Addressing his perception of lessons learned from the financial crisis, Ben Bernanke is speaking this afternoon on poor risk management and shadow banking vulnerabilities - all of which remain obviously as we continue to draw attention to. However, more worrisome for the junkies is the total lack of QE3 chatter in his speech. While he does note the words 'collateral' and 'repo' the proximity of the words 'Shadow, Institutions, & Vulnerabilities' are awkwardly close.
In an attempt to not steal too much thunder from Gary Shilling's thought-provoking interview with Bloomberg TV, his view of the S&P 500 hitting 800, as operating earnings compress to $80 per share, is founded in more than just a perma-bear's perspective of the real state of the US economy. As he points out "The analysts have been cranking their numbers down. They started off north of 110 then 105. They are now 102. They are moving in my direction." The combination of a hard landing in China, a recession in Europe, and a stronger USD will weigh on earnings and inevitably the US consumer (who's recent spending spree has considerably outpaced income growth) with the end result a moderate recession in the US. The story is "there is nothing else except consumers that can really hype the U.S. economy" and that is supported by employment but last week's employment report throws cold water in that. "Consumers have a lot of reasons to save as opposed to spend. They need to rebuild their assets, save for retirement. A lot of reasons suggest that they should be saving to work down debt as opposed to going the other way, which they have done in recent months. So if consumers retrench, there is not really anything else in the U.S. economy that can hold things up." While the argument that the US is the best of a bad lot was summarily dismissed as Shilling prefers the 'best horse in the glue factory' analogy and does not believe investors will flock to US equities - instead preferring US Treasuries noting that "everyone has said, rates cannot go lower, they will go up, they will go up. They have been saying that for 30 years."
We all know that central banks and governments have been actively intervening in markets since the 2007 subprime mortgage meltdown destabilized the leveraged-debt-dependent global economy. We also know that unprecedented intervention is now the de facto institutionalized policy of central banks and governments. In some cases, the financial authorities have explicitly stated their intention to “stabilize markets” (translation: reinflate credit-driven speculative bubbles) by whatever means are necessary, while in others the interventions are performed by proxies so the policy remains implicit. All through the waning months of 2007 and the first two quarters of 2008, the market gyrated as the Federal Reserve and other central banks issued reassurances that the subprime mortgage meltdown was “contained” and posed no threat to the global economy. The equity market turned to its standard-issue reassurance: “Don’t fight the Fed,” a maxim that elevated the Federal Reserve’s power to goose markets to godlike status. But alas, the global financial meltdown of late 2008 showed that hubris should not be confused with godlike power. Despite the “impossibility” of the market disobeying the Fed’s commands (“Away with thee, oh tides, for we are the Federal Reserve!”) and the “sure-fire” cycle of stocks always rising in an election year, global markets imploded as the usual bag of central bank and Sovereign State tricks failed in spectacular fashion.
Now that the world is covered in at least $707 trillion in assorted unregulated Over the Counter derivatives (as of June 30, the most recent number is easily tens of trillions greater) and with at least one JPMorgan prop|non-prop trader exposed to having a ~$100 billion notional position in some IG-related index trade, pundits, always eager to score political brownie points, are starting to ruminate over ways to put the half alive/half dead cat back into the box. Unfortunately they are about 20 years too late: with the world literally covered in various levered bets all of which demand hundreds of billions in variation margin on a daily basis, the second the one bank at the nexus of the derivative bubble (ahem JPMorgan) starts keeling over, it will once again be "the end of the world as we know it" unless said bank is immediately bailed out. Again.
