Busted: Bankers and The Global Economy

September 22, 2008

Robbery from American Taxpayers

bailout or pork barrel?

bailout or pork barrel?

“It is a big package because it’s a big problem,” Bush told reporters at a news conference. “The risk of doing nothing far outweighs the risk of the package.” Yet, most Americans seems to be irritated, if not entirely incensed about the prospect of bailing out wealthy bankers and insurance companies along with buying up worthless securitized bonds built by greed and corruption. Do Americans seem to care, even though authorities say that the alternative is total economic devastation? Americans do care, but realize that what the Bush Administration intends to do is not without substantial risk. Even more important are the real moral principles involved in the bailout. Moral and ethical concerns is exactly what the Bush Administration, Republicans and the Congress have been bereft of during the last two terms of office. An undercurrent of seething rage foments in the underground of American souls.

Americans have focused most of their indignation on having to foot the bill for irresponsible lenders and borrowers. The fact that little benefit to the economy or decent jobs for the American people will result from the trillion dollar bailout doesn’t make the bitter pill easier to swallow. However, the fact that Main Street America will suffer has some Americans rethinking their position.

the legacy of Bush

the legacy of Bush

What Americans fail to realize is the economic devastation that will plague America regardless of a bailout. The U.S. economy is in a king-sized pickle with a stalled economy and poor prospects. Politicians and economists alike seem to have temporarily forgotten that bailout or not, stagflation is on the way, a difficult prospect that the panicked authorities have suddenly ignored in the interest of saving their immediate power. The trillion dollar economic bailout is not a miracle, just a different road down the same mountain of decline.

A few have suggested that the bailout is not a bailout. The government is not handing out cash and have advertised that they might actually stand to make a great deal of money out of this. The bottom line is that when the bad securitized bonds gain value, that value will trickle down to the American taxpayer. The big problem is that most Americans no longer believe in the lie of “trickle-down economics,” a political theory that seems to have been fully subverted by bad business practices, corrupt politics and even more incompetent regulators while Americans follow the rules. Furthermore, money doesn’t trickle down from government except through the welfare system. This make the prospect of “trickle down” even more unlikely and unpalatable. The taxpayer does not expect to see the money, but knows that the government will continue to spend with wild abandon. The national rage is palpable as American taxpayers are made to bail out the world. ~ 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 17, 2008

Bailout Fever Strikes U.S. Again

The world of insurance will never be the same. AIG, a major insurance corporation and the world’s largest insurer has averted the worst financial collapse in history by accepting an $85 billion Federal Reserve loan and giving the government a majority stake in the company. The U.S. Treasury was fearful of a “disorderly failure” that would lead to larger national failures.

American International Group was a wild card with failure creating an enormous and unknown measure of system risk to the entire economy. The federal government gets 79.9 percent take of the firm and senior managers give up their jobs.

panic on the street

panic on the street

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve loan with a 2-year term will allow AIG (in theory) to divest itself of assets in a timely manner without creating an immediate crisis. Stockholders have been effectively squeezed out and are subject to losing any dividends.

AIG was huge in the credit default market, insuring contract guarantees that companies would not fail in large financial deals. A default contract buys protection against the threat of default by a company, municipality or a package of debt backed by mortgages. A buyer pays the seller a premium over a set term. The seller pays out if the default occurs. Defaults on mortgages and securitized bonds brought AIG to the verge of oblivion.

The complexity and global reach is huge, likely affecting every fund on the market in one fell swoop. Even with the loan in place to protect AIG for the short-term, Wall Street is reeling from the effects. A future bankruptcy would also play havoc on business contracts. There are reports that people are hording cash. Derivatives have been a highly profitable on Wall Street until now. The financial world is changing quickly as repercussions from the subprime mortgage crisis ripple across the globe.

~ 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

August 21, 2008

Wages in America: Faking Lifestyle

web of deception

wages: web of deception

The concept of wage stagnation is in the news once again even though the economic blight is a mere 35 to 40 years old. The media and economic bean counters are curiously worried about the “standard of living bubble.” Imagine the idea that this news at all. Most Americans, except during times of heady expansion in certain markets, have been fully aware of the concept as jobs head out of the American economy in droves because of corporate multinationals and careless politics. For years, the idea was that you could beat wage stagnation with a well-heeled education, but reality has proved that this idea is no longer true if it ever really was.

