Bank layoffs are now coming at a rapid pace in what is a clear sign of desperation by the firms to cut costs enough to keep shareholders happy as NIRP continues to hammer bank profits.
On the heels of Bank of America announcing that 8,000 employees would be fired last week, we now learn that RBS will be cutting 900 jobs as well, in areas such as IT and other back office positions that support the commercial, retail and private bank will be cut in Britain. The latest round of cuts takes the total number of layoffs in the last four months to roughly 5% of the bank’s british workforce, as at least 2,700 staff across the country have been let go since the beginning of March according to Reuters. Continue reading »
Just hours after apparently settling its suit with the USA (not at all retaliation for downgrading them), S&P has taken the big red marker out on a slew of European banks:
Downgrades: Credit Suisse, Barclays, Lloyds, Bank of Scotland, RBS, HSBC, and Ulster Bank
On Watch Negative: Raiffeisen Zentralbank, MBank, Unicredit, Commerzbank, and Deutsche Bank
The driver of the shift in perspective is the apparent removal of the ‘bailout put’, as the prospect of “extraordinary government support” appeared less likely under recently passed bail-in legislation.
The Nikkei 225 has fallen over 300 points from the v-shaped recovery close at the end of the US day session and is now trading below the lows of the day at 2-week lows. USDJPY has plunged over 100 pips having briefly neared 120.00, now back below 119.00. JGB Futures are trading near record highs prices as yields collapse to near-record lows (30Y -23bps since QQE, 20Y -15bps) only seen during last year’s yield-crash. No surprise then with the bond market “dead” according to market participants and yields negligible, that RBS has decided to exit the Japanese fixed-income business, slashing 200 jobs, and surrendering its primary bond dealership.
What an epic farce the largest bond market in the world has become…
Having confirmed that RBS, UBS, JPMorgan,,and Credit Suisse operated a cartell to manipulate bid-ask spreads of Swiss Franc libor, the European Commission has unleashed unmerciless vengeance on these law-breaking institutions:
Dick’s cuts 400 jobs as golf now less popular (MW)
Kerry arrives in Israel, pushes for peace (Reuters) (Sure!)
Pay Penalty Haunts Recession Grads as U.S. Economy Mends (BBG)
Appeals Courts Issue Conflicting Rulings on Health-Law Subsidies (WSJ)
Rebel Stronghold Donetsk Holds Breath as Shellfire Mounts (BBG)
Business executive wins Georgia Republican runoff in U.S. Senate race (Reuters)
Five held in China food scandal probe, including head of Shanghai Husi Food (Reuters)
Jobs Hold Sway Over Yellen-Carney as Central Banks Splinter (BBG)
Overnight Media Digest
* Two U.S. appeals courts issued conflicting rulings on subsidies for health coverage purchased on federal insurance exchanges, clouding a major part of Obama’s health law. (http://on.wsj.com/1pb81yo)
* The Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that Deutsche Bank AG’s U.S. operations suffer from a litany of serious financial reporting problems that the lender has known about for years but not fixed. (http://on.wsj.com/1jUoOXe) Continue reading »
British taxpayers risk losing their entire £45 billion stake in Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), the parent company of Ulster Bank, which is in grave danger of failing within 10 years, according to an explosive new book.
According to The Independent on Sunday, a new study of the bank, which brought the UK to the brink of financial ruin, reveals RBS still has a £100 billion “black hole” in its finances due to “five broad areas of alleged criminality and wrongdoing”.
Financial journalist Ian Fraser, who wrote Shredded: Inside RBS, The Bank That Broke Britain, said: “The result has been that, at the time of writing, RBS is probably a worse bank than it was under Fred Goodwin.”
They include the mis-selling of financial products such as payment protection insurance, the alleged duping of investors who were persuaded to plough more than £12 billion into RBS shares just before the banking crash in 2008, further fallout from the Libor scandal, and current criminal investigations into the manipulation of the £3 trillion-a-day foreign exchange markets. Continue reading »
Royal Bank of Scotland is preparing a dramatic retrenchment that would see it become a much smaller UK retail and commercial bank in a move that is expected to slash staff numbers by at least 30,000 in the coming years.
The bank, which is 81 per cent owned by the government, is next week expected to announce its withdrawal from many of its riskier investment banking activities alongside a plan to offload much of its international business.
Goldman Sachs and Barclays among banks investigated after reports some traders shared information about currency positions
New York state’s top financial regulator has demanded documents from more than a dozen banks including Barclays, Deutsche, Goldman Sachs and RBS as a probe widened into trading practices in the $5.3tn-a-day global foreign exchange markets.
Benjamin Lawsky, New York’s financial services superintendent, made the move following the banks’ decision to fire or suspend at least 20 traders following reports that employees at some firms had shared information about their currency positions with counterparts at other companies.
