The crony capitalist show must go on: those bribed by Jamie Dimon are about to ask question of the same person. That this theatrical hearing will be a farce is by now well known by absolutely everyone, as confirmed by the rumor that late last night someone ordered 22 copies of "Credit Default Swaps for Bought and Paid For Senatorial Muppet Idiots" from Amazon.com. In the off chance Dimon slips and does say something of significance, here is your chance to follow the next 2 hours live. Everyone else will be.
A land grab shrouded in a banking takeover, wrapped in a financial crisis "rescue." As always, insiders get first dibs. (And, yes, there is an MF Global connection.)
Subordination is a four letter word to bondholders.
After two years of denials, we finally have the right answer: Spain IS Greece. Only much bigger (it is also the US, although while the US TARP was $700 billion or 5% of then GDP, the just announced Spanish tarp is 10% of Spanish GDP, so technically Spain is 2x the US). So now that the European bailout has moved from Greece, Ireland and Portugal on to the big one, Spain, here are the key outstanding questions.
In today’s world, there are many who want government to regulate and control everything. The most bizarre instance, though — more bizarre even than banning the sale of large-sized sugary drinks — is surely central banking. Why? Well, central banking was created to replace something that was already working well. Banking panics and bank runs happen, and they have always happened as long as there has been banking. But the old system that the Fed displaced wasn’t really malfunctioning — unlike what the defenders of central banking today would have us believe. Does central banking retard the economy by providing liquidity insurance and a backstop to bad companies that would not otherwise be saved under a free market “bailout” (like that of 1907)? And is it this effect — that we call zombification — that is the force that has prevented Japan from fully recovering from its housing bubble, and that is keeping the West depressed from 2008? Will we only return to growth once the bad assets and bad companies have been liquidated? That conclusion, we think, is becoming inescapable.
Yesterday, the progressive "think-tankers" from the CEPR first voiced the idea that it is time for America to finally come to the aid of Europe, because you see, the liberals, ever so generous with other peoples' money, have had enough of a sinking financial system brought to its knees by the intersection of a financial system perpetually bailed out at the taxpayers' expense, and a insolvent global welfare state, and just wish it was all back to where it was a decade ago, where everyone lived in perpetual bliss and stupidity. We truly hope Messrs Baker and Weisbrot lead by example and dispose of all their net worth, by dispatching it in Europe's direction, post haste: after all, anything less would be just seem so very hypocritical. Today, to nobody's shock at all, the "think tank" is joined by everyone's favorite TV hobby economist: Steve Liesman, who in an op-ed on CNBC writes: "It’s time to change the narrative and for the United States to step up and abandon its policies of praising Europe’s incremental progress, gently prompting it to action and insisting that it be a Euro only solution... The US should lead the world in creating a large pot of money available to the Europeans to recapitalize their banks. A $2 or $3 trillion fund should get the market’s attention." It should Steve. And just like in the case of CEPR, we hope you can lead the US by creating a large pot of all your money that you would send to Spain and Greece first. Then everyone promises to follow in your so very generous footsteps.
We finally get to continue what we started in 2008. Becuase the TPTB insisted on kicking the can down the road, the resulting pain will be excruciatingly devastating versus simply horrible! Alas, once you get you short positions/puts/futures in before the inevitably ill-informed short ban, money can still be made.
Plus 5% or minus 5%? That is the question and frankly it hinges far more on central bank and political policy than on any economic data, earnings, new products, etc. So it feels like TARP week all over again. We may not get the 8% swings we got then, but the volatility is picking up and it is difficult to do much in the short term when the real driver, like it or not, will be what decision a bunch of politicians and central bankers, each with their own agenda, goals, and baggage come up with.
Updated | The notion that the trades which caused the losses by JPM were put on in the last six months or so seems to have been widely accepted in the media. But is this really the case?
From the 2008 financial crisis to Bernie Madoff, federal regulators have consistency proven too incompetent or too in-the-pocket to actually catch big disasters before they happen. Their interests, like all government employees, are politically based. State bureaucracies seek more funding no matter performance because their success is impossible to determine without having to account for profit. There is never an objective way to determine if the public sector uses its resources effectively. The news of JP Morgan’s loss has reignited the discussion over whether the financial sector is regulated enough. The answer is that regulation and the moral hazard-ridden business environment it produces is the sole reason why a bank’s loss is a hot topic of discussion to begin with. Without the Fed, the FDIC, and the government’s nasty history of bailing out its top campaign contributors, JP Morgan would be just another bank beholden to market forces. Instead it, along with most of Wall Street, has become, to use former Kansas City Fed President Thomas Hoenig’s label, a virtual “public utility.” Take away the implied safety net and “too big to fail” disappears. It’s as simple that.
As we pointed out yesterday when we correctly summarized that "Spain Appears Unsure What A "Bank Bailout" Means", we said "Spain is to require its banks to set aside more provisions (between EUR20 billion and EUR40 billion) in an effort to overhaul the country's financial sector. This additional need for reserves (or provisioning) puts yet more pressure on the banks' balance sheets as it comes on top of the already EUR54 billion that has been set aside from February. Interestingly the EUR20-40 billion still falls dramatically short of Goldman Sachs' estimate of an additional EUR58 billion that is needed to cover reasonable loss assumptions. We can only assume that the game is to create as large a hole as is possible without tipping the world over the brink and then fill it with the state funds a la TARP (as Rajoy has indicated will be the case)." Well, as it turns out there was no ulterior motive behind the stupidity which is merely ad hoc improvisation of the worst kind that we saw back in Greece in the summer of 2011. Because according to IFR, not only is the bailout going to be woefully insufficient, but also, will be a 100% dud, as "Spain is likely to offer some banks the chance to opt out of some of the reforms set to be announced on Friday following heavy lobbying from the industry, according to two people familiar with discussions." In other words an insufficient bank sector nationalization, which will affect on some, but not those who actually need it, in what is now so clearly just another exercise (think stress test) to give the impression that the Spanish banking system is solvent. In the meantime, absolutely nothing will happen with the hundreds of billions of underwater mortgages carried by the big banks, which will merely fester until they finally become the Fed's problem.
Spain's banking system bailout is quickly becoming farcical. According to the WSJ this evening, Spain is to require its banks to set aside more provisions (between EUR20 billion and EUR40 billion) in an effort to overhaul the country's financial sector. This additional need for reserves (or provisioning) puts yet more pressure on the banks' balance sheets as it comes on top of the already EUR54 billion that has been set aside from February. Interestingly the EUR20-40 billion still falls dramatically short of Goldman Sachs' estimate of an additional EUR58 billion that is needed to cover reasonable loss assumptions. We can only assume that the game is to create as large a hole as is possible without tipping the world over the brink and then fill it with the state funds a la TARP (as Rajoy has indicated will be the case).
As the economy slows, demand for jobs are about to increase, right? After all, it must be true, they just said it in the news!!!
In one of the most complete documentaries undertaken on the financial crisis, PBS Frontline's "Money, Power, & Wall Street" series stretches from the origins of the credit derivative business with a bikini-clad pool-side Blythe Masters and her JPMorgan colleagues to the scary (but absolutely true) fact that the financial crisis never ended. The four-part series (of which we present the first two below) continues tonight at 730ET and the entire set of 20 in-depth interviews with the various players (from Sheila Bair to Rodgin Cohen with a smattering of Jared Bernstein and Dick Fisher in between) can be found here. A must-watch series from beginning to end to get a grasp of how we got here (despite what Chairman Greenspan told us all this morning), where exactly we are now (in spite of today's FTMFW ISM print), and what we can expect in the next few years.