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Posts Tagged ‘Bailout’

Is the Federal Reserve Behind the European Bailout? Audit the Fed!! [UPDATED with video]

Posted by Larry Doyle on May 10th, 2010 12:52 PM |

Is the American taxpayer ultimately bailing out the European Union? Far fetched? Don’t be so sure.

While the focus of the European bailout has been on the European Central Bank, the European Union, and the IMF, little attention is being given to swap lines which were reopened between the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank.

The ECB has steadfastly fought the idea of breeching the principles which formed the European common currency (the Euro) in order to fashion a bailout for the EU. Did the ECB crater to political pressure by the EU? Or, did the risks of the bailout shift from the ECB to another large central bank? Such as? The Federal Reserve! (more…)

Elizabeth Warren Highlights Washington’s Losing Battle on Housing

Posted by Larry Doyle on October 9th, 2009 9:21 AM |

Who in Washington will give you a straight answer? Elizabeth Warren.

Who is Elizabeth Warren? Her Wikipedia bio reads:

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren (born 1949) is the Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, where she teaches contract law, bankruptcy, and commercial law. In the wake of the 2008-9 financial crisis, she has also become the chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel created to oversee the U.S. banking bailout, formally known as the Troubled Assets Relief Program. In 2007, she first developed the idea to create a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency, which President Barack Obama, Christopher Dodd, and Barney Frank are now advocating as part of their financial regulatory reform proposals.

In May 2009, Warren was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.

Ms. Warren consistently takes no prisoners or provides no pandering in making honest assessments of the interaction between Washington and Wall Street. She has called the banks on the carpet. She has called Secretary Geithner on the carpet. She has called Congress on the carpet. Why? A general lack of honesty, integrity, and transparency in dealing with the American public.

When she speaks, I listen.

What did she have to say this morning? In commenting on a recently released report on the effectiveness of government programs to support housing, Warren questioned the scalability and the permanence of the impact of the TARP funding. Bloomberg provides further color in writing TARP Oversight Group Says Treasury Mortgage Plan Not Effective. The report highlights:

“Rising unemployment, generally flat or even falling home prices and impending mortgage-rate resets threaten to cast millions more out of their homes,” the report said. “The panel urges Treasury to reconsider the scope, scalability and permanence of the programs designed to minimize the economic impact of foreclosures and consider whether new programs or program enhancements could be adopted.”

New programs or program enhancements? Yesterday I opined “Washington Needs a New Housing Model” and wrote:

While the administration swims upstream on this issue, bank policy of tight credit and restrictive lending only further exacerbates the housing market. Make no mistake, though, banks are taking that approach to tight credit at the behest of regulators who know the level of losses in the banking system and are trying to preserve the industry as a whole.

I like a rallying equity market as much as anybody, but I wouldn’t spend any paper gains just yet. Why? The new housing model is displaying that:

“As defaults become more common, the social stigma attached with defaulting will likely be reduced, especially if there continues to be few repercussions for people who walk away from their loans,” concluded Sapienza.  “This has an adverse effect on homeowners who do pay their mortgages, and the after-effects of more defaults and more price collapse could be economic catastrophe.”

This model needs some quick-dry crazy glue, which could only be applied in the form of a serious principal reduction program. Banks would take immediate and massive hits to capital which they clearly won’t accept.

So how can we generate some support for housing?

Aside from a principal reduction program, the penalty for those who would strategically default on their mortgage needs to be far more onerous.

The principal reduction would negatively impact bank earnings. Too bad. The banks are currently feeding at the taxpayer trough and would not be here without the bailouts. The individuals who are capable of making their payments need to accept the moral responsibility that is embedded in a contract.

Given the massive violation of moral hazards and breaking of contracts by Uncle Sam, that old man does not have a lot of credibility on that front.

What do we really learn here? Ultimately, the market is the market and efforts to manipulate or support a falling market will only be temporary. The market needs to find the clearing level where private money will purchase properties. That private money will wait while Uncle Sam continues to try to prop the market.

In the meantime, do not expect any meaningful support for housing.

LD

Let’s Make a Deal…or Maybe Not

Posted by Larry Doyle on April 7th, 2009 11:50 AM |

Two conflicting stories struck me in today’s WSJ. The gist of these stories highlights how and why private enterprise would not want to have Uncle Sam as a partner, unless absolutely necessary. Let me share the stories with my thoughts: 

1. Bailout Man Turns the Screws

I fully respect a tough and honest negotiator. A person who deals in the best interest of his shareholders represents the essence of capitalism. 

Regrettably, our economy has been littered with executives at a wide array of companies who have negotiated more on behalf of select constituencies than shareholders. Plenty of executives have not played by either the spirit or the letter of the law.

Any negotiator needs to understand their counterparty and their goals. Additionally, the ability to adapt is critical. Without sacrificing principles, a level of intransigence can often render negotiations worthless. To that end, it does seem as if the government is learning some of these lessons. 

I do not pretend these negotiations are easy but, given that not every counterparty is the same, I believe slightly different tactics must be utilized as appropriate.  Otherwise, no matter how compelling a deal may appear, counterparties may back away from the table. To wit . . .     

2. Investors Back Away From Fed’s TALF

Please recall how the equity markets surged 5% on the day Secretary Geithner announced the plans for the TALF and the PPIP. These programs are getting off to a very slow start. I just received some real time color from my friends at 12th Street Capital in regard to the TALF: 

I’m not really sure why the government can’t get their act together and do multiple fundings during the month, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised given that these were the same people that thought all of this paper should just trade on an exchange.  If they fail to make this program work within a realistic market dynamic they run the risk of this falling by the wayside.  

  LD

A New TARP Plan

Posted by Larry Doyle on March 21st, 2009 9:13 PM |

confidence-cartoon1

Cartoon by Walt Handelsman, Newsday

The Weakest Link is Weakening

Posted by Larry Doyle on March 2nd, 2009 6:00 AM |

The other day I highlighted the fact that 12 eastern European countries would solicit a bailout from the European Union over the weekend in Brussels. I defined this bloc of eastern European countries as currently the Weakest Link in the global economy. Well, if they were the weakest link then they just got weaker as they were rebuffed in their request for aid.

The dynamic at work in the weekend’s emergency meeting held in Brussels is a play on beggar-thy-neighbor policies implemented during times of economic stress.

There are actually a number of factors influencing the European Union’s refusal to provide bailout money to these eastern European nations. Included in these factors are the following: (more…)

The Weakest Link

Posted by Larry Doyle on February 27th, 2009 10:45 AM |

It is widely believed that the weakest link in the global economy centers on Eastern Europe. In light of that, the leaders of 12 eastern European countries are holding an emergency economic summit this weekend. From that summit, it is expected that these countries will request an international bailout.

 As of now it appears the countries in greatest degree of stress are Hungary, Ukraine, and Serbia. The expectation is that the group of countries will request the European Union to arrange a $230 billion bailout package. Who would provide the funding? A conglomerate of European Central Banks, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, European Investment Bank, and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

A major issue for eastern Europe is that their creditors, largely western European banks along with western European countries, are not exactly in great shape themselves. These countries may look to accelerate their entry into the EU and the full adoption of the Euro along with it.

As the pressure and stress builds, the chance of political dislocation also grows.   

For further details on how Hungary Seeks $230 Billion Bailout for Eastern Europe.  I will be monitoring this situation as it develops.  As our global economy is very much interconnected, the increase in sovereign credit risks is a very serious concern. 

LD






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