Sitting on a Powder Keg: Riots and Demonstrations Worldwide

With the addition of Sweden to those countries rocked by and surprised by rioting over economic conditions and inequality, the day of reckoning for the banks and the governments controlled by the banks is nearing. As we saw in the Arab Spring and other social phenomena when passions reach critical mass, things change — and not always for the best, at least not at first.

History shows us that when inequality and social welfare are at their worst, as perceived by the public, a significant minority rises up, changes government and takes their revenge on the wicked and innocent alike. Our own revolution was a minority movement that achieved critical mass with very few people leading to the charge or even attending meetings.

Sweden, a country that prides itself on social justice, was hit yesterday by the fury of rioting citizens. And the Occupy Movement demonstration yesterday resulted in 17 arrests and Taser of at least one demonstrator. Anyone who believes that this will blow over without consequences is mistaken. The underlying problems of inequality were not the result of a business cycle: they were the result of criminal behavior of bankers colluding to take wealth, property and income away from virtually everyone.

The manipulation of LIBOR and the indexes that feed into LIBOR is an example of the arrogance of bankers who seem to know they won’t go to jail and probably will suffer no penalty whatsoever. Meanwhile the loans tied to changes in LIBOR as published by the Wall Street Journal had changes in interest rates dictated not by market forces by by the brute force of arrogant bankers whose religion is money.

The mortgage situation all over the world is what is causing the economies around the world to bleed. It was caused by bankers who cornered the market on money thus acting against free market forces which they pretend to like so much. They created an unprecedented storm by raising asset prices artificially, betting that the prices would come down to normal levels and defrauding pension funds and other investors plus defrauding homeowners, consumers, and tax-paying citizens. In the end they have the money and property and everyone else suffers. This fact is not lost on the public.

If we want to avoid the same fate as dozens of other countries around the world in turmoil we must return to being a nation of laws. It is in the public domain now that the banks have illegally foreclosed on millions of homeowners. Not only have they not gone to jail for mortgage fraud, wire fraud, RICO and other criminal actions, they have been rewarded with both more money and weakening of regulations that might prevent them from doing it again — if we ever get out of this mess.

The right thing to do when the wrong thing was done, is to make it right. If someone was foreclosed upon illegally they should get their house back or bargain for a dollar settlement that takes into account economic loss and the indignities of damage to lifestyle and reputation. As things stand now, this remedy is slipping away — and yet it is the only right thing to do. Millions of people in this country and Europe are falling into poverty, which means they don’t have the resources to put food on the table or a roof over their heads. To add insult to injury when tragedy strikes in places like Moore, Oklahoma the insurance companies are paying the banks that have no loss whatsoever.

I counsel people to avoid violence and to never disobey a direct instruction from anyone in law enforcement. It will only make matters worse. But I can tell from people who contact me and the mainstream news stories that people have no respect left for a legal system that does not respect the right of people and favors corporations and institutions even if they have obviously committed crimes against humanity, the state and millions of individual citizens. We have seen violence before and nobody liked it. I think it might be coming to our shores with a vengeance.

We can save ourselves the trouble if we break up the mega banks, break their hold on government and reduce them to the status of utilities regulated carefully so that they don’t run away with transactions conducted by their customers — which is exactly what happened in the continuing mortgage  meltdown. Occupy is right, Elizabeth Warren is right, and even the rioters are right (even if we disagree with their methods).

Sweden’s capital hit by worst riots in years
http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/05/22/uk-sweden-riots-idUKBRE94L0C720130522

Millions falling into poverty in recession-racked Italy: report
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/22/us-italy-economy-poverty-idUSBRE94L0AX20130522

Peaceful Foreclosure Protester Tased At Department of Justice
http://crooksandliars.com/susie-madrak/peaceful-foreclosure-protester-tased-

How Foreclosure Undermined Black and Brown Wealth
http://www.theroot.com/buzz/how-foreclosure-undermined-black-and-brown-wealth

Warren asks feds: Why no cases against bankers?
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505123_162-57584642/warren-asks-feds-why-no-cases-against-bankers/

Elizabeth Warren Asks New Treasury Secretary If He’ll Be As Bad On Big Banks As The Old One (VIDEO)
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/21/elizabeth-warren-jack-lew_n_3315005.html

Banks Win Big as Regulators Refuse to Rein in $700 Trillion Derivatives Market
http://www.truth-out.org/video/item/16500-banks-win-big-as-regulators-refuse-to-rein-in-700-trillion-derivatives-market

