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GSE Headfake: Yet More Looting Branded as “Reform”

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As time goes on, the various Ministries of Truth just get better and better at their stock in trade. We’ve gone from artful obfuscation like “extraordinary rendition”, and “Public Private Investment Partnerships” to stress free “stress tests” (particularly the Eurozone version) designed to get bank stocks up and credit default swap spreads down, to even grosser debasement of language. What passes for the left has for the most part been dragged so far to the right that the use of once well understood terms like “liberal” and “progressive” virtually call for definition. And the word “reform” has virtually been turned on its head. Financial services reform was so weak as to be the equivalent of a jaywalking ticket; health care reform was a Trojan horse for even large subsidies to Big Pharma and the health care insurers. But GSE reform takes NewSpeak one step further by turning the “reform” concept on its head and using the label to describe an effort to institutionalize even bigger subsidies to the mortgage industrial complex.

While Team Obama appears to have backed down from the trial balloon floated by the Center for American Progress (note that press reports give another rationale) and is expected to offer a menu of choices for “reform” in its overdue white paper on Friday, don’t be fooled. The proposals coming from the lobbyists expected to have real influence on which ideas get the green light are virtually without exception serving up such a narrow menu of choices as to constitute unanimity. We offered our take as of the release of the CAP report; a subsequent proposal by Moody’s Mark Zandi (see details here) is more of the same.

It’s as if a population suffering from a toxic reaction to mustard was now offered options ranging from Dijon to pommery to spicy brown as meaningful improvements. And this is not an exaggeration. The new GSEs (and let us not kid ourselves that that this is where the Powers That Be are driving this effort) would have an explicit government guarantee, be larger in number, and supposedly have higher capital buffers.

The problem is that any government sector guarantee for a private sector entity is a terrible idea absent very tough constraints on operations, which is the still-unlearned lesson of the financial crisis. And the idea that any higher capital standards will hold over time is dubious. Fannie and Freddie were enormously powerful lobbying forces, a de facto mainly Democrat slush fund; any new GSEs will have similar collective clout and will press for their agenda on a unified basis, which is certain to include waivers that will amount to lower equity requirements. Increasing leverage is one of the easiest ways to improve performance in a financial firm.

Now the Administration is also allegedly presenting some elements of securitization reform on Friday. We’d be glad to be proven wrong, but we anticipate any proposals will be cosmetic and/or insufficient in scope. The real problem is that the coming staged fight over GSE reform will serve as a useful distraction for what is really needed, which is much broader mortgage market reform. Pursing the GSE question largely in isolation is sure to produce bad outcomes.

For instance, one of the excuses for continuing to have a large role for the GSEs 2.0 is that the private securitization market is dead. But that is because the banks have been blocking reform and investors have gone on strike. But the lack of private market demand is then used as an excuse as to why we still need something GSE like to play a big role. That’s tantamount to killing your parents and asking for charity because you are now an orphan.

But the biggest failing is the continued massive subsidies to the banks, particularly in the housing arena, with a lack of accountability not only for past messes but ongoing train wrecks. Financial firms continue to benefit from heroic efforts to prop up asset prices as a way to preserve the banks from realizing additional losses. For instance, the Fed continues to present quantitative easing as beneficial, when it has in fact done more for the banks than the real economy. And other subsidies are not as widely recognized. From banking expert Chris Whalen:

Much of this increase in the size of Fannie’s balance sheet is repurchased defaulted loans from securitization trusts, grim evidence of the generosity of Secretary Geithner in letting Bank of America (“BAC”/Q3 2010 Stress Rating: “C”) off the hook for mere single digit billions in terms of loan repurchase liabilities. The taxpayer will have to pay the cost of this gift to BAC shareholders, with interest. But excluding this inflow of financial detrius, the balance sheets of the zombie GSEs would be shrinking on ebbing industry new loan origination volume.

Another urban legend the banks are eagerly promoting is that we wouldn’t have a 30 year mortgage market ex the GSEs. Nonsense, we did before the crisis, in jumbo mortgages. And ironically those effectively had better disclosure than other private label mortgages. There were so many fewer mortgages in a jumbo than a normal securitization that the investors could eyeball them a tad. But the industry has resisted calls for better loan level disclosure, both pre crisis and now.

