Tag Archives | Bankers

Shadow Banking Industry Now Worth $76 Trillion

Will unregulated, debt-based financial products destroy the world? Bloomberg reports that the funneling of capital into instruments of so-called “shadow banking” continues to balloon to unimaginably large proportions:

The shadow banking industry has grown to about $67 trillion, leading global regulators to seek more oversight of financial transactions that fall outside traditional oversight. The Financial Stability Board, a global financial policy group comprised of regulators and central bankers, found that shadow banking grew by $41 trillion between 2002 and 2011.

The size of the shadow banking system, which includes the activities of money market funds, monoline insurers and off-balance sheet investment vehicles, “can create systemic risks” and “amplify market reactions when market liquidity is scarce,” the FSB said.

Supervisors consider shadow banking activities to be those that allow banks to carry out business off balance sheets, as well as those which allow investors to bypass lenders and the functions they traditionally fulfill on the markets.

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Can Debt Spark A Revolution?

Via the Nation, David Graeber on rebellion against indebtedness:

The rise of [Occupy Wall Street] allowed us to start seeing the system for what it is: an enormous engine of debt extraction. Debt is how the rich extract wealth from the rest of us, at home and abroad. Internally, it has become a matter of manipulating the country’s legal structure to ensure that more and more people fall deeper and deeper into debt.

Financialization, securitization and militarization are all different aspects of the same process. And the endless multiplication, in cities across America, of gleaming bank offices—
spotless stores selling nothing while armed security guards stand by—is just the most immediate and visceral symbol for what we, as a nation, have become.

As I write, roughly three out of four Americans are in some form of debt, and a whopping one in seven is being pursued by debt collectors. There’s no way to know just what percentage of the average household’s income is now directly expropriated by the financial services industry in the form of interest payments, fees and penalties…[data] suggests it is somewhere between 15 and 20 percent.

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Bankers Gone Wild

Adam Smith (CC)

The erudite James Surowiecki brings his journalistic skills to the problem of a banking system that has subsumed the its own watchdogs, in The New Yorker:

In order to work well, markets need a basic level of trust. As Alan Greenspan said, in 1999, “In virtually all transactions we rely on the word of those with whom we do business.” So what happens to a market in which the most fundamental assumptions turn out to be lies? That is the question in a scandal that has roiled the banking industry all summer. The LIBOR (London Inter-bank Offered Rate) index is the most important set of numbers in the global financial system. Used as a benchmark for interest rates around the world, it’s assembled by asking a panel of big banks to estimate what it would cost them to borrow money today, if they had to. Hundreds of trillions of dollars in derivatives, corporate loans, and mortgages are pegged to these rates.

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Is One Out Of Ten Wall Street Workers A Psychopath?

MCDAMPS EC020With clinical psychopaths dramatically overrepresented in finance, one can only assume that mentally healthy workers must learn to imitate psychopathic behavior to remain employed. Via the Huffington Post:

One out of every 10 Wall Street employees is likely a clinical psychopath, writes the trade publication CFA Magazine. In the general population the rate is closer to one out of every 100.

Journalist Sherree DeCovny pulls together research from several psychologists for her story, which helpfully suggests that financial firms carefully screen out extreme psychopaths in hiring.

A clinical psychopath is bright and charming, writes DeCovny. He lies easily, and may have trouble feeling empathy for other people. He’s more willing to take dangerous risks…the outcomes matter less than the gambles themselves — and the chemical rush of serotonin and endorphins that accompanies them.

This is hardly the first time that mental illness has been equated with a certain capacity for professional success — especially in the financial sector, where some stock traders have actually scored higher than diagnosed psychopaths on tests that measure competitiveness and attraction to risk.

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The Sexual World Of Bankers

Untitled-4Strauss-Kahn And The Secret Culture Of Aggressive Sexuality In The High Pressure World Of Bankers And Banksters.

My colleague Mike Whitney asks:

“So, what are the chances that Strauss-Kahn will get a fair trial now that he’s been blasted as a serial sex offender in about 3,000 articles and in all the televised news reports?

Do you remember any Wall Street bankers being dragged off in handcuffs when they blew up the financial system and bilked people out of trillions of dollars?”

The answer to both questions is certainly Non, in French or No in English, but there’s more to the connection between Sex and Wall Street. Without commenting on the evidence in this case—which has been asserted, not proven– there is a deeper context that is being ignored.

I call it the “Testosterone Factor” in The Crime of Our Time, my book about how Wall Street criminally engineered the financial crisis.… Read the rest

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U.S. Gov’t Sues Deutsche Bank For More Than $1 Billion

MortgageITBBC News reports:

The US Justice Department has sued Deutsche Bank for more than $1bn (£600m) for defrauding the government.

The complaint says Deutsche’s MortgageIT subsidiary lied in order to get Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insurance for its loans.

FHA rules say lenders must make sure the borrower will be able to repay the loan, but the Justice Department claims Deutsche did not do so.

A Deutsche spokesperson described the claims as “unreasonable and unfair”. “We intend to defend against the action vigorously,” she added.

The lawsuit is one of the first targeting mortgage lenders under the federal False Claims Act.

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The Ultra-Rich Are Meaner Than Rest of Us

What a shocker. Matthew Lynn writes in Bloomberg:
Monopoly Man

There is something surprising about a private banker warning his colleagues about the rich. It would be like a director of Volkswagen AG casting doubt on motorists, or the boss of McDonald’s Corp. distancing himself from people who eat fast food. Rather like valets, the main aim of the private banker is to court the wealthy.

At a conference in Zurich last week, the head of Barclays Wealth Management’s private-banking unit, Gerard Aquilina, appeared to issue a red alert about the richest of clients.

“Beware of the complexities of dealing with ultra high net worths,” Aquilina told his audience. “Demanding and often unreasonable” requests from them may create “impossible demands on the organization.”

Such as? Help with getting children into the right school, securing credit to buy property, or obtaining last-minute concert tickets, for example. Even worse, the richest of the rich turn out to be pretty stingy as well.

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Top Bank Executives In Iceland Jailed, Sued For Billions

jon-asgeir-johannesson2Yet another instance in which the United States could learn something from our Scandinavian brethren: In Iceland, bank executives who helped bring about the nation’s financial meltdown are being rounded up and jailed, issued international arrest warrants, and sued for billions of dollars. AFP reports:

More than a year and a half after Iceland’s major banks failed, all but sinking the country’s economy, police have begun rounding up a number of top bankers while other former executives and owners face a two-billion-dollar lawsuit.

On Wednesday, the administrators of Glitnir’s liquidation announced they had filed a two-billion-dollar (1.6-billion-euro) lawsuit in a New York court against former large shareholders and executives for alleged fraud.

Four former Kaupthing executives, who all live in Luxembourg, have meanwhile been arrested in Iceland in the past week and Interpol has issued an international arrest warrant for that bank’s ex-chairman, Sigurdur Einarsson.

Former head of the bank’s domestic operations, Ingolfur Helgason, and former chief risk officer Steingrimur Karason were arrested late Monday on arrival from Luxembourg, just days after former Kaupthing boss Hreidar Mar Sigurdsson, along with Magnus Gudmunsson, who headed the bank’s unit in Luxembourg, were taken into custody.

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