This chart from the report shows nicely how much more concentrated things have become, with utter corruption Top Down....
It's hard not to think it's a big deal when a branch of the Federal Reserve system calls for the breakup of major American banks.
The bank has just released its annual report, and the title of the letter is: Choosing the Road to Prosperity Why We Must End Too Big to Fail—Now.
Here's the full letter from Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher, generally known as one of the most hawkish and conservative Fed Presidents.
Letter from the
If you are running one of the “too-big- to-fail” (TBTF) banks—alternatively known as “systemically important financial institutions,” or SIFIs—I doubt you are going to like what you read in this annual report essay written by Harvey Rosenblum, the head of the Dallas Fed’s Research Department, a highly regarded Federal Reserve veteran of 40 years and the former president of the National Association for Business Economics.
Memory fades with the passage of time. Yet it is important to recall that it was in recog- nition of the precarious position in which the TBTF banks and SIFIs placed our economy in 2008 that the U.S. Congress passed into law the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd–Frank). While the act established a number of new macroprudential features to help promote financial stability, its overarching purpose, as stated unambiguously in its preamble, is ending TBTF.
However, Dodd–Frank does not eradi- cate TBTF. Indeed, it is our view at the Dallas Fed that it may actually perpetuate an already dangerous trend of increasing banking industry concentration. More than half of banking industry assets are on the books of just five institutions. The top 10 banks now account for 61 percent of commercial banking assets, substantially more than the 26 percent of only 20 years ago; their combined assets equate to half of our nation’s GDP. Further, as Rosenblum argues in his essay, there are signs that Dodd– Frank’s complexity and opaqueness may evenbe working against the economic recovery. In addition to remaining a lingering threat to financial stability, these megabanks signifi- cantly hamper the Federal Reserve’s ability to properly conduct monetary policy.
They were a primary culprit in magnifying the financial crisis, and their presence continues to play an impor- tant role in prolonging our economic malaise.There are good reasons why this recovery has remained frustratingly slow compared with periods following previous recessions, and I believe it has very little to do with the Federal Reserve. Since the onset of the Great Recession, we have undertaken a number of initiatives— some orthodox, some not—to revive and kick-start the economy. As I like to say, we’ve filled the tank with plenty of cheap, high-octane gasoline. But as any mechanic can tell you, it takes more than just gas to propel a car.
The lackluster nature of the recovery is certainly the byproduct of the debt-infused boom that preceded the Great Recession, as is the excessive uncertainty surrounding the actions—or rather, inactions—of our fiscal au- thorities in Washington. But to borrow an anal- ogy Rosenblum crafted, if there is sludge on the crankshaft—in the form of losses and bad loans on the balance sheets of the TBTF banks—then the bank-capital linkage that greases the engine of monetary policy does not function properly to drive the real economy. No amount of liquidity provided by the Federal Reserve can change this.
Perhaps the most damaging effect of prop- agating TBTF is the erosion of faith in American capitalism. Diverse groups ranging from the Occupy Wall Street movement to the Tea Party argue that government-assisted bailouts of reckless financial institutions are sociologically and politically offensive. From an economic perspective, these bailouts are certainly harmful to the efficient workings of the market.
I encourage you to read the following essay. The TBTF institutions that amplified and prolonged the recent financial crisis remain a hindrance to full economic recovery and to the very ideal of American capitalism.
It is imperative that we end TBTF. In my view, downsizing the behemoths over time into institutions that can be prudently managed and regulated across borders is the appropriate policy response. Only thencantheprocessof “creativedestruction”— which America has perfected and practiced with such effectiveness that it led our country to unprecedented economic achievement— work its wonders in the financial sector, just as it does elsewhere in our economy. Only then will we have a financial system fit and proper for serving as the lubricant for an economy as dynamic as that of the United States.
Later in the report, there's this explainer of how Too Big To Fail is a perversion of capitalism:
TBTF: A Perversion of Capitalism
A n unfortunate side effect of the government’s massive aid to TBTF banks has been an erosion of faith in American capitalism. Ordinary workers and consumers who might usually thank capitalism for their higher living standards have seen a perverse side of the system, where they see that normal rules of markets don’t apply to the rich, powerful and well-connected.
Here are some ways TBTF has violated basic tenets of a capitalist sys-tem:
Capitalism requires the freedom to succeed and the freedom to fail.
Hard work and good decisions should be rewarded. Perhaps more impor- tant, bad decisions should lead to failure—openly and publicly. Econo- mist Allan Meltzer put it this way:“Capitalism without failure is like religion without sin.”
Capitalism requires government to enforce the rule of law. This requires maintaining a level playing field.The privatization of profits and socializa- tion of losses is completely unacceptable.TBTF undermines equal treat- ment, reinforcing the perception of a system tilted in favor of the rich and powerful.
Capitalism requires businesses and individuals be held accountable for the consequences of their actions. Accountability is a key ingredient for maintaining public faith in the economic system.The perception—and the reality—is that virtually nobody has been punished or held account- able for their roles in the financial crisis.
