While the big banks may have the attention of the Street right now, it's the smaller regional and community banks that are among the best stocks to buy now.
These small bank growth stocks are starting to show dazzling growth as their balance sheets improve dramatically. And they are still very early in the recovery cycle, so there is still plenty of time for individual investors to catch this train...
After 14 Years of Free-for-All, Glass-Steagall Is Back
Three cheers for Elizabeth Warren!
Yesterday she launched a wire-guided Scud missile at the too-big-to-fail banks.
The freshman senator from Massachusetts, formerly a Harvard Law School professor specializing in bankruptcy law, introduced her "21st Century Glass-Steagall Act" co-sponsored with Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), and Angus King (I-Maine).
And it's got the Big Banks shaking in their boots.
The 21st Century Act would separate institutions with savings and checking accounts, in other words FDIC-insured depository commercial banks, from investment and trading "banks" engaged in capital markets activities, most of which are on the border between speculation and manipulation.
The Big Banks On Trial, Again
You want to know why the entire global financial system almost collapsed in 2008?
There seems to be a simple answer. Not encouraging, but simple: The European Commission is exploring the possibility that there was a conspiracy among 13 of the world's major banks that colluded to keep the entire house of cards a secret.
In a press release Monday the European Commission announced it sent a "statement of objections" to Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAC), Barclays (BARC), Bear Stearns , BNP Paribas (BNP), Citigroup (C), Credit Suisse (CS), Deutsche Bank (DB), Goldman Sachs (GS), HSBC (HBC), JP Morgan (JPM), Morgan Stanley (MS), Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), UBS (UBS) as well as the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) and data service provider Markit.
This statement of objections is a formal step in EU investigations that charges the banks, the dealers' association, and the swaps pricing agent and index controller of "colluding to prevent exchanges from entering the credit derivatives business between 2006 and 2009."
The companies are then expected to answer the charges.
"If, after the parties have exercised their rights of defence, the Commission concludes that there is sufficient evidence of an infringement, it can issue a decision prohibiting the conduct and impose a fine of up to 10% of a company's annual worldwide turnover."
Part of the antitrust behavior of the accused, besides controlling pricing of derivatives to their exclusive benefit, would likely address their complicity in veiling the entire market to deflect fears of counterparty exposure, concentration of risks and leverage in the financial system.
Behind the Veil: Where the Elite Meet
Bill Gross: Why QE Will End Before the Fed Wants It To
Legendary bond guru Bill Gross doesn't think too highly of the Federal Reserve and Ben Bernanke's monetary policies.
"There comes a point when no matter how much blood is being pumped through the system as it is now, with zero-based policy rates and global quantitative easing programs, that the blood itself may become anemic, oxygen-starved, or even leukemic, with white blood cells destroying more productive red cell counterparts," Gross writes in his June investment outlook titled Wounded Heart.
Gross believes that QE, which he describes akin to a bad dose of chemotherapy, will end later this year but not because of a suddenly strengthening economy.
Do We Really Need the Federal Reserve System?
Abolishing the Federal Reserve System might seem like a drastic idea, but not when you get the full story...
You see, Congress created the U.S. Federal Reserve System to restore public confidence, provide the banking system a source of liquidity that would prevent its collapse and protect the public against inflation.
A century later, the banking system is so big its risks dwarf the Fed's liquidity capacity, and what cost a buck back then now will set you back $21.
That's why we asked Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald to explain how the Federal Reserve System actually helps a country's economy.
Most importantly, we wanted to know if the United States - or any country - even needs the Fed anymore.
Why Ben Bernanke's Market Manipulation is So Brilliant
Nothing lasts forever, apparently not even quantitative easing.
On Wednesday, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke threatened to take away the massive punch bowl that's been spiked with easy money juice.
There's no set timetable, but maybe there is. It's hard to interpret Fedspeak.
So maybe they'll start paring back their $85 billion a month buying spree, or maybe they'll jack it up, which is what Benny said only a few sessions ago.
What the heck is he doing? What are they doing? And who are "they" anyway?
Here's the deal...
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7 Reasons Not to Trust the Bernanke Testimony to Congress
As usual, the markets were hanging on every word of the Bernanke testimony to Congress today (Wednesday).
By now, everyone should know better.
In the years that U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has been a member of the Fed - both as a member of the Board of Governors from 2002 to 2005, and in his two terms as chairman beginning in 2006 - he has been stupendously wrong time and time again.
Bernanke gave the markets what they wanted by hinting that his monetary easing policies won't change any time soon, pushing both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index up more than 0.5% in midday trading.
It's Enough to Make Your Blood Boil
Here are two items that will upset you...
First, back in February, Attorney General Eric Holder christened the unofficial official doctrine of "Too Big to Jail."
He told Congress, "The size of some of these institutions [TBTF banks] becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if we do prosecute - if we do bring a criminal charge - it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy."
Of course, it was only the christening of another neat little name.
What You Absolutely Need to Know About Money (Part 8)
It all starts with the Arab oil embargo of 1973-74.
The Arab members of OPEC proclaimed an oil embargo to punish the U.S. for aiding Israel. This action quadrupled the price of oil, roiling commodity markets, equities, bonds, and foreign exchange markets.
Energy prices soared. Speculation in oil exploration and production became feverish.
There was money everywhere.
Oil exporters in the Arab states were depositing their windfall "petrodollars" into big U.S. banks, who were in turn lending the money out as fast as they could.
What You Absolutely Need to Know About Money (Part 7)
By the start of the 1960s, banking in America was in a state of flux.
Boundaries were being blurred - especially those separating "commercial banks" and "investment banks" under Depression-era Glass-Steagall parameters. The banking landscape was shifting. In fact, it was about to go volcanic.
The Truman Administration had championed the break-up of bank cartel arrangements, whereby a powerful coterie of commercial-bank bond underwriters controlled how corporations financed debt and who got to distribute bond offerings. Subsequent regulatory changes (requiring bidding for underwriting assignments) broke up the "Gentleman Bankers Code," which had been code for cartel.