FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Money Launderers

A week ago, on the day President Bush disavowed government intervention in financial markets, the Federal Reserve announced the fruit of its weekend labor: essentially guaranteeing hundreds of billions in toxic financial derivatives owned by banks. Money laundering has become the de facto standard of Federal Reserve policy.

The financial press has been filled with praise for the US government rescue of Bear Stearns, one of the worst offenders of reason and logic in the issuance of securitized mortgage debt. You have to turn to blogs to get a sense of the malfeasance.

Excerpt from the Hussman Funds’ Weekly Market Comment (3/24/08) regarding the Fed’s involvement on JPMorgan’s (JPM) deal to buy out Bear Stearns (BSC):

In effect, the Federal Reserve decided last week to overstep its legal boundaries ­ going beyond providing liquidity to the banking system and attempting to ensure the solvency of a non-bank entity. Specifically, the Fed agreed to provide a $30 billion “non-recourse loan” to J.P. Morgan, secured only by the worst tranche of Bear Stearns’ mortgage debt. But the bank ­ J.P. Morgan ­ was in no financial trouble. Instead, it was effectively offered a subsidy by the Fed at public expense. Rick Santelli of CNBC is exactly right. If this is how the U.S. government is going to operate in a democratic, free-market society, “we might as well put a hammer and sickle on the flag.”

What is a “non-recourse loan”? Put simply, if the homeowners underlying that weak tranche of debt go into foreclosure, they will lose their homes, and the public will lose as well. But J.P. Morgan will not lose, nor will Bear Stearns’ bondholders. This will be an outrageous outcome if it is allowed to stand.

… ­ it’s a picnic for insiders, bought and paid for through the abuse of public funds by government officials too unprincipled even to recognize the abuse. The only good thing about this deal is that it buys time while principled ways of busting and restructuring it can be settled.

At a moment in history when the US treasury is hemorraging ($5000 per second in Iraq), the Bush White House is setting up to do something that can be understood only through a corrective lens that takes every sighting and reverses it: the party of laissez faire, free markets and minimal regulation supports the costliest nationalization of industry in US economic history.

Last week, in addition to rescuing Bear Stearns, the shadow financial system intervened in metals and commodity markets– beating down anxiety indexes more sharply than at any time in the past half century. At the same time, the coordinated release of quarterly reports whose numbers ever so slightly “exceeded expectations” was enough justification–along with massive buying by US government operations that can only be faintly glimpsed–to send world stock markets back upwards.

Various metaphors have been used to describe US government intervention in the markets, like band-aid solutions to cure a gaping wound. In fact, the US government’s attempts to calm investor anxiety at the observable financial disarray is like using chemical foam at the surface to kill a deep-burning coal fire.

There was more micromanaging of the news cycle by the money launderers this morning:

March 24 (Bloomberg) — Forget lower interest rates. For the Federal Reserve to keep the financial markets from imploding it needs to buy troubled mortgage bonds from banks and securities firms, say the world’s biggest Treasury investors.

Even after cutting rates by 3 percentage points since September, expanding the range of securities it accepts as collateral for loans and giving dealers access to its discount window, the Fed has been unable to promote confidence. The difference between what the government and banks pay for three- month loans doubled in the past month to 1.92 percentage points.

The only tool left may be for the Fed to help facilitate a Resolution Trust Corp.-type agency that would buy bonds backed by home loans, said Bill Gross, manager of the world’s biggest bond fund at Pacific Investment Management Co. While purchasing some of the $6 trillion mortgage securities outstanding would take problem debt off the balance sheets of banks and alleviate the cause of the credit crunch, it would put taxpayers at risk.

The US taxpayer is about to be force fed bad mortgage debt, that honest people didn’t ask for– created by Wall Street where incomes average $387,000 (NY Times, March 24, 2008 “With Economy Tied to Wall St. New York Braces for Job Cuts”) and fostered by a culture of corruption rippling all the way down through mortgage brokers, appraisers, and local zoning officials for whom the hard currency of fraud is as likely Bahamian poker chips as dollars.

Poor America.

ALAN FARAGO of Coral Gables, who writes about the environment and the politics of South Florida, can be reached at alanfarago@yahoo.com

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Alan Farago is president of Friends of the Everglades and can be reached at afarago@bellsouth.net

Weekend Edition
June 22, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Karl Grossman
Star Wars Redux: Trump’s Space Force
Andrew Levine
Strange Bedfellows
Jeffrey St. Clair
Intolerable Opinions in an Intolerant Time
Paul Street
None of Us are Free, One of Us is Chained
Edward Curtin
Slow Suicide and the Abandonment of the World
Celina Stien-della Croce
The ‘Soft Coup’ and the Attack on the Brazilian People 
James Bovard
Pro-War Media Deserve Slamming, Not Sainthood
Louisa Willcox
My Friend Margot Kidder: Sharing a Love of Dogs, the Wild, and Speaking Truth to Power
David Rosen
Trump’s War on Sex
Mir Alikhan
Trump, North Korea, and the Death of IR Theory
Christopher Jones
Neoliberalism, Pipelines, and Canadian Political Economy
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Why is Tariq Ramadan Imprisoned?
Robert Fantina
MAGA, Trump Style
Linn Washington Jr.
Justice System Abuses Mothers with No Apologies
Martha Rosenberg
Questions About a Popular Antibiotic Class
Ida Audeh
A Watershed Moment in Palestinian History: Interview with Jamal Juma’
Edward Hunt
The Afghan War is Killing More People Than Ever
Geoff Dutton
Electrocuting Oral Tradition
Don Fitz
When Cuban Polyclinics Were Born
Ramzy Baroud
End the Wars to Halt the Refugee Crisis
Ralph Nader
The Unsurpassed Power trip by an Insuperable Control Freak
Lara Merling
The Pain of Puerto Ricans is a Profit Source for Creditors
James Jordan
Struggle and Defiance at Colombia’s Feast of Pestilence
Tamara Pearson
Indifference to a Hellish World
Kathy Kelly
Hungering for Nuclear Disarmament
Jessicah Pierre
Celebrating the End of Slavery, With One Big Asterisk
Rohullah Naderi
The Ever-Shrinking Space for Hazara Ethnic Group
Binoy Kampmark
Leaving the UN Human Rights Council
Nomi Prins 
How Trump’s Trade Wars Could Lead to a Great Depression
Robert Fisk
Can Former Lebanese MP Mustafa Alloush Turn Even the Coldest of Middle Eastern Sceptics into an Optimist?
Franklin Lamb
Could “Tough Love” Salvage Lebanon?
George Ochenski
Why Wild Horse Island is Still Wild
Ann Garrison
Nikki Haley: Damn the UNHRC and the Rest of You Too
Jonah Raskin
What’s Hippie Food? A Culinary Quest for the Real Deal
Raouf Halaby
Give It Up, Ya Mahmoud
Brian Wakamo
We Subsidize the Wrong Kind of Agriculture
Patrick Higgins
Children in Cages Create Glimmers of the Moral Reserve
Patrick Bobilin
What Does Optimism Look Like Now?
Don Qaswa
A Reduction of Economic Warfare and Bombing Might Help 
Robin Carver
Why We Still Need Pride Parades
Jill Richardson
Immigrant Kids are Suffering From Trauma That Will Last for Years
Thomas Mountain
USA’s “Soft” Coup in Ethiopia?
Jim Hightower
Big Oil’s Man in Foreign Policy
Louis Proyect
Civilization and Its Absence
David Yearsley
Midsummer Music Even the Nazis Couldn’t Stamp Out
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail