At Last A Little Good News About The Banksters.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Bank Logos-2

Don’t get too excited, it is only a little, but it is good news.

In a recent ruling by British regulators, the top executives and managers at banks operating there (which is practically all the major banks) could have their bonuses clawed back for up to ten years after any finding of misconduct. It will also prohibit bonuses for nonexecutive directors and for the managers of companies that are receiving financial support from the government.

The move, which is long, long overdue and still does not go far enough, extends a seven-year clawback period that one regulator, the Prudential Regulation Authority, (part of the Bank of England), introduced for so-called variable pay (read ‘bonuses’) last year as part of tougher accountability rules.

Prudential Regulation Authority

The new rules announced by the authority, which is part of the Bank of England, and by another regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, are the latest effort by financial regulators in Europe to hold the banksters accountable for improper actions that could play a role in precipitating future financial upheavals.

The regulators say they are trying to “embed an accountable culture” in the City of London, which actually means that the authorities realize that the banksters have learned nothing from their previous catastrophic frauds and thefts. They know when the chance arrives these greedy and immoral people will try to do it all again.

bankster caricature

The new British rules, which apply to banks, building societies and investment firms regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority, including British units of United States banks and other financial firms based outside Europe, mean that senior managers, risk managers and others at banks will also be asked to defer more of their variable pay for a longer period, making it easier for regulators and financial institutions to recover bonuses if misconduct is uncovered.

Other countries in Europe are also enacting new regulations for their banksters. Dutch lawmakers, for example, capped bonuses this year for employees in the banking, insurance and other finance sectors that limits variable pay to 20 percent of their fixed salaries. The Dutch have also banned bonuses for executives at bailed-out banks.

European rules already limit bankers’ bonuses to the equivalent of their annual salaries, or to two times their base salaries if the company’s shareholders approve it. But they know they are so greedy that they will try to find ways round that.

breaking the rules

Already some banks are making moves to get round the limits by introducing role-based remuneration and other payments, so the regulators have their work cut out for them keeping a step ahead of the thieves.

What they really need to do is confiscate ALL their ill-gotten gains, impose severe additional financial penalties AND throw these criminals in jail – for a long time.

America, which always likes to consider itself as the leader of the world, should lead in this regard too. It would be better than starting another war in some far off God forsaken country.

Unfortunately I think it will be an equally long time, and a lot more frauds, before they get to that much needed stage.

And you can take that to the bank!

Give a man a bank

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The Banksters Balls It Up Again!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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I wrote a post a few weeks ago about the effect that low oil prices would have on the banks. (Click here if you want to read it.) and another the week before last about the reasons for the decline in the oil price (click here if you want to read that)

As they always do, the idiots that run these financial institutions saw something they thought was going to last forever and threw their money and their clients’ money at it without reason.

Nowhere was this type of recklessness more apparent than during the sub-prime fraud when the banksters lent money to people who clearly could not afford it and then sold on those loans as bogus ‘AAA’ securities to their wealthy customers and other buyers who mistakenly thought that the banks would not try to con them.

cartoon happy banker

Well the banks have done more or less the same today.

Banks have been lending hand over fist to oil companies and those who service the energy sector. They have lent billions of dollars that  –  now the oil price has plummeted  –  has no chance of being paid back. They have underwritten bonds, lent money on expensive fracking operations and even financed the speculative building of homes for oil workers.

It was good while it lasted. But it didn’t last long!

In the 1980s something similar happened when energy prices also slumped. Texas was particularly hard hit and many banks either collapsed or had to be rescued because of their bad loans to oil companies and to local real estate developers speculating on the oil boom.

It’s going to happen again.

The bankster’s greed and stupidity means that their banks are going to take another financial hit, they are going to lose more of their customers’ money. Time for another round of big bonuses, if the last disaster is anything to go by!

Obviously they have been too stupid to learn from the past. Not surprising really.

cartoon sad banker

But the big question is what will government do this time?

Has it learned anything?

Will the government let the banks suffer the consequences of their own stupidity, as they should have when the sub-prime catastrophe hit?

Or will they again use OUR money to bail the banks out, making some nonsense excuse that these companies “are too big to allow to go under”?

And we are talking about BIG banks. Wells Fargo, for example, a huge financial powerhouse, made approximately 15 percent of its investment banking revenue from the oil and gas industry during 2014. Another biggie, Citigroup, was much the same, with this sector accounting for around 12 percent.

And it’s not just in America that the pain is being felt this time.

In Canada, which largely avoided the worst of the sub-prime debacle, some of their leading banks could face an even sharper decline in revenues, so reliant is the whole country on the energy and resources sectors. One of Canada’s biggest banks, Scotiabank, derives approximately 35 percent of its investment banking revenue from oil and gas companies, according to 2014 figures.

wall_street_crooks

Then there’s Wall Street.

