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banks - The Daily Occupation

Keeping you up-to-date with the #Occupy movement.

Posts tagged banks

JP Morgan’s botched trades may cose 7.5 billion dollars

This irresponsible behavior doesn’t only affect JP Morgan, or even Wall Street — this reckless greed has side-effects that ruin the lives of millions of people all over the world, people who never had anything to do with Wall Street or investment banking.  Because of similar behaviors and lack of meaningful regulation, countless innocent people have lost their jobs, their homes and life savings during the global recession. This is not right, this is not just and it must be stopped.

According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, JP Morgan’s risky trades — and resistance to regulation and oversight — may have cost it a full 7.5 billion dollars. Once lauded as one of the more conservative and cautious investment firms, its reputation has fallen under Jamie Dimon’s leadership.

JPMorgan’s chief investment office has lost $5.8 billion on the trades so far, and that figure may climb by $1.7 billion in a worst-case scenario, Dimon, the bank’s chairman and chief executive officer, said yesterday.

The mounting losses have focused regulators’ and investors’ attention on the CIO. Dimon transformed the once-conservative unit in recent years to boost profit by buying higher-yielding assets such as structured credit, equities and derivatives, Bloomberg News reported on April 13, citing former employees.

One trader, Bruno Iksil, amassed positions in credit derivatives so big and market-moving he became known as the London Whale. Bets on credit-default swaps known as the Markit CDX North America Investment Grade Series 9 backfired this year. Dimon dismissed reports about the London operation as a “tempest in a teapot” when the bank reported first-quarter earnings April 13. He reversed course less than four weeks later, disclosing a $2 billion loss that he said could grow to $3 billion or more during the quarter.

The bank said yesterday it ousted managers responsible for the transactions and will claw back their pay after an internal inquiry found traders may have intentionally tried to hide souring bets during the first quarter.

<a href=”http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-07-13/jpmorgan-s-botched-trades-may-generate-7-dot-5-billion-loss”>Read the article here.</a>

 

Hundreds protest at Bank of America

Bank of America, infamous for backdoor bailouts and insulting debit fees, is being protested by several groups under the Occupy banner. From CNN:

Hundreds of protesters decamped outside Bank of America’s corporate headquarters in downtown Charlotte, N.C., on Wednesday for the bank’s annual shareholder meeting.

We see Bank of America as the worst of the worst,” said Amanda Starbuck, a director at the environmental advocacy group Rainforest Action Network, which organized the protests. “There’s a lot of momentum around Bank of America.

Additionally, members of the 99% Power Coalition said that Bank of America paid for additional security around the meeting. The bank hired off-duty Charlotte police officers to sit inside the meeting, as well as a private security firm to work outside.

Bank of America declined to comment on the hiring of private security. A spokesperson for Charlotte’s mayor said that off-duty police officers can be hired by private companies.

Photos of the protests in Charlotte, NC from Reuters, and video of the protests, provided by the Washington Post.

Occupy Roundup: Feb. 18-22 – Finance/Banking Edition

  • Wall Street has begun to speak for higher taxes on the rich. The article points out part of the catch (of course there’s a catch) – that it’s probably at least an attempt to avoid any further regulation. So this is a good first step! But there needs to be many more steps past this.
  • Occupy Milwuakee is pushing for a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions. In a largely minority community (which has apparently been hit the hardest by both the recession and the foreclosures), this is a great push – hopefully it goes through.

Occupy the SEC tackles the Volcker rule

Occupy has often come under fire for raising grievances without specifying policy solutions. This is changing, as a group of Occupiers who are also financial professionals – including, possibly, former heads of banks – have drafted a letter to the SEC concerning the Volcker rule, a section of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform And Consumer Protection Act.

Ezra Klein reports in WaPo:

A year and a half ago, Alexis Goldstein was working as a business analyst for Deutsche Bank’s New York headquarters, helping traders on the global equity derivatives desk. Now she’s huddling every week with Occupy Wall Street in a glass-walled atrium next door to her old workplace, trying to rein in the kind of banks that once employed her.

“I felt I wasn’t doing anything to help the wider world. I don’t think it’s a contribution to be making wealthy people wealthier,” says Goldstein, who left Deutsche Bank in July 2010 and had previously worked at Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch. “With each passing year, I got more frustrated.” Goldstein is now using her industry expertise to help Occupy the SEC, a New York-based offshoot of Occupy Wall Street that’s working to curb the excesses of the financial industry through stronger regulation. The group’s work culminated most recently in a detailed, 325-page letter on the Volcker Rule, which it submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission this week.

