International Forecaster Weekly

Economy In Turmoil Cant Be Fixed With Farcical Regulation

Bad news releases for the economy timed to holiday weekend, Over a billion in assets seized from 5 US banks, loss sharing arrangements between survivors, 400 banks to go under this year, Fed proposes system for consumer protection against predatory lending practices - a farcical idea since the banks own the Fed, Ron Paul Fed Transparency act now has 244 sponsors, No need for regulation if the Fed, Treasury and Wall Street werent manipulating the markets, Consumer confidence slides,

Bob Chapman | July 4, 2009

The Friday night, June 27th FDIC Financial Follies were presented again at 9:00 pm EST. That is so the public will not hear about the failures.

Five U.S. banks with total assets of about $1.04 billion were seized by regulators, pushing this year’s tally of failures to 45 as a recession drives up unemployment and home foreclosures.

Community Bank of West Georgia, in Villa Rica, Georgia; Neighborhood Community Bank of Newnan, Georgia; Horizon Bank of Pine City, Minnesota; MetroPacific Bank of Irvine, California; and Mirae Bank of Los Angeles were closed yesterday by state regulators, according to statements from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The FDIC was named receiver of the four banks.

Wilshire Bancorp’s Wilshire State Bank will take over all of Mirae’s $362 million in deposits, and will purchase $449 million of assets, the FDIC said in a statement.

Sunwest Bank of Tustin, California, acquired most of MetroPacific’s $73 million in deposits and $80 million in assets, the FDIC said. Stearns Bank of St. Cloud, Minnesota, bought Horizon Bank’s $69.4 million of deposits. Stearns will purchase $84.4 million of Horizon’s assets, the FDIC said.

The FDIC didn’t find a buyer for Community Bank of West Georgia, and said it will mail checks to reimburse insured depositors. The bank has deposits of $182.5 million. Charter Financial Corp.’s CharterBank will assume Neighborhood Community Bank’s $191.3 million of deposits and purchased some assets in a loss-share agreement with the FDIC, according to the agency.

“The loss-sharing arrangement is projected to maximize returns on the assets covered by keeping them in the private sector,” the FDIC said. “The agreement also is expected to minimize disruptions for loan customers.”

Regulators have seized the most U.S. banks this year since 1993. The U.S. economy has shed about 6 million jobs since the recession began in December 2007. Foreclosure filings surpassed 300,000 for the third straight month in May, according to RealtyTrac Inc.

The U.S. banking industry said it made $9.8 billion during the first quarter trading derivatives and securities as investors started returning to the markets amid signs the recession bottomed.

The surge was led by trading in interest-rate derivatives, which allow investors to hedge against rate swings, as the banks reported revenues that were more than triple any quarter during at least the past five years, the U.S. Treasury’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency said today in a report.

Revenue rose as banks, constrained by the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, charged “wide” bid-ask spreads, or the fees that traders make from the gap between prices at which they’ll buy and sell the contracts, Deputy Comptroller Kathryn Dick said in a statement.

Revenue from trading interest-rate contracts soared to $9.1 billion from $1.9 billion a year earlier and from a $3.4 billion loss in the fourth quarter of 2008, according to the report. Currencies contracts accounted for $2.4 billion in the 2009 first period. The banks lost $3.15 billion from trading credit.

The Friday Night FDIC Financial Follies came on Thursday, July 3rd, due to the holiday weekend. We are told that before the year is out 400 banks will go under. There have been a number of banks that have been merged with other stronger banks, which greatly distorts this picture.

Six banks in Illinois and one in Texas were seized by regulators as the deepening financial crisis pushed the toll of failed U.S. lenders this year to 52, the most since 1992.

Twelve banks have failed this year in Illinois, the most of any state. The seven lenders seized today, with total assets of $1.49 billion and deposits of $1.34 billion, were closed by state or federal regulators and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was named receiver, according to statements from the FDIC. Buyers were named for each of the closed institutions.

