It was in June of 2011 when we reported that Bank Of America agreed to pay $8.5 billion to settle mortgage (mis)representation suit, where we said the bank was "about to part with more money than it has earned since 2008 in what will soon be the biggest financial settlement in the industry." Fast forward 3 years later when Bank of America once again makes history with its latest, and literally greatest, mortgage settlement with the US government, putting all of its MBS transgressions in the past, and which will cost the bank some $16.65 billion (of which, however, some $7 billion will be "consumer relief" and the remainder likely tax-deductible), a new record, and allow the bank to continue adding back "one-time, non-recurring" litigation charges to its adjusted, non-GAAP bottom line, thus once again "beating expectations".
There is a standard view of energy and the economy that can briefly be summarized as follows: Economic growth can continue forever; we will learn to use less energy supplies; energy prices will rise; and the world will adapt. The following view of how energy and the economy fit together is very different - it is based on the principle of reaching limits in a finite world.
The fundamental mistake is to think in terms of a low yield telling you anything about the economy, as it is price that you should be focusing on.
If structural reform is impossible as a result of lobbying (i.e. the political capture of governance and regulation) by vested interests that profit handsomely from these broken systems, collapse is the only "fix" left.
- Pope Francis calls for action as Iraqi Christians forced to flee (Reuters)
- Richest Russians Deprived of Luxury Foods by Putin’s Ban (BBG)
- Exxon Drilling Russian Arctic Shows Sanction Lack Bite (BBG)
- Israeli Jets Strike Gaza Targets After Rockets Shatter Truce (BBG)
- U.S. starts aid airdrops in Iraq but no strikes yet (Reuters)
- Banks Said to Be Arranging Argentine Debt Buyer Group (BBG)
- Siberia Flight-Ban Threat Forces Airlines to Mull Options (BBG)
- Malaysia Airlines to Be Delisted in $429 Million Buyout (BBG)
- Erdogan poised to win Turkey's first popular presidential vote (Reuters)
- African Bank Fights Collapse in Espirito Santo-Like Drama (BBG)
- China to build lighthouses on five isles in defiance of U.S. call (Reuters)
If you like your disposable income... forget it. Health-care insurance premiums for individuals in California rose between 22% and 88% in 2014 from last year, even after the federal health-care overhaul. This has led, as Bloomberg reports, to Proposition 45 - a bill that would grant regulatory say on proposed premium increases. "Unless Proposition 45 is passed we are going to continue to see dramatic year-over-year increases," warned Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.
Well the hits just keep on coming. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), recently conducted a study in which investigators attempted to use fake identities to sign up for subsidized healthcare under ObamaCare. The results are frightening. All but one phony applicant was successful. Moreover, the GAO more broadly notes that “about 2.6 million ‘inconsistencies’ existed among applicants who had chosen a health plan.”... The GAO’s account of fictitious applicants obtaining subsidized coverage goes beyond a related problem that surfaced this spring and that the investigators also cited: The government may be paying incorrect insurance subsidies to a significant share of the 5.4 million Americans who signed up for health plans for this year through the federal marketplace.
The EU and global drive toward bail-ins continues unabated. Bail-ins are coming to financial institutions and banks in the EU, UK, U.S. and much of the western world - with painful consequences for unprepared investors and savers.
Working for the government was always pitched as somehow being better guaranteed than risky private corporations. However, the problem with government pensions has been they promised whatever sounded nice, with zero accountability. The presumption that tax revenue was an endless pit is one of those fallacies that nobody ever investigates. The ramifications of what happens in Detroit will ripple through the entire debt structure nationally for if this will be the new game plan to follow, why should people buy any government debt whatsoever if not even bankruptcy laws apply? As we said – he who makes the laws never goes to jail for breaking them.
It has been over six months since we first highlighted the growing deterioration in the quality of auto loans and mentioned the 's' word (subprime) as indicative that we learned nothing from the financial crisis. Since then, auto loans (and especially subprime in the last few months) have surged to record highs; and most concerning, recently has seen delinquencies and late payments spike. The reason we provide this background is that, thanks to The NY Times, this story is now hitting the mainstream media as subprime-quality car buyers (new and used) realize the burden they have placed on themselves thanks to exorbitantly high interest rates (and a rapidly depreciating 'asset'). As one car 'owner' exclaimed, "buying the car was the worst decision I have ever made."
- Carl Icahn says 'time to be cautious' on U.S. stocks (Reuters)
- Banco Espirito Santo Lifts Lid on Exposure to Group (BBG)
- Slowing Customer Traffic Worries U.S. Retailers (WSJ)
- Insurgents enter military base northeast of Baghdad (Reuters)
- Obama tells Israel U.S. ready to help end hostilities (Reuters)
- Japan economics minister warns of premature QE exit, sees room for more easing (Reuters)
- Greek Banks See Quadrupling of Housing Loans by Next Year (BBG) ... to fund buybacks like in the US?
- Piggy Banks Being Raided Signal Swedish Housing Dilemma (BBG)
- London Seeks New Spenders as Russians Skip $719 Champagne (BBG)
The Fed spends an inordinate amount of time focusing on increasing Lending with the idea that loan growth increases economic activity. Is it possible that it is Interest Income derived from Savings that is more important to economic growth?
Many seem to believe that if we worked our way out of debt problems in the past, we can do the same thing again. The same assets may have new owners, but everything will work together in the long run. Businesses will continue operating, and people will continue to have jobs. We may have to adjust monetary policy, or perhaps regulation of financial institutions, but that is about all. I think this is where the story goes wrong. The situation we have now is very different, and far worse, than what happened in the past. We live in a much more tightly networked economy. This time, our problems are tied to the need for cheap, high quality energy products. The comfort we get from everything eventually working out in the past is false comfort.
Now that Obamacare has been enacted, Americans across the nation are seeing their health insurance bills spiking, leading to what has been a documented slide in full-time hiring, a drop in consumer discretionary spending, not to mention stagnant and declining real wages. In short: a broad economic contraction (yes, yes, who could have possibly foreseen this). But how is it that insurers set their prices? As Bloomberg explains, insurers are calculating what to charge for health plans in 2015, which is no simple task. Actuaries can’t easily forecast how often the millions of new Obamacare enrollees will go to a doctor. New federal rules and expensive drugs will also increase costs. Wrong guesses could wipe out profits. Here is a quick and dirty way to understand why premiums are going up.
The biggest congressional leakage scandal in the past year is the most recent one to cross the rabit hole of all-out absurdity: According to Reuters, the Ways and Means panel said on Friday it should not have to comply with a federal regulator's demand for documents sought for an insider-trading probe involving the staff director of a subcommittee and a lobbyist. The House Ways and Means Committee argued in a court filing that U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe in New York should deny the Securities and Exchange Commission's attempt to subpoena documents from the committee and its healthcare subcommittee staff director Brian Sutter.