organization:securities and exchange commission

  • L’agence fédérale de l’aviation américaine a décelé une nouvelle faille « potentielle » du 737 MAX

    L’avionneur Boeing va devoir réparer cette faille, qui est de nature à retarder l’essai en vol du 737 MAX modifié, nécessaire pour la re-certification de l’appareil.

    Le retour dans le ciel du Boeing 737 Max va devoir être reporté. L’agence fédérale de l’aviation américaine (FAA) a décelé une nouvelle faille « potentielle », a-t-elle annoncé mercredi 26 juin. Le régulateur demande à l’avionneur de réparer cette dernière, qui est de nature à retarder l’essai en vol de l’appareil modifié, test nécessaire pour la re-certification de l’avion, locomotive des ventes du constructeur et cloué au sol depuis mi-mars.

    Dans un document adressé au gendarme des marchés, la SEC, l’avionneur explique que la FAA lui a demandé de « s’occuper d’un problème spécifique en vol que les changements de logiciel du 737 MAX sur lesquels Boeing travaille depuis huit mois ne prennent pas en compte ».

    « Boeing est d’accord avec la décision et la requête de la FAA et est en train de travailler sur ledit logiciel afin de répondre à la demande » de l’autorité, ajoute le groupe de Chicago. Il ajoute qu’il ne soumettra pas le 737 MAX modifié pour certification « tant que nous n’aurons pas satisfait toutes les exigences (…) pour un retour en service en toute sécurité ».

    Selon une source proche du dossier ayant requis l’anonymat, lors des tests sur simulateur la semaine dernière, des pilotes de la FAA ont eu du mal à reprendre le contrôle de l’avion après avoir activé le système anti-décrochage MCAS, mis en cause dans l’accident de Lion Air en Indonésie en 2018 et celui d’Ethiopian Airlines en mars en Ethiopie.

    Le vol test nécessaire pour enclencher le calendrier de retour dans le ciel du 737 MAX aux Etats-Unis ne pourra donc pas être effectué avant le 8 juillet, a commenté à l’Agence France-Presse (AFP) une source gouvernementale.

    Il va falloir à la FAA au moins de deux à trois semaines pour examiner les modifications effectuées par Boeing pour régler le problème, a dit cette source. En outre, il est difficile de savoir pour l’instant si le colmatage de cette faille exige une simple mise à jour du logiciel ou des changements en profondeur. Dans ce dernier cas, le 737 MAX devrait rester immobilisé au sol pendant encore de longues semaines.

  • As Thousands of Taxi Drivers Were Trapped in Loans, Top Officials Counted the Money - The New York Times

    [Read Part 1 of The Times’s investigation: How Reckless Loans Devastated a Generation of Taxi Drivers]

    At a cramped desk on the 22nd floor of a downtown Manhattan office building, Gary Roth spotted a looming disaster.

    An urban planner with two master’s degrees, Mr. Roth had a new job in 2010 analyzing taxi policy for the New York City government. But almost immediately, he noticed something disturbing: The price of a taxi medallion — the permit that lets a driver own a cab — had soared to nearly $700,000 from $200,000. In order to buy medallions, drivers were taking out loans they could not afford.

    Mr. Roth compiled his concerns in a report, and he and several colleagues warned that if the city did not take action, the loans would become unsustainable and the market could collapse.

    They were not the only ones worried about taxi medallions. In Albany, state inspectors gave a presentation to top officials showing that medallion owners were not making enough money to support their loans. And in Washington, D.C., federal examiners repeatedly noted that banks were increasing profits by steering cabbies into risky loans.

    They were all ignored.

    Medallion prices rose above $1 million before crashing in late 2014, wiping out the futures of thousands of immigrant drivers and creating a crisis that has continued to ravage the industry today. Despite years of warning signs, at least seven government agencies did little to stop the collapse, The New York Times found.

    Instead, eager to profit off medallions or blinded by the taxi industry’s political connections, the agencies that were supposed to police the industry helped a small group of bankers and brokers to reshape it into their own moneymaking machine, according to internal records and interviews with more than 50 former government employees.

    For more than a decade, the agencies reduced oversight of the taxi trade, exempted it from regulations, subsidized its operations and promoted its practices, records and interviews showed.

    Their actions turned one of the best-known symbols of New York — its signature yellow cabs — into a financial trap for thousands of immigrant drivers. More than 950 have filed for bankruptcy, according to a Times analysis of court records, and many more struggle to stay afloat.

    Remember the ‘10,000 Hours’ Rule for Success? Forget About It
    “Nobody wanted to upset the industry,” said David Klahr, who from 2007 to 2016 held several management posts at the Taxi and Limousine Commission, the city agency that oversees cabs. “Nobody wanted to kill the golden goose.”

    New York City in particular failed the taxi industry, The Times found. Two former mayors, Rudolph W. Giuliani and Michael R. Bloomberg, placed political allies inside the Taxi and Limousine Commission and directed it to sell medallions to help them balance budgets and fund priorities. Mayor Bill de Blasio continued the policies.

    Under Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. de Blasio, the city made more than $855 million by selling taxi medallions and collecting taxes on private sales, according to the city.

    But during that period, much like in the mortgage lending crisis, a group of industry leaders enriched themselves by artificially inflating medallion prices. They encouraged medallion buyers to borrow as much as possible and ensnared them in interest-only loans and other one-sided deals that often required them to pay hefty fees, forfeit their legal rights and give up most of their monthly incomes.

    When the medallion market collapsed, the government largely abandoned the drivers who bore the brunt of the crisis. Officials did not bail out borrowers or persuade banks to soften loan terms.

    “They sell us medallions, and they knew it wasn’t worth price. They knew,” said Wael Ghobrayal, 42, an Egyptian immigrant who bought a medallion at a city auction for $890,000 and now cannot make his loan payments and support his three children.

    “They lost nothing. I lost everything,” he said.

    The Times conducted hundreds of interviews, reviewed thousands of records and built several databases to unravel the story of the downfall of the taxi industry in New York and across the United States. The investigation unearthed a collapse that was years in the making, aided almost as much by regulators as by taxi tycoons.

    Publicly, government officials have blamed the crisis on competition from ride-hailing firms such as Uber and Lyft.

    In interviews with The Times, they blamed each other.

    The officials who ran the city Taxi and Limousine Commission in the run-up to the crash said it was the job of bank examiners, not the commission, to control lending practices.

    The New York Department of Financial Services said that while it supervised some of the banks involved in the taxi industry, it deferred to federal inspectors in many cases.

    The federal agency that oversaw many of the largest lenders in the industry, the National Credit Union Administration, said those lenders were meeting the needs of borrowers.

    The N.C.U.A. released a March 2019 internal audit that scolded its regulators for not aggressively enforcing rules in medallion lending. But even that audit partially absolved the government. The lenders, it said, all had boards of directors that were supposed to prevent reckless practices.

    And several officials criticized Congress, which two decades ago excepted credit unions in the taxi industry from some rules that applied to other credit unions. After that, the officials said, government agencies had to treat those lenders differently.

    Ultimately, former employees said, the regulatory system was set up to ensure that lenders were financially stable, and medallions were sold. But almost nothing protected the drivers.

    Matthew W. Daus, far right, at a hearing of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission in 2004. CreditMarilynn K. Yee/The New York Times
    Matthew W. Daus was an unconventional choice to regulate New York’s taxi industry. He was a lawyer from Brooklyn and a leader of a political club that backed Mr. Giuliani for mayor.

    The Giuliani administration hired him as a lawyer for the Taxi and Limousine Commission before appointing him chairman in 2001, a leadership post he kept after Mr. Bloomberg became mayor in 2002.

    The commission oversaw the drivers and fleets that owned the medallions for the city’s 12,000 cabs. It licensed all participants and decided what cabs could charge, where they could go and which type of vehicle they could use.

    And under Mr. Bloomberg, it also began selling 1,000 new medallions.

    At the time, the mayor said the growing city needed more yellow cabs. But he also was eager for revenue. He had a $3.8 billion hole in his budget.

    The sales put the taxi commission in an unusual position.

    It had a long history of being entangled with the industry. Its first chairman, appointed in 1971, was convicted of a bribery scheme involving an industry lobbyist. Four other leaders since then had worked in the business.

    It often sent staffers to conferences where companies involved in the taxi business paid for liquor, meals and tickets to shows, and at least one past member of its board had run for office in a campaign financed by the industry.

    Still, the agency had never been asked to generate so much money from the business it was supposed to be regulating.

    Former staffers said officials chose to sell medallions with the method they thought would bring in the most revenue: a series of limited auctions that required participants to submit sealed bids above ever-increasing minimums.

    Ahead of the sales, the city placed ads on television and radio, and in newspapers and newsletters, and held seminars promoting the “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

    “Medallions have a long history as a solid investment with steady growth,” Mr. Daus wrote in one newsletter. In addition to guaranteed employment, he wrote, “a medallion is collateral that can assist in home financing, college tuition or even ‘worry-free’ retirement.”

    At the first auctions under Mr. Bloomberg in 2004, bids topped $300,000, surprising experts.

    Some former staffers said in interviews they believed the ad campaign inappropriately inflated prices by implying medallions would make buyers rich, no matter the cost. Seven said they complained.

    The city eventually added a disclaimer to ads, saying past performance did not guarantee future results. But it kept advertising.

    During the same period, the city also posted information on its website that said that medallion prices were, on average, 13 percent higher than they really were, according to a Times data analysis.

    In several interviews, Mr. Daus defended the ad campaigns, saying they reached people who had been unable to break into the tight market. The ads were true at the time, he said. He added he had never heard internal complaints about the ads.

    In all, the city held 16 auctions between 2004 and 2014.

    “People don’t realize how organized it is,” Andrew Murstein, president of Medallion Financial, a lender to medallion buyers, said in a 2011 interview with Tearsheet Podcast. “The City of New York, more or less, is our partner because they want to see prices go as high as possible.”

    Help from a federal agency

    New York City made more than $855 million from taxi medallion sales under Mayor Bill de Blasio and his predecessor, Michael R. Bloomberg.

    For decades, a niche banking system had grown up around the taxi industry, and at its center were about half a dozen nonprofit credit unions that specialized in medallion loans. But as the auctions continued, the families that ran the credit unions began to grow frustrated.

    Around them, they saw other lenders making money by issuing loans that they could not because of the rules governing credit unions. They recognized a business opportunity, and they wanted in.

    They found a receptive audience at the National Credit Union Administration.

    The N.C.U.A. was the small federal agency that regulated the nation’s credit unions. It set the rules, examined their books and insured their accounts.

    Like the city taxi commission, the N.C.U.A. had long had ties to the industry that it regulated. One judge had called it a “rogue federal agency” focused on promoting the industry.

