Crown Resorts sees high-roller turnover dive in ‘junket’ fallout

Crown Resorts has blamed a 34 per cent dive in high-roller turnover on weak market conditions and "negative publicity" stemming from revelations the casino giant it went into business with "junket" tour operators with links to organised crime.

The company, which is 36 per cent owned by James Packer, on Wednesday also said its casinos in Melbourne and Perth were being hit by the coronavirus outbreak due to restrictions on travel from China, but did not update the market on the full extent of the impact.

Crown’s gambling turnover fell 34 per cent to $13 billion, while group-wide normalised revenue was down 5 per cent to $1.4 billion.Credit:Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

Using "normalised" figures – which applies a long-term win rate to its gambling turnover, to strip out the impact of lucky or unlucky streaks by its high-stakes customers – Crown reported an 11 per cent fall in net profit after tax to $172 million in the six months to December 31.

VIP gambling turnover fell 34 per cent to $13 billion, while group-wide normalised revenue was down 5 per cent to $1.4 billion.

Crown's recently installed chief executive Ken Barton said in a statement that the result reflected "mixed trading conditions".

“VIP program play turnover at our Australian resorts was down… with the business impacted by a continuation of softer market conditions, exacerbated by recent negative publicity," he said.

The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and 60 Minutes revealed in July that Crown went into business with “junket” operators linked to organised crime as part of its efforts to lure wealthy Chinese VIPs to its casinos.

On a statutory basis, including a more favourable than usual win rate in VIP gambling, Crown's net profit increased 25 per cent to $218 million.

Poker machine and main-floor gaming revenue was flat at $872 million, while non-gaming revenue, such as from hotel rooms and restaurants, was up 2 per cent to $408 million.

Mr Barton was promoted from chief financial officer to CEO three weeks ago, replacing long-standing Packer family lieutenant and executive chairman John Alexander, following a tumultuous 12 months for the company.

James Packer and former Crown chief executive John Alexander.Credit:Getty Images

Former Howard government minister Helen Coonan took on the role of chairman in the reshuffle, which Crown said was in response to feedback from proxy advisors and shareholders who were unhappy with Crown's unusual executive structure.

Hong Kong casino group Melco Resorts agreed to buy a 20 per cent stake in Crown from James Packer in May and signalled its intention to increase its ownership further.

But that deal fell over a fortnight ago, with Melco saying it would increase its investment beyond the 10 per cent it had already paid Mr Packer and would not seek board seats.

Meanwhile a powerful inquiry conducted by the NSW gambling regulator is preparing to examine in detail both Crown's involvement with junkets and whether the Melco deal breached Crown's Sydney casino licence.

Crown's licence for the new casino it is building at Barangaroo bans any involvement from Melco boss Lawrence Ho's father, Stanley, and associates because of his alleged links to organised crime.

Mr Barton said Crown was "cooperating fully" with the NSW and other inquiries underway into the group, and "look forward to working with regulators on any recommendations that may follow".

Crown declared an interim dividend of 30¢, flat on the same period last year.

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Sue your robocallers, phone scammers with this new app

App meant to fight against robocalls allows users to sue robocallers: DoNotPay CEO

DoNotPay CEO Joshua Browder says his app allows its users to sue robocallers who try to scam them.

Getting fed up with robocalls? It might be time for robo-revenge and a new app is here to help.

Continue Reading Below

CEO of the DoNotPay app, Joshua Browder, joined FOX Business’ “After the Bell” on Tuesday to explain how the app can help you sue robocallers.

“It registers you for something called the 'Do Not Call' list,' ” he said. “This means that whenever one of these people calls you, it's illegal. When they call you, you can then sue them.”


Browder said the app, along with lawyers on his team, generates and files all the paperwork needed to get “up to $3,000 cash compensation per call.”

One of the biggest challenges for the DoNotPay team is finding out who the robocallers are, Browder told FOX Business’ Lauren Simonetti.

The DoNotPay team will give users a virtual, “burner” credit card to provide to robocallers.

“When they try and scam you, you're actually getting all of their details through the payment network,” Browder said.


“So far, we've had over 10,000 cases and actually a few settlements,” he said of the app’s success. “The robocallers actually want to settle because they don't want this becoming public record in a courtroom.”

