Busted: Bankers and The Global Economy

January 9, 2009

A TARP Bailout Program for Consumers?

furrowed political brows

furrowed political brows

The failed U.S. TARP bailout program legislated by the EESA last year has been ungoing review by the Obama Ascension Team and the likes of Treasury Secretary-elect Timothy Geithner, former Fed member and sycophant. Furrowed brows and eye bags have become a way of life in politics. Managing the program has become an impossible and failed task. President Obama will be responsible for determining what to do with the remaining unspent TARP funds. The Obama Team is examining ways to expand the government program to generate loans to municipalities, small businesses and consumers.

Many in Congress seem to agree that the existing government program should be revamped rather than refunded. Many elected officials agree that the remaining money should be used to stop the national foreclosure crisis instead of a continuation of current policy where Wall Street firms receive continued assistance to pay bonuses to executives and dividends to shareholders as promoted by the Bush administration.

monopoly-moneyAs if the U.S. needs yet more government agencies, Geithner is considering creating a new bureau within Treasury to oversee the existing TARP funds. Adding oversight personnel to government measures has proved to be a failed premise, especially since any provision lags far behind the need. Any potential for work backs up due to lack of staffing, if staffing is ultimately provided over the long haul. Such provisions are more like a governmental agency employment and monetary ponzi scheme than professional organization. So far, overseeing TARP funds has been a disaster, largely made secret because of banking bailouts.

Meanwhile, banks in Britain are laying off staff while bringing malleable interns into the fold as underpaid and temporary junior staff, a move that could catch on in the United States: a cost-saving and control-oriented corporate move that has been all the rage outside of banking. British banks are counting on business picking up after the recession, rationalizing that young blood needs to be on tap for the occasion. Swiss-owned banks are notorious for this practice.

be an intern

be an intern

Corporate America has caused the economic crisis and now that they have been bailed out with taxpayer money, are seeking to continue to take advantage of people with the damage they have caused. Government seems to back up this thinking, which is ultimately destructive rather than constructive. Self-serving behavior continues unabated in government and corporate life. Now that truly is worldly wisdom at its’ worst. Anyone that chose to run personal finances in the same way wouldn’t last long, hence the benefits of corporate/governmental leveraging and power borrowed from the taxpayer.

Whether the American taxpayer can possibly benefit from all the confusion remains to be seen. ~ E. Manning

October 26, 2008

Leadership Needed in U.S. Foreclosures

New statistics now share that 2700 Americans lose their homes every day due to the banking and mortgage debacle combined with a sharply declining United States economy. That number is up from 1200 a day one year ago. What do you think? Clearly, Americans are losing ground.

Digital Economy has shared a wealth of information and perspective regarding the foreclosure crisis consuming the American populace. Sheila Bair, head of the FDIC, says that the nation is way behind the curve on getting anything done about the foreclosure crisis. The do-it-yourself attitude of the U.S. government has been no help at all. I’m not sure why the FDIC would bother commenting on the foreclosure crisis, but hey, I’m game. What she said next is much more important: “We need to act quickly, and we need to act dramatically to have more wide-scale, systematic modifications.…”

Sheila Bair is voicing something that Americans and politicians have been mouthing for the last year with little results. Part of the problem is the opaqueness of the mortgage system coupled with that of the securitized and bundled loans so prevalent in the U.S. The Federal Reserve would tell you that rules are the problem. Yet, the truth is that there is no speedy way to deal with the crisis. The mortgage process is outdated and hopelessly compromised by the new age of banking greed. Expediency is important to politicians and as a result, the crisis gets nothing more than plenty of lip service.

Naturally, there are plenty of excuses why foreclosure resolution is so difficult:
Homeowners walking away
Job losses
Negative equity
Availability of credit for new loans
Investor speculation
Complex investment banking instruments (mortgage-backed securities)

The credit market is such that no homeowner is able to get a loan, especially from a competing bank. Bankers don’t want any more trouble from strapped homeowners than they already have. If Congress and the Bush Administration had acted faster with determinant action, much of the carnage could have been avoided. Instead, they have placated the public with voluntary programs such as the Hope Now Alliance. Hope Now isn’t bad, it just isn’t powerful enough or fast enough. No meaningful provisions have been adopted to force the mortgage and banking industry to hold more responsibility for the loans they created.

