“We now have an economy in which five banks control over 50 percent of the entire banking industry, four or five corporations own most of the mainstream media, and the top one percent of families hold a greater share of the nation’s wealth than any time since 1930. This sort of concentration of wealth and power is a classic setup for the failure of a democratic republic and the stifling of organic economic growth.” - Jesse –http://jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com/
Source: Barry Ritholtz
“All of the old-timers knew that subprime mortgages were what we called neutron loans — they killed the people and left the houses.” - Louis S. Barnes, 58, a partner at Boulder West, a mortgage banking firm in Lafayette, Colo
Borrow-short lend-long strategies have caused more pain and grief than nearly any play in the book. They are virtually guaranteed to blow up given enough time if the duration mismatch and leverage is too great.
For those who do not know what I am describing, a couple examples below will help explain. The first example is a look at "cost of funds" and guaranteed profits that banks can make. It is not a borrow-short lend-long strategy but will morph into such a scheme as I vary the parameters.
Inquiring minds investigating Citigroup’s cost of funds note that Citigroup 5 year CDs yield a mere 1.5%. For this example, Citigroup’s cost of funds is 1.5%, the rate it pays depositors. Here are a few snips from Citi’s website.
Who said there are no guarantees in life?
Some things in life are a sure thing. Like a Citibank CD, which offers a guaranteed—and highly competitive—interest rate. You also get a wide range of terms, from 3 months to 5 years.
Citigroup has the gall to brag about "guarantees in life" when the "guarantee" in question is a complete ripoff. It’s a ripoff because 5-year US treasuries currently yield 2.35%.
Anyone buying CDs at less than the treasury yield rate is a fool.
Rates at Bank of America, Northern Trust, JPMorgan Chase
I will tie this together shortly, but first make note that the Northern Trust, Bank of America, and JPMorgan Chase offer even lower 5-Year CD rates.
Here are some rates courtesy of Bankrate.Com as of 2011-02-15.
According to Bankrate, national average for 5 year CDs is 1.61% and the rock bottom low is .95%. The site average is 1.98% and the top yielding 5-year CD yields 2.75%. Thus Citigroup’s claim of competitive rates is absurd.
Although Bank of America makes no such claims, its CD rate is priced so preposterously low, that Bank of America must not even want to deal with them. Alternatively, B of A has an incredibly large pool of moronic depositors begging to be ripped off.
Guaranteed Free Money
Anyone buying 5-year CDs from Citigroup, Bank of America, Northern Trust, or JPMorgan Chase is giving those banks a shot at guaranteed free money.
All those banks have to do is take that money and invest in 5-year US treasuries to have a guaranteed profit. Here are the reasons…
Let’s be clear here: A year ago, Assange said he had the hard drive of a Bank of America executive. More recently, he’s said that WikiLeaks is preparing to disclose evidence of an “ecosystem of corruption” at a big US bank. He expects the disclosures to cause resignations. There’s a widespread expectations that Bank of America is the target, even though Assange has been coy about that.
But one thing that’s highly unlikely is that Assange is making this up.
It’s possible everyone is wrong in connecting the dots here. Maybe the new megaleak has nothing to do with Bank of America. It’s also possible that Assange is over-confident in the importance of his information.
Bill Black, who will soon, together with Neil Barofsky, be a guaranteed shoe-in for the POTUS/VP position (both as independents, of course), was on the Ratigan show today, following on his op-ed from last week (here and here) calling for the long-overdue nationalization of Bank of America, and discussing the rampant fraud at the heart of mortgage gate. And contrary to ongoing lowball estimates from the like of JPM and Goldman, Black provides numbers about the bank liability that are simply stunning: "Credit Suisse says that by 2006 49% of all mortgage originations were liars loans. When independent folks study fraud, it is in the 80-90% fraud range. That means there were millions of acts of fraud. Those loan frauds occurred because the banks created incentive structure for the loan brokers to bring them the absolute worst of the worst loans, and to lie on the application forms… These frauds came from the banks, and they propagated through the system through a series of echo epidemics…This fraud spread through the system and that’s why we have a crisis in foreclosures. This stems from the underlying fraud by the lenders in mortgage loans to the tune of well over a million cases a year by 2005."
Furthermore, Black points out the glaringly obvious, that the Fed should not be in charge of any investigation into mortgage fraud, due to its "massive" conflict of interest, to the tune of $1.5 trillion in MBS/agencies held on the Fed’s books, which would be immediately null and voided if rampant MBS fraud is indeed uncovered. Which is precisely why the entitlement of the Fed as supreme regulator (as inspired by the financial generosity of the Wall Street lobby) as part of Frank-Dodd was the one single most destructive decision ever made, and equivalent in many ways with electing America’s very own tyrannical despot, whose only interest is making the multi billionaires, into trillionaires, and leaving everyone else in the cold through the eliminating of the savings class and the destruction of the reserve currency.
