Thoughts on Barcelona

Thoughts on Barcelona

Last week, as news from the Barcelona terror attack began to spread, I was getting a different picture from my friends of the ground, so I began a series of tweets to communicate them as I received them.

Many have asked me to put them together for easier reading and to translate them into several languages. That is being done now. In the following relation I will respect the original thread, although some typos and spelling errors will be edited and I have added some notes. The original versions remain available on Twitter.

It started Saturday, August 19th, 2017at 5:30 pm (EST) on the 19th with this tweet:[1]

“The events of Barcelona are enough to make one go over there and slap a few people around. Let me tell you why:

In Gander[2], I speak at length of the Social Democrats inability to realize the threat we are in, and of their utter incompetence. Barcelona proves both points.

On 19 December of 2016, following al-Suri’s strategy[3], there was an attack at a Christmas market in Germany.[4]

The Spanish police took notice, and sent this letter in December 2016 to the local police forces around the country:

The recipients of that letter included the Mozos de Escuadra, Catalonia’s own police force. But the Mozos are more of a political tool for independentists than a police force. So their answer was this:[5]

‘We have no operative, tactic or strategic information suggesting that there is any threat of terrorism in Catalonia regarding any specific point of interest or potential target.’ Declared Xavier Porcuna, spokesman for the Mozos.

This idiot was “surprised” that the national Police had anything to say, since security in Barcelona was an exclusive responsibility of the Generalidad[6], and hence, of the Mozos. How dare they interfere!

On 24 April last, I was in Barcelona with a very high ranking officer of the Police (not the stupid Mozos), for this:[7]

There is more I cannot talk about. We all KNEW IS was there, but Catalan politicians would have none of it. They spent their days criticizing Trump’s wall, singing their love of open borders, and declared Barcelona…a Sanctuary City!!![8]

While their “Antifas” (independentist leftists) campaign against tourism and in favor of refugees.[9]

The press calls those “Antifas”….neighbors! Same as in Charlottesville.[10]

And thus we get to August.

A few days ago, a terrorist bomb making facility blew up in Alcanar, near Barcelona.[11]

Pieces of an ID belonging to one of the Alcanar asswipes were found in the van at the Ramblas two days later. The objective [of the terrorists] was to blow up Sagrada Familia. The great Cathedral designed by Gaudí and an icon filled with thousands of tourists in the heart of town.[12]

The Ramblas attack was Plan B. Think about that.

Most of those arrested were beneficiaries of the welfare state. Catalans were PAYING for the preparation of the attacks.[13] Does any of this sound familiar to you? This is not an immigrant rights issue. This is not a freedom of speech issue. This is not a left or right issue. It is our f*cking survival we are talking about. Ours and that of the real immigrants: The Muslims that were also butchered at the Ramblas, blacks, whites, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists. We are immersed in a struggle against evil, want it or not.

It’s high time we realize that bullsh*t kills. The crap coming out of the mouth of the spokesmen for the Mozos and of politicians like this lowlife, kills:

‘May the struggle of the Arab people grow throughout the continent and spread like power fire top Europe and the United States.’[14] Remember this the next time an idiot talks to you about the struggle of the poor and downtrodden.

FINIS”

 

That thread generated hundreds of hate messages from pro-independence Catalan national socialists. Mostly strings of insults with no argument. That is because they have none. So I answered the following day with this thread:

August 21st, 3:24 pm (EST)

“Yesterday we talked a little about the attack in Barcelona. A few Catalan Nationalists did not like that I did not “pay respect” to the Mozos, the Catalan police. So, let’s do that now, and see how they like it.

