Banking Bailout News Articles
Excerpts of Key Banking Bailout News Articles in Major Media
Below are many highly revealing excerpts of important bank bailout news articles from the mainstream media suggesting a cover-up.
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Voices of Power: Elizabeth Warren
2009-10-08, Washington Post
LOIS ROMANO: Welcome, Elizabeth Warren, Chairman of the Congressional Oversight Committee that is tasked with scrutinizing how the Treasury Department has spent $700 billion to shore up our failing financial institutions. There's a wonderful moment [in the movie "Capitalism: a Love Story"] when [Michael Moore] asks you where the $700 billion is, and you look at him and you say, "I don't know." So the question is: why don't you know? WARREN: Well, we don't know where the $700 billion is because the system was initially designed to make sure that we didn't know. When Secretary Paulson first put this money out into the banks, he didn't ask "what are you going to do with it?" He didn't put any restrictions on it. He didn't put any tabs on where it was going to go; in other words, he didn't ask. And if you don't ask, no one tells. And so we have a system that originally put more than $200 billion into the financial institutions basically saying just take it. ROMANO: And that money is gone. You have not been able to track where that money is? WARREN: Well, we don't know where the money went from the financial institutions. The big conversation at the time was that the credit markets are frozen; if we put money into the financial institutions, they will start lending it because that's what they do when they receive money. It was called the "Healthy Banks Program." Secretary Paulson kept saying, over and over, these are investments in healthy financial institutions, no one needs any subsidy, that [the] money was going to be used in lending to small businesses and consumers and kind of get our whole credit market going again. That didn't happen.
Note: To watch a powerfully revealing, five-minute video showing the Inspector General of the Federal Reserve testifying that she doesn't know where trillions of dollars are, click here. For a comprehensive overview of the realities underlying the government's bailout of the biggest financial institutions, click here.
Interview: Brooksley Born
2009-08-28, PBS Frontline
As head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission [CFTC], Brooksley Born became alarmed by the lack of oversight of the secretive, multitrillion-dollar over-the-counter derivatives market. Her attempts to regulate derivatives ran into fierce resistance from then-Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, then-Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and then-Deputy Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, who prevailed upon Congress to stop Born and limit future regulation. PBS: Let's start with September 2008 as we all sat there and watched the economy melting down. Born: It was like my worst nightmare coming true. I had had enormous concerns about the over-the-counter derivatives [OTC] market ... for a number of years. The market was totally opaque. Nobody really knew what was going on. And then it became obvious as Lehman Brothers failed, as AIG suddenly appeared to be on the brink of tremendous defaults and turned out [to have been a major derivatives] dealer. PBS: How did it happen? Born: It happened because there was no oversight of a very, very big, dynamic, growing market. I would never say derivatives should be banned or forbidden. The problem is that they can be extremely misused. Traditionally, government has had to protect the public interest by overseeing the marketplace and keeping the extreme behavior under some check. All other financial markets have some kind of government oversight protecting the public interest. [But] not this one. The over-the-counter derivatives dealers business ... was something like 40 percent of the profits of many of these big banks as recently as a couple of years ago. PBS: We're the losers. Who were the winners? Born: Our largest banks. It was short-term benefit for a few major institutions at the expense of all the people who have lost their jobs, who have lost their retirement savings, who have lost their homes.
Note: Don't miss this entire, astonishing interview with Born, who practiced derivatives law for 20 years before being appointed head of the CFTC. She lays bare the level of deceit, greed, and corruption by both bankers and some of the politicians who protect them.
Fed Would Be Shut Down If It Were Audited, Expert Says
2009-06-10, CNBC News
The Federal Reserve's balance sheet is so out of whack that the central bank would be shut down if subjected to a conventional audit, Jim Grant, editor of Grant's Interest Rate Observer, told CNBC. With $45 billion in capital and $2.1 trillion in assets, the central bank would not withstand the scrutiny normally afforded other institutions, Grant said. "If the Fed examiners were set upon the Fed's own documents ... to pass judgment on the Fed's capacity to survive the difficulties it faces in credit, it would shut this institution down," he said. "The Fed is undercapitalized in a way that Citicorp is undercapitalized." Grant said he would support legislation currently making its way through Congress calling for an audit of the Fed. Moreover, he criticized the way the Fed has managed the financial crisis, saying the central bank's target rate should not be around zero. "I think zero is the wrong rate for almost any economy," Grant said, adding the Fed has "embarked on a vast experiment in moral hazard. Interest rates are the traffic signals in a market economy, and everything's green. ... You have to wonder whether these interest rates are the right clearing rate or rather they are the imposition of a central bank."