The Illinois banks are affiliates of Peotone Bank & Trust Co., in Peotone, Illinois, about 45 miles (72 kilometers) south of Chicago. The failures resulted primarily because of soured loans and losses on investments in collateralized debt obligations, the FDIC said. Illinois, with an unemployment rate above the national average, was one of seven states to begin the fiscal year yesterday without a spending plan.

“The six failed Illinois banks are all controlled by one family and followed a similar business model that created concentrated exposure in each institution,” the FDIC said. CDOs, which packaged bonds and loans into notes of varying risk and yield, lost money as real estate defaults soared.

Regulators this year have closed the most banks since the savings-and-loan crisis of the 1990s as lenders struggle with mounting losses on mortgages and commercial loans. The total for 2009 is more than double the 25 banks shuttered in 2008 and surpasses the 50 that were closed in 1993. The prior year there were 181 failures or government-assisted transactions.

The House did it. They succumbed to the biggest tax increase in history for Americans. The American Clean Energy and Security Act passed by 219-212, a disgrace to our country. The worst legislation since CAFTA, NAFTA, the Income Tax and the Federal Reserve Act. Trillions more in taxes and millions of job losses. A 1,200 page piece of legislation that not one Congressman or woman read. If allowed to be passed in the Senate it will be the greatest economic threat to Americans in history.

Costs to American will be 20% of disposable income. An increase in gasoline tax of $0.77 a gallon and a doubling of every electric bill in the country. The taxes go to government past of which will go to fund the UN and IMF.

This bill has to be stopped in the Senate. Hit every Senator with emails, phone calls, Fax’s and letters. Short and sweet – do not vote yes on any legislation to limit greenhouse-gas emissions, such as the American Clear Energy & Security Act.

America’s biggest oil companies will probably cope with U.S. carbon legislation by closing fuel plants, cutting capital spending and increasing imports.

Under the Waxman-Markey climate bill that may be voted on today by the U.S. House, refiners would have to buy allowances for carbon dioxide spewed from their plants and from vehicles when motorists burn their fuel. Imports would need permits only for the latter, which ConocoPhillips Chief Executive Officer Jim Mulva said would create a competitive imbalance.

“It will lead to the opportunity for foreign sources to bring in transportation fuels at a lower cost, which will have an adverse impact to our industry, potential shutdown of refineries and investment and, ultimately, employment,” Mulva said in a June 16 interview in Detroit. Houston-based ConocoPhillips has the second-largest U.S. refining capacity.

The same amount of gasoline that would have $1 in carbon costs imposed if it were domestic would have 10 cents less added if it were imported, according to energy consulting firm Wood Mackenzie in Houston. Contrary to President Barack Obama’s goal of reducing dependence on overseas energy suppliers, the bill would incent U.S. refiners to import more fuel, said Clayton Mahaffey, an analyst at RedChip Cos. in Maitland, Florida.

“They’ll be searching the globe for refined products that don’t carry the same level of carbon costs,” said Mahaffey, a former Exxon Corp. refinery manager.

Prices Seen Rising

The equivalent of one in six U.S. refineries probably would close by 2020 as the cost of carbon allowances erases profits, according to the American Petroleum Institute, a Washington trade group known as API. Carbon permits would add 77 cents a gallon to the price of gasoline, said Russell Jones, the API’s senior economic adviser.

House Passes Climate-Change Plan, an Obama Priority (Update2)


After having written so long about the Fed nothing should rally surprise you. The Fed, under attack by Ron Paul’s HR-1207, came out with a strong offense for a defendable defense. Being granted more financial dictatorial power it is the antithesis of what America needs. In essence America is being handed a financial dictatorship. This will make the fed even more unaccountable then it already is. We will be faced with across the board problems and more secrecy from this privately owned bank. Continue to bombard the House members on HR 1207 and Senate members on S. 604, sponsored by Senators Sanders and DeMint.