And it goes much further… to the very top of the US ruling oligarchy in fact. Which is why, as we have claimed from day one, nothing less than a complete reset of the entire kleptocratic system…
The current market rally is not based on a self-sustained typical economic recovery, but on blind faith that the Fed can pull out a magic wand and cure everything with another round of quantitative easing (QE2). As we pointed out last week, this a desperate attempt by the Fed to try non-conventional means to get the economy going again after a massive dose of conventional measures resulted in failure. The members of the FOMC know this, but with further fiscal measures off the table, they are aware that they are the only game in town. The Fed’s acknowledgement that the economy is in trouble is again highlighted by the latest Beige Book released yesterday. The following are some excerpts from the report:
“National economic activity continued to rise, albeit at a modest pace..consumer spending was steady to up slightly, but consumers remained price-sensitive, and purchases were mostly limited to necessities and non-discretionary items..Housing markets remained weak..Most reports suggested overall home sales were sluggish or declining..Home inventories were elevated or rising..Conditions in the commercial real estate market were subdued, and construction was expected to remain weak.Reports suggested that rental rates continued to decline for most commercial property types..industry contacts appeared to believe that the commercial real estate and construction sectors would remain weak for some time..Hiring remained limited, with many firms reluctant to add to permanent payrolls, given economic softness..Future capital spending plans appeared to be limited”
So there you have an outline of the anemic economic picture in the Fed’s own words. To be sure, they indicated some strong points as well. But the weakness in consumer spending, housing, capital expenditures, commercial real estate and employment pretty much accounts for some 85% of the overall economy.
In addition some of the major problems that worried the market earlier have not really gone away. The sovereign debt problems of the weaker EU nations have been papered over without being solved and are still lingering just beneath the surface. The looming currency wars that were shoved down the road by the recent G-20 meeting are also a major threat to the global economy.
Furthermore the Chinese housing bubble previously highlighted by bearish investor Jim Chanos and others has now appeared on the front page of the New York Times. A new district of the city of Ordos,…
Short Term Market Condition: Oversold (short term bullish)
Short Term Trend: Neutral
Just about everyone has heard about or read “The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in which he describes how unexpected, highly improbable events can have massive impact.
I think that recent developments in U.S. financial markets could be a “black turkey,” larger, more destructive and uglier than any black swan ever could be.
In recent days, a “black swan” event, or even worse, a potential “black turkey” event has surfaced that is just beginning to impact financial markets and could have far reaching effects going forward.
I’m talking about “Foreclosuregate” or the “robo signing” scandal that has been rocking financial markets over the past several days and that this action could be just the beginning of a major unforeseen, black swan event.
Of course the details are still murky but the Attorneys General in all 50 states have launched an investigation to see if false documents and forged signatures were used in their foreclosure procedures.
All the big names could be involved, including Ally Financial, Bank of America and JP Morgan, among others, and the ramifications could be huge as this situation could throw the whole foreclosure process into question and uncertainty.
Today’s selloff appeared to be what could be the first salvo in a bloody war as PIMCO, Blackrock and the New York Federal Reserve went to Bank of America with a demand for $47 billion of mortgage repurchases. These entities are all huge players with similar interests and to have them square off against each other is certainly an unexpected event.
Bank of America will fight this, of course, but the “black turkey” here is that nobody knows how large the liability or how far reaching the claims might go if “robo signing” spreads.
JP Morgan estimates liabilities of as high as $120 Billion but if the $47 Billion at Bank of America is accurate, total industry liabilities could be much higher.
And here’s where the “black turkey” really could really get ugly. As we know, the market hates uncertainty…
The mortgage fraud cost estimates for banks are a bit like QB Ryan Leaf - all over the place and without any accuracy whatsoever.
We’re hearing estimates of anywhere from a few hundred million bucks to as much as $200 billion! And in the meantime, Bank of America ($BAC) is telling us that they’ve found nothing wrong in their foreclosure process and that after halting all activity in 50 states, they are now back in business in half the country.
There are currently 7 million foreclosures in the housing market that need to be worked through and any delay will be costly for large lenders like B of A.
Should the states or the courts decide that many of these securitized mortgage-backed bonds are structured fraudulently (no one knows which mortgage is owned by whom), there is a possibility that the banks may have to buy them back due to a clause on most of this paper called the Put-Back.
In the absence of anything even resembling a consensus on how big the costs of mortgage put-backs may be, the temptation is to simply say, Who Cares? Well, I’ll tell you who cares…
For starters, how about hedge fund manager John Paulson? With a stake in Bank of America of 167 million shares, Mr. Paulson has about 2 billion reasons to care about how big their put-back exposure is.
Mutual fund monster Bruce Berkowitz (Fairholme) has about 667 million reasons to give a damn (54 million shares held).
Hedgie David Tepper of Appaloosa Management, no slouch himself in the "reflation trade", has about 337 million reasons to care (27 million shares).
These three investors make up the Triumvirate of the Reflationista Trade. These are the ultimate Don’t-Fight-The-Fed-ers.
