The topic of Illinois' various insolvent pension systems is not news to regular Zero Hedge readers. One needs but to recall our articles from mid/late 2010: "61% Underfunded Illinois Teachers Pension Fund Goes For Broke, Becomes Next AIG-In-Waiting By Selling Billions In CDS", "Illinois' Pension Fund Death Spiral Revisited: "10 Years Of Money Left" or "Illinois Teachers' Retirement System Enters The Death Spiral: AIG Wannabe's Go-For-Broke Strategy Fails As Pension Fund Begins Liquidations" in which we clearly explained how the state's teachers pension fund was systematically doing everything in its power to mask its massive underfunding, and the fact that it was rapidly running out of money. The retiremnet fund, in turn, took things very personally, prompting Dave Urbanek, Public Information Officer at the Teachers’ Retirement System of the State of Illinois (TRS), to write an impassioned response to Zero Hedge denying all allegations. Today, over two years after the above news, the SEC finally concluded their analysis of one part of the massively underfunded Illinois Pension system and found the Illinois failed to inform investors about the impact of problems with its pension funding schedule as the state offered and sold more than $2.2 billion worth of municipal bonds from 2005 to early 2009. The SEC also said Illinois failed to disclose that it had underfunded the state's pension obligations, increasing the risk to its overall financial condition.
The Government Has It Bass-Ackwards: Failing To Prosecute Criminal Fraud by the Big Banks Is Killing – NOT Saving – the EconomySubmitted by George Washington on 03/06/2013 18:02 -0500
Failure to Prosecute Fraud Causes Economic Downturns
As is now confirmed, at least one of many JPMorgan margin calls directed at Lehman in the days before the world's biggest bankruptcy became fact, were based on glaringly erroneous information and an error so profound one wonders if this was not a premeditated "hit" on one bank by another bank. Yet a purposeful "hit" orchestrated by one bank, even JPMorgan, would require the involvement of the highest echelons of the US government. So was the US government complicit and give its blessing in this historic liquidation? The Abu Dhabi Investment Council would like to know.
- US braced as cuts deadline passes (FT)
- U.S. stares down start of steep "automatic" budget cuts (Reuters)
- Yeltsin-Era Tycoons Sell Resources for Distance From Kremlin (BBG)
- Italy's center-left leader rules out coalition with Berlusconi (Reuters)
- Apple Required Executives to Hold Triple Their Salary in Stock (WSJ)
- BOJ Seen Spiking Punchbowl in April Under New Chief Kuroda (BBG)
- Diplomatic fallout from EU bonus cap (FT)
- Italy’s Stalemate Jeopardizes Resolution of Crisis, Finland Says (BBG)
- Chinese trader accused of busting Iran missile embargo (Reuters)
- JPMorgan No. 1 Investment Bank Amid a Flurry of New Deals (BBG)
- Eurotunnel’s Ferry Strategy at Risk as Rivals Cry Foul (BBG)
- Telepathic rats team up across continents (FT)
Bernanke's Tools: "Belts, Suspenders... Two Pairs Of Suspenders" And Other Senate Testimony HighlightsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/26/2013 20:20 -0500
Ben Bernanke: "In terms of exiting from our balance sheet, we have put out -- a couple of years ago we put out a plan; we have a set of tools. I think we have belts, suspenders -- two pairs of suspenders. We have different ways that we can do it."
Waste and Fraud Are the Real Causes of the Deficit
- Spain’s Deficit Widened to 10.2% on Bank-Rescue Cost (BBG) - or as Rajoy would say, when one excludes all negatives, it was a surplus
- Monti Austerity Pushes Italians Toward Parliament Upheaval (BBG)
- Russia accuses U.S. of double standards over Syria (Reuters)
- Euro Area to Shrink in 2013 as Unemployment Rises (BBG)
- UK, China central banks to discuss currency swap line (Reuters)
- Italy Court Rejects Challenge to Bailout of Monte Paschi (BBG)
- Japan's Abe to showcase alliance, get Obama to back Abenomics (Reuters)
- Russia’s missing billions revealed (FT)
- China Home-Price Gains May Presage Policy Tightening (BBG)
- Fed unlikely to curtail stimulus despite rising doubts (Reuters)
- Banks face fines up to 30 per cent of revenues (FT) - just as soon as Basel III is passed (i.e., never)
- J.C. Penney Can Raise Billions Under Revised Credit Line (BBG)
- Cost of Dropping Citizenship Keeps U.S. Earners From Exit (BBG)
How many trillions of Dollars are we going to let the Fed spend? The Fed balance sheet is now over $3 trillion… making it larger than the GDP of France, the UK, or Brazil. Indeed, if the Fed’s balance sheet were a country, it’d be the FIFTH LARGEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD.
