As head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission [CFTC], Brooksley Born became alarmed by the lack of oversight of the secretive, multitrillion-dollar over-the-counter derivatives market. Her attempts to regulate derivatives ran into fierce resistance from then-Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, then-Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and then-Deputy Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, who prevailed upon Congress to stop Born and limit future regulation. This is the edited transcript of an interview conducted on Aug. 28, 2009.
Brooksley Born may have just gotten one of Washington’s greatest opportunities to say “I told you so.”
Born was the head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission under President Bill Clinton in the late 1990s when she began to explore ways to regulate the derivatives market. She had grown concerned that derivatives represented a hidden dark side to the U.S. economy and that few people fully understood the risks involved. But her effort was quashed by then-Fed chief Alan Greenspan and then-Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin.
In wake of the crash of 2008, the vast, complicated and little-understood derivatives market has been widely blamed for undermining the American financial system — just as Born worried it could back in 1997.
But on Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced that she’s appointing Born to the new 10-member Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, a body established by Congress to serve as a sort of 9-11 Commission for the financial crisis.
In a news release announcing the appointment, Pelosi said the new commission will provide “a full explanation of why so many people lost their homes, their life’s savings and their hard-earned pensions.”
Pelosi said: “To avoid a financial crisis of this magnitude in the future, the commission will conduct a thorough, systematic and nonpartisan examination of the failures in both government and financial markets.”
The commission is to submit its report to Congress by Dec. 15, 2010.
Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) appointed former California State Treasurer Phil Angelides as chairman of the commission, along with four other members.
On the Republican side, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) appointed former House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas as vice chairman of the commission and three other members, including Doug Holtz-Eakin, the former economic policy director for Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign.
Yesterday I checked in with Blue Sky Rising and found an excellent and concise post about the economic meltdown, and the amazing woman who was warning about it over a decade ago; Brooksley Born. The six part Frontline special appears to have embedding issues so I have posted the series on Eyeblast. I am sure you will find the story as riveting as I did, and will recognize the same names you are hearing today as the “great minds” fixing the current economic meltdown. Please remember that the over-reaching has a boomerang effect; see NY-23.
This is a must watch for all those who wonder what brought about the world’s greatest financial crisis. Over a decade ago, there were many warnings by experts, and regulators that major fraud was being committed on Wall Street that could result in a massive financial crisis. Greenspan, Rubin, and Summers made sure that the regulators were not allowed to enforce the laws that existed on the books to protect the American people from losing their life savings. The banks knew they could get away with fraud, and outright stealing so they expanded their treachery. This excellent Frontline episode is the story of the great regulator, Brooksley Born, and how she warned and tried to regulate the dangerous OTC (Over the Counter) derivatives market when it was revealed that massive fraud was being committed. ‘The Warning’ sheds light on the role Greenspan, Rubin and Summers played in not only controlling our Congress by strongarming them from heading Born’s warning, but also pushing Congress to enact laws that prevented her from regulating the OTC derivatives market altogether. Knowing that her hands were tied, she resigned her leadership of the agency soon after. This is yet another example of how this crisis could have been prevented by our Congress, but they did nothing to protect the American people from losing almost everything they ever worked for. Is there still any question who Congress works for?
“We didn’t truly know the dangers of the market, because it was a dark market,” says Brooksley Born, the head of an obscure federal regulatory agency — the Commodity Futures Trading Commission [CFTC] — who not only warned of the potential for economic meltdown in the late 1990s, but also tried to convince the country’s key economic powerbrokers to take actions that could have helped avert the crisis. “They were totally opposed to it,” Born says. “That puzzled me. What was it that was in this market that had to be hidden?”
Here are a few stories that got lost in the tidal wave of crap coming out of Washington, D.C. recently, and something new today concerning the death of the dollar.
While everybody on the MSM is talking about the $17 Billion (that’s 1/5th of 1%) that bambi’s minions were able to shave from the $3.7 TRILLION BUDGET, (I can’t wait for QUADRILLION to become the norm), he is actually talking about sucking the taxpayers of even more their lifeforce for guess who?…the IRS; another vampyre organization that needs to go bye-bye along with other outdated fads like the singing bass, the pet rock, shag haircuts, platform shoes, and bell bottoms.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is proposing to close tax loopholes for companies and individuals with operations or bank accounts overseas.
