For years we have wondered why Wells Fargo, America’s largest mortgage lender, is also Warren Buffett’s favorite bank. Now we know why.
On Thursday, Wells Fargo was fined $185 million, (including a $100 million penalty from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the largest penalty the agency has ever issued) for engaging in pervasive fraud over the years which included opening credit cards secretly without a customer’s consent, creating fake email accounts to sign up customers for online banking services, and forcing customers to accumulate late fees on accounts they never even knew they had. Regulators said such illegal sales practices had been going on since at least 2011.
In all, Wells opened 1.5 million bank accounts and “applied” for 565,000 credit cards that were not authorized by their customers. Continue reading »
Goldman Sachs has finally admitted to committing fraud. Specifically, Goldman Sachs reached a settlement yesterday with the Department of Justice, in which it admitted fraud:
The settlement includes a statement of facts to which Goldman has agreed. That statement of facts describes how Goldman made false and misleading representations to prospective investors about the characteristics of the loans it securitized and the ways in which Goldman would protect investors in its RMBS from harm (the quotes in the following paragraphs are from that agreed-upon statement of facts, unless otherwise noted):
Continue reading »
Nearly a decade since the housing bubble burst the dirty skeletons still emerge from the closet, and still nobody goes to jail.
In the latest example of how criminal Wall Street behavior leads to zero prison time and just more slaps on the wrist, overnight Warren Buffett’s favorite bank, Wells Fargo, admitted to “deceiving” the U.S. government into insuring thousands of risky mortgages. Its “punishment” – a $1.2 billion settlement of a U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit, the highest ever levied in a housing-related matter. Continue reading »
General Electric Co (GE.N) took a big step on Tuesday in its plan to unload most of its financing operations, saying it has agreed to sell commercial lending and leasing businesses worth more than $30 billion to Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N).
The U.S. conglomerate has now inked $126 billion in transactions — more than half of its overall target — since announcing in April it would seek to reduce its GE Capital financing business to less than 10 percent of earnings as it focuses more on industrial manufacturing. GE Capital accounted for 42 percent of the company’s profit in 2014. Continue reading »
– WELLS FARGO BANS AMERICAN FLAGS INSIDE THEIR BRANCHES (Political Ears, March 28, 2014):
A Wells Fargo spokesman says they received multiple complaints from people in other states about U.S. flags on display in their banks so they have ordered flags removed at all branches across America.
– Too Big To Fail Is Now Bigger Than Ever Before (Economic Collapse, Sep 20, 2013):
The too big to fail banks are now much, much larger than they were the last time they caused so much trouble. The six largest banks in the United States have gotten 37 percent larger over the past five years. Meanwhile, 1,400 smaller banks have disappeared from the banking industry during that time. What this means is that the health of JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley is more critical to the U.S. economy than ever before. If they were “too big to fail” back in 2008, then now they must be “too colossal to collapse”. Without these banks, we do not have an economy. The six largest banks control 67 percent of all U.S. banking assets, and Bank of America accounted for about a third of all business loans by itself last year. Our entire economy is based on credit, and these giant banks are at the very core of our system of credit. If these banks were to collapse, a brutal economic depression would be guaranteed. Unfortunately, as you will see later in this article, these banks did not learn anything from 2008 and are being exceedingly reckless. They are counting on the rest of us bailing them out if something goes wrong, but that might not happen next time around.
– Wall Street Banks Extract Enormous Fees From The Paychecks Of Millions Of American Workers (Economic Collapse, July 2, 2013):
Would you be angry if you had to pay a big Wall Street bank a fee before you could get the money that you worked so hard to earn? Unfortunately, that is exactly the situation that millions of American workers find themselves in today. An increasing number of U.S. companies are paying their workers using payroll cards that are issued by large financial institutions. Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Walgreens and Taco Bell are just some of the well known employers that are doing this. Today, there are 4.6 million active payroll cards in the United States, and some of the largest banks in the country are issuing them. The list includes JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup. The big problem with these cards is that there is often a fee for just about everything that you do with them. Do you want to use an ATM machine? You must pay a fee. Do you want to check your balance? You must pay a fee. Do you want a paper statement? You must pay a fee. Did you lose your card? You must pay a big fee. Has your card been inactive for a while? You must pay a huge fee. The big Wall Street banks are systematically extracting enormous fees from the working poor, and someone needs to do something to stop this.
