Feb 04

Feb. 3 (Bloomberg) — Italy’s financial police are seizing 73.3 million euros ($102 million) of assets from Bank of America Corp. and a unit of Dexia SA as part of a probe into an alleged derivatives fraud in the region of Apulia.

Police are investigating losses on derivatives linked to the sale of 870 million euros of bonds sold by the regional government in 2003 and 2004, according to an e-mail from the prosecutor’s office in Bari today. The banks misled the municipality, located in the heel of Italy, on the economic advantages of the transaction and concealed their fees, the prosecutor said.

The region, also known as Puglia, joins more than 519 Italian municipalities that face 990 million euros in derivatives losses, according to data compiled by the Bank of Italy. In Milan, prosecutors seized assets from four banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co. and UBS AG in April and requested they stand trial for alleged fraud. Hearings started this month.

“Italy, like other countries, is full of these examples,” said Dario Loiacono, a banking lawyer in Milan who isn’t involved in the case. “It’s the result of the unavoidable asymmetry of information between the banks and the municipal borrowers.” Continue reading »

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Nov 27

Abu Dhabi Gets Pressure on Dubai (Wall Street Journal)

Dubai debt crisis triggers Wall Street sell off (Telegraph)

Dubai expansion fuelled by years of cheap money (Independent)


dubai-burj
The Burj Dubai, the world’s tallest skyscraper, towers over buildings under construction in the Business Bay area in Dubai, on Nov. 24, 2009. Photographer: Charles Crowell/Bloomberg

Nov. 27 (Bloomberg) — Dubai’s debt woes may worsen to become a “major sovereign default” that roils developing nations and cuts off capital flows to emerging markets, Bank of America Corp. said.

“One cannot rule out — as a tail risk — a case where this would escalate into a major sovereign default problem, which would then resonate across global emerging markets in the same way that Argentina did in the early 2000s or Russia in the late 1990s,” Bank of America strategists Benoit Anne and Daniel Tenengauzer wrote in a report.

A default would lead to a “sudden stop of capital flows into emerging markets” and be a “major step back” in the recovery from the global financial crisis, they wrote.

Continue reading »

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Oct 23

“When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.”
– Benjamin Franklin


Added: 22. October 2009

Fall Of The Republic documents how an offshore corporate cartel is bankrupting the US economy by design. Leaders are now declaring that world government has arrived and that the dollar will be replaced by a new global currency.

President Obama has brazenly violated Article 1 Section 9 of the US Constitution by seating himself at the head of United Nations’ Security Council, thus becoming the first US president to chair the world body.

A scientific dictatorship is in its final stages of completion, and laws protecting basic human rights are being abolished worldwide; an iron curtain of high-tech tyranny is now descending over the planet.

A worldwide regime controlled by an unelected corporate elite is implementing a planetary carbon tax system that will dominate all human activity and establish a system of neo-feudal slavery.

Continue reading »

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Oct 10

Current Numbers Dont Add Up To Recovery

torn-dollar

This past week the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) released the September unemployment statistics and they worsened as usual, as America enjoys its recovery.

U-1-Those unemployed 15 weeks or longer, as a percent of the civilian labor force was 5.4%.

U-2-Job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs, as a percent of the labor force was 6.8%.

U-3-Total unemployed, as a percentage of the civilian labor force, the official unemployment rate, 9.8%.

U-4-Discouraged workers 10.2%.

U-5-Total unemployed plus discharged workers, plus marginally attached workers 11.1%.

U-6-Total unemployed as a percent of the civilian labor force 17%.

If the birth/death ratio is removed, U-6 is in reality 21.3% total US unemployment. The estimate is that 824,000, more jobs may be extracted from the payroll count for the 12-months ended next March. Such a revision would be the biggest since 1991. The BLS is underestimating job losses deliberately and has been for a long time. That would mean September’s loss would be some 300,000 not 263,000.

Such a revision would put job losses not at 4.8 million but 5.6 million jobs.

This is how government has operated for some time and will continue to as long as we allow them too.

Continue reading »

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Oct 05

If people trust the US government and the Federal Reserve, then they are doomed and they deserve it, because they haven’t done they research.

Why would you trust somebody that has been caught lying and stealing almost all of the time?

Why would you trust somebody that has brought down the value of the US dollar to 5 cents compared to 1913, when the Federal Reserve banksters took over?

Why would you trust somebody that has stolen essentially 95% of your money?

Why would you trust somebody that threatens with an economic meltdown if you would take a look into their books?


Senior Officials Had Financial Concerns About Nine Bank Instiutions Receiving TARP Funds

banksters-and-money
The chief watchdog for the government’s $700 billion bailout program says federal officials were trying to contain the worst financial crisis in decades last year with the Troubled Asset Relief Program, but they had concerns about the bank institutions’ financial health. (ABC News Photo Illustration)


The Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve lied to the American public last fall when they said that the first nine banks to receive government bailout funds were healthy, a government watchdog states in a new report released today.

Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP), says that despite multiple statements on Oct. 14 of last year that these nine banks were healthy and only receiving government funds for the good of the country’s economy, federal officials knew otherwise.

“Contemporaneous reports and officials’ statements to SIGTARP during this audit indicate that there were concerns about the health of several of the nine institutions at that time and, as detailed in this report, that their overall selection was far more a result of the officials’ belief in their importance to a system that was viewed as being vulnerable to collapse than concerns about their individual health and viability,” Barofsky says.

Last October, the government was in the midst of trying to contain the worst financial crisis in decades. On Sept. 7, 2008, mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were placed under conservatorship. On Sept. 15, the massive investment bank Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy. The next day, insurance giant AIG needed an $85 billion government loan to avoid collapse.

On Oct. 13, after Congress had passed the $700 billion financial bailout program earlier that month, Treasury provided capital injections for nine institutions that together held over $11 trillion in assets: Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, State Street and the Bank of New York Mellon. As of June 2008, these nine banks accounted for around 75 percent of all assets held by U.S. banks.

In announcing the initial $125 billion provided to these banks, former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson on Oct. 14 said,These are healthy institutions, and they have taken this step for the good of the U.S. economy. As these healthy institutions increase their capital base, they will be able to increase their funding to U.S. consumers and businesses.”

