Other stuff

OCC settles with former general counsel of Wells Fargo.

Photo from Wells Fargo’s museum in San Diego by James Ulvog.

On 1/12/21, former general counsel James Strother of Wells Fargo signed a Consent Order with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

He agreed to pay the U.S. Government $3.5 million for his role in the sales practice fiasco. Payment is due within 10 days via wire transfer.

Federal mileage rates for 2021.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The IRS has published the reference amounts for mileage rates for 2021. The rates:

Beginning on January 1, 2021, the standard mileage rates for the use of a vehicle will be:

  • 56.0 cents per mile driven for business use, down 1.5 cents from the rate for 2020,
  • 16 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, down 1 cent from the rate for 2020, and
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations.

The business mileage rate decreased one and a half cents for business travel driven and one cent for medical and certain moving expense from the rates for 2020. The charitable rate is set by statute and remains unchanged.

The business rate is down from 57.5 cents in 2020 and 58.0 cents in 2019, which in turn was up from 54.5 in 2018.

The standard rate for business is based on their analysis of the fixed and variable costs of operating a vehicle.  The medical & moving rate is based on variable costs of operation.

Rates were published in Notice 2021-02:  2021 Standard Mileage Rates.

Final two sentences announced in KPMG inspection list theft scandal include no jail time; there are lots of consequences though.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The final two sentences have been handed down in the KPMG fiasco for stealing PCAOB inspection lists.

Spoiler alert: no jail time.

Thoughts in last half of this post on other consequences they have earned.

Recap of perps:  Status of players in KPMG fiasco from leaked PCAOB inspection files.

 

Thomas Whittle

“An Ulvog Journey” – Tales of growing up on a South Dakota farm in the 1930s and 1940s.

Casting my CPA eye on the 1946 probate document for my grandfather’s estate led to a series of posts on my other blog describing what we can learn about farming in the 1940s from a legal filing.  Those posts have been combined into one section of my newest book: An Ulvog Journey.

The book also provides recollections of growing up on a South Dakota farm in the 1930s and 1940s, written by my dad and his seven siblings.

One of my uncles, Carl Ulvog, was a captivating storyteller. His autobiographic tale of experiences in the South Pacific during World War II are also included.

Description from back page of the book:

Wells Fargo update.

Instructions on how to seal a bag of gold and gold dust for shipping, from the days when Wells Fargo was the gold standard of integrity. Photo by James Ulvog.

There are still a few enforcement actions ongoing over the Wells Fargo fake account fiasco, primarily individual cases against senior officials from a few agencies who haven’t previously settled the charges.

11/13/20 – Wall Street Journal – Wells Fargo Ex-CEO Settles SEC Claims, Former Consumer-Unit Head Faces Fraud Case –  The former CEO settled up with the SEC, agreeing to pay a $2.5 penalty for his role in the fake account scandal. As is typical, he neither admitted nor denied the claims.

Article reminds us he previously paid $17.5M penalty to OCC and was also banned from working in the banking industry.

New claims for unemployment continue slow decline for week ending 11/7/20; continuing claims dropping quickly.

The number of new claims for unemployment for week ending 11/7/20 again declined. This is the fourth weekly decline, with drops in eight of the last fifteen weeks.  New claims are 709K, a 48K drop for the week.

Starting 8/29/20 the new claims have been in the mid- to high 800 thousands. Since 10/17/20 the new claims have been under 800K.

Remember that before the government induced shutdown of the economy the new claims averaged about 220K per week so we are still running more than three times the previous norm.

The number of continuing claims for unemployment is continuing to drop. Large part of the drop is people going back to work. Part of it is people dropping off the state-level unemployment rolls exhausting coverage.

On 11/12/20, the Wall Street Journal reported U.S. Unemployment Claims Slip but Hold at High Levels. Article asserts the declining new claims and drop in ongoing claims indicates the economy is in a good recovery. Consensus of economists spoken to for the article indicate economy is on a better tract recovery now then the expectations were a few months ago. Current expectation is the GDP will drop 2.7% for the year which is better than the 3.6% expected just last month.

Article suggests that recovery is better than expected.

Tally of people who are now in the extended 13 weeks covered at the federal level is rising rapidly. Here is a recap:

On this Veterans Day, it is fitting and proper to honor the sacrifice of Sergeant Alwyn Cashe.

Sergeant First Class Alwyn Cashe. Photo courtesy of U.S. Army.

While his clothes were on fire after an improved explosive device blew up the vehicle he was riding in, Army Sergeant First Class Alwyn Cashe returned to the burning vehicle, pulling out a soldier, then another, then another.

Ultimately he pulled six Americans and one national translator from the burning vehicle. Did I mention that his clothing was on fire as he removed each of the soldiers?

Sgt. Cashe is credited with saving the lives of six American soldiers. The national translator, working to free his people, died from the attack. Ten American soldiers were injured, seven seriously.

With 2nd and 3rd burns spread over 72% of his body, Sgt. Cashe died from his wounds a few weeks later.

America is so blessed that we keep finding men like Sergeant First Class Alwyn Cashe.

 

He was awarded the Silver Star. It took a while for the chain of command to fully understand the depth of his heroism. He will now finally get an even more appropriate award.

UPI reports on 11/11/20 that the Senate approved awarding Medal of Honor for Sgt. Alwyn Cashe.

Restrictions on holiday celebrations in California. This is not a spoof. You will think it is a joke, but it is not.

No fun allowed sign. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The California Department of Public Health has listed their specific restrictions on holiday gatherings. There are serious limits on what you can do for your Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year celebration.

I’m not making this up.

Check out for yourself the Guidance for Private Gatherings published on 10/9/20.