What can you say?
– Homes See Biggest Price Gain in Years, Propelling Stocks (New York Times, May 28, 2013):
Americans are in a buying mood, thanks largely to the housing recovery.
The latest sign emerged Tuesday as the Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller home price index posted the biggest gains in seven years. Housing prices rose in every one of the 20 cities tracked, continuing a trend that began three months ago. Similar strength has appeared in new and existing home sales and in building permits, as rising home prices are encouraging construction firms to accelerate building and hiring.
The broad-based housing improvements appear to be buoying consumer confidence and spending, countering fears earlier this year that many consumers would pull back in response to government austerity measures.
– Keeping The ‘Recovery’ Dream Alive; 3 Big Banks Halt Foreclosures In May (ZeroHedge, May 28, 2013):
What is the only thing better than Foreclosure Stuffing to provide an artificial supply-side subsidy to the housing market? How about completely clogging the foreclosure pipeline, by halting all foreclosure sales, which is just what the three TBTF megabanks: Wells Fargo, JPMorgan and Citi have done in recent weeks. Under the guise of ‘ensuring late-stage foreclosure procedures were in accordance with guidelines’, the LA Times reports that these three banks paused sales on May 6th and all but halted foreclosures. Perfectly organic housing recovery – as we noted earlier… and guess what states the greatest number of ‘halts’ are in from these banks – California, Nevada, Arizona – exactly where the surges in price have occurred.
Sales of homes in foreclosure by Wells Fargo & Co., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. ground nearly to a halt after regulators revised their orders on treatment of troubled borrowers during the 60 days before they lose their homes. Continue reading »
– America’s TBTF Bank Subsidy From Taxpayers: $83 Billion Per Year (ZeroHedge, Feb 20, 2013):
Day after day, whenever anyone challenges the TBTF banks’ scale, they are slammed down with a mutually assured destruction message that limitations would impair profitability and weaken the country’s position in global finance. So what if you were to discover, based on Bloomberg’s calculations, that the largest banks aren’t really profitable at all? What if the billions of dollars they allegedly earn for their shareholders were almost entirely a gift from U.S. taxpayers? The stunning truth is that the top-five banks account for $64 billion of an implicit subsidy based on the ludicrous (but entirely real) logic that: The banks that are potentially the most dangerous can borrow at lower rates, because creditors perceive them as too big to fail. Perhaps this realization will increase shareholder demands – or even political furore? The market discipline might not please executives, but it would certainly be an improvement over paying banks to put us in danger. Continue reading »
– Why Should Taxpayers Give Big Banks $83 Billion a Year? (Bloomberg, Feb 20, 2013):
On television, in interviews and in meetings with investors, executives of the biggest U.S. banks — notably JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Jamie Dimon — make the case that size is a competitive advantage. It helps them lower costs and vie for customers on an international scale. Limiting it, they warn, would impair profitability and weaken the country’s position in global finance.
So what if we told you that, by our calculations, the largest U.S. banks aren’t really profitable at all? What if the billions of dollars they allegedly earn for their shareholders were almost entirely a gift from U.S. taxpayers?
– The “Big Three” Banks Are Gambling With $860 Billion In Deposits (ZeroHedge, Jan 18, 2013):
A week ago, when Wells Fargo unleashed the so far quite disappointing earnings season for commercial banks (connected hedge funds like Goldman Sachs excluded) we reported that the bank’s deposits had risen to a record $176 billion over loans on its books. Today we conduct the same analysis for the other big two commercial banks: Wells Fargo and JPMorgan (we ignore Citi as it is still a partially nationalized disaster). The results are presented below, together with a rather stunning observation.
First, Wells again – deposits over loans: record $176 billion.
Next: Bank of America: unlike Wells, BofA is not even trying as its deposits are soaring while the loans have been declining for 6 quarters in a row. Deposits over Loans: record $221 billion.
– 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.
