Don't Worry, Be Happy, Financial Armageddon Didn't Have to Happen Really

The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission has released their final report and to no one's surprise it's a mealy-mouthed white wash to reduce real accountability of many facts already known. Read it here. houseofcards.jpegBasically the report rehashes a lot of information already discovered as the causes of Financial Armageddon. Case in point is Goldman Sachs obtaining $2.9 billion through the AIG bail out.

Goldman Sachs collected $2.9 billion from the American International Group as payout on a speculative trade it placed for the benefit of its own account, receiving the bulk of those funds after AIG received an enormous taxpayer rescue,

The report does drive home the overriding message Financial Armageddon didn't have to happen. It was a direct result of fictional derivatives, deregulation and a host of other financial lobbyists' wish lists which were granted absolute in the last 30 years.

Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism who has been following every nitty gritty detail since day one:

By having the FCIC validate widely accepted, superficial, and ultimately inadequate explanations of the crisis, the Obama administration continues in its policy of looking forward rather than back, when looking back is the foundation of any serious scientific, investigative, or prosecutorial process. The odds are high that the media and the public at large will mistake the extensive use of anecdote in the FCIC report for accuracy and completeness. As with so many accounts of the crisis, the artful use of detail will yet again have the effect of diverting attention from the true drivers of the crisis and thus leave Wall Street free to devise new ways to wreck the economy for fun and profit.

Matt Stoller:

The crisis was caused by fraudulent criminal activity, pure and simple. Worse than that, it was a 'control fraud', in which the system was (and is) being run so that financial elites and the political class can loot the public.

Here are the FCIC's conclusions:

  • This financial crisis was avoidable
  • Widespread failures in financial regulation and supervision proved devastating to the stability of the nation’s financial markets
  • Dramatic failures of corporate governance and risk management at many systemically important financial institutions were a key cause of this crisis
  • A combination of excessive borrowing, risky investments, and lack of transparency put the financial system on a collision course with crisis.
  • The government was ill prepared for the crisis, and its inconsistent response added to the uncertainty and panic in the financial markets
  • There was a systemic breakdown in accountability and ethics
  • Collapsing mortgage-lending standards and the mortgage securitization pipeline lit and spread the lame of contagion and crisis.
  • We conclude over-the-counter derivatives contributed significantly to this crisis
  • The failures of credit rating agencies were essential cogs in the wheel of financial destruction

Who gets the official blame:

  • Federal Reserve, aka Greenspan - They did not stop toxic mortgages, subprime, increase lending standards
  • Greenspan again is singled out for the deregulation of the financial sector. Bummer Robert Rubin isn't mentioned in the conclusion.
  • New York Federal Reserve, aka Tim Geithner, now in charge of the recovery
  • Corporate governance, i.e. greedy CEOs and those who only think the next quarter and don't even bother to monitor $40 billion derivatives packages
  • Absurd leverage ratios with almost nothing to cover losses
  • Countrywide and WaMu for making bad, predatory, toxic loans
  • Credit Rating Agencies
  • Fictional Derivatives

Corporate governance is good to see on the list and is one topic that has not received any meaningful legislative reform attempts. Yet in terms of even reform on executive compensation, absolutely nothing has changed, once again lobbyists write the bills in Congress and block any meaningful reform, even when it means economic annihilation.

In the report conclusions section are the type of platitudes and letting off the hook Yves Smith and others are talking about:

We deeply respect and appreciate the efforts made by Secretary Paulson, Chairman Bernanke, and Timothy Geithner, formerly president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and now treasury secretary, and so many others who labored to stabilize our inancial system and our economy in the most chaotic and challenging of circumstances.

Right. In the previous page they basically blame the NY Fed! Who was in charge of the NY Fed?

So where are the criminal prosecutions we're heard mentioned and were supposedly going to be recommended in this report? This was being claimed yesterday but the actual report has nothing about actual criminal prosecutions.

The Atlantic just outlined some serious Fraud at Bear Sterns, which has come out as the result of a civil lawsuit:

Former Bear Stearns mortgage executives who now run mortgage divisions of Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, and Ally Financial have been accused of cheating and defrauding investors through the mortgage securities they created and sold while at Bear. According to e-mails and internal audits, JPMorgan had known about this fraud since the spring of 2008, but hid it from the public eye through legal maneuvering. Last week a lawsuit filed in 2008 by mortgage insurer Ambac Assurance Corp against Bear Stearns and JPMorgan was unsealed. The lawsuit's supporting e-mails, going back as far as 2005, highlight Bear traders telling their superiors they were selling investors like Ambac a "sack of shit."

Probably even worse, while there isn't enough focus on mortgage backed securities, derivatives, credit default swaps in the report, it seems Republicans want to further rewrite history to claim the deregulation that has gone on for 30 years and it's a huge reason the crisis happened, isn't a problem.

I guess it's only until the United States collapses and defaults will anyone be held responsible and accountable for the economic disaster that is becoming America. You know who that is, it's us.



JP Morgan Chase

There are a lot of stories on this report. Firstly the one large financial institution not in peril of immediate collapse according to Bernanke was JP Morgan Chase. Those extortion fees on credit cards must have really paid off.

Secondly, the report does go into derivatives extensively but the reason I am critical is we, during the crisis, showed repeatedly the actual mathematics, the actual models is invalid. The math is invalid. Then, we overviewed some research from computer science which also proved one cannot validate most of the CDOs by the way they were structured, there isn't enough computer power in the world.

That said, at least the report points to some derivatives as well as the credit ratings agencies.

I don't know what the GOP are smokin' except a strong desire to not regulate their Wall Street pals.

Don't Mess with JPMC

Lehman Bros. were opportunistic fools who let ridiculous profits cloud their judgment, BofA got strong armed into the ML acquisition after rushing into the CW purchase, but short of a fool named Lewis at the helm, were a pretty sound institution. WAMU was a phenomenal bank, a real innovator. Wells Fargo prudent and courteous.

But JPMC and GS don't even blink to do the Devil's bidding. Pray they don't end up holding your mortgage or other debts. They make the Illuminati and Bilderbergers look like lost boyscouts in a Bohemian Grove.

Side Story, the fees and 150% increase in monthly minimums for the credit card holders had a purpose - they sold $9B of unsecured consumer debt to investors a month later and had to make the portfolio look better than it really is/was. Some call this securities fraud and if an average bloke did it, the Feds would come down hard, but when JPMC does it, Geitner and Bernanke just get out the checkbook.