by ilene - November 17th, 2010 2:26 pm
Courtesy of Bruce Krasting
Sheila Bair has turned a corner in her support of the bankers. On the critical issue of accounting clarity she made these remarks today to a bunch of CPA’s. I hear she got a standing ovation from that audience. Her words:
Fair Value AccountingAnother ongoing regulatory process is FASB’s proposal to substantially revise the accounting standards for financial instruments. Under the proposed rule, banks would be required to measure substantially all of their financial instruments at fair value on the balance sheet.While we understand that the objective of the rule is to make financial statements more transparent, we believe that its effect could be to undermine financial stability by making bank performance more procyclical. In short, we do not believe that a bank – whose business strategy is to hold loans and deposit liabilities for the long term – should be required to measure them at fair value on the balance sheet.
70% of all Americans own some stocks. It is hard to avoid the financials if you’re in a fund, so the consumer’s new champion, Elizabeth Warren, should take up the issue of clarity on bank financial statements. That would be a cat-fight I would like to see.
by ilene - October 29th, 2010 3:18 am
Courtesy of Gordon T Long of Tipping Points
In September 2008 the US came to a fork in the road. The Public Policy decision to not seize the banks, to not place them in bankruptcy court with the government acting as the Debtor-in-Possession (DIP), to not split them up by selling off the assets to successful and solvent entities, set the world on the path to global currency wars.
By lowering interest rates and effectively guaranteeing a weak dollar through undisciplined fiscal policy, the US ignited an almost riskless global US$ Carry Trade and triggered an uncontrolled Currency War with the mercantilist, export driven Asian economies. We are now debasing the US dollar with reckless spending and money printing with the policies of Quantitative Easing (QE) and the expectations of QE II. Both are nothing more than effectively defaulting on our obligations to sound money policy and a “strong US$”. Meanwhile with a straight face we deny that this is our intention.
It’s called debase, default and deny.
Though prior to the 2008 financial crisis our largest banks had become casino like speculators with public money lacking in fiduciary responsibility, our elected officials bailed them out. Our leadership placed America and the world unknowingly (knowingly?) on a preordained destructive path because it was politically expedient and the easiest way out of a difficult predicament. By kicking the can down the road our political leadership, like the banks, avoided their fiduciary responsibility. Similar to a parent wanting to be liked and a friend to their children they avoided the difficult discipline that is required at certain critical moments in life. The discipline to make America swallow a needed pill. The discipline to ask Americans to accept a period of intense adjustment. A period that by now would be starting to show signs of success versus the abyss we now find ourselves staring into. A future that is now significantly worse and with potentially fatal pain still to come.
Unemployed Americans, the casualties of the financial crisis wrought by the banks, witness the same banks declaring record earnings while these banks refuse to lend. When the banks once more are caught with their fingers in the cookie jar with falsified robo-signing mortgage title fraud, they again look for the compliant parent to look the other way. Meanwhile the US debt levels and spending associated with protecting these failed…
by ilene - October 18th, 2010 4:03 pm
Randall’s portrayal of Ben Bernanke’s thinking reminds me of a professor I knew who was trying to prove his own version of the Krebs Cycle. He designed experiments that would theoretically prove he was correct, but – strangely – the students in his lab kept failing to achieve the proper results. Rather than changing his theory, he realized that something must have gone wrong in the experiment, and he would have the students do it over, and over, until the right results were obtained. A lot of rats were killed in the process, but no matter--no one really cared about the rats. – Ilene
The Fed is between a rock and a hard economic outlook.
Fed Chairman Bernanke is signaling that a second round of quantitative easing will soon begin. In the first round, the Fed’s balance sheet nearly tripled to nearly $2.3 trillion as it bought $1.7 trillion in Treasury securities and mortgage-related securities. Since the Fed appears to want to unwind its position in mortgages, QE2 will probably target federal government debt.
During Japan’s long stagnation, Bernanke was famous for arguing that the Bank of Japan could have done far more to fight deflation. Since the BOJ’s overnight interest rate target was effectively at zero, the conventional policy of lowering its interest rate target was not an option. Hence, Bernanke advocated quantitative, rather than price, activity — the BOJ would purchase assets from banks, driving up their excess reserves, until they would finally make loans to stimulate spending that would reverse the trend of prices.
So when he had the opportunity, he put theory into practice in the US, driving short-term interest rates effectively to zero and filling bank balance sheets with excess reserves by purchasing their assets. So far, the impact has not been significantly different than Japan’s experience. Indeed, Bernanke has been publicly warning of the dangers of a Japanese-style deflation, as US inflation has dropped nearly to zero, well below the Fed’s informal target of two percent.
