Former Senator And Chairman of the Congressional Oversight Panel Ted Kaufman: ‘TARP Was The Largest Welfare Program For Corporations And Their Investors Ever Created In The History Of Humankind’


Ted Kaufman


On Friday, free and efficient market champion Ted Kaufman, previously known for his stern crusade to rid the world of the HFT scourge, and all other market irregularities which unfortunately will stay with us until the next major market crash (and until the disbanding of the SEC following the terminal realization of its corrupt and utter worthlessness), held a hearing on the impact of the TARP on financial stability, no longer in his former position as a senator, but as Chairman of the Congressional TARP oversight panel. Witness included Simon Johnson, Joseph Stiglitz, Allan Meltzer, William Nelson (Deputy Director of Monetary Affairs, Federal Reserve), Damon Silvers (AFL-CIO Associate General Counsel), and others.

In typical Kaufman fashion, this no-nonsense hearing was one of the most informative and expository of all Wall Street evils to ever take place on the Hill. Which of course is why it received almost no coverage in the media. Below we present a full transcript of the entire hearing, together with select highlights.

The insights proffered by the panelists and the witnesses, while nothing new to those who have carefully followed the generational theft that has been occurring for two and a half years in plain view of everyone and shows no signs of stopping, are truly a MUST READ for virtually every citizen of America and the world: this transcript explains in great detail what absolute crime is, and why it will likely forever go unpunished.

Key highlights from the transcript:

Read moreFormer Senator And Chairman of the Congressional Oversight Panel Ted Kaufman: ‘TARP Was The Largest Welfare Program For Corporations And Their Investors Ever Created In The History Of Humankind’

US: Troubled Banks Rise to Highest Level in 18 Years

(AP) –The number of banks at risk of failing made up nearly 12 percent of all federally insured banks in the final three months of 2010, the highest level in 18 years.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp said Wednesday that the number of banks on its confidential “problem” list rose to 884 in the October-December quarter, up from 860 in the previous quarter. Those are banks rated by examiners as having very low capital cushions against risk.

Twenty-two banks have failed so far this year. And more banks are at risk, even as reported the industry’s highest earnings as a group since the financial crisis hit three years ago.

Read moreUS: Troubled Banks Rise to Highest Level in 18 Years

Matt Taibbi: Why Isn’t Wall Street in Jail? (Rolling Stone)

Financial crooks brought down the world’s economy — but the feds are doing more to protect them than to prosecute them


Illustration by Victor Juhasz

Over drinks at a bar on a dreary, snowy night in Washington this past month, a former Senate investigator laughed as he polished off his beer.

“Everything’s fucked up, and nobody goes to jail,” he said. “That’s your whole story right there. Hell, you don’t even have to write the rest of it. Just write that.”

I put down my notebook. “Just that?”

“That’s right,” he said, signaling to the waitress for the check. “Everything’s fucked up, and nobody goes to jail. You can end the piece right there.”

Nobody goes to jail. This is the mantra of the financial-crisis era, one that saw virtually every major bank and financial company on Wall Street embroiled in obscene criminal scandals that impoverished millions and collectively destroyed hundreds of billions, in fact, trillions of dollars of the world’s wealth — and nobody went to jail. Nobody, that is, except Bernie Madoff, a flamboyant and pathological celebrity con artist, whose victims happened to be other rich and famous people.

This article appears in the March 3, 2011 issue of Rolling Stone. The issue is available now on newsstands and will appear in the online archive February 18.

The rest of them, all of them, got off. Not a single executive who ran the companies that cooked up and cashed in on the phony financial boom — an industrywide scam that involved the mass sale of mismarked, fraudulent mortgage-backed securities — has ever been convicted. Their names by now are familiar to even the most casual Middle American news consumer: companies like AIG, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley. Most of these firms were directly involved in elaborate fraud and theft. Lehman Brothers hid billions in loans from its investors. Bank of America lied about billions in bonuses. Goldman Sachs failed to tell clients how it put together the born-to-lose toxic mortgage deals it was selling. What’s more, many of these companies had corporate chieftains whose actions cost investors billions — from AIG derivatives chief Joe Cassano, who assured investors they would not lose even “one dollar” just months before his unit imploded, to the $263 million in compensation that former Lehman chief Dick “The Gorilla” Fuld conveniently failed to disclose. Yet not one of them has faced time behind bars.

