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How To Fall Up While The Nation Falls Down

Tim Geithner says he doesn't know how he went from a "mediocre student" to leading the response to the "largest destruction of GDP in world history." His resume highlights were from addressing economic crises in developing countries in ways that correlated strongly to increasing poverty and reducing growth. His main response to critics of his "bailout the top" approach is that disaster was the only alternative.
posted by blankdawn on Jun 5, 2014 - 39 comments

No people without houses, no houses without people.

Photojournal of Spain's new squatters: families, young professionals, degree-holders, single mothers, the elderly. "I have grandchildren," she says. "When I die I would like to be able to say to myself that they will have jobs, homes and a happy life. The corralas are important. They set an example to people who are struggling. They show that we can help ourselves and each other. I don't know what the future will hold for any of us, but one way or another I believe that this will be a successful fight. I have to, otherwise I wouldn't be able to sleep at night." [more inside]
posted by alona on Mar 10, 2014 - 11 comments

Never Saw It Coming

Why the Financial Crisis Took Economists By Surprise by Alan Greenspan [more inside]
posted by chavenet on Oct 29, 2013 - 91 comments

Eat the meat you are Fed: It's good, we guarantee it!

The last mystery of the financial crisis. It's long been suspected that ratings agencies like Moody's and Standard & Poor's helped trigger the meltdown. A new trove of embarrassing documents shows how they did it. by Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone.
posted by lalochezia on Jun 19, 2013 - 34 comments

The alchemists of Wall Street are at it again.

Wall Street begins playing again with the same matches that burned the economy in 2008 From the New York Times: "The banks that created risky amalgams of mortgages and loans during the boom — the kind that went so wrong during the bust — are busily reviving the same types of investments that many thought were gone for good. Once more, arcane-sounding financial products like collateralized debt obligations are being minted on Wall Street. " (View article on a single page) [more inside]
posted by Sleeper on Apr 20, 2013 - 57 comments

Haircut in Cyprus

On Saturday the EU mandated that all bank deposits in Cyprus pay a 6.75% "stability levy" on the first €100,000 and 9.9% on the excess to help pay for €6 billion of the €10 billion bank bailout. This is despite opposition from the Cyprus finance minister, who stated earlier this month that "there really couldn't be a more stupid idea" and more recently that "I wish I was not the minister to do this". The scale of the bailout is nearly 50% of Cyprus' entire GPD, and many officials are concerned that the money will go to Russian gangsters and oligarchs. The Saturday announcement lead to a run on the ATMs, which caused banks to restrict electronic transfers and set a €400 withdrawal limit. Most ATMs were out of money by the end of the day and a frustrated man threatened one bank with a bulldozer. The plan was scheduled to be voted on by parliament on Sunday, but it has been delayed to Monday and might not be passed by politicians who have heard complaints from their Cypriot constituents all weekend. The Cyprus President warned of total financial collapse and euro exit if it is not approved.
posted by autopilot on Mar 17, 2013 - 107 comments

One man's Free Speech is another man's fraud?

US Justice Department suing Standard and Poor's over a "scheme to defraud investors" before the financial crisis. More details on these recent developments from The Tech online edition here, which notes: "For many years, the ratings agencies have defended themselves successfully in civil litigation by saying their ratings were independent opinions, protected by the First Amendment, which guarantees the right to free speech. Developments in the wake of the financial crisis have raised questions about the agencies’ independence, however." Reuters opts to let S&P break the news for themselves here.
posted by saulgoodman on Feb 5, 2013 - 49 comments

The untouchables

Wall Street's leaders have utterly escaped jail. "There have been no arrests of senior Wall Street executives." Frontline examines why the United States federal government didn't go after the financial titans. (via)
posted by doctornemo on Jan 23, 2013 - 159 comments

There's a lot of bullshit coming from America

"Of the top 100 Swiss companies, 49 give shareholders a consulting vote on the pay of executives. A few other countries, including the United States and Germany, have introduced advisory "say on pay" votes in response to the anger over inequality and corporate excess that drove the Occupy Wall Street movement. Britain is also planning to implement rules in late 2013 that will give shareholders a binding vote on pay and "exit payments" at least every three years. Minder's initiative goes further, forcing all listed companies to have binding votes on compensation for company managers and directors, and ban golden handshakes and parachutes. It would also ban bonus payments to managers if their companies are taken over, and impose severe penalties — including possible jail sentences and fines — for breaches of these new rules."
posted by vidur on Jan 21, 2013 - 32 comments

Level 2 is more worrisome. Level 3 is hair-raising.

