I participated in a very interesting debate in the NY Times regarding how to fix the rating agencies

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I end my contribution to the debate as follows:

How do you fix this (if it’s not obvious already)?

Eliminate perverse incentives. Whoever wants to buy an asset should have to pay to have it rated. Credit agencies shouldn’t be paid by the same entities they might have to chastise.

It would also help if agencies could no longer hide behind the excuse that their rating was only an opinion, rather than empirical research they must stand behind. There's no need to do a reliable job if you face no credible legal liability, and the government essentially limits the competition you face.

For six years, I have run circles around the three major agencies with timely and accurate predictions of where regional banks, commercial/investment banks (Bear Stearns collapseLehman Brothers), insurerscommercial real estateresidential real estate, US home builders (Lennar), and the pan-European sovereign debt crisis participants were heading. If I can do it, the agencies can too.

One thing many commenters seem to be confused about is the ability for investors to pay for ratings. You don't get anything for free. Never does something emanate from nothing. Any credible advice HAS to be paid for, period! S&P actually sells equity research to the end user, yet gives away fixed income research. Which do you think is the most credible? Most fized income investors are institutions, who are more than capable of paying for advice, and regularly do so anyway. 

We can fix the problems we have with rating agencies as end users, but you have to realize that the agencies themselves are not broken. It appears as if the agencies are broken only if you don't understand their business model...

This clip is an excerpt from the VPRO documentary on rating agencies, a worthwhile view. In the meantime, let's revisit my historical viewpoints on the topic:

The Embarrassingly Ugly Truth About Spain: The IMF, EC and ALL Major Rating Agencies Are LYING!!!

Rating Agencies vs Reggie Middleton, Part 3

Published in BoomBustBlog

Maurice Greenberg, the ousted CEO, Chairman, and founder of AIG who remains a major investor in the company, filed suit in 2011 on behalf of fellow shareholders against the government. He has urged A.I.G. to enjoin which should pressure the government into settlement talks - that is if the powers that be don't start distending the law. NY Times Dealbook looks at it this way:

Should Mr. Greenberg snare a major settlement without A.I.G., the company could face additional lawsuits from other shareholders. Suing the government would not only placate the 87-year-old former chief, but would put A.I.G. in line for a potential payout.

Yet such a move would almost certainly be widely seen as an audacious display of ingratitude. The action would also threaten to inflame tensions in Washington, where the company has become a byword for excessive risk-taking on Wall Street.

Some government officials are already upset with the company for even seriously entertaining the lawsuit, people briefed on the matter said. The people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, noted that without the bailout, A.I.G. shareholders would have fared far worse in bankruptcy.

“On the one hand, from a corporate governance perspective, it appears they’re being extra cautious and careful,” said Frank Partnoy, a former banker who is now a professor of law and finance at the University of San Diego School of Law. “On the other hand, it’s a slap in the face to the taxpayer and the government.”

AIG has every right and responsibility to sue the US for excessive interest payments on it's bailout! Yes, the company failed in execution. Yes, the company would have went bust if the government didn't rescue it. But that is besides the point. If the government wanted market forces to reign supreme they would have let AIG collapse. The fact is they didn't. The reason is because the government was bailing out the banks, namely the most politically connected publicly traded entity in the entire world. The Vampire Squid! Goldman Sachs! As excerpted from the NY Times:

At the end of the American International Group’s annual meeting last month, a shareholder approached the microphone with a question for Robert Benmosche, the insurer’s chief executive. “I’d like to know, what does A.I.G. plan to do with Goldman Sachs?” he asked. “Are you going to get — recoup — some of our money that was given to them?

As a condition of AIG's bailout, the government "insisted" on paying Goldman et. al. 100 cents on the dollar of its CDS written with AIG, something that wouldn't have been necessary if Goldman had prudently underwritten counterparty and credit risks that it was taking. Apparently, the US government believes that it didn't. In addition, it's somethng that wouldn't have been possible if the government didn't intervene on behalf of the banks, forcing the AIG shareholders to take a hit, but shielding the Goldman, et. al. shareholders. As my grandma used to tell me, what's good for the goose is good for the gander! It's not as if these credit/counterparty risks were invisible, I saw them as far back as early 2008 - reference I won't say I told you so, again. This page also happened to of shown the credit risk concentration of every bank granted a reprieve by the government after the fact. As a matter of fact, there's still more than a modicum of risk present, as clearly illustrated in...

Hunting the Squid, Part2: Since When Is Enough Derivative Exposure To Blow Up The World Something To Be Ignored?Hunting the Squid, Part2: Since When Is Enough Derivative Exposure To Blow Up The World Something To Be Ignored?  

Hunting the Squid, Part2: Since When Is Enough Derivative Exposure To Blow Up The World Something To Be Ignored?

Welcome to part two of my series on Hunting the Squid, the overvaluation and under-appreciation of the risks that is Goldman Sachs. Since this highly analytical, but poignant diatribe covers a lot of material, it's imperative that those who have not done so review part 1 of this series, I'm Hunting Big Game Today:The Squid On The Spear Tip, Part...

 

Hunting the Squid, part 4: So, What Else Can Go Wrong With The Squid? Plenty!!!Hunting the Squid, part 4: So, What Else Can Go Wrong With The Squid? Plenty!!!  

Hunting the Squid, part 4: So, What Else Can Go Wrong With Goldman Sachs? Plenty!

Yes, this more of the hardest hitting investment banking research available focusing on Goldman Sachs (the Squid), but before you go on, be sure you have read parts 1.2. and 3:  I'm Hunting Big Game Today:The Squid On A Spear Tip, Part 1 & Introduction Hunting the Squid, Part2: Since When Is Enough Derivative Exposure To Blow Up The World Something To...

Now, AIG's shareholders are being forced to finance the bailout of Goldman Sachs. To not combat that should open AIG management up to shareholder lawsuits, for they are not acting as a fiduciary of the shareholder capital if they let this slide. It's one thing to pay for the AIG bailout, but its another to pay for the Goldman bailout. In addition, this forced bailout that refused to force AIG creditors not to take haircuts runs counter to the ideology the government used when it forced the Chrysler's creditor's to take massive haircuts.

When the government began rescuing it from collapse in the fall of 2008 with what has become a $182 billion lifeline, A.I.G. was required to forfeit its right to sue several banks — including Goldman, Société GénéraleDeutsche Bank and Merrill Lynch — over any irregularities with most of the mortgage securities it insured in the precrisis years.

But after the Securities and Exchange Commission’s civil fraud suit filed in April against Goldman for possibly misrepresenting a mortgage deal to investors, A.I.G. executives and shareholders are asking whether A.I.G. may have been misled by Goldman into insuring mortgage deals that the bank and others may have known were flawed.

The anger here should be directed at Goldman, et. al., and not AIG. AIG's management is doing its job, something that our government officials failed to do in making Goldman, et. al. whole during the bailout. Can anyone say regulatory capture?  Goldman et. al.'s transgressions against its clients and counterparties in terms of misrepresentation and what appears to this lay person as outright fraud have been downright egregious, as clearly articulated in Goldman Sachs Executive Director Corroborates Reggie Middleton's Stance: Business Model Designed To Walk Over Clients, it's just that this time, the US taxpayer AND the AIG shareholders are the "Muppets"! The Abacus deal was particularly atrocious, Paulson, Abacus and Goldman Sachs Lawsuit. How about Morgan Stanley's CRE deals on behalf of their so-called clients? Wall Street Real Estate Funds Lose Between 61% to 98% for Their Investors as They Rake in Fees!