The old rule in Wall Street is everything can be solved by price. So the issue is not that there would not be a 30 year mortgage market; the implicit claim is that the price would be so high as to kill housing. The problem (to the extent there is a problem) is NOT the uninsured 30 year mortgage, but the further intervention in the mortgage market thanks to the Fed targeting mortgage spreads directly in the first QE and continuing to influence them indirectly by targeting intermediate-maturity Treasury bond yields in QE2 (note that the degree to which the Fed is actually affecting yields is hotly debated; one study of QE one found it only had 17 basis points of impact so this may be less of an issue that many believe).

The premium for the unsubsidized jumbo product was a mere 25 basis points pre-crisis; even now its 75 basis point. This is far from a huge premium. Indeed, since the CAP proposal estimated that its plan would result in mortgage spread being 50 basis points higher than now, it suggests there is no reason for the government to be in the business of guaranteeing mortgages on anything approaching a Fannie/Freddie scale. There are much simpler, less bankster-enriching ways to provide subsides to particular groups or underserved areas, such as providing credit directly or using tax breaks.

Getting the government out of the mortgage finance business could lead to banks providing more alternatives particularly ones where he takes more interest rate risk in return for a lower interest rate. The US 30 year fixed rate mortgage is borrower favorable to an exceptional degree and is a holdover from the protracted post war period of stable interest rates. Lenders might offer floating rate mortgages with floors and ceilings (this was the only product available in the co-op market in New York City in the early 1980s and consumers had a favorable experience with it), or mortgages with tougher prepayment penalties, or restrictions on refis (corporate bonds often have those provisions, they aren’t unusual).

We’ve managed to skip over the real elephant in the room, the ongoing fraud in courtrooms all over the US to deal with the breakdown of procedures and documentation. How can we talk about monster subsidies to a sector rife with consumer abuse and probable criminal activity without having a real investigation and cleanup first? That’s putting the cart before the horse in a very serious way. And that’s by design,

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41 comments

  1. Winston

    William Black wrote about this two tiered system of justice in late December. As a response, I published a compendium of stories that examine his arguments. In sum: the rule of law has been ignored due to the pressure that the largest players in the financial services industry have bought Congress and regulation facilities when, by rights, many should be out of business. More to the matters you describe here, the benign regard with which the federal government has dealt with these institutions has emboldened them to promote this preferred system of “lemon socialism” in which the gains are privatized and the losses socialized.

    I see the banks’ triangulation to assume the roles of servicing Fannie and Freddie accounts as the Holy Grail of lemon socialism. The profit margins promise to be huge and no pain would ever be felt as a result of making reckless decisions.

  2. Matt Stoller

    I hadn’t thought about this, but it seems like there’s a political incentive for the sell-side to kill all reforms designed to bring back the private securitization market. That way, they can argue that only a gov’t backing will allow housing credit to flow.

    In that sense, it’s a bit like bandits arguing that you can’t use the roads unless you pay a toll to the bandits. Therefore, the government should subsidize tolls. Where’s the incentive to secure the road?

  3. rational

    I think the current jumbo spread may be a somewhat misleading. It reflects a market with very low volume and VERY high quality high-net-worth type borrowers with lots of home equity. If you assume private-label securitization will be needed to fund a private market, it will take more than double the pre-crisis credit enhancement to achieve AAA. That is – if you originate $100 million in mortages, you would only be able to issue $93 million in AAA bonds, versus $97 million in the old days. Those economics are why issuers are not bringing deals, combined with continued uncertainty about the final form of regulation. There is no buyers strike, the one deal that was done was tremendously oversubscribed. I keep repeating that but I guess it doesn’t fit the narrative…

  4. Crazy Horse

    Speaking of Extraordinary Rendition, events today in Egypt are rapidly moving toward the exit of the USA’s hand picked dictator Mubarak. His successor Suleiman, favored by the Obama administration, is an equally loyal client, having performed valuable services as chief torturer for the CIA. Our choice of preferred leaders and allies should not be surprising, indeed it is consistent with a nation that uses torture as an authorized method of “intelligence” collection.

