SigTarp Neil Barofsky has just released the most scathing critique of all the idiots in the administration, with a particular soft spot for Tim Geithner.
On the failure of TARP to increase lending:
As these quarterly reports to congress have well chronicled and as Treasury itself recently conceded in its acknowledgement that "banks continue to report falling loan balances," TARP has failed to "increase lending" with small businesses in particular unable to secured badly needed credit. Indeed, even now, overall lending continues to contract, despite the hundreds of billions of TARP dollars provided to banks with the express purpose to increase lending.
On TARP’s sole success of boosting Wall Street bonuses:
While large bonuses are returning to Wall Street, the nation’s poverty rate increased from 13.2% in 2008 to 14.3% in 2009, and for far too many, the recession has ended in name only.
On TARP’s failure in general:
Finally, the most specific of TARP’s Main Street goals, "preserving homeownership" has so far fallen woefully short, with TARP’s portion of the Administration’s mortgage modification program yielding only approximately 207,000 ongoing permanent modifications since TARP’s inception, a number that stands in stark contrast to the 5.5 million homes receiving foreclosure filings and more than 1.7 million homes that have been lost to foreclosure since January 2009.
On the Treasury’s scam in minimizing publicized AIG losses, and on Geithner as a Wall Street puppet whose actions are increasingly destroying public faith in the government:
While SIGTARP offers no opinion on the appropriateness or accuracy of the valuation contained in the Retrospective, we believe that the Retrospective fails to meet basic transparency standards by failing to disclose: (1) that the new lower estimate followed a change in the methodology that Treasury previously used to calculate expected losses on its AIG investment; and (2) that Treasury would be required by its auditors to use the older, and presumably less favorable, methodology in the official audited financials statements. To avoid potential confusion, Treasury should have disclosed that it had changed its valuation methodology and should have published a side-by-side comparison of its new numbers with what the projected losses would be under the auditor-approved methodology that Treasury had used previously and will
Whether one believes in inflation or deflation, one thing is certain: in many ways the current US experience finds numerous parallels to what has been happening in Japan for not one but two decades. While major economic, sociological and financial differences do exist, the key issue remains each respective central bank’s failed attempts to reflate its economy. While long a mainstay of Japan, if the first failed version of our own QE, which pumped $1.7 trillion of new liquidity into the system, is any indication, future comparable efforts by our own Fed will be met with the same outcome (and hopefully with the same political result: the half life of an average Japanese prime minister is 6 months – if only our career politicos knew their tenure in office could be capped at half a year…).
There is of course the "tipping point" optionality discussed earlier by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, when comparing the hyperinflationary timeline during the Weimar republic, which noted that it took just a few months for the economy to slide from a period of price stability to outright hyperinflation. Either way, for an ironic look at the Japanese deflation scenario, targeted more at novices although everyone will likely learning something from it, we present the following informative clip from, ironically, the National Inflation Association, which asks whether Japan is a blueprint for America’s imminent lost decade(s).
GM today reported that they will reinstate over half, 600 of the 1,100 dealership franchises they told to get lost last year- in an effort to keep the other some 5,000 dealerships "healthy and profitable." The lucky 600 will be getting letters asking to stay with the automaker, that’s if they haven’t already closed their doors forever due to the fact that 1) car sales suck despite an upbeat report earlier in the week 2) some people would argue that GM cars suck and finally 3) the GM brand may be discontinued forever a la Pontiac, Saturn, and Hummer.
A consortion of dealerships have been fighting the Detroit giant, citing they’ve been treated unfairly and that GM was vague in their decisions and thoughts on what dealers are actually profitable, and which ones are not.
Chrysler too, which slashed almost 800 of it’s franchises is also reconsidering the cuts; according to the Associated Press "the decision was a compromise meant to avoid federal legislation that would require that the showrooms be kept open."
Under the revised cutting procedures, dealers would "get face-to-face reviews, binding arbitration and faster payments to help dealers slated for shutdown."
As published by the Associated Press on Yahoo!:
"Congress-brokered talks between dealer groups and the automakers began in September. But those talks stalled over disputes about the review process for targeted dealerships and other issues. Looming over the fight has been the threat of federal legislation to deal with the closures. Lawmakers warned that if a deal wasn’t reached, that legislation would move forward.
The White House has opposed the legislation over concerns that it could hurt GM’s and Chrysler’s efforts to rebound from their government-led bankruptcies."
I guess Congress figures, they’re not done launching torpedos at Toyota- better keep some of these domestic dealerships open to sop-up the overage from Toyota’s once ivory, and now bloodied domestic tower of safety and reliability.
A recent CBO report estimated that the government spends about $300 billion to intervene in the housing market each year. That’s based on a range of activities, from direct subsidies to homebuyers, to the mortgage interest tax deduction, and the backstop of Fannie and Freddie.