U.S. Congressional Record February 9, 1917, page 2947
Congressman Calloway announced that the J.P. Morgan interests bought 25 of America’s leading newspapers, and inserted their own editors, in order to control the media.
Mr. CALLAWAY: Mr. Chairman, under unanimous consent, I insert into the Record at this point a statement showing the newspaper combination, which explains their activity in the war matter, just discussed by the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. MOORE]:
“In March, 1915, the J.P. Morgan interests, the steel, ship building and powder interests and their subsidiary organizations, got together 12 men high up in the newspaper world and employed them to select the most influential newspapers in the United States and sufficient number of them to control generally the policy of the daily press in the United States.
“These 12 men worked the problems out by selecting 179 newspapers, and then began, by an elimination process, to retain only those necessary for the purpose of controlling the general policy of the daily press throughout the country. They found it was only necessary to purchase the control of 25 of the greatest papers. The 25 papers were agreed upon; emissaries were sent to purchase the policy, national and international, of these papers; an agreement was reached; the policy of the papers was bought, to be paid for by the month; an editor was furnished for each paper to properly supervise and edit information regarding the questions of preparedness, militarism, financial policies and other things of national and international nature considered vital to the interests of the purchasers.
“This contract is in existence at the present time, and it accounts for the news columns of the daily press of the country being filled with all sorts of preparedness arguments and misrepresentations as to the present condition of the United States Army and Navy, and the possibility and probability of the United States being attacked by foreign foes.
“This policy also included the suppression of everything in opposition to the wishes of the interests served. The effectiveness of this scheme has been conclusively demonstrated by the character of the stuff carried in the daily press throughout the country since March, 1915. They have resorted to anything necessary to commercialize public sentiment and sandbag the National Congress into making extravagant and wasteful appropriations for the Army and Navy under false pretense that it was necessary. Their stock argument is that it is ‘patriotism.’ They are playing on every prejudice and passion of the American people.”
So FORGET about the Illuminati (the real elitists) and just blame their bankster elite puppets, their government elite puppets (like Obama, Bush, Clinton etc.) and their corporate media presstitutes for everything instead!!!
Conspiracy theorists of the world, believers in the hidden hands of the Rothschilds and the Masons and the Illuminati, we skeptics owe you an apology. You were right. The players may be a little different, but your basic premise is correct: The world is a rigged game. We found this out in recent months, when a series of related corruption stories spilled out of the financial sector, suggesting the world’s largest banks may be fixing the prices of, well, just about everything.
You may have heard of the Libor scandal, in which at least three – and perhaps as many as 16 – of the name-brand too-big-to-fail banks have been manipulating global interest rates, in the process messing around with the prices of upward of $500 trillion (that’s trillion, with a “t”) worth of financial instruments. When that sprawling con burst into public view last year, it was easily the biggest financial scandal in history – MIT professor Andrew Lo even said it “dwarfs by orders of magnitude any financial scam in the history of markets.”
That was bad enough, but now Libor may have a twin brother. Word has leaked out that the London-based firm ICAP, the world’s largest broker of interest-rate swaps, is being investigated by American authorities for behavior that sounds eerily reminiscent of the Libor mess. Regulators are looking into whether or not a small group of brokers at ICAP may have worked with up to 15 of the world’s largest banks to manipulate ISDAfix, a benchmark number used around the world to calculate the prices of interest-rate swaps.
Interest-rate swaps are a tool used by big cities, major corporations and sovereign governments to manage their debt, and the scale of their use is almost unimaginably massive. It’s about a $379 trillion market, meaning that any manipulation would affect a pile of assets about 100 times the size of the United States federal budget. Continue reading »
Some have attributed the resurrection of the financial markets (or more appropriately the banks) from the March 2009 lows to the IASB/FASB changes to factual to fantasy accounting. The Telegraph reports today that from PIRC’s and the Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee that while banker bonuses continue to rise (for now), ‘hidden’ losses among UK banks could total GBP60 Billion (USD 90 Billion). HSBC topped the list with GBP10.4 Billion in bad debts that have yet to be written off and while the ‘accounting’ bodies are suggesting they will address criticism of this farce, as one analyst notes, they “can still make unprofitable lending appear profitable.” Regulators expect to hear plans from lenders on how they intend to fill these holes before the end of the month to coincide either with the FPC’s meeting on March 19 or a statement scheduled for March 27. While outright recaps are unlikely, banks are expected to
restructure and set out plans to raise their capital levels over the next
couple of years. More fantasy…
PIRC has calculated the amount of bad debts the banks may have to write off in coming years but have yet to subtract from profits, together with other items such as deferred bonuses not booked.
