Colossal Financial Collapse: The Truth behind the Citigroup Bank “Nationalization”

On Friday November 21, the world came within a hair’s breadth of the most colossal financial collapse in history according to bankers on the inside of events with whom we have contact. The trigger was the bank which only two years ago was America’s largest, Citigroup. The size of the US Government de facto nationalization of the $2 trillion banking institution is an indication of shocks yet to come in other major US and perhaps European banks thought to be ‘too big to fail.’

The clumsy way in which US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, himself not a banker but a Wall Street ‘investment banker’, whose experience has been in the quite different world of buying and selling stocks or bonds or underwriting and selling same, has handled the unfolding crisis has been worse than incompetent. It has made a grave situation into a globally alarming one.

‘Spitting into the wind’

A case in point is the secretive manner in which Paulson has used the $700 billion in taxpayer funds voted him by a labile Congress in September. Early on, Paulson put $125 billion in the nine largest banks, including $10 billion for his old firm, Goldman Sachs. However, if we compare the value of the equity share that $125 billion bought with the market price of those banks’ stock, US taxpayers have paid $125 billion for bank stock that a private investor could have bought for $62.5 billion, according to a detailed analysis from Ron W. Bloom, economist with the US United Steelworkers union, whose members as well as pension fund face devastating losses were GM to fail.

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Peter Schiff: The Truth About Bailouts

As the Federal bailout bonanza prepares to spread beyond the mortgage and financial sectors to fill Detroit’s depleted coffers, few economic or policy analysts have spared a thought for the destitution of the U.S. government itself.

Put simply, our government doesn’t have enough spare cash to bail out a lemonade stand let alone a bloated and failing industry that is losing tens of billions of dollars per month.

Washington can only offer funds that it has borrowed from abroad or printed. Unfortunately, the nation is in the grips of a delusion that money derived from these sources has the power to heal. But history has clearly shown that borrowed or printed money only has the power to destroy.

The argument that energizes the pro-Detroit camp is that the government should extend the same courtesy to the rank and file auto workers that it lavished upon the fat cats of Wall Street.

While two wrongs certainly do not make a right, the fact remains that the Wall Street firms are still floundering despite the bailouts. What’s worse, the money spent was either printed or borrowed from abroad. Both options are destructive to America.

When it comes to bailouts, the real discussions are not centered in Washington but rather in Beijing, Tokyo, and Riyadh. With no money of our own, our ability to bailout our own citizens is completely dependent on the world’s willingness to foot the bill.

Read morePeter Schiff: The Truth About Bailouts

Fed Pledges Top $7.4 Trillion to Ease Frozen Credit

We will see hyperinflation, the dollar will fail and then the US will fail.
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Henry Paulson, U.S. treasury secretary, left, and Ben S. Bernanke, chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, look through their notes before a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee in Washington, Nov. 18, 2008. Photographer: Jim Lo Scalzo/Bloomberg News

Nov. 24 (Bloomberg) — The U.S. government is prepared to lend more than $7.4 trillion on behalf of American taxpayers, or half the value of everything produced in the nation last year, to rescue the financial system since the credit markets seized up 15 months ago.

The unprecedented pledge of funds includes $2.8 trillion already tapped by financial institutions in the biggest response to an economic emergency since the New Deal of the 1930s, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The commitment dwarfs the only plan approved by lawmakers, the Treasury Department’s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. Federal Reserve lending last week was 1,900 times the weekly average for the three years before the crisis.

When Congress approved the TARP on Oct. 3, Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson acknowledged the need for transparency and oversight. Now, as regulators commit far more money while refusing to disclose loan recipients or reveal the collateral they are taking in return, some Congress members are calling for the Fed to be reined in.

“Whether it’s lending or spending, it’s tax dollars that are going out the window and we end up holding collateral we don’t know anything about,” said Congressman Scott Garrett, a New Jersey Republican who serves on the House Financial Services Committee. “The time has come that we consider what sort of limitations we should be placing on the Fed so that authority returns to elected officials as opposed to appointed ones.”

Read moreFed Pledges Top $7.4 Trillion to Ease Frozen Credit

Citigroup Gets Guarantees on $306 Billion of Assets

A Citigroup sign hangs at the Citigroup Center in New York on Sept. 29, 2008. Photographer: Jin Lee/Bloomberg News

Nov. 24 (Bloomberg) — Citigroup Inc., facing the threat of a breakup or sale, received $306 billion of U.S. government guarantees for troubled mortgages and toxic assets to stabilize the bank after its stock fell 60 percent last week.

Citigroup also will get a $20 billion cash injection from the Treasury Department, adding to the $25 billion the company received last month under the Troubled Asset Relief Program. In return for the cash and guarantees, the government will get $27 billion of preferred shares paying an 8 percent dividend. Citigroup rose 53 percent to $5.75 at 8:37 a.m. in New York trading today.

The Treasury, Federal Reserve and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said in a joint statement that the move aims to bolster financial-market stability and help restore economic growth. The decision came after New York-based Citigroup’s tumbling share price sparked concern that depositors might pull their money and destabilize the company, which has $2 trillion of assets and operations in more than 100 countries.

“It really was a must-do thing,” said Nader Naeimi, a Sydney-based strategist at AMP Capital Investors, which manages about $85 billion. “If they’d let Citigroup go, that would’ve been disastrous.”