Follow the Money Trail: It’s the blueprint for your case

If you are seeking legal representation or other services call our Florida customer service number at 954-495-9867 and for the West coast the number remains 520-405-1688. Customer service for the livinglies store with workbooks, services and analysis remains the same at 520-405-1688. The people who answer the phone are NOT attorneys and NOT permitted to provide any legal advice, but they can guide you toward some of our products and services.
The selection of an attorney is an important decision  and should only be made after you have interviewed licensed attorneys familiar with investment banking, securities, property law, consumer law, mortgages, foreclosures, and collection procedures. This site is dedicated to providing those services directly or indirectly through attorneys seeking guidance or assistance in representing consumers and homeowners. We are available to any lawyer seeking assistance anywhere in the country, U.S. possessions and territories. Neil Garfield is a licensed member of the Florida Bar and is qualified to appear as an expert witness or litigator in in several states including the district of Columbia. The information on this blog is general information and should NEVER be considered to be advice on one specific case. Consultation with a licensed attorney is required in this highly complex field.
Editor’s Analysis and Comment: If you want to know where all the money went during the mortgage madness of the last decade and the probable duplication of that behavior with all forms of consumer debt, the first clues have been emerging. First and foremost I would suggest the so-called bull market reflecting an economic resurgence that appears to have no basis in reality. Putting hundred of billions of dollars into the stock market is an obvious place to store ill-gotten gains.
But there is also the question of liquidity which means the Wall Street bankers had to “park” their money somewhere into depository accounts. Some analysts have suggested that the bankers deposited money in places where the sheer volume of money deposited would give bankers strategic control over finance in those countries.
The consequences to American finance is fairly well known here. But most Americans have been somewhat aloof to the extreme problems suffered by Spain, Greece, Italy and Cyprus. Italy and Cyprus have turned to confiscating savings on a progressive basis.  This could be a “fee” imposed by those countries for giving aid and comfort to the pirates of Wall Street.
So far the only country to stick with the rule of law is Iceland where some of the worst problems emerged early — before bankers could solidify political support in that country, like they have done around the world. Iceland didn’t bailout bankers, they jailed them. Iceland didn’t adopt austerity to make the problems worse, it used all its resources to stimulate the economy.
And Iceland looked at the reality of a the need for a thriving middle class. So they reduced household debt and forced banks to take the hit — some 25% or more being sliced off of mortgages and other consumer debt. Iceland was not acting out of ideology, but rather practicality.
The result is that Iceland is the shining light on the hill that we thought was ours. Iceland has real growth in gross domestic product, decreasing unemployment to acceptable levels, and banks that despite the hit they took, are also prospering.
From my perspective, I look at the situation from the perspective of a former investment banker who was in on conversations decades ago where Wall Street titans played the idea of cornering the market on money. They succeeded. But Iceland has shown that the controls emanating from Wall Street in directing legislation, executive action and judicial decisions can be broken.
It is my opinion that part or all of trillions dollars in off balance sheet transactions that were allowed over the last 15 years represents money that was literally stolen from investors who bought what they thought were bonds issued by a legitimate entity that owned loans to consumers some of which secured in the form of residential mortgage loans.
Actual evidence from the ground shows that the money from investors was skimmed by Wall Street to the tune of around $2.6 trillion, which served as the baseline for a PONZI scheme in which Wall Street bankers claimed ownership of debt in which they were neither creditor nor lender in any sense of the word. While it is difficult to actually pin down the amount stolen from the fake securitization chain (in addition to the tier 2 yield spread premium) that brought down investors and borrowers alike, it is obvious that many of these banks also used invested money from managed funds as gambling money that paid off handsomely as they received 100 cents on the dollar on losses suffered by others.
The difference between the scheme used by Wall Street this time is that bankers not only used “other people’s money” —this time they had the hubris to steal or “borrow” the losses they caused — long enough to get the benefit of federal bailout, insurance and hedge products like credit default swaps. Only after the bankers received bailouts and insurance did they push the losses onto investors who were forced to accept non-performing loans long after the 90 day window allowed under the REMIC statutes.
And that is why attorneys defending Foreclosures and other claims for consumer debt, including student loan debt, must first focus on the actual footprints in the sand. The footprints are the actual monetary transactions where real money flowed from one party to another. Leading with the money trail in your allegations, discovery and proof keeps the focus on simple reality. By identifying the real transactions, parties, timing and subject moment lawyers can use the emerging story as the blueprint to measure against the fabricated origination and transfer documents that refer to non-existent transactions.
The problem I hear all too often from clients of practitioners is that the lawyer accepts the production of the note as absolute proof of the debt. Not so. (see below). If you will remember your first year in law school an enforceable contract must have offer, acceptance and consideration and it must not violate public policy. So a contract to kill someone is not enforceable.
Debt arises only if some transaction in which real money or value is exchanged. Without that, no amount of paperwork can make it real. The note is not the debt ( it is evidence of the debt which can be rebutted). The mortgage is not the note (it is a contract to enforce the note, if the note is valid). And the TILA disclosures required make sure that consumers know who they are dealing with. In fact TILA says that any pattern of conduct in which the real lender is hidden is “predatory per se”) and it has a name — table funded loan. This leads to treble damages, attorneys fees and costs recoverable by the borrower and counsel for the borrower.
And a contract to “repay” money is not enforceable if the money was never loaned. That is where “consideration” comes in. And a an alleged contract in the lender agreed to one set of terms (the mortgage bond) and the borrower agreed to another set of terms (the promissory note) is no contract at all because there was no offer an acceptance of the same terms.
And a contract or policy that is sure to fail and result in the borrower losing his life savings and all the money put in as payments, furniture is legally unconscionable and therefore against public policy. Thus most of the consumer debt over the last 20 years has fallen into these categories of unenforceable debt.
The problem has been the inability of consumers and their lawyers to present a clear picture of what happened. That picture starts with footprints in the sand — the actual events in which money actually exchanged hands, the answer to the identity of the parties to each of those transactions and the reason they did it, which would be the terms agreed on by both parties.
If you ask me for a $100 loan and I say sure just sign this note, what happens if I don’t give you the loan? And suppose you went somewhere else to get your loan since I reneged on the deal. Could I sue you on the note? Yes. Could I win the suit? Not if you denied you ever got the money from me. Can I use the real loan as evidence that you did get the money? Yes. Can I win the case relying on the loan from another party? No because the fact that you received a loan from someone else does not support the claim on the note, for which there was no consideration.
It is the latter point that the Courts are starting to grapple with. The assumption that the underlying transaction described in the note and mortgage was real, is rightfully coming under attack. The real transactions, unsupported by note or mortgage or disclosures required under the Truth in Lending Act, cannot be the square peg jammed into the round hole. The transaction described in the note, mortgage, transfers, and disclosures was never supported by any transaction in which money exchanged hands. And it was not properly disclosed or documented so that there could be a meeting of the minds for a binding contract.
KEEP THIS IN MIND: (DISCOVERY HINTS) The simple blueprint against which you cast your fact pattern, is that if the securitization scheme was real and not a PONZI scheme, the investors’ money would have gone into a trust account for the REMIC trust. The REMIC trust would have a record of the transaction wherein a deduction of money from that account funded your loan. And the payee on the note (and the secured party on the mortgage) would be the REMIC trust. There is no reason to have it any other way unless you are a thief trying to skim or steal money. If Wall Street had played it straight underwriting standards would have been maintained and when the day came that investors didn’t want to buy any more mortgage bonds, the financial world would not have been on the verge of extinction. Much of the losses to investors would have covered by the insurance and credit default swaps that the banks took even though they never had any loss or risk of loss. There never would have been any reason to use nominees like MERS or originators.
The entire scheme boils down to this: can you borrow the realities of a transaction in which you were not a party and treat it, legally in court, as your own? So far the courts have missed this question and the result has been an unequivocal and misguided “yes.” Relentless of pursuit of the truth and insistence on following the rule of law, will produce a very different result. And maybe America will use the shining example of Iceland as a model rather than letting bankers control our governmental processes.