    In 2004, its chairman was Dennis Dollar, a former Mississippi state representative who had previously worked as the chief executive of a credit union. He had just been inducted into the Mississippi Credit Union Hall of Fame, and he had said one of his top priorities was streamlining regulation.

    Dennis Dollar, the former chairman of the National Credit Union Administration, is now a consultant in the industry. 

    Under Mr. Dollar and others, the N.C.U.A. issued waivers that exempted medallion loans from longstanding rules, including a regulation requiring each loan to have a down payment of at least 20 percent. The waivers allowed the lenders to keep up with competitors and to write more profitable loans.

    Mr. Dollar, who left government to become a consultant for credit unions, said the agency was following the lead of Congress, which passed a law in 1998 exempting credit unions specializing in medallion loans from some regulations. The law signaled that those lenders needed leeway, such as the waivers, he said.

    “If we did not do so, the average cabdriver couldn’t get a medallion loan,” Mr. Dollar said.

    The federal law and the N.C.U.A. waivers were not the only benefits the industry received. The federal government also provided many medallion lenders with financial assistance and guaranteed a portion of their taxi loans, assuring that if those loans failed, they would still be partially paid, according to records and interviews.

    As lenders wrote increasingly risky loans, medallion prices neared $500,000 in 2006.

    ‘Snoozing and napping’

    Under Mr. Bloomberg, the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission began selling 1,000 new medallions.

    Another agency was also supposed to be keeping an eye on lending practices. New York State banking regulators are required to inspect all financial institutions chartered in the state. But after 2008, they were forced to focus their attention on the banks most affected by the global economic meltdown, according to former employees.

    As a result, some industry veterans said, the state stopped examining medallion loans closely.

    “The state banking department would come in, and they’d be doing the exam in one room, and the N.C.U.A. would be in another room,” said Larry Fisher, who was then the medallion lending supervisor at Melrose Credit Union, one of the biggest lenders. “And you could catch the state banking department snoozing and napping and going on the internet and not doing much at all.”

    The state banking department, which is now called the New York Department of Financial Services, disputed that characterization and said it had acted consistently and appropriately.

    Former federal regulators described a similar trend at their agencies after the recession.

    Some former employees of the N.C.U.A., the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency said that as medallion prices climbed, they tried to raise issues with loans and were told not to worry. The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Reserve Board also oversaw some lenders and did not intervene.

    A spokesman for the Federal Reserve said the agency was not a primary regulator of the taxi lending industry. The rest of the agencies declined to comment.

    “It was obvious that the loans were unusual and risky,” said Patrick Collins, a former N.C.U.A. examiner. But, he said, there was a belief inside his agency that the loans would be fine because the industry had been stable for decades.

    Meanwhile, in New York City, the taxi commission reduced oversight.

    For years, it had made medallion purchasers file forms describing how they came up with the money, including details on all loans. It also had required industry participants to submit annual disclosures on their finances, loans and conflicts of interest.

    But officials never analyzed the forms filed by buyers, and in the 2000s, they stopped requiring the annual disclosures altogether.

    “Reviewing these disclosures was an onerous lift for us,” the commission’s communications office said in a recent email.

    By 2008, the price of a medallion rose to $600,000.

    At around the same time, the commission began focusing on new priorities. It started developing the “Taxi of Tomorrow,” a model for future cabs.

    The agency’s main enforcement activities targeted drivers who cheated passengers or discriminated against people of color. “Nobody really scrutinized medallion transfers,” said Charles Tortorici, a former commission lawyer.

    A spokesman for Mr. Bloomberg said in a statement that during the mayor’s tenure, the city improved the industry by installing credit card machines and GPS devices, making fleets more environmentally efficient and creating green taxis for boroughs outside Manhattan.

    “The industry was always its own worst enemy, fighting every reform tooth and nail,” said the spokesman, Marc La Vorgna. “We put our energy and political capital into the reforms that most directly and immediately impacted the riding public.”

    Records show that since 2008, the taxi commission has not taken a single enforcement action against brokers, the powerful players who arrange medallion sales and loans.

    Alex Korenkov, a broker, suggested in an interview that he and other brokers took notice of the city’s hands-off approach.

    “Let’s put it this way,” he said. “If governing body does not care, then free-for-all.”

    By the time that Mr. Roth wrote his report at the Taxi and Limousine Commission in 2010, it was clear that something strange was happening in the medallion market.

    Mr. Daus gave a speech that year that mentioned the unusual lending practices. During the speech, he said banks were letting medallion buyers obtain loans without any down payment. Experts have since said that should have raised red flags. But at the time, Mr. Daus seemed pleased.

    “Some of these folks were offering zero percent down,” he said. “You tell me what bank walks around asking for zero percent down on a loan? It’s just really amazing.”

    In interviews, Mr. Daus acknowledged that the practice was unusual but said the taxi commission had no authority over lending.

    Inside the commission, at least four employees raised concerns about the medallion prices and lending practices, according to the employees, who described their own unease as well as Mr. Roth’s report.

    David S. Yassky, a former city councilman who succeeded Mr. Daus as commission chairman in 2010, said in an interview that he never saw Mr. Roth’s report.

    Mr. Yassky said the medallion prices puzzled him, but he could not determine if they were inflated, in part because people were still eager to buy. Medallions may have been undervalued for decades, and the price spike could have been the market recognizing the true value, he suggested.

    Meera Joshi, who became chairwoman in 2014, said in an interview that she was worried about medallion costs and lending practices but was pushed to prioritize other responsibilities. Dominic Williams, Mr. de Blasio’s chief policy adviser, said the city focused on initiatives such as improving accessibility because no one was complaining about loans.

    Worries about the taxi industry also emerged at the National Credit Union Administration. In late 2011, as the price of some medallions reached $800,000, a group of agency examiners wrote a paper on the risks in the industry, according to a recent report by the agency’s inspector general.

    In 2012, 2013 and 2014, inspectors routinely documented instances of credit unions violating lending rules, the inspector general’s report said.

    David S. Yassky, the former chairman of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission.

    The N.C.U.A. chose not to penalize medallion lenders or impose extra oversight. It did not take any wide industry action until April 2014, when it sent a letter reminding the credit unions in the taxi market to act responsibly.

    Former staffers said the agency was still focused on the fallout from the recession.

    A spokesman for the N.C.U.A. disputed that characterization and said the agency conducted appropriate enforcement.

    He added the agency took actions to ensure the credit unions remained solvent, which was its mission. He said Congress allowed the lenders to concentrate heavily on medallion loans, which left them vulnerable when Uber and Lyft arrived.

    At the New York Department of Financial Services, bank examiners noticed risky practices and interest-only loans and repeatedly wrote warnings starting in 2010, according to the state. At least one report expressed concern of a potential market bubble, the state said.

    Eventually, examiners became so concerned that they made a PowerPoint presentation and called a meeting in 2014 to show it to a dozen top officials.

    “Since 2001, individual medallion has risen 455%,” the presentation warned, according to a copy obtained by The Times. The presentation suggested state action, such as sending a letter to the industry or revoking charters from some lenders.

    The state did neither. The department had recently merged with the insurance department, and former employees said it was finding its footing.

    The department superintendent at the time, Benjamin M. Lawsky, a former aide to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, said he did not, as a rule, discuss his tenure at the department.

    In an emailed statement, the department denied it struggled after the merger and said it took action to stop the collapse of the medallion market. A department spokesman provided a long list of warnings, suggestions and guidelines that it said examiners had issued to lenders. He said that starting in 2012, the department downgraded some of its own internal ratings of the lenders.

    The list did not include any instances of the department formally penalizing a medallion lender, or making any public statement about the industry before it collapsed.

    Between 2010 and 2014, as officials at every level of government failed to rein in the risky lending practices, records show that roughly 1,500 people bought taxi medallions. Over all, including refinancings of old loans and extensions required by banks, medallion owners signed at least 10,000 loans in that time.

    Several regulators who tried to raise alarms said they believed the government stood aside because of the industry’s connections.

    Many pointed to one company — Medallion Financial, run by the Murstein family. Former Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, the current governor’s father, was a paid member of its board from 1996 until he died in 2015.

    Others noted that Mr. de Blasio has long been close to the industry. When he ran for mayor in 2013, an industry lobbyist, Michael Woloz, was a top fund-raiser, records show. And Evgeny Freidman, a major fleet owner who has admitted to artificially inflating medallion prices, has said he is close to the mayor.

    Some people, including Mr. Dollar, the former N.C.U.A. chairman, said Congress excepted the taxi trade from rules because the industry was supported by former United States Senator Alfonse D’Amato of New York, who was then the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.

    “The taxi industry is one of the most politically connected industries in the city,” said Fidel Del Valle, who was the chairman of the taxi commission from 1991 to 1994. He later worked as a lawyer for drivers and a consultant to an owner association run by Mr. Freidman. “It’s been that way for decades, and they’ve used that influence to push back on regulation, with a lot of success.”

    A spokesman for Mr. Cuomo said Medallion Financial was not regulated by the state, so the elder Mr. Cuomo’s position on the board was irrelevant. A spokeswoman for Mr. de Blasio said the industry’s connections did not influence the city.

    Mr. Murstein, Mr. Woloz, Mr. Freidman and Mr. D’Amato all declined to comment.

    The aftermath
    “I think city will help me,” Mohammad Hossain, who is in deep debt from a taxi medallion loan, said at his family’s home in the Bronx.

    New York held its final independent medallion auction in February 2014. By then, concerns about medallion prices were common in the news media and government offices, and Uber had established itself. Still, the city sold medallions to more than 150 bidders. (“It’s better than the stock market,” one ad said.)

    Forty percent of the people who bought medallions at that auction have filed for bankruptcy, according to a Times analysis of court records.

    Mohammad Hossain, 47, from Bangladesh, who purchased a medallion for $853,000 at the auction, said he could barely make his monthly payments and was getting squeezed by his lender. “I bought medallion from the city,” he said through tears. “I think city will help me, you know. I assume that.”

    The de Blasio administration’s only major response to the crisis has been to push for a cap on ride-hail cars. The City Council at first rejected a cap in 2015 before approving it last year.

    Taxi industry veterans said the cap did not address the cause of the crisis: the lending practices.

    Richard Weinberg, a taxi commission hearing officer from 1988 to 2002 and a lawyer for drivers since then, said that when the medallion bubble began to burst, the city should have frozen prices, adjusted fares and fees and convinced banks to be flexible with drivers. That could have allowed prices to fall slowly. “That could’ve saved a lot of people,” he said.

    In an interview, Dean Fuleihan, the first deputy mayor, said the city did help taxi owners, including by reducing some fees, taxes and inspection mandates, and by talking to banks about loans. He said that if the City Council had passed the cap in 2015, it would have helped.