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 If Goldman, et. al. were allowed to swim solely at the mercy of the free markets, it (they) would be sinking, Goldman Sachs Latest: Vindicates BoomBustBlog Research ...

... documents also indicate that regulators ignored recommendations from their own advisers to force the banks to accept losses on their A.I.G. deals and instead paid the banks in full for the contracts. That decision, say critics of the A.I.G. bailout, has cost taxpayers billions of extra dollars in payments to the banks. It also contrasts with the hard line the White House took in 2009 when it forced Chrysler’s lenders to take losses when the government bailed out the auto giant.

Regulatory capture! Banks simply lobby harder and pay more to the government than auto companies. How many auto company execs are embedded in government leadership seats worldwide?

As a Congressional commission convenes hearings Wednesday exploring the A.I.G. bailout and Goldman’s relationship with the insurer, analysts say that the documents suggest that regulators were overly punitive toward A.I.G. and overly forgiving of banks during the bailout — signified, they say, by the fact that the legal waiver undermined A.I.G. and its shareholders’ ability to recover damages.

“Even if it turns out that it would be a hard suit to win, just the gesture of requiring A.I.G. to scrap its ability to sue is outrageous,” said David Skeel, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania. “The defense may be that the banking system was in trouble, and we couldn’t afford to destabilize it anymore, but that just strikes me as really going overboard.”

“This really suggests they had myopia and they were looking at it entirely through the perspective of the banks,” Mr. Skeel said.

Nahh? It's called the Federal Reserve Bank, not the Federal Reserve Insurer, nor the Federal Reserve Taxpayer! Who the hell do you think they will back in a crunch?

About $46 billion of the taxpayer money in the A.I.G. bailout was used to pay to mortgage trading partners like Goldman and Société Générale, a French bank, to make good on their claims. The banks are not expected to return any of that money, leading the Congressional Research Service to say in March that much of the taxpayer money ultimately bailed out the banks, not A.I.G.

Of which the interest of about 50% of which should be refunded to AIG shareholders. Without the AIG bailout, these banks would have recieved ZILCH, NOTHING, NADA, Bull Sh1t!

Published in BoomBustBlog

Here are the most popular articles on BoomBustBlog over the last 364 days as we close out the 2012 year. As those who have been reading my work and following for the last 6 years know, I tend to call out trends early relative to the the pop pundits and sell side analysts. Unfortunately, these days, relatively early means before markets collapse or companies utterly dominate their industries.  Without further adieu... 

The Biggest Threat To The 2012 Economy Is??? Not What Wall Street Is Telling You...

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Last January, while oil price shocks, Israeli military tensions and beef with Iran dominated the headlines, I turned my focus on the single most overrated economy in the developed world - Germany! While not poised for utter collapse like you know who, many portfolios, bank balance sheets, insurance company actuarial analyses, etc. assumed this country can bailout out its own profligate banks, insolvent peripheral EU countries, and itself as its economy enters recession surrounded by trading partners who also are re-entering a recession (which they truly never left). To say the least, somebody is likely to be proven to be severely mistaken.

 

How Inferior American Education Caused The Credit/Real Estate/Sovereign Debt Bubbles and Why It's Preventing True Recovery

This is a lengthy, highly provocative article illustrating in explicit detail my thoughts on how America's inferior education system made the Great Recession not only a foregone conclusion of indoctrinated GroupThink, but prevents a true recovery from recovery due to the abject fear of price clearing. You may need to put your thinking caps on and exercise some patience and restraint with this one. I am going to follow it up with an explicit example of said groupthink by going against the conventional grain (yet again) and pointing out what many in the mainstream consider to be the most likely threat to economic prosperity in 2012 (and no, Iran is not even in the running on this one). I blame indoctrinated GroupThink for the inability of Wall Street to see the excessive coniferous expanse due to tree bark blindness! Until the next post, though...

The Ugly Truth About The Greek Situation That's Too Difficult Broadcast Through Mainstream Media

A clear example of how simple math on a web-based spreadsheet unequivocally demonstrated that Greece HAD TO DEFAULT in 2012, and said default was arithmetically obvious as far back as 2010! 6th grade math, made easy (for everybody outside of the EC!).

 

Trading Physical Gold: Is Gold In A Bubble?

 

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This is the 4th installment (of 5) of my interview of the CEO of GBI (Gold Bullion International), a small firm located on Wall Street that allows investors (retail & institutional) to actually buy, sell, trade and store physical gold in the investor's own name. The previous installments (listed below) feature some very tough questions. BoomBustBlog interviews are not pushovers or advertisements. You must be able to hold your own.

Bernanke's Lying Through His Teeth and Not A Single Pundit/Analyst/Banker Has Called Him On It!!!

As the Fed Chairman continues to bedazzle them with the Bullsh1t, I point out a multitude of nonsensical statements culminating with the obvious, another concerted bank bailout at the expense of Joe Sixpack. The video (published shortly after the story was penned) tells the story with pictures instead of prose...

Apple's iPad Is Losing Market Share And Profit Margin As Apple Hits All Time High

Oh, this one may not have been the most well-liked, but it was damn sure well viewed. I literally had thousands of comments knocking the analysis until it proved absolutely correct, then all that can be heard was crickets.... Let's not forget the follow-up posts a quarter or so later...

 Right On Time, My Prediction Of Apple Margin Compression 8 Quarters From My CNBC Warning Landed Right On The Money!

Deconstructing The Most Hated Trade Of The Decade, The 375% BoomBustBlog Apple Call!! 

... and going into detail with Deconstructing The Most Accurate Apple Analysis Ever Made - Share Price, Market Share, Strategy and All

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The Final Facebook Forensic IPO Analysis: the Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Illustrating the farce that was the most anticipated IPO in the history of the US equity markets, the Facebook story was told well in advance on BoomBustBlog, actually over a year in advance. I warned that this company's shares were drastically overpriced while it was still trading as a private company on websites over the Internet. Through all of the froth and broth brought out by the highest paid, high pressure salesmen in the world (sell side bankers), the stock IPO'd at $38, rose to forty something that day, then fell to just over $17, to settle at around $27 or so today. Here is the analysis, released in large part to the public.

Published in BoomBustBlog

While perusing the news today, I came across this most interesting article in Bloomberg, Swaps ‘Armageddon’ Lingers as New Rules Concentrate Risk'. Before we delve into it, I want to review how vehemently I've sounded the alarm on this topic over the last 6 years. Let's start with So, When Does 3+5=4? When You Aggregate A Bunch Of Risky Banks & Then Pretend That You Didn't?, where I've aggregated my warnings into a single article. In a nutshell, 5 banks bear 96% of the global derivatives risk. The argument to defend such ass backwards risk concentration is "but it's mostly hedged, offset and netted out". Right! You know that old trader's saying about liquidity? It's always available, that is until you need it!