Banking Chief Calls For 15% Looting of Italians’ Savings
http://www.infowars.com/banking-chief-calls-for-15-looting-of-italians-savings/

Wrong Bailout

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Editor’s Comment:

It isn’t in our own mainstream media but the fact is that Europe is verging on  collapse. They are bailing out banks and taking them apart (something which our regulators refuse to do). The very same banks that caused the crisis are the ones that are going to claim they too need another bailout because of international defaults. The article below seems extreme but it might be right on target.

From the start the treatment of the banks had been wrong-headed and controlled by of course the banks themselves. With Jamie Dimon sitting on the Board of Directors of the NY FED, which is the dominatrix in the Federal Reserve system, what else would you expect?

The fact is that, as Iceland and other countries have proven beyond any reasonable doubt, the bailout of the banks is dead wrong and it is equally wrong-headed to give them the continued blank check to pursue business strategies that drain rather than infuse liquidity in economies that are ailing because of intentional acts of the banks to enrich themselves rather than the countries that give them license to exist.

The bailout we proposed every year and every month and practically every day on this blog is the only one that will work: reduce household debt, return things to normalcy (before the fake securitization of mortgages and other consumer and government debt) and without spending a dime of taxpayer money.  The right people will pay for this and the victims will get some measure of relief — enough to jump start economies that are in a death spiral.

Just look at home mortgages. They were based upon layers of lies that are almost endless and that continue through the present. But the principal lie, the one that made all the difference, was that the mortgage bonds were worth something and the real property was worth more than the supposed loans. With only a few exceptions those were blatant lies that are not legal or permissible under any exemption claimed by Wall Street. Our system of laws says that if you steal from someone you pay for it with your liberty and whatever it is you stole is returned to the victim if it still exists. And what exists, is millions of falsely created invalid illegal instruments recorded in title registries all over the country affecting the title of more than 20 million households.

All we need to do is admit it. The loans are unsecured and the only fair way of handling things is to bring all the parties to the table, work out a deal and stop the foreclosures. This isn’t going to happen unless the chief law enforcement officers of each state and the clerks of the title registry offices wake up to the fact that they are part of the problem. It takes guts to audit the title registry like they did in San Francisco and other states, cities and counties. But the reward is that the truth is known and only by knowing the truth will we correct the problem.

The housing market is continuing to suffer because we are living a series of lies. The government, realtors and the banks and servicers all need us to believe these lies because they say that if we admit them, the entire financial system will dissolve. Ask any Joe or Josephine on the street — the financial system has already failed for them. Income inequality has never been worse and history shows that (1) the more the inequality the more power those with wealth possess to keep things going their way and (2) this eventually leads to chaos and violence. As Jefferson said in the Declaration of Independence, people will endure almost anything until they just cannot endure it any longer. That time is coming closer than anyone realizes.

Only weeks before France erupted into a bloody revolution with gruesome dispatch of aristocrats, the upper class thought that the masses could be kept in line as long as they were thrown a few crumbs now and then. That behavior of the masses grew from small measures exacted from a resisting government infrastructure to simply taking what they wanted. Out of sheer numbers the aristocracy was unable to fight back against an entire country that was literally up in arms about the unfairness of the system. But even the leaders of the French Revolution and the Merican revolution understood that someone must be in charge and that an infrastructure of laws and enfrocement, confidence in the marketplace and fair dealing must be the status quo. Disturb that and you end up with overthrow of existing authority replaced by nothing of any power or consequence.