Americans were hit by 4.7 billion robocalls in January, marking a 4 percent increase from December, according to YouMail. Overall, there were a record 58 billion robocalls made in 2019, marking a 22 percent increase from 2018 when 47 billion robocalls were made.


At the end of 2019, President Trump signed the TRACED Act into law allowing the Federal Communications Commission to protect consumers from robocall scammers.

FOX Business’ Julia Limitone contributed to this article.


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European Shares Set To Open On Steady Note

European stocks are likely to open higher on Wednesday as anxiety ebbed over the spread of coronavirus.

U.S. President Donald Trump said Chinese President Xi Jinping told him the deadly virus will be gone by April as temperatures begin rising.

The new outbreak is hitting a peak and may be over by April, Zhong Nanshan, an 83-year-old epidemiologist who won fame for combating the SARS epidemic in 2003, said in an interview with Reuters.

The optimism comes as the death toll from the epidemic climbed past 1,100 and the World Health Organization warned of a “very grave threat for the rest of the world”.

Asian markets remain mostly higher and the dollar retreated on improved risk appetite while gold prices traded flat. Oil prices rose for a second day running amid preliminary signs that new coronavirus cases are slowing in China.

In economic releases, Eurostat publishes euro area industrial production data for December later today. Output is forecast to fall 1.6 percent sequentially following a 0.2 percent rise in November.

Across the Atlantic, Fed Chair Jerome Powell is scheduled to testify before the Senate Banking Committee, although his prepared remarks are likely to mirror Tuesday’s testimony.

U.S. stocks edged up slightly overnight after a top Chinese health adviser said the coronavirus outbreak may be peaking and infections may be over by April.

Recent strong earnings announcements and economic data as well as fairly upbeat comments by Fed Chair Jerome Powell about the U.S. economic outlook also offered some support.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended flat with a negative bias while the S&P 500 inched up 0.2 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 0.1 percent to reach fresh record closing highs.

European markets advanced on Tuesday after reports of an apparent slowdown in the rate of coronavirus infection.

The pan European Stoxx 600 added 0.9 percent. The German DAX surged 1 percent, while France’s CAC 40 index and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 both gained about 0.7 percent.

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Bloomberg Spent His Entire Career Flattering Wall Street

Recently Republican billionaire Michael Bloomberg on Tuesday unveiled a financial reform platform obviously intended to put to bed concerns among Democrats that the former New York mayor’s long-standing advocacy for the financial elite would continue if he were to take the White House.

Bloomberg’s plan would reverse deregulatory maneuvers implemented by the Trump administration that have gutted the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law. He’s also floating a tax on every Wall Street financial transaction ― a reform with the potential to raise tremendous revenue for the government while discouraging speculative excess in high finance. Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, as well as former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, have also proposed a financial transaction tax as part of their platforms in the Democratic race.

Bloomberg’s plan is not a bad one, and the record-setting $338 million his campaign is spending to date on national TV ads alone will no doubt be used to sell it. But his abrupt conversion to financial regulator obscures a long-standing truth: He has always been a product of Wall Street. If he were to win the nomination, the Democratic Party would become, for all intents and purposes, the political wing of the U.S. financial sector.

This would be troubling enough on its own. But Bloomberg represents a particularly crass segment of the financial elite. He doesn’t make his money by making markets more efficient. He doesn’t help investors research transformational new ideas or target long-term value.

What Bloomberg really does is sell status. Bloomberg LP runs a news site, but its real revenue flows from Bloomberg terminal subscriptions. A Bloomberg terminal is a ridiculously complex computer interface with a weird, customized keyboard that tracks a ton of financial data in something very close to real time. This market data is indeed valuable ― but it isn’t worth anything close to what Bloomberg charges for it. Other companies offer similar material for far less.

Bloomberg LP doesn’t release pricing figures, but in 2013 Quartz reported that the terminals were going for $20,000 each, per year. Today, there are about 325,000 Terminals on the market. The price has almost surely gone up during the last seven years, but even at 2013 rates, it’s easy to see how Michael Bloomberg came to be worth more than $60 billion.

He can get away with overpricing his data because people who work on Wall Street will do almost anything to project their wealth. Paying too much is one way of telling the world that you don’t need to worry about money. And Bloomberg encourages this projection by providing a messaging service through the terminals that functions as a kind of social network for the 1%. Terminal users can communicate directly with other terminal users, establishing for all parties involved that they are all, indeed, very prestigious fellows. This makes everyone feel important.