    “We do care about those drivers, we care about those families. We attempted throughout this period to take actions,” he said.

    Federal regulators also have not significantly helped medallion owners.

    In 2017 and 2018, the N.C.U.A. closed or merged several credit unions for “unsafe business practices” in medallion lending. It took over many of the loans, but did not soften terms, according to borrowers. Instead, it tried to get money out as quickly as possible.

    The failure of the credit unions has cost the national credit union insurance fund more than $750 million, which will hurt all credit union members.

    In August 2018, the N.C.U.A. closed Melrose in what it said was the biggest credit union liquidation in United States history. The agency barred Melrose’s general counsel from working for credit unions and brought civil charges against its former C.E.O., Alan Kaufman, saying he used company funds to help industry partners in exchange for gifts.

    The general counsel, Mitchell Reiver, declined to answer questions but said he did nothing wrong. Mr. Kaufman said in an interview that the N.C.U.A. made up the charges to distract from its role in the crisis.

    “I’m definitely a scapegoat,” Mr. Kaufman said. “There’s no doubt about it.”

    Glamour, then poverty
    After he struggled to repay his taxi medallion loan, Abel Vela left his family in New York and moved back to Peru, where living costs were cheaper. 

    During the medallion bubble, the city produced a television commercial to promote the permits. In the ad, which aired in 2004, four cabbies stood around a taxi discussing the perks of the job. One said buying a medallion was the best decision he had ever made. They all smiled. Then Mr. Daus appeared on screen to announce an auction.

    Fifteen years later, the cabbies remember the ad with scorn. Three of the four were eventually enticed to refinance their original loans under far riskier terms that left them in heavy debt.

    One of the cabbies, Abel Vela, had to leave his wife and children and return to his home country, Peru, because living costs were lower there. He is now 74 and still working to survive.

    The city aired a commercial in 2004 to promote an upcoming auction of taxi medallions. The ad featured real cab drivers, but three of them eventually took on risky loans and suffered financial blows.
    The only woman in the ad, Marie Applyrs, a Haitian immigrant, fell behind on her loan payments and filed for bankruptcy in November 2017. She lost her cab, and her home. She now lives with her children, switching from home to home every few months.

    “When the ad happened, the taxi was in vogue. I think I still have the tape somewhere. It was glamorous,” she said. “Now, I’m in the poorhouse.”

    Today, the only person from the television commercial still active in the industry is Mr. Daus. He works as a lawyer for lenders.

    [Read Part 1 of The Times’s investigation: How Reckless Loans Devastated a Generation of Taxi Drivers]

    Madeline Rosenberg contributed reporting. Doris Burke contributed research. Produced by Jeffrey Furticella and Meghan Louttit.

    #USA #New_York #Taxi #Betrug #Ausbeutung

  • ‘They Were Conned’: How Reckless Loans Devastated a Generation of Taxi Drivers - The New York Times

    Mohammed Hoque with his three children in their studio apartment in Jamaica, Queens.

    May 19, 2019 - The phone call that ruined Mohammed Hoque’s life came in April 2014 as he began another long day driving a New York City taxi, a job he had held since emigrating from Bangladesh nine years earlier.

    The call came from a prominent businessman who was selling a medallion, the coveted city permit that allows a driver to own a yellow cab instead of working for someone else. If Mr. Hoque gave him $50,000 that day, he promised to arrange a loan for the purchase.

    After years chafing under bosses he hated, Mr. Hoque thought his dreams of wealth and independence were coming true. He emptied his bank account, borrowed from friends and hurried to the man’s office in Astoria, Queens. Mr. Hoque handed over a check and received a stack of papers. He signed his name and left, eager to tell his wife.

    Mr. Hoque made about $30,000 that year. He had no idea, he said later, that he had just signed a contract that required him to pay $1.7 million.

    Over the past year, a spate of suicides by taxi drivers in New York City has highlighted in brutal terms the overwhelming debt and financial plight of medallion owners. All along, officials have blamed the crisis on competition from ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft.

    But a New York Times investigation found much of the devastation can be traced to a handful of powerful industry leaders who steadily and artificially drove up the price of taxi medallions, creating a bubble that eventually burst. Over more than a decade, they channeled thousands of drivers into reckless loans and extracted hundreds of millions of dollars before the market collapsed.

    These business practices generated huge profits for bankers, brokers, lawyers, investors, fleet owners and debt collectors. The leaders of nonprofit credit unions became multimillionaires. Medallion brokers grew rich enough to buy yachts and waterfront properties. One of the most successful bankers hired the rap star Nicki Minaj to perform at a family party.

    But the methods stripped immigrant families of their life savings, crushed drivers under debt they could not repay and engulfed an industry that has long defined New York. More than 950 medallion owners have filed for bankruptcy, according to a Times analysis of court records. Thousands more are barely hanging on.

    The practices were strikingly similar to those behind the housing market crash that led to the 2008 global economic meltdown: Banks and loosely regulated private lenders wrote risky loans and encouraged frequent refinancing; drivers took on debt they could not afford, under terms they often did not understand.

    Some big banks even entered the taxi industry in the aftermath of the housing crash, seeking a new market, with new borrowers.

    The combination of easy money, eager borrowers and the lure of a rare asset helped prices soar far above what medallions were really worth. Some industry leaders fed the frenzy by purposefully overpaying for medallions in order to inflate prices, The Times found.

    Between 2002 and 2014, the price of a medallion rose to more than $1 million from $200,000, even though city records showed that driver incomes barely changed.

    About 4,000 drivers bought medallions in that period, records show. They were excited to buy, but they were enticed by a dubious premise.

    What Actually Happened to New York’s Taxi DriversMay 28, 2019

    After the medallion market collapsed, Mayor Bill de Blasio opted not to fund a bailout, and earlier this year, the City Council speaker, Corey Johnson, shut down the committee overseeing the taxi industry, saying it had completed most of its work.

    Over 10 months, The Times interviewed 450 people, built a database of every medallion sale since 1995 and reviewed thousands of individual loans and other documents, including internal bank records and confidential profit-sharing agreements.

    The investigation found example after example of drivers trapped in exploitative loans, including hundreds who signed interest-only loans that required them to pay exorbitant fees, forfeit their legal rights and give up almost all their monthly income, indefinitely.

    A Pakistani immigrant who thought he was just buying a car ended up with a $780,000 medallion loan that left him unable to pay rent. A Bangladeshi immigrant said he was told to lie about his income on his loan application; he eventually lost his medallion. A Haitian immigrant who worked to exhaustion to make his monthly payments discovered he had been paying only interest and went bankrupt.

    Abdur Rahim, who is from Bangladesh, is one of several cab drivers who allege they were duped into signing exploitative loans. 
    It is unclear if the practices violated any laws. But after reviewing The Times’s findings, experts said the methods were among the worst that have been used since the housing crash.

    “I don’t think I could concoct a more predatory scheme if I tried,” said Roger Bertling, the senior instructor at Harvard Law School’s clinic on predatory lending and consumer protection. “This was modern-day indentured servitude.”

    Lenders developed their techniques in New York but spread them to Chicago, Boston, San Francisco and elsewhere, transforming taxi industries across the United States.

    In interviews, lenders denied wrongdoing. They noted that regulators approved their practices, and said some borrowers made poor decisions and assumed too much debt. They said some drivers were happy to use climbing medallion values as collateral to take out cash, and that those who sold their medallions at the height of the market made money.

    The lenders said they believed medallion values would keep increasing, as they almost always had. No one, they said, could have predicted Uber and Lyft would emerge to undercut the business.

    “People love to blame banks for things that happen because they’re big bad banks,” said Robert Familant, the former head of Progressive Credit Union, a small nonprofit that specialized in medallion loans. “We didn’t do anything, in my opinion, other than try to help small businesspeople become successful.”

    Mr. Familant made about $30 million in salary and deferred payouts during the bubble, including $4.8 million in bonuses and incentives in 2014, the year it burst, according to disclosure forms.

    Meera Joshi, who joined the Taxi and Limousine Commission in 2011 and became chairwoman in 2014, said it was not the city’s job to regulate lending. But she acknowledged that officials saw red flags and could have done something.

    “There were lots of players, and lots of people just watched it happen. So the T.L.C. watched it happen. The lenders watched it happen. The borrowers watched it happen as their investment went up, and it wasn’t until it started falling apart that people started taking action and pointing fingers,” said Ms. Joshi, who left the commission in March. “It was a party. Why stop it?”

    Every day, about 250,000 people hail a New York City yellow taxi. Most probably do not know they are participating in an unconventional economic system about as old as the Empire State Building.

    The city created taxi medallions in 1937. Unlicensed cabs crowded city streets, so officials designed about 12,000 specialized tin plates and made it illegal to operate a taxi without one bolted to the hood of the car. The city sold each medallion for $10.

    People who bought medallions could sell them, just like any other asset. The only restriction: Officials designated roughly half as “independent medallions” and eventually required that those always be owned by whoever was driving that cab.

    Over time, as yellow taxis became symbols of New York, a cutthroat industry grew around them. A few entrepreneurs obtained most of the nonindependent medallions and built fleets that controlled the market. They were family operations largely based in the industrial neighborhoods of Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan and Long Island City in Queens.

    Allegations of corruption, racism and exploitation dogged the industry. Some fleet bosses were accused of cheating drivers. Some drivers refused to go outside Manhattan or pick up black and Latino passengers. Fleet drivers typically worked 60 hours a week, made less than minimum wage and received no benefits, according to city studies.

    Still, driving could serve as a path to the middle class. Drivers could save to buy an independent medallion, which would increase their earnings and give them an asset they could someday sell for a retirement nest egg.

    Those who borrowed money to buy a medallion typically had to submit a large down payment and repay within five to 10 years.

    The conservative lending strategy produced modest returns. The city did not release new medallions for almost 60 years, and values slowly climbed, hitting $100,000 in 1985 and $200,000 in 1997.

    “It was a safe and stable asset, and it provided a good life for those of us who were lucky enough to buy them,” said Guy Roberts, who began driving in 1979 and eventually bought medallions and formed a fleet. “Not an easy life, but a good life.”

    “And then,” he said, “everything changed.”

    – Before coming to America, Mohammed Hoque lived comfortably in Chittagong, a city on Bangladesh’s southern coast. He was a serious student and a gifted runner, despite a small and stocky frame. His father and grandfather were teachers; he said he surpassed them, becoming an education official with a master’s degree in management. He supervised dozens of schools and traveled on a government-issued motorcycle. In 2004, when he was 33, he married Fouzia Mahabub. -

    That same year, several of his friends signed up for the green card lottery, and their thirst for opportunity was contagious. He applied, and won.