Amid a disparity between analysts predicting there will be no rate hikes soon and the fed funds futures indicating tightening by the end of the year, Grant said he thinks the Fed indeed will begin raising rates as inflation creeps into the picture. Fed funds futures have fully priced in as much as a half-point rise in the target rate from its current range of zero to 0.25 percent. "If the hairs on the back of your neck stand up when there's too much unanimity of opinion, then one begins to worry about this," he said. "The Fed proverbially has been late."
Note: For an astonishing five-minute video clip of a Congressional hearing where the Inspector General of the Fed acknowledges she knows almost nothing about trillions of dollars missing from the Fed, click here. For many more important reports shedding light on the hidden realities of the economic crisis, click here.
JPMorgan's Dangerous Derivatives
Gillian Tett [is the author of] Fool's Gold: How the Bold Dream of a Small Tribe at J.P. Morgan Was Corrupted by Wall Street Greed and Unleashed a Catastrophe. Tett is a respected business journalist at the Financial Times. Tett successfully pieces together the colorful backstory of the bank's work to win acceptance in the market for its brainchild, turning credit derivatives "from a cottage industry into a mass-production business." With the benefit of hindsight, we know that while these inventions were intended to control risk, they amplified it instead. This novel idea turned noxious when applied broadly to residential mortgages, a game that the rest of Wall Street later entered into with gusto. We learn in deep detail about not only how collateralized debt obligations are assembled but also their many iterations. Perhaps it's noteworthy that Tett's book begins when JPMorgan had the face-value equivalent of $1.7 trillion in derivatives on its books. Today that number has jumped to a mind-boggling $87 trillion. Part of that portfolio includes almost $8.4 trillion in credit derivatives, more than Bank of America's (BAC), Citi's, and Goldman Sachs' (GS) holdings combined.
Note: So JP Morgan has $87 trillion in derivatives, a mass market it helped to create. That is greater than the GDP for the entire world! To verify this, click here. For a New York Times review of this revealing book, click here.
Fed Shrouding $2 Trillion in Bank Loans in ‘Secrecy,’ Suit Says
2009-04-16, Bloomberg News
U.S. taxpayers need to know the risks behind the Federal Reserve’s $2 trillion in lending to financial institutions because the public is now an “involuntary investor” in the nation’s banks, according to a court filing by Bloomberg LP. The Fed refuses to name the borrowers, the amounts of loans or assets banks put up as collateral under 11 programs, arguing that doing so might set off a run by depositors and unsettle shareholders. The largest U.S. banks have tapped more than $125 billion in government aid under the Troubled Asset Relief Program in the past seven months. Assets, including loans and securities, on the Fed balance sheet totaled $2.09 trillion as of April 9. Banks oppose any release of information because that might signal weakness and spur short-selling or a run by depositors, the Fed argued in its March 4 response. The release of the information “can fuel market speculation and rumors,” including a drop in stock price and a run on the bank, the Fed said. Bloomberg replied yesterday that “these speculative injuries relate only to the reactions of customers, shareholders and other members of the public, not to competitors’ use of the borrowers’ proprietary information to their advantage,” the exception to disclosure under the FOIA law. Government loans, spending or guarantees to rescue the U.S. financial system total more than $12.8 trillion since the international credit crisis began in August 2007, according to data compiled by Bloomberg as of March 31. The total includes about $2 trillion on the Fed’s balance sheet.
Note: For an extensive archive of key reports on the hidden realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.
‘No-Risk’ Insurance at F.D.I.C.
