Category Archives: Regulations and regulators

Regulators Punting on “Too Big to Fail” Problem of Repo, Looking to Install Yet Another Bailout Vehicle

The post-crisis era is rife with band-aid-over-gunshot-wound approaches to deep-seated weakness in the financial system. Perversely, because the authorities were able to keep the system from falling apart, albeit via a raft of overt and covert subsidies to the perps, they’ve reacted as if all that needs to be done is a series of fixes rather than more fundamental interventions. One glaring example is a critically important funding mechanism, repo, for firms that hold large inventories of securities and/or enter into derivative positions, such as major capital markets firms like Goldman, Deutsche Bank, and Barclays, as well as hedge funds. Here, the authorities have been giving way to industry demands that will assure that repo, which was bailed out in the crisis, will be bailed out again.

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Does the Central Bank Control Long-Term Interest Rates? A Glance at Operation Twist

Although less prevalently talked about today many economists assume that while the central bank has control over the short-term rate of interest, the long-term rate of interest is set by the market. When Post-Keynesians make the case that when a country issues its own sovereign currency the rate of interest is controlled by the central bank and that the government never faces a financing constraint some economists deny this and point to the long-term rate of interest which they claim is under the control of the market. They say that if market participants decide to put the squeeze on the government they can raise the long-term rate of interest.

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The SEC’s Mary Jo White: A Failure, or Doing Her Real Job?

Your humble blogger has to confess to having called Mary Jo White’s appointment incorrectly, based on enthusiastic readings on her from people who’d worked with her as a prosecutor, such as Neil Barofksy. But the default assumption for Obama appointees, that he’d never give anyone who’s rock the status quo a serious role, was the right assessment. White’s ten years in the private sector at Debevoise seems to have reinforced habits that aren’t serving her well, even in her role as Potemkin fixer-upper of an agency that is widely seen as timid and floundering. Not only is she failing to move regulatory measures forward quickly enough, but she’s also engaged in an unseemly amount of turf warfare with other agencies.

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Quelle Surprise! SEC Goes Easy on Big Political Donors

David Sirota at the International Business Times wrote up a study by Maria Correira of the London Business School that examined how often firms that corrected their financial statements from 1996 to 2006 were subject to SEC enforcement actions. It should come as no surprise that big political donors get off easy. From Sirota’s account: […]

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Rather Than Prosecutions, Fed Pressuring Banks to Pay Miscreants Less

Your humble blogger must confess to being partly wrong about the Fed’s recent realization that banksters had learned the right lesson from the crisis: crime pays. We were incredulous that the central bank had missed the fact that financial firm employees were unrepentant and their executives saw no reason to make real changes (hence all the howling about reform measures that are pretty minor relative to the damage done). From a recent post:

This story would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic.

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“A Financial Casino Would Be a Step Up From What We Have”

This is a terrific and very accessible interview with Boston College professor Ed Kane, who is a long-standing critic of the failure to rein in financial firms that feed at the taxpayer trough. At one point in the talk, Kane and his interviewer Marshall Auerback discuss how casinos are well aware of the fact that the house can lose and they monitor gamblers intensively to make sure that no one is engaging is sleight of hand. Thus if we treated our banking system like the financial casino that it has become, we’d be much better off than we are now.

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How Much of a Short Position Did Paul Singer Take in Argentina? And Who Were the Bagholders?

With the Argentine default, we are seeing a replay of a strategy that established Naked Capitalism readers will remember from the crisis: use a complex structure to disguise risk so that short sellers can place their wagers at far lower prices than they would be able to otherwise. And that raises the interesting question of how large a net short position Paul Singer, the instigator of the litigation that has undone Argentina’s restructuring deal and put the country in default, took against Argentina, as well as the relationship among the parties that put on the positions on behalf of short sellers.

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Ilargi: In The Lie Of The Beholder

Yves here. Ilargi uses strained messaging in response to recent market upsets, the Argentine default, and the failure of Banco Santo Espirito to address one of NC’s pet topics, propagandizing. Most people think of propaganda as the deliberate crafting of false or misleading messages, or the simple Big Lie. However, there’s also the variant of the deeply vested partisan. As Upton Sinclair stated, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” And a lot of those salaried-by-the-status-quo folks have access to media megaphones.

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Krugman v. Morgenson on Too Big to Fail

Paul Krugman has a thing where you know what his column will look like on Monday based on what goes on his blog that Friday. Sure enough, he transformed this blog post on the Government Accountability Office’s report on too big to fail into this column yesterday with the humble title “Dodd-Frank Financial Reform is Working.”

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Matt Stoller: A Grand Unified Theory of Terribleness: Money Laundering by Banks, Terrorism, Genocide, and Tax Cuts

Major multi-national bank BNP Paribas just pleaded guilty to money-laundering a little less than $200 billion over the course of the last ten years. According to New York Superintendent of Financial Services Benjamin Lawsky, “BNPP employees – with the knowledge of multiple senior executives – engaged in a long-standing scheme that illegally funneled money to countries involved in terrorism and genocide.”

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New York Fed Worried About Gambling in Casablanca, Um, Ethics Problem at Big Banks

This story would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic. Yesterday, the Financial Times reported that the New York Fed woke up out of its usual slumber and realized that the crisis has changed nothing and that banks still are in the business of looting have unaddressed ethics issues.

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Financial Predators Move On From Foreclosure Rescue, Enter Student Debt, Military Lending Spaces

At one level, a crackdown on foreclosure rescue scams and not the overarching mortgage and foreclosure fraud is like letting the arsonist who set fire to the house go while busting the guy who took five bucks off the dresser before the house started to burn. Nevertheless, these scams do represent some of the worst elements of our society, featuring the kind of people who see suffering and vulnerability and think about dollar signs. One of my first entrees into this world of foreclosure nightmares was through a friend who had fallen behind on his payments, and then paid somebody up-front money to help him secure a loan modification. That person did nothing to help and then skipped town with the cash.

So it’s good to see CFPB finally take a crack at this, in conjunction with the Federal Trade Commission and 15 states.

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Cigna: Crapification or Insurance Fraud?

We’ve been slowly working toward a theory of crapification and if we manage to sort it out, we might even develop a school of craopnomics. But in reality, Corporate America presumably already has that well codified but has yet to release the playbook to the great unwashed masses.

As much as I am of two minds about sharing personal anecdotes with readers, my recent experiences with the health insurer Cigna amount to several case studies in crapification in one nasty package. Moreover, since the American health care policy is to force even more Americans into the health insurance regime and call it “health care,” I thought my tale might elicit similar accounts from readers, as well as input from people who’ve worked in the insurance industry as to how much of what I am experiencing is incompetence versus design.

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