Oct 19

The $54trillion credit derivatives market faces a delicate test as $360bn worth of contracts on now-defaulted derivatives on Lehman Brothers are due to be settled on Tuesday.

Lehman Brothers' complex network of derivatives will be settled on Tuesday October 22
Lehman Brothers’ complex network of derivatives will be settled on Tuesday October 22

Due to the opacity of the market, which is one of the most complex, least regulated and least understood in the global financial system, it is still not clear how many contracts have to be settled or which institutions will take the ultimate hits once the billions of dollars worth of contracts have been unravelled.

The collapse of Lehman Brothers, is expected to trigger credit default swap (CDS) protection pay-outs of about $400bn but because the contracts were sold many times through different counterparties it is not yet known who will be liable.

One commentator said: “This will be the greatest illustration of the follies of Wall Street and how unnecessarily complicated the wild off-track betting became in the past few years.”

Five years ago Warren Buffett, the iconic American investor, warned that the chaotic profusion of derivatives used by companies and hedge funds to fund financial growth were “financial weapons of mass destruction.”

Bankers in the City and on Wall Street are bracing for yet another round of turbulence as the contracts are unwound.

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Oct 18

Pay and bonus deals equivalent to 10% of US government bail-out package

 Wall Street demonstrators
Demonstrators protesting in New York before the $700bn Wall Street bail-out earlier this month. Photograph: Nicholas Roberts/AFP/Getty images

Financial workers at Wall Street’s top banks are to receive pay deals worth more than $70bn (£40bn), a substantial proportion of which is expected to be paid in discretionary bonuses, for their work so far this year – despite plunging the global financial system into its worst crisis since the 1929 stock market crash, the Guardian has learned.

Staff at six banks including Goldman Sachs and Citigroup are in line to pick up the payouts despite being the beneficiaries of a $700bn bail-out from the US government that has already prompted criticism. The government’s cash has been poured in on the condition that excessive executive pay would be curbed.

Pay plans for bankers have been disclosed in recent corporate statements. Pressure on the US firms to review preparations for annual bonuses increased yesterday when Germany’s Deutsche Bank said many of its leading traders would join Josef Ackermann, its chief executive, in waiving millions of euros in annual payouts.

The sums that continue to be spent by Wall Street firms on payroll, payoffs and, most controversially, bonuses appear to bear no relation to the losses incurred by investors in the banks. Shares in Citigroup and Goldman Sachs have declined by more than 45% since the start of the year. Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley have fallen by more than 60%. JP MorganChase fell 6.4% and Lehman Brothers has collapsed.

At one point last week the Morgan Stanley $10.7bn pay pot for the year to date was greater than the entire stock market value of the business. In effect, staff, on receiving their remuneration, could club together and buy the bank.

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Oct 18

NEW YORK, Oct 17 (Reuters) – Andrew Lahde, the hedge fund founder who shot to fame with his small fund that soared 870 percent last year on bets against U.S. subprime home loans, has called it quits, thanking “stupid” traders for making him rich.

In a biting, but humorous letter to investors posted on the website of Portfolio magazine on Friday, Lahde told investors last month he will no longer manage money because his bank counterparties had become too risky.

Lahde ripped his profession in the letter. He noted another hedge-fund manager who recently closed shop and was quoted in The Wall Street Journal as saying: “What I have learned about the hedge fund business is that I hate it.” To which Lahde responded, “I could not agree more with that statement.

“The low-hanging fruit, i.e. idiots whose parents paid for prep school, Yale and then the Harvard MBA, was there for the taking,” said Lahde, who according to the website birthdates.com is 37.

“These people who were (often) truly not worthy of the education they received (or supposedly received) rose to the top of companies such as AIG, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers and all levels of our government. All of this behavior supporting the Aristocracy, only ended up making it easier for me to find people stupid enough to take the other side of my trades. God bless America.”

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Oct 18

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Prosecutors have stepped up the investigation into the collapse of Lehman Brothers, with at least a dozen subpoenas being issued including one to the investment bank’s chief executive, Richard Fuld, The New York Times reported on Saturday.

Citing people close to the probe who requested anonymity, the Times said federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, Manhattan and New Jersey were examining events leading to Lehman’s collapse and bankruptcy filing.

