Daily Archives: April 24, 2015

Unfinished Business and Financial Reforms with Elizabeth Warren

In a presentation Elizabeth Warren gave at the Levy Institute’s 24th annual Hyman P. Minsky Conference, she asked: what are we to make of Dodd-Frank five years later? She asked us to go back to the Wall Street crash of 1929 and how the government responded to it.

In response to the crash, our policy makers examined what went wrong and changed our laws to ensure that excessive speculation and risk taking on Wall Street would not, again, push our economy over a cliff.

They established the SEC – an agency charged with enforcing basic marketplace rules.

They put in place FDIC insurance so depositors felt comfortable that their money was safe in case of disaster.

And the Glass-Steagall act made a clear division between deposit-taking financial institutions and investment banks. This move assured that banks could not use government guaranteed deposits for high risk speculation.


Foreclosure Attorneys That Sue Lenders for Dual Tracking to Stop Foreclosure

LOS ANGELES, April 23, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — There are several ways to stop a foreclosure from moving forward. The swiftest and most effective way is to hire a foreclosure attorney to protect against foreclosure. As soon as a borrower receives a Notice of Trustee Sale or Notice of Default, it is best to hire a foreclosure attorney immediately to protect the property against a foreclosure sale.

The foreclosure attorneys at Consumer Action Law Group have successfully saved hundreds of homes from foreclosure. It doesn’t just stop at that; they have helped many borrowers to do the following:

– Lower mortgage payments
Get rid of the second mortgage
Lower their principal balances
Eliminate past balances due to the lender
Keep their cars, homes, and other property while eliminating debt
– Save homes from foreclosure within 1 hour of the time of sale
Stop the foreclosure date altogether with a court order


Read on.

Citigroup must face South Korean bank’s lawsuit over failed CDO

(Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday revived a lawsuit in which South Korea’s Woori Bank accused Citigroup Inc of defrauding it into buying risky mortgage securities that Citigroup was betting against, prior to the financial crisis.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said a lower court judge erred in finding that Woori waited too long to sue over its $25 million investment in 2007 in Armitage ABS CDO Ltd, a collateralized debt obligation that Citigroup sold.

Citigroup declined to comment.

Woori was the South Korean financial sector’s biggest victim of the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis, and wrote off much of a $1.5 billion stake in CDOs and credit default swaps. It later sued a few banks in the United States to recoup some losses.

According to court papers, Woori invested in Armitage in March 2007, only to see the CDO default that December. Woori said it shed its “worthless” stake in Armitage in August 2008.

But the Seoul-based bank did not sue until May 15, 2012, which Citigroup argued was too late under a three-year statute of limitations prescribed under South Korean law.

Read on.

Proxy Advisers Recommend Voting Against Some Bank of America Directors

Two influential proxy advisers are telling Bank of America Corp. shareholders to vote against some of the bank’s board members, citing how the board last year combined the chairman and CEO roles.

Institutional Shareholder Services told shareholders in a report earlier this week to vote against the members of the bank’s corporate governance board committee: Sharon Allen,Frank Bramble,Thomas May and Lionel Nowell.

Glass Lewis also told shareholders to vote against Mr. May, who chairs the corporate governance committee.

The two proxy advisers, which make recommendations to institutional shareholders, both cited the board’s process and decision in October to recombine the chairman and CEO jobs, which put Brian Moynihan in both roles. The bank made the move despite a 2009 shareholder-passed rule saying the two jobs must be held by separate people.

Read on.

J.P. Morgan could learn a thing or two from Bank of the Ozarks

David Weidner made a fair point when he called large bank stocks “the biggest sucker’s bet on Wall Street today” earlier this week. But if we dig deeper into the industry, there are plenty of regional banks that have done well for shareholders.

“Every year brings a new prediction” by fund managers that big banks will outperform the market, Weidner said, as he skewered the perennial argument by sell-side analysts that the group should be bought because shares are trading at such low price-to-earnings ratios.

The lack of trust for the big banks, the depressed returns on equity and the continually low interest-rate environment have taken their toll.

Among the “big six” U.S. banks, only Wells Fargo & Co. WFC, +0.35%  has outperformed the S&P 500 Index SPX, +0.24%  since the end of 2005.

This table shows the average returns on average equity for the big six banks over the past four quarters, along with returns on common equity (ROCE) for 2005:

Bank Ticker Average return on common equity – past four quarters ROCE – 2006
Wells Fargo & Co. WFC,+0.35% 13.71% 19.77%
J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. JPM,-0.22% 9.24% 12.25%
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. GS,+0.50% 11.32% 31.89%
Morgan Stanley MS,+0.48% 6.29% 23.52%
Bank of America Corp. BAC,-0.32% 2.51% 18.07%
Citigroup Inc. C, +0.23% 4.01% 18.41%
Total returns assume dividends are reinvested. Source: FactSet

Clearly, the world has changed for the big banks. An eventual improvement in interest-rate spreads will help, but the higher capital requirements and other regulatory restrictions make it seem quite unlikely for the big six to achieve ROCE close to 20%.