It is proposed that the Fed will be the systemic risk regulator and supervisor of the too big to fail institutions, which own the Fed. We call that incestuous. The Fed will supply liquidity to save its shareholders. A council of regulators will be created to replace the President’s Working Group on Financial markets. That group would be chaired by the Treasury, but with advisory powers only. That means the power to manipulate all markets without interference will solely be left to the Fed. . They would be able to make any market in the world what they want it to be. There are no free markets now. The Fed would have full fascistic control. This would give the Fed’s owners the opportunity to totally loot the system and the American public.

For almost 20 years the Fed has advocated no regulation of derivatives, now they are to regulate them. That would include writers maintaining at least 5% interest in the derivatives.

The Fed would create a Consumer Financial Protection Agency with rules against predatory lending and transparency standards at the retail level. This is a farce in as much as the major banks own the Fed.

A new resolution mechanism that would clear big bank balance sheets of all toxic waste throughout the financial system, that you as taxpayers, would get to pay for.

The Fed would be the leader in the formation of global financial regulation and supervision, as part of a plan for the consolidation of all such enforcement on the path to world government. The Fed would marry into the new European Systemic Risk Council comprised of EU central bank governors. This Council would breach US sovereignty by issuing warnings and recommendations, somewhat like the Bank for International Settlements does. The Fed would work in conjunction with the EU, but at this time not be controlled by an international body. This is the foot in the door approach. Once set up the Fed would become part of this international cross border agency. From the very beginning there would be a single rulebook applicable to all financial institutions, which belies the fact that the agency would in reality control all financial institutions from its inception.

The President’s plan requires all advisers to hedge funds and other pools of capital, including private equity funds, and venture capital funds, a some fixed level, to register with the SEC.

Financial derivatives will be regulated. Standardized credit default swaps and other OTC derivates will be required to clear through a central counterparty and trade on exchanges and other transparent trading venues. The custom products will have to register as well.

The Ron Paul, Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2009 now has 244 co-sponsors. A very upset Fed three weeks ago herded former Enron lobbyist Linda Robertson to payoff and pressure House members. Now the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association has been brought into the fray to counter the populist backlash against bankers. The spearhead will be led by two former aides to former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. The plan is to target every representative in the House and unleash a multi-million dollar media blitz in city by city. A massive propaganda campaign has begun. Former treasury aides Michele Davis, a PR type and Jim Wilkinson, a former chief of staff are leading the charge. Engaged as well is Democratic polling company, Brilliant Comers Research & strategies.

SIFMA has 600 securities firms led by Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase and Citicorp. The theme is lets work together. Yes, these are the firms that have looted American citizens of their hard earned wages for years.

Opinion Research found 34% of investors are angry and Share 58% are less confident in the fairness of the financial markets.

All this wouldn’t be necessary if Treasury, the Fed and the major firms were not manipulating the markets.

The Fed, banking and Wall Street are responsible for the destruction of about 40% of worldwide wealth. Yet, they think they have done nothing wrong. They have disemboweled both residential and commercial real estate, which was in part responsible for a fall in the Dow from 14,100 to 6,600.

They have bamboozled the public with stress tests, which were bogus to prove false solvency. That avoided government oversight and as a give up allowed a special master of compensation for those, who took taxpayer funds, to escape insolvency. Wall Street denizens view their large salaries, bonuses and options as a right – an entitlement. These are the same people who destroyed the American dream and put their firms into insolvency.

The Fed and the Treasury had hundreds of billions of dollars for banking, Wall Street and insurance companies, but they couldn’t allow borrowers, facing foreclosure, a break. That would have staved off two million foreclosures and preserved $300 billion in equity. Congress couldn’t help average Americans, only the rich. We are in the greatest financial crisis since the early 1870s or the 1930s. These people have ravaged the financial and economic world and they are still in complete control of the system. That is because they have bought Congress and they have created a revolving door between NYC and Washington. Last year, banking, securities and investment firms gave $154.9 million in political payoffs. Real estate interests stuffed $136.7 million into politician’s pockets; commercial banks gave $37.1 million and hedge funds $16.7 million, for a total of $345.4 million. This is why campaign contributions have to end along with lobbying. When are Americans going to wake up to what is being done to them?

