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How Much Are Banks Exposed to Subprime? More than we Think

How Much Are Banks Exposed to Subprime? More than we Think

Wells Fargo has $81 billion in exposure to loans that, on paper, it isn’t exposed to.

A couple of days ago, when I wrote about the soaring delinquency rates in subprime auto loans – the worst since 1996 – and the collapse of three specialized small subprime lenders, I stumbled over a special nugget.

One of the collapsed small lenders, Summit Financial Corp, when it filed for bankruptcy on March 23, disclosed that it owed Bank of America $77 million. This loan was secured by the auto loans Summit had extended to subprime customers, who’re now defaulting in large numbers. In the bankruptcy documents, BofA alleged that Summit had repossessed many of these cars without writing down the bad loans, thus under-reporting the losses and misrepresenting the value of the collateral (the loans). This allowed Summit to borrow more from BofA to fund more subprime loans, BofA said.

Summit is just a tiny lender and doesn’t really matter. But there are a whole slew of these nonbank lenders, specializing in auto loans, revolving consumer loans, payday loans, and mortgages. Some of these nonbank lenders specialize in “deep subprime.” And some of these lenders are fairly large.

Since the Financial Crisis, big banks have mostly avoided subprime lending. Instead, they’re lending to the companies that then provide financing to subprime customers. And BofA is finding out just how much risk it was taking with its loan to Summit that was secured by now defaulting auto loans that were secured by cars that, once repossessed, are worth only a fraction of the loan value when they’re sold at auction.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Surviving The Next Great Depression

Surviving The Next Great Depression

In The Rush Toward A Cashless Society, The Poorest Are At Risk Of Further Exclusion

“Unless you’re poor, it’s hard to understand what it’s like to be poor.”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a grand ambition to make his country into a cashless society. In 2014, he launched a scheme to provide bank accounts to the nearly 40 percent of the population with little or no access to financial services. In November 2016, he withdrew 500 and 1,000 rupee notes ($7.80 and $15.60), the country’s two most common banknotes, from circulation.

The aim was to clamp down on black-market money and get more people into the formal economy, but it had a negative effect on the poor, with micro and small-scale service businesses cutting 35 percent of staff in the first few months, and some families left unable to afford fruit and vegetables.

Cash is on the decline worldwide; non-cash transactions grew 11.2 percent globally in 2015. But for some, the Modi experiment is a sign that cashless societies will hurt the poor, and India is not alone in having poor, unbanked populations. An estimated 7 percent of American households don’t have access to bank accounts, according to the most recent survey from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. And a government study at the end of last year found that the U.S. homeless population had risen for the first time since 2010. Given rising inequality, what happens to those on the margins of the economy when cash is no longer king?

Proponents of a shift away from cash often point to Kenya or Sweden as proof that such a transition can happen without further disadvantaging the poor. In Sweden, which is on track to be the world’s first cashless society, a magazine called Situation Stockholm has equipped its homeless sellers with credit card readers. And M-Pesa, a mobile money service first rolled out in Kenya, has 30 million subscribers and has been credited with raising 2 percent of Kenyan households out of extreme poverty.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Banks & Builders Want New Property Bubble In Spain, Government Obliges

Banks & Builders Want New Property Bubble In Spain, Government Obliges

“This plan, far from solving or alleviating the problem, is likely to make it a whole lot worse.”

Spain’s second biggest bank, BBVA, just announced that it’s resurrecting the 100% mortgage, a high-risk loan instrument that notoriously helped fuel Spain’s madcap property boom. For the first time in almost a decade, property buyers will be able to receive credit equivalent to the total value of the property they wish to purchase. As before, no down payment will be needed. But this time, interest rates will be even lower.

Despite boasting the largest stock of empty housing in Europe — 1.36 million units at last count, almost a quarter of them belonging to banks and investment funds — Spain’s economy is being primed for another property boom. Real estate developers and builders want it and banks need it, not only to fatten their NIRP-eroded margins but also to dispose of some of the real estate assets still lingering on their books from the last crisis.

The government will do just about anything it can to help out. For the coming years, real estate developers want to build around 120,000-150,000 new housing units. It’s a mere fraction of the 700,000 new homes a year being built at the apogee of the last bubble — more than in France, Germany, Italy and the UK combined — but still a lot higher than current production levels.