That they are all in the same trade, BAC, is not a surprise – it is the quintessential call option on housing and employment. But they may not have bargained for the foreclosure mess that has hit the media with the gale-force wind of 2007′s sub-prime storm. Whether or not this particular storm blows over – or spills over – is very much of interest to Paulson, Berkowitz and Tepper, make no mistake.
The news had a significant impact on the market because of the parties involved in suing Bank of America. The loans were originated by CountryWide, which had been acquired by BofA. It is ironic that Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo just settled with the SEC admitting no wrongdoing and merely paid a fine which was a small percentage of his financial gains.
It is nothing new for bondholders and the common people to sue some of the big Wall Street Banks for fraud.
But when the plaintiffs include some of the most important financial institutions in the country the market has to sit up and take notice.
It’s nice to see some outrage being expressed, even if it is among the privileged few. Watching Bloomberg television was particularly difficult today as the apologetics and cheerleading for the financial sector among its guests and newspeople is almost shameless.
Pacific Investment Management Co., BlackRock Inc. and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York are seeking to force Bank of America Corp. to repurchase soured mortgages packaged into $47 billion of bonds by its Countrywide Financial Corp. unit, people familiar with the matter said.
A group of bondholders wrote a letter to Bank of America and Bank of New York Mellon Corp., the debt’s trustee, citing alleged failures by Countrywide to service loans properly, their lawyer said yesterday in a statement that didn’t name the firms. The New York Fed acquired mortgage debt through its 2008 rescues of Bear Stearns Cos. and American International Group Inc.
Investors are stepping up efforts to recoup losses on mortgage bonds, which plummeted in value amid the worst slump in home prices since the 1930s. Last month, BNY Mellon declined to investigate mortgage files in response to a demand from the bondholder group, which has since expanded. Countrywide’s servicing failures, including insufficient record keeping, may open the door for investors to seek repurchases by bypassing the trustee, said Kathy Patrick, their lawyer at Gibbs & Bruns LLP.
ZeroHedge obtained an internal memo from Wells Fargo detailing the banks new procedures to handle what may be a flood of repurchase requests, as end investors use fraud allegations and sloppy paperwork to demand refunds on the mortgages they bought from the bank.
Here’s the gist:
Wells Fargo receives a deficiency notice or demand from the investor. Typically, Wells Fargo has 60 days to resolve the issue.
Wells Fargo notifies the Seller and provides supporting documentation when available. At this time, the Seller is given twenty-one calendar days to provide an explanation, facts or documentation to demonstrate that the mortgage loan complies with the requirements. If the Seller does not respond within 14 days of the initial notice, Wells Fargo will follow up with the Seller.
Wells Fargo will begin internal research (concurrently with Step 2) to resolve the loan issues. During this process, Wells Fargo will determine if there is a missing document and if the document can be located.
For all other issues, Wells Fargo will perform research to
I replied something along the lines of "interesting, but I am going to bounce this of Jacob Dreizin", a US citizen who provides frequent updates to me regarding Ukraine.
I also bounced the article off Pater Tenebrarum at the Acting Man blog. Pater commented ... Russian oligarchs stealing stuff back from Ukrainian oligarchs would be my guess. I should add, the arbitrariness of this process is of course quite disturbing (regardless of the fact that Ukraine's oligarchs are a bunch of corrupt thieves). But this strikes me mainly as a case of politically motivated payback. The oligarchs all aligned themselv...
Note from dshort: With yesterday's release of the Consumer Price Index for October, I've updated Real Retail Sales for October.
Official recession calls are the responsibility of the NBER Business Cycle Dating Committee, which is understandably vague about the specific indicators on which they base their decisions. This committee statement is about as close as they get to identifying their method.
There is, however, a general belief that there are four big indicators that the committee weighs heavily in their cycle identification process. They are:
Real Personal Income (excluding Transfer Payments)
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Investors in U.S. equities seem to have embraced a new market paradigm in which upside spikes come more swiftly than the downside selloffs. Remember when it used to be the other way around? When fear was stronger than greed? The market is consolidating its gains off the early-October V-bottom reversal, and no one seems to be in any hurry to unload shares this time around, with the holidays rapidly approaching and all. After all, there are bright blue skies directly overhead giving hope and respite from the early freeze blanketing the country.
In this weekly update, I give my view of the current market environment, offer...
If you would have supposed that Ukraine had enough problems to make banning bitcoins a backburner issue, you'd have been wrong. The rationale, "to protect consumers' rights" makes little to no sense... The other one, "to keep money in the country" makes more sense.
A four-year low for the spot price of gold has had a devastating impact on Yamana Gold (Ticker: AUY), with shares in the name down at the lowest price in six years. Some option traders were especially keen to sell premium and appear to see few signs of a lasting rebound within the next five months. The price of gold suffered again Wednesday as the dollar strengthened and stock prices advanced. The post price of gold fell to $1145 adding further pain to share prices of gold miners. Shares in Yamana Gold tumbled to $3.62 and the lowest price since 2008 as call option sellers used the April expiration contract to write premium at the $5.00 strike. That strike is now 38% above the price of the stock. Premium writers took in around 16-cents per contract o...
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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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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.
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