Busted: Bankers and The Global Economy

February 22, 2010

Bank of America Fined

Filed under: banking, economy — Tags: , , , , , , , — digitaleconomy @ 10:47 am

A federal judge has reluctantly approved a $150 million settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission stemming from the bank’s merger with investment firm Merrill Lynch at the height of the financial crisis. In the months before the deal closed, Bank of America failed to disclose that hefty bonus payouts or the mounting losses that eventually led to a second government bailout of $20 billion for Bank of America.

The New York judge admitted that the fine is a slap on the wrist, but was the second settlement that the SEC had cobbled together that he felt was reasonable. While Bank of America had failed to adequately disclose the bonuses and the losses, the judge agreed that circumstances were unclear, uncertain as whether the lack of disclosure resulted from negligence or fraudulent intent.

November 7, 2009

Wall Street Justice Obama Style

corrupt bankers prisonOver and over again, Americans see the same debacle unroll before their eyes, that is, if they are paying any attention. Earlier this year, billions in bonuses were paid to Merrill Lynch executives as the firm was failing. An agreement was made that Bank of America would pick up the pieces of Merrill Lynch with the support of the American taxpayer and later, BofA was bailed out as well. After a dance with the SEC, no wrongdoing was admitted.

After an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Banking wunderkind JPMorgan agreed to a $722 million settlement. Why? It all rises from a risky derivatives deal that drove Alabama politics to the brink of bankruptcy. As part of the settlement, JPMorgan neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing despite overwhelming evidence that the financial group did actually engage in acute wrongdoing.

What passes for justice on Wall Street? Regulators give a banking institution that they back a fine that taps the corporate bottom line for wrongdoing. The banks are eager to quickly forget the whole thing by paying a modest fine and getting on with business as usual. There is no admission to wrongdoing and business continues. The government gets a fine to pad their already overbloated budgets that the American taxpayer is already floating. We must be stupid because we keep doing the same thing over and over.

No one admits to corruption, much less to making a mistake. Meanwhile, nobody pays back the taxpayer, much less actually pays off a debt of any kind.  Reality is a round robin of funny money, usury and blatant dishonesty. Where is the outrage? Nowhere, because we are too wrapped in our small lives and/or afraid of reprisals or perhaps the boogeyman. Perhaps by our collective refusal to stand up against politicians and bankers, we are admitting that any American would do exactly the same thing; that not one American is any better. What do you say? Probably very little.

September 24, 2009

Too Big To Fail Means Big Growth

Filed under: banking, corporatism, credit — Tags: , , , , , , , — digitaleconomy @ 8:27 am

big banks

See the article at the Washington Post.

August 10, 2008

Banks Eat Billions; Credit Crunch Expands

paranoid banking firms gamble on their importance

paranoid banking firms gamble on their importance

The Securities and Exchange Commission stepped in and decided that auction-rate securities have been improperly sold to the public. They haven’t said much else as they carefully watch over the fold of now paranoid bankers. Investment bankers have plenty of egg on their face with punitive action in the immediate future by the Feds.

Citigroup and Merrill Lynch have decided to buy back billions of dollars of securities without admitting liability officially because of state regulator pressure. Bank of America and Countrywide are firmly ensconced in trouble. Swiss giant UBS is in the throes of negotiating a payout that could be in the 25 billion dollar region. As private citizens and investors, we know the reality of the situation. Bankers have tried to play us for fools for the almighty dollar and perhaps investors bit off too much, too soon in the haste for profit.

In theory, when times get better larger investors and even banks should be able to sell off the securities once the markets ease and there’s more credit in the system. That is the public line, but the truth is probably altogether different. Selling off investments with major liquidity issues is a big maybe considering the quantity of these beleaguered banking instruments. Following the aftermath of the subprime mortgage debacle, this is yet another blow to the reputation of investment banks, who may struggle to sell such “sweet deals” in future times even at fire sale prices.

British banks are taking huge hits as a result of the credit crunch with increased pressure to perform for stockholders. Lloyds, Halifax and Alliance & Leicester have been fairly decimated profit-wise. Now RBS and Barclays are taking turns with profit thrashing. British banks haven’t found the credit crunch much easier than U.S. banks. Housing prices continue to drop in the U.S. and the United Kingdom. Foreclosures are a uniform blight in both economies while bankers and economies struggle to adjust. The U.S. market has lost nearly a million homes to foreclosure with more on the way: the worst since the Great Depression.

August 8, 2008

Bankers Seek to Buy Out Uncle Sam on Fraud

Regulators have been investigating Wall Street firms for their role in the sales and marketing of auction-rate investments.

Wall Street agreed to buy back more than $17 billion in securities that they fraudulently sold to retail customers paving the way for other banks and brokerage firms to do the same.

Merrill Lynch jumped ahead of regulator investigatory scrutiny, announcing that they will buy back about $10 billion in auction-rate investments that it sold to retail investors.

Citigroup reached a settled with state and federal regulators, agreeing to buy back about $7.3 billion of auction-rate securities that it sold to retail customers. As recompense for misconduct, Citigroup will pay a $100 million fine for its misconduct. The securities are essentially worthless, even though the buyers were told that the securities were safe and easy to cash in.

Even Bank of America is under attack with subpoenas related to securities sales. Taking on responsibility of bank instruments in bank bailouts has likely posed an additional headache.

At this time, institutional investors are still out in the cold, but both firms claim to be working on a resolution on problems with institutional investors in the hopes of avoiding more heat and gaining brownie points from the federal government. A rush of settlements are expected in the next few months as Wall Street aims to absolve itself.

Regulators are starting to pile on in a sort of informational and investigational bankers bloodletting. The Securities and Exchange Commission has elected to stay out the recent penalties as they expect to weigh in on their own investigation. From all appearance, Wall Street’s troubles have only just begun. Bankers know their guilt. Can they distract the investigations to avoid the embarassment as the propensity of their fraud is exposed to the nation? Seeking to buy out authorities may be seen as an easy way out as the financial onslaught on Wall Street and for banking in general continues.

Blog at WordPress.com.