2009-04-07, New York Times
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation was set up 76 years ago with the important but simple job of insuring bank deposits. Now, because of what could politely be called mission creep, it’s elbowing its way into the middle of the financial mess as an enabler of enormous leverage. In the fine print of Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner’s plan to lend as much as $1 trillion to private investors to help them buy toxic assets from our nation’s banks, you’ll find some details of how the F.D.I.C is trying to stabilize the system by adding more risk, not less, to the system. It’s going to be insuring 85 percent of the debt, provided by the Treasury, that private investors will use to subsidize their acquisitions of toxic assets. These loans, while controversial, were given a warm welcome by the market when they were first announced. And why not? The terms are hard to beat. They are, for example, “nonrecourse,” which means that if an investor loses money, he owes taxpayers nothing. It’s the closest thing to risk-free investing — with leverage! — around. But, as we’ve learned the hard way these last couple of years, risk-free investing is an oxymoron. So where did the risk go this time? To the F.D.I.C., and ultimately, to us taxpayers. A close reading of the F.D.I.C.’s statute suggests the agency is using a unique — some might call it plain wrong — reading of its own rule book to accomplish this high-wire act. Somehow, in the name of solving the financial crisis, the F.D.I.C. has seemingly been given a blank check, with virtually no oversight by Congress.
Note: For a powerfully revealing archive of reports from reliable sources on the hidden realities of the financial bailout, click here.
Fed Refuses to Disclose Recipients of $2 Trillion
2008-12-12, Bloomberg News
The Federal Reserve refused a request by Bloomberg News to disclose the recipients of more than $2 trillion of emergency loans from U.S. taxpayers and the assets the central bank is accepting as collateral. Bloomberg filed suit Nov. 7 under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act requesting details about the terms of 11 Fed lending programs, most created during the deepest financial crisis since the Great Depression. The Fed responded Dec. 8, saying it’s allowed to withhold internal memos as well as information about trade secrets and commercial information. “If they told us what they held, we would know the potential losses that the government may take and that’s what they don’t want us to know,” said Carlos Mendez, a senior managing director at New York-based ICP Capital LLC. The Fed stepped into a rescue role that was the original purpose of the Treasury’s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. The central bank loans don’t have the oversight safeguards that Congress imposed upon the TARP. Total Fed lending exceeded $2 trillion for the first time Nov. 6. It rose by 138 percent, or $1.23 trillion, in the 12 weeks since Sept. 14, when central bank governors relaxed collateral standards to accept securities that weren’t rated AAA. “There has to be something they can tell the public because we have a right to know what they are doing,” said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Arlington, Virginia-based Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
Financial Bailout Balloons to the Trillions
2008-11-25, ABC News
The government's financial bailout will be the most expensive single expenditure in American history, potentially costing around $7.5 trillion -- or half the value of all the goods and services produced in the United States last year. In comparison, the total U.S. cost of World War II adjusted for inflation was $3.6 trillion. The bailout will cost more than the total combined costs in today's dollars of the Marshall Plan, the Louisiana Purchase, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the entire historical budget of NASA, including the moon landing, according to data compiled by Bianco Research. It remains to be seen whether the government's multipronged approach to bail out banks, stimulate spending and buy up mortgages will revive the economy, but as the tab continues to grow so does concern over where the government will find the money. Monday the government guaranteed an additional $306 billion to bail out Citigroup, and today Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson pledged $800 billion to make credit more available to consumers and small businesses, and to buy up mortgages from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Congress last month allocated $700 billion for an emergency bailout of some of Wall Street's most storied firms by purchasing their troubled assets. The funds allocated through the Troubled Assets Relief Program are but a small part of the government's overall bailout spending. Bailout programs also include a Federal Reserve plan to buy as much as $2.4 trillion in short-term notes called commercial paper that began Oct. 27, and an FDIC plan to spend $1.4 trillion to guarantee bank-to-bank loans that commenced Oct. 14, according to Bloomberg News, which first compiled the total cost of the bailout.
Note: $7.5 trillion amounts to about $25,000 for every person in the U.S. What's going on here? For many revealing reports on the realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.
Paulson makes it clear: He's in charge
2008-11-13, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
Henry Paulson's speech Wednesday made it pretty clear: The Treasury secretary has seized control of the financial system. "He is absolutely the most powerful person in the country. Maybe the world," says Wall Street accounting expert Robert Willens. The most telling line in his speech came when Paulson was explaining why he did a 180-degree turn with money approved by Congress under the $700 billion bailout bill. Instead of using it to buy troubled mortgage assets from banks, as clearly envisioned, he scrapped that idea and used it to make equity investments in banks. "In consultation with the Federal Reserve, I determined that the most timely, effective step to improve credit market conditions was to strengthen bank balance sheets quickly through direct purchases of equity in banks," he said. If Paulson bothered consulting with President Bush, he didn't mention it. In fact, he didn't even mention the president until the tail end of his speech, when he talked about the global summit Bush is hosting this weekend. I can understand why Paulson wants to distance himself from an unpopular president, especially one who has little facility for complex financial matters. But Bush is [the] president and even President-elect Barack Obama knows there can be only one president at a time. And his last name is not Paulson. In September, when Paulson asked for a $700 billion blank check from Congress to fix the financial markets, he got a lot of blowback. By the time Congress was done with his proposal, it had grown from 2 1/2 pages to more than 450. Yet it now appears that Paulson got the blank check he wanted.
