“Extend and Pretend”: The Severe Ramifications of Wall Street’s Game

If what this author is saying is true, how come no one is screaming about it on the daily news shows:

“Extend and Pretend”: The Severe Ramifications of Wall Street’s Game:

A systematic plan to create the illusion of stability and provide no-risk profits to the mega-Wall Street banks was implemented in early 2009 and continues today. The plan was developed by Ben Bernanke, Hank Paulson, Tim Geithner and the CEOs of the Wall Street banking syndicate. The plan has been enabled by the FASB, SEC, IRS, FDIC and politicians in Washington DC. This master plan has funneled hundreds of billions from taxpayers to the banks that created the greatest financial collapse in world history. The authorities had a choice.

  • In April 2009 the FASB caved in to pressure from the Federal Reserve, Treasury, and Wall Street to suspend mark to market rules, allowing the Wall Street banks to value their loans and derivatives as if they were worth 100% of their book value.
  • The Federal Reserve balance sheet consistently totaled about $900 billion until September 2008. By December 2008, the balance sheet had swollen to $2.2 trillion as the Federal Reserve bought $1.3 trillion of toxic assets from the Wall Street banks, paying 100 cents on the dollar for assets worth 50% of that value.
  • In November 2009 the Federal Reserve and IRS loosened the rules for restructuring commercial loans without triggering tax consequences. Banks were urged to extend loans on properties that had fallen 40% in value as if they were still worth 100% of the loan value.
  • By December 2008 the Federal Reserve had moved their discount rate to 0%. For the last two years, the Wall Street banks have been able to borrow from the Federal Reserve for free and earn a risk-free return of 2%. The Federal Reserve has essentially handed billions of dollars to Wall Street.
  • When it became clear in October 2010 that almost two years of unlimited liquidity being injected into the veins of zombie banks was failing, Ben Bernanke announced a second round of quantitative easing (QE2). He has expanded the Fed balance sheet to $2.6 trillion by injecting $3.5 billion per day into the stock market by buying US Treasury bonds. Bernanke’s stated goal has been to pump up the stock market. While taking credit for driving stock prices higher, he denies any responsibility for the energy and food inflation that is spurring unrest around the world.
  • The Federal Reserve has increased the monetary base by $500 billion in the last three months in a desperate attempt to give the appearance of recovery to a floundering economy.

  • Beginning on December 31, 2010, through December 31, 2012, all noninterest-bearing transaction accounts are fully insured, regardless of the balance of the account, at all FDIC-insured institutions. The unlimited insurance coverage is available to all depositors, including consumers, businesses, and government entities. This unlimited insurance coverage is separate from, and in addition to, the insurance coverage provided to a depositor’s other deposit accounts held at an FDIC-insured institution.

[During the 2008 crash] The FASB changed the [mark to market] rules so that when the market prices were not orderly, or where the bank was forced to sell the asset for regulatory purposes, or where the seller was close to bankruptcy, the bank could ignore the market price and make up one of its own. Essentially the banking syndicate got to have it both ways. It drew all the benefits of mark to market pricing when the markets were heading higher, and it was able to abandon mark to market pricing when markets went down the drain.

Part two of the master cover-up plan has been the extending of commercial real estate loans and pretending that they will eventually be repaid. Billions in commercial loans are in distress right now because tenants are dropping like flies. Rather than writing down the loans, banks are extending the terms of the debt with more interest reserves included so they can continue to classify the loans as “performing.” The reality is that the values of the property behind these loans have fallen 43%. Banks are extending loans that they would never make now, because borrowers are already grossly upside-down.

Extending the length of a loan, changing the terms, and pretending that it will be repaid won’t generate real cash flow or keep the value of the property from declining. US banks hold an estimated $156 billion of souring commercial real-estate loans, according to research firm Trepp LLC. About two-thirds of commercial real-estate loans maturing at banks from now through 2015 are underwater

It should warm your heart to know that financial [institution] profits have amazingly reached their pre-crash highs. All it took was the Federal Reserve taking $1.3 trillion of bad loans off their books, overstating the value of their remaining loans by 40%, borrowing money from the Fed at 0%, relying on the Bernanke Put so their trading operations could gamble without fear of losses, and lastly, pretending their future losses will be lower and relieving their loan loss reserves. The banking industry didn’t need to do any of that stodgy old-school stuff like make loans to small businesses. Extending and pretending is much more profitable.

Author: Ben Slade

I'm a software technologist with a political bent. My views tend toward the contrarian and slightly curmudgeonly end of the spectrum.

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