Friday, December 18, 2009

The padlock men on overtime

The FDIC seized another seven banks today at a cost approaching two billion. Two of the banks could not be sold at any price and they appear to have been trying to unload them for some time. So the government will just mail checks to those depositors that are covered by insurance. Everybody else will just eat their losses.

Banks that are healthy enough themselves to absorb other banks are becoming increasingly scarce. An indication of what the padlock men expect for next year is that they have increased their staffing budget by 55% and doubled the budget for the holding of banks in receivership. That would be for the temporary running of banks they board up and the mothballing of other assets that they can’t unload because of their excessive toxicity.

They like to say at a 140 closings we are no where near the numbers of the banks closed during Reagan’s crash of the S&Ls that peaked at 650 in one year during Pappy Bush’s years but many of these banks are large chains so the numbers don’t directly compare. The FDIC and/or the Treasury Dept. as well as the Federal Reserve have already been assuming the risk for trillions of toxic assets that far outstrip the losses from the good old days of that meltdown.

Next year we will see the first real wave of the bank tsunami, so far people are just standing on the beach wondering where the water went. We can expect the illusion of recovery from the Obama bubble but what we need is some real leadership because those waves are just going to keep coming. www.prairie2.com

Monday, December 14, 2009

The two economies of Alan Greenspan

Paul Samuelson died yesterday at 94, by any standard the foremost academic economist of the past hundred years. He made no bones about who was responsible for the current economic crisis and how much worse this one was compared to the last Depression. He pulled no punches about what a monster that Wall Street has become and the need to rein them in.

President Obama had some of the monsters ( I mean the big Wall bankers) to the White House for a chat today, Obama has been upping the rhetoric about Wall Street. They in turn pledged a few billion in small and medium business lending, a fraction of what they paid back to the Treasury. They paid the TARP money back early to avoid any restrictions on executive pay and will doubtless not follow through on any pledges they made to Obama now that he has no leverage over them.

Alan Greenspan made the rounds of the news programs Sunday and expressed his concern for the dual economy. The economy of the big corporations and the rich is doing just fine but the economy for everybody else is doing poorly. Really Al? You spent your entire career keeping wage inflation down. Your policies made the entire middle class into the working poor and now you’re concerned?

The big news last week was that retail sales were up (they’re still way down compared to last year). But a closer look at the numbers underscores Greenspan’s comments, the entire increase for all of the retail sector was made up of increased spending just by people whose incomes exceed 100,000 Dollars. Spending for people in the bottom tier continues to plummet even compared to last year. Those people Greenspan suddenly is concerned about can’t afford a Christmas goose nor healthcare for tiny Tim. www.prairie2.com