    His wife had an uncle in Jamaica, Queens, so they went there. They found a studio apartment. Mr. Hoque wanted to work in education, but he did not speak enough English. A friend recommended the taxi industry.

    It was an increasingly common move for South Asian immigrants. In 2005, about 40 percent of New York cabbies were born in Bangladesh, India or Pakistan, according to the United States Census Bureau. Over all, just 9 percent were born in the United States.

    Mr. Hoque and his wife emigrated from Bangladesh, and have rented the same apartment in Queens since 2005.

    Mr. Hoque joined Taxifleet Management, a large fleet run by the Weingartens, a Russian immigrant family whose patriarchs called themselves the “Three Wise Men.”

    He worked 5 a.m. to 5 p.m., six days a week. On a good day, he said, he brought home $100. He often felt lonely on the road, and he developed back pain from sitting all day and diabetes, medical records show.

    He could have worked fewer shifts. He also could have moved out of the studio. But he drove as much as feasible and spent as little as possible. He had heard the city would soon be auctioning off new medallions. He was saving to buy one.

    Andrew Murstein, left, with his father, Alvin.CreditChester Higgins Jr./The New York Times
    In the early 2000s, a new generation took power in New York’s cab industry. They were the sons of longtime industry leaders, and they had new ideas for making money.

    Few people represented the shift better than Andrew Murstein.

    Mr. Murstein was the grandson of a Polish immigrant who bought one of the first medallions, built one of the city’s biggest fleets and began informally lending to other buyers in the 1970s. Mr. Murstein attended business school and started his career at Bear Stearns and Salomon Brothers, the investment banks.

    When he joined the taxi business, he has said, he pushed his family to sell off many medallions and to establish a bank to focus on lending. Medallion Financial went public in 1996. Its motto was, “In niches, there are riches.”

    Dozens of industry veterans said Mr. Murstein and his father, Alvin, were among those who helped to move the industry to less conservative lending practices. The industry veterans said the Mursteins, as well as others, started saying medallion values would always rise and used that idea to focus on lending to lower-income drivers, which was riskier but more profitable.

    The strategy began to be used by the industry’s other major lenders — Progressive Credit Union, Melrose Credit Union and Lomto Credit Union, all family-run nonprofits that made essentially all their money from medallion loans, according to financial disclosures.

    “We didn’t want to be the one left behind,” said Monte Silberger, Lomto’s controller and then chief financial officer from 1999 to 2017.

    The lenders began accepting smaller down payments. By 2013, many medallion buyers were not handing over any down payment at all, according to an analysis of buyer applications submitted to the city.

    “It got to a point where we didn’t even check their income or credit score,” Mr. Silberger said. “It didn’t matter.”

    Lenders also encouraged existing borrowers to refinance and take out more money when medallion prices rose, according to interviews with dozens of borrowers and loan officers. There is no comprehensive data, but bank disclosures suggest that thousands of owners refinanced.

    Industry veterans said it became common for owners to refinance to buy a house or to put children through college. “You’d walk into the bank and walk out 30 minutes later with an extra $200,000,” said Lou Bakalar, a broker who arranged loans.

    Yvon Augustin has been living with help from his children ever since he declared bankruptcy and lost his taxi medallion.

    Some pointed to the refinancing to argue that irresponsible borrowers fueled the crisis. “Medallion owners were misusing it,” said Aleksey Medvedovskiy, a fleet owner who also worked as a broker. “They used it as an A.T.M.”

    As lenders loosened standards, they increased returns. Rather than raising interest rates, they made borrowers pay a mix of costs — origination fees, legal fees, financing fees, refinancing fees, filing fees, fees for paying too late and fees for paying too early, according to a Times review of more than 500 loans included in legal cases. Many lenders also made borrowers split their loan and pay a much higher rate on the second loan, documents show.

    Lenders also extended loan lengths. Instead of requiring repayment in five or 10 years, they developed deals that lasted as long as 50 years, locking in decades of interest payments. And some wrote interest-only loans that could continue forever.

    “We couldn’t figure out why the company was doing so many interest-only loans,” said Michelle Pirritano, a Medallion Financial loan analyst from 2007 to 2011. “It was a good revenue stream, but it didn’t really make sense as a loan. I mean, it wasn’t really a loan, because it wasn’t being repaid.”

    Almost every loan reviewed by The Times included a clause that spiked the interest rate to as high as 24 percent if it was not repaid in three years. Lenders included the clause — called a “balloon” — so that borrowers almost always had to extend the loan, possibly at a higher rate than in the original terms, and with additional fees.

    Yvon Augustin was caught in one of those loans. He bought a medallion in 2006, a decade after emigrating from Haiti. He said he paid $2,275 every month — more than half his income, he said — and thought he was paying off the loan. But last year, his bank used the balloon to demand that he repay everything. That is when he learned he had been paying only the interest, he said.

    Mr. Augustin, 69, declared bankruptcy and lost his medallion. He lives off assistance from his children.

    During the global financial crisis, Eugene Haber, a lawyer for the taxi industry, started getting calls from bankers he had never met.

    Mr. Haber had written a template for medallion loans in the 1970s. By 2008, his thick mustache had turned white, and he thought he knew everybody in the industry. Suddenly, new bankers began calling his suite in a Long Island office park. Capital One, Signature Bank, New York Commercial Bank and others wanted to issue medallion loans, he said.

    Some of the banks were looking for new borrowers after the housing market collapsed, Mr. Haber said. “They needed somewhere else to invest,” he said. He said he represented some banks at loan signings but eventually became embittered because he believed banks were knowingly lending to people who could not repay.

    Instead of lending directly, the big banks worked through powerful industry players. They enlisted large fleet owners and brokers — especially Neil Greenbaum, Richard Chipman, Savas Konstantinides, Roman Sapino and Basil Messados — to use the banks’ money to lend to medallion buyers. In return, the owners and brokers received a cut of the monthly payments and sometimes an additional fee.

    The fleet owners and brokers, who technically issued the loans, did not face the same scrutiny as banks.

    “They did loans that were frankly insane,” said Larry Fisher, who from 2003 to 2016 oversaw medallion lending at Melrose Credit Union, one of the biggest lenders originally in the industry. “It contributed to the price increases and put a lot of pressure on the rest of us to keep up.”

    Evgeny Freidman, a fleet owner, has said he purposely overbid for taxi medallions in order to drive up their value.CreditSasha Maslov
    Still, Mr. Fisher said, Melrose followed lending rules. “A lot of people tend to blame others for their own misfortune,” he said. “If they want to blame the lender for the medallion going down the tubes the way it has, I think they’re misplaced.”

    Mr. Konstantinides, a fleet owner and the broker and lender who arranged Mr. Hoque’s loans, said every loan issued by his company abided by federal and state banking guidelines. “I am very sympathetic to the plight of immigrant families who are seeking a better life in this country and in this city,” said Mr. Konstantinides, who added that he was also an immigrant.

    Walter Rabin, who led Capital One’s medallion lending division between 2007 and 2012 and has led Signature Bank’s medallion lending division since, said he was one of the industry’s most conservative lenders. He said he could not speak for the brokers and fleet owners with whom he worked.

    Mr. Rabin and other Signature executives denied fault for the market collapse and blamed the city for allowing ride-hail companies to enter with little regulation. “It’s the City of New York that took the biggest advantage of the drivers,” said Joseph J. DePaolo, the president and chief executive of Signature. “It’s not the banks.”

    New York Commercial Bank said in a statement that it began issuing medallion loans before the housing crisis and that they were a very small part of its business. The bank did not engage in risky lending practices, a spokesman said.

    Mr. Messados said in an interview that he disagreed with interest-only loans and other one-sided terms. But he said he was caught between banks developing the loans and drivers clamoring for them. “They were insisting on this,” he said. “What are you supposed to do? Say, ‘I’m not doing the sale?’”

    Several lenders challenged the idea that borrowers were unsophisticated. They said that some got better deals by negotiating with multiple lenders at once.

    Mr. Greenbaum, Mr. Chipman and Mr. Sapino declined to comment, as did Capital One.

    Some fleet owners worked to manipulate prices. In the most prominent example, Evgeny Freidman, a brash Russian immigrant who owned so many medallions that some called him “The Taxi King,” said he purposefully overpaid for medallions sold at city auctions. He reasoned that the higher prices would become the industry standard, making the medallions he already owned worth more. Mr. Freidman, who was partners with Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer, disclosed the plan in a 2012 speech at Yeshiva University. He recently pleaded guilty to felony tax fraud. He declined to comment.

    As medallion prices kept increasing, the industry became strained. Drivers had to work longer hours to make monthly payments. Eventually, loan records show, many drivers had to use almost all their income on payments.

    “The prices got to be ridiculous,” said Vincent Sapone, the retired manager of the League of Mutual Taxi Owners, an owner association. “When it got close to $1 million, nobody was going to pay that amount of money, unless they came from another country. Nobody from Brooklyn was going to pay that.”

    Some drivers have alleged in court that lenders tricked them into signing loans.

    Muhammad Ashraf, who is not fluent in English, said he thought he was getting a loan to purchase a car but ended up in debt to buy a taxi medallion instead.

    Muhammad Ashraf, a Pakistani immigrant, alleged that a broker, Heath Candero, duped him into a $780,000 interest-only loan. He said in an interview in Urdu that he could not speak English fluently and thought he was just signing a loan to buy a car. He said he found out about the loan when his bank sued him for not fully repaying. The bank eventually decided not to pursue a case against Mr. Ashraf. He also filed a lawsuit against Mr. Candero. That case was dismissed. A lawyer for Mr. Candero declined to comment.

    Abdur Rahim, a Bangladeshi immigrant, alleged that his lender, Bay Ridge Credit Union, inserted hidden fees. In an interview, he added he was told to lie on his loan application. The application, reviewed by The Times, said he made $128,389, but he said his tax return showed he made about $25,000. In court, Bay Ridge has denied there were hidden fees and said Mr. Rahim was “confusing the predatory-lending statute with a mere bad investment.” The credit union declined to comment.

    Several employees of lenders said they were pushed to write loans, encouraged by bonuses and perks such as tickets to sporting events and free trips to the Bahamas.

    They also said drivers almost never had lawyers at loan closings. Borrowers instead trusted their broker to represent them, even though, unbeknown to them, the broker was often getting paid by the bank.

    Stan Zurbin, who between 2009 and 2012 did consulting work for a lender that issued medallion loans, said that as prices rose, lenders in the industry increasingly lent to immigrants.

    “They didn’t have 750 credit scores, let’s just say,” he said. “A lot of them had just come into the country. A lot of them just had no idea what they were signing.”

