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Confession Time for Big Banks in Europe: Banco Santander Reports $12.7 Billion Loss

Confession Time for Big Banks in Europe: Banco Santander Reports $12.7 Billion Loss

Too-Big-To-Fail Santander is also one of the Eurozone’s worst capitalized banks.

Banco Santander, Spain’s largest lender and one of the Eurozone’s eight global systemically important banks (G-SIBs), has posted its first ever loss in 163 years of operations. And it was gargantuan. During the first half of the year, the bank racked up a loss of €10.8 billion ($12.7 billion).

The loss was caused by heavy provisions for expected loan losses. This quarter wiped out the equivalent of one-and-a-half years of the bank’s global profits — in 2019, it posted total global profits of €6.5 billion, and in 2018 of €7.8 billion.

The losses were the result of a €2.5 billion charge related to the recoverability of tax deferred assets as well a €10.1 billion write-down on assets across a number of key overseas markets:

  • In the UK: €6.1 billion write-down of “goodwill” — amount overpaid for prior acquisitions, which included Abbey National and Alliance and Leicester. Santander already took a €1.5 billion write-down on the value of its UK business last year, blaming new regulations and the expected economic fallout from Brexit.
  • In the US: €2.3 billion write-down for Santander Consumer USA, which specializes in consumer lending, particularly subprime lending, and these consumer loans are now particularly at risk.
  • In Poland, its largest market in Eastern Europe: €1.2 billion goodwill impairments charge.
  • In its consumer finance division, which is present in 15 markets: €477 million hit.

Santander’s shares initially reacted to the news by slumping 5.8%. They then staged a partial recovery, only to slump again, ending the day down nearly 5%. Shares are down an eye-watering 45% this year, making it one of the continent’s worst-performing large financial institutions.

“The past six months have been among the most challenging in our history,” Santander’s Chairwoman Ana Botin said in a statement. “The impact of the pandemic has tested us all.”

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

Rescuing the Banks Instead of the Economy

Rescuing the Banks Instead of the Economy

Photo Source Mark Dixon | CC BY 2.0

You can’t bail out the banks, leave the debts in place, and rescue the economy. It’s a zero-sum game. Somebody has to lose. That’s what happened in 2009 when President Obama came in. He invited the bankers to the White House and he said, “I’m the only guy standing between you and the mob with pitchforks,” by which he meant the voters that he was bamboozling. He reassured the bankers. He said, “Look, my loyalty is to my campaign donors not to the voters. Don’t worry; my loyalty is with you.”

I’m Bonnie Faulkner. Today on Guns and Butter, Dr. Michael Hudson. Today’s show: Rescuing the Banks Instead of the Economy. Dr. Hudson is a financial economist and historian. He is president of the Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trend, a Wall Street financial analyst and Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. His 1972 book Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire is a critique of how the United States exploited foreign economies through the IMF and World Bank. His latest books are  Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage to Ensure the Global Economy and J is for Junk Economics.. Today we discuss how the bank bailouts, not the crash, are killing the economy. Also, the concept of debt deflation, the magic of compound interest, the growth of the financial extraction FIRE sector, quantitative easing, tariffs, economic sanctions and isolationism.

BONNIE FAULKNER: Dr. Michael Hudson, welcome.

MICHAEL HUDSON: It’s good to be back after a few years.

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

Free-Riding Investors Set up Markets for a Major Collapse

Free-Riding Investors Set up Markets for a Major Collapse

Free riding is one of the oldest problems in economics and in society in general. Simply put, free riding describes a situation where one party takes the benefits of an economic condition without contributing anything to sustain that condition.

The best example is a parasite on an elephant. The parasite sucks the elephant’s blood to survive but contributes nothing to the elephant’s well-being.

A few parasites on an elephant are a harmless annoyance. But sooner or later the word spreads and more parasites arrive. After a while, the parasites begin to weaken the host elephant’s stamina, but the elephant carries on.

