Thursday, September 29, 2011
"Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will smile from the grave/ And say, we movin' step by step/ Toward what he called a revolution/Don't be afraid to say, Revolution!"
"Cornel West is here", Milcho said, as we were wandering through Zuccotti Park at dusk. The sky was gray and it smelled like rain; people here and there were securing food, medicine, bedding, under plastic tarps. Milcho, Wendy and Amy and I came to Wall Street together tonight. I am corralling everyone I know to come to the Park to see this live and without filters. And you who are reading this, and can get here should come too, for this is history, friends!
We walked over to the meeting area, and sure enough, there was the unmistakable corona of hair, the too-long white shirtcuffs. We followed him up to the meeting area, sat down. And then watched as tonight's General Assembly of Occupy Wall Street unfolded:
read the rest HERE and see video as well.
"I have been reading some interesting and startling statistics lately that have to do with the wide ranging affects of the current economic crisis. Considering this few truths that have recently been published:Read the rest HERE
Increase rate of suicide since the onset of the economic collapse.
Increased rate of head trauma child abuse cases recorded in US emergency rooms since the onset of the economic collapse.
Will we ever be able to account for the true affects of the economic collapse and the length of the current recession. (I understand statistically the government says we are out of recession but realistically we have never recovered from the 2007-2008 meltdown). This thought brings me to the speculation the break down of the family and they family structure is in part the cause for such dramatic increases in the child abuse and suicide rates. Of course it is my opinion, but it is easy to make a case that the negative effects of economic disaster could be mitigated by a loving and supportive family structure. My hypothesis is that the previous generation had taken to heart that everything would always be fantastic and that their was not chance of a devastating recession/depression and that their number one goal was to take care of themselves because their children would have far more opportunity for success than was the case during their working life time."
What about just working with the people to modify the loan they have so it reflects the current value before you decide to "get them out of the house" as Henry said. Why drive the market down even more by continuing foreclosures. We have subsidized the banks and the banks are still in trouble and now we want to make even more middle class Americans take the hit for something they had nothing to do with......?????What about the people who can afford their home but think it is BS that they have to be paying an asset that has dropped 30 to 60 % when banks are still in business after creating the system that would collapse. I don't care about moral hazard, that is a 2nd grade argument. the government screwed the people with tarp and now they are letting the banks do the same. One more thing is should other private sector investors gain the benefit of buying a foreclosure that might even be below market value? Why not give it to the current owner at the same price? OH Heavens no we do that because it would send the wrong signal! As opposed the signals that have already been sent saying it is acceptable to commit fraud and still get your bonus. It is OK to created the biggest wealth grab from the middle class regardless of legality and then have the American People bail you out so you can keep your high paying job and get a million dollar bonus? Yes of course remember this is America where we have decide that let freedom ring is the catch phrase that means allow criminal bankers to stay out of jail.
This solution to "get people out of their homes" is going to be one more way to continue to transfer money to the elites at the expense of the middle class. If we worry so much about moral hazard why don't we worry about the opportunists that are salivating for the chance to get rich from the crisis? The middle class hardworking American has been shafted and no one will take up their cause.
This is more than a 22 % problem of homes being underwater. the real number more like 50% because even if you are not underwater you are going to have to bring money to the table in order to sell unless you make a profit, that is if you ever find a buyer at the full market price estimate.
The country can not survive as cash only, half of the jobs in the country are tied up in mortgage, finance , banking, real estate, construction etc etc....
The government had a chance to clear the bad debt and let the banks fall if they were to fall a long time ago but they were scared, the certainly will not let a bank fail before an election year. So we are in for a long run of getting worse before it gets better. We will not grow our way out of this mess in my opinion and we seem to be edging closer to recession.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
On Monday afternoon at 12:00 p.m., a group of protesters organized under the umbrella of the “Make Banks Pay California” campaign picketed a foreclosure sale at the Alameda County Courthouse located at 1225 Fallon Street, Oakland California.
I had heard about the protest from a contact in the real estate industry, and so I resolved to go down and see what it was about. I went specifically as an observer and not as a protester.
When I arrived around noon, I saw a group of roughly 10 to 15 people protesting. Some had yellow shirts marked “ACCE” picketing on the courthouse steps. Many of them had signs, like “Stop Foreclosures/End Bankster Fraud” and pictures of various Wall Street Executives tagged as “Wall Street Robber Banker.” One woman held up a sign that said “Chase and LPS Crime Scene.” After chatting with a few of the protesters I found out that some of them were part of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, and others were part of the local teachers union, SEIU Local 21. This being Alameda County, both the bystanders, protesters, auctioneers and bidders were a broad spectrum of ages and ethnicities.