    The $1 million medallion
    Mrs. Hoque did not want her husband to buy a medallion. She wanted to use their savings to buy a house. They had their first child in 2008, and they planned to have more. They needed to leave the studio apartment, and she thought a home would be a safer investment.

    But Mr. Hoque could not shake the idea, especially after several friends bought medallions at the city’s February 2014 auction.

    One friend introduced him to a man called “Big Savas.” It was Mr. Konstantinides, a fleet owner who also had a brokerage and a lending company, Mega Funding.

    The call came a few weeks later. A medallion owner had died, and the family was selling for $1 million.

    Mr. Hoque said he later learned the $50,000 he paid up front was just for taxes. Mega eventually requested twice that amount for fees and a down payment, records show. Mr. Hoque said he maxed out credit cards and borrowed from a dozen friends and relatives.

    Fees and interest would bring the total repayment to more than $1.7 million, documents show. It was split into two loans, both issued by Mega with New York Commercial Bank. The loans made him pay $5,000 a month — most of the $6,400 he could earn as a medallion owner.

    Mohammed Hoque’s Medallion Loans Consumed Most of His Taxi Revenue
    After paying his two medallion loans and business costs, Mr. Hoque had about $1,400 left over each month to pay the rent on his studio apartment in Queens and cover his living expenses.

    Estimated monthly revenue $11,845

    Gas $1,500

    Income after expenses $1,400

    Vehicle maintenance $1,300

    Medallion loan 1 $4,114

    Insurance $1,200

    Car loan $650

    Credit card fees $400

    Medallion loan 2 $881

    Other work-related expenses $400

    By the time the deal closed in July 2014, Mr. Hoque had heard of a new company called Uber. He wondered if it would hurt the business, but nobody seemed to be worried.

    As Mr. Hoque drove to the Taxi and Limousine Commission’s downtown office for final approval of the purchase, he fantasized about becoming rich, buying a big house and bringing his siblings to America. After a commission official reviewed his application and loan records, he said he was ushered into the elegant “Taxi of Tomorrow” room. An official pointed a camera. Mr. Hoque smiled.

    “These are little cash cows running around the city spitting out money,” Mr. Murstein said, beaming in a navy suit and pink tie.

    He did not mention he was quietly leaving the business, a move that would benefit him when the market collapsed.

    By the time of the appearance, Medallion Financial had been cutting the number of medallion loans on its books for years, according to disclosures it filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Mr. Murstein later said the company started exiting the business and focusing on other ventures before 2010.

    Mr. Murstein declined numerous interview requests. He also declined to answer some written questions, including why he promoted medallions while exiting the business. In emails and through a spokesman, he acknowledged that Medallion Financial reduced down payments but said it rarely issued interest-only loans or charged borrowers for repaying loans too early.

    “Many times, we did not match what our competitors were willing to do and in retrospect, thankfully, we lost the business,” he wrote to The Times.

    Interviews with three former staffers, and a Times review of loan documents that were filed as part of lawsuits brought by Medallion Financial against borrowers, indicate the company issued many interest-only loans and routinely included a provision allowing it to charge borrowers for repaying loans too early.

    Other lenders also left the taxi industry or took precautions long before the market collapsed.

    The credit unions specializing in the industry kept making new loans. But between 2010 and 2014, they sold the loans to other financial institutions more often than in the previous five years, disclosure forms show. Progressive Credit Union, run by Mr. Familant, sold loans off almost twice as often, the forms show. By 2012, that credit union was selling the majority of the loans it issued.

    In a statement, Mr. Familant said the selling of loans was a standard banking practice that did not indicate a lack of confidence in the market.

    Several banks used something called a confession of judgment. It was an obscure document in which the borrower admitted defaulting on the loan — even before taking out any money at all — and authorized the bank to do whatever it wanted to collect.

    Larry Fisher was the medallion lending supervisor at Melrose Credit Union, one of the biggest lenders originally in the industry, from 2003 to 2016.
    Congress has banned that practice in consumer loans, but not in business loans, which is how lenders classified medallion deals. Many states have barred it in business loans, too, but New York is not among them.

    Even as some lenders quietly braced for the market to fall, prices kept rising, and profits kept growing.

    By 2014, many of the people who helped create the bubble had made millions of dollars and invested it elsewhere.

    Medallion Financial started focusing on lending to R.V. buyers and bought a professional lacrosse team and a Nascar team, painting the car to look like a taxi. Mr. Murstein and his father made more than $42 million between 2002 and 2014, disclosures show. In 2015, Ms. Minaj, the rap star, performed at his son’s bar mitzvah.

    The Melrose C.E.O., Alan Kaufman, had the highest base salary of any large state-chartered credit union leader in America in 2013 and 2015, records show. His medallion lending supervisor, Mr. Fisher, also made millions.

    It is harder to tell how much fleet owners and brokers made, but in recent years news articles have featured some of them with new boats and houses.

    Mr. Messados’s bank records, filed in a legal case, show that by 2013, he had more than $50 million in non-taxi assets, including three homes and a yacht.

    The bubble bursts

    At least eight drivers have committed suicide, including three medallion owners with overwhelming loans.
    The medallion bubble burst in late 2014. Uber and Lyft may have hastened the crisis, but virtually all of the hundreds of industry veterans interviewed for this article, including many lenders, said inflated prices and risky lending practices would have caused a collapse even if ride-hailing had never been invented.

    At the market’s height, medallion buyers were typically earning about $5,000 a month and paying about $4,500 to their loans, according to an analysis by The Times of city data and loan documents. Many owners could make their payments only by refinancing when medallion values increased, which was unsustainable, some loan officers said.

    City data shows that since Uber entered New York in 2011, yellow cab revenue has decreased by about 10 percent per cab, a significant bite for low-earning drivers but a small drop compared with medallion values, which initially rose and then fell by 90 percent.

    As values fell, borrowers asked for breaks. But many lenders went the opposite direction. They decided to leave the business and called in their loans.

    They used the confessions to get hundreds of judgments that would allow them to take money from bank accounts, court records show. Some tried to get borrowers to give up homes or a relative’s assets. Others seized medallions and quickly resold them for profit, while still charging the original borrowers fees and extra interest. Several drivers have alleged in court that their lenders ordered them to buy life insurance.

    Many lenders hired a debt collector, Anthony Medina, to seize medallions from borrowers who missed payments.

    The scars left on cabs after medallions were removed.

    Mr. Medina left notes telling borrowers they had to give the lender “relief” to get their medallions back. The notes, which were reviewed by The Times, said the seizure was “authorized by vehicle apprehension unit.” Some drivers said Mr. Medina suggested he was a police officer and made them meet him at a park at night and pay $550 extra in cash.

    One man, Jean Demosthenes, a 64-year-old Haitian immigrant who could not speak English, said in an interview in Haitian Creole that Mr. Medina cornered him in Midtown, displayed a gun and took his car.

    In an interview, Mr. Medina denied threatening anyone with a gun. He said he requested cash because drivers who had defaulted could not be trusted to write good checks. He said he met drivers at parks and referred to himself as the vehicle apprehension unit because he wanted to hide his identity out of fear he could be targeted by borrowers.

    “You’re taking words from people that are deadbeats and delinquent people. Of course, they don’t want to see me,” he said. “I’m not the bad guy. I’m just the messenger from the bank.”

    Some lenders, especially Signature Bank, have let borrowers out of their loans for one-time payments of about $250,000. But to get that money, drivers have had to find new loans. Mr. Greenbaum, a fleet owner, has provided many of those loans, sometimes at interest rates of up to 15 percent, loan documents and interviews showed.

    New York Commercial Bank said in its statement it also had modified some loans.

    Other drivers lost everything. Most of the more than 950 owners who declared bankruptcy had to forfeit their medallions. Records indicate many were bought by hedge funds hoping for prices to rise. For now, cabs sit unused.

    Jean Demosthenes said his medallion was repossessed by a man with a gun. The man denied that he was armed.

    Bhairavi Desai, founder of the Taxi Workers Alliance, which represents drivers and independent owners, has asked the city to bail out owners or refund auction purchasers. Others have urged the city to pressure banks to forgive loans or soften terms.

    After reviewing The Times’s findings, Deepak Gupta, a former top official at the United States Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, said the New York Attorney General’s Office should investigate lenders.

    Mr. Gupta also said the state should close the loophole that let lenders classify medallion deals as business loans, even though borrowers had to guarantee them with everything they owned. Consumer loans have far more disclosure rules and protections.

    “These practices were indisputably predatory and would be illegal if they were considered consumer loans, rather than business loans,” he said.

    Last year, amid eight known suicides of drivers, including three medallion owners with overwhelming loans, the city passed a temporary cap on ride-hailing cars, created a task force to study the industry and directed the city taxi commission to do its own analysis of the debt crisis.

    Earlier this year, the Council eliminated the committee overseeing the industry after its chairman, Councilman Rubén Díaz Sr. of the Bronx, said the Council was “controlled by the homosexual community.” The speaker, Mr. Johnson, said, “The vast majority of the legislative work that we have been looking at has already been completed.”

    In a statement, a council spokesman said the committee’s duties had been transferred to the Committee on Transportation. “The Council is working to do as much as it can legislatively to help all drivers,” the spokesman said.

    As of last week, no one had been appointed to the task force.

    On the last day of 2018, Mr. and Mrs. Hoque brought their third child home from the hospital.

    Mr. Hoque cleared space for the boy’s crib, pushing aside his plastic bags of T-shirts and the fan that cooled the studio. He looked around. He could not believe he was still living in the same room.

    His loan had quickly faltered. He could not make the payments and afford rent, and his medallion was seized. Records show he paid more than $12,000 to Mega, and he said he paid another $550 to Mr. Medina to get it back. He borrowed from friends, promising it would not happen again. Then it happened four more times, he said.

    Mr. Konstantinides, the broker, said in his statement that he met with Mr. Hoque many times and twice modified one of his loans in order to lower his monthly payments. He also said he gave Mr. Hoque extra time to make some payments.

    In all, between the initial fees, monthly payments and penalties after the seizures, Mr. Hoque had paid about $400,000 into the medallion by the beginning of this year.

    But he still owed $915,000 more, plus interest, and he did not know what to do. Bankruptcy would cost money, ruin his credit and remove his only income source. And it would mean a shameful end to years of hard work. He believed his only choice was to keep working and to keep paying.

    His cab was supposed to be his ticket to money and freedom, but instead it seemed like a prison cell. Every day, he got in before the sun rose and stayed until the sky began to darken. Mr. Hoque, now 48, tried not to think about home, about what he had given up and what he had dreamed about.

    “It’s an unhuman life,” he said. “I drive and drive and drive. But I don’t know what my destination is.”

