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Tracking the many faces of the global credit implosion. You can pull sub-categories from this feed by adding a ?tags=a,b,c,... style parameter. The category tags (which can be given as numbers or handles) are : id handle category description 1 housing_finance "Housing Finance News/ML-Implode Main" 2 hedge_funds "Hedge Funds News" 3 fed "The Fed, Central Banking and fin. reg." 4 foreclosures "Foreclosures (News)" 5 chavez "Hugo Chavez Watch (News)" 6 builders "Home Builders News" 7 banks "Banks News" 8 credit_bubble "Credit Bubble and Crash (News)" 9 peak_oil "Peak Oil and Energy Security (News)" 10 BRIC_v_us "BRIC countries vs. U.S. (News)" 11 gov_bk "Government Bankruptcy (News)" 12 mediawatch "Mainstream Media Watch" 13 Our commentary "IEHI Original Commentary" 14 rebalancing "Economic Rebalancing (News)" 15 pm "Precious Metals News" 16 inflation "Inflation and Deflation News" 17 nr "Natural Resources News" 18 consumer "Consumer Capitulation/Issues and Populism" 20 pe "Private Equity Implosion (News)" 21 recession "Recession/depression News" 22 ML_implosion "Mortgage Lender IMPLOSIONS" 23 HF_implosion "Hedge Fund IMPLOSIONS" 24 HB_implosion "Home Builder IMPLOSIONS" 25 Bank_implosion "Bank IMPLOSIONS" 26 ML_update "Mortgage Lender UPDATES" 27 HF_update "Hedge Fund UPDATES" 28 HB_update "Home Builder UPDATES" 29 Bank_update "Bank UPDATES" 30 RFWS "Radio Free Wall Street" 31 FHA "FHA and Mtg Regulation (News)" 32 martial_law "Martial Law/Big Brother/NWO Watch" 33 pension "Retirement Implosion (News)" 34 mtgindustry "Mortgage Industry (News)" 35 econlists "Econ insider lists" 36 iehi_fb "IEHI facebook feed" 37 robin_fb "robin facebook" 38 IEHItwitter "IEHI Twitter Feed" 39 ak_linkedin "akrowne LinkedIn (mtg industry)"
Updated: 31 min 28 sec ago

Ataris Bassist Michael Davenport Accused Of Running $27M Fraud Scheme

46 min 37 sec ago
Ataris Bassist Michael Davenport Accused Of Running $27 Million Real Estate Fraud Scheme Using Craigslist

Government shutdown watch: Are enough House Republicans on board?

9 hours 40 min ago
Republican leaders are full speed ahead on a short-term funding bill -- now they just need the votes for it. House GOP leaders are cautiously optimistic they can muster the votes for their short-term funding bill released Tuesday night.

Senate Republicans leaders have convinced themselves Democrats will have to peel off to support the spending package the House would send over. Senate Democrats, for their part, are still keeping their cards close to their chest.

...

How does a deal to address the expiring Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program get done, asks one senior Republican aide. "No idea. Ask the President. Until he decides what he really wants, nothing moves."

...

The Freedom Caucus is precisely why Senate Democrats were mostly keeping their powder dry on Tuesday regarding a possible shutdown. No sense in taking a hard position when, as one aide put it, "House Republicans have a history of stepping on their own rakes."

BofA Tops IBM, Payments Firms With Most Blockchain Patents

Tue, 01/16/2018 - 16:43
Bank of America Corp. may not be willing to help customers invest in Bitcoin, but that doesn't mean it isn't plowing into the technology underlying the cryptocurrency.

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based lender has applied for or received at least 43 patents for blockchain, the ledger technology used for verifying and recording transactions that's at the heart of virtual currencies. It is the largest number among major banks and technology companies, according to a study by EnvisionIP, a New York-based law firm that specializes in analyses of intellectual property.

"Based on what's publicly out there, the technology sector hasn't embraced blockchain as much as the financial-services industry," Maulin Shah, managing attorney for EnvisionIP, said in an interview.

International Business Machines Corp., which has targeted blockchain and artificial intelligence for future growth, tied with Mastercard Inc. for second on the list, with 27 each.