Usually they make loans like these and sell them off to unsuspecting investors, however, with the very public fall in oil prices that everyone knows about, firms that financed energy deals are now finding it harder to offload this debt.

As an example of their problems, according to a recent NYT report, Morgan Stanley, was among a group of banks that made $850 million of loans to Vine Oil and Gas, an affiliate of Blackstone, a private equity firm. They are still trying to sell on that debt, but no one is buying. Goldman Sachs and UBS led a $220 million loan last year to the private equity firm Apollo Global Management to buy Express Energy Services. Not all that debt has been sold to other investors either so they are left holding that baby too.

That’s only loans to the oil companies and speculators. Some of the worst loans made by the banks have been to a multitude of companies that provide services to the oil industry. Some of these services companies, lured by the oil boom, are relatively new and/or small and probably under-capitalized so their debt burden can quickly drag them under when projected profits fail to materialize.

Naturally you can expect that the banksters will use all their lobbying and political power to make sure the government steps in again.

But the truth is the government really does not need to (they didn’t the last time either). The ‘to-big-to-fail’ banks may lose on their energy bets, but they will recoup a lot of that money from ordinary people like you and I.

Lower oil prices means that we need less cash to fill up our gas tanks or heat our homes, so the chances are we will feel a bit freer to use that credit card or maybe even take out a mortgage.

Of course, for the banksters that’s a slow way to riches. They want that business for sure, but they will also want the government to write off their other bad loans too.

Let’s see what happens this time.

collapsing bank sign

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Whose Bubble Will Burst First, The Banks Or The Bolsheviks?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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2014 oil price drop

As 2014 ended, the Russian Rouble was in free fall and so were crude oil prices. Both affected the Russian economy and not in a good way. From a position of great strength Vladimir Putin is now under pressure due to the combined effect of lower oil prices and the sanctions imposed by the west because of the situation in the Ukraine and Crimea.

In the West there have been two notable effects of the drop in oil.

One is good in so far as consumers have to spend a lot less to run their vehicles and heat their homes.

The other, however, is bad – for the banks (tee-hee-hee) although they will no doubt pass on their pain to us.

The reason the banks are in trouble (AGAIN) is because they have lent billions of dollars to fracking operations where oil explorers use expensive techniques to extract oil from underneath American and Canadian soil.

The drop in oil prices means that you can now buy oil on the open market for a lot less than it costs to extract it in the US and Canada.

Therefore the oil exploration companies that obtained these huge loans from the banks, and other money men on Wall St, have little or no chance currently of paying them back.

If the position continues through 2015 expect payment defaults and huge debts written off again by the banks.

Will the government step in (AGAIN) to bail them out by printing more money?

I don’t know. I hope not. It’s time these bankster idiots paid for their own mistakes instead of us having to continually foot the bill.

Don’t count on it though.

So whose bubble do you think will burst first, the banks or the Bolsheviks?

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Come On Obama, Stick Them In The Slamma!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Around this time last month I wrote a post about the explosion of sub-prime credit for people seeking automobile loans they couldn’t afford. Here’s a link if you missed it – click here. 

They say that if you don’t learn from what happened in the past you are doomed to repeat it. And it is clear the banksters have learned nothing, mainly because the government was not man enough to teach them a lesson when they almost brought the country to its knees. Their greed was excused and rewarded, not punished in any meaningful and lasting way.

So now we have the auto loans credit explosion, which is another mini sub-prime disaster in the making. And again it is being egged on by the stupidity and greed of Wall Street who just can’t pass on the chance to reap big profits from those people silly enough to take their high interest loans.

greedy banksters

This time, however, it turns out some of the people in positions of power are beginning to recognize that this is becoming a big problem.

The regulators and prosecutors are starting to worry about the level of lending abuses. Not only that but they are also recognizing the similarities with the home loans fiasco that eventually resulted in the financial crisis.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has recently fined subprime auto lender First Investors Financial Services Group Inc. $2.75 million for knowingly providing inaccurate information to credit reporting agencies for at least three years. It was a “computer error” don’t you know, and, of course, they paid the fine but without admitting any liability – perish the thought!

It should come as no surprise that First Investors Financial Services Group is owned by a prominent New York private equity firm.

And like the mortgage sub-prime fraud, the banksters and other money men are not only screwing the people who take out the loans, but once again they are re-packaging them up as “good investments” for their richer clients too.