    [Read Part 2 of The Times’s investigation: As Thousands of Taxi Drivers Were Trapped in Loans, Top Officials Counted the Money]

    Reporting was contributed by Emma G. Fitzsimmons, Suzanne Hillinger, Derek M. Norman, Elisha Brown, Lindsey Rogers Cook, Pierre-Antoine Louis and Sameen Amin. Doris Burke and Susan Beachy contributed research. Produced by Jeffrey Furticella and Meghan Louttit.

    Follow Brian M. Rosenthal on Twitter at @brianmrosenthal

    #USA #New_York #Taxi #Betrug #Ausbeutung

  • Uber valorisé « seulement » 80 milliards de dollars pour son introduction au Nyse
    [avec une perte nette égale au tiers de son chiffre d’affaires…]

    Crédits : TYRONE SIU

    Le groupe américain de VTC a annoncé vendredi la fourchette de prix de son introduction en Bourse reflétant une valorisation comprise entre 80 et 91 milliards de dollars, moins que les 120 estimés. Le géant américain espère lever 9 milliards lors de cette opération prévue pour le 10 mai sur le New York Stock Exchange.
    Ce sera la plus grosse introduction en Bourse de l’année aux Etats-Unis, même si elle ne se fera pas tout à fait au niveau attendu. Le géant américain de la mobilité Uber Technologies a dévoilé vendredi la fourchette de prix de l’opération, entre 44 et 50 dollars par action, ce qui le valorisera entre 80 et 91,5 milliards de dollars. Le prix définitif sera fixé le 9 mai et la première cotation sur le New York Stock Exchange devrait avoir lieu le lendemain, sous le symbole « UBER ».

    Le groupe américain de VTC espère lever jusqu’à 9 milliards de dollars, auxquels s’ajouteront des titres cédés par des actionnaires pour 1,35 milliard de dollars.
    Dans son document visa par la SEC, Uber indique avoir engrangé au premier trimestre 2019 des revenus estimés à 3-3,1 milliards de dollars, en hausse de 15% à 19%, provenant aux trois quarts de l’activité de VTC, le solde de la livraison de repas Uber Eats, et une perte nette de 1 à 1,1 milliard de dollars (contre un bénéfice l’an dernier lié à des cessions d’actifs).

  • Ahead of IPO, Uber’s Losing Less—but Growing Less Too | WIRED

    THE YEAR OF the gig economy IPO continues, as Uber on Thursday made public its first bit of official paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission, a sign that the firm is preparing to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange. The filing shows a sprawling transportation business with operations in 63 countries and 700 cities, providing 5.2 billion rides in 2018—roughly one for every person in Europe and Asia.

    Uber pulled in $11.3 billion in revenue in 2018, a 42 percent jump over the year before. And though its operating losses are still heavy—$3 billion in 2018—the company has slowed the bleeding, at least a bit, bringing operating losses down from $4.1 billion in 2017. Uber had 91 million active users at the end of 2018, 23 million more than a year earlier. Revenue growth, however, fell by half in 2018. This is due in part to the increasing might of Lyft, which is now snapping up users faster than its larger rival, but also because of tightening competition in meal delivery, where Uber’s big success story, Eats, is no longer growing as quickly.

    Still, the company is reportedly expected to go public at a valuation of $90 billion to $100 billion, which would make it the largest US tech IPO in the past half-decade. (Facebook went public in 2012 at a $104 billion valuation.)

    Uber is ride-hail; Uber is e-scooters and ebikes; Uber is a burgeoning delivery business; Uber is trucking and logistics software; Uber wants to build a fully functional self-driving car. And Uber only wants to get bigger: “Today, Uber accounts for less than 1 percent of all miles driven globally,” CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wrote in a letter included in the filing. “Because we are not even 1 percent done with our work, we will operate with an eye toward the future.”

    But the filing also depicts a company struggling to recover from its messy past. The company said it lost “hundreds of thousands” of customers in early 2017, when its drivers continued to operate in airports during protests against the Trump administration’s immigration restrictions on visitors from Muslim countries; that led to the #DeleteUber campaign. The filing notes reams of bad press stemming from accusations of sexual harassment, discrimination, and a then-toxic company culture. It also references, obliquely, investigations into its Greyball tool, software that attempted to circumvent regulation in cities that did not want the company operating on its roads. These events prompted, if not presaged, today’s tech-lash. And from a business standpoint, the company says that history has made it more difficult for Uber to retain users, stay on the right side of important city and federal regulators, and to avoid writing very large checks to lawyers, who are representing Uber in lawsuits and investigations around the world.

    Now, as it prepares to go public, Uber faces critical questions. What happens if the company fails to achieve profitability … ever? Uber believes it will need to invest in finding new users, be they riders, drivers, restaurants, or shippers—and use incentives, discounts, and promotions to do it. (More than $3 billion, over a third of total operating costs, went to sales and marketing last year.) It will need to pour money into new markets and operations. It will need to keep finding new employees and drivers. It will have to write checks for expensive “flying taxi” and autonomous vehicle research along the way. (The company acknowledges in the filing that it expects a competitor such as Waymo, General Motors/Cruise, Tesla, Apple, or Zoox to “develop such technologies before us.”)

    “Many of our efforts to generate revenue are new and unproven, and any failure to adequately increase revenue or contain the related costs could prevent us from attaining or increasing profitability,” the company writes in its filing.

    What happens if regulators decide Uber’s drivers are no longer independent contractors, but employees entitled to benefits and more intense oversight? Today, Uber faces litigation and driver protests challenging its core business model all over the globe. The filing notes that more than 60,000 drivers have entered into (or expressed interest in entering into) arbitration over employee misclassification, which the company writes “could result in significant costs to us.” The company also expects to spend significant money recruiting and retaining drivers in the years ahead.

    #Uber #disruption #Börse #Spekulation #IPO

  • Poursuites contre VW aux É.-U. pour le moment ce qui est reproché par les autorités boursières, c’est d’avoir dissimulé les magouilles aux actionnaires et aux prêteurs…

    Volkswagen and former boss face US lawsuit over #Dieselgate - BBC News

    The US is suing Volkswagen, accusing the German carmaker of “massive fraud” over the diesel emissions scandal.
    The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) claims the firm misled investors by issuing billions of dollars worth of bonds and securities, without disclosing that it had cheated emissions tests.
    Volkswagen’s former chief executive Martin Winterkorn is also being sued.

  • Que faire devant l’erreur « SEC_ERROR_UNKNOWN_ISSUER » sur des sites web sécurisés | Résolution de problèmes | Assistance de Mozilla

    La bidouille pour débloquer les sites aléatoirement en erreur de sécurité SEC_ERROR_UNKNOWN_ISSUER sous Firefox 61+ pour cause d’antivirus Avast trop zélé (pfff ! encore des problèmes parce qu’on me veut du bien !)

    #firefox #avast #SEC_ERROR_UNKNOWN_ISSUER #SSL

  • La norme SEC 2010 et les nouvelles contraintes budgé-taires européennes

    Depuis plusieurs années, le standard comptable SEC 95, remplacé depuis septembre dernier par la norme SEC 2010, plane comme une menace sur le volume d’investissement des pouvoirs locaux. Par ailleurs, les nouvelles contraintes budgétaires européennes exigent des Etats membres davantage d’informations en matière budgétaire. Suite à cette double pression exercée par l’Union européenne, la Région wallonne a réagi en imposant aux communes de nouvelles règles budgétaires, notamment à travers l’imposition
    de balises d’investissement. Depuis deux ans, le niveau des investissements réalisés par les communes wallonnes est quant à lui en chute libre. Une révision des normes comptables européennes aiderait gran-dement à soutenir ceux-ci en ces temps de ralentissement économique.

    #SEC_2010 #comptabilité_budgétaire

  • Le danger des normes SEC 2010 pour nos services publics

    Une question essentielle se pose concernant les PPP. Jusqu’où faudra-t-il aller dans la privatisation de nouvelles infrastructures pour que les coûts soient débudgétisés, et dans quelle mesure les projets réalisés pourront-ils encore garantir un vrai service public ? L’utilisation de règles techniques comptables dans la détermination de questions politiques essentielles telles que la part accordée au secteur privé dans le domaine public est le vrai problème de fond. L’austérité budgétaire mise en œuvre par l’Europe ultralibérale ne nous laisse-t-elle d’autre choix que la privatisation pure et simple et la disparition de notre modèle social ?
    Inacceptable !

    #sec_2010 #comptabilité_budgétaire

  • What a Startup Needs to Know if their going to sell securities in the US?

    What Startups Need to Know if they’re going to Sell Securities in the US? (Reg D, Reg CF, Reg A+, WTF..)The goal of this article is to give a brief overview of the rules that are issued by the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission). This is an attempt of the author to go in-depth and have an updated guide about the rules for selling securities in the US. All materials in this article are for informational purposes only. None of the material presented here should be interpreted as investment advice.The main revolution in #crowdfunding happened back in 2012 when US President Barack Obama signed the JOBS Act (Jumpstart Our Business Startups), which gave people more freedom to raise capital for “emerging growth companies” (with annual gross revenues of less than $1 bln). Starting from that (...)

    #equity-crowdfunding #sell-security #blockchain #sell-us-securities

  • #Tesla : Musk contraint d’abandonner la présidence du Conseil d’administration

    Selon un accord à l’amiable conclu avec le gendarme de la bourse américaine (SEC), le fondateur du constructeur de voitures électriques devra également payer 20 millions de dollars d’amende pour avoir induit en erreur les investisseurs.

    Il ne sera plus à la tête du Conseil d’administration et devra payer une amende de 20 millions de dollars. Ce sont les termes de l’accord à l’amiable conclu entre le fondateur de Tesla, #Elon_Musk, et le gendarme de la bourse américaine (SEC), qui l’accuse de fraude, selon un communiqué de la SEC publié samedi. Elon Musk reste néanmoins directeur général du constructeur de voitures électriques, qui traverse une phase délicate au moment où il essaye de livrer un modèle de moyenne gamme et de le fabriquer en masse.

    Selon l’accord, Tesla devra aussi payer 20 millions de dollars d’amende, et nommer deux directeurs indépendants au conseil d’administration, dont l’un prendra la présidence. Le gendarme de la bourse veut ainsi s’assurer que le fantasque patron de Tesla soit mieux supervisé par son conseil d’administration, tout comme sa communication. Elon Musk ne pourra pas se représenter à la présidence du conseil d’administration de l’entreprise pendant trois ans.

