by ilene - November 8th, 2010 8:03 pm
There’s definitely something to Simon Johnson’s new theory that it’s no longer about "Too Big To Fail" but rather "Too Global
In a big piece at The New Republic, the former IMF economist and professor argues that the key to escaping the Dodd-Frank resolution authority is to become so big internationally that governments around the world see the need to ensure your survival.
This June, Dimon returned from a two-week visit to China, India, and Russia, and announced an even more aggressive expansion. Senior executives were ordered to look beyond Western Europe—where most of JP Morgan’s foreign investment banking is focused—and seek opportunities in emerging markets. In addition to Brazil, Russia, India, and China—the emerging powerhouses known as the BRIC countries—JP Morgan is looking at Southeast Asian nations, such as Vietnam and Indonesia, the Middle East, and parts of Africa. The bank plans to triple its private banking assets in Asia over the next five years and hopes to make Asia the source of half its non-domestic business. “We are going to get the whole company behind [the international strategy],” Dimon told The New York Times.
If Dimon is successful, he will create a bank that is not just too big to fail, but too global to fail. There is no conspiracy here: JP Morgan is simply responding to the available incentives. This international push is terrific corporate strategy and completely legal under our reformed financial system. But it also happens to be very dangerous for the rest of us.
It’s not just JPMorgan, he reckons. All the big banks will begin pursuing the strategy of getting so global that a US-only wind-down isn’t a reasonable end, come a crisis.
SIGTARP Calls Out Tim Geithner On Various Violations Including Data Manipulation, Lack Of Transparency, “Cruel” Cynicism, And Gross Incompetence
by ilene - October 26th, 2010 1:53 am
SIGTARP Calls Out Tim Geithner On Various Violations Including Data Manipulation, Lack Of Transparency, "Cruel" Cynicism, And Gross Incompetence
Courtesy of Tyler Durden
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
by ilene - October 16th, 2010 4:16 pm
Courtesy of Gordon T. Long of Tipping Points
The critical issues in America stem from minimally a blatantly ineffective public policy, but overridingly a failed and destructive Economic Policy. These policy errors are directly responsible for the opening salvos of the Currency War clouds now looming overhead.
Don’t be fooled for a minute. The issue of Yuan devaluation is a political distraction from the real issue – a failure of US policy leadership. In my opinion the US Fiscal and Monetary policies are misguided. They are wrong! I wrote a 66 page thesis paper entitled “Extend & Pretend” in the fall of 2009 detailing why the proposed Keynesian policy direction was flawed and why it would fail. I additionally authored a full series of articles from January through August in a broadly published series entitled “Extend & Pretend” detailing the predicted failures as they unfolded. Don’t let anyone tell you that what has happened was not fully predictable!
Now after the charade of Extend & Pretend has run out of momentum and more money printing is again required through Quantitative Easing (we predicted QE II was inevitable in March), the responsible US politicos have cleverly ignited the markets with QE II money printing euphoria in the run-up to the mid-term elections. Craftily they are taking political camouflage behind an “undervalued Yuan” as the culprit for US problems. Remember, patriotism is the last bastion of scoundrels
An unusual Wall Street Op-ed piece appeared Wednesday October 13th , written by Yiping Huang, a Professor of Economics – China Center for Economic Research at the prestigious Peking University. He called for common sense from Americans and the G20 regarding the potential for destructive currency wars:
“The upcoming Group of 20 summit in Seoul could become a battlefield of this new conflict. But it doesn’t have to be. Rather than focus on currency manipulation, all sides would be better served to zero in on structural reforms. The effects of that would be far more beneficial in the long run than unilateral U.S. currency action, and more sustainable. … it would be much better for the G-20 to focus on a comprehensive package centered on structural reforms in all countries. Exchange rates should be an important part of that package. For instance, to reduce the U.S. current-account deficits, Americans have to save more.
by ilene - October 16th, 2010 2:05 pm
Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds
Positive feedback loops soon reach the runaway/self-destruction stage. Concentrations of wealth and gaming-the-system are reaching just such levels.
Positive feedback loops lead to runaway scenarios. The classic example is global warming and the Arctic ice cap. As temperatures rise, the the ice melts, exposing more land or seawater. Ice reflects solar radiation, and so as it shrinks then more solar radiation is absorbed, raising temperatures more, which melts the ice faster, which then leads to more solar radiation being absorbed, and so on.
The runaway feedback loop leads to the disappearance of the Arctic ice and a much warmer planet.
Nature has multiple feedback loops, and so the solar radiation flux may be acting to reduce temperatures as the positive feedback of melting ice raises temperatures. But the point is that positive feedback is self-reinforcing and it speeds up processes as it gathers momentum.