Citigroup Plays Up Investor Payouts Once Tax Cuts Trigger Profits

Tue, 01/16/2018 - 10:16
As big U.S. banks weigh how to divvy up their windfall from a massive U.S. tax cut, Citigroup Inc.'s approach appears to be set: Shower profits on investors. Lower tax rates mean the bank can stick to its multiyear plan to pay out at least $60 billion in capital to shareholders even after booking a larger-than-forecast charge of $22 billion to adjust to the new tax regime, the bank said Tuesday. Executives had braced investors last month for a $20 billion hit.

Banks face competing demands for a slice of the gains -- potentially raising pay for staff, cutting prices for clients or plowing more into charity. Wells Fargo & Co. executives said last week they'll boost donations to a philanthropic foundation, while JPMorgan Chase & Co. leaders said they're working on a plan to share the tax savings. Citigroup's statement announcing quarterly results only called out the cash coming investors' way.

...

The bank took a bigger up-front hit from the changes because it had been sitting on a massive pile of deferred-tax assets -- a form of IOU that cuts tax bills. The company had accrued them by suffering losses during the financial crisis, then long touted them as a way to burnish future payouts to investors. But the tax overhaul wiped out almost half of their value.

BP says Deepwater disaster will cost another $1.7bln

Tue, 01/16/2018 - 10:14
The London-based company will record a new $1.7 billion charge in the fourth quarter of 2017 and pay $1 billion of that bill in 2018, it said in a statement Tuesday. The remainder will be distributed over a number of years.

"With the claims facility's work very nearly done, we now have better visibility into the remaining liability," Chief Financial Officer Brian Gilvary said in the statement. "The charge we are taking as a result is fully manageable within our existing financial framework, especially now that we have the company back into balance at $50 per barrel."

The latest charge will cover payments to business owners in the area, BP said. The company's spill-related payouts will rise to $3 billion in 2018 from an earlier estimate of $2 billion, while those for 2017 will remain at $5.5 billion.

...

The company agreed to settle all claims with the U.S. federal and state governments in a $21 billion agreement in 2015, removing a major chunk of risks related to the deadly accident and allowing Dudley to grow the company again. BP had at that time agreed to make the payments over about two decades, softening the blow on its balance sheet.

The company has said it will pay for the spill with money raised from asset sales. The higher 2018 payout means it will need to raise its divestment program for the year, according to Oswald Clint, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd.

The Senate's push to overrule the FCC on net neutrality now has 50 votes, Democrats say

Tue, 01/16/2018 - 10:12
Fifty senators have endorsed a legislative measure to override the Federal Communications Commission's recent decision to deregulate the broadband industry, top Democrats said Monday.

The tally leaves supporters just one Republican vote shy of the 51 required to pass a Senate resolution of disapproval, in a legislative gambit aimed at restoring the agency's net neutrality rules.

Bitcoin, rival cryptocurrencies plunge on crackdown fears

Tue, 01/16/2018 - 10:10
Bitcoin slid as much as 18 percent on Tuesday to a four-week low, as fears of a regulatory crackdown on the market spread after reports suggested it was still possible that South Korea could ban trading in cryptocurrencies.

...

That came amid news that a senior Chinese central banker had said authorities should ban centralised trading of virtual currencies and prohibit individuals and businesses from providing related services.

China shut down exchanges operating on the mainland last year - a move that also sparked a selloff, though the market later recovered.

"It's mainly been regulatory issues which are haunting (bitcoin), with news around South Korea's further crackdown on trading the driver today," said Think Markets chief strategist Naeem Aslam, who holds what he described as "substantial" amounts of bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple.

"But we maintain our stance. We do not think that the complete banning of cryptocurrencies is possible," he said.

Washington edges closer to a government shutdown

Tue, 01/16/2018 - 09:44
We've been here before -- Congress and the Trump White House facing a potential government shutdown -- and each time the major players have backed away from the brink. But this time feels different, with the government's funding expiring on Saturday.

...And maybe the biggest casualty here is the breakdown in trust -- between Trump and Durbin over the immigration profanity heard ‘round the world; between Sens. Tom Cotton and David Perdue (who denied Trump said the profanity) and everyone else who was in the room; and between Trump and Chief of Staff John Kelly and Stephen Miller, who believed Trump could be tricked on DACA. Without trust, you're not going to get a deal.

Blame the deluded board members for Carillion's collapse

Mon, 01/15/2018 - 14:06
... the hard fact is that Carillion directors were boasting in March last year of having "substantial liquidity with some £1.5bn of available funding" yet the company ran out of money 10 months later.

