Remember 1929 – what seemed to be the end was only the beginning


Dick Fuld, former Lehman Brothers’ chief executive Photo: AP

The dismemberment of Dick Fuld, Lehman Brothers’ former chief executive, before a Congressional committee on Monday was a compelling, albeit brutal, event.

His televised humiliation was orchestrated by a veteran Democrat, Henry Waxman, whose simple question about Fuld’s alleged $480m of earnings – Is that fair? – hit the banker like a haymaker, rendering him speechless.

As the cameras focused on Fuld’s haunted stare, there was a sense of action replay. Hadn’t we seen this freak show, or at least something remarkably like it, long before Lehman went under – a display of furious inquisitors wiping the floor with Wall Street’s loftiest reputations?

Yes, history was repeating itself: “As the ghosts of numerous tyrants, from Julius Caesar to Benito Mussolini will testify, people are very hard on those who, having had power, lose it or are destroyed. Then anger at past arrogance is joined with contempt for present weakness.

“The victim or his corpse is made to suffer all available indignities. Such was the fate of the bankers. They were fair game for Congressional committees, courts, the press and comedians.”

These are the observations of economist J K Galbraith in The Great Crash, 1929. First published in 1954, his analysis of the greed and self-delusion that led to the unravelling of America’s stock market and the subsequent Depression is undimmed by time.

Replace 1929 with 2008 and the story, I’m afraid, is eerily familiar: a speculative orgy, crescendo, climax and crash. As this plays out, important people – business and political leaders – rely on “the power of incantation” to keep the rest of us calm. Their efforts are doomed to fail.

Read moreRemember 1929 – what seemed to be the end was only the beginning

Brown and Darling commit £500 billion for bank bailout

Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling set out a radical £500 billion package today to restore confidence in the UK banking sector and break the crippling logjam in credit markets.

The three-part package includes committing up to £50 billion of taxpayer funds for a partial nationalisation of stricken banks, met from increased public borrowing and with political strings attached that would include reining in executive pay.

In addition, the Bank of England will pump at least £200 billion into the money markets under its existing Special Liquidity Scheme. The Government is also making a further £250 billion available for banks over the next three years to guarantee medium-term debt to help restore confidence and get banks lending to each other again.

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How the crooked bailout was passed by Congress

Fraud, bribery and threats of violence

Congressman Sherman’s entire presentation

The Wall Street Welfare Act

There was a simple solution the banking crisis:

Guarantee ALL normal banking deposits. That’s what European countries are doing.

With bank deposit guarantees, individuals and real businesses would have access to their money and to normal credit.

But the White House took a different path…

A multi-trillion dollar “no string attached” checkbook controlled by the White House through the Treasury Department to buy the toxic assets of Wall Street and other reckless investors.

Who will pay?

The US tax payers who are footing the bill.

Who will benefit?

Wall Street CEOs and their deep pocket clients and members of the Bush regime.

What will the US do in the future when it needs money to prepair crumbling infrastructure, take care of public health, and deal with natural and man made catastrophes?

The answer will to all these problems will be simple and consistent: We have no money.

How did this insane legislation get passed?

Congressman Brad Sherman lays it out:

* fraud (fake phone calls from paid stooges in support of the bill),
* bribery (hundreds of pages of pork added to the bill by the Senate at the last minute), and
* threats of violence (the claim that without the bailout martial law was a certainty.)

Source: Brasscheck TV

Russia, Indonesia, Ukraine Shut Exchanges as Stock Rout Worsens

Oct. 8 (Bloomberg) — Russia, Indonesia, Ukraine and Romania shut their stock exchanges after shares plummeted in the worst week for emerging-markets in at least two decades.

Russia’s Micex Index dropped 14 percent, having already slumped 20 percent this week, before trading stopped at 11:05 a.m. in Moscow. The exchange won’t reopen until Oct. 10 unless the Federal Financial Markets Service says otherwise, Micex spokesman Alexei Gerasyuk said by phone. The Jakarta Composite index fell 21 percent in its biggest weekly slump in at least 25 years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Investors are fleeing on concern the worsening global credit crisis will cause more banks to collapse and push the global economy into recession, lowering the price of the commodities that drive developing nation economies. The benchmark MSCI Emerging Markets index is headed for its worst weekly decline since it was established in 1987 after falling 21 percent.