We can see runaway feedback loops in the economy and society, not just in Nature. One of the key runaway feedbacks in the U.S. is the concentration of wealth and political power.
As wealth has become concentrated in the top 1/10th of 1%, then the political power that can be purchased with that wealth also rises, which then enables the wealthy to increase their wealth via "Federal entrepreneurship" and other means.
The political process--once potentially a force resisting or moderating wealth--has been completely captured by an ever-expanding army of lobbyists, the fast-spinning revolving door between the Central State and corporations and unprecedented levels of corporate/Elites campaign contributions.
The judiciary, theoretically a force which could have resisted this concentration of wealth and political power, has also been co-opted by a marriage of ideology and wealth/power. Thus the courts have gutted every attempt at limiting corporate/insider influence over the processes of governance; the courts have enabled corporations to have the "right to free (paid) speech" unburdened by the obligations that go with such rights.
The wealth/power feedback has reached runaway levels. "Reforms" are gutted in backroom deals, votes to benefit the banking/mortgage/foreclosure industry are done on voice calls to evade public scrutiny, and a thousand other games and tricks are played daily to subvert the common good for the benefit of the few and their armies of technocrat toadies.
by ilene - October 16th, 2010 2:02 pm
Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds
The moral rot at the center of American life results from a normalization of pathologies--sociopathic and psychopathic states and behaviors are now "normal" or incentivized. Moral behavior is institutionally punished.
My entry on the moral rot which has taken hold in all socio-economic levels of America drew a number of insightful responses: Runaway Feedback Loops, Wealth Concentration and Gaming-The-System (October 13, 2010).
While the American/Western worldview holds that we are autonomous individuals exercising free will at every moment, in reality we are all heavily programmed by our socio-economic class conditions. What is so striking about present-day America is the way in which the narcissistic, no-moral-compass social pathologies of entitlement, denial and fabrication of "truth"/reality has been "normalized" (accepted as normal behavior and thinking) in all social classes.
Before we analyze that further, let’s get some direct experiences from three observant readers.
First up in Freeacre, one of the proprietors of the excellent Trout Clan Campfire blog:
Here are my examples (of the feedback loops you described):
Thirty-one years ago, when I was pregnant with my son, a friend in San Francisco explained to me that I should go down and apply for welfare. He told me the the social workers basically tell you the right answers to give when applying. They ask the question and you just say agree with whatever it is. That’s the game. (I didn’t do it, choosing to marry the father of our child and live a life of penury instead…)
2) We finally were able to buy a house in Portland. Our next door neighbor lived in one exactly like ours. But, she was divorced and had two kids. Her kids went to church school for free, got free clothing and medical care, her mom collected her rent from the state, she got food stamps, and on and on. Her ex even got a penile implant due to an unfortunate motorcycle accident! We ended up losing our home and car and having to declare bankruptcy due to our son’s medical bills for cancer.
3) Years later, when my husband got cancer and I had to pay his COBRA payments up front, I had hardly any money for food or the house payment from my job at the Tahoe Daily Tribune. When I inquired what we could do to qualify for some assistance, the social
by ilene - October 11th, 2010 8:18 pm
How big is the foreclosure mess? Big. Here’s WB7′s perspective.
THE MIDDLE GAME QUAGMIRE
After a bad opening, there is hope for the middle game. After a bad middle game, there is hope for the endgame. But once you are in the endgame, the moment of truth has arrived. – Edmar Mednis (Grandmaster)
I have one central thought of where this fraudclosure fiasco could lead, and this is why everyone should watch very carefully how the various players move their pieces in this subprime middle game.
Up until now, the banks have been making sweeping statements that this all reflects a "technical" glitch in foreclosure processes.
Well, having a posse of State AGs band together to commence a joint investigation is no longer a minor "technical" glitch. Allegations of masses of forged signatures, falsified or fabricated notarized documents, back dating etc., if true, collectively amount to an institutional pattern of criminal behavior. Having the Justice Department announce it is opening a preliminary investigation raises the stakes even higher.
Being forced to suspend all foreclosures has obvious "material" economic consequences to the CDO note holders.
But having title companies pull out of the residential real estate market because they no longer trust the veracity of bank provided documents presages claims by mortgagors who lost their properties as well as the subsequent purchasers of same. The only way to conclusively cure that kind of problem is to get waivers, and releases from the various claimants wherever they may be or pass retroactive curative laws or laws doing things like creating a bailout fund to indemnify those who are injured (yikes!). You cannot simply say this is immaterial, sprinkle in the word MERS and hope this will all go away.
