Christopher Whalen makes a remarkably convincing case for why we’ve simply kicked the can down the road and why the banks could be in for a repeat of their 2008 nightmares in 2011. If Mr. Whalen is right the banking sector is in for a whole new round of government intervention, takeovers, likely nationalizations and general disaster:
The U.S. banking industry is entering a new period of crisis where operating costs are rising dramatically due to foreclosures and defaults. We are less than frac14; of& the way through the foreclosure process. Laurie Goodman of Amherst Securities predicts that 1& in 5 mortgages could go into foreclosure without radical action.
Rising operating costs in banks will be more significant than in past recessions and could force the U.S. government to restructure some large lenders as expenses overwhelm revenue. BAC, JPM, GMAC foreclosure moratoriums only the start of the crisis that threatens the financial foundations of the entire U.S. political economy.
The largest U.S. banks remain insolvent and must continue to shrink. Failure by the Obama Administration to restructure the largest banks during 2007?2009 period only means that this process is going to occur over next three to five years –whether we like it or not. The issue is recognizing existing losses ?? not if a loss occurred.
Impending operational collapse of some of the largest U.S. banks will serve as the catalyst for re?creation of RFC?type liquidation vehicle(s) to handle the operational task of finally deflating the subprime bubble. End of the liquidation cycle of the deflating bubble will arrive in another four to five years.
Fast forward to the 1:07 minute mark where Mr. Whalen begins.
This was no isolated incident. Wachovia, it turns out, had made a habit of helping move money for Mexican drug smugglers. Wells Fargo & Co., which bought Wachovia in 2008, has admitted in court that its unit failed to monitor and report suspected money laundering by narcotics traffickers — including the cash used to buy four planes that shipped a total of 22 tons of cocaine.
The admission came in an agreement that Charlotte, North Carolina-based Wachovia struck with federal prosecutors in March, and it sheds light on the largely undocumented role of U.S. banks in contributing to the violent drug trade that has convulsed Mexico for the past four years.
That’s nice. Guns and ammunition cost money – lots of it. Getting that money requires some means of transporting it and "laundering" it. For that, we turn to the largest financial institutions in the world, who, it turns out, have never been prosecuted for these felonious acts.
“Wachovia’s blatant disregard for our banking laws gave international cocaine cartels a virtual carte blanche to finance their operations,” says Jeffrey Sloman, the federal prosecutor who handled the case.
Blatant disregard? Sounds like something you’d say at a sentencing hearing, right? Well, no….
No big U.S. bank — Wells Fargo included — has ever been indicted for violating the Bank Secrecy Act or any other federal law. Instead, the Justice Department settles criminal charges by using deferred-prosecution agreements, in which a bank pays a fine and promises not to break the law again.
‘No Capacity to Regulate’
Large banks are protected from indictments by a variant of the too-big-to-fail theory.
Indicting a big bank could trigger a mad dash by investors to dump shares and cause panic in financial markets, says Jack Blum, a U.S. Senate investigator for 14 years and a consultant to international banks and brokerage firms on money laundering.
The theory is like a get-out-of-jail-free card for big banks, Blum says.
“There’s no capacity to regulate or punish them because they’re too big to be threatened with failure,” Blum says. “They seem to be willing to do anything that improves their bottom line,
Three of the five U.S. banks that dominate swaps trading already perform most transactions outside their depository institutions and would face minimal disruption from a congressional proposal to reorder the derivatives business, financial statements and banking records show.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. would be hit hardest by the proposal, crafted by Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln, to wall off swaps desks from commercial banks. JPMorgan had 98 percent of its $142 billion in current value derivatives holdings inside its bank in the first quarter of this year while Citigroup had 89 percent of $112 billion, the records show.
Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., each of which entered the commercial banking business in 2008 in the midst of the financial crisis, would be less affected. Morgan Stanley kept just over 1 percent of its $86 billion in derivatives holdings in its bank in the first quarter, and Goldman Sachs Group’s held 32 percent of its $104 billion. Bank of America Corp., which absorbed broker-dealer Merrill Lynch in 2009, had 33 percent of its $115 billion in its bank.
Now might be a good time to introduce a handy chart that shows the latest OCC data on derivatives exposure, or, more specifically, shows the concentration of said derivatives exposure among FIVE banks. You know, that would be the five banks that Blanche Lincoln might have wanted to target with this "reform" plan of hers. Just sayin, cue chart:
And let’s see, just who are those five banks?