HSBC, which is the biggest bank by assets, was shown to have £10.4bn of hidden losses, the Royal Bank of Scotland has £9.4bn, and Barclays has £7.3bn. Lloyds Banking Group has £2.5bn and Standard Chartered £2.2bn. Together the undeclared losses total £31.8bn. Continue reading »
Bankers in London, Europe’s trading hub, are bracing themselves for significantly lower bonuses (and salary cuts) especially so relative to their New York counterparts. As Bloomberg Businessweek notes in the brief clip below, investment bankers and traders should expect a 15% pay cut compared to unchanged in the US and while hope is that these are temporary, many believe this shift is structural and reflects “US regulators [not having] the same obsession with pay structures that European regulators have.” As is evident from the chart below, there are winners and losers (and we bet you can guess who the winner is).Looks like Goldman wins, UBS loses, and even with a huge drop in revenues Morgan Stanley is being generous…
The first ever GAO (Government Accountability Office) audit of the Federal Reserve was carried out in the past few months due to the Ron Paul, Alan Grayson Amendment to the Dodd-Frank bill, which passed last year. Jim DeMint, a Republican Senator, and Bernie Sanders, an independent Senator, led the charge for a Federal Reserve audit in the Senate, but watered down the original language of the house bill(HR1207), so that a complete audit would not be carried out.
Ben Bernanke, Alan Greenspan, and various other bankers vehemently opposed the audit and lied to Congress about the effects an audit would have on markets. Nevertheless, the results of the first audit in the Federal Reserve’s nearly 100 year history were posted on Senator Sander’s webpage earlier this morning.
State-controlled Royal Bank of Scotland confirmed on Friday it has dismissed a number of employees for misconduct as a result of its investigations into the Libor interest rate rigging scandal and, along with other banks, is still under investigation by regulators.
MORGAN STANLEY L-T SR DEBT CUT TO Baa1 FROM A2 BY MOODY’S
MOODY’S CUTS MORGAN STANLEY 2 LEVELS, HAD SEEN UP TO 3
MORGAN STANLEY OUTLOOK NEGATIVE BY MOODY’S
MORGAN STANLEY S-T RATING CUT TO P-2 FROM P-1 BY MOODY’S
But the kicker:
ONLY MORGAN STANLEY, HSBC CUT LESS THAN MOODY’S ORGINAL MAXIMUM.
And there you have it – the reason for the delay were last minute negotiations, most certainly involving extensive monetary explanations, by Morgan Stanley’s Gorman (potentially with Moody’s investor Warren Buffett on the call) to get only a two notch downgrade. And Wall Street wins again.
“In connection with certain OTC trading agreements and certain other agreements associated with the Institutional Securities business segment, the Company may be required to provide additional collateral or immediately settle any outstanding liability balances with certain counterparties in the event of a credit rating downgrade. At March 31, 2012, the following are the amounts of additional collateral, termination payments or other contractual amounts (whether in a net asset or liability position) that could be called by counterparties under the terms of such agreements in the event of a downgrade of the Company’s long-term credit rating under various scenarios: $868 million (A3 Moody’s/A- S&P); $5,177 million (Baa1 Moody’s/ BBB+ S&P); and $7,206 million (Baa2 Moody’s/BBB S&P). Also, the Company is required to pledge additional collateral to certain exchanges and clearing organizations in the event of a credit rating downgrade. At March 31, 2012, the increased collateral requirement at certain exchanges and clearing organizations under various scenarios was $160 million (A3 Moody’s/A- S&P); $1,600 million (Baa1 Moody’s/ BBB+ S&P); and $2,400 million (Baa2 Moody’s/BBB S&P).”
So instead of $9.6 billion, MS will face only $6.8 billion in collateral calls.
Even as Moody is now about a week late on its Spanish bank downgrade where the banks are rated higher than the sovereign (which obviously is kept in check to prevent yields on bonds from soaring even more), here comes the next wholesale bank downgrade:
Moody’s expected to announce ratings downgrade for UK banks this evening – Sky Sources
Exclusive: Big news – I’m told Moody’s will announce downgrades of some of world’s biggest banks, incl in UK, after US mkts close tonight. – Sky’s Mark Kleinman
Looks like that fabricated 2 notch Margin Stanley downgrade (because 3 notches just won’t do – those 4 months of Gorman-led “negotiations” made that painfully clear) is about to strike. The real question is: What Would Egan Who Do?
Some of Britain’s biggest banks are poised to have their credit ratings downgraded by Moody’s as soon as tonight as part of a wider reassessment of the health of the global banking industry, I can reveal.
Moody’s is expected to outline its verdicts about the creditworthiness of banks including Barclays, HSBC, JP Morgan and Royal Bank of Scotland.