Eventually a tipping point arrives when there are so many parasites that the elephant dies. At that point, the parasites die too. It’s a question of short-run benefit versus long-run sustainability. Parasites only think about the short run.

A driver who uses a highway without paying tolls or taxes is a free rider. An investor who snaps up brokerage research without opening an account or paying advisory fees is another example.

Actually, free-riding problems appear in almost every form of human endeavor. The trick is to keep the free riders to a minimum so they do not overwhelm the service being provided and ruin that service for those paying their fair share.

The biggest free riders in the financial system are bank executives such as Jamie Dimon, the CEO of J.P. Morgan. Bank liabilities are guaranteed by the FDIC up to $250,000 per account.

Liabilities in excess of that are implicitly guaranteed by the “too big to fail” policy of the Federal Reserve. The big banks can engage in swap and other derivative contracts “off the books” without providing adequate capital for the market risk involved.

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

Crisis After Crisis: 10 Years After the Crash, There’s No ‘Reforming’ Global Capitalism

Crisis After Crisis: 10 Years After the Crash, There’s No ‘Reforming’ Global Capitalism

global-financial-crisis-capitalism-globalization-finance

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It is now clear that financial crises are not discrete events but are linked phenomena that have been unleashed on the globe ever since the financial markets were liberalized during the Reagan-Thatcher era in the early 1980s.

To take just the three most prominent crashes, surplus capital that could not find profitable domestic outlets after the Japanese bubble burst in the late 1980s found its way as speculative capital into Southeast Asia, where it contributed to the Asian financial crisis in 1997-98. The Asian crisis, in turn, helped generate Wall Street’s implosion in 2008, owing to the Asian countries’ channeling the financial reserves they had accumulated to protect them from a repeat of 1997 into the United States — where they helped fuel the subprime real estate boom.

The turbulence that hit global stock markets last February, causing much fright and a paper loss of 4 billion dollars, was a reminder that the next big implosion may be just around the corner. A just concluded study by the Transnational Institute reveals that in 10 critical areas where major reform is needed, few to no measures have been taken to prevent a recurrence of 2007. These areas range from shadow banking to fractional reserve banking to international financial governance to central bank accountability.

Skating on Thin Ice Once More

So, not surprisingly, current indicators show that the world again is skating on thin ice.

First, the “too big to fail” problem has become worse. The big banks that were rescued by the U.S. government in 2008 because they were seen as too big to fail have become even more too big to fail, with the “Big Six” U.S. banks — JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley — collectively having 43 percent more deposits, 84 percent more assets, and triple the amount of cash they held before the 2008 crisis.

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

How the Next Downturn Will Surprise Us

In their campaign to contain the risks that caused the Great Recession, central bankers may have planted the seeds for the next global economic crisis.

Image
CreditCreditJi Lee

After the fall of Lehman Brothers 10 years ago, there was a public debate about how the leading American banks had grown “too big to fail.” But that debate overlooked the larger story, about how the global markets where stocks, bonds and other financial assets are traded had grown worrisomely large.

By the eve of the 2008 crisis, global financial markets dwarfed the global economy. Those markets had tripled over the previous three decades to 347 percent of the world’s gross economic output, driven up by easy money pouring out of central banks. That is one major reason that the ripple effects of Lehman’s fall were large enough to cause the worst downturn since the Great Depression.

Today the markets are even larger, having grown to 360 percent of global G.D.P., a record high. And financial authorities — trained to focus more on how markets respond to economic risk than on the risks that markets pose to the economy — have been inadvertently fueling this new threat.

Over the past decade, the world’s largest central banks — in the United States, Europe, China and Japan — have expanded their balance sheets from less than $5 trillion to more than $17 trillion in an effort to promote the recovery. Much of that newly printed money has found its way into the financial markets, where it often follows the path of least regulation.