Over the next 2 weeks, the Make Banks Pay California group plans to have a variety of actions in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles to “make Wall Street banks pay for destroying jobs and neighborhoods with their greedy, irresponsible and predatory business practices.” Several of the protesters I spoke with on Monday indicated their belief that because banks “don’t pay” it impoverishes local governments and causes school, library and government service cutbacks.
There were already a few auctioneers standing there with clipboards in hand, ready to start their auctions. The protestors started to chant, with at least one person blowing a whistle. Some of the chants were “they got bailed out, we get tossed out” and “vultures.” I spoke with a well dressed gentleman who said he was there with his client to place a bid. When asked for his thoughts, he said he thought it was a “joke” and that people should “go home” and “pay their bills.”
The bidders and auctioneers at first seemed somewhat confused or even amused by the situation. However once the protest started to get going, the protesters would circle up around an auctioneer and start chanting so loudly that it was difficult for the auctioneer to be heard. In response, the auctioneers distributed themselves around the steps so that the protesters couldn’t stop all of them. The protesters broke up into a couple of groups, with each group attempting (and succeeding in some cases) in surrounding an auctioneer with chanting people. Electronic media devices were everywhere– people were pulling out phones and digital cameras and taking pictures. I even saw one of the bidders do a self-video with what looked like an Android phone– he showed the crowd then turned the phone on himself and gave a quick narration of the scene. The protesters were able to disrupt the sales enough that one person I took to be an auctioneer (due to his clip board and demeanor– I have been to more than a few courthouse step auctions) got on the phone and said that it was “getting rough” and he “need[ed] everyone here.” Thankfully he didn’t pull a Gary Oldman and demand EVERYONE.
There was no law enforcement presence on the steps, although I know for a fact that a sheriff’s security station was within 150 yards of the steps inside the courthouse. I did see one law enforcement officer ride by on a bicycle. A picketer waved to him and he waved back.
I spoke with one of the protesters, Shirley Burnell, an older African-American woman using a walker. She said that she was there because banks are selling homes out from under people. When I asked her whether she had been personally affected by the situation, she related her story to me. Shirley had taken out a loan on her home to make some repairs. She had been given two years of fixed payments, and then told that she could refinance after that into a 30 year fixed loan. That did not happen for her, so she has been seeking a loan modification since 2007, to no avail. I did notice more than a few older people with gray hair in the crowd of protesters. It was more than just college students.
In an effort to understand both sides of the story, I also attempted to speak with one of the auctioneers. No one I talked with would go on the record with me. I did talk to one younger man, with a pair of earbuds around his neck. His name was Connor, and he related that he worked for a company that buys foreclosure. Connor said that he would be willing to listen to the protesters if they had some kind of alternative plan. In fact he asked me, “what’s your alternative” and I told him that I was there to write a blog post about it and as a journalist, and not as a protester. Connor also related that he had asked some of the protesters not to yell in his ear, and that they continued yelling.
After about half an hour of protesting, I saw some tempers start to flare as a few frustrated bidders yelled at the protesters. One man in particular stood out to me. He was dressed in a white suit with a pair of bug-eyed Gucci sunglasses. In the middle of a crowd of chanting protesters he yelled out “make your payments” and a few taunts. After a little bit of that he seemed to think the better of it and walk away. It was one of those totally stereotypical, Marie-Antoinette moments that I would not have believed had I not seen it with my own eyes.
Although the bidders yelled about “pay your bills” and “make your payments,” in my experience as an attorney, many of my clients and prospective clients have fallen into foreclosure when banks told them that they had to stop making payments in order to qualify for a loan modification. When the modification does not happen, they find themselves foreclosed upon, with the bank demanding not only the back payments but interest as well. Very few people are able to become current at that point. This practice is known as dual tracking.
In speaking with my colleagues who also practice foreclosure defense, Shirley’s experience is distressingly common. Litigating a dual tracking case is difficult because of litigation costs. Costs are driven in part by the procedural requirements put in place to eliminate “frivolous” lawsuits– effectively this places justice out of the financial reach of many.