JP Morgan, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Citi, and Wells Fargo eh? Well four out of five ain’t bad except that fifth is a b#*ch, how on Earth does Goldman get to weasel out of this?
The report shows that the notional amount of derivatives held by insured U.S. commercial banks increased by $8.5 trillion (or 4.2 percent) in the fourth quarter to $212.8 trillion. Interest rate contracts increased $7 trillion to $179.6 trillion, while credit derivatives increased 8 percent to $14 trillion.
While the world suffers, Wall Street pays itself record bonuses, larger even than the peak year of 2007, by taxing the productive economy to maintain an extravagant lifestyle. These bonuses are being paid with your money, and your children’s money, if you hold US dollars.
And while this happens, the US credit card banks are raising interest rates to 20+% even on customers with excellent payment records and jobs which is certainly usury, and with an arrogant impunity. The insider trading scandals and tales of government graft yet to be told are so blatant and shocking that only a captive mainstream press keeps them from being investigated.
The rest of the world looks on in shock and amazement. What has gone wrong with America? What are they thinking? America has not only lost the high ground, it is sliding into a ditch.
While Americans are pacified by bread and circuses, the rest of the world looks at a painful reality show in the States, a country in a death spiral of corrupt leadership and public apathy. If it was Zimbabwe or Iceland there would still be sympathy for the people, but far less concern.
A deflationist friend was railing about the US slide into bankruptcy, and I could not help but ask, "What happens to the paper of a bankrupt company, or country?"
Where indeed will the dollar gain its long anticipated strength, its renaissance of value?
Or yes, from "less dollars" through debt destruction. Mutant monetarism gone mad, an argument worthy of Herr Goebbels. The dollar will rise in value by immersing itself in a pool of corruption, and by destroying its shareholders, those who hold their savings in it, while oligarchs loot the financial system. Unless the US can turn its trade balance positive overnight, while raising interest rates, and maintaining a growing domestic economy based on consumption, it is not going to happen. The US is running out of degrees of freedom.
Wall Street holds the US public and government hostage by threatening financial armageddon if they do not get what they wish. We would anticipate a similar threat to the global economy based on dollar debt at some point, asking for a global monetary regime controlled out of New York and
As I have previously pointed out, the New York Times wrote in February:
In the 1980s, during the height of the Latin American debt crisis, the total risk to the nine money-center banks in New York was estimated at more than three times the capital of those banks. The regulators, analysts say, did not force the banks to value those loans at the fire-sale prices of the moment, helping to avert a disaster in the banking system.
In other words, the nine biggest banks were all insolvent in the 1980s.
Richard C. Koo – former economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and doctoral fellow with the Fed’s Board of Governors, and now chief economist for Nomura – confirmed last year in a speech to the Center for Strategic & International Studies that most of the giant money center banks were insolvent in the 1980s.
Specifically, Koo said:
After the Latin American crisis hit in 1982, the New York Fed concluded that 7 out of 8 money center banks were actually "underwater"
All the foreign banks (especially the Japanese banks) had to keep their lending facilities open to American banks so the American banking system didn’t collapse overtly and out in the open
The Fed knew that virtually all of the American banks were "bankrupt", but could not publicly discuss how bad the situation was. If went out and said the "American banks are bankrupt", the next day they will go overtly go bankrupt. So the Fed had to come up with a lot of stories like "its good debt on their books"
Then-chairman Volcker instructed the banks to keep lending to the Mexican dictator so that the Mexican economy didn’t totally collapse, because – if Mexico collapsed – it would become obvious that all of the U.S. banks were underwater, and they would immediately collapse
It took 13 years to manage the crisis (at another point in the talk, Koo says 15 years).
The way that Volcker approached the problem was that he allowed U.S. banks to keep their lending rates relatively high, while the central bank brought short-term
Nearly two months ago we explained "How Beijing Is Responding To A Soaring Dollar, And Why QE In China Is Now Inevitable" in which we cited Cornerstone who reminded us "that from 2007 to late 2008, U.S. fed funds dropped 500 bp, and then the Fed still needed to do QE? The backdrop for China looks a bit similar. We had a credit bubble, they have a credit bubble. We had a housing bubble, they have a housing/investment bubble. Will China eventually have to go down the same path as the U.S., and the Eurozone? ... The PBoC will first cut rates to 0%, before contemplating QE."
The Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Commission has released the latest report on Traffic Volume Trends, data through February.
"Travel on all roads and streets changed by 2.8% (6.1 billion vehicle miles) for February 2015 as compared with February 2014." The less volatile 12-month moving average is up 0.20% month-over-month and 2.36% year-over-year. If we factor in population growth, the 12-month MA of the civilian population-adjusted data (age 16-and-over) is a smaller change, up 0.13% month-over-month and up only 1.23% year-over-year.
Here is a chart that illustrates this data series from its inception in 1971. It illustrates the "Moving 12-Month Total on ALL Roads," as the DOT terms it. The ...
A reader asked me if I ever hired someone for the minimum wage. He also believes the minimum wage is really a maximum wage.
From Drew ... Mish, I’m curious if you have ever had to actually pay someone minimum wage to work for you week in, week out, year after year?
I’ve signed plenty of paychecks myself, and honestly, I could never employ someone and pay the minimum wage knowing it was not enough for that person to live on, regardless of whether or not the “market” says I could hire them for that price. I have willingly paid more, and they always very much appreciated it, and I also felt like I got more effort since they knew I was paying them more. But I know that’s not how large corporations work.
I believe you would argue whether or not the minimum is enough on which to live is irrelevant a...
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King Dollar has been on a role since last summer, up over 20% in less than a year. When looking back on the US$, the rally has been rare and nearly historic. Majority of the rally took place inside the steep rising channel above. Over the past month the US$ might have put in a double top. Over the past few days, the US$ has slipped a little below rising support at red arrow above.
Here's an interesting argument by Felix Salmon, although I think he is taking two correct observations and mistakenly attributing a cause-and-effect relationship to them: Bitcoin is going nowhere because women are not involved.
More likely, in my opinion, women are not involved in bitcoin because bitcoin is going nowhere (and they know it). Or maybe, simply, bitcoin is going nowhere and women are not involved.
Nathaniel Popper’s new book, Digital Gold, is as close as you can get to being the definitive account of the history of Bitcoin. As its subtitle proclaims, the book tells the story of the “misfits” (the first generation of hacker-l...
As we get into the heart of earnings season and anticipate the GDP report for Q1, the investor spotlight has been taken off the Federal Reserve and timing of its first interest rate hike, at least temporarily. Even though Q1 economic growth will undoubtedly look weak, the future remains bright for the U.S economy – even though many multinationals will struggle with top-line growth due to the strong dollar – and any near-term selloff resulting from weak economic or earnings news should be bought yet again in expectation of better results for the balance of the year. High sector correlations remain a concern, reflectin...
Kim Parlee interviews Phil on Money Talk. Be sure to watch the replays if you missed the show live on Wednesday night (it was recorded on Monday). As usual, Phil provides an excellent program packed with macro analysis, important lessons and trading ideas. ~ Ilene
The replay is now available on BNN's website. For the three part series, click on the links below.
Part 1 is here (discussing the macro outlook for the markets)
Part 2 is here. (discussing our main trading strategies)
Part 3 is here. (reviewing our pick of th...
In my last post (Part 1 of this article), I looked at alternative ETFs that could be used as hedges against the corrections that we have seen during that long 2 year bull run. Looking at the results, it seems that for short (less than a month) corrections, a VIX ETF like VXX could actually be a viable candidate to hedge or speculate on the way down. Another alternative ETF was TMF, a long Treasuries ETF which banks on the fact that when markets go down, money tends to pack into treasuries viewed as safe instruments. In some cases, TMF even outperformed the usual hedging instruments like leveraged ETFs. There could of course be other factors at play since some of 2014 corrections were related to geopolitical events which are certain...
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PSW Members - well, what a year for biotechs! The Biotech Index (IBB) is up a whopping 40%, beating the S&P hands down! The healthcare sector has had a number of high flying IPOs, and beat the Tech Sector in total nubmer of IPOs in the past 12 months. What could go wrong?
Phil has given his Secret Santa Inflation Hedges for 2015, and since I have been trying to keep my head above water between work, PSW, and baseball with my boys...it is time that something is put together for PSW on biotechs in 2015.
Cancer and fibrosis remain two of the hottest areas for VC backed biotechs to invest their monies. A number of companies have gone IPO which have drugs/technologies that fight cancer, includin...
This is a non-trading topic, but I wanted to post it during trading hours so as many eyes can see it as possible. Feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
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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