Tags: AIG, Bailout, Bank of America, Banking, Barack Obama, Ben Bernanke, Bush administration, Citigroup, Economy, FDIC, Fed, Federal Reserve, Financial Crisis, General Motors, George Bush, Global News, GM, Goldman Sachs, Government, Great Depression, Henry Paulson, Jamie Dimon, Larry Summers, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Neil Barofsky, Nomi Prins, Obama administration, Politics, Ponzi schemes, Sheila Bair, Society, TARP, Taxpayers, Timothy Geithner, U.S., Wachovia, Wall Street, Wells Fargo
– 10 banks agree to pay $8.5B for foreclosure abuse (AP, Jan 7, 2013):
WASHINGTON — Ten major banks agreed Monday to pay $8.5 billion to settle federal complaints that they wrongfully foreclosed on homeowners who should have been allowed to stay in their homes.
The banks, which include JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, will pay billions to homeowners to end a review process of foreclosure files that was required under a 2011 enforcement action. The review was ordered because banks mishandled people’s paperwork and skipped required steps in the foreclosure process.
The settlement was announced jointly by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve.
Separately, Bank of America agreed Monday to pay $11.6 billion to government-backed mortgage financier Fannie Mae to settle claims related to mortgages that soured during the housing crash.
– Mainstream Media Finally Awakens to the Fact that Big Banks Are Criminal Enterprises (ZeroHedge, Dec 16, 2012)
Tags: Bank of England, Banking, Barack Obama, Barclays, Credit Suisse, Department of Justice, Economy, Global News, Government, Great Depression, HSBC, Joseph Stiglitz, Lloyds TSB, Matt Taibbi, Mexico, Neil Barofsky, Obama administration, Politics, U.S., Wachovia, Wells Fargo
– Major Banks, Governmental Officials and Their Comrade Capitalists Targets of Spire Law Group, LLP’s Racketeering and Money Laundering Lawsuit Seeking Return of $43 Trillion to the United States Treasury (PR Newswire, Oct 25, 2012):
NEW YORK, Oct. 25, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Spire Law Group, LLP’s national home owners’ lawsuit, pending in the venue where the “Banksters” control their $43 trillion racketeering scheme (New York) – known as the largest money laundering and racketeering lawsuit in United States History and identifying $43 trillion ($43,000,000,000,000.00) of laundered money by the “Banksters” and their U.S. racketeering partners and joint venturers – now pinpoints the identities of the key racketeering partners of the “Banksters” located in the highest offices of government and acting for their own self-interests.
In connection with the federal lawsuit now impending in the United States District Court in Brooklyn, New York (Case No. 12-cv-04269-JBW-RML) – involving, among other things, a request that the District Court enjoin all mortgage foreclosures by the Banksters nationwide, unless and until the entire $43 trillion is repaid to a court-appointed receiver – Plaintiffs now establish the location of the $43 trillion ($43,000,000,000,000.00) of laundered money in a racketeering enterprise participated in by the following individuals (without limitation): Attorney General Holder acting in his individual capacity, Assistant Attorney General Tony West, the brother in law of Defendant California Attorney General Kamala Harris (both acting in their individual capacities), Jon Corzine (former New Jersey Governor), Robert Rubin (former Treasury Secretary and Bankster), Timothy Geitner, Treasury Secretary (acting in his individual capacity), Vikram Pandit (recently resigned and disgraced Chairman of the Board of Citigroup), Valerie Jarrett (a Senior White House Advisor), Anita Dunn (a former “communications director” for the Obama Administration), Robert Bauer (husband of Anita Dunn and Chief Legal Counsel for the Obama Re-election Campaign), as well as the “Banksters” themselves, and their affiliates and conduits. The lawsuit alleges serial violations of the United States Patriot Act, the Policy of Embargo Against Iran and Countries Hostile to the Foreign Policy of the United States, and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (commonly known as the RICO statute) and other State and Federal laws. Continue reading »
Tags: Bank of America, Banking, Barack Obama, Citigroup, Eric Holder, Fed, Federal Reserve, Global News, Goldman Sachs, Government, JPMorgan, Neil Barofsky, Obama administration, Politics, Robert Rubin, TARP, Timothy Geithner, U.S., Wells Fargo
– 21 Signs That The Global Economic Crisis Is About To Go To A Whole New Level (Economic Collapse, Oct 14, 2012):