I have also seen more than a few people who were put into loans where they had a low payment for the first few years, and then it ramped up afterwards. Like Shirley, they were told that they would be able to refinance into a 30 year fixed, and like Shirley they were unable to do so after the economy crashed in 2007. Even people who are not in a loan with escalating payments still seek principle reductions, since the value of their real estate has dropped from the bubble years.
My experience has been that there is a deep reluctance in the financial industry to make principle reductions on loans. Even relatively well off professionals in the bottom half of the top 1% category have a difficult time getting their bank to negotiate with them. I spoke recently with a mid-senior level finance professional at a major bank who indicated to me that his preferred solution would be to make the banks take their medicine; do the write downs and sell the existing inventories of foreclosed homes. This would , in his opinion push some of the banks involved into FDIC resolution. Clearly balance-sheet concerns are the source of the reluctance by management to make the principle reductions.
However, the job of our political leadership is not fealty to bank balance- sheets, but to the well-being of the American people. I had hoped that President Obama and the Democratic Party leadership would make bailouts conditional on principle modifications but that has not been the case. I suspect this comes from a reluctance to push major banks into FDIC resolution. Also, there seems to be a certain institutional and personal blindness among our elite, as exemplified by the Gucci-sunglasses-wearing man I saw yelling at the demonstrators. Even though he was surrounded by chanting protesters he thought it might be a good idea to taunt them. Thankfully the crowd was non-violent and nothing happened other than some shouting.
I am positive that the financial and political elite fail to understand the level of anger out there in today’s America. Probably the most disturbing thing I heard at the protest came from a conversation between a couple of bystanders. An older man was commenting that he’d tried to seek justice against his bank through the legal system but that it was “bullshit” [his exact word] and that the system was stacked against normal people. It’s a sentiment that, as an attorney, I have been hearing altogether too often lately from all kinds of people. I am disturbed by it because our government, indeed all governments, depend on public faith in institutions. When public trust in government institutions fails, the result is chaos and violence. As seen when the Soviet Union collapsed, organized crime steps in to fill in the void.
Our elite leadership is a lot like the man with the Gucci sunglasses– flaunting their wealth and positions while taunting a crowd of angry people. I can only hope that the recent upsurge of protests across America can succeed in convincing our elites to effectively respond to the concerns of ordinary Americans before we step over the precipice.
Monday, September 26, 2011
Jamie Dimon Now Trying to Beat Up on Heads of Central Banks from Naked Capitalism
We’ve mentioned in older posts that Dimon’s history as a bully goes back at least to business school. Former section mates report that even by Harvard Business School standards, Dimon was a standout in the aggression category.
Readers may also recall that Dimon’s latest effort to get out of having international capital standards imposed on JP Morgan was to call them “anti-American”. It appears that, for a big bank, “American” = “not having to obey any rules”.
We did point out that since foreign markets are, well, foreign, it wasn’t exactly reasonable to expect everyone abroad to roll over and do things US style, particularly since one of our major exports was the US way of doing capital markets, plus a boatload of toxic securities, which in combination produced a global financial crisis.
But Dimon apparently got so much reinforcement in the US on his “anti-American” line that he has tried taking it on the road. His first browbeating object was Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of Canada. Dimon appears to have been going on the “my
dickeconomy is bigger than yours” basis of argumentation, no doubt assuming that because Canada is a smaller economy that is attached at the hip to the US, of course he would be able to get his way.
What Dimon seems to have forgotten is that Canada got accolades during the crisis precisely because its banks came through the crisis is very good shape, and that is because they are more heavily regulated than US banks, particularly with regard to entering new markets and creating new products. In addition, a foreign private company browbeating a public official, particularly on close to indefensible grounds, is guaranteed to boost his stature at home. Finally, Carney is ex Goldman, and so has likely seen tricks like Dimon’s in spades over his career and is therefore not easily cowed.
I was amused at Dimon’s abuse merely stiffening Carney’s resolve. From the Financial Times:
Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase launched a tirade at Mark Carney, Bank of Canada governor, in a closed-door meeting in front of more than two dozen bankers and finance officials, underscoring mounting tensions between bankers and officials over financial regulation.
The JPMorgan chief executive’s remarks to Mr Carney, who is touted as a potential next head of the Financial Stability Forum, the international group of regulators, were focused on a capital surcharge for the largest banks…
On Sunday, 48 hours after the contretemps, Mr Carney delivered a speech to global bankers at the Institute of International Finance, warning them “it is hard to see how backsliding [on implementing new capital rules] would help” the global economy.