Terminated CBO Whistleblower Shares Her Full Story With Zero Hedge, Exposes Deep Conflicts At "Impartial" Budget OfficeSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/15/2012 22:05 -0400
Yet another whistleblower has stepped up, this time one already known to the general public, and one that Zero Hedge covered just over a month ago: we refer to the case of former CBO worker, Lan T. Pham, who, as the WSJ described in early February, "alleges she was terminated [by the CBO] after 2½ months for sharing pessimistic outlooks for the banking and housing sectors in 2010" and who "alleges supervisors stifled opinions that contradicted economic fixes endorsed by some on Wall Street, including research from a Morgan Stanley economist who served as a CBO adviser." As we observed in February, "what is most troubling is if indeed the CBO is nothing but merely another front for Wall Street to work its propaganda magic on the administration. Because at the core of every policy are numbers, usually with dollar signs in front of them, numbers which have to make sense and have to be projected into the future, no matter how grossly laughable the resultant hockeystick." As it turns out, somewhat expectedly, the WSJ version of events was incomplete. There is much more to this very important story, one which has major implications over "impartial" policy decisionmaking, and as a result, Ms. Pham has approached Zero Hedge to share her full story with the public.
...European banks are three times larger than the European sovereigns, the ECB is not the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States, the leading economy in Europe, Germany, is 22% of the economy of America, that there are ever and always consequences for providing free money, that Europe is in a recession and it will be much deeper than thought by many in my view, that the demanded austerity measures are unquestionably worsening the recession and increasing unemployment, that nations become much more self-centered when their economies are contracting and that the more protracted all of this is; the more pronounced Newton’s reaction will be when the pendulum reverses course.
And not because his Rule doesn't have teeth.
It was a bad week for freedom loving people, but I believe there are enough patriots left in this country to change our course. We are being buried under a blizzard of lies on a daily basis. We have a choice. We can support the existing corrupt crony capitalist establishment (Obama & Romney) or we can declare war on lies, deceit and misinformation by rallying behind the only person who would truly attempt to reverse decades of corruption, sleaze, incompetence, bloat, debt accumulation, and a warped version of free market capitalism – Ron Paul. He is the only public figure willing to level with the American people and tell them the truth. Will we let the concept of truth fade out of the world? The choice is ours.
“In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia. The very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. Lies will pass into history.” – George Orwell
US To Settle Fraudclosure For $25 Billion Even As It Channels Fake Tough Guy In Meaningless Lawsuit Against Very Same BanksSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/08/2012 23:08 -0400
Remember robosigning and the whole fraudclosure scandal? In a few days you can forget it. Because in America, the cost of contractual rights was just announced, and it is $25 billion: this is the amount of money that banks will pay to settle the fact that for years mortgages were issued and re-issued without proper title and liens on the underlying paper, courtesy of Linda Green et al. Why is this happening? Because staunch hold outs for equitable justice (at least until this point), the AGs of NY and California folded like cheap lawn chairs (we can't wait to find what corner office of Bank of America they end up in), but not before the one and only intervened. From the WSJ: "The Obama administration made a full-court press over the past four days to secure the support of key state attorneys general, including those from Florida, California and New York." Nothing like a little presidential persuasion to help one with overcoming one's conscience. Because in America the push to abrogate the very foundation of contractual agreements comes from the very top. But wait, there's more - just to wash its hands of the guilt associated with this settlement which shows once and for all that the Democratic administration panders as much if not more to the banking syndicate as any republican administration, as it announces one settlement with one hand, with the other the US will sue banks over the mortgage reps and warranties issue covered extensively here, in the most glaringly obtuse way to distract that it is gifting trillions worth of contingent liabilities right back to the banks, not to mention discarding the whole concept of justice. From the WSJ: "Federal securities regulators plan to warn several major banks that they intend to sue them over mortgage-related actions linked to the financial crisis, according to people familiar with the matter. The move would mark a stepped-up regulatory effort to hold Wall Street accountable for its sale of bonds linked to subprime mortgages in 2007 and 2008. At issue is whether the banks misrepresented the poor quality of loan pools they bundled and sold to investors, the people said." Wait, let us guess -that particular lawsuit will end up in a... settlement? Ding ding ding. We have a winner. All today's news succeed in doing is finally wrapping up any and all legal loose ends, so that banks can finally wrap all outstanding litigation overhangs at pennies on the dollar. And if at the end of the day, they find themselves cash strapped, why the US will simply loan them more cash of course.