Obama said Monday he wants to prevent U.S. companies from deferring tax payments by keeping profits in foreign companies rather than recording them at home. He also called for more transparency in bank accounts held by Americans in tax havens such as the Cayman Islands.
Obama said that his plan would generate $210 billion in new taxes over 10 years and “make it easier” for companies to create jobs at home. Congress may resist portions of the plan.
Yes Sir, closing all those loopholes is going to keep American companies and American jobs here in the states….only if you are a complete dipsh*t, would you believe that. How about we dump the Federal Reserve System, especially since they appear to be covering the transfer of $9 Trillion Dollars to whomever is their current flavor of the month, get rid of the Internal Revenue Service, (as you will soon see), and send the fascist in charge packing, (impeachment anyone?)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama proposed on Thursday nearly doubling funds to enforce U.S. tax laws next year, with an aim of more than quadrupling funding for tax compliance to $2.1 billion within five years.
The budget plan seeks $12.1 billion for the Internal Revenue Service, responsible for collecting and enforcing individual and corporate tax laws, for fiscal 2010, which begins October 1. That amounts to a roughly 5.2 percent increase over the IRS budget for 2009, which was $11.5 billion.
The budget proposal, which must be approved by Congress, includes a $890 million request to boost tax enforcement, including in the international arena, an increase of $400 million from 2009.
Underreporting of income by individuals and businesses led to a “tax gap” of $345 billion in 2001, the most recent year available, according to the government. Of that, corporate income tax and employment tax underreporting made up about $84 billion, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office.
The Obama administration said it would use the funds to further expand its efforts to boost compliance outside the U.S., “placing greater scrutiny on cross-border transactions and tax issues.”
Now most of us industrious little monsters know that the tax code is some 70,000 pages and that TurboTax Cheating Timmie cannot even do his own taxes. We also know that our taxes are going to be going up next year, and that the 8 or so dollars that we are receiving in our paychecks is tax money we already paid and now we get to pay taxes on it again. How can we be so frakkin’ blessed to have such a patriotic opportunity to pay taxes on the same money twice? How?…It’s.Like.A.Dream.Come.True. Joe Biden and the rest of the left wing liberal democrats are having wet dreams about this ponzi scheme.
Meanwhile, in the rest of realityville known as the world, most of you may already know that Brazil and China are in negotiations to replace the American Dollar as their currency of choice for trade deals between their two countries.
Brazil and China will work towards using their own currencies in trade transactions rather than the US dollar, according to Brazil’s central bank and aides to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s president.
The move follows recent Chinese challenges to the status of the dollar as the world’s leading international currency.
Mr Lula da Silva, who is visiting Beijing this week, and Hu Jintao, China’s president, first discussed the idea of replacing the dollar with the renminbi and the real as trade currencies when they met at the G20 summit in London last month.
An official at Brazil’s central bank stressed that talks were at an early stage. He also said that what was under discussion was not a currency swap of the kind China recently agreed with Argentina and which the US had agreed with several countries, including Brazil.
“Currency swaps are not necessarily trade related,” the official said. “The funds can be drawn down for any use. What we are talking about now is Brazil paying for Chinese goods with reals and China paying for Brazilian goods with renminbi.”
Henrique Meirelles and Zhou Xiaochuan, governors of the two countries’ central banks, were expected to meet soon to discuss the matter, the official said.
Mr Zhou recently proposed replacing the US dollar as the world’s leading currency with a new international reserve currency, possibly in the form of special drawing rights (SDRs), a unit of account used by the International Monetary Fund.
In September, Brazil and Argentina signed an agreement under which importers and exporters in the two countries may make and receive payments in pesos and reals, although they may also continue to use the US dollar if they prefer.
Now add this to the tsunami of crap overwhelming the average American.
The U.S. dollar slid against most major currencies Wednesday, hitting a five-month low of US$1.3775 against the euro and pushing the Canadian dollar up US1.21¢ to a seven-month high of US87.69¢.
“By many measures, the U.S. appears just a few short steps away from losing its coveted triple-A status, unless the recovery turns out to be considerably stronger than expected and the fiscal repair is faster than commonly expected,” said Douglas Porter, deputy chief economist at BMO Capital Markets. “A downgrade could boost the cost of funding U.S. debt at the margin, but underlying inflation and fiscal fundamentals will ultimately be the primary driver.”
