by ilene - March 31st, 2011 11:53 am
Courtesy of Jim Quinn, The Burning Platform
“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/
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.
by ilene - October 16th, 2010 6:00 pm
Courtesy of John Mauldin at Thoughts From The Frontline
Trouble, oh we got trouble, Right here in River City!
With a capital "T" That rhymes with "P"
And that stands for Pool, That stands for pool.
We’ve surely got trouble!
Right here in River City,
Right here! Gotta figger out a way
To keep the young ones moral after school!
Trouble, trouble, trouble, trouble, trouble…
- From The Music Man
(Quick last-minute note: I think this (and next week’s) is/will be one of the more important letters I have written in the last ten years. Take the time to read, and if you agree send it on to friends and responsible parties. And note to new readers: this letter goes to 1.5 million of my closest friends. It is free. Now, let’s jump in!)
There’s trouble, my friends, and it is does indeed involve pool(s), but not in the pool hall. The real monster is hidden in those pools of subprime debt that have not gone away. When I first began writing and speaking about the coming subprime disaster, it was in late 2007 and early 2008. The subject was being dismissed in most polite circles. "The subprime problem," testified Ben Bernanke, "will be contained."
My early take? It would be a disaster for investors. I admit I did not see in January that it would bring down Lehman and trigger the worst banking crisis in 80 years, less than 18 months later. But it was clear that it would not be "contained." We had no idea.
I also said that it was going to create a monster legal battle down the road that would take years to develop. Well, in the fullness of time, those years have come nigh upon us. Today we briefly look at the housing market, then the mortgage foreclosure debacle, and then we go into the real problem lurking in the background. It is The Subprime Debacle, Act 2. It is NOT the mortgage foreclosure issue, as serious as that is. I seriously doubt it will be contained, as well. Could the confluence of a bank credit crisis in the US and a sovereign debt banking crisis in Europe lead to another full-blown world banking crisis? The potential is there. This situation wants some serious attention.
by ilene - October 16th, 2010 2:22 am
With risky behavior by big finance again threatening economic stability, how can we get things right this time?
Courtesy of Ellen Brown
Originally published in YES! Magazine
Looming losses from the mortgage scandal dubbed “foreclosuregate” may qualify as the sort of systemic risk that, under the new financial reform bill, warrants the breakup of the too-big-to-fail banks. The Kanjorski amendment allows federal regulators to pre-emptively break up large financial institutions that—for any reason—pose a threat to U.S. financial or economic stability.
Although downplayed by most media accounts and popular financial analysts, crippling bank losses from foreclosure flaws appear to be imminent and unavoidable. The defects prompting the “RoboSigning Scandal” are not mere technicalities but are inherent to the securitization process. They cannot be cured. This deep-seated fraud is already explicitly outlined in publicly available lawsuits.
There is, however, no need to panic, no need for TARP II, and no need for legislation to further conceal the fraud and push the inevitable failure of the too-big-to-fail banks into the future.
Federal regulators now have the tools to take control and set things right. The Wall Street giants escaped the Volcker Rule, which would have limited their size, and the Brown-Kaufman amendment, which would have broken up the largest six banks outright; but the financial reform bill has us covered. The Kanjorski amendment—which slipped past lobbyists largely unnoticed—allows federal regulators to preemptively break up large financial institutions that pose a threat to U.S. financial or economic stability.
Rep. Grayson’s Call for a Moratorium
The new Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) probably didn’t expect to have its authority called on quite so soon, but Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) has just put the amendment to the test. On October 7, in a letter addressed to Timothy Geithner, Shiela Bair, Ben Bernanke, Mary Schapiro, John Walsh (Acting Comptroller of the Currency), Gary Gensler, Ed DeMarco, and Debbie Matz (National Credit Union Administration), he asked for an emergency task force on foreclosure fraud. He said:
The liability here for the major banks is potentially enormous, and can lead
FDIC Authorizes $1 Billion Lawsuits Against Failed-Bank Executives; Token Search for Low-Profile Scapegoats
by ilene - October 10th, 2010 4:41 pm
FDIC Authorizes $1 Billion Lawsuits Against Failed-Bank Executives; Token Search for Low-Profile Scapegoats
Courtesy of Mish
The FDIC has only brought one case to date against executives of failed banks. Supposedly more charges are coming.
Bloomberg reports FDIC May Seek $1 Billion From Failed-Bank Executives
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has authorized lawsuits against more than 50 officers and directors of failed banks as the agency aims to recoup more than $1 billion in losses stemming from the credit crisis.
The lawsuits were authorized during closed sessions of the FDIC board and haven’t been made public. The agency, which has shuttered 294 lenders since the start of 2008, has held off court action while conducting settlement talks with executives whose actions may have led to bank collapses, Richard Osterman, the FDIC’s acting general counsel, said in an interview.
“We’re ready to go,” Osterman said. “We could walk into court tomorrow and file the lawsuits.”
The FDIC, which reviews losses for every bank failure, has brought only one case against officers or directors tied to recent collapses — a suit filed in July seeking $300 million in damages from four executives of IndyMac Bancorp Inc.