The global debt crisis has reached a dangerous new phase. Unfortunately, most Americans are not taking notice of it yet because most of the action is taking place overseas, and because U.S. financial markets are riding high. But just because the global economic crisis is unfolding at the pace of a “slow-motion train wreck” right now does not mean that it isn’t incredibly dangerous. As I have written about previously, the economic collapse is not going to be a single event. Yes, there will be days when the Dow drops by more than 500 points. Yes, there will be days when the reporters on CNBC appear to be hyperventilating. But mostly there will be days of quiet despair as the global economic system slides even further toward oblivion. And right now things are clearly getting worse. Things in Greece are much worse than they were six months ago. Things in Spain are much worse than they were six months ago. The same thing could be said for Italy, France, Japan, Argentina and a whole bunch of other nations. The entire global economy is slowing down, and we are entering a time period that is going to be incredibly painful for everyone. At the moment, the U.S. is still experiencing a “sugar high” from unprecedented fiscal and monetary stimulus, but when that “sugar high” wears off the hangover will be excruciating. Reckless borrowing, spending and money printing has bought us a brief period of “economic stability”, but our foolish financial decisions will also make our eventual collapse far worse than it might have been. So don’t think for a second that the U.S. will somehow escape the coming global economic crisis. The truth is that before this is all over we will be seen as one of the primary causes of the crisis.
The following are 21 signs that the global economic crisis is about to go to a whole new level…. Continue reading »
Tags: Angela Merkel, Argentina, Banking, Ben Bernanke, Dollar, Economy, EU, Euro, Europe, Fed, Federal Reserve, France, GDP, Germany, Global News, Government, Greece, IMF, JPMorgan, Politics, Quantitative Easing, Recession, Society, Spain, Switzerland, U.S., Unemployment, Wells Fargo
– U.S. files mortgage fraud lawsuit against Wells Fargo (Reuters, Oct 9, 2012):
The U.S. government filed a civil mortgage fraud lawsuit on Tuesday against Wells Fargo & Co, the latest legal volley against big banks for their lending during the housing boom.
The complaint, brought by the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, seeks damages and civil penalties from Wells Fargo for more than 10 years of alleged misconduct related to government-insured Federal Housing Administration loans.
The lawsuit alleges the FHA paid hundreds of millions of dollars on insurance claims on thousands of defaulted mortgages as a result of false certifications by Wells Fargo, the fourth-biggest U.S. bank as measured in assets.
– 10 Most Profitable U.S. Companies Paid 9% in Federal Income Taxes (AllGov, Aug 18, 2012):
The largest corporations in the U.S., consisting of oil, retail, banking and technology giants, paid an average of only 9% of their earnings in income taxes to the Internal Revenue Service last year.
According to the tax code, companies are supposed to pay 35% income tax. But NerdWallet determined that the top 10 came nowhere near that.
Exxon Mobil, the country’s biggest business, made more than $73 billion in 2011, but paid only $1.5 billion to the IRS.
The second largest company, Chevron, paid $1.9 billion in taxes after collecting $47.6 billion in revenue.
No. 3 on the list, Apple, made $34.2 billion. It paid $3.9 billion to the IRS.
These were followed by: Continue reading »
– TBTF Banks Laughing All The Way Home Thanks To HARP (ZeroHedge, Aug 6, 2012)
– Mike Krieger: “Six Months Left… Can They Do It?” (ZeroHedge, May 11, 2012):
The study of money, above all other fields in economics, is one in which complexity is used to disguise truth or to evade truth, not to reveal it. The process by which banks create money is so simple the mind is repelled. With something so important, a deeper mystery seems only decent.
– John Kenneth Galbraith
Today what we are doing is modernizing the financial services industry, tearing down those antiquated laws and granting banks significant new authority.
-Bill Clinton at the signing of Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in 1999 (which ended Glass-Steagall and gave banks full control of the United States of America)
Obama delivered heated rhetoric, but his actions signaled different priorities. Had Obama wanted to strike real fear in the hearts of bankers, he might have appointed former special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald or some other fire-breather as his attorney general. Instead, he chose Eric Holder, a former Clinton Justice official who, after a career in government, joined the Washington office of Covington & Burling, a top-tier law firm with an elite white-collar defense unit. The move to Covington, and back to Justice, is an example of Washington’s revolving-door ritual, which, for Holder, has been lucrative–he pulled in $2.1 million as a Covington partner in 2008, and $2.5 million (including deferred compensation) when he left the firm in 2009.
