Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Europe's Bailout Fund -- Seriously, WTF Is This Thing?

I tried to figure out the EFSF again (the European Financial Stability Facility) and, once again, my brain exploded.

I can't figure out if this Rube Goldbergian mother of all securitization schemes is:

(a) a way to secretly print a whole bunch of euros behind door #24 while everyone is distracted by the elephant and monkey show in Exhibition Room C.

(b) a clever new way of shunting tail-risk into a vehicle that, when it fails, will send fireworks high into the night sky as the eurozone spectacularly implodes.

(c) a way of handing out 1,000 gold-plated pigs when there are only 10 gold-plated pigs in the warehouse, vague promises of 990 more gold-plated pigs, and a whole lot of securitization in between.

(d) a full-employment act for structured finance professionals on the continent.

(e) some combination of the above.

Or add your own speculation below. Because, in this Brave New World of Structured Finance, we're obviously beyond the point where an entity (say the IMF) simply extends a loan to some country (or countries) in fiscal straits.

Here's some more commentary on this bewildering high-finance thingamabobby:

More European Financial Chicanery

Monday, November 28, 2011

Fed Funnels Money to Banks on the Sly

Excellent Bloomberg story showing what was largely an open secret (even if the details weren't known), well before the Fed was forced to cough up the paperwork on its bailout of the U.S. financial system:

Secret Fed Loans Gave Banks Undisclosed $13 Billion

This should be required reading for every American.

The hard-hitting article also reinforces the image of Geithner as a complete tool.

The ground left uncovered: that, for this enormous bailout, we the taxpayer got very little. Our financial regulators, our political leaders, failed to effectively reform a banking system that has metastasized out of control.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

New Song Charting on YouTube: "Eat a Banker"

I found this song on YouTube with its timely message for the 99%:

"Eat a Banker"

It has a rather mellow, swaying beat -- not a violent-sounding song at all. I can even imagine it playing softly in the restaurant as some downtrodden poor person is dining on one of those overfed Wall Street bankers. ;)

In Case Anyone Forgets Why "Occupy Wall Street" Exists

1. Our Congress -- ahem, the best Congress money can buy -- decided that pizza is a vegetable. This decision makes absolutely zero sense from a health and nutritional standpoint (I love pizza -- I had three slices yesterday -- but if what I ate qualifies as a vegetable, I'm a living, breathing zucchini). However, it makes perfect sense from a food industry lobbying standpoint.

2. AIG won't help struggling homeowners. From Bloomberg: "American International Group Inc. (AIG) is holding out as rival mortgage insurers accept policy changes that support the U.S. government push to stoke refinancing among borrowers with little or no home equity."

Reminder: Not only did the U.S. bail out AIG, the U.S. is currently the MAJORITY OWNER OF AIG. If the U.S. government is too weak-spined to compel AIG to get on board with refis (which almost everyone agrees need to take place to right the listing housing market), then it's clear who's really running the show.

3. Corporations are increasingly paying a smaller percentage of their profits as income tax. At the same time, childhood poverty has been on the rise. Those trends aren't likely to change anytime soon as corporations are the kind of "people" who can write big campaign checks, but a child in poverty isn't similarly flush with excess funds to fertilize Senator Gasbag's re-election efforts.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Working on Wall Street Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry

Felix Salmon waxed indignant about Jon Corzine's peculiar resignation statement, and laugh-out-loud lines such as, "This was a difficult decision, but one that I believe is best for the firm and its stakeholders."

This is as absurd as someone driving a bus off a cliff, killing everyone aboard but himself, then holding a press conference during which he says in a conflicted voice, "It is with a heavy heart that I wish to announce that I have decided to part ways with the company."

Felix comments, "... would it be too much to ask for just a tiny hint of remorse here? A short apology, perhaps, to the thousands of employees and customers who have lost their jobs or their money?"

Remorse? How do you spell that again?

Wall Street doesn't DO remorse, Felix. C'mon, man. You're smarter than that. Throughout the financial crisis and its aftermath, the lack of remorse was painfully striking.

Almost two years ago to the day, I commented on this phenomenon. We taxpayers weren't thanked by the big banks that received bailout funds (as I recall, Citigroup was a notable exception that came rather late). No apology for their securitization meltdown either. But Blankfein did see fit to note that they were all doing God's work.

And AIG's Robert Benmosche memorably threw a hissy fit about not being able to pay his executives more than $500,000 a year.

Is there really any mystery any longer why "Occupy Wall Street" exists?