Yes, unlike what was sold to us about Dodd Frank, there are in effect already backdoor bailouts before our very eyes if we care to look. This one involves the most important regulator of our entire financial system, the New York Fed, intervening to let Bank of America off the hook for its residential mortgage backed securities fraud.
Feb 12 2013
The former special inspector-general of the troubled asset relief program (TARP), Neil Barofsky says that it is time for a “post mortem” analysis former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s doctrine, the preservation of large banks, the largesse of Wall St. and the perversion of of the US criminal justice system. In this article posted at naked capitalism, Mr. Barofsky looks at the effect of the “Geithner Doctrine” and the weak response to the LIBOR scandal:
The recent parade of banking scandals, such as the manipulation of Libor rates by Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and other major banks, can be traced back to the lax system of regulation before the financial crisis – and the weak response once disaster struck.
Take the response of the New York Federal Reserve to Barclays’ admission in 2008 that it was submitting false Libor rates and was not alone in doing so. Mr Geithner’s response was to in effect bury the tip. He sent a memo to the Bank of England suggesting some changes to the rate-setting process and then convened a meeting of regulators where he reportedly described only the risk but not the actual manipulation of the rate. He then put the government imprimatur on the rate via bailout programmes. His inaction helped permit a global crime to continue for another year.
When it was UBS’s turn to settle its Libor charges, even though a significant amount of the illegal activity took place at the parent company level, only a Japanese subsidiary was required to take a plea. Eric Holder, US attorney-general, demonstrated his embrace of the Geithner doctrine (a phrase coined by blogger Yves Smith) in explaining the UBS decision. He said that a more aggressive stance against the parent company could have a negative “impact on the stability of the financial markets around the world”.
This week we saw the latest instalment of the saga. In fining RBS £390m, the DoJ only indicted one of the bank’s Asian subsidiaries, avoiding the more damaging result that would have stemmed from charging the parent company.
Instead of seeking deterrence and justice, the US government increasingly appears to have fully absorbed the Geithner doctrine into its charging decisions by seeking a result that has a minimal impact on the target bank but will generate the best-looking press release. Some banks today are still too big to fail – and they are still too big to jail.
There are no meaningful consequences for this criminality. The fines with a promise not to do this again are just a game to allow the banks to continue the fraudulent conduct and find better ways to cover it up. Mr. Barofsky concludes that we must ditch the “Geithner Doctrine” to end “the game of incentives gone wild, and the lack of accountability in the aftermath of the crisis has only reinforced those bad incentives.”
o reclaim our system of justice, the global threat posed by the failure of any of our largest financial institutions must be neutralised once and for all. They must be reduced in size, their safety nets must be dramatically constricted and their capital requirements enhanced far beyond the current standards. Then, and only then, can the same set of rules apply to all.
In an extended interview with “The Daily Show“ host Jon Stewart, Mr. Barofsky discussed the double standards of the TARP program and the alien culture of Washington DC and explains why the banks will never face true justice..
Jan 29 2013
While Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner was packing up his office making way for the next puppet of the banks and Wall Street, Jack Lew, the top executives of major companies that were bailed out by the tax payers were getting their pay-offs.
The Office of the Special Inspector General for the Trouble Asset Relief Program — which keeps tabs on taxpayer bailouts — singled out for blame “pay czar” Patricia Geoghegan, the Treasury official tasked with reining in excessive pay increases for executives at bailed-out companies. [..]
Executives, the report contends, got pay bumps in 2012 for leading their bailed-out companies in profitable directions. But they also got raises when their units performed poorly: An executive at Ally’s residential mortgage unit saw his paycheck rise in 2012 even though Treasury knew that division of the bank was about to file for bankruptcy. The executive, Treasury said, was deemed “critical to successful restructuring.”
Another executive, at GM, saw a $50,000 pay increase not because of good performance, Geoghegan is quoted in the report as saying, but because “GM wanted to retain the employee and ‘do a little extra for him.'”