Both human nature and history are clear. We can all agree that the those who possess the right stuff should be rich and the rest of us should have a fair shot at getting rich. There is no punishment of the rich or even wealth redistribution. The problem is not wealth inequality. And “class warfare” is not the right word for what is going on — but it might well be the right words if the upper class continue to step on the rest of the people. The problem is that there is no solution to wealth inequality unless the upper class cooperates in bringing order and a fair playing field to the marketplace —- or face the consequences of what people do when they can’t feed, house, educate or protect their children.

LaRouche: The Glass-Steagall Moment Is Upon Us

Spanish collapse can bring down the Trans-Atlantic system this weekend

Abruptly, but lawfully, the Spanish debt crisis has erupted over the past 48 hours into a systemic rupture in the entire trans-Atlantic financial and monetary facade, posing the immediate question: Will the European Monetary Union and the entire trans-Atlantic financial system survive to the end of this holiday weekend?



Late on Friday afternoon, the Spanish government revealed that the cost of bailing out the Bankia bank, which was nationalized on May 9, will now cost Spanish taxpayers nearly 24 billion euro—and rising. Many other Spanish banks are facing imminent collapse or bailout; the autonomous Spanish regions, with gigantic debts of their own, are all now bankrupt and desperate for their own bailout. Over the last week, Spanish and foreign depositors have been pulling their money out of the weakest Spanish banks in a panic, in a repeat of the capital flight out of the Greek banks months ago. 



The situations in Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Ireland are equally on the edge of total disintegration—and the exposure of the big Wall Street banks to this European disintegration is so enormous that there is no portion of the trans-Atlantic system that is exempt from the sudden, crushing reality of this collapse.



Whether or not the system holds together for a few days or weeks more, or whether it literally goes into total meltdown in the coming hours, the moment of truth has arrived, when all options to hold the current system together have run out.

Today, in response to this immediate crisis, American political economist Lyndon LaRouche issued a clarion call to action. Referring to the overall trans-Atlantic financial bubble, in light of the Spanish debt explosion of the past 48 hours, LaRouche pinpointed its significance as follows:

“The rate of collapse now exceeds the rate of the attempts to overtake the collapse. That means that, essentially, the entire European system, in its present form, is in the process of a hopeless degeneration. Now, this is something comparable to what happened in Germany in 1923, and they’ve caught themselves in a trap, where a rate of collapse exceeds the rate of their attempt to overtake yesterday.

“So therefore, we’re in a new situation, and the only solution in Europe, in particular, is Glass-Steagall, or the Glass-Steagall equivalent, with no fooling around. Straight Glass-Steagall — no bailouts! None! In other words, you have to collapse the entire euro system. The entirety of the euro system has to collapse. But it has to collapse in the right way; it has to be a voluntary collapse, which is like a Glass-Steagall process. This means the end of the euro, really. The euro system is about to end, because you can’t sustain it.

“Everything is disintegrating now in Europe. It can be rescued very simply, by a Glass-Steagall type of operation, and then going back to the currencies which existed before. In other words, you need a stable system of currencies, or you can’t have a recovery at all! In other words, if the rate of inflation is higher than the rate of your bailout, then what happens when you try to increase the bailout, you increase the hysteria. You increase the rate of collapse. In other words, the rate of collapse exceeds the rate of bailout.

“And now, you have Spain, and Portugal implicitly, and the situation in Greece. Italy’s going to go in the same direction. So the present system, which Obama’s trying to sustain, in his own peculiar way, is not going to work. There’s no hope for the system. Nor is there any hope for the U.S. system in its present form. The remedies, the problems, are somewhat different between Europe and the United States, but the nature of the disease is the same. They both have the same disease: It’s called the British disease. It’s hyperinflation.

“So, now you’re in a situation where the only way you can avoid a rate of hyperinflation beyond the rate of hyper-collapse is Glass-Steagall, or the equivalent. You have to save something, you have to save the essentials. Well, the essentials are: You take all the things that go into the bailout category, and you cancel them. How do you cancel them? Very simple: Glass-Steagall. Anything that is not fungible in terms of Glass-Steagall categories doesn’t get paid! It doesn’t get unpaid either; it just doesn’t get paid. Because you remove these things from the categories of things that you’re responsible to pay. You’re not responsible to bail out gambling, you’re not responsible to pay out gambling debts.

“Now, the gambling debts are the hyperinflation. So now, we might as well say it: The United States, among other nations, is hopelessly bankrupt.

“But this is the situation! This is what reality is! And what happens, is the entire U.S. government operation is beyond reckoning. It is collapsing! And there’s only one thing you can do: The equivalent of Glass-Steagall: You take those accounts, which are accounts which are worthy, which are essential to society, you freeze the currencies, their prices, and no bailout. And you don’t pay anything that does not correspond to a real credit. It’s the only solution. The point has been reached—it’s here! You’re in a bottomless pit, very much like Germany 1923, Weimar.

“And in any kind of hyperinflation, this is something you come to. And there’s only one way to do it: Get rid of the bad debt! It’s going to have to happen.

“The entire world system is in a crisis. It’s a general breakdown crisis which is centered in the trans-Atlantic community. That’s where the center of the crisis is. So, in the United States, we’re on the verge of a breakdown, a blowout; it can happen at any time. When will it happen, we don’t know, because we’ve seen this kind of thing before, as in 1923 Germany, November-December 1923, this was the situation. And it went on after that, but it’s a breakdown crisis. And that’s it.

“Those who thought there could be a bailout, or they had some recipe that things were going to be fine, that things would be manageable, that’s all gone! You’re now relieved of that great burden. You need have no anxiety about the U.S. dollar. Why worry about it? Either it’s dead or it’s not! And the only way it’s not going to be dead, is by an end of bailout. That’s the situation.