Now, the nation faces a global meltdown of epic proportions. Can you imagine 2700 houses a day being dumped on the U.S. housing market? The fact is that little real U.S. leadership has been shown. Along with the commensurate lack of leadership, bankers and mortgage servicers are still being allowed to run amok. So far, too little, too late is the result of laissez-faire economics that the Bush administration has adopted. Yet the same laissez-faire politicians are providing taxpayer money as bailout grist for bankers and businesses that they deem as too-large-to-fail. America needs something more than a hands-off approach to business/consumer regulations and relations. Americans need real leadership and action with real protection provisions in place. Even if some American citizens are dead wrong in how they have handled their finances, Big Government needs to step up to the plate and hold back the tide of banking greed and process, while forcing foreclosure resolution to work. It is all in the rules and how they are enforced. So far, your United States government has lacked the will to act strongly and decisively. America needs real leadership, not excuses. ~ E. Manning
Selling Short to Avoid Foreclosure
Good New for Cheated Homeowners
Selling Short to Avoid Foreclosure

October 5, 2008

U.S. Government Plans New Cyber Security

To highlight National Cyber Security Month, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff expressed his desire for an aggressive computer infrastructure that would provide an aggressive defense, much like an anti-aircraft weapon.

The initial effort of the federal government, often referred to as Einstein, was designed protect the government computer network from internet and computer attacks by limiting the number of portals to government computer systems and searching for signs of cyber tampering.

Einstein 2.0 is a new system being tested to detect computer intrusions as they happen in real time. How strange when Chertoff announced that would like to see a program that looked for early indication of tampering and stop that tampering before any further efforts could be made. Isn’t that what Einstein 2.0 is all about? Apparently, even Einstein 2.0 is not strong enough medicine for Chertoff.

For years, government information has been compromised. Notable was an event made public in 2003 where Chinese government hackers routinely entered National Security Computers. Chertoff is fearful of terrorist activity that could “cause potentially very serious havoc” to government systems. This says nothing of the potentially secret and private data that would be lost to an enemy attacker forever. He plans on making the investment now instead of waiting for a catastrophe.

He admits that since the internet is seen as a place of freedom and privacy, coming in and taking over the national internet would create a great deal of discomfort. “We are deliberately going slowly because we recognize that the issue of government involvement in the Internet is fraught with all kinds of potential concerns and potential anxieties about not having the government have a big-foot impact on an area of communication and commerce that has traditionally been viewed as really independent and free.”

The Bush administration released a new National Cyber Security Initiative in January 2008 that spelled out increased security for federal government computer systems. Current anti-virus and firewall protection is not seen as robust enough. The other Bush plan in the security initiative is to develop cooperative measures with the private sector to address threats to businesses. This includes not only protection from hackers, but also from counterfeit parts, which an individual or another nation could use to create computer vulnerabilities in the United States.

One item is being publicly overlooked. The reality is that with the current complexity of programs today, a system could be easily compromised on the inside by savvy programmers. Sending computer and data work overseas as well as using foreign workers with temporary visas are highly questionable in a time when security seems to be the chief concern of some governmental authorities. Yet, that is exactly what U.S. industry and government continues to do, subverting the U.S. employment market with the pretense of saving money and failing to mandate secure procedures. How will a program that is written in a foreign land by foreign programmers meet the real security test. The best security program can be easily compromised by internal or planted terrorists. Keep in mind that one man’s terrorist is another man’s hero.

The U.S. government is clearly interested in stepping up surveillance and protection in the name of security. Do we trust them enough to do the job right using taxpayer money or does the U.S. government have any business meddling with internet any more than they do now? ~ E. Manning

Related articles:

New Surveillance Law Threatens American Privacy
Does Government Surveillance Harm Society?
Surveillance and National Security: Where is America Going?
Domestic Spying Threat Continues

September 25, 2008

U.S. Political Infighting Threatens Bailout

rushing to "secret meeting"

rushing to secret meeting

Tempers are aflair in Washington on the eve of what authorities hoped would be the salvation of Wall Street and the U.S. economy. What Democrats declared as a breakthrough Wednesday evening seems a bust. The nation was led to believe that agreement had been reached and the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury could begin the work of applying the agreement. Negotiations toward a massive bailout for Wall Street has just fallen into disarray on after Democrats said they learned in a White House meeting that presidential candidate Senator John McCain is backing a new plan differing markedly from one that has been under discussion. So much for bipartisan political agreement and cooperation that McCain advertised in the U.S. bailout.

Now, the feeling is that a new plan could be another week in the making as Republicans retired to an unknown location to plow through their ideas for the bailout. The Republican plan may involve a mortgage insurance plan as an alternative to the Bush plan, which has encountered criticism on Capitol Hill. Republicans also argued that the Treasury Department should charge premiums to holders of securities to finance the insurance.