    From Aljazzera 2/7/2011

    “In October 2001, Habib was seized from a bus by Pakistani security forces. While detained in Pakistan, at the behest of American agents, he was suspended from a hook and electrocuted repeatedly. He was then turned over to the CIA, and in the process of transporting him to Egypt he endured the usual treatment: his clothes were cut off, a suppository was stuffed in his anus, he was put into a diaper – and ‘wrapped up like a spring roll’.

    In Egypt, as Habib recounts in his memoir, My Story: The Tale of a Terrorist Who Wasn’t, he was repeatedly subjected to electric shocks, immersed in water up to his nostrils and beaten. His fingers were broken and he was hung from metal hooks. At one point, his interrogator slapped him so hard that his blindfold was dislodged, revealing the identity of his tormentor: Suleiman.

    Frustrated that Habib was not providing useful information or confessing to involvement in terrorism, Suleiman ordered a guard to murder a shackled prisoner in front of Habib, which he did with a vicious karate kick. In April 2002, after five months in Egypt, Habib was rendered to American custody at Bagram prison in Afghanistan – and then transported to Guantanamo. On January 11, 2005, the day before he was scheduled to be charged, Dana Priest of the Washington Post published an exposé about Habib’s torture. The US government immediately announced that he would not be charged and would be repatriated to Australia.”

    http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/02/201127114827382865.html

    1. Francois T

      Glenn Greenwald wrote a devastating piece on Suleiman, and also, on the intolerable mendacity of the NYT writing about Obama’s man in Cairo:

      Given the long-obvious fact that the Obama administration has been working to install Suleiman as interim leader as a (dubious) means of placating citizen anger, the above-referenced NYT article today offers a long and detailed profile of the new Egyptian “Vice President.” Unfortunately, the paper of record wasn’t able to find the space to inform its readers about Suleiman’s decades-long history as America’s personal abducter, detainer and torturer of the Egyptian people, nor his status as Israel’s most favored heir to the Mubarak tyranny (though the article did vaguely and euphemistically acknowledge that “the United States has certainly had long ties with Mr. Suleiman” and that “for years he has been an important contact for the Central Intelligence Agency”).

      Suleiman’s repression and brutality — on behalf of both the U.S. and Mubarak — has been well-documented elsewhere (The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer was the first to flag it after the Egyptian uprising, while ABC News recounted how he once offered to chop off the arm of a Terrorist suspect to please the CIA; see also the above-linked Al Jazeera Op-Ed, which provides additional details of Suleiman’s personal taste for overseeing torture).

      Not the man I would like to have as an ally; you just never know when his people are going to want to obliterate him…just ask Hosni!

    2. Francois T

      Glenn Greenwald wrote a devastating piece on Suleiman, and also, on the intolerable mendacity of the NYT writing about Obama’s man in Cairo:

      Given the long-obvious fact that the Obama administration has been working to install Suleiman as interim leader as a (dubious) means of placating citizen anger, the above-referenced NYT article today offers a long and detailed profile of the new Egyptian “Vice President.” Unfortunately, the paper of record wasn’t able to find the space to inform its readers about Suleiman’s decades-long history as America’s personal abducter, detainer and torturer of the Egyptian people, nor his status as Israel’s most favored heir to the Mubarak tyranny (though the article did vaguely and euphemistically acknowledge that “the United States has certainly had long ties with Mr. Suleiman” and that “for years he has been an important contact for the Central Intelligence Agency”).

      Suleiman’s repression and brutality — on behalf of both the U.S. and Mubarak — has been well-documented elsewhere (The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer was the first to flag it after the Egyptian uprising, while ABC News recounted how he once offered to chop off the arm of a Terrorist suspect to please the CIA; see also the above-linked Al Jazeera Op-Ed, which provides additional details of Suleiman’s personal taste for overseeing torture).

      Not the man I would like to have as an ally; you just never know when his people are going to want to obliterate him…just ask Hosni!

