Chaos on Wall Street


THE BAILOUT BOYS: S.E.C. Chairman Christopher Cox (left) with Paulson, President Bush and Bernanke.

The big banks’ fear of big losses is threatening to bring down the entire system, with dire consequences for all of us. Here’s what’s going on, and what we can do about it.

(Fortune Magazine) — What in the world is going on here? Why is Washington spending billions to bail out Wall Street titans while leaving struggling homeowners to fend for themselves? Why are the Federal Reserve and the Treasury acting as if they’re afraid the world may come to an end, while the stock market seems much less concerned? And finally, what does all this mean to those of us who aren’t financial professionals?

Okay, take a few breaths, pour yourself a beverage of your choice, and I’ll tell you what’s happening – and what I think is going to happen. Although I expect these problems will resolve themselves without a catastrophic meltdown, I’ll also tell you why I’m more nervous about the world financial system now than I’ve ever been in my 40 years of covering business and markets.

Read moreChaos on Wall Street

Subprime crisis hits governments

THE SUBPRIME mortgage crisis that pushed homeowners into foreclosure and forced the Federal Reserve to bail out investment banker Bear Stearns has also sent state and local governments across the country scrambling to refinance municipal bonds before they are hit with exorbitant interest rates.At the center of the storm are long-term variable-interest bonds known as “auction-rate securities.” Unlike traditional fixed-rate bonds, the interest rates on these securities are reset every 7, 28 or 35 days through an auction process.

Historically, the rate paid has been less than on traditional bonds, making the national $160-billion auction-rate market a reliable source of cheap financing.

But that market has collapsed in the past two months, sending interest rates climbing. As a result, California, Richmond, the Bay Area Toll Authority, the East Bay Municipal Utility District and Sacramento County are among countless government agencies forced to restructure their bond debts.

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Jobless Claims Jump by 22,000

WASHINGTON (AP) – The number of newly laid off workers filing for unemployment benefits rose last week to the highest level in nearly two months, providing more evidence that the weak economy is drying up jobs.The Labor Department said Thursday that applications for jobless benefits totaled 378,000 last week. That was an increase of 22,000 from the previous week and was a far bigger jump than had been expected.

The four-week average for new claims rose to 365,250, which was the highest level since a flood of claims caused by the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes.

The current economic slowdown, which many economists believe has already turned into a full-blown recession, is starting to show up in the labor market in terms of higher layoffs and weaker hiring numbers.

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A worker prepares the walls for a new home at the Huntington Homes modular home factory in East Montpelier, Vt., Tuesday, March 11, 2008. The troubles in housing with falling sales and prices in many parts of the country have acted as a drag on the overall economy, contributing to a serious slowdown that many analysts are worried could push the country into a recession. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)

Read moreJobless Claims Jump by 22,000

Investment banks are borrowing from Fed

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Investment banks Goldman Sachs Group Inc , Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc and Morgan Stanley are testing a new program that allows investment banks to borrow directly from the Federal Reserve, according to people at the banks.In a bid to stabilize jittery markets, the Fed said on Sunday that it would allow investment banks to borrow from its discount window using a wide range of investment-grade securities as collateral.

(Hey, hey lets spend all our money and then just ask Uncle Bernanke for a few more billions.
Come on guys lets do that. Uncle Bernanke can print a few billions for us if we are broke.
Good to have him around. Life is so good. – The Infinite Unknown
)

Read moreInvestment banks are borrowing from Fed

Venezuela’s state-run oil company begins demanding payment in euros as US dollar weakens

CARACAS, Venezuela: Venezuela’s state-run oil firm is starting to demand payment in euros a measure aimed at protecting revenues from a weakening U.S. dollar, Venezuela’s oil minister said Tuesday.