Bush, Fed, Europe Banks in $15 Trillion Fraud, All Documented
Below is one of the strangest stories in financial history, one involving the US government lying about hundreds of thousands of tons of imaginary gold, illegal wire transfers and loans totalling $15 trillion. The video, from the House of Lords, is amazing in itself.
What it doesn’t express is where the money came from though Lord James of Blackheath proves conclusively that an effort was made to say it came from a gold reserve in Brunei that, in fact, never existed.
At surface, it appears we have stumbled upon the largest terrorist organization in the world and have found original documents tracing its funding to the Secretary of the Treasury and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, two of the top financial officers in the US. A cursory review of terrorism statues in the US indicate that all transactions we will learn about are, in fact, to be assumed “terrorist money laundering” and that the only thing preventing the immediate arrest of hundreds of top financial officials is their political connections alone.
Lord James of Blackheath, House of Lords February 16 2012
Breaking news Lord James of Blackheath has spoken in the House of Lords holding evidence of three transactions of 5 Trillion each and a transaction of 750,000 metric tonnes of gold and has called for an investigation.
Lord James of Blackheath: My Lords, I hope the minute that that has taken has not come off my time. I do not wish noble Lords to get too encouraged when I start with my conclusions but I will not sit down when I have made them. I will then give the evidence to support them and, I hope, present the reasons why I want support for an official inquiry into the mischief I shall unfold this afternoon. I have been engaged in pursuit of this issue for nearly two years and I am no further forward in getting to the truth.
There are three possible conclusions which may come from it. First, there may have been a massive piece of money-laundering committed by a major Government who should know better. Effectively, it undermined the integrity of a British bank, the Royal Bank of Scotland, in doing so. The second possibility is that a major American department has an agency which has gone rogue on it because it has been wound up and has created a structure out of which it is seeking to get at least €50 billion as a pay-off. The third possibility is that this is an extraordinarily elaborate fraud, which has not been carried out, but which has been prepared to provide a threat to one Government or more if they do not make a pay-off. These three possibilities need an urgent review.
In April and May 2009, the situation started with the alleged transfer of $5 trillion to HSBC in the United Kingdom. Seven days later, another $5 trillion came to HSBC and three weeks later another $5 trillion. A total of $15 trillion is alleged to have been passed into the hands of HSBC for onward transit to the Royal Bank of Scotland. We need to look to where this came from and the history of this money. I have been trying to sort out the sequence by which this money has been created and where it has come from for a long time.
It starts off apparently as the property of Yohannes Riyadi, who has some claims to be considered the richest man in the world. He would be if all the money that was owed to him was paid but I have seen some accounts of his showing that he owns $36 trillion in a bank. It is a ridiculous sum of money. However, $36 trillion would be consistent with the dynasty from which he comes and the fact that it had been effectively the emperors of Indo-China in times gone by. A lot of that money has been taken away from him, with his consent, by the American Treasury over the years for the specific purpose of helping to support the dollar.
Stephen Hester, the chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland, is in line for an extra payout of £3.3m which would dwarf his controversial bonus of £963,000, it emerged last night.
Disclosure of the staggering figure amounts to political dynamite as the Prime Minister fought off suggestions that he should veto the near-£1m bonus, announced last week, for the boss of the taxpayer-owned RBS.
The extra bonus of £3.3m, revealed yesterday, would be on top of the £35.54m total remuneration package Mr Hester has received since joining RBS in 2008.
What you are about to read should absolutely astound you. During the last financial crisis, the Federal Reserve secretly conducted the biggest bailout in the history of the world, and the Fed fought in court for several years to keep it a secret. Do you remember the TARP bailout? The American people were absolutely outraged that the federal government spent 700 billion dollars bailing out the “too big to fail” banks. Well, that bailout was pocket change compared to what the Federal Reserve did. As you will see documented below, the Federal Reserve actually handed more than 16 trillion dollars in nearly interest-free money to the “too big to fail” banks between 2007 and 2010. So have you heard about this on the nightly news? Probably not. Lately Bloomberg has been reporting on some of this, but even they are not giving people the whole picture. The American people need to be told about this 16 trillion dollar bailout, because it is a perfect example of why the Federal Reserve needs to be shut down. The Federal Reserve has been actively picking “winners” and “losers” in the financial system, and it turns out that the “friends” of the Fed always get bailed out and always end up among the “winners”. This is not how a free market system is supposed to work.
According to the limited GAO audit of the Federal Reserve that was mandated by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the grand total of all the secret bailouts conducted by the Federal Reserve during the last financial crisis comes to a whopping $16.1 trillion.