“If some institutions feel pressure today, it is because they have done too little for too long, rather than because they are being asked to do too much, too soon,” he said. Mr Dimon told Mr Carney that many of the rules discriminated against US banks and he was going to continue to use the phrase “anti-American”, first used in a Financial Times interview this month, because it seemed to resonate with people who might be able to modify the reforms.
In his speech, Mr Carney said: “Authorities are increasingly hearing concerns about the pitch of the playing field for Basel III implementation. Everyone is claiming to be a boy scout while accusing others of juvenile delinquency.”
He added: “However, neither merit badges nor detentions will be self-selected but, rather, determined by impartial peer review and mutual oversight.”
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Warning — Trend changingMy gut feeling from ingesting a lot of information, the particulars of which I am not going to cite in this short opinion piece, is that the trend is swiftly changing from a disinflationary environment to a deflationary one. Significantly for markets, this is also becoming the perception.Convergence of perception and reality may presage big changes in behavior. This could spark the second leg down in the GFC that began with the collapse of Bear Stearns and hit crisis mode with the failure of Lehman Bros. In the interim three years, the prevailing philosophy of TPTB has been "extend and pretend." Converging factors in the US, UK, EZ, Japan, and China are now conspiring to make extend and pretend no longer credible as the financial malaise further undermines the global economy and the hope of any sort of timely recovery is evaporating as a rescue plan.I highlighted this paragraph in Mike Norman's article because it seems to hit on the head what a few people have been preaching the past couple of years but with hope of change. However, the global ruling elite is still firmly fixated on perpetuating the status quo, making it impossible to address the causes of the crisis, which lead by debt overhang due to Ponzi finance. The ruling elite is still adamant about making themselves whole by squeezing the rest. This is not working as global effective demand dries up, along with confidence. Deflation threatens to set in, and it becomes established as money is hoarded, e.g., as a safety measure and in expectation of falling prices.This appears to be the beginning of the next stage in unwinding of the Ponzi stage of the long financial cycle. If this is the case, expect debt deflation, recrimination, denial, rushes for the exit, and naked pursuit of self-interest to dominate at the top, with confusion, anxiety, and pain increasing at the middle and bottom, as well as political instability and social unrest rising due to this.I wish I could be more positive about this, but it is not possible to be more sanguine given the prevailing narrative. As the situation worsens and panic sets in, the story is likely to devolve even more as everyone tries to improve their own position at the expense of others instead of increasing adaptive rate by exploring options cooperatively and attempting to coordinate a solution that benefits all. Of course, I could be surprised and would like to be.
JUST AS WE PREDICTED, FORECLOSURE RE-FILINGS UP IN FLORIDA; NEW YORK AND NEVADA LAWSUITS ACCUSE COUNTRYWIDE OF NEVER DEPOSITING LOANS INTO POOLS, THUS COUNTRYWIDE HAD NO RIGHT TO INSTITUTE FORECLOSURES | Foreclosure Defense Nationwide - Mortgage Foreclosure Help - Free Advice
Separately, actions have been instituted in New York and Nevada alleging that Countrywide did not actually deposit mortgage loans into securitized trust pools, and thus Countrywide had no legal authority to seek foreclosure on the properties the subject of the non-placed mortgage loans. This will probably lead to massive litigation against Countrywide for fraud-based claims and punitive damage requests, which may be one of the reasons why Bank of America has recently disclosed that Countrywide may be filing bankruptcy as we reported on this website earlier this week.Which, again, leads to the importance of the immediate establishment of a separate Borrowers’ Committee in any Countrywide Bankruptcy. Otherwise, and as we cautioned in our article on this matter, Countrywide may seek to destroy literally millions of documents upon filing bankruptcy, and borrower claims may be relegated to the general unsecured creditors’ committe
Recessions are times when there is too little demand for the products of businesses, and so they fail to employ all those who want to work. That the problem in a period of high unemployment like the present one is a lack of business demand for employees not any lack of desire to work is all but self-evident. It is demonstrated by the observations that (i)the propensity of workers to quit jobs and the level of job openings are at near-record low levels; (ii) rises in nonemployment have taken place among essentially all demographic skill and education groups; and (iii) rising rates of profit and falling rates of wage growth suggest that it is employers, not workers, who have the power in almost every market.