And thus it’s no surprise that the housing market doesn’t work like other markets, and that we had a major bubble there. Even now, Goldman Sachs estimates, the government is adding at least 5% to the cost of each home, through its various "affordability" measures.
But it’s not just housing. Virtually every important sector of the economy is being manipulated in some way.
Used car prices are going up – is this a sign of recovery and inflation or a complicated symptom of a deflationary environment? This debate illustrates, perhaps, why the same economic data can be interpreted in opposite manners by intelligent people. – Ilene
Scott Grannis, of the blog California Beach Pundit, is quickly becoming my new favorite blogger to disagree with because he:
Provides intriguing data
Has a strong opinion
Supports his opinion well
These opinions run counter (in almost every case) to mine
In general he believes in the recovery and inflation, whereas I don’t and believe deflation is a real possibility.
One example was yesterday’s post regarding ISM Prices. In his view, the jump in ISM prices (by jump I mean they finally didn’t fall month over month) means deflation is no longer a threat. On the other hand, I believe that may be a result of the temporary jump we saw in commodities. He continues his ‘don’t worry about deflation’ message with yesterday’s post that (again) gave me the exact OPPOSITE initial reaction. Here goes:
According to Manheim Consulting, used vehicle prices jumped 16.4% in the first half of 2009 on a seasonally adjusted basis. Once more we are reminded that a weak economy and rising unemployment do not necessarily create deflationary conditions.
In other words, an increase in the price of used cars (off a large previous fall) proves that deflation is no longer an issue and we should (if anything) worry about inflation.
I think the rise in prices also has something to do with the return of money velocity. Consumers retrenched violently in the fourth quarter of last year, hoarding cash and repaying debt in the face of tremendous uncertainty. Money velocity collapsed. Now that confidence is returning, money is getting spent again. The economy is recovering some of the ground it lost.
Using what I refer to as the logic test, this makes no sense. If people are trading down (i.e. increasing demand for a cheaper / used good) this has deflation written all over it (not necessarily for that good, but for the broader economy). My logic and posted in
Depending upon your philosophical bent, this is either good news or another sign that the Apocalypse is near.
The WSJ is reporting that Toyota is slated to take over the title as the number 1 seller of light vehicles in the U.S.
The bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler are changing the landscape of the auto industry. The two U.S. companies are shuttering plants, shedding dealers and reducing their product lines.
As a result, Toyota Motor will become the largest seller of light vehicles in the U.S. It has held the top spot globally since last year.
The Japanese auto maker won’t be the only beneficiary of the two companies’ woes. But in terms of status, market clout and bragging rights, Toyota will be the No. 1 winner.
Its share of the North American light-truck and car market probably will rise to around 20% from 18.4%. GM will end up in second place with 13% to 16% — with Ford hot on its tail.
Although Toyota stock doesn’t change hands directly in the U.S., the company’s American depositary shares (TM), which represent them, are listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
And, at a recent price of around $76 — about $30 below their 52-week high — they’re a good bet for long-term investors.
The Journal suggests that the stock might be a good long-term buy. They point out that analysts suggest it could hit $115 and that it hit $137 a couple of years ago. Maybe, but just a caveat. Toyota and others now have the most fearsome of competitors – government owned companies. In the long run that probably means success for the competitors as political decisions trump business common sense. In the short run it could be formidable as the government does whatever is necessary to prove it didn’t make the stupid decision that everyone acknowledges it did.
U.S. auto-parts companies plan to ask the Obama administration for as much as $10 billion in new aid as the General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC bankruptcies deepen the suppliers’ troubles.
Trade groups will meet Wednesday with President Barack Obama’s auto task force at the Treasury Department to warn that hundreds of parts companies could collapse without the aid. They are mainly requesting that the government guarantee $8 billion to $10 billion in loans so banks will lend to the suppliers.
The parts companies account for more than three-quarters of auto-sector employment in the U.S., according to a Chicago Federal Reserve study, with employment of about 600,000—roughly five times as many workers as are expected to be employed by GM and Chrysler’s domestic operations once their government-subsidized restructurings are done.
Stabilizing the supply base is critical to ensuring the long-term viability of GM and Chrysler, said Neil De Koker, president and chief executive of the Original Equipment Suppliers Association.
“We could end up having all that money go to waste because they won’t be able to start up without suppliers,” Mr. De Koker said, referring to the taxpayer-funded assistance. “If there’s just one key part missing on a car, you can’t build it.”
His group, along with the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association, has prepared a 71-page presentation arguing that as many as 500 parts suppliers could be forced to liquidate this year. They cite several independent studies.