The CDO note holders will have potential claims stemming from the interruption of non-performing loan processing. Think breaches of the trust servicing agreements and allegations of "gross negligence or willful misconduct", the latter being magical legal hurdle in these types of agreements. However, the much…
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?
by ilene - September 3rd, 2010 4:41 pm
Indeed, even after the government plays with the numbers to make them look better (using inaccurate birth-death models and other tricks-of-the-trade), this is how the current jobs downturn compares with other post-WWII recessions:
The Government Has Encouraged the Offshoring of American Jobs for More Than 50 Years
President Eisenhower re-wrote the tax laws so that they would favor investment abroad. President Kennedy railed against tax provisions that "consistently favor United States private investment abroad compared with investment in our own economy", but nothing changed.
For the last 50-plus years, the tax benefits to American companies making things abroad has encouraged jobs to move out of the U.S.
The Government Has Encouraged Mergers
The government has actively encouraged mergers, which destroy jobs.
This is nothing new.
Citigroup’s former chief executive says that when Citigroup was formed in 1998 out of the merger of banking and insurance giants, Alan Greenspan told him, “I have nothing against size. It doesn’t bother me at all”.
And the government has actively encouraged the big banks to grow into mega-banks.
The Government Has Let Unemployment Rise in an Attempt to Fight Inflation
As I noted last year:
The Federal Reserve is mandated by law to maximize employment. The relevant statute states:
The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Federal Open Market Committee shall maintain long run growth of the monetary and credit aggregates commensurate with the economy’s long run potential to increase production, so as to promote effectively the goals of maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates.
The Fed could
by ilene - July 15th, 2010 6:44 pm
Courtesy of Michael Synder at The Economic Collapse
Is it possible to write a 2,300 page piece of legislation that accomplishes next to nothing and is pretty much completely and utterly worthless? The answer is yes. Barack Obama has been trumpeting the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill as the "biggest rewrite of Wall Street rules since the Great Depression", but the truth is that after the Wall Street lobbyists got done carving it up, the bill that was left was so watered down and so toothless that it essentially accomplishes nothing except creating even more government bureaucracy and even more mind-numbing paperwork.
The bill is so riddled with loopholes for the big banks that it is basically the legislative equivalent of Swiss cheese. The Democrats in the Senate were ecstatic when they announced that they had secured the 60 votes needed to pass this legislation, but when they are asked about what the financial reform bill will do, most of them are left stammering for some kind of cohesive response. The sad truth is that most of them probably don’t understand the bill and none of them will probably ever read the entire thing.
So will the financial reform bill do any good at all?
A very, very small amount.
Essentially, it is kind of like going over to the Pacific Ocean and scooping out a couple of cups of water.
That is about how much good this bill is going to do.
But U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is making this sound like this is some kind of history-changing legislation….
"We’re cleaning up Wall Street."
Charles Geisst, professor of finance at Manhattan College recently had the following to say about this absolutely toothless bill….
Like health-care reform, this bill is being drawn up to grab headlines but its details betray it as nothing more than a slap on the wrist for Wall Street. It is true that Wall Street can commit grand theft and apparently get off with nothing more than community service.
The truth is that most of us never expected the U.S. government to truly take on Wall Street. The relationship between the two is just way too cozy for that to happen.
So does the financial reform bill actually accomplish anything?
by ilene - July 15th, 2010 12:09 pm
Here’s an excellent commentary by Dylan Ratigan, please share this one--because one thing we own the government can’t take away is truth. – Ilene
The good news in America today is that many of lies from our leaders and media no longer seem to be working. Four out of five people view the current proposed financial reform as ineffectual. Many in Congress who voted for socialism for the rich now look like they will be voted out for continuing those giveaways.
Now the only way those Banksters can survive is to pretend that their corporate communism is working even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Most recently, they decided that instead of taxing complicit financial institutions the cost of their "Financial Reform-In-Name-Only", they will instead use what I call the Big Tarp Lie to pander for the vote of Senator Scott Brown and others.
The mainstream media rarely fights back against this lie, either by an inability to understand, a desire to protect their access to these same Politicians and Bankers or an unwillingness to go up against the very same financial institutions that are often the only thing between them and the unemployment line.
However, we the people have to fight back against these lies – and thankfully we own the truth.
This lie must be beaten back by all of us like whack-a-mole every time it rears its ugly head. Please help me by sending this information to any Politician, Media Figure, Banker, Neighbor or Robot that you find repeating it – they can take our money, but they don’t own the truth.
Let’s break it down:
1. TARP itself hasn’t even made money. AIG alone still owes us $75.6 billion. However, they always add the caveat "Other than AIG…" when they say that the bailouts were "profitable". But the AIG money was DIRECTLY PAID to many of these same banks that "paid back their TARP" at an outrageous 100 cents on the dollar! Mind you, this was done by government officials that were the former employees and current shareholders of the very banks they were helping. Let’s make the banks like Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Societe Generale pay back the $105 billion of stolen taxpayer money before we let anyone say "TARP was paid…