One person said New Jersey prosecutors were looking into whether Lehman executives including Fuld misled investors involved in the $6 billion infusion of capital announced by Lehman in June about the bank’s condition, the Times said. That infusion came as Lehman disclosed a $2.8 billion third-quarter loss, which caused its shares to plunge.

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Oct 17

Christine Lagarde, the French finance minister, warned her US counterpart Hank Paulson that he had to bail out US investment bank Lehman Brothers or face global financial collapse, but her advice went unheeded.

Financial crisis: France's finance minister Christine Lagarde
Christine Lagarde, the French finance minister, warned her US counterpart Hank Paulson that he must bail out US investment bank Lehman Brothers or face global financial collapse, but her advice went unheeded. Photo: Reuters

Sources close to Mrs Lagarde said that she had called the US Treasury Secretary – a close personal friend – well before the ailing bank’s collapse imploring him to act, but he chose not to.

Lehman Brothers’ demise sparked the biggest shake-up on Wall Street in decades and sent shock waves around the world that triggered a massive bailout plan in Britain and Europe.

Mrs Lagarde – attributed with playing a key role in brokering a bailout deal among G7 finance ministers in Washington last weekend – dubbed Mr Paulson’s decision to let the bank go under “horrendous” as it triggered panic in markets and banks to the brink of a 1929-style financial meltdown.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, she warned that the world’s hedge funds could be the next institutions to be hit by the financial turmoil.

Mrs Lagarde, a perfect English speaker, said that governments must be “vigilant” over the health of hedge funds. “Initially everybody thought the hedge fund sector would be the first one to actually cause the collapse. They are vastly unregulated, they have been operating at the fringes, at the margin, and we need to be careful that there is no contamination effect,” she said.

Related articles:
Hedge funds shake in the teeth of financial storm
US hedge funds suffer heavy withdrawals

Her warning will send a shiver through the $2 trillion (£1.15billion) hedge fund industry, which has doubled in size in the last three years and proved to be one of the most powerful forces in the global financial system.

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Oct 13

The plans for a massive bank bailout by European governments differ strikingly from the U.S. approach.

PARIS (Fortune) — First you mess up the world’s financial system. Then you blow the rescue of it. Now let’s show you how to do it properly.

That, in a nutshell, is the less-than-flattering message European governments are sending to the U.S. as they mount their own gigantic bank bailout. The plans, announced Monday after two weeks of dithering, involve Britain, Germany, France and some others recapitalizing national banks that require help, and providing state guarantees and other measures to kick-start the stalled credit market. The details are strikingly different from the U.S. approach adopted by U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and the Federal Reserve Board. And there’s a big reason for that: The Europeans think Paulson got it badly wrong, and have watched aghast as he failed to restore confidence in the world’s financial system.

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Oct 12

Government set to become biggest shareholder in top banks as Japanese weigh bid for Morgan Stanley

THE government will launch the biggest rescue of Britain’s high-street banks tomorrow when the UK’s four biggest institutions ask for a £35 billion financial lifeline.

The unprecedented move will make the government the biggest shareholder in at least two banks.

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which has seen its market value fall to below £12 billion, is to ask ministers to underwrite a £15 billion cash call.

Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS), Britain’s biggest provider of mortgages, is seeking up to £10 billion.

Lloyds TSB, which is in the process of acquiring HBOS in a rescue merger, wants £7 billion, while Barclays needs £3 billion.

The scale of the fundraising could lead to trading at the London stock market being suspended. This would give time for the market to digest the impact of the moves.

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Oct 11

Lehman Brothers, the bust investment bank, triggered one of the biggest corporate debt defaults in history yesterday as it emerged that the US Federal Reserve is harbouring grave concerns about whether Washington’s $700 billion (£413 billion) bailout fund will avert a financial meltdown.

An auction of Lehman’s bonds yesterday determined that the bank’s borrowings were worth only 8.625 cents on the dollar. The valuation leaves the insurers of the debt a bill of about $365 billion. It is not clear whether the insurers, which are required to settle the bill in the next two weeks, will be able to pay – a development that could further undermine increasingly stressed capital markets.