  • Corruption : une enquête ouverte contre les pratiques commerciales de Microsoft en Hongrie

    Les autorités américaines enquêtent sur une affaire de corruption liée à la vente de logiciels de la suite Office à des administrations hongroises, via des sociétés tierces. Est-ce que Microsoft est au cœur d’un système de pots de vin sur la vente de logiciels comme Word ou Excel à des administrations hongroises ? C’est ce que cherchent à savoir le département américain de la Justice et la Securities and Exchange Commission, qui régule et contrôle les marchés financiers. Selon le Wall Street Journal, (...)

    #Microsoft #corruption

  • Safety First: Navigating Through the #crypto Hacks

    canva.comWith the recent Bithumb hack, the question on many investors’ minds is: how safe is my crypto? Although hacking is an issue for all cryptocurrencies, for this note, we decided to use #bitcoin as a proxy for hacking probability. Buying cryptocurrency is becoming less of a wild west experience. Yet, investors still face plenty of instability and risk around every turn. These risks are not only associated with the theoretical argument over whether cryptocurrency is here to stay, but also whether some hacker will steal your precious coins. Remember, cryptocurrency exchanges are not insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation so, unlike equities or bonds, there are no assurances for those investors who lose their money. In addition, the Securities and Exchange Commission (...)

    #cryptocurrency-investment #publication #crypto-hack

  • Yahoo ! UK écope d’une amende de 250 000 livres par le régulateur britannique

    En avril, la SEC infligeait une amende de 35 millions de dollars à Altaba (ex-Yahoo) pour avoir tenté de dissimuler son piratage massif (3 milliards de comptes, excusez du peu). C’est au tour la CNIL britannique (ICO, Information Commissioner Office) d’annoncer une amende de 250 000 livres (environ 286 000 euros) pour ne pas avoir « pris les mesures techniques et organisationnelles nécessaires afin de protéger les données de 515 121 utilisateurs [NDRL : de Yahoo ! UK Services Ltd au Royaume-Uni] (...)

    #Altaba/Yahoo ! #données #BigData #hacking

    ##Altaba/Yahoo_ !

  • Piratage massif de données personnelles : une amende de 35 millions de dollars pour Altaba (ex-Yahoo !)

    Yahoo ! a su dès les premiers jours suivant le piratage fin 2014 que des hackeurs russes avaient volé des noms, adresses e-mails, numéros de téléphone, dates de naissance, mots de passe, etc. Le gendarme américain de la Bourse a infligé à Altaba, ex-Yahoo !, une amende de 35 millions de dollars pour avoir dissimulé jusqu’en 2016 un piratage massif de données personnelles d’utilisateurs remontant à 2014, a annoncé la Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), mardi 24 avril. « L’entité anciennement (...)

    #Altaba/Yahoo ! #données #hacking #Securities_and_Exchange_Commission_(SEC)

    ##Altaba/Yahoo_ ! ##Securities_and_Exchange_Commission__SEC_

  • La chute d’Elizabeth Holmes, star de la Silicon Valley accusée d’escroquerie Le Figar - AFP - 14 Mars 2018

    L’entreprise #Theranos et sa patronne prétendaient révolutionner les #analyses_sanguines. Ils ont en fait trompé les investisseurs pour lever des centaines de millions de dollars.

    La SEC, le gendarme boursier américain, a accusé mercredi Theranos, sa dirigeante-fondatrice Elizabeth Holmes et son ancien président Ramesh Balwani, d’être parvenus à lever « plus de 700 millions de dollars auprès d’investisseurs au travers d’une fraude élaborée qui a duré plusieurs années, pendant lesquelles ils ont exagéré ou menti à propos de la technologie, des activités et des performances financières de l’entreprise » de biotechnologie.

    Ce dénouement, que la SEC présente comme une « leçon » pour la #Silicon_Valley, vient acter la chute d’Elizabeth Holmes, que certains comparaient à Steve Jobs, le défunt patron-fondateur d’Apple. En lançant Theranos en 2003, à 19 ans, elle promettait des diagnostics plus rapides et moins chers que ceux des laboratoires traditionnels aux États-Unis, grâce à des méthodes présentées comme révolutionnaires, permettant jusqu’à 200 analyses avec une toute petite quantité de sang. Mais une série d’articles parus fin 2015 dans le Wall Street Journal avait commencé à semer le doute sur la véracité de ces affirmations. Quelques mois plus tard, le ministère de la Santé avait lui aussi fait part de ses réserves.

    En réalité, affirme la SEC dans son communiqué mercredi, le système vanté par la #start-up - basée à Palo Alto, en plein cœur de la Silicon Valley - « ne permettait de réaliser qu’une toute petite quantité de tests, et la société réalisait l’immense majorité des tests des patients avec d’autres dispositifs fabriqués par d’autres » entreprises.

    « Dire la vérité »
    Theranos, Elizabeth Holmes et Ramesh Balwani avaient même affirmé que leurs produits étaient utilisés par le ministère américain de la Défense sur le terrain en Afghanistan et que l’entreprise aurait un chiffre d’affaires de 100 millions de dollars en 2014 : en fait, le gouvernement n’a jamais utilisé ces produits et Theranos a dégagé en 2014 un revenu de... 100.000 dollars.

    Pour la SEC, cette affaire doit servir d’exemple à la Silicon Valley, qui fourmille de start-up cherchant des financements et d’investisseurs aux poches pleines, avides de parier sur des entreprises qui se présentent presque toutes comme révolutionnaires. Cette affaire « est une leçon importante pour la Silicon Valley », selon Jina Choi, directrice du bureau de la SEC à San Francisco, citée dans le communiqué de la SEC. « Les #innovateurs qui cherchent à révolutionner et à bouleverser un secteur doivent dire aux investisseurs la vérité sur ce dont sont capables leurs technologies aujourd’hui, et non ce qu’ils espèrent qu’elles pourront faire un jour », ajoute Jina Choi.

    Theranos et Elizabeth Holmes ont signé avec la SEC un accord amiable, aux termes duquel la dirigeante accepte de payer une amende de 500.000 dollars, cède le contrôle de l’entreprise et n’a pas le droit de diriger une entreprise cotée pendant dix ans. Elle devra aussi rendre à Theranos près de 19 millions d’actions qu’elle détient dans la start-up, qui était encore valorisée à près de 10 milliards de dollars en 2014. Cet accord, qui ne vaut pas aveu, n’empêche pas des poursuites judiciaires. L’ancien président Ramesh Balwani sera poursuivi en justice par la SEC en Californie, a en revanche précisé un responsable de la SEC, Steven Peikin, pendant une conférence téléphonique. « L’entreprise se réjouit de voir se clore cette affaire et a hâte de faire progresser sa technologie », ont indiqué dans un communiqué les « membres indépendants » du conseil d’administration de Theranos.

    Sur la sellette depuis plus de deux ans, Theranos avait frôlé le dépôt de bilan et licencié l’an dernier 155 personnes, près de la moitié de ses effectifs, après avoir dû fermer fin 2016 laboratoires et centres, mettant au chômage du même coup 340 salariés. La chute d’Elizabeth Holmes, jeune femme blonde à l’esprit combatif et brillant, est d’autant plus marquante qu’elle figura en 2015 sur la liste des 100 personnalités les plus influentes de la planète du magazine Time.

    Sa fortune était en 2014 évaluée à 3,6 milliards de dollars par le magazine Forbes, faisant d’elle la plus jeune milliardaire n’ayant pas hérité de sa fortune.


  • HERLIN-LE-SEC - Le nouveau Leclerc met 47 de ses 80 employés à la porte LFDN - Aline Chartrel - 03/11/2017

    On savait de longue date que quatre-vingts emplois devaient être créés pour assurer l’activité du supermarché Leclerc à Herlin-le-Sec, dont l’essentiel devait être pourvu par des habitants du territoire. Près de deux mois après son ouverture, quarante-sept des premiers embauchés auraient pris la porte.

    « Ça s’arrête pour vous. » Deux jours avant l’ouverture tant attendue du nouveau Leclerc sur la zone d’Herlin-le-Sec, près de Saint-Pol/Ternoise, sa responsable de rayon congédie Laure (#) qui garde de cette journée de travail un souvenir aussi pénible qu’impérissable. « On m’a raccompagnée à mon vestiaire, j’ai dû rendre les habits de l’enseigne et une fois dehors, on m’a claqué la porte au nez. Je me suis sentie humiliée. » Elle en pleurera deux jours durant.

    « On a servi de bouche-trous. »

    Pas un cas isolé puisqu’en l’espace de quasiment deux mois, quarante-sept des quatre-vingts salariés qu’emploie le supermarché auraient été remerciés. Des agents d’entretien, des caissières, des employés de rayons, des responsables aussi. Motif officiel invoqué : les recrues, en période d’essai pour deux mois, ne correspondraient pas aux exigences présentes et futures de l’enseigne. « Aberrant » pour Pauline (#) qui évoque huit années passées dans le commerce et qui a été chef de magasin, ou pour Laëtitia* qui a exercé toute sa carrière en poissonnerie, y compris à Intermarché Saint-Pol. Elle, a pris la porte ce jeudi, « quatre jours avant la fin de ma période d’essai ». Une offre pour son poste aurait été publiée chez Pôle emploi avant qu’elle ne le perde.

    D’autres départs à venir ?
    Harcèlement moral pour les employés du rayon frais, normes de sécurité par respectées – un salarié serait tombé d’un quai –, heures supplémentaires impayées… les griefs sont nombreux, d’autant que la plupart auraient à la demande de Leclerc quitté leur précédent travail, obtenant le statut de demandeur d’emploi nécessaire à leur embauche (lire par ailleurs). « On a servi de bouche-trous », déplorent-ils.

    Leclerc, une grande famille ? « Preuve en est, on a été viré pour qu’ils puissent intégrer leur famille, leurs amis et des anciens de Seclin » où le directeur officiait auparavant. De nouvelles têtes ont remplacé les anciennes.

    L’écrémage se poursuivrait par ailleurs, avant la fin de la période d’essai des CDI fixée au 6 novembre. « Il y en a de prévus ce samedi. »

    Contacté, le directeur du supermarché n’a pas souhaité s’exprimer.

    (#) Les prénoms ont été modifiés pour préserver l’anonymat des témoins.

    #violence #leclerc #grand_distribution #super_marché #travail #En_Marche #harcellement

  • Vu le #film A Cure for Wellness, 2017, de Gore Verbinski. (Il me faudrait une liste des films dont le titre original en anglais est traduit en version française par un autre titre en anglais, généralement moins bon. Ici : A Cure for Life.)

    Je note celui-ci, parce que c’est un cas d’école : je ne sais pas comment on fait pour rater à ce point un film qui commence de manière aussi inratable. Je ne vois qu’un explication : Gore Verbinski a visé au-dessus de sa catégorie, et a été incapable d’assumer le truc (en clair : le type est un mauvais, ce que sa filmographie aurait dû me faire comprendre avant).