Central bankers and other regulators have largely succeeded in containing the practice that caused disaster in 2008: risky mortgage lending by big banks. But with so much easy money sloshing around in global markets, new threats were bound to emerge — in places the regulators aren’t watching as closely.

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

Weekly Commentary: Approaching the 10-year Anniversary

Weekly Commentary: Approaching the 10-year Anniversary

We’re rapidly Approaching the 10-year Anniversary of the 2008 financial crisis. Exactly one decade ago to the day (September 7, 2008), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were placed into government receivership. And for at least a decade, there has been nothing more than talk of reforming the government-sponsored-enterprises.
It’s worth noting that total GSE (MBS and debt) Securities ended Q3 2008 at $8.070 TN, having about doubled from year 2000. The government agencies were integral to the mortgage finance Bubble – fundamental to liquidity excess, pricing distortions (finance and housing), general financial market misperceptions and the misallocation of resources. GSE Securities did contract post-crisis, reaching a low of $7.544 TN during Q1 2012. Since then, with crisis memories fading and new priorities appearing, GSE Securities expanded $1.341 TN to a record $8.874 TN. Of that growth, $970 billion has come during the past three years, as financial markets boomed and the economy gathered momentum. A lesson not learned.

Scores of lessons from the crisis went unheeded. The Financial Times’ Gillian Tett was the star journalist from the mortgage finance Bubble period. I read with keen interest her piece this week, “Five Surprising Outcomes of the Financial Crisis – We Learnt the Dangers Posed by ‘Too Big to Fail’ Banks but Now They Are Even bigger.”

Tett’s article is worthy of extended excerpts: “What are these surprises? Start with the issue of debt. Ten years ago, investors and financial institutions re-learnt the hard way that excess leverage can be dangerous. So it seemed natural to think that debt would decline, as chastened lenders and borrowers ran scared. Not so. The American mortgage market did experience deleveraging. So did the bank and hedge fund sectors. But overall global debt has surged: last year it was 217% of gross domestic product, nearly 40 percentage points higher – not lower – than 2007.”
…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Bartlett Naylor: The Banks Are Becoming Untouchable Again

Bartlett Naylor: The Banks Are Becoming Untouchable Again

Regulations? We don’t need no stinking regulations!
When the dust settled after the Great Financial Crisis, we learned that the big banks had behaved in overtly criminal ways. Yet none of their executives would be held criminally accountable.

And while legislation was passed in the aftermath to place restrictions on the ‘Too Big To Jail/Fail’ banks, it was heavily watered down and has been under attack by finanical system lobbyists ever since.

To talk with us today about the perpetual legislative warfare pitting citizens on one side and lobbyists (and many lawmakers) on the other, is Bartlett Naylor. Naylor is a veteran of the Wall Street wars. He spent a number of years as an aid to Senator William Proxmire at a time when Proxmire was head of the Senate Banking Committee. Naylor himself served as that committee’s Chief of Investigations.

Sadly, Naylor sees the banks winning out here. More and more of the prudent restraints placed on the banking system are being dismantled, as further evidenced by the recent bill President Trump just signed:

The President signed S2155 last week. This bill has 40 or so provisions in it. The most troubling one reduces what’s known as enhanced supervision for a class of banks that are between $50 billion and $250 billion in assets.

Enhanced supervision means tighter capital controls. Capital is assets minus liabilities — the amount of net worth, if you will, of the particular bank. You think of banks of being very solid; but in fact, they’re in hock. They are highly leveraged. 95% of their assets are financed by debt. They really don’t own that much. They mostly owe things.

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

The Coming Banking Crisis & The End of Bailouts

Behind the curtain, there is a growing concern about a serious banking crisis beginning once again in Europe. Many governments are talking about the crisis behind-the-curtain and we are now beginning to see steps that are being taken to end the TO-BIG-TO-FAIL policies that dominated the 2007-2009 Crash.

