DISTRIBUTION CHANNELS INTERRUPTED
Big disruptive events are occurring in the distribution system. Letters of credit are routinely being refused by export nations who distrust US
sources. A fall of 10% to 20% in shipping traffic to western US ports has been reported. Ships are empty at Asian ports, some even loaded but
interrupted on their voyage to US ports and European ports. Many details are given in the October Hat Trick Letter reports. Even manufacturers of
shipping vessels are being severely affected, as credit has interrupted construction projects. Indian suppliers are often demanding 100% upfront on
costs to east coast retailers, again showing the distrust. Almost total attention has been given to banks and credit markets and stock markets. The US
Economy is moving from recession toward something different from depression. The current interruption could actually be more like disintegration.
Short-term credit is soon to interfere greatly with truckers and railways in distribution channels on the domestic side, much like letters of credit
are wrecking havoc on the overseas shipper side.
The next big shoe to drop is credit cards. Bank of America has announced plans, not yet fully implemented, to cut back on credit cards to lower FICO
scorers. The lower 60%-ile of credit score recipients will find themselves without credit cards at all. One friend told me that he used to own 10
credit cards. Recently, all but four were simply discontinued, but a few were not used. Other friends said most of their credit limits were slashed.
Changes are coming. Then the next big shoe to drop will be commercial mortgage default. No reprieve, rest, or respite for US bankers. Changes are
coming. It will force defaults in most every conceivable financial corner.
DISHONOR AMONG BANKERS
The system is breaking down. Just when the heart attack signals are actually improving, although only slightly, the US Economy is falling off a cliff,
as unprecedented decay is occurring. Some improvement has been seen with the short-term LIBOR rate, the money market funding, TED spreads, and
mortgage bond spreads. But bankers and financial subsidiaries are in focus for dishonour.
The following message came yesterday to my desk. It pertains to General Electric. It involved dishonoured Letters of Credit (L/C). The US banks not
only distrust each other, they are engaging in criminal activity, like contract fraud. If big enough, or connected well enough to the power center, it
is permitted. Again, no solutions, only proliferation of chaos.
“Try this one on. One of our clients did a bond early last year (underwritten by RBC/Dain Rauscher) backed up by a General Electric Letter of
Credit. There is a tag end of $1 million. The deal was the sale and lease back of 13 bank branches. One remains. The tenant is a regional bank. RBC
cannot remarket the bond now because the market is still frozen. So the client, per the documents, called on the L/C for performance (as allowed in
the L/C, which extends to 2021). GE has reneged on the L/C and will not pay unless the two principals come up with $1M in cash. The client has said no
way, the L/C has no such provision. GE has said, too bad, if you don't like it, talk to our attorney. We're not paying.” Stories like this are
probably surfacing all over the North American landscape. US banks are defending themselves by dishonouring contracts.
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