-The jobs crisis, Larry Summers, Reuters
Here, here. I agree with Larry Summers that a shortfall in demand is creating a US jobs crisis. However, I don’t agree with the thrust of his blog post that there is any magic in the concept that a “lack of demand is the fundamental cause of economies producing below their potential”.
Take a look at this chart and tell me what you see?
Here’s what I see. I see two economies in the Netherlands and Germany where there was no housing bubble and unemployment had risen during the global recession but not by mind-bending amounts. Then I see four other economies wracked by massive housing bubbles in Ireland, Spain, the UK and Latvia where unemployment had skyrocketed.
Moreover, Britain has seen the most muted rise in unemployment amongst the bubble economies, presumably because it is a monetarily and fiscally sovereign nation that can use these tools to address shortfalls in demand and cushion the downturn.
Every single economy that has had a housing bubble has seen a massive rise in unemployment. That speaks to the destruction of credit bubbles. It’s not just about demand.
Friday, September 23, 2011
I was right you could make a lot of money in the stock market. In a few months I had added about over 17, 000 to my portfolio. I was basically a rookie and working with a small amount of capital but I was happy to have made over 4000 profit per month in the beginning. I was learning to deal with the slight swings in the market and I was learning to deal with the extreme stress of losing a substantial amount of income due to real estate losses. I wasn't over confident in my abilities but I thought it was fun to see my hours and hours of observation and study paying off. I could see it was becoming more difficult though the more problems that I was having with my real estate investments.
I was in a situation that I never dreamed would be happening. The greatest real estate equity devastation ever seen in our country was under way but I was not extremely worried at first. I had plenty of assets and plenty of equity to ride out just about any storm, even it it was a couple of years. I felt confident that a three year "normal" recession would not cause me much pain. However, it was the extensive and prolonged agony of a 4 or 5 year real estate drop that would take its toll.
I also made the mistake of believing all of the news that we were coming out of it after a year or so and that housing had hit bottom in year two of the decline. It wasn't until about 3.5 years in that I realized just about everything I was hearing in the media was wrong and would be wrong for several more years.
World markets in major sell-offBy CNNMoney staff September 22, 2011: 2:01 PM ET
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The world's financial markets took a beating Thursday as investors saw signs of economic weakness around the globe.
Contributing to the losses were the Federal Reserve's statement on Wednesday warning of a "significant" downside risk to the U.S. economy, as well as reports from global bank HSBC showing contraction in the Chinese and eurozone manufacturing sectors.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
The truth was that it wasn't the world that would crumble when a few banks fell, it was that Wall Street and the major players in the CDO markets would vaporize over night. Wall Street is the king of leverage and always has been while they fain to hedge their risk only to reveal that they had not hedged much of anything once the system collapsed. Their only hedge is the federal government bailout.
AIG is perfect example of a company selling Credit Default Swaps that it knew they could never pay if the system came under minor stress. In the end the federal government came to the rescue. No one was held accountable or responsible for the trillions of dollars needed for the bailout which in hindsight was a round about bailout of the "gold standard of companies" Goldman Sachs.
Unless something is done to hold the parties accountable, we will have learned no lessons from the complete decimation of the golden goose of the American economy, the housing market.
The last hope lies with the AG of the individual states. The Nevada AG Cortez Masto is showing the courage to press for accountability by filing suit against B of A for making a mockery of a previous settlement that was reached in NV in 2008. The banks new what was coming if this crisis was strung out too long so they quickly agreed to a settlement that they had no intention of honoring.
They bought another 3 to 4 years of freedom from criminal activity and the ability to continue to use fraudulent documents and repossess homes when they had no legal authority to do so. The used this settlement in 2008 as cover to continue criminal activity that become so egregious that over 265000 complaints were made in Nevada alone regarding the banks failure to live up to the terms of the settlement. It was as if the banks thought if they could cause a large enough mess for long enough time that the government again would be forced to allow them to skirt the rule of law and chain of title precedent.
They may have done just that by capturing property through the foreclosure process and then selling it to a new owner when the bank never had the right to repossess the property in the first place. What is amazing is that more people throughout the country are not outraged at the turn of events because it put everyone's right of ownership in question. It doesn't matter if your mortgage is paid off or not, the banks have taken liberty to fraudulently claim ownership with the blessing of the court. The implications are astounding because it means the foundation of America, the right to own property free from worry of seizure has been trampled.
