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UK GDP suffers worst quarterly fall for 30 years
Britain has suffered the worst quarterly fall in GDP for almost 30 years, raising fears that the country's fiscal situation is far worse than expected.
My God, there is a cop:
March 26 (Bloomberg) -- New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo subpoened American International Group Inc.’s credit- default swap data to see whether its customers including Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Societe Generale SA and Deutsche Bank AG were improperly compensated with taxpayer dollars.
“Our investigation into corporate bonuses has led us to an investigation of the credit-default swap contracts at AIG,” Cuomo said in a statement. “CDS contracts were at the heart of AIG’s meltdown. The question is whether the contracts are being wound down properly and efficiently or whether they have become a vehicle for funneling billions in taxpayer dollars to capitalize banks all over the world.”
It's about damn time.
I have some questions, specifically:
Why isn't the FBI performing this investigation.
Why isn't US Attorney General spearheading this investigation?
Why isn't our President, Barack Obama, demanding this investigation?
From the information available in public reports I believe that AIG's "rescue" is nothing more or less than a thinly-disguised looting operation for certain preferred banks both here and abroad, intended to improperly obtain the full value of credit default swaps when the underlying instrument has not (yet) defaulted. Since AIG does not have the money (nor will they if and when the instruments do default) the company is being used as a conduit to funnel taxpayer money to these creditors who would otherwise be forced to seek their redress for bets that went bad through the bankruptcy court, and in the process would almost certainly take a very singificant loss.
What's even worse is that AIG's "installed" CEO, Liddy, was a director at Goldman Sachs before he took the helm of AIG, and Hank Paulson picked him for both roles!
Since Mr. Liddy is allegedly working for a salary of $1, let's ask the obvious question that immediately comes to mind - exactly who's interest does he represent as CEO of AIG? Is he a steward of the people's money that has been injected to this company, or is he in fact a stooge installed by Hank Paulson, former CEO of Goldman Sachs himself, to make sure that Goldman (and perhaps others, if it could be arranged) "got theirs" - at taxpayer expense?
Congratulations to Mr. Cuomo for having the integrity and public interest necessary to go after this matter, send the subpoenas, follow the trail where it leads and get to the bottom of the matter.
It's about damn time, and puts the lie to Obama's claim that he came to Washington to "bring change."
Unless, of course, "change" is in fact even more corruption than we had in Washington DC before!
Here we go again...it's up...it's down...it's up...
Billionaire Flowers Quits Hypo Real Estate Board as Germany Mulls Seizure
March 27 (Bloomberg) -- J. Christopher Flowers resigned from the supervisory board of Hypo Real Estate Holding AG, as Germany’s government seeks powers to nationalize the bailed-out commercial property lender.
Flowers, managing director of J.C. Flowers & Co., and Richard S. Mully, managing partner of Grove International Partners, announced today they were leaving because of “possible measures to be taken by the German government against Hypo Real Estate shareholders,” according to an e-mailed statement.
German lawmakers are discussing legislation allowing the seizure of Hypo Real Estate, which almost went bankrupt in September after its Dublin-based Depfa Bank Plc unit failed to get short-term funding. The lender’s nationalization would be the first of a German bank since the 1930s. The government and financial institutions have already used credit lines and debt guarantees worth 102 billion euros ($138 billion) to assist Munich-based Hypo Real Estate.
Investors advised by J.C. Flowers own about 17 percent of Hypo Real Estate, while investors advised by Grove own about 6.7 percent, the companies said in the statement. They bought their stake for about 1.1 billion euros in June. Based on Hypo Real Estate’s current market value of 247 million euros, the stake is now worth about 59 million euros.
“J.C. Flowers has repeatedly emphasized their investors’ clear preference to remain shareholders and support the restructuring rather than cede their participations” in Hypo Real Estate, it said.
Germany’s upper house, the Bundesrat, will be asked to approve the Hypo Real Estate seizure legislation when it comes before them on April 3, following its passage by the lower house on March 20. The law also imposes a time limit, stipulating that any seizure has to be initiated by the end of June.
The legislation, an extension of a 500 billion euro bank- rescue fund enacted in October, allows Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck to expropriate all the stock of Hypo Real Estate if shareholders balk at bailout proposals. It includes a caveat that such a measure can only be taken once all other means, such as a capital increase, have been exhausted.
Flowers told a parliamentary hearing on March 16 that he “would be ready to consider joining” a capital increase at the bank.
Seizing control would be extreme and would damage confidence in Germany’s business climate, he said. Investors would see expropriation “as unusual, even in these circumstances.”
