Chris Whalen

Per Chris Whalen, Wells Fargo's CFO Quit Due To An Internal Dispute Over Financial Disclosures

Last week, the CFO of Wells Fargo suddenly resigned for "personal reasons"  and was immediately replaced by CAO Tim Sloan. The departure was promptly buried, and everyone moved on. Not so fast, says Institutional Risk Analytics' Chris Whalen, who speculated that there is much more here than meets the eye. In a report released yesterday, Institutional Risk Analytics notes that "The departure of Atkins, we are led to believe, was not merely the result of personal issues, but reflects an ongoing internal dispute within WFC’s executive suite regarding the bank’s disclosure." As a result of this action, IRR went ahead with the following rating action: "We are downgrading from “Neutral” to “Negative” the outlook for the forward operating results for Wells Fargo & Co. (“WFC”/Q3 2010 Stress Rating: “B”/Outlook: “Negative”). Recent management changes, the poor quality of WFC disclosure and unresolved issues regarding on and off balance sheet exposures to the GSEs and private investors and/or insurers led to this downgrade, as discussed below."

Chris Whalen On The Zombie IPO: Is American International Group the "Blood Doll" of Wall Street?

In this issue of The Institutional Risk Analyst, we return to the zombie dance party to check in on the queen of the prom, American International Group ("AIG"). First a question: Vampires are all the rage now in popular culture, so allow us to offer a macabre metaphor for AIG. Do you know what a "blood doll" is? A girl who craves to be the regular victim of or willing donor to a vampire. But hold that thought.

Chris Whalen Welcomes Our New Tyrannical Overlords, Prepares For The Taxpayer Funded Mortgage Insurer Bailout

Chris Whalen's latest Institutional Risk Analytics is a must read letter as it highlights yet another aspect of foreclosure fraud, one which finds various analogues in the way the MBS originating banks took advantage of AIG, knowing full well it was stuffed to the gills with worthless pieces of paper and taking out enough insurance on it to require a federal bailout when mark to fraud failed and mark to market finally worked for a very short period of time. Now, it seems, it is the mortgage insurers turn: "So today the MIs are still operating, though they are not providing insurance because they can't. Observers in the operational trenches tell The IRA that virtually no MI claims are being paid - even if the claim is legitimate. The MIs are very undercapitalized and still bleeding heavily. But they get continued business because the GSEs demand MI on high LTV loans. Lenders are forced to use the MIs and consumers are made to pay the premium. Thus the auditors of the GSE continue to respect the cover from the MIs, even though the entire industry is arguably insolvent." The question is how many CDS have Goldman et al purchased in bulk in anticipation of the imminent wholesale MI Event of Default, which will force Geithner to once again use the Mutual Assured Destruction wildcard and force taxpayers to bail out those holding MI insurance, especially if the originators and servicers end up being one and the same...

Chris Whalen On The Upcoming "Worst Economic Contraction Since WWI (Forget WWII)"

The erosion of the profitability of the U.S. banking industry over the past two years under the glorious Summers-Geithner-Bernanke rescue scheme is the proverbial fly in the ointment for both major political parties. Democrats and republicans alike are going to be fed into the meat grinder over the next several years as the banking sector deals with literally hundreds of billions of dollars in direct and indirect expenses from the deflation of the mortgage bubble. For the economy, this slow process of muddle along championed by Summers and Geithner will ensure that Barack Obama becomes the Herbert Hoover of the Democratic Party. The economic carnage that will causes these losses, as we described in a recent post in Reuters, "Double Dip or Global Deflation?," is going to represent the worst economic contraction since WWI. Forget WWII. Think "shrinkage" to use the Gilded Age description for economic deflation. - Chris Whalen

JPM Securities Converts From Corporation To LLC, As Chris Whalen Discusses Why Prop May Contribute Far More To JPM's Top Line

An interesting tidbit in today's FRBNY Primary Dealer announcement, which discloses a curious development: JPMorgan is no longer a corporation, but has, effective September 1, become an LLC. Double taxation bids a fond farewell to J.P. Morgan Securities, Inc.We are currently going through Delaware filings to track down the actual application, and hopefully the reasons for the change, which are most certainly a vote of complete confidence in the American corporate system. Elsewhere, Chris Whalen shared some must-read thoughts on JP Morgan LLC's prop trading operation, which may be surprising to all those who believe that prop is a de minimis portion of the firm's revenues.

Chris Whalen Sends Memo To Obama, Says It Is Time To Break The Refinance Strike By The Big Banks

There are growing signs of unease bordering on desperation inside the Obama White House. Most of the O Team now understands that the real, private economy never got out of Dip Number One. The prospect of a permanent downward shift in “trend growth” to a lower track, and continued double digit unemployment, are driving a search for alternative measures that has even touched conservatives in the worlds of finance and economics. The Obama Administration and the Fed have taken the position that the crisis affecting the U.S. economy and the financial sector is slowly ending. In fact, the largest banks remain profoundly troubled by bad assets on their books as well as claims against these same banks for assets sold to investors. By allowing banks to “muddle along” and heal these wounds using low interest rates provided by the Fed, the Obama Administration is embracing a policy of deflation that has horrible consequences for U.S. workers and households.

Chris Whalen Discusses Citigroup's Earnings And Prospects

The Institutional Risk Analytics Managing Director nails the banks' consistent beating of analyst expectations: financials keep "coming in better on non-recurring items." Indeed, once the government's "non-recurring" subisidy of free "money ends," and such by-now forgotten business lines as investment banking have to pick up, what then?

Additional observations from Whalen include bank subsidies, consumer credit trends, bank reserves, loss rates, non-performing assets, the regional versus the TBTF duel, and the reconciliation of Citi's positive net income and its EPS loss, and an outlook on a "disappointing" Q4.

Chris Whalen Comments On Upcoming Financials' Earnings

Topics covered include: 1. Mortgage servicing rights; 2. Early stage delinquencies; 3. Credit card chargeoffs (5.5%-6% at Citi would require a new capital raise, CapitalOne hitting 10%); 4. Fed subsidies to banks that expire into 2010; 5. The Commercial Real Estate "mirage"; 6. Trillions of dollars in off-balance sheet vehicles (what happens to these securitizations eventually); 7. JPM's downward management of expectations; 8. BofA's provisions and chargeoffs

Whalen And Griffin On OTC Derivatives

From yesterday's hearing before the U.S. Senate on Over The Counter Derivatives. The full archived webcast can be found here - some perspectives from Citadel's Griffin and Robert Pickel, CEO of ISDA, but most notably a very exhaustive report from Chris Whalen of IRR. While I am not as much a proponent of regulation of CDS as Whalen is, he provides an impressive narrative of recent events which, if one were so inclined, could provide CDS-haters enough ammo to make a sufficiently strong case.