Free Market Capitalism? Where?

How long can our financial system survive such blatant corruption and favoritism?

  • Jamie Dimon, the Chairman and CEO of JP Morgan Chase, has served on the Board of Directors at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York since 2007. During the financial crisis, the Fed provided JP Morgan Chase with $391 billion in total financial assistance. JP Morgan Chase was also used by the Fed as a clearinghouse for the Fed’s emergency lending programs.
  • In March of 2008, the Fed provided JP Morgan Chase with $29 billion in financing to acquire Bear Stearns. During the financial crisis, the Fed provided JP Morgan Chase with an 18-month exemption from risk-based leverage and capital requirements. The Fed also agreed to take risky mortgage-related assets off of Bear Stearns balance sheet before JP Morgan Chase acquired this troubled investment bank.
  • Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO of General Electric, served on the New York Fed’s Board of Directors from 2006-2011. General Electric received $16 billion in low-interest financing from the Federal Reserve’s Commercial Paper Funding Facility during this time period.
  • Stephen Friedman. In 2008, the New York Fed approved an application from Goldman Sachs to become a bank holding company giving it access to cheap Fed loans. During the same period, Friedman, who was chairman of the New York Fed at the time, sat on the Goldman Sachs board of directors and owned Goldman stock, something the Fed’s rules prohibited. He received a waiver in late 2008 that was not made public. After Friedman received the waiver, he continued to purchase stock in Goldman from November 2008 through January of 2009 unbeknownst to the Fed, according to the GAO. During the financial crisis, Goldman Sachs received $814 billion in total financial assistance from the Fed.
  • Sanford Weill, the former CEO of Citigroup, served on the Fed’s Board of Directors in New York in 2006. During the financial crisis, Citigroup received over $2.5 trillion in total financial assistance from the Fed.
  • Richard Fuld, Jr, the former CEO of Lehman Brothers, served on the Fed’s Board of Directors in New York from 2006 to 2008. During the financial crisis, the Fed provided $183 billion in total financial assistance to Lehman before it collapsed.
  • James M. Wells, the Chairman and CEO of SunTrust Banks, has served on the Board of Directors at the Federal Reserve Bank in Atlanta since 2008. During the financial crisis, SunTrust received $7.5 billion in total financial assistance from the Fed.
  • Richard Carrion, the head of Popular Inc. in Puerto Rico, has served on the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York since 2008. Popular received $1.2 billion in total financing from the Fed’s Term Auction Facility during the financial crisis.
  • James Smith, the Chairman and CEO of Webster Bank, served on the Federal Reserve’s Board of Directors in Boston from 2008-2010. Webster Bank received $550 million in total financing from the Federal Reserve’s Term Auction Facility during the financial crisis.
  • Ted Cecala, the former Chairman and CEO of Wilmington Trust, served on the Fed’s Board of Directors in Philadelphia from 2008-2010. Wilmington Trust received $3.2 billion in total financial assistance from the Federal Reserve during the financial crisis.
  • Robert Jones, the President and CEO of Old National Bancorp, has served on the Fed’s Board of Directors in St. Louis since 2008. Old National Bancorp received a total of $550 million in low-interest loans from the Federal Reserve’s Term Auction Facility during the financial crisis.
  • James Rohr, the Chairman and CEO of PNC Financial Services Group, served on the Fed’s Board of Directors in Cleveland from 2008-2010. PNC received $6.5 billion in low-interest loans from the Federal Reserve during the financial crisis.
  • George Fisk, the CEO of LegacyTexas Group, was a director at the Dallas Federal Reserve in 2009. During the financial crisis, his firm received a $5 million low-interest loan from the Federal Reserve’s Term Auction Facility.
  • Dennis Kuester, the former CEO of Marshall & Ilsley, served as a board director on the Chicago Federal Reserve from 2007-2008. During the financial crisis, his bank received over $21 billion in low-interest loans from the Fed.
  • George Jones, Jr., the CEO of Texas Capital Bank, has served as a board director at the Dallas Federal Reserve since 2009. During the financial crisis, his bank received $2.3 billion in total financing from the Fed’s Term Auction Facility.
  • Douglas Morrison, was the Chief Financial Officer at CitiBank in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, while he served as a board director at the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank in 2006. During the financial crisis, CitiBank in Sioux Falls, South Dakota received over $21 billion in total financing from the Federal Reserve.
  • L. Phillip Humann, the former CEO of SunTrust Banks, served on the Board of Directors at the Federal Reserve Bank in Atlanta from 2006-2008. During the financial crisis, SunTrust received $7.5 billion in total financial assistance from the Fed.
  • Henry Meyer, III, the former CEO of KeyCorp, served on the Board of Directors at the Federal Reserve Bank in Cleveland from 2006-2007. During the financial crisis, KeyBank (owned by KeyCorp) received over $40 billion in total financing from the Federal Reserve.
  • Ronald Logue, the former CEO of State Street Corporation, served as a board member of the Boston Federal Reserve Bank from 2006-2007. During the financial crisis, State Street Corporation received a total of $42 billion in financing from the Federal Reserve.

