Bank of America

Bank of America

Citi, Bank Of America, And JPMorgan Enter Lieborgate: Congress Expands Libor Probe To Big Three Domestic Banks

When the Fed released its "trove" of materials confirming that the Fed indeed knew that the Barclays was manipulating its Libor submissions (amusingly explained by Ben Bernanke before Senate today that "the employee had no idea what Libor is in that case"), few were surprised, but more were confused why the congressional inquiry focused solely on the Fed's interactions with British Barclays, instead of focusing on the three domestic banks that were part of the BBA's USD Libor fixing committee.Sure enough, the 3 US banks on the USD Libor fixing committee were just dragged into the fray: "Representative Randy Neugebauer, a Texas Republican and chairman of the oversight and investigations panel of the U.S. House Financial Services Committee said he intends to request correspondence between the Fed and the three U.S. banks on the Libor-setting panel, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Citigroup Inc. (C) and Bank of America Corp., according to a congressional aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the details were not yet public."

Everyone To Bank of America: "We Don't Want You Steenkin' Free Cash"

The venerable Bank of America recently sent letters to 60,000 struggling homeowners with the caveat-ridden generous offer of slicing an average $150,000 off their loans; the response was... silence. It seems the total and utter 'borrower fatigue', as Bloomberg puts it, that leaves homeowners relying on the very same banks that committed loan servicing abuses to avert foreclosures. Yet another program, that BofA specifically accounts for almost half of the fines of, ends up helping far fewer people than intended. Simply put, borrowers have lost faith in the process.

Is The MBIA vs BAC Saga Ending In Under 24 Hours?

Anyone who has followed the MBIA vs Bank of America saga knows that the only reason why there has been no settlement so far is due to BAC's relentless stonewalling tactics that seek merely to delay the production of discovery which based on preliminary indications is sufficiently damning to let MBIA prevail in the case, and with that to force settlement that based on our and others' former evaluations, could lead to a doubling in the stock (ignoring the massive short-covering squeeze it would immediately create courtesy of the 15.5% Short Interest of the total float, sending the stock even higher than where fundamentals say it should go). Well, based on a just released transcript of Judge Eileen Bransten motion to compel discovery, the end may be in sight, and may come as soon as July 13, or tomorrow. And what is more important, her displeasure with BofA's relentless stonewalling has come to an end. Will Bank of America have no choice but to settle in the very immediate future? Stay tuned to find out.

Not All Prayers Are Answered Affirmatively

Because I pay attention to these things; I have the sense that there has been a lot of praying recently. Prayers for QE3, prayers for Quantitative Easing mortgage bond buying, “Please SIR;” and for words to the effect in each and every FOMC minutes that “Money will be printed forever and ever Amen.”

“Now I know I'm not normally a praying man, but if you're up there, please save me, Superman!”

                          -Homer Simpson

Now I hate to do this to you and I feel like the bad boy with the pin about to prick someone’s bubble but these prayers have gone unanswered as you know and are not likely to be answered any day soon unless Europe goes up in pixie dust which, while certainly possible, will be far more serious for the markets and will more than offset the Fed dragging out their printing presses and plugging them in once again.

Overnight Summary: No More SSDD

Something is different this morning. Whether it is the aftermath of yesterday's inexplicable 10 Year auction demand spike, or more explicable plunge in the ECB's deposit facility usage, or, the fresh record low yield in the supreme risk indicator, Swiss 2 Year bonds, now at under 0.5%, market participants are realizing that the status quo is changing, leading to fresh 2 year lows in the EURUSD which was at 1.2175 at last check, sliding equity futures (those are largely irrelevant, and purely a function of what Simon "Harry" Potter does today when the clockworkesque ramp at 3:30pm has the FRBNY start selling Vol like a drunken sailor), and negative yields also for German, French, and Finland, with Austria and Belgium expected to follow suit as the herd scrambles into the "safety" of the core (which incidentally is carrying the periphery on its shoulders but who cares about details). Either way, Europe's ZIRP is finally being felt, only not in a way that many had expected and hoped and instead of the money being used to ramp risk, it is further accelerating the divide between risky and safe assets. Look for the Direct take down in today's 30 Year auction: it could be a doozy.