On the night of August 16th there was a huge explosion at a house in Alcanar, a sleepy beach town in Tarragona, about 2 hours from Barcelona. Mozos responded to the explosion and deemed it immediately an “accidental explosion” due to “an accumulation of gas.” (no shit, Sherlock)

Because the explosion happened in Catalonia and they declared it an accident before anybody investigated, the Spanish Civil Guard, the guys who DO have the experts, WERE NOT ALLOWED INTO THE SITE. The GC from Sand Carlos de la Rapita, arriving soon after the explosion, could do nothing, and the Mozos knew nothing. Beautiful.

Now, that house had been illegally occupied by a bunch of Arabic speaking fellows for a while, who the neighbors saw carrying stuff in and out; but the Mozos decided there had been an accident and no more and that was it[15], with tragic consequences later. They did not even look, and kept the National Police and the Civil Guard out of the loop.

In the aftermath of the accident they found two corpses. It took them hours to figure out that the two corpses had five feet. The extra foot belonged to a third corpse buried in rubble.[16] They also found a survivor. The Jihadi was then taken to the hospital but, as he was not a suspect in what the Mozos determined had been an accident, HE WAS NOT INTERROGATED. Let that sink in: For A FULL DAY, the Mozos sat on the one person who knew, and did NOTHING. A second opportunity to prevent the attack was missed due to INCOMPETENCE.

Then, the other members of the cell conducted the attacks on the Ramblas. The same Ramblas the Mozos did not want to protect two months earlier, when they had been warned to do so.[17] But it is far from over.

AFTER the attack on the Ramblas, somebody remembered the explosion in Alcanar, and they went back. THEN they discovered a whole section of the house they had not noticed before, full of gas and Acetylene tanks, and learned a lesson in the consequences of imbecility: One of the chaps there stopped to have a cigarette. Bad idea. It’s never a good idea to light a match in an explosives factory.

I said 2 days ago that the bad guys were following the strategies of al-Suri. Well, they were also following Al-Suri’s terrorist cook book, and were trying to build bombs using Triacetone Triperoxide (TATP).[18] That is a nasty and very volatile stuff, and that’s why the terrorists blew up the lab, and that’s why the Mozos, acting in the most stupid manner and still denying access to the real experts, set off a second explosion by lighting a cigar.

Even without interrogating the survivor, had they allowed the Civil Guard explosive experts to enter the site to investigate on the 16th THEY WOULD HAVE KNOWN they had a terrorist cell in their hands.

At the same time, during “Operación Jaula” the dragnet set up to catch the guy who escaped the Ramblas, and still at large as I write this, run over a poor agent of the Mozos. When I reported this incident on Facebook to alert my friends in the area, as it was developing and the van was careening down Casteldefells Avenue in Hospitalet, I received hundreds of insults from Catalans who claimed I was making it up!

They reacted that way, I guess, because the spokesman for the Mozos was announcing at that very moment that no further attacks were expected, that the cell was dismantled  and that all efforts were directed at finding the fugitive from the Ramblas!

That car was later abandoned at St. Just, about 7 miles from the Ramblas. A Mozos agent reported he opened fire on the vehicle killing the driver. Except that, in fact, the corpse was on the right seat and had been killed with a knife. NOT ONE of the 10 shots fired ever hit the van, and the dead body in it had nothing to do with the attacks. Again, great police work. That bullsh*t meant that the actual driver had TEN HOURS head start before anybody went looking for him. Efficient police work, eh?

A second car was heading to the Salou Ocean Walk in Cambrills. There are usually hundreds of people there reveling at the end of a day at the beach. It could have been a massacre.

The car met a couple of Mozos who flagged them down (that report I published was real and they were looking for that car), but the car didn’t stop and run over a female officer, losing control and crashing at a nearby roundabout. Five scumbags came out of the car and attacked the surviving officer, a veteran of the Spanish Legion. He fired four shots, and four terrorists dropped dead instantly.

We cannot thank him. His face is blurred in videos and his name will not be released.

The fifth terrorist run away and bumped into another set of Mozos. These were not legionnaires but trained by the Mozos. The last surviving vermin managed to cut a woman’s throat before being hit by 3 of the 11 shots fired by this well trained officers…5 yards away.