Instead, federal regulators and prosecutors have let the banks and finance companies that tried to burn the world economy to the ground get off with carefully orchestrated settlements — whitewash jobs that involve the firms paying pathetically small fines without even being required to admit wrongdoing. To add insult to injury, the people who actually committed the crimes almost never pay the fines themselves; banks caught defrauding their shareholders often use shareholder money to foot the tab of justice. “If the allegations in these settlements are true,” says Jed Rakoff, a federal judge in the Southern District of New York, “it’s management buying its way off cheap, from the pockets of their victims.”

To understand the significance of this, one has to think carefully about the efficacy of fines as a punishment for a defendant pool that includes the richest people on earth — people who simply get their companies to pay their fines for them. Conversely, one has to consider the powerful deterrent to further wrongdoing that the state is missing by not introducing this particular class of people to the experience of incarceration. “You put Lloyd Blankfein in pound-me-in-the-ass prison for one six-month term, and all this bullshit would stop, all over Wall Street,” says a former congressional aide. “That’s all it would take. Just once.”

But that hasn’t happened. Because the entire system set up to monitor and regulate Wall Street is fucked up.

Just ask the people who tried to do the right thing.

Read moreMatt Taibbi: Why Isn’t Wall Street in Jail? (Rolling Stone)

FDIC Seizes 3 More Banks; US Bank Failures In 2011 Rise To 14

WASHINGTON (AP) — Regulators on Friday shut down three small banks in Georgia and Illinois, bringing to 14 the number of bank failures in 2011 following last year’s tally of 157 amid the sagging economy and mounting bad loans.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. seized American Trust Bank, based in Roswell, Ga., with $238.2 million in assets and $222.2 million in deposits; North Georgia Bank of Watkinsville, Ga., with $153.2 million in assets and $139.7 million in deposits; and Chicago-based Community First Bank, with $51.1 million in assets and $49.5 million in deposits.

Renasant Bank, based in Tupelo, Miss., agreed to assume $147.4 million of the assets and all the deposits of American Trust Bank. BankSouth, based in Greensboro, Ga., is assuming $123.9 million of the assets and all the deposits of North Georgia Bank. Northbrook Bank and Trust Co., based in Northbrook, Ill., is acquiring the assets and deposits of Community First Bank.

In addition, the FDIC and Renasant Bank agreed to share losses on $94.3 million of American Trust Bank’s loans and other assets. The FDIC and BankSouth are sharing losses on $120.1 million of North Georgia Bank’s assets. The agency and Northbrook Bank and Trust are sharing losses on $42.8 million of Community First Bank’s assets.

The failure of American Trust Bank is expected to cost the deposit insurance fund $71.5 million. The failure of North Georgia Bank is expected to cost $35.2 million; that of Northbrook Bank and Trust, $11.7 million.

Read moreFDIC Seizes 3 More Banks; US Bank Failures In 2011 Rise To 14

FDIC Seizes 7 More Banks; US Bank Failures In 2010 Rise To 139

WASHINGTON (AP) — Regulators on Friday shut down a total of seven banks in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas and Arizona, lifting to 139 the number of U.S. banks that have fallen this year as soured loans have mounted and the economy has sputtered.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. took over the banks, the largest of which by far was Hillcrest Bank, based in Overland Park, Kan., with $1.6 billion in assets.

A newly chartered bank subsidiary of Boston-based NBH Holdings Corp. was set up to take over Hillcrest’s assets and deposits. The new subsidiary is called Hillcrest Bank N.A.

The FDIC and Hillcrest Bank N.A. agreed to share losses on $1.1 billion of the failed bank’s assets. Its failure is expected to cost the deposit insurance fund $329.7 million.

Also shuttered were First Bank of Jacksonville in Jacksonville, Fla., with $81 million in assets; Progress Bank of Florida, based in Tampa, with $110.7 million in assets; First National Bank of Barnesville in Barnesville, Ga., with $131.4 million in assets; Gordon Bank of Gordon, Ga., with $29.4 million in assets; First Suburban National Bank in Maywood, Ill., with $148.7 million in assets; and First Arizona Savings, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., with assets of $272.2 million.