Note: Why doesn't Congress have some say in what is done with this $700 billion? That's over $3,000 for every taxpayer in the U.S. which is being spent with practically no accountability. Is this what democracy looks like? For many key articles revealing the hidden realities of the bailout, click here.
Government Rescue Spending: Clear or Cloudy?
2008-11-11, ABC News
After weeks of sometimes frenzied efforts by the federal government to rescue the financial system ... critics say there are many questions but few answers about the work performed by the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve. "The bailout, the Treasury, the Federal Reserve -- it's like a three-card monte game, you don't know where the money's coming from, you don't know who it's going to, and I think the public has every right to be outraged by this," said Bill Allison, a senior fellow at the Sunlight Foundation, a government transparency watchdog group. Gerald O'Driscoll, a former vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas ... said he worried that the failure of the government to provide more information about its rescue spending could signal corruption. "Nontransparency in government programs is always associated with corruption in other countries, so I don't see why it wouldn't be here," he said. Questions about transparency at the Federal Reserve, in particular, have prompted a lawsuit: Bloomberg L.P., which operates the news agency Bloomberg News, is suing the Fed for the release of information on its lending to private financial institutions. "We really don't know anything," Matthew Winkler, the editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News, told ABCNews.com. "All we know is something close to 2 trillion is being used and that money is the taxpayers'. ... We don't know whom it's being lent to and for what purpose because we can't see it because it isn't disclosed."
Note: For many revealing and reliable reports on the Wall Street bailout, click here.
Warning: King Henry's bailout like Rummy's Iraq
2008-11-10, MarketWatch (A Wall Street Journal Digital Network Website)
So you thought Barack Obama's victory signaled the death of Reaganomics? Wrong, wrong: Reaganomics is very much alive. In a subtle, bloodless coup, the Reaganomics ideology magically pulled victory out of the jaws of defeat in the meltdown. The magic happened fast and quietly, in the shadows, while you were in a trance, distracted by the election drama. Recently Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, framed the issue perfectly: "Has the Treasury partially nationalized the private banks, as we have been told? Or is it the other way around?" The question was rhetorical, the answer painfully clear. In a few weeks Wall Street did the old bait and switch, emerging from an economic and market disaster with new powers, in total control of America. And thanks to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's brilliant bailout coup, Reaganomics is now the new "sleeper cell" quietly hidden inside the Obama White House and America's Treasury, where it will be for a long time to come. Listen closely folks: You and your government are and will continue being conned out of trillions. Klein further exposed this insanity in a recent Rolling Stone article, "The New Trough: The Wall Street bailout looks a lot like Iraq, a 'free-fraud zone' where private contractors cash in on the mess they helped create." Paulson's privatization, outsourcing and management of the $700 billion bailout has the exact same Reaganomics ideological, strategic and deceptive footprints that President George W. Bush and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld used to privatize, outsource and mismanage the costly Iraq War blunder.
Note: For the powerfully revealing article by Naomi Klein mentioned in the article above, click here. Speaking on Tulsa Oklahoma’s 1170 KFAQ, Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma (Republican) has revealed that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson was the source of the threat of martial law in the US if the $700 billion bailout bill was not passed that was exposed on the House floor by Rep. Brad Sherman. For many key articles revealing the hidden realities of the bailout, click here.
