Securities Attorney Briefing for 21 June 2016

Securities Attorney Tom Krebs

International

What Is ‘Brexit’? A Look at the Debate and Its Wider Meaning

WASHINGTON — With a landmark vote approaching on Thursday on whether Britain will leave the European Union, two recent events highlighted the stakes and the unique Britishness of the “Brexit” debate. Last Wednesday, in what Britons took to calling the Battle of the Thames, both sides sent flag-waving flotillas down the river to advertise their cause. The “Leave” campaign blasted the theme song from “The Great Escape” from Westminster Bridge, and Bob Geldof, a prominent campaigner in the “Remain” campaign, bellowed facts about fishing from boat-mounted speakers. The next day, a man fatally shot and stabbed a member of Parliament, Jo Cox, who supported staying in the European Union. The manshouted, “My name is death to traitors! Freedom for Britain!” at a court appearance on Saturday. The killing has shocked the country and drawn attention to the increasingly heated national debate. This is much more than a vote on membership in a 28-nation bloc. It is about national and social identity, Britain’s place in the world and the future of the European project. 1. What is Brexit?  A portmanteau of the words “Britain” and “exit,” it is the nickname for a British exit of the European Union after the June 23 referendum asking voters: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” The debate leading up to this week’s vote is playing out, however, as a broader choice over what national values to prioritize. Pro-Brexit advocates have framed leaving the European Union as necessary to protect, or perhaps restore, the country’s identity: its culture, independence and place in the world. This argument is often expressed by opposition to immigration. “Remain” supporters typically argue that staying in the union is better for the British economy and that concerns about migration and other issues are not important enough to outweigh the economic consequences of leaving. More:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/21/world/europe/brexit-britain-eu-explained.html?emc=edit_th_20160621&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=53476364&_r=0

Tom Krebs, Securities Attorney (205)401-2383

National

Message to Workers Under Scrutiny: Cooperate or Get Fired

When a company learns it is the focus of a government investigation, the first step is to start an internal investigation to figure out what happened. To determine any potential exposure for wrongdoing, it needs the cooperation of its employees who were involved with the conduct. Most workers will tell the internal investigators what they know, perhaps in the naïve belief that the company will look out for their best interests. But if they do not cooperate, a recent decision by a federal appeals court makes it clear that the company can fire them with little fear that the termination will be considered improper. The case arose out of an investigation of Marsh & McLennan Companies in 2004, when Eliot Spitzer was the New York attorney general. Seeking to take on the mantel of Wall Street’s top cop, Mr. Spitzer started headline-grabbing inquiries into a number of companies for real and perceived misconduct. One issue that came under his scrutiny involved “contingent commission” arrangements in which brokerage firms like Marsh steered clients to certain insurance companies in exchange for larger payments from them, as The New York Times described in a 2004 article. As part of the company’s internal investigation, two executives, William W. Gilman and Edward J. McNenney Jr., were interviewed by an outside law firm retained to look at the commission payments. A few months later, it emerged that there were allegations of bid-rigging by agents at different insurance brokers. Two employees of the American International Group pleaded guilty to state antitrust charges in September 2004, with one identifying Mr. Gilman and Mr. McNenney as co-conspirators. At that point, Marsh’s lawyers shifted the focus of their inquiry to the bid-rigging and tried to arrange new interviews with the two executives. With Mr. Spitzer breathing down the company’s neck, it was crucial to complete the inquiry and turn over the results quickly to appear as cooperative as possible. Rather than submit to questioning, Mr. Gilman and Mr. McNenney refused to speak with investigators. Mr. Gilman even tried to retire before meeting with them so that he could not be fired for refusing to cooperate. That was a good strategy from a legal standpoint because their statements were sure to be given to prosecutors, who could use them to build a case against the two executives. But their refusal resulted in Marsh immediately firing the two men “for cause,” refusing to accept Mr. Gilman’s retirement. More:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/21/business/dealbook/message-to-workers-under-scrutiny-cooperate-or-get-fired.html?ref=dealbook&_r=0