Goldstein isn’t the only Wall Street alum to find herself inside Zuccotti Park. George Bailey, another Occupy the SEC member, has spent 30 years in financial services, working in accounting, compliance, and risk-control, and he’s still in the industry. Caitlin Kline is a former credit-derivatives trader. Since October, they’ve all been part of the core Occupy group that’s waded through the mind-numbingly complex Volcker Rule—which itself is 300 pages long—to parse the new restrictions on so-called “proprietary trading,” prohibiting banks from speculative bets for their own benefit, rather than their clients.

[...]Tewary believes that “a lot of things activists at Occupy were concerned about could be addressed by Volcker” and says it was fortuitous that regulators began accepting public feedback just as the Occupy movement was gaining steam.

Despite the polemical tone of the movement, Occupy the SEC’s final letter is far from a anti-Wall Street screed. Though its unabashedly critical of the proposed regulation, which it calls too lax, it delves deeply into the substance and technical details of the proposed regulation, proposing that regulators eliminate loopholes and exceptions that have “woefully enfeebled” the effort to rein in speculative trading by government-insured banks.

Full text of the letter to the SEC

New York AG Files Suit Against Major Banks for Mortgage Fraud

According to the Wall Street Journal’s online site, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has joined Massachusetts and Delaware in suing Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and J.P. Morgan Chase over their use of Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS). From the article:

MERS was set up by banks to rapidly package and sell mortgages as securities without recording each transaction in county records offices. Complaints allege among other things that homeowners have trouble responding to foreclosure actions and mortgage inaccuracies because MERS makes it difficult to find out who owns the mortgages.

By creating this bizarre and complex end-around of the traditional public recording system, banks achieved their primary goal — over 70 million mortgage loans, including millions of subprime loans, have been registered in the MERS system and the industry has saved more than $2 billion in recording fees,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit also claims that over the several years, “banks rapidly securitized and sold off millions of loans, often misrepresenting the quality and nature of the mortgages being transferred.”

[...] Delaware officials have said MERS has sown confusion among consumers, investors and other stakeholders in the mortgage finance system. Officials claim the company has damaged the integrity of Delaware’s land records system and lead to unlawful foreclosure practices.”

Emphasis editor’s. The article also notes that Schneiderman is President Obama’s choice to spearhead a group of “55 prosecutors and federal and state investigators” to dig into any fraud in the mortgage sector that may have contributed to the current financial crisis. One assumes this lawsuit is part of those ongoing efforts, and if so, kudos to everyone involved.

Mother Jones: Former Pacific Exchange President Joins the 99%

Mother Jones reports on a former derivatives trader who may just have seen the light:

As president of the Pacific Exchange in the late 1990s, Warren Langley oversaw the West Coast’s biggest financial center, a trading floor where some 17 million shares of stock changed hands daily. Though he served at the pleasure of traders and investment banks such as Morgan Stanley, he is no longer interested in pleasing them. Yesterday, he stood on a hillside in San Francisco’s Financial District in front Morgan Stanley’s and Goldman Sachs’ regional headquarters to declare his support for Occupy Wall Street West, a coalition of 50 groups planning a slew of anti-bank protests Friday.

“From the inside, I watched Goldman Sachs, the big banks, the hedge funds bet our money and then get bailed out when they lost,” said Langley, surrounded by protesters holding images of a devious-looking Mr. Moneybags (Monopoly) character. “I saw corporations and the 1 percent buy our congressmen and senators and then pay no taxes, get subsidies, and move jobs overseas. This is our last chance to level the playing field and let you and our kids and grandkids have the opportunities that I started with.”

[...] Langely considers himself “pretty much a fiscal conservative,” but after the crisis, he was taken aback that lawmakers didn’t do more to repair the system. The Volcker Rule, part of the Dodd-Frank law that was intended to reinstate Glass-Steagall, was too watered down by lobbyists, he says. Wall Street needs a single powerful regulator, instead an alphabet soup of agencies. And he is concerned that financial firms are still so large and interconnected that the failure of any one of them could create another economy-destroying chain reaction. “The biggest obstacle is lobbying by the big investment banks,” he says. “On both sides of the aisle. I mean, Chuck Schumer is one of the biggest protectors of Wall Street in Congress, and he’s a Democrat. And then there’s the general Republican philosophy about free-market capitalism: ‘We shouldn’t have rules.’ Well, that doesn’t work.”

Emphasis editor’s.

(I’m all for people realizing their past mistakes and making amends for them. If he’s truly sincere about changing things—and it sounds like he is—then welcome aboard, Mr. Langley. —ed.)

Occupy Everywhere: News Roundup for Jan. 22nd, 2012

General Strike - May 1st

Evening, folks. Let’s get right into it!

Kos reports on Occupy San Francisco actions of 1/20

Bank blockages and giant squid and Citizens United, oh my!

The Bank of America branch on Montgomery St. between California and Pine stayed eyes-wide shut from 8:00 AM until the Occupiers declared victory at 6:00 PM. Not a single customer made it into that bank; the only two people I ever saw inside it were a lone security guard and a bank official.