That same day, the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve and the FDIC also released a joint statement reiterating that “these healthy institutions are taking these steps to strengthen their own positions and to enhance the overall performance of the US economy.” Continue reading »

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Sep 20

Related article: Eliot Spitzer: Federal Reserve is a Ponzi scheme, an inside job:
The Federal Reserve – the quasi-autonomous body that controls the US’s money supply – is a “Ponzi scheme” that created “bubble after bubble” in the US economy and needs to be held accountable for its actions, says Eliot Spitzer, the former governor and attorney-general of New York.


Is a political scandal brewing in New York? A year and a half after taking over for a disgraced Spitzer, Paterson is now at war with everyone, but most notable the New York State Budget, and now, the President.

Reports the New York Times:

President Obama has sent a request to Gov. David A. Paterson that he withdraw from the New York governor’s race, fearing that Mr. Paterson cannot recover from his dismal political standing, according to two senior administration officials and a New York Democratic operative with direct knowledge of the situation.
The decision to ask Mr. Paterson to step aside was proposed by political advisers to Mr. Obama, but approved by the president himself, one of the administration officials said.
“Is there concern about the situation in New York? Absolutely,” the second administration official said Saturday evening. “Has that concern been conveyed to the governor? Yes.”
The president’s request was conveyed to the Mr. Paterson by Representative Gregory W. Meeks, a Queens Democrat, who has developed a strong relationship with the Obama administration, they said.

Yet Paterson seems unwilling to pull a Perella-Weinberg just yet:

“The message the White House wanted to send – that it wants Paterson to step aside – was delivered,” said the Democratic operative,, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions were intended to be confidential. “He is resistant.”

What is the reason for this escalation? Simple – Bank Of America, and SEC-gate. Throw in some potential race issues, and you have one clusterfuck of a situation about to develop:

Now, Mr. Cuomo effectively has the blessing of the nation’s first black president to run against New York’s first black governor. That will probably neutralize any criticism he may face among the governor’s prominent black allies, including Representative Charles B. Rangel of Harlem, who warned this year that the party would become racially polarized if Mr. Cuomo took on Mr. Paterson.

With Andrew Cuomo now elbow deep in the Merrill bonus investigation, and likely about to file criminal charges against Ken Lewis any minute, what better way to shut him up than to promote him immediately to the post he will obtain sooner or later anyway. If in the meantime, the Faustian bargain between Lewis and Paulson/Bernanke can be retained without Lewis actually going to jail for folding like a lawn chair to threats about his job security by the Chairman, so much the better. As for the simple matter of how and why the President can so blatantly interfere in State affairs, and specifically nudging the direction of popular elections, which ultimately are the domain purely of US citizens, it is likely that nobody will care.

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 09/19/2009

Source: ZeroHedge

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Sep 16

And now the credit card crisis. Who will bailout the US consumers?

“The defaults are a wake-up call for those expecting a V-shaped recovery.”

V-shape recovery? There is no recovery:

Job Losses: The Scariest Chart Ever


american-express-master-card-credit-card-crisis
American Express and MasterCard credit cards are shown in Washington June 25, 2008. (REUTERS)

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Bank of America Corp and Citigroup Inc customers defaulted on their credit card debts in August at the highest rates since the onset of the recession, a sign that the banks’ consumer lending woes are far from over.

The trend was echoed among most other major credit card issuers, dashing optimism sparked when many banks and specialty finance companies reported lower default rates for July.

Continue reading »

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Aug 28

Related information:
Geithner: Auditing the Federal Reserve is a ‘line that we don’t want to cross’
Judge: Federal Reserve Must Release Reports on Emergency Bank Loans
Ben Bernanke warns on auditing the Federal Reserve

Federal Reserve Refuses to Disclose Recipients of $2 Trillion

These days the TRUTH ‘could’ cause a systemic collapse!


And so the guns come out blazing. The Clearing House Association, another name for all the banks that were bailed out over the past year with the generous contributions from all of you, dear taxpayers, are now threatening with another instance of complete systemic collapse if Bloomberg’s lawsuit is allowed to proceed unchallenged, let alone if any of the “Audit The Fed” measures are actually implemented.

As a reminder, The Clearing House Association consists of ABN Amro, Bank Of America, The Bank Of New York, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, JP Morgan Chase, US Bank and Wells Fargo.

In a declaration filed in the Bloomberg Case (08-CV-9595, Southern District of New York), the banks demonstrate no shame in attempting to perpetuate the status quo with regard to the Federal Reserve and demand that the wool over the eyes of the general population remain firmly planted in perpetuity.

The Clearing House submits this declaration because the Court’s Order threatens to impair the ability of our members to access emergency funds through the New York Fed’s Discount Window without suffering the severe competitive harm that public disclosure of their identity will cause.

Our members have accessed the New York Fed’s Discount Window with the understanding that the Fed will not publicly disclose information about their borrowing, especially their identity. Industry experience, including very recent and searing experience, has shown that negative rumors about a bank’s financial condition – even completely unfounded rumors – have caused competitive harm, including bank runs and failures.

Surely transparency would facilitate rumor-mongering to an unprecedented degree. After all rumors spread much easier when everyone knows the true financial condition of banks.

And here, in plain written Times New Roman, you see what racketeering by a major bank consortium looks like:

If the names of our member banks who borrow emergency funds are publicly disclosed, the likelihood that a borrowing bank’s customers, counterparties and other market participants will draw a negative inference is great. Public speculation that a financial institution is experiencing liquidity shortfalls – which would be a natural inference from having tapped emergency funds – has caused bank customers to withdraw deposits, counterparties to make collateral calls and lenders to accelerate loan repayment or refuse to make new loans. When an institution’s customers flee and its credit dries up the institution may suffer severe capital and liquidity strains leaving it in a weakened competitive position.

Pardon me if I am a broken record here, but would rumors not spread much less if there was more transparency, if investors and other financial intermediaries were fully aware of the conditions of their counterparties, if banks did not have to cover their billions in reserve losses by pretending they are viable and essentially being constant wards of the state?

The Banks’ racketeering has gone on for far too long.

And yet, it does not stop: the conclusion from the banks’ letter: Continue reading »

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Aug 28

Green Sharts On The NYSE!:

These four stocks represented thirty seven percent of all shares traded today.

