April 4, 2011

Closing the trade deficit

This MSNBC article by Michael Isikoff was pretty ho-hum for awhile:
As he prepares to launch a campaign for president, Newt Gingrich is counting on the backing of an unusually powerful behind-the-scenes donor: a billionaire casino mogul whose business empire stretches from the Palazzo on Las Vegas’s famous Strip to the Chinese gambling hub of Macau.

Gingrich’s financial angel is the publicity-shy Sheldon Adelson, chairman of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., and the fifth wealthiest man in America as recently ranked by Forbes Magazine. 
Adelson, who has an estimated net worth of over $23 billion, has personally pumped $7 million over the past five years into Gingrich’s main political advocacy organization, American Solutions for Winning the Future. His contributions account for more than 10 percent of all the organization's funds and have helped the former speaker promote his conservative causes and stay in the public eye.      
But while Adelson’s backing could prove a big asset for Gingrich in his presidential bid, it could also create fresh problems for the former House speaker — especially among the constituents he is courting the hardest these days, evangelical Christians. 

Eh, a little gambling ... Gingrich will just tell the evangelicals that Adelson is also Bibi Netanyahu's financial angel, so he's helping bring the End Times, and everything will be all right.
Adelson and his gambling company have been plagued by legal troubles in recent months. The Sands recently disclosed that it is being investigated by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission for possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Nevada and Hong Kong regulators have opened their own probes, according to company disclosures.
The inquiries grow out of a wrongful termination lawsuit filed last fall by Steven Jacobs, the former top Sands executive in Macau where Adelson’s Venetian casino has become a major profit center for his company. Jacobs alleged in court papers he was fired because he objected to Adelson's “repeated and outrageous” demands that he use “improper leverage” with Chinese officials to obtain valuable government concessions and that he retain the services of a Macau lawyer who was also a local government official. 
(The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which has been vigorously enforced by the Justice Department in recent years, bars U.S. companies from making payments to foreign officials to obtain favorable treatment.)   

Huh? I'd forgotten all about the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act from the 1970s. Wow, is that still around? Of course Sheldon Adelson had to bribe a bunch of people in Beijing to get his huge Macau gambling concession that made him the third richest man in America for awhile. But I'd forgotten that paying bribes / getting shaken down in China is illegal in America. It's not like Sheldon is the snake in the Garden of Eden corrupting the poor, innocent Chinese of Macau. Forget it, Jake. It's Macautown.

So, how much does the FCPA add to America's trade deficit? Does Japan or Germany have their own FCPA?

31 comments:

Larry, San Francisco said...

Oh Yeah the FCPA lives. I work for a Fortune 500 company and every year I have to do 3 hours worth of training and then pass an exam on it. I am a technical guy who never even travels but still I need to get recertified every year. In corporate America you don't ever want to make yourself a victim of a Justice Dept witch hunt.

anony-mouse said...

Bribes to foreigners are capital flows so they don't increase the trade deficit (in fact they lower it since now some foreigner now has extra US dollars).

Aaron Baugher said...

I'm always a little surprised by how little money insanely rich people put into political campaigns. I mean, if a guy's got 23 billion dollars, you'd think he could spare a cool billion if he really cares about the cause. $7 million? That's like me sending a shiny nickel to my favorite candidate.

I keep expecting that someday we'll see a Perot/Forbes type come along and really put his fortune into his campaign and blow everyone else away, but it never happens. I can understand if they don't want the job. But if they do want the job badly enough to campaign for it, you'd think they'd put more than their petty cash into it.

David Davenport said...

Eh, a little gambling ... Gingrich will just tell the evangelicals that Adelson is also Bibi Netanyahu's financial angel, so he's helping bring the End Times, and everything will be all right.

Steve, being an un-eucumenical R.C., you may not know that old-school Protestants deplore gambling. They do.

Anonymous said...

I deal with FCPA cases.

You sound silly.

Big Bill said...

Hey! Me too, Larry! Fortune 500 company and we have to do the automated training classes every year on FCPA, among other knee-jerk issues like gender issues, race discrimination, workplace violence, and diversity.

For us folks inside big business, there is this monster department called "Compliance" which is forever sending around messages requiring you to certify that you have read things, done things, signed off on things, follow certain procedures, etc.

Anonymous said...

The way to lower the trade deficit is to lower the value of the dollar. Everything else is just for show.

Larson said...

"Bribes to foreigners are capital flows so they don't increase the trade deficit (in fact they lower it since now some foreigner now has extra US dollars)."