Until Thursday’s White House meeting, Republicans had not brought up an alternative plan for the Wall Street bailout, including during previous meetings and Senate hearings. Is this political grandstanding or a far better concept? What does this mean, if anything, for the nation? If a negative catastophic reaction occurs will U.S. citizens hold Republicans responsible for the result? This portends to be a big stakes gamble for McCain which could catapult him to great heights or destroy his chances at winning the presidency. Only time will tell whether what Republicans are doing is a boon or a bust as some U.S. politicians seem to have forgotten that global confidence is more important to sustain the ailing U.S. economy than the opinions of the U.S. taxpayer. This reality isn’t opinion, but fact.

Meanwhile, the global central bankers of the G8 continue to dump dollars to encourage global dollar liquidity, thus increasing the pitch of inflation and further devaluing the dollar between the dollar and other currencies as the U.S. becomes indebted to foreign central bankers through the Federal Reserve. The dollar has less buying power and increased pressure toward inflated pricing across the board. The dollar is overheating, which will easily evolve into hyperinflation along with pressures that would force the Fed to admit the truth of that inflation. Even though central bankers are essentially holding a gun to the head of the U.S. national economy, they can’t seem to stop themselves in the name of dollar liquidity. In the end, foreign central bankers don’t want to be stuck with devalued dollars anyway. The International Society of Bankers are looking at global monetary policy and their own corporate profits.

Global reaction to a bailout is not very positive overall as the U.S. economy remains on life support. The German Finance Minister reacted, “The United States will lose its superpower status in the world financial system.” How the world reacts as the morning and day wears on in Europe and Asia remains to be seen. Ultimately, outside global and sovereign financing is what the U.S. economy is dependent on. How the world reacts is of great importance.

~ E. Manning

September 24, 2008

Power: The Truths behind the Meltdown

massive bailout

massive bailout

Americans should feel some value in the fact that the FBI is now investigating toxic firms that have been central to the U.S. financial meltdown. For some time 26 firms have been under intense scrutiny by the FBI. The media has been highlighting investigation of the 4 firms that have collapsed: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, AIG and Lehman Brothers.

The mortgage twins, Fannie and Freddie, have already been under investigation for years based on varying problems with financial irregularities and leadership issues. The investigations will focus on the financial firms and the individuals that ran them. Hopefully, middle management will also be scrutinized and judged. The truth is that the FBI needs to find the perpetrators of the fraud rather than single out top dog scapegoats.

financial storm

financial storm

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke made the joint unilateral decision last week that the only way to stop the U.S. financial carnage was to deal with the root cause of all the troubles by rooting out billions of dollars of bad mortgage debt sitting on the books of major financial firms. This debt has triggered the worst credit crisis in decades, “causing” credit markets to freeze up despite the fact that the Fed joined with major central banks around the world to pump billions of dollars of reserves into the financial system. The billions of dollars pumped into the global economy are creating a crisis of stagflation themselves, a nasty round of inflation coupled with the current economic recession and malaise. The results of those actions cannot be undone and are being ignored by panicked authorities.

The reality behind the liquidity lock down that the Bush administration and U.S. Treasury Secretary are panicking about revolves around interbank lending, a problem that has been noticed publicly for at least a year. Why is there a problem? The crisis boils down to an issue of trust. Bankers know that they cannot trust one another and are unwilling to take the fall for the fraud of other bankers. In other words, the bankers know they have been harpooned by the securities that were supposed to make them wealthy. Bankers have put the thumbscrews on lending to protect their solvency.

selling Wall Street

selling Wall Street

The Bush adminstration has its game face on. President Bush says he expects Congress to pass “a robust plan” that deals with the nation’s economic problems. The word robust has become another favorite public watchword that should garner your prompt attention. Robust implies a broad emcompassing scope along with complex provisions that could very well be the downfall of any attempts to band-aid the current situation. Currently, an estimate is that 1 of 254 mortgages is actually in some measure of foreclosure. This is a very small percentage to cause a crisis. What the American press and government is acknowleging is merely the tip of the iceberg. The main problem with securitized loans is that when they were developed and created, a system was not developed to track reality. An internal processing scandal within the process of issuing of these securities is implied. However, government has not been eager to breach this area of the mortgage crisis beyond specifying that the regulations and concepts in the entire financial system are dated and ineffective. Somehow, this idea is supposed to get government, regulators and bankers off the hook.