Putting a Covington partner–he spent nearly a decade at the firm–in charge of Justice may have sent a signal to the financial community, whose marquee names are Covington clients. Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Deutsche Bank are among the institutions that pay for Covington’s legal advice, some of it relating to matters before the Department of Justice. But Holder’s was not the only face at Justice familiar to Covington clients. Lanny Breuer, who had co-chaired the white-collar defense unit at Covington with Holder, was chosen to head the criminal division at Obama’s Justice. Two other Covington lawyers followed Holder into top positions, and Holder’s principal deputy, James Cole, was recruited from Bryan Cave LLP, another white-shoe firm with A-list finance clients.
– Peter J. Boyer in his excellent recent article “Why Can’t Obama Bring Wall Street to Justice?”
Six Months Left…Can They Do It?
I have to hand it to the Central Planners. They are good. Really, really good. Of course, they are battling a crippled opponent considering so much of America consists of lobotomized sheeple, but nevertheless to be able to steal so much from many people with such blatant and simplistic methods and not be widely discovered is an act of devious brilliance. The reason I say this now is because ever since last fall TPTB have changed tactics and totally taken over the markets and with it shoved many people into what is best described as a trance. The people know something is very wrong. They know they are getting poorer; that life is getting harder, yet the television and the markets have cloaked a blanket of sedation upon their minds.
Tags: Bank of America, Banking, Barack Obama, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Dictatorship, Economy, Global News, Goldman Sachs, Government, JPMorgan Chase, New World Order, Obama administration, Politics, Society, U.S., Wall Street, Wells Fargo
– The Denials Begin: Interactive Brokers Is First To Claim It Has Not Engaged In Commingling Rehypothecation (ZeroHedge, Dec. 10, 2011):
Now that the rehypothecation bogeyman has been let loose, and the question of just how many paper (and apparently physical) assets have been double, triple, and n-counted (where n can be a number up to “infinity”) by the infinitely daisy-chained modern global financial system in which one’s liability is someone else’s asset….apparently up to infinity times, the next logical step was for the firms named in the original Reuters article (‘MF Global and the great Wall St re-hypothecation scandal’) to step up and begin denials they had anything to do with anything. Sure enough, below is the first (of many) such response, by Interactive Brokers, claiming it has been greatly misunderstood and unlike MF Global, it has done nothing wrong at all. Of note is that IB was simply one of many brokers mentioned in the Reuters piece, where we read that
“Engaging in hyper-hypothecation have been Goldman Sachs ($28.17 billion re-hypothecated in 2011), Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (re-pledged $72 billion in client assets), Royal Bank of Canada (re-pledged $53.8 billion of $126.7 billion available for re-pledging), Oppenheimer Holdings ($15.3 million), Credit Suisse (CHF 332 billion), Knight Capital Group ($1.17 billion),Interactive Brokers ($14.5 billion), Wells Fargo ($19.6 billion), JP Morgan($546.2 billion) and Morgan Stanley ($410 billion).“
Sure enough, we predicted a firm would have to promptly step up and “deny all charges.” To wit: “Oh Jefferies, Jefferies, Jefferies. Barely did you manage to escape the gauntlet of accusation of untenable gross (if not net) sovereign exposure, that you will soon, potentially as early as tomorrow, have to defend your zany rehypothecation practices.” As it turns out Jefferies, and all the other mentioned banks tried to avoid this festering can of worms by completely ignoring the topic… until Interactive Brokers’ response now demands that every single named bank has to do the same and come out with an outright explanation of why it has billions in hyper-hypothecation, or else not journalists and bloggers, but the market itself will suddenly start asking questions. Something tells us it will not be nearly as easy enough for the others to deny all charges… Incidentally, if this indeed becomes “the next big thing”, what the potential collapse of (re) hypothection means is that PBs will be unable to lend out shares anymore, in effect collapsing stock shorting as there is one giant short stock recall/forced buy in. Ironicaly the unwind of the biggest market fraud could result in the entire market pulling one last “Volkswagen“style hurrah, before all hell breaks loose.