The United States is looking at a new radical bank rescue policy where the government is proposing to revise a central pillar of the idea of bailing out banks creating new financial regulation with a new Chapter 14 bankruptcy procedure. They are looking at eliminating the risk of taxpayers’ costs to bail out banks. They are investigating the means for an orderly resolution so that the taxpayers do not have to bail out the banks. This development is causing some concern among the high-flying Wall Street banks, for if that is the case, then another crisis as 2007-2009 will result in even Goldman Sachs closing. The proposal looks to shift the burden to the shareholders and creditors of that bank. This means depositors who are thus creditors.

In Australia, we see similar legislation being proposed. This is the Financial Sector Legislation Amendment (Crisis Resolution Powers and Other Measures) Bill 2017. This also authorizes bail-ins bringing an end to the bailout.

Gary Cohn Backs Reinstating Glass-Steagal, Breaking Up Big Banks

Gary Cohn Backs Reinstating Glass-Steagal, Breaking Up Big Banks

In an unexpected statement made by the former COO of Goldman Sachs and current director of Trump’s National Economic Council, Gary Cohn told a private meeting with lawmakers on the Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday evening that he could support legislation breaking up the largest U.S. banks – a development that could provide support to congressional efforts to reinstate the Depression-era Glass-Steagall law – and impact if not so much his former employer, Goldman Sachs, whose depository business is relatively modest, then certainly the balance sheets of some of Goldman’s biggest competitors including JPM and BofA.

According to Bloomberg, Cohn said he generally favors banking going back to how it was “when firms like Goldman focused on trading and underwriting securities, and companies such as Citigroup Inc. primarily issued loans.”

What Cohn may not have mentioned is that with rates as low as they are, issuing loans – i.e., profiting from the Net Interest Margin spread – remains far less profitable than trading and underwriting securities in a world in which virtually every “developed world” central banker is either directly spawned from Goldman, or is advised by an ex-Goldman employee,

The remarks surprised some senators and congressional aides who attended the Wednesday meeting, as they didn’t expect a former top Wall Street executive to speak favorably of proposals that would force banks to dramatically rethink how they do business.

Yet Cohn’s comments echo what Trump and Republican lawmakers have previously said about wanting to bring back the Glass-Steagall Act, the Depression-era law that kept bricks-and-mortar lending separate from investment banking for more than six decades.

As Bloomberg further notes, Wednesday’s Capitol Hill meeting with Cohn was arranged by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo, and included lawmakers from both political parties and their staffs. The discussion covered a wide range of topics, including financial regulations and overhauling the tax code, the people said.

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

Major Problems Announced At One Of The Largest Too Big To Fail Banks In The United States

Major Problems Announced At One Of The Largest Too Big To Fail Banks In The United States

Wells FargoDo you remember when our politicians promised to do something about the “too big to fail” banks?  Well, they didn’t, and now the chickens are coming home to roost.  On Thursday, it was announced that one of those “too big to fail” banks, Wells Fargo, has been slapped with 185 million dollars in penalties.  It turns out that for years their employees had been opening millions of bank and credit card accounts for customers without even telling them.  The goal was to meet sales goals, and customers were hit by surprise fees that they never intended to pay.  Some employees actually created false email addresses and false PIN numbers to sign customers up for accounts.  It was fraud on a scale that is hard to imagine, and now Wells Fargo finds itself embroiled in a major crisis.

There are six banks in America that basically dwarf all of the other banks – JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.  If a single one of those banks were to fail, it would be a catastrophe of unprecedented proportions for our financial system.  So we need these banks to be healthy and running well.  That is why what we just learned about Wells Fargois so concerning…

Employees of Wells Fargo (WFC) boosted sales figures by covertly opening the accounts and funding them by transferring money from customers’ authorized accounts without permission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and Los Angeles city officials said.

An analysis by the San Francisco-headquartered bank found that its employees opened more than two million deposit and credit card accounts that may not have been authorized by consumers, the officials said. Many of the transfers ran up fees or other charges for the customers, even as they helped employees make incentive goals.