Today 3,162 different stocks traded on the NYSE.  These four represent 0.13% of the total, yet they comprised 37% of the volume.  That’s an over-representation of nearly 300 times the average.

Now folks, let’s be straight here.  Do you believe for one second that this is “great liquidity” added by the “high-frequency trading” computers that are almost certainly behind the vast majority of this volume?

This isn’t the first day with this sort of abnormal trading and volume pattern either.  In fact it has been going on for the last week, with AIG making a frequent appearance on the list as well.

If there was ever an argument to be made for the NYSE having turned into a gigantic “hot potato” parlor game, this is it – in your face in an impossible-to-explain-away fashion.

Stocks led by four wounded horsemen (of  the coming apocalypse):

In fact, these four wounded horsemen of the financial sector comprised 40% of the overall trading volume on the NYSE on Tuesday. These stocks haven’t just been active, they’ve been surging.

This is kind of scary. It suggests that the late-summer portion of the almost six-month long market rally is being fueled more by speculation and momentum, not real optimism about a potential recovery in the financial sector and the overall economy.

The Great Economic Recovery of 2009 Is a Fraud:

If the economy were truly in “recovery” mode, and if consumer demand were truly picking up, the Baltic Dry Index should be moving consistently higher.

It’s not. And that fact should be a major warning sign for anyone buying stocks and betting the economy’s current blip higher is sustainable.

PE Ratio Shows That Today’s Stock Market Is Very Expensive:

From 1936 into the late 1980s, the PE ratio tended to peak in the low 20s (red line) and trough somewhere around seven (green line). The price investors were willing to pay for a dollar of earnings increased during the dot-com boom (late 1990s) and the dot-com bust (early 2000s). As a result of the recent plunge in earnings and recent stock market rally, the PE ratio spiked and just peaked at 144 – a record high. Currently, with 97% of US corporations having reported for Q2 2009, the PE ratio now stands at a lofty 129.

RBS chief credit strategist issues red alert on global stock markets:

Three-month slide could hit record lows, Royal Bank of Scotland chief credit strategist Bob Janjuah predicts.
He expects the S&P 500 index of US equities to reach the “mid 500s”.

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Jul 31

July 30 (Bloomberg) — Citigroup Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co. and seven other U.S. banks paid $32.6 billion in bonuses in 2008 while receiving $175 billion in taxpayer funds, according to a report by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo analyzed 2008 bonuses at nine banks that received Trouble Asset Relief Program financing from the U.S. government. New York-based Citigroup and Merrill, which has since been taken over by Bank of America Corp., received TARP funding totaling $55 billion, Cuomo said.

Continue reading »

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Jul 20


July 16, 2009 C-SPAN

Hank Paulson admits to threatening Bank of America’s Ken Lewis

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Jul 19

financial-terrorist-henry-paulson
Hank Paulson admitted to threatening Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis when Lewis threatened to pull the plug on the Merrill Lynch merger last fall.
Photo: AP

Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson made no bones about it: He did threaten Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis when Lewis threatened to pull the plug on the Merrill Lynch merger last fall.

“I further explained to him that, under such circumstances, the Federal Reserve could exercise its authority to remove management and the board of Bank of America,” Paulson told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Thursday. “By referring to the Federal Reserve’s supervisory powers, I intended to deliver a strong message.”

That admission pretty much blew away the committee’s top Republican, Rep. Darrell Issa of California.

“The inappropriate behavior of government officials did not start or end with the threat to fire Ken Lewis and Bank of America’s board of directors,” Issa said. “It is a threat to the foundations of our free society when government officials, acting in the midst of a crisis, use dire predictions of imminent disaster to justify their encroachment on our individual liberty and the rule of law.”

Related articles:
Paulson Admits Pressuring Bank of America (ABC News)
Paulson admits bank merger threat (BBC News)

By MARTIN KADY II
7/17/09 4:21 AM EDT

Source: Politico

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Jul 07

Don’t miss:
Day of Reckoning for California and, ultimately, for all of America:
“Why I Expect a Default on California’s Bonds”


A group of the biggest U.S. banks said they would stop accepting California’s IOUs on Friday, adding pressure on the state to close its $26.3 billion annual budget gap.

The development is the latest twist in California’s struggle to deal with the effects of the recession. After state leaders failed to agree on budget solutions last week, California began issuing IOUs — or “individual registered warrants” — to hundreds of thousands of creditors. State Controller John Chiang said that without IOUs, California would run out of cash by July’s end.

But now, if California continues to issue the IOUs, creditors will be forced to hold on to them until they mature on Oct. 2, or find other banks to honor them. When the IOUs mature, holders will be paid back directly by the state at an annual 3.75% interest rate. Some banks might also work with creditors to come up with an interim solution, such as extending them a line of credit, said Beth Mills, a California Bankers Association spokeswoman.

Meanwhile, on Monday morning, a budget meeting between Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders failed to produce a result. Amid the budget deadlock, Fitch Ratings on Monday dropped California’s bond rating to BBB, down from A minus, the latest in a series of ratings downgrades for the state.

The group of banks included Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., Wells Fargo & Co. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., among others. The banks had previously committed to accepting state IOUs as payment. California plans to issue more than $3 billion of IOUs in July.

Continue reading »

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Jul 04

Special guest, Paul Craig Roberts.

1 of 4:

Continue reading »

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Jun 29

Bernanke is ‘the perfect puppet’ and a ‘total success’ for the elitists … but a total disaster for the people.

Jim Rogers: We are going to have another Depression in the U.S. (Video):
“Mr. Bernanke has never been right. He has been in the government for six or seven years, he has never been right.”

Marc Faber: Bernanke Is An Economic Criminal And In My Opinion He Is A Madman (06/06/09) (Video)

Such ‘competence’ needs to be rewarded by the other perfect puppet:

Obama proposals to greatly increase the power of the Federal Reserve



ben-bernanke

Inquiring minds are reading Bernanke Flubs Tryout, Still Up for Leading Role by Caroline Baum.

Most often I agree with Caroline, but not this time.

After trashing (and rightfully so) Bernanke’s last appearance before Congress, Caroline somehow arrives at the following conclusion.

It would be hard to find someone more suited for the job of Fed chairman than Bernanke. His performance yesterday has nothing to do with his unique qualifications for the position. … Unless President Barack Obama wants a solo pilot, he would do well to tap Bernanke for a second term.