Starting around 8:00 AM, some seven people formed a combined human metal-tube chain across the entrance to BofA. There they stayed, alternatively standing and sitting, for ten hours.

In their first encounter with the police some time before noon they were told that if they didn’t leave, they would be arrested when the police came back. They stayed.

By 1:00 PM, they had all but been forgotten by the larger protests, which had kicked off with a noon march at Justin Herman / Bradley Manning Plaza, some eight blocks away. Only a few Occupiers were left in support of the seven man crew.

They then had a second encounter with the San Francisco police. The police asked them whether they wanted to be arrested as an act of civil disobedience, or whether they were going to leave. Again they stayed.

Read (lots!) more and see video at Daily Kos

“Occupy the Dream” Takes Action

Remember a month or so back when we mentioned Dr. Benjamin Chavis Jr. and Reverend Dr. Jamal Bryant were starting “Occupy the Dream” to give African Americans a voice in Occupy Wall Street? Well, it appears they’re ready to make their first move, and it’s a doozy:

BALTIMORE, December 28, 2011: Dr. Benjamin Chavis and Reverend Dr. Jamal Bryant released the names of the Occupy the Dream National Steering Committee and the local community organizers who will lead the demonstrations on January 16, 2012 at all 13 Federal Reserve Banks. The effort will be led by prominent members of the African American Clergy, Occupy Wall Street participants, students and others concerned about income inequality and economic justice in America.”

Important bits bolded by the editor. This is a great and welcome action. Remember the date—Jan. 16—and check out Occupy the Dream’s main site for all the latest details.

Occupy Everywhere: Holiday News Roundup

Things are a little slow due to the holidays, but here’s some items to tide you over for the new year!

  • South Bend: Occupy South Bend is officially rolling. Welcome them into the movement by checking out their website here.
  • Berkley: As of Thursday, Occupy Berkley’s camp is no more. Read the details from an eyewitness here. Mercifully, the removal seems to be free of the brutality other camps have faced.
  • Montana: Courtesy of Daily Kos, Montana citizens have decided to reward Sens. Max Baucus and Jonathan Tester for their vote for the NDAA “indefinite detention” bill by organizing a recall for both senators. The money quote? “[I]n a New York Times op-ed piece by two retired four-star U.S. Marine generals, Charles Krulak and Joseph Hoar, Krulak and Hoar said that ‘Due process would be a thing of the past.’” Yikes. If you’re similarly outraged, the article has a great place to start to force a recall of your own senator(s).
  • Belgium: Finally, Business Insider reports that, after a huge bailout that left Belgium’s entire economy reeling, the parties responsible are finally facing legal action, albeit of the tort variety. Both Dexia SA and former CEO of Dexia, Pierre Mariani, are accused of “‘spreading false and misleading information’ and ‘market manipulation.’”

Bank of America: Occupy Our Homes “Could Impact Our Industry”

An internal memo leaked from Bank of America points out that today’s Occupy Our Homes action is already being felt:

On Tuesday, December 6th there is a potential nationwide protest planned that could impact our industry. We believe protests will likely take place tomorrow at auction sites, homes that are being foreclosed, homes in the eviction stage and vacant homes. We want to make sure that we are all prepared.

  1. Your safety is our primary concern, so do not engage with protestors.
  2. While in neighborhoods, please take notice of vacant BAC Field Services managed homes and ensure they are secured.
  3. Remind all parties of the bank’s media policy and report any media incidents to 800-796-8448 or email at pressroom@bankofamerica.com.”

The memo comes courtesy of ZeroHedge. The full memo (and commentary on it) can be found here.

(Remember, BoA employees—don’t let the media get away with any “incidents,” and for goodness’ sakes, don’t talk to protestors. They might actually make you feel bad! —ed.)

[Op-Ed] Interview with former Chase banker — admits to big banks’ culpability in housing crisis

We’ve all heard that the housing bubble was brought about by greedy prospective home buyers being irresponsible. Wrong, says former Chase banker James Theckston.

If you want to understand why the Occupy movement has found such traction, it helps to listen to a former banker like James Theckston. He fully acknowledges that he and other bankers are mostly responsible for the country’s housing mess.

As a regional vice president for Chase Home Finance in southern Florida, Theckston shoveled money at home borrowers. In 2007, his team wrote $2 billion in mortgages, he says. Sometimes those were “no documentation” mortgages.

[...] One memory particularly troubles Theckston. He says that some account executives earned a commission seven times higher from subprime loans, rather than prime mortgages. So they looked for less savvy borrowers — those with less education, without previous mortgage experience, or without fluent English — and nudged them toward subprime loans.

