Saturday, 15 October 2016

Weekend Update 15/10/2016 – Europe’s Dangerous Banksters. Deliberate Inflation Ahead.

"We have reason to believe you have committed an offence."

City of London, parking ticket. Circa 1960.

This weekend, the ever “curiouser” case of old Three Card Monte di Siena and scandal hit, giant German, probity challenged megabank, Deutsche Bank.  Trying to help either bank can be seriously damaging to one’s health. I suspect that the UK’s GCHQ and America’s NSA have a whole lot more on this troubled case.   

But first this dramatic change of policy at America’s Federal Reserve. The Fed, it seems according to its talking chair, is going to go for broke via encouraging a bout of inflation. What could possibly go wrong?

Fed's Yellen says 'high-pressure' policy may be only way back from crisis

Fri Oct 14, 2016 | 6:34pm EDT
The Federal Reserve may need to run a "high-pressure economy" to reverse damage from the 2008-2009 crisis that depressed output, sidelined workers, and risks becoming a permanent scar, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said on Friday in a broad review of where the recovery may still fall short.

Though not addressing interest rates or immediate policy concerns directly, Yellen laid out the deepening concern at the Fed that U.S. economic potential is slipping and aggressive steps may be needed to rebuild it.
Yellen, in a lunch address to a conference of policymakers and top academics in Boston, said the question was whether that damage can be undone "by temporarily running a 'high-pressure economy,' with robust aggregate demand and a tight labor market."

----Looking for policies that would lower unemployment further and boost consumption, even at the risk of higher inflation, could convince businesses to invest, improve confidence, and bring even more workers into the economy.

---- Her remarks jarred the U.S. bond market on Friday afternoon, where they were interpreted as perhaps a willingness to allow inflation to run beyond the Fed's 2.0 percent target. Prices on longer dated U.S. Treasuries, which are most sensitive to inflation expectations, fell sharply and their yields shot higher.

The yields on both 30-year bonds US30YT=RR and 10-year notes 10YT=RR ended the day at their highest levels since early June, and their spread over shorter-dated 2-year note yields US2YT=RR widened by the most in seven months.

---- "This is a clear rebuttal of the hawkish arguments," to raise rates soon, a line of argument pitched by some of the Fed's regional bank presidents, said Christopher Low, chief economist at FTN Financial.

Now back to bad banks Three Card Monte di Siena and Deutsche Bank. I suspect that there’s a whole lot more destined to dribble out. The ultimate question on both banks probably is, “can either bank be saved,” followed by “should they?” If the answer to either is “no,” then the rump-EUSSR has a massive problem. A bail-in of depositors and bondholders, followed by a bail-out Italy can’t afford and Germany will need help with. 
But should or will taxpayers agree to bail-out what increasingly seem to be criminal enterprises?

Below, banking 21st century style, in the final act of the Great Nixonian Error of fiat money.

"What is the crime of robbing a bank compared with the crime of founding one?"

Bertolt Brecht

An Inside Look At Two "Unrelated" Banker Suicides Reveals A Fascinating Rabbit Hole

It has been nearly four years since one of the most infamous, and still largely unexplained, banker "suicides" took place, the first in a series of many: we are talking about the death of the director of communications at Monte dei Paschi di Siena, David Rossi, who allegedly jumped to his death on March 6, 2013.

Since this event has largely faded away from the public consciousness here is a quick recap: David Rossi, who was the head of communications for Monte dei Paschi di Siena bank, which was founded in 1472 and which is currently seeking to finalize its third bailout since the financial crisis, died after falling - or being pushed - from a third floor window of the bank's headquarters in a 14th century palazzo in the Tuscan city of Siena.

His death in March 2013 came at a time when the bank was pushed close to the brink of collapse over a scandal involving the loss of hundreds of millions of euros through risky investments.

While a quickly cobbled together post-mortem found that Rossi, 51, had killed himself, his family strongly suspected that he was murdered because he knew too much about the bank’s shady financial deals. As a result, earlier this year, prosecutors in Siena, where the bank is based, ordered his body to be exhumed and for the trajectory of his fall to be simulated, in an attempt to discover exactly how he died.

---- What made Rossi's death even more puzzling is that security camera footage, released years after his death, showed two shadowy figures appear at the end of the alley, apparently checking that there was no chance he would survive.

The scandalous video emerged in public this June, when the Post's Michael Gray used it as the basis for an article asking "Why are so many bankers committing suicide?" For those who have not seen the 4 minute clip, we present it below in its entirety.

---- But the question about the presence of the Monte Paschi CFO at the crime (or suicide) scene, is just one part of the mystery.

---- Where it gets even more confusing is that in January of this year, three executives from Deutsche Bank, which as we now know was very intimately involved with some of the illegal derivative transactions undertaken by Monte Pasci, were also implicated civilly, including Michele Faissola, the head of Private & Asset Wealth Management at Deutsche Bank— charged by Italian authorities with colluding with the troubled Monte Paschi in falsifying accounts, manipulating the market and obstructing justice.