taxpayer crisis

taxpayer crisis

What should be done to resolve the current foreclosure crisis? Not a soul has bothered to shift gears in addressing the real problem regarding predatory financing and usury in place. Each known problem loan triggered by payment issues needs to be evaluated regarding the current real value of the home. If evaluation of home value is an issue because of a weak market, then half the real value of home should be the mortgage value. This action would assist in correcting inflated home prices and counter price inflation. Any failure of the past verification process through bankers or qualification of the homeowner should be ignored as long as the homeowner is gainfully employed and can make the payments on the new loan. The government then needs to reissue a safe government-backed assumable loan that will allow the buyer to stay in the home at a low interest rate. Ultimately, the goal would be for every loan to be converted to a non-predatory government loan with low interest. Loans would not be securitized or bundled for resale as government securities. Banks would not bundle loans into any internal or banking instruments. Bankers would simply make money from compound interest and providing basic banking services. The bailout needs to be on the side of the taxpayer, the basis and stock of capital and wealth, rather than on the side of corporate interests that often pay few taxes in the real world beyond payroll.

losing the Dream

losing the Dream

If push came to shove, the nation would be better off giving mortgages away than bailing out the endless debt and failure created by Wall Street and the system in place. Americans would then own their homes fair and square with a new national beginning. Trillions in debt would be eliminated overnight. This idea seems radical and expensive, but is assuredly no more expensive than a long-term bailout of government and corporate fraud. The American population would benefit directly from the bailout, as should always be the case. The main problem is that such an action would destabilize the power structure in place. However, the ideas presented here are no less sane than what is being proposed by the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury in the name of the Bush administration. We are a nation of double standards that bolsters government and corporate power at the expense of the populace, a fascist notion. That needs to change.

The FBI has been in various stages of investigation regarding the mortgage debacle since March of 2007, even before most Americans were aware of a scandal. This proves that the Bush administration has been aware of mortgage fraud and scandal before the nation began to see the sign in the summer of 2007. As far back as the summer of 2004, President Bush beamed with pride about the creativity of the banking and mortgage industry, the single force that had maintained the illusion of national prosperity during the last three political administrations, originating from the Clinton administration.

Where are the people that are being investigated and implicated in fraudulent activities? Is the FBI keeping tabs on the movements of those may be involved in the scandal? What Americans should be concerned about is whether the U.S. government is allowing people that are tied directly into these firms to leave the country if they haven’t left already. ~ E. Manning

September 23, 2008

Global Liquidity Crisis: On the Brink

crisis solution

crisis solution

Turn on the TV, read the paper or peruse the latest internet news. You’ll be told that we’re on the brink of imminent crisis, a lock down of liquidity that must be remedied immediately. The Fifth Avenue Rush is on. The only solution is bipartisan unity in Congress to turn over vast power to the Bush administration and the U.S. Treasury without accountability. The Republican feel-good legislation is in place to save the home of the brave. We can do it if we can do it together. We will save the world for democracy.

The American taxpayer must trust that Henry Paulsen will use $700 billion wisely to snatch up worthless securitized bonds. Sound familiar? In the same way that the Federal Reserve Bank is totally unaccountable and is never subject to audit, the current proposal contains this proviso:

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

Henry Paulson, because of the massive liquidity freeze, is about to receive kingly authority to solve the current liquidity crisis. Even after the nation spends an initial sum of $700 billion, there is no guarantee of success beyond maintaining the current business, investor climate and monetary markets, shaky though they may be. The entire proposal is designed to bailout the collapsing U.S. financial system and save the world so that the current power structure can continue unchanged, further supporting control over the failing system. In the words of the administration, the fate of every American’s retirement and savings hangs in the balance. That makes many Americans nervous, at least for those that have managed to prosper, save and invest.

bailout money grab

bailout money grab

In one more segment of authority, the executive branch of the Bush administration wants to perform another magnanimous service while exempting itself from any chance of responsibility or review for the pending results.

While the media and Congress are fussing about the lack of oversight on the project or who Henry Paulson uses to assist him in the huge money grab, the Federal Reserve Bank and the International Society of Bankers sit quietly by watching the drama like ripe fruit ready for picking. A few have pointed out that the lack of oversight is a grand opportunity for abuse or profitaking.

This current idea proposed is bold and transparent in simplicity. Have the Federal Reserve wave its monetary wand, giving buddies in the former investment banking industry piles of cash for rooting out the bad bonds and making a huge chunk of debt go away as the Federal Reserve apportions more American gold to send quietly to Swiss vaults while clueless Americans aren’t watching. No rush about the physical location of gold. International Bankers will count it anyway as their personal profit and add it to the national debt. Never mind that the Fed is already holding all the nation’s gold. Fort Knox is an illusion.

fort knox gold

fort knox gold

The funding credits will never actually need to leave the Fed. The entire process can be done electronically without a trace. The craft is in the paperwork that the U.S. Treasury will alter, permanently erasing a mountain of fraudulent debt that only the banking community and authorities can see. The scheme is perfect because the scheme is all about semantics anyway.