A day after Credit Suisse killed the Chinese bank sector saying that the equity of virtually the entire space may be worthless if NPLs double, as they expect they will to about 10%, the Swiss bank proceeds to kill European banks next. Based on the latest farce out of Europe in the form of the third stress test, which is supposed to restore some confidence, it appears that what it will do is simply accelerate the flight out of everything bank related, but certainly out of anything RBS, Deutsche Bank, BNP, SocGen and Barclays related. To wit: “In our estimation of what could be the “new EBA stress test” there would be 66 failures, with RBS, Deutsche Bank, and BNP needing the most capital – at €19bn, €14bn and €14bn respectively. Among the banks with the highest capital shortfalls, SocGen and Barclays would need roughly €13bn with Unicredit and Commerzbank respectively at €12bn and €11bn. In the figure below we present the stated results. We note RBS appears to be the most vulnerable although the company has said that the methodology, especially the calculation of trading income, is especially harsh for them, negatively impacting the results by c.80bps.” Oops. Perhaps it is not too late for the EBA to back out of this latest process and say they were only kidding. And it gets even worse: “We present in this section an overview of the analysis which we published in our report ‘The lost decade’ – 15-Sep 2011. One of our conclusions was that the overall European banking sector is facing a €400bn capital shortfall which compares to a current market cap of €541bn.” Said otherwise, we can now see why the FT reported yesterday that banks will be forced to go ahead and proceed with asset firesales: the mere thought of European banks raising new cash amounting to 75% of the entire industry’s market cap, is beyond ridiculous. So good luck with those sales: just remember – he who sells first, sells best.
And the scary charts:
1. Capital Shortfalls under Stress Test part Trois (9% min. CET1 ratio)
A more severe crash than the one triggered by the collapse of Lehman Brothers could be on the way, according to alarm signals in the credit markets.
Insurance on the debt of several major European banks has now hit historic levels, higher even than those recorded during financial crisis caused by the US financial group’s implosion nearly three years ago.
Credit default swaps on the bonds of Royal Bank of Scotland, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank and Intesa Sanpaolo, among others, flashed warning signals on Wednesday. Credit default swaps (CDS) on RBS were trading at 343.54 basis points, meaning the annual cost to insure £10m of the state-backed lender’s bonds against default is now £343,540.
The cost of insuring RBS bonds is now higher than before the taxpayer was forced to step in and rescue the bank in October 2008, and shows the recent dramatic downturn in sentiment among credit investors towards banks.
Citigroup Inc. (C) and Bank of America Corp. (BAC) were the reigning champions of finance in 2006 as home prices peaked, leading the 10 biggest U.S. banks and brokerage firms to their best year ever with $104 billion of profits.
By 2008, the housing market’s collapse forced those companies to take more than six times as much, $669 billion, in emergency loans from the U.S. Federal Reserve. The loans dwarfed the $160 billion in public bailouts the top 10 got from the U.S. Treasury, yet until now the full amounts have remained secret.
Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s unprecedented effort to keep the economy from plunging into depression included lending banks and other companies as much as $1.2 trillion of public money, about the same amount U.S. homeowners currently owe on 6.5 million delinquent and foreclosed mortgages. The largest borrower, Morgan Stanley (MS), got as much as $107.3 billion, while Citigroup took $99.5 billion and Bank of America $91.4 billion, according to a Bloomberg News compilation of data obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, months of litigation and an act of Congress.
The United States and other countries of the world are becoming more fascist as New World Order globalists rush to complete their fascist world government by late 2012. According to Italy’s former fascist dictator and MI5 asset, Benito Mussolini, “fascism should rightly be called corporatism, as it is the merger of corporate and government power.” The following examples demonstrate fascism/corporatism within the banking structure of the United States.
JP Morgan and Bank of America
JP Morgan and Bank of America obtain profits by issuing government funded food stamps/subsidies.
JP Morgan is the largest processor of food stamp benefits in the United States. JP Morgan has contracted to provide food stamp debit cards in 26 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. JP Morgan is paid for each case that it handles, so that means that the more Americans that go on food stamps, the more profits JP Morgan makes.
“The Employment Development Department (EDD) Debit CardSM from Bank of America is the new and more efficient way of delivering California State Disability Insurance (Disability Insurance [DI], Paid Family Leave [PFL]), and beginning July 8, 2011 Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefit payments…The EDD Debit CardSM can be used everywhere Visa® debit cards are accepted.”
Of course, using the fascist debit card is subject to bank fees. Therefore, rather than issuing checks directly to recipients, California chose a debit card system that will guarantee fees and profits paid to B of A and Visa. Continue reading »
Leaving aside for a moment the obvious questions of criminality and treason that have arisin from the details of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Greek government and the Troika (IMF/EU/ECB), which concedes total sovereign authority of the Greek state over the fate of its own citizens to foreign banks, let us turn to recent allegations made in Parliament against the Prime Minister of Greece himself, George Papandreou.