 

The Upper East Side’s “Bernie Madoff of Landlords” Heads Back to Court

Like most Upper East Side sob stories, Steven Croman’s fall from grace began with his swift ascent up the social ladder, rung by rung, one Gatsby-esque party and gossip-column nod at a time. Over the last decade, he amassed an empire of 140 apartment buildings dotting the New York real-estate landscape from one end of Manhattan straight up to the other. He threw theme parties in Southampton modeled after Studio 54 and the Playboy Mansion, where billionaire moguls and reality-TV castoffs meandered around in bath robes and bell-bottoms, and hired Ariana Grande to sing at one of his kid’s bar mitzvahs. He bought a 19,000-square-foot building on East 72nd Street and a mansion in Sagaponack. He had climbed so high and reached such a level of micro-infamy uptown that his dramatic tumble from atop his precarious social perch to a downtown courtroom was, if not expected, at least not entirely shocking to those who have come to associate his last name with the worst excesses of post-crash Manhattan.

Croman, 49, was charged with 20 felonies at the beginning of May, including criminal tax fraud, falsifying business records, grand larceny, and a scheme to defraud based on allegations that he inflated the rental income he made in order to secure $45 million in bank loans. On the same day, the New York state attorney general’s office filed a civil lawsuit against him. His criminal charges could put him behind bars for up to 25 years. The civil suit is seeking to strip him of his real-estate business entirely and force him to pay millions of dollars in fines and restitution to tenants. Croman pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges. “THESE ARE THE MOST SERIOUS SET OF CRIMINAL CHARGES BROUGHT AGAINST A BAD LANDLORD IN ANYONE’S LIVING MEMORY.” The lawsuit claims that Croman’s business model was predicated on squeezing out the rent-regulated tenants who occupied many of the buildings he bought across the city—harassing them, threatening them, turning their homes into living hells until they relented—and then turning their homes into renovated, market-rate cash cows. His employees took note, the lawsuit said. They had to. Croman would strut through his office singsonging, “buyouts, buyouts,” referring to tenants as “targets,” texting workers that pushing them out was a “team sport,” and offering five-figure bonuses to anyone who succeeded in getting “working-class and low-income families out of their long-time homes,” the lawsuit claims. More:

http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2016/06/steven-croman-bernie-madoff-of-landlords-heads-back-to-court?mbid=nl_CH_576828393a8e2de6469421ff&CNDID=11508510&spMailingID=9085537&spUserID=MTMzMTgyMzQ2NTIzS0&spJobID=941962378&spReportId=OTQxOTYyMzc4S0

 

A storm is brewing in the real-estate market, Pimco warns

Pacific Investment Management Co. is pointing to gathering clouds in the roughly $3 trillion commercial real-estate market. “…[A] confluence of factors—volatility in public markets, tightened regulations, maturing loans and uncertain foreign capital flows—is creating a blast of volatility for U.S. commercial real estate,” said Pimco’s John Murray, in a report jointly written with Anthony Clarke. That volatility could lead to prices falling by as much as 5% in the coming year for so-called commercial mortgage-backed securities associated with the financing of properties, including shopping malls, apartment complexes and office buildings, according to Pimco’s “U.S. Real Estate: A Storm Is Brewing.  Since the financial crisis, commercial mortgage-bond prices, which got whacked along with a broad swath of complex mortgage-related debt during the 2008 housing-market implosion, have recovered. Pimco attributes improvements in performance to demand for commercial bonds and warns that appetite is likely to peter out in coming months. “Capital flows have grown unstable over the past year due to fears over interest rate hikes and, more recently, events such as political and economic uncertainty in China,” Murray wrote. “While this instability began in the public CRE markets, it has blown in to private CRE as well, particularly in non-major markets.” Hundreds of billions of commercial bonds originated 10-years ago are set to mature over the next three years and appetite for higher-yields than CMBS offers is putting pressure on borrowers’ ability to obtain fresh financing and that’s pressuring bond prices. Contributing to concerns about commercial real estate bonds is a shrinking base of ready buyers that has coincided with increased price volatility, Pimco cautioned. New rules, which attempt to limit financial firms’ exposures to risky assets in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, have caused banks to trim their dealer inventories, Pimco explained. A lack of banks serving as so-called market makers has been one of the oft-cited factors associated with a huge swing higher in the prices of Treasurys back on Oct. 15 2014. But it isn’t all doom and gloom for commercial real estate debt.  More:

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/a-storm-is-brewing-in-the-real-estate-market-pimco-warns-2016-06-20?link=sfmw_fb

 

What the Attack on the DAO Means for Banks

Changing the rules in the middle of the game. Rescuing the investors who took big risks at the expense of those who behaved prudently. Undermining the credibility of the system. No, we’re not reminiscing about the 2008 global financial crisis. All these familiar plotlines resurfaced Friday in the cryptocurrency world in response to a $60 million theft. The situation has profound implications for the viability of distributed systems and smart contracts, and raises questions for banks that have been considering the Ethereum network as a possible basis for their own blockchain solutions. The attacker stole the funds — denominated in ether, the cryptocurrency native to Ethereum — from a kind of automated venture-capital fund called the DAO. The most controversial proposed fix would turn back the clock to before the attack occurred, thereby undoing the theft, like Superman bringing Lois Lane back to life by reversing the rotation of the Earth. This would amount to nothing less than a bailout of the DAO’s beleaguered investors, jeopardizing the credibility of Ethereum itself. Below is a breakdown of what we know about the hack and its consequences, what we don’t know and what it means for financial institutions investigating the promise and peril of distributed ledger technology. What We Know: The DAO, which stands for Decentralized Autonomous Organization, launched in May as an open-source project. The brainchild of Slock.it, a startup in Germany, the DAO takes the form of a smart contract running on Ethereum, a public cryptocurrency blockchain similar to bitcoin. A monthlong crowdsale of DAO tokens, which serve essentially as voting shares in the fund, raised $162 million worth of ether and was hailed by the Ethereum community as the biggest crowdfunding campaign in history. Like other smart contracts, of which there are, as yet, few examples in the wild, the DAO was designed to execute the terms in its code automatically, without the need for human intervention. Indeed, proponents argue that the contract is the code, and that smart contracts — living on a blockchain, viewable by all parties — could be more efficient and more transparent than traditional agreements. What has now become clear is just how devastating the consequences can be if that code is flawed. More:

http://www.americanbanker.com/news/bank-technology/what-the-attack-on-the-dao-means-for-banks-1081575-1.html?utm_medium=email&ET=americanbanker:e6982894:753823a:&utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=daily%20briefing-jun%2021%202016&st=email&eid=72eb05f9e8cb792e4d4b16a75f64bd0d

 

Analysis: Trump’s plans would cause ‘lengthy recession,’ cost jobs

Donald Trump’s economic proposals would isolate the United States, hurt its economic growth, increase the federal deficit and cost millions of American jobs, according to new analysis. The grim findings from Moody’s Analytics state that the nation’s wealthiest would benefit the most from the presumptive GOP presidential nominee’s proposals, while middle- and lower-class Americans would be hurt the most.  “The economy will be significantly weaker if Mr. Trump’s economic proposals are adopted. Under the scenario in which all his stated policies become law in the manner proposed, the economy suffers a lengthy recession and is smaller at the end of his four-year term than when he took office,” the report said.

“By the end of his presidency, there are close to 3.5 million fewer jobs and the unemployment rate rises to as high as 7%, compared with below 5% today. During Mr. Trump’s presidency, the average American household’s after-inflation income will stagnate, and stock prices and real house values will decline.”

The new study attempts to analyze Trump’s plan similar to how agencies like the Congressional Budget Office calculates the economic impact of plans offered by the president or Congress. Moody’s said it would soon be applying the same test to proposals from Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee. However, Moody’s did note that analyzing Trump’s plans was “complicated,” in large part due to the lack of specificity from the campaign. As such, the analysis includes some assumptions, but Moody’s did say they were based on information provided by the Trump campaign. Moody’s tested Trump’s plans under three scenarios: one in which Trump is taken at face value and his plans are enacted exactly as he has described, a second where his policies are adopted but at a more modest level, and a third where a skeptical Congress scales back Trump’s plans due to “political realities.” Moody’s described the third as the most likely case if Trump were elected. But even under that scenario, Moody’s predicted the U.S. economy would effectively freeze under Trump and job growth would be roughly halved from its current pace. If Trump’s plans are fully enacted, Moody’s said the U.S. economy would dive into a recession that would last over two years — longer than the downturn caused by the financial crisis, although less severe. Trump’s policies would also slash U.S. job growth by 3.5 million jobs compared to the current trajectory. Trump’s call for broad tax cuts across income levels, while limiting some deductions, would drive up the deficit without dramatic spending cuts elsewhere, Moody’s warned. And Trump has not indicated he wants to significantly alter the nation’s entitlement programs, making those cuts hard to come by. On immigration, Moody’s warned that even if Trump were able to deport millions of illegal immigrants, it would slash the size of the country’s labor force and many of the new job openings will not be filled, harming businesses. Higher labor costs will drive up the prices of products. In its report, Moody’s acknowledged that oftentimes policy proposals offered on the campaign trail are politically driven, and elected officials often change course after winning office. But even under that lax standard, Moody’s described his proposals as “fiscally unsound” and do not see a way they can boost the economy.

http://thehill.com/policy/finance/284095-study-economy-would-be-significantly-weaker-under-trump

State/Local

Consumers to receive refunds in e-book price fixing lawsuit

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – Officials say Alabama consumers will receive more than $6,300,000 from Apple Inc. in a lawsuit over inflated e-book prices. Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange said in a statement Monday that the tech giant is expected to spend about $400 million to compensate consumers across the country and Alabamians are slated to receive approximately $6,357,100. Strange says Alabama and 32 other states prosecuted Apple for conspiring with five major American publishers to raise E-book prices. Strange says consumers will receive payments of $6.93 for each New York Times best-seller and $1.57 for other e-books purchased between April 1, 2010 and May 12, 2012. Officials say consumers who bought e-books through Sony or Google will receive checks. Consumers who bought books from Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Noob will receive account credits.

http://www.wbrc.com/story/32264456/consumers-to-receive-refunds-in-e-book-price-fixing-lawsuit?sf29131104=1

 

Blogs/Opinions

Morning Money

WALL STREET/WARREN REACT — Lot of response to our piece Monday reporting that big Wall Street donors might pull their financial support if Hillary Clinton picked Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) as her running mate.

One top progressive emailed: “If Warren were VP, it would more than recoup any money lost by Wall Street by raising tons in grassroots donations — and likely tons more in big checks from Warren donors to the DNC, etc. Would actually save the Clinton fundraising people a lot of time. Evidence: Sanders outraised Clinton.”

Another top Dem: “I can’t think of a dumber strategy to derail Warren than a bunch of Wall Street execs saying she’s unacceptable. Literally. Like that story couldn’t be better for her if she planted it.”

Tyler Gellasch, a former senior Democratic policy advisor: “Picking Senator Warren would be the easiest way for Secretary Clinton to demonstrate that she’s committed to an economic policy agenda for everyone, not just her wealthy donors. And the mountain of Wall Street pushback may well be the biggest selling point for picking Senator Warren — not a detractor.

“In one move, Secretary Clinton could unify the Democratic Party and completely foreclose Trump’s attempts to exploit her Wall Street ties (and speeches) with his own populist-sounding attacks. Besides, are the majority of financial services executives really going to back Trump or want to risk it? Good luck with that.”

