Category Archives: Banking

Brexit and the derivatives time bomb

Sovereign debt—the debt of national governments—has ballooned from $80 trillion to $100 trillion just since 2008. Squeezed governments have been driven to radical austerity measures, privatizing public assets, slashing public services, and downsizing work forces in a futile attempt to balance national budgets. But the debt overhang just continues to grow. Continue reading

Bank of North Dakota soars despite oil bust: A blueprint for California?

In November 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Bank of North Dakota (BND), the nation’s only state-owned depository bank, was more profitable even than J.P. Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs. The author attributed this remarkable performance to the state’s oil boom; but the boom has now become an oil bust, yet the BND’s profits continue to climb. Its 2015 Annual Report, published on April 20th, boasted its most profitable year ever. Continue reading

The war on savings: The Panama Papers, bail-ins, and the push to go cashless

The bombshell publication of the “Panama Papers,” leaked from a Panama law firm specializing in shell companies, has triggered both outrage and skepticism. In an April 3 article, titled “Corporate Media Gatekeepers Protect Western 1% From Panama Leak,” UK blogger Craig Murray writes that the whistleblower no doubt had good intentions; but he made the mistake of leaking his 11.5 million documents to the corporate-controlled Western media, which released only those few documents incriminating opponents of Western financial interests. Continue reading

Inside the black hole of negative interest rates

Many nations that experimented with the Fed’s economic recovery plan are now going beyond the outer limits into the twilight zone of negative interest rates. Some of these nations continued to skirt in and out of the edfge of recession throughout their years of economic stimulus; so, now they’ve powered their programs into hyperdrive to see if they can escape the gravity of their circumstances. Their situation appears desperate and hopeless. Continue reading

U.S. banks ready for negative interest rates?

The test run proved that negative interest rates can push savers into minus territory. Public outrage, while registered is not heard by the central bankers. The reasoning that commercial banks will start making loans because of the cost of sitting on deposits is pure fantasy thinking. Continue reading

The populist revolution: Bernie and beyond

The world is undergoing a populist revival. From the revolt against austerity led by the Syriza Party in Greece and the Podemos Party in Spain, to Jeremy Corbyn’s surprise victory as Labour leader in the UK, to Donald Trump’s ascendancy in the Republican polls, to Bernie Sanders’ surprisingly strong challenge to Hillary Clinton—contenders with their fingers on the popular pulse are surging ahead of their establishment rivals. Continue reading

A crisis worse than ISIS? Bail-Ins begin

While the mainstream media focus on ISIS extremists, a threat that has gone virtually unreported is that your life savings could be wiped out in a massive derivatives collapse. Bank bail-ins have begun in Europe, and the infrastructure is in place in the US. Poverty also kills. Continue reading

Who owns the Federal Reserve Bank and why is it shrouded in myths and mysteries?

The Federal Reserve Bank (or simply the Fed), is shrouded in a number of myths and mysteries. These include its name, its ownership, its purported independence from external influences, and its presumed commitment to market stability, economic growth and public interest. Continue reading

What does last week’s ‘rate hike’ mean?

The Federal Reserve raised the interbank borrowing rate last Wednesday by one quarter of one percent or 25 basis points. Readers are asking, “What does that mean?” Continue reading

Reinventing banking: From Russia to Iceland to Ecuador

Global developments in finance and geopolitics are prompting a rethinking of the structure of banking and of the nature of money itself. Continue reading

Killing off community banks: Intended consequence of Dodd-Frank?

At over 2,300 pages, the Dodd Frank Act is the longest and most complicated bill ever passed by the US legislature. It was supposed to end “too big to fail” and “bailouts,” and to “promote financial stability.” But Dodd-Frank’s “orderly liquidation authority” has replaced bailouts with bail-ins, meaning that in the event of insolvency, big banks are to recapitalize themselves with the savings of their creditors and depositors. The banks deemed too big are more than 30% bigger than before the act was passed in 2010, and 80% bigger than before the banking crisis of 2008. The six largest US financial institutions now have assets of some $10 trillion, amounting to almost 60% of GDP; and they control nearly 50% of all bank deposits. Continue reading

Near zero percent US federal funds rate since December 2008

Low rates benefit investors at the expense of savers, retirees and pensioners without paychecks needing income especially harmed. At near zero percent for nearly seven years, virtually none is forthcoming for most people. Continue reading

Central banks have become a corrupting force

Are we witnessing the corruption of central banks? Are we observing the money-creating powers of central banks being used to drive up prices in the stock market for the benefit of the mega-rich? Continue reading

Massive movement of cash from Fed prior to 9/11

CHICAGO, Il—Although the 9/11 Commission and Federal Bureau of Investigation claimed they thoroughly investigated suspicious “put options” placed against the shares of United and American Airlines, as well as Swiss Re and Munich Re prior to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, they failed to investigate another set of suspicious financial transactions prior to 9/11. Continue reading

The Greek coup: Liquidity as a weapon of coercion

Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis is now being charged with treason for exploring the possibility of an alternative payment system in the event of a Greek exit from the euro. Continue reading

The ECB’s noose around Greece’s neck

How central banks harness governments

Remember when the infamous Goldman Sachs delivered a thinly-veiled threat to the Greek Parliament in December, warning them to elect a pro-austerity prime minister or risk having central bank liquidity cut off to their banks? (See January 8 post here.) It seems the European Central Bank (headed by Mario Draghi, former managing director of Goldman Sachs International) has now made good on the threat. Continue reading