Even though I've made this point of netting = nonsense multiple times, I must admit, ZH did a more loquacious job, as follows:

..Wrong. The problem with bilateral netting is that it is based on one massively flawed assumption, namely that in an orderly collapse all derivative contracts will be honored by the issuing bank (in this case the company that has sold the protection, and which the buyer of protection hopes will offset the protection it in turn has sold). The best example of how the flaw behind bilateral netting almost destroyed the system is AIG: the insurance company was hours away from making trillions of derivative contracts worthless if it were to implode, leaving all those who had bought protection from the firm worthless, a contingency only Goldman hedged by buying protection on AIG. And while the argument can further be extended that in bankruptcy a perfectly netted bankrupt entity would make someone else who on claims they have written, this is not true, as the bankrupt estate will pursue 100 cent recovery on its claims even under Chapter 11, while claims the estate had written end up as General Unsecured Claims which as Lehman has demonstrated will collect 20 cents on the dollar if they are lucky.

The point of this detour being that if any of these four banks fails, the repercussions would be disastrous. And no, Frank Dodd's bank "resolution" provision would do absolutely nothing to prevent an epic systemic collapse. 

Hey, there ain't no concentration risk in US banks, and any blogger with two synapses to spark together should know this... From An Independent Look into JP Morgan.

Click graph to enlarge

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Cute graphic above, eh? There is plenty of this in the public preview. When considering the staggering level of derivatives employed by JPM, it is frightening to even consider the fact that the quality of JPM's derivative exposure is even worse than Bear Stearns and Lehman‘s derivative portfolio just prior to their fall. Total net derivative exposure rated below BBB and below for JP Morgan currently stands at 35.4% while the same stood at 17.0% for Bear Stearns (February 2008) and 9.2% for Lehman (May 2008). We all know what happened to Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, don't we??? I warned all about Bear Stearns (Is this the Breaking of the Bear?: On Sunday, 27 January 2008) and Lehman ("Is Lehman really a lemming in disguise?": On February 20th, 2008) months before their collapse by taking a close, unbiased look at their balance sheet. Both of these companies were rated investment grade at the time, just like "you know who".

So, the Bloomberg article that got this rant started basically says that the risk is being shifted from the banks to clearing houses, who demand above board, translucent collateral for transactions. This should solve the problem, right? Hardly! You see, the Fed and US banking regulators have made it legal and acceptable for banks to outright lie about the qualit of their collateral and the condition of their finances. It all came to light with my research on Lehman (and Bear Stearns, amonst others). These mistakes are so repetitive of the ones made in the past, I literally do not have to right any new material, let's just re-read what was written several years ago:

Lehman Brothers and Its Regulators Deal the Ultimate Blow to Mark to Market Opponents

Let's get something straight right off the bat. We all know there is a certain level of fraud sleight of hand in the financial industry. I have called many banks insolvent in the past. Some have pooh-poohed these proclamations, while others have looked in wonder, saying "How the hell did he know that?"

The list above is a small, relevant sampling of at least dozens of similar calls. Trust me, dear reader, what some may see as divine premonition is nothing of the sort. It is definitely not a sign of superior ability, insider info, or heavenly intellect. I would love to consider myself a hyper-intellectual, but alas, it just ain't so and I'm not going to lie to you. The truth of the matter is I sniffed these incongruencies out because 2+2 never did equal 46, and it probably never will either. An objective look at each and every one of these situations shows that none of them added up. In each case, there was someone (or a lot of people) trying to get you to believe that 2=2=46.xxx. They justified it with theses that they alleged were too complicated for the average man to understand (and in business, if that is true, then it is probably just too complicated to work in the long run as well). They pronounced bold new eras, stating "This time is different", "There is a new math" (as if there was something wrong with the old math), etc. and so on and associated bullshit.

So, the question remains, why is it that a lowly blogger and small time individual investor with a skeleton staff of analysts can uncover systemic risks, frauds and insolvencies at a level that it appears the SEC hasn't even gleaned as of yet? Two words, "Regulatory Capture". You see, and as I reluctantly admitted, it is not that I am so smart, it is that the regulator's goals are not the same as mine. My efforts are designed to ferret out the truth for enlightenment, profit and gain. Regulators' goals are to serve a myriad constituency that does not necessarily have the individual tax payer at the top of the hierarchical pyramid. Before we go on, let me excerpt from a piece that I wrote on the topic at hand so we are all on the same page: How Regulatory Capture Turns Doo Doo Deadly.

You see, the banking industry lobbied the regulators to allow them to lie about the value and quality of their assets and liabilities and just like that, the banking problem was solved. Literally! At least from a equity market pricing and public disinformation campaign point of view...

A picture is worth a thousand words...

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So, how does this play into today's big headlines in the alternative, grass roots media? Well, on the front page of the Huffington Post and ZeroHedge, we have a damning expose of Lehman Brothers (we told you this in the first quarter of 2008, though), detailing their use of REPO 105 financing to basically lie about their
liquidity positions and solvency. The most damning and most interesting tidbit lies within a more obscure ZeroHedge article that details findings from the recently released Lehman papers, though:

On September 11, JPMorgan executives met to discuss significant valuation problems with securities that Lehman had posted as collateral over the summer. JPMorgan concluded that the collateral was not worth nearly what Lehman had claimed it was worth, and decided to request an additional $5 billion in cash collateral from Lehman that day. The request was communicated in an executive?level phone call, and Lehman posted $5 billion in cash to JPMorgan by the afternoon of Friday, September 12. Around the same time, JPMorgan learned that a security known as Fenway, which Lehman had posted to JPMorgan at a stated value of $3 billion,was actually asset?backed commercial paper credit?enhanced by Lehman (that is, it was Lehman, rather than a third party, that effectively guaranteed principal and interest payments). JPMorgan concluded that Fenway was worth practically nothing as collateral.

Well, I'm sure many are saying that this couldn't happen in this day and age, post Lehman debacle, right? Well, it happened in 2007 with GGP and I called it -  The Commercial Real Estate Crash Cometh, and I know who is leading the way! As a matter of fact, we all know it happened many times throughout that period. Wait a minute, it's now nearly 2013, and lo and behold.... When A REIT Trading Over $15 A Share Is Shown To Have Nearly All Of Its Properties UNDERWATER!!!

Paid subscribers are welcome to download the corporate level valuation of PEI as well as all of the summary stats of our findings on its various properties. The spreadsheet can be found here - File Icon Results of Properties Analysis, Valuation of PEI with Lenders' Names. In putting a realistic valuation on PEI, we independently valued a sampling of 27 of its properties. We found that many if not most of those properties were actually underwater. Most of those that weren't underwater were mortgaged under a separate credit facility.   

PEI Underwater  Overly Encumbered Properties

What are the chances that the properties, whole loans and MBS being pledged by PEI's creditors are being pledged at par? Back to the future, it's the same old thing all over again. Like those banks, PEI is trading higher with its public equity despite the fact that its private equity values are clearly underwater - all part of the perks of not having to truly mark assets to market prices.  

 From Bloomberg: Swaps ‘Armageddon’ Lingers as New Rules Concentrate Risk

Clearinghouses cut risk by collecting collateral at the start of each transaction, monitoring daily price moves and making traders put up more cash as losses occur. Traders have to deal through clearing members, typically the biggest banks and brokerages. Unlike privately traded derivatives, prices for cleared trades are set every day and publicly disclosed.