  5. Joseppi

    In America, the rule of law does not apply anymore because the financial industry mafia has barricaded themselves behind an impregnable wall that government regulators are forbidden to scale, while the patriots in the security apparatus have destroyed the rule of law with an overriding mandate to foster security at any cost to liberty, freedom and guaranteed human rights.

    1. lambert strether

      I would guess, underlining guess, that one difference between Egyptian corruption and our own is that ours is not “hand to hand,” so to speak. There is no “Your winnings, sir” (Casablanca). A lot of the corruption is intermediated digitally and fetishized as a cost of doing business (rents). That makes it hard to see, and harder to fight. But our banksters have been far more effective at looting the country and controlling the political system than any Pharaonic tyrant has ever been. If our career “progressives” started making this point, it might be useful, but then again it might not, given the disasters they’ve perpetrated on every policy level, starting with HCR, proceeding through FinReg, proceeding on through their buy-in to deficit cutting (“just not now…”) and on and on and on. Best, actually, on consideration, if they stay away from anything important, and follow the billing to the Ds for whatever kabuki goes down in 2012.

        1. Procopius

          I’m not so sure. People who are so terrified of “terrorist plots” that fail hardly seem likely to risk getting water splashed on them or smelling a whiff of tear gas. The protests were never a serious threat to the establishment the last time we had them, in the ’60s. And this time the “hard hats,” the equivalent of the “Mubarak supporters” in Egypt, would be even more violent than they were then, because they’ve been out of work for so long and are desperate to make money.

  6. Tom Hickey

    Public/private “partnerships” rarely work due to moral hazard (read temptation to loot). Government should be all in exclusively or all out. This does not apply to government regulation, of course. There is no such thing a a free market that is also fair. Markets need adult supervision and the supervisors need to be supervised, too, with strict accountability.

  7. lambert strether

    Yves writes:

    What passes for the left has for the most part been dragged [or happily followed their funding opportunities] so far to the right that the use of once well understood terms like “liberal” and “progressive” virtually call for definition.

    No definition is needed; in Versailles, “liberal” and “progressive” are synonyms for “conservative.” We get conservative policy outcomes from Obama, for example, because Obama is a conservative. Since our career “progressives” have a great deal of personal investment in the false idea that Obama is somehow progressive, and also bear a great deal of personal responsibility for obfuscating Obama’s nature for the last two years, don’t expect any analytical clarity on these points any time soon.

  8. Ron

    Excellent points Yves. The political class and its clients in the financial sector are living in a fantasy world of large scale public debt financing that has limited economic life.
    The housing dynamics of the past 40 years is now history as move up buyers with large down payments have been replaced with foreclosure flips and FHA low down payments and buyers facing large structural unemployment/underemployment along with stagnant middle class incomes. Whatever schemes the government and industry can muster will have little impact on the ever deflating housing market. its over!

  9. Cedric Regula

    As far as I can tell the government is gutting F&F at both ends. We have the “gift” settlements on putbacks. Then FHA is essentially competitive with the old subprime underwriting standard and offering a rate just a little higher than treasury bonds. Anyone that’s not underwater too bad can refi to FHA and the good loans in existing F&F MBS become prepays(MBS bond people think that’s bad).

    Then if I understand things right, the servicers are fronting interest payments in the case of non-performing loans to the existing MBS trusts. After foreclosure, which I hear seems to take 1.5 years on average, these interest payments are recouped by the servicer from the foreclosure proceeds, when finally sold, along with all other “costs”, and the remains, on average 20% of loan I hear, gets forwarded to the MBS trust.(excuse my sentence structure)

    So if some poor sucker comes along and buys an existing one today, the interest was fronted to the guy he bought it from and the foreclosure residual ends up being the value of the poor guys new investment.

    1. rational

      @cedric: the “poor guy” buying these securities is a sophisticated hedge fund player who knows exactly how to value the cashflows. Many such have made billions trading distressed RMBS – see John Paulson.