And so we are now set for round two of QE — more of the same old, same old.
Eliot Spitzer: “The Federal Reserve Is A Ponzi Scheme” (Inside The Fed’s Secret Pile Of Trash With Ratigan, Spitzer & Toure)
by ilene - August 17th, 2010 8:08 pm
Eliot Spitzer: "The Federal Reserve Is A Ponzi Scheme" (Inside The Fed’s Secret Pile Of Trash With Ratigan, Spitzer & Toure)
Courtesy of The Daily Bail
An outstanding discussion, primer and visual lesson on toxic assets, failed banks, the Federal Reserve, HR 1207, auditing the Fed, and you, the f*cked taxpayer. Don’t miss this clip and then send it to someone else. Pay it forward until we have millions of f*cked taxpayers who will at least be informed. Awareness is our only chance.
More green shoots from Dylan Ratigan’s awesome new show. Dylan puts on his Banker hat and swaps a (literal) bag of trash, on-air, for $13.9 Trillion worth of Monopoly money from a guy wearing a "Fed" hat. Dylan then explains why we should support Ron Paul’s Audit of the Fed (HR 1207) and explains in plain and simple terms how we have been screwed by the Fed’s bailout of the banks. This is really good stuff. I can’t help but admire Ratigan for what he’s doing with the new show. From our perspective, it just gets better and better. Here are just two of several choice morsels from this clip:
- "The Federal Reserve just extended $14 Trillion of our money, our children’s money, America’s future…and now they don’t want to talk about what’s in the bag. And they did it because the banks created a garbage bag full of bad debts." (4:45)
- "I feel as if America has suffered the greatest theft and cover-up — ever, … where banks created a pile of garbage, that they paid themselves billions of dollars in personal compensation, and then stuck the trillions of dollars worth of garbage with the American taxpayer. That, to me, is stealing." (7:05)
by ilene - July 10th, 2010 6:26 pm
Courtesy of MIKE WHITNEY at CounterPunch
Bonds are signaling that the recovery is in trouble. The yield on the 10-year Treasury (2.97 percent) has fallen to levels not seen since the peak of the crisis while the yield on the two-year note has dropped to historic lows. This is a sign of extreme pessimism. Investors are scared and moving into liquid assets. Their confidence has begun to wane. Economist John Maynard Keynes examined the issue of confidence in his masterpiece "The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money." He says:
"The state of long-term expectation, upon which our decisions are based, does not solely depend, therefore, on the most probable forecast we can make. It also depends on the confidence with which we make this forecast — on how highly we rate the likelihood of our best forecast turning out quite wrong….The state of confidence, as they term it, is a matter to which practical men always pay the closest and most anxious attention."
Volatility, high unemployment, and a collapsing housing market are eroding investor confidence and adding to the gloominess. Economists who make their projections on the data alone, should revisit Keynes. Confidence matters. Businesses and households have started to hoard and the cycle of deleveraging is still in its early stages. Obama’s fiscal stimulus will run out just months after the Fed has ended its bond purchasing program. That’s bound to shrink the money supply and lead to tighter credit. Soon, wages will contract and the CPI will turn from disinflation to outright deflation. Aggregate demand will weaken as households and consumers are forced to increase personal savings. Here’s how Paul Krugman sums it up:
"We are now, I fear, in the early stages of a third depression….And this third depression will be primarily a failure of policy. Around the world … governments are obsessing about inflation when the real threat is deflation, preaching the need for belt-tightening when the real problem is inadequate spending. … After all, unemployment — especially long-term unemployment — remains at levels that would have been considered catastrophic not long ago, and shows no sign of coming down rapidly. And both the United States and Europe are well on their way toward Japan-style deflationary traps.
"I don’t think this is really about Greece, or indeed about any realistic appreciation of the tradeoffs between
by ilene - April 23rd, 2010 2:20 pm
Ryan Grim is the Huffington Post’s senior congressional correspondent and has written for Slate, Rolling Stone, Harper’s, and the Washington Post. He also has a new book out, "This Is Your Country on Drugs: The Secret History of Getting High in America." Click here to read "Border Justice." - Ilene
Courtesy of Ryan Grim, writing at The Huffington Post
The Wall Street reform bill headed for a test vote on the Senate floor Monday night will allow the Federal Reserve to continue to pump trillions of dollars into major banks largely in secrecy, the co-author of House language that would open the central bank to an audit charged in a memo to the Senate.