Death, drugs, and HSBC

How fraudulent blood money makes the world go round

Recent reporting on illegal tax evasion by the world’s second largest bank, HSBC, opens a window onto the pivotal role of Western banks in facilitating organised crime, drug-trafficking and Islamist terrorism. Governments know this, but they are powerless to act, not just because they’ve been bought by the banks: but because criminal and terror financing is integral to global capitalism. Now one whistleblower who uncovered an estimated billion pounds worth of HSBC fraud in Britain, suppressed by the British media, is preparing a prosecution that could blow wide open the true scale of criminal corruption in the world’s finance capital. Continue reading

Swimming with the sharks: Goldman Sachs, school districts, and capital appreciation bonds

Remember when Goldman Sachs—dubbed by Matt Taibbi the Vampire Squid—sold derivatives to Greece so the government could conceal its debt, then bet against that debt, driving it up? It seems that the ubiquitous investment bank has also put the squeeze on California and its school districts. Not that Goldman was alone in this; but the unscrupulous practices of the bank once called the undisputed king of the municipal bond business epitomize the culture of greed that has ensnared students and future generations in unrepayable debt. Continue reading

Why public banks outperform private banks: Unfair competition or a better mousetrap?

In November 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Bank of North Dakota (BND), the nation’s only state-owned bank, “is more profitable than Goldman Sachs Group Inc., has a better credit rating than JPMorgan Chase & Co. and hasn’t seen profit growth drop since 2003.” The article credited the shale oil boom; but as discussed earlier here, North Dakota was already reporting record profits in the spring of 2009, when every other state was in the red and the oil boom had not yet hit. The later increase in state deposits cannot explain the bank’s stellar record either. Continue reading

EU showdown: Greece Takes on the vampire squid

Greece and the troika (the International Monetary Fund, the EU, and the European Central Bank) are in a dangerous game of chicken. The Greeks have been threatened with a “Cyprus-Style prolonged bank holiday” if they “vote wrong.” But they have been bullied for too long and are saying “no more.” Continue reading

Financial market manipulation is the new trend: can it continue?

Financial imperialists attack Russia

A dangerous new trend is the successful manipulation of the financial markets by the Federal Reserve, other central banks, private banks, and the US Treasury. The Federal Reserve reduced real interest rates on US government debt obligations first to zero and then pushed real interest rates into negative territory. Today the government charges you for the privilege of purchasing its bonds. Continue reading

Bail-in and the Financial Stability Board: The global bankers’ coup

On December 11, 2014, the US House of Representatives passed a bill repealing the Dodd-Frank requirement that risky derivatives be pushed into big-bank subsidiaries, leaving our deposits and pensions exposed to massive derivatives losses. Continue reading

New G20 rules: Cyprus-style bail-ins to hit depositors and pensioners

On the weekend of November 16, the G20 leaders whisked into Brisbane, posed for their photo ops, approved some proposals, made a show of roundly disapproving of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and whisked out again. It was all so fast, they may not have known what they were endorsing when they rubber-stamped the Financial Stability Board’s “Adequacy of Loss-Absorbing Capacity of Global Systemically Important Banks in Resolution,” which completely changes the rules of banking. Continue reading

WSJ reports: Bank of North Dakota outperforms Wall Street

While 49 state treasuries were submerged in red ink after the 2008 financial crash, one state’s bank outperformed all others and actually launched an economy-shifting new industry. So reports the Wall Street Journal this week, discussing the Bank of North Dakota (BND) and its striking success in the midst of a national financial collapse led by the major banks. Continue reading

Why do banks want our deposits?

Hint: it’s not to make loans

Many authorities have said it: banks do not lend their deposits. They create the money they lend on their books. Continue reading

Building an ark: How to protect public revenues from the next meltdown

Concerns are growing that we are heading for another banking crisis, one that could be far worse than in 2008. But this time, there will be no government bailouts. Instead, per the Dodd-Frank Act, bankrupt banks will be confiscating (or “bailing in”) their customers’ deposits. Continue reading

Don’t be fooled: Banks still too big to fail

Analyzing a government report is like eating and digesting a meal—better to take it slowly than gobble quickly and suffer the possible consequences. Continue reading

You can’t taper a Ponzi scheme: Time to reboot

One thing to be said for the women now heading the Federal Reserve and the IMF: compared to some of their predecessors, they are refreshingly honest. Continue reading

Did the other shoe just drop?

Black Rock and PIMCO sue banks for $250 billion

For years, homeowners have been battling Wall Street in an attempt to recover some portion of their massive losses from the housing Ponzi scheme. But progress has been slow, as they have been outgunned and out-spent by the banking titans. Continue reading

Buying up the planet: Out-of-control central banks are on a corporate buying spree

When the US Federal Reserve bought an 80% stake in American International Group (AIG) in September 2008, the unprecedented $85 billion outlay was justified as necessary to bail out the world’s largest insurance company. Today, however, central banks are on a global corporate buying spree not to bail out bankrupt corporations but simply as an investment, to compensate for the loss of bond income due to record low interest rates. Indeed, central banks have become some of the world’s largest stock investors. Continue reading

Interest rate puzzle

One of the biggest puzzles in the financial markets this year has been the considerable fall in interest rates, despite the Fed’s program of tapering or cutting back the Fed’s bond purchases known as Quantitative Easing. A year ago, when Fed Chairman Bernanke announced the possibility of tapering QE on May 22, 2013, the 10-year Treasury yield was 2.03%. The yield quickly moved up close to 3% after Bernanke’s taper comments, forcing the Fed to retract or “clarify” them. Since January 2014, however, when the Fed actually began tapering, the 10-year yield has steadily declined from over 3% to it’s current yield of just over 2.5%. Continue reading

Infrastructure sticker shock: Financing costs more than building it

Funding infrastructure through bonds doubles the price or worse. Costs can be cut in half by funding through the state’s own bank. Continue reading