Make no mistake, the aid will be forthcoming. Once the government chose to go all in with the auto companies they committed themselves to preservation of the entire chain. All that remains to be seen is whether any sort of rationalization of the suppliers will take place. With a downsized GM and Chrysler there is arguably too much capacity upstream.
This is where the Obama commitment to a hands off approach to the industry will run founder. In order to rationally allocate assistance the auto task force will have to parse the vast list of suppliers, try and make some sense of what an efficient network would look like
This is a non-trading topic, but I wanted to post it during trading hours so as many eyes can see it as possible. Feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Last fall there was some discussion on the PSW board regarding setting up a YouCaring donation page for a PSW member, Shadowfax. Since then, we have been looking into ways to help get him additional medical services and to pay down his medical debts. After following those leads, we are ready to move ahead with the YouCaring site. (Link is posted below.) Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated; not only to help aid in his medical bill debt, but to also show what a great community this group is.
China eased purchase restrictions last month ending its four-year campaign to contain home prices. And what a ridiculous campaign it was. Prices are down less than 1% this month and less then 1% year-over-year.
Prices dropped in 69 of the 70 cities in September from August, the National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement today, the most since January 2011 when the government changed the way it compiles the data. They fell in 68 cities in August.
The central bank on Sept. 30 eased mortgage rules for homebuyers that have paid off existing loans, reversing course after a four-year camp...
In last weekend's update, only one the eight indexes on my watchlist posted a weekly gain. This weekend's numbers have reversed. Seven indexes closed the week with a gain and there were some substantial ones at that. Japan's Nikkei erased the previous week's -5.02% plunge with a 5.22% surge. The S&P 500 finished second with a 4.12% advance. China's Shanghai Composite was the sole loser, down 1.66%.
In fact, the Shanghai Composite remains the only index on the watch list in bear territory -- the traditional designation for a 20% decline from an interim high. The index is down 33.68% from its August 2009 peak. See the table inset (lower right) in the chart below.
If you're following Valeant's proposed takeover (or merger) of Allergan and the lawsuit by Allergan against Valeant and notorious hedge fund manager William Ackman, for insider trading this is a must-read article.
Linette Lopez describes the roles played by key Wall Street hedge fund owners--Jim Chanos, John Paulson, and Mason Morfit, a major shareholder in Valeant. Linette goes through the con...
There is lots of action in Southwest Airlines Co. November expiry call options today ahead of the air carrier’s third-quarter earnings report prior to the opening bell on Thursday. Among the large block trades initiated throughout the trading session, there appears to be at least one options market participant establishing a call spread in far out of the money options. It looks like the trader purchased a 4,000-lot Nov 37/39 call spread at a net premium of $0.40 apiece. The trade makes money if shares in Southwest rally 9.0% over the current price of $34.32 to exceed the effective breakeven point at $37.40, with maximum potential profits of $1.60 per contract available in the event that shares jump more than 13% to $39.00 by expiration. In September, the stock tou...
Last week brought even more stock market weakness and volatility as the selloff became self-perpetuating, with nobody mid-day on Wednesday wanting to be the last guy left holding equities. Hedge funds and other weak holders exacerbated the situation. But the extreme volatility and panic selling finally led some bulls (along with many corporate insiders) to summon a little backbone and buy into weakness, and the market finished the week on a high note, with continued momentum likely into the first part of this week.
Despite concerns about global economic growth and a persistent lack of inflation, especially given all the global quantitative easing, fundamentals for U.S. stocks still look good, and I believe this overdue correction ultimately will shape up to be a great buying opportunity -- i.e., th...
Now that bitcoin has subsided from speculative bubble to functioning currency (see the price chart below), it’s safe for non-speculators to explore the whole “cryptocurrency” thing. So…is bitcoin or one of its growing list of competitors a useful addition to the average person’s array of bank accounts and credit cards — or is it a replacement for most of those things? And how does one make this transition?
With his usual excellent timing, London-based financial writer/actor/stand-up comic Dominic Frisby has just released Bitcoin: The Future of Money? in which he explains all this in terms most readers will have no tr...
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Well PSW Subscribers....I am still here, barely. From my last post a few months ago to now, nothing has changed much, but there are a few bargins out there that as investors, should be put on the watch list (again) and if so desired....buy a small amount.
First, the media is on a tear against biotechs/pharma, ripping companies for their drug prices. Gilead's HepC drug, Sovaldi, is priced at $84K for the 12-week treatment. Pundits were screaming bloody murder that it was a total rip off, but when one investigates the other drugs out there, and the consequences of not taking Sovaldi vs. another drug combinations, then things become clearer. For instance, Olysio (JNJ) is about $66,000 for a 12-week treatment, but is approved for fewer types of patients AND...
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