Frontrunning: July 9

  • Euro zone fragmenting faster than EU can act (Reuters)
  • Wall Streeters Lose $2 Billion in 401(k) Bet on Own Firms (Bloomberg)
  • Eurozone crisis will last for 20 years (FT)
  • Chuckie Evans: "Please suh, can I have some moah" (Reuters)
  • Quote stuffing and book sales: Amazon ‘robo-pricing’ sparks fears (FT)
  • Situation in Egypt getting worse by the minute: Egypt parliament set to meet, defying army (Reuters)
  • Chinese goalseek-o-tron speaks: China’s inflation eased to a 29-month low (Bloomberg)
  • A contrarian view: "Barclays and the BoE have probably saved the financial system" (FT)
  • Flawed analysis: Dealers Declining Bernanke Twist Invitation (BBG) - Actually as shown here, ST Bond holdings have soared as dealers buy what Fed sells: more here
  • Obama team targets Romney over taxes, Republicans cry foul (Reuters)
  • And all shall be well: Brussels to act over Libor scandal (FT)
  • Bank of England's Tucker to testify on rate rigging row (Reuters)

Shhh... Don't Tell Anyone; Central Banks Manipulate Rates

It should come as no surprise to anyone that major commercial banks manipulate Libor submissions for their own benefit. As Jefferies David Zervos writes this weekend, money-center commercial banks did not want the “truth” of market prices to determine their loan rates. Rather, they wanted an oligopolistically controlled subjective survey rate to be the basis for their lending businesses. When there are only 16 players – a “gentlemen’s agreement” is relatively easy to formulate. That is the way business has been transacted in the broader OTC lending markets for nearly 30 years. The most bizarre thing to come out of the Barclays scandal, Zervos goes on to say, is the attack on the Bank of England and Paul Tucker. Is it really a scandal that central bank officials tried to affect interest rates? Absolutely NOT! That’s what they do for a living. Central bankers try to influence rates directly and indirectly EVERY day. That is their job. Congresses and Parliaments have given central banks monopoly power in the printing of money and the management of interest rate policy. These same law makers did not endow 16 commercial banks with oligopoly power to collude on the rate setting process in their privately created, over the counter, publicly backstopped marketplaces.

Tuesday Humor: "Citi Today Is A Different Bank Than It Was Before The Crisis"

The FDIC decided to wait with its dose of pre-holiday humor until after the Barclays fixing for today's market close turned out to be spot on. And by that we mean that official release of the US banks' "living will" statements, which as far as we know is about the most worthless exercise ever conducted, and about the dumbest thing to be conceived by that very undynamic duo of Barney Frank and Chris Dodd. Because last we checked, the treatment of living wills in bankruptcy court, where all these firms will end up eventually anyway, is... non-existent. But the real fun is when one actually reads this indicative statement from Citigroup: "Citi is today a fundamentally different institution than it was before the crisis." And that's where we stopped. Because it is banks wasting their time (and taxpayer bailout money) on gibberish like this instead of analyzing the risk inherent in their prop positions that guarantees the next CIO-like blow up will not be just $5 billion but far, far more, and will certainly prove that living wills when one has to equitize tens of billions in unsecured debt are worth exactly didely squat.

Guest Post: The Great LIBOR Bank Heist of 2008?

Here’s a really wild hypothesis: if the LIBOR rate was under manipulation in 2008, is it not possible that the inter-bank lending rate spike (and resultant credit freeze) was at least partly a product of manipulation by the banking cartel? Could the manipulators have purposely exacerbated the freeze, to get a bigger and quicker bailout? After all, the banking system sucked $29 trillion out of the taxpayer following 2008. That’s a pretty big payoff. LIBOR profoundly affects credit availability — and the bailouts were directly designed to combat a freeze in credit availability. If market participants were manipulating or rigging LIBOR, they were manipulating a variable directly tied to the bailouts.