That's retarded. It's like saying buying toys made in China doesn't increase the trade deficit because some foreigner (the factory manager) now has extra US dollars.

Harry Baldwin said...

I can't wait to see how Newt's efforts to court the Christians will go. Here is how he responded to a question about his repeated adultery and three marriages from David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network in an early March interview.

“There’s no question at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate,” said Gingrich.

Newt's passion for this country led to his adultery, so that's okay, right?

Anonymous said...

Good norms have to come from somewhere, and global corruption from its current level is probably an improvement to the norm. Also, it makes sense for large rich countries like the USA to eat some of the cost of global norm improvement. I don't think it's virtuous to snark against it.

Hopefully Anonymous
http://www.hopeanon.typepad.com

headache said...

Gingrich has got to be one of the most phony pols in the US. I read an article in a left-wing mag about the disgusting manner in which he dumped his cancer-stricken former wife. The guy is insufferable. In addition to that he is a classic Rhino. When asked about him Ron Paul just rejected him offhand as being an unprincipled person.

At least Palin is good-looking, even if she does not have any principles or policies other than the knee-jerk "supporting Israel" nonsense, which is really just a mafia-type buy-off.

Whiskey said...

There's about maybe five Jews in Alaska. Palin had an Israeli flag in her office because, duh, Alaska is the White Zionist hangout. The place where working class Whites go to make (dangerous) working class money. There's a reason there's about 20 Alaskan themed reality shows on cable. Evangelical White working class Whites like Israelis and Jews because they see themselves as "New Jews" including the Zionism part.

Gingrich is an idiot. Running that ad with him buddying up with Pelosi over Global Warming already made him a non-starter. Total ego. Trump's got some power.

Whiskey said...

Trump's my dark-horse candidate. Ala Clinton in 1991. He's got lots of money. He's already well defined (no Palin type smears on him are possible). People know him. And he senses a market gap. Too many RINO-esque, PC driven guys who cannot due to PC respond to his main themes: Restore economic competitiveness (get tough with China), manufacture stuff again, there is a Muslim problem.

Anonymous said...

Ron Paul is my candidate. At least he stands for something.

Thripshaw said...

Gingrich is a CFR/Rockefeller stooge. He was the Georgia coordinator for Nelson Rockefeller's 1968 presidential campaign. More of the same Bush-Clinton-Obama BS.

Anonymous said...

The FCPA is a good thing. It began after Lockheed bribed the Minister of Defense of Italy.

If the FCPA wasn't around, big corporations would have influence over American foreign relations and other sensitive areas.

headache said...

Whiskey sez:Evangelical White working class Whites like Israelis and Jews because they see themselves as "New Jews" including the Zionism part.

Whatever they are, they are not following the New Testament. Christianity and Zionism are like oil and water, the don't mix except in the fantasy of "Zionist" Evangelicals and the pockets of Zionists.

There is a reason for the hatred and continual aggression by Jews towards Christianity, it renders their religion, and by extension their self-perceived privileged status, defunct. Sorry, that's not my fault, but that of Christ and his apostle Paul. So please direct your venom against them.

headache said...

Does Japan or Germany have their own FCPA?

By proxy, since many German firms thought it was sexy to register on Wall Street. Some like Siemens have found out that it only enables US agencies to set them up for multi-billion corruption cases in order to strengthen the US competitors. That was obvious from the start, but CEO's seem to like being sexy.

Traditionally German and Jap firms have smeared customers in Third World countries like India and Africa where corruption is built into the social fabric. The US drive against "corruption" has dampened that a little, but I suspect the schemes have been outsourced since most of these firms now operate local subsidies and "independent" firms which make it harder to trace corruption.

The US of course employs its diplomatic core (via Wikileaks) and military to keep out the competition from Europe and Japan.

JSM said...

There's about maybe five Jews in Alaska. Palin had an Israeli flag in her office because, duh, Alaska is the White Zionist hangout. The place where working class Whites go to make (dangerous) working class money. There's a reason there's about 20 Alaskan themed reality shows on cable."

"Evangelical White working class Whites like Israelis and Jews because they see themselves as "New Jews" including the Zionism part."

Whaaaaaaaa?

No, Whiskey.

Have you ever *met* an evangelical White person?

The reason evangelicals like Israelis and Jews is because they think the actual, literal existence of a country named Israel means Jesus is coming back soon and they won't have to die. E.g., Hal Lindsay's Late Great Planet Earth and his theory that the "End Times clock" begins counting down with the establishment of Israel in 1948.

The Whites who see themselves as Jews would be the Mormons. Their Zion is Utah.

Henry Canaday said...

