Jan 10

Secrets and Lies of the Bailout (Rolling Stone, Jan 4, 2013):

It has been four long winters since the federal government, in the hulking, shaven-skulled, Alien Nation-esque form of then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, committed $700 billion in taxpayer money to rescue Wall Street from its own chicanery and greed. To listen to the bankers and their allies in Washington tell it, you’d think the bailout was the best thing to hit the American economy since the invention of the assembly line. Not only did it prevent another Great Depression, we’ve been told, but the money has all been paid back, and the government even made a profit. No harm, no foul – right?


It was all a lie – one of the biggest and most elaborate falsehoods ever sold to the American people. We were told that the taxpayer was stepping in – only temporarily, mind you – to prop up the economy and save the world from financial catastrophe. What we actually ended up doing was the exact opposite: committing American taxpayers to permanent, blind support of an ungovernable, unregulatable, hyperconcentrated new financial system that exacerbates the greed and inequality that caused the crash, and forces Wall Street banks like Goldman Sachs and Citigroup to increase risk rather than reduce it. The result is one of those deals where one wrong decision early on blossoms into a lush nightmare of unintended consequences. We thought we were just letting a friend crash at the house for a few days; we ended up with a family of hillbillies who moved in forever, sleeping nine to a bed and building a meth lab on the front lawn.

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Dec 16

Mainstream Media Finally Awakens to the Fact that Big Banks Are Criminal Enterprises (ZeroHedge, Dec 16, 2012)

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Dec 04

See also:

Gerald Celente Endorses Ron Paul For President – ‘The Entire Economic System Is Collapsing’ – ‘Fascism Has Come To America In Every Form’ (Video – Nov. 29, 2011)

Have You Heard About The 16 Trillion Dollar Bailout The Federal Reserve Handed To The Too Big To Fail Banks? (The Econonomic collapse, Dec. 2, 2011):

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.

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Apr 04


Former Assistant Secretary of Housing: The U.S. is the Global Leader in Illegal Money Laundering

As the violence spread, billions of dollars of cartel cash began to seep into the global financial system. But a special investigation by the Observer reveals how the increasingly frantic warnings of one London whistleblower were ignored

A soldier guards marijuana that is being incinerated in Tijuana, Mexico. Photograph: Guillermo Arias/AP

On 10 April 2006, a DC-9 jet landed in the port city of Ciudad del Carmen, on the Gulf of Mexico, as the sun was setting. Mexican soldiers, waiting to intercept it, found 128 cases packed with 5.7 tons of cocaine, valued at $100m. But something else – more important and far-reaching – was discovered in the paper trail behind the purchase of the plane by the Sinaloa narco-trafficking cartel.

During a 22-month investigation by agents from the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service and others, it emerged that the cocaine smugglers had bought the plane with money they had laundered through one of the biggest banks in the United States: Wachovia, now part of the giant Wells Fargo.

The authorities uncovered billions of dollars in wire transfers, traveller’s cheques and cash shipments through Mexican exchanges into Wachovia accounts. Wachovia was put under immediate investigation for failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering programme. Of special significance was that the period concerned began in 2004, which coincided with the first escalation of violence along the US-Mexico border that ignited the current drugs war.

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Jun 30

Listen to Catherine Austin Fitts in this video from 2008:

Former Assistant Secretary of Housing: The U.S. is the Global Leader in Illegal Money Laundering

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent inspects a vehicle heading into the U.S. at the San Ysidro border crossing in San Diego.(Bloomberg)

Just before sunset on April 10, 2006, a DC-9 jet landed at the international airport in the port city of Ciudad del Carmen, 500 miles east of Mexico City. As soldiers on the ground approached the plane, the crew tried to shoo them away, saying there was a dangerous oil leak. So the troops grew suspicious and searched the jet.

They found 128 black suitcases, packed with 5.7 tons of cocaine, valued at $100 million. The stash was supposed to have been delivered from Caracas to drug traffickers in Toluca, near Mexico City, Mexican prosecutors later found. Law enforcement officials also discovered something else.

The smugglers had bought the DC-9 with laundered funds they transferred through two of the biggest banks in the U.S.: Wachovia Corp. and Bank of America Corp., Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its August 2010 issue.