White House defends money for banks
2008-10-30, Washington Post
Under fire from Democrats and Republicans alike, the White House ... defended giving billions of bailout dollars to banks that plan to reward shareholders and executives -- or even buy other banks. Allowing banks to engage in such normal business activities actually could help loosen lending and revive the sagging economy, said Ed Lazear, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. He said the administration would not impose any conditions on banks beyond those required when Congress created the bailout program, which authorized the government to buy stock in financial institutions. Lazear was put before the cameras in the White House briefing room amid a rising chorus of complaints from lawmakers about the latitude that banks will have when they receive bailout money from Washington. That bailout was originally sold by the administration as a plan for the government to purchase toxic mortgage-based assets from financial institutions, to get them off their books and inspire the resumption of normal lending. After passage, though, the administration decided the better course would be to devote $250 billion into buying ownership stakes in banks. With taxpayers' money flowing into their vaults, banks are going ahead with paying dividends to shareholders, giving bonuses to top executives and acquiring competitors. Lawmakers are asking why banks with the money to do those things need taxpayer-funded help. The rescue legislation included some limits on executive compensation, considered weak by many. And while it does not allow institutions receiving the money to increase dividends, it does not prevent them from paying those dividends.
Note: For extensive coverage of continuing revelations about the Wall Street bailout, click here.
Bernanke Is Fighting the Last War
2008-10-18, Wall Street Journal
"Nothing," [famed economist] Anna Schwartz says, "seems to have quieted the fears of either the investors in the securities markets or the lenders and would-be borrowers in the credit market." The credit markets remain frozen, the stock market continues to get hammered, and deep recession now seems a certainty -- if not a reality already. [Recently, according to Schwarz, Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson has] shifted from trying to save the banking system to trying to save banks. These are not, Ms. Schwartz argues, the same thing. In fact, by keeping otherwise insolvent banks afloat, the Federal Reserve and the Treasury have actually prolonged the crisis. "They should not be recapitalizing firms that should be shut down." Rather, "firms that made wrong decisions should fail," she says bluntly. "You shouldn't rescue them. Everything works much better when wrong decisions are punished and good decisions make you rich." How did we get into this mess in the first place? As in the 1920s, the current "disturbance" started with a "mania." But manias always have a cause. "In every case, it was expansive monetary policy that generated the boom in an asset. The particular asset varied from one boom to another. But the basic underlying propagator was too-easy monetary policy and too-low interest ratest. And then of course if monetary policy tightens, the boom collapses." Today's crisis isn't a replay of the problem in the 1930s, but our central bankers have responded by using the tools they should have used then. They are fighting the last war. The result, she argues, has been failure.
Note: Anna Schwarz and Nobel-winner Milton Friedman authored A Monetary History of the United States. It's the definitive account of how misguided monetary policy turned the stock-market crash of 1929 into the Great Depression. The excellent article above mentions that Fed Reserve Chairman Bernanke once said "I would like to say to Milton and Anna: Regarding the Great Depression. You're right, we did it. We're very sorry. We won't do it again." Top bankers and their cronies have been aware of what causes the boom/bust cycle for over 100 years and taken full advantage of it. Try to find one top banker who lost significant money in any bust cycle.
Derivatives the new 'ticking bomb'
2008-03-10, MarketWatch (Part of the Wall Street Journal's digital network)
"In our view, however, derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction, carrying dangers that, while now latent, are potentially lethal." That warning was in [Warren] Buffett's 2002 letter to Berkshire shareholders. He saw a future that many others chose to ignore. Wall Street didn't listen to Buffett. Derivatives grew into a massive bubble, from about $100 trillion to $516 trillion by 2007. Despite Buffett's clear warnings, a massive new derivatives bubble is driving the domestic and global economies, a bubble that continues growing today parallel with the subprime-credit meltdown triggering a bear-recession. Data on the five-fold growth of derivatives to $516 trillion in five years comes from the most recent survey by the Bank of International Settlements, the world's clearinghouse for central banks in Basel, Switzerland. Keep in mind that while the $516 trillion "notional" value (maximum in case of a meltdown) of the deals is a good measure of the market's size, the 2007 BIS study notes that the $11 trillion "gross market values provides a more accurate measure of the scale of financial risk transfer taking place in derivatives markets." The fact is, derivatives have become the world's biggest "black market," exceeding the illicit traffic in stuff like arms, drugs, alcohol, gambling, cigarettes, stolen art and pirated movies. Why? Because like all black markets, derivatives are a perfect way of getting rich while avoiding taxes and government regulations. And in today's slowdown, plus a volatile global market, Wall Street knows derivatives remain a lucrative business.
Note: $516 trillion is equivalent to $75,000 for every man, woman, and child in the world! Do you think the financial industry is out of control? For lots more powerful, reliable information on major banking manipulations, click here. For a powerful analysis describing just how crazy things have gotten and giving some rays of hope by researcher David Wilcock, click here.