It is only a matter of when before there will be insufficient buyers of Treasuries to fund bond issues. We believe this has previously happened from time to time and that buying by the Fed from offshore accounts has held the market up. This we believe is why the Fed doesn’t want an audit. When foreign central banks stop buying, the Fed will monetize more and more as they are currently doing. They will be buying $3 trillion worth of Treasuries, Agencies and CDO toxic waste from banks over the next three months.

On June 5th, we saw the 2-year and 10-year Treasury yields spike as the Fed lost control of the market. We noted the actions at that time. It won’t be long before most long dated paper, that is over 5 years, will have to be monetized in a very big way. That also means interest rates will continue to move higher. We believe the treasury will be in the market for $1.2 to $1.5 trillion. That means the Fed may have to buy $600 billion to $1 trillion in Treasuries. They have already committed for $300 billion. It is hard to know exactly what this private corporation is up to because much of what they do is in secret. As rates rise it becomes very difficult to finance mortgages. At a 5.5% mortgage rate, 80% of pending and future mortgages cannot be consummated.

In another area of finance the commercial paper market continues to contract. It is a very important source of borrowing for business and industry. As it contracts it keeps companies from producing goods and services and the economy contracts. The available paper has contracted by some 50% over the last two years, in spite of the Fed assisting that market. As available funds are reduced, production falls and unemployment rises.

Bank credit has fallen by $23 billion to $9 trillion, this in spite of a 3.6% rise yoy. In 2009, credit has fallen by $170 billion. Consumer borrowing is dropping and savings just hit 6.9%. In spite of late payers other borrowers are paying off their loans. Consumer credit usage has fallen about 8%, the same as in the 1990s recession.

As we write (6/27/09) the dollar on the USDX is 79.90. That is the dollar index where six other currencies are weighted and compared to the dollar. We not too long ago called a top at 89.50. The dollar has been unable to break above 81 for several weeks, which tells us the dollar is headed lower, perhaps sharply lower, to its former low of 71.18 before the year is out – and, perhaps much sooner. If you remember in the first two quarters of 2008, all over the world, vendors, businesses and others were refusing to take dollars, which is going to happen again. That could be a catalyst that could bring on a bank holiday. There is no question that the Fed and the Treasury will inflate until they cannot anymore. Foreigners will be looking at enormous losses and all dollar denominated debt held by foreigners could be dumped. Another event that could case a bank holiday. As that happens the cost of imports and the resultant inflation would skyrocket, as US interest rates soar. These are very probable scenarios..

American citizens owe massive debt to the world. Total debt to GDP is 370%. It was only 260% in 1929. In order to pay this off government spending would have to be cut by 80% and taxes would have to be raised to 80%. We see neither happening. As we said previously there will come a time over the next few years that all currencies will be devalued against one another and that all defaulted debt will be settled. All US bankers, Wall Street, Washington and the Fed are doing is trying to gain time, a fruitless pursuit. Debt is some 14% of GDP, and budget deficits are growing. Is it any wonder that foreign buyers of dollar denominated assets are disappearing?

Mounting job losses and other economic realities caught up with Americans in June, pushing down a key barometer of consumer sentiment after a streak of gains built on glimmers of hope.

Some economists say the reality check offered by yesterday’s report from the New York-based Conference Board may not augur well for spending in the critical months ahead.

The Conference Board said its Consumer Confidence Index now stands at 49.3, down from its revised May level of 54.8.

U.S. options trading rose 4.6 percent during the first half of the year and headed for a seventh consecutive annual record as investors embrace computer-driven strategies and shun private transactions.

About 1.82 billion contracts linked to stocks, indexes and exchange-traded funds have changed hands in 2009, according to the Options Clearing Corp., which tracks trading on U.S. exchanges. During all of 2008, 3.28 billion traded. Average daily volume has climbed 5.4 percent to 14.6 million this year.