Prosecutors have been reconstructing how Monte Paschi’s former managers misrepresented the lender’s finances in the years before it sought a government bailout. The misrepresentation first came to light in January 2013 when Bloomberg reported that Monte Paschi used a transaction with Deutsche Bank, the infamous Santorini (profiled here), to mask losses from an earlier derivative contract. The bank the same year had to restate its accounts

Faissola denied the charges.

Faissola, whose roles included overseeing rates and commodities, was put in charge of Deutsche Bank’s combined asset and wealth management division in 2012 when Anshu Jain and Juergen Fitschen took over as co-chief executive officers of the Frankfurt-based lender. Deutsche Bank on Oct. 18 said Faissola would leave after a transition period; his departure came just a few months after the sudden resignation of Co-CEOs Anshu Jain and Jurgen Fitschen in June 2015; it is said that Faissola was their close protege.

As a reminder, earlier this month, the recently troubled Deutsche Bank was itself charged by Italy for market manipulation and creating false accounts. Additionally, the name Faissole emerged once again, when as Bloomberg reported, six current and former managers of Deutsche Bank, including Michele Faissola, Michele Foresti and Ivor Dunbar, were charged in Milan for colluding to falsify the accounts of Italy’s third-biggest bank, Monte Paschi and manipulate the market.

Here is where things get interesting.

Michele Faissola was a coworker of one William S. Broeksmit. By way of background, Broeksmit had two stints at Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank, first from 1996 to 2001, then from 2008 until his retirement in September 2013, having previously worked at Merrill Lynch. When he rejoined the bank in 2008 it was in a newly created position, head of portfolio risk optimization. In 2012, as Jain and Fitschen prepared to take over as CEOs, the duo advanced Broeksmit’s name to become the new chief risk officer. The bank retreated on his nomination after German financial regulator BaFin raised concerns that Broeksmit’s lack of experience managing a large number of employees.

Broeksmit worked as a consultant from his retriement until Janury 28, 2014... when the body of the 58 year old was found hanging in his London flat from a dog leash tied to the top of a door. He had just commited suicide..

As we reported at the time, financial papers had been strewn about the scene of his suicide, and on a dog bed near the body were a number of notes to family and friends. One was addressed to Deutsche Bank CEO Anshu Jain, with an apology. That note offered no clue as to the reason he was sorry.

And this is where the story gets even more fascinating: the abovementioned Michele Faissola, who was instrumental in helping Monte Paschi arrange its various derivative deals with Deutsche Bank, was the first to arrive at the gruesome scene of Broeksmit's suicide in 2014.

When he arrived at the South Kensington home, he immediately began going through the bank papers and
 read the suicide notes.

---- The reason why this story, which has seen bits and pieces float around over the past 3 years, is reemerging is because now that both the insolvent Monte Paschi is in the news for its ongoing third bailout, not to mention the significantly troubled Deutsche Bank is also a daily source of market stress, the fact that two bankers who were intimately familiar and certainly involved in many of the transactions between Deutsche Bank and Monte Paschi, and which have been deemed illegal and are being prosecuted by the Italian state, have committed suicide, is worth bringing to the public's attention.

What is fascinating, is not only how interconnected the fates of Deutsche Bank and Monte Paschi have been over the years - two banks that have each seen a dramatic, high ranking suicide in recent years - but also how far the political process has pushed to preserving a cone of silence surrounding these events: recall that on September 1, Milan prosecutors filed a request to shelve a probe for alleged market manipulation and false accounting against the chief executive of Monte Paschi, Fabrizio Viola, and the bank's former chairman, Alesandro Profumo; a probe that was launched just several weeks prior. As noted above, Viola quietly resigned from his post shortly after the announcement.

People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.

Adam Smith. The Wealth of Nations, 1776.

What Top Bank Lawyers Were Doing at Secret Versailles Summit

October 14, 2016 — 10:00 AM BST
It’s a Wall Street club that’s virtually unknown on Wall Street. It has no name or official membership list, and it meets only once a year, in locations such as Switzerland’s Lake Lucerne, Connecticut’s Litchfield County, and, this year, Versailles. 

The attendees are top in-house lawyers for some of the world’s most powerful banks -- people who sit at the table for decisions that can shape multibillion-dollar litigation tabs for the likes of Barclays Plc, Citigroup Inc., Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Deutsche Bank AG and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

For this year’s meeting, in late May, the lawyers descended on Trianon Palace Versailles, a luxury hotel less than two kilometers from the palace of Louis XIV and adjacent to the royal park.

The gatherings, which were described by several people familiar with them who asked not to be identified, tend to feature discussions of nuts-and-bolts issues such as managing relationships with the board and whether compliance personnel should receive stock incentives.

This year, according to two of the people, some attendees arrived at the marble and gilded hotel primed to focus on a common scourge: class-action lawyers who seek billions of dollars from top banks for alleged market manipulations and related bad behavior. Eric Grossman, chief legal officer at Morgan Stanley, implored his confederates to hang together and resist the temptation to settle quickly.

Months before, Citigroup Inc.’s general counsel, Rohan Weerasinghe, had made a decision that essentially forced several of the world’s biggest banks to pay a total of $1.9 billion to settle a class action over credit-default swaps. Investors, including the Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association, claimed the banks had worked together to limit competition in the market, allowing them to earn extra profits.

When multiple banks are sued in a class action, it’s common for them to share information and coordinate their defenses. But after years of practice, class-action lawyers have figured out a way to fracture these alliances. They reach a settlement with one bank, then ratchet up pressure on the others. Each bank knows that the last to settle will probably pay the heftiest price. That’s because of a legal theory called joint and several liability, in which a company found in court to be even partially to blame can end up on the hook for all the damages.

In the swaps case, Citigroup broke first, agreeing in the summer of 2015 to pay $60 million. Others followed, with JPMorgan Chase & Co. settling last for $595 million.

"The London Banker Henry Fauntleroy forged to keep his bank solvent. He was executed for it in 1824.

Charles P. Kindleberger. Manias, Panics and Crashes.

Henry Fauntleroy

Henry Fauntleroy (12 October 1784 – 30 November 1824) was an English banker and forger.
After seven years as a clerk in the London bank of Marsh, Sibbald & Co., of which his father was one of the founders, he was taken into partnership, and the whole business of the firm was left in his hands. In 1824 the bank suspended payment. Fauntleroy was arrested on the charge of appropriating trust funds by forging the trustees' signatures, and was committed for trial, it being freely rumoured that he had appropriated £250,000, which he had squandered in debauchery.

He was tried at the Old Bailey, and, the case against him having been proved, he admitted his guilt, but pleaded that he had used the misappropriated funds to pay his firm's debts. He was found guilty and sentenced to be hanged. Seventeen merchants and bankers gave evidence as to his general integrity at the trial. After his conviction, powerful influence was brought to bear on his behalf, and his case was twice argued before judges on points of law. An Italian named Angelini even offered to take Fauntleroy's place on the scaffold. The efforts of his many friends were, however, unavailing, and he was hanged in November 1824, one of the last few to be executed for forgery before it ceased to be a capital crime in 1836.

We close as we began with London parking.  Below, 66 years on and nothing changes. Heartless, wicked, evil!

50 years of traffic wardens

The cynical - including most drivers - will say that it all started much as it was to continue; under a cloud of confusion, farce, and allegations that it was simply another means of milking the motorist.

By David Williams  7:30AM BST 30 Oct 2010
It was in September, 1960 - 50 years ago this year - that parking enforcement as we know it today began, when the first traffic wardens marched onto British streets.

In fact there were 40 of them and they inspired fear and fascination in equal measure as, in distinctive military-style uniforms with rows of gilt buttons, yellow shoulder flashes and yellow cap bands and with the power to issue £2 fines, they went in search of law-breaking motorists on behalf of the Metropolitan Police.

The very first ticket was issued to Dr Thomas Creighton who was answering an emergency call to help a heart attack victim at a West End hotel.

The medic's Ford Popular, left outside as he tended the victim, was ticketed but - just as happens today when mean or thoughtless wardens ticket hearses, ambulances (or even rabbits in their hutches...) - there was such a public outcry that he was subsequently let off.

And at the weekend, the view of the world from Jason in California. This week the focus is on the American election.

Political Theatre of U.S. Presidential Election Inducing Stress, Crowding Out Coverage of Relevant News on Major U.S. Networks
N. Jason Jencka October 15th, 2016 2:55 am ET
With Election Day (the 8th of November) drawing ever closer, a flow of salacious personal headlines among Donald Trump and former Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Clinton have dominated the headlines. Against this backdrop, both the U.S. economy and equities market are showing signs of strain, while consequential macroeconomic policy discussions get little to no coverage outside financial media. In an environment where ratings determine newsworthiness, Mr. Trump’s 1995 tax loss receives more coverage than all other market news combined. When more airtime is spent discussing the wardrobe and personal background of debate attendees (Ken Bone)  than the simmering sovereign debt crisis engulfing Europe like quicksand, a fundamental evaluation of priorities.

It must be collectively realized across the political spectrum that the challenges of a chronically chaotic Middle East and a Eurozone slowly drowning in public debt are infinitely more relevant than the past personal indiscretions of a Presidential candidate or their spouse. The U.S. President occupies a unique place on the world stage and American voters must be given the policy details on which to make an informed personal decision. It is up to both Presidential candidates and the outlets who cover them to pivot away from the personal and toward the consequential. Failure to do so would reflect a fundamental lack of respect of the responsibilities they hold not just to Americans but to the global community as a whole. A glimmer of hope, however remote, remains that voters and the major networks that so many rely on will recognize this before the 8th of November. Twenty-two days remain as of this writing, all that is certain is that tomorrow there will be twenty-one.

N. Jason Jencka is presently studying Finance and Economics at Sierra Nevada College, located near the shores of Lake Tahoe on the border of California and Nevada.His interests include the interplay between world markets and the global political sphere, with a focus on developments of both sides of the Atlantic in North America and Europe.In his leisure time he enjoys connecting with those people that have an interesting story to tell and a genuine desire to make an impact in the world.

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