Greek Sovereignty Massively Limited; You Cannot Roll Over What You Do Not Have; Railing Against the Truth; EU Seeks to Curb Big Three Rating Firms
by ilene - July 7th, 2011 2:11 am
Courtesy of Mish
Jean-Claude Junker, the man who says "When it becomes serious, you have to lie", apparently has had a sudden splash of honesty, stating Greek sovereignty to be massively limited.
Greece faces severe restrictions on its sovereignty and must privatize state assets on a scale similar to the sell off of East German firms in the 1990s after communism fell, Eurogroup chairman Jean-Claude Juncker said.
"The sovereignty of Greece will be massively limited," he told Germany’s Focus magazine in the interview released on Sunday, adding that teams of experts from around the euro zone would heading to Greece.
"One cannot be allowed to insult the Greeks. But one has to help them. They have said they are ready to accept expertise from the euro zone," Juncker said.
Massive Loss of Sovereignty is an Insult
If I was Greek, I would take a statement regarding massive loss of sovereignty as an insult, not help. Thus, true to form, in aggregate, Juncker’s statements are a collective lie.
EU Seeks to Curb Big Three Rating Firms
Bloomberg reports EU Seeks to Curb Big Three Rating Firms After Portugal Downgrade.
European policy makers lashed out at rating companies after Moody’s Investors Service cut Portugal’s debt to junk, reviving calls to curtail their clout.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said the grip of the big three rating companies had to be broken when asked about Moody’s downgrade. “I have said before that we have to curb the influence of the rating agencies,” Schaeuble told reporters in Berlin today. There’s a need to “break up” the companies’ dominance, he said.
European Commission President Jose Barroso said he “deeply” regrets the timing and magnitude of Portugal’s downgrade by Moody’s and said proposals for increasing regulation of the rating companies in Europe would come out this year. The moves by Moody’s “do not provide for more clarity. They rather add another speculative element to the situation,” Barroso told reporters in Strasbourg today.
The commission, the European Union’s executive arm, “is looking into the regulation of rating agencies to determine whether there are some measures that need to be taken with regard to the prevention of possible conflicts of interest and other matters,” he said. “Developments since the sovereign- debt crisis show we need to take a further look at reinforcing our rules.”
Truth Not Appreciated
by ilene - July 7th, 2011 1:44 am
The latest tranche of loans from the EU and the IMF has helped buy debt-ridden Greece some time. But the Greeks will find it hard to get back on their feet. Their country has been ruined by three political dynasties, which created a bloated system of cronyism that is hard to change. By SPIEGEL Staff.
Regardless of whether it happens under Papandreou alone or with both politicians working together, if Greece starts economizing, it risks choking its own economy. "It’s like a cat chasing its own tail," says Greek economics professor Yanis Varoufakis.
Former IMF chief economist Kenneth Rogoff recently warned: "If they just continue with the European Union’s austerity program, they’re going to be in slow growth or recession as far as the eye can see, and at the end of the day they’re still going to default."
And it’s not as if Greece hasn’t already adopted austerity measures. Athens managed to cut its budget deficit from 15.4 percent of its gross domestic product to 10.6 percent last year, thanks to its first austerity package. The government made cutbacks in salaries, retirement funds and social benefits, among other things.
This austerity policy also caused 200,000 people to lose their jobs last year, with unemployment reaching an all-time high of 15 percent by late March.
With pay in the private sector also often falling by 10 to 20 percent, consumption likewise dropped by nearly 10 percent and the recession intensified. It’s a vicious circle. Since taxes need to increase and spending needs to decrease, the situation is likely only to get worse.
by Zero Hedge - May 21st, 2011 8:18 am
Courtesy of Zero Hedge
The book "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man" by John Perkins is easily one of the most engrossing pieces of non-fiction one can read to learn about the true drivers behind globalization, espionage, corporate cronyism, the emergence of such "artificial" organizations as the World Bank and the IMF, and most importantly, debt "enslavement", all as seen from an insider’s view. It explains in simple words why over the past 40 years the developing world paradigm has been exploited as heavily as it has, why the BRIC concept was instrumental as a Red Herring to perpetuating the myth of endless growth, and why credit must always flow no matter what to keep the status quo in power.
For those who have read the book, and for those who are on the fence about reading it, below we present the three part presentation by John Perkins at the 2006 Veterans for Peace National Convention in which he expounds on all the key ideas in his book, and does an extended Q&A covering topics not discussed previously. We urge everyone to spend at least a few minutes listening to Perkins who gives a unique and non-conflicted expert opinion on the primary force for why the the modern equivalent of enslavement is not by force, but by debt.
And for the truly time-constrained we recommend the following blurb which encapsulates the key elements from the book, and Perkins’ life.
by ilene - May 11th, 2011 11:57 pm
Courtesy of Tyler Durden
By Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone Magazine
The People vs. Goldman Sachs
They weren’t murderers or anything; they had merely stolen more money than most people can rationally conceive of, from their own customers, in a few blinks of an eye. But then they went one step further. They came to Washington, took an oath before Congress, and lied about it.
