"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."
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)
"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]
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."
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]
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]
Paul Krugman attacked professional macroeconomists (previously). John Cochrane, an economist at the University of Chicago, returns the favor, arguing that Krugman deeply misrepresents current economic ideas because he's abandoned economics as a "quest for understanding" in favor of trying to be the "Rush Limbaugh of the Left."
TARP investments yield 15% returns. Almost trom the start, critics characterized the TARP program that first began under the Bush administration and that continued through early this year under President Obama as a taxpayer funded giveaway, while government officials insisted it was a long-term investment program whose initial costs would eventually turn a profit as economic recovery began. Now the NY Times reports that the program has already yielded $4 billion in profits, and a separate report reveals that related Federal Reserve loan programs aimed at economic stabilization have returned $14 billion in profits.
Matt Taibbifilter: Among other things, the GAO report noted that the entire OTS had only one insurance specialist on staff — and this despite the fact that it was the primary regulator for the world's largest insurer! This week's MeFi stories have generally failed to explain the reasoning that caused the recession, even though Jon Stewart was basically on the mark. Now, Rolling Stone's only reporter lays it all out The Big Takeover, a typical combination of zealous snark and the overlooked, damning facts needed to clear up a ridiculously complicated story.
The cover of a major financial publication warns: If you're holding U.S. Treasuries, GET OUT NOW! [more inside]