"We decided to go on an adventure through the financial statements of one bank [Wells Fargo], to explore exactly what they do and do not show, and to gauge whether it is possible to make informed judgments about the risks the bank may be carrying. We chose a bank that is thought to be a conservative financial institution, and an exemplar of what a large modern bank should be."
posted by vidur on Jan 14, 2013 - 14 comments

Secret and Lies of the Bailout

Secret and Lies of the Bailout. "The federal rescue of Wall Street didn’t fix the economy – it created a permanent bailout state based on a Ponzi-like confidence scheme. And the worst may be yet to come." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Jan 7, 2013 - 77 comments

Prison of Debt Paralyzes West

Be it the United States or the European Union, most Western countries are so highly indebted today that the markets have a greater say in their policies than the people. Why are democratic countries so pathetic when it comes to managing their money sustainably? This clear, well-written essay in Der Speigel lays out the current debt crisis - along with current, proposed solutions - in an understandable manner. Not included among the so-far-proposed solutions is one other that has opened up a veritable financial market and debt Pandora's Box - i.e. a central bank debt jubilee.
posted by Vibrissae on Nov 19, 2012 - 118 comments

"Fundamentally flawed, unreasonable and irrational."

"Fundamentally flawed, unreasonable and irrational." In 2006, ABN Amro created a new type of financial instrument, the constant proportion debt obligation (CPDO), and sold a number of them to 15 local councils in Australia. Standard & Poor's rated these CPDOs as AAA. The Federal Court of Australia has now determined that both ABN Amro and S&P are liable for the losses the councils suffered when the value of the CPDOs collapsed during the financial crisis; the councils lost 90 per cent on the deal. S&P's rating of the CPDOs was found to have been "misleading and deceptive". Felix Salmon provides some analysis. [more inside]
posted by kithrater on Nov 6, 2012 - 28 comments

TARP's former Inspector General is mad as hell

The American people “should be enraged by the broken promises to Main Street and the unending protection of Wall Street” writes Neil Barofsky, former Inspector General of the Troubled Asset Relief Program in his new book, Bailout, about his time in that office. His trenchant criticisms of Washington egos, moneyed interests, and political games has some calling him an "idealistic alien" and others vehemently defending him. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner comes off particularly poorly in Bailout, unsurprising in light of his well-known feud with Barofsky over the efficacy of the bailouts. (previously)
posted by shivohum on Sep 11, 2012 - 39 comments

Pick your side. Pick your history.

"Some date the crisis to August 9 2007, the day it became clear that Europe’s banks were up to their necks in US housing debt. The ECB flooded markets with €95bn of liquidity. It seemed a lot of money then. The term “trillion” was still banned by the Telegraph style book in those innocent days. We have since learned to swing with the modern dance music from central banks." [Five years on, the Great Recession is turning into a life sentence]
posted by vidur on Aug 13, 2012 - 101 comments

Financial Markets, Politics and the New Reality

Financial Markets, Politics and the New Reality: "Louis M. Bacon is the head of Moore Capital Management, one of the largest and most influential hedge funds in the world. Last week, he announced that he was returning one quarter of his largest fund, about $2 billion, to his investors, [saying] it is impossible to make money when there is heavy political involvement, because political involvement introduces unpredictability in the market… Adam Smith and David Ricardo, who modern investors so admire, [never] used the term "economics" by itself, but only in conjunction with politics; they called it political economy… The investors' problem is that they mistake the period between 1991 and 2008 as the norm and keep waiting for it to return."
posted by the mad poster! on Aug 9, 2012 - 36 comments

A Big Boy Did It And Ran Away

Last year the CEO of Barclays Bank, Bob Diamond, told MPs that “There was a period of remorse and apology for banks. I think that period needs to be over.” Yesterday, Barclays was fined £290M by UK and US regulators for manipulating the key LIBOR lending rate. [more inside]
posted by Jakey on Jun 28, 2012 - 129 comments

"If you have your checkbook in your car I will be happy to wait for you."