Source: Crony Capitalists of the Federal Reserve

Texas, PIIGS, Debt, and Bailouts

Background

The governments of Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, and Spain (PIIGS) have borrowed and spent far more money than they can ever pay back.

In the United States, Texas is known for its independent attitude. The governments of California, Illinois, and New York  have borrowed and spent more money than they can pay back.

From John Mauldin:

My grandfather was born in West Texas in 1859 (not a typo). His uncle (a Kelly and Irish) was a charter member of the Texas Rangers, which was formed around 1836. When the mayor of Waco telegraphed the Rangers in the 1870s that there was a riot in town and to please send the Rangers, he got a telegram back saying they would be there on the noon train. The mayor met the train and was dismayed to see that only one Ranger got off. When asked why he didn’t have more men with him, the Ranger supposedly replied, “There’s only one riot, isn’t there?” That became the motto of the Rangers: “One riot, one Ranger.” These were the toughest SOBs in a tough state. And the uncle was Irish to boot.

Texas started out as a republic and was independent for nine years. The treaty that made us a state allows us to either split into five states (wouldn’t that change the balance in the Senate?) or to leave the union, at our choice.

I was once in a hotel bar (a shock, I know) somewhere in Africa and was asked where I was from. “Texas,” I replied. “Interesting,” came back the response; “Whenever I meet someone from America they always say they are from the US or America. Except when they are from Texas. Then they are always from Texas.” Yep. Texas is a state of mind, and those who come here eventually adopt the state as their own. Just seems to happen.

Now, a thought game. What would happen if California and Illinois and New York came to Texas and said, “We think your taxes should double so that we can finance our debt, and please buy even more of our debt next year to pay for our unfunded pensions. Oh, and while you are doing that the Fed is going to print massive amounts of dollars (far, far more than they are now) and destroy the value of the dollar, so your Texas pensions will be worthless.

My guess is that my fellow Texans would look around and decide which Ranger to set on these guys, and make it clear that this was not the ride we had signed on for, and dust off that old treaty and work out an exit strategy.

Understand, in the runup to the recent election our sitting governor talked about secession. I was been in meetings with Very Serious Texas Politicians where secession was earnestly discussed 15 years ago – maybe over some whiskey, but with the conclusion that Texas might be better off without the crushing debt that was coming down the pike.

Do I think that could happen? No. The Fed will never choose hyperinflation, and I do not think you can find 60 Senators to decide that bailing out the states that let their own spending and taxes get out of control would be acceptable with their voters. Further, even though I am a very proud Texan, after 9/11 it was not the Texas flag that brought a tear to my eye, it was the Stars and Stripes. It would have to take a series of massively stupid decisions to bring Texas to the place where it would even remotely consider leaving the union.

Now consider, if I have some pride in being Texan, with less than 200 years of history, proud as it is, what is it like to be Greek or Irish or French or German or any of the European mix? What deep cultural roots must they have? Nearly every country at one point was on top of the heap, and all have rich heritages. There is history around every corner in Europe. Except a history of unity.

If you ask a European in that African bar where he is from, does he say Europe? No, he is from a country. (Unless he is Basque. Or Catalonian. Or Welsh.) One is not from Great Britain but from one of the divers components of the UK. And a large number of Scots want out. Could Belgium split apart? Possibly.

But essentially, what the eurozone is asking Germany (and the Dutch and the rest of “core” Europe) to do is bail out Greece and perhaps much of the rest of the periphery, and to assume massive deficits and rising taxes. Because for there to be enough money for the deficit nations to borrow cheaply, there must be an AAA rating and a 30% cash-to-loan deposit, as I understand it. Spain or Ireland may try and borrow their share of the bailout fund (such irony), but they do not get that AAA rating. For all intents and purposes, it is on the back of Germany and, to some extent, France.

Will German taxpayers go along with that? Will France?

Will the Germans still finance the Greeks in 2013 when they have not whittled down their deficit and the Greeks still want to retire at 50 on full pensions? Will the Irish decide that it is in their best interests to take on massive debt so that French and German and UK banks are paid back? Can the solution to a debt problem be more debt?

Will Texas singlehandedly bail out California so their prison guards can continue to make $100,000 a year? Tough questions.