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Ireland was Germany’s Off-shore Tart – PART 2 – The US connection


Before I get stuck in, I want to make it clear. it is not my intent to paint Depfa as angels and HRE as devils. Depfa did stupid things.  Their funding problems were not so dissimilar to Northern Rock’s. But Depfa had far better assets.  And therein is part of the story.

So what went wrong?  And why did HRE buy Depfa when it was already going wrong?

The fact is HRE bought Depfa and did so after the debt wave had already curled and started to break.  But then again why shouldn’t the Germans be as thick as the Brits at RBS who at almost the same time bought ABN Ambro?

The question that always circles however, is did Depfa knowingly lie to HRE about their problems? Did they somehow withhold ugly problems?  Well according to one of the very senior bankers, who was there and had full and complete access to the deal, and who agreed to talk to me on condition of anonymity, it would have been very hard for Depfa to hide anything.  Inside the bank there was a secure room where ALL the bank’s data, all its books and accounts were available to the two boards of Directors during the months the deal was being negotiated.  This room was run and controlled by a senior German employee. According to my source the HRE people looked VERY carefully at EVERYTHING.

This still leaves the possibility that there was a board within the board at Depfa and this inner circle was somehow concealing things even from the rest of the bank and board.  The stuff of conspiracy stories which I am not much given to.  Could there have been a board within the board? I have evidence there was; first hand testimony from someone who was there.

Interestingly this person does not believe the purpose of an inner group was to hoodwink HRE. If anything it was to keep some of Depfa’s own board slightly out of the loop.

All in all it does not seem as if Depfa lied to HRE or concealed any hidden debts.  So if HRE didn’t buy Depfa because they were sold a pup, why did they? And particularly why did they pay 2 billion over its book value!

Depfa’s collapse was due to being unable to find funding.  In other words the same idiocy as killed Northern Rock.   But it’s the differences from Northern Rock that are important.  Let’s look at the time line.  Northern Rock collapsed in September of 2007. It did so because it could not get the short term funding it relied upon to keep its loans rolling over. The wholesale funding market locked it out. Why? Because the lenders in the market, other banks, were worried that Northern Rock’s assets were so dodgy that their ability to repay became highly doubtful.

Note that at the time the HRE/Depfa deal was being signed Depfa was NOT locked out of the markets; it was a whole year later that Depfa found itself unable to get funding.  This document by the huge law firm Herbert Smith (see p. 8), written just after the bail out in 08,  makes it clear Depfa was having problems. They had about 35 billion euros of debt that needed funding in the markets and those markets were seizing up. Both Depfa and HRE knew about this funding need before the merger. But crucially Depfa was NOT locked out. It did not collapse in 2007 but was a going concern for another year.  Why was that? What made them different from Norther Rock and others who did collapse in 2007?

The reason is simple, its funding worries were off-set by the fact that Depfa had some of the best, most solid gold assets of any bank.  As noted in part one as many as 80% of their assets were rated higher than the bank itself or the banks lending to it.  THAT is why HRE were so interested in Depfa and were even willing to buy it for 2 billion over book value.

HRE knew exactly how Depfa funded itself. There is NO WAY those details could have been hidden.  We know that both banks were aware of funding problems. Let’s just note in passing that advising Depfa on the merger/sale was Goldman Sachs.  So Goldman too would have known all there was to know about Depfa’s funding problems.  Hang on to this.

It is worth pausing for a moment to understand how Depfa funded itself. It becomes important later.  Depfa’s business was making large loans to cities and states for public works. 100% pure gold assets.  Government backed all the way. It funded them by selling Pfandbrief and later ACS (the Irish version of the Pfandbrief called an Asset Covered Security) which the Landesbanks and others bit their hand off to get hold of.  The Pfandbrief typically is a bond for 5-7 years.  But Depfa, like Northern Rock and ALL the big banks, swapped this long dated debt funding for shorter debt/funding.  The idea seems foolish now, and I think it is foolish, but the risk managers I have spoken to still adhere to the holy writ of relying on short term market funding.  I’ll explore this piece of banking some other time.  But what is important is that Depfa’s reliance on short term wholesale funding was nothing unusual. It was the norm rather than the exception.

Back to the story.

Unlike Depfa, HRE had a legacy of poor quality assets, which I wrote about in Dominoes falling from the East. HRE had also been aggressively expanding its business in Real Estate and we know from the subsequent bails of HRE’s own collapsed debts that, as this article written in 2009 makes clear,

In reality, HRE was a ticking time bomb and this is the reason it had run into liquidity problems (By the way, this is much the way I see Northern Rock – which was also nationalized by the UK government). The company has massive commercial property (CRE) exposure and the CRE market is imploding in financial centers like Frankfurt, London and Dublin and elsewhere. HRE is highly leveraged to these places.

So it’s not just me who is saying that Depfa may have triggered events but the main blast was from within HRE.  HRE was a ticking bomb and HRE’s board thought buying Depfa was the way to diffuse it.  HRE also relied on wholesale funding, but unlike Depfa, didn’t have great assets.  It was therefore more like Northern Rock than Depfa.  HRE’s poor assets would have also, and this is my speculation, have meant HRE would have started to have problems on the Repo market. Remember repo is the oxygen of overnight funding. It is also what destroyed Lehmans.  Lehman’s assets became distrusted and eventually other banks would not accept them as collateral for repo funding.

I think this is what HRE were worried about and why they were so desperate to buy Depfa.  Depfa had what HRE didn’t – assets for the all important repo market.  That is what they were trying to buy.  Remember, funding problems are a threat to survival like starvation. But being unable to repo is not being able to get just one more breath.

My source tells me that HRE thought that by buying Depfa’s absolutely top quality assets, HRE would be upgraded by the ratings agencies and be able to breath again on the repo market.  But instead, as my source said, “The minute HRE bought Depfa, the rating agencies downgraded Depfa.”

The merger ended with the worst of both worlds. Where each bank had exposure to one kind of risk HRE to credit risk, Depfa to funding  (though I think HRE actually had both)  by coming together they united the nitro with the glycerin.  Sheer banking genius.  Depfa brought funding worries to the marriage, HRE brought credit rating downgrades.  I love you too darling.

So why did the whole thing wait a year until Oct ’08 to collapse? And what finally brought it all down?

So now we come to the nub of it.  We have created the bomb with equal parts funding crisis and credit risk but even so nothing exploded for a year. During that year other banks went down. So what was it that jolted the container and set it off?

Well we know that Depfa’s funding was the trigger. So what happened to it?  Turns out, while other banks like Northern Rock collapsed Depfa didn’t, because it had a sugar daddy funder.  A big funder who was always happy to take Depfa’s Pfandbrief long term debt and fund it with shorter term money. Depfa’s sugar daddy was AIG’s Paris subsidiary, Banque AIG.

That should give you a bad feeling.  AIG’s problems started as far back as ’06.  Certainly by the 1st quarter of ’07 AIG had had to write down a 20 billion dollar loss.  But the Dow was still going up. So there was still plenty of money around.  By the time HRE and Depfa had kissed and exchanged vows, AIG had been downgraded and faced the first of what would turn out to be many Collateral calls.  This first one was for $14 billion.  Oops.

It was at this point that Northern Rock found there was no more funding. But HRE/Depfa survived.

Banque AIG in Paris was still in business, still funding Depfa’s needs.  Banque AIG was not a small affair. It was systemically important for many banking clients in Europe for swapping one short of funding for another, for hedging and for derivatives.  But it was also getting itself into a bit of a funding pickle.  In part this was just its share of the over all implosion AIG was undergoing world wide. In part, I think, it was Paris’s own problem.

Banque AIG in Paris was an essential part of AIG’s funding mechanism.  It was part of what was called AIG Financial Products (AIG-FP) whose notorious central office was AIG in London.  This is where all the ‘losses were made’ and where the obligatory ‘rogue’ trader-type villain, Mr Joseph “Iron Hand” Cassano was in charge. What is a little less well known is that most of,  if not all of London’s deals were routed through Banque AIG in Paris, where the deals were all supposed to be ‘reviewed’.  And we know that as far as Depfa was concerned their funding was from Banque AIG.

