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Bank Says Deposits are Safe
Security Bank says it's been hit so hard by falling real-estate values that its accountants aren't sure it can continue "as a going concern."
The Macon-based company made that statement in a report filed Monday with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission.
But Thursday, the bank released a statement saying that customers' deposits are safe and that it's working to get its financial problems under control.
The statement released by spokesman Tom Woodbery said: "Our bank and other banks face unprecedented market conditions that are having a major impact on the financial industry. "Security Bank customers' deposits are completely safe and carry a minimum of $250,000 in FDIC insurance protection. "The bank is focused on serving our customers while we work to ensure long-term viability. Our continuing strategy is to enhance capital, maintain liquidity, reduce problem loans and control expenses."
Earlier this week, the bank's report to the SEC said more than half of its loans are for land, land acquisition and development and construction -- which it says are generally more risky than other types of loans. At the end of 2008, the report says, 20 percent of those loans were "non-performing" -- in default or close to default.
"If economic conditions and real estate markets do not improve, our losses will likely exceed our reserves," company officials wrote in the SEC report.
The company said it lost $254 million in net income last year after making more than $23 million in 2006 and more than $6 million in 2007.
The report said the company has applied for federal TARP bailout funds, but isn't sure that it will get them.
Security Bank Corporation, based at 4219 Forsyth Road, is parent company to Security Bank companies in Bibb, Houston and Jones counties and in the Atlanta area. It also recently opened branches in Brunswick and St. Simon's.
More at Link...
East European Rates Head to Record Lows as Central Banks Ignore Currencies
March 20 (Bloomberg) -- Eastern Europe’s key central banks will cut interest rates to record lows this year, opting to counter the deepest recession since the fall of communism instead of defending weak currencies, Bloomberg surveys show.
Poland’s benchmark rate will fall to 3 percent by year-end from 4 percent, according to forecasts gathered by Bloomberg. The Czech key rate will drop to 1.5 percent from 1.75 percent and Hungary’s will fall to 7 percent, from 9.5 percent.
Banks in Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Romania are being forced to tear up monetary policy rulebooks as the worst economic decline since the end of communist rule engulfs the region. They have to balance between economies buckling under the weight of the crisis and currencies plunging as investors flee emerging markets.
“You’ve got to ask yourself in the current climate whether or not the conventional response of hiking interest rates is going to achieve anything,” said Neil Shearing, an economist at Capital Economics in London. “Interest rates are not what’s driving currencies at the moment. It’s all about fear and panic. They can’t afford not to cut rates at this stage.”
Regional central bankers are meeting in Budapest today to discuss “matters of mutual interest.” Czech, Hungarian and Polish monetary policy makers will make rate decisions next week, with Romania following on March 31.
Originally posted by redhatty
Let's keep everyone focused on AIG - what is happening behind the scenes that we are missing?
Battle Of Lawyers!
This promises to get amusing; two headlines:
"Countrywide sues AIG unit over its failure to cover loan losses"
"AIG Sues Countrywide for Misrepresenting Mortgages"
You can't make stuff like this up; here's a few choice quotes from both stories (you match 'em!)
Eggert added, "Here Countrywide displays a huge amount of chutzpah because it's suing because its loans went bad, and it claims United Guaranty should have done better underwriting, when it's the failing of underwriting by loan originators that got us into this stuff."
United Guaranty said in the complaint that it had reviewed loan files that showed that most mortgages covered by 11 policies for asset-backed securities were either underwritten in violation of Countrywide’s own guidelines or contained defects, such as missing documents, misrepresented credit scores or false social security numbers.
You just have to chuckle at the "ready fire AIM!" chutzpa here.
Never mind the obvious appearance of bribery found in this nugget:
Countrywide was also a focus of attention Thursday in Washington, where Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) released a 63-page report detailing the company's practice of giving discounted mortgages to influential people, particularly key lawmakers, staffers and other government officials.
No really? I wrote about this when it first came to light. You don't think that Countrywide was perhaps "buying" a little willful blindness, do you?
There's nothing particularly wrong with issuing no-documentation "I don't care about credit quality" loans, provided you don't lie about what you're doing - to anyone! That is, if investors are willing to buy unrated paper (you can't rate a loan without knowledge of what you underwrote, and if the answer is "I didn't" then it is NOT POSSIBLE to rate the deal) with full knowledge that someone working at WalMart may have claimed a $300,000 income, that's fine. The free market will dole out reward (or harm) as it should.
But when you have people claiming that these loans were "underwritten" when in fact no such thing happened - there were either blanks on the forms or worse, blatant falsehoods, that's a major problem and people will get defrauded - that is, ripped off - and they did.
Quite some time ago I said that I wished there was a way to go long lawyers, because this entire mess would be the lawyer's full employment act for the next decade.
It appears that we're just getting started in this regard.