Thanks to an extraordinary investigative effort by a Senate subcommittee that unilaterally decided to take up the burden the criminal justice system has repeatedly refused to shoulder, we now know exactly what Goldman Sachs executives like Lloyd Blankfein and Daniel Sparks lied about. We know exactly how they and other top Goldman executives, including David Viniar and Thomas Montag, defrauded their clients. America has been waiting for a case to bring against Wall Street. Here it is, and the evidence has been gift-wrapped and left at the doorstep of federal prosecutors, evidence that doesn’t leave much doubt: Goldman Sachs should stand trial.
The great and powerful Oz of Wall Street was not the only target of Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse, the 650-page report just released by the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations, chaired by Democrat Carl Levin of Michigan, alongside Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. Their unusually scathing bipartisan report also includes case studies of Washington Mutual and Deutsche Bank, providing a panoramic portrait of a bubble era that produced the most destructive crime spree in our history — "a million fraud cases a year" is how one former regulator puts it. But the mountain of evidence collected against Goldman by Levin’s small, 15-desk office of investigators — details of gross, baldfaced fraud delivered up in such quantities as to almost serve as a kind of sarcastic challenge to the curiously impassive Justice Department — stands as the most important symbol of Wall Street’s aristocratic impunity and prosecutorial immunity produced since the crash of 2008.
To date, there has been only one successful prosecution of a financial big fish from the mortgage bubble, and that was Lee Farkas, a Florida lender who was just convicted on a smorgasbord of fraud charges and now faces life in prison. But Farkas, sadly, is just an exception proving the rule: Like Bernie Madoff, his comically excessive crime spree (which involved such lunacies as kiting checks to his own bank…
by ilene - May 4th, 2011 12:45 pm
Courtesy of The Epicurean Dealmaker
This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
Beware of the pursuit of the Superhuman: it leads to an indiscriminate contempt for the Human.
— George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman
Steven Davidoff opens a recent piece at The New York Times DealBook blog with the following words:
This is powerful language. What does he mean?
Well, for one thing he means that the reputations of individual investment banks are no longer coterminous with the reputations of their executives and employees. He ascribes this to the tremendous growth in scale and complexity of financial markets over the past three decades:
Today’s Wall Street is not the Wall Street of 1907 when J.P. Morgan single-handedly used his reputation and wallet to stem a running financial panic.
Until the 1980s,… Wall Street was made up of traditional partnerships. These were small groups of investment bankers who represented companies in offering and selling securities and occasionally acquisitions. These bankers put their individual reputations on the line, because there were so few of them. Morgan Stanley, for example, had only 31 partners in 1970 and fewer than 1,000 employees.
But this began to change in the 1980s. Trading markets became much more sophisticated, and trading and brokerage became the investment banks’ primary business. This is a technology game. The better the technology, the better the trading and brokerage operation. Individuals became less important.
The growth of more complex capital markets and a global economy also created much larger financial institutions. Morgan Stanley now has more than 62,000 employees. These banks could use their assets and position to compete in the market for finance and trading. Again, individuals were less important as size dominated. A client now trades or does business with a bank based on its positions or ability to make a market or loan. The executive at the bank executing the transaction is unimportant.
In one respect, this is true. Lazard is no longer Felix Rohatyn. Goldman Sachs is no longer Sidney Weinberg. The
by ilene - April 27th, 2011 2:25 am
Courtesy of Lee Adler at Wall Street Examiner
The S&P/Case Shiller Home Price Indices reported Tuesday are, as usual, so far behind the curve that not only did they miss the “double dip” that has come and gone, it will be at least July or August before it reports an apparent upturn in prices in March and April. S&P’s view of the data was dour. “There is very little, if any, good news about housing. Prices continue to weaken, trends in sales and construction are disappointing, ” said S&P’s David Blitzer. “The 20-City Composite is within a hair’s breadth of a double dip.”
There’s just one problem with that. Other price indicators that are not constructed with the Case Shiller’s large built in lag, passed the 2009-2010 low months ago. The FHFA (the Federal Agency that runs Fannie and Freddie) price index showed a low in March 2010 that was broken in June 2010 and never looked back. That index is now 5.6% below the March 2010 low. Zillow.com’s proprietary value model never even bounced. It shows a year over year decline of 8.2% as of February. Zillow’s listing price index shows a low of $200,000 in November 2009, followed by a flat period lasting 6 months. As of March 31, that index stood at $187,500, down 6.25% from the 2009-2010 low for data.
The Case Shiller Indices for February held slightly above the January level (not seasonally adjusted). I follow their 10 City Index due to its longer history. It was at 153.70 in February versus 152.70 in January. These levels are still above the low of 150.44 set in April 2009.
