Busted: Bankers and The Global Economy

October 16, 2008

Financial Crime of the Century

Today at the Senate Banking and Housing Committee meeting “Turmoil in the Credit Markets”, Senator Chris Dodd, now the “Congressional champion” for the American consumer against foreclosures along with others, aptly pointed out a fact that most of us have overlooked or conveniently forgotten. President Clinton assigned the Federal Reserve the full duty as regulatory policeman over the nation. The Federal Reserve, in the words of Dodd, ignored the assignment by doing nothing for years. Senators are seeking reelection this year and U.S. citizens would do well to remember that Senators are now trying to cover their lack of action and regulatory oversight for the last eight years. Now, hearings are in order to find the right degree of blame and then an effort made so that another economic tsunami never happens again.

Dodd’s words were perhaps among the most pointed opening comments of a recent hearing. He simply stated that bankers shifted risk through exploitation. You can hear the politics and excuses too. A mandate of Congress doesn’t mean anything with regulation. That has been the flaw behind the entire federal government for the last decade at a minimum. Interestingly, Dodd sees himself as doing a “post-mortem” examination on the U.S. economy. By that definition, the economy is dead. That is not a good comparison unless he knows something most Americans don’t. ~ E. Manning

Senator Dodd’s opening remarks

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 19, 2008

Total Meltdown or Financial Reconstruction?

What is happening on Wall Street? Everyone wants to know why government has waited so long and who will be held accountable. Now we are in the midst of a financial panic. Communication at the top of government during the panic has been in contention among politicians. Some are pointing fingers of blame. Most are simply carrying a stiff upper lip and wearing a poker face.

hundreds of billions of dollars

bailout: hundreds of billions of dollars

There has been plenty of talk about effectively sucking up the bad securities with a vaccuum cleaner style policy that has yet to be revealed. This miraculous policy is what authorities will be working on today and this weekend in order to avoid what some say is an inevitable collapse. In essence, everything needs shoring up and the government seems intent on taking care of the world. Open the newspaper or check out the internet to see the flurry of activity by authorities “to address the underlying problem.” All of this is being touted to cost the American taxpayer far less than allowing the crushed system to play itself out. If you like big government or have the idea that only marketing matters, this may be the ultimate solution for you.

Recently bailed out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be used to bolster the system, but all measures in place are deemed as “not enough.” Liquidity must be restored. Government is working to eliminate selling short by profiteers, which has worked to undermine the solidity of the system. They expect to buy out all of the securities, modernize the system to today’s standards and then set up new rules so that what led to the collapse can never happen again. U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has revealed right now that saving the system from total collapse is what is on the financial and political plate this weekend rather than worrying about the idea of regulating the new policies that they want to put in place. Obviously, flooding the monetary system with a cash infusion yesterday has done nothing to take care of the crisis. That is no surprise.

Now a lame duck president is setting the direction for this nation with very little consultation, much like what he has done with other issues during his terms in office. There must be no controversy and authorities are in a great rush to action. Is that action warranted? Will the nation default on its debt? What will happen after the policy miracle of this weekend? Like it or not, prepare for a roller coaster ride. ~ E. Manning

September 13, 2008

Investment Bankers Fear Panic and Unrest

Paulson's Grand Staircase?

Paulson at the Grand Staircase?

With the shakeout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers almost seems an afterthought these days. The firm is clearly looking for salvation, but Big Government doesn’t seem so eager for a Bear Stearns type bailout. The problem is that the panic on Wall Street doesn’t affect only the plight of Lehman Brothers, but has the ability to touch the entire scope of Wall Street resulting in economic ripples and collateral damage throughout the U.S. economy.

Are the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve in such fear that no solution is evident or is the weakness of banking institutions creating a problem in an effort to support failing Lehman Brothers? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to discern that the nation is in the midst of another economic crossroads. However, the national and investor confidence doesn’t ring true with the “optimism” suggested by the press last Monday with Fannie and Freddie in the stock market.

In the past, the god of confidence has been the mainstay of U.S. economic policy. Confidence can only be harmed by allowing failing Wall Street to collapse. Yet, if decline and collapse what were to happen, that is exactly what should happen. The federal government has put themselves in the business of shoring business up instead of allowing for the consequences of business risk or business failures as a result of banking abuse. The reluctance of U.S. authorities to shore up the perception of a crumbling system indicates other more severe economic issues at hand behind the scenes. Wall Street stress is just the tip of the iceberg.
~ E. Manning

September 11, 2008

The Con Game of Securitization and Wealth

crisis through securitization

crisis through securitization

According to Federal Reserve’s Vice Chairman Donald Kohn, “One reason for the loosening of standards was the expectation that house prices would continue to rise and even more certainly that they could not fall in all regions at the same time, supporting diversification through securitization.”

This small sentence combined with a summary of all the accumulated evidence maintained by the Federal Reserve shows the propensity for a lack of regard for economic concerns over the immediate concerns of profit.

