employees who produce far too little value.

Coding senseless applications and widgets may be a viable job when there’s a seemingly endless supply of the Fed’s cheap credit being pumped into financial markets.  Take the money away, however, and those jobs are incapable of standing on their own two feet.

The point is in a centrally planned economy people are continually misled about how they should go about working, saving, and investing for the future.

Just asked the former code cruncher who was RIFed after two decades of Googling all day.  They thought they were set for life.

Instead, whether they know it or not, they’re the collateral damage of central planners.  Are you the collateral damage of central planners too?

*  *  *

You may not know it.  But you could unwittingly be wiped out be the schemes and designs of central planners.  One way to avoid becoming their collateral damage is to significantly increase your wealth.  The decks stacked against you.  But it can be done.  If you’re interested in learning how, take a look at my Financial First Aid Kit.  Inside, you’ll find everything you need to know to prosper and protect your privacy as the global economy slips into a worldwide depression.

Tyler Durden Sat, 01/28/2023 - 17:30

Read More

Continue Reading

Uncategorized

Schedule for Week of January 29, 2023

The key reports scheduled for this week are the January employment report and November Case-Shiller house prices.Other key indicators include January ISM manufacturing and services surveys, and January vehicle sales.The FOMC meets this week, and the FO…

Published

on

The key reports scheduled for this week are the January employment report and November Case-Shiller house prices.

Other key indicators include January ISM manufacturing and services surveys, and January vehicle sales.

The FOMC meets this week, and the FOMC is expected to announce a 25 bp hike in the Fed Funds rate.

----- Monday, January 30th -----

10:30 AM: Dallas Fed Survey of Manufacturing Activity for January. This is the last of the regional Fed manufacturing surveys for January.

----- Tuesday, January 31st -----

9:00 AM: FHFA House Price Index for November. This was originally a GSE only repeat sales, however there is also an expanded index.

9:00 AM ET: S&P/Case-Shiller House Price Index for November.

This graph shows the Year over year change in the nominal seasonally adjusted National Index, Composite 10 and Composite 20 indexes through the most recent report (the Composite 20 was started in January 2000).

The consensus is for a 6.9% year-over-year increase in the Comp 20 index.

9:45 AM: Chicago Purchasing Managers Index for January. The consensus is for a reading of 44.9, down from 45.1 in December.

10:00 AM: The Q4 Housing Vacancies and Homeownership report from the Census Bureau.

----- Wednesday, February 1st -----

7:00 AM ET: The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) will release the results for the mortgage purchase applications index.

8:15 AM: The ADP Employment Report for January. This report is for private payrolls only (no government). The consensus is for 170,000 payroll jobs added in January, down from 235,000 added in December.

10:00 AM: Construction Spending for December. The consensus is for a 0.1% decrease in construction spending.

Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey10:00 AM ET: Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey for December from the BLS.

This graph shows job openings (black line), hires (purple), Layoff, Discharges and other (red column), and Quits (light blue column) from the JOLTS.

Job openings decreased in November to 10.458 million from 10.512 million in October

10:00 AM: ISM Manufacturing Index for January. The consensus is for the ISM to be at 48.0, down from 48.4 in December.

2:00 PM: FOMC Meeting Announcement. The FOMC is expected to announce a 25 bp hike in the Fed Funds rate.

2:30 PM: Fed Chair Jerome Powell holds a press briefing following the FOMC announcement.

Vehicle SalesAll day: Light vehicle sales for January. The consensus is for light vehicle sales to be 14.3 million SAAR in January, up from 13.3 million in December (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate).

This graph shows light vehicle sales since the BEA started keeping data in 1967. The dashed line is the December sales rate.

----- Thursday, February 2nd -----

8:30 AM: The initial weekly unemployment claims report will be released.  The consensus is for 200 thousand initial claims, up from 186 thousand last week.
----- Friday, February 3rd -----

Employment Recessions, Scariest Job Chart8:30 AM: Employment Report for December.   The consensus is for 185,000 jobs added, and for the unemployment rate to increase to 3.6%.

There were 223,000 jobs added in December, and the unemployment rate was at 3.5%.

This graph shows the job losses from the start of the employment recession, in percentage terms.

The pandemic employment recession was by far the worst recession since WWII in percentage terms. However, as of August 2022, the total number of jobs had returned and are now 1.24 million above pre-pandemic levels.

10:00 AM: ISM Manufacturing Index for January. The consensus is for the ISM to be at 50.3, up from 49.6 in December.

Read More

Continue Reading

Uncategorized

US gov’t $1.5T debt interest will be equal 3X Bitcoin market cap in 2023

The U.S. will pay over $1 trillion in debt interest next year, the equivalent of three or more Bitcoin market caps at current prices.

Published

on

The U.S. will pay over $1 trillion in debt interest next year, the equivalent of three or more Bitcoin market caps at current prices.

Commentators believe that Bitcoin (BTC) bulls do not need to wait long for the United States to start printing money again.

The latest analysis of U.S. macroeconomic data has led one market strategist to predict quantitative tightening (QT) ending to avoid a “catastrophic debt crisis.”

Analyst: Fed will have “no choice” with rate cuts

The U.S. Federal Reserve continues to remove liquidity from the financial system to fight inflation, reversing years of COVID-19-era money printing.

While interest rate hikes look set to continue declining in scope, some now believe that the Fed will soon have only one option — to halt the process altogether.

“Why the Fed will have no choice but to cut or risk a catastrophic debt crisis,” Sven Henrich, founder of NorthmanTrader, summarized on Jan. 27.

“Higher for longer is a fantasy not rooted in math reality.”

Henrich uploaded a chart showing interest payments on current U.S. government expenditure, now hurtling toward $1 trillion a year.

A dizzying number, the interest comes from U.S. government debt being over $31 trillion, with the Fed printing trillions of dollars since March 2020. Since then, interest payments have increased by 42%, Henrich noted.

The phenomenon has not gone unnoticed elsewhere in crypto circles. Popular Twitter account Wall Street Silver compared the interest payments as a portion of U.S. tax revenue.

“US paid $853 Billion in Interest for $31 Trillion Debt in 2022; More than Defense Budget in 2023. If the Fed keeps rates at these levels (or higher) we will be at $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion in interest paid on the debt,” it wrote.

“The US govt collects about $4.9 trillion in taxes.”
Interest rates on U.S. government debt chart (screenshot). Source: Wall Street Silver/ Twitter

Such a scenario might be music to the ears of those with significant Bitcoin exposure. Periods of “easy” liquidity have corresponded with increased appetite for risk assets across the mainstream investment world.

The Fed’s unwinding of that policy accompanied Bitcoin’s 2022 bear market, and a “pivot” in interest rate hikes is thus seen by many as the first sign of the “good” times returning.

Crypto pain before pleasure?

Not everyone, however, agrees that the impact on risk assets, including crypto, will be all-out positive prior to that.

Related: Bitcoin ‘so bullish’ at $23K as analyst reveals new BTC price metrics

As Cointelegraph reported, ex-BitMEX CEO Arthur Hayes believes that chaos will come first, tanking Bitcoin and altcoins to new lows before any sort of long-term renaissance kicks in.

If the Fed faces a complete lack of options to avoid a meltdown, Hayes believes that the damage will have already been done before QT gives way to quantitative easing.

“This scenario is less ideal because it would mean that everyone who is buying risky assets now would be in store for massive drawdowns in performance. 2023 could be just as bad as 2022 until the Fed pivots,” he wrote in a blog post this month.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the authors’ alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Read More

Continue Reading

Trending