So why tell you this?  Well, on 31st of August 2007 a new branch of AIG-FP was set up in Ireland, AIG-FP Matched Funding (Ireland) Plc.  Why? And why then and not before?  I can’t know of course.  But this is how it smells to me.

Why did any of the banks in our story end up going to Ireland?  For access to money that liked the lax and laid back, ‘we have neither teeth nor balls’ regulatory atmosphere.  AIG had been getting funds just fine for years.  Suddenly, when AIG is in all sorts of trouble and its own funding is starting to get dicey it suddenly opens a brand new branch – in Ireland.

In under a month, on 25th September 2007 to be precise, AIG-FP Ireland issued a funding prospectus for $20 billion.  AIG was already beginning to feel the heat by now and wholesale funding had already locked out Northern Rock precipitating a bank run 11 days earlier.

To me, the fact that AIG-FP opened a branch in Ireland is a hint that its normal funding was, at the very least, in need of reinforcing, if not replacing with ‘other’ sources which could be best found in Dublin.  So now Depfa’s sugar daddy funder was alongside it in Ireland looking for the SAME money as everyone else, such as HRE, for example.  This situation does not fill me with confidence.

But would Depfa or HRE have known of this development at the time it was doing the deal with HRE? I doubt it.  AIG would not share any plans with customers. Even ones to whom it was a sugar daddy.  So did anyone know?  Well it’s just a little footnote but it turns out that none other than Goldman Sachs was arranging and advising AIG-FP Ireland on its funding adventure.

No way would Goldman have told one client (Depfa) what another (AIG) was doing. So Depfa did not know from Goldman about any troubles at Banque AIG.  But Goldman knew. Goldman was advising Depfa on merging/selling itself to HRE for 2 billion over its book value while it also knew that Depfa’s main funder was probably in more trouble than the rest of the market suspected.

I would love to know, but never will, if Goldman had any short position on the new HRE/Depfa bank it had helped broker?

In short what I hope to have shown is that Depfa did not ‘bring down’ HRE. HRE was going to collapse anyway. And buying Depfa was an ruinously ill-thought out attempt to solve HRE’s credit crisis.  The plan back-fired and made every one’s position worse than it had been.

The entity which actually brought down HRE was AIG.  It was their implosion along with the general shock of Lehmans which cut off Depfa from funding which had kept it alive for a year after other banks collapsed.  So it was the Americans who brought down HRE not the Irish if you really want a scape goat.

And the only people who perhaps knew the whole HRE/Depfa deal was destined to end in disaster and bankruptcy, were Goldman.  Goldman knew both how Depfa was funded an WHO was their lynch pin funder, while also knowing the true state of that funder (AIG-FP).

SO to circle back to where I started. It is NOT as simple case of a dodgy Irish bank bringing down a solid German one. If anything the opposite is just as true.  And therefore it is NOT the case that Ireland has some moral debt it owes to ANYONE to bail them out.

The threats are already coming thick and fast. The Irish people MUST defend themselves, their children and their country. Their leaders haven’t and won’t.

via Ireland was Germany’s Off-shore Tart – PART 2 – The US connection » Golem XIV – Thoughts.

What bankers don’t know


Obama-Democrats-Bank-Patrol-SC

What I am concerned with, is what hard working bankers really didn’t know, when with hindsight, we can see it was astounding that they didn’t know. Because that points the finger at the whole system. To gaol a few of the more flagrantly repulsive bankers, while invigorating, leaves the system untouched. It allows the guilty-but-uncaught to heave a sigh of relief and be able to talk of ‘a few bad apples’ and ‘lessons learned’ and ‘by the way, where’s my bonus?’

I want to look at the  truely breath-taking extent of what bankers really didn’t know and show that the banking system itself ,was and still is so genetically malformed that not only is it a breeding ground for the cancerously corrupt, the vicious, the venal and  the morally stunted, but that the system itself, in its entirity, would have collapsed even without them. The problem is not the corruption of a good system but the flourishing of a thoroughly bad one.

The Stupidity that was.

Let’s start with some of the most astonishingly stupid things that were done in the early days of the bank crisis:

2007 (October) Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) bought a very large part of Dutch banking giant, ABN Ambro for an eye-watering £49 billion.

2007 (October) German bank HypoReal Estate bought another German Bank Depfa for €2 billion ABOVE what even Depfa itself thought  it was worth (personal communication from a former Depfa director).

2008 (July) Bank of America (BoA) bought CountryWide Financial.

2008 (Sept) Bank of America (BoA) bought Merrill Lynch

2009 (May) Commerzbank bought Dresdner Bank.

There are many others of course, but these are the recent ones, which were clearly commercial decisions and not, like the 2009 Lloyds Bank purchse of  HBOS (Halifax/Bank of Scotland) or the ‘rescue’ of Bear Sterns, a government backed TBTF operation.

Each and everyone of these deals ended in bankruptcy and a vast public bail-out. How could they have been so stupid? Let’s ask them.

Here is an email (taken from p. 197 of the Consolidated Class Action filed in NY District Court against Citi) sent on 3rd March 2007 from a senior Bear Stearns Fund Manager Ralph Cioffi to his fellow Fund Manager Matt Tannin.

“…the worry for me is that subprime losses will be far worse than anything people have modeled”

Yet four days later on the 7th March Mr Cioffi wrote to another colleague,

Matt [Tannin – Cioffi’s fellow Fund Manager at Bear Stearns] said it’s either a meltdown or the greatest buying opportunity ever.

And there you have it. In 2007 Matt Tannin, senior Hedge Fund Manager at one of Wall Street’s oldest banks, Bear Stearns, didn’t know if it was going to be a meltdown or the greatest buying opportunity ever. And this is despite the fact that Tannin and Cioffi and everyone on Wall Street, had already had a couple of years worth of clear evidence that asset values were collapsing and the securities based on those valuations were becoming unsellable. Don’t take my word for it, you can read page after page of first hand testimony from the dealers and senior executives themselves, in every section of the financial industry, in the Class Action linked above.

Thus this isn’t the corruption of a good system by a few crooks. This is clever, though probably morally stunted people, hard at work in an utterly dysfunctional and destructive system. The same system we still have. No matter what evidence was piling up the priests of global finance just could not believe it was all a disaster or that there was anything fundamentally wrong with what they were doing or the system in which they were doing it. They just could not see that it could be anything more serious than a massive market ‘correction’ in which case there would be equally massive rewards for those greedy enough to take the gamble. As late as 2009 RBS, BoA, Commerzbank and Hypo Real Estate all still thought it was the perfect moment to borrow tens of billions in order to buy hundreds of billions worth of another banks’ loans, assets and libilities.

But back to Mr Cioffi who has more to teach us. By 23rd March 2007 Mr Cioffi had come to a personal conclusion and started to move his own money ($2 million) OUT of the funds he was managing. By 19th April, Bear Stearns had commissioned and received a report on its CDO Sub-Prime holdings.  Matt Tannin emailed Ralph Cioffi and said,

…the subprime market looks pretty damn ugly… If we believe the [CDOs report is] ANYWHERE CLOSE to accurate I think we should close the funds now.  (My emphasis)

But he and Mr Tannin did not close those funds nor advise investors to get their money out. To the contrary, in a conference  call to the fund’s clients Mr Cioffi said,

”there’s no basis for thinking this is one big disaster,”

Sadly it was for the investors who listened to him. Those people stayed in until the funds imploded as did the entire bank shortly after. Matt and Ralph were charged with fraud by the SEC and taken to Federal Court. Where they were aquitted.

Why were they aquitted? Were the jurers knobbled? I don’t think so. One of the jurors Serphaine Stimpson, said afterwards,

“They were scapegoats for Wall Street.”