The terminals, of course, have also been a breeding ground for fraud. During the Libor scandal ― in which traders at different banks worked together to manipulate the value of key interest rates ― malefactors used terminal chat rooms to coordinate their trades. 

So Bloomberg makes his money flattering the egos of Wall Street professionals. If you have a Bloomberg terminal, you’re a real boy. If you don’t, you’re just another financial Pinnochio trying to make it in New York.

This basic fact helps explain why Bloomberg has publicly committed himself to flat-earth explanations for the 2008 financial crisis. In his worldview, Wall Street didn’t really have much to do with the Wall Street crash. The blame lies with fussy government meddlers and, of course, Black people. 

In 2008, Bloomberg told a panel at Georgetown University that the push to stop discriminatory “redlining” practices forced banks to make bad loans to poor Black people who couldn’t pay them back. 

“It all started back when there was a lot of pressure on banks to make loans to everyone,” Bloomberg said, according to The Associated Press. “Redlining, if you remember, was the term where banks took whole neighborhoods and said, ‘People in these neighborhoods are poor, they’re not going to be able to pay off their mortgages, tell your salesmen don’t go into those areas.’”

Bloomberg added: “And then Congress got involved ― local elected officials, as well ― and said, ‘Oh that’s not fair, these people should be able to get credit.’ And once you started pushing in that direction, banks started making more and more loans where the credit of the person buying the house wasn’t as good as you would like.”

Speaking to Occupy Wall Street in 2011, during his mayoral tenure, Bloomberg told the protesters they had it all wrong:

“It was not the banks that created the mortgage crisis. It was, plain and simple, Congress, who forced everybody to go and give mortgages to people who were on the cusp …. They were the ones who pushed Fannie and Freddie to make a bunch of loans that were imprudent, if you will. They were the ones that pushed the banks to loan to everybody. And now we want to go vilify the banks because it’s one target, it’s easy to blame them.”

Bloomberg’s story of the financial crisis― that it was created by poor people and Congress ― is at odds with the basic explanation agreed upon by serious scholars. Banks packaged a lot of crummy loans into complex securities, then packaged those complex securities into more complex securities, then packaged those complex securities into more complex securities, and then made trillions of dollars worth of speculative bets on all of it.

There were, of course, a lot of consumer protection violations and lousy loans involved in this scheme. Conservative boogeymen Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were responsible for about a fifth of the exotic mortgages issued during the housing bubble ― but that leaves 80% for Wall Street. And nobody made Wall Street decide to bet trillions and trillions of dollars on those loans. That was Wall Street’s decision. And they did it for the same reason Wall Street does everything it does: to make money.

Naturally, Bloomberg was a ferocious critic of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, calling it “dysfunctional” and “stupid,” while assailing the fines assessed against banks for misconduct during the crisis as “outrageous.”

As Bloomberg was leaving office as mayor in 2013, former House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) went out of his way to trash him in an interview with Politico, saying Bloomberg cared more about his “rich friends” than he did about public policy.

“We never paid much attention to what he had to say, frankly, because I just saw him as kind of a shill for his industry,” Frank said. “This is a mayor of New York who’s a member of that industry, defending his industry from valid criticisms.”

This isn’t the kind of record you can wash away with a white paper. Wall Street is in Bloomberg’s bones. 

In July 2015, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein stopped by Bloomberg Tower in midtown Manhattan to opine on the upcoming presidential election. Interviewed by Stephanie Ruhle, Blankfein was considered so august a guest that Bloomberg himself joined for the event. After a rather dull paean to the virtues of compromise, Blankfein turned and smiled at Bloomberg. “There’s a lot of focus on New York billionaires these days, but my favorite one is not running.”

He’s running now.

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Wesfarmers cuts dividend, Target’s struggles continue

A languishing Industrials division and poor performance at struggling department store Target has dampened retailing powerhouse Wesfarmers' half-year results, forcing the company to slash its dividend.

The company told investors on Wednesday morning its revenue for the first half of 2020 was up 6 per cent to $15.2 billion, ahead of expectations and reflecting a strong performance from its Kmart, Bunnings and Officeworks businesses.