Bill Moyers talks with [NY Times reporter] David Cay Johnston about Free Lunch
2008-01-08, PBS Bill Moyers Journal
BILL MOYERS: Why do some of the most powerful and privileged people in the country get a free lunch you pay for? You'll find some of the answers [in]: Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill). The theme of the book as I read it is that not that the rich are getting richer but that they've got the government rigging the rules to help them do it. DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: That's exactly right. And they're doing it in a way that I think is very crucial for people to understand. They're doing it by taking from those with less to give to those with more. We gave $100 million dollars to Warren Buffett's company last year, a gift from the taxpayers. We make gifts all over the place to rich people. Donald Trump benefits from a tax specifically levied by the State of New Jersey for the poor. Part of the casino winnings tax in New Jersey is dedicated to help the poor. But $89 million of it is being diverted to subsidize Donald Trump's casino's building retail space. George Steinbrenner, like almost every owner of a major sports franchise, gets enormous public subsidies. The major sports franchises [make] 100 percent of their profits from subsidies. In fact, if it weren't for these subsidies, the baseball, football, hockey, and basketball enterprises as a whole would be losing hundreds of millions of dollars a year. George Bush owes almost his entire fortune to a tax increase that was funneled into his pocket and into the use of eminent domain laws to essentially legally cheat other people out of their land for less than it was worth to enrich him and his fellow investors.
Note: Watch part of this amazingly revealing interview online at this link. Johnston is a prolific writer with the NY Times; to see a list of his many articles there, click here. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on financial corruption, click here.
Fed knew about Libor rigging in 2008
2014-02-21, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
The US Federal Reserve knew about Libor rigging three years before the financial scandal exploded but did not take any firm action, documents have revealed. According to newly published transcripts of the central bank’s meetings in the run-up to and immediate aftermath of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, a senior Fed official first flagged the issue at a policy meeting in April 2008. William Dudley expressed fears that banks were being dishonest in the way they were calculating the London interbank offered rate – a global benchmark interest rate used as the basis for trillions of pounds of loans and financial contracts. Three years after his remarks, it emerged that traders at more than a dozen banks, including Lloyds, Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays, had routinely been trying to fix the official Libor rate in order to boost their own bonuses and profits. The transcript of the Fed’s April 2008 meeting raises questions about why the central bank did not move to properly tackle the scandal. There was no official regulator for Libor at the time, and officials at the US Federal Reserve tried to blame British authorities for allowing the benchmark interest rate to get out of control in the first place. The Fed declined to comment on the transcripts or why it had not taken firm action..
Note: For more on government collusion with the biggest banks, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Let Banks Fail Is Iceland Mantra as 2% Joblessness in Sight
2014-01-27, Washington Post/Bloomberg News
Iceland let its banks fail in 2008 because they proved too big to save. Now, the island is finding crisis-management decisions made half a decade ago have put it on a trajectory that’s turned 2 percent unemployment into a realistic goal. While the euro area grapples with record joblessness, led by more than 25 percent in Greece and Spain, only about 4 percent of Iceland’s labor force is without work. Prime Minister Sigmundur D. Gunnlaugsson says even that’s too high. The island’s sudden economic meltdown in October 2008 made international headlines as a debt-fueled banking boom ended in a matter of weeks when funding markets froze. Policy makers overseeing the $14 billion economy refused to back the banks, which subsequently defaulted on $85 billion. The government’s decision to protect state finances left it with the means to continue social support programs that shielded Icelanders from penury during the worst financial crisis in six decades. Of creditor claims against the banks, Gunnlaugsson says “this is not public debt and never will be.” Successive Icelandic governments have forced banks to write off mortgage debts to help households. The government’s 2014 budget sets aside about 43 percent of its spending for the Welfare Ministry, a level that is largely unchanged since before the crisis. Inflation, which peaked at 19 percent in January 2009, ... was 4.2 percent in December. To support households, Gunnlaugsson in November unveiled a plan to provide as much as 7 percent of gross domestic product in mortgage debt relief. The government intends to finance the plan, which the OECD has criticized as being too blunt, partly by raising taxes on banks.