The idea that some institutions are TBTF inexorably erodes the founda- tions of our market-based system of capitalism.
That does not appear to be the case. So here is the story that suggests that the SEC had been providing MF Global special treatment to mask its financial difficulties while it floated a large bond offering. They betrayed their sworn duty to make the information public, and to act to protect the average account holder by promoting transparency and the symmetrical disclosure of information to maintain the confidence in the system, and quite likely out of a deference to power and influence.
We have seen many examples of the Fed hiding information and stonewalling legitimate disclosure of key financial information to 'protect the system.' The problem is that this merely serves to allow powerful insiders to game the system, and guarantee the system's decline, while reform withers.
Professional investors, through their own sources and resources, became aware of the MF Global problems and began to flee the firm, leaving the small independent investors 'holding the bag' as it were. It is not likely that JPM was unaware of this.
We have seen other instances of this sort of thing, such as the SEC whistleblower who lost his position when attempting to act on strong evidence of insider trading by one of the TBTF titans.
The Street has had it in for Jon Corzine ever since he betrayed them and profited from the Fed enforced LTCM rescue when he was the head of Goldman Sachs. And MF Global appears to have been the payback.
A dirty business, but as I have said, it is not likely that justice will ever be done. Mr. Corzine may not even be banned from dealing again in the financial markets.
I just would like to see people made aware of this, so they might protect themselves from these rapacious sociopaths and their enablers. And of course, to see the monies stolen from the innocent account holders returned.
MF Global is one of the most outrageous scandals in recent financial history, involving one of the principal donors and fund raisers to the Democratic presidential incumbent.
And yet it receives no mention in the debates or from the Republican candidates, and very little mention in the press except for the repetition of spin and slogans and disinformation. Are they planning to use this as an 'October Surprise' or perhaps as a sophisticated form of Wall Street blackmail? Or is just the foolish groupthink that possesses insular groups of powerful insiders when the system that provides their status and extravagant privileges is threatened?
And at least from the outside the 'investigation' has the appearance of a very professional damage control and public relations campaign with all the trappings.
The warning for investors from MF Global is that The Financial Markets Have Not Been Fixed, and therefore the money you have in the markets is not safe.
WAS CRITICAL DISCLOSURE OF MF GLOBAL DOCUMENTS DELAYED, PROVIDED SPECIAL TREATMENT AT SEC?
By Kurt at SaveTheFloor
Why was release of critical disclosure apparently delayed? Why were time stamps suspiciously altered?
Critical documents related to MF Global’s financial condition appear to have been delayed for release by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) at an important time just before a MF Global floated a bond offering to professional investors.
While possibly a coincidence, approximately the same time the documents in question were finally made public, MF Global professional account holders were beginning to flee the company, leading to an eventual liquidity crisis and the firm’s bankruptcy.
The document in question is MF Global’s Annual Audited Report on Form X-17-A-5. What is critical about this report is that it contained information regarding of MF Global’s risky sovereign debt trades, including some subtle, yet important, details that were not available anywhere else. Had professional investors had this information weeks after the May 31, 2011 initial filing date, as is said to be typically the case with such documents, they may have avoided purchasing what ultimately became near worthless MF Global bonds...
To further highlight special treatment, Mr. English points out that the document was held by the SEC concurrent with negotiations that FINRA and the SEC were having with MF Global over foreign sovereign debt exposure, which has now been widely reported after the fact. “It appears as though someone at the SEC may have been holding the document while negotiating with Mr. Corzine over his sovereign debt exposure,” Mr. English speculated, noting that between the May Filing date and September release date FINRA and SEC negotiated with MF Global and finally demanded an increase of capitalization to support Corzin’s sovereign debt trade. He notes that the documents were de-indexed from the SEC database and then reposted–unusual activity given that a sampling of smaller brokerage firms found no instances of missing or amended audits. “Astute industry participants may have been watching for the Annual Audited report of the broker unit,” noted Mr. English. “That report did not surface until September at the earliest. This is clearly out of the norm with respect to how the SEC usually scans and publicly posts these reports...”
When the Annual Audit Report in question was finally released weeks later, knowledgeable professional investors were said to start fleeing the FCM. Contrary to initial reports, this was not a “run on the bank” because these were futures accounts under the auspices of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). This widely assumed investor protection is critical because then the liquidation falls under the auspice of the Commodities Exchange Act (CEA), which assumes a “segregated account priority above all else” legal protection in the case of a bankruptcy through a liquidation process.
Special Privilege Provided Mr. Corzine
The document tampering raises serious questions about the relationship between the SEC and Mr. Corzine, painting a picture of special treatment the firm may have received, according to industry consultant, Elaine Knuth.
“This is really an important story because it goes beyond the SEC messy handling of filings. A filing delay before the bond offering, and during ongoing meetings between the SEC and MF Global, points to coziness, resulting in regulatory failure,” noted Ms. Knuth, who also contributes to the blog at www.MFGFacts.com. “It shows regulators favoring and protecting Wall Street investment bank interests over investor protections...”
Read the rest here.