Despite the risk, Paul Ashworth, chief economist at Capital Economics, said the United States was unlikely to lose its rating. But, in the event of a downgrade, he said it would probably not have a lasting impact on the U.S. dollar.
However, he said a big threat lurked in the country’s expanded monetary base, which now stands at about US$1.8-trillion. While the expanded monetary base was needed to feed economic growth and ward off deflation under the Fed’s quantitative easing plan, Mr. Ashworth said such high levels could fuel rampant inflation once broader monetary conditions improved.
And then we have Greenspan weighing in on the little banks capital problems.
May 21 (Bloomberg) — Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan signaled that the financial crisis has yet to end even as borrowing costs tumble, warning that U.S. banks must raise “large” amounts of money.
“There is still a very large unfunded capital requirement in the commercial banking system in the United States and that’s got to be funded,” Greenspan said in an interview yesterday in Washington. He also said that “until the price of homes flattens out we still have a very serious potential mortgage crisis.”
Greenspan’s comments suggest he sees a bigger capital shortfall in the banking system than reflected in regulators’ stress tests on the 19 biggest U.S. lenders. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told lawmakers yesterday that banks have issued more than $56 billion in new stock or debt since the tests found 10 firms needed to raise about $75 billion.
A lack of capital at banks may inhibit lending to consumers and businesses, tempering any economic recovery. The former Fed chief, who left the central bank in 2006, said that the continued slump in home prices is putting at risk millions of borrowers.
“We’re on the edge and if this thing doesn’t get resolved quickly I’m worried,” he said before a meeting with House of Representatives members on financial regulation that was organized by the Washington-based Bipartisan Policy Center.
Home prices will only start to stabilize once the “liquidation” rate of single-family homes has peaked, he said. “I don’t think we’re there yet.”
Big banks aren’t the only ones under stress-their smaller competitors also need to raise billions in capital to meet tighter government standards but may have trouble doing so, some analysts believe.
While investors have focused mostly on the nation’s largest 19 banks that were the subject of the government stress tests, shares of some smaller banks have been getting pummeled since last week’s rollout of the test results.
One of the reasons: the stricter capital requirements for all banks-not just the 19 biggest-may prove too onerous for some of the regional and community institutions, causing some of them to fail.
“Most of these little banks won’t be able to do it,” said Richard Bove, banking analyst at Rochdale Securities. “We’re headed to a situation where the focus is going to be on small banks. The small banks are going to fail in, I think, pretty large numbers. I’m guessing 150.”
Now pay attention to this next section kids.
Many of the banks will have trouble raising capital due to a variety of factors, among them a “crowding out” factor in which the larger banks will scoop up the lion’s share of the investment money available, and the big banks’ diversity of business that contrasts to many smaller institutions’ stock-in-trade of basic retail lending.
“The ones that can’t access capital are going to have to basically get on their knees and go to a larger bank to take them over,” said Michael Cohn, chief investment strategist at Atlantis Asset Management in New York. “Over the next six months there’s going to be some consolidation with the banks that can’t raise capital, that are OK now but don’t meet the stress-test guidelines. Basically the government’s going to force them to consolidate.”
An additional factor, Bove suggests, is a fundamental desire by the government to knock out the weaker community banks and concentrate financial power in the hands of larger institutions.
That would fit into a philosophy that the comparatve lack of mega US banks and the capital to which they have access makes domestic corporations less competitive with their foreign counterparts, he said.
“The policy of the US government from the mid-1980s on has been to try to eliminate as many small banks as possible, although I doubt any government would admit that’s what they are doing,” he said.
Implementing the stress tests and putting the large banks into position where they would become over-capitalized is consistent with a strategy the government has been implementing since the administration of President George H.W. Bush.
If your head has not exploded yet, here are a few more links to help that process along.
I am not going to lay the whole economic meltdown situation at Bambi and Timmie’s feet, the responsibility for that could be spread over numerous government agencies, congressmen, senators, presidents, and banking officials, but Bambi and Timmie are NOT making the situation any better even though Timmie, (who cannot even do his own taxes), is saying the economy is stabilizing – wishful thinking if one were to ask me.
I’m still waiting to see what happens with the commercial real estate bubble.
If you have not figured out yet that the whole purpose of this economic meltdown was to completely drain the average American of every last penny, better get on board because after they print all this money and bail out all these companies, inflation is going to be gearing up to finish us off.