At AIG, which had by far the best remunerated executives of the three companies in 2012, the top 25 earners made nearly $108 million combined. CEO Robert Benmosche’s pay was $10.5 million. (AIG repaid its government loans in late 2012 and is no longer under Treasury oversight.)
The SIGTARP, which keeps tabs on taxpayer bailouts, is supposed to keep a lid on excessive pay for the CEO’s. Ms. Geoghegan relinquished her authority to the companies involved to determine the size of pay increases. The result was that all but one of the 69 companies SIGTARP oversees received an annual payout of at least $1 million, and nearly a quarter received pay packages in excess of $5 million.
And the Treasury Department has sone nothing to fix the economy because under Timothy Geithner it was too busy bailing out Wall Street and the banks:
(T)he economy has already lost more than $7 trillion in output ($20,000 per person) compared with what the Congressional Budget Office projected in January of 2008. We will probably lose at least another $4 trillion before the economy gets back to anything resembling full employment. And millions of people have seen their lives turned upside down by their inability to get jobs, being thrown out of their homes, or their parents’ inability to get a job. And this is all because of the folks in Washington’s inability to manage the economy.
But the Wall Street banks are bigger and fatter than ever. As a result of the crisis, many mergers were rushed through that might have otherwise been subject to serious regulatory scrutiny. For example, J.P. Morgan was allowed to take over Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual, two huge banks that both faced collapse in the crisis. Bank of America took over Merrill Lynch and Countrywide. By contrast, there can be little doubt that without the helping hand of Timothy Geithner, most or all of the Wall Street banks would have been sunk by their own recklessness.
There is one other hoary myth that needs to be put to rest as Timothy Geithner heads off to greener pastures. The claim that we made money on the bailout is one of those lines that should immediately discredit the teller. We made money on the loans in the same way that if the government issued mortgages at 1 percent interest it would make money, since the vast majority of the mortgages would be repaid.
The TARP money and other bailout loans were given to banks at way below market interest rates at a time when liquidity carried an enormous premium. Serious people know this, and the people who don’t are not worth listening to. It was a massive giveaway, as the Congressional Oversight Panel determined at the time.
Meanwhile, states are refusing to raise minimum wages to keep the many workers from falling deeper into poverty.
Oct 29 2012
The the second half a web exclusive interview, Neil Barofsky, the former Special Inspector General for the U.S. Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), talks with Bill Moyers. They discuss, what Mr. Moyes described as the “incestuous orgy” that is going on between the banks and the federal government, the need to tackle banking reform and the real possibility of another financial collapse.
The first part of the interview is here
The transcript is here.
Oct 11 2012
Our fate, for one, but I know that is really depressing(why I don’t write about it as much as I should) because as a whole no party really is going to do anything about it, even the Democratic party who kept the filibuster(despite Sen Merkley and Udall’s efforts to even change it to make it less damaging) after whining about it to you asking for money you don’t have that you gave them in 2008. But they really wanted all that environmental legislation that died in the Senate to pass. At this point Daryl Hanna is putting up more of a fight in my state of TX and kudos to her for her efforts.
But the Keystone pipeline will be a reality regardless of this election like drill baby drill Obama style(we thought we were voting against that in 2008) if the entire population does not emulate her example. So like Charles Ferguson, director of Inside Job, I’m going to concentrate on other real issues no one really paid attention to in this Presidential debate or general election that could be handled more easily without Congress. That is, if those in charge of running the Department of Justice weren’t so pathetically unable to live up to their namesake in the executive branch.
Aug 30 2012
In lieu of meaningless political convention coverage, my title is absolutely still true. Decades and decades of history refutes any excuses about the so called political expediency of wasting any crisis economic or otherwise. That is one of the only things I agree with Rahm Emanuel on when he said it at the beginning of this administration. Sadly, the White House only listened to his hippy punching BS. The prospect that this economic disaster wouldn’t go to waste or enrich bankers was where the hope used to reside when there was any at all to confide in as far as any real economic recovery is concerned.