Hypo Real Estate may need as much as 10 billion euros in fresh capital to help it meet minimum capital reserve requirements, analysts have said.
Originally posted by elston
“We’re certainly not yet in the clear -- whether in the U.S. or around the world,” the 57-year-old strategist said in a Bloomberg Radio interview in New York today. “Whilst we have had a great deal of bad news on banks, we think there is still more to come.”
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GOP, Experts Doubt Financial Overhaul Plan
(CBS/AP) The Obama administration's aggressive plan for strict scrutiny of hedge funds and other freewheeling investors, part of the biggest expansion of financial restraints since the Great Depression, is drawing instant opposition from Republican lawmakers and the rules' targets. And skeptics are questioning whether the new rulebook would work anyway.
Wall Street wizards have proved adept at designing complex financial products to sidestep existing regulations. And Vincent Reinhart, former director of monetary affairs at the Federal Reserve, says, "You're going to see firms try to figure out how to be under the radar."
For example, private equity investors might try to buy large hedge funds and chop them into funds that would be small enough to operate unregulated, Reinhart said.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, unveiling the plan Thursday, said the nation's economic crisis demands bold action.
"We need much stronger standards for openness, transparency and plain commonsense language throughout the financial system," he told the House Financial Services Committee.
Geithner is unwilling to ban credit-default swaps eh?
"My own sense is that banning naked default swaps isn't necessary and wouldn't help fundamentally in this case," Geithner told Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) when asked about the value of the instrument.
All I have wanted, and all that is necessary to stop the stupidity, is:
Force them all onto a regulated, public exchange exactly as is done for listed options, stocks and futures.
Mark all positions to the market nightly.
Have a central counterparty for all contracts, as is done with the OCC for listed options.
Allow and in fact mandate that the central counterparty enforce, on a nightly basis, margin requirements.
End of problem.
For those firms that cannot prove capital adequacy by posting margin their positions are immediately liquidated against them, exactly as happens with a margin call in other instruments.
I have been calling for this since April of 2008 again in May of 2008 and in many other Tickers since.
Cut the crap Timmy. If you have any intention of resolving this matter and preventing the further looting of the American Taxpayer, you will correct this problem right here and now.
You know exactly how to accomplish it.
The Federal Reserve bought $7.541 billion of Treasuries in its second outright purchase of U.S. government debt in three days as part of the central bank’s efforts to lower consumer borrowing rates.
Seven of the 18 securities maturing from April 2011 through April 2012 listed for possible acquisition were bought, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York Web site. The majority of the purchase was $5.625 billion of the 1.375 percent note due March 15, 2012.
Central banks in the U.S., U.K. and Japan are buying government debt in the latest step to broaden efforts to unfreeze credit and end the recession after cutting benchmark interest rates close to zero. The Fed bought $7.5 billion in debt on March 25, the first purchase since the early 1960s by the central bank under a $300 billion plan announced March 18. “The Fed’s monetization of government borrowing is in economic terms a hugely powerful liquidity tool,” said Lena Komileva, head of Group of Seven market economics in London at Tullett Prebon Plc, the world’s second-largest interdealer broker. “It also helps to address investor fears, by depressing government yields and private sector borrowing costs and signaling a firm commitment by the Fed to keep monetary liquidity flowing for a long time.”
Treasuries gained for a second day as traders focused on the Fed’s purchases after the Treasury sold a record $98 billion in notes this week. The yield on the 0.875 percent note maturing in March 2011 fell 3 basis points to 0.88 percent, according to BGCantor Market Data.
Here's an interesting article:
Congress approved landmark legislation today that opens the door for a new era on Wall Street in which commercial banks, securities houses and insurers will find it easier and cheaper to enter one another's businesses.
That's Gramm-Leach-Bliley, which dismantled Glass-Steagall.
''Today Congress voted to update the rules that have governed financial services since the Great Depression and replace them with a system for the 21st century,'' Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers said. ''This historic legislation will better enable American companies to compete in the new economy.''
Larry Summers eh? Oh, you mean the stooge in Obama's Cabinet? Yes, him.
The decision to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 provoked dire warnings from a handful of dissenters that the deregulation of Wall Street would someday wreak havoc on the nation's financial system. The original idea behind Glass-Steagall was that separation between bankers and brokers would reduce the potential conflicts of interest that were thought to have contributed to the speculative stock frenzy before the Depression.
Funny how we waited until everyone who went through that special Hell known as "The Depression" were dead, then we simply rode roughshod over what they taught us and declared them "fools."