"The Senate has a provision in its reform bill that purports to audit the Fed. But, it really doesn’t do anything of the sort. I’m going to run down the details for you, and reprint the legislative language so you can read it yourself," writes Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.).
It would not allow the GAO to look into the Fed’s massive purchase of toxic assets, its hundreds of billions in foreign currency swaps with other central banks or its open market operations, among other restrictions.
Grayson and co-author Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) passed legislation through the House that would allow the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to audit the Federal Reserve and, after a delay, release the information to Congress. It was a remarkable victory, with a populist coalition beating back the combined lobbying efforts of the Treasury Department, the Fed and Wall Street banks.
The Senate has been more hostile territory for the Fed audit provision. Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) opposes the Grayson-Paul version, but allowed a much more restrictive audit proposal from Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) into his bill.
Grayson, in his memo, outlines the shortcomings of the Senate bill. Walker Todd, who spent some 20 years as a counselor with the Federal Reserve Banks of New York and Cleveland, reviewed Grayson’s analysis and told HuffPost he concurs with it.
The Seante bill would allow an audit of the TALF program and slightly expands authority to audit emergency lending conducted under section 13(3) of the Federal Reserve Act, but restricts it to very specific purposes.
How Lehman, With The Fed’s Complicity, Created Another Illegal Precedent In Abusing The Primary Dealer Credit Facility
by ilene - March 13th, 2010 2:44 pm
How Lehman, With The Fed’s Complicity, Created Another Illegal Precedent In Abusing The Primary Dealer Credit Facility
Courtesy of Tyler Durden
Five months ago, Zero Hedge observed the nuances of the Federal Reserve’s Primary Dealer Credit Facility (PDCF) and concluded that this artificial liquidity boosting construct was nothing more than yet another scam to allow banks to extract ever more money from taxpayers, with the complicit blessing of the Federal Reserve Board Of New York (as the original piece also provided an in-depth discussion of the triparty repo market which is now a parallel to the buzzword of the day in the form of Lehman’s "Repo 105" off balance sheet contraption, it should serve as a useful refresher course to anyone who wishes to understand why while Repo 105 with its $50 billion in liability contingency may have been an issue, the true Repo market, with over $3 trillion of likely just as toxic assets, is where the real pain in the future will come from). The PDCF would allow assets of declining and even inexistent value to be pledged as collateral, thus making sure that taxpayer cash was funneled into sham institutions holding predominantly toxic assets, and whose viability was and is limited, yet still is backed by the Fed, which to this day continues to pour our money into them. Today, with a tip from the NYT’s Eric Dash, we demonstrate just how grossly negligent the Federal Reserve was when it came to Lehman’s abuse of the PDCF, and how the trail of slime of Lehman’s increasingly obvious manipulation of its books goes to the very top of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and its then governor – a very much complicit Tim Geithner.
1. The Liquidity Conundrum And the PDCF
In our original piece, we posited the following observation on the Fed’s constant involvement in liquidity provisioning, particularly in the context of the repo market:
Here is the liquidity crunch in its full flow-chart glory:
- If can not obtain short-term (overnight or term) funding in repo market, go to Eurodollar market
- If can not obtain short-term funding in Eurodollar market (LIBOR), go to asset sales
- If asset sales are impossible due to lack bids, illiquid markets, and collateral consists of toxic MBS and CCC-rated junk bonds, yet margin calls are streaming and repo counterparties are demanding their
by ilene - December 16th, 2009 10:21 am
Courtesy of Karl Denninger at The Market Ticker
Basel is of course "not accountable" to anyone, as it deliberates in secret. But if you’re wondering where the rally came from in the Nikkei and Europe today, this is why….
The transition period for tighter capital requirements will probably start in 2012 or 2013, according to officials who declined to be identified because the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision’s deliberations are private. Bank stocks in Asia and Europe rallied.
By delaying the introduction of stricter standards, regulators give banks longer to repair balance sheets weakened by $1.71 trillion of losses and writedowns during the credit crisis. The Group of 20 Nations agreed in April that banks should hold more and better quality capital to reduce risks to the financial system.
Let me fix that second paragraph:
By delaying the introduction of stricter standards, regulators
give banks longer to repair balance sheetsallow banks to lie about their losses of weakened by$1.71 trillion of losses and writedownsduring the credit crisis. The Group of 20 Nations agreed in April that banks should hold more and better quality capital to reduce risks to the financial systemshould lie more frequently and flagrantly about their asset quality so as to bonus out money they don’t really have, even though doing so will virtually guarantee that cash flow will become insufficient in the coming years and lead to a global financial meltdown worse than the fall of 2008.