The $365 billion default came as stock markets around the world suffered one of their worst days since the crash of 11 years ago. Panicking about the prospect of global recession, the FTSE 100 index of leading shares in London crashed within seconds of opening, losing 8.9 per cent of its value, its worse fall since October 1987.

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Oct 10


A woman speaks on a cell phone inside the headquarters of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., in New York, on Sept. 15, 2008. Photographer: Jeremy Bales/Bloomberg News

Oct. 10 (Bloomberg) — Sellers of credit-default protection on bankrupt Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. will have to pay 91.375 cents on the dollar to settle the contracts, setting up the biggest-ever payout in the $55 trillion market.

An auction to determine the size of the settlement on Lehman credit-default swaps set a value of 8.625 cents on the dollar for the debt, according to Creditfixings.com, a Web site run by auction administrators Creditex Group Inc. and Markit Group Ltd. The auction may lead to payments of more than $270 billion, BNP Paribas SA strategist Andrea Cicione in London said.

While the potential payout is higher than 87 cents on the dollar suggested by trading in Lehman’s bonds yesterday, sellers of protection have probably written down their positions and put up most of the collateral required, said Robert Pickel, head of the International Swaps and Derivatives Association. More than 350 banks and investors signed up to settle credit-default swaps tied to Lehman. No one knows exactly who has what at stake because there’s no central exchange or system for reporting trades.

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Oct 08


Dick Fuld, former Lehman Brothers’ chief executive Photo: AP

The dismemberment of Dick Fuld, Lehman Brothers’ former chief executive, before a Congressional committee on Monday was a compelling, albeit brutal, event.

His televised humiliation was orchestrated by a veteran Democrat, Henry Waxman, whose simple question about Fuld’s alleged $480m of earnings – Is that fair? – hit the banker like a haymaker, rendering him speechless.

As the cameras focused on Fuld’s haunted stare, there was a sense of action replay. Hadn’t we seen this freak show, or at least something remarkably like it, long before Lehman went under – a display of furious inquisitors wiping the floor with Wall Street’s loftiest reputations?

Yes, history was repeating itself: “As the ghosts of numerous tyrants, from Julius Caesar to Benito Mussolini will testify, people are very hard on those who, having had power, lose it or are destroyed. Then anger at past arrogance is joined with contempt for present weakness.

“The victim or his corpse is made to suffer all available indignities. Such was the fate of the bankers. They were fair game for Congressional committees, courts, the press and comedians.”

These are the observations of economist J K Galbraith in The Great Crash, 1929. First published in 1954, his analysis of the greed and self-delusion that led to the unravelling of America’s stock market and the subsequent Depression is undimmed by time.

Replace 1929 with 2008 and the story, I’m afraid, is eerily familiar: a speculative orgy, crescendo, climax and crash. As this plays out, important people – business and political leaders – rely on “the power of incantation” to keep the rest of us calm. Their efforts are doomed to fail.

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Oct 08


A security officer stands outside of the Federal Reserve building in Washington on Sept. 16, 2008. Photographer: Jay Mallin/Bloomberg News

Oct. 8 (Bloomberg) — The Federal Reserve, European Central Bank and four other central banks lowered interest rates in an unprecedented coordinated effort to ease the economic effects of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

The Fed, ECB, Bank of England, Bank of Canada and Sweden’s Riksbank each cut their benchmark rates by half a percentage point. The Bank of Japan, which didn’t participate in the move, said it supported the action. Switzerland also took part. Separately, China’s central bank lowered its key one-year lending rate by 0.27 percentage point.

Today’s decision follows a global meltdown that sent U.S. stock indexes heading for their biggest annual decline since 1937; Japan’s benchmark today had the worst drop in two decades. Policy makers are also aiming to unfreeze credit markets after the premium on the three-month London interbank offered rate over the Fed’s main rate doubled in two weeks to a record. Continue reading »

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Oct 07

Forget the stock market gyrations. Forget Bernanke and Paulson’s ineffective, unconstitutional schemes.

Thursday’s auction for Lehman’s credit default swaps (CDS) is much more important.

Why?