That suggests delusion in the boardroom on a grand scale. Hedge funds, looking from outside and betting on the shares going south, seem to have had a better grasp of Carillion's financial distress than the insiders.

...

In the end, it comes down to judgments made in the boardroom. Carillion, outrageously, was declaring a fatter dividend for shareholders only last spring. Given what we know now, the correct action would have been to go to those investors and ask for a big injection of capital via a rights issue. Half the board would have had to resign, but an over-stretched balance sheet might have been repaired. Instead Carillion seems to have chosen to chase more low-margin contracts in a desperate attempt to keep its revenue line moving.

Regarding the point about this all being obvious to hedge fund short sellers, this article has more.

Three years on from currency shock, Swiss central bank can't get back to normal

Mon, 01/15/2018 - 13:56
If it raises rates, the Swiss franc strengthens. If it sells off its massive balance sheet, the Swiss franc strengthens. If a global crisis hits, the Swiss franc strengthens.

...

"The SNB will most probably be one of the last central banks to change course, and it will take years or even decades for monetary policy to return to ‘normal'," said Daniel Rempfler, head of fixed income Switzerland at Swiss Life Asset Managers.

The Bank of Japan illustrated the problem of reducing expansive policy when a small cut to its regular bond purchases sent the yen and bond yields higher.

...

"It is very difficult to say you are ready to intervene in the forex markets when you also winding down the balance sheet," said Florian Weber, an analyst at Bank J.Safra Sarasin.

Euro Resurgence and QE Wind-down, US Political Dysfunction Weigh on Dollar

Mon, 01/15/2018 - 13:46
... the drop [in the dollar of 12% this year so far and last year] is a bit of a mystery because the Federal Reserve has been raising interest rates for the past year... Hussein Sayed, chief market strategist at FXTM, an online currency brokerage firm, wrote in a report Monday that signs of life in Europe's economy, particularly Germany and France, are causing some investors to flock to the euro instead of the dollar.

Sayed added that the resurgence in Europe even has more investors betting that the European Central Bank will unwind its massive bond-buying program, similar to the Fed's after the 2008 financial crisis, sooner than expected.

...

But the dollar's slide can't be pinned entirely on what's happening overseas. Some analysts suggest that political dysfunction in the United States is also pushing the dollar down.

Boris Schlossberg, managing director of foreign exchange strategy at BK Asset Management, said in a report Monday that "there is more to dollar weakness than just the global feel-good story."

Schlossberg said more investors are starting to believe there is a real chance of a government shutdown in Washington later this week. That would happen Friday unless Congress passes a short-term funding resolution to keep the government open.''

Don't be fooled. Wall Street, not Main Street, is the big tax winner

Mon, 01/15/2018 - 12:27
While Winer is skeptical about how much money will be used to reward workers, he's confident about one thing: Most of the tax savings will be lavished on shareholders through stock buybacks and dividends.

"It's far better for investors than it is for employees," he said.'

...

It's true that personal income taxes are going down for many Americans. The White House has said that 90% of wage earners will likely take home more money as soon as February.

But it would be tough for those gains to offset the huge savings companies are guaranteed. The tax cuts are "skewed toward businesses and high-income earners," Beth Ann Bovino, S&P Global's chief U.S. economist, wrote in a report.

This doesn't even discuss the deficit effect. Guess who's going to pay for that (in the form of inflation)? Hint: the inflation measure for social security and other support payments was modified by this legislation to be even lower.

Britain's Carillion collapses after banks pull the plug

Mon, 01/15/2018 - 12:25
Carillion collapsed on Monday when its banks pulled the plug, triggering Britain's biggest corporate failure in a decade and forcing the government to step in to guarantee public services from school meals to roadworks.

The 200-year-old business went into compulsory liquidation at 0600 GMT after costly contract delays and a slump in new business left it swamped by debt and pensions liabilities of at least 2.2 billion pounds ($3 billion).

Its demise threatens to hurt smaller suppliers, merchants, rivals and Britain's biggest banks. The British government was left to ensure there was no disruption to public services... The government stopped short, however, of bailing out the company as it did with major banks during the 2007-09 financial crisis.

...

Employing 43,000 people around the world, including 20,000 in Britain, Carillion has been fighting for survival since July, when it revealed it was losing cash on projects and had written down the value of its contract book by 845 million pounds.