And what happens when everybody lies about said prices? Is PEI's debt really looking any better than GGP's debt of 2007?

GGP Leverage Summary 2007

Properties with negative equity and leverage >80% 32
Properties with leverage >80% 44
% of properties with negative equity (based on CFAT after debt service) 72.7%

PEI Summary 2012

PEI Underwater  Overly Encumbered Properties

Both of these companies have debt that have been pledged by banks as collateral. Would you trust either of them? The banks then use the collateral to do other deals leading to more bubbles. What's next up in bubble land? I warned of it in 2009...

Check this out, from "On Morgan Stanley's Latest Quarterly Earnings - More Than Meets the Eye???" Monday, 24 May 2010:

Those who don't subscribe should reference my warnings of the concentration and reliance on FICC revenues (foreign exchange, currencies, and fixed income trading).  Morgan Stanley's exposure to this as well as what I have illustrated in full detail via the  the Pan-European Sovereign Debt Crisis series, has increased materially. As excerpted from "The Next Step in the Bank Implosion Cycle???":

The amount of bubbliciousness, overvaluation and risk in the market is outrageous, particularly considering the fact that we haven't even come close to deflating the bubble from earlier this year and last year! Even more alarming is some of the largest banks in the world, and some of the most respected (and disrespected) banks are heavily leveraged into this trade one way or the other. The alleged swap hedges that these guys allegedly have will be put to the test, and put to the test relatively soon. As I have alleged in previous posts (As the markets climb on top of one big, incestuous pool of concentrated risk... ), you cannot truly hedge multi-billion risks in a closed circle of only 4 counterparties, all of whom are in the same businesses taking the same risks.

Click to expand!

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So, How are Banks Entangled in the Mother of All Carry Trades?

Trading revenues for U.S Commercial banks have witnessed robust growth since 4Q08 on back of higher (although of late declining) bid-ask spreads and fewer write-downs on investment portfolios. According to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, commercial banks' reported trading revenues rose to a record $5.2 bn in 2Q09, which is extreme (to say the least) compared to $1.6 bn in 2Q08 and average of $802 mn in past 8 quarters.

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High dependency on Forex and interest rate contracts

Continued growth in trading revenues on back of growth in overall derivative contracts, (especially for interest rate and foreign exchange contracts) has raised doubt on the sustainability of revenues over hear at the BoomBustBlog analyst lab. According to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, notional amount of derivatives contracts of U.S Commercial banks grew at a CAGR of 20.5% to $203 trillion by 2Q-09 from $87.9 trillion in 2004 with interest rate contracts and foreign exchange contracts comprising a substantial 84.5% and 7.5% of total notional value of derivatives, respectively. Interest rate contracts have grown at a CAGR of 20.1% to $171.9 trillion between 4Q-04 to 2Q-09 while Forex contracts have grown at a CAGR of 13.4% to $15.2 trillion between 4Q-04 to 2Q-09.

In terms of absolute dollar exposure, JP Morgan has the largest exposure towards both Interest rate and Forex contracts with notional value of interest rate contracts at $64.6 trillion and Forex contracts at $6.2 trillion exposing itself to volatile changes in both interest rates and currency movements (non-subscribers should reference An Independent Look into JP Morgan, while subscribers should referenceFile Icon JPM Report (Subscription-only) Final - Professional, and File Icon JPM Forensic Report (Subscription-only) Final- Retail). However, Goldman Sachs with interest rate contracts to total assets at 318.x and Forex contracts to total assets at 11.2x has the largest relative exposure (see Goldman Sachs Q2 2009 Pre-announcement opinion Goldman Sachs Q2 2009 Pre-announcement opinion 2009-07-13 00:08:57 920.92 Kb,  Goldman Sachs Stress Test ProfessionalGoldman Sachs Stress Test Professional 2009-04-20 10:06:45 4.04 MbGoldman Sachs Stress Test Retail Goldman Sachs Stress Test Retail 2009-04-20 10:08:06 720.25 Kb,). As subscribers can see from the afore-linked analysis, Goldman is trading at an extreme premium from a risk adjusted book value perspective.

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Back to the Bloomberg article:

Disaster Scenario

The need for a Fed rescue isn’t out of the question, said Satyajit Das, a former Citicorp and Merrill Lynch & Co. executive who has written books on derivatives. Das sketched a scenario where a large trader fails to make a margin call. This kindles rumors that a bank handling the trader’s transactions -- a clearing member -- is short on cash.

Remaining clients rush to pull their trading accounts and cash, forcing the lender into bankruptcy. Questions begin to swirl about whether the remaining clearing members can absorb billions in losses, spurring more runs.

“Bank customers panic, and they start to withdraw money,” he said. “The amount of money needed starts to become problematic. None of this is quantifiable in advance.” The collateral put up by traders and default fund sizes are calculated using data that might not hold up, he said.

The collateral varies by product and clearinghouse. At CME, the collateral or “margin” for a 10-year interest-rate swap ranges between 2.89 percent and 4.06 percent of the trade’s notional value, according to Morgan Stanley. At LCH, it’s 3.2 percent to 3.41 percent, the bank said in a November note.

How Much?

The number typically is based on “value-at-risk,” and is calculated to cover the losses a trader might suffer with a 99 percent level of confidence. That means the biggest losses might not be fully covered.

It’s a formula like the one JPMorgan used and botched earlier this year in the so-called London Whale episode, when it miscalculated how much risk its chief investment office was taking and lost at least $6.2 billion on credit-default swaps. Clearinghouses may fall into a similar trap in their margin calculations, the University of Houston’s Pirrong wrote in a research paper in May 2011.

“Levels of margin that appear prudent in normal times may become severely insufficient during periods of market stress,” wrote Pirrong, whose paper was commissioned by an industry trade group.


Oh, but wait a minute? Didn't I clearly outline such a scenario in 2010 for French banks overlevered on Greek and Italian Debt (currently trading at a fractiono of par)? See The Anatomy Of A European Bank Run: Look At The Banking Situation BEFORE The Run Occurs!

The problem then is the same as the European problem now, leveraging up to buy assets that have dropped precipitously in value and then lying about it until you cannot lie anymore. You see, the lies work on everybody but your counterparties - who actually want to see cash!

 

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Using this European bank as a proxy for Bear Stearns in January of 2008, the tall stalk represents the liabilities behind Bear's illiquid level 2 and level 3 assets (including the ill fated mortgage products). Equity is destroyed as the assets leveraged through the use of these liabilities are nearly halved in value, leaving mostly liabilities. The maroon stalk represents the extreme risk displayed in the first chart in this missive, and that is the excessive reliance on very short term liabilities to fund very long term and illiquid assets that have depreciated in price. Wait, there's more!