Newt is a jerk in his personal life, brilliant only by comparison with the typical Speaker of the House and, should he run for President, will do about as well in the primaries as Rudy did. But he was the best Speaker of the House since Sam Rayburn, give him that. For the first time in 60 years, the House under Gingrich was a force for fiscal restraint.

Mr. Anon said...

FOX news is certainly pimping hard for Gingrich, although they also do so for Palin, and - to a lesser extent - Romney.

Gingrich is nothing but a slimy fat toad.

Dutch Boy said...

Old School Protestants (what's left of them) don't deplore gambling as much as New School Protestants love Israel.

Dutch Boy said...

How 'bout a Newt/Trump or Trump/Newt ticket? Double the joke, double the fun!

The G Word said...

"Gingrich will just tell the evangelicals that Adelson is also Bibi Netanyahu's financial angel, so he's helping bring the End Times, and everything will be all right"

Evangelical philo-semitism is a Stockholm Syndrome reaction to the hammering they take from the white-hating establishment (and it's a good sign of just who's leading that hammering. Cui bono.) White Southern evangelicals are at the pinnacle of groups hated by the establishment. Black and brown Christians don't feel the need to genuflect toward Israel. Of course it's easier to mock the victims than confront the powerful.

Svigor said...

anony-mouse said...

Bribes to foreigners are capital flows so they don't increase the trade deficit (in fact they lower it since now some foreigner now has extra US dollars).


Either I really missed what Steve was saying, or there's something a little off about you.

Anonymous said...

Well, Evangelicals sure gambled on Bush and the Iraq War.

Svigor said...

That's retarded. It's like saying buying toys made in China doesn't increase the trade deficit because some foreigner (the factory manager) now has extra US dollars.

Okay, I guess it really is me. Am I the only one who thought Steve meant forgoing the Fragrant Grease in China hurts our competitiveness?

Anonymous said...

I like Newt for a couple reasons. First I understand that he used to have a cast of a T Rex skull in his office. Secondly because his alternate history triolgy on Gettysburg is a fun read although his military judgement is very questionable.

But Newt either won't run or will lose in the primaries. Newt was a legislator. The Republicans will certainly prefer to run someone with executive experience against Obama.

They need to run a candidate who is sharply contrasted with Obama. They will want to keep the focus on Obama. That means they will want someone who is against Obamacare - say goodby to Romney. They will want someone who has few negatives and has prima facie gravitas - bye, bye Palin and Bachman. They will want someone with executive experience - so long Gingrich.

Business leaders like Perot or Trump usually have to go with third parties. Republicans tend to automatically nominate men with the appropriate resume when it's "their turn".

So by process of elimination the Republican's will be led inevitably to Pawlenty.

You say you've never heard of him or know what he's done? Good. Pawlenty's candidacy will keep the focus on Obama.

This is not my original brillant analysis. Bret Hume said something very much like this last night on the news. That makes it the conventional wisdom, the mainstream analysis.

Oh, I forgot Huckabee. Hume wouldn't say so, but alas Huckabee seems to be losing his weight battle again. He's too fat or at least like Gingrich not ectomorphic enough to run against a taller, fitter Obama. Pawlenty is also tall and thin. He'll look fine on the stage in the televised debates.

The Republican message should win. They're just shopping for an appropriate envelope.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

The G Word:

Evangelical philo-semitism is a Stockholm Syndrome reaction to the hammering they take from the white-hating establishment (and it's a good sign of just who's leading that hammering. Cui bono.)

I have a different theory.

Christianity and Christians need a Big Fat Enemy, whether Satan himself - or stooges such as Jews, blacks, communists, capitalists, witches, Muslims, etc. If a persecutor or other real enemy does not exist at the place and time, Christians will make one up. That is especially true with the more militant Christians, such as the southern evangelicals.

The counter to the Great Enemy is the Great Friend. That is the function of the Jews and Israel in the minds of militant Christians.

Note that middle eastern Christian groups such as the Lebanese, Armenians, Copts, Maronites and such - with very real enemies - are less likely to buy into western evangelical fantasies about Jews, Israel, and Harry Potter.

Anonymous said...

The FCPA is primarily a massive redistribution of wealth (and frequent flier miles) from American businesses to American lawyers. You have no idea how many talentless lawyers who couldn't even argue a case or write a brief end up making millions jetting around the world maintaining FCPA compliance.

neil craig said...

Hmmm. Adelson should be worried that Obama will be tempted to use the FCPA to "get" the funder of what is likely to be his most effective rival.

Do they do things like that in Chicago?