Read moreCitigroup Gets Guarantees on $306 Billion of Assets

Bailout for Bank of Ireland

THE Irish government has agreed to take part in a €3 billion (£2 billion) bailout of Bank of Ireland that will be led by private equity. The deal would be the first state aid for an Irish bank.

This week a number of private-equity groups will make proposals to BoI. A condition of the government cash injection will be that new investors are locked in for a set time to ensure they don’t try to sell quickly and make a big profit.

Names already linked with a potential investment include Cardinal Asset Management, an Irish investment firm, Sandler O’Neill, Texas Pacific Group and JC Flowers.

Ireland was one of the first countries to respond to the credit crisis with a guarantee for bank liabilities worth some €440 billion, but until now it has not bailed out or nationalised any banks, and they have not raised equity themselves.

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Police to get 10,000 Taser guns

Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, is to arm police with 10,000 Taser stun guns in an escalation of the government’s fight against violent crime.

Smith will unveil plans tomorrow that will enable all 30,000 front-line response officers to be trained in firing the electric guns at knife-wielding thugs and other violent suspects.

Smith said yesterday that £8m will be made available to all 43 police forces in England and Wales to buy the new 50,000-volt weapons.

She said their use will be extended from small units of dedicated firearms officers to up to 30,000 police response officers across the country.

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All US Financials Will be Nationalized in a Year

It’s not preferable, but all major U.S. financial companies will eventually be under government control because the alternative is so much worse, Hugh Hendry, chief investment officer at hedge fund Eclectica Asset Management, said Friday.

“All financials will be owned by the U.S. government in a year,” Hendry said. “I bet you.”

(Watch the accompanying video for Hendry’s full comments here.)

Nationalizations take dramatic losses from the private sector and places them on the larger balance sheet of the public sector, he said.

“It’s not good,” but society is vulnerable and society is going to have to intervene, Hendry said.

Shareholders Should Get Nothing

Because the taxpayers are forced to foot the bill for bailout out the banks, shareholders shouldn’t be compensated, Hendry added.

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Hillary Clinton accepts post as Secretary of State in Obama administration

Senator Hillary Clinton has accepted Barack Obama’s offer to become US Secretary of State, as the president-elect moved at rapid speed to assemble an all-star cabinet amid steep challenges at home and overseas.


Mrs Clinton, 61, had been uncertain if she should give up her Senate seat to join Barack Obama’s staff Photo: GETTY

Friends of the former First Lady told American news organisations that she had firmly decided to give up her seat as a senator for New York and become the international face of the man who thwarted her presidential ambitions in a long and sometimes bitter battle for the Democratic Party’s nomination.

Other reports said Mr Obama will nominate Timothy Geithner, 47, as his Treasury Secretary. As head of the New York federal reserve bank he has been involved with the $700 billion bail-out of Wall Street, which he will take charge of if confirmed.

As a former treasury official, Mr Geithner has invaluable Washington experience and will be considered a wise choice. Stocks soared as news of his appointment reached Wall Street.

He will probably be joined around the cabinet table by Bill Richardson, the New Mexico governor, who has been reportedly selected as commerce secretary after losing out to Mrs Clinton as secretary of state, the most prestigious job beneath the presidency.

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Rich countries launch great land grab to safeguard food supply

  • States and companies target developing nations
  • Small farmers at risk from industrial-scale deals

Rich governments and corporations are triggering alarm for the poor as they buy up the rights to millions of hectares of agricultural land in developing countries in an effort to secure their own long-term food supplies.

The head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, Jacques Diouf, has warned that the controversial rise in land deals could create a form of “neo-colonialism”, with poor states producing food for the rich at the expense of their own hungry people.

Rising food prices have already set off a second “scramble for Africa”. This week, the South Korean firm Daewoo Logistics announced plans to buy a 99-year lease on a million hectares in Madagascar. Its aim is to grow 5m tonnes of corn a year by 2023, and produce palm oil from a further lease of 120,000 hectares (296,000 acres), relying on a largely South African workforce. Production would be mainly earmarked for South Korea, which wants to lessen dependence on imports.

“These deals can be purely commercial ventures on one level, but sitting behind it is often a food security imperative backed by a government,” said Carl Atkin, a consultant at Bidwells Agribusiness, a Cambridge firm helping to arrange some of the big international land deals.

Read moreRich countries launch great land grab to safeguard food supply

U.S. eyes “surge” of over 20,000 for Afghanistan

“U.S. President-elect Barack Obama says he wants to focus more on the Afghan war and plans to persuade other nations to send more soldiers.”
More ‘change’. The soldiers have been strongly supporting Ron Paul and they exactly knew why!
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A British military vehicle drives past an Afghan man in Lashkar Gah, capital of Helmand province October 20, 2008.
REUTERS/Abdul Qodus

CORNWALLIS, Nova Scotia (Reuters) – The Pentagon is considering a plan to send more than 20,000 troops to Afghanistan over the next 12 to 18 months to help safeguard elections and quell rising Taliban violence, officials said on Friday.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he and top commanders had discussed sending five brigades to Afghanistan, including four brigades of combat ground forces as well as an aviation brigade, which a defense official said would consist mainly of support troops. An Army combat brigade has about 3,500 soldiers.

Gates said much of the infusion could take place before Afghanistan holds elections by next autumn.

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