Read moreFDIC Seizes 7 More Banks; US Bank Failures In 2010 Rise To 139

FDIC Seizes 7 More Banks; US Bank Failures In 2010 Rise To 103

Related article:

FDIC: ‘Problem’ Banks at 775, or 10 Percent of All US Banks

The FDIC is broke … and of course your money is safe and insured up to $250,000.

Sure! Trust the government!


* Seven small banks closed

* Faster pace of failures than 2009

bank-failure

WASHINGTON, July 23 (Reuters) – U.S. bank failures reached 103 so far in 2010 on Friday as regulators seized seven small banks, a faster pace of closures than last year when the century mark was not reached until October.

Bank failures are expected to peak this quarter, with the industry slowly recovering from large portfolios of bad loans, many tied to commercial real estate.

The banks seized on Friday were Sterling Bank of Lantana, Florida; Crescent Bank and Trust Company of Jasper, Georgia; Williamsburg First National Bank of Kingstree, South Carolina; Thunder Bank of Sylvan Grove, Kansas; Community Security Bank of New Prague, Minnesota; SouthwestUSA Bank of Las Vegas, Nevada and Home Valley Bank of Cave Junction, Oregon, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

The largest of the seven banks was Crescent Bank and Trust with 11 branches and about $1.01 billion in total assets and $965.7 million in total deposits. The smallest was Thunder Bank with just two branches and $32.6 million in total assets and $28.5 million in deposits.

The FDIC estimated the seven failures would add about $431 million to the tab for its deposit insurance fund.

Read moreFDIC Seizes 7 More Banks; US Bank Failures In 2010 Rise To 103

Wall Street’s War

Congress looked serious about finance reform – until America’s biggest banks unleashed an army of 2,000 paid lobbyists

wall-streets-war
This article originally appeared in RS 1106 from June 10, 2010.

(Rolling Stone Magazine) — It’s early May in Washington, and something very weird is in the air. As Chris Dodd, Harry Reid and the rest of the compulsive dealmakers in the Senate barrel toward the finish line of the Restoring American Financial Stability Act – the massive, year-in-the-making effort to clean up the Wall Street crime swamp – word starts to spread on Capitol Hill that somebody forgot to kill the important reforms in the bill. As of the first week in May, the legislation still contains aggressive measures that could cost once-indomitable behemoths like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase tens of billions of dollars. Somehow, the bill has escaped the usual Senate-whorehouse orgy of mutual back-scratching, fine-print compromises and freeway-wide loopholes that screw any chance of meaningful change.

The real shocker is a thing known among Senate insiders as “716.” This section of an amendment would force America’s banking giants to either forgo their access to the public teat they receive through the Federal Reserve’s discount window, or give up the insanely risky, casino-style bets they’ve been making on derivatives. That means no more pawning off predatory interest-rate swaps on suckers in Greece, no more gathering balls of subprime shit into incomprehensible debt deals, no more getting idiot bookies like AIG to wrap the crappy mortgages in phony insurance. In short, 716 would take a chain saw to one of Wall Street’s most lucrative profit centers: Five of America’s biggest banks (Goldman, JP Morgan, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup) raked in some $30 billion in over-the-counter derivatives last year. By some estimates, more than half of JP Morgan’s trading revenue between 2006 and 2008 came from such derivatives. If 716 goes through, it would be a veritable Hiroshima to the era of greed.

Read moreWall Street’s War

FDIC: ‘Problem’ Banks at 775, or 10 Percent of All US Banks

money-banks

WASHINGTON (Wall Street Journal) — A total of 775 banks, or one-tenth of all U.S. banks, were on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s list of “problem” institutions in the first quarter, as bad loans in the commercial real-estate market weighed on bank balance sheets.

Poor loan performance in other sectors also continued to hurt banks, with the total number of loans at least three months past due climbing for the 16th consecutive quarter, FDIC officials said in a briefing on Thursday.

“The banking system still has many problems to work through, and we cannot ignore the possibility of more financial market volatility,” FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair said.

There were 702 on the FDIC’s “problem” bank list at the end of 2009 and 252 at the end of 2008.

