Busted: Bankers and The Global Economy

August 1, 2010

Digital Privacy Once Again in the Air

Did you know that a proposed amendment to U.S. surveillance law leaves even lawmakers guessing on privacy implications for internet users? Now why would this be? Invasion of privacy in the United States has been ongoing since Bush and 911. With this amendment, many fear the unlimited reach of the FBI where email and internet surfing are concerned. The royal question is being credited against the Obama administration over the responsibility of the lawmakers in the Senate and House. Last I heard, the Senate and House had little to do with the President. Since the Senate and House have more to say with the construction and final wording of this amendment, clearly a visit to your local lawmakers is in order if you care about such things.

Anyone that has been keeping track of digital privacy and security knows that A.T.&T. is already working in collaboration with the federal government to store and rake through all the data that comes into and leaves the States. Suddenly, fear is rampant about the FBI having free access to all that data without a court order, judge approval or oversight. Suspicion or wrongdoing doesn’t enter the picture, just being relevant to an intelligence or terrorism investigation. This amounts to a free season on personal information, as well as all that spam that you get in your email daily. In effect, little has changed in technical terms.

The FBI has already engaged in widespread and serious misuse of its privilege so far. They illegally collect data from both  Americans and foreigners, based on a report by the Justice Department’s inspector general that was concluded in 2007. FBI officials issued 192,499 national security letter requests from 2003 to 2006.

The FBI and other internal agencies like the NSA, have come to rely on free access to your personal email and the like. They have free access to information from telephone providers, banks, credit bureau and business, already holding wide powers where personal information is concerned.

The law already requires Internet service providers to produce the records. The want the power to get whatever details they need from internet sources without litigation or preview by judges. A few lawmakers like Patrick Leahy of Vermont have suddenly become concerned about privacy issues and civil liberties, as if these have not already been violated. It’s all about having the necessary tools to “keep Americans safe.”

If you are wondering why anyone should be concerned, all you to do is to examine the vagueness that “law” is written with. The interpretation is often left to the user or implementing agency to decide. Proponents of this amendment say that it is merely clarifying what Congress intended back in 1993. Oh really?

Since a 2008 justice department opinion, some providers have refused access to internet records and web surfing histories. What do you think? If you aren’t watching what you say in your emails and where you browse, you might think twice.

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October 25, 2008

The Smell of Global Financial Fear

The world of finance doesn’t look pretty at all right now since the time has come to pay the piper. Through the smell of global panic and fear reigns the realization that like all economic cycles, eventually this one will change for the better. When that change happens depends on multiple factors, but sooner or later, the global plight will improve. However, that is not the immediate concern of world leaders. Their accountability and the fear of losing both their power and confidence of the people they lead seems to be at stake. The idea is that the all powerful and nameless investor must be placated at any cost. The reality in many cases is that the governments, central banks and large financial and insurance instituations, to name a few, are the investors. While the world is full of many small investors, the reality is that the parties involved in a global rush to solve the problem are servicing themselves.

Even stranger, the panicked U.S. government has been very quiet on the world scene dealing with their own issues internally in an effort to keep some stability before the Presidential election on November 4th. Instead, American citizens have a marvelous sideshow of Congressional hearings in which many charges and concerns have been made, most of them quite vague. Naturally, little blame has been assigned, but the finger-pointing is legendary. There have been charges by certain lawmakers that information is being withheld in hearings until after the election.

The United States seems no closer to arresting the criminals that have instrumental in bringing the nation and the world to its knees than when they started back in March 2007. The FBI has arrested mostly small-time operators and con men intent on harvesting relatively small deals earlier this summer. The U.S. government has been very hesitant to go beyond the scope of the easy pickings of the small guy. Capital is now so constrained that government intervention seems to be the requirement to save many banking corporations and Corporate Multinationals, notably in the auto industry. Authorities are trying to mask the fear that they feel as they seek to manage the fallout of the entire financial debacle.

Europe already admits to recession. Fear is that cooperation in shoring up banking systems could be threatened as governments begin to turn their attention to reviving domestic demand. What is worse is that shoring up the U.S. financial system through the latest bailout largely depended on a healthy global economy and copious amounts of foreign capital from investors. The global recession makes that old promise seem unlikely at best, furthering coloring negative results. German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck holds that “The danger of a collapse is far from over.”

The Middle East economies, unaquainted with working together, have began to consider doing so, recently showing more interest in working through Europe and Asia or perhaps the global summit in New York City next month. George Bush is keeping most ideas about the economic summit next month to himself. However, he stated that agreeing on common principles to reform regulators would be essential to preventing another disaster. The idea of unity is nice, but the reality is that unity in the system is what has brought the system to the brink of collapse. Clearly, more innovative ideas will be required beyond unity and placation of the masses. ~ 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

July 25, 2008

Everybody Talking About U.S. Foreclosures

Everybody is into reporting foreclosures, but little is being done about the foreclosure frenzy until October 1st. Matters are made worse by the fact that system is not easily reformable in its current configuration. The best answer rests in trying to cleanse the market of problem loans through refinancing, which the U.S. government has taken on as their task. 220,000 homes were lost to bank repossessions in the second quarter as the banking and mortgage securities collapse continues.

A report form the National Association of Realtors revealed that existing home sales had declined again as the number of homes for sale continued to rise. The U.S. government reported home prices dropped again in May. Congress struggles to pass a housing rescue bill that will make FHA-insured loans available to many at-risk borrowers through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, putting the government on the line for any continued failures. Hopefully, Fannie and Freddie will no longer involve themselves in securitized mortgage loans. However, the Fed and U.S. Government have declined to state that these kinds of securities should be avoided by the industry and like it or not, they are part of the industry. (more…)

June 19, 2008

FBI Begins Kicking Booty in Banker Fraud

The Federal Bureau of Investigation isn’t wasting time. America needs some fall guys. Who better than lying and scheming financial salesmen? Finally, crooked bankers, financial gurus and investment brokers should be shaking in their boots. The FBI is on the stick and hasn’t been wasting much time. Obviously, the preponderance of evidence is huge or the government wouldn’t moving this quickly. Previously, the FBI stated that the first arrests could have taken two years or more.

The first criminal cases of the credit crunch are two former Bear Stearns hedge fund managers, Ralph Cioffi and Matthew Tannin. The men allegedly misled investors in two funds that collapsed last summer on mortgage-backed securities.

Why fall guys you ask? The FBI will have to be up on their numbers (more…)

January 31, 2008

FBI Checks Out Bankers

Filed under: banking, investment, money — Tags: , , , , , , — digitaleconomy @ 9:26 am

The FBI is investigating senior banking executives for insider dealing and fraud regarding the subprime crisis. The FBI has revealed that it will investigate every level of the conspiracy that perpetuated the housing boom. They are looking at accounting fraud regarding the securitization of subprime loans. The FBI is looking the securitization process as well as the people that hold the securities and will investigate the possibility of insider trading and the offloading of bank debt in the form of collateralized debt obligations, bonds and other securities.

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