This was no isolated incident. Wachovia, it turns out, had made a habit of helping move money for Mexican drug smugglers. Wells Fargo & Co., which bought Wachovia in 2008, has admitted in court that its unit failed to monitor and report suspected money laundering by narcotics traffickers — including the cash used to buy four planes that shipped a total of 22 tons of cocaine.

The admission came in an agreement that Charlotte, North Carolina-based Wachovia struck with federal prosecutors in March, and it sheds light on the largely undocumented role of U.S. banks in contributing to the violent drug trade that has convulsed Mexico for the past four years.

‘Blatant Disregard’

Wachovia admitted it didn’t do enough to spot illicit funds in handling $378.4 billion for Mexican-currency-exchange houses from 2004 to 2007. That’s the largest violation of the Bank Secrecy Act, an anti-money-laundering law, in U.S. history — a sum equal to one-third of Mexico’s current gross domestic product.

“Wachovia’s blatant disregard for our banking laws gave international cocaine cartels a virtual carte blanche to finance their operations,” says Jeffrey Sloman, the federal prosecutor who handled the case.

Since 2006, more than 22,000 people have been killed in drug-related battles that have raged mostly along the 2,000-mile (3,200-kilometer) border that Mexico shares with the U.S. In the Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez, just across the border from El Paso, Texas, 700 people had been murdered this year as of mid- June. Six Juarez police officers were slaughtered by automatic weapons fire in a midday ambush in April.

Rondolfo Torre, the leading candidate for governor in the Mexican border state of Tamaulipas, was gunned down yesterday, less than a week before elections in which violence related to drug trafficking was a central issue.

45,000 Troops

Mexican President Felipe Calderon vowed to crush the drug cartels when he took office in December 2006, and he’s since deployed 45,000 troops to fight the cartels. They’ve had little success.

Among the dead are police, soldiers, journalists and ordinary citizens. The U.S. has pledged Mexico $1.1 billion in the past two years to aid in the fight against narcotics cartels.

In May, President Barack Obama said he’d send 1,200 National Guard troops, adding to the 17,400 agents on the U.S. side of the border to help stem drug traffic and illegal immigration.

Behind the carnage in Mexico is an industry that supplies hundreds of tons of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamines to Americans. The cartels have built a network of dealers in 231 U.S. cities from coast to coast, taking in about $39 billion in sales annually, according to the Justice Department.

‘You’re Missing the Point’

Twenty million people in the U.S. regularly use illegal drugs, spurring street crime and wrecking families. Narcotics cost the U.S. economy $215 billion a year — enough to cover health care for 30.9 million Americans — in overburdened courts, prisons and hospitals and lost productivity, the department says.

“It’s the banks laundering money for the cartels that finances the tragedy,” says Martin Woods, director of Wachovia’s anti-money-laundering unit in London from 2006 to 2009. Woods says he quit the bank in disgust after executives ignored his documentation that drug dealers were funneling money through Wachovia’s branch network.

“If you don’t see the correlation between the money laundering by banks and the 22,000 people killed in Mexico, you’re missing the point,” Woods says.

Cleansing Dirty Cash

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Mar 29

Bank of America, Wells Fargo Probably Won’t Pay Income Tax for 2009 (Charlotte Observer):

This tax season will be kind to Bank of America and Wells Fargo: It appears that neither bank will have to pay federal income taxes for 2009.

Bank of America probably won’t pay federal taxes because it lost money in the U.S. for the year. Wells Fargo was profitable, but can write down its tax bill because of losses at Wachovia, which it rescued from a near collapse. Continue reading »

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Nov 25

On Friday November 21, the world came within a hair’s breadth of the most colossal financial collapse in history according to bankers on the inside of events with whom we have contact. The trigger was the bank which only two years ago was America’s largest, Citigroup. The size of the US Government de facto nationalization of the $2 trillion banking institution is an indication of shocks yet to come in other major US and perhaps European banks thought to be ‘too big to fail.’

The clumsy way in which US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, himself not a banker but a Wall Street ‘investment banker’, whose experience has been in the quite different world of buying and selling stocks or bonds or underwriting and selling same, has handled the unfolding crisis has been worse than incompetent. It has made a grave situation into a globally alarming one.

‘Spitting into the wind’

A case in point is the secretive manner in which Paulson has used the $700 billion in taxpayer funds voted him by a labile Congress in September. Early on, Paulson put $125 billion in the nine largest banks, including $10 billion for his old firm, Goldman Sachs. However, if we compare the value of the equity share that $125 billion bought with the market price of those banks’ stock, US taxpayers have paid $125 billion for bank stock that a private investor could have bought for $62.5 billion, according to a detailed analysis from Ron W. Bloom, economist with the US United Steelworkers union, whose members as well as pension fund face devastating losses were GM to fail.