Cenk Yugar did a piece on the Warren story on The Young Turks: https://goo.gl/JsMEBM

MOODY’S: TRUMP’S PLAN WOULD CRUSH ECONOMY — Via the latest Moody’s Analytics analysis of Donald Trump’s economic proposals: “Quantifying Mr. Trump’s economic policies is complicated by their lack of specificity. The publicly available information is not sufficient to fully quantify all of his proposals. … Broadly, Mr. Trump’s economic proposals will result in a more isolated U.S. economy. Cross-border trade and immigration will be significantly diminished … foreign direct investment will also be reduced. …

“Mr. Trump’s economic proposals will also result in larger federal government deficits and a heavier debt load. … [T]he economy will be significantly weaker if Mr. Trump’s economic proposals are adopted. … By the end of his presidency, there are close to 3.5 million fewer jobs and the unemployment rate rises to as high as 7%, compared with below 5% today. During Mr. Trump’s presidency, the average American household’s after-inflation income will stagnate” https://goo.gl/HCBk1r

YELLEN PREP — Keefe, Bruyette & Woodss’ Brian Gardner on today’s Senate testimony: “[W]e expect Yellen will mostly reiterate what she said at last week’s press conference while possibly putting a slightly more optimistic spin on the economy and keeping interest rate hikes in 2016 on the table. On regulatory policy, we expect Yellen will get hammered from both sides — from some Democrats who think the regulators have not done enough … and from some Republicans who think the Fed has actually perpetuated TBTF. Since most of Dodd-Frank’s rules have been implemented or proposed, we do not expect she will break new ground on the regulatory front”

Pantheon’s Ian Shepherdson: “Back in the dim and increasingly distant past the semi-annual Monetary Policy Testimony — previously known as the Humphrey-Hawkins — used to be something of an event. Today’s Testimony, however, is most unlikely to change anyone’s opinion of the likely pace and timing of Fed action.

“No significant data have been released since last week’s FOMC meeting, when the FOMC backed away from the previously threatened June hike, citing the apparent slowdown in payroll growth and, in the press conference, fear of Brexit. The risk of Brexit appears to have diminished in recent days, but it is has definitely not evaporated wages”

ANOTHER VIEW ON BREXIT IMPACT — American Bankers Assoc.’s Wayne Abernathy emails: “Not to differ with [Mohamed A.] El-Erian, he may be right. But it is also worth keeping in mind another financial markets maxim: Sell on the predictions, buy on the news.

“With something so extensively covered in the news, the British decision is likely to be already priced in the markets, so far as predictions go, particularly from the sell side. Once a decision is made, markets tend to ‘get on with it,’ and markets bounce back. Not a sure thing, but a realistic possibility.”

POLLS TIGHT — Bloomberg: “Britain’s referendum on European Union membership remained too close to call two days before the vote, with separate polls showing leads for both sides … A YouGov poll of 1,652 voters for the Times newspaper published late on Monday showed ‘Leave’ at 44 percent and 42 percent for ‘Remain’, while a survey of 800 people by ORB for the Daily Telegraph had ‘Remain’ at 53 percent and ‘Leave’ at 46 percent among those certain to vote.” http://goo.gl/J1RsD1

POUND SURGES — FT’s Dan McCrum and Peter Wells: “The pound posted its biggest gain in eight years on Monday after a series of polls showed that Britons are increasingly likely to vote to remain in the EU … Stock markets also moved higher in the UK and across the globe, reversing some of the most tangible signs of unease which had accompanied swelling support for Leave before the murder last week of Labour MP Jo Cox prompted a suspension of campaigning” http://goo.gl/CWnF9q

SOROS WARNS — George Soros in The Guardian: “British voters are now grossly underestimating the true costs of leaving. Too many believe that a vote to leave the EU will have no effect on their personal financial position. This is wishful thinking. It would have at least one very clear and immediate effect that will touch every household: the value of the pound would decline precipitously. It would also have an immediate and dramatic impact on financial markets, investment, prices and jobs.” https://goo.gl/GoUvNK