Recently, in an interview on Greek television, Member of Parliament for New Democracy, Mr. Panos Kammenos, made allegations that if true, could very well constitute treason for the Greek Prime Minister, members of his staff and possibly members of his own family. These allegations were repeated by Mr. Kammenos on the floor of parliament and given support by the leader of LAOS, Mr. George Karatzaferis. These allegations are therefore, not made lightly, and have now been plainly put forth before the Greek people. They can no longer be ignored, and the Prime Minister is obliged to respond to them.
The gist of the allegations rest on the charge by Mr. Kammenos, that the Greek Prime Minister, Mr. George Papandreou and members of his team, presided over the sale of 1.3 billion dollars worth of credit default swap contracts (CDS on Greek sovereign debt) on or around December of 2009, shortly after coming to power. The 1.3 billion dollars worth of insurance protecting against a Greek default was bought during the spring and summer of the same year, by the Hellenic Postbank, a public banking arm of the Greek government. It is unclear what the intentions of the Postbank were when it purchased the credit protection. Clearly, the previous government that was in power at the time (New Democracy or N.D.) understood that Greece was headed towards a fiscal crisis, otherwise they would not have purchased the insurance. However, we do not know if the move was initially made with the intention of reaping private profit, or simply as a hedge by the government itself against it’s own default.
[*Note: I have been made aware of a possible discrepancy between the numbers cited by Mr. Kammenos and those cited by Mr. Tombras in his law suit. Specifically, the subject at issue is the notional value of the CDS purchased and then sold by Hellenic Postbank. The size of the bank’s balance sheet would not warrant as large a hedge as the 60 billion in notional CDS (implied by Kammenos), which would imply that either the bank was net-short it’s own government’s debt, or that some mistake has been made by those looking over the books. This would affect the profit potential for the position, but would not change the fundamental fact that insurance protection was sold from public to private hands. – i.e. it has no bearing on the allegations]
Back in March of 2009 Zero Hedge, once again a little conspiratorially ahead of its time, solicited reader feedback on a key topic: CDS pricing manipulation, involving in addition to key cartel banks, such “independent” pricing services as MarkIt. We said: “Zero Hedge has received some troubling info (like there isn’t enough) regarding major pricing discrepancies between certain securities pricing services.
The services include companies such as IDC, Advantage Data, Markit and others. While I will not disclose which one may be a culprit, the allegation is that one (or more) are providing substantially above market pricing levels, specifically as pertains to distressed securities.” Then back in August 2010, we followed up by explaining that it is the ongoing price manipulation scheme, in addition to other factors, that allows Goldman Sachs (and other CDS dealers to a much lesser extent) to constantly generate massive profits from trading an opaque off-exchange product like CDS. It took two years and a month for others to take notice of this inquiry, although naturally not in that slum of corruption and market manipulation, the United States of America, but in Europe. Bloomberg reports: “Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and other 14 other investment banks face a European Union antitrust probe into credit-default swaps for companies and sovereign debt, regulators said. …The European Commission said it opened two antitrust probes. It will check whether 16 bank dealers colluded by giving market information to Markit, a financial information provider.” So while some post flow charts explaining the hilarity behind conspiracy theories, others actually expose the facts that today are a conspiracy and tomorrow are a full blown criminal investigation.
“Lack of transparency in markets can lead to abusive behavior and facilitate violations of competition rules,” said the EU’s antitrust chief, Joaquin Almunia, in an e-mailed statement. “I hope our investigation will contribute to a better functioning of financial markets.”
Global regulators have sought to toughen regulation of credit-default swaps saying the trades helped fuel the financial crisis. Lawmakers in the EU plan to encourage the use of clearinghouses and transparent trading systems. CDS are derivatives that pay the buyer face value if a borrower defaults.
JPMorgan, Bank of America Corp. (BAC), Barclays Plc (BARC), BNP Paribas (BNP) SA, Citigroup Inc. (C), Commerzbank AG (CBK), Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN), Deutsche Bank AG (DBK), Goldman Sachs, HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA), Morgan Stanley, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc (RBS), UBS AG (UBSN), Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), Credit Agricole SA (ACA) and Societe Generale (GLE) SA will be investigated for possible collusion in giving “most of the pricing, indices and other essential daily data only to Markit.”
Union brands share awards by loss-making bank a ‘disgrace’
RBS chief executive Stephen Hester will enjoy a pay deal worth around £7.7m if he meets his targets. Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty Images
Bailed out Royal Bank of Scotland has handed shares worth £28m to nine of its top executives in the latest round of multimillion pound bonus awards by the high street banks.