“We don’t know exactly where the breakdown point comes. But it’s coming, because we’re already in a system in which the rate of breakdown is greater than the rate of any bailout possible! And there’s only one way you can do that: Cancel a whole category of obligations! Those that don’t fit the Glass-Steagall standard, or the equivalent of Glass-Steagall standard: Cancel it, immediately! We don’t pay anything on gambling debts. Present us something that’s not a gambling debt, and we may be able to deal with that.”

LaRouche concluded with a stark warning:

“If you think that this system is going to continue, and you can find some way to get out of this problem, you can not get out of this problem, because you are the problem! Your failure to do Glass-Steagall, is the problem. And it’s your failure! Don’t blame somebody else: If you didn’t force through Glass-Steagall, it’s your fault, and it continues to be your fault! It’s your mistake, which is continuing!

“And that’s the situation we have in Europe, and that, really, is also the situation in the United States.

“But that’s where we are! It’s exactly the situation we face now, and there’s no other discussion that really means much, until we can decide to end the bailout, and to absolutely cancel all illegitimate debt—that is, bailout debt!

“There’s only one solution: The solution is, get rid of the illegitimate disease, the hyperinflation! Get rid of the hyperinflationary factor. Cancel the hyperinflation! Don’t pay those debts! Don’t cancel them, just don’t pay them! You declare them outside the economy, outside the responsibility of government: We can no longer afford to sustain you, therefore, you’ll have to find other remedies of your own. That’s where you are. It had to come, it has been coming.”


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Eurozone Recession in Overdrive

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Editor’s Comment:

France, Italy, Spain All at record lows in GDP

Mish Shedlock nails it in the article below. We are reminded again that where the banks get control of political policy, every avenue will be explored before Governments do the right thing — or the country explodes into chaos and a new Government is born. For those who have studied French history, these reports sound earily like the conditions that preceded the French Revolution and the bloodbath that followed. Rioting is commonplace. And the rioters are not just expressing outrage; they have lost faith in the their government, their currency and their prospects. Japanese seminars abound on how to store money and move to other countries. Malasia looks good to them. 

And here in the United States, the steam keeps building under the lid while the banks, realtors and other groups try to convince us that the recession, and the mortgage crisis that brought it on, is over and will NOW recover. Despite years of such “prosperity is just around the corners’ spinning, and some people still believe it when they hear it, we know from history, including our own, that revolution of one sort or another, doesn’t take a majority of citizens to get involved. In fact, every major revolution in every major country occurred with a small band of “fringe” people leading the way until their sucesses attracted the mainstream people who thought they could ride the storm and survive the aftermath.

Over the next 60 days, long-term unemployment benefits are over in this country. GDP is in for another hit. That was money going into the hands of people who were spending it the moment they received it. The full multiplier effect has been keeping our economy floating and now THAT is going away. 

Home prices are now at their lowest level since 2002 and all responsible analysts tell us that housing prices are going down another 15% and I think they are right. The economies of the world are crashing because the people have no money to spend. Even the employed are underemployed and can’t make enouogh money to pay for housing and other major purchases except on a much lower scale. 

We are in a depression, not a recession and the fact that this Depression is not yet as bad as the Great Depression should not lull us into a false sense that this is just a cycle that will run its course. It isn’t. This is the end of modern commerce unless we do something about it. And the ONLY thing left to do is to provide a mechanism where the middle class is suddenly redeployed with cash in their hands to buy things and cause commerce to renew. Don’t look to China or India either which are experiencing sharp decines in GDP. 

There is only one piece of currency that will restore the middle class . Iceland proved it as have other countries. FORCE BANKS TO REDUCE HOUSEHOLD DEBT. Between the mortgage chicanery and credit cards, government borrowing on terms they didn’t understand, and most banks that were “in the game” without knowing the rules, the money is gone. It isn’t the bank that has been robbed, nor government spending that is ripping the economies of the world apart. It is the banks themselves that siphoned off all our currency and our liquidity, and won’t put it back. They have lost their franchise through greed. It is time to nationalize the banks and then let them operate privately as utilities regulated as though they provide the lifeblood of the world.   

The “anti-regulators” are mere apologists for the new aristoracy that has pulled off a coup d’etat and pulled the wool over the eyes of the media and the public.

Eurozone Retail Sales Crash: Record Declines in France and Italy, Overall Revenues Drop at Near Record Pace

by Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Retail sales in France, Italy, and the eurozone as a whole hit the skids according to Markit. Retail sales in Germany were positive, but barely.

Steepest Decline in French History

Further sharp fall in French retail sales during May

 Key points:

  • Month-on-month decline in sales matches April’s survey-record
  • Steepest year-on-year decline in series history
  • Purchase price inflation eases to near-stagnation

Sales fell on an annual basis at the steepest pace recorded since the inception of the survey in January 2004. Margins continued to be squeezed amid an intense competitive environment, despite purchase price inflation easing to near-stagnation.

The headline Retail PMI® registered 41.4 in May, matching April’s survey-record low. French retailers indicated that actual sales came in well below previously set targets during May. The degree of undershoot was the greatest since February 2010.