“Rising prices would enable lenders to recoup their funds even if the borrower was unable to service the loan, mostly because the borrower would be able to obtain extra cash through refinancing. Expectations of house price appreciation facilitated and interacted with the increasing complexity of mortgage securities, including multiple securitizations of the same loan, which made it virtually impossible for ultimate lenders to monitor the creditworthiness of borrowers. This was a task they had outsourced to credit rating agencies. The absence of investor caution and due diligence was especially noticeable for the highest-rated tranches of securitized debt.”

securitized vomit

securitized vomit

Who started the securitization of loans to begin with? Give the government geniuses at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac credit for the wunderkind of shaky banking ‘o so many years ago. That is why authorities in banking and in government are quite mum about the evil and deception of securitized bonds. What is worse, they have no intent to change a thing.

The Federal Reserve is still brainstorming new ways to “ameliorate systemic risk. That said, a host of difficult judgments are inherent in how we establish such a system.” That is the trillion dollar question. In the words of Donald Kohn; “How we can structure these requirements and other aspects of regulation to damp, rather than reinforce, the natural procyclical tendencies of the financial system?”

economic usury

economic usury

If the U.S. economy were equated to an automobile engine, we would be running on half the cylinders. The Federal Reserve and other surrogate economists don’t have a clue and are now discussing “solutions” among themselves. Global bankers long for a solution to the trillion dollar question and they want to continue doing the same old things as long as it makes them money for the short-term. The idea is not what is good for any economy, but what is good for quick profits for themselves. That is what banking around the world has come to represent: corporate profit behind the scenes and personal profit while that is possible. Never forget that the Federal Reserve and global central bankers are corporations bent on making a profit, part of a “franchise” of banks that loosely report to Swiss and Roman bankers. They live off of the world; therefore economies are simply tools for wealth. That is the danger nations, governments and peoples face.

Don’t fool yourself. Global bankers are running the world to your peril. However, the sophisticated United States government and others are all for making a profit while they can, oblivious to the danger or convinced that they will live forever while central banking pumps them dry. ~ E. Manning

September 10, 2008

Is U.S. Mortgage Banking a House of Cards?

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby testified that U.S. Treasury officials found Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were “playing games with their accounting'” to meet reserve requirements. This virtually guaranteed that the federal government would seize control of the government-backed companies once a comprehensive plan was developed. “Once they got someone looking closely at Fannie and Freddie’s books, they realized there just wasn’t adequate capital there.”

Digital Economy has held that accounting games are very common within the banking and mortgage industry. Public proof of this facts regarding predatory loans, highly questionable and illegal actions across the board relating to mortgage loans and instruments. The nation has learned that bankers cannot be trusted and yet little has been done to persuade the industry to stay away from graft and corruption.

What is worse with Fannie and Freddie, nothing is being done to those that falsified information and documentation because those actions are “legal.” In fact, the federal government has changed nothing beyond eliminating the upper crust of management. They still intend to involve themselves in the dangerous business of selling mortgage bond securities without considering previous consequences that has brought the nation to its knees. The unprofessional and dishonest conduct is considered as business as usual.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been a house of cards for years. Corruption and mismanagement within the organizations has been overlooked and rubber stamped in the name of protecting the economy and reputations. FHFA Director James Lockhart had declared Fannie and Freddie as fit just before the U.S. Treasury hired Morgan Stanley. Morgan Stanley has decided that the accounting tricks were legal, but simply allowed the mortgage twins to overstate their reserves.

Richard Fisher of the Dallas Federal Reserve noted that the capital held by the government-backed institutions was “of poor quality.” Where is the national outrage? When are spineless accountants going to stand up for right instead of creating new ways to cheat the system? Who is responsible and accountable for the corporate abuse of taxpayer money and developing methods that resulted in the unraveling of the economy for the short-term profit of a system of investors and mortgage bankers? Not a soul except for you. You are the taxpayer. You are on the hook, enslaved by the greed, incompetence and spinelessness of the people within “the system.”

This writer came from this culture and because of the abuse and attitudes in the system, retired from it. Instead ivy leaguers and young boss-pleasers without regard for balanced or honest accounting simply follow the rules put out by “mysterious forces.” If 911, overzealous government surveillance and the price of fuel is a national security issue, surely this abuse trumps them all. The tragedy is that you don’t really care. ~ E. Manning

September 9, 2008

Investor Confidence: History of Short Rallies

Since the current mortgage crisis has been officially publicly documented around July of 2007, investor profitaking has barraged the stock market under the pretense of confidence after each bailout. Each time the bailout grows larger. The market scores big gains followed by a drop “as reality takes hold.” The media circus and investors appeared to rejoice upon the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but the joy has proved to be short-lived.

bailout fever

bailout fever

The federal government seems to enjoy playing the same game, now using Sundays as a day of economic rescue and salvation. Traders are in agony as they mourn the loss of another fall downward in the markets. Why can’t we just get the problems over with so we can get back to making money like we used to? That is the essence of Wall Street’s attitude about the economy, an attitude of frustration. These self-centered expressions are expected in a market that has no moral compass beyond profit.

investor dunce award

investor dunce award

Self-absorbed traders and profiteers shouldn’t need to ask. The bailout of Fannie and Freddie, like the bailout of Bear Stearns has prevented a complete meltdown of the economy, certainly saving the plight of every investor from the jaws of bankruptcy today. Considering the short-term mentality of investors, the bailout is good when you consider that investors can come to play another day.

~ E. Manning

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