Banking Practices

BNP Fined $246MM After Its Traders Were Found To Still Use Chat Rooms To Rig FX Trading

Two months after the Fed fined Deutsche Bank a paltry $157 million for manipulating currency markets after the German bank's traders were found to be using "chat rooms" to rig FX trading, we learn that there was mor gambling going on here and on Monday the Fed announced that it will fine French BNP Paribas $246 million "for the firm's unsafe and unsound practices in the foreign exchange (FX) markets."

Nomi Prins On The Goldmanization Of President Trump

In his Inaugural Address, having nominated the wealthiest cabinet in American history, he proclaimed, “For too long, a small group in our nation's capital has reaped the rewards of government.”  Under Trump, an even smaller group will flourish -- in particular, a cadre of former Goldman Sachs executives. To put the matter bluntly, two of them (along with the Federal Reserve) are likely to control our economy and financial system in the years to come.

Frontrunning: September 9

  • German jitters weigh on stocks, ECB doubts lift yields (Reuters)
  • Chinese Billionaire Linked to Giant Aluminum Stockpile in Mexican Desert (WSJ)
  • Monte dei Paschi CEO to be replaced as cash call looms (Reuters)
  • German exports plummet in July, hit trade surplus (MW)
  • North Korea conducts fifth and largest nuclear test (Reuters)
  • Hedge Fund and Cybersecurity Firm Team Up to Short-Sell Device Maker (NYT)

Nomi Prins: The Clintons & Their Banker Friends

In the coming months, however many hours Clinton spends introducing herself to voters in small-town America, she will spend hundreds more raising money in four-star hotels and multimillion-dollar homes around the nation. The question is: "Can Clinton claim to stand for 'everyday Americans,' while hauling in huge sums of cash from the very wealthiest of us?" This much cannot be disputed: Clinton's connections to the financiers and bankers of this country - and this country's campaigns - run deep. As Nomi Prins questions, who counts more to such a candidate, the person you met over that chicken burrito bowl or the Citigroup partner you met over crudités and caviar?

The Federal Reserve Bank Must Be Destroyed

It matters not who is in charge of the Fed or what rules Congress may insist that it adopts. Once money printing, via fiat or fractional reserve credit creation, is seen to be both feasible, justified, and legal nothing and no one can stop it. The political pressure to fund government programs will be irresistible. Everyone knows that the Fed seemingly has the ability to solve their problem by monetizing the federal debt. Should it refuse to do so, we would see riots in the streets similar to what is happening in Europe as protesters target the European Central Bank. The only solution is to destroy the monster that makes it all possible, the Fed.

Draghi Knows Narratives Are No Longer Enough, But "There Are No Easy Choices Here"

The problem for the ECB, of course, is that Espirito Santo and Erste are not isolated incidents, any more than Laiki and Fortis and Anglo Irish and WestLB and BMPS and... should we go on? ...were isolated incidents. "...with apologies to Lewis Carroll, here’s the choice facing our modern-day Alice (Mario Draghi) – does (s)he sing a lullaby that keeps the Red King (investors) sleeping for a few more years, albeit at the cost of drinking a terrible potion that will turn her into a hideous giant... or does she let the Red King wake up, shattering the dream and risking the existence of everything, herself included, but preserving the story of her beautiful face and form?" If we were betting men (and we are), we’d wager on Draghi drinking the potion and keeping the dream alive, no matter how complicit it makes him in preserving a very ugly and very politically-driven status quo. But there’s a non-trivial chance that it’s just too much to swallow...