''The world changes, and we have to change with it,'' said Senator Phil Gramm of Texas, who wrote the law that will bear his name along with the two other main Republican sponsors, Representative Jim Leach of Iowa and Representative Thomas J. Bliley Jr. of Virginia. ''We have a new century coming, and we have an opportunity to dominate that century the same way we dominated this century. Glass-Steagall, in the midst of the Great Depression, came at a time when the thinking was that the government was the answer. In this era of economic prosperity, we have decided that freedom is the answer.''
Uh huh Mr. Gramm. Like your "mental recession" Mr. Gramm?
Freedom is the answer, but freedom does not include freedom to defraud, whether it is the fraud of a borrower overstating his income, the fraud of a ratings agency being "bought" or the fraud of an investment bank selling what it represents are "perfectly good" securities out the front door while shorting them on its prop desk in the next room.
''I think we will look back in 10 years' time and say we should not have done this but we did because we forgot the lessons of the past, and that that which is true in the 1930's is true in 2010,'' said Senator Byron L. Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota. ''I wasn't around during the 1930's or the debate over Glass-Steagall. But I was here in the early 1980's when it was decided to allow the expansion of savings and loans. We have now decided in the name of modernization to forget the lessons of the past, of safety and of soundness.''
Senator Paul Wellstone, Democrat of Minnesota, said that Congress had ''seemed determined to unlearn the lessons from our past mistakes.''
And now we get to the learn them again!
''Glass-Steagall was intended to protect our financial system by insulating commercial banking from other forms of risk. It was one of several stabilizers designed to keep a similar tragedy from recurring. Now Congress is about to repeal that economic stabilizer without putting any comparable safeguard in its place.''
Citibank, Bank America, Wells Fargo, Wachovia, Washington Mutual, IndyMac, Downey Savings and Loan. Need I go on?
Supporters of the legislation rejected those arguments. They responded that historians and economists have concluded that the Glass-Steagall Act was not the correct response to the banking crisis because it was the failure of the Federal Reserve in carrying out monetary policy, not speculation in the stock market, that caused the collapse of 11,000 banks. If anything, the supporters said, the new law will give financial companies the ability to diversify and therefore reduce their risks. The new law, they said, will also give regulators new tools to supervise shaky institutions.
''The concerns that we will have a meltdown like 1929 are dramatically overblown,'' said Senator Bob Kerrey, Democrat of Nebraska.
History, ten years hence, has now played out.
Who was correct?
There is a special place in Hell for the architects and supporters of this legislation, and if we learn one thing from this, it is that we need to put Glass-Steagall back into place and repeal this piece of legislative dog squeeze.
Oh, and while you're at it, look at when that law was passed, and who signed it.
1999 - right at the peak of The Internet Bubble, and President Clinton put his signature to that piece of paper.
So much for "it was all Bush's fault".
What Is The Rosy Scenario?
Econbrowser assembles some good bits of economic news and the NYT offers a related report. Is there any chance the worst is over?
The rosy scenario is that in a highly connected, internet-intensive world, the bad news travels far more quickly and far more convincingly than before. The early stages of the downturn are like falling off a cliff. We bottomed out maybe two weeks ago. That said, the rebound also comes much more quickly. Wages are more flexible than before. Bad inventory policies are avoided through information technology. The Fed responds to changing conditions ever more quickly. Overall, economic time accelerates on both the downswing and the upswing.
I do not believe the rosy scenario, as I think there are still other "shoes to drop," most of all internationally. I also think we will see a double-dip or triple-dip recession, as the Fed must eventually withdraw some of new money from the system. Good news is then, in fact, simply a sign that some bad news is on the way, sooner or later.
Still, if you are looking for something to believe in, I offer you the rosy scenario.
Those that charge interest and lend money given no opposition from honest men will indeed end up owning all the means of production. Want historical precedent? Why sure...Where have we read about money-changers and this kind of behavior before? bible.cc... was it? Wonder if it's covered in the Book of Timothy? Maybe this time...
Then Jesus went into the temple, threw out everyone who was selling and buying in the temple, and overturned the moneychangers' tables and the chairs of those who sold doves.
GBE GRUBB 0.83 1:50PM ET -0.31 (-27.19%)
Grubb & Ellis Company
1551 North Tustin Avenue
Santa Ana, CA 92705
United States - Map
Web Site: www.grubb-ellis.com...
Index Membership: N/A
Industry: Property Management
Full Time Employees: 4,700
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Wall St adds losses after JPMorgan comments
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks tumbled further on Friday, with indexes sliding more than 2 percent after comments from JPMorgan Chase's chief executive that March was "a little tough."