Later I’ll tell you how this all started in another foul up in Ripoll. But for now let me recap.

1-    Mozos are warned to harden targets in December. They ignore and ridicule the warnings.

2-    Several Arabic speaking chaps illegally occupy a house in Alcanar. Despite suspicious movements, NOBODY SAYS ANYTHING, fearful of becoming the target of leftist neighbors.

3-    Bad guys collect gas, tanks and acetylene and begin working on a massive TATP bomb and blow themselves up, killing the leader and two more. A survivor is not interrogated, the place is not handed to forensic and explosive experts and a whole day is lost.

4-    Attack on the Ramblas. Major FUBAR there, too. Maybe another thread.

5-     Mozos declared it’s over. It isn’t. Incident in Hospitalet and St. Just, followed by

6-    Attack in Cambrills. One hero veteran of La Legión. The rest can’t shoot a pig in a wine barrel. More dead.

So, when I say they [the Catalan nationalist government] are STUPID and INCOMPETENT CRETINS, it’s no exaggeration or error in judgment.

My heart goes out to the low ranking officers of the Mozos; the poor folk not paid enough nor trained enough for the risks they take, made the worst by a callous and corrupt leadership that betrays them and the people of Catalonia every day.

FINIS”

 

Yet again, the voices of Catalan National Socialism rose in unison. But so did those who are beginning to tire of the game in Catalonia. That encouraged a third thread:

22 August 2017, 6:05 pm (EST)

“Another day, another splash into insanity. As somewhat expected, Catalan nationalists did not like yesterday’s truth enema. They are going to like what’s coming in the next few weeks even less.

Like how [Catalan authorities] forgot to request controls on the nearby French border. Controls that were finally established by the French government 24 hours later!

Or how the A3 in Cambrills managed to pass through police checks and but for the Grace of God lost control or we would have had many more civilians dead.

Or how the leader of the IS cell was a known terrorist related to previous act of terrorism and with 4 years in jail for drug trafficking and violation of immigration laws and still able to conduct his business under the benign neglect if not apathy of Catalan authorities… and with the support of high ranking members of the government of Barcelona. All of these will become public news. Some are already talking.[19]

The more the Catalan independentists try to dissimulate and hide these problems; the more they mystify, misdirect and attack those who bring the facts to light, the more they expose their callousness and indifference to human life.

Yesterday, hundreds of them bit like rats in three typos in my thread:

  1. It’s not “Sand Carlos de la Rabida” but, they pointed out endlessly, “San Carlos de la Rapita,” or, as the more obtuse suggested, “St. Carles de la Rapita”
  2. The explosion at Alcanar was not in the morning of the 16th, but near midnight. It was 8AM to me and I confess to the crime of getting confused as I was writing the tweet.
  3. The car in Cambrills was not a van, but an Audi A3, as I reported a day earlier as it was happening.

All of these I owned immediately, and all are utterly irrelevant. The spelling or language of a name and whether the Police sat on their thumbs for 1 day or 2 does not change the relevant facts.

Those facts they do not want to discuss. They also have no interest in discussing that the Chief of the Mozos (I shall never write Mossos again), was conducting his investigation while having fun at a soccer game.

Or that the Vice Mayor of Barcelona, Jaume Asens, great defender of squatters like the ones in Alcanar,[20] was also the lawyer who represented the terrorist Imam who organized the terrorist cell,[21] and he is also a staunch supporter of Pablo Iglesias, the leader of the Hugo Chavez financed Fascist party that came out of left field a few years ago.[22]

Or that Oriol Junqueras, leader of ERC (Republican Left of Catalonia), has been taken Islamic classes for months in an effort to convert to Islam, further embracing those wonderful men fighting against imperialism, colonialism and for social justice.[23]

No. They want to discuss spelling and typos, because reality is too harsh.