In 2017, a paltry 43,300 new homes were built — little more than a third of the ambitious target real estate developers now have in their sights. There’s likely to be little change in this trend in the coming years, according to forecasts by the National Institute of Statistics (INE). Between 2017 and 2021 it predicts that around 188,000 new homes will be built – an average of just 47,000 a year.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The environmental consequences of monetary dysfunction

The environmental consequences of monetary dysfunction

Dysfunction of the money-system underpins the problems of the world’s multiple converging crises. Discuss.

Might that assertion be taking an ideological position, encouraged by the echo chambers of like-minded twitterati? This piece is an attempt to tease out the nature of the underlying connection, and in doing so describe some of the attack surfaces that are available to those bent on change.

From an environmental perspective the most damaging money-system dysfunction is the misallocation of credit. Commercial banks have been given the responsibility of deciding who should receive loans – for capital investment, mortgages and asset purchases for example – and the privilege of charging interest on those loans. They are largely unconstrained in this process – while there are theoretical constraints, in practice their main concern is making sure they get their full whack of interest due over the term of the loan. They therefore generally prefer lending secured against an asset that they can repossess if necessary than against the uncertain (and difficult to assess – at least for today’s disconnected and centralised account managers) future productive capability of entrepreneurial projects. This is borne out by figures for productive investment which tend to show lending for productive use at about 15%.

The first consequence of this preference is that the banks find themselves in an unholy alliance with asset owners, with a joint interest in ever rising asset prices and a reluctance to moderate activity in asset markets lest their loans lose collateral value. They all know in their hearts that this will eventually mean painful busts. But they also know that when the time comes they will be bailed out by the government, that many of their more savvy and comfortably-connected friends will have disposed of their assets ahead of the peak, and that the greater part of the associated pain will be experienced by less well connected ‘outsiders’. There is no real sanction on the banks or their senior management from buying into this toxic cycle. So we should not be surprised when it repeats. They operate in any case with a sort of herd mentality, and taking a heterodox stance would fail the wine-bar peer-reviews. There is no way that this cycle can avoid the progressive concentration of wealth. (In passing we might note that this in turn puts a misplaced emphasis on philanthropy and volunteerism as means to address society’s ills.)

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Eurozone Banking Crisis – ECB Delays Rules for Bad Loans until 2021

The European Central Bank (ECB) has postponed its new guidelines for banks because if it did not, the Italian banking system would simply collapse. The ECB has given Eurozone area banks more time to adapt to new guidelines on how to deal with bad loans. The deadline has been postponed from 2018 off into 2021. The new rules require banks to increase their capital for all loans, which are now classified as risk-taking. Bad loans are systemic in Europe as they increased after the 2007-2009 financial crisis.

After almost 10 years of Quantitative Easing to help banks, nothing has been achieved. Because of the Quantitative Easing, Europe has become very aggressive in collecting taxes. That is deflationary and Southern Europe still suffers from joining the Euro as a whole. The Quantitative Easing has simply kept governments on life-support while failing to stimulate the economy. Mario Draghi moved to negative interest rates in an effort for force people to spend. Instead, the bought safes and withdrew cash from the banks.

This latest move is once again trying desperately to keep the Eurozone afloat until Draghi ends his term next year. Then Draghi could care less what happens, for he will not be blamed if he can just get out the door before it all comes crashing down.

Russia Mulls Additional Trillion Ruble Bailout For Failing Banks

In August 2017 we noted Russia’s largest private lender was in trouble and required a bailout. Then a month later, a second bank hit the wall and was bailed out. And now, five months later, Russia’s central bank is mulling a further capital injection of a trillion rubles to rescue Otkritie and B&N Banks.

In August, Otkritie Bank, which according to Interfax, “ranks 1st among privately-owned banks and 4th by assets among banking groups in Russia,” was rescued by the central bank because “the bank is a systemically important credit organization, it occupies the 8th place in terms of assets. The Bank’s infrastructure includes 22 branches and more than 400 internal structural subdivisions.”

Interestingly, as the FT wrote at the start of 2017, “the breakneck expansion at Otkritie is raising fears that it is creating risks the state will eventually have to deal with.

“It’s not a business, it’s all relations,” a senior Russian investor says. “They want to become too big to fail.” Adds a senior Russian banker: “They are not a bank, they are a very risky hedge fund. Why should this be done with regulators’ [the central bank’s] money?

