Busted: Bankers and The Global Economy

July 3, 2009

U.S. Banks, Economy Continue Up in Smoke

Filed under: banking, economy, money — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , — digitaleconomy @ 10:28 am

economic fire sale

economic fire sale

Even though this website hasn’t been dwelling on bank closures lately, the number of bank closures is definitely on the increase. In anticipation of the holiday weekend, seven U.S. banks have been closed, bringing the total of banks closed this year to 52.

What has made the closures this week unique is that many of the banks have been financially interlinked, which has exposed them to closure because of CDOs and loan losses. Local banks, not too large to fail, have been hit especially hard during the economic crisis, as a drop in home values has devalued mortgage-backed assets. The rising unemployment numbers have also impacted the banks, as more consumers are defaulting on their loans.

What really highlights the current economic crisis to me was a visit to a large retailer yesterday. I spent an hour in the store and as I shopped, I heard all manner of phone conversations and scuttlebutt between employees about the economy, economic failure, job losses and financial family crises. This snapshot in time on a Thursday afternoon would seem to indicate that the nation is enduring some uncommon suffering as you read this commentary. While I was shopping, I wasn’t looking for what I discovered. The conversations, many of them quite loud, were impossible to ignore. ~ E. Manning

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March 13, 2009

Can the Economic Crisis Be Resolved?

nauseating crisis

nauseating crisis

Bankers have been treated like bad rich kids with every need met so that Daddy Government isn’t so embarrassed. This was the public relations idea that hasn’t worked. As a result of this public relations nightmare, the federal government has continued to overextend itself in the name of security and confidence as the instrument of last choice. Oh really?

As a result of this mindset, the Treasury has run amok in a virtual panic through the system looking for toxic debts and tried to figure out the crisis using the best brainpower that is available with banking debt so complex as to make you give up. That is what Hank Paulson did. Banks continue to snivel about their needs within the broken system that they created.

What’s worse, the world of top-notch education and best brainpower available coupled with self interest has brought the nation, albeit, the world to its’ knees with only excuses for any hope of redemption. Paulson couldn’t find all the debt or deal with the tentacles of the impossible situation.  Timothy Geithner still isn’t thinking outside the box of rules he is used to. Paulson’s terminal frustration and Geithner’s government-man thinking don’t have to be. They have been beholden to the system. There is a solution.

This solution is much the same as the raw deal handed out to homeowners in do-it-yourself mortgage crisis that continues to beleaguer the nation of taxpaying American citizens. The nation is threatened, say those of superior intellect,  because ‘undereducated Americans’ can’t seem to get it together. Bankers and servicers have done little or nothing to stem the tide of foreclosures because there is little self-interest in doing so in the short-term. The short-term is the measuring stick of capitalism today.

Since bankers and their ilk are so highly educated with plenty of basic internal resources, the Federal Government needs to install a new idea that involves do-it-yourself capitalism. This do-it-yourself system takes the burden from Daddy Government’s hands and puts the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of those that spawned the crisis. Daddy Government isn’t going to be involved any more beyond the cleaning up by the FDIC, but Daddy is going to supply the credit tools necessary to do the job.

banking-hourglassUncle Hank couldn’t find all the toxic debt which ultimately ended the bailout that the nation had intended. However, in the world of banking capitalism,  rest assured that if you have toxic debt, you know it. Banks are hiding toxic debt based on their own fear and trepidation, the ultimate public relations nightmare.

Enter Ben Bernanke’s Federal Reserve, the answer to all liquidity. Set up yet another credit window, this time wholly financed by the Federal Government. This doesn’t mean that the other tools used by the Fed aren’t financed by the taxpayer and the federal government, but I digress.

In this case, the suffering banker knows of his liquidity issues and always has. This time, instead of expecting the Treasury Secretary to come to the rescue, the bankers are to cash out their toxic debt at a preassigned value as presented to the Fed. Think cheap. Think bargain basement. The Fed, using credit guaranteed by the American taxpayer (of course) will issue monetary credits to the bank in exchange for ownership of the toxic debts in a nationwide fire sale of sorts. The toxic debts are and most likely, forever will, be worth virtually nothing.  They will be removed from the system and these flawed toxic debts will never be sold again. We will plan to eat the cost. The responsibility is on the bankers which is exactly where it should be. To make life good, everything will be publicly anonymous to save the possibility of embarassment.