I think Ms Stimpson was correct. Cioffi and Tannin were revolting creatures who protected themselves from a looming disaster but ‘honestly’ (On Wall Street it’s a relative term)  couldn’t bring themselves to believe that the entire Wall Street, global financial edifice was a suppurating pustule. They also knew full well that if they advised clients to get out and closed their funds it would reveal the truth and that in turn would unleash panic. So they didn’t.

They no doubt felt that while there would be a disaster for some, there would still be money to be made for a few of the, luckier or ‘smarter’, ones. I suspect they would still count themselves as among the ‘smarter’ and acted accordingly.

What’s more, no matter how massive the losses that would be inflicted, I suspect our loathsome twosome also thought there had to be someone who had to take the risks and suffer the losses, in order that the system itself be preserved to profit another day. Only they wanted to make sure that that ‘someone’ was not them personally. On this, the rest of the Global Financial class agreed with them. Today, five years in to the cataclysm, it is clear that that ‘someone’ was only ever going to be you and me. Someone had to be frogmarched up to ‘save’ the system but it was never going to be the wealthy. Those senior bond holders are oh so sacrosanct. Whereas depositors, well they can be bailed in can’t they.

I have dredged Mr Cioffi and Mr Tannin back into the light not simply to pour more scorn on them but to make it clear they were not unusual. They were not guilty of anything that the whole of the global financial system was not guilty of. The larger point about them is not their personal repulsiveness but their averageness. They were two Mr Normals in the workings of the financial and banking system. They did nothing ‘wrong’, nor even unusual. They were not rogue traders. What was wrong is the normal working of the system.

The wider picture.

Let’s go back to that roll call of takeovers. What we need to keep firmly in mind is that these takeovers were done by people who were earning millions and who insisted they were so clever, so ‘smart’ they were worth every penny and cent. They did what they did at their own pace with no constraints or outside pressures.

What this means in practice is that all the buyers, RBS, Hypo. BoA and Commerzbank had full and unfettered access to all the information they needed to understand fully what they were going to buy. For example when Hypo bought Depfa I know from a someone who was at board level at the time, that a special room was created which contained all the information DEPFA had. The books were open for scrutiny. Hypo executives had full and unfettered access. There were experts on hand to answer any question. I wrote about it in the second part of ‘Ireland was Germany’s Off-shore Tart.’

And yet, they paid €2 billion over the odds and it led very quickly to the absolutely titanic collapse of both and a bail out of Hypo to the tune of something in the region of €180B.

I have talked of Depfa because I have been told what happened by someone who was involved. But the same, or something very similar,  would have happened in all the takeovers. It is required by law. It is Due Diligence. You cannot spend share holders money without being able to tell them you know what it is you are buying. Thus we know that Commerzbank executives looked at the opened books of Dresdner. That RBS experts looked closely at ABM Ambro’s assets and loans and came to the highly paid view that this was worth spending £49 billion on, and that BoA top brass pored over the inner most secrets of Merrrill Lynch and CountryWide. To suggest anything less would be to accuse them of dereliction of their duty, of something very near to fraud, and that would be libelous would it not?  And yet each and every one of these deals ended in disaster on a global scale.

So where does this leave us? To my mind there are only two possible scenarios. Either DEPFA, ABN Ambro, Merrill, Dresdner and Countrwide executives all lied and concealed and thus all the information Hypo and the other buyers were seeing was a pack of lies, in which case the Hypo et al bankers did their jobs but were misled by crooks. Or, Depfa and the other sellers did faithfully lay bare the truth but the buyer bankers were either too stupid to see or did not care. You tell me is there a third, happier scenario I am missing? I know many banks log on and read this blog so one of you write in and tell us what the third, missing scenario is. Write to me confidentially. I really would like to know if I am missing the obvious.

But before anyone suggests that everything was honestly revealed by the sellers and all competently understood by the buyers, but that both were foxed by unforseen events which so changed cirumstances that a few deals did go bad – before you try to tell us anything like that – please refer back to the Tannin and Cioffi emails above and in fact to the rest of the evidence in the Citi indictment. Events were certainly NOT unforeseen. And please also remember that it wasn’t just a few deals that went bad, it was in many cases 100% of whole groups of securities and thousands of deals which went bad and turned out not to be anything at all like they were supposed to be -as the paperwork claimed they were. Citi lied. It’s there in the indictment. So did Merrill. So did all of them.

So am I saying it was all the sellers fault? No I am not. We cannot know that for sure in every case. We only know it for sure in some cases. In the rest we don’t know who was more to blame buyers or sellers. But it doesn’t matter does it? That is the point. Stand back and what do we have? Either we have banks full of bankers who are corrupt liars or we have banks full of the slow witted and guillible who do not understand the financial deals it is their job to understand…or both. Either way we are left with an industry that  did not and – unless everything has magically improved – cannot and will not do its job. We have a financial system which in very important ways, critical ways, is staffed and run by people who, whether by criminal and moral  degeneracy or simple stupidity, are not fit for their jobs.

It seems a terribly sweeping statement I know. But run back over how we got here and tell me where we, I, went wrong.  Unless you can find the place we lost the thread, then what else can we conclude other than that we have a banking system which is not fit for purpose? Or perhaps I should say, is not fit for the purpose we were expecting. It does leave the possible conclusion that our bankers and regulators are all very fit for purpose it ‘s just a rather different purpose from the one we expected.

What one banker didn’t know.

Before I conclude, I want to return from the general to the specific. Let us hear from another insider, this time the Chief Risk Officer of Bank of America during the time it was buying Merrill and CountryWide. Please welcome Amy Woods Brinkley. She was once considered one of the 25 most powerful women in banking (according to US Banker magazine).

BoA bought CountryWide in July 2008 and Merrill Lynch in Spetember 2008. In Late September 2008 just as the ink of both deals was about dry, Amy Woods Brinkly gave an extensive interview to Forbes Magazine. In it she was asked why BoA bought Countrywide.  She replied,

Our company did very extensive due diligence. I’ve been involved in a lot of our acquisitions and I don’t recall one that was more thorough. During that process I became increasingly comfortable; the problems at Countrywide were real, but they were also manageable.

Forbes pressed the point asking surely she was worried about the estimates of the write downs on Countrywide assets which were already being talked about as being between $8 -$30 billion. I should also mention that in March 2008, five months before BoA bought it, The FBI announced it was investigating CountryWide for fraud on mortgages and home loans. It didn’t stop BoA going ahead and buying, but presumably it did make them even more diligent.  Ms Brinkley’s reply –

As we said a number of times, we did very extensive due diligence on the transaction, not only before signing but going back in before closing the transaction, and we believe the economics made sense and the market-share opportunity is worth the risk…So again, just before closing the transaction we revisited the economics and we are comfortable with what they tell us.

Brinkley was rated by her peers as one of the best. Was she lied to? Were the lies so clever, so convoluted that she just missed them – all the many thousands of them? Or was she actually quite a stupid person seen as a genius by other fairly thick people? Or were they all, collectively, so cock-sure of themselves and the system which had made them rich and powerful, that none of them could see clearly any more? I think it is this last explanation which rings true. I am sure lies were told. We know from court documents and extensive anaysis of thousands of deals which were done and sold in the bubble years, that there was systemic fraud. What we don’t know is if everyone could see it was fraud or if they all had become captured by an ideology which said fraud is just ‘good’ business.

It’s worth bearing in mind that however senior and clever Ms Brinkley was, she was not the only one who was responsible for vetting the deal and doing the due diligence. Every deal has ranks of lawyers and experts who are handsomely paid to pour over the details and make sure the deal is sound. In the case of BoA and CountryWide the Washington DC law firm K&L Gates advised. Just as in the Depfa/Hypo case Goldmand advised.