Well, if banks are reassured by the CDS auction, it could do more to free up frozen capital than all of the Fed and Treasury’s ill-conceived plans put together.

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Oct 07

Savers have been queuing in the street to buy gold bars and coins, as they search for a safe place to invest their money.


Traditionally, gold has been one of the safest investments during times of financial turmoil Photo: AP

London’s two leading bullion dealers, ATS Bullion and Baird & Co, have reported a rush of interest from savers, many of whom have hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of savings they want to convert into the precious metal.

Related article: US Mint halts some American Eagle coin production

At least two customers have invested the entire proceeds from selling their houses into gold, each buying up more than £500,000-worth of gold bars, according to one dealer.

Savers have been queuing in the street at ATS Bullion, whose offices are just off the Strand in London’s west end.

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Oct 06

When the precious metals were smashed out of nowhere and the dollar started climbing this summer I became very worried. I didn’t question my conviction that commodities are in a bull market, or that precious metals in particular are undervalued. I felt something sinister was at work. Neither move was justified on a fundamental level. I assumed that something very bad was about to happen and the metals needed to be brought lower in advance of the bad news.

Now we have a glimpse at the ugly consequences foreseen by the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve. In early September, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were nationalized with a financial commitment of USD$200 billion from the taxpayers. Incredibly, the loan limits at the former GSEs were raised from $417,000 to $729,750 in March when it was more than obvious these institutions needed to be reined in. Like most bailouts and bank failures, this one was announced on a weekend to limit the impact on the stock markets.

As I mentioned in last month’s issue, Treasury Secretary Paulson was under severe pressure to act, as the Chinese started selling Fannie and Freddie bonds while threatening further retribution. Common shareholders were left with nothing, while bondholders like Pimco and Asian central banks benefited. The small investor was stung again, as taxpayer dollars were used to bail out foreigners and wealthy Americans in a policy that Jim Rogers terms “socialism for the rich.”

Unfortunately, $200 billion is just the tip of the iceberg. As the government has assumed responsibility for Fannie and Freddie’s $5.4 trillion in liabilities, the Congressional Budget Office correctly states that these institutions “should be directly incorporated into the federal budget.” The Bush Administration has strongly opposed this move. Continue reading »

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Oct 06

Rep. Henry Waxman asks Lehman chief whether his hefty salary from the failed company is fair.


Added: Oct. 06, 2008

Source: YouTube

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Oct 06

Credit Crisis Widens


Sam Farhood, left, and James Denaro work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange prior to the Opening Bell in New York, on Oct. 6, 2008. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News

Oct. 6 (Bloomberg) — Stocks tumbled around the world, the euro fell the most against the yen since its debut and oil dropped below $90 a barrel as the yearlong credit market seizure caused bank bailouts to spread. Government bonds rallied.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index retreated 5.9 percent, extending the worst weekly slump since 2001, as concern slower global growth will curb demand for commodities sent Alcoa Inc. and U.S. Steel Corp. down more than 7 percent. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index headed for its biggest loss in at least two decades and exchanges in Russia and Brazil halted trading. Europe’s Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index had its steepest decline since 1987.

Today’s plunge erased about $2.5 trillion from global equities after the German government was forced to bail out Hypo Real Estate Holding AG, overshadowing the $700 billion U.S. Treasury plan to revive credit markets. The euro weakened 6 percent against the yen, the most since 1999.

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Oct 01


Barclays Capital logos are displayed on the facade of the Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. headquarters building in New York, Sept. 24, 2008. Photographer: Gino Domenico/Bloomberg News

Oct. 1 (Bloomberg) — Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s bankruptcy probably means the end of hedge-fund manager Oak Group Inc. after 22 years in business.

John James, who runs the Chicago-based firm with $25 million of assets, didn’t buy Lehman stock or debt. Instead, his potentially fatal mistake was to rely on the bank’s prime brokerage in London, a unit that provides loans, clears trades and handles administrative chores for hedge funds. He’s one of dozens of investment managers whose Lehman prime-brokerage accounts were frozen when the company filed for protection from creditors on Sept. 15.

“We’re probably going out of business and liquidate, game over,” James, 59, said. “We’ve lost 70 percent of our assets.”