Cronyism In The 21st Century

Ghandi was once asked, "What do you think about Western Civilization?" to which he famously replied "I think it's a good idea." He may as well have been talking about free market capitalism. Capital in the 21st Century has hit the world like a new teen idol sensation. Everybody is drinking the Kool-Aid and it's being held up as the most important book ever written on the subject of how runaway capitalism leads to wealth inequality. Paul Krugman of course, loves it. As does every head of state and political hack in the (formerly) free world. So let's do something different here and accept a core premise of Capital, and say that wealth inequality is increasing, and that it's a bad thing. Where the point is completely missed is in what causes it (ostensibly "free market capitalism") and what to do about it (increase government control, induce more inflation and raise taxes). The point of this essay is to assert that it is not unchecked capital or runaway free markets that cause increasing wealth inequality, but rather that the underlying monetary system itself is hard-coded by an inner temple of ruling elites in a way which creates that inequality.

Where $1 Of QE Goes: The Untold Story

As the chart below shows, there’s much the Fed doesn’t understand, while at the same time showing that QE may have little purpose beyond providing a massive gift to wealthy traders and investors. With regard the question of where a dollar of QE goes, the answer is “not far.” Outside of pushing up asset prices and encouraging an occasional luxury purchase, it doesn’t seem to escape the financial sector. Liquidity that might otherwise be offered by private institutions is instead provided by the Fed, and – as Phil Collins might put it – that’s all.

"Anything Goes And Nothing Matters"

The so-called Volcker Rule for policing banking practices, approved by a huddle of federal regulating agency chiefs last week, is the latest joke that America has played on itself in what is becoming the greatest national self-punking exercise in world history. The Glass Steagall Act of 1933 was about 35 pages long, written in language that was precise, clear, and succinct. It worked for 66 years. The Volcker rule comes in the form of nearly 1,000 pages of incomprehensible legalese written with the “help” of lobbyist-lawyers furnished by the banks themselves. Does this strain your credulity? Well, this is the kind of nation we have become: anything goes and nothing matters. There really is no rule of law, just pretense.

Why Larry Summers' Ego Matters

'Larry Summers for Fed Chair' proponents are working hard to reverse his generally poor reputation and seem to have gained some ground. They’ve tempted even Fed skeptics with reports that Summers doesn’t believe much in quantitative easing. But his supporters are also making claims that don’t stand up to the facts. Call us old-fashioned, but we think we should be wary of power-hungry egotists whose personal philosophy is to obscure the truth.

Stock Prices Are Outrunning Corporate Profits: When Has This Happened Before?

Global conditions in early 1928 were oddly similar to today (Benjamin Strong puzzling over a strange brew of rising stock prices, uneven economic recovery, suspect banking practices and unusual strains in Europe’s monetary system), but skewed in a direction that would cause our current policymakers to apply even stronger stimulus than we’ve seen in 2013. The analogy suggests to us that today’s Fed is threatening mistakes that aren’t unlike those of the 1920s Fed. But what about the stock market? Unfortunately, a few market characteristics fit the late 1920s timeline pretty well... There can be little doubt that today’s Fed-fueled asset price rallies merely bring future price appreciation forward to the present. Asset prices eventually return to fundamental values, and as they do the Fed’s cherished wealth effects work in reverse. This is another risk that should be considered when you decide whether to take Bernanke’s bait and “reach for yield” in stocks and other risky assets.

Step Right Up And Test Your Central Banking Skills Against The Scariest Economy Of All

Benjamin Strong was near the end of a long stint as head of the New York Federal Reserve Bank (he passed away in October 1928), where he enjoyed the same immense power that Ben Bernanke has today. The economy had just begun to recover from a recession in December 1927, and there was much unemployment and spare capacity.... Agriculture was booming during and immediately after World War I, based on thriving exports to Europe. Overinvestment during the boom then gave way to stagnation in the 1920s. Europe was in a bad state in the late 1920s, just as it is now. What’s more, two of the world’s three largest economies are now in Asia, and these economies face similar challenges to those of 1920s Europe. While analogies are never perfect, the parallels with early 1928 are troubling. When the world slipped into depression in the late 1920s and early 1930s, it was on the back of imbalances and debt overhangs that are oddly similar to those that we face today.