Quarter after quarter we would recap the hedge fund world's infatuation with one stock and one stock alone: Apple. This inverse-mormon love affair hit its peak in the quarter ended September 30, when a record number of hedge funds were invested in AAPL stock. This was also the quarter when AAPL hit its all time high price and has since proceeded to slump by nearly 40% in four short months. Which was to be expected: hedge fund hotels always become flaming death traps when the sucker rally finally ends and what so many mistook and goalseeked for fundamentals, ended up being merely euphoria and momentum chasing as one after another marginal buyer put their money into a stock that seemingly could do no wrong or so we were told day after day. As of December 31, AAPL is no longer the darling of hedge fund groupthink. In its place we have a new hedge fund hotel. Presenting: AIG, which with 80 hedge funds reporting it as a Top 10 holding (compared to GOOG with 73, and AAPL with 67), is now the stock that has suckered in the most hedge fund capital, and where any future growth will depend solely on pulling incremental dumb money in.
Back in 2007, at the peak of the credit and housing bubble, Wall Street knew very well the securitization (and every other) party was ending, which is why the internal names used for most of the Collateralized Debt Obligations - securitized products designed to provide a last dash trace of yield in a market in which all the upside had already been taken out - sold to less sophisticated, primarily European, investors were as follows: "Subprime Meltdown," "Hitman," "Nuclear Holocaust," "Mike Tyson's Punchout," and, naturally, "Shitbag." Yet even in the last days of the bubble, Wall Street had a certain integrity - it sold securitized products collateralized by houses, which as S&P, and certainly Moody's, will attest were expected to never drop in price again. But one thing that was hardly ever sold even in the peak days of the 2007 credit bubble were securitizations based on personal-loans, the reason being even back then everyone's memory was still fresh with the recollection that it was precisely personal-loan securitization that was at the core of the previous, and in some ways worse, credit bubble - that of the late 1990s, which resulted with the bankruptcy of Conseco Finance. Well, in a few short days, those stalwarts of suicidal financial innovation Fortress and AIG, are about to unleash on the market (or at least those who invest other people's money in the absolutely worst possible trash to preserve their Wall Street careers while chasing a few basis points of yield) the second coming of the very worst of the last two credit bubbles.
Collectively, the world’s Central Banks have pumped over $10 trillion into the financial system since 2007. This money printing has resulted in a massive expansion of Central Bank balance sheets, spread inflation into the system, and done nothing to address the key solvency issues that lead up to the great crisis.
Back in June 2011 Zero Hedge broke a very troubling story: virtually all the reserves that had been created as a result of the Fed's QE2, some $600 billion (which two years ago seemed like a lot of money) which was supposed to force banks to create loans and stimulate the US (not European) economy, ended up becoming cash at what the Fed classifies as "foreign-related institutions in the US" (or "foreign banks" as used in this article) on its weekly update of commercial banks operating in the US, or said simply, European banks..... With the Fed's open-ended QE in place for over 3 months now, or long enough for the nearly $200 billion in MBS already purchased to begin settling on Bernanke's balance sheet, we decided to check if, just like during QE2, the Fed was merely funding European banks' US-based subsidiaries with massive cash, which would then proceed to use said fungible cash to indicate an "all clear" courtesy of Bernanke's easy money. Just like in 2011.
The answer, to our complete lack of surprise, is a resounding yes.
Anyone who spends any amount of time on the internet has seen them. They are the moonbats, the wingnuts, the whackjobs, the Conspiratorialists. They are America’s new Lunatic Fringe, and their numbers are growing. To the uninitiated this all seems rather humorous, albeit slightly unsettling. It would be both wrong and unwise just to slough it off as the ramblings of the insane. The reason such beliefs are gaining favor is because many Americans have lost faith and lost trust in the government and in America’s elected leadership. Given what has happened over the last decade, this is not only understandable, it is even, in an odd way, reasonable. A continual drift to the fringe can be expected because of the many very real things that make the foolish things suddenly more believable. The American people are well aware they have been lied to by the leadership. They know that a lobbyist has an infinitely greater chance of getting his way than an entire nation of voters. When trust is gone, everything becomes an affront, a conspiracy, a power grab by the elite.
The 2008 crash resulted from the bursting of the biggest bubble in financial history, a ‘credit super-cycle’ that spanned more than three decades. How did this happen? Some might draw comfort from the observation that bubbles are a long established aberration, arguing that the boom-and-bust cycle of recent years is nothing abnormal. Any such comfort would be misplaced, for two main reasons. First, the excesses of recent years have reached a scale which exceeds anything that has been experienced before. Second, and more disturbing still, the developments which led to the financial crisis of 2008 amounted to a process of sequential bubbles, a process in which the bursting of each bubble was followed by the immediate creation of another. Though the sequential nature of the pre-2008 process marks this as something that really is different, in order to put the 'credit cuper-cycle' in context, we must understand the vast folly of globalization, the undermining of official economic and fiscal data, and the fundamental misunderstanding of the dynamic which really drives the economy.