The list of funds trapped in the Lehman morass keeps growing. London-based MKM Longboat Capital Advisors LLP said last week it will close its $1.5 billion Multi-Strategy fund in part because of assets stuck at Lehman, according to an investor letter.

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Sep 29

Sept. 29 (Bloomberg) — The Federal Reserve will pump an additional $630 billion into the global financial system, flooding banks with cash to alleviate the worst banking crisis since the Great Depression.

The Fed increased its existing currency swaps with foreign central banks to $620 billion from $290 billion to make more dollars available worldwide. The Term Auction Facility, the Fed’s emergency loan program, will expand to $450 billion from $150 billion. The European Central Bank, the Bank of England and the Bank of Japan are among the participating authorities.

The Fed’s expansion of liquidity, the biggest since credit markets seized up last year, comes as Congress prepares to vote on a $700 billion bailout for the financial industry. The crisis is reverberating through the global economy, forcing European governments to rescue four banks over the past two days alone.

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Sep 26

JPMorgan Buys WaMu Bank Business as Thrift Seized

Sept. 25 (Bloomberg) — JPMorgan Chase & Co., the third- biggest U.S. bank by assets, agreed to acquire Washington Mutual Inc.’s deposits and branches for $1.9 billion after regulators seized the thrift in the biggest bank failure in U.S. history.

Customers withdrew $16.7 billion from WaMu accounts since Sept. 16, leaving the Seattle-based bank “unsound,” the Office of Thrift Supervision said today. WaMu’s branches will open tomorrow and customers will have full access to all their accounts, Sheila Bair, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., said on a conference call.

WaMu’s fate played out as Congress debated an accord to end the global credit crunch that drove Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and IndyMac Bancorp out of business and led to the hastily arranged rescues of Merrill Lynch & Co. and Bear Stearns Cos., which was itself absorbed by JPMorgan. WaMu in March rebuffed a takeover offer from JPMorgan Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon that WaMu valued at $4 a share.

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Sep 25

Sept. 25 (Bloomberg) — Deborah Horn tugs on the handle of the glass-paned entrance of the IndyMac Bancorp Inc. branch in Manhattan Beach, California. The door won’t budge. The weekend is approaching, and Horn, 44, the sole breadwinner in a family of three, needs cash.

A small notice taped to the window on this Friday afternoon in mid-July tells her why she’s been locked out. IndyMac has failed, the single-spaced, letter-sized paper says; the bank is now in the hands of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

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Sep 24

Sept. 23 (Bloomberg) — Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson‘s $700 billion plan to buy devalued assets from financial companies is “a joke” because it doesn’t go far enough to calm markets, said Kenichi Ohmae, president of Business Breakthrough Inc.

Ohmae, nicknamed “Mr. Strategy” during his 23 years as a McKinsey & Co. partner, called for a $5 trillion “international facility” to be made available to financial institutions. The system could be modeled on one used by Sweden during its banking crisis in the early 1990s, he said.

“This is a liquidity crisis,” Ohmae said at an investor forum hosted by CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets, the regional broking arm of Credit Agricole SA, in Hong Kong yesterday. “The liquidity has to be so big that people won’t get panicky.”

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Sep 24

WASHINGTON: The FBI is investigating four major U.S. financial institutions whose collapse helped trigger a $700 billion bailout plan by the Bush administration, The Associated Press has learned.

Two law enforcement officials said Tuesday the FBI is looking at potential fraud by mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and insurer American International Group Inc. Additionally, a senior law enforcement official said Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. also is under investigation.

The inquiries will focus on the financial institutions and the individuals that ran them, the senior law enforcement official said.

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Sep 22

By MIKE WHITNEY

“One bank to rule them all;
One bank to bind them…”

These are dark times. While you were sleeping the cockroaches were busy about their work, rummaging through the US Constitution, and putting the finishing touches on a scheme to assert absolute power over the nation’s financial markets and the country’s economic future. Industry representative Henry Paulson has submitted legislation to Congress that will finally end the pretense that Bush controls anything more than reading the lines from a 4′ by 6′ teleprompter situated just inches from his lifeless pupils. Paulson is in charge now, and the coronation is set for sometime early next week. He rose to power in a stealthily-executed Banksters’ Coup in which he, and his coterie of dodgy friends, declared martial law on the US economy while elevating himself to supreme leader.