These less savvy borrowers were disproportionately blacks and Latinos, he said, and they ended up paying a higher rate so that they were more likely to lose their homes. Senior executives seemed aware of this racial mismatch, he recalled, and frantically tried to cover it up.

Theckston, who has a shelf full of awards that he won from Chase, such as “sales manager of the year,” showed me his 2006 performance review. It indicates that 60 percent of his evaluation depended on him increasing high-risk loans.

Read more at the New York Times

(“Greedy poors caused the recession” is one of the most pernicious lies in recent memory. Here’s hoping that more people like James Theckston begin to come forward and speak up for the members of the 99% who were cruelly and cynically exploited in this manner. –ed)

Massachusetts Attorney General sues major US banks over home foreclosures

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley today sued five major US banks for allegedly illegally seizing properties, filing fraudulent foreclosure documents and failing to help struggling borrowers who could have stayed in their homes if they had been allowed to make lower mortgage payments.

The lawsuit, filed in Suffolk Superior Court, targets Bank of America Corp., Wells Fargo & Co., JPMorgan Chase & Co, Citigroup Inc., and GMAC, a subsidiary of Ally Financial Inc. It also names the private mortgage recording company known as Mortgage Electronic Registration System, Inc. and its parent company as defendants.

“Our suit alleges that the banks have charted a destructive path by cutting corners and rushing to foreclose on homeowners without following the rule of law,’’ Coakley said. “Our action today seeks real accountability for the banks’ illegal behavior and real relief for homeowners.”

Read the rest at the Boston Globe

(And please do; it’s all gold. This isn’t directly #OWS-related but it something we’ve been talking about. — ed.)

Mic Check! N.C. State University Protestors Interrupt Wells Fargo CEO

The human mic strikes again, this time at N.C. State University:

John G. Stumpf, the president and CEO of Wells Fargo, was on campus as part of an executive lecture series sponsored by NCSU’s Poole College of Management.

His remarks were disrupted when protesters scattered amongst the audience of about 400 stood and started speaking. One woman protester began a speech and the others repeated and amplified her words.

The protesters said, “John Stumpf, we won’t take your home, but we will take a moment of your time. Your leadership has led to the death of the American dream. Wells Fargo is guilty of widespread predatory lending and holds over $5.7 billion in student debt.”

Afterwards, an NCSU official apparently “urged the audience to applaud in support of Stumpf, drowning out the protestors,” who were thrown out afterwards.

(See the full article here.)

Judge Rejects Citigroup Settlement

Courtesy Kara Scannell at The Financial Times, U.S. judge Jed Rakoff has not only rejected a “no-admit, no-deny” settlement between Citigroup and the SEC, but has indicated he has no interest in allowing further such settlements. Rakoff refused to approve the settlement “because the court has not been provided with any proven or admitted facts upon which to exercise even a modest degree of independent judgment.” Furthermore, Rakoff said:

The SEC’s longstanding policy—hallowed by history, but not by reason—of allowing defendants to enter into consent judgments without admitting or denying the underlying allegations, deprives the court of even the most minimal assurance that the substantial injunctive relief it is being asked to impose has any basis in fact.

The SEC, of all agencies, has a duty, inherent in its statutory mission, to see that the truth emerges; and if fails to do so, this court must not, in the name of deference or convenience, grant judicial enforcement to the agency’s contrivances.”

The SEC has not indicated yet whether or not it will appeal.

Bloomberg: “Secret Fed Loans Helped Banks Net $13 Billion”

Today’s article by Bloomberg follows the money of the bank bailout:

The Fed didn’t tell anyone which banks were in trouble so deep they required a combined $1.2 trillion on Dec. 5, 2008, their single neediest day. Bankers didn’t mention that they took tens of billions of dollars in emergency loans at the same time they were assuring investors their firms were healthy. And no one calculated until now that banks reaped an estimated $13 billion of income by taking advantage of the Fed’s below-market rates, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its January issue.

Saved by the bailout, bankers lobbied against government regulations, a job made easier by the Fed, which never disclosed the details of the rescue to lawmakers even as Congress doled out more money and debated new rules aimed at preventing the next collapse.

[...] Lawmakers knew none of this.

They had no clue that one bank, New York-based Morgan Stanley (MS), took $107 billion in Fed loans in September 2008, enough to pay off one-tenth of the country’s delinquent mortgages. The firm’s peak borrowing occurred the same day Congress rejected the proposed TARP bill, triggering the biggest point drop ever in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. (INDU) The bill later passed, and Morgan Stanley got $10 billion of TARP funds, though Paulson said only “healthy institutions” were eligible.

Have a read, though prepare to go cross-eyed with rage and need to lie down afterwards. Bloomberg’s parent company had to file and win a lawsuit in order to get this information out in the public nearly four years later. If anyone ever asks you what Occupy Wall Street is protesting, it’s this. This right here. This is what we’re protesting. –ed