The green represents the unseen canary in the coal mine, and the reason why Bear Stearns and Lehman ultimately collapsed. As excerpted from "The Fuel Behind Institutional “Runs on the Bank" Burns Through Europe, Lehman-Style":

The modern central banking system has proven resilient enough to fortify banks against depositor runs, as was recently exemplified in the recent depositor runs on UK, Irish, Portuguese and Greek banks – most of which received relatively little fanfare. Where the risk truly lies in today’s fiat/fractional reserve banking system is the run on counterparties. Today’s global fractional reserve bank get’s more financing from institutional counterparties than any other source save its short term depositors.  In cases of the perception of extreme risk, these counterparties are prone to pull funding are request overcollateralization for said funding. This is what precipitated the collapse of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, the pulling of liquidity by skittish counterparties, and the excessive capital/collateralization calls by other counterparties. Keep in mind that as some counterparties and/or depositors pull liquidity, covenants are tripped that often demand additional capital/collateral/ liquidity be put up by the remaining counterparties, thus daisy-chaining into a modern day run on the bank!

image006image006

I'm sure many of you may be asking yourselves, "Well, how likely is this counterparty run to happen today? You know, with the full, unbridled printing press power of the ECB, and all..." Well, don't bet the farm on overconfidence. The risk of a capital haircut for European banks with exposure to sovereign debt of fiscally challenged nations is inevitable.

You see, the risk is all about velocity and confidence. If the market moves gradually, the clearing house system is ok. If it moves violently and all participants move for cash at the same time against bogus collateral... BOOMMMM!!!!!!!

Back to the Bloomberg article...

Stress Levels

What’s more, clearinghouses can’t use their entire hoard of collateral to extinguish a crisis because it’s not a general emergency fund. The sum represents cash posted by investors to cover their own trades and can’t be used to cover defaults of other people.

Clearinghouses can turn to default funds to cover the collapse of the two largest banks or securities firms with which they do business. They have the power to assess the remaining solvent members for billions more, enough to cover the demise of their third- and fourth-largest members.

But wait a minute, the other members are only solvent because they have hedges against the insolvency of the insolvent members. If those hedges fail, then the so-called solvent members are insolvent too! Or did nobody else think of that?

After all, this circular reasoning worked out very well for Greece, didn't it? See Greece's Circular Reasoning Challenge Moves From BoomBustBlog to the Mainstream...

 

 


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ZeroHedge, in its snarky, smart ass, Reggie Middleton-like manner made me chuckle this morning with this headline: Mario Draghi Sends Risk Reeling After Exposing Bitter European Truth

It was shaping up like the perfect overnight ramp following yesterday's Goldilocks election result... and then Mario Draghi opened his mouth.

    • DRAGHI SAYS DEBT CRISIS STARTING TO HURT GERMAN ECONOMY
    • DRAGHI SAYS GERMAN RATES LOWER THAN THEY WOULD BE OTHERWISE

And so finally, after months and months of explaining the fundamental dichotomy in Europe (see here), it is finally becoming transparent. And it is as follow: Germany, which is the economic dynamo of Europe, needs a weaker EURUSD to keep its export economy running. Period, end of Story. The problem is that the lower the EURUSD, the greater the implied and perceived EUR redenomination risk, which in turns send the periphery reeling, and will force first Spain, and then everyone else to eventually demand (not request) a bailout.

A quick search on the topic reveals much more of the same...

Draghi admits Germanys f234ked

I emphasize this point because this problem was woefully evident nearly a dull year ago. On Thursday, 12 January 2012, after railing on the US education system (How Inferior American Education Caused The Credit/Real Estate/Sovereign Debt Bubbles and Why It's Preventing True Recovery), I made clear to all Harry Potter aficionados (you know, those Euro-types who would rather believe magic over math) that biggest threat to the 2012 economy was sitting right beneath their noses couched as a savior more than a threat. Reference The Biggest Threat To The 2012 Economy Is??? Not What Wall Street Is Telling You..., wherein I painstakingly took the tie to attempt to reassert the authority of math over magic. With the exclusion of central bank mysticism and the attrition of the belief that these bastards can create something out of nothing, or more to the point, can drive nearly everything towards nothing and then suddenly state that they have created something, I bring you my warning prescient warning on Germany and the macro-fundamental call to be aware of the bear Bund trade, to wit:

I believe Germany poses the biggest threat to global harmony for 2012. Here's why...

European banks are (in addition to borrowing on a secured basis from those customers they usually lend to) also paying insurers and pension funds to take their illiquid bonds in exchange for better quality ones, in a desperate bid to secure much-needed cash from the ECB, which only provides cash against collateral. This may not be as safe a measure as it sounds. Below is a sensitivity analysis of Generali's (a highly leveraged Italian insurer, subscribers see File Icon Exposure of European insurers to PIIGS) sovereign debt holdings.

image004image004

As you can see, Generali is highly leveraged into PIIGS debt, with 400% of its tangible equity exposed. Despite such leveraged exposure, I calculate (off the cuff, not an in depth analysis) that it took a 10% hit to Tangible Equity. Now, that's a lot, but one would assume that it would have been much worse. What saved it? Diversification into Geman bunds, whose yield went negative, thus throwing off a 14% return. Not bad for alleged AAA fixed income. But let's face it, Germany lives in the same roach motel as the rest of the profligate EU, they just rent the penthouse suite! Remember, Germany is not in recession after a rip roaring bull run in its bonds, and I presume the recession should get much deeper since as a net exporter it has to faces its trading partners going broke. Below you see what happens if the bund returns were simply run along the historical trend line (with not extreme bullishness of the last year).

image005image005

Companies such as Generali would instantly lose a third of their tangible equity. This is quite conservative, since the profligate states bonds would probably collapse unless the spreads shrink, which is highly doubtful. Below you see what would happen if bunds were to take a 10% loss.

image006image006

That's right, a 10% loss in bunds translates into a near 50% loss in tangible equity to this insurer, which would realistically be 60% plus as the rest of the EU portfolio will compress in solidarity. Combine this with the fact that insurers operating results are facing historically unprecedented stress (see You Can Rest Assured That The Insurance Industry Is In For Guaranteed Losses!) and it's not hard to imagine marginal insurers seeing equity totally wiped out. The same situation is evident in banks and pension funds as well as real estate entities dependent on financing in the near to medium term - basically, the entire FIRE sector in both European and US markets (that's right, don't believe those who say the US banks have decoupled from Europe).

thumb_Reggie_Middleton_on_Street_Signs_Fire

Now, all of this excerpt above was written BEFORE Tropical Storm Sandy hit the east cost. Now, its a whole difference ball game in terms of combined ratios and operating losses. Exactly how are those operating losses are going to be paid once the truth becomes widespread, re: Germany vs the periphery?

First: See FIRE Burns From Hurricane Sandy - Fear The Insurance Companies, Twice Over - Just Ask the ECB, Greece, Spain & Portugal

Second: Go long magic wands and Harry Potter paraphenalia!!! 

The damage to banks will probably be worse due to the higher level of leverage in European institutions. This is saying a lot since Italy's Generali is truly levered up the ASS! As excerpted from our professional series (subscribers see File Icon Bank Run Liquidity Candidate Forensic Opinion:).. (click here to continue reading)

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WSJ.com reports: The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is investigating alleged unauthorized trading at Rochdale Securities LLC

Daniel Crowley, Rochdale's president, said Finra, a Wall Street self-regulator, was investigating trading that has put the company in a precarious financial position, adding, "The firm is recapitalizing and should be talking to the market shortly." He declined to offer more details on the trading or the investigation.

A person familiar with the thinking of Rochdale executives said a trader at the firm received an order for stock in Apple Inc. AAPL +0.63% but bought 1,000 times the number of shares requested. The trader is saying the extra shares were ordered by mistake, the person said, but the firm is alleging the actions were intentional. The company suspects the trader was working with an outside party to execute the trade and profit at the firm's expense, according to this person.