A United States attorney in Manhattan, has already begun an investigation into whether lenders have sold questionable auto-loan investments to investors, and has sent subpoenas to General Motors Financial and Santander Consumer USA, to try to find out whether the lenders fully disclosed to investors the creditworthiness of borrowers whose loans made up the complicated securities.

sub prime loans

Last time they got away with it. Will this time be any different? You have a lot more faith in the system than me if you think it will. All that is happening so far is tokenism. They need a lot more than a slap on the wrist.

In China or Vietnam and some other locations banksters committing fraud are stood up against a wall a shot. That’s maybe a little harsh, but at the very least some serious jail time is in order.

The fact is the banksters are doing it again because they think that they can get away with it again. And if they get away with it this time, then they’ll do it yet again in the future. All the time racking up fortunes for themselves and leaving the other poor sods, who didn’t know any better than to take out their loans or buy their toxic investments, a lot poorer.

the expendables

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“No Credit. Bad Credit. All Credit. 100 Percent Approval.”

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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We had it with the real estate market. Billions of dollars being lent to people who obviously couldn’t afford it.

We saw the trouble, hardship, misery and financial woes that were caused as credit dried up, real estate prices began to tumble, and bankruptcies and foreclosures increased.

And we know the damage it did to the economy when irresponsible banks and other lenders went bust and almost brought down the entire financial system. 

Smart people would learn from such a situation.

Smart people would never contemplate doing such a thing again.

But despite what they would like to have you believe, bankers are not smart people. They’re dumb and they are greedy, a deadly combination.

bad credit 100 percent financing

As a result of the financial crisis millions of Americans (and people in other countries too) have been left with poor credit scores. Yet remarkably they are now able to easily obtain auto loans from used-car dealers, including some who fabricate or ignore borrowers’ abilities to repay. Even if you are bankrupt or living only on social security, banks like Wells Fargo will lend you thousands of dollars to buy a used car.

It’s called the new sub-prime boom, because the lack of caution resembles the frenzied sub-prime mortgage market before its collapse. And it is already bringing misery to many people who have been suckered into taking out loans that they clearly could not afford.

Worse than that, these sub-prime auto loans often come with terms that take advantage of the most desperate, least financially sophisticated customers, with interest rates that can exceed 20 percent. And many of the loans can be at least twice the value of the second hand cars they are being used to purchase!

wall street car crash

This creates a vicious circle for some borrowers, who still owe money on a car that they are trading in when they purchase another one, meaning that the former debt is rolled over into the new loan and they end up, not just paying too much for their current car, but also continue to pay off the loan on their previous car that they don’t even have!

This is the way loan sharks operate. Eventually you end up borrowing your own money and paying them interest for the privilege!

This surge in sub-prime auto lending is being driven by some of the same dynamics that were at work in sub-prime mortgages. There is a veritable deluge of money pouring into sub-prime autos, as the high rates and steady profits of the loans attract investors.

And just as Wall Street stoked the boom in mortgages, some of the nation’s biggest banks and private equity firms are now feeding the growth in sub-prime auto loans by investing in lenders and making money available for loans.

To quote some of the figures, auto loans to people with bad credit have risen more than 130 percent in the five years since the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis, with roughly one in four new auto loans last year going to borrowers considered sub-prime, that is, people with credit scores at or below 640. Wells Fargo, mentioned earlier, made $7.8 billion in auto loans in the second quarter of this year, up 9 percent from a year earlier, and has at least $50 billion in auto loans on its books.

greedy bankers

Even worse, as was the case with sub-prime mortgages before the financial crisis, many sub-prime auto loans are being bundled up into complex bonds and sold as securities by banks to insurance companies, mutual funds and public pension funds. They are all scrambling for these, which in turn creates ever-greater demand for loans, and leads to the banks issuing more and more sub-prime credit.

Unbelievably it’s the same crooks doing exactly the same thing, including using incorrect information about borrowers’ income and employment, so that people who had lost their jobs, or were bankrupt, or living on Social Security, could qualify for loans that they could never afford.

carbuying credit report

Admittedly, the size of the sub-prime auto loan market is only a tiny fraction of the sub-prime mortgage market at its peak, and its implosion would not have the same far-reaching consequences.

For the banks the investors silly enough to buy their bonds, that is.

But the misery is just as great for the people who are suckered into accepting credit they cannot afford.

Illegal it may not be, but immoral it certainly is.

Political leaders who sit astride high horses and purport to be working on behalf of the ordinary people should be doing something about it.

But, as I’ve said before, don’t hold your breath!

obama used car salesman

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Lies, Deceit And Incompetence

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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I was sounding off a bit in last week’s Sunday Sermon about the state of things in Iraq, a mess created by blundering American and British intervention in a situation they did not, and still do not understand.

