Busted: Bankers and The Global Economy

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

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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

August 22, 2008

The National Deficit Time Bomb

national security time bomb

national security time bomb

Discussion of the U.S. national debt is reasonably prominent on this website and is core to what is often discussed. Recently, Warren Buffet, famed trader extraordinaire has taken some of the spotlight to warn about the excesses and pitfalls of the U.S. national debt that continues to build unabated.

If the U.S. doesn’t move quickly to tame the federal government’s debts, the idea is that the nation will enslave coming generations with economic problems that make this bad year in economic finance look very rosy indeed. Warren Buffet and Pete Peterson are fielding the idea that the national deficit matters this election year. It does, but do the politicians and the nation of people realize it?

Tops in the discussion and recent advertising for the documentary movie “I.O.U.S.A.” is the idea that the United States will continue to be enslaved for future generations to debt that we are creating now. Buffet, Peterson and many others are considering not only the huge $10 trillion dollar national debt, but the projected needs for a soon bankrupt Medicare and Social Security system that threaten to swallow up the system that Congress built. When the additional debt is considered, the U.S. is looking at a national deficit of more than $50 trillion. Keep in mind that this is the future and whether these brilliant money mongers say so or not, is not indefinitely sustainable.

This writer, from all my vast experience in corporate finance and economics, says that the United States doesn’t have the time to indulge in fantasy-land thinking. The future of the nation as the United States is actually at stake now and the crossroads of no return is somewhere in the immediate future. A nation of people cannot continually spend more than they make and put off paying for today tomorrow, while sending huge quantities of economic resources overseas. The International Society of Bankers, at some point and time are going to cut off the “worthless, self-destructive” attitudes that Americans insist on bathing their collective lives in, politicians included. This nation is quickly running out of the clout and the economic strength that it needs to continue to garner the interest and affection of global bankers, the holders of all the credit based on the money system that has been developed. The United States is bleeding itself to death as politicians and business continue the carnage for their own empowerment.

“Our situation is a lot worse than advertised, and we need to start making some tough choices if we want our future to be better than our past,” announced former U.S. Comptroller David Walker. Mr. Walker, the bottom line is that the nation doesn’t have a future if politicians and business interests don’t take notice of the impending crisis. They are too busy dealing with their own self-absorbed ideas and plans for profit. In essence, the people that you are listening to in the documentary “I.O.U.S.A.” are the very ones that had a role in bringing this financial crisis about.

Naturally, the knowledgeable know that the national debt has mushroomed like a nuclear cloud since George Bush took office, which has been in the last eight years. Before that, we screamed about the national debt without realizing what would be cast upon us by reckless politicians in the new millennium. Republican “cost-cutting” and “low taxation” are a myth because politicians have become something other than what they represent themselves to be. The definition of party politics has become a definition bordering on meaninglessness for most of the lawmakers that America continues to appoint. Politicians have denuded the U.S. economic and financial landscape for the appearance of power and the personal interests for the short term with the idea that the United States of America is a “forever deal”.

Walker and the movie cite government figures that show the U.S. government owed roughly $53 trillion more than it had at the end of the 2007 fiscal year. According to the documentary promoters $11 trillion of that debt covers the publicly traded government debt, the amount the federal government owes to employee pensions and the cost of environmental cleanup of federal land. The rest of the $53 trillion figure accounts for projected shortfalls in Medicare and Social Security.

Dealing with such luxuries as land cleanup and the future of health care and retirement won’t matter if the nation spends itself into oblivion and poverty. Even pensions, government guarantees and publicly traded debt won’t matter if politicians don’t get a grasp on some of the realities of what they are doing. The finances of the federal government of the United States threaten the nation more than any subprime mortgage crisis. The mortgage and housing crisis is merely a prelude to an economic house of cards.

Dollar devaluation is in the now and in the future in a very real way as the Federal Reserve continues to serve its’ ailing and senile patient, the U.S. economy. The Federal Reserve is one of many leeches that hang on the national economy, draining it of its lifeblood and purpose. This election year may rank as among the most important in this country, but for all the “wrong” reasons and the people of the country don’t fully realize it. Perhaps the movie “I.O.U.S.A.” can have a profound effect if enough citizens take interest and are willing to demand accountability and change. It won’t be easy. Whether the nation will survive depends on the resolve of the people and their determination to force the current attitudinal corruption out of politics. The problem remains that most Americans live in a very self-absorbed world of their own making, refusing to deal with anything other than what immediately affects them. That is the national Achilles heel. This is a national security issue larger than any war could ever be.

Powers come and go. Like Rome that preceded us and every power before and since, nations rise and fall. Our failures are due to our own corruption and selfishness.

~ E. Manning

August 13, 2008

Federal Reserve Loans Not Working

The U.S. economy has seen the Federal Reserve System bail out banking for the last 9 months with very little to show for its efforts. Commercial banks have been involved in a national interbank liquidity freeze, reluctant to lend to each other since the credit squeeze started last year. While the reason isn’t readily discussed by most venues, shady and fraudulent banking instruments designed to make money is the reason for the interbank lending crisis. Banks simply don’t want to get stuck with other banks bad debt and securities. The cancer of bad securities is touching most commercial banks profoundly. Bank capital is tied up for everyone as a result, making credit access to firms and individuals difficult.

Credit auctions continue to be overbid for amounts often doubling available credit from the Fed. There are consistently more bidding institutions than available credit funds. 64 bidders sought $54.8 billion out of 25 billion available from the Fed in a recent auction. In a new stretch, the Fed and Global Central Bankers ( G8 ) are extending limited credit for 84 days instead of the traditional 25 day credit leash.

The 84 day Fed credit wasn’t enough to meet demand, so the Fed is ramping up for another standard banking auction so that commercial bankers can continue to bolster solvency levels. Banking reputations have been thoroughly smeared as even Swiss Bankers have been involved with billions in bad securities. Bank shareholders have been hit hard because bankers went with the natural flow of high-profits banking based on securities fever. The bleeding from subprime and now prime loans continue to erode the profitability of bankers, despite the fact that bankers have the power of the fractional reserve. Unfortunately, in tough times, even the fractional reserve has a way of biting back since banks have minimum financing standards for solvency. This is currently the battle that many U.S. banks are now facing.

uneasy banking alliance?

changing balance of power

In the words of the BBC there are few winners. “The financial turmoil has proved poison for policymakers dealing with it, it has provided rare meat for economists, commentators and opposition politicians.” The cash crisis in banking has driven the growth of sovereign wealth funds, giving insurance and pension entities a place to invest more of their colossal wealth in corporate assets.

Bankers have been grateful for the huge infusion of cash (credit) from foreign powers to cover their skyrocketing losses. The reality in many cases is that bankers are literally giving up the bank to outside foreign politics in order stay operational. The balance of power in the world is changing. The Federal Reserve has had little recent effect outside of pacifier value and confidence building. ~ E. Manning

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.

July 18, 2008

July 14, 2008

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