In exchange for this generosity and real bailout by government, these banks will guarantee in blood that all monies received for such bailout will be used to fund loans to taxpayers and small businesses with relaxed terms that generally creditworthy citizens and business in today’s economic climate can meet. In other words, stable income is required, but no more endless profiteering and nitpicking that banks love to keep their credit out of the system. For large bank holding companies that hold toxic debt and cannot directly assist in rebuilding the economy and improving liquidity to the economy, there will be no further bailout.

The first part of the plan would be enough, but the second part of this plan is sheer genius, but not for greedy capitalist bankers.

In the second phase of the plan, bankers will be required from a certain date in the immediate future to update cash holdings for their fractional reserve. Instead of being able to loan out 90% of cash holdings, they will be required to hold on to 20% their holdings without loaning them out. This will allow an extra margin of security since the traditional 10% hasn’t worked to keep banks solvent. The reality is this, like it or not: the fractional reserve of 10% is part of what got bankers into this mess with toxic debt. The idea of easy money is what fueled the crisis. Money is no longer going to be so free and easy for bankers. They will be living on less and making more loans or cease operation and sell off their accounts. An uncooperative greedy banker is the worst sort of animal. It is time to remedy that problem with a little less manufacturing of money. 80% of new loans out of thin air fueled from deposits and downpayments will be enough. Bankers will now be keeping 20% on reserve instead of the traditional 10% moving forward. Of course, this will involve keeping two set of books, one for old loans at the traditional old rate and another for continued business, but bankers are good at keeping books. Will bankers buy the idea? There won’t be any choice if they want to survive. What is best is that no nationalization will be required, an action that renders zero benefit to the taxpayer. ~ E. Manning

March 8, 2009

Bailout Fever Meets with Resistance

bank-bailoutBailout fever is no longer the style as the Senate Banking Committee, notably Republicans, are rising up against the prospect of moral hazard.

Read article on Associated Content by E. Manning

November 23, 2008

Citigroup Saved by Federal Reserve and TARP

citigroup1In headier times a mere six months ago, Citigroup was discussing the sale of assets to raise cash flow and liquidity. With the stock market value of Citigroup plummeting, one of the larger international bank groups has now been saved this morning through the Federal Reserve. This is undoubtedly designed to build confidence in the markets this week as the economy continues to flag amid record job losses in America.

Citigroup is one of the world’s largest owners of toxic collateralized debt obligations (CDOs). This pool of bonds has created one of the largest victims in the financial crisis.

The U.S. Treasury and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is providing liquidity against the possibility of unusually large losses on an asset pool of approximately $306 billion of loans and securities backed by residential and commercial real estate, which will remain on Citigroup’s balance sheet. As a fee for this arrangement, Citigroup will issue preferred shares to the U.S. Treasury and FDIC.

The U.S. Treasury has invested $20 billion in Citigroup from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) in exchange for preferred stock with an 8% dividend to the U.S. Treasury. ~ E. Manning

October 22, 2008

Credit Rating Agencies Get Black Eye

Filed under: banking, economy, government, investment, money — Tags: , , , , , , , — digitaleconomy @ 8:55 pm
deceit, mismanagement and untrustworthy actions

deceit, mismanagement and untrustworthy actions

Credit Rating Agencies have taken a substantial black eye in Congressional hearings from their lack of sufficient oversight, inaction and public deceit. Fitch Ratings CEO Stephen Joynt described to Congress “the art of ratings,” firmly declaring ratings as nothing more than opinions. He also blithely declared the belief of industry that government assistance would be forthcoming in the event of a judgment failure due to mismanagement. That is pretty telling information, revealing the tip of the iceberg where the attitude of both Wall Street and ratings agencies are concerned. Audio summaries are below for your enjoyment.