Let’s take a look at the qualifications of which Baum speaks.

Ten Qualifications

1) Bernanke is either a liar or has a memory problem. I believe the former. Either way, there is a problem when a Fed chairman cannot recall a conversation with another Fed governor over something as critical as the Bank of America/Merrill Lynch merger. See Bernanke Suffers From Selective Memory Loss; Paulson Calls Bank of America “Turd in the Punchbowl” for my take.

2) Bernanke claims to be a student of the great depression yet amazingly concludes the cause was misguided Fed policy after the stock market crash. This is nonsense. The cause of the great depression and the cause of the current depression (yes we are in a depression), is the massive expansion of credit and debt fostered by the Fed itself. Bernanke is no student of history, he is a dunce.

3) Bernanke has on many occasions promised transparency. This is an outright lie. There is no transparency and Bloomberg has filed freedom of information lawsuits requesting information that should have been disclosed. Moreover, Congress had to subpoena the Fed in regards to the Bank of America / Merrill Lynch shotgun wedding which is how we know about Bernanke’s selective memory loss. What else is Bernanke hiding?

Continue reading »

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May 06

The US government has told BoA to bolster its capital cushion – and similar instructions are expected at up to 10 other banks

The US government has told Bank of America that it needs to bolster its capital cushion by as much as $34bn (£22.6bn) after a stress test found weaknesses in the bank’s ability to withstand any further shocks.

Bank of America’s executives learned of the figure from treasury officials before tomorrow’s public release of the results of tests on the 19 largest US financial institutions.

As many as 10 banks, including major players such as Citigroup and Wells Fargo, are likely to be told that they need extra capital. But BoA’s shortfall could be the largest of any bank.


Related articles:

Reports: Wells Fargo needs $15B capital boost following ‘stress test’ (Denver Business Journal)

Wells Fargo freezes traditional pension plan (San Francisco Chronicle):
Wells Fargo & Co. told employees on Monday it will no longer contribute to their traditional pension plan, effectively cutting the total compensation of its workers less than two weeks after announcing record first-quarter profit.

Regulators Say Banks Needing Capital Must Submit Plan by June 8 (Bloomberg):
May 6 (Bloomberg) — Banks that need to raise capital under the government’s stress tests will have until June 8 to develop a plan and until Nov. 9 to implement it, U.S. bank regulators said today.


The North Carolina-based bank, which is the largest US high-street player in terms of deposits, has been financially weakened by its purchase of the troubled Wall Street brokerage Merrill Lynch, which lost $15bn in the final quarter of last year. Angry about the deterioration in the bank’s condition, shareholders last week voted to strip chief executive Ken Lewis of his title as chairman.

Continue reading »

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Apr 25

Pressure from Fed and Treasury chiefs to complete purchase of Merrill Lynch despite ‘staggering’ losses


Merrill Lynch Chairman and CEO John Thain, left, shakes hands with Bank of America Chairman and CEO Ken Lewis, at a news conference last autumn. The deal between the banks has proved controversial Photo: AP

Ken Lewis’s position at the helm of Bank of America looked increasingly uncertain on Thursday after it emerged he stopped short of pulling out of the deal to buy loss-making Merrill Lynch after Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson threatened to oust him and his entire board.

Mr Lewis BoA’s chairman and chief executive, also knowingly hid the state of Merrill Lynch’s “staggering” losses from shareholders at the behest of former Treasury Secretary Paulson and Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke.

The revelations were contained in a batch of BoA board minutes and testimony from Mr Lewis and Mr Paulson sent by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to the Securities and Exchange Commission and Congressional leaders Chris Dodd and Barney Frank.


Bank of America chief ‘told to buy Merrill or face sack’

Bank boss claims US treasury told him to seal $50bn deal and keep quiet about brokerage’s huge losses

The US government threatened to eject the entire board of Bank of America if the firm pulled out of a $50bn (£34bn) takeover of troubled Merrill Lynch in December, according to new documents set to inflame a bitter shareholder dispute at America’s wealthiest bank.

In potentially explosive testimony to regulators, Bank of America’s chief executive, Ken Lewis, has claimed the US treasury ordered him to press ahead with a buyout of Merrill and to keep quiet about the Wall Street brokerage’s mounting losses.

Full article here: The Guardian


Mr Cuomo, who released details of the exchanges yesterday, has been investigating BoA after Merrill paid $3.6bn (£2.45bn) of bonuses to its staff just days before the acquisition was completed on January 1.

He believes he has uncovered “facts that raise questions about the transparency” of the Treasury’s $700bn bank bail-out programme “as well as about corporate governance and disclosure practices at Bank of America.”

Investors have already expressed serious concern that BoA did not attempt to pull out of the merger with Merrill, given the investment bank racked up losses of $15.84bn in the fourth quarter of 2008. The loss required BoA to take on an extra $20bn of Treasury funding as well as an $118bn loan-loss guarantee.

The documents paint all three men in a bad light. Mr Lewis, though initially keen to pull out of the Merrill deal after revealing the extent of what he calls the “staggering amount of deterioration in its finances,” claimed he caved in after being threatened by Mr Paulson on December 21, ten days before the sale was due to complete.

“That makes it simple. Let’s deescalate,” Mr Lewis told Mr Paulson, with reference to his original plan to invoke a material adverse clause (MAC) to get out of the Merrill deal.

Mr Paulson later testified to Mr Cuomo that he only threatened Mr Lewis “at the request of Chairman Bernanke.”

Continue reading »

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Mar 27

A “funny” thing is happening just as Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner seems to have finally found a scheme to deal with banks’ toxic debt: Some big banks are aggressively bidding for toxic debt in the open market.

Specifically “Citigroup and Bank of America have been aggressively scooping up those same securities in the secondary market,” Mark DeCambre of The NY Post reported earlier this week.

Friday, DeCambre joined Henry and me to discuss the story in the accompanying video.

The banks contend they are helping to bring liquidity to the “frozen” mortgage-backed-securities market, as per their “marching orders” under the TARP program, DeCambre notes.

Furthermore, the banks’ buying of toxic assets may be on behalf of clients rather than for their internal accounts.

A less generous interpretation is that Citi and BofA (among others, no doubt) are attempting to “front run” Geithner’s program, which presumably will result in banks being able to unload these assets at prices above the current “depressed” market levels – leaving taxpayers on the hook for future losses.

