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Posts Tagged ‘moral hazards’

Where is Wall Street Hiding Hundred Plus Billion in Lo$$es?

Posted by Larry Doyle on March 8th, 2010 11:24 AM |

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA)

Banks are increasingly healthy, right? Our nation’s accounting rules promote real transparency and integrity in our financial reporting, right? Housing is bottoming, right? No, no, and no!

Why so pessimistic, you may ask? I am not pessimistic at all. I am merely searching for the truth in the midst of the smoke and mirrors on Wall Street and in Washington.

Thank you to our friends at 12th Street Capital for sharing a recently released letter from Congressman Barney Frank imploring the four largest banks involved in mortgage originations to write off second liens they are holding on their books at inflated values.

Why does Congressman Frank believe these loans need to be written off? (more…)

More Bank Fraud

Posted by Larry Doyle on January 16th, 2010 12:53 PM |

The bailing out of our largest financial institutions was a violation of moral hazard of the greatest magnitude. With that violation well in place, America is now facing violations of other moral hazards. What do I mean?

The mortgage modification program is a joke because the banks holding the mortgages have no incentive in modifying them. Why? Because, to a very large extent, if the bank modifies the primary mortgage then it has to write off the value of a second lien, if in fact a second lien exists. Given the amount of equity borrowers took out of their homes, there are a lot of second liens outstanding.

How are the banks handling these second liens? Violating a moral hazard and committing fraud in the process. A report from CNBC, Big Banks Accused of Short Sale Fraud, highlights this reality.  The report outlines: (more…)

Let’s Give Barack Some Sense on Cents

Posted by Larry Doyle on June 16th, 2009 9:16 AM |

In true Washington fashion, Obama’s proposed regulatory reforms have been “leaked” to the market. Let’s review, analyze, and critique. The Wall Street Journal provides a very helpful overview of these reforms via Blueprint to Avoid Market Meltdowns:

President Barack Obama spent the first five months of his presidency trying to make sure the worst financial shock in 70 years didn’t push the U.S. economy into a depression. He will spend the next five months or so trying to redo the rules of finance so we don’t go through this again.

Enough of the Obama plan has leaked to see how Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and chief White House economist Lawrence Summers propose to protect the economy from the vulnerabilities now so painfully evident: Plug the gaps; don’t redo the organization chart. Rely heavily on the sagacity of the Federal Reserve; the alternatives are inferior. Craft a plan that has a chance of getting through Congress.

Will there be real “change” involved in Obama’s plans or a mere reshuffling of the deck chairs along with a healthy dose of Monday morning quarterbacking? Will the Wall Street-Washington cabal be exposed or solidified? Let’s navigate the landscape of Obama’s proposed reforms using the WSJ’s blueprint:

Problem: Several financial firms were so big and intertwined that their failure threatened the entire system, and they weren’t all banks.

Solution: Pump up the Fed’s role in overseeing all big “financial holding companies,” giving it explicit authority to match its responsibility. Tell it to protect the system, not only the sturdiness of the banking units of these firms. Brace for controversy: Some in Congress already think the Fed is too powerful.

So propose a “council” of regulators to share some duties, but make the Fed the heavy. (Retain the Fed’s ability to lend to anyone in a crisis, as it did to Bear Stearns and American International Group, but require it to get the formal OK of the Treasury secretary.)

Sense on ¢ents: the Fed is already charged with these responsibilities within the banking industry. I highlighted these points the other day in my post “The All Powerful Federal Reserve”:

What are the Federal Reserve’s responsibilities?

-supervising and regulating banking institutions to ensure the safety and soundness of the nation’s banking and financial system and to protect the credit rights of consumers

-maintaining the stability of the financial system and containing systemic risk that may arise in financial markets

The Fed failed to perform. Why give it more power? Obama is specifically addressing the risks within the insurance industry in designating the Fed as the authority in overseeing the entire economic system.

I believe our risks are increasing dramatically via this move. Why? Not enough checks and balances. Not enough eyes and ears and “teeth” to monitor and promote accountability. Merely because the Fed is “all powerful” does not mean that it is “all knowing,” “all capable,” and “all encompassing.” (more…)

Remaining on Guard…

Posted by Larry Doyle on April 4th, 2009 10:07 AM |

I much prefer a rallying stock market, but I am not a day trader trying to catch moves for quick flips. I look for changes in economic fundamentals (incorporating both private sector and public sector inputs), assess those changes with market technicals (overbought and oversold conditions), and position myself accordingly.

The big wild card in current analysis is the impact of public sector inputs. Many of the maneuvers utilized by the Treasury and Federal Reserve have never been used prior to this economic downturn. Are they working? To what extent? What are the unintended consequences? What is the time delay from implementing a program to measuring its impact on the economy? These questions are the topics of protracted discussions by economists, bankers, analysts, and money managers around the globe. I’d also like to address them here at Sense on Cents.

My market instincts tell me that programs injecting trillions of dollars across wide swaths of the market are not without costs. These costs in the form of “crowding out“, distorted competition, changed behaviors (AIG undercutting insurance rates), moral hazards, and inflation are very real. The challenge is assessing the risks of these long term costs versus the necessity of providing sufficient capital and liquidity backstops to support the economy.  (more…)






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