However, it was Ms Brinkley who was thrown under the bus. She lost her job. She was replaced by Mr Greg Curl who had been the senior deal maker for the  Merrill deal. The Merrill deal has cost BoA $30B and counting. He too has now left the bank though he’s still in finance.

Today.

Is this all history? No it’s not. Most of the people who lied and/or “didn’t know” back then are still in the financial system, still lying to us, the regulators or themselves. Just this week one of the only really ethical banks in the UK the Co-operative Bank has had to come clean about the scale of losses it inherited when it bought the Britiannia Building society (at the time the second largest in the UK) …in April 2009.

I may be biased, I bank with the Co-operative, but I don’t think they are a fraudulent organization. I think they really do operate more ethically than most. Possibly running second, among UK banks, only to Triodos bank. But the fact is the Cooperative bought Britannia at the height of the crisis after doing its due diligence. And yet the losses the Cooperative bankers didn’t see are so large the Coop bank has found its debt downgraded to junk.

I suggest, if you are willing to consider that the Co-operative bank and its bankers are a little more honest than most, that this indicates that it is the system itself, the origination of loans, how they are structured, how securitization works, how bankers are trained, how complex the financial products and deals are, that is the problem. Beyond even corruption, of which there is no shortage, the system itself is crap. It is not fit for any positive social purpose. It enriches the few while systematically endangering and then impoverishing the many. It concentrates power in a few hands who then insist that democratic power should be taken out of the hands of the many and given instead to technocrats drawn from the ranks of the few.

In conclusion.

Our financial system would have collapsed simply because IT DOESN’T WORK, not as an open and equitable system. Sure it makes profits… for some.  But so does riding around in a Mongol Hoard sacking cities. The present financial system is NOT a fair and open system where by dint of hard work, insight, research and expertese anyone can have a reasonable chance of prospering. It has not and will not NOT work as a repository for hard earned savings and pensions. Both are being systemaitcally pillaged for the ‘good’ of the major banks.

Whether one believes the capitalist system is a good thing or not, or even a potentially good thing, what we can perhaps all agree on is that it – our financial system – is NOT at the moment good for the many, and will not be in the future, if left in the hands of the repulsive elite who presently run it, defend it, facilitate it and profit by it.

via What bankers don’t know » Golem XIV – Thoughts.

The Biggest Price-Fixing Scandal Ever


Everything Is Rigged: The Biggest Price-Fixing Scandal Ever

The Illuminati were amateurs. The second huge financial scandal of the year reveals the real international conspiracy: There’s no price the big banks can’t fix

 

Conspiracy theorists of the world, believers in the hidden hands of the Rothschilds and the Masons and the Illuminati, we skeptics owe you an apology. You were right. The players may be a little different, but your basic premise is correct: The world is a rigged game. We found this out in recent months, when a series of related corruption stories spilled out of the financial sector, suggesting the world’s largest banks may be fixing the prices of, well, just about everything.

You may have heard of the Libor scandal, in which at least three – and perhaps as many as 16 – of the name-brand too-big-to-fail banks have been manipulating global interest rates, in the process messing around with the prices of upward of $500 trillion (that’s trillion, with a “t”) worth of financial instruments. When that sprawling con burst into public view last year, it was easily the biggest financial scandal in history – MIT professor Andrew Lo even said it “dwarfs by orders of magnitude any financial scam in the history of markets.”

That was bad enough, but now Libor may have a twin brother. Word has leaked out that the London-based firm ICAP, the world’s largest broker of interest-rate swaps, is being investigated by American authorities for behavior that sounds eerily reminiscent of the Libor mess. Regulators are looking into whether or not a small group of brokers at ICAP may have worked with up to 15 of the world’s largest banks to manipulate ISDAfix, a benchmark number used around the world to calculate the prices of interest-rate swaps.

Interest-rate swaps are a tool used by big cities, major corporations and sovereign governments to manage their debt, and the scale of their use is almost unimaginably massive. It’s about a $379 trillion market, meaning that any manipulation would affect a pile of assets about 100 times the size of the United States federal budget.

It should surprise no one that among the players implicated in this scheme to fix the prices of interest-rate swaps are the same megabanks – including Barclays, UBS, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and the Royal Bank of Scotland – that serve on the Libor panel that sets global interest rates. In fact, in recent years many of these banks have already paid multimillion-dollar settlements for anti-competitive manipulation of one form or another (in addition to Libor, some were caught up in an anti-competitive scheme, detailed in Rolling Stone last year, to rig municipal-debt service auctions). Though the jumble of financial acronyms sounds like gibberish to the layperson, the fact that there may now be price-fixing scandals involving both Libor and ISDAfix suggests a single, giant mushrooming conspiracy of collusion and price-fixing hovering under the ostensibly competitive veneer of Wall Street culture.

The Scam Wall Street Learned From the Mafia

Why? Because Libor already affects the prices of interest-rate swaps, making this a manipulation-on-manipulation situation. If the allegations prove to be right, that will mean that swap customers have been paying for two different layers of price-fixing corruption. If you can imagine paying 20 bucks for a crappy PB&J because some evil cabal of agribusiness companies colluded to fix the prices of both peanuts and peanut butter, you come close to grasping the lunacy of financial markets where both interest rates and interest-rate swaps are being manipulated at the same time, often by the same banks.

“It’s a double conspiracy,” says an amazed Michael Greenberger, a former director of the trading and markets division at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and now a professor at the University of Maryland. “It’s the height of criminality.”

The bad news didn’t stop with swaps and interest rates. In March, it also came out that two regulators – the CFTC here in the U.S. and the Madrid-based International Organization of Securities Commissions – were spurred by the Libor revelations to investigate the possibility of collusive manipulation of gold and silver prices. “Given the clubby manipulation efforts we saw in Libor benchmarks, I assume other benchmarks – many other benchmarks – are legit areas of inquiry,” CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton said.

But the biggest shock came out of a federal courtroom at the end of March – though if you follow these matters closely, it may not have been so shocking at all – when a landmark class-action civil lawsuit against the banks for Libor-related offenses was dismissed. In that case, a federal judge accepted the banker-defendants’ incredible argument: If cities and towns and other investors lost money because of Libor manipulation, that was their own fault for ever thinking the banks were competing in the first place.

“A farce,” was one antitrust lawyer’s response to the eyebrow-raising dismissal.

“Incredible,” says Sylvia Sokol, an attorney for Constantine Cannon, a firm that specializes in antitrust cases.

All of these stories collectively pointed to the same thing: These banks, which already possess enormous power just by virtue of their financial holdings – in the United States, the top six banks, many of them the same names you see on the Libor and ISDAfix panels, own assets equivalent to 60 percent of the nation’s GDP – are beginning to realize the awesome possibilities for increased profit and political might that would come with colluding instead of competing. Moreover, it’s increasingly clear that both the criminal justice system and the civil courts may be impotent to stop them, even when they do get caught working together to game the system.

If true, that would leave us living in an era of undisguised, real-world conspiracy, in which the prices of currencies, commodities like gold and silver, even interest rates and the value of money itself, can be and may already have been dictated from above. And those who are doing it can get away with it. Forget the Illuminati – this is the real thing, and it’s no secret. You can stare right at it, anytime you want.

The banks found a loophole, a basic flaw in the machine. Across the financial system, there are places where prices or official indices are set based upon unverified data sent in by private banks and financial companies. In other words, we gave the players with incentives to game the system institutional roles in the economic infrastructure.

Libor, which measures the prices banks charge one another to borrow money, is a perfect example, not only of this basic flaw in the price-setting system but of the weakness in the regulatory framework supposedly policing it. Couple a voluntary reporting scheme with too-big-to-fail status and a revolving-door legal system, and what you get is unstoppable corruption.

Every morning, 18 of the world’s biggest banks submit data to an office in London about how much they believe they would have to pay to borrow from other banks. The 18 banks together are called the “Libor panel,” and when all of these data from all 18 panelist banks are collected, the numbers are averaged out. What emerges, every morning at 11:30 London time, are the daily Libor figures.

