Busted: Bankers and The Global Economy

December 22, 2010

Federal Reserve Contributed to Economic Crash

Filed under: banking, central bank, economy, federal reserve — Tags: , , , , , , , — digitaleconomy @ 1:19 pm

Back in early 2005, President George Bush excitedly told the nation how great the country was doing. Behind the scenes was another matter.  The housing market was overheated. Economic danger signs were in the air. The Fed had an opportunity to reduce the risk among banks, notably smaller ones. The Federal Reserve Board is also guilty of regulatory inaction that directed contributed to the mortgage meltdown.

The leadership of the Federal Reserve rejected advice from one of the nation’s top banking regulators, a professional accounting board and the Fed’s own staff for restrictions on commercial bankers use of special debt securities to raise capital. The exponential growth and lack of tracking ability for these securities threatened the fabric of banking operations.

Chairman Alan Greenspan and the other six Fed governors voted unanimously to reaffirm a nine-year-old rule allowing liberal use of what are called trust-preferred securities. Previous to that time community banks had few ways to raise capital without issuing more common stock and diluting share price. The Fed allowed the banks to count the securities as debt that they could loan against, even while counting the proceeds as reserves. Through the fractional reserve, banks were then free to borrow and lend in amounts 10 times or more than the value of the securities being issued. This kind of leveraging became the norm. The Fed enabled Wall Street bankers to encourage community banks to take on huge debt and to plunge the borrowings into real estate loans.

Institutions relying on these instruments took more risks and failed more often than those that did not include the use of these trust-preferred securities. Investment banks on Wall Street aggressively pooled these community-bank securities into complex bonds, much like the complex mortgage bonds that nearly brought down the financial system in 2008.

The consequences have continued to build for small bankers. More and more banks are defaulting, requiring intervention by the FDIC. The bank failures have already left more than $1 billion of the complex bonds on the books of the FDIC bank rescue fund.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is now investigating how securities firms promoted the sale of these complex bonds in a poorly understood,  billion dollar offshore market for debt issued by banks, insurers and real estate trusts without checking their greed. Everyone was making money and delighted by the results. As the market became saturated, bankers refused to conduct business, becoming sitting ducks in a frozen banking system. Eventually, in October 2008, the system faced a complete collapse.

McClatchy Newspapers Article

FDIC report

Fed’s mysterious policy: How do we know if it’s working?

July 19, 2009

Economic Depression: American Resentment Flickers Against Corporate Wealth

money green with envyThe recession and the rising gulf between the haves and have nots; investment bankers versus newly impoverished and unemployed Americans is changing viewpoints. At one time, any company reporting record profits was certain to earn applause for this was seen as the American way. Americans were firmly invested in what they believed was the trickle-down theory of economics. The scam that investment bankers have pulled on the world with their highly staked leveraging games has changed much of this sentiment. Now that institutions that formerly made up the investment banking capital of the world are recovering with the intent of paying back taxpayer-backed Federal Reserve bailout money, Americans are leering at the possibilities that nothing has been learned from the crisis of financial literacy that prevails itself upon the world.

Writer David Segal has introduced the idea that class resentment is to blame as investment bankers continue to rake in the speculation-based financial dough based on the same numbers games that brought the nation to the edge of financial oblivion. The reality runs much deeper. In the eyes of Americans, the reality isn’t about making money, but how money is earned. Americans feel that they are being scammed because the nation operates by multiple sets of rules depending on how much money and influence you can peddle. Even members of Congress like Charles Schumer have demonstrated that they believe Americans are simply brutes to be used by the system to bolster corporate along with government wealth and influence.

Now that the likes JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs are reporting fantastic encouraging numbers after having enjoyed bailout at the expense of Americans and the system at large, Americans see that the victory is very hollow. Recent financial victories in American are without benefit to anyone that doesn’t directly play the insider financial games on Wall Street. Multinational corporations continue to rule the roost behind the scenes, taking more out of America than they put in. Profit without personal responsibility is king. Most of America continues to be in great pain and America already knows that recent financial victory on Wall Street is a result of the same deluded thinking and policy that still threatens to destroy the financial system. It is not a system based on honesty and real numbers, but simply a gambling game of manipulation and opportunity.

The fact is that the Federal Government likes the control and authority that it wields in the banking community as a result of the bailout. The same can be said for the money that government has invested in the corporate structure. Uncle Sam holds the cards as the government maintains a front row seat at AIG. This is the only means that government now has to rein in the continued greed and avarice of Wall Street and corporate investors. The system hasn’t been reinvented as promised nor have sufficient reforms taken place to insure the safety of financial system on any level. We are still living in the last century. Nothing has changed. That is why government is so quiet about what is a hollow victory on Wall Street. ~ E. Manning

June 13, 2009

Financial Racketeering: Send Corrupt Bankers to Prison

bankers to prison
Buy your own t-shirt and tell the world you want justice!

As a protective corporate reaction to the economic and fiscal banking crisis that corrupt bankers have brought upon the nation and the world, bankers have sought to hide the true nature and scope of the toxic assets that they hold. The government has been frustrated in its attempts to truly grasp or know the true situation because of corporate trickery and subterfuge on the part of many banking institutions as bankers often continue to operate their own protection racket. Yet, once bankers have been bailed out by the federal government for their short-sided thinking and the development of corrupt speculative banking instruments, some have sought to pay the debt back with the hopes of continuing the banking gravy train for themselves including unsupervised and virtually unlimited pay perks. From the reaction of the Federal Reserve, accounting standards appear to be lacking as bankers continue the attempt to operate their own private corporate racketeering.

With the expectation of countermanding this continued rebellion by bankers, the Federal Reserve has issued new accounting rules which will have a material effect on banking organizations’ accounting for off-balance sheet vehicles. The legislation will take hold in 2010 to address weaknesses in accounting and disclosure standards for off-balance banking instruments.

The Fed is also reviewing regulatory capital standards for bankers based on their experience in the banking bailout which they expect to apply to banking institutions, further cramping the style of many bankers. As a result of the review of new banking capital standards for bankers, the U.S. government is not eager to immediately accept paybacks of bailout money. The U.S. government apparently believes that the bailout has functioned as a fairly reasonable control lever in temporarily reigning in the ongoing greed within the banking community. ~ E. Manning

May 3, 2009

Inflation and Devaluation Looms on Horizon

warren_buffettMany of you haven’t been willing to believe me. Inflation despite the current troubled economy is still a very real concern. Why? Continually pumping dollars into the failed financial system is spreading the dollar very thin indeed. The bailout is likely to have “unintended consequences”. So says the blue boy of the financial market and Berkshire Hathaway chief Warren Buffett.

Buffett says that officials should be judged leniently since the economy was facing “as close to a total meltdown as you can imagine.” If you read this blog, you know what the meltdown was caused by: unchecked banking innovation and greed.

In the eyes of Buffet, the runaway debt spending must be paid for sooner or later (no force majeure?). Political leaders show little inclination to raise taxes, at least in an upfront way. Buffett indicates that one sure way to pay for excess spending is to “inflate the value” of the currency. The biggest losers in a surge of inflation, he added, would include holders of bonds and other fixed-income assets. “I haven’t had my taxes raised. My guess is the ultimate price will be paid by a shrinkage of the value of the dollar.” Duh. ~ E. Manning

March 29, 2009

Geithner Admits Fed Role in Economic Collapse

geithner charlie roseThe Obama administration wants to add a glimmer of hope to the global fiscal crisis that started with corrupted U.S. corporate policy and banking investment greed. Despite efforts of many to put lipstick on the ongoing economic recession and remove blame from corporate bankers and government, in a recent interview with Charlie Rose, Tim Geithner admitted

“a deepening recession. You’re seeing the recession intensify here and really around the world. You know it started here, but the world is sort of catching up. That’s putting more pressure on business and the financial system as we see it. We start with this deepening recession, intensifying housing crisis, a deep fiscal hole in the financial system that’s in some ways very damaged. Parts of it are working well, parts of it are still very damaged. It’s going to take a lot to work through this. Again, we start with a — just a deep mess. It is our obligation to clean it up and to fix it…”

“I want to be clear. Again, we start with a mess, a deep mess, made worse by the deepening recession. And these things are pitting on themselves. And it’s very important for people to understand, it’s going to take some time to work through this. But what I want people to know is that we’re going to do what’s necessary to get through it. And these things will get traction. They will start to help unfreeze things, and they will help lay the foundation for recovery.”