This is bullshit no matter which way you look at it. If you can mistakenly place an order for 1,000 times your intended purchases, then the risk management systems of this so-called institutional brokerage is less robust than grandma's retail web page at E-trade! If the trader did it on purpose, then he likely did it with management's consent and they didn't subscribe to BoomBustBlog - travesty within itself since all who subscribed knew it was time to short Apple! See The Blog That Could Have Saved Institutional Broker - Or - Beware Of Those Poison Apples!!

aapl research accuracy copy

Rochdale, based in Stamford, Conn., is an institutional broker and equity-research firm that employs prominent bank analyst Richard Bove. As of the end of 2011, Rochdale had $3.4 million in capital, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. On Saturday, Mr. Crowley said the errant trading had left the company with a "negative capital position."

Amazingly enough, very few (if any) queried as to why Rochdale, with a capital base of $3.4 million dollars could execute a trade worth a billion dollars. Let's take an off the cuff measure of the leverage involved here... $1,000,000,000/$3,400,000 = roughly 294x the trader levered up the firms capital base, give or take. Who was the idiot(s) on the other side of the trade and more importantly where the hell was FINRA before this tiny bank had the nerve to go against BoomBustBlog research with a 294x levered trade? Methinks FINRA was a little less than effective here, no? Dick Bove, the rosk star bank analysts paid by Rochdale Securities (and probably paid nearly as much as Rochdale's capital base), should have alerted Rochdale to the risks therein, no?

Dick seems like a nice guy, but we don't always see eye to eye, reference CNBC Favorite Dick Bove Admits To Being Wrong On Banks, But For The Right Reasons, But Those Reasons Are Still Wrong!!!:

Last week I posted a rather scathing diatribe, basically ridiculing the fact that Dick Bove get's so much MSM airtime for his virtually consistently wrong calls and analysis:, as excerpted: A BoomBustBlog Deep Dive on Dick

... Now, speaking of Europe, particular Dexia (France, Belgium Wrangle About Dexia Deal: Reports), this brings to mind another highlighted headline focusing on the oft quoted sell side banking analyst US Stress Tests Not Worrying: Bove... Dick Bove is one of the, if not most oft quoted sell side bank analyst in the mainstream media. I disagree with him, regularly. As the uber independent investor/analyst that I am, I will never be accurately accused of kissing [up to] Dick - regardless, let's grab Dick by the base [of his assumptions] and see if we can yank something usable out of it, shall we?

Okay, I admit I was a bit harsh, and it appears as if Mr. Bove may have read said diatribe and used his cache with the MSM to post a response - very professional one at that - and one to which I must give him credit - alas, he was still wrong! To wit:

Bove: Why I Was Wrong on Bank Stocks

With a month left in 2011 and—barring a miracle—bank stocks headed for a negative year, Dick Bove is admitting he was wrong.

This is both commendable and respectable. It is honorable and healthy to admit when you are wrong, and we all have the opportunity to do so since nobody is right all of the time!...

It is my belief that this country idolizes Wall Street, and does so foolishly. Attempting a trade on Apple which is obviously on decline at 294 times leverage with no apparent risk management mechanisms rivaling that of a mere eTrade account is silly, and does not connote "Masters of the Universe" status. In closing, keep in mind that as I drove from my apartment shortly after the Sandy storm, I noticed that the Goldman Sachs HQ had lights and electricity almost immediately. Why? Because it was triple sandbagged against the elements with underground vents properly sealed. Notice that the surrounding hospitals and schools failed to receive similar attention. Where exactly are our resourced flowing and for what reason. Happy voting on this historical election day.

Subscribers expect fresh research and content later this week.

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You know, I don't even bother to go over banking statements anymore. They are so steeped in bullshit, quasi-fraudulent fallacy and muppetology, that I'm simply waiting for Bernanke to slip up and true market pricing to come to the fore before I jump back into the game. ZeroHedge comments on JPM's earnings as follows JPM Beats On Loan Loss Reserve Release Despite Drop In Trading Revenues And NIM, Surge In Non-Performing Loans:

There is a lot of verbiage in the official JPM Q3 Earnings press release which directs to a bottom line number of $1.40, or $5.7 billion on expectations of $1.24, with revenue of $25.9 billion on expectations of $24.53 billion. The primary reason for the lack of disappointment: no major losses in Corporate from CIO, with corporate generating $221 million in Q3, up from a loss of $(1.777) billion in Q2. And then come the adjustments:  $900 million pretax benefit ($0.14 per share after-tax increase in earnings) from reduced mortgage loan loss reserves in Real Estate Portfolios; $825 million pretax incremental charge-offs ($0.13 per share after-tax decrease in earnings) due to regulatory guidance on certain residential loans in Real Estate Portfolios; $888 million pretax benefit ($0.14 per share after-tax increase in earnings) due to extinguishment gains on redeemed trust preferred capital debt securities in Corporate; $684 million pretax expense ($0.11 per share after-tax decrease in earnings) for additional litigation reserves in Corporate; Then there is a DVA loss of $211 MM in banking. Net-net, after taking into account all one-off adjustments, the Q3EPS was really $1.26. But for all the data fudging, and attempts to make the reported EPS non-comparable to the expected one, following an avalanche of one-time adjustments, the bottom line is this: revenues from trading dropped both sequentially and Q/Q while banking expenses rose, Net Interest Margin dropped to a new record low, even as the firm too a major $967 million loan loss reserve release on its loans to $22.8 billion, even as its total Non-Performing Loans rose by a whopping $1.3 billion to $11.370 billion, the largest quarterly jump in years! Just how JPM can justify such a major contribution to earnings coming from loan losses when NPLs have soared is unclear to anyone with a frontal lobe.

On that note, let's reminisce to the days of Q2 2011, where I penned There's Something Fishy at the House of Morgan. Let me know if you've seen this story before. It's amazing that banks can dance this dance, over and over again and STILL not get called on it:

I invite all to peruse the mainstream financial media and sell side Wall Street's take on JP Morgan's Q1 earnings before reading through my take. Pray thee tell me, why is there such a distinct difference? Below are excerpts from the our review of JP Morgan's Q1 results, available to paying subscribers (including valuation and scenario analysis): JPM Q1 2011 Review & Analysis.

JPMorgan’s Q1 net revenue declined 9% y-o-y ad 3% q-o-q to $25.2bn as non-interest revenues declined 5% y-o-y (down 5% q-o-q) to $13.3bn while net interest income declined 13% y-o-y and (-2% q-o-q) to $12.5bn. However, despite decline in net revenues, noninterest expenses were flat at $16bn. Non-interest expenses as proportion of revenues was 63% in Q1 2011 compared with 58% a year ago and 61% in Q4 2010. However, due to substantial decline in provision for credit losses which were slashed 83% y-o-y (63% q-o-q) to $1.2bn from $7.0bn, PBT was up 78% y-o-y (15% q-o-q).

Lower reserve for loan losses and consequent decline in Eyles test (an efficacy of ability to absorb credit losses) coupled with higher expected wave of foreclosures which is masked by lengthening foreclosure period and overhang of shadow inventory, advocate a cautionary outlook for banking and financial institutions. As a result of consecutive under-provisioning since the start of 2010, JP Morgan’s Eyles test have turned negative and is the worst since at least the last 17 quarters. The estimated loan losses after exhausting entire loan loss reserves could still eat upto 8% of tangible equity.