So they honor me by calling me a Fascist and a “catalanophobe”, whatever the heck that means.

As for fascist, I let my record stack up against theirs anytime: Mine is easy to figure out. They are the ones who want speech control, government intrusion and ethnic discrimination, like that cretin, Joaquin Forn Chiairello, Interior Minister of the Generalitat (Consejero del interior), who distinguished Catalans and Spaniards among the dead and who, himself, is a second generation Ecuadoran.

Me? I am a direct descendant of Otger Catalo and 4 of the Conquerors who wrestled Barcelona from the Moors[24], and of the first Vejer of the Castle of Montjuic in Barcelona, among others.

My ancestors hung on the walls of the Cathedral of Barcelona for all to see. Their bodies, not their portraits.

By that reckoning I am more Catalan than any of those fanatical converts can ever hope to be. And I’ll say it straight: While I have heretofore not given a crap about the independentist movement in Catalonia, now I do. I have been fighting Fascism since I could handle a weapon and a pen, and now I know who they are.

If you, dear reader, are one of them, piss off. I will block anybody who confronts me with anything but a reasoned argument, without further notice.

I will also make extra sure that the iniquities, imbecilities and displays of gross incompetence of your standard bearers is exposed for the world to see the abject idiocy of your cause exposed: You asked for it.

To you, sane Catalans and Spaniards of every province who are tired of this nonsense, I am your new friend. Call on me as needed. I will be there.

FINIS”

It has now been a week since I wrote the first thread, and many newspapers have begun to finally publish the litany of mishaps and errors committed before, during and after the attack on the Ramblas by the infantilistic nationalist leaders of Catalonia and, especially, those of Barcelona. Better late than never.

If the Catalan separatists ever wanted to show their capacity to organize themselves as an independent state, I daresay they have failed miserably: Empty rhetoric and grandstanding may work to whip a crowd on nincompoops into a frenzy, but are not sufficient qualifications to organize a civil society.

By their actions, by showing their callousness, incompetence and stupidity, the nationalist leaders of Catalonia have clearly shown that they are not up to the task.

In Luis del Pino’s eloquent words, it takes adults to forge a state[25], not these infantilistic morons.

When the waters recede, and calm reasoning replaces the heated arguments of the moment, people may come to realize the National Socialism that inspires and informs the Catalan leadership should be confined to the garbage pile of history.

So may it be.

 

 

[1] https://twitter.com/Debradelai/status/899021321425891330

[2] Saul M. Montes-Bradley II, “Gander: Terrorism, Incompetence and the Rise of Islamic National Socialism”, 2016, https://www.saulmontes-bradley.com/product/gander-terrorism-incompetence-and-the-rise-of-islamic-national-socialism/

[3] Abu Musab al-Suri, “The Call to Global Islamic resistance.” For a brief explanation, see here: http://news.siteintelgroup.com/blog/index.php/about-us/21-jihad/21-suri-a-mili

[4] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/04/berlin-christmas-market-attack-tunisian-man-aged-26-detained

[5] http://www.europapress.es/catalunya/noticia-mossos-pide-tranquilidad-porque-amenaza-terrorista-misma-atentado-berlin-20161221153429.html

[6] Generalidad or, in Catalan, Generalitat, is the government of the autonomous region of Catalonia.

[7] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/spain-arrests-isis-terror-raids-barcelona-brussels-france-attacks/

[8] http://ciutatrefugi.barcelona/es/inicio

[9] http://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-40107507

[10] http://www.entornoturistico.com/vecinos-protestan-en-barcelona-contra-el-turismo-masivo/

[11]  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4800830/One-dead-explosion-near-scene-Barcelona-attack.html

[12] https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/4267575/barcelona-terror-attack-gas-canisters-terror-cell-dead/

[13] http://www.alertadigital.com/2017/06/12/la-mayoria-de-los-yihadistas-detenidos-en-espana-cobraban-pensiones-publicas-y-recibian-ayudas-para-el-pago-del-alquiler/

[14] Juan Carlos Monedero, one of the founders of a Venezuela financed Spanish political party named after Barak Obama’s 2008 campaign slogan, generated a twitter storm of its own. I will discuss that in an upcoming blog.

[15] They also claimed it had been a drug manufacturing facility, in spite of the doubts expressed by the intervening magistrate.

[16] This turned out to be the cadaver of the Imam who recruited and organized the terrorist cell.

[17] Finally, last week the City Council of Barcelona retracted their earlier policy and voted to build barriers….but nothing has been done yet.

[18] http://etd.fcla.edu/CF/CFE0002942/Painter_Kimberly_L_200912_MS.pdf

[19] https://twitter.com/policdemocracia/status/899610988005249024

[20] https://www.elconfidencial.com/espana/cataluna/2016-06-06/jaume-asens-teniente-alcalde-barcelona-okupas_1211989/

[21] http://www.abc.es/espana/abci-teniente-alcalde-barcelona-abogado-adoctrinador-cerebro-atentados-201708220240_noticia.html

[22] Indeed, a co-founder with Monedero, the chap who wants Islamo-Fascism to spread like powder to Europe and the US.

[23] Many pointed out he did not convert to Islam. It is true, and I do not state he did. Reports of his studies, as stated, abound in the Spanish press.

[24] In a rather humorous twist, many took this reference to the mythical founders of Barcelona, akin to the legend of Romulo and Remo in Rome, literally, entirely missing the point: My ancestry goes back to the conquest of Barcelona, as insinuated in the paragraph following that statement. Perhaps an unintended consequence of their dogmatic training results in a loss of any sense of humor or capacity to understand figurative language.

[25] http://blogs.libertaddigital.com/enigmas-del-11-m/escucha-ninato-los-estados-los-fundan-los-adultos-14614/c

 

 

 

 

 

The 2008 Crisis Canard

This originated as a twitter thread, which some have requested I make available. It is not a scholarly paper, but a factual relation of events I witnessed from my perch in the financial industry.

The credit crisis of 2008 is one of the most dreadful events in recent memory. It’s effects, nearly a decade later, are painfully obvious around the world. And yet, the wrong conclusions are touted daily in the face of unemployment and weeks markets from Spain to China.

After the government screwed things up, as usual, it was time to lay it heavy on some scapegoat. Since blaming the Jews is no longer fashionable, the usual opportunists focused on financiers, banks and investors.

Those were, in fact, the first victims of the crisis, not the cause. And the financial products usually targeted for blame were also casualties of the crisis, not its origin. There is nothing wrong with ABSs, MBSs or CMOs. In fact, they are a good thing.

Banks, by definition, cannot make long term loans. Deposits are on demand, and nobody wants to be told upon presenting a check for payment: “sorry, we lent that money out last week and won’t get it back for three years. Come back then.”

Mortgages are long term loans. So several enterprises were created in the US over the years to create a secondary market and make those long term loans viable and more widely available.

These enterprises were:

  • Fannie Mae (Federal National Mortgage Association), created in 1938, as essencialy a Government corporation until 1968, when it became public;
  • Freddie Mack (Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation), created as a “government sponsored enterprise” or GSE) in 1970; and
  • Ginnie Mae (Government National Mortgage Association), also a GSE, created in 1968.

The purpose of all of these was to “promote home ownership” by providing a secondary market for mortgage securities. That is, the packaging of mortgages into marketable securities that would serve a double purpose:

  • To provide reliable income for investors, mostly retirees, and
  • To provide funds banks could loan long term for real estate purchases.

Sallie Mae (Student Loan Marketing Association), also a GSE, was later established in 1973, originally designed to do the same for higher education loans. It has now branched into consumer loans as well, and it is a public corporation. Go figure.

Because of its status as a government  corporation, Fannie Mae bonds enjoyed a US government guarantee, making it a top quality investment. While the GSEs were not outright government entities but “government sponsored entities” that guarantee was not explicit, but assumed. Hence, their bonds enjoyed an implicit government guarantee, making the also relatively safe investments.

The purpose of the first three was to enable long term loans for home purchasing, so that more people would be able to afford a home as opposed to cash purchases or short term loans. This process is called “securitization” or the bundling of loans into sellable securities. And it worked.

Here’s a good explanation of how: http://www.finra.org/investors/mortgage-backed-securities

Banks that followed the underwriting rules were able to “endorse” mortgage loans to these entities and continue lending without compromising their capital positions. The availability of long term loans fueled an unprecedented expansion of the US housing market through the 50s and 60s without parallel anywhere else in the world.

Non-conforming loans, where not accepted. Thus, if the purchaser’s income was too low, no dice. Likewise, if the purchasers income was OK but the value of the property too high for the program, other solutions had to be devised. No government guarantees for mansions. Other, private investments wre used for that purpose.

Then the Democrats discovered that these institutions, which had grown to become some of the largest financial enterprises in the world, were both cash cows and political rams to assist them in their incessant pandering.

This is the kind of crooked thinking that went into it: http://www.bostonfairhousing.org/timeline/1934-1968-FHA-Redlining.html

In other words, not loaning to people who cannot afford repayment is racist and wrong! Vote for us and you will not be denied!

In 1968, the purveyors of this kind of nonsense came up with the “Fair Housing Act.” — whenever a social democrat uses the word “Fair” hit the deck; someone is about to be robbed.

This legislative nonsense was enacted as Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, and codified at 42 U.S.C. 3601-3619.[1]

The original prohibited “financing of dwellings based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.” Opening a can of whoop in litigation: you better watch out who’s loan you don’t approve. And later, it was amended to made it illegal to: “refuse to make a residential real estate loan in a particular area based upon the neighborhood in which the property is physically located;” making “redlining” illegal. And what was redlining? “The illegal practice of a lending institution denying loans or restricting their number for certain areas of a community.” Say, Watts on the day of the riots…

But the real mess really started in the Carter administration, as the carping on the left against “redlining” produced this abomination: https://www.federalreserve.gov/consumerscommunities/cra_about.htm

In other words, if you, banks, do not  lend to those who cannot afford to repay, we will roast you!

It was amended in 1989, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1995, 2005, 2007 and, yes, 2008, every time lowering the standards further and forcing banks to ignore common sense in exchange for transferring the risk to Fanny Mae and the GSEs. Indeed, all but the last amendment demanded more and more loans, and forced the GSEs to swallow them while offering investors an “implied government guarantee” to assuage their well founded fears.

Banks did not do this. Congress forced them to. Banks who refused to relax their standards were in violation of the law and could not only be sued, but harassed with an increasing number of administrative tools.

Chief among the proponents of this idiocies in the 1990s was… Barney Frank (D-MA)

And when the shit hit the fan…Barney blamed the banks, those greedy bastards, without batting an eyelash. Sadly, even people who claim to be conservatives dance to this idiot’s tune to this day.

The Boston Globe, that nest of alt-right nutcases, had this to say in 2008: http://archive.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2008/09/28/franks_fingerprints_are_all_over_the_financial_fiasco/

Yet, even today, geniuses to the left and right of the political spectrum are still going at it. They learnt NOTHING.[2]

Ironically, even after all of this, the number of actual non-performance of CMO’s remained low and most paid interest and capital as expected. For all the dismal news from SW Florida and Las Vegas, 95% of prime mortgages ware paid, and defaults peaked at less than 5%. Admittedly, double the 2.5% average at any time.[3]

Even including “sub-prime” loans[4], that had nothing to do with the institutions mentioned above, and that represent an always riskier market where no guarantees apply, the total number of defaults barely topped 10%.

So, if the performance of mortgage securities did not justify the massive collapse that we all witnessed, what did?

Two words: Sabannes-Oxley.

In 2001, ENRON, a behemoth in the energy sector, collapsed[5]. They were not producers of energy. They were mostly speculators, and their business was primarily in the energy futures market. They had California by the nuts. But they weren’t as good as people thought, so they lost money hand over fist by making the wrong bets… which they hid by playing three-card-monty with a network of off-the-books partnerships where they parked their losses, keeping their shares up with the help of Arthur Andersen, so that their value would not tank while they looked to get out.

This was illegal, of course, but laws never stopped crooks. When the brown stuff hit the fan, the press blame fest began.

It so happens ENRON’s Chairman, Ken Lay, was an acquaintance of George W. Bush, so the press immediately speculated that he would skit. He didn’t. On May 25, 2006, he was convicted of a number of felonies (10 counts of securities fraud).

Lay’s sentencing was scheduled for September 11, 2006. He didn’t make it. On July 5th he keeled over and died, broke, of a heart attack.

The CEO, Jeff Skilling, was also convicted on 25 May 2006. This is his mug shot:

So, contrary to public speculation, “W” did not help either of them, and they landed in the pokey or died on their way there.[6]

Still, there was wild speculation that GWB would pardon them. He never did. He hanged them out to dry, as he should have. But the Democrat narrative still makes a point to remind everyone “the Bushes knew them”![7]

Yet, nobody talks about Jon Corzine. I guess Lay and Skilling should have been friends with Obama.[8]

In any case, the bean counters that helped create the house of cards, Arthur Andersen, folded like a cheap suit. Or so it appeared. In fact, they just moved headquarters, changed their name to just Andersen…[9] shed off their consulting branch, were found guilty of obstruction of justice, and are now back hoping that nobody remembers.[10]

In response to this, Congress decided to change the accounting rules. The problem was not that criminals had disregarded the law. No! The problem was that we needed new laws! We all need to be protected from the people who ignore the law…by making more laws!

And they came up with this obscenity. That’ll teach the crooks!: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/sarbanesoxleyact.asp

The most destructive aspect of this abomination was a provision that came to be known as “mark to market,” a small change that yielded catastrophic results. Find it here, if you can:  https://www.sec.gov/about/laws/soa2002.pdf

Essentially, the accounting change required public companies, including financial ones, to use the market value of assets in balance sheets, rather than their nominal value as has been customary, taking gains or losses if and when they occurred.

Why is this absurd? Because huge numbers of bond issues never quote in markets. They’re bought as packages at discount, and are never offered for sale at any exchange.

How must you then mark in your balance sheet a bond that does not quote in the markets?

Zero.

Thus, good performing assets were restated to zero value causing enormous paper losses that had nothing to do with the value of those assets or the financial situation of their owners.

Some saw the stuff coming our way. It was big, nasty and brown. I sold everything I owned.[11]

The adjustment caused companies to lose BILLIONS in assets…on paper. Lehman was the first casualty, but ALL financial institutions were reporting huge losses; and so were pension funds, industries, endowments… An equal opportunity mess.

Accounting profits inflated by reserve releases; FDIC insured banks: Pre-tax profits, loss provisions and economic profit (in $millions)

So interbank lending instantly ground to a halt. Nobody wanted to loan anybody any amount for two reasons:

  1. I don’t know if you are going to be here tomorrow to repay.
  2. I don’t know how much I need to keep my own requirements above water.

And as all lending halted,  California could not get a 7 day loan to pay salaries. Neither could Caterpillar.

People started selling those bonds to get them out of their books. It killed the carry trade business. By some estimates, 30 TRILLION were wiped off of the M3. So the hedge funds tanked. And all hell broke loose.

By March of 2009, it was clear that Sarbannes-Oxley was to blame. So Congress finally moved to repeal the requirement, and banks had the largest profit in a quarter in history…in spite of losing money. All on paper. But the damage was done.

To add insult to injury, Congress then came up with a brand new knee-jerk reaction to the crisis it created with Sarbannes-Oxley:

Obamination No 2: Dodd-Frank (No 1 was Obamacare, of course) The product of the efforts of two of the most corrupt politicians ever: “Friend of Angelo” (Countrywide) Chris Dodd, and intellectual eunuch “Freddy Mac is God” Barney Frank.

This obscenity: https://www.sec.gov/about/laws/soa2002.pdf

Long, cumbersome, arbitrary and vague as it is, it gets worse. It spawned dozens of thousands of new regulations, causing the largest number of bank failures in the history of this country. It pulverized community banks, and if the number of failures did not set a record, it is because a majority were absorbed into larger banks and kept out of the stats.[12]

As a consequence, “too big to fail” are now bigger and meaner than ever before. Thank Pocahontas, too. Her consumer chapter of the law made it much worse, creating obligations smaller banks could not meet.[13]

Just to spice things up, at this time the FED offered banks unlimited amounts of money at 0% interest, which the Treasury then took paying 3%. A 3% spread, risk free, lending to the government the government’s own money. Kafkian! Billions upon billions of risk free profit!

And that is why most people reading this could not get a mortgage if they sold their souls. Or a business loan.

Community banks were leaving the marketplace and big banks were making a mint with no risk. Why would anyone lend a dime to you?

As the repeal of mark to market heralded the end of the credit crisis…a repeal of Dodd-Frank will make this country’s economy boom like at no other time before. Fasten seatbelts. Trump’s 3% growth & more

The House is already acted.[14] Now it’s the Senate’s turn. Let’s hope they get to it. Soon.

In the end, those who held on to their mortgage bonds in ’08, got paid their interest and eventually got their money back. Those who either panicked and sold or were forced to sell at the wrong time, got fleeced. As it always happens. That’s why one should not invest without understanding the risks, out of greed, or following the advice of a used car salesman turned into an advisor after a two week “training” course at a brokerage house (or bank).

As for the rest of us, we can still see problems out there. The sluggish pace of the recovery, made all the worst by absurd regulations and the destruction of the secondary markets guarantee that most people cannot get a long term loan regardless of their ability to pay.

 

[1] https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/STATUTE-82/pdf/STATUTE-82-Pg73.pdf

[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/05/28/evidence-that-banks-still-deny-black-borrowers-just-as-they-did-50-years-ago/?utm_term=.a046b39c50af

[3] https://www.chicagofed.org/publications/profitwise-news-and-views/2010/pnv-september2010

[4] https://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/feds/2008/200859/200859pap.pdf

[5] http://www.nytimes.com/2001/11/29/business/enron-s-collapse-the-overview-enron-collapses-as-suitor-cancels-plans-for-merger.html

 

[6] http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/25/business/25cnd-enron.html

[7] https://www.randomhouse.com/crown/features/conspiracyoffools/excerpts2.html

[8] https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/07/business/dealbook/jon-corzine-mf-global-settlement.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FCorzine%2C%20Jon%20S.&action=click&contentCollection=timestopics&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=4&pgtype=collection

[9] https://www.accountingweb.com/aa/law-and-enforcement/arthur-andersen-changes-name

[10] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/11069713/Arthur-Andersen-returns-12-years-after-Enron-scandal.html

[11] https://www.forbes.com/2008/09/29/mark-to-market-oped-cx_ng_0929gingrich.html

[12] https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2016/04/14/has-dodd-frank-eliminated-the-dangers-in-the-banking-system/dodd-frank-is-hurting-community-banks

[13] https://www.atr.org/community-banks-under-siege-dodd-frank

[14] http://www.npr.org/2017/06/08/532036374/house-passes-bill-aimed-at-reversing-dodd-frank-financial-regulations