Hospitals in Minnesota have hired a collections company that plants its employees in the ER, squeezing money out of patients before they can get further care.
posted by reenum on Apr 24, 2012 - 67 comments

The Leading Indicator of Laughter

The Correlation Of Laughter AT FOMC Meetings.
posted by storybored on Jan 22, 2012 - 10 comments

"This slump won’t end until 2031"

You know about the Great Depression, but do you know about the Long Depression? For a while now some have been suggesting we're in a "Third Depression", not so much like the Great one, but more like the Long Depression (1873–96) of 23 years (originally called the Great Depression). Suggesting "This slump won’t end until 2031". [more inside]
posted by stbalbach on Dec 15, 2011 - 44 comments

Government Debt Dynamics - A Calculator

"GOVERNMENT debt dynamics, once an esoteric subject of interest only to macroeconomists, are suddenly in vogue. With Greece flirting with default, Italy's bond yields rising fast, and America's government bonds losing their AAA status, public-debt burdens have become dinner-party talk. Our interactive chart shows current IMF forecasts but also allows you to input some basic economic assumptions to see where general government debt as a percentage of GDP might head."
posted by storybored on Dec 12, 2011 - 16 comments

"How long before ... Greece, in its desperation, turns once again to the colonels?"

Mired deep in financial crisis, the Greek government of George Papandreou has sacked the country's military leadership:
In a surprise development, Panos Beglitis, Defence Minister, a close confidante of Mr Papandreou, summoned the chiefs of the army, navy and air-force and announced that they were being replaced by other senior officers. Neither the minister nor any government spokesman offered an explanation for the sudden, sweeping changes, which were scheduled to be considered on November 7 as part of a regular annual review of military leadership retirements and promotions. Usually the annual changes do not affect the entire leadership.
[more inside]
posted by Jahaza on Nov 2, 2011 - 152 comments

Inertia, Not Progress Defines the Decade After 9/11

Coming Apart: After 9/11 transfixed America, the country’s problems were left to rot. "No national consensus formed around 9/11. Indeed, the decade since has destroyed the very possibility of a common narrative."
posted by homunculus on Sep 13, 2011 - 61 comments

The SEC's Memory Hole

Is the SEC Covering Up Wall Street Crimes? "A whistleblower claims that over the past two decades, the agency has destroyed records of thousands of investigations, whitewashing the files of some of the nation's worst financial criminals."
posted by homunculus on Aug 18, 2011 - 45 comments

'South California' for 51st state?

Jeff Stone, a politician from Riverside County, wants 13 conservative Southern California counties to secede and become the country's 51st state.
posted by reenum on Jul 12, 2011 - 154 comments

"Nobody saw this coming. Anybody who did is nobody"

Sheila Bair just stepped down from leading the FDIC, and has a sad, sordid story to tell . As head of the FDIC, her attempts to correct the imbalances which led to the financial crash were repeatedly ignored. [more inside]
posted by Coventry on Jul 10, 2011 - 65 comments

Bubbles and Public Facts

The Destruction of Economic Facts - "Renowned Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto argues that the financial crisis wasn't just about finance—it was about a staggering lack of knowledge" (via) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on May 23, 2011 - 35 comments

Meet Preet

The Sheriff of Wall Street (and more)
posted by vidur on May 13, 2011 - 3 comments

Roger Ebert writes what many of us are thinking.

One percent of Americans now "earn" 25% of the income. Many of them have grown their wealth through criminal exploitation. Roger Ebert asks the burning question: why aren't more people outraged?
posted by rhombus on May 10, 2011 - 404 comments

Now You See It, Now You Don't

Homeowners are using a little known loophole in the bankruptcy laws to shed their second mortgages.
posted by reenum on May 9, 2011 - 42 comments

Iowa loophole voids mortgage

Matt and Jamie Danielson, with the aid of their bankruptcy attorney, were able to use a little known loophole in the Iowa law to void their mortgage and own their house outright after making just one payment. However, further investigation has uncovered some unsavory events in the couple's past.
posted by reenum on Apr 21, 2011 - 60 comments

"Just a free lunch that never ends."