The FDIC “brings suits only where they are believed to be sound on the merits and likely to be cost-effective,” according to an agency policy statement that dates from the savings-and- loan crisis of the 1980s. That requires considerations of whether an individual, if sued, has the means to pay or an insurance policy to cover all or part of the claim.
“It doesn’t make sense to file a lawsuit if at the end of the day you have a low chance of recovery,” Osterman said.
“It’s in both our interest and theirs to try and settle this matter before it gets into the court and we get into expensive litigation,” he said.
Political Stunt to Placate the Public
I see this as little more than a political stunt to placate the public. These cases are unlikely to go to trial, on purpose, and not for the reason the FDIC says.
The FDIC does not want to rattle the banking system, so they won’t. Instead they will settle most if not all of these cases for peanuts.
To make it look legit, the FDIC might pursue a couple of scapegoat cases, IndyMac being one of them, but don’t expect anything more.
by ilene - September 12th, 2010 3:23 pm
MUST READ: Some Bailout Questions FED Czar ‘Bernanke The Magnificent’ STILL Hasn’t Answered (Beatdown)
Courtesy of The Daily Bail
Why were bank bondholders made whole, while taxpayers got shafted? That’s the most important question of all, yet no one has ever asked him.
Two exceptional editorials from the WSJ earlier this week. Reprinted with permission.
On the key facts behind the bailouts of 2008, regulators have stonewalled the public, the press and even the inspector general of the Troubled Asset Relief Program. On Wednesday, we’ll find out if they can also stonewall the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission.
Chairman Phil Angelides and his panel will begin two days of hearings on the subject of "Too Big to Fail," featuring testimony from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Chairman Sheila Bair. Across bailouts from Bear Stearns to AIG, the government has refused to release its analysis of the "systemic risks" that compelled it to mount unprecedented interventions into the financial system with taxpayer money. Two years after the crisis, Mr. Angelides and his colleagues should finally let the sun shine on this critical period of our economic history.
A year ago we told you about former FDIC official Vern McKinley, who has made a series of Freedom of Information Act requests. He wanted to know what Fed governors meant when they said a Bear Stearns failure would cause a "contagion." This term was used in the minutes of the Fed meeting at which the central bank discussed plans by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to finance Bear’s sale to J.P. Morgan Chase. The minutes contained no detail on how exactly the fall of Bear would destroy America.
He also requested minutes of the FDIC board meeting at which regulators approved financing for a Citigroup takeover of Wachovia. To provide this assistance, the board had to invoke the "systemic risk" exception in the Federal Deposit Insurance Act, and it therefore had to assert that such assistance was necessary for the health of the financial system. Yet days later, Wachovia cut a better deal to sell itself to Wells Fargo, instead of Citi. So how necessary was the assistance?
Former Bank Regulator William Black: U.S. Using “Rally Stupid Strategy” to Hide Bank Losses – Will Produce Japanese Style Lost Decade
by ilene - August 14th, 2010 1:53 pm
Former Bank Regulator William Black: U.S. Using "Rally Stupid Strategy" to Hide Bank Losses – Will Produce Japanese Style Lost Decade
Courtesy of Mish
Aaron Task has a nice interview with former bank regulator William Black on our "Really Stupid Strategy" to Hide Bank Losses"
109 U.S. banks have failed so far this year, 23 in this quarter alone. These failures may not cost depositors, but they do come at a steep cost to the FDIC. As discussed here with ValuEngine’s Richard Suttmeier, the FDIC Deposit Insurance has already spent $18.93 billion this year, “well above the $15.33 billion prepaid assessments for all of 2010.”
The situation is likely even worse than the FDIC portrays, says William Black Associate Professor of Economics and Law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
“The FDIC is sitting there knowing that it has both the residential disaster and the commercial real estate disaster [and] knowing it doesn’t have remotely enough funds to pay for it,” he says.
William Black with Aaron Task Video
Aaron Task: Should we be surprise there are not more bank failures?
William Black: Not Surprised,we should be upset there are not more bank failures. The industry has used its political muscle to get Congress to extort the financial accounting standards board to gimmick the accounting rules so that banks do not have to recognize their losses.
Aaron Task: In practical terms, what does the gutting of that rule mean for the banks?
William Black: Capital is defined as assets minus liabilities. If I get to keep my assets at inflated bubble values that have nothing to do with their real value, then my reported capital will be greatly inflated. When I am insolvent I still report that I have lots of capital.
Aaron Task: You are saying the FDIC is intentionally keeping foreclosures down because it knows it does not have enough money to pay off depositors who are insured by the FDIC?
William Black: That is correct and that is going to make ultimate losses grow. It also means we are following a Japanese type strategy of hiding the losses and we know what that produces – a lost decade, which is now two lost decades. Your listeners and viewers if they are stock types, look at the Nikkei. It lost 75% in nominal terms and has stayed that way for 20 years. I…
by ilene - August 1st, 2010 7:49 pm
Courtesy of JESSE’S CAFÉ AMÉRICAIN
The losses from the mortgage securities frauds and the subsequent bubble collapse continue to debilitate the US financial system, particularly the regional banks, in a slow bleed costing the US government additional millions each week. The public relations campaign promoting the idea that the bank bailouts are done and successful, and that the US made money on this egregious abuse of public monies is patently false, and probably can be described as corporatist propaganda.