Non-interest revenues

Non-interest revenue declined 5% y-o-y (down 5% q-o-q) to $13.3bn from $14.0bn in the previous year. Investment banking fees were up 23% y-o-y as debt underwriting fees and advisory fees were up 29% y-o-y and 44% y-o-y, respectively partially offset by 8% decline in equity underwriting fees. Principal transactions revenues were up 4% y-o-y to $4.8bn, the highest at least since last 17 quarters. Asset management revenues were up 10% y-o-y $3.6bn. The bank reported a loss of $0.5bn on mortgage fees and related income compared with gain of 0.7bn in the corresponding quarter last year while securities gains for Q1 2011 declined to $102m from $610m in Q1 2010. Credit card income was up 6% y-o-y to $1.4bm while other income increased 40% y-o-y to $574m.

I have warned of this event. JP Morgan (as well as Bank of America) is literally a litigation sinkhole. See JP Morgan Purposely Downplayed Litigation Risk That Spiked 5,000% Last Year & Is Still Severely Under Reserved By Over $4 Billion!!! Shareholder Lawyers Should Be Scrambling Now Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011.

Traditional banking revenues: manifest destiny as forwarned - Weakening Revenue Streams in US Banks Will Make Them More Susceptible To Contingent Risks

Net interest income declined 13% y-o-y (-2% q-o-q) to $11.9bn versus $13.7bn in the previous year as interest income fell 7% to $15.6bn while at the same time interest expenses increased 19%. Interest income declined as a result of steep decline in yield on interest bearing assets despite a 2% y-o-y and 4% sequentially increase in interest bearing assets. Low interest rates and lower proportion of high yield assets have caused a strain on yield on interest bearing assets. The proportion of loans to interest bearing assets (high yield assets) have declined to 34% in Q1 2011 from 36% in Q1 2O10 and 39% in Q1 2O09 while at the same time proportion of Feb Funds rate (low yield assets) to interest bearing assets have increased.  Yield on interest bearing assets which is in a downward trajectory declined to 3.06% in Q1 2011 versus 3.35% in Q1 2010.

Interest expense increased to 19% as interest bearing liabilities increased 2% y-o-y while at the same time yield on interest bearing liabilities increased to 0.81% from 0.69%. Overall, the bank’s net interest margin declined to 3.1% in Q1 2011, the lowest since 2007 as low interest rate environment coupled with low risk appetite have taken a toll on banks net interest margin.

Again, I have warned of this occurrence as well. See my interview with Max Keiser where I explained how the Fed's ZIRP policy is literally starving the banks it was designed to save. Go to 12:18 in the video and listen to what was a highly contrarian perspective last year, but proven fact this year!

Provisions and charge-offs: I have been warning about the over-exuberant release of provisions to pad accounting earnings since late 2009!

Declines in provision was one of the major contributors to bottom line. JPMorgan reduced its provision for loan losses to $1.2bn (0.7% of loans) in Q1 2011 from $7.0bn (4.2% of loans) in Q1 2010 and from $3.0bn (1.8% of loans) in Q4 2010 while charge-offs declined to $3.7bn (2.2% of loans) in Q1 2011 from $7.9bn (4.4% of loans) in Q1 2010 and from $5.1bn (2.9% of loans) in Q4 2010. Although banks delinquency and charge-off rate has declined, the extent of decline in provisions is unwarranted compared to decline in charge-off rates. As a result of higher decline in provisions compared to charge-offs, total reserve for loan losses have decreased to 4.3% in Q1 from 5.3% in Q1 2010 and 4.7% in Q4 2010. At the end of Q1 the banks allowances to loan losses is lowest since 2009.

Although the reduction in provisions has helped the banks to improve its profitability it has seriously undermined the banks’ ability to absorb losses, if economic conditions worsen. As a result of under provisioning for the past five quarters, the banks Eyles test, a measure of banks’ ability to absorb losses, has turned to a negative 7.7% in Q1 2011 compared with +6.4% in Q1 2010. A negative Eyles test has serious implications to shareholders – the losses from banks could not only drain entire allowances for loan losses which are inadequate but can also wipe off c7.7% of shareholder’s equity capital. The negative value of 7.7% for JPM’s Eyles is the lowest in this downturn.

 

For those of you who believe the housing market has put in a bottom, JPM may be the company to believe in. For those a bit more grounded in reality, realize...

For those who still do not believe that the Fed's ZIRP is starving the banks, I strongly suggest reading Did Bernanke Permanently Cripple the Butterfly That Is US Housing? The Answer Is More Obvious Than Many Want To Believe Monday, March 28th, 2011, as excerpted:

Do Black Swans Really Matter? Not As Much as the Circle of Life, The Circle Purposely Disrupted By Multiple Central Banks Worldwide!!!, Bernanke et. al. have snipped the chrysalis of the US markets and economy one too many times. He has interrupted the circle of life...

I have always been of the contention that the 2008 market crash was cut short by the global machinations of a cadre of central bankers intent on somehow rewriting the rules of economics, investment physics and global finance. They became the buyers of last resort, then consequently the buyers of only resort while at the same time flooding the world with liquidity and guarantees. These central bankers and the countries they allegedly strive to serve took on the debt and nigh worthless assets of the private sector who threw prudence through the window during the “Peak” phase of the circle of economic life, and engaged in rampant speculation. Click to enlarge to print quality…

The result of this “Great Global Macro Experiment” is a market crash that never completed. BoomBustBlog subscribers should reference File Icon The Inevitability of Another Bank Crisis while non-subscribers should see Is Another Banking Crisis Inevitable?as well as The True Cause Of The 2008 Market Crash Looks Like Its About To Rear Its Ugly Head Again, With A Vengeance. All four corners of the globe are currently “hobbling along on one leg”, under the pretense of a “global recovery”.

Reminisce while traipsing through our real estate analysis and research:

  1. On Employment and Real Estate Recovery Monday, April 25th, 2011
  2. A First In The History Of Mainstream Media? NAR Is Identified As A Joke! Tuesday, March 29th, 2011
  3. The True Cause Of The 2008 Market Crash Looks Like Its About To Rear Its Ugly Head Again, With A Vengeance Friday, March 11th, 2011
  4. Reggie Middleton ON CNBC’s Fast Money Discussing Hopium in Real Estate Friday, February 25th, 2011
  5. Further Proof Of The Worsening Of The Real Estate Depression Thursday, February 24th, 2011
  6. In Case You Didn’t Get The Memo, The US Is In a Real Estate Depression That Is About To Get Much Worse Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011
  7. When Will the Mainstream Media Be Ready To Call The NAR The Sham That It Really Is? Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011
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When is the banking system going reboot? Start listening below at 10:40 to about 12:45 (or the whole thing if you want to hear how the Justice Department should take the bad banks down), then read on...