Note: Why is Iceland's major success in letting banks fail getting so little press coverage? For a possible answer, click here. For more on government responses to the banking crisis and their impacts on people, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
China's princelings storing riches in Caribbean offshore haven
2014-01-21, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
More than a dozen family members of China's top political and military leaders are making use of offshore companies based in the British Virgin Islands, leaked financial documents reveal. The brother-in-law of China's current president, Xi Jinping, as well as the son and son-in-law of former premier Wen Jiabao are among the political relations making use of the offshore havens, financial records show. The documents also disclose the central role of major Western banks and accountancy firms ... in the offshore world, acting as middlemen in the establishing of companies. The Hong Kong office of Credit Suisse, for example, established the BVI company Trend Gold Consultants for Wen Yunsong, the son of Wen Jiabao, during his father's premiership — while PwC and UBS performed similar services for hundreds of other wealthy Chinese individuals. The disclosure of China's use of secretive financial structures is the latest revelation from "Offshore Secrets", a two-year reporting effort led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which obtained more than 200 gigabytes of leaked financial data from two companies in the British Virgin Islands, and shared the information with the Guardian and other international news outlets. In all, the ICIJ data reveals more than 21,000 clients from mainland China and Hong Kong have made use of offshore havens in the Caribbean. Between $1tn and $4tn in untraced assets have left China since 2000, according to estimates.
Note: Read the ICIJ's full report of the latest offshore links. For more on financial corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
EU fines banks record $2.3B over Libor
The European Union has levied a record antitrust fine of €1.71 billion ($2.3 billion) on six European and U.S. banks and brokers for rigging benchmark interest rates. Deutsche Bank was hit with the single biggest penalty of €725.4 million for participating in illegal cartels to manipulate the Euro Interbank Offered Rate, or Euribor, and London interbank offered rate, or Libor. "What is shocking about the Libor and Euribor scandals is ... the collusion between banks who are supposed to be competing with each other," said Joaquin Almunia, Europe's top antitrust official. Other banks fined [were] Societe Generale (€446 million), Royal Bank of Scotland (€391 million), JP Morgan (€79.9 million) and Citigroup (€70 million). U.K.-based broker RP Martin was fined €247,000 for facilitating one infringement. EU investigators said the Euribor cartel operated for nearly three years between 2005 and 2008, as traders discussed submissions used to calculate the benchmark rate, and compared trading and pricing strategies. They also discovered illegal collusion in the setting of Libor in Japanese yen between 2007 and 2010. UBS and Barclays, [which] have already been fined by regulators in the U.K. and U.S. for Libor rigging, were spared further punishment because they cooperated with the European Commission investigation. They dodged new fines of €2.5 billion and €690 million respectively. The scandal broke in the middle of 2012 when Barclays admitted trying to manipulate Libor, which together with related rates is used to price trillions of dollars of financial products around the world.
Note: Notice that no one is going to jail and no one is being personally fined for these incredibly outrageous manipulations. For an analysis that argues the "record fines" are really just a "slap on the wrist" for the big banks, click here. For more on financial corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
JPMorgan settlement is a payout to victims
2013-11-20, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
When the fires from the 2007-08 financial crisis were still being fought, JPMorgan Chase looked like a winner. Not only was JPMorgan Chase able to scoop up former rivals Washington Mutual and Bear Stearns for bargain basement prices, but its stock value shot up by nearly 31 percent over the past 4 1/2 years. But this year has been a little less kind to JPMorgan Chase. On [November 20) JPMorgan Chase agreed to a $13 billion settlement with the federal government over selling toxic mortgage investments. It also admitted to wrongdoing in knowingly peddling the instruments. Both settlements are for the "incomplete information" JPMorgan Chase gave to the pension funds for their purchases of toxic securities during the years 2004 to 2008. Even for a colossus such as JPMorgan Chase, $13 billion is a lot of money - about half of its annual profit. Forcing JPMorgan to admit wrongdoing - a rare concession - may open the door to more headaches for the company, especially because the government is continuing a criminal probe into its mortgage prices. The scale of the devastation is still so enormous that the only question left for the Justice Department to answer is why no one from any of the big banks has yet to go to jail. Wall Street's wrongdoing was about more than a dollar cost - it was about the widespread human suffering that remains with us today. Jail time would be more than appropriate, but so far the banks have been able to pay their way out of it.
Note: Because JP Morgan Chase can write off $11 billion of the fine as tax deductible, the real fine is actually reduced by $4 billion to about $7 billion, just one-third of Chase's $21 billion profit in the year 2012. For more on financial fraud, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.