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
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.
America's #1 landlord may be private equity giant Blackstone, but closing in rapidly is none other than America's very own arch nemesis and ascendent superpower, China. But while until recently China's grand ambitions on US multi-family housing had largely flown under the radar, the recent sale of the Waldorf Astoria to a Chinese company has finally put the US on "China is coming" alert... and reincarnated a lot of the same jokes that swept the country by storm in the mid-80s when it appeared Japan, itself nursing a massive asset bubble, would run over Manhattan (everyone knows how that ended).
Sellers were going to make an appearance at some point and today was the day they paid a visit. Whether a larger pullback emerges will depend on events over the coming days, but today's selling did emerge at some natural attack points for shorts.
The S&P finished with a 'bearish cloud cover,' but it did manage to hold declining resistance turned support, and the 20-day MA has entered the fray as an area for bears to work. But this wasn't the most bearish of the indices, and today's finish actually gives bulls a long play tomorrow (for a bounce off support). Technicals also suggest a bounce.
While the S&P may give bulls something tomorrow, th...
There is lots of action in Southwest Airlines Co. November expiry call options today ahead of the air carrier’s third-quarter earnings report prior to the opening bell on Thursday. Among the large block trades initiated throughout the trading session, there appears to be at least one options market participant establishing a call spread in far out of the money options. It looks like the trader purchased a 4,000-lot Nov 37/39 call spread at a net premium of $0.40 apiece. The trade makes money if shares in Southwest rally 9.0% over the current price of $34.32 to exceed the effective breakeven point at $37.40, with maximum potential profits of $1.60 per contract available in the event that shares jump more than 13% to $39.00 by expiration. In September, the stock tou...
When forecasting investment returns, many individuals make the mistake of simply extrapolating recent returns into the future. Bull markets lead investors to expect higher future returns, and bear markets lead them to expected lower future returns. But the price you pay for an asset also has a great impact on future returns. Consider the following evidence:
The average historical P/E ratio for the market has been around 15. A study covering the period from 1926 through the second quarter of 1999 found that an investor buying stocks when the market traded at P/E ratios of between 14 and 16 e...
Last week brought even more stock market weakness and volatility as the selloff became self-perpetuating, with nobody mid-day on Wednesday wanting to be the last guy left holding equities. Hedge funds and other weak holders exacerbated the situation. But the extreme volatility and panic selling finally led some bulls (along with many corporate insiders) to summon a little backbone and buy into weakness, and the market finished the week on a high note, with continued momentum likely into the first part of this week.
Despite concerns about global economic growth and a persistent lack of inflation, especially given all the global quantitative easing, fundamentals for U.S. stocks still look good, and I believe this overdue correction ultimately will shape up to be a great buying opportunity -- i.e., th...
Now that bitcoin has subsided from speculative bubble to functioning currency (see the price chart below), it’s safe for non-speculators to explore the whole “cryptocurrency” thing. So…is bitcoin or one of its growing list of competitors a useful addition to the average person’s array of bank accounts and credit cards — or is it a replacement for most of those things? And how does one make this transition?
With his usual excellent timing, London-based financial writer/actor/stand-up comic Dominic Frisby has just released Bitcoin: The Future of Money? in which he explains all this in terms most readers will have no tr...
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What do falling energy prices mean for the US consumer? Sober Look writes a brief yet thorough overview of the consequences of the correction in the price of crude oil. There are good aspects, particularly for the consumer, bad aspects, and out-right ugly possibilities. For more on this subject, read James Hamilton's How will Saudi Arabia respond to lower oil prices? In previous eras, Saudi Arabia would tighten the supply to help increase prices, but in this "game of chicken," the rules m...
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Well PSW Subscribers....I am still here, barely. From my last post a few months ago to now, nothing has changed much, but there are a few bargins out there that as investors, should be put on the watch list (again) and if so desired....buy a small amount.
First, the media is on a tear against biotechs/pharma, ripping companies for their drug prices. Gilead's HepC drug, Sovaldi, is priced at $84K for the 12-week treatment. Pundits were screaming bloody murder that it was a total rip off, but when one investigates the other drugs out there, and the consequences of not taking Sovaldi vs. another drug combinations, then things become clearer. For instance, Olysio (JNJ) is about $66,000 for a 12-week treatment, but is approved for fewer types of patients AND...
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