Banks submit numbers about borrowing in 10 different currencies across 15 different time periods, e.g., loans as short as one day and as long as one year. This mountain of bank-submitted data is used every day to create benchmark rates that affect the prices of everything from credit cards to mortgages to currencies to commercial loans (both short- and long-term) to swaps.

Gangster Bankers Broke Every Law in the Book

Dating back perhaps as far as the early Nineties, traders and others inside these banks were sometimes calling up the company geeks responsible for submitting the daily Libor numbers (the “Libor submitters”) and asking them to fudge the numbers. Usually, the gimmick was the trader had made a bet on something – a swap, currencies, something – and he wanted the Libor submitter to make the numbers look lower (or, occasionally, higher) to help his bet pay off.

Famously, one Barclays trader monkeyed with Libor submissions in exchange for a bottle of Bollinger champagne, but in some cases, it was even lamer than that. This is from an exchange between a trader and a Libor submitter at the Royal Bank of Scotland:

SWISS FRANC TRADER: can u put 6m swiss libor in low pls?…

PRIMARY SUBMITTER: Whats it worth

SWSISS FRANC TRADER: ive got some sushi rolls from yesterday?…

PRIMARY SUBMITTER: ok low 6m, just for u

SWISS FRANC TRADER: wooooooohooooooo. . . thatd be awesome

Screwing around with world interest rates that affect billions of people in exchange for day-old sushi – it’s hard to imagine an image that better captures the moral insanity of the modern financial-services sector.

Hundreds of similar exchanges were uncovered when regulators like Britain’s Financial Services Authority and the U.S. Justice Department started burrowing into the befouled entrails of Libor. The documentary evidence of anti-competitive manipulation they found was so overwhelming that, to read it, one almost becomes embarrassed for the banks. “It’s just amazing how Libor fixing can make you that much money,” chirped one yen trader. “Pure manipulation going on,” wrote another.

Yet despite so many instances of at least attempted manipulation, the banks mostly skated. Barclays got off with a relatively minor fine in the $450 million range, UBS was stuck with $1.5 billion in penalties, and RBS was forced to give up $615 million. Apart from a few low-level flunkies overseas, no individual involved in this scam that impacted nearly everyone in the industrialized world was even threatened with criminal prosecution.

Two of America’s top law-enforcement officials, Attorney General Eric Holder and former Justice Department Criminal Division chief Lanny Breuer, confessed that it’s dangerous to prosecute offending banks because they are simply too big. Making arrests, they say, might lead to “collateral consequences” in the economy.

The relatively small sums of money extracted in these settlements did not go toward reparations for the cities, towns and other victims who lost money due to Libor manipulation. Instead, it flowed mindlessly into government coffers. So it was left to towns and cities like Baltimore (which lost money due to fluctuations in their municipal investments caused by Libor movements), pensions like the New Britain, Connecticut, Firefighters’ and Police Benefit Fund, and other foundations – and even individuals (billionaire real-estate developer Sheldon Solow, who filed his own suit in February, claims that his company lost $450 million because of Libor manipulation) – to sue the banks for damages.

One of the biggest Libor suits was proceeding on schedule when, early in March, an army of superstar lawyers working on behalf of the banks descended upon federal judge Naomi Buchwald in the Southern District of New York to argue an extraordinary motion to dismiss. The banks’ legal dream team drew from heavyweight Beltway-connected firms like Boies Schiller (you remember David Boies represented Al Gore), Davis Polk (home of top ex-regulators like former SEC enforcement chief Linda Thomsen) and Covington & Burling, the onetime private-practice home of both Holder and Breuer.

The presence of Covington & Burling in the suit – representing, of all companies, Citigroup, the former employer of current Treasury Secretary Jack Lew – was particularly galling. Right as the Libor case was being dismissed, the firm had hired none other than Lanny Breuer, the same Lanny Breuer who, just a few months before, was the assistant attorney general who had balked at criminally prosecuting UBS over Libor because, he said, “Our goal here is not to destroy a major financial institution.”

In any case, this all-star squad of white-shoe lawyers came before Buchwald and made the mother of all audacious arguments. Robert Wise of Davis Polk, representing Bank of America, told Buchwald that the banks could not possibly be guilty of anti- competitive collusion because nobody ever said that the creation of Libor was competitive. “It is essential to our argument that this is not a competitive process,” he said. “The banks do not compete with one another in the submission of Libor.”

If you squint incredibly hard and look at the issue through a mirror, maybe while standing on your head, you can sort of see what Wise is saying. In a very theoretical, technical sense, the actual process by which banks submit Libor data – 18 geeks sending numbers to the British Bankers’ Association offices in London once every morning – is not competitive per se.

But these numbers are supposed to reflect interbank-loan prices derived in a real, competitive market. Saying the Libor submission process is not competitive is sort of like pointing out that bank robbers obeyed the speed limit on the way to the heist. It’s the silliest kind of legal sophistry.

But Wise eventually outdid even that argument, essentially saying that while the banks may have lied to or cheated their customers, they weren’t guilty of the particular crime of antitrust collusion. This is like the old joke about the lawyer who gets up in court and claims his client had to be innocent, because his client was committing a crime in a different state at the time of the offense.

“The plaintiffs, I believe, are confusing a claim of being perhaps deceived,” he said, “with a claim for harm to competition.”

Judge Buchwald swallowed this lunatic argument whole and dismissed most of the case. Libor, she said, was a “cooperative endeavor” that was “never intended to be competitive.” Her decision “does not reflect the reality of this business, where all of these banks were acting as competitors throughout the process,” said the antitrust lawyer Sokol. Buchwald made this ruling despite the fact that both the U.S. and British governments had already settled with three banks for billions of dollars for improper manipulation, manipulation that these companies admitted to in their settlements.

Michael Hausfeld of Hausfeld LLP, one of the lead lawyers for the plaintiffs in this Libor suit, declined to comment specifically on the dismissal. But he did talk about the significance of the Libor case and other manipulation cases now in the pipeline.

“It’s now evident that there is a ubiquitous culture among the banks to collude and cheat their customers as many times as they can in as many forms as they can conceive,” he said. “And that’s not just surmising. This is just based upon what they’ve been caught at.”

Greenberger says the lack of serious consequences for the Libor scandal has only made other kinds of manipulation more inevitable. “There’s no therapy like sending those who are used to wearing Gucci shoes to jail,” he says. “But when the attorney general says, ‘I don’t want to indict people,’ it’s the Wild West. There’s no law.”

The problem is, a number of markets feature the same infrastructural weakness that failed in the Libor mess. In the case of interest-rate swaps and the ISDAfix benchmark, the system is very similar to Libor, although the investigation into these markets reportedly focuses on some different types of improprieties.

Though interest-rate swaps are not widely understood outside the finance world, the root concept actually isn’t that hard. If you can imagine taking out a variable-rate mortgage and then paying a bank to make your loan payments fixed, you’ve got the basic idea of an interest-rate swap.

In practice, it might be a country like Greece or a regional government like Jefferson County, Alabama, that borrows money at a variable rate of interest, then later goes to a bank to “swap” that loan to a more predictable fixed rate. In its simplest form, the customer in a swap deal is usually paying a premium for the safety and security of fixed interest rates, while the firm selling the swap is usually betting that it knows more about future movements in interest rates than its customers.

Prices for interest-rate swaps are often based on ISDAfix, which, like Libor, is yet another of these privately calculated benchmarks. ISDAfix’s U.S. dollar rates are published every day, at 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., after a gang of the same usual-suspect megabanks (Bank of America, RBS, Deutsche, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays, etc.) submits information about bids and offers for swaps.