Read moreVenezuela’s state-run oil company begins demanding payment in euros as US dollar weakens

The Federal Reserve Is Destroying America

It is incredible to see the rampant devaluation of the U.S. Dollar. The Federal Reserve just hours ago made a rare cut of 25 basis points during the weekend which will cause even more inflation. Gold immediately moved up $20 an ounce and the U.S. Dollar Index plunged under 71 in international trading. If this type of market activity continues the U.S. Dollar will have no value in a few months. While it is probably unlikely that we will see a hyper-inflationary collapse of the U.S. Dollar within the next few months, these policies are entirely unsustainable. If the Federal Reserve does not move to defend the value of the U.S. Dollar we will eventually see a hyper-inflationary collapse and worldwide financial turmoil. This view is also shared by other well respected financial analysts. Peter Schiff recently raised concerns about a hyper-inflationary collapse of the U.S. Dollar, Robert Reich a former Clinton cabinet member believes we are facing a depression and Alan Greenspan the man who caused this whole mess wrote in the Financial Times stating that we are facing the worst financial crisis since World War II. What’s amazing is that the Federal Reserve isn’t even trying to protect the U.S. Dollar because all they care about is saving the power of their private banking cartel. They don’t care about the U.S. Dollar nor do they care about the country itself. They are destroying this country through their actions and there needs to be an investigation into the controllers of this bank.

Alan Greenspan saying that we are facing the worst financial crisis since World War II is like a killer returning to the scene of their crime and explaining the results of their crime. Greenspan recently told nations in the Gulf to drop their currency pegs to the U.S. Dollar which encouraged a further drop in the U.S. Dollar. Greenspan’s Financial Times article will cause an even greater acceleration in the collapse of the currency. As the former head of the Federal Reserve, his comments still hold a great deal of importance with people around the world. This means that his comments can literally move the value of the U.S. Dollar one way or another. It is incredibly sick how Greenspan can get away with creating the current crisis we face with his low interest rate policies earlier this decade and analyze the problems that are occurring today that were a result of his own policies with no criticism from the corporate controlled media.

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Read moreThe Federal Reserve Is Destroying America

Wall Street fears for next Great Depression

Wall Street is bracing itself for another week of roller-coaster trading after more than $300bn (£150bn) was wiped off the US equity markets on Friday following the emergency funding package put together by the Federal Reserve and JPMorgan Chase to rescue Bear Stearns.

One UK economist warned that the world is now close to a 1930s-like Great Depression, while New York traders said they had never experienced such fear. The Fed’s emergency funding procedure was first used in the Depression and has rarely been used since.

A Goldman Sachs trader in New York said: “Everyone is in a total state of shock, aghast at what is happening. No one wants to talk, let alone deal; we’re just standing by waiting. Everyone is nervous about what is going to emerge when trading starts tomorrow.”

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Read moreWall Street fears for next Great Depression

Foreign investors veto Fed rescue

As feared, foreign bond holders have begun to exercise a collective vote of no confidence in the devaluation policies of the US government. The Federal Reserve faces a potential veto of its rescue measures.

Asian, Mid East and European investors stood aside at last week’s auction of 10-year US Treasury notes. “It was a disaster,” said Ray Attrill from 4castweb. “We may be close to the point where the uglier consequences of benign neglect towards the currency are revealed.”

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Banks face “new world order,” consolidation: report

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – Financial firms face a “new world order” after a weekend fire sale of Bear Stearns and the Federal Reserve’s first emergency weekend meeting since 1979, research firm CreditSights said in a report on Monday.

More industry consolidation and acquisitions may follow after JPMorgan Chase & Co on Sunday said it was buying Bear Stearns for $236 million, or $2 a share, a deep discount from the $30 price on Friday and record share price of about $172 last year.

“Last evening the Bear Stearns situation reached a crescendo, as JPMorgan agreed to acquire the wounded broker for a token amount of $2 per share,” CreditSights said. “The reality check is that there are many challenged major banks, brokers, thrifts, finance/mortgage companies, and only a handful of bona fide strong U.S. banks.”

Read moreBanks face “new world order,” consolidation: report

Dobbs: Our leaders have squandered our wealth

NEW YORK (CNN) — President Bush’s assurances that we’ll all be “just fine” if he and Congress can work out an economic stimulus package seem a little hollow this morning.Much like Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke’s assurances last May that the subprime mortgage meltdown would be contained and not affect the broader economy. And it seems Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has spent most of the past year trying to influence Chinese economic policy rather than setting the direction of U.S. economic policy.