Record Declines in Italy

Record year-on-year decrease in Italian retail sales in May

 Key points:

  • High street spending down sharply, albeit at weaker monthly rate
  • Job shedding steepest in series history
  • Discounting and cost inflation reduce profitability

Summary:

The Italian retail sector remained in contraction during May, with sales again falling sharply in spite of widespread discounting. Cost pressures meanwhile grew from April’s recent low on the back of rising transport costs, thereby adding more pressure to margins. Consequently, firms shed staff at a marked and accelerated rate that was the steepest since data were first compiled in January 2004.

High street spending across Italy contracted sharply on the month during May, albeit at a slightly slower rate than that registered during April. This was signalled by the seasonally adjusted Italian Retail PMI® posting at 35.8, up from 32.8. Sales fell for the fifteenth month straight, and panellists continued to highlight low consumer confidence and falling disposable incomes as the main factors behind the decline.

German Sales Show Slight Growth

German retail sales return to growth in May

 Key points:

  • Retail PMI points to marginal month-on-month rise in sales
  • Like-for-like sales higher than one year earlier
  • Wholesale price inflation eases markedly

The seasonally adjusted Germany Retail PMI rose from 47.4 in April to 50.7 in May, to indicate a marginal increase in sales on a month-on-month basis. That said, the rate of expansion was lower than those seen throughout the first quarter of 2012. Companies that reported a rise in sales since April generally noted that more favourable weather conditions had resulted in higher customer footfall.

Survey respondents indicated that actual sales fell short of initial targets for the second month running in May.

Sharp Drop in Overall Sales, Revenues Decline at Near Record Pace

Eurozone retail sales continue to fall sharply in May

 Key points: 

  • Retail PMI improves to 43.3, but still signals steep monthly drop in sales
  • Near-record annual fall in sales
  • Wholesale price inflation slows sharply

Summary of May findings:

The Eurozone retail sector remained firmly in contraction in May, according to PMI® data from Markit. Sales fell sharply on a month-on-month basis, and revenues compared with a year ago were down at a near-record rate. There were signs of easing pressure on retailer’s purchasing costs, however, as the rate of purchase price inflation slowed sharply to a 19-month low.

This should bury the notion the eurozone recession will be short and shallow.


Bribery or Business as Usual?

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Editor’s Comment and Analysis:

There is only one way this isn’t an outright bribe that should land the senator in jail — and that is proving that he received nothing of value. Stories abound in the media about haircut rates given to members of government particularly by Countrywide, now owned by Bank of America. Now we see it on the way down where others go through hoops and ladders to get a modification of short-sale but members of Congress get special treatment.

The only way this could be considered nothing of value is if the banks that gave this favor knew that they didn’t lend the money, didn’t purchase the loan and didn’t have a dime in the deal. They can prove it but they won’t because the fallout would be that there are no loans in print and that there are no perfected mortgage loans. The consequence is that there can be no foreclosures. And it would mean that the values carried on the books of these banks are eihter overstated or entirely fictiouos. The general consensus is that capital requirments for the banks should be higher. But what if the capital they are reporting doesn’t exist?

We are seeing practically everyday how Congress is bought off by the Banks and yet we do nothing. How can you expect to be taken seriously by the executive branch and the judicial branch of goveornment charged with enforcing the laws? If you are doing nothing and complaining, it’s time to get off the couch and do something with the Occupy Movement or your own private war with the banks. If you are not complaining, you should be — because this tsunami is about to hit the front door of your house too whether you are making the payments or not.

The power of the new aristocracy in American and European politics is felt around the globe. People are suffering in the U.S., Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Greece and other places because the smaller banks in all those countries got taken to the cleaners by huge conglomerate Wall Street Banks. Ireland is reporting foreclosures and defaults at record rates. It was fraud with an effect far greater than any other act of domestic or international terrorism. And it isn’t just about money either. Suicides, domestic violence ending in death and mental illness are pandemic. And nobody cares about the little guy because the little guy is just fuel for the endless appetite of Wall Street. 

If Obama rreally wants to galvanize the electorate, he must be proactive on the fierce urgency of NOW! Those were his words when he was a candidate and he owes us action because that urgency was felt in 2008 and is a vice around everyone’s neck now.

JPMorgan Chase & the Senator’s Short Sale:

It’s Hypocritical –But Is It Corrupt?

By Richard (RJ) Eskow

There’s a lot we have yet to learn about the story of Sen. Mike Lee, Tea Party Republican of Utah, and America’s largest bank. But we already know something’s very, very wrong:

Why is it that most Americans can’t get a principal reduction from Chase or any other bank, but JPMorgan Chase was so very flexible with a sitting member of the United States Senate?

The hypocrisy from Sen. Lee and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon overfloweth. But does the Case of the Senator’s Short Sale rise to the level of full-blown corruption? We won’t know until we get some answers.

People should be demanding those answers now.

When Jamie Met Mike

It’s not a pretty picture: In one corner is the Senator who wants to strike down Federal child labor laws and offer American residency to any non-citizen who buys a home with cash. In the other is the bank whose CEO said that the best way to relieve the crushing burden of debt on homeowners is by seizing their homes.

“Giving debt relief to people that really need it,” said Dimon, “that’s what foreclosure is.” That comment is Dickensian in its insensitivity – and Dimon’s bank offered real relief to the Senator from Utah.

The story of the short sale on Sen. Mike Lee’s home broke broke shortly not long after the world learned that JPM lost billions of dollars through trading that might have been illegal, and about which it certainly misled investors.