The market did not love it…

Ironically, Otkritie’s predecessor was the aptly named Shchit-bank:

And then, less than a month later, already nervous Russian depositors shifted their attention to another domestic lender, Russia’s B&N Bank, the country’s 12th biggest lender by assets, also sought a bailout from the central bank.

B&N Bank, which is controlled by Russian oligarch Mikhail Gutseriev and was not on the central bank’s list of systemically important lenders, said it had under-estimated the problems within the banks it had bought during an expansion drive. “Our objective is, with the support of the central bank … to conduct an effective financial rehabilitation of the bank,” said Mikail Shishkhanov, who was named as chairman of B&N Bank, whose assets account for 2 percent of the Russian banking system, according to ratings agency Fitch.

We noted at the time, that perhaps, if the Russian central bank has unlimited funds to keep bailing out the Russian oligarch’s pet banks which they used mostly to launder illicit funds, then sure. Then again, where there are two bank runs in under a month, more are guaranteed, and all that would take to cripple the Russian financial system is a panic at one of the larger domestic banks, rekindling memories of the near collapse Russia experienced in late 2014 when crashing oil prices and a plunging ruble, sent Russian rates as high as 20% and pushed the country to the verge of hyperinflation.

In other words, if the “deep state” really wants to hurt Russia, it knows what to do.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Interbank Rates Starting to Rise – Monetary Crisis is Beginning

 

Extremely reliable sources from Behind the Curtain in Europe are becoming deeply concerned that Draghi at the ECB has created a monumental economic disaster he is just praying to holding off until he leaves next year. Interest rates are already starting to rise significantly in several important money and interbank markets. Both banks and debtors are facing a rapid rise in interest expenditures that will shock the world. This is going to blow-out budgets around the globe and both private and public debtors face higher costs of funds.

The Libor (London Interbank Offered Rate), the most important reference rate for the global interbank market, is currently at its highest level since 2008. We elected a Yearly Bullish Reversal on the close of 2016. Once we see the rate close above 213 on a monthly basis, LIBOR rates will be poised to jump to 510. When the Libor price rises, the short-term borrowing for banks becomes more expensive, and for borrowers in the financial market, such as sellers of bonds or buyers of mortgages, debt service becomes more difficult. The demand for debt is exceptionally high. We are looking at LIBOR rates rising sharply. The dollar-lending rate for dollar loans has been rising steadily in all maturities since about the end of 2014. The dollar-Libor for three-month loans in March 2017 were trading at around 1.1%. Currently, this dollar-Libor rate stands at around 2%.

This year’s WEC will be focused on the next major crisis and how all the markets will interact. This is the beginning of the Monetary Crisis Cycle. Our Yearly Models on LIBOR are already in a bullish posture on both short-term indicators. A closing on an annual basis above 208 will signal rates will rapidly more than DOUBLE into 2020. A closing above 510 on an annual basis will warn of a MAJOR financial crisis hitting just about every economy.

Interbank Market Collapsing

QUESTION: Mr. Armstrong; Has interbank lending collapse due to a lack of confidence concerning counter-party risk?

Thank you for being a rare source with experience

ER

ANSWER: Yes that is a correct statement. The failure of Lehman and Bear Sterns was the result of interbank lending when they could not make good on the collateral they posted the day before in the REPO market. Then we had the collapse of MF Global, which was also a loss linked to the overnight markets. Now mix in the LIBOR scandal and banks were scrutinized for manipulating LIBOR rates in the interbank market.

The interbank lending market is a market in which banks extend loans to one another for a specified term, typically 24 hrs. Most interbank loans are for maturities of one week or less, the majority being overnight. Such loans are made at the interbank rate (also called the overnight rate if the term of the loan is overnight).

The collapse of this market is a clear warning that liquidity is extremely vulnerable. When crisis strikes, liquidity will simply vanish entirely. This warns that volatility will rise sharply and it appears to be predominantly focused in on the debt market.

How the Euro Will Be Killed by Politicians

The man who is killing the Euro as a viable currency is none other than Donald Franciszek Tusk who is a Polish politician who has been the President of the European Council since 2014. He is the living example why politicians MUST be prohibited from making any decisions whatsoever regarding economics and finance. These people have ZERO qualifications in the field yet rise to the top of politics and then assume positions based entirely upon politics – not economics.