The banks continue to mount a campaign to resist reform and regulation. They are taking advantage of the weakness of the Obama administration in failing to reform the banking system through liquidations and managed bankruptcies, including indictments and investigations as was seen in the Savings and Loan scandal.
It is difficult to continue to assume good intentions in this administration, or even mere incompetence. The objections put up by Geithner and Summers to the appointment of Elizabeth Warren as the head of the new consumer protection agency shows how reactionary they continue to be, and resistant to fundamental reforms.
Failures on Two Coasts Stretch Toll for Year to 108
By Joe Adler
Friday, July 30, 2010
Five bank closures in four states Friday cost the federal government an additional $334 million in losses.
Regulators shuttered the $373 million-asset Coastal Community Bank in Panama City Beach, Fla., the $66 million-asset Bayside Savings Bank in Port Saint Joe, Fla., the $168 million-asset NorthWest Bank and Trust in Acworth, Ga., the $529 million-asset The Cowlitz Bank in Longview, Wash., and the $768-asset LibertyBank in Eugene, Ore. The failures brought the year’s total to 108.
The hammered Southeast bore the brunt of the failure activity, as it has for so many Fridays since the financial crisis began. Twenty banks have been seized in Florida in 2010, while 11 have failed in Georgia so far this year.
The two Florida institutions that failed Friday went to one buyer: Centennial Bank in Conway, Ark. The acquirer agreed to take over Coastal Community’s $363 million in deposits, Bayside Savings’ $52 million in deposits and roughly all of the assets of both institutions.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. agreed to share losses with Centennial on $303 million of Coastal Community’s assets, and $48
by ilene - June 23rd, 2010 1:43 am
Courtesy of Mish
The Wall Street Journal reports FDIC to Delay Bank Plan.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said it would put off a planned premium increase on banks as it held steady its projected losses for the government fund that covers bank deposits.
The FDIC staff on Tuesday advised the agency’s five-member board to delay a premium increase of three one hundredths of a percentage point scheduled for Jan. 1 because it expects bank failures to begin trailing off next year. The higher assessments will be put off until some unspecified date.
The FDIC expects bank failures to begin to peak this year. It has set aside $40 billion to cover failures from March 2010 through March 2011. Beyond five years, the FDIC expects the pace of bank failures to return to the very low levels that preceded the financial crisis.
In 2008, the FDIC adopted a plan to rebuild its fund in order to restore the ratio of reserves to covered deposits above 1.15%--the minimum required by law. By 2012, the FDIC expects its deposit insurance fund to turn positive again, with the reserve ratio rising above the statutory minimum by the first quarter of 2017.
The whole banking system is still insolvent and will remain insolvent for years to come. That the FDIC will at some point simply choose to pretend that banks are well capitalized and the economy will eventually bail them out is not surprising.
Nearly everyone is overly optimistic on how the rest of this decade will play out in terms of jobs, corporate profits, and bankruptcies.
Picture credit: Jr. Deputy Accountant
by ilene - May 31st, 2010 1:51 am
Courtesy of Karl Denninger at The Market Ticker
From a report emailed to me over the weekend:
At the core of the foreclosure-prevention strategy is ignoring delinquencies. The percentage of older delinquent loans not yet in foreclosure is startling: 60% have at least 12 missed payments, and 35% have at least 18 missed payments. Add to this that three-fourths of delinquent loans are not in foreclosure, and we see that hidden losses well exceed those in the open.
Uh, they’re not being "ignored" – this is systemic and intentional fraud.
Remember, these loans are either being held by someone or securitized into some sort of package. When you have a loan that has no chance of "curing" (to cure a loan with 12 missed payments the borrower would have to come up with the 12 payments to bring it current!) that loan should be carried at its recovery value – that is, the value of the collateral that can be seized and sold, LESS the cost of eviction, remediation and resale.
Does anyone recall all the entries I’ve written about getting competent legal and accounting (tax) advice before proceeding with any sort of action regarding walking away, short sales or foreclosure? This same report says:
Many homeowners would be better off going into foreclosure, than doing a short sale. Short sales are fraught with potential legal, credit, and complicated tax issues. For example, someone who refinanced could owe capital gains taxes, which are not forgiven under federal and California temporary debt relief acts. In the foreclosure route, borrowers can live in their house mortgage-free for at least one year, maybe two years. Both short sales and foreclosures are reported as “account not paid in full”, and are equally damaging to a credit score. An exception exists if short sellers can negotiate better terms with their lender on recourse liens. The other possible advantage to a short sale is the ability to get a mortgage again in 2 years (Fannie, Freddie), rather than having to wait 3-5 years after a foreclosure.
Homeowners pursue short sales, unaware of the problems they are creating for themselves. Their agents never warned them of deficiencies, ruined credit, taxes due on forgiven debt, or legal consequences. Agents made flowery promises to get listings, and now the lawsuits are starting.