The Case Shiller index showed a recovery in prices in 2009-10 only because of the weird methodology it uses. Not only does it exclude the impact of distress sales that have been such a big part of the market, but it takes the average of 3 months of data instead of using just the most recent available month. The current data purports to represent prices as of February. In fact, it represents the average price for December, January, and February, with a time mid point of mid February. These are closed sales which generally represented contracts entered in mid to late November, on average. That means that the current Case Shiller index actually represents market conditions as of 5 months ago. Things can change in 5…
by ilene - March 21st, 2011 9:44 pm
Courtesy of The Daily Bail
Video – The Fed has 5 days to release all data.
March 21 (Bloomberg) — The Federal Reserve must disclose details of emergency loans it made to banks in 2008, after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an industry appeal that aimed to shield the records from public view. The justices today left intact a court order that gives the Fed five days to release the records, sought by Bloomberg.
A huge win for transparency.
Statement from Matthew Winkler, editor in chief of Bloomberg News:
As a financial crisis developed in 2007, "The Federal Reserve forgot that it is the central bank for the people of the United States and not a private academy where decisions of great importance may be withheld from public scrutiny. The Fed must be accountable to Congress, especially in disclosing what it does with the people’s money."
“The board will fully comply with the court’s decision and is preparing to make the information available,” said David Skidmore, a spokesman for the Fed.
The order marks the first time a court has forced the Fed to reveal the names of banks that borrowed from its oldest lending program, the 98-year-old discount window. The disclosures, together with details of six bailout programs released by the central bank in December under a congressional mandate, would give taxpayers insight into the Fed’s unprecedented $3.5 trillion effort to stem the 2008 financial panic.
“I can’t recall that the Fed was ever sued and forced to release information” in its 98-year history, said Allan H. Meltzer, the author of three books on the U.S central bank and a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
by ilene - March 17th, 2011 3:45 pm
THE BANKS MUST BE RESTRAINED, AND THE FINANCIAL SYSTEM REFORMED, WITH BALANCE RESTORED TO THE ECONOMY, BEFORE THERE CAN BE ANY SUSTAINED RECOVERY – Jesse
I have long been a fan of Jesse’s Café Américain. Jesse is a brilliant writer and a deep thinker who uniquely transcends politics, easily seeing through lies and disinformation. He has a great feel for what really matters, and the courage to speak out about it. Jesse and I have spoken before about the economy, markets and politics, and being at a crossroads once again, it was a perfect time to catch up.
Ilene: Hi Jesse, since our last interview, I would guess that we’d both agree that nothing has been done to clean up the financial system – the banks and government interconnectedness, conflicts of interest, and out-and-out fraudulent activities. Are things better or worse, or in line, with what you were expecting over a year ago?
Jesse: I think things are progressing in line with what I had expected, with the Fed and the government trying to prop up an unsustainable status quo by monetizing debt. I am still a little shocked by the brazen manner in which the financial markets are being conducted and regulated, and the news is reported in the US. It is one thing to hold a theory that says something will happen, but it is quite another to see it actually happening, and so blatantly, almost without a word of protest.
Ilene: How do you view our financial system and the global financial system now, with no progress towards any kind of reform?
Jesse: The US is now being run by an oligarchy, with lip service being paid to the electorate in allowing the people to vote for the candidates that the parties and the powers will put forward. There will be no recovery for the middle class until they assert themselves. I know I have stated this often in my tag phrase, “The banks must be restrained…” But it is the case.
There are areas of resistance to this trend on what one might call ‘the fringes of Empire,’ those client states which have been ruled by powerful cliques with the support and the protection of the US. Although certainly not a great analogy, it does remind one of…
by ilene - February 16th, 2011 4:37 pm
Courtesy of Karl Denninger, The Market Ticker
In its complaint, Allstate alleges the defendants "made numerous misrepresentations and omissions regarding the riskiness and credit quality" of the loans backing the securities sold as part of the transaction. JPMorgan Chase acquired Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual — along with the banks’ assets — back in 2008 when the housing meltdown hit. While both firms are technically defunct, each still has structured finance trading platforms unwinding.
Same basic allegations in the last lawsuit. Statistical sampling says "you intentionally hosed us."
In a land with an actual justice system by now there would be some people in "pound-me-in-the-ass" Federal Prison. Instead, we do the quaint lawsuit thing.
"Everything’s ****ed up, and nobody goes to jail," he said. "That’s your whole story right there. Hell, you don’t even have to write the rest of it. Just write that."
I put down my notebook. "Just that?"
"That’s right," he said, signaling to the waitress for the check. "Everything’s ****ed up, and nobody goes to jail. You can end the piece right there."
And until we, the people, demand that this change and enforce that demand with an Egypt-like protest, it won’t change, and you, dear reader, will keep getting screwed.
Right up until the debt bubble pops…. which it will.
Pic credit: Jr. Deputy Accountant
The Next Borrow-Short Lend-Long Guaranteed to Blow Up Bank Lending Scheme; Citigroup, Chase, Bank of America CD Ripoff
by ilene - February 16th, 2011 4:23 pm
Courtesy of Mish
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.