Audio Summary Points:
Crisis Summary by Stephen Joynt, CEO of Fitch Ratings
Hearings: Mismanagement
Hearings: Trust

August 4, 2008

U.S.: What Banking Fraud Means to Depositors

There have been a number of bank failures and the recent accumulation is increasing in pace. The FDIC sees many bank failures down the road. If you are uncertain why banks should fail, you are at the right place. “Busted: Bankers” highlights corruption and fraud in the global banking industry without the restrictions of mainstream media and politics.

The public word is that regulators are bracing for 100-200 bank failures over the next 12-24 months. If the FDIC is anywhere near right, the United States has what could be considered to be an alarming increase in the number of U.S. commercial bank failures. This debacle, despite props from the Federal Reserve, has been caused by creative banking instruments and outright fraudulent activities in the name of profits for bankers and investors. The resulting contraction of the housing market and credit squeeze on a global basis are of their making, a hefty portion at taxpayer expense.

FDIC insurance is the ultimate standard for protecting the assets of banking depositors in the United States. The FDIC has raised their mandatory banking insurance rates to cover the expected expense of bailout. The government claims that the FDIC has ample resources. While this reality is debatable if several shoes drop at once, the U.S. federal government backs the FDIC. Deposits that meet requirements under the $100,000 account limit are fully protected, as good as the government that backs them.

How do you protect your money and keep that money in a safe bank? To begin, always look for the FDIC logo at your bank branch. If you are using online services or a bank, look for the logo as well. However, don’t assume that the FDIC label is accurate in the name of safety and healthy skepticism.

Simply go to the fdic.gov and locate “bank find“. In this way, you can be certain that the bank that you selected is FDIC insured. The FDIC also has a list of bank rating agencies on its Web site that can evaluate the financial stability of a bank. To get a free evaluation, check out bankrate.com, remembering where your loyalty lies. Banking information is generally set up to secure confidence. The information you are given is designed to that end. However, regardless of bank strength, FDIC insurance will secure compliant deposits. That is what you really need to know about.

As an individual, personal deposits are insured up to $100,000 in an FDIC-insured institution, including savings, checking, certificates of deposit and money market accounts. This assumes that your accounts are non-brokered. When you register with the bank directly, make sure that your deposits are non-brokered and will reside with the institution instead of being handled by a third-party. This will ensure your financial safety.

While banking fraud has meant plenty as far as creating a troubled economy, as a depositor, you are fully protected with FDIC insurance. The protection is as good as the government protection that is trusted in, which in essence, comes straight out of taxpayer pockets. Bank runs and panic aren’t a necessary part of your reactions.

In the meantime, investing and spending with a certain amount of prudence is importance. If you are involved in large financial transactions, plan ahead without waiting until the last moment. Some depositors with IndyMac put off dealing with large transactions until the last moment, putting a financial kink in meeting their obligations. The problems could have been prevented by securing a cashier’s check a few days ahead instead of at the last minute. A good rule of thumb is to avoid putting off anything that you can do today, especially where your financial life is concerned. ~ E. Manning

May 11, 2008

Citibanks’ Magic Move

Filed under: banking, investment, money — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — digitaleconomy @ 12:18 am

Citibank excitedly announced that it will sell off almost 1/2 billion in bank assets immediately. Citibank and bankers worldwide are looking for good news under any rock they can find it. In this case, shedding whatever they are holding of value is a new way to create capital.

New CEO Vikram Pandit and much of the media tried to put a positive spin on the latest move by the megabank. We can be comforted to know that when Saudi Arabia no longer considers additional investments a reasonable proposal that banks have assets to dispose of to keep themselves solvent. The New CEO has a plan to move more assets in the future. Mr. Pandit says the assets are aggressively priced as the company seek risk reduction.

Bankers and other investors should take serious care of their enthusiasm as Citibank seeks to divest themselves of risky investments that they hold at reduced prices. This sounds akin to paying for shooting yourself in the foot. Perhaps someone with financial literacy will find a few deals though. Making money from subprime securities is an especially risky move for anyone but the most crafty investor with money to blow. Pandit has the audacity to try.

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