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

Major Problems Announced At One Of The Largest Too Big To Fail Banks In The United States

Major Problems Announced At One Of The Largest Too Big To Fail Banks In The United States

Wells FargoDo you remember when our politicians promised to do something about the “too big to fail” banks?  Well, they didn’t, and now the chickens are coming home to roost.  On Thursday, it was announced that one of those “too big to fail” banks, Wells Fargo, has been slapped with 185 million dollars in penalties.  It turns out that for years their employees had been opening millions of bank and credit card accounts for customers without even telling them.  The goal was to meet sales goals, and customers were hit by surprise fees that they never intended to pay.  Some employees actually created false email addresses and false PIN numbers to sign customers up for accounts.  It was fraud on a scale that is hard to imagine, and now Wells Fargo finds itself embroiled in a major crisis.

There are six banks in America that basically dwarf all of the other banks – JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.  If a single one of those banks were to fail, it would be a catastrophe of unprecedented proportions for our financial system.  So we need these banks to be healthy and running well.  That is why what we just learned about Wells Fargois so concerning…

Employees of Wells Fargo (WFC) boosted sales figures by covertly opening the accounts and funding them by transferring money from customers’ authorized accounts without permission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and Los Angeles city officials said.

An analysis by the San Francisco-headquartered bank found that its employees opened more than two million deposit and credit card accounts that may not have been authorized by consumers, the officials said. Many of the transfers ran up fees or other charges for the customers, even as they helped employees make incentive goals.

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

Federal Regulators Accuse Banks Of Not Having Credible Crisis Plans, Would Need Another Bailout

Federal Regulators Accuse Banks Of Not Having Credible Crisis Plans, Would Need Another Bailout

Perhaps the biggest farce to result from the Dodd-Frank legislation designed to “rein in” banks was the ridiculous notion of “living wills” –  a concept that makes zero sense in an environment where the failure of even one bank assures a systemic crisis and could – as the Lehman financial crisis showed – lead to the collapse of all other interlinked financial institutions.

Which is why we were not surprised to read this morning that federal regulators announced that five out of eight of the biggest U.S. banks do not have credible plans for winding down operations during a crisis without the help of public money.

Which is precisely the point: now that the precedent has been set and banks know they can rely on the generosity of taxpayers (with the blessing of legislators) why should they even bother planning; they know very well that if just one bank fails, all would face collapse, and the only recourse would be trillions more in taxpayer aid.

As Reuters writes, the “living wills” that the Federal Reserve and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation jointly agreed were not credible came from Bank of America, Bank of New York Mellon, J.P. Morgan Chase, State Street, Wells Fargo. What is more impressive is that the Fed and FDIC found any living will to be credible.

Also amusing: it was only the FDIC which alone determined that the plan submitted by Goldman Sachs was not credible while the Goldman-dominated Fed gave its blessing; alternatively, the Federal Reserve Board on its own found that the plan of Morgan Stanley – Goldman’s arch rival in investment banking – not credible. Citigroup’s living will did pass, but the regulators noted it had “shortcomings.”

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

Italy Seeks “Last Resort” Bailout Fund To “Ringfence” Troubled Banks, Meeting Monday

Italy Seeks “Last Resort” Bailout Fund To “Ringfence” Troubled Banks, Meeting Monday

Italy’s finance minister, Pier Carlo Padoan, wants to “ringfence” its troubled banks.

Padoan called a meeting of the executives of Italy’s troubled banks in Rome on Monday. The banks allegedly will come up with a “Last Resort” bailout fund.

Last resort or first resort, is there a difference at this point in time?

Please consider Italy Pushes for Bank Rescue Fund. I highlight the key buzzwords and phrases italics.

Finance minister Pier Carlo Padoan has called a meeting in Rome on Monday with executives from Italy’s largest financial institutions to agree final details of a “last resort” bailout plan.

