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Old 10-03-2008, 11:48 PM   #151
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Roubini's 12th step of 12 (where he says we are now):

"Twelfth, a vicious circle of losses, capital reduction, credit contraction, forced liquidation and fire sales of assets at below fundamental prices will ensue leading to a cascading and mounting cycle of losses and further credit contraction. In illiquid market actual market prices are now even lower than the lower fundamental value that they now have given the credit problems in the economy. Market prices include a large illiquidity discount on top of the discount due to the credit and fundamental problems of the underlying assets that are backing the distressed financial assets. Capital losses will lead to margin calls and further reduction of risk taking by a variety of financial institutions that are now forced to mark to market their positions. Such a forced fire sale of assets in illiquid markets will lead to further losses that will further contract credit and trigger further margin calls and disintermediation of credit. The triggering event for the next round of this cascade is the downgrade of the monolines and the ensuing sharp drop in equity markets; both will trigger margin calls and further credit disintermediation."
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Old 10-05-2008, 12:25 AM   #152
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Caricature in a German newspaper (translated by myself. Hope investment sum makes sense, it's meant to be a deposit).
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Old 10-05-2008, 10:52 PM   #153
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From a friend:

A little background on how we got into this mess
The issue at hand is how banks use debt to make a lot of money!

The world economy has been growing a rate that far exceeds the population and income growth rates. The reason is simple: We’ve figured out new ways to leverage debt so we can buy more. From a personal standpoint, I think we all understand that the more you put on the credit card, the more “stuff” you can buy. The more stuff you buy, the better the overall economy does. Buying more stuff means more stuff has to be made, which means more jobs – it also means more debt for you! Simple, right?

On a much larger scale, banks play the same game with what are known as “derivatives”. Derivatives are the ability to borrow money based on the assets you have as collateral. While the term is usually only in reference to banks, average citizens can play in the derivative game, too. Most of us don’t have a stomach for that kind of risk, but just to help you understand what they are and how they work, here's a real example of how a person (like you and I) could get themselves in trouble with derivatives.

Let's say you open a stock-market trading account with Morgan Stanley. You send them $50,000 and they deposit that money into your account. You use that money to buy $50,000 in stocks (Microsoft, GM, McDonalds... all your favorites). You now have assets worth $50k. The bank (Morgan Stanley) will lend you up to 50% of the value of those assets (if you don't pay them back, they'll sell your stock to cover it. If the value of your stock goes down, there's enough "room" in there -- 50% -- that they can always sell off your assets if things start going badly in the stock market). This is called a "margin loan"... You decide to do this, so Morgan Stanley writes you a check for $25,000.

You decide to take your $25,000 and open another investment account at Ameritrade. You deposit your money, buy more stocks, and, once again, take out another margin loan. They send you a check for $12,500. You take this check to E-Trade and open another brokerage account, buy more stock, and take out ANOTHER margin loan for $6,250….

You see where we’re going. The term for this is "leveraging up". Your $50,000 allowed you to own nearly $100,000 REAL assets. If you think this feels like a pyramid scheme, you're right. The dark side is that if the "bottom falls out" and your $50,000 suddenly becomes worth $10,000 (maybe McDonalds goes out of business?) the entire house of cards will collapse on top of you. Every loan will declare the entire balance "due" because you no longer have the underlying asset to back it all up. We have, in effect, tricked the banks into lending us money by making them think they have the right to an asset if we default, when in reality, we’ve already promised that asset to someone else. It’s “risky business”, but it works well in a booming economy.

Remember, this is not the stuff of financial gurus. This is something you could do today with horrible credit. There are no checks and balances tracking where the money goes or why – you control all of that, and you don’t need good credit because there’s always the illusion of an asset backing your next “level” of investment. In reality, there’s only one asset (the one on the bottom), but the other banks don’t know that. All they see is cold, hard cash.

Banks, on the other hand, have very good credit. They get much better lending terms than you are I. While you and I can leverage (on average) 50% of the value of our assets, banks can often leverage 125% (or more) of their underlying asset.