Furthermore, having put their franchises – if not the entire global economy – in jeopardy by gorging on MBS securities the first time around, do Citi, BofA and other TARP recipients have any business jumping back into that (still) toxic pool?

Posted Mar 27, 2009 12:24pm EDT
by Aaron Task in Investing

Source: Yahoo Finance

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Mar 23

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Banks nationwide hold $41 billion in loans to directors, top executives and other insiders, a portfolio that experts say should be stripped of secrecy.

Insider lending to directors is particularly troublesome because it could cloud the judgment of people charged with protecting shareholders and overseeing bank management, the experts say.

At Charlotte-based Bank of America, those loans more than doubled last year, to $624.2 million — the biggest dollar jump in the country. The largest of them likely went to three directors or their companies. The surge came during the third quarter as credit markets froze, the government prepared to infuse banks with billions in tax dollars and the board approved the purchase of troubled Merrill Lynch.

Bank of America ranked fourth on the list of biggest insider lenders. At the top was JPMorgan of New York, which held $1.48 billion in insider loans, mostly by directors or their companies.

Continue reading »

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Mar 16

This time the bailout money from the U.S. taxpayer went to:
Goldman Sachs led beneficiaries, with $12.9 billion, followed by SocGen, France’s No. 3 bank, with $11.9 billion, and Deutsche Bank, Germany’s biggest lender, with $11.8 billion. Barclays Plc received $8.5 billion from AIG, Merrill Lynch & Co. got $6.8 billion, Bank of America Corp. got $5.2 billion and UBS AG got $5 billion.

“I was happy to see that AIG finally handed over the counterparty information we’ve been requesting for months,” said Representative Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat on the House Oversight Committee. “However, I am deeply concerned that Goldman Sachs received so much money from AIG considering the relationships between the two companies. We will certainly be investigating this further to ensure that this is merely a coincidence.”



A pedestrian walks past the Societe Generale SA company logo in Paris

March 16 (Bloomberg) — American International Group Inc., bailed out four times by taxpayers and under pressure to show what it’s doing with the money, disclosed which banks and states got $105 billion of U.S. funds and may have to name some of the employees splitting $1 billion in retention pay.

President Barack Obama called AIG’s $165 million of retention bonuses handed out yesterday unwarranted and vowed to block or recover them. Andrew Cuomo, New York State’s attorney general, demanded names of the recipients and said he’d send a subpoena if New York-based AIG didn’t respond by 4 p.m.

“It’s hard to understand how derivative traders at AIG warranted any bonuses, much less $165 million in extra pay,” said the text of Obama’s White House speech today. “How do they justify this outrage to the taxpayers who are keeping the company afloat?”

AIG has been pressed to reveal its inner workings since the U.S. took a stake of almost 80 percent last year to avert a collapse of the insurer, once the world’s biggest. Yesterday, AIG said U.S. states and banks led by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Societe Generale SA and Deutsche Bank AG were among those that benefited from the rescue, now valued at $173 billion.

Continue reading »

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Mar 15

Dennis Kucinich:
– Citigroup used $8 billion of bailout funds to loan Dubai money.
– Bank of America sent $7 billion of taxpayers’ money to China.


March 13, 2009
Source: FOX News

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Mar 09

Rather than using federal bailout money to reinvigorate lending to consumers, some banks that received funds from TARP have spent it on questionable items that have done little to improve the health of the country’s financial sector but have certainly helped out foreign economies such as Dubai and China.

For instance, Citigroup Inc, which received $50 billion in Troubled Asset Relief Program funds, made an $8 billion December loan, not to an American entity, but to a Dubai public sector company, according to a newly released Monday memo by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), chairman of the House Domestic Policy Subcommittee.

The Goldman Sachs Group, which received $10 billion in TARP funds at the end of October, saw fit to spend $2 billion earlier in the year on the repurchase of company stock, which resulted in an increase in company share price.

The memo notes of that stock repurchase, “That increase would have constituted a significant benefit to top executives at Goldman Sachs, who typically own large amounts of company stock.”

As of January 3, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein owned 1,995, 835 shares of the company, according to the memo.

In mid- November, Bank of America spent $7 billion investing in the China Construction Bank Corporation. Bank of America received $25 billion in TARP funds.

J.P. Morgan Treasury Services spent $1 billion investing in cash management and trade finacie solutions in India also in November. J.P Morgan Chase & Co. received $25 billion in TARP funds.

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Mar 05

March 5 (Bloomberg) — Disclosing the identities of Merrill Lynch & Co. employees who were paid $3.6 billion in bonuses just before the firm merged with Bank of America Corp. will cause “grave and irreparable harm,” said lawyers for the companies.

Bank of America today filed documents in state court in Manhattan to intervene in a case brought by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to compel former Merrill Chief Executive Officer John Thain to testify about the bonus recipients.

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Feb 25


A sign is seen outside of a Bank of America branch office in San Francisco.

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) – The granddaughter of the man who founded Bank of America in San Francisco in the early 1900s called the bank’s current condition “totally repulsive” and blasted the bank’s management for being “idiots.”

Related article: Bank of America fights to hide bonus payouts (Times Online)

The harsh criticism from Virginia Hammerness, the heiress to A.P. Giannini’s family fortune and a significant stockholder in the bank he launched, came during an interview Monday with CBS 5.

She reflected on how her grandfather founded B of A as the Bank of Italy in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood in 1904 as a reaction to the fact that the big eastern banks wouldn’t lend to middle class immigrants like Italians.

Hammerness was outspoken about what has happened to the bank that is her family’s legacy, saying she had little doubt that Giannini was “rolling over in his grave.”

She added that her father, who succeeded her grandfather as bank president and “gave his life for the bank,” would have had a similar reaction upon seeing today’s decline of the institution.

“I think its totally repulsive,” Hammerness said when asked what she thinks of Bank of America now. “What idiots, what kind of idiots are running that bank?”

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Feb 24

TARP investments are certainly “troubled.” And Washington, it turns out, isn’t the best short-term investor.

The government’s investments in the nation’s ailing banks, made through the newly coined Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, have taken a huge hit since the program started making capital injections last October. Thanks to last week’s stock market sell-off, the government is now sitting on a paper loss of at least 55 percent, or $107.7 billion, on the $195.5 billion invested under the TARP program.