“All Hail Caesar!” The days of the republic are over.

Section 8 of the proposed legislation says it all:

“Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.”

Right; “non-reviewable” supremacy.

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Sep 22


Morgan Stanley headquarters in New York

Investment banks Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have been put under Federal control as part of a package aimed at rescuing the US finance system.

The move not only puts the two financial services giants under the direct supervision of bank regulators but also gives the Fed the power to force the banks to raise additional capital.

The US administration wants to prevent the collapse of two of Wall Street’s remaining investment banks after the fall of Lehman Brothers and the government-funded bailouts of Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch and global insurer AIG.

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Sep 22


U.S. one dollar bills are displayed for a photograph in New York, April 15, 2008. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News

Sept. 22 (Bloomberg) — Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson‘s plan to end the rout in U.S. financial markets may derail the dollar’s three-month rally as investors weigh the costs of the rescue.

The combination of spending $700 billion on soured mortgage-related assets and providing $400 billion to guarantee money-market mutual funds will boost U.S. borrowing as much as $1 trillion, according to Barclays Capital interest-rate strategist Michael Pond in New York. While the rescue may restore investor confidence to battered financial markets, traders will again focus on the twin budget and current-account deficits and negative real U.S. interest rates.

``As we get to the other side of this, the dollar will get crushed,” said John Taylor, chairman of New York-based International Foreign Exchange Concepts Inc., the world’s biggest currency hedge-fund firm, which manages about $15 billion.

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Sep 22


U.S. flags fly outside the headquarters of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., in New York, Sept. 16, 2008. Photographer: Gino Domenico/Bloomberg News

Sept. 22 (Bloomberg) — The Wall Street that shaped the financial world for two decades ended last night, when Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley concluded there is no future in remaining investment banks now that investors have determined the model is broken.

The Federal Reserve’s approval of their bid to become banks ends the ascendancy of the securities firms, 75 years after Congress separated them from deposit-taking lenders, and caps weeks of chaos that sent Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. into bankruptcy and led to the rushed sale of Merrill Lynch & Co. to Bank of America Corp.

“The decision marks the end of Wall Street as we have known it,” said William Isaac, a former chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. “It’s too bad.”

Goldman, whose alumni include Henry Paulson, the Treasury secretary presiding over a $700 billion bank bailout, and Morgan Stanley, a product of the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act that cleaved investment and commercial banks, insisted they didn’t need to change course, even as their shares plunged and their borrowing costs soared last week.

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Sep 21

Sept. 21 (Bloomberg) — The Bush administration sought unchecked power from Congress to buy $700 billion in bad mortgage investments from financial companies in what would be an unprecedented government intrusion into the markets.

Through his plan, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson aims to avert a credit freeze that would bring the financial system and the world’s largest economy to a standstill. The bill would prevent courts from reviewing actions taken under its authority.

“He’s asking for a huge amount of power,” said Nouriel Roubini, an economist at New York University. “He’s saying, `Trust me, I’m going to do it right if you give me absolute control.’ This is not a monarchy.”

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Sep 21


An office worker looks at a screen showing trading on the FTSE 100 index

TAXPAYERS in Britain face up to 5p in the pound in extra taxes because of the credit crunch created by the banks, leading economists have warned.

After a week of unprecedented financial turmoil, they predict that government borrowing is about to surge as the Treasury’s tax take is slashed by a slump in earnings from the City and the downturn.

Leading forecasters say the government will soon be forced to borrow as much as £100 billion a year, giving Britain easily the biggest budget deficit of any western country.

Any tax rises would come on top of increases imposed by Gordon Brown when he was chancellor. He repeatedly raised indirect “stealth” taxes while leaving income tax unchanged. Taxes went up by 3% of national income, equivalent to more than 10p on the basic rate of income tax.

The warning coincides with news that American executives of the failed Lehman Brothers bank, parts of which were taken over by Barclays last week, will still receive millions in bonuses.

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Sep 21


Hard times: central banks have acted to avoid a repeat of 1929

So, here we are – the start of a new world order. After the tumultuous events of the last fortnight, the global economic landscape will never look the same again.