  10. Matt

    From a distance, I understand Fannie and Freddie mortgage writers demand pristine credit to the nominal best mortgage rates and a steep increase for any credit record blemishes. A year ago FHA was talking about using FICOs to increase rates for some. While the FHA subprime equivalent is there as Cedric points out, the FHA still charges a hefty up front and annual PMI fees that the old 3 tiered mortgage system avoided.
    The extra points that the eliminating the GSEs could just as well go back to the local lenders making loans for their own portfolios instead of the corrupt mortgage securitization process so favored by the big 5 banks and their K street minions.
    The most felonious mortgage writing and securitization folk went from small independents or subsidiaries to being part of and now apparently being in control of the big 5 banks.

  11. Richard

    I’d like to put this in a larger context. The US government today is little more than a benefit mill, spinning out money to favored constituencies. Given honest budgeting this would be self-limiting, as the objections and evasions of those forced to pay would increase, until growth had to stop. Unfortunately, the US government has developed (at least) two tricks the reduce the payers resistance.

    The first obviously is borrowing, now in the trillions. More can be spent on benefiaries than is taken in from payers.

    The second is guarantees, such as a bring proposed for Fannie and Freddie. Guarantees function as time shifters, providing a immediate benefit, in the form of a price subsidy, while pushing the cost into the future when the guarantee is called in, as it must be.

    As a long-time reader, I know that you, Yves, expect solutions to be found on the left. I suggest that the above tricks–borrowing and guarantees–have been developed and serve to allow government to deliver benefits to favored constituencies far above what the paying segment would accept. If this is so, there is answer from the left. Honest accounting at current expenditure levels would require payers to pay much more than they are willing to accept. They will respond with all the well-known methods of tax avoidance. (In fact, I would say, it is past payer refusal that has the borrowing and guarantee subtrefuges necessary. The only solution is from the right: cutting freebees for freeloaders.

  12. chicago mike

    Amen Yves.

    What interests me is how the political Right & Left are now holding hands in their policy advocacy regarding ‘the future of the GSEs.’

    The Left’s view is represented by CAP & Mark Zandi. But the Right, which has long decried the GSE’s government subsidy, is also very ‘long’ residential real estate which they (rightly) fear will depreciate further if the GSEs & mortgage-interest expense deduction are put on a path to eventual extinction.

  13. Charles Kiting

    Another urban legend the banks are eagerly promoting is that we wouldn’t have a 30 year mortgage market ex the GSEs.

    Actually that is true.

    Before the GSE’s you could never get a 30-year mortgage from a BANK. Unless you were wealthy you couldn’t get a residential loan at all. You had to get one through an insurance company or a B&L. When the banks started handing out residential loans in the 10′s and went hog wild with it in the 20′s… well we know what happened.

    And the solution THEN should have been to get banks out of the mortgage business. Instead we entrenched banks into the mortgage business. Now that we realize that it only made things worse 60 years later, we’ll make an even dumber mistake by again doing the exact opposite of what should be done.

  14. editor_u

    I do “get” this post. Excellent it is, too. As always. But (he says, quaking in the presence of the Wonderful Wizard) I wonder whether it might be possible to refer to an agency, concept or law by its full name on first mention. I’m semi-smart, but sometimes distracted enough that I don’t remember all the abbreviations and acronyms, if I ever knew them. In the alternative, maybe there could be a glossary?

    FBI needs no such explication. But GSE??? I’m not an econ guy or probably I would know. It might as well stand for something astronauts might eat out of squeezable tubes or soldiers out of pouches or tins. Since there is no glossary here, and the term isn’t in the glossary at Corrente (whence I came), I am clueless. So I’m off to Google to find out.

    Thanks for the great writing, despite my quibble.

    1. Doc Holiday

      GSE stands for Girl Scout Entity … ok, sorry, Gov Sponsored Enterprise … Try Google and look under fraud … something about Lockhardt, but having metal lapse…

      1. Cedric Regula

        Isn’t it Goldman Sachs Entity(GSE)?

        Or is my memory failing and it’s Good Soloman Enhancement(GSE)?