The crisis that is pending for the Euro is all about political control. The desire of British banks to achieve free access to the European Single Market even after Brexit and this was rejected by the EU. Council President Tusk spoke out against maintaining the British-European financial center in London after Brexit. He fails to comprehend that NEITHER the French nor the Germans possess the infrastructure no less the expertise to maintain global markets in the Euro.

Tusk claims that Britain is trying to be like Norway which has free access but pays dues as a member of the EU for free access. On the other hand, Tusk characterizes British desires and trying to blend the Canadian position, which only has a free trade agreement, with full access like Norway but pays no dues like Canada. Meanwhile, France is taking the position that they want to fill the shoes of the London financial markets who have never been able to create deep markets.

This hardline position against the financial markets of Britain remaining as the core trading center for the Euro is extremely dangerous. The Euro holds a minimal position among the reserves of central banks. The exact composition of the foreign-exchange reserves of China is a state secret. Nevertheless, based upon reliable sources, about two-thirds of Chinese foreign-exchange reserves are held in U.S. Dollars.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Lativa Banking Crisis Unfolding on Schedule – Will There Be a European Contagion?

 

The Latvian Financial Supervisory Authority is concerned announcing a resolution plan for the crisis bank ABLV that is threatening a contagion risk of further closures of financial institutions in the country with a predominantly foreign customer base. There is a serious risk of a contagion unfolding that will also force consolidation and mergers in the industry as a whole. The financial system of the Baltic country has seen a run with customers withdrawing about 500 million euros in deposits in recent weeks. There are about ten banks in Latvia who have been serving primarily foreign customers. Concerns and a decline in confidence unfolding in Europe as a whole over the banking system as a whole may force a change in the business model of Latvian banks where they must return to a reliance upon domestic deposits rather than foreign.

Latvia’s third largest financial institution, ABLV, is about to collapse after being accused by the US of being involved in money laundering by customers from neighboring Russia and Ukraine. The bank denied the allegations but simply making those allegations by New York prosecutors can have a devastating impact upon foreign banks. A run on the bank began after the allegations were made public. The European Central Bank (ECB) came to the conclusion that the bank was facing collapse. The European Agency for the Settlement of Marged Banks (SRB) classified the bank as non-systemically important and left it to its fate. In Latvia, loans are provided mainly by Scandinavian banks located in Sweden. Many Latvian banks have specialized in financing themselves mainly through deposits of foreigners rather than domestic Latvian citizens. The crisis brewing stems from the fact that about 40% of Latvian bank deposits come from abroad. Allegations of money laundering by the US authorities have been sending foreign depositors into a state of panic.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Daniel Nevins: Economics for Independent Thinkers

Daniel Nevins: Economics for Independent Thinkers

It’s time we stop trusting the ‘experts’

Economists are supposed to monitor and analyze the economy, warn us if risks are getting out of hand, and advise us on how to make things runs more effectively — right?

Well, even though that’s what most people expect from economists, it’s not at all how they see their role, warns CFA and and behavioral economist Daniel Nevins.

Economists, he cautions, are modelers. They pursue academic lines of thought in order to make their models more perfect. They live in a universe of equations and presumptions about equilibrium states and other chimerical mathematical perfections that don’t exist in real life.

In short, they are the wrong people to advise us, Nevins claims, as they have no clue how the imperfect world we live in actually works.

In his book Economics For Independent Thinkers, he argues that we need a new, more accurate and useful way of studying the economy:

However far you go back, you can find economists who had a more realistic approach to how humans actually behave, than the way that mainstreamers assume they behave in the models that the Fed uses to pick winners and losers.

You mentioned credit cycles, business environment, and behavioral economics. What I’ve done is to say, “Okay. We know that the modeling approach, the systems of equations approach doesn’t work. But instead of starting completely from scratch, what can we find in the economics literature that is maybe more realistic?”

And the interesting thing is that if you look at the work that was done, the state of the profession before the 1930s, before Keynesianism took hold, you can find a lot of work that was quite sensible.

 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Will Italy’s Banking Crisis Spawn a New Frankenbank?

Will Italy’s Banking Crisis Spawn a New Frankenbank?

“Operation Overlord.”

There are rumors currently doing the rounds that Italy’s banking problems have finally been put to rest. The FTSE Italia All-Share Banks Index has soared about 40% over the last 12 months, about double the advance by the Euro Stoxx Banks Index. Six of the top seven gainers in the latter index this year are Italian.

The story of Italy’s non-performing loans, which just a year ago terrified global investors and posed a systemic threat to the entire Eurozone economy, “is over,” according to Fabrizio Pagani, the chief of staff at Italy’s Ministry of Economy and Finance. Pagani believes that now that the banking sector is well and truly on the mend, work should begin to take consolidation of the sector to a new level.

“There are too many banks,” Pagani told Bloomberg. “And in this sense, Monte dei Paschi could play a role. I think this could start this year.”

There’s clearly lots of room for consolidation in Italy, home to roughly 500 banks, many of which are small local or regional savings banks with tens or hundreds of millions of euros in assets. At the top end of the scale, Italy’s ten biggest banks control roughly 50% of the industry. The goal is to increase thatto 70-75% to bring it more in line with the levels of banking concentration in other EU countries. In Spain, for example, the five biggest banks — Santander, BBVA, CaixaBank, Bankia and Sabadell — control 72% of the market.

The problem is that, while last year’s bail out of Monte dei Paschi di Siena may have restored a certain amount of investor confidence to Italy’s banking sector, many of the largest banking groups are still extremely fragile, with stubbornly high non-performing loan (NPL) ratios. .

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

A New Cunning Plan to Allay Banking Jitters is Hatched in Spain

A New Cunning Plan to Allay Banking Jitters is Hatched in Spain

But there’s a problem with the plan.

The Spanish Government has a brand new cunning plan to fortify the country’s banking system, which was rocked last year by the collapse of the sixth biggest bank, Banco Popular. It wants the country’s Deposit Guarantee Fund (DGF) to insure the entire bank deposits of large companies, even if those deposits exceed the current limit of €100,000, so that if a bank begins to wobble, its corporate customers don’t take their money out en masse.

The government hopes that the plan will be included in the new banking resolution rules being drawn up by EU banking authorities in the aftermath of Banco Popular’s quickfire resolution last year, the financial daily Cinco Dias reports.

If the law is passed, it would mean that corporate deposits of any amounts would be guaranteed in case of a bank’s resolution. The proposal apparently enjoys the enthusiastic support of Spain’s major banks, large companies, and the president of Spain’s Fund for Orderly Bank Restructuring (FROB), Jaime Ponce. The government also wants the deposits of large public institutions to be covered without limit, as well as those of small and medium size enterprises (SMEs).

The new law would help prevent large scale deposit flight, which became endemic during Spain’s banking crisis and was also instrumental in the collapse of Popular. According to Ponce, if the government’s newly proposed measure had been in force between May and June last year, the frantic run on the bank’s deposits from Popular would never have happened.

In its final days, Popular was bleeding funds at an average rate of €2 billion a day.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Here’s How Regulators Are Inadvertently Laying The Groundwork For The Next Housing Crisis

Only a few weeks ago, we pointed out a remarkable development in the US mortgage market that has significant implications not only for mortgage borrowers, but perhaps the broader economy as a whole: Wells Fargo, formerly America’s foremost mortgage lender, had seen its share of the market eclipsed by Quicken Loans – the Detroit-based, nonbank lending behemoth that pioneered applying for mortgages on the Internet with its now-famous Rocket Mortgage (readers will remember RM’s celebrity-packed SuperBowl spot).

Many factors (aside from Wells’ own criminality, which recently drew a strong, but ultimately meaningless, rebuke from the Fed) have contributed to this shift, as Bloomberg points out.

But as it turns out, the rising dominance of nonbank lenders like Quicken could portend a massive, bad-debt fueled binge reminiscent of the circumstances that led up to the housing crisis. That is to say, a wave of bad debt could create a cascading wave of defaults with repercussions far beyond the housing market.

Considering all the restrictions that Dodd-Frank and other post-crisis regulations slapped on mortgage lenders, one might wonder how this might be possible.

Of course, as Bloomberg explains, instead of making the market safer, regulators are inadvertently enabling the rise of lenders like Quicken who aren’t bound by many of the rules that restrict banks’ mortgage-lending practices. As a result, Quicken Loans is effectively free from many of the regulations that have forced some of the biggest mortgage lenders into a period of retrenchment…

Make no mistake, regulators have done plenty to rein in the mortgage business since the 2000s. New rules require that lenders carefully assess borrowers’ ability to pay, and that mortgage servicers — which process payments and manage other relations with borrowers — give troubled customers plenty of opportunity to renegotiate their debts before resorting to foreclosure.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai III: Cataclysm
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