A Senator who doesn’t believe in child labor laws, and a crime-plagued bank that was just plunged into a trading scandal after losing billions in the London markets.

Why, they were practically made for one another.

Here in the Real World

This was also the week we learned from Zillow, one of the nation’s leading real estate data companies, that there are far more underwater homeowners than previously thought. Zillow collated all the information on home loans, including second mortgages, in order to develop this larger and more accurate number.

The new estimated amount of negative equity – money owed to the banks for non-existent home value – is $1.2 trillion.

Zillow found that nearly 16 million homeowners, representing roughly a third of all homes with a mortgage, were “underwater” (meaning they owe more than the home is now worth). That’s about 50 percent more than had been previously believed. Many of these homeowners are desperate for principal reduction, which would allow them to get back on their feet.

Banks can reduce the amount owed to reflect the current value of the house, which would lower monthly payments for many struggling homeowners. Another option is the “short sale,” in which the bank lets them sell the house for its current value and walk away. That would allow many of them to relocate in search of work.

But the banks, along with their allies in Washington DC, have been fighting principal reduction and resisting any attempts to increase the number of short sales. They remain out of reach for most struggling homeowners.

Mike’s Deal

But Mike Lee didn’t have that problem. Lee was elected to the Senate after buying his luxury home in Alpine, Utah at the height of the real estate boom. JPMorgan Chase agreed to a short sale, and it sold for nearly $400,000 less than the price Lee paid for it four years ago.

Sen. Lee says that he made a down payment on the home, although he hasn’t said how much was involved. But if he paid 15 percent down and put it $150,000, for example, then the Senator from Utah was just allowed to walk away from a quarter of a million dollars in debt obligations to JPMorgan Chase.

Let’s see: A troubled bank gives a sitting member of the United States Senate an advantageous deal worth hundreds of thousands of dollars? You’d think a story like that would get a little more attention than it has so far.

The Right’s Outrageous Hypocrisy

We haven’t seen this much hypocrisy in the real estate world since the Mortgage Bankers Association walked away from loans on its own headquarters even as its CEO, John Courson, was lecturing Americans their “legal obligation” and the terrible “message they would send” by walking away from their mortgages.

Then he did a short sale on the MBA’s headquarters. It sold for a reported $41 million, just three years after the MBA – those captains of real estate – paid $74 million for it.

The MBA calls itself “the voice of the mortgage banking industry.”

The hypocrisy may be even greater in this case. Sen. Mike Lee is a member in good standing of the Tea Party, a movement which began on the floor of Chicago Mercantile Exchange as a protest against the idea that the government might help underwater homeowners, even though many of the angry traders had enriched themselves thanks to government bailouts.

When their ringleader mentioned households struggling with negative equity, these first members of the Tea Party broke into a chant: “Losers! Losers! Losers!”

Mike Lee’s Outrageous Hypocrisy

Which gets us to Mike Lee. Lee accepted a handout of JPMorgan Chase after voting to end unemployment for jobless Americans. Lee also argued against Federal child labor laws, although he did acknowledge that child labor is “reprehensible.”

How big a hypocrite is Mike Lee? His website (which, curiously enough, went down as we wrote these words) says he believes “the federal government’s out-of-control spending has evolved into a major threat to our economic prosperity and job creation” and that he came to Washington to, among other things, “properly manage our finances”. Lee’s website also scolds Congress because, he says, it “cannot live within its means.”

As Ed McMahon used to say, “Write your own joke.”

Needless to say, Lee also advocates drastic cuts to Social Security and Medicare while pushing lower taxes for the wealthy – and plumping for exactly the same kind of deregulation which let bankers to run amok and wreck the economy in 2008 by doing things like … well, like what JPMorgan Chase just did in London.

“Give Me Your Wired, Your Wealthy, Your Upper Classes Yearning to Buy Cheap”

Lee has also co-sponsored a bill with Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senator from Wall Street New York, that would grant US residency to foreigners who purchase a home worth at least $500,000 – as long as they paid cash.

The Lee/Schumer bill would be a big boon to US banks – banks, in fact, like JPMorgan Chase. If it passes, the Statue of Liberty may need to be reshaped so that Lady Liberty is holding a book of real estate listings in her right hand while wearing a hat that reads “Million Dollar Sellers’ Club.”

Mike Lee’s bill would also have propped up the luxury home market, offering a big financial boost to people who are struggling to hold to the equity they’ve put into high-end homes, people like … well, like Mike Lee.

Jamie Dimon’s Outrageous Hypocrisy

Then there’s Jamie Dimon, who spoke for his fellow bankers during negotiations that led up to the very cushy $25 billion settlement that let banks like his off the hook for widespread lawbreaking in their foreclosure fraud crime wave.

“Yeah,” Dimon said of principal reductions for homeowners like Sen. Lee, “that’s off the table.”

Dimon’s been resisting global solutions to the negative equity problems for years. He said in 2010 that he preferred to make decisions about homeowners on a “loan by loan” basis.

The Rich Are Different – They Have More Mortgage Relief

“The rich are different,” wrote F. Scott Fitzgerald, and (in a quote often misattributed to Ernest Hemingway) literary critic Mary Colum observed that ” the only difference between the rich and other people is that the rich have more money.”

And they apparently find it a lot easier to walk away from their underwater homes.There’s been a dramatic increase in short sales lately, and the evidence suggests that most of the deals have been going to luxury homeowners. Among other things, this trend toward high-end short sales the lie to the popular idea that bankers and their allies don’t want to “reward the underserving,” since hedge fund traders who overestimated next year’s bonus are clearly less deserving than working families who purchased a modest home for themselves.