The precise scale of the payouts at the loss-making bank, 83% owned by the state through £45bn of taxpayer funds, will become clearer next week when the annual report is published.
But stock exchange announcements showed that the nine key staff – including chief executive Stephen Hester – had been handed bonuses for 2010 of £10m in shares with a further £18m in long-term incentive plans that run until 2014 when their exact value will be known.
Len McCluskey, Unite’s general secretary, branded the payments by the bank – which lost £1.1bn in 2010 – a “disgrace”. The RBS disclosures came just 24 hours after Barclays lifted the lid on the pay deals it makes to its highest earners – handing five of them £110m.
• Loss an improvement on £3.6bn last year and £24bn in 2008
• Bailed-out bank increases part of revenue paid to bankers
• Unite ‘baffled’ by handsome rewards
RBS chief executive Stephen Hester’s £2.04m bonus was announced earlier this month as part of the Project Merlin deal. Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty Images
More than 100 bankers at Royal Bank of Scotland were paid more than £1m last year and total bonus payouts reached nearly £1bn – even though the bailed-out bank reported losses of £1.1bn for 2010.
The chairman, Sir Philip Hampton, said the number of millionaires was lower than a year ago and said a quarter of the group’s 18,700 investment bankers would not receive a bonus from the £950m payout pool agreed with UK Financial Investments, which controls the taxpayer’s 83% stake in the bank. Unions were baffled that any bankers were getting bonuses.
As recovery starts to stall in the US and Europe with echoes of mid-1931, bond experts are once again dusting off a speech by Ben Bernanke given eight years ago as a freshman governor at the Federal Reserve.
Entitled “Deflation: Making Sure It Doesn’t Happen Here”, it is a warfare manual for defeating economic slumps by use of extreme monetary stimulus once interest rates have dropped to zero, and implicitly once governments have spent themselves to near bankruptcy.
The speech is best known for its irreverent one-liner: “The US government has a technology, called a printing press, that allows it to produce as many US dollars as it wishes at essentially no cost.”
Bernanke began putting the script into action after the credit system seized up in 2008, purchasing $1.75 trillion of Treasuries, mortgage securities, and agency bonds to shore up the US credit system. He stopped far short of the $5 trillion balance sheet quietly pencilled in by the Fed Board as the upper limit for quantitative easing (QE).
Investors basking in Wall Street’s V-shaped rally had assumed that this bizarre episode was over. So did the Fed, which has been shutting liquidity spigots one by one. But the latest batch of data is disturbing.
The ECRI leading indicator produced by the Economic Cycle Research Institute plummeted yet again last week to -6.9, pointing to contraction in the US by the end of the year. It is dropping faster that at any time in the post-War era.
The latest data from the CPB Netherlands Bureau shows that world trade slid 1.7pc in May, with the biggest fall in Asia. The Baltic Dry Index measuring freight rates on bulk goods has dropped 40pc in a month. This is a volatile index that can be distorted by the supply of new ships, but those who watch it as an early warning signal for China and commodities are nervous.
Andrew Roberts, credit chief at RBS, is advising clients to read the Bernanke text very closely because the Fed is soon going to have to the pull the lever on “monster” quantitative easing (QE)”.
“We cannot stress enough how strongly we believe that a cliff-edge may be around the corner, for the global banking system (particularly in Europe) and for the global economy. Think the unthinkable,” he said in a note to investors.
When all of Europe rushed into its rescue package two weeks ago (first half a trillion, market red, then a full trillion, market green), the one thing that struck us as odd was the conflicting data on the conditionality of the package, with various sources both confirming and denying that the “package” was revocable. It did seem somewhat shortsighted of the Germans, whose political leadership would soon be on the verge of a series of electoral routs, to tie its fate without even one exit hatch, to a country that is a financial toxic spiral. Sure enough, the Telegraph’s Evans-Pritchard has uncovered what may be the two loopholes in the European bailout agreement. While the first one is not surprising, the second one explains why the biggest sellers of European government debt (and/or buyers of Euro sovereign CDS), are likely the governments of the distressed, and core, countries themselves.
Markets have been rattled by reports in the German media that the Greek rescue deal contains two secret clauses. The package will be “immediately and irrevocably cancelled” if it is found to breach the EU Treaty’s “no bail-out” clause, either in a ruling by the European court or the constitutional courts of any eurozone state. While such an event is unlikely, it is not impossible. There are two cases already pending at Germany’s top court in Karlsruhe, perhaps Europe’s most “eurosceptic” tribunal.
The second clause said that if any country finds it cannot raise funding for the rescue at interest rates below the 5pc charge agreed for Greece, it may opt out of the bail-out. BNP Paribas said this would escalate quickly into a systemic crisis if Spain were in such a position, because the other countries cannot carry an ever-rising burden. The bank warned the euro project itself may start to disintegrate rapidly if these rescue provisions are ever seriously put to the test.