Read moreFDIC: ‘Problem’ Banks at 775, or 10 Percent of All US Banks

FDIC Seizes 7 More Banks; US Bank Failures In 2010 Rise To 37

Related articles:

FDIC Reports 27 Percent Jump In Problem US Banks

FDIC Report: ‘We Were Broke And Getting Broker’


Regulators shut 7 banks in Alabama, Georgia, Minnesota, Ohio and Utah

bank-failure

WASHINGTON (AP) — Regulators on Friday shut down seven banks in five states, bringing to 37 the number of bank failures in the U.S. so far this year.

The closings follow the 140 that succumbed in 2009 to mounting loan defaults and the recession.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. took over First Lowndes Bank, in Fort Deposit, Ala.; Appalachian Community Bank in Ellijay, Ga.; Bank of Hiawassee, in Hiawassee, Ga.; and Century Security Bank in Duluth, Ga.

The agency also closed down State Bank of Aurora, in Aurora, Minn.; Advanta Bank Corp., based in Draper, Utah; and American National Bank of Parma, Ohio.

The FDIC was unable to find a buyer for Advanta Bank, which had $1.6 billion in assets and $1.5 billion in deposits. The regulatory agency approved the payout of the bank’s insured deposits and it said checks to depositors for their insured funds will be mailed on Monday.

The failure of Advanta Bank is expected to cost the federal deposit insurance fund $635.6 million.

For the other banks:

Read moreFDIC Seizes 7 More Banks; US Bank Failures In 2010 Rise To 37

Timmy-Gate: Did Geithner Help Hide Lehman’s Fraud?

See also:

Dylan Ratigan & Eliot Spitzer on The Lehman Brothers Report


Timmy-Gate Takes a Turn For The Worse: Did Geithner Help Lehman Hide Accounting Tricks?

geithner-cfr
Timothy Geithner at the Council on Foreign Relations

By L. Randall Wray

L. Randall Wray, Ph.D. is Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Research Director with the Center for Full Employment and Price Stability and Senior Research Scholar at The Levy Economics Institute. His research expertise is in: financial instability, macroeconomics, and full employment policy.

Just when you thought that nothing could stink more than Timothy Geithner’s handling of the AIG bailout, a new report details how Geithner’s New York Fed allowed Lehman Brothers to use an accounting gimmick to hide debt. The report, which runs to 2200 pages, was released by Anton Valukas, the court-appointed examiner. It actually makes the AIG bailout look tame by comparison. It is now crystal clear why Geithner’s Treasury as well as Bernanke’s Fed refuse to allow any light to shine on the massive cover-up underway.

Recall that the New York Fed arranged for AIG to pay one hundred cents on the dollar on bad debts to its counterparties-benefiting Goldman Sachs and a handful of other favored Wall Street firms. (see here) The purported reason is that Geithner so feared any negative repercussions resulting from debt write-downs that he wanted Uncle Sam to make sure that Wall Street banks could not lose on bad bets. Now we find that Geithner’s NYFed supported Lehman’s efforts to conceal the extent of its problems. (see here) Not only did the NYFed fail to blow the whistle on flagrant accounting tricks, it also helped to hide Lehman’s illiquid assets on the Fed’s balance sheet to make its position look better. Note that the NY Fed had increased its supervision to the point that it was going over Lehman’s books daily; further, it continued to take trash off the books of Lehman right up to the bitter end, helping to perpetuate the fraud that was designed to maintain the pretense that Lehman was not massively insolvent. (see here)

Geithner told Congress that he has never been a regulator. (see here) That is a quite honest assessment of his job performance, although it is completely inaccurate as a description of his duties as President of the NYFed. Apparently, Geithner has never met an accounting gimmick that he does not like, if it appears to improve the reported finances of a Wall Street firm. We will leave to the side his own checkered past as a taxpayer, although one might question the wisdom of appointing someone who is apparently insufficiently skilled to file accurate tax returns to a position as our nation’s chief tax collector. What is far more troubling is that he now heads the Treasury – which means that he is not only responsible for managing two regulatory units (the FDIC and OCC), but also that he has got hold of the government’s purse strings. How many more billions or trillions will he commit to a futile effort to help Wall Street avoid its losses?

Read moreTimmy-Gate: Did Geithner Help Hide Lehman’s Fraud?