But when we mention these real world problems still abound from these failures we hear the same old tired excuses trotted out to excuse this administration from loyal partisans who are proud of what they never learn. This involves excusing the the bailout, housing, and foreclosure crisis. Ironically, this is why there is any chance at all for insane Republicans to make hay in this election at all so it might be smart to pay attention to it at some point even if the media won’t cover it. The bottom line is that coddling too big to fail banks with trillions in bailouts and more bailout guarantees on top of that (29 trillion globally when counted all up) to make Capital whole at the expense of laborers didn’t help and many of us knew it wouldn’t from the get go.
During an election it is treated like a crime to say so. You know, other countries have actually learned this lesson as we have forgotten from the past. Alas Iceland handled their crisis well, like Sweden, and like we did during the S&L crisis but not in 2008 where our fate is now a lost decade or two. With too many loyal “Democrats” looking the other way, this administration and their point man in the Treasury let Wall St have the most say even though public anger at Wall St was and is still at an all time high. This explains why the public was against the bailout, and how it failed in the House at first.
Aug 23 2012
Yes, another crash is coming. I can’t predict precisely when as that would be a fool’s errand, but much closer than you think. It will probably be after our President is reelected and will care very little what you or I think once he and his treasury push for criminal TBTF banks to bailed out once again. Doctor Doom: the nickname for economist Nouriel Roubini: one of the relatively few outside the mainstream(part of the Got It Right (pdf) project) who predicted the last crash thinks 2013 is a perfect storm for another one which will be even worse and it makes sense.
Despite on theoretical fiscal policy limits with regard to the US, Roubini is absolutely right on the political deadlock with the coming crisis. We wasted our last crisis and that’s something Conservatives have not done whether we’re talking about the stagflation crisis of the 70s or 9/11. There won’t be as many political options this time to prop up the underlying economy in 2013 because Democrats have failed to change the Senate rules because most of them secretly like the way things work or don’t work in Washington. Sadly, if Republicans take over both houses again, they will change the Senate rules as they threatening to do in 2005 and 2006.
Anyway some might still want to scoff at Roubini’s prediction, but that will come back to bite them in the ass. Not even Roubini can predict the exact moment it will happen, but if one knows anything about the history of financial crashes, since the 80s when the 1933 banking reforms passed by FDR started slowly being dismantled, they started happening once again in a 5-7 year time-frame(and even closer than that if you count global stock crashes which count now more than ever since our markets turned dark with OTC derivatives and Information Asymmetry all around); some worse than others as the 2008 bust was on par with 1929 but you get the idea.
- Black Monday (1987)
- Black Wednesday (1992)
- Asian financial crisis (1997)
- Mini-crash (1997)
- Dot-com bubble(2000)
- Economic effects arising from the September 11 attacks (2001)
- Stock market downturn of (2002)
- United States bear market of (2007)
- Global financial crisis (2008)
- European sovereign-debt crisis (2010)
Aug 21 2012
Disregard all cheery news you hear from the MSM that the housing crisis is over and housing prices are stable and on the rise. It’s not over. We are still bailing out the banks over the troubled homeowner.
“The evidence is overwhelming: home prices are anything but stable.”
Michael Olenick: Still Looking for a Housing Bottom
Two trends are apparent. One is that banks are delaying foreclosures, or not foreclosing at all despite long-term delinquencies. The other is that private equity firms – flush with cash thanks to Tim Geithner’s religious devotion to trickle-down economics and the resulting cascade of corporate welfare – have been bidding up and holding foreclosed houses off the market. These two factors have artificially limited supply and, combined with cheap mortgages rates, driven up prices. While we can debate whether these strategies represent the best public policy, these policies are obviously not long-term sustainable. [..]
Holding back inventory means that the houses that are put on offer sell faster and at higher prices. That creates an incentive to delay foreclosures or not foreclose at all even when a home is delinquent. Though this seems obvious, the mainstream housing finance community – aided by a freelance “housing analyst,” – uses the faster figures to somehow prove banks are not holding houses. [..]