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Oct 22

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, October 22, 2008.
REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Stocks tumbled to 5 year lows on Wednesday as investors grappled with an increasingly dire outlook for the global economy following a raft of disappointing profits and outlooks from major U.S. companies.

Plummeting commodities prices sent energy and materials company shares sharply lower. Exxon Mobil was the top drag on the Dow, down almost 10 percent.

Boeing Co’s shares fell 7.5 percent after the aircraft maker reported a steep drop in quarterly profit and warned it might need to provide financing to some of its customers in 2009.

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Oct 22

Pedestrians walk past a Wachovia branch in New York on Sept. 29, 2008. Photographer: Jin Lee/Bloomberg News

Oct. 22 (Bloomberg) — Wachovia Corp., the bank being acquired by Wells Fargo & Co., reported its third straight quarterly loss, hurt by crumbling mortgage markets and writedowns on securities backed by real estate.

The third-quarter loss was $23.9 billion, or $11.18 a share, compared with net income of $1.6 billion, or 85 cents, in the same period a year earlier, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based company said today in a statement. The loss was $2.23 a share excluding one-time items, versus the average loss estimate of 2 cents from 16 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Wells Fargo outbid New York-based Citigroup Inc. for Wachovia, agreeing to spend $14 billion to create the largest U.S. branch network. San Francisco-based Wells Fargo was aided by a change in tax rules that makes it easier to absorb losses on Wachovia’s mortgages. The bank also agreed to sell assets to comply with U.S. regulations if the combined company controls more than 10 percent of deposits nationwide.

“Wells Fargo will get substantial tax benefits from losses incurred by Wachovia, so the more losses the better off they are,” Chris Marinac, managing director of FIG Partners LLC in Atlanta, said before earnings were released. “It’s kind of a free pass.”

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Oct 13

Bush administration, financial industry thwarted efforts to curb greed

More than five years ago, in April 2003, the attorneys general of two small states traveled to Washington with a stern warning for the nation’s top bank regulator. Sitting in the spacious Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, with its panoramic view of the capital, the AGs from North Carolina and Iowa said lenders were pushing increasingly risky mortgages. Their host, John D. Hawke Jr., expressed skepticism.

Roy Cooper of North Carolina and Tom Miller of Iowa headed a committee of state officials concerned about new forms of “predatory” lending. They urged Hawke to give states more latitude to limit exorbitant interest rates and fine-print fees. “People out there are struggling with oppressive loans,” Cooper recalls saying.

Hawke, a veteran banking industry lawyer appointed to head the OCC by President Bill Clinton in 1998, wouldn’t budge. He said he would reinforce federal policies that hindered states from reining in lenders. The AGs left the tense hour-long meeting realizing that Washington had become a foe in the nascent fight against reckless real estate finance. The OCC “took 50 sheriffs off the job during the time the mortgage lending industry was becoming the Wild West,” Cooper says.

This was but one of many instances of state posses sounding early alarms about the irresponsible lending at the heart of the current financial crisis. Federal officials brushed aside their concerns. The OCC and its sister agency, the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS), instead sided with lenders. The beneficiaries ranged from now-defunct subprime factories, such as First Franklin Financial, to a savings and loan owned by Lehman Brothers, the collapsed investment bank.

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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 04

Oct. 4 (Bloomberg) — Citigroup Inc., hobbled by $61 billion of subprime-related losses, now faces its biggest takeover battle in a fight with Wells Fargo & Co. for control of Wachovia Corp.

Citigroup fell as much as 21 percent yesterday in New York trading after Wells Fargo, the biggest U.S. bank on the West Coast, agreed to acquire all of Charlotte, North Carolina-based Wachovia for $15.1 billion. The bid trumped Citigroup’s government-backed offer of $2.16 billion for Wachovia’s banking operations.

“The taxpayer doesn’t pay a penny” for the Wells Fargo deal, Wells Chairman Richard Kovacevich, 64, said yesterday in an interview. His company’s bid is superior to Citigroup’s also because it’s a higher price and the combining banks “share similar cultures and values.”