POLITICO AT THE CONVENTIONS — Live programming originating from the POLITICO Hub during both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions this July will feature a range of conversations from headline interviews and policy discussions to watch parties and performances. Sign up to receive notifications about live programming: http://politi.co/1Ulse19

DRIVING THE DAY — Fed Chair Janet Yellen testifies before Senate Banking at 10 a.m. … Treasury Secretary Jack Lew delivers remarks at the 2016 SelectUSA Investment Summit. In the afternoon, Secretary Lew will chair and Deputy Secretary Raskin will attend a meeting of [FSOC] … Hillary Clinton gives a speech in Columbus, Ohio in which she is expected to rip Trump’s business record …

BREXIT WOULD NOT BE ABRUPT — Glenmede’s Director of Investment Strategy Jason Pride: “The likelihood of a ‘Leave’ vote in the Brexit referendum is material but should not be the base case assumption … Even if the referendum vote favors the ‘Leave’ camp, an exit would not occur suddenly. We suspect that UK political leaders will explore all opportunities, potentially including a protracted timetable for their exit from the EU, to avoid a disruption of foreign trade and other business arrangements”

CLINTON CAMP RIPS TRUMP ECON PLANS — POLITICO’s Nolan D. McCaskill: “Trump’s economic policies wouldn’t just move the U.S. backward; they would drive the country into an ‘economic ice age,’ according to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook slammed the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s economic proposals, adding that in addition to being unfit for the White House, the billionaire is also an economic threat.

“Mook argued that Trump’s tax plan would increase the national debt by more than $30 trillion over two decades and blasted him for suggesting that his administration would allow the U.S. to default on its debt, ‘which would literally cause a global economic catastrophe far worse than anything we saw in 2008,’ he said” on Sirius” http://goo.gl/vC80bi

CONSUMER CONFIDENCE FAVORS DEMS — CFR’s Benn Steil and Emma Smith: “Going back to 1952, consumer confidence has been a fair guide to presidential election outcomes. Confidence has been 12 points higher on average in years the incumbent party has won than in years the opposition party has won. he difference is statistically significant at the 1 percent level. …

“[A]verage confidence over 2016 to date is right at the average level for an incumbent party victory. This is good news for Hillary Clinton — though there is still plenty of time for bad news to boost Donald Trump.” http://goo.gl/Xgipex

TRUMP’S FUNDRAISING DISASTER — POLITICO’s Isaac Arnsdorf: “Donald Trump’s campaign had a paltry $1.3 million in cash on hand in May — a mere fraction of Hillary Clinton’s $42.5 million war chest — leaving the GOP frontrunner at a sharp disadvantage heading into the general election against Clinton’s money machine. On the same day that Trump fired his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, amid a steady stream of reports of campaign infighting and disorganization, the latest batch of [FEC] filings show that the real estate mogul has a long way to go if he hopes to establish a financial operation that can compete at the national level.

“The Trump campaign raised just $3.1 million from donors (including almost $2 million i amounts less than $200) and relied on another $2.2 million loan from Trump himself, who said he won’t continue self-funding his bid through the general election. … Even the defunct campaigns of Ted Cruz and Ben Carson had more cash on hand than Trump’s. In fact, several House members running for reelection has more cash on hand than Trump’s campaign.”

TWEET OF THE NIGHT — Bloomberg’s Jennifer Epstein: “Clinton had 3 $raisers today in NY. In all, about 135 people each gave $33.4k+. So, at least $4.5m raised today. More than Trump in May.”

NYT’s Nicholas Confessore and Rachel Shorey: “Trump enters the general election campaign laboring under the worst financial and organizational disadvantage of any major party nominee in recent history, placing both his candidacy and party in political peril. … The Trump campaign has not aired a television advertisement since he effectively secured the nomination in May and has not booked any advertising for the summer or fall.