(The Sunday Times) — THE Tories are planning a bank shares bonanza for millions of families as they fight to save their lead in the polls, which has slumped to just 6%.
Cheap shares would be offered to small investors when the government’s £70 billion stake in Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group is sold, George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, said last night.
The “people’s bonus” plan comes as a Sunday Times/YouGov survey today reveals that the Tories’ lead over Labour has slipped to the narrowest gap in more than a year.
The poll, the first in a series of weekly surveys which will be conducted between now and the general election, puts the Conservatives on 39%, down one point on January’s figure, and Labour on 33%, up two. The Liberal Democrats drop one point to 17%. Continue reading »
Standard & Poor’s blames move on Britain’s weak economic environment and banks’ dependence on state support
Northern Rock, one of the banks in which the British government has a majority stake. Standard & Poor’s said reliance on state support contributed to its move to downgrade the banking industry’s rating
Britain’s banking industry was downgraded by the international credit rating agency, Standard & Poor’s, as a result of the country’s “weak economic environment” and the banks’ “high” dependence on state support.
In its second major intervention in Britain in the past year, the agency announced that it was demoting Britain’s banking industry by one tier to its Group 3 out of 10. Banks in Canada, France and Germany are in the first and second groups.
The agency, which placed Britain on “negative watch” last May, said it had acted in light of Britain’s “weak economic environment, the reputational damage we believe has been experienced by the banking industry, and what we see as the high dependence on state-support programs of a significant proportion of the industry”. The government has a majority stake in two banks – RBS and Northern Rock. Continue reading »
Hester stirs diplomatic row by using EU rules to force Dublin into accepting £7bn bad loans
ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND is poised to spark a diplomatic row with Ireland by attempting to dump £7 billion of toxic loans into the Irish “bad bank”.
Stephen Hester, the RBS chief executive, is expected to lodge an application to join Ireland’s National Asset Management Agency (Nama) within the next few weeks through its Ulster Bank subsidiary.
Irish officials are said to be furious about the plan, however. The Treasury had previously reached a “gentleman’s agreement” with its Dublin counterpart over their bailout plans.
The Treasury had agreed that no British banks would apply to use the Nama as long as no Irish banks tried to join the parallel UK programme, the Government Asset Protection Scheme (Gaps).
This was agreed to make it easier for taxpayers in both countries to stomach the deal. Under EU rules, Ireland is legally obliged to consider RBS’s application to join the scheme.
The Irish officials had no idea RBS was considering using the Nama scheme until Hester alluded to the possibility in a conference call with analysts two weeks ago. His comments came after the bank confirmed plans to place £282 billion of assets into Gaps — some £40 billion less than originally planned.
Darling warns RBS could still need more money after £33.5bn bailout
Royal Bank of Scotland may need more taxpayer funds to nurse the state-controlled lender back to health, Alistair Darling said yesterday hours after announcing a £33.5 billion bailout package for the bank — the biggest of its kind in the world.
Unveiling details of increased bailout funds for RBS and Lloyds Banking Group, the Chancellor told MPs that RBS “may need more capital” in order to help the bank to return to stability.
The Treasury said that it would inject a further £25.5 billion of taxpayers’ funds into RBS to prop up the lender, along with a new £8 billion pot of reserves intended for emergencies only. Mr Darling also announced a new capital injection of £5.7 billion for Lloyds, in which the Government holds a 43 per cent stake. The total bailout for the two banks now stands at £76 billion, the equivalent of almost 17p in the pound for every taxpayer.
George Osborne, the Shadow Chancellor, said: “They [the Government] went around boasting that they had saved the world, and they are still trying to save the British banks and they haven’t got on to saving the British economy.” He added that the extra financial help for RBS represented a “new world record” as the single biggest bailout.
Every family in the country is now facing a tax liability of £4,350 to prop up Britain’s banking system after Alistair Darling announced the biggest bail-out in history.
The Government is injecting a further £30bn into Lloyds and RBS.
The Chancellor confirmed that the Government would pump an extra £25.5 billion into Royal Bank of Scotland, and declared that it was the only way to keep the business alive.
Taxpayers have poured a total of £53.5 billion into RBS, including the £20 billion part-nationalisation last year and another £8 billion that was set aside as insurance against further trouble in the future.
In total, the Government has put £74 billion of taxpayers’ money into the banks, including RBS, Lloyds and HBOS, since the start of the financial crisis last year.
The Conservatives claimed the latest bail-out equated to an extra tax liability of £2,000 for every one of the 17 million families in the country. This comes on top of the £2,350 to which every household is already exposed as a result of previous attempts to prop up the financial system.