With banks refusing in recent days to accept the latest restructuring plan, May's senior ministers met around the clock, under pressure from the Labour Party and unions not to use taxpayer money to prop up the failing company.

Ministers, top bankers and company bosses scrambled to find a way to save the company in last-ditch talks over the weekend.

...

Spun out of Tarmac nearly 20 years ago and including construction names such as Wimpey and Alfred McAlpine, Carillion operates in Britain and Ireland, Canada, the Middle East and North Africa.

Trump Floated Post-2007 By Secretive, High Money Laundering-Risk Condo Purchases

Sun, 01/14/2018 - 12:45
More than one-fifth of Donald Trump's US condominiums have been purchased since the 1980s in secretive, all-cash transactions that enable buyers to avoid legal scrutiny by shielding their finances and identities, a BuzzFeed News investigation has found.

Records show that more than 1,300 Trump condominiums were bought not by people but by shell companies, and that the purchases were made without a mortgage, avoiding inquiries from lenders.

...

Treasury's financial-crimes unit has, in recent years, launched investigations around the country into all-cash shell-company real-estate purchases amid concerns that some such sales may involve money laundering. The agency is considering requiring real-estate professionals to adopt anti-money-laundering programs.

...

The surge was driven by the opening of 11 Trump condo buildings between 2008 and 2010 as Trump shifted his real-estate business from developing high-rises to licensing them. Nine were Trump-licensed, and they drew hundreds of shell companies that paid an average of $1.2 million in cash for a condo. In six of the licensed buildings, cash-paying shell companies bought at least a third of the condos, records show.

It's not clear how much Trump received from the sale of Trump-licensed condos, but when Trump announced his candidacy in 2015, he said his "real estate licensing deals" and other brands were worth $3.3 billion.

...

Eighty-three percent of the secretive sales occurred in markets that FinCEN is investigating for possible money laundering in real estate sales. In those markets -- Manhattan, South Florida, and Honolulu -- FinCEN is examining every luxury-home sale to a shell company that paid cash.

At least 28 shell companies resold their Trump properties within six months of buying them in cash. The National Association of Realtors says that immediate resales can indicate money laundering, "especially if the resale price is significantly higher or lower than the original purchase price."

At the Trump SoHo Hotel Condominium New York in Manhattan, 77% of the sales were to shell companies that paid cash. One of the project's Russia-born developers was convicted of money laundering in the 1990s. A pending lawsuit calls Trump SoHo a "monument to spectacularly corrupt money-laundering and tax evasion," though it says in a footnote that "there is no evidence that Trump took any part in, or knew of, their racketeering."

Trump's 'Shithole' Moment Is His Ugliest Yet

Sun, 01/14/2018 - 11:10
The president's remarks were met with disbelief even among hardcore conservatives. The right-wing commentator Erik Erikson wrote on Twitter: "So the President would prefer we allow Norwegian socialists with no special love of America into the country, but not the Ghanan who will work his ass off with a grand appreciation for our free market system and raise his kids to be proud Americans."

...

By presenting Salvadorans, Haitians, and Africans as dangerous, non-contributing, and unable to assimilate, the president has given his mass-deportation scheme the taint of ethnic cleansing. Philip Gourevitch, who chronicled Rwanda's genocide, tweeted ominously about Trump's language: "To speak of whole categories of people as coming from shitholes & other categories as desirables -- that's the language of apartheid and race war and annihilation," Gourevitch wrote. "The verbal violence invites physical violence -- & in this one realm, at least, he knows exactly what he's doing."

Caliber Home Loans Busted Selling Client Information To Sex Predators

Sun, 01/14/2018 - 09:09
Caliber Home Loans Busted Selling Private Information To Convicted Kiddie Porn Peddler & Peeping Tom

Mr. Amazon Steps Out - Jeff Bezos Goes Public

Sun, 01/14/2018 - 08:45
As he was shaping Amazon into one of the world's most valuable companies, Mr. Bezos developed a reputation as a brilliant but mysterious and coldblooded corporate titan. He preferred to hunker down in Amazon's hometown, Seattle, at least partly because he thought it was better for Amazon's growing business, largely avoiding public causes and the black-tie circuit.