Mortgages usually sit “at the bottom” of this house of cards that banks like to build. They’re the foundation of the debt-scheme because they're safe, secure, and they represent real property and real returns. They're solid. In fact, mortgages are so well respected in the financial industry, a bank could easily leverage more than $3 million in "derivative investments" with a $400,000 mortgage sitting at the bottom. Sometimes they’ll even buy a mortgage with the money derived from another mortgage (making it even harder to find the underlying asset the whole thing is based on).

Occasionally, mortgages (or other investments) do go bad. Banks have enough money they can shift things around until it all balanced out again. They’re pretty good at playing the game (they’ve been doing it for a long time) – the banks simply hope (and bet) that an unusual number of home loans won’t default at the same time.


… But what if they do default all at once?

What’s actually happening with the sub-prime mortages?
Starting in the mid-1990’s, congress passed legislation forcing banks to issue these sub-prime loans (I could probably write a book on that alone, but for now it’s enough to know that the government stepped in and decided to regulate the mortgage industry to help people afford houses). So for the last 20 years, they’ve been issuing loans that people couldn’t really afford. This all came to a head over the last 5 to 7 years when banks really perfected the concepts mentioned above (building derivatives on top of home loans) and decided to really expand their sub-prime programs due to super-low interest rates.

The problem the banks ran into about a year ago is that the interest rates that were allowing people to buy all these high-risk mortgages (the ones that sit on the bottom of their debt pyramid) started going up, and when the adjustable rates adjusted, people could no longer afford their homes. (It’s like the credit card company who offers you 6-months free interest – once the interest kicks in, you may not be able to afford your payment anymore!).

At this point, millions of homeowners started defaulting on their debts. Those assets that sat at the bottom of the bank’s debt pyramids became nearly worthless, and the entire pyramid came crumbling down on top of them. A single mortgage that may have helped them derive millions in assets was suddenly worthless, forcing them to make serious adjustments in the way they calculated the value of their assets and their business in general.

To make matters worse, the American people got caught up in the drunkenness of the housing boom. The classic example we saw over the previous decade was leveraging the purchase of a new home. With no down payment, a person could purchase a $200,000 new home and take out a mortgage of 125% of the value of the house. Typically this was an ”Interest Only Adjustable Rate Mortgage” that was used to purchase a “Spec” house that the buyer was going to flip in just a year or so as the economy was booming. This would allow them to buy the new house and take away $50,000 in cash free and clear to invest elsewhere. Of course, when housing prices started to decline about a year ago, we saw the mass destruction of this “imaginary wealth” across millions of American families. Wealth that, in many cases, had been used to allow consumers to build their own derivative pyramids.

Banks used these “derived assets” to lend money to one another and to you. If the underlying asset wasn’t worth anything, they no longer had any collateral they could use to provide more home loans, car loans, credit card loans, you name it. Debt is the fuel that drives our economy, and suddenly found themselves in a position where they were in over their heads.

The problem is that nobody actually knows how big the derivative problem really is. Even the banks are still figuring it out as they try to reverse-engineer these complex pyramids to figure out how bad their books really are. As they’ve done so, they’ve realized they are effectively insolvent (bankrupt) and we’ve witnessed the collapse of some of the largest banks in the world over the last few months. Hundreds more banks could fail as the credit markets remain tight and banks continue to figure out just how much damage they’ve sustained, and will continue to sustain, as a result of the problems we’re facing.


What's all this talk about the "credit markets"?
Lately, the LIBOR rate has been setting new records. LIBOR measures the rate that banks are willing to lend money to each other. Many banks actually peg their loan-rates to LIBOR (e.g. your bank might have a policy that they lend money to people at 3.0% over LIBOR).. They do this for a very simple reason: If LIBOR is 2%, and you want to borrow $20,000, they can borrow that $20k from another bank for 2%, so if they sell you the money for 5%, they have a gauranteed win (assuming, of course, that you pay back the money) and they didn't have to put any of their own capital on the table.


Why are they out of money?
Right now, banks don't have ANY spare cash to put on the table because the minimum "cash on hand" requirements are already being pushed to their limits due to the collapsing value of their mortgages. Basically, if a bank can show the federal government that they have $20b in assets, they need to keep a certain amount of cash on hand to cover those assets. However, high-risk assets force the banks to have more cash on hand. So if a bank has lots of low-risk assets, they only need a low amount of cash. Lots of high-risk assets means they need a high amount of cash.