Wesfarmers chief Rob Scott said Target’s struggles were “due to a reduction in customer transactions and poor performance in key apparel categories.”Credit:Edwina Pickles

Net profit after tax, when adjusted to exclude discontinued operations, also came in above analyst forecasts at $1.14 billion, a 5.7 per cent increase on the prior corresponding half.

Bunnings, which accounts for over half of Wesfarmers' earnings, grew earnings before interest and tax 3.1 per cent to $961 million, while revenue increased 5.3 per cent to $7.2 billion.

Comparable sales for Bunnings beat expectations, coming in at 4.7 per cent against analyst predictions of 4 per cent. Officeworks also outperformed, with revenue growing 11.9 per cent to $1.2 billion and earnings up 3.9 per cent.

However, the company's Target and Kmart division emerged as a major drag on earnings, declining 9.9 per cent to $345 million, largely due to underperformance at Target.

Comparable sales at Target declined 2.3 per cent, far worse than the 0.5 per cent growth seen in the first half of 2019. Sales for Target declined $67 million, while Kmart's sales increase by $241 million, boosting overall revenue for the segment 7.6 per cent to $5 billion.

"While Target remained profitable, earnings were below expectations and decreased significantly compared to the prior corresponding period due to a reduction in customer transactions and poor performance in key apparel categories," chief executive Rob Scott said.

Earnings for Wesfarmers Industrials and Safety division sank 85.7 per cent, coming in at $6 million compared to $42 million in last year's first half, primarily due to higher costs and a 2.1 per cent drop in sales for the group.

Earnings at both Target and the Industrials division were also impacted by provisions for staff underpayment, coming in at $9 million and $15 million respectively. Wesfarmers said it would "accelerate plans" to address the unsatisfactory performance at the businesses.

As a result, Wesfarmers slashed its dividend by 25 per cent, down to 75 cents, payable March 31.

"Bunnings, Kmart and Officeworks delivered a pleasing trading performance, with sales growth increasing relative to the prior corresponding period. Strict working capital management and disciplined capital expenditure also resulted in strong cash flow generation across the Group’s operating divisions," Mr Scott said.

"In contrast to the rest of the Group, the Industrial and Safety result was disappointing and the performance of Target was below expectations. A number of initiatives are underway to address the underperformance of both businesses."

More to come

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Universal credit: How does universal credit work?

Universal credit is a single payment made directly into claimants’ bank accounts to cover the benefits they are eligible to receive. This benefit was designed to make claiming benefits simpler. has compiled a guide to explain how it works.

What is universal credit?

Universal credit is a payment made monthly, or twice a month for some people in Scotland, which will help you with your living costs.

This payment is only received by those on a low income or out of work.

The universal credit single payment replaced these payments, which are called legacy benefits by the Department for Work and Pensions:

  • Income support
  • Working tax credit
  • Income-based jobseeker’s allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related employment and support allowance (ESA)
  • Housing benefit
  • Child tax credit.


  • Universal Credit: What is work allowance? How earnings affect payment

Who can claim universal credit?

You might be able to claim Universal Credit if you:

  • Are out of work or on a low income
  • Are aged 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you’re 16 or 17)
  • Are under state pension age, or if your partner is
  • Have less than £16,000 in savings with your partner
  • Live in the UK.

If aged 16 to 17, there are some cases where you might be eligible for Universal Credit when studying.

You can find out more about eligibility for Universal Credit here.

How much will you receive?

Your Universal Credit payment is made up of a standard allowance and any extra amounts that apply to you.

You can use this benefits calculator to find out how much you might get.

Your circumstances are assessed each to determine how much universal credit you receive and any changes in your circumstances may affect how much you are paid for the entire assessment period, not just from the date you report these changes.

Additionally, the benefit cap may limit the total amount of benefit you receive.

The standard monthly allowance for each circumstance is as follows, excluding any additional benefits you may be entitled to:

  • Single and under 25: £251.77
  • Single and 25 or over: £317.82
  • In a couple and both aged under 25: £395.20
  • In a couple and either of you are 25 or over: £498.89

Universal Credit is rising and this is what claimants could receive [INSIGHT]
Universal Credit payments could be stopped if you don’t do this thing [EXPLAINER]
Universal Credit: What is a claimant commitment? [ANALYSIS]


  • Cold Weather Payment: 5,000 payments made so far this season

How often is universal credit paid?

Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears in England, Wales and Scotland.

In Scotland, you can, however, ask for universal credit to be paid fortnightly instead of in a single monthly payment.

In Northern Ireland, the default payment period is every fortnight, but you can choose to get monthly payments.

How does universal credit work when working?

You are able to work as many hours as you wish when on universal credit as there are no limits as with other benefits such as income support or working tax credits.

If you are in paid work, you might be entitled to receive a work allowance.

This work allowance is an amount of money which you can earn before your universal credit payment is affected.

You will be entitled to a work allowance if you’re:

  • Responsible for dependent children
  • You cannot work as much because of illness or disability.

You are entitled to work allowance, up to the threshold of your predicament and then your universal credit payment will then go down by 63p for every £1 you earn above this amount, which is called the earnings taper.

If you do not qualify for the work allowance, your Universal Credit payment will go down by 63p for every £1 on all your earnings.

Employer-paid benefits, such as Statutory Maternity, Paternity, Adoption and Sick Pay are treated as earnings and are affected by the taper.

Some income, called unearned income, which you do not get from working can also be deducted from your maximum award.

This includes:

  • New-style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • New-style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Pension Income
  • Some benefits that are not replaced by Universal Credit.

Usually, £1 will be deducted from your Universal Credit payment for every £1 of unearned income.

Unearned income that will not be taken off your Universal Credit payment includes:

  • Child Benefit
  • Maintenance payments
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Income from boarders and lodgers.

How to apply for universal credit?

You must apply for Universal Credit online.

You have to apply as a couple if you and your partner live together, even if you are not married.

You might also need to phone the Universal Credit helpline to book an interview with a work coach, but will be advised to do this after you apply.

To apply you will need:

  • Your bank, building society or credit union account details (call the Universal Credit helpline if you do not have one)
  • An email address
  • Information about your housing, for instance, your rent amount
  • Details of your income, for example, your payslips
  • Details of savings and any investments, like shares or a property that you rent out
  • Details of how much you pay for childcare if you are applying for help with childcare costs.

If you do not provide the right information when you apply it might affect when you get paid or how much you get.

You may also have to verify your identity online, which means you will need some proof of identity for this, such as a driving licence, passport or debit or credit card.

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Lotteries keep Tabcorp’s profit rising as wagering tumbles

Gambling giant Tabcorp has lifted its underlying half-year profit by 2.9 per cent as growth in its lotteries business offset a sharp earnings decline in wagering.

Profit excluding significant items was $213.5 million, up $6 million, in the six months to December 31, while its reported net profit – including implementation costs from its 2017 merger with Tatts, and point of consumption tax compensation – rose 10.8 per cent to $198.8 million.

Earnings in Tabcorp’s wagering and media business fell 16 per cent. Credit:Dominic Lorrimer

Group revenue grew 4.4 per cent to $2.9 billion, driven by a 12 per cent jump in turnover in keno and lotteries, which includes Oz Lotto and Powerball.

Wagering under the TAB band and its Sky Racing media operation saw revenue tumble almost 4 per cent. Digital wagering turnover was down almost 5 per cent while turnover in its retail betting shops was down 9 per cent.

Earnings before interest and tax in the lotteries and keno division grew 17 per cent to $245.8 million, while earnings in wagering and media slumped 16 per cent to $138.5 million.

“This was a challenging half for our wagering and media business," said Tabcorp chief executive David Attenborough.

"TAB is competing well while also transforming in a soft market."

Tabcorp said it will pay a dividend of 11¢ per share, flat on the same period last year.

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Warren has plans for most things – including beating Trump

New York (CNN Business)Michael Bloomberg might be Wall Street’s preferred Democratic presidential candidate, but the billionaire is nonetheless vowing to crack down on the financial industry.

The former New York City mayor released a tougher-than-expected Wall Street reform plan Tuesday that calls for restoring some of the post-crisis financial guardrails “gutted” by President Donald Trump.
Bloomberg, who has deep ties to Wall Street and made a fortune selling technology to banks, wants to fortify the Volcker Rule, reinstate consumer protections overturned by the Trump administration, bolster the Elizabeth Warren-inspired Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, fight corporate crime by creating a dedicated group at the Justice Department and require companies to report climate change risks.