Americans and other high-faluting nations have been loading up on credit for years to bolster the appearance of bettering the Joneses next door. The contracting market cut into that fantasy for many credit afficianados. Now the contracting job market, which in reality has been imploding in the United States for some time is hampering the ability of Americans to cope with lifestyle choices.

If that prospect wasn’t enough, now Americans risk losing the ability to use their precious credit cards because contracting credit markets threaten to limit access of credit cards to many participants. The entire economy of the United States seems to be facing a reality check where fiscal relevance is concerned.

credit is good for America

credit is good for America

The media has suddenly cooked up the idea that inflation has been increasing more rapidly than pay increases, which goes against what the U.S. government has preached for decades. A modest 3 percent raise in pay was supposed to cover the national inflation rate. The reality from the 80’s to 2006 shows a ten percent yearly-averaged inflation rate. Using these humble and easily accessible figures, no fool would admit that wages have kept pace, even if those wages were not stagnant. The term stagnant is relative, depending on how you want to justify the term.

The cold reality that we all know is that we have supported our lifestyle dreams on credit. We lost the incentive to save, which we have lost anyway due to the monster of inflation. Saving a few dollars now with a regular inflation loss means a dollar saved is a dollar lost, just a little slower over time. The endless printing of American greenbacks combined with a burgeoning national debt has ensured that a dollar saved ten years ago is worth zero today. Any interest gained on that dollar is worth very little unless you were able to invest that dollar to somehow create more. When viewed in reality, inflation is really a hungry bear. The working man has been royally and cruelly worked over, even though the government has denied the reality all along.

semantics in wealth perception

semantics in wealth perception

Since the mortgage debacle and the contracting real estate market has hit the economy (not pointing fingers today), Americans have embraced the last source of easy money to keep up their lifestyle or to avoid the reality of bankruptcy from relentless spending.

Americans aren’t ones to be told no when it comes to lifestyle. According to bean counters, credit card debt is growing much faster than the economy as Americans use credit cards with interest rates as high as 30% as a substitute for income. Last year, use of credit card increased around 7% each quarter. That is a 28% increase in an attempt to sustain economic lifestyle. Last May reported an increase of credit card use of 7%. If that were to continue for 12 months, the humble increase is a mere 84%. Obviously, this economic miracle is not sustainable.

A big crush is coming, but not just because you can’t pay your credit card bill. Banks are “securitizing” everything including your beautiful credit card debt to be sold off to eager desperate investors, at least bankers hope. Citigroup alone lost $176 million through securitized bonds for credit cards in the last quarter. Sweet. Delinquency rates devalue the securitized bonds, forcing a writedown in value.

Since banks can’t sell of all that glorious credit card debt, banks are going to make customers pay more for the privilege of easy money resulting in less easy money and a contracting credit market over time because creative money creation is not working to the advantage of wiley bankers.

Where America will turn next is anyone’s guess. Barring black market prices for selling off children as collateral, Americans may be faced with the joys of living within their means. The good news behind all of this drama is not the perceived pain. Contraction of any marketplace is a mixed blessing. Billions will be lost and millions of Americans will see hard times, but in the end everyone is a winner because, at least in theory, the marketplace achieves a value balance. America has needed a long-awaited correction that politicians are deathly afraid of. Market contraction means that prices and everything that is assigned a dollar value decreases in relative cost. The exception to that blessing is the specter of devaluation or the possibility of hyperinflation due to stagflation. That however, is another story. ~ E. Manning

May 4, 2008

The Federal Reserve Panic Button

With so little wiggle room in the interest rate, we’ve mused about what the Fed intends to do to encourage the market and to free up liquidity. The Fed has come up with another quick fix. It’s called expanding the Term Auction Facility to $75 billion per auction. Now, the Fed is allowing an expansion of what it will receive as collateral for the TAF. The Fed will now accept securitized “junk” bonds based on the subprime and alt-a mortgage loans in exchange for bank credit to expand banking liquidity. This action is hoped to take additional pressures from the liquidity-pressed commercial bankers in the U.S.

Interestingly, similar measures are being adopted at other international “fellow central banks”. (more…)

May 1, 2008

Aussie Bank CEO Claims Worst is Over

Westpac is a multinational financial services company and the fourth largest bank in Australia. Westpac has come through the first six months of the global credit crunch with a 34 per cent rise in profit, prompting its new chief executive Gail Kelly to declare that the “worst is over”.

Kelly also warned that the banking industry’s global era of growth had ended, noting that slower loan expansion, increased bad debt charges, persistently higher funding costs and continued market (more…)

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