And here’s what we know so far: The CFTC has sent subpoenas to ICAP and to as many as 15 of those member banks, and plans to interview about a dozen ICAP employees from the company’s office in Jersey City, New Jersey. Moreover, the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, or ISDA, which works together with ICAP (for U.S. dollar transactions) and Thomson Reuters to compute the ISDAfix benchmark, has hired the consulting firm Oliver Wyman to review the process by which ISDAfix is calculated. Oliver Wyman is the same company that the British Bankers’ Association hired to review the Libor submission process after that scandal broke last year. The upshot of all of this is that it looks very much like ISDAfix could be Libor all over again.

“It’s obviously reminiscent of the Libor manipulation issue,” Darrell Duffie, a finance professor at Stanford University, told reporters. “People may have been naive that simply reporting these rates was enough to avoid manipulation.”

And just like in Libor, the potential losers in an interest-rate-swap manipulation scandal would be the same sad-sack collection of cities, towns, companies and other nonbank entities that have no way of knowing if they’re paying the real price for swaps or a price being manipulated by bank insiders for profit. Moreover, ISDAfix is not only used to calculate prices for interest-rate swaps, it’s also used to set values for about $550 billion worth of bonds tied to commercial real estate, and also affects the payouts on some state-pension annuities.

So although it’s not quite as widespread as Libor, ISDAfix is sufficiently power-jammed into the world financial infrastructure that any manipulation of the rate would be catastrophic – and a huge class of victims that could include everyone from state pensioners to big cities to wealthy investors in structured notes would have no idea they were being robbed.

“How is some municipality in Cleveland or wherever going to know if it’s getting ripped off?” asks Michael Masters of Masters Capital Management, a fund manager who has long been an advocate of greater transparency in the derivatives world. “The answer is, they won’t know.”

Worse still, the CFTC investigation apparently isn’t limited to possible manipulation of swap prices by monkeying around with ISDAfix. According to reports, the commission is also looking at whether or not employees at ICAP may have intentionally delayed publication of swap prices, which in theory could give someone (bankers, cough, cough) a chance to trade ahead of the information.

Swap prices are published when ICAP employees manually enter the data on a computer screen called “19901.” Some 6,000 customers subscribe to a service that allows them to access the data appearing on the 19901 screen.

The key here is that unlike a more transparent, regulated market like the New York Stock Exchange, where the results of stock trades are computed more or less instantly and everyone in theory can immediately see the impact of trading on the prices of stocks, in the swap market the whole world is dependent upon a handful of brokers quickly and honestly entering data about trades by hand into a computer terminal.

Any delay in entering price data would provide the banks involved in the transactions with a rare opportunity to trade ahead of the information. One way to imagine it would be to picture a racetrack where a giant curtain is pulled over the track as the horses come down the stretch – and the gallery is only told two minutes later which horse actually won. Anyone on the right side of the curtain could make a lot of smart bets before the audience saw the results of the race.

At ICAP, the interest-rate swap desk, and the 19901 screen, were reportedly controlled by a small group of 20 or so brokers, some of whom were making millions of dollars. These brokers made so much money for themselves the unit was nicknamed “Treasure Island.”

Already, there are some reports that brokers of Treasure Island did create such intentional delays. Bloomberg interviewed a former broker who claims that he watched ICAP brokers delay the reporting of swap prices. “That allows dealers to tell the brokers to delay putting trades into the system instead of in real time,” Bloomberg wrote, noting the former broker had “witnessed such activity firsthand.” An ICAP spokesman has no comment on the story, though the company has released a statement saying that it is “cooperating” with the CFTC’s inquiry and that it “maintains policies that prohibit” the improper behavior alleged in news reports.

The idea that prices in a $379 trillion market could be dependent on a desk of about 20 guys in New Jersey should tell you a lot about the absurdity of our financial infrastructure. The whole thing, in fact, has a darkly comic element to it. “It’s almost hilarious in the irony,” says David Frenk, director of research for Better Markets, a financial-reform advocacy group, “that they called it ISDAfix.”

After scandals involving libor and, perhaps, ISDAfix, the question that should have everyone freaked out is this: What other markets out there carry the same potential for manipulation? The answer to that question is far from reassuring, because the potential is almost everywhere. From gold to gas to swaps to interest rates, prices all over the world are dependent upon little private cabals of cigar-chomping insiders we’re forced to trust.

“In all the over-the-counter markets, you don’t really have pricing except by a bunch of guys getting together,” Masters notes glumly.

That includes the markets for gold (where prices are set by five banks in a Libor-ish teleconferencing process that, ironically, was created in part by N M Rothschild & Sons) and silver (whose price is set by just three banks), as well as benchmark rates in numerous other commodities – jet fuel, diesel, electric power, coal, you name it. The problem in each of these markets is the same: We all have to rely upon the honesty of companies like Barclays (already caught and fined $453 million for rigging Libor) or JPMorgan Chase (paid a $228 million settlement for rigging municipal-bond auctions) or UBS (fined a collective $1.66 billion for both muni-bond rigging and Libor manipulation) to faithfully report the real prices of things like interest rates, swaps, currencies and commodities.

All of these benchmarks based on voluntary reporting are now being looked at by regulators around the world, and God knows what they’ll find. The European Federation of Financial Services Users wrote in an official EU survey last summer that all of these systems are ripe targets for manipulation. “In general,” it wrote, “those markets which are based on non-attested, voluntary submission of data from agents whose benefits depend on such benchmarks are especially vulnerable of market abuse and distortion.”

Translation: When prices are set by companies that can profit by manipulating them, we’re fucked.

“You name it,” says Frenk. “Any of these benchmarks is a possibility for corruption.”

The only reason this problem has not received the attention it deserves is because the scale of it is so enormous that ordinary people simply cannot see it. It’s not just stealing by reaching a hand into your pocket and taking out money, but stealing in which banks can hit a few keystrokes and magically make whatever’s in your pocket worth less. This is corruption at the molecular level of the economy, Space Age stealing – and it’s only just coming into view.

This story is from the May 9th, 2013 issue of Rolling Stone.

via The Biggest Price-Fixing Scandal Ever | Politics News | Rolling Stone.

via The Biggest Price-Fixing Scandal Ever | Politics News | Rolling Stone.

Can you Trust big business? Feburary review 2013


(1)Mail Online Friday, Feb 01 2013
Toxic hip implants sold by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary ‘which knew for THREE YEARS that they could be dangerous’
DePuy marketed metal-on-metal implants ‘despite surgeon’s warnings’
• Hips failed after 2.5 yrs far more regularly than other models, tests found
• They were suspected of causing potentially toxic metal to get into blood
• Revelations on warnings come in Los Angeles compensation court case

(2) The Guardian Feb 01 2013

Italy rocked by scandal at world’s oldest bank
Monte dei Paschi di Siena asks for €3.9bn bailout amid scandal over loss-making derivatives contracts and alleged fraud

(3) The Guardian Feb 01 2013

BP tried to manipulate gas market, alleges trader.

BP faces new embarrassment in America with a court case brought by one of its former traders, who claims the company was trying to manipulate the natural gas liquids market. Drew Sickinger, who joined BP’s Houston office in 2009, says the company “created a pretext” for disciplining him late last year and then unfairly dismissing him.

(4) • The Guardian, Friday 1 February 2013

Barclay’s boss waives bonus as bank rocked by new Qatar allegations.

pressure mounted on Barclays when it faced fresh allegations on Friday about its relationship with Qatar at the height of the 2008 financial crisis. The Qataris were the main contributors to a £7.3bn lifeline to Barclays that allowed it to avoid a taxpayer bailout. The Financial Times reported that the Serious Fraud Office and the Financial Services Authority are investigating whether Barclays lent Qatar funds to buy shares in the bank

(5)  Guardian.co.uk, Monday 4 February 2013 

The political crisis in Spain is deepening following allegations that a number of senior officials in the ruling People’s Party received secret payments from a so-called slush fund.
Prime minister Mariano Rajoy now faces calls to resign, following claims that he and other senor officials had received secret payments over almost two decades.