There is no question that Bush, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will quickly come up with an economic stimulus package simply because they can no longer ignore our economic and financial crisis. That economic stimulus plan will amount to about 1 percent of our nation’s gross domestic product, an estimated $150 billion.

But all of us should recognize that the stimulus package will be inadequate to drive sustainable growth in our $13 trillion economy. An emergency Fed rate cut and an economic stimulus plan are short-term responses to our complex economic problems, nothing more than bandages for a hemorrhaging economy.

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Read moreDobbs: Our leaders have squandered our wealth

Darker Days Ahead?

Robert Reich warns a recession, or worse, could be coming.

Think the last few days have been bad for Wall Street and the rest of the world’s markets? Hang on, things are probably going to get worse, says Robert Reich, President Clinton’s former secretary of Labor and author of the recent book “Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy and Everyday Life.” According to Reich, who currently teaches public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, the United States might even be headed toward a depression.

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Reich: 'Now we have a mess on our hands. Bernanke has the only
       pooper-scooper in town, but it is too small for the job.'

Read moreDarker Days Ahead?

America’s economy risks mother of all meltdowns

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“I would tell audiences that we were facing not a bubble but a froth – lots of small, local bubbles that never grew to a scale that could threaten the health of the overall economy.” Alan Greenspan, The Age of Turbulence.

That used to be Mr Greenspan’s view of the US housing bubble. He was wrong, alas. So how bad might this downturn get? To answer this question we should ask a true bear. My favourite one is Nouriel Roubini of New York University’s Stern School of Business, founder of RGE monitor.

Recently, Professor Roubini’s scenarios have been dire enough to make the flesh creep. But his thinking deserves to be taken seriously. He first predicted a US recession in July 2006*. At that time, his view was extremely controversial. It is so no longer. Now he states that there is “a rising probability of a ‘catastrophic’ financial and economic outcome”**. The characteristics of this scenario are, he argues: “A vicious circle where a deep recession makes the financial losses more severe and where, in turn, large and growing financial losses and a financial meltdown make the recession even more severe.”

Prof Roubini is even fonder of lists than I am. Here are his 12 – yes, 12 – steps to financial disaster.

Read moreAmerica’s economy risks mother of all meltdowns

Confidence Plunges, Inflation Rate Soars

Consumer Confidence Plunges While Wholesale Inflation Rises at Fastest Pace in 26 Years

WASHINGTON (AP) — In more bad economic news, consumer confidence and home prices posted sharp declines while higher costs for such basics as food, energy and medicine left wholesale inflation rising at a pace unseen since late 1981.

The new reports Tuesday documented the latest in a series of blows to the economy as a prolonged housing downturn has pushed the country close to a recession.

Read moreConfidence Plunges, Inflation Rate Soars

The U.S. Dollar Is Being Destroyed

The global economy is falling apart all around us. We can expect a continued rise in the price of gold and silver as it is becoming increasingly apparent that the Federal Reserve, the U.S. government and even Alan Greenspan are doing everything they can to destroy the value of the U.S. Dollar. In fact, the policies currently being implemented by the establishment is criminal because by devaluing the U.S. Dollar they are indirectly robbing from the American middle class by destroying the purchasing power of everyone’s bank accounts that are denominated in U.S. Dollars. At this point it is becoming increasingly clear that the establishment wants a weaker U.S. Dollar considering some of the insane policies they are implementing and insane things that they are saying.

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What makes this rise in precious metals particularly interesting is the fact that the IMF has been dumping gold on to the market and gold continues to move up in value. The manipulation of the gold market is starting to fail as is the policy of managing a slow decline of the U.S. Dollar without a parabolic rise in precious metals. The rise in silver has been particularly spectacular rising around $1 in price yesterday and it shows no signs of slowing down. At this point we could easily see gold at $1,000 an ounce and silver at $20 an ounce within the next month or two. So why is all of this happening? Let’s take a look at some of the news that has come out in the past few days.