Power has tangibly shifted – away from the United States and the Western world generally, and towards the fast-growing giants of the East. That’s been happening for some years now.

But September 2008 marks the moment when the scale of our excesses, the extent of our debts and the moral bankruptcy of our financial regulatory system finally began to be truly exposed.

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Sep 21

“I can calculate the movement of the stars, but not the madness of men.”
– Sir Isaac Newton, after losing a fortune in the South Sea bubble

Something extraordinary is going on with these government bailouts. In March 2008, the Federal Reserve extended a $55 billion loan to JPMorgan to “rescue” investment bank Bear Stearns from bankruptcy, a highly controversial move that tested the limits of the Federal Reserve Act. On September 7, 2008, the U.S. government seized private mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and imposed a conservatorship, a form of bankruptcy; but rather than let the bankruptcy court sort out the assets among the claimants, the Treasury extended an unlimited credit line to the insolvent corporations and said it would exercise its authority to buy their stock, effectively nationalizing them. Now the Federal Reserve has announced that it is giving an $85 billion loan to American International Group (AIG), the world’s largest insurance company, in exchange for a nearly 80% stake in the insurer . . . .

The Fed is buying an insurance company? Where exactly is that covered in the Federal Reserve Act? The Associated Press calls it a “government takeover,” but this is not your ordinary “nationalization” like the purchase of Fannie/Freddie stock by the U.S. Treasury. The Federal Reserve has the power to print the national money supply, but it is not actually a part of the U.S. government. It is a private banking corporation owned by a consortium of private banks. The banking industry just bought the world’s largest insurance company, and they used federal money to do it. Yahoo Finance reported on September 17:

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Sep 21

As a trader, I stopped getting disgusted at government manipulation of markets several years ago, didn’t pretend it wasn’t happening, just tried to find when it was coming. I decided to develop an indicator that would tell me when the probability was extremely high that the Master Planners would intervene. That approach has served us well, and that indicator is known as the Plunge Protection Team (PPT) Indicator. It flashed a new “buy” signal Monday, September 15th at the close, rising above positive + 20.00, warning that the decline from August 11th was terminal. The Industrials have risen 565 points since that buy signal. When this measure rises above positive + 20.00, it is usually early, but very right, an early warning indicator telling us to enjoy the decline for a few more trading days but get ready for a spike rally.

The current government market intervention (“manipulation” is probably a more appropriate word) that transpired the past two weeks, reaching crescendo Thursday on a rumor, and Friday on an announcement, is one of the most dramatic since the 1930’s. It really puts into question the notion of U.S. markets being under capitalism, not socialism. The government nationalized Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac last week, announced its intent to nationalize AIG, a component of the Dow 30, this week, and then pulled out all the stops with the Paulson manifesto Friday. Not sure why he didn’t nationalize Lehman Bros, unless it was personal, as he came from competitor Goldman Sachs, and enjoyed watching them declare bankruptcy. Okay, maybe I am a bit cynical — maybe.

Before getting into market performance and the forecast, let’s cover what we know about this historic redefining of the rules of the game that Paulson has placed on the table for Congress to consider next week:

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Sep 20

Bailout proposal sent to Congress seeks authorization to spend as much as $700 billion to buy troubled mortgage-related assets.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — President Bush has asked Congress for the authority to spend as much as $700 billion to purchase troubled mortgage assets and contain the financial crisis.

The legislative proposal – the centerpiece of what would be the most sweeping economic intervention by the government since the Great Depression – was sent by the White House overnight to lawmakers.

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Sep 19

Paulson, Bernanke, and Congress are conspiring to make the US taxpayer the fall guy for financial stupidity by banks and brokers. Congress is now willing to ram through legislation at the last moment, even though Senate Majority Leader Reid Says “No One Knows What to Do”.


Please consider Paulson, Bernanke Push New Proposal to Cleanse Balance Sheets (at taxpayer expense).

U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke proposed moving troubled assets from the balance sheets of American financial companies into a new institution.