Simple, right?
Now that their assets have all be redefined as high-risk, they're finding themselves in the position of needing more and more cash -- they're actually getting steamrolled. For every mortgage that's gone bad, they need that much more cash in their account.

Under normal circumstances, this means the banks would step out and borrow more money from a neighboring bank... But all of the neighbor banks are in the same position, so they certainly don't have any cash to lend.

Remember the law of supply and demand? As demand goes up, price goes up with it? Well, demand for cash between banks is going through the roof right now as more and more of their assets are being re-defined and re-valued. If demand is going up, that means price is going up to. The cost to borrow money is no longer in the normally "safe" range for banks (around 1 to 2 percent), but is now approaching 8%.. that's unheard of. It's a nuclear bomb on the banking industry.

You might say "well don't they just pass that off on to the consumer?"... the answer is yes, but they're reluctant to do that as well because so many of their previously "safe" loans are now defaulting. Even the SBA loans and the loans to large businesses are now in default. So even if they just mark up the 8% to, say, 15% so they can still turn a profit, they don't want to do it because if that loan goes bad (which they're finding is more likely than ever) they're in a far worse position. Not only do they have to pay back the original bank for the money they just lost, but they have another "bad asset" on their books.


It's literally a never-ending cycle. It's UGLY.
All of this can be summarized to mean that access to cash (for banks) is now the most expensive it has ever been, that I'm aware of. I would wager that if you walked into your local branch right now and needed a $100,000 SBA loan (normally no problem at all) they would laugh you out of the bank.

No loans to businesses and consumers means nobody has any money to dump into the economy. No money to dump into the economy means everything is about to come to a screeching halt. Like within days or weeks. Remember, our gigantic economy is fueled on DEBT... and we just ran out of fuel!!


What about the bailout plan?
The "bailout bill" is meant to address this problem by getting those bad assets off the bank balance sheets, thus reducing their cash-on-hand requirements and allowing the flow of money to resume.

The problem is that $700b is a drop in the bucket in terms of the number of bad assets these banks have on their books. It’s not even close to enough. Some estimates say that the size of the derivative market exceeds $450 TRILLION DOLLARS. Under these numbers, $700b is not even a drop in the bucket in terms of the amount of money needed to address this problem.

It is my belief that government regulation got us unto this mess. Further regulation and “socialization” of our assets is not going to get us out. As they say in Vegas, “you pays your money and you takes your chances”. The banks paid their money, and now they want the American taxpayer to foot their gambling bill.

Yes, the fallout will be big if this bill doesn’t pass, but it’s my opinion that it will be big even if the bill does pass. The wealthy elite in America are using this bill as a lifeboat. A way to offload “just enough” bad debt to save their own behinds before the whole thing comes down on top of them. Make no mistake about it, it’s going to come down on top of them one way or the other, the question is whether or not they deserve the lifeboat.

I say the Captain should go down with the ship.


The 5 stages of an economic collapse
Taking a step back from the immediate issues we’re facing, I thought it would be interesting to examine the stages of an economic collapse. This was first presented on the Glenn Beck show,



... But after a little research of my own, I’ve adapted the items to fit a more “global” model of an economic collapse. We can examine the financial situations in other countries that have experienced such problems over the last 50 to 75 years and identity patterns that emerge when the economies of countries are in serious trouble. Here’s what I’ve come up with:





Stage 1: Housing Downturn: Started August 2007
Housing downturns turn into a free-fall as the underlying assets that drive the economy rapidly decline in value.
This triggers a massive number of foreclosures and the wealth of the people vanishes into thin air.
This sets off a large wave of bank write-downs
Stage 2: Credit Defaults: Started January 2008
Consumers begin defaulting on debts in massive numbers
Insurance companies who insured those debts lose their perfect credit ratings. The cost of insurance goes up, or insurance companies simply fail.
Major businesses follow suit and begin defaulting on their obligations
Stage 3: Bank Failures: Started July/August 2008
At least one, possibly two major banks buckle under the mounting defaults
Hedge funds begin to fail
General chaos and uncertainty in the stock market
Stage 4: Credit Markets Vanish: September/October 2008
Chaos in the stock market results in new laws to “change the rules” to prevent collapse
Most forms of credit (both to consumers and businesses) dry up. Becomes almost impossible to get a loan.
This results in a vicious circle of more write-downs, more stock market losses, and more bank failures.
Stage 5: Full-Scale Economic Collapse: … Has not yet begun.
Full-scale bank panics. Government-declared (temporary) bank closures and market closures to calm the markets.
Access to cash becomes restricted by the government
Government-backed insurers (like the FDIC) go bankrupt
Commodity prices soar (gold, silver, oil, gasoline, food)
Certainly it stands to reason that we are somewhere in the middle of Stage 4. The government has already set up temporary laws to change the rules in the way stocks can be traded in an effort to help stave off a total meltdown (A good hint that this is for real is that the new laws don’t seem to be having much affect). We haven’t seen credit completely dry up yet, but this is the specific issue President Bush says the bailout bill is designed to address (proving that we’ve reached this stage). Watching the Dow is not a good meter on the health of the economy, but rather watching the lending rates between banks to gauge the availability of cash will show you exactly how healthy the economy is doing (Hint: It’s very, very bad right now).


Signs to Watch For As Things Get Worse
It is my opinion that there are a handful of indicators we can watch for that may help us identity (early on) a move towards stage 5. Here are a few:



News of a failed treasury auction or news that treasury rates have spiked (this would indicate that foreign investors and governments are no longer interested in financing our national debt)
A large and sudden spike in inflation (indicates the government is panicking and attempting to print their way out of the problem by flooding the markets with money).
Any suspension of stock trading or government-mandated bank holidays
Any new limits on moving money outside of the U.S.
Gold exceeding $1500 / ounce (this is a strong indicator that inflation is taking place or banks are unsafe, even if the formal reports don’t show it)
Any closed session of congress (this would indicate panic on the part of the federal government)
Any new laws restricting the amount of money that can be withdrawn from your bank
Multiple (8+) simultaneous US bank failures
Run on the banks (large number of people trying to withdraw their funds)
News that any major western power is no longer accepting US Dollars in payment for key commodities
Overt talk of a US default by Asian or European bankers
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Old 10-06-2008, 11:06 AM   #154
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Run on the banks (large number of people trying to withdraw their funds)
News that any major western power is no longer accepting US Dollars in payment for key commodities
Overt talk of a US default by Asian or European bankers
This part may be a bit dated - the US dollar has been appreciating lately, while the euro and other currencies decline in value (a lot). Big European banks have been more highly leveraged than US banks, and several European banks' assets are several times their host countries' GDPs. So that makes them too big to fail, but also too big to bail out. In the US, FDIC limits have been raised and the FDIC would be bailed out in case of a problem. The dollar is turning into a bit of a safe haven ironically (as of now anyway).
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Old 10-06-2008, 12:37 PM   #155
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The dollar is turning into a bit of a safe haven ironically (as of now anyway).
Due in part to declining oil prices - which will likely reverse sharply after Nov. 4.
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Old 10-06-2008, 12:54 PM   #156
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Due in part to declining oil prices - which will likely reverse sharply after Nov. 4.
It's possible, but oil prices are holding up surprisingly well (around $90) even during this financial meltdown. Current and forecasted oil demand has dropped a bit as well. Other commodities (except maybe gold and silver) are getting hammered a lot harder than oil. There's a mass liquidation of assets (below book value in many cases) across the board, in order to raise cash due to the credit crunch.
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Old 10-08-2008, 08:55 AM   #157
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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Days after it got a federal bailout, American International Group Inc. spent $440,000 on a posh California retreat for its executives, complete with spa treatments, banquets and golf outings, according to lawmakers investigating the company's meltdown.

AIG sent its executives to the coastal St. Regis resort south of Los Angeles, California, even as the company tapped into an $85 billion loan from the government it needed to stave off bankruptcy.

The resort tab included $23,380 worth of spa treatments for AIG employees, according to invoices the resort turned over to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

The retreat didn't include anyone from the financial products division that nearly drove AIG under, but lawmakers still were enraged over thousands of dollars spent on outing for executives of AIG's main U.S. life insurance subsidiary.

"Average Americans are suffering economically. They're losing their jobs, their homes and their health insurance," the committee's chairman, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-California, scolded the company during a lengthy opening statement at a hearing Tuesday.