Read moreThe U.S. Dollar Is Being Destroyed

How Low Can The Dollar Go? Zero Value

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The corporate controlled media is finally starting to talk about the economic problems that the alternative media and assorted precious metals advocates have been talking about for years now. We are facing a potential inflationary depression. Independent estimates of the M3 money supply show that we are seeing an annual increase in the M3 money supply by around 16 to 17 percent. The Federal Reserve chose to stop producing this report right around the time when these figures began going parabolic on their chart showing a massive increase in the money supply. An increase in the money supply results in a devalued currency and that’s one of the primary reasons why we are seeing the price of gold flirt with the $1,000 an ounce mark and silver explode past the $20 an ounce mark. The U.S. Dollar Index is now treading water around the 72 to 73 mark and it is becoming increasingly clear that the role of the world’s reserve currency is shifting from the U.S. Dollar to the Euro. Some ask how low the U.S. Dollar could go and that answer is simple. The U.S. Dollar could go to zero because it is a fiat currency with no real tangible backing. Every fiat currency in the history of man has been replaced or collapsed and there is nothing fundamentally different between the U.S. Dollar and these other fiat monetary systems of the past.

Read moreHow Low Can The Dollar Go? Zero Value

Global “Oil Shock” Rattles World Stock markets

Cleaning up the mess that Mr Greenspan left behind was never going to be easy. Banks and brokers around the world face more than half-trillion dollars in write-offs as a consequence of the US sub-prime mortgage crisis, which is spreading from the US property market and roiling global stock markets. It’s toppled the US economy into a recession and the tremors are also rattling Asian stock markets.

Roughly $7 trillion has been wiped from world stock markets since the beginning of the year amid fears of a severe US economic recession and financial institutions reporting more mega losses. “The market crisis will preoccupy us well into 2008,” he said German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck on Feb 15th. “The financial risks securitized by banks contained packaged explosives,” and he accused rating agencies of having a conflict of interest in the role they played in the process.

So far, the Bernanke Federal Reserve has pumped more than half-a-trillion dollars into the markets with open market operations and special emergency lending schemes, to help cushion the blow to the US economy and stock markets. However, there’s evidence that the Fed’s prescription for dealing with the sub-prime debt crisis, is actually making matters much worse, and leading to “Stagflation.”

Read moreGlobal “Oil Shock” Rattles World Stock markets

The Bush Bust of ’08: “It’s All Downhill From Here, Folks”

On January 14, 2008 the FDIC web site began posting the rules for reimbursing depositors in the event of a bank failure. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is required to “determine the total insured amount for each depositor….as of the day of the failure” and return their money as quickly as possible. The agency is “modernizing its current business processes and procedures for determining deposit insurance coverage in the event of a failure of one of the largest insured depository institutions.” The implication is clear, the FDIC has begun the “death watch” on the many banks which are currently drowning in their own red ink. The problem for the FDIC is that it has never supervised a bank failure which exceeded 175,000 accounts. So the impending financial tsunami is likely to be a crash-course in crisis management. Today some of the larger banks have more than 50 million depositors, which will make the FDIC’s job nearly impossible. Good luck. – Mike Whitney

Read moreThe Bush Bust of ’08: “It’s All Downhill From Here, Folks”

Ben Bernanke’s high-wire act

Fed chief, in first of two days of testimony on Capitol Hill, acknowledges troubling signs about economic growth but also raises concerns about inflation.

WASHINGTON (CNNMoney.com) — For Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, running the central bank has become an increasingly challenging high-wire balancing act.

All of Wall Street was watching the Fed chairman on Wednesday when he headed to Capitol Hill to outline the trio of challenges facing the Fed: an economy at risk of falling into a recession, topsy-turvy financial markets and the rising risk of inflation.

“We do face a difficult situation,” Bernanke told members of the House Financial Services Committee, marking the first day of his two-day semi-annual hearing on the Fed’s monetary policy. “The challenge for us is to balance those risks and decide at any given time which is more serious.”

Read moreBen Bernanke’s high-wire act