“Mrs. Clinton and her allies spent nearly $26 million on advertising in June alone, according to the Campaign Media Analysis Group, pummeling Mr. Trump over his temperament, his statements and his mocking of a disabled reporter. The only sustained reply, aside from Mr. Trump’s gibes at rallies and on Twitter, has come from a pair of groups that spent less than $2 million combined.”

STOCKS SNAP BACK — WSJ’s Riva Gold and Mike Bird: “Stock markets around the world and the British pound rose sharply after polls tilted toward a U.K. vote to remain in the European Union, swings that portend further volatility in the days ahead. … Monday’s snapback was remarkable. Stocks had fallen for six of the prior seven trading days through Friday’s close as the Leave side gained ground in polls, while government-bond yields in the U.K., Japan, Germany and Australia reached all-time lows.

“Last week, bookmakers had estimated the odds of a vote to leave the EU at more than 40%. By Monday evening, the odds had tumbled to 23%, according to betting exchange Betfair. As the odds of an exit fell, stocks,sterling and oil jumped, while safe government bonds and gold retreated. To gauge the market, ‘on any given day, all you have to know is what the betting odds are,’ said Sebastian Raedler, head of European equity strategy at Deutsche Bank AG. Assessing what the market will do after the vote is less straightforward” http://goo.gl/l7dQMa

WHY UBER KEEPS RAISING BILLIONS — NYT’s Andrew Ross Sorkin: “If you add up all the money Uber has raised since it started in 2009 … the ride-hailing app company is on its way to amassing a colossal $15 billion. That’s real cash, not some funny-money, paper-based valuation. (That figure is $68 billion.) It has done all this while still managing to remain a private company, and its chief executive, Travis Kalanick, has insisted that a public offering is not coming soon. …

“So what exactly is Uber doing with all that money? … Uber has to finance an all-out war to gain market share in China and India. But there is more to it than that: Uber’s money-grab is seemingly part of an unspoken strategy to mark its territory. Every time Uber raises another $1 billion, venture capital investors and others may find it less attractive to back one of Uber’s many rivals: Didi Chuxing, Lyft, Gett, Halo, Juno” http://goo.gl/l0NvZO

MORE RUMBLINGS OF A TRUMP COUP — WPs Ed O’Keefe: “A campaign to stop Donald Trump from becoming the Republican presidential nominee has the support of nearly 400 delegates to the GOP’s convention next month, according to organizers, quickly transforming what began as an idea tossed around on social media into a force that could derail a national campaign. … While organizers concede their plan could worsen internal party strife, they believe they are responding to deep-rooted concerns among conservatives about Trump, who is suffering from declining poll numbers after weeks of missteps and embarrassing headlines.

“‘Short-term, yes, there’s going to be chaos,’ said Kendal Unruh, a co-founder of the group, Free the Delegates. ‘Long-term this saves the party and we win the election.’ … Unruh, of Colorado, said her cause is winning support from ‘the non-rabble rousers. The rule-following, churchgoing grandmas who aren’t out protesting in the streets. This is the way they push back.’” https://goo.gl/jVV426

MM SIDE NOTE — Does this mean we might NOT have to eat a bag of rusty nails (which we promised to do if Trump got the nomination)?

CLINTON ECON SPEECH PREP — POLITICO’s Gabriel Debenedetti: “Broadly speaking, polls show Americans think that Donald Trump would be a pretty solid steward of the economy. Hillary Clinton is planning to light that notion on fire. In a strike at the presumptive GOP nominee at one of the most politically vulnerable points of his campaign, Clinton is set Tuesday to use Trump’s public policy pronouncements and private business record to paint him as too dangerous to oversee the American economy.

“The address here in Ohio’s capital is intended to serve as a sequel to her early June anti-Trump speech on national security. The Clinton campaign is hoping it will garner the kind of glowing reaction from Democrats that greeted the former secretary of state after the San Diego speech that was widely seen as kicking off the strongest stretch of her campaign — and sparking a broader questioning of Trump’s credentials for the White House” http://goo.gl/k0nGlf