    Keep in mind that Bloomberg’s name is synonymous with Wall Street. His company sells terminals that allow sophisticated investors to keep a finger on the pulse of financial markets. And Bloomberg News airs on trading floor television screens throughout Wall Street.
    As expected, he does not support the sweeping changes embraced by more progressive rivals such as Bernie Sanders, who wants to break up big banks and has vowed to be a “nightmare” for Wall Street.

    Yet Bloomberg’s more moderate stance is an acknowledgment that Americans need greater protections from the financial system and calls Trump out for softening the rules.
    “Bloomberg’s proposals are not as progressive as the Sanders and Warren plans, but they are undoubtedly more progressive than anyone expected when Bloomberg announced his candidacy,” said Isaac Boltansky, director of policy research at Compass Point Research & Trading.

    Backs financial transaction tax, stress tests

    Somewhat surprisingly, Bloomberg is backing a financial transaction tax on stock and bond trades. The tax of 0.1% on all financial transactions, along with a speed limit on trading, is aimed at curbing “predatory behavior” and reducing the risk of destabilizing flash crashes.
    Bloomberg also called for regulators to toughen stress tests, reinstate annual living wills for big banks and reverse the decline in equity levels at financial institutions.
    And the billionaire called out “unscrupulous brokers and lenders” who “trap people in financial products that leave them worse off.”
    Bloomberg also wants to merge Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-owned housing behemoths, into a single entity.
    “The financial system isn’t working the way it should for most Americans,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “President Obama made important progress strengthening our financial system and protecting consumers — but President Trump has spent the last three years gutting those safeguards.”
    Bloomberg has in the past defended Wall Street, appearing to shift the blame for the 2008 meltdown to lawmakers and borrowers.
    “It was not the banks that created the mortgage crisis,” Bloomberg said in 2011. “It was, plain and simple, Congress who forced everybody to go and give mortgages to people who were on the cusp.”
    The plan is not as moderate as some in the market had been expecting from the billionaire and reflects the desire among Democratic voters to take a tough stance on Wall Street.
    Jaret Seiberg, policy analyst at Cowen Washington Research Group, urged investors not to be unnerved by Bloomberg’s proposals, which he described as a “mainstream Democratic plan for big banks and Wall Street.”
    “We would caution against overreacting,” Seiberg wrote in a note to clients Tuesday. “Bloomberg understands markets, which makes it less likely that he would push policies that could hurt the economy.”

    ‘Less hospitable environment’

    When he took office, Trump vowed to “do a big number” on the post-financial reform law known as Dodd-Frank.
    Financial watchdogs warned against Trump’s efforts to unshackle America’s banks. For instance, Sheila Bair, the former chairwoman of the FDIC, told CNN Business last year that now is the worst time to dismantle these financial safeguards.
    Yet some bankers argue that the amount of actual deregulation has not lived up to the hype. Most of Dodd-Frank remains intact today.
    Better Markets, a nonprofit that supports greater Wall Street regulation, applauded Bloomberg’s efforts to target corporate crime, strengthen the CFPB and toughen the Volcker Rule.
    “Those are all excellent things that need to be done,” Dennis Kelleher, the CEO of Better Markets, said in an interview.

      Bloomberg’s stance shows Wall Street that it should be bracing for tougher regulation should Trump lose in November.
      “No matter which of the Democrats wins, it will be a less hospitable environment for banks and financial services firms,” Compass Point’s Boltansky said. “All we’re doing is discussing the degree to which the pendulum will swing back.”
      Source: Read Full Article

      Weinstein’s Lawyer Aims Op-Ed at Jury and Gets Stern Warning

      The judge overseeing Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault trial ordered the defense not to talk about the case in public until it’s over after Weinstein’s lead lawyer published an op-ed in Newsweek that indirectly addressed the jury.

      At a hearing on Tuesday, prosecutor Joan Illuzzi told New York State Supreme Court Justice James Burke about the Newsweek piece, which she called an attempt to tamper with the jury. In the column, published Sunday, defense attorney Donna Rotunno complained about the news media’s coverage of the trial and called on the jury to disregard it.

      “Mr. Weinstein’s jurors have an obligation to themselves and their country to base their verdict solely on the facts, testimony and evidence presented to them in the courtroom,” Rotunno wrote.

      “I implore the members of this jury to do what they know is right and was expected of them from the moment they were called upon to serve their civic duty in a court of law,” she wrote.