The trampling has taken place on a foundation of fraudulent activity. The case of Bank of America and Country Wide gives a perfect example. There are court documents of statements made by Country Wide employees saying they never transferred original documents to the proper securitization trust in order to meet the PSA guidelines. The Pooling Service Agreements have very strict regulations as to when the note and mortgage documents must be delivered and if they deadlines are not met, there is no remedy other than falsifying documents or back dating important papers. Since these mortgages were to be securitized and sold on Wall Street they also are under the laws of the SEC and every year the trust have to put forth documents stating that all the I' s are dotted and T 's are crossed and if they falsify these reports it is considered securities fraud, something that until now, the SEC did not take kindly to regardless of the reason.
The potential for the rule of law to be ignored as the crisis become more and more convoluted is very high. The parties involved seem to know the longer they can kick the can down the road, the more difficult it will be to hold anyone accountable so they are in no hurry to resolve the issues. Of course the politicians are in no hurry either because they are bought and paid for by the major banks and other Wall Street money. With the next election always looming over the horizon politicians in Washington never have the fortitude to step up to the major players and risk losing their meal ticket.
The system has turned into a giant money laundering machine that is endorsed by the government and the current administration. The fact that Washington government is on board makes it even more difficult for those with the mind to hold someone accountable for the criminal activity. (Nevada AG and NY AG are the only ones so far to really step up to the plate and speak the truth, as the administration pushes for a "let the banks skate" settlement that screws just about everyone except the banks themselves. )
The stimulus is for the benefit of the financial institutions only. It does nothing to help the economy or the American people. The continued 0 interest rate policy does nothing except let the banks make risk free money by shuffling funds between the bank and treasuries. They are charging over close to 5 % loans that could easily be 3 or 4 % since the banks are getting virtually free money. I think the economy could do very well if small business or average citizens could get free money also. Imagine the stimulus boost that would occur if business owners could get 0 % loans or if homeowners could get 0 or 1 to 2 % improvement loans. It might not be huge due to the high job insecurity but it would do a lot more than what has occurred so far by just handing unlimited funds over to the banks.
Today the Fed has put forth operation twist that will give more easy money to the banks and to little to help the economy. It would be nice after 4 years of floating money to the TBTF banks and other Wall Street companies and getting zero results that they would not keep trying the same thing. However, the influence of the lobbyists and those appointed to the inner circle of the White House are pushing the buttons in Washington and it doesn't look like it will change anytime soon. It likely will not matter which part is in power or who is the President. We have seen the result of the new blood from the tea party movement and the influx of independents and republicans to congress. The result was just more of the same as they all take part in the game that pays themselves first and the people last if ever.
Bill Black: Why do Banking Regulators bother to Conduct Faux Stress Tests? « naked capitalism
One of the many proofs that banking regulators do not believe that financial markets are even remotely efficient is their continued use of faux stress tests to reassure markets. But why do markets need reassurance? If markets do need reassurance that banks can survive stressful conditions, why are they reassured by government-designed stress tests designed to be non-stressful?
Stress tests were first mandated for Fannie and Freddie by statute. Fannie and Freddie’s managers referred to them as “nuclear winter” scenarios – impossibly unlikely and stark disasters. The managers used the ability of Fannie and Freddie to pass the stress tests as proof that the institutions were safe and so well capitalized that they could survive even a lengthy depression. In reality, Fannie and Freddie had exceptionally low capital levels. Fannie and Freddie met their capital requirements under a newly toughened version of the statutory stress test weeks before they collapsed and were revealed to be massively insolvent.
AIG passed its stress test immediately before it failed. The three big Icelandic banks passed their stress tests shortly before they were revealed to be massively insolvent. Lehman passed its stress tests. The stress tests ignored the actual primary causes of losses and failures – extreme losses on fraudulent liar’s loans and CDOs.
For my sins, I read every one of FRBNY President Geithner’s speeches discussing regulation. Geithner is a one-trick pony. His answer, to everything, was stress tests. He claimed that the largest banks had developed advanced, proprietary stress tests that provided ever increasing assurance that they were safe and well-capitalized. The crisis revealed that the models and the safety were illusory.
Geithner and Bernanke ignored the lesson of the crisis and created stress tests that were as fictional as the industry’s failed stress tests. The U.S. stress tests, designed by Fed economists (and that is frightening given their role in causing the crisis) were largely conducted by the largest banks. To everyone’s surprise, they found that the banks were overwhelmingly sound and well-capitalized. The stress tests, however, largely excluded the banks’ losses on liar’s loans and CDOs.