(6)Guardian.co.uk, 5th feb

Standard & Poor’s feels Justice’s lash, but can the law ever conquer greed?
The DOJ is making headlines with high-profile suits against Wall Street firms, but singling out a few won’t fix systemic wrongdoing
In politics, public humiliation can often be a useful motivator. Take the Department of Justice, which was hauled over the coals in a recent PBS Frontline documentary on its lack of vigor in Wall Street prosecutions. The DOJ has been on a rampage lately.
The DOJ has been reportedly planning to file charges against the Royal Bank of Scotland, and last night, it filed an actual lawsuit against Standard & Poor’s for misrating mortgage bonds before the financial crisis

(7) • The Guardian, Wednesday 6 February 2013

RBS fined £390m for ‘widespread misconduct’ in Libor-rigging scandal
Royal Bank of Scotland bankers continued to rig Libor rate until November 2010 – two years after it was bailed out by taxpayer

(8) 08 Feb 2013 Telegraph

Former boss of Next and JJB Sports charged
Sir David Jones, the man who turned Next into one of Britain’s largest retailers, has been charged over allegations of forgery and making misleading statements to the market while he was executive chairman of JJB Sports.

(9) • The Observer, Saturday 9 February 2013

British sugar giant caught in global tax scandal
Associated British Foods accused of Zambia tax avoidance after sending massive profits abroad

(10) • The Guardian, Monday 11 February 2013 

Britain’s top accounting regulator is investigating claims that Autonomy, a former darling of the technology sector, fraudulently misrepresented its profitability.

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) said it had launched a rare investigation into Autonomy’s financial reporting between January 2009 and June 2011, three months before it was taken over by Hewlett-Packard in an $11bn (£7bn) deal.

(11)  Telegraph

26 Feb 2013

Tesco to pay £6.5m fine in dairy price fixing settlement
Tesco is to pay a £6.5m fine for its part in a dairy price fixing scandal, after losing a decade-long court battle.

tesco_2433974b

(12)The great  Horse meat s scandal

images (9)

Is there about to be a stampede for the door by foreign-owned Irish banks?


During the Christmas 2004 tsunami in Asia, it was remarkable that there were so few mass animal deaths, and there is a long-held belief that animals can sense disaster ahead of human beings.  Likewise, banks with their fingers on the pulses of households’ and businesses’ financial performance and prospects might be expected to have an unusually perceptive grasp on the economy; with a pattern emerging of banks exiting or considering exiting the State, this doesn’t augur well for our medium term economic prospects.

Next week we should get the Q3, 2012 results from Belgian-owned KBC bank which just a few weeks ago was strongly protesting that it didn’t have plans to exit from the Irish market. Industry speculation however is that KBC has had a lousy Q3,2012 in the Irish market and that its residential mortgage book in particular continues to deteriorate at an alarming rate. Insiders thought there was something of the bank “protestething” just a little too much recently, and that a partial or total exit may also be on the cards. The single reference to Ireland in KBC’s presentation to analysts on 8thOctober 2012 was noted with curiosity by some.

Towards the end of last week, there was unverified speculation in Dublin that Ulster Bank, owned by troubled British banking giant, Royal Bank of Scotland was considering an exit from the Irish market. Ulster Bank has already been flogging loan portfolios in an obvious bid to reduce its exposure in the Irish market, but the fear is that a more substantial action is afoot. Nothing came of the speculation, but the bank’s actions will be scrutinised closely in future, to see if a more radical exit is on the cards.

Today however, we actually get a definite announcement. Danske Bank, whose local bank brands are called Northern Bank in Northern Ireland and National Irish Bank in (the Republic of) Ireland, has published its Q3,2012 results which continue to show severe deterioration in its Irish loan book, though the pace of decline has eased. Danske has announced today that “the non-core Ireland portfolio will be divested” Looking through the Danske Irish financial statement for Q3, 2012 it looks as if there’s about €3bn of non-core lending in Ireland plus €2.5bn of core in the Republic and €4.8bn in Northern Ireland. There are €1bn of non-core deposits and €2bn of core deposits in the Republic and €5bn in Northern Ireland. So today’s announcement represents a major disposal though we await details of how and when the disposal will be made.

Bank of Scotland (Ireland) and Halifax are already in the process of running down their Irish loans, partly using the asset manager Certus. This follows the announcement of the exit from the Irish market of the two Lloyds-owned units in 2010.

ACC Bank, the Irish unit of Dutch-owned Rabobank said in June 2012 that it had no plans to exit the Irish market, this despite running up four years of losses, and needing a bailout of €930m from its parent operation in Holland.

We will shortly get mortgage arrears data from the Central Bank for Q3,2012 and for the first time should get detailed information on Buy-To-Let mortgages alongside the traditional data on Owner-Occupier mortgages. BTL is especially expected to show signs of crisis, the picture with Owner-Occupier mortgages is less clear with a slowing-down in the rate of deterioration recorded in Q1 and Q2, 2012. Commercial property continues to decline at an annualised 10% and it may be too early to claim the residential market is stabilising. Unemployment remains elevated at close to 15% and economic forecasts for 2012 and 2013 are trending downwards.

Maybe some banks do have a sixth sense.

via NAMA Wine Lake.

via NAMA Wine Lake.

Misebogland


The secret is out

Can you trust International Banking?

Judge for yourself

Just a quick look at recent developments

7/8

Standard Chartered accused of exposing the US to terrorists, drug dealers, and weapon dealers by hiding $250 billion of transactions with the Iranian government.

31/7

Deutsche Bank admits Libor involvement.

Germany’s biggest bank faces regulatory action after admitting complicity in rate-fixing scandal along with Barclays.

17/7

HSBC ‘allowed drug cartels to launder money’

Early July –details of Barclay’s bank/ *Libor’s scandal started to emerge (rate fixing)

The governing bank of England was also aware of this illegal manipulation.

In Canada –  participants in the Libor scandel include the Canadian branches of the Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan Bank, and Citibank, as well as ICAP (Intercapital), an interdealer broker.

USA- In the USA regulators were focusing on Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc. and UBS AG in their probe of Libor’s rate manipulation.

Goldman Sachs has not yet faced the music for cooking the books of Greece.

This manipulation allowed the Greeks to falsely comply with the requirements for Euro zone admission.

Will they ever be sanctioned and if not why?

What you will understand from the above is all the major banks are involved in illegal rate fixing.

Rate fixing means, you Johnny Citizen gets cheated out of money and the bankers get fat bonus payments

* the London inter-bank offered rate

The Fraudulent Traveller

Healy Eames

This rather silly senator appears to be hell-bent on setting a senate record for difficulties with the law. Let us have a look at her track- record.   She took her plumber take her to court rather than pay him what he was owed. Had planning permission for a two-story garage refused? She went ahead and built it regardless of the law. Officials recommended demolition of the building due to blatant flaunting of the planning process. However, a “higher” up “official” granted her retention. I wonder if this could be maybe a close by senior say like in Mayo. In early July, this woman received a fine for not having road tax on her Merc c180. She stated that this was an oversight on her part. In Late July fined €100 for not having a train ticket.   The very same senator receives €2,424 a month in travel and accommodation expenses. One might say a nice little earner when you do not pay your road tax or train fares. Jesus’ lads but you cannot beat the old gravy train. Some neck on this woman but then again, rules and regulations only apply to the serfs. It might be interesting to check out her overnight accommodation expenses to see how they stack up. Between oversights, lack of foresight and poor visual vision one wonders how this woman can even find her way to the senate let alone claim expenses.

To compound all this nonsense Fine Gael issued this gobbledygook as a damage limitation exercise.

Senator Healy Eames boarded the 6.50am train to Dublin in a rush, at Athenry station yesterday morning (Thursday). She did so on the understanding that she would be able to purchase a ticket on board, as she had previously done on recent occasions. An officer approached her from the revenue protection unit on board who asked her for ID. She produced her Seanad ID card. She offered to buy a ticket as normal. He told her she could not buy a ticket from him and fined her €100.

It appears the true heirs to the Feeling small party are well and truly on board the gravy train.

Skippy Quinn

Daddy says Skippy won’t be going back” to face the prospect of jail in the Republic. Daddy says he has no chance of getting “fair play or justice” because of the corrupt way the authorities have handled the Quinn case. Daddy says Young Skippy is under a lot of pressure, and he deserves our sympathy. If daddy Quinn has evidence of “the corrupt way the authorities handled the case,” then perhaps he might share the information with the Gardai. Let us all remind Daddy Quinn that the entire nation witnessed dear little Skippy on video lying through his teeth. Let’s jog the memory of the old Quinn a little further and say “Sir” you son was given every chance to comply with the law but failed to do so. He skipped court and did a runner. The sheer arrogance and smug self-righteousness by the Quinn family of their wrongdoing defies belief. Hopefully at the end of the day they will all end in Jail. —————————————————————————————————————————-

Are you Ready to be a Bonded Serf?

What the major political parties will not tell you is there is no way forward from the current economic crisis except a doomsday scenario. Are they preparing for it? Yes is the answer. The current system is to be replaced by the new political credo of “Economic serfdom” which means welcome to P.I.G.S. party feudalism. The middle classes and working classes will shortly cease to exist. What this means is that 95% of the population will become bonded serfs to the privileged. Future generations will be born into economic slavery to serve the Elites. They will be controlled by the enforcers of the vested interests until released by death from exhaustion having procreated to keep the supply system going. The Royalty of Banks, the Royalty of Global Business, and the Royalty of Unelected Leaders are now your governors such is your destiny.

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The billion barrel oil find off the Cork coast

Hurray, hurrah we are rich once again. Twenty-five per cent of the corporate profit is our cut, however; there are two points to note. They can write off exploration costs against tax. The twenty-five per cent can increase to forty depending on the profitability of the field. This is a red herring, as the number crunchers will ensure this never happens. I guaranteed we will get **** yet once again. It looks like we are destined to remain Kings of the Sardine industry. Now that chap Chavez begins to look rather interesting. Just how did he do it, perhaps time for a government junket to Venezuela?

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Mario Draghi President of the European Central Bank

Mario Draghi the man who pulls the fiscal strings in Europe. Does he represent the people of Europe? Not on your life, he has one interest and that is to take care of his friends in Banking. Consider the following.

1. Unelected

2. Worked for Goldman Sucks

3. Former Governor of the Bank of Italy

4. Worked for Italian Treasury

5. Worked for the Bank of International Settlements

6. Worked for the World Bank

Does this look like the CV of a trustworthy man? Be assured he will not work in your interest but he knows how to stir it up. Yes the very same man who insisted we pay penal interest rates for the bailout.

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€6000.00 per head per month to the Quinn family

children while people on the Dole starve

The High Court has approved the payment of monthly living expenses €30,000 to the five adult children of bankrupt executive Sean Quinn and three spouses. Well now, you know if your low income nobody gives a toss about you. No social welfare means test for the boys as you can see the elite look after the elk.

———————————————————————————————————————————————— Peter Darragh Quinn

WANTED Peter Darragh Quinn If you know the whereabouts of this man please inform the Gardai. Do not approach this man as he is carrying a large amount of lethal coinage

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Sean Quinn: Well-known figures who rallied to support

bankrupt tycoon run for cover

PROMINENT figures from GAA and television yesterday ducked for cover when asked to comment on their involvement in a rally supporting fallen tycoon Sean Quinn.

They included Tyrone manager Mickey Harte, left, and former Meath star Colm O’Rourke, right, in the middle is that insufferable clown  father Brian D’arsey. These three were among those who marched in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan in support of the Quinn’s. One wonders if the these three attention seekers ever gave a thought to the poor tax payer

Tyrone manager<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Mickey Harte, left, and<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> former Meath star Colm<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> O'Rourke, right, with Fr<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Brian D'Arcy ? were<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> among those who<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> marched in Ballyconnell,<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Co Cavan

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Former Bank Chairman arrested on Fraud Charges

Sean Fitzpatrick made “no comment” when he was charged with 16 counts contrary to Section 60 of the Companies Act. The charges allege that before it became nationalized, he permitted the bank to “give unlawful financial assistance” to 16 named individuals for the purpose of or in connection with a purchase by the same people of shares in the then Anglo Irish Bank Corporation Plc. It is claimed the alleged unlawful financial help to buy shares was given between July 10 and July 17, 2008 to 15 people. These include the so-called “Maple Ten” group of Irish Investors and several members of Sean Quinn’s family – and from July 17 until July 30, of the same year, to Patricia Quinn, the wife of now bankrupt quarry tycoon Sean. Among the names on the charges is Sean Quinn Junior, jailed last week by the High Court for contempt of court for hiding €500m of property assets from Anglo, now called the IBRC. Also included in the names of people who allegedly got financial assistance to buy shares in the bank are: Colette Marie Quinn, Aoife Quinn, Ciara Quinn, Brenda Quinn, property developer Patrick McKillen, Seamus Ross, Brian O’Farrell, John McCabe, Gerard Maguire, Patrick Kearney, Gerard Gannon, Gerard Conlon, Sean Reilly and Joseph O’Reilly.

——————————————————————————————————————————————

Still At Large

This man led us down the swanee and is still at large. If you were involved in handing this man money the Garda Siochana would like to hear from you

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 Editorial comment

The Bankers Story

The capital of Rotten Island Bud Nil was an ancient and revered city. However, in keeping with the wealth and affluence of the times the city councillors renamed the city “Wonderland.” Somewhere between Never Neverland (North side”) and the inner sanctum of Wonderland there is a sector called” Forever Wonderland’.” This neighbourhood is the financial heart of the nation. In this district, lived a wealthy young banker. His notable attributes were a craving for attention, a bad memory, and a chequered career. He treasured the radiance of other inducements and was a frequent visitor to Feckerland the area of dance, revelry, alcohol, and Chateaubriand. Parochially, friends and acquaintances, knew him as “Disney” Fitzfiddle. Men did travel across the length and breadth of the land to win the friendship of “Disney.” He loved a good story from waiting recipients of fiscal credits, borrowers, whose habitual wrongdoing he totally ignored. In his own words, he stated, I was big. Some came and said “Disney” can you lend me 10 million quid, and I’d say. Sure, no problem at all, we can do it without recourse to Peter and Paul for you know I am a man who can lend without rancour. Let us go for a ride in the Bentley and lunch at the “Incidentally” and later tarry awhile in Dick Gentlys (a well-known brothel). Alas, the good days, now I am but the evil pantomime villain, who only borrowed a handy hundred million. Look at who elevated me, aren’t we all cronies of the Dons of the Feeling Smallers. Why did you know? I even had the occasional game of golf, with the nation’s esteemed Boss, the great incompetent Mr. Buttocks, the pillar of lies and good-byes. Agreed, I may have moved a few loans around a bit, temporarily mislaid them, perhaps duped an auditor or two. Had an odd incriminating letter gone missing here and there?  Aha, but my God, me self and “The Little Drummer Boy” good times we had. Now they say I am bankrupt with only three million quid to live on. Understand lads; for me, the attraction was the crack of the fiscal flimflam. Never mind we can bank on ‘Sinister House’ to direct the department of “Fiscal Make Believe” to clear up this Disney quicksand No, no regrets, sure was the problem not global, in all sincerity nothing to do with me.

—————————————————————————————————————————

In the next issue of “Misebogland” the truth behind the

Bailout

==================================================================================

– Finally some information concerning Misebogland  is the leading newspaper on the Island of Rotten Island. For those of you who are unaware Rotten Island is a mirror image of the Island of Ireland that happens to exists in a parallel universe. However, as you become familiar with the Misebogland, you will note and observe that there are subtle differences due to mutations that have occurred over the course of time. For example, the Irish Language has disappeared. The current Prime Minister Dame Enda is an outrageous transsexual.

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