In case you think I imagined all this, I will quote select portions of the guidance.

So, if you happen to be one of the people who have not yet moved out of California, or you are waiting for the moving van to arrive, here are the requirements for your holiday celebrations –

(Again, this is not a spoof.)

You may not gather with friends inside your home. You are still allowed to let guests use your bathroom, assuming you scrub down the bathroom quite frequently:

“All gatherings must be held outside. Attendees may go inside to use restrooms as long as the restrooms are frequently sanitized.”

No more than three households may gather together.

Recap of fines for major banking fiascos.

Image doing that to seventy billion dollars. Intentionally. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

It is so sad to say, but a reality never-the-less, there are so many major banking fiascos with such a wide range of willing participants that it is impossible to keep straight the players and disasters and fines based just on memory.

So, that means I have a spreadsheet to track the willful disasters I’ve been following.

My tally does not include all the billions of dollars paid to settle mortgage issues arising from the Great Recession. That is another massive set of disasters all by itself.

Here is my running tally of the amount of stockholder equity wasted for a range of different debacles. Amounts in millions of dollars:

Economic destruction from the shutdown is expanding.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Economic damage from the shutdown is becoming more obvious as more reporters spend time covering the destruction. Here are two articles each on the overall economic impact, specific impact on individuals, and concentrated impact on two cities:

  • GDP in Italy expected to shrink to the level it was 23 years ago
  • Airline CEOs expect it will take years for the airlines to recover
  • Additional 8 million Americans drop below the poverty level, joining the 55 million who were there before the pandemic
  • All 1,600 orchestras in the country have gone dark; their 160K musicians are unemployed
  • San Francisco has 14% vacancy rate in commercial office space
  • Impact on employment in New York City is more severe than the national average

How long will we let this go on?

 

Broad indication of the damage:

10/11/20 – India Today – Italy’s GDP in 2022 shrink back to the same level as 23 years ago: Report – …

Health damage caused by the shutdown is becoming more visible.

There are consequences from the shutdown. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The damage to health caused by the lockdown is becoming more visible. The damage has been there from the beginning of the shutdown; it is just becoming more obvious. A growing number of news articles are describing the deteriorating health outcomes. A growing number of reporters are noticing the devastation.

A few recent articles for your consideration:

  • ‘Years of life lost’ caused by the shutdown is calculated in one analysis to be seven times the number of ‘years of life lost’ which are prevented by the shutdown
  • Frightening increase in suicide ideation by young adults
  • Mental health services pulled off line because of the shutdown
  • Seniors at one nursing home protest the shutdown and the loneliness it causes

Make a mental note that a large number of governors, state-level health officials, federal health officials, and county health officials are forcefully, willfully continuing the lockdowns.

5/5/20 – Washington Examiner – Stress from virus response will destroy 7 times more years of life than lockdowns save: study – Several studies are cited by the article.

Education – More reports on devastating impact from the shutdown.

Status of public education across the country two months into the new school year. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Increasing numbers of reports describe the damage to education of our youth.  Students of every age group being hurt by the lockdown. Impact on poor or disadvantaged or previously struggling students is even more severe.

I am heartbroken that the damage will continue for the near future. The compounding effect will be terrible.

9/28/20 – ProPublica – The Students Left Behind by Remote Learning – Keep in mind this article describing the devastating impact of the lockdown on students from disadvantaged families is from ProPublica, a far-left news organization and not from some wild eyed Libertarian organization that wants people to have the freedom to make their own decisions on absolutely every issue in their lives.

Article goes into great lengths describing the struggles experienced by one particular student who has been trying to learn in virtual classes. As a starting point, there’s a grand total of four hours online teaching per week. Four hours – one hour per day on Monday through Thursday. That is the only teaching time. For all his class subjects.

One report indicates overall charitable giving is up for the first half of 2020.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.
This is the first report I have seen on overall giving trends during the pandemic. Preliminary indications are giving was down in the first quarter but strong enough in the second quarter that year-to-date giving is up compared to prior year.

10/6/20 – Philanthropy Today – Giving Was Up 7.5% in the First Half of 2020, New Report Says.

Did the lockdowns have any beneficial impact on the rate of new infections?

Enough time has passed that there is enough information to start analyzing the lockdowns. Preliminary info is not pretty. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Indications are starting to emerge that the answer to the question may actually be no.

Previously mentioned one analysis which found a weak statistical correlation between weaker lockdown requirements and lower infection rate. The study found no correlation between the date that states started releasing the lockdown restrictions and subsequent infection rates.

The rate of infections accelerates rapidly and then hits an inflection point where the rate of infections either plateaus or the rate slows dramatically.

The following study suggests the lockdowns have no correlation to when the infection rates hit that transition point. In fact, the inflection point normally is reached before the lockdowns could have had any impact.

10/4/20 – National Review – Stats Hold a Surprise: Lockdowns May Have Had Little Effect on Covid-19 Spread

Authors pulled the daily infection rate for 13 states and graphed the data on a logarithmic scale. Seeing infections on a log scale makes it easier to see trends. There are visible transitions in every state from rapid acceleration to a flattened or greatly reduced infection rate.

More updates on religious expression and restrictions thereof.

California church during regularly scheduled worship time. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Update on the effort by Los Angeles County to shut down worship at GCC. The march in San Francisco took place. Some churches are worshiping in minor league baseball parks.

9/26/20 – The Roys Report – John MacArthur will Face New Hearing in November for Defying Ban on Indoor Services – On 9/24/20 an LA County judge postponed a hearing to consider whether to hold Grace Community Church and John MacArthur in contempt.

A hearing will now be held on 11/13/20. What will happen then? I don’t know.