Read on.

Largest Bank In America Joins War On Cash

The control of your money!!!


The war on cash is escalating. Just a week ago, the infamous Willem Buiter, along with Ken Rogoff, voiced their support for a restriction (or ban altogether) on the use of cash (something that was already been implemented in Louisiana in 2011 for used goods). Today, as Mises’ Jo Salerno reports, the war has acquired a powerful new ally in Chase, the largest bank in the U.S., which has enacted a policyrestricting the use of cash in selected markets; bans cash payments for credit cards, mortgages, and auto loans; and disallows the storage of “any cash or coins” in safe deposit boxes.

Buiter defended his “controversial” call for a ban on cash, as Bloomberg reports:

“The world’s central banks have a problem. When economic conditions worsen, they react by reducing interest rates in order to stimulate the economy. But, as has happened across the world in recent years, there comes a point where those central banks run out of room to cut — they can bring interest rates to zero, but reducing them further below that is fraught with problems, the biggest of which is cash in the economy.

In a new piece, Citi’s Willem Buiter looks at this problem, which is known as the effective lower bound (ELB) on nominal interest rates. Fundamentally, the ELB problem comes down to cash. According to Buiter, the ELB only exists at all due to the existence of cash, which is a bearer instrument that pays zero nominal rates. Why have your money on deposit at a negative rate that reduces your wealth when you can have it in cash and suffer no reduction? Cash therefore gives people an easy and effective way of avoiding negative nominal rates. Buiter’s note suggests three ways to address this problem:

  1. Abolish currency.
  2. Tax currency.
  3. Remove the fixed exchange rate between currency and central bank reserves/deposits.

Yes, Buiter’s solution to cash’s ability to allow people to avoid negative deposit rates is to abolish cash altogether. (Note that he’s far from being the first to float this idea. Ken Rogoff has given his endorsement to the idea as well, as have others.)

Before looking at the practicalities of abolishing currency, we should first look at whether it could ever be necessary. Due to the costs of holding large amounts of cash, Buiter puts the actual nominal rate at which the move to cash makes sense as closer to -100bp. So, in order for a cash abolition to become necessary, central banks would need to be in a position where they wished to set nominal rates much lower than that.

Buiter does not have to go far to find an example of where a central bank may have wanted to set interest rates much lower to -100bp. He uses (a fairly aggressive) Taylor Rule to show that Federal Reserve rates should have been as low as -6 percent during the financial crisis.”

BofA ‘Hustle’ appeal tests Justice’s novel use of old S&L statute

(Reuters) – In successive rulings in 2013, three well-regarded federal judges in Manhattan endorsed the Justice Department’s creative adaptation of an old law from the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s to cases against banks involved in the financial crisis of the 2000s. That April, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan refused to dismiss the government’s civil suit against Bank of New York Mellon. Similar rulings followed in August from U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in the so-called “Hustle” case against Bank of America and in September from U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in a Justice Department civil suit against Wells Fargo.

All three banks had argued that the statute at the heart of the government suits, the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989, was intended to protect financial institutions from self-dealing insiders – and not to enable the government to bring suits against the banks themselves. FIRREA permits Justice to bring civil cases against defendants that engage in mail or wire fraud “affecting a federally insured financial institution.” The government said in the BNY Mellon, BofA and Wells Fargo cases that the banks had affected themselves by committing fraud. The banks, as you can imagine, said that was a perverse way to read the statute.

The judges all agreed with the government’s “self-affecting” theory. As Charles Michael ofBrune & Richard (and the indispensable S.D.N.Y. Blog) wrote for Columbia’s securities litigation blog, “The upshot is that the government will likely be able to pursue civil charges against federally insured financial institutions (whose misconduct in most cases would affect themselves) for conduct going back 10 years (the limitations period. Conduct leading into or during the financial crisis could be the subject of FIRREA claims for several more years to come.”

BofA went on to lose a jury trial in the case before Rakoff, which involved allegations that Countrywide defrauded Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac when it sold them mortgages underwritten with a fast-track automated system. Rakoff hit the bank with $1.2 billion in damages, along the way rejected BofA’s “self-affecting” defenses in summary judgment and post-trial motions. BNY Mellon settled the government’s FIRREA case (as well as related New York attorney general claims) last month for $714 million. In the case before Judge Furman, Wells Fargo and the government are still in discovery, according to the docket.

The Justice Department still has a couple of years under FIRREA’s 10-year statute of limitations to bring claims for crisis-era misconduct – but only if the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agrees with the government and Judges Kaplan, Rakoff and Furman.

Read on.