Word is beginning to leak out about the contents of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission's (FCIC) final report, a 576-page official analysis of the causes of the crisis. The Commission, which got off to a slow and rocky start, managed to hold 19 days of hearings and interviewed 700 witnesses. According to the New York Times, the report puts blame where blame is due, on reckless Wall Street gambling, but also on the colossal failure of government.
News Articles By Mary Bottari
Two years after a catastrophic financial collapse and six months after the passage of a Wall Street reform bill, astonishing tales of volatility in the market are all too common. If you think inexplicable flash crashes are worrisome, brace yourself for the next big financial "innovation" –- Twitter Trading.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is promising to unleash a cache of secret documents from the hard drive of a U.S. megabank executive. In 2009, he told Computer World that the bank was Bank of America (BofA). In 2010 he told Forbes that the information was significant enough to "take down a bank or two," but that he needed time to lay out the information in a more user-friendly format.
Recent new reports suggest that BofA is now moving into high gear on damage control, creating a "war room" and buying up hundreds of derogatory Internet domain names including BankofAmericaSucks.com and BrianMoynihanblows.com (referring to BofA's Chief Executive Officer).
Before the big banks start calling for Assange's internment at Guantanamo, the question worth considering is what does Wikileaks have on America's largest bank?
Today, with unemployment in almost the double digits and foreclosure unabated, President Obama decided that America needed more of the same. The President announced the appointment of JPMorgan Executive William M. Daley as White House Chief of Staff, replacing Rahm Emanuel. Tomorrow, news reports indicate that he will announce that Goldman Sachs adviser Gene B. Sperling will be appointed head of the National Economic Council, replacing Larry Summers.
About Daley the Center for Public Integrity reports:
At JPMorgan, Daley’s portfolio has included supervising government lobbying for a bank with $2 trillion in assets that has fought efforts to limit the size of megabanks. Daley co-chaired a U.S. Chamber of Commerce commission that urged the federal government to revise the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley corporate reform law and protect corporate auditors from lawsuits and investigations.
With a $4.7 trillion dollar bailout under their belts with no harm done to their billion-dollar bonuses, don't expect Wall Street bankers to be chastened by the 2008 financial crisis. Below we list eight things to watch out for in 2011 that threaten to rock the financial system and undermine any recovery.
1. The Demise of Bank of America
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is promising to unleash a cache of secret documents from the troubled Bank of America (BofA). BofA is already under the gun, defending itself from multiple lawsuits demanding that the bank buy back billions worth of toxic mortgages it peddled to investors. The firm is also at the heart of robo-signing scandal, having wrongfully kicked many American families to the curb. If Assange has emails showing that Countrywide or BofA knew they were recklessly abandoning underwriting standards and/or peddling toxic dreck to investors, the damage to the firm could be irreparable.
This week the Nation Magazine hits the stands with its annual salute to the country's most effective activists and organizations. The Center for Media and Democracy's Senior Fellow Wendell Potter is honored in the "Progressive Honor Roll of 2010" as the nation's "Most Valuable Author" for his many contributions in the health care battles and for his new book Deadly Spin.
Today's Wall Street Journal has a stunning exposé on a publicly-traded company called Life Partners Holdings. Are you ready for this? Life Partners creeps around asking the unemployed, the elderly and the sick (especially people with HIV/AIDS) to sell them their life insurance policies for cash. Then they bundle these policies into securities and sell them to vultures -- oh, I am sorry, "investors." Then the "investors" sit around and wait for people to die -- the sooner the better for the purchasers of these death bonds. The future of this industry "looks bright," chirps National Underwriters.
Reminds you a little of those Death Eaters in Harry Potter, doesn't it?
Are you one of the lucky ones? Have a good job, live in a nice neighborhood, enjoy your cozy home? Think foreclosure only impacts the reckless or the unemployed?
George Mahoney worked and saved and built his cozy colonial-style home in Lynnfield, Massachusetts in 1981. There, he and his wife raised three lovely daughters. For many years, the Mahoneys paid down their relatively small mortgage with their local bank -- a division of Bank of America (BofA). In 2007, they took out a second mortgage to help a daughter start a small business. Two wage earners, a great credit record -- the loan was a breeze. That was when the trouble began.
About a year after getting the second mortgage, BofA started notifying George that his payments were late. Soon they jacked his credit card interest rates from seven percent to twenty-eight percent. Next, they ruined his credit record. His Sears card dropped from a $10,000 limit to a $500 dollar limit. Then one day in the fall of 2009, BofA initiated foreclosure on the house he had built and owned for 28 years.
The only problem? The Mahoneys had never missed a single payment on either their first or second mortgage.
Last week, the Federal Reserve was finally forced by law to release some (not all) of the details of its back-door bailout of the global financial system. The Fed data focuses on the emergency lending programs initiated in 2007/2008, but it also includes data for the Fed's more recent purchases of mortgage-backed securities (MBS). These later purchases represent the real risk for taxpayers in the Fed's continuing bailout activities, but have received the least coverage in the mainstream press.
Thanks to tremendous public pressure and the recently-passed Wall Street reform bill, the U.S. Federal Reserve was forced to reveal the details of its emergency bailout of the financial sector for the first time yesterday. From a quick review of the data now available on the Federal Reserve website, we can see that the Fed took an expansive internationalist view of its role, prompting U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) to ask: “Has the Federal Reserve Become the Central Bank of the world?”
When AIG was bailed out out in Sept. 2008 and immediately passed on huge sums to overseas counterparties, including Société Générale (France) and Deutsche Bank (Germany), there was a public uproar. The Fed data out today confirms what many suspected. This back-door bailout of foreign banks was just the tip of the iceberg. The Fed data covers 13 programs amounting to some $3.3 trillion in loans. We could only look at a few, but in every program examined, foreign banks were huge beneficiaries of a taxpayer-funded lifeline.