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Oct 02

“An open, competitive, and liberalized financial market can effectively allocate scarce resources in a manner that promotes stability and prosperity far better than governmental intervention,” Paulson said 18 months ago.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson declared that the current turmoil in markets and financial institutions ultimately will “make things better.” (September 15, 2008)

The mystery has been solved

For nearly a year, we have been asking ourselves why the investors and foreign banks that bought up hundreds of billions of dollars of worthless mortgage-backed securities (MBS) from US investment banks have not taken legal action against these same banks or initiated a boycott of US financial products to prevent more people from getting ripped off?

Now we know the answer. It’s because, behind the scenes, Henry Paulson and Co. were working out a deal to dump the whole trillion dollar mess on the US taxpayer. That’s what this whole $700 billion boondoggle is all about; wiping out the massive debts that were generated in the biggest incident of fraud in history.

Rep Brad Sherman explained it like this last night to Larry Kudlow:

“It (The bill) provides hundreds of billions of dollars of bailouts to foreign investors. It provides no real control of Paulson’s power. There is a critique board but not really a board that can step in and change what he does. It’s a $700 billion program run by a part-time temporary employee and there is no limit on million dollar a month salaries……. It’s very clear. The Bank of Shanghai can transfer all of its toxic assets to the Bank of Shanghai of Los Angeles which can then sell them the next day to the Treasury. I had a provision to say if it wasn’t owned by an American entity even a subsidiary, but at least an entity in the US, the Treasury can’t buy it. It was rejected.

The bill is very clear. Assets now held in China and London can be sold to US entities on Monday and then sold to the Treasury on Tuesday. Paulson has made it clear he will recommend a veto of any bill that contained a clear provision that said if Americans did not own the asset on September 20th that it can’t be sold to the Treasury. Hundreds of billions of dollars are going to bail out foreign investors. They know it, they demanded it and the bill has been carefully written to make sure it can happen.”

So, why hasn’t the Treasury Secretary explained the real purpose of the bailout to the American people? Could it be that he knows that his $700 billion bailout would end up like the Hindenburg, vanishing in sheets of flames?

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Sep 30

The financial crisis has put a spotlight on the obscure world of credit default swaps – which trade in a vast, unregulated market that most people haven’t heard of and even fewer understand. Will this be the next disaster?

(Fortune Magazine) — If Hieronymus Bosch were alive today to paint a triptych called “The Garden of Mortgage Delights,” we’d recognize most of the characters in the bacchanalia and its hellish aftermath. Looming largest, of course, would be the Luciferian figures of Greed and Excessive Debt. Scurrying throughout would be the Wall Street bankers who turned these burgeoning debts into exotic securities with tangled structures and soporific acronyms – CDO, MBS, ABS – that concealed the dangers within. Needless to say, we’d see the smooth-tongued emissaries of the credit-rating agencies assuring people that assets of lead could indeed be transformed into investments of gold. Finally, somewhere past the feckless Fannie Mae executives and the dozing politicians, one final figure would lurk in the shadows: a hulking and barely recognizable monster known as Credit Default Swaps.

CDS are no mere artist’s fancy. In just over a decade these privately traded derivatives contracts ballooned from nothing into a $54.6 trillion market. CDS are the fastest-growing major type of financial derivatives. More important, they’ve played a critical role in the unfolding financial crisis. First, by ostensibly providing “insurance” on risky mortgage bonds, they encouraged and enabled reckless behavior during the housing bubble. Continue reading »

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Sep 29

Citigroup has agreed to buy Wachovia bank in a deal brokered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to avoid another major corporate failure in the midst of the ongoing financial crisis.

The FDIC announced the deal on its Web site this morning. No price for the transaction was included in the announcement. But the FDIC said that the deal hinged on a loss sharing arrangement between Citigroup and the FDIC, the agency responsible for insuring bank deposits.

Wachovia has been saddled by mortgage-related losses. Under the terms of the deal, Citigroup will absorb up to $42 billion of losses on a $312 billion pool of loans. The FDIC will be responsible for any losses beyond that, but was given $12 billion in Citigroup preferred stock and warrants in return for that guaranty.

The Wachovia purchase is the second major bank buyout orchestrated by the FDIC in the last week. The agency also helped arrange the sale of the failed Washington Mutual to J.P. Morgan Chase.

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Sep 17

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Manic and increasingly desperate dealmaking gripped Wall Street on Wednesday as U.S. stocks plummeted to three-year lows amid new signs of distress in the global financial industry.