Besides lower foreclosure activity, the government is going all out to give away houses to private equity firms. Recently Fannie Mae sold 275 properties across metro Phoenix in one sale to a mystery buyer, according to a report by Catherine Reagor of the Arizon Republic. [..]
Anybody who has been a landlord seems to quickly tire of it so, assuming there isn’t a pending planned mass immigration to Phoenix, these investors will eventually want to cash out by selling these houses. Further, they will want to minimize maintenance expenses while they are renting out these houses, so the eventual sale of these houses will increase supply and prolong the housing crisis. Geithner’s policy of shaking down Main Street to help Wall Street continues to hurt your street. [..]
Taking account of the delayed foreclosures and the beginning of mass purchases of houses would mean there should be a surge in home prices, but we’re still seeing little movement in many areas. This is especially puzzling given how inexpensive mortgage are. [..]
Of course, this assumes that people can get mortgages for these houses, though many can’t. Young people especially are hopelessly in debt thanks to out-of-control tuition hikes predictably caused by equally out-of-control student loan policies. [..]
Thanks to low lower foreclosures, real-estate speculators buying in bulk, and low interest rates there is enough direct and anecdotal evidence to suggest that we may be seeing a real-estate recovery on paper. Further, these policies are clearly calibrated to bring about a bubble, despite that bubbles are difficult to control and are not, by definition, sustainable: they always eventually pop. Let’s at least hope that when this bubble bursts the new Wall Street bulk buyers are treated with the same ruthless “free market” vigor that the prior owners of these houses were treated with after the last bubble burst. However, I doubt the mystery Asian money buyer, that Fannie sold Phoenix to, will ever be subject to something like the rocket docket.
Washington’s Blog goes down the list of evidence that “the government’s “Homeowner Relief” Programs are disguised bank bailouts … not even AIMED at helping homeowners. It’s a fascinating piece with all the links to this sham.
Former special inspector general overseeing TARP Neil Barofsky (@neilbarofsky) joined Up w/ Chris Hayes to talk about his book “Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street.” Along with panel guests Heather McGhee (@hmcghee), vice president of policy and research at the progressive think tank Demos; Josh Barro (@jbarro), who writes “The Ticker” for Bloomberg View; Michelle Goldberg (@michelleinbklyn), senior contributing writer for Newsweek/Daily Beast; and Up host Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes), Barofsky shares his thoughts on the failure of TARP and the housing crisis.
Mar 13 2012
Besides the $700 billion from TARP and $17.7 trillion from the Federal Reserve the “Too Big To Fail” financial entities are still getting bailouts with tax payer dollars via tax breaks on losses. 90% of the insurance giant, American International Group Inc.’s (AIG), fourth quarter profits from 2011 were “because of an inappropriate tax break the government-owned insurance company continues to receive, according to four former members of the watchdog panel that oversaw the financial crisis bailouts“:
The break allows AIG to count its past net operating losses against future taxes. That amounts to a “stealth bailout” of a company that received about $125 billion in taxpayer money, said the former appointees to the Congressional Oversight Panel for the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program.
“It’s been more than three years since AIG lost its reckless bet on mortgage-backed securities, yet today AIG continues to get special tax breaks that last quarter accounted for 90% of its profits,” the panel’s former chairwoman, Elizabeth Warren, told reporters Monday on a conference call. “We think it’s time for Congress to end the special tax break.”
Warren, who is running as a Democrat for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts, was joined by former panel members Damon Silvers, Mark McWatters and Kenneth Troske in saying the tax break gives the illusion of significant profitability at the company.
The profits benefit AIG’s private stockholders and allow the company to pay higher executive compensation, the TARP panel members said.
“By doing it this way….billions of dollars leak out to the benefits of private parties, who really should not be benefiting from public policy in this way,” Silvers said.