    Parce que vraiment, il y a des choses qui interdisent de rater le film :

    – une tripotée de références, certaines très clairement assumées, certaines plus confidentielles… The Shining (1980) évidemment, The Phantom of the Opera (allez, la version de 1925), The Road to Wellville (Aux bons soins du docteur Kellogg, 1994)…

    – une photo magnifique, quelques plans très malins…

    – une anecdote de début, avec ces traders/escrocs qui ont une enquête de la SEC au fesse et qui veulent ramener un cadre qui est parti en cure en Suisse, ça excite bien le neurone au niveau des possibilités d’un gentil discours fleurtant entre politique et fantastique…

    – deux personnages « jeunes » dans un univers où tous les patients sont vieux… je sais pas, il y a des choses à creuser, là. Un petit quelque chose sur les prédateurs, vieux et/ou traders. Ou encore le monstrueux docteur qui est lui-même le prédateur dans un monde de prédateurs…

    Et puis badaboum, au bout d’une demi-heure, c’est juste mauvais et ça ne fait que s’enfoncer. Rien n’est abouti, rien n’est cohérent, rien n’est assumé. Même la scène de la cérémonie avec les gens masqués en grand costume, mais ça sort d’où cette secte ? L’histoire des vilains traders, ça se perd en route. Le héros qui se remémore le suicide de son père, c’est répétitif, sans aucune surprise, et on s’en contrefout. L’horreur autour des anguilles, c’est bof. L’angoisse de ce que deviennent les gens, c’est bof bof. Les « pistes » sont à la fois totalement prévisibles et souvent idiotes (le « passage secret » au milieu du jardin utilisé la nuit à la vue de tous). Et puis l’argument (le docteur immortel tout ça…) alors qu’on a clairement entretenu une ambiance de fantastique (ce genre où l’on ne sait jamais trop si l’on est dans le rêve, le surnaturel, la folie…) qui se termine dans l’explication grand-guignol et sans subtilité… Arg, c’est mauvais mauvais mauvais. (Déçu déçu déçu.)

    • vu également, hier soir. Terrible. Dommage.
      Hypothèse : le gars veut pas filmer. Il veut faire des images . Il a des images en tête - une danse de derviches hypnotisés, une jeune fille sur un mur qui picote des paysages gothiques, des règles et des anguilles dans une piscine qui tourbillonnent - et il les veut, ses images, il veut les placer coûte de coûte, rien d’autre ne le tient. Il sait peut-être, il se doute, que ça donnerait de vilaines peintures ridicules préraphaélites et ça, quand même, en 2017, on peut pas peindre des conneries pareilles (en fait, si, j’en vois souvent, mais disons que G.V. se rend bien compte que c’est grotesque). Alors il fait des plans, il ne peint pas des tableaux. Mais des plans, ça fait pas un film. Des images, ça fait pas un scenario. Aucune rigueur, aucune logique interne à ce scenario, juste ldes plans, une brocante d’image qu’il veut à tout prix. Il espère qu’on va être pris, qu’on se rendra pas compte que c’est au delà de con, de malfoutu. Le tout est très pompièrement filmé, ça se regarde tourner tant que ça en est embarrassant de vanité. C’est con, j’aimais bien les anguilles, les vieux secs, le mélange possible de conte de fée et de trading, les relents de littérature de sana, tout ça. Mais rien n’est à sa place, tout n’y est que posture lissée. Et l’abondance de références, laborieuse, concoure à embrouiller le bordel, à délier tout ça, à le disloquer. Manque de sens, d’intelligence, de cinéma.

  • Altice va officialiser d’ici mercredi son entrée à Wall Street

    Drahi a racheté tous les journaux depuis 5 ans ... pour s’introduire en Bourse à Wall Street en 2017 ... pour tout vendre à un fonds US style Soros d’ici 2020 ?

    Contributeur anonyme

    Altice USA, filiale américaine de l’empire des médias et des télécoms du milliardaire Patrick Drahi, va officialiser d’ici mercredi son projet d’entrée à Wall Street, destinée à accélérer le remboursement de sa dette et préparer de nouvelles acquisitions.

    Elle devrait déposer son dossier auprès des autorités américaines, en l’occurrence le gendarme de la Bourse, la SEC, entre ce lundi et mercredi, ont indiqué à l’AFP lundi des sources bancaires sous couvert d’anonymat.

    Le groupe, né il y a à peine deux ans du rachat coup sur coup pour un prix total de 26,7 milliards de dollars des (...)

    #En_vedette #Actualités_internationales #Actualités_Internationales

  • Amazon reveals simple mistake behind massive AWS cloud outage - Puget Sound Business Journal

    Members of the Amazon Simple Storage Service team were debugging an issue causing the S3 billing system to progress more slowly than expected Tuesday morning. So the team attempted to take down a small number of servers for one of the subsystems that is used by the billing process.

    “Unfortunately, one of the inputs to the command was entered incorrectly and a larger set of servers was removed than intended,” Amazon said. “The servers that were inadvertently removed supported two other S3 subsystems.”

    The mistake had a cascading effect, leading to widespread problems with Amazon’s massive network of servers that are a huge part of the internet infrastructure. After the servers were accidentally taken offline, they had to be restarted, which takes a while, according to The Verge, which reported on Amazon’s explanation.

    Websites and apps affected by the outage included the Securities and Exchange Commission, Business Insider, Quora and Slack.

    #Amazon #cloud #erreur_humaine

  • Why Is Snap Calling Itself a Camera Company? - The New Yorker

    Technically speaking, Snap is a camera company, and has been for a number of months. In September, it announced the launch of Spectacles, camera-equipped sunglasses that allow you to record a ten-second video by tapping a button near your left eyebrow. (For the moment, Spectacles are sold exclusively in itinerant vending machines called Snapbots.) But the company’s vision of the future appears to be more expansive than that. “In the way that the flashing cursor became the starting point for most products on desktop computers, we believe that the camera screen will be the starting point for most products on smartphones,” it writes.

    The personal devices of the past decade have already made the camera more central to our lives than ever before; it has evolved into a multipurpose tool, a visual sensor, as useful for recording a lunch receipt as for capturing a dazzling landscape. (And don’t forget the screenshot, which has partly usurped the functions of the old-fashioned notebook.) At the same time, the huge demand for smartphones has forced developers to make their cameras better and better, with ripple effects well beyond the industry. Action cameras, drones, low-orbit satellites—many have directly benefitted from this arms race. Cameras can look down from on high and predict crop yields, traffic in Walmart parking lots, and travel patterns on Labor Day weekend. On the ground, they form the foundation of autonomous-driving systems. Snap is betting that the cameras we carry in our pockets could be even more powerful. In its S.E.C. filing, the company contends that “images created by smartphone cameras contain more context and richer information than other forms of input like text entered on a keyboard.”

    Snap, of course, is not the first company to recognize that its users’ experience of the world is increasingly mediated through cameras. Consider WeChat, a free messaging app developed by the Chinese giant Tencent. The service, which has hundreds of millions of customers, allows people to use their smartphones to read the data hidden in QR codes. By scanning the codes with their cameras, WeChatters can buy food, call up Web sites, and make payments. According to Allen Zhang, WeChat’s founder, the technology constitutes a “third hand for humans.” Indeed, several years ago, at a time when barely anyone used QR codes, he described them in language similar to Snap’s. “The entry point for PC Internet is the search box,” he said. “The entry point for mobile Internet is the QR code.” Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that earlier this month Snap began expanding the use of QR codes on its platform. And, as Bloomberg’s Mark Bergen and Sarah Frier reported a couple of weeks ago, Snap was at one point in talks with Google to introduce a feature that would have allowed Snapchatters to perform Internet searches merely by pointing their phones at objects in the real world.

    That search feature never came to fruition, but it’s a useful indicator of where the mobile Internet is headed. QR codes have always been a kind of half-measure, a useful but inelegant transitional technology; the ultimate goal is augmented reality.

    #snapchat #medias_sociaux #messagerie #camera #input_device

  • Yahoo’s planned name change hangs on hopes Verizon won’t back out of deal | Ars Technica

    Yesterday, Yahoo revealed in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that the company would change its name (to “Altaba”) after it completes its transformation from an actual business to a corporate wrapper around Alibaba stock. If all goes as planned, CEO Marissa Mayer would step down, the board would be trimmed, and “Altaba” would simply continue to exist as a way for investors to own a chunk of a non-controlling interest in a Chinese e-commerce company.

    Whether that transformation happens as the result of a successful sale of the Yahoo Internet portal to Verizon or some other, less-desirable outcome has yet to be determined. And as we noted in our 2017 Deathwatch, it’s still far from a sure bet that the Verizon acquisition will go as planned.

    The change to “Altaba” (apparently some non-trademark-infringing sort of reference to Alibaba, in which Yahoo holds a 15 percent stake) depends on the completion of the sale to Verizon of Yahoo Holdings, the new corporate wrapper for its Internet business.

  • Donald Trump nomme un avocat de Wall Street à la tête de la SEC

    Le renard dans le poulailler...

    Spécialiste des fusions-acquisitions, Jay Clayton va diriger le « gendarme » de la bourse américaine

    Après avoir été l’avocat de Wall Street, Jay Clayton sera désormais chargé d’encadrer la place financière sur le plan réglementaire. Donald Trump a en effet annoncé, mercredi 4 janvier, la nomination de ce juriste chevronné à la présidence de la Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), le « gendarme » de la bourse américaine. Après le feu vert du Sénat, il devrait succéder à Mary Jo White, qui avait annoncé le 14 novembre 2016 qu’elle quitterait son poste en même temps que Barack Obama quittera la Maison-Blanche, le 20 janvier.

    « Jay Clayton est un expert hautement talentueux, a déclaré le président élu dans un communiqué. Il fera en sorte que nos institutions financières puissent (...)

    #En_vedette #Actualités_internationales #International

    • On peut interpréter cela d’une autre façon.

      Bon, c’est la cacat, les amateurs de guerre ont atteint des limites et foutent les chocottes aux trés trés riches.
      Et si vous Monsieur Wall Street, vous remettiez un peu d’ordre dans le bordel que vous avez semé.
      C’est un interprétation

  • @seenthis , impossible de se connecter via Firefox :
    « utilise un certificat de sécurité invalide. Le certificat a expiré le 17 décembre 2016 19:52. La date courante est 17 décembre 2016 21:47. Code d’erreur : SEC_ERROR_EXPIRED_CERTIFICATE »
    "Ce site a recours à HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) pour indiquer à Firefox de n’établir qu’une connexion sécurisée. Ainsi il n’est pas possible d’ajouter d’exception pour ce certificat."