  15. Doc Holiday

    GSE Reform and Covered Bonds

    Financial Reform Still Highly Unlikely on Congressional Agenda

    There is growing, bipartisan support retardation and corruption for reform of government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as part of the overall reform of the securitized secondary mortgage market. As part of GSE reform, legislation creating a U.S. covered bond market under SEC supervision would replace the mortgage securitization function corruption (no … I like fraud better) that GSEs currently perform.

    Covered bonds have been used in Europe to help provide additional funding options for the issuing institutions and are a major source of liquidity for many European nations’ mortgage markets. The legislation would seek to provide the same benefits to the U.S. market.

    “The covered bond provisions narrowly missed being included in the Dodd-Frank Act,” Hamilton explained. “It’s likely that new legislation would provide for the regulatory oversight of covered bond programs, including provisions for default and insolvency of covered bond issuers, and could subject covered bonds to SEC regulation.”

    Also see: WaMu Shows Paulson Mortgage Rescue Plan Is Perilous & Retarded, but perhaps a great place for more fraud

    Perhaps hear: Les Blues de Balfa

  16. Doc Holiday

    It’s Covered Bond Day; Look out below!

    On Maiden Lane III – 2

    So, Goldman, BAC, Citi, WaMu and Warren and all the crooks want a Covered Bond Market, so they can trade in and out of markets that don’t exist — and then, instead of having Fannie, we will exchange that farce with the retarded notion that SEC will watch over this new pooling market — just as SEC did with CDO’s and CDS’s and SPE’s, and all the shit they let happen, because they have both lobby groups and House and Financial reform crooks in their beds, again, as usual.

    The sell job on Covered Bonds will be a great story to watch, as they bullshit taxpayers on why Fannie is being phased out as a GSE and that COvered Bonds are a better way to manage mortgage pools …. total bullshit!!! Ask your local congress-person about the success stories of WaMu and BAC Covered Bonds and the successful accounting that was connected to CB’s and the success of Wa F’ing Mu!

    My stomach’s turning, hope I don’t barf againon this same very old and stale topic!!!

  17. Doc Holiday

    GSE Headfake: Yet More Looting Branded as Fashionable “Reform” Takes On New Shade Of Darker Crap Color …

    All the new Covered Bond Super Models will be wearing Crap Brown this Spring and have embedded rose-smelling scent dusted around the exposed surfaces.

    See: Mythbusters Polishing a Turd

  18. CS

    The large banks are already GSEs. The financial sector should be treated as a public utility – providing a service at little or no profit. Henry Flynt is an artist, philosopher and musician. A onetime member of the Fluxus movement. I know most posters on this site are into politics or economics – his ideas on communism might interest some of you:

    http://www.ubu.com/papers/Flynt-Henry_Communism-2010.pdf

  19. jim carter

    Dear Yves,

    There is a mathematical analysis of the Federal Reserve concluding:

    1. The present practice of creating credit/money via T-securities in the amount of the principal of the security, with a promise to repay the principal PLUS the interest, is impossible. The interest is never created; the debt is perpetual and must continually be increased or the economy will collapse from de-leveraging;

    2. All other fiscal obligations of the nation must be curtailed while the growth in debt will escalate. The exponential growth of the interest in the Ponzi scheme will cause the interest and rolled-over debt to increase until it consumes the entire wealth of society;

    3. ALL money created by Treasury securities goes into the pocket of the Fed. Not only does the Fed receive the interest (if not sold), but also the value of the security upon maturity (or by sale). Congress has temporary benefit of the fiat money (until maturity);

    4. The operation is, as in any Ponzi scheme, predestined for inherent national bankruptcy when buyers to roll over the debt cannot be found. As the scheme becomes visibly precarious, the interest rate will sky-rocket and accelerate the collapse;

    is posted as RIP OFF BY THE FEDERAL RESERVE at http://www.synapticsparks.info/dialog/index.php?topic=32.msg192 and http://www.scribd.com/doc/48194264 and several other locations.

    What is your opinion of it ??

    1. Toby

      Partly a good article, but the govt=bad private=good emphasis is bewildering. Why is interest-bearing debt-money a Ponzi when govt borrows, but not when the transaction is commercial? From the article:

      (A debt incurred by a state or municipality is not a sovereign debt as used in this analysis. Such a debt is akin to a commercial loan and is completely repayable.)