That amounts to a $768 paper loss for every taxpaying household, according to the Ethisphere Institute, a think tank focused on business ethics. And these figures do not include the losses from Monday’s sharp drop on Wall Street.

The Ethisphere Institute has created the Ethisphere TARP Index to track the return on the government’s investments under the capital purchase portion of TARP.

Some of the biggest losers last week were Citigroup, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase, which collectively have cost taxpayers $70.6 billion in paper losses so far. Excluding the investments in those four banks, the TARP fund has still lost 38.6 percent, or $37 billion, through last Friday, Ethisphere reports.

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Feb 12

Nearly 700 Merrill Lynch executives had cash bonuses of more than $1m each for last year, New York’s top law enforcement official disclosed on Wednesday.

Andrew Cuomo, New York’s attorney-general, called the bank’s decision to bring forward nearly $4bn of pay-outs a “surprising fit of corporate irresponsibility” that raised “serious and disturbing questions”.

Mr Cuomo said the bonuses for 2008 were “disproportionately distributed to a small number of individuals”, with the top four recipients taking in a combined $121m.

Mr Cuomo launched an investigation into the payments at Merrill Lynch after the Financial Times reported last month that Merrill accelerated its bonus payment schedule in December, even as its losses were approaching record levels. He detailed some of the investigation’s findings on Wednesday in a letter to the House financial services committee.

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Jan 26

The time has come to issue one of my sternest warnings to date: Bank of America and Citigroup could fail despite the most radical government rescues of all time.

Right now, after recent close calls with instant death, these two megabanks are on life support, receiving massive transfusions of government capital. But they’re still hemorrhaging, and no one in Washington has found a cure.

Already, they have received capital injections of $90 billion ($45 billion each).

Already, this bailout is larger than the total combined capital of PNC Bank, Suntrust Bank and State Street Bank – all among America’s ten largest.

Yet, ironically, that $90 billion is still a drop in the ocean compared to their massive exposure to risky assets.

The shocking facts revealed in the banks’ own balance sheets and in the OCC’s Quarterly Report demonstrate the enormity of problem:

Massive Risks at America’s Megabanks
(bill. of dollars)
B of A Citi B of A + Citi JPM
9/30/2008
Total assets
1,831 2,050 3,881 2,251
All derivatives 38,186 39,979 78,165 91,339
Credit default swaps 3,291 2,467 5,758 9,250
Exposure to defaults by trading partners 177.6% 259.5% 400.2%

Fact #1. Too big to save. Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup, Inc. have combined assets of $3.9 trillion, or 43 times the size of the Treasury bailout funds they’ve received to date.

Fact #2. Bigger losses ahead. Even before any further declines in the economy, an unusually large portion of their assets are already in grave jeopardy – commercial real estate loans going sour, credit cards loans tanking, auto loans sinking, and residential mortgages turning to dust. Now, as the economy continues to tumble, avoiding much larger losses will be almost impossible.

Fact #3. Big derivatives players. Bank of America and Citigroup are the nation’s second and third largest high-rollers in the derivatives market, with a combined total of $78 trillion in these bets outstanding. That’s over ten times the derivatives that Lehman Brothers had on its books when it failed last year.

Fact #4. They’ve bet far too much on each other’s failure. Bank of America and Citigroup are also the second and third largest participants in the most dangerous derivatives of all – credit default swaps. These are the big bets that financial institutions make on the failure of other major companies.

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Jan 26

“In the wake of Mr Thain’s dismissal last week, sales and trading chief Tom Montag, his top deputy, received a promotion. Mr Montag’s department was responsible for at least half of Merrill’s $15bn loss in the fourth quarter.”

“People familiar with the matter point out that a clause in Mr Montag’s contract specifies that, if his authority was diminished in certain ways, he would be allowed to leave the bank with a hefty severance package.”

Banksters!


Bank of America played a role in Merrill Lynch’s controversial decision to pay $4bn in bonuses in December just as mounting losses were threatening to derail BofA’s takeover of the Wall Street firm, according to people close to the situation.

BofA has said that the payment of $4bn in compensation in a fourth quarter in which Merrill racked up $15bn in losses was sanctioned by John Thain, Merrill’s chief executive.

Ken Lewis, BofA’s embattled chief executive, ousted Mr Thain on Thursday after news of the bonus payments appeared in the Financial Times. BofA told the FT last week that Mr Thain had made the decision to pay bonuses in December instead of January and it had been “informed” of the move. The bank said Merrill was an independent company until the deal closed on January 1.

However, a person familiar with Mr Thain’s actions said the ousted chief had at least two conversations with BofA’s chief administrative officer, J. Steele Alphin, one of the bank’s most senior executives, before a December 8 board meeting at which Merrill’s bonus payments were approved.

This person said Mr Alphin recommended, and Mr Thain accepted, a proposal to change Merrill’s incentive compensation mix – 60 per cent cash and 40 per cent stock – to conform with BofA’s system of 70 per cent cash and 30 per cent stock. The stock portion of the payouts was made January 2, the day after the deal closed, in BofA stock.

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Jan 26

Jan 26 (Reuters) – Lending at many of the largest U.S. banks fell in recent months, the Wall Street Journal said, citing an analysis of banks that recently announced their quarterly results.

Ten of the 13 big beneficiaries of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), saw their outstanding loan balances decline by a total of about $46 billion, or 1.4 percent, between the third and fourth quarters of 2008, according to the paper.

Those 13 banks have collected the lion’s share of the roughly $200 billion the government has doled out since TARP was launched last October to stabilize financial institutions, the paper said.

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Jan 22

More bonuses for total failure:

“Despite the magnitude of the losses, Merrill had set aside $15bn for 2008 compensation…”

“The bulk of $15bn in compensation was paid out as salary and benefits throughout the course of the year. A person familiar with the matter estimated that about $3bn to $4bn was paid out in bonuses in December.”

I have posted so much evidence that it should be obvious now that the entire financial crisis is fabricated by the elite to loot the taxpayers’ until there is nothing left and to bankrupt the U.S.

The majority of the banksters are not even aware of what the elite is planning, but many billionaires have already left the U.S. and they knew that they had to be gone by early 2009.