Last week I concentrated on the fact that ISIS, the al Qaeda splinter group – big name, ‘Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’ – has now seized large parts of northern Iraq, with consequent freeing of prisoners, fleeing of frightened former residents of that area and even unconfirmed reports of ‘mass beheadings’. Other reports of mass executions of official Iraqi army personnel seem to have been confirmed.

Presumably there will be worse to come.

Slaughter in IRAQ

All in the name of an Islamic State?

Well, hold on, maybe not just that.

It turns out that as Iraq descends into what will probably be a bloody civil war, the ISIS-al Qaeda forces have taken time to raid Mosul’s central bank and relieve it of some 500 billion Iraqi dinars, worth approximately $425 million.

Mosul is not only the largest city in northern Iraq, it is an oil hub at the vital intersection of Syria, Iraq and Turkey, thus providing rich pickings for the terrorists.

They also reportedly stole additional $ millions from a number of other banks across Mosul and what has only been quantified as a “large quantity of gold bullion.”

Others towns and cities, like Saddam Hussein’s old home town Tikrit, have suffered a similar fate.

As a result of all this George Bush / Tony Bliar created disaster, the ISIS/al Qaeda chief, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a previously relatively unknown figure, is now the leader of perhaps the ‘world’s richest terror force’.

obama-funding-syrian-rebels-al-qaeda-benghazi

(Quick side note to President Obama – I’m sure he reads this blog 🙂

– Hi Barrack, you can stop using American taxpayers’ money

to fund these ISIS terrorists in Syria, they have enough money now.)

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In fact, to put the latest cash haul in perspective, at the time of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the US, Al-Qaeda had been working with an operating budget of around $30 million (source ‘Council on Foreign Relations’), so even allowing for inflation they are substantially richer today, and by definition have it in their power to do much more damage not just in the Middle East region, but worldwide.

As regional analyst Brown Moses succinctly put it on Twitter, this recent haul of ill gotten gains will “buy a whole lot of Jihad……For example, with $425 million, ISIS could pay 60,000 fighters around $600 a month for a year.”

It might even do a lot more. ISIS has already attracted 12,000 militants from abroad, 3,000 of whom are from the West. With bought mercenaries on board things can only get worse.

Bush Blair whose Words of Mass Deception created needless death and destruction in Iraq

When Bush and Blair used Words of Mass Deception about Saddam Hussein having Weapons of Mass destruction as a bogus excuse to attack Iraq there were no terrorists and no terrorist threat from that country. Thanks to their lies, deceit and incompetence, there are now.

If this is an ‘improvement’ I can’t see it  –  can you?

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Playing With Statistics

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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It’s Sunday so time for another Sunday Sermon.

There’s a famous quote from US President Abraham Lincoln that goes something like, “you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time”.

On the face of it Lincoln’s words seem rather clever and profound – and true. And so they are.

Up to a point.

But what Lincoln didn’t say (and he was a politician after all) is that you don’t have to fool ALL of the people ALL of the time.

What you have to do is fool them long enough to do what you need to do – for example, in the case of a politician, to get yourself elected.  

 

graph Miss Universe

Which brings me to statistics.

Because the best people in the world at playing with statistics are politicians and governments.

Some people believe everything they are told. Others call the figures governments produce ‘disingenuous’ which is being very kind. And some don’t believe a word or a number that they produce. (Take a wild guess at which camp I am in.)

Government statistical results are in effect lies. You can’t call them that – although I just did – because they can find figures to back up what they say, it’s just that they choose the figures that tell the story they want to promote and ignore all the rest that tell a different story.

For example, to get on to one of my favorite rant subjects, there is a thing which I am sure most of you have never heard of called the ‘Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program’ or ‘SIGTARP’ for short.

When the government is challenged about what is has been doing to bring to justice the banksters, who stole and recklessly gambled away our money, they can quote you a statistic or two saying that over the last few years, SIGTARP has put over 100 senior bank executives in jail, each of whom was convicted of stealing from taxpayers.

Although that fact is ‘technically’ or ‘statistically’ true, what they don’t tell you is that the people they have gone after and convicted are all small time crooks, guilty of small time frauds that are seldom above $1m or $1.5 million in value.

All the super crooks who embezzled hundreds of $ billions and almost brought down the entire financial system aren’t even being seriously pursued. More than six years into the SIGTARP investigations there are literally still hundreds of billions of outstanding ‘loans’, from banks including Citi, JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America.

They can quote figures all day long to try to mislead the people and make themselves look good, but a few small time crooks thrown in jail for stealing a million or two dollars here and there isn’t ever going to make much of a dent in the $ billions that were stolen. The politicians know that as well as anyone.

Perhaps Mark Twain’s “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics,” might have been a better quote!

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