Morgan Stanley was discussing a merger with regional banking powerhouse Wachovia, the New York Times reported. CEO John Mack got a phone call from Wachovia on Wednesday but is also pursuing other options, the paper said.

“In this market, anything’s possible. It seems like the market wants the investment banking model to disappear,” said Danielle Schembri, bond analyst covering brokers at BNP Paribas in New York.

Washington Mutual , the country’s largest savings bank, put itself up for sale, sources said, confirming a New York Times report. Potential suitors include Citigroup, JPMorgan, Wells Fargo and HSBC, they added.

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Sep 11

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc’s survival was called into question as its chief executive scrambled to sell assets to cover losses from toxic real estate investments, sending shares down as much as 46 percent.

The investment bank’s need to raise desperately needed cash, broadly outlined by CEO Dick Fuld on Wednesday, failed to assuage investor concerns. The stock dropped $2.92, or 40 percent, to $4.33 on Thursday after falling as low as $3.88.

The steady stream of grim tidings and the dearth of details from the company stoked fears that some of Lehman’s clients and trading partners might take their business to more stable firms.

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Aug 29

U.S. and European banks, already burdened by losses and concerns about their financial health, face a new challenge: paying off hundreds of billions of dollars of debt coming due.

At issue are so-called floating-rate notes – securities used heavily by banks in 2006 to borrow money. A big chunk of those notes, which typically mature in two years, will come due over the next year or so, at a time when banks are struggling to raise fresh funds. That’s forcing banks to sell assets, compete heavily for deposits and issue expensive new debt.

The crunch will begin next month, when some $95 billion in floating-rate notes mature. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. analyst Alex Roever estimates that financial institutions will have to pay off at least $787 billion in floating-rate notes and other medium-term obligations before the end of 2009. That’s about 43 percent more than they had to redeem in the previous 16 months.

The problem highlights how the pain of the credit crunch, now entering its second year, won’t end soon for banks or the broader economy. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said on Tuesday that its list of “problem” banks at risk of failure had grown to 117 at the end of June, up from 90 at the end of March. FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair said her agency might have to borrow money from the Treasury Department to see it through an expected wave of bank failures. She said the borrowing could be needed to handle short-term cash-flow pressure brought on by reimbursements to depositors after bank failures.

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Aug 26

Aug. 26 (Bloomberg) — Merrill Lynch & Co., Wachovia Corp., Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and the rest of the U.S. finance industry are about to find out how expensive credit has become.

Banks, securities firms and lenders have a record $871 billion of bonds maturing through 2009, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co., just as yields are at their most punitive compared with Treasuries. The increase in yields may cost them as much as $23 billion more in annual interest versus a year ago based on Merrill Lynch index data.

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Jul 29

Its name somewhat anachronistically means “assembly of old men.” George Washington famously – and, it must now be admitted, with excessive optimism – characterized it as an institutional saucer intended to cool legislation passed in the intemperate heat of the moment. Its members demand, with entirely unwarranted self-approval, to be called, collectively, the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body.

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Jul 28

Drew Greenblatt of Marlin Steel Wire Products is having trouble getting a $300,000 loan to buy a robot for his Baltimore factory. “This is what a bank is supposed to do,” he said.

Banks struggling to recover from multibillion-dollar losses on real estate are curtailing loans to American businesses, depriving even healthy companies of money for expansion and hiring.

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Jul 22

If Wachovia fails, then you can probably forget about the FDIC.

And remember that there are no more bailouts left:
Fed: No more bailouts, except Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

July 22 (Bloomberg) — Wachovia Corp., the U.S. bank that hired Treasury Undersecretary Robert Steel as chief executive officer two weeks ago, reported a record quarterly loss of $8.9 billion, slashed the dividend and announced 6,350 job cuts. The stock slumped as much as 10 percent in New York trading.

The second-quarter loss of $4.20 a share compared with net income of $2.3 billion, or $1.23, a year earlier, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based company said today in a statement. The loss included a $6.1 billion charge tied to declining asset values.

The writedown, job cuts and second dividend reduction in three months reflect Steel’s response to the worst housing market since the Great Depression, which cost former CEO Kennedy Thompson his job after eight years. Wachovia has dropped more than 75 percent since it spent $24 billion two years ago to buy Golden West Financial Corp. just as home prices were peaking.

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