Why is the Federal Reserve forking over $220 million in bailout money to the wives of two Morgan Stanley bigwigs? The Real Housewives of Wall Street (via) [more inside]
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream on Apr 12, 2011 - 111 comments

Oscar acceptance speech for "Inside Job"

In his Oscar acceptance speech, documentary filmmaker Charles Ferguson reminded viewers worldwide that "not a single financial executive has gone to jail" for the fraud that created the 2008 financial meltdown. His film Inside Job (on Netflix DVD) explains, among other things, that the crisis was avoidable. See also the Inside Job trailer and a subsequent followup video in which Ferguson says that many sources "mysteriously backed out" before being filmed. He also spoke at MIT in January.
posted by mark7570 on Mar 2, 2011 - 55 comments

Everything's fucked up, and nobody goes to jail. You can end the piece right there.

Over drinks at a bar on a dreary, snowy night in Washington this past month, a former Senate investigator laughed as he polished off his beer. "Everything's fucked up, and nobody goes to jail," he said. "That's your whole story right there. Hell, you don't even have to write the rest of it. Just write that." I put down my notebook. "Just that?" "That's right," he said, signaling to the waitress for the check. "Everything's fucked up, and nobody goes to jail. You can end the piece right there."
posted by vidur on Feb 16, 2011 - 126 comments

The Dead Weight of Debt

"The World", an ambitious real estate project conceived at the height of the real estate boom, is sinking back into the sea.
[more inside]
posted by reenum on Jan 28, 2011 - 34 comments

The 25-Year 'Foreclosure From Hell'

Patsy Campbell has been fighting her foreclosure in Florida courts for the past 25 years. She has not made a mortgage payment since 1985 while foiling the efforts of several banks to evict her from her home in Okeechobee, Florida.
posted by reenum on Dec 30, 2010 - 150 comments

"...the best form of democracy we’ll have in this process."

Are you ok with your bank playing roulette with your deposits? Yes? No? Well, today is the last day to speak up and be heard! [more inside]
posted by Hypnotic Chick on Nov 4, 2010 - 29 comments

The first thing that needs to happen is...

"The first thing that needs to happen, I think, is to get these people out of their homes," a man wearing a bespoke blue-striped shirt, a Hermés tie patterned with elephants and Ferragamo loafers said recently. But, maybe Wall Street doesn't understand why foreclosure fraud is so dangerous to property rights? And, the Obama administration doesn't understand why HAMP has been a portrait in failure for homeowners (in eight parts I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII.)
posted by ennui.bz on Oct 15, 2010 - 107 comments

The Great Housing Swindle

New allegations of Widespread foreclosure fraud on the part of major US banks: As the housing crisis has unfolded, some of the biggest banks lenders have reportedly been so eager to reposses homes that, in some cases, they've changed the locks on occupied homes that hadn't even been foreclosed yet. Meanwhile, congress quietly passed little noticed bipartisan legislation that would have made it harder for home owners to contest foreclosure proceedings in some cases--legislation which President Obama vetoed despite it's legislative support among both parties. On a related topic: It's finally becoming clearer that widespread mortgage fraud, not ordinary homeowners living beyond their means, caused the housing collapse.
posted by saulgoodman on Oct 8, 2010 - 130 comments

Michael Lewis on the Crisis of Greece

"If there were any justice in the world the Greek bankers would be in the streets marching to protest the morals of the ordinary Greek citizen." Michael Lewis investigates Greece's economy. "In Greece the banks didn’t sink the country. The country sank the banks." In this terrific Vanity Fair piece, Michael Lewis visits Greece and examines a country where the general sense of civil society and trust has broken down, allowing mismanagement of the country's finances and economy on an unbelievably massive scale. [more inside]
posted by Bwithh on Sep 7, 2010 - 69 comments

When countries go bust

Sovereign debt issued by governments is immense. In 2009, worldwide sovereign debt exceeded $34 trillion and is now the largest risk to the global financial system. Many of the potential problems and risks are surprising, even to those well-versed in their particular area of finance. What happens if Things Go Really Bad? ...out of the multitude of potential scenarios, I have settled upon one which is really bad, but doesn’t involve asteroids, mass extinctions, or apes taking over. It is consistent with prior bad episodes of sovereign debt default. Here is the Really Bad scenario. It’s not a worst possible scenario. It is more like the Long Depression or the Great Depression reoccurring under 2010 conditions. In the Really Bad scenario, 45% of the countries with large outstanding sovereign debts are in default within a 2-3 year period." A five-part article series on the imminent dangers of sovereign default from a guest columnist at Calculated Risk blog. Some of this strays into finance ubernerd territory but Part 5C in particular is the likely the playbook for the next financial crisis. [more inside]
posted by storybored on Sep 6, 2010 - 61 comments

Nini and the European Dream

In Spain, almost everyone is ‘not in education or employment.’ It’s the end of the job for life [more inside]
posted by KokuRyu on Jul 17, 2010 - 92 comments

Wells Fargo, You Never Know What Hit You.