The EU’s stress tests have excluded the banks’ exposure to sovereign debt risk despite the rise of sovereign risk so severe that it could render a number of banks insolvent. German Prime Minister Merkel’s coalition has just lost its sixth regional election (out of the seven most recent elections). Germany’s economic “success” is mixed. It has reduced unemployment, but its middle and working classes have seen flat or even declining incomes. This economic record is one of the reasons why Merkel’s coalition has been losing elections. Merkel’s most acute political problem, however, is that the purported bailout of the periphery is profoundly unpopular in Germany.
The obvious question is why Merkel (eventually) supports the bailouts. The answer is that German banks are the largest single beneficiaries of the bailouts – and much of Europe subsidizes the bailout of German banks by the EU. The German government claims that German banks are sound, but their actions constant betray these claims. The Germans have insisted that any increase in capital requirements in Basel III be phased-in slowly over roughly a decade. The sole reason for the German position is the fear that several large German banks are so insolvent that they would not be able to meet the Basel III requirements. The German banks’ imprudent loans caused great harm in the periphery. (“German Banks Gone Wild!”) Their inadequate capital poses a severe danger to Europe and the U.S. The German regulators have insisted that their banks’ exposure to sovereign risk be excluded from the stress tests. (The European stress tests mirror the U.S. stress tests in largely excluding losses from fraudulent loans.) The Germans have, after allowing the periphery to twist slowly in the wind for months, ultimately favored bailouts of the periphery because they fear that allowing a sovereign default would make obvious the German banks’ large losses and reignite the financial crisis.
Which brings me back to my original question – why are so many banking regulators insisting on conducting faux stress test when everyone knows they are rigged? One need not believe in the efficient markets hypothesis to believe that anyone sentient in the markets must know that the stress tests are shams. The public doesn’t believe, and doesn’t need to believe, that the largest banks (the systemically dangerous institutions (SDIs)) are financially sound. The public believes that the government will bail out the SDIs and protect their depositors from losses. So please join me in urging an end to the farcically faux stress tests.
Nevada Says Bank Broke Mortgage SettlementBank of America of repeatedly violating a broad loan modification agreement it struck with state officials in October 2008 and is seeking to rip up the deal so that the state can proceed with a suit against the bank over allegations of deceptive lending, marketing and loan servicing practices.
In a complaint filed Tuesday in United States District Court in Reno, Catherine Cortez Masto, the Nevada attorney general, asked a judge for permission to end Nevada’s participation in the settlement agreement. This would allow her to sue the bank over what the complaint says were dubious practices uncovered by her office in an investigation that began in 2009.
In her filing, Ms. Masto contends that Bank of America raised interest rates on troubled borrowers when modifying their loans even though the bank had promised in the settlement to lower them. The bank also failed to provide loan modifications to qualified homeowners as required under the deal, improperly proceeded with foreclosures even as borrowers’ modification requests were pending and failed to meet the settlement’s 60-day requirement on granting new loan terms, instead allowing months and in some cases more than a year to go by with no resolution, the filing says.
The complaint says such practices violated an agreement Bank of America reached in the fall of 2008 with several states and later, in 2009, with Nevada, to settle lawsuits that accused its Countrywide unit of predatory lending. As the credit crisis grew, the settlement was heralded as a victory by state offices eager to help keep troubled borrowers in their homes and reduce their costs. Bank of America set aside $8.4 billion in the deal and agreed to help 400,000 troubled borrowers with loan modifications and other financial relief, such as lowering interest rates on mortgages.
But foreclosure problems mounted in Nevada, where Countrywide originated 262,622 loans, and complaints about the bank’s loan servicing practices began flooding into Ms. Masto’s office shortly after the settlement was struck. She found that Bank of America had “materially and almost immediately violated” the terms of the settlement, according to the complaint.
Ms. Masto declined to comment beyond the court filing.
Jumana Bauwens, a spokeswoman for Bank of America, said the bank was reviewing Ms. Masto’s complaint. “We disagree that there has been any material breach of the consent decree and will continue to vigorously defend this action,” she said.