Nevertheless, that’s where most of the debt relief seems to be going: to the wealthy, and not to the middle class.

Guess that’s what happens when loan officers working for Dimon and other Wall Street CEOs handle these matters on a “loan by loan” basis.

Immoral Logic

While this “loan by loan” approach lacks morality, there’s some financial logic to it. Banks typically have a lot more money at risk in an underwater luxury home than they do in more modest houses. A short sale provides them with a way to clear things up, recoup what they can, and get their books in a little more order than before. That’s why JPMorgan Chase has been offering selected borrowers up to $35,000 to accept short sales. You can bet they’re not offering that deal to middle class families.

There are other reasons to offer short sales to the wealthy: JPM, like all big banks, is pursuing very-high-end banking clients more aggressively than ever. That’s where the profits are. So why alienate a high-value client when they may offer you the opportunity to recoup losses elsewhere?

(“Sorry to interrupt, Mr. Dimon, but it’s London calling.”)

Corruption Or Not: The Questions

Both the bank and the Senator need to answer some questions about this deal. Here’s what the public deserves to know:

Could the writedown on the home’s value be considered an in-kind gift to a sitting Senator?

If so, then we have a very real scandal on our hands. But we don’t know enough to answer that question yet.

What are JPMorgan Chase’s procedures for deciding who receives mortgage relief and who doesn’t?

Dimon may prefer to handle these matters on a “loan by loan” basis, but there must be guidelines that bank officers can follow. And presumably they’ve been written down somewhere. Were they followed in Mike Lee’s case?

Who was involved in the decision to offer this deal to Mike Lee?

Offering mortgage relief to a sitting Senator is, to borrow a phrase, “a big elfin’ deal.” A mid-level bank officer isn’t likely to handle a case like this without taking it up the chain of command. So who made the final decision on Mike Lee’s mortgage?

It wouldn’t be unheard of if a a sensitive matter like this one was escalated to all the way to the company’s most senior executive – especially if that executive has eliminated any checks on his power, much less any independent input from shareholders, by serving as both the Chair(man) of the Board and the CEO.

In this, as in so many of JPM’s scandals, the question must be asked: What did Jamie know, and when did he know it?

Is Mike Lee a “Friend of Jamie”?

Which raises a related question: Is there is a formal or informal list of people for whom JPM employees are directed to give preferential treatment?

Everybody remembers the scandal that surrounded Sen. Chris Dodd when it was learned that his mortgage was given favorable treatment by Countrywide – even though the Senator apparently knew nothing about it at the time. The world soon learned then that Countrywide had a VIP program called “Friends of Angelo,” named for CEO Angelo Mozilo, and those who were on the list got special treatment.

Is there a “Friends of Jamie” list at JPMorgan Chase – and is Mike Lee’s name on it?

Were there any discussions between the bank’s executives and the Senator regarding the foreign home buyer’s bill or any other legislation that affected Wall Street?

Until this question is answered the issue of a possible quid pro quo will hang over both the Senator and JPMorgan Chase.

Seriously, guys – this doesn’t look good.

Was MERS used to evade state taxes and recording requirements on Sen. Lee’s home? 

JPMorgan Chase funded, and was an active participant, in the “MERS” program which was used, among other things, to bypass local taxes and legal requirements for recording titles.

As we wrote when we reviewed hundreds of internal MERS documents, MERS was instrumental in allowing banks to bundle and sell mortgage-backed securities in a way that led directly to the financial crisis of 2008. It also helped bankers artificially inflate real estate prices, encourage homeowners to take out loans at bubble prices, and then leave them holding the note (as underwater homeowners) after the collapse of national real estate values that they had artificially pumped up.

“Today’s Wall Street Corruption Fun Fact”: MERS was operated by the Mortgage Bankers Association – the same group of real estate geniuses who lost $30 million on a single building in three years, then gave a little lecture on morality to the homeowners they’d been so instrumental in shafting.

Q&A

I was also asked some very reasonable questions by a policy advocacy group. Here they are, with my answers:

If this happened to the average American, would they be able to walk away from the mortgage as well?

If by “average American” you mean “most homeowners,” then the answer is: No. Although short sales are on the rise, most underwater homeowners have not been given the option of going through a short sale. Mike Lee was. The question is, why?

Will Mike Lee’s credit rating be adversely affected?

This is a very important question. The credit rating industry serves banks, not consumers, and it operates at their beck and call.

The answer to this question depends on how JPM handled the paperwork. Many (and probably most) homeowners involved in a short sale take a hit to their credit rating. If Lee did not, it smacks of special treatment.

Given the fact that it was JPMorgan who financed the loss, does that mean, indirectly through the bailout, that the taxpayers paid for Lee’s mortgage write-off?

That gets tricky – but in a moral sense, you could certainly say that.

Short Selling Democracy

There’s no question that this deal is hypocritical and ugly, and that it reflects much of what’s still broken about both our politics and Wall Street. Is it a scandal? Without these answers we can’t know. This was either a case of the special treatment that is so often reserved for the wealthy, or it’s something even worse: influence peddling and political corruption.

it’s time for JPMorgan Chase and Sen. Mike Lee to come clean about this deal. If they did nothing wrong, they have nothing to hide. Either way the public’s entitled to some answers.


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