There was good news yesterday for taxpayers, sort of: the Federal Reserve turned $76.9 billion in 2011 profits over to the U.S. Treasury. The not so good news is that it amounts to a meager 2.6% return on the Fed’s $2.9 trillion portfolio. That may be better than George Soros and John Paulson did last year, but at what risk?
Whoever says there are no winners in the European banking crisis apparently has never woken up with a horse's head in their bed. According to a new report by Italian anti-crime group SOS Impresa, as reported by Reuters, "Organised crime has tightened its grip on the Italian economy during the economic crisis, making the Mafia the country's biggest "bank" and squeezing the life out of thousands of small firms, according to a report on Tuesday." You mean kinda like Intesa credit cards demanding a 39.95% APR: we knew we had seen that "life squeezing" thing before somewhere. Of course at least with the mafia you know that it will never rely on fake Libor fixings to pretend it is alive, or need an ECB bailout the next day due to being overly invested in US subprime mortgages (unless of course Goldman's rolodex stretches even further than we thought possible). It sure does, however, bring a new definition to the term "shadow banking"... or is that the old one, where nobody cared about repos, money markets, overnight drafts, and hyperrehypothecation and all the complexity could be explained away with a baseball bat. Yet the conclusion, no matter how defined, still strikes us as hilarious: '"With 65 billion euros in liquidity, the Mafia is Italy's number one bank," said a statement from the group, which was set up in Palermo a decade ago to oppose extortion rackets against small business." Because as we pointed out yesterday, it was companies which were responsible for bailing out banks in Europe. How long then until La Cosa Nostra provides a lifeline to UniCredit, but only if half the BOD is replaced with guys in tracksuits and buzzcuts? Actually, not too long we would wager...
GS&Co marketing materials for ABACUS 2007-AC1 – including the term sheet, flip book and offering memorandum for the CDO – all represented that the reference portfolio of RMBS underlying the CDO was selected by ACA Management LLC (“ACA”), a third-party
with experience analyzing credit risk in RMBS. Undisclosed in the marketing materials and unbeknownst to investors, a large hedge fund, Paulson & Co. Inc. (“Paulson”), with economic interests directly adverse to investors in the ABACUS 2007-AC1 CDO, played a significant role in the portfolio selection process. After participating in the selection of the reference portfolio, Paulson effectively shorted the RMBS portfolio it helped select by entering into credit default swaps (“CDS”) with GS&Co to buy protection on specific layers of the ABACUS 2007-AC1 capital structure. Given its financial short interest, Paulson had an economic incentive to choose RMBS that it expected to experience credit events in the near future. GS&Co did not disclose Paulson’s adverse economic interests or its role in the portfolio selection process in the term sheet, flip book, offering memorandum or other marketing materials provided to investors...The deal closed on April 26, 2007. Paulson paid GS&Co approximately $15 million for structuring and marketing ABACUS 2007-AC1. By October 24, 2007, 83% of the RMBS in the ABACUS 2007-AC1 portfolio had been downgraded and 17% were on negative watch. By January 29, 2008, 99% of the portfolio had been downgraded. As a result, investors in the ABACUS 2007-AC1 CDO lost over $1 billion. Paulson’s opposite CDS positions yielded a profit of approximately $1 billion for Paulson.By engaging in the misconduct described herein, GS&Co and Tourre directly or indirectly engaged in transactions, acts, practices and a course of business that violated Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, 15 U.S.C. §77q(a) ("the Securities Act"), Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, 15 U.S.C. §78j(b) ("the Exchange Act") and Exchange Act Rule 10b-5, 17 C.F.R. §240.10b-5. The Commission seeks injunctive relief, disgorgement of profits, prejudgment interest, civil penalties and other appropriate and necessary equitable relief from both defendants.