Never has such a bailout been proposed with such secrecy. Even the federal bailouts during the Great Depression and during the Savings and Loan collapse of the 80s never suspended judicial review. Enter an emboldened U.S. Congress led by a Democrat majority that seeks oversight and taxpayer protections. Congress claims to be keenly interested in recouping any possibility of future income derived from currently worthless securitized bonds as the Bush Administration claims. Yet, the American taxpayer will never see a penny from these worthless pieces of paper.

homeowner bailout

homeowner bailout

Democrats want to be certain that going forward, any institutions that benefit from financial insurance also bear the cost of that insurance. Congress is also interested in bailing out beleaguered homeowners that face losing their homes. On “The View,” Whoopi Goldberg and Bill Clinton agreed that enraged Americans need the same bailout consideration that Wall Street and the financial system is getting. Unlike Congress, Whoopi and Bill weren’t talking about new bankruptcy laws that Barney Frank thinks will do the trick. Americans want cold hard cash that they can retire on, like the bankers that robbed the nation.

While all of these opportunities can be justified and even supported, the possibility of pork barrel spending is likely to escalate as Senators and Representatives see the opportunity to bolster their interests. That is the part and parcel of shameless American politics in this age.

credit addiction

credit addiction

Meanwhile, a desperate executive administration and U.S. Treasury Secretary are prepared to do most anything to get legislation through Congress. Reputations are now on the line.

Paulson and President Bush have argued that the alternative is that credit markets will remain frozen. Businesses will fail because they can’t get the loans they need to operate. The economy will grind to a halt because consumers that account for two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, won’t be able to get the credit they need to keep spending. Just think, it all started with broadening the profits of bankers by using compound interest instead of simple interest. We’ve come a long way baby.

national security

national security

Unbridled credit is the insanity that this nation has been built on in the last four decades. Unbridled credit is what has enabled this nation to rise prices without raising wages. Unbridled credit is what has allowed the American consumer to sell himself into slavery to financial interests. Unbridled credit is what has built the power that politicians and business have come to depend on. Unbridled credit is why even Big Business seeks cheap Federal Reserve funding. The Federal Reserve and the International Bankers hold the key to that credit through the auspices of the federal government. The spectacle is all about power and the fear of change. This is the nation’s new national security issue. ~ E. Manning

September 22, 2008

Robbery from American Taxpayers

bailout or pork barrel?

bailout or pork barrel?

“It is a big package because it’s a big problem,” Bush told reporters at a news conference. “The risk of doing nothing far outweighs the risk of the package.” Yet, most Americans seems to be irritated, if not entirely incensed about the prospect of bailing out wealthy bankers and insurance companies along with buying up worthless securitized bonds built by greed and corruption. Do Americans seem to care, even though authorities say that the alternative is total economic devastation? Americans do care, but realize that what the Bush Administration intends to do is not without substantial risk. Even more important are the real moral principles involved in the bailout. Moral and ethical concerns is exactly what the Bush Administration, Republicans and the Congress have been bereft of during the last two terms of office. An undercurrent of seething rage foments in the underground of American souls.

Americans have focused most of their indignation on having to foot the bill for irresponsible lenders and borrowers. The fact that little benefit to the economy or decent jobs for the American people will result from the trillion dollar bailout doesn’t make the bitter pill easier to swallow. However, the fact that Main Street America will suffer has some Americans rethinking their position.

the legacy of Bush

the legacy of Bush

What Americans fail to realize is the economic devastation that will plague America regardless of a bailout. The U.S. economy is in a king-sized pickle with a stalled economy and poor prospects. Politicians and economists alike seem to have temporarily forgotten that bailout or not, stagflation is on the way, a difficult prospect that the panicked authorities have suddenly ignored in the interest of saving their immediate power. The trillion dollar economic bailout is not a miracle, just a different road down the same mountain of decline.

A few have suggested that the bailout is not a bailout. The government is not handing out cash and have advertised that they might actually stand to make a great deal of money out of this. The bottom line is that when the bad securitized bonds gain value, that value will trickle down to the American taxpayer. The big problem is that most Americans no longer believe in the lie of “trickle-down economics,” a political theory that seems to have been fully subverted by bad business practices, corrupt politics and even more incompetent regulators while Americans follow the rules. Furthermore, money doesn’t trickle down from government except through the welfare system. This make the prospect of “trickle down” even more unlikely and unpalatable. The taxpayer does not expect to see the money, but knows that the government will continue to spend with wild abandon. The national rage is palpable as American taxpayers are made to bail out the world. ~ E. Manning

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