      “If this conduct is allowed to persist in this courthouse, then we are all lost,” Illuzzi told the judge. “There is no way the sanctity and purity of a jury trial can ever exist and continue if every party is permitted to go ahead and publicly say what they’re not allowed to say in court.”

      Illuzzi asked Burke not only to give jurors an instruction about the column but also to order that Weinstein be taken into custody immediately.

      “There’s no way Ms. Rotunno did this without the prompting, the encouragement, the knowledge and the permission of this defendant,” she said, adding, “It’s akin to jury tampering.”

      Burke asked Rotunno, “You don’t think addressing the jury in the first person is problematic?”

      Rotunno said that “writing an op-ed about the jury system as a whole does not in any way speak to the jury or violate the court’s order” and that it “doesn’t say anything that my closing argument doesn’t say.”

      Burke declined to remand Weinstein but put the defense on notice.

      “Defense team, you’re ordered to refrain from speaking to the press until the verdict,” he said sternly. “And I will caution you about the tentacles of your public relations juggernaut.”

      Read More: Weinstein’s ‘Trial of the Century’ Gets Its Own Podcast

      Earlier, Burke denied a request by the defense to eject one of the jurors, an author whom Weinstein’s lawyers had initially tried to exclude because she had written a novel about young women in New York involved in relationships with older men.

      Weinstein’s lawyer Damon Cheronis on Tuesday argued for her removal because she had reviewed a book about child abuse. She was questioned and said she was assigned to review the book but hadn’t yet read it because of her role in the trial. Illuzzi argued that the defense was trying to do an “end run” around the settled jury selection process after failing to remove the juror from the panel the first time.

      After Burke denied the defense’s bid to eject her, the juror could be seen shaking her head, seemingly in anger at the request.

      Shortly before noon in New York, Burke gave the jury of seven men and five women its instructions and sent it out to begin its deliberations. He told the three alternate jurors to remain on standby in case they’re needed, saying, “You’re not out of it yet.”

      “Remember, you are still sworn jurors on this case,” Burke told the alternates. “So if anybody does approach you, you’re not permitted to speak to them.”

      The case is People v. Weinstein, 450293/2018, New York State Supreme Court (Manhattan).

      Read More

      • Weinstein Was Jekyll, Hyde, Then Rapist, Witness Tells Jury
      • ‘I Think I Was Raped’: Jury Hears Rosie Perez Back Up Sciorra
      • Jessica Mann Is Grilled on Contact After Alleged Rape
      • Accuser Called Weinstein a ‘Soul Mate,’ Ex-Friend Testifies
      • Weinstein’s Dream Jury Is Conservative, Traditional, Skeptical
      • A #MeToo Moment Two Years in the Making

      — With assistance by Olivia Raimonde, and Olivia Rockeman

      Source: Read Full Article

      CNBC’s Jim Cramer: Elizabeth Warren’s attack on billionaire Leon Cooperman hurt us all and could cost her the presidency

      Hedge-fund billionaire Leon Cooperman joked back in September that the stock market wouldn’t even open if Sen. Elizabeth Warren were to win the presidency and bring her plans to tax the rich to the White House.

      She wasn’t laughing and fired back on TwitterTWTR, +3.12% :

      “Leon, you were able to succeed because of the opportunities this country gave you,” Warren wrote. “Now why don’t you pitch in a bit more so everyone else has a chance at the American dream, too.”

      That, says CNBC host Jim Cramer, may turn out to be the beginning of the end of Warren’s bid for the presidency. “The top of the Warren campaign was when she needlessly attacked Leon Cooperman who has done so much for those who are unfortunate,” he wrote. “He’s what we should aspire to be. It hurt so much for all of us that he was attacked.”

      Warren has, indeed, faded fast lately as Bernie Sanders has grabbed the reins from the far left. Once considered a frontrunner for the nomination, Warren’s odds are now in line with Hillary Clinton’s, according to one betting site:

      This isn’t the first time Cramer has taken issue with Warren.

      At around the same time her tussle with Cooperman was heating up, Cramer talked about how banks were sweating the possibility of her winning.

      “When you get off the desk and talk to executives, they’re more fearful of her winning,” Cramer said, adding that he’s been hearing the phrase, “She’s got to be stopped,” echoing around Wall Street of late.

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