But while Mr. Bezos -- who at 53 is the world's richest person, with a net worth of more than $100 billion -- can afford virtually any luxury, obscurity is no longer among them.

Amazon, now a behemoth valued at more than $600 billion, has become one of the faces of "big tech," along with Apple, Alphabet's Google and Facebook. These companies are facing a backlash. Amazon is under the microscope for what critics say is its corrosive effect on jobs and competition, and Mr. Bezos has become a bête noire for President Trump, who repeatedly singles out him and Amazon for scorn on Twitter.

"People are starting to get scared of Amazon," said Steve Case, a co-founder of America Online, who recently started an investment fund focused on start-ups in underserved areas, with Mr. Bezos among its contributors. "If Jeff continues to hang out in Seattle, he's going to get a lot more incoming. Even for just defense reasons, he has to now play offense."

Mr. Bezos' portfolio of other ventures has thrust him farther into the spotlight. Four years ago, he bought The Washington Post for $250 million, jump-starting a renaissance of the paper. In 2016, Mr. Bezos bought a $23 million home in Washington, one of the city's most expensive, which is undergoing extensive renovations to make it a suitable party spot for the city's political class. Nearby neighbors include former President Barack Obama and his family, and Mr. Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner.

...

But for nearly two decades, he was adamant that the company should largely stay out of the political limelight and not make a stir in local communities. It also had a bare-bones lobbying operation.

...

A turning point came for Mr. Bezos around 2011 when Amazon faced a public showdown with state governments.

At the time, legislators began hounding internet retailers like Amazon to collect sales tax. In California, Amazon initially campaigned to overturn a new law imposing an internet sales tax. But Mr. Bezos backed off after it became clear that Amazon's image could be tarnished, a former employee involved in the matter said.

Instead, Amazon began to make peace. In 2011, it signed an agreement with California to collect sales tax in the state, reaching numerous similar agreements around the same time.

As part of those state deals, Amazon began building warehouses across the country, which allowed Amazon to deliver orders more quickly and let local politicians trumpet the arrival of thousands of jobs.

Suddenly, a company that once refused to confirm how many employees it had at its Seattle headquarters could not stop talking about how many jobs it was creating. It now has 542,000 employees.

As Mr. Bezos and the company talked about creating jobs, though, he and Amazon faced a counternarrative from critics that the company was really a job-killing bully.

Courts Force DACA Re-start As Shutdown Budget Negotiations and Permanent Immigration Fix In Limbo

Sun, 01/14/2018 - 08:33
Multiple groups in Congress are working on their own solutions for immigration as they race to pass a spending bill before the government runs out of funding Friday. And the issue of how to move forward on DACA in March is the primary sticking point holding up a funding package.

On Thursday, Trump rejected a pitch from a bipartisan team of senators on an immigration deal to protect DACA participants while increasing border security.

The proposal included a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children and $1.6 billion toward a border fence, two sources with direct knowledge told CNN.

But negotiations over a deal on the DACA program froze last week after Trump derided African nations as "shithole countries" and asked why more immigrants couldn't come from Norway during the Thursday's closed-door meeting with lawmakers.

Fed Pays Banks $30 Billion Risk-Free for 2017

Sat, 01/13/2018 - 12:19
... note how the surging interest payments to the banks slashed into the remittances to the Treasury. If the Fed hadn't decided to pay interest on excess reserves, to benefit the banks, it could remit this money to the Treasury. In other words, every dime the banks receive comes indirectly out of the pocket of taxpayers.

The Fed will likely raise rates further this year. There is talk of four rate hikes. This would push the rate on excess reserves to 2.5% by the end of the year. Excess reserves will likely shrink as QE is being unwound, but not fast enough. And the amount that the Fed pays the banks this year might surge to $40 billion or more -- a glorious and hidden subsidy extracted from taxpayer pockets.

3 Lies Bitcoin Skeptics Tell Themselves

Sat, 01/13/2018 - 11:06
``One of the points Posner missed in his 2013 assessment of bitcoin as an asset is that it provides a censor and seizure-resistant store of digital value... [he] referred to bitcoin as a "collective delusion" in his piece for Slate, but as Derek Thompson pointed out in The Atlantic late last year, this has been a property of every form of money throughout history... In short, there's a reason people have decided to store value in bitcoin, and it has to do the intrinsic properties of the system such as a trustless monetary policy and resistance to seizure by governments.''