Wajahat Ali, a solo practitioner from California, takes on Wells Fargo in an attempt to get his clients' home loan modified. Lots of ball dropping and passing of the buck ensues. He describes the Kafka-esque nature of the experience.
posted by reenum on Jun 20, 2010 - 41 comments

Fix the hole in the Wall Street!

Six Simple Ways to Fix Wall Street. "Elements of our Six Simple Steps are in the pending legislation. If they're part of what's adopted, we may get true and lasting reform. If they're not, it won't be long before Wall Street is back to business -- and bailouts -- as usual."
posted by storybored on May 14, 2010 - 43 comments

Talking Points Memo: Bush prevented Paulson from briefing Congress

September 18, 2008 - Lehman Brothers had filed for bankruptcy four days earlier and the Federal Reserve had authorized the New York Fed to lend up to $85 billion to insurance giant AIG. That afternoon, Nancy Pelosi called Henry Paulson to ask for a full briefing the next morning. "They said, 'That will be too late. That will be too late. Tomorrow morning, 9 o'clock will be too late.' ... 'We were not allowed to tell Congress, but since you called, we're going to answer your questions.'" The Bush administration prohibited its own top officials from briefing Congress on the financial crisis.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 on May 3, 2010 - 29 comments

The Oracle Rewrites History

Today, while testifying for only the second time on Capitol Hill since the financial crisis began, [former Fed chairman] Alan Greenspan said the Fed closely monitored the subprime market [...]"I was right 70% of the time, but I was wrong 30% of the time, and there were an awful lot of mistakes in 21 years...". But Greenspan's defense of his record today rang hollow to many seasoned observers, if not downright deceitful.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 on Apr 7, 2010 - 44 comments

Repo [Leh]men

The September 2008 colapse of Lehman Bros. was the percipaticing event which channged a credit crunch to a panic. The examiner apointed by the bancrupcy court has produced a 2200 page report about what went wrong. The whole report is here. Summaries and links to analysis after the jump. [more inside]
posted by shothotbot on Mar 13, 2010 - 31 comments

Volcker Wins over Geithner (and Why This Might Be a Very Good Thing)

Obama Breaks with Geithner to support "Volcker Rule" in sweeping new financial sector reform proposal. Following the counsel of highly-respected former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker in a move that would significantly weaken the role of current Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Obama's tough new proposals are being received by recent administration critic Robert Reich as a welcome, if overdue, policy correction. Among other things, the new proposals would effectively restore previous restrictions separating deposit and investment banks (as originally imposed by the depression-era Glass-Steagall Act), as well as imposing stiff new capital requirements, and restrictions designed to prevent banks from becoming too big to fail.
posted by saulgoodman on Jan 22, 2010 - 287 comments

The Economist: The World in 2010

In 2010, Obama will have a miserable year, NATO may lose in Afghanistan, the UK gets a regime change, China needs to chill, India's factories will overtake its farms, Europe risks becoming an irrelevant museum, the stimulus will need an exit strategy, the G20 will see a challenge from the "G2", African football will unite Korea, conflict over natural resources will grow, Sarkozy will be unloved and unrivalled, the kids will come together to solve the world's problems (because their elders are unable), technology will grow ever more ubiquitous, we'll all charge our phones via USB, MBAs will be uncool, the Space Shuttle will be put to rest, and Somalia will be the worst country in the world. And so the Tens begin.

The Economist: The World in 2010. [more inside]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Nov 14, 2009 - 60 comments

Gramm-Leach-Bliley, Ten Years On

Ten years ago today the government reversed one of the key elements of the Depression-era banking laws, knocking down the firewall between commercial banks, which take deposits and make loans, and investment banks, which underwrite securities. The repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 was seen at the time as a way to help American banks grow larger and better compete on the world stage. [more inside]
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 on Nov 12, 2009 - 22 comments

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