Too Big to Fail
This week, the financial media has been up in arms about the record $13 billion fine levied on JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) for its connection with mortgage-backed securities.
While some voices have called for Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jamie Dimon's departure from the bank, defendants have stated that JPM was a victim of government pressures to purchase Washington Mutual and Bear Stearns in 2008. Both acquired companies were responsible for 80% of the liabilities within this settlement.The scary thing is, that monster fine is just a tiny hint of what's been going wrong with Wall Street...
Bank of America and JPMorgan, Oh How Illegal Activity Pays
What a surprise. The big banks are not playing by the rules -- the rule of law, that is.
The Justice Department announced that it is pursuing a civil lawsuit against Bank of America on the grounds that the bank lied about the quality of the mortgages underlying its mortgage-backed securities (MBS) prior to the housing collapse and financial crisis. The Justice Department is still on a high from its successful civil lawsuit against Goldman Sachs Group Inc.'s (NYSE:GS) mid-level toxic securities shill, Fabrice Tourre.
The charges allege out-and-out fraud in Bank of America's soup-to-nuts loan origination and securitization of mortgages. Loans, bad from the start, were knowingly bundled and securitized into trade-able MBS, unbeknownst to buyers.
Here's Proof a New Glass-Steagall Act Could Rein in the Big Banks
The Too-Big-to-Fail banks have a notorious track record of avoiding, evading or eliminating nearly all of Washington's attempts to bring them to heel.
So skeptics can be forgiven for thinking that the recently proposed new Glass-Steagall Act won't change anything on Wall Street.
As the moniker "Too-Big-to Fail" implies, such banks are not easy to push around.
"No bank will ever get out of a profitable line of business, unless they're forced to, or there's a huge loss that threatens the perception of the banks' risk management, or some scandal forces a mea culpa and an exit," said Money Morning Capital Wave Strategist Shah Gilani, who as a former hedge fund trader understands how Wall Street thinks.
Yet the Too-Big-to-Fail banks have recently pulled back in one area - physical commodities trading - as a result of regulatory pressure from several directions.
Senators Move to Create 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act
Warren, John McCain (R-Ariz.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), and Angus Kin (I-Maine) introduced legislation that would again separate bank's traditional activities (like deposits currently backed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.) from riskier activities like investment banking, insurance underwriting, swap dealing, and hedge funds.
Glass-Steagall was repealed by Congress back in 1999.
When the news broke of Warren’s determined attempt to bring back Glass-Steagall last week, it covered front pages across the country and instigated a firestorm of commentary on the future of the U.S. economy.
The problem, of course, is the ability to cut through the hype and understand if financial reform is necessary to fix the U.S. economy.
Rarely do I find myself championing regulatory efforts by the Federal Government, but the financial sector is an entirely different beast from energy, agriculture, and other resource sectors.
But reinstituting key elements of the Glass-Steagall Act is just one step on a long return to sanity for the economy.
A Simple, Scary Way to Neuter Goldman Sachs and FriendsÂ
TBTF is the acronym for "too big to fail."
It's the crazy notion that certain banks are so large and systematically important (which really means so threatening to financial systems) that they must be kept alive by the government, because their failure would wreak havoc on the economy.
How will they be saved from their own greed? And how will we be saved from their greed so we can kneel at their altars another day?
Central banks and governments, who are not as powerful as central banks, will backstop them with printed paper and taxpayer blood. That's how they'll be saved, grow bigger, and one day rule the world.
Oh, that already happened... never mind
Taipan Daily: Could Continent-Wide Bank Runs Collapse the Eurozone?
The eurozone's woes are giving us a preview of what could eventually happen in the United States (but not before Europe is engulfed first). As fears of sovereign debt crisis mount, the debt "contagion" spreads. It is not just Greece that has investors afraid, but Portugal. And Spain... and Italy... and so on.
The problem is classic, and long ago highlighted by Austrian economics. Building up a lot of debt, to make a slightly crass analogy, is like putting on a bunch of weight. It's hard work getting the debt off - the same as it is taking weight off.
The way to lose weight is to eat right and exercise. The way to get out of debt is to cut back on spending and increase productivity.
Financial Reform: Three Ways to Fix Wall Street
The financial-reform bill introduced by U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, D-CT, seems likely to pass both houses without all that much alteration.
And that should immediately raise our suspicions. After all, the U.S. financial-services business has a very effective lobby, so if there isn't huge opposition to the legislation, it probably won't achieve all that much.
It won't fix Wall Street.
But there's another issue here: It's also not clear to me that we know just what we want the financial-reform initiative to achieve. By that, I mean: What banking-sector reforms would we implement in an ideal world, to reduce the danger from the sector while preserving the essentials of a free market?
To see Martin Hutchinson's blueprint for fixing Wall Street, please read on...
How to Stop Greedy Banks From Killing U.S. Capitalism
A white paper on bank reform delivered to Congress and regulators last week by the Association of Mortgage Investors - the powerful lobbying group that represents huge institutional investors - warns that if the securitization market isn't radically reformed "it will be difficult if not impossible for capital market investors to return to funding economic activity."
What the report doesn't say is that banks - standing in the way of bank reform - don't want a simplified, standardized, and transparent securitization market, because that would revitalize free-market disciplines and undermine the control they exercise over the credit markets.
Right now, the stock market is discounting news about tight credit conditions. But analysts worry about an increasing disconnect between rallying stock prices and the hoped-for rebounds in consumer-driven growth and the U.S. housing market - both of which are struggling with a lack of access to credit. This disconnect is fostering fears of a stock-market correction.
Investors need to understand exactly what's at stake here. And they need to know how to protect themselves and - even more important - how to profit from the volatile-but-powerful capital waves that will result from this fundamental battle over our future.
To understand the escalating risk â€“ and strategies needed to protect the free markets â€“ please read on...
Senate's Plan for Financial Reform Promises Nothing But Political Gridlock
U.S. senators Christopher Dodd, D-CT, and Bob Corker, R-TN, have fashioned a compromise on stalled banking regulation that straddles divisions over establishing a financial consumer protection agency and addresses unwinding too-big-to-fail firms.
The deal deftly divides lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in the Senate, as well as in the House of Representatives, which passed its plan for financial reform in December.
By engineering gridlock in the nation's capitol, lawmakers seem determined to stall any meaningful overhaul of financial-markets regulation. But rather than counting on backsliding into the status quo to grease the wheels of economic recovery, the overhang of unresolved and ineffectual legislation threatens long-term investor confidence and desperately needed public protections.
To read more about the deal's shortcomings, please continue below...
How "Hot Money" is Wrecking the U.S. Banking System…
When the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) released its list of "problem banks" this week, 702 institutions holding $402.8 billion in assets were found to be in trouble.
That's the longest list in 17 years, and it's only going to get worse. In fact, regulators are expecting the number of troubled lenders to grow at an accelerating rate this year. They claim that an uptick in commercial-real-estate losses will serve as the key culprit
But the real culprit - the one that regulators won't talk about publicly - is the funding scheme banks employ to load themselves up on speculative loans. T his scheme - far removed from most investor radar screens - has played a major role in the banking sector's growing woes, and will continue to contribute heavily to bank failures in years to come.
- The centerpiece to this risky strategy is a funding vehicle known officially as a "brokered deposit." However, due to the narcotic-like effects brokered deposits can have on a bank's balance sheet, industry insiders have adopted a more-appropriate moniker - referring to them as "hot money."