and the Band Played On

31tPpCW2qRL._SL500_AA250_So the so-called conservatives are having their so-called freedom event with so-called commentators and news anchors from so-called news stations. It’s all a side show to the real problems of the country. It’s easy to misplace anger in an environment where misinformants rule the airwaves.

So, let me show you where the real theft is happening, in case you may have missed it.

First, the FDIC released yet another move towards creating a financial banking cartel. Another one bites the dust.

Corus Bank, National Association, Chicago, Illinois, was closed today by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver. To protect the depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with MB Financial Bank, National Association, Chicago, Illinois, to assume all of the deposits of Corus Bank, N.A.

But you know there’s really nothing to see here at the NY Times: A Year After a Cataclysm, Little Change on Wall St. Much more important to focus on creeping socialism and taking our government back from imagined enemies.

One year after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the surprise is not how much has changed in the financial industry, but how little.

Backstopped by huge federal guarantees, the biggest banks have restructured only around the edges. Employment in the industry has fallen just 8 percent since last September. Only a handful of big hedge funds have closed. Pay is already returning to precrash levels, topped by the 30,000 employees of Goldman Sachs, who are on track to earn an average of $700,000 this year. Nor are major pay cuts likely, according to a report last week from J.P. Morgan Securities. Executives at most big banks have kept their jobs. Financial stocks have soared since their winter lows.

No nothing to see here. Wait, a minute. Maybe we should listen to people with some expertise instead of Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh who couldn’t even get one college degree or a freshman’s worth of credits between them . Maybe we shouldn’t focus on sycophants like Chris Matthews or Keith Olbermann who just want to hear themselves talk and hump each others legs until they tingle.

In fact, though, regulators and lawmakers have spent most of the last year trying to save the financial industry, rather than transform it. In the short run, their efforts have succeeded. Citigroup and other wounded banks have avoided bankruptcy, and the economy has sidestepped a depression. But the same investors and economists who predicted, and in some cases profited from, the collapse last fall say the rescue has come at an extraordinary cost. They warn that if the industry’s systemic risks are not addressed, they could cause an even bigger crisis — in years, not decades. Next time, they say, the credit of the United States government may be at risk.

Yup, what have we been talking about here for month after month after month, while we get named called every imaginable insult from one end of the political spectrum to another. I must defy definition if one day I can be called a racist republican ratfucker then be called a greenie and a leftie the next.

Oh, meanwhile …

Read the rest of this entry »


And now, a Game of Concentration

When I saw this NYT Headline, “As Big Banks Repay Bailout Money, U.S. Sees a Profit”, it really did not send me to a

Expecting Customer service?  Fat Chance!

Expecting customer service? Fat Chance!

happy place. You’re probably going to raise a Spock-like eyebrow and ask me to explain. Why, Kat, you’re probably saying, isn’t a 15% return on our “money” a good deal in this market? Remember finance 101, rates are relative to risk so let me tell you why I’m a concern troll on this. First, here’s what the author thought was the punch line to this story.

But critics at the time warned that taxpayers might not see any profits, and that it could take years for the banks to repay the loans.

As Congress debated the bailout bill last September that would authorize the Treasury Department to spend up to $700 billion to stem the financial crisis, Representative Mac Thornberry, Republican of Texas, said: “Seven hundred billion dollars of taxpayer money should not be used as a hopeful experiment.”

So far, that experiment is more than paying off. The government has taken profits of about $1.4 billion on its investment in Goldman Sachs, $1.3 billion on Morgan Stanley and $414 million on American Express. The five other banks that repaid the government — Northern Trust, Bank of New York Mellon, State Street, U.S. Bancorp and BB&T — each brought in $100 million to $334 million in profit.

What the author really missed was that information also comes on the back of this information last week that shows that the government has created incredible high concentration ratios in the banking market. I discussed it here in a piece where I called it a big ol’ game of monopoly. This is an ongoing policy disaster and many folks appear to be missing it.

J.P. Morgan Chase, an amalgam of some of Wall Street’s most storied institutions, now holds more than $1 of every $10 on deposit in this country. So does Bank of America, scarred by its acquisition of Merrill Lynch and partly government-owned as a result of the crisis, as does Wells Fargo, the biggest West Coast bank. Those three banks, plus government-rescued and -owned Citigroup, now issue one of every two mortgages and about two of every three credit cards, federal data show.

There are so many headlines buried in that NYT piece that you’d think it was written by ostriches. This is one alone should’ve grabbed a banner headline.

But the real profit came as banks were permitted to buy back the so-called warrants, whose low fixed price provided a windfall for the government as the shares of the companies soared.

Well, isn’t that nice, the best borrowers paid back first. Some one over there ever take any finance classes? I doubt it. Of course, that’s going to happen you twit!! It’s the implication of what that means that scares the pants off me. The fact they’ve borrowed funds allows us to regulate their actions. Now, the big ones are paying them back so they’re out of the reach of tighter TARP regulation! They like their old loosey goosey nonsense regulations especially now that they’re all set up as a de facto cartel with government blessing. They’re ready to price discriminate, restrict services, and create extraordinary profits all they want with FEW RESTRICTIONS. Just wait until we get to witness the new and improved, unregulated CEO pay schemes!

It’s similar to handing all of our energy needs and policy over to OPEC.

Read the rest of this entry »