Merrill paid bonuses as losses mounted ahead of sale to BofA

Merrill Lynch took the unusual step of accelerating bonus payments by a month last year, doling out billions of dollars to employees just three days before the closing of its sale to Bank of America.

The timing is notable because the money was paid as Merrill’s losses were mounting and Ken Lewis, BofA’s chief executive, was seeking additional funds from the government’s troubled asset recovery programme to help close the deal.

Merrill and BofA shareholders voted to approve the takeover on December 5. Three days later, Merrill’s compensation committee approved the bonuses, which were paid on December 29. In past years, Merrill had paid bonuses later – usually late January or early February, according to company officials.

Within days of the compensation committee meeting, BofA officials said they became aware that Merrill’s fourth-quarter losses would be greater than expected and began talks with the US Treasury on securing additional Tarp money.

Last week, BofA said it would be receiving $20bn in Tarp money, in addition to the $25bn that had been earmarked for it and Merrill last year. It was then revealed that Merrill had suffered a $21.5bn operating loss in the fourth quarter.

Despite the magnitude of the losses, Merrill had set aside $15bn for 2008 compensation, a sum that was only 6 per cent lower than the total in 2007, when the investment bank’s losses were smaller.

The bulk of $15bn in compensation was paid out as salary and benefits throughout the course of the year. A person familiar with the matter estimated that about $3bn to $4bn was paid out in bonuses in December.

Nancy Bush, an analyst with NAB Research, described the size of the 2008 Merrill bonus payments as “ridiculous”.

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Jan 20

Roubini Predicts U.S. Losses May Reach $3.6 Trillion

Jan. 20 (Bloomberg) — U.S. financial losses from the credit crisis may reach $3.6 trillion, suggesting the banking system is “effectively insolvent,” said New York University Professor Nouriel Roubini, who predicted last year’s economic crisis.

“I’ve found that credit losses could peak at a level of $3.6 trillion for U.S. institutions, half of them by banks and broker dealers,” Roubini said at a conference in Dubai today. “If that’s true, it means the U.S. banking system is effectively insolvent because it starts with a capital of $1.4 trillion. This is a systemic banking crisis.”

Losses and writedowns at financial companies worldwide have risen to more than $1 trillion since the U.S. subprime mortgage market collapsed in 2007, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

President Barack Obama will have to use as much as $1 trillion of public funds to shore up the capitalization of the banking sector, following the $350 billion injection by the Bush administration, Roubini told Bloomberg News. Congress last year approved a $700 billion rescue fund, of which half remains to be disbursed.

Bank of America Corp., the largest U.S. bank by assets, posted a quarterly loss of $1.79 billion last week, its first since 1991, and received $138 billion in emergency government funds. Citigroup Inc. posted an $8.29 billion fourth-quarter loss, completing its worst year, and plans to split in two under Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit’s plan to rebuild a capital base eroded by the credit crisis.

‘Bankrupt’ System

“The problems of Citi, Bank of America and others suggest the system is bankrupt,” Roubini said. “In Europe, it’s the same thing.”

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Jan 17

Citigroup – which has received $25 billion from the bailout fund, plus $300 billion in government guarantees – has set up 427 tax haven subsidiaries to do business: 91 in Luxembourg, 90 in the Cayman Islands and 35 in the British Virgin Islands. Other havens include Switzerland, Hong Kong, Panama and Mauritius.”



The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has just issued a report showing that most of the nation’s largest public companies and government contractors rely on offshore subsidiaries to do business and cut their tax bills. Some of these same firms – including big banks and insurers – have already received tens of billions in taxpayer money from the federal bailout fund.

Citigroup, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, American International Group, American Express have set up hundreds of tax-haven subsidiaries, the report states. All have taken billions from the bailout fund. Pepsi and Caterpillar, both of which have received billions in tax dollars from being major government contractors, also shelter revenue in offshore subsidiaries, The Washington Post says.

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Jan 16

Paul Craig Roberts On The U.S. Leadership: “They Are Criminals” – The Potential Here Is Far Worse Than The Great Depression:
Paul Craig Roberts
served as an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration earning fame as the “Father of Reaganomics”. He is a former editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, and Scripps Howard News Service. In 1992 he received the Warren Brookes Award for Excellence in Journalism. In 1993 the Forbes Media Guide ranked him as one of the top seven journalists in the United States.

Paul Craig Roberts: Our Collapsing Economy:
According to the methodology used in 1980, the US unemployment rate in December 2008 reached 17.5 percent.

Yes, “our” government lies to us about economic statistics, just as it lies to us about “terrorists,” “weapons of mass destruction,” “building freedom and democracy in the Middle East,” and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
An objective person would be hard pressed to find any statement made by the US government that is reliable.


Jan. 16 (Bloomberg) — Bank of America Corp., the largest U.S. bank by assets, received a $138 billion emergency lifeline from the government to support its acquisition of Merrill Lynch & Co. and prevent the global financial crisis from deepening.

The U.S. will invest $20 billion in Bank of America and guarantee $118 billion of assets “as part of its commitment to support financial-market stability,” the Treasury Department, Federal Reserve and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said in a joint statement shortly after midnight in Washington.

The bailout raises doubts about the future of Chief Executive Officer Kenneth D. Lewis, who engineered the takeovers of New York-based brokerage Merrill Lynch and mortgage lender Countrywide Financial Corp. during the worst market slump since the Great Depression. Bank of America has plummeted 75 percent in New York trading since the Merrill acquisition was announced in September, falling to the lowest level in almost two decades.

“This thing is unraveling so fast Lewis may know his job is lost,” said Paul Miller, an analyst at Friedman Billings Ramsey Group Inc. in Arlington, Virginia, who has an “underperform” rating on Bank of America. The management team has “lost credibility” after spending more than $20 billion in the past year to buy unprofitable Merrill and ailing mortgage lender Countrywide Financial Corp. of Calabasas, California, he said.

(The Bank of America did not ‘want’ to buy Merrill. It had to buy Merrill. This is all part of a bigger plan to loot US taxpayers’, destroy the middle class, the dollar and the economy and create the greatest depression ever.)

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Jan 15

Extra billions will help bank digest Merrill acquisition, newspaper says

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — The government is close to committing billions in additional aid to Bank of America Corp. to help the giant bank digest its acquisition of Merrill Lynch & Co., the Wall Street Journal reported late Wednesday, citing unidentified people familiar with the situation.