      Huh? And later on:

      Payment of part of the government expenses by taxation does not alter the government’s usury program; for analytical analysis they can stand alone.

      In what way is the Ponzi a govt plan? Is govt the ultimate beneficiary? Govt desperately borrows more and more to make interest payments, while the owners of the debt exist hidden in the Federal Reserve structure. The Federal Reserve structure was drawn up not by govt people, but by private bankers. Lobbyists constantly pressure govt to regulate/deregulate to their liking. To spew out a cliche, cui bono?

      This ever-recurring State/Market Punch and Judy show is a drain on our energy. When money is created as interest-bearing debt, with the owed interest not created with it, this necessarily forces growth on that money supply. Ever more borrowers are required to create new debt-money to pay, temporarily, the interest owed. Eventually, as the article demonstrates, the system collapses. It’s maths, not ideology. Professors of economics like Bernard Lietaer, Franz Hoermann, Bernd Senf, and others from outside economics (Silvio Gesell, Frederick Soddy, and more recently John McMurtry, Michael Rowbotham, Helmut Creuz, etc. etc.), having been pointing this out for decades, yet others insist on turning this simple mathematical process into part of an ideological struggle. This insistence gets no one anywhere.

      Usury, regardless who practices it, regardless how convoluted, is a mechanism for sucking money increasingly to the already rich, i.e. those who have excess to lend in the first place. Usury has always been controversial, and debt jubilees litter history, without the FED anywhere near them, without ‘fiat’ money, or the Mighty State being Evil Plotters taxing hard-earned wages. Introducing such irrelevant (and ultimately false) good-guy, bad-guy dichotomies just muddies the water.

  20. Doc Holiday

    Does this fit into part of the puzzle?

    Wall Street Knows Meltdown Was Just Bad Dream

    Re: “Even Harvey Golub, until recently the chairman of AIG, has called for that firm to be broken up, arguing there is no reason to have the property-casualty business together with life insurance. A breakup, he said, might even help shareholders: “When it gets broken apart, as I think ultimately it will, both of those pieces may unlock much greater value.” ”

    ==> If we aint gonna nationalize the systemically failed banks — the very least we can do as a society is to break up banks and insurance companies that are TBTF. We’d be doing society a favor!

    Mystery insert #1: Beautiful lady, so dear to my heart.
    How did I meet you ? I don’t know
    A messenger sent me in a tropical storm
    You were there in the winter, moonlight on the snow
    And on Lily Pond Lane when the weather was warm.

    1. Doc Holiday

      “We need to get the banks out of the capital lending business”

      ==> I second that and double that, and obviously the real truth to all this, is that banks have never been honest with themselves and recognized the fact that they never had capital to lend out in the first place! How did we get to a point in this run-down country, a place and time in this country, where an institution run by insolvent and naked madmen are fully able to convert so many people into believing in the mass hallucination which we all collectively refer to as subprime retardation. This is an outrage… and I’m not gonna F’ing take it any longer!

      Also see: Music for people with dental plans

  21. David R

    “It’s as if a population suffering from a toxic reaction to mustard was now offered options ranging from Dijon to pommery to spicy brown as meaningful improvements.”

    YVES! The mustard metaphor just made my month. Thank you for being brilliant, and hilarious to boot.

  22. Doc Holiday

    I smell Fresh Covered Bonds and Bacon Greece:

    “It’s disappointing that the administration is abdicating an opportunity to lead and is instead opting to punt,” said Kurt Bardella, spokesman for Darrell Issa, R-Calif., a vocal critic of Fannie and Freddie and chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. He said the administration postponed the release by promising a more specific plan this year.

    Also see: Moody’s Downgrades Greek Covered Bonds

  23. Random Blowhard

    “Serve the banks”, that little missive from the head of the Republican committee on finance and banking reveals the harsh truths of the entire post 2008 financial train wreck. No-one in Congress or the Administration is prepared to end “business as usual” and as such we are doomed to endless repeats of the last financial disaster over and over until the country is rent asunder ala Weimer germany or Zimbabwe.

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