You heard it here first folks. $1 trillion in HELOCs on balance sheets here in the US, many of them worth exactly nothing, all carried at or near PAR (100 cents on the dollar), and all a "great game" until they either mature or the underlying first mortgage forecloses – at which point the detonation that has been hidden is uncovered, revealing only a smoking hole where an asset was claimed to be.
by ilene - December 12th, 2009 11:19 pm
Courtesy of MIKE WHITNEY, at CounterPunch
"Economic recovery" is a term that has no fixed meaning. But it’s worth mulling over to determine whether aggregate demand is strong enough to keep the economy from tipping back into recession. In normal times, the Fed slashes interest rates to increase the flow of capital to the markets and to consumers via lending at the banks. That’s the traditional method of "jump starting" the economy.
The Fed has never initiated policies which provide unlimited guarantees for underwater financial institutions. Nor has it ever poured more than a trillion dollars directly into the financial system by creating excess reserves at the banks and direct purchases of long-term assets. (Quantitative Easing) All of this is new. Naturally, this ocean of liquidity has produced price distortions which have been confused with real recovery. The S&P has soared more than 60 percent in the last 9 months, even though the yield on short-term Treasuries are at historic lows.
What does it mean? It means that investors are still fearfully shoving money into safe/conservative bonds, while speculators--who have access to the Fed’s zero-rate capital--are loading up on high-risk assets and pushing stocks into the stratosphere. This doesn’t tell us anything about organic growth in the economy or whether consumers--who make up 70 percent of GDP--will be able to sustain demand going forward. It’s mostly just hype.
On Thursday, Gallup released a new report titled "Upper-Income Spending Reverts to New Normal". Here’s a clip:
"In a sign that the new normal in consumer spending continues unabated, upper-income Americans’ self-reported average daily spending in stores, restaurants, gas stations, and online fell 14 per cent in November, reverting to its relatively tight ($107 to $121) pre-October 2009 average monthly range. Middle- and lower-income consumer discretionary spending increased by 7 per cent last month but remained in its tight 2009 average monthly range of $52 to $61. Still, consumer spending by both income groups continues to trail year-ago levels by 20 per cent, even as those comparables have gotten easier to match — possibly dashing hopes that upscale retailers and big-ticket-item sales will do better this year."
by ilene - November 30th, 2009 11:32 pm
Courtesy of Jesse’s Café Américain
In this case as outlined by the New York Fed memo below, a triparty repo transaction is a transaction among three parties: a cash lender acting on behalf of all holders of dollars (the Fed), a borrower that will provide collateral (dodgy debt holder in shaky financial condition), and a clearing bank, most likely a primary dealer like J.P. Morgan, which is only too happy to collect its fees as an agent of the Fed.
The triparty clearing bank provides custody (agency) accounts for parties to the repo deal and collateral management services. These services include ensuring that pledged collateral meets the cash lenders’ requirements, pricing collateral, ensuring collateral sufficiency, and moving cash and collateral between the parties’ accounts. What if any liabilities the clearing bank such as J.P.Morgan or Goldman Sachs might obtain for the mispricing of risk remain undisclosed, but are probably negligible at worst.
This is the method of obtaining toxic assets from the books of non-primary dealers, and providing stability and liquidity from the aggregate value of all dollar holders to cover the misdeeds of diverse financial institutions and other favored parties.
In other words, the Fed is draining the financial debt swamp and toxic waste dumps into your basement, if you hold Federal Reserve Notes. Your IRA’s, your 401k’s, your savings, as long as you hold Federal Reserve Notes, which are claims on their balance sheet loosely backed by the Treasury. When the Fed’s balance sheet contained nothing but Treasuries and explicity backed agencies that relationship was firmer. Now, we are into the realm of make believe and Timmy’s credibility.
The Fed pledges that Goldman and Morgan assure them that there will be no radioactive material in the sludge pond headed your way, and levels of carcinogenic and toxic contamination will be within levels that they believe are adequate based on the non-binding estimates.
In practice the Fed has a defaults account on its book for the shortfalls from fat valuations due to the toxic debt it has already assumed on your behalf.
The source and composition of the sludge will remain a secret among the bankers, without oversight. This seems like taxation without representation, at least for holders of dollars that are US citizens, since the Fed is engaging in the expenditure of public money…