From American Banker:

'Yet Another Bank': One week after New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a civil case against JPMorgan Chase alleging fraud in how Bear Stearns packaged and sold mortgage-backed securities, Wells Fargo finds itself being sued by the government for nearly a decade's worth of "reckless" mortgage lending. U.S. prosecutors (not affiliated with Schneiderman's mortgage task force, though he has promised more suits are on the way) are seeking "hundreds of millions of dollars" in civil damages from the bank on behalf of the Federal Housing Administration, alleging Wells "made false certifications" about the condition of their mortgage loans so that the government agency would insure them. FHA then had to foot the bill when the bank's alleged "mortgage factory" — Dealbook's interpretation of the complaint — output went belly up. "Yet another major bank has engaged in a longstanding and reckless trifecta of deficient training, deficient underwriting and deficient disclosure, all while relying on the convenient backstop of government insurance," United States attorney in Manhattan Preet Bharara said in a (perhaps obvious) statement.

The Times notes the lawsuits are being filed amidst public criticism of the Justice Department's lack of actual criminal action against banks and their executives regarding the housing boom.

Get the f2*k out of here! Really!!!???

Meanwhile, the Post notes the case is particularly problematic for Wells, which "has been hit with a series of civil actions" related to its mortgage business in recent years (and we would add, unlike JPMorgan, can't blame Bear Stearns for its latest problem). The bank is denying the most recent allegations, saying it acted in "good faith and in compliance" with federal rules.

This is what we saw in WFC 5 years ago, before most bothered to take noticw (rerference Doo-Doo bank drill down, part 1 - Wells Fargo - BoomBustBlog):

image040.pngimage040.png

This stress is real, and is already causing losses in the condo construction and sales markets, retail malls and now office buildings. Please see my primer and series on the Commercial Real Estate Crash and ongoing series of financial shenanigans and excessive debt issues of General Growth Properties for additional information.

image006.pngimage006.png

Sizeable Real Estate loans exposure in troubled markets:  Wells Fargo had $148 bn loan in 1-4 Family Mortgages (WFC has a high correlation to industry-wide losses) which represented nearly 38% of the banks’ total loan. Out of these loans nearly 51% comprised junior lien mortgage loans (much higher probability of total loss and no recovery)After C&D loans, real estate loans have highest NPAs as proportion of total loans.  In 4Q2007, real estate 1-4 family first mortgage NPAs to total loans stood at nearly 1.91% of total loans with total NPAs of $1.4 bn. In terms of geographic exposure, real estate loans from California and Florida comprised 33% and 4% of total real estate loans (i.e 13% and 2% of WFC’s total loan portfolio).

image003.png

This research and more  is available to all paying subscribers here, with a full set of charts, tables and graphics: File Icon WFC 1Q10_Review. Pro subscribers can also reference the full forensic report here: WFC Investment Note 22 May 09 - Pro. Retail subscribers should access it through the subscription content link in the main menu, under commercial and investment banks.

As for Jamie's house, as posted on Thursday, 21 June 2012 11:06

Does JPM Stand For "Just Pulling More" Wool Over Analyst's Eyes?

The latest Q2 qualitative observations for JPM are now available for all paying subscribers to download: JPM June 20 2012 Observations. This document contains a few interesting tidbits that, of course, you will get from nowhere else. For instance, did you know that the Q1 2012 financial results have many hidden secrets? We have looked at the Bank’s Q1 2012 financial results and have the following observations:

  • The Bank reported Q1 2012 revenues of $26.7 billion , an increase of $1.5 billion , or 6% , from the prior-year quarter. That sounds decent for a big bank in tough recessionary times, eh? However, the increase was primarily driven by a $1.1 billion benefit from the Washington Mutual bankruptcy settlement. Excluding this benefit, the revenues were almost the same as that in Q1 2011. With flat revenues like these, just imagine what could happen to the bottom line when a multi-billion dollar trading loss occurs.
  • The Bank had booked a loss on fair value adjustment of Mortgage Service Rights (MSR) in Q1 2011 of $1.1 billion. Hey, you know they just don't make those ephemeral, totally contrived 2nd order derivative products like they used to, eh?

Excluding the effect of the MSR loss along with the impact of gain from Washington Mutual bankruptcy, the bank’s Q1 2012 revenues actually decreased compared to Q1 2011.

Combine these secrets, derivative trading (oops, I mean hedging) losses and that bland ZIRP sauce that sucks profits in an increasingly expensive compensation landscape and you'll get one hell of a safe return for your 401k, right Mr Bove, et. al.? 

From the 2009 BoomBustBlog "I told you so" archives...

To wit regarding JP Morgan, on September 18th 2009 I penned the only true Independent Look into JP Morgan that I know of. It went a little something like this:

Click graph to enlarge

image001.pngimage001.png

Cute graphic above, eh? There is plenty of this in the public preview. When considering the staggering level of derivatives employed by JPM, it is frightening to even consider the fact that the quality of JPM's derivative exposure is even worse than Bear Stearns and Lehman‘s derivative portfolio just prior to their fall. Total net derivative exposure rated below BBB and below for JP Morgan currently stands at 35.4% while the same stood at 17.0% for Bear Stearns (February 2008) and 9.2% for Lehman (May 2008). We all know what happened to Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, don't we??? I warned all about Bear Stearns (Is this the Breaking of the Bear?: On Sunday, 27 January 2008) and Lehman ("Is Lehman really a lemming in disguise?": On February 20th, 2008) months before their collapse by taking a close, unbiased look at their balance sheet. Both of these companies were rated investment grade at the time, just like "you know who". Now, I am not saying JPM is about to collapse, since it is one of the anointed ones chosen by the government and guaranteed not to fail - unlike Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, and it is (after all) investment grade rated. Who would you put your faith in, the big ratings agencies or your favorite blogger? Then again, if it acts like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, is it a chicken??? I'll leave the rest up for my readers to decide. 

This public preview is the culmination of several investigative posts that I have made that have led me to look more closely into the big money center banks. It all started with a hunch that JPM wasn't marking their WaMu portfolio acquisition accurately to market prices (see Is JP Morgan Taking Realistic Marks on its WaMu Portfolio Purchase? Doubtful! ), which would very well have rendered them insolvent...

... You can download the public preview here. If you find it to be of interest or insightful, feel free to distribute it (intact) as you wish. JPM Public Excerpt of Forensic Analysis Subscription JPM Public Excerpt of Forensic Analysis Subscription 2009-09-18 00:56:22 488.64 Kb

Recent Articles on JPM

Who Will Be The Next JPM? Simply Review The BoomBustBlog Archives For The Answer

Who Caused JP Morgan's Big Derivative Bust? The Shocker - Ben Bernanke!!!

 
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Reggie on USA Watchdog

 

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Dr. Benjamin Shalom Bernanke, AKA Dr. FrankenFinance, Has ...

Feb 8, 2011 – Dr. Benjamin Shalom Bernanke, AKA Dr. FrankenFinance, Has ... Well my dear BoomBustBlogger, its one part regulatory capture (More on ...

Welcome to the World of Dr. FrankenFinance!

Nov 29, 2007 – Well, The Doctors' FrankenFinance have enabled corporate America (and corporate Europe and Asia as well, I just don't have the time to cover ...

 

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Interesting Max Keiser episode. Many may be interested in the whole show, particularly the portions about Abu Dhabi sheiks, fraud, Robert Rubin and Citibank. Yours truly appearance starts at 13:02

Fraudulent banks, Facebook ripoffs, etc...

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