From Interactive Brokers Continue reading »
– 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.
Tags: Bailout, Bank of America, Banking, Barclays, Bear Stearns, BNP Paribas, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Dexia, Dollar, Dresdner Bank, Economy, Fed, Federal Reserve, GAO, Global News, Goldman Sachs, Government, JPMorgan, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Politics, RBS, Societe Generale, U.S., UBS, Wachovia, Wall Street, Wells Fargo
– The Coming Derivatives Crisis That Could Destroy The Entire Global Financial System (The Economic Collapse, Oct. 19th, 2011):
Most people have no idea that Wall Street has become a gigantic financial casino. The big Wall Street banks are making tens of billions of dollars a year in the derivatives market, and nobody in the financial community wants the party to end. The word “derivatives” sounds complicated and technical, but understanding them is really not that hard. A derivative is essentially a fancy way of saying that a bet has been made. Originally, these bets were designed to hedge risk, but today the derivatives market has mushroomed into a mountain of speculation unlike anything the world has ever seen before. Estimates of the notional value of the worldwide derivatives market go from $600 trillion all the way up to $1.5 quadrillion. Keep in mind that the GDP of the entire world is only somewhere in the neighborhood of $65 trillion. The danger to the global financial system posed by derivatives is so great that Warren Buffet once called them “financial weapons of mass destruction”. For now, the financial powers that be are trying to keep the casino rolling, but it is inevitable that at some point this entire mess is going to come crashing down. When it does, we are going to be facing a derivatives crisis that really could destroy the entire global financial system.
Most people don’t talk much about derivatives because they simply do not understand them.
Perhaps a couple of definitions would be helpful.
– 11 Facts You Need To Know About The Nation’s Biggest Banks (Think Progress, Oct 7, 2011):
The Occupy Wall Street protests that began in New York City more than three weeks ago have now spread across the country. The choice of Wall Street as the focal point for the protests — as even Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said — makes sense due to the big bank malfeasance that led to the Great Recession.
While the Dodd-Frank financial reform law did a lot to ensure that a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis won’t occur — through regulation of derivatives, a new consumer protection agency, and new powers for the government to dismantle failing banks — the biggest banks still have a firm grip on the financial system, even more so than before the 2008 financial crisis. Here are eleven facts that you need to know about the nation’s biggest banks:
– Bank profits are highest since before the recession…: According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., bank profits in the first quarter of this year were “the best for the industry since the $36.8 billion earned in the second quarter of 2007.” JP Morgan Chase is currently pulling in record profits.
– Banks make nearly one-third of total corporate profits: The financial sector accounts for about 30 percent of total corporate profits, which is actually down from before the financial crisis, when they made closer to 40 percent.
– Since 2008, the biggest banks have gotten bigger: Due to the failure of small competitors and mergers facilitated during the 2008 crisis, the nation’s biggest banks — including Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo — are now bigger than they were pre-recession. Pre-crisis, the four biggest banks held 32 percent of total deposits; now they hold nearly 40 percent.
– The four biggest banks issue 50 percent of mortgages and 66 percent of credit cards: Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Citigroup issue one out of every two mortgages and nearly two out of every three credit cards in America.
– The 10 biggest banks hold 60 percent of bank assets: In the 1980s, the 10 biggest banks controlled 22 percent of total bank assets. Today, they control 60 percent.
– The six biggest banks hold assets equal to 63 percent of the country’s GDP: In 1995, the six biggest banks in the country held assets equal to about 17 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. Now their assets equal 63 percent of GDP.
– The five biggest banks hold 95 percent of derivatives: Nearly the entire market in derivatives — the credit instruments that helped blow up some of the nation’s biggest banks as well as mega-insurer AIG — is dominated by just five firms: JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Citibank, and Wells Fargo.
– Banks cost households nearly $20 trillion in wealth: Almost $20 trillion in wealth was destroyed by the Great Recession, and total family wealth is still down “$12.8 trillion (in 2011 dollars) from June 2007 — its last peak.” Continue reading »