The special tax exemption that AIG and other struggling companies received allows it to deduct its past losses against future tax bills thus showing a net profit. It allowed for AIG to hand out generous executive compensation and benefit private shareholders.
Just last week, Matt Stoller at naked capitalism reported that almost half the banks that had paid back TARP did so with funds from other government programs:
The Government Accountability Office continues its subtle war on the talking point used by Treasury that “TARP made money”. Here’s the GAO, with a report out today.
As of January 31, 2012, 341 institutions had exited CPP, almost half by repaying CPP with funds from other federal programs. Institutions continue to exit CPP, but the number of institutions missing scheduled dividend or interest payments has increased.
Much of the government-supplied TARP funding (to small banks) was replaced by the Small Business Lending Fund passed in 2010, which Republicans called “TARP 2.0″. The larger banks, however, where much of the bank-based credit creation in the economy takes place, didn’t use this program. Instead, they got an implicit subsidy of between $6B (pdf) and $300B a year from the widespread belief that the government will not let their bondholders lose money…
You can take a stand with Ms. Warren and sign her petition:
Dec 07 2011
Poor Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, he got dissed by Bloomberg News investigation of his $7.7 trillion give away, so he sends a six page complaint (pdf) to Congress. Bloomberg News responded to Ben’s whining with a blow by blow response:
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said in a letter to four senior lawmakers today that recent news articles about the central bank’s emergency lending programs contained “egregious errors.”
While Bernanke’s letter and an accompanying four-page staff memo posted on the Fed’s website didn’t mention any news organizations by name, Bloomberg News has published a series of articles this year examining the bailout. The latest, “Secret Fed Loans Gave Banks $13 Billion Undisclosed to Congress,” appeared Nov. 28.
“Bloomberg stands by its reporting,” said Matthew Winkler, editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News.
Yves Smith weighs in on the “food fight”:
First, it [the Fed] tries the sneaky device of complaining about all the bad press it is getting, and alludes in passing to the latest Bloomberg report (“one last week”). So are we dealing with the general or the specific? The attachment to the letter, which makes a series of specific claims of where the coverage allegedly was off beam, was rebutted with great speed and vigor by Bloomberg. So trying to have it both ways (attacking Bloomberg but trying to depict it as part of general critic wrongheadedness) backfired.
But what is even more striking is the tone and substance of the letter: overreaching words like “egregious,” the patently false claims that there is nothing new in the latest (and by implication, earlier) Bloomberg stories, that the disclosure issues are settled. If there was no new information given to Bloomberg, then why did the Fed fight so hard to prevent the release of information? The Fed has never been cooperative. Even with the Congressional Oversight Panel, the so called Sanders report coming out of Audit the Fed (and remember, the Fed succeeded in lobbying to narrow the scope of Audit the Fed), a new GAO report, the latest Bloomberg FOIA still pried loose more information. The Fed is clearly not interested in transparency, but keeps trying to claims that everything that anyone would want to know is public, and there really is nothing here to discuss any more. [..]
But the biggest lie in this fabric of Big Lies is that the banks were just suffering a wee liquidity crisis in the crisis, not a solvency crisis. If that was true, why did we need a TARP plus making failed credit default swap hedges good via the AIG rescue? In addition, Steve Waldman has described, long form, that bank equity is such an abstraction, in that there is a very high degree of uncertainty in the value of both assets and liabilities, that you need much bigger buffers of equity than anyone now has to properly deem a bank to be solvent […] The regulators determine whether a bank was insolvent. And since no regulator was willing to say a bank was insolvent (although Sheila Bair was clearly close to doing so with Citi), ipso facto, they were all solvent. Nice to have such accommodating people handing out grades.
The most laughable part of the Fed’s defense is the claim that Congress was fully informed about their actions. Really? Not according to Rep. Barnie Frank, former chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, who said “”We didn’t know the specifics.”
It is well past time for Congress to rein in the Fed. Anyone have a toga?