Read moreRussia, Indonesia, Ukraine Shut Exchanges as Stock Rout Worsens

Fed, ECB, Central Banks Cut Rates in Coordinated Move


A security officer stands outside of the Federal Reserve building in Washington on Sept. 16, 2008. Photographer: Jay Mallin/Bloomberg News

Oct. 8 (Bloomberg) — The Federal Reserve, European Central Bank and four other central banks lowered interest rates in an unprecedented coordinated effort to ease the economic effects of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

The Fed, ECB, Bank of England, Bank of Canada and Sweden’s Riksbank each cut their benchmark rates by half a percentage point. The Bank of Japan, which didn’t participate in the move, said it supported the action. Switzerland also took part. Separately, China’s central bank lowered its key one-year lending rate by 0.27 percentage point.

Today’s decision follows a global meltdown that sent U.S. stock indexes heading for their biggest annual decline since 1937; Japan’s benchmark today had the worst drop in two decades. Policy makers are also aiming to unfreeze credit markets after the premium on the three-month London interbank offered rate over the Fed’s main rate doubled in two weeks to a record.

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AIG Executives Blow $440,000 After Getting Bailout


View from the Lobby Lounge Terrace

If you’d just gotten a government bailout, you might be tempted to hold a retreat at a nice California hotel — and that’s exactly what American International Group (AIG: 3.51, -0.36, -9.30%) executives did.

The committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing on Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. Eastern time. to address and examine downfall of AIG, the world’s largest insurance company. The committee planned to discuss the financial excesses and regulatory mistakes that led to AIG’s government bailout.

One of the items discussed was AIG’s expenditure of $440,000 for a corporate retreat at the St. Regis Monarch Beach resort in Los Angeles, Calif. These funds were spent on Sept. 22, a week after the Federal Reserve extended an $85 billion emergency loan to AIG to keep it from going bankrupt due to insurance liabilities.

Click here to see the full hotel bill

Read moreAIG Executives Blow $440,000 After Getting Bailout

Thursday is D-Day

Forget the stock market gyrations. Forget Bernanke and Paulson’s ineffective, unconstitutional schemes.

Thursday’s auction for Lehman’s credit default swaps (CDS) is much more important.

Why?

Well, if banks are reassured by the CDS auction, it could do more to free up frozen capital than all of the Fed and Treasury’s ill-conceived plans put together.

Read moreThursday is D-Day

Pakistan facing bankruptcy

Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves are so low that the country can only afford one month of imports and faces possible bankruptcy.


An investor monitors the index at Karachi Stock Exchange in Karachi, Pakistan Photo: BLOOMBERG

Officially, the central bank holds $8.14 billion (£4.65 billion) of foreign currency, but if forward liabilities are included, the real reserves may be only $3 billion – enough to buy about 30 days of imports like oil and food.

Nine months ago, Pakistan had $16 bn in the coffers.

The government is engulfed by crises left behind by Pervez Musharraf, the military ruler who resigned the presidency in August. High oil prices have combined with endemic corruption and mismanagement to inflict huge damage on the economy.

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Bank shares plunge again in panicky trading

Shares in Britain’s banks plunged again amid panicky trading following emergency talks with the government over a possible injection of billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money into the banking sector.

Royal Bank of Scotland nosedived by almost 40% to 90p in morning trading – its lowest point since the recession of the early 1990s. Barclays, Lloyds TSB and HBOS were also hit, as the lack of a coordinated rescue plan for the banking sector alarmed the City.

By 3pm RBS shares were 32.5% lower at 112p, giving it a market capitalisation of £15.98bn – down from over £75bn a year ago.

HBOS was 23% lower at 124p and Lloyds TSB had lost 13% to 225p. Barclays had recovered most of its early losses following Varley’s comments this morning.

Last night Britain’s bank bosses met with chancellor Alistair Darling, to discuss a possible £50bn injection of equity. They are due to meet again at the Treasury this afternoon.

The talks centre on the idea of a part-nationalisation of the banking system through the injection of capital into the banks via preference shares, which take precedence over ordinary shares during a liquidation, but do not give the holders any voting rights.

Read moreBank shares plunge again in panicky trading

Thailand: Troops patrol Bangkok after clashes


Riot policemen march towards anti-government demonstrators protesting outside Parliament in Bangkok October 7, 2008. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand’s military put troops on the streets of Bangkok on Tuesday to keep order after a day of battles between police and anti-government protesters in which more than 380 people were injured.

One man was killed by a car bomb near parliament, police said, where protesters involved in a four-month campaign to unseat the government battled riot police in clouds of teargas.

Army commander Anupong Paochinda said police asked for help and he denied rumors of a coup, two years after the military ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in a bloodless putsch.

“People should not panic. Soldiers will not launch a coup since it will not be good for the country,” he told reporters.

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