“Even with help from the government, we think Bank of America’s tangible equity levels are low relative to peers and that it will need to cut its dividend and or raise equity capital in the coming months,” Stuart Plesser, a diversified financial services analyst at Standard & Poor’s Equity Research, said.

More:
BofA may need billions for Merrill – report (CNNMoney)
Bank of America seeks billions from US to cinch Merrill deal (USA Today)
Merrill Lynch Turns into a Black Hole for BofA (BusinessWeek)
BofA, Citi May Need Another Slice Of TARP (Forbes)

Scott Silvestri, a spokesman for Bank of America, declined to comment, as did a Treasury spokeswoman.

The news suggests that the worst of the banking crisis may not have passed. The KBW Bank Index has dropped 19% so far this year. Citigroup lost more than a third of its market value this week as it became clear the bank will try to shrink itself under pressure from big losses.

Bank of America shares dropped 3.3% to $9.87 during after-hours trading on Wednesday. That followed a decline of more than 4% during regular trading.

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Jan 14


Ben S. Bernanke, right, said that the bailout program needed to pour more into banks that already received federal money.

WASHINGTON – Even before word came on Tuesday that Citigroup might split into pieces to shore up its finances, an unpleasant message was moving through Congress and President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team: the banks need more taxpayer money.

In all likelihood, a lot more money.

Mr. Obama seems to know it; a week before his swearing-in, he is lobbying Congress to release the other half of the financial industry bailout fund. Democratic leaders in Congress seem to know it, too; they are urging their rank and file to act quickly to release the rescue money. And Ben S. Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, certainly knows it.

Related article: Bernanke tells Obama $775bn fiscal package is not enough (Independent)

On Tuesday, Mr. Bernanke publicly made the case that one of the most unpopular and most scorned programs in Washington – the $700 billion bailout program – needs to pour hundreds of billions more into the very banks and financial institutions that already received federal money and caused much of the credit crisis in the first place.

The most glaring example that the banking system needs even more help is Citigroup. Though it already has received $45 billion from the Treasury, it is in such dire straits that it is breaking itself into parts.

Like many banks, Citi is finding that its finances keep deteriorating as the economy continues to weaken.

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Dec 11

Dec. 11 (Bloomberg) — Bank of America Corp., the third- largest U.S. bank, said it plans to cut 30,000 to 35,000 positions over the next three years because of its acquisition of Merrill Lynch & Co. and the weak economic environment.

The final number of job cuts won’t be decided until early next year, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based company said in a statement today. The takeover of the New York-based investment bank is expected to be completed later this month.

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Dec 01


Michael Lipsitz signs his credit card bill for the groceries he purchased at the WalMart in Crossville, Tennessee March 21, 2008. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

(Reuters) – The U.S. credit-card industry may pull back well over $2 trillion of lines over the next 18 months due to risk aversion and regulatory changes, leading to sharp declines in consumer spending, prominent banking analyst Meredith Whitney said.

The credit card is the second key source of consumer liquidity, the first being jobs, the Oppenheimer & Co analyst noted.

“In other words, we expect available consumer liquidity in the form of credit-card lines to decline by 45 percent.”

Bank of America Corp, Citigroup Inc and JPMorgan Chase & Co represent over half of the estimated U.S. card outstandings as of September 30, and each company has discussed reducing card exposure or slowing growth, Whitney said.

Closing millions of accounts, cutting credit lines and raising interest rates are just some of the moves credit card issuers are using to try to inoculate themselves from a tsunami of expected consumer defaults.

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Nov 20


Pedestrians are reflected in the window of a Citibank branch in Hong Kong’s financial Central District November 18, 2008. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

(Reuters) – The U.S. financial system still needs at least $1 trillion to $1.2 trillion of tangible common equity to restore confidence and improve liquidity in the credit markets, Friedman Billings Ramsey analyst Paul Miller said.

Eight financial companies — Citigroup Inc, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs Group Inc, Wells Fargo & Co, JPMorgan Chase & Co, American International Group Inc, Bank of America Corp and GE Financial — are in greatest need of capital, he said.

“Debt or TARP capital is not true capital. Long-term debt financing is not the solution. Only injections of true tangible common equity will solve the current crisis,” he said in a note dated November 19.

Currently, the U.S. financial system has $37 trillion of debt outstanding, he noted.

Combined, these eight companies have roughly $12.2 trillion of assets and only $406 billion of tangible common capital, or just 3.4 percent, the analyst said in his note to clients.

Miller said these institutions need somewhere between $1 trillion and $1.2trillion of capital to put their balance sheets back on solid ground and begin to extend credit again, given their dependence on short-term funding and the illiquid nature of their asset bases.

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Nov 12

(Recasts; adds Thain comments, share prices, byline)

NEW YORK, Nov 11 (Reuters) – Merrill Lynch & Co (MER.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) Chief Executive John Thain said the global economy is in a deep slowdown and will not recover quickly, and the environment recalls 1929, the advent of the Great Depression.

Speaking Tuesday at his bank’s annual financial services conference, Thain said he was “cautiously optimistic” about the outlook for the industry. But he said credit remains constricted and asset prices generally are still falling.

“The U.S. economy is contracting very rapidly,” creating uncertainty “at least over the next few quarters,” Thain said. “We are going to be in a very difficult economic environment for a significant period of time.”

Conditions deteriorated as the U.S. housing market collapse mushroomed into a more general crisis of confidence.

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Nov 05


Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York, Nov. 5, 2008. Photographer: Ramin Talaie/Bloomberg News

Nov. 5 (Bloomberg) — The stock market posted its biggest plunge following a presidential election as reports on jobs and service industries stoked concern the economy will worsen even as President-elect Barack Obama tries to stimulate growth.

Citigroup Inc. tumbled 14 percent and Bank of America Corp. lost 11 percent as the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and Dow Jones Industrial Average sank more than 5 percent. Nucor Corp., the largest U.S.-based steel producer, slid 10 percent after bigger rival ArcelorMittal doubled production cuts amid slowing demand. Boeing Co., the world’s second-largest commercial planemaker, lost 6.9 percent after UBS AG forecast a 3 percent drop in global air traffic next year.

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