"Yet less than one week after the taxpayers rescued AIG, company executives could be found wining and dining at one of the most exclusive resorts in the nation."

Former AIG CEO Robert Willumstad, who lost his job a day after the Federal Reserve put up the $85 billion on Sept. 16, said he was not familiar with the conference and would not have gone along with it.

"It seems very inappropriate," Willumstad said in response to questioning from Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland.

"Those executives should be fired," Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama said at a debate with Sen. John McCain on Tuesday, referring to the retreat participants. Obama also said AIG should give the Treasury $440,000 to cover the costs of the retreat.

But Eric Dinallo, superintendent of the New York State Insurance Department, said he could see the value of such a retreat under the circumstances.

"Having been at large global companies and knowing what condition AIG was in ... the absolute worst thing that could have happened" would have been for employees and underwriters in its life insurance subsidiary to flee the company.

"I do agree there is some profligate spending there, but the concept of bringing all the major employees together ... to ensure that the $85 billion could be as greatly as possible paid back would have been not a crazy corporate decision," Dinallo told the House committee.

The hearing disclosed that AIG executives hid the full range of its risky financial products from auditors as losses mounted, according to documents released by the committee, which is examining the chain of events that forced the government to bail out the conglomerate.

The panel sharply criticized AIG's former top executives, who cast blame on each other for the company's financial woes.

"You have cost my constituents and the taxpayers of this country $85 billion and run into the ground one of the most respected insurance companies in the history of our country," said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-New York. "You were just gambling billions, possibly trillions of dollars."

AIG, crippled by huge losses linked to mortgage defaults, was forced last month to accept the $85 billion government loan that gives the U.S. the right to an 80 percent stake in the company.
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Old 10-08-2008, 06:45 PM   #158
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Agreed, but the ECB will cut rates also (eventually), which of course will weaken the euro. Eventually. They'll probably wait until things get a bit messier though.
they waited for about 15 hours
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Old 10-08-2008, 06:59 PM   #159
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WASHINGTON (AP) --
Former AIG CEO Robert Willumstad, who lost his job a day after the Federal Reserve put up the $85 billion on Sept. 16, said he was not familiar with the conference and would not have gone along with it.

"It seems very inappropriate," Willumstad said in response to questioning from Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland.

Ah it seems inappropriate does it?

So why did YOU take 10 million $ when handing your job (after you fucked up) over to Mr Liddy, Mr Willumstad?

This man should go to jail.
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Old 10-08-2008, 07:23 PM   #160
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From a friend:

A little background on how we got into this mess
The issue at hand is how banks use debt to make a lot of money!
Since I'm not able to articulate the technicalities, this description of the derivatives market captures why I've earlier described what's happened as Wall Street and Co pulling an Enron on the economy.

And I suppose this guy should be labelled among the paranoid bloggers and conspiracy therorists for commenting on being threatened with martial law if the bailout didn't pass congress.

YouTube - Rep. Brad Sherman
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Old 10-08-2008, 07:32 PM   #161
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they waited for about 15 hours
Things have gotten particularly bad when the Ger--sorry, I mean the ECB - cut rates.
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Old 10-08-2008, 09:21 PM   #162
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AliEnvy View Post
Since I'm not able to articulate the technicalities, this description of the derivatives market captures why I've earlier described what's happened as Wall Street and Co pulling an Enron on the economy.

And I suppose this guy should be labelled among the paranoid bloggers and conspiracy therorists for commenting on being threatened with martial law if the bailout didn't pass congress.

YouTube - Rep. Brad Sherman
he could be viewed as a prolific hero in 6-9 months.

<>
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Old 10-08-2008, 09:34 PM   #163
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I thought I heard on the news today that AIG was getting another 38-40 Billion dollars on top of the $85 mil they already received
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Old 10-08-2008, 09:38 PM   #164
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yep.
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Old 10-08-2008, 10:51 PM   #165
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so...why the fuck are my taxes going so already-rich executives can get facials and mud wraps? i love going to the spa, but not when i'm strapped for cash...like right now. it really hits a sore spot with me that they're spending so lavishly and then they get even more money to help bail them out. i would love to have even 0.000001% of that bail out money. and i'm just as much at fault for being in my financial predicament as they are with theirs.
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