Friday, July 16, 2010

Understanding the mechanics of modern Predation

The Financial Con Of The Decade Explained So Simply Even A Congressman Will Get It
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 07/10/2010 21:13 -0500
Sometimes, when chasing the bouncing ball of fraud and corruption on a daily basis, it is easy to lose sight of the forest for the millions of trees (all of which have a 150% LTV fourth-lien on them, underwritten by Goldman Sachs, which is short the shrubbery tranche). Luckily, Charles Hugh Smith, of has taken the time to put it all into such simple and compelling terms, even corrupt North Carolina congressmen will not have the chance to plead stupidity after reading this.
Of course, to those familiar with the work of Austrian economists, none of this will come as a surprise. 
1. Enable trillions of dollars in mortgages guaranteed to default by packaging unlimited quantities of them into mortgage-backed securities (MBS), creating umlimited demand for fraudulently originated loans.
2. Sell these MBS as "safe" to credulous investors, institutions, town councils in Norway, etc., i.e. "the bezzle" on a global scale.
3. Make huge "side bets" against these doomed mortgages so when they default then the short-side bets generate billions in profits.
4. Leverage each $1 of actual capital into $100 of high-risk bets.
5. Hide the utterly fraudulent bets offshore and/or off-balance sheet (not that the regulators you had muzzled would have noticed anyway).
6. When the longside bets go bad, transfer hundreds of billions of dollars in Federal guarantees, bailouts and backstops into the private hands which made the risky bets, either via direct payments or via proxies like AIG. Enable these private Power Elites to borrow hundreds of billions more from the Treasury/Fed at zero interest.
7. Deposit these funds at the Federal Reserve, where they earn 3-4%. Reap billions in guaranteed income by borrowing Federal money for free and getting paid interest by the Fed.
8. As profits pile up, start buying boatloads of short-term U.S. Treasuries. Now the taxpayers who absorbed the trillions in private losses and who transferred trillions in subsidies, backstops, guarantees, bailouts and loans to private banks and corporations, are now paying interest on the Treasuries their own money purchased for the banks/corporations.
9. Slowly acquire trillions of dollars in Treasuries--not difficult to do as the Federal government is borrowing $1.5 trillion a year.
10. Stop buying Treasuries and dump a boatload onto the market, forcing interest rates to rise as supply of new T-Bills exceeds demand (at least temporarily). Repeat as necessary to double and then triple interest rates paid on Treasuries.
11. Buy hundreds of billions in long-term Treasuries at high rates of interest. As interest rates rise, interest payments dwarf all other Federal spending, forcing extreme cuts in all other government spending.
12. Enjoy the hundreds of billions of dollars in interest payments being paid by taxpayers on Treasuries that were purchased with their money but which are safely in private hands.
Charles' conclusion does not need further commentary as it is absolutely spot on:
Since the Federal government could potentially inflate away these trillions in Treasuries, buy enough elected officials to force austerity so inflation remains tame. In essence, these private banks and corporations now own the revenue stream of the Federal government and its taxpayers. Neat con, and the marks will never understand how "saving our financial system" led to their servitude to the very interests they bailed out.
The circle is now complete: in "saving our financial system," the public borrowed trillions and transferred the money to private Power Elites, who then buy the public debt with the money swindled out of the taxpayer. Then the taxpayers transfer more wealth every year to the Power Elites/Plutocracy in the form of interest on the Treasury debt. The Power Elites will own the debt that was taken on to bail them out of bad private bets: this is the culmination of privatized gains, socialized risk.
In effect, it's a Third World/colonial scam on a gigantic scale: plunder the public treasury, then buy the debt which was borrowed and transferred to your pockets. You are buying the country with money you borrowed from its taxpayers. No despot could do better. more
If You're Going to Do Something Illegal in America, Do Something Spectacularly Illegal!
How Bank of America Got Away With a Huge Swindle
If you want to avoid facing a tough prosecution for malfeasance, be a banker, not a biker.
That appears to be the lesson of Saturday’s front page of the Wall Street Journal, where the lead story was about how Bank of America repeatedly hid its massive bad debt holdings from regulators and investors through a creative accounting device called “repurchase agreements,” and the second story, just above the fold, was about how US Food and Drug Administration prosecutors are “Casting a Wider Net” investigating the use of steroids by competitive cyclists.
According to the BofA story, the bank, during a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into the real financial condition of the nation’s biggest financial institutions, admitted that at the ends of all the quarterly reporting periods from 2007 through 2009, it had used repurchase agreements, or “repos,” to temporarily shed bad debt before drawing up and releasing its required public filings. That is to say, it managed to lie about and hide from view its weakened liquidity position all through the financial crisis.
Astonishingly, the Wall Street Journal article reports that this practice, known euphemistically in financial industry parlance as “window dressing,” is “not illegal in itself,” unless it is done with the intent of misleading investors. The article is quick to note that “Bof A said its incorrect accounting wasn’t intentional.” (The newspaper didn’t go to the SEC or to any independent source such as an academic expert or lawyer for comment on this laughable whopper.)
BofA, every three months, was transferring mortgage-backed securities briefly to a trading partner in return for a simultaneous agreement to repurchase similar securities from the same partner, once the required SEC filing had been shipped out in the mail. As the Wall Street Journal’s reporter Michael Rapoport writes, “The practice amounts to a bank renting out its balance sheet for short periods; the bank gets fees, and the client on the other end of the trade gets short-time cash.”
If this kind of thing is not deliberate fraud I don’t know what is, and yet the bank, in its statement to the Wall Street Journal, claims the “effort to manage its balance sheet” was “appropriate,” and that the intent behind the shell game was not to mislead investors or regulators, but rather was “to reduce the specific business unit’s balance sheet to meet its internal quarter-end limits for balance sheet capacity.” more

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