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Opinions and views from expert CFOZone members.

Tag >> bank failures
Apr 08

We weren't dumb, we just blew it, ex-Citiguys claim

Posted by Ron F in RiskRegulationfinancial crisisFederal ReserveCitigroupBanksbanking reformBankingbank failuresbailouts

Ron F

Man, I just caught some of the last part of the financial crisis show this afternoon and I have to say it did very little to clarify who the hell was responsible for Citigroup's near-death experience during the mortgage meltdown, even though the panel had four former Citifolks on it.

Citi's ex co-CEO of markets and banking, Thomas Maheras, for example, testified that the bank was well aware that housing was heading south in late 2007 and was actively managing its balance sheet to deal with that.

Apr 07

PE guys tip-toe into banking

Posted by mcole in Riskprivate equityDealscomplianceBanksbank failures


Private equity firms are making progress in investing in financial services companies, especially banks. But while their investments may provide appetizing returns, they won't save the banking industry.

The Carlyle Group just closed a $1.1 billion financial services fund, the firm said Tuesday. The fund has made three investments so far, including most recently in a Bermuda-based Bank of NT Butterfield & Son in March.

Apr 01

Financial reform going nowhere fast

Posted by Ron F in Senate Banking CommitteeRiskRegulationPaul VolckerFederal ReserveConsumer Financial Protection AgencyCongressoinal Oversight PanelCongresscomplianceChris Doddbanking reformBankingbank failuresbailouts

Ron F

I see that the slow boat to financial reform continues to drift sideways, as Senate Banking Committee member Bob Corker followed Paul Volcker's call for action yesterday with a sorry-no-can-do.

Unlike health-care reform, Democrats will need the support of a Republican like Corker to get a bill containing resolution authority for big banks, derivatives regulation, and consumer protection enacted this year. Only one piece of legislation can be passed through the budget reconciliation process in any one year, and now that the process was used for health-care reform, everything else will require a filibuster-proof majority that the Democrats no longer have.

Mar 23

Banks must be able to rip off customers, says Shelby

Posted by Ron F in RiskRegulationfinancial crisisConsumer Financial Protection AgencyCongresscomplianceBanksbanking reformBankingbank failures

Ron F

Does the banking industry need to be able to screw its consumers in order to be profitable? If so, it's in even worse shape than I thought.

Yet that's what Senator Richard Shelby suggested when he wowed the audience in a speech at an American Bankers Association conference last week. Saying the Republicans in Congress would do everything they could do prevent efforts to rein in banks, Shelby noted that "safety and soundness trumps everything," including "the consumer finance whatever."

Mar 20

Another call to ban naked swaps

Posted by Ron F in RiskRegulationLehman BrothersFederal ReserveEnronderivativesdebtcredit-default swapcomplianceBanksBankingbank failuresbalance sheets

Ron F

We've been harping on the need to curb the use of credit default swaps for speculative purposes for some time. And after Congress briefly entertained the idea of banning naked swaps, those, that is, where neither the buyer or seller owns the debt of the reference entity and thus has an insurable interest in it, the idea is enjoying something of a comeback.

Not that we had anything to do with that. Instead, that was Goldman Sachs' doing, since the interest rate swaps the firm sold Greece to hide much of it debt has led to a huge amount of speculation through naked credit default swaps against that debt, and made it more difficult for the country to raise fresh capital to stem its financial crisis, thereby endangering the European Union.

Mar 18

House to hold new hearings over Lehman

Posted by Ron F in Securities and Exchange CommissionRiskRegulationLehman BrothersFederal ReserveCongresscomplianceChristopher DoddBarney FrankBanksbanking reformBankingbank failuresbailouts

Ron F

I may be wrong about the apparent public indifference to the findings of the examiner's report on the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy that I detected from the relative dearth of on-going press coverage less than a week after it was released.

As Jack Ciesielski, an investment advisor who publishes the Analyst's Accounting Observer, put it in an email to me yesterday, "This is really opaque stuff, similar in that regard, at least, to Enron. It's hard to make it catch fire with the general public. All they know is that someone on Wall Street was crooked, and there you go again. But I think even the public is getting numb."

Mar 15

Lehman case another reason to revisit 2005 bankruptcy law

Posted by Ron F in RiskRegulationLehman BrothersFDICCongresscomplianceBanksbankruptcyBankingbank failures

Ron F

We're taken the bankruptcy reform law Congress passed five years ago to task for encouraging speculation in credit default swaps by creating a safe harbor for derivatives.

Until the law was enacted in 2005, that is, swaps were subject to the automatic stay from creditors' claims, so counterparties had to line up with other creditors to seek seek cash or collateral to make good on their contracts. That changed when the law created a process known as "close out netting," so counterparties to swaps could force a failed company to make good on its claims even in Chapter 11.

Mar 15

Did the New York Fed help Lehman mislead investors?

Posted by Ron F in Securities and Exchange CommissionRegulationNew York FedLehman BrothersGeithnerFederal ReservecomplianceChris DoddBanksBankingbank failures

Ron F

Back when the Federal Reserve started buying mortgage-backed securities from investment banks in the fall of 2008, there was some feverish speculation within the ranks of Financial Week, where I worked at the time, that the Fed's efforts were helping the banks make their balance sheets look better than they really were. But there was no way to prove that at the time.

Now the Lehman Brothers' examiners report is reviving such speculation, because Lehman's transactions with the New York Fed were similar to those it engaged in with other banks. And in the case of so-called Repo105 transactions involving $50 billion in Lehman assets that were temporarily shifted off of Lehman's balance sheet, the report says those transactions were "materially misleading" to investors because they were not properly disclosed.

Mar 12

What's wrong with Chapter 11 for banks?

Posted by Ron F in RiskLehman BrothersGoldman Sachsderivativescredit-default swapBanksbankruptcybanking reformbank failuresbailoutsAIG

Ron F

I have never understood why exactly bank regulators need new, so-called resolution authority for banks when there is something called Chapter 11, unless of course they don't plan to use it, in which case there's no reason to provide it to them other than to engage in the complete pretense that they do.

And neither evidently does this panel of bankruptcy and restructuring experts.

Mar 11

Second-mortgage losses may require big banks to raise more capital

Posted by Ron F in Wells FargoTimothy GeithnerRegulationJP Morgan ChaseGeithnerFederal ReservecomplianceCitigroupBarney FrankBanksBank of Americabank failuresbailouts

Ron F

Bank of America claims it's comfortable with the amount of losses on second mortgages it would have to absorb if it complied with Barney Frank's request that it write them off so as reduce principal on first mortgages and thus help stem foreclosures.

But an analysis by financial blogger Mike Konzcal suggests such a view may be based rosy assumptions about the value of the second liens, and that the bank may have to raise more capital as a result. So might Citigroup and Wells Fargo, Konzcal finds.

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