“They (the Fed) projected that optimism in the future and that created the conditions where people took more risks than they should have, and they, frankly, didn’t pay enough attention to the possibility that when this ended, came apart, that the consequences would be as damaging as they did. Now, I spent almost every day from the first time I walked into the New York Fed about five years ago working with my colleagues on ways to try to make the system stronger so we were going to be better able to withstand the kind of pressures when this came apart, and we did some very important, powerful things, but many of the things didn’t have enough traction, and we share with really all parts of the financial oversight bodies here and around the world a deep responsibility for not having done more and a really deep obligation for trying to fix this quickly and put in place the kind of reforms to prevent this from happening again.”

“Our system was not designed to sustain a shock, a crisis of this magnitude. It’s the tragic failure of financial regulation in this country. It was just not designed to tolerate anything of this magnitude. The critical test of any financial system in some senses is how you deal with stress and shock because you want a system that’s going to be strong and resilient enough to handle almost anything it could face. And this system didn’t meet that test because we had a regulatory framework that was designed, largely, 90 years ago and did not adapt to take account of these huge changes in the structure of our financial system.”

March 18, 2009

The Corollary of Banking Greed

greed-is-good-2“Greed is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.” Michael Douglas was privileged to echo those memorable words in a timeless Hollywood movie that resounds the philosophy of much of the financial world without apology. Those words now cut into the souls of mainstream Americans.

The corollary of banking greed dictates that financial greed is opportunity and entitlement magnified by lack of authority. Wall Street has reveled in this truth for decades and the results of this unpleasant law have come to roost. AIG, once held to be the bastion of risk management, has proved the effect of this corollary as they continue to mandate runaway bonuses for what amounts to the summary destruction of everything that America holds dear where money is concerned. Americans are taking their authority back.

Government is apparently into the payoff. We now have a mystery amendment in the recent stimulus package. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd added a compensation restriction to the bill. The Dodd Amendment provides an exception for contractually obligated bonuses agreed on before Feb. 11, 2009.

The Senate Chairman has egg on his face. He claims that the original amendment did not include that exemption and he denied inserting the provision. “I can’t point a finger at someone who was responsible for putting those dates in. I can tell you this much, when my language left the senate, it did not include it. When it came back, it did.” One of AIG’s key offices resides in Connecticut. Connecticut Senator Dodd was AIG’s largest single recipient of campaign donations during the 2008 election year totaling more than $100K.  Heck, it’s just more convoluted behind-the-scenes favoritism and payola in the highest ranks of federal government.

The good news is that this writer does not need to rail about the entitlement attitude of AIG, Wall Street or Senator Dodd. The good people of America have this issue firmly in hand. The uproar of the public has brought threat of injury and permanent demise to what used to be seen as harmless financial types. America isn’t waiting on Senators and Representatives to utter their glib proclamations about how they are preparing to tax the bonuses to get your money back. How is that for ‘in the box’ thinking? We are now taxing our own money back?

Heck, America isn’t waiting on government reaction or platitudes. Americans are ready to take this matter into their own hands. A few choice folks are willing to go into AIG gun’s-a-blazing to stop the abuse of trust in a company that is now 80 per cent owned by the American taxpayer, while millions sit idled at home with recent job losses. AIG employees now fear to go to work. Extra guards are posted at the door. Chaos is in the ranks as the corrupt corporation structure reels at the public reaction. Americans are prepared to take matters into their own hands. The federal government isn’t prepared for a lynching. Congress is exploring the possibilities in hearings. ~ 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

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