Ms. Masto’s request to terminate the 2008 deal could raise further questions about the extent of its liabilities arising from Countrywide’s lending practices and from the bank’s own loan servicing activities in the foreclosure crisis. The move by the Nevada attorney general could also imperil the already shaky negotiations over improper foreclosure practices being conducted by state attorneys general and the four largest banks, including Bank of America.
Those talks, which also involve federal officials, have stalled over the summer with disagreements over whether the deal would allow state regulators to bring future lawsuits against the institutions for questionable practices. Attorneys general who do not want to give up the right to file additional suits against the banks — including Ms. Masto, Eric Schneiderman of New York and Beau Biden of Delaware — have declined to endorse a proposed settlement.
The breadth of the new Nevada complaint indicates that Bank of America’s problems extend throughout its mortgage operations, including origination, loan servicing and securitization. Nevada officials also found broad problems in the bank’s interactions with imperiled borrowers.
For example, the complaint says the bank advised credit reporting agencies that consumers were in default when they were not, and contends that Bank of America employees deceived borrowers about why their requests to modify loans were denied. In addition, it says, the bank falsely claimed that the actual owners of loans had refused to allow changes to their mortgages, and it incorrectly claimed that borrowers had failed to make payments on trial loan modifications when in fact they had. Bank of America also misled borrowers, the Nevada attorney general’s filing noted, by offering loan modifications with one set of terms only to come back with a substantially different deal.
Among the more troubling findings in the Nevada complaint is the contention by several Bank of America employees that the company imposed strict limits on the amount of time they could spend on the phone assisting troubled borrowers seeking help with their loans.
One worker said in a deposition cited in the complaint that employees were punished if they spent more than seven minutes or 10 minutes with a customer. Even though these limits allowed almost no time for assistance, Bank of America employees who did not curtail their conversations were reprimanded, this employee said.
The Nevada filing also maintains that Countrywide, which Bank of America acquired in 2008, did not deliver necessary loan documentation when it put together mortgage securities and sold them to investors during the boom. Under the typical pooling and servicing agreements struck between Countrywide and investors who bought the securities, the bank was required to endorse the mortgage note and deliver it to the trustee overseeing the pool. Countrywide failed to do so, the complaint notes.
These paperwork failures should have barred the bank from foreclosing on borrowers, the Nevada complaint says, but it went ahead nonetheless. This aspect of Ms. Masto’s complaint echoes a lawsuit filed in early August by Mr. Schneiderman, the New York attorney general, to block a settlement between Bank of New York and Bank of America covering 530 Countrywide mortgage pools. In that case, Mr. Schneiderman contends that Countrywide did not deposit loans into the mortgage pools as required and that the bank had no right to bring foreclosure actions against these borrowers.
Ms. Masto’s complaint asks that the court impose civil penalties on Bank of America and order it to cover the costs of caring for foreclosed properties borne by municipalities.
John Adams, as a new lawyer, was very nervous when he tried his first case in court, according to biographer David McCullough.
The future second president of the United States was representing a man whose crops were damaged when a neighbor’s horses broke through a fence.
He lost the case because, in preparing the necessary writ, Adams omitted the required words “the county in the direction to the constables of Braintree.” (Or perhaps that technicality was important because his opposing counsel was the son of the judge.)
There’s an echo of Adams’ woes resounding in mortgage foreclosures and the scandals surrounding faulty paperwork filed in Florida and around the country by lenders and those servicing mortgages.
Questions raised include: How widespread is the problem with “robosigned” documents, that is, foreclosure paperwork signed by people who aren’t familiar with the cases and who haven’t personally verified the information is correct? Or problems with improper notarization of foreclosure documents, with improper service, or with missing mortgage assignments, or in some cases outright forged documents?
What’s the Significance?
Beyond that, are the problems with the documents significant? Are they just technical and don’t affect the underlying failure of the borrower to repay the lender? Is a missing assignment as mortgage notes change hands more or less significant than a robosigned affidavit? Are paperwork snafus significant challenges to the functioning of the legal system that also carry implications on the trustworthiness of the title of foreclosed property?
The answers may well affect the ability of Florida courts to handle nearly 400,000 pending cases. Florida’s court funding is also heavily dependent on forclosure filing fees. The slowdown in filings following the revelations a year ago of paperwork problems turned a surplus in court funding into a deficit and forced the courts to borrow money to finish the last fiscal year and begin the current one.
For the moment, title insurers, key to a functioning real estate market, say they are still underwriting titles for foreclosed properties sold by banks