A MetLife study released last week found that 50% of Americans said they have only a one-month cushion -- roughly two paychecks -- or less before they would be unable to fully meet their financial obligations if they were to lose their jobs. More disturbing is that 28% said they could not make ends meet for longer than two weeks without their jobs.
And it's not just low-income earners who would find themselves financially challenged. Twenty-nine percent of those making $100,000 or more a year said they would have trouble paying the bills after more than a month of unemployment.
America's Research Group found that nearly 57% of the consumers it polled said they would spend less this year while virtually no one plans to spend more.
But this is not just a one-year thing, according to consumers surveyed by BIGresearch. Nearly 91% said they see this crisis bearing down on their spending decisions -- in effect, their lifestyles -- over the next five years.
Fifty-five percent said they will think carefully before they make a purchase and 51% said they expect to be more price-conscious when buying clothing and food.
"American consumers are hunkered down, bracing for a depression," said Britt Beemer, chief executive of America's Research Group. "The dramatic drops in shopping levels have no match in our database in the last 30 years."
...Once again more gloom & doom...
Bair Says FDIC's Deposit Reserves May Fall to Zero Without New Bank Fees
March 20 (Bloomberg) -- Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair said an emergency fee to rebuild a fund that guarantees bank deposits is needed to prevent the reserve from falling to “zero.”
“Even though this increase comes at a difficult time, I strongly believe that keeping deposit insurance industry-funded will be better for you and your customers when this crisis is over,” Bair said today in remarks prepared for the Independent Community Bankers of America conference in Phoenix.
Bair told the trade group, which opposes the fee because it may cut earnings this year, that deposit insurance is a “good bargain” and without added revenue, the fund to protect bank customers may be wiped out. Washington-based ICBA, with almost 5,000 members, has pressed the FDIC to reconsider the fee.
The FDIC plans to charge banks an emergency one-time fee starting July 1 to replenish its deposit insurance fund drained by 25 bank failures last year. Bair said the FDIC may “trim back” the levy of 20 cents per $100 of insured deposits to “single digits” if lawmakers expand the agency’s borrowing authority from the Treasury Department.
“I’m optimistic that Congress will soon act on the borrowing authority increase,” Bair said. “This should give us the breathing room we need to reduce the special assessment, while covering all projected losses, with industry funds.”
The FDIC credit with Treasury has remained unchanged since 1991 while she said the industry has tripled in size. Bair said more than 70 percent of the assessment, as proposed, would be paid by lenders with assets exceeding $10 billion.
The FDIC, a Washington-based agency, insures deposits at 8,305 institutions with $13.6 trillion in assets.
Bair said she wants to “end too big to fail” models that have shaped U.S. policy and wants financial firms to reduce systemic risk by “limiting size” and “complexity.” She said regulators “need to impose higher capital requirements” to ensure banks have enough capital to withstand worsening economic scenarios.
In a nutshell - Goldman had bought billions in AIG CDS in the 2004 to 2006 timeframe. Whether this was predicated by their expectation that subprime would blow up, or their very early understanding just how bad things at AIG were, one will never know, especially not the SEC. However, one look at the CDS chart below shows what prevailing levels for AIG's CDS was in that time frame. As one can see, AIG 5 yr CDS traded in a range of 4 bps to 52.50 bps between October 1, 2004 (only goes back so far) and December 31, 2006. Indicatively 5 yr CDS closed yesterday at a comparable running spread equivalent of 1,942 bps.
Purchasing $10 billion in CDS (roughly in line with what Viniar claims happened) at a hypothetical average price of 25 bps (and realistically much less than that) and rolling that would imply that at today's AIG 5 yr CDS price of 1,942 bps, the company made roughly $4.7 billion in profit from shorting AIG alone! This would more than make up for the $2.5 billion collateral shortfall (out of $4.4 billion total) GS claims AIG had with Goldman Sachs... If AIG had filed for bankruptcy, and assuming Lehman is any indication, the P&L would have likely hit $6+ billion.
Scary stuff...to bad I drank last nite...could use one now...
AP: Budget deficit to hit $1.8 trillion this year
Update at 1:38 p.m. ET. The AP now writes that:
President Barack Obama's budget would generate deficits averaging almost $1 trillion a year over the next decade, according to the latest congressional estimates, significantly worse than predicted by the White House just last month.
The Congressional Budget Office figures, obtained by The Associated Press Friday, predict Obama's budget will produce $9.3 trillion worth of red ink over 2010-2019. That's $2.3 trillion worse than the White House predicted in its budget.
Worst of all, CBO says the deficit under Obama's policies would never go below 4% of the size of the economy, figures that economists agree are unsustainable. By the end of the decade, the deficit would exceed 5% of gross domestic product, a dangerously high level.
White House Budget Director Peter Orszag is due to speak with reporters on a conference call at 1:45 p.m. ET. We'll listen in and report back on what's said.
Bus driver delivers free home-cooked meals
The men eagerly accept containers of chicken and rice from Munoz, devouring the food on the spot. Quiet gratitude radiates from the crowd.