Congressional leaders who met with Paulson and Bernanke late yesterday in Washington said they aim to pass legislation soon. The initiative, which may also insure money-market funds, is aimed at removing the devalued mortgage-linked assets at the root of the worst credit crisis since the Great Depression.

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Sep 19

In the space of just two momentous weeks, the landscape of global finance has been dramatically transformed. President George W. Bush’s administration has mounted a multi-billion-dollar rescue of the financial system at the cost of inflicting severe damage on the US model of free- market capitalism.

Heavy costs will be inflicted on the American taxpayer, who is now subsidising Wall Street – and indeed financial institutions around the world – in a bail-out of unprecedented size.

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Sep 19

Key lawmakers promise fast action on bailout

WASHINGTON (AP) – Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd says the United States may be “days away from a complete meltdown of our financial system” and Congress is working quickly to prevent that.

Dodd said Friday that Democrats and Republicans on the Hill are coming together to support the Bush administration’s developing plan to buy up bad debt from financial institutions and get the credit system working again. Dodd told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that the nation’s credit is seizing up and people can’t get loans.

The ranking Republican on the Banking Committee, Senator Richard Shelby, predicts the new bailout plan will cost at least half a trillion dollars.

Shelby says the nation has “been lurching from one crisis to another.” Both veteran lawmakers say this is the most serious financial crisis they’ve seen in their years in Congress.

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Sep 18

Stocks end sharply higher on report that government will create entity to hold banks’ debt

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street rallied in a stunning late-session turnaround Thursday, shooting higher and hurtling the Dow Jones industrials up 400 points following a report that the federal government might create an entity to absorb banks’ bad debt. The report also cooled investors’ fervor for the safest types of investments like government debt.

The report that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is considering the formation of a vehicle like the Resolution Trust Corp. that was set up during the savings and loan crisis of the late 1980s and early 1990s left previously solemn investors ebullient. Wall Street hoped a huge federal intervention could help financial institutions jettison bad mortgage debt and stop the drain on capital that has already taken down companies including Bear Stearns Cos. and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.

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Sep 18


Added: Sept. 18, 2008

Source: YouTube

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Sep 18

Are you capable of taking a perfectly good 158-year-old company and turning it into dust? If so, then you may not be earning up to your full potential.

You should be raking it in like Richard Fuld, the longtime chief of Lehman Brothers. He took home nearly half-a-billion dollars in total compensation between 1993 and 2007.

Last year, Mr. Fuld earned about $45 million, according to the calculations of Equilar, an executive pay research company. That amounts to roughly $17,000 an hour to obliterate a firm. If you’re willing to drive a company into the ground for less, apply by calling Lehman Brothers at (212) 526-7000.

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Sep 18

Money market funds have been among the few places that investors could put their cash and sleep peacefully.

At the moment, that is not necessarily true.

On Tuesday, the Reserve Primary Fund, a giant money market fund whose parent helped invent that investment, said its customers would lose money. Instead of each share being worth a dollar for every dollar invested, it said its customers’ shares were worth only 97 cents. In Wall Street parlance, it “broke the buck,” a rare occurrence.

So far, it appears that no other money market funds have fallen below a dollar a share. And other money market managers have hastened to reassure investors that their money is safe. But the Primary Fund’s announcement did raise this question: What, in today’s world, is truly safe?

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Sep 18

Sept. 18 (Bloomberg) — The Federal Reserve almost quadrupled the amount of dollars central banks can auction around the world to $247 billion in a coordinated bid to ease the worst crisis facing financial markets since the 1920s.

The Fed increased the amount of dollars that the European Central Bank, the Bank of Japan and other counterparts can offer from $67 billion “to address the continued elevated pressures in U.S. dollar short-term funding markets.” The Bank of England, the Bank of Canada and the Swiss National Bank also participated.

Policy makers have struggled to revive confidence in markets this week as investors stockpiled money on concern more financial institutions would fail after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and the U.S. government bailout of American International Group Inc. The cost to hedge against losses on U.S. government debt climbed to a record yesterday.

“There’s a complete lack of faith in the markets,” said Jim O’Neill, chief economist at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in London. “There’s a lot of cash hoarding and people losing trust in banks, so the central banks are acting to relieve that. This might not be the last time they have to act.”

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