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Message: tech funds in silver cleaned out

Re: tech funds in silver cleaned out

posted on Mar 18, 2009 09:35AM

i don't know when it will happen, but there is no honor among thieves, so i think it is only a matter of time before the crooks turn on each other. specifically, there is the matter of $165 million in bonuses to aig traders and executives that they will be forced to cough up due to public outrage. as outrageous as they are, those employees have contracts, and those bonuses were mandated by law. so if some of the traders take their bosses and/or the government to court, we may finally get to expose the entire fraud.

this was written by f. william engdahl:

The rise of a market in derivatives or ‘swaps’ contracts supposedly to ‘insure’ against a company going into default and not being able to honor its debts, the Credit Default Swaps market, is at the heart of the global financial catastrophe. The market was ‘invented’ by a young economist at JP MorganChase, interestingly enough one of the few big banks recording profit today.

As noted, CDS trading was created free from US Government regulation by President Clinton when he signed the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 that mandated that financial derivatives not be under government regulation scrutiny. Enron crony and UBS bank adviser, Texas good ‘ol boy Congressman Phil Gramm helped pass the laws at a time his wife, Wendy headed the putative regulator, the Commodity Futures Trading Corporation (CFTC). That gave the green light to a derivatives market nominally worth more than $62 trillion in 2008. No one knows the exact size because this is a ‘phantom banking market’ completely private and between banks, so-called OTC for Over-The-Counter, ‘just between us.’

Michael Greenberger who headed the CFTC Division of Trading and Markets in the late 1990’s at the time of the financial deregulation acts, says that banks and hedge funds"were betting the subprimes would pay off and they would not need the capital to support their bets." The unregulated Credit Default Swaps, he says, have been at "the heart of the subprime meltdown. In 1998 Greenberger proposed regulating the growing derivatives market. At the prospect, he says, "all hell broke loose. The lobbyists for major commercial banks and investment banks and hedge funds went wild. They all wanted to be trading without the government looking over their shoulder."

The confidence between banks, the ‘just between us,’ collapsed after the ill-conceived decision by the US Government on September 15 2008 not to save the world’s fourth largest investment bank, Lehman Brothers. By then, there was no alternative but to nationalize and then sort out the mess. Bankruptcy, as the world now realizes, was not an option. But neither was the Henry Paulson TARP ‘casino rescue plan’ and Geithner’s continuation any option.

At the point the Government let Lehman Bros go down only months after saving the far smaller Bear Stearns and also AIG, not even a bank, there was no clear idea who would be saved and who not. No bank could afford to trust any other bank not to be holding just as risky loans as they. The crisis became a global systemic crisis. Notably, the man who participated in the decision to let Lehman Bros fail ‘to teach a lesson’ was then President of the New York Federal Reserve, US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.

The US Government has stated that AIG cannot be allowed to fail, that, to use the jargon, AIG is ‘too big to fail.’ The reason the Government says it can’t let AIG fail is that if the company defaulted, hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of Credit-Default Swaps (CDS) would ‘blow up,’ and US and European banks whose toxic assets are supposedly insured by AIG would suddenly be sitting on immense losses. Quite the contrary, AIG is ‘too big to save’ under current rules of the game that have been written by Wall Street and the privately-owned Federal Reserve, Treasury Secretary Geithner’s former employer.

The CDS fraud

Credit Default Swaps purported, in theory, to let banks remove loan risk from their balance sheet onto others such as AIG, an insurer. It was based on a colossal fraud using flawed mathematical risk models.

AIG went big into the selling Credit Default Swaps with banks around the world, from its London ‘Financial Practices’ unit. AIG in effect issued pseudo ‘insurance’ for the hundreds of billions of dollars in new Asset Backed Securities (ABS) that Wall Street firms and banks like Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Barclays were issuing, including Sub-prime Mortgage Backed Securities.

It was a huge Ponzi scheme built by AIG that depended on the fact the world’s largest insurance company held a rare AAA credit rating from Moody’s and S&P rating agencies. That meant AIG could borrow more cheaply than other companies with lower ratings

AIG issuing of CDS contracts acted as a form of insurance for the various exotic Asset Backed Securities (ABS) securities being issued by Wall Street and London banks. AIG was saying ‘if, by some remote chance’ those mortgage-backed securities suffered losses, AIG would pay the loss, not the banks.

Then it got really wild. Because credit-default swaps were not regulated, not even classed as a traditional insurance product, AIG didn’t have to set aside loss reserves! And it didn’t. So when housing prices started falling, and losses started piling up, it had no way to pay off.

AIG then issued of hundreds of billions of dollars worth of CDS instruments to allow banks to make their balance sheets look safer than they really were. Banks were able to get their loan risk low not by owning safer assets. They simply bought AIG’s credit-default swaps. The swaps meant that the risk of loss was transferred to AIG, making the bank portfolios look absolutely risk-free. That gave banks the legal illusion of BIS minimum capital requirements, so they could increase their leverage and buy yet more ‘risk-free’ assets.

How could that be allowed? The level of venal corruption in the Clinton and then Bush Administration rivals that of the last days of Rome before its fall from the internal rot of corruption. Banks invested billions in lobbying Washington politicians to get their way.

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