Yet on the eve of that gathering, concerns remain as to whether the plan will be sufficient to ringfence the weakest of Italy’s large banks, Monte dei Paschi di Siena, from contagion, according to people involved in the talks.

Italian bank shares have lost almost half their value so far this year amid investor worries over a €360bn pile of non-performing loans — equivalent to about a fifth of GDP. Lenders’ profitability has been hit by a crippling three-year recession.

The plan being worked on, which could be officially announced as soon as Monday evening, recalls the Sareb bad bank created in 2012 by the Spanish government to deal with financial crisis in its smaller cajas banks, say people involved.

Although the details remain under discussion, it foresees the establishment of a private vehicle that will include upwards of €5bn in equity contributions — mostly from Italy’s banks, insurers and asset managers — and then a larger debt component. The fund will then mop up shares in distressed lenders.

A second vehicle will seek to buy non-performing loans at market prices.

“It is a backstop fund,” said one person involved in the talks.

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

New law proposed to shift bank failure risk from taxpayers

New law proposed to shift bank failure risk from taxpayers

Ottawa proposes ‘bail-in’ regime to force creditors to prop up failing banks

The Liberal government says it will create legislation that shifts some of the risk in a bank failure to creditors. (Canadian Press)

The Liberal government says it will create legislation that shifts some of the risk in a bank failure to creditors. (Canadian Press)

Canada will introduce legislation to implement a “bail-in” regime for systemically important banks that would shift some of the responsibility for propping up failing institutions to creditors.

The proposed plan outlined in the federal budget released on Tuesday would allow authorities to convert eligible long-term debt of a failing lender into common shares in order to recapitalize the bank, allowing it to remain operating.

The plan is in line with international efforts to address the potential risks to the financial system from institutions that are deemed too big to fail, the budget document said.

The issue was at the heart of the 2008 global credit crisis, with various governments having to bail out systemically important institutions.

Canada, which escaped the crisis relatively unscathed, did not have to rescue any of its banks though they got billions in support during the crisis and the recession that followed. The government said it will introduce framework legislation for the plan, along with enhancements to Canada’s bank resolution toolkit.

When the Harper government floated the idea of a bail-in regime in 2014, Moody’s cut its ratings on Canadian banks.

Day Of Reckoning: The Collapse Of The Too Big To Fail Banks In Europe Is Here

Day Of Reckoning: The Collapse Of The Too Big To Fail Banks In Europe Is Here

Europe Lightning - Public DomainThere is so much chaos going on that I don’t even know where to start.  For a very long time I have been warning my readers that a major banking collapse was coming to Europe, and now it is finally unfolding.  Let’s start with Deutsche Bank.  The stock of the most important bank in the “strongest economy in Europe” plunged another 8 percent on Monday, and it is now hovering just above the all-time record low that was set during the last financial crisis.  Overall, the stock price is now down a staggering 36 percent since 2016 began, and Deutsche Bank credit default swaps are going parabolic.  Of course my readers were alerted to major problems at Deutsche Bank all the way back in September, and now the endgame is playing out.  In addition to Deutsche Bank, the list of other “too big to fail” banks in Europe that appear to be in very serious trouble includes Commerzbank, Credit Suisse, HSBC and BNP Paribas.  Just about every major bank in Italy could fall on that list as well, and Greek bank stocks lost close to a quarter of their value on Monday alone.  Financial Armageddon has come to Europe, and the entire planet is going to feel the pain.

The collapse of the banks in Europe is dragging down stock prices all over the continent.  At this point, more than one-fifth of all stock market wealth in Europe has already been wiped out since the middle of last year.  That means that we only have four-fifths left.  The following comes from USA Today

The MSCI Europe index is now down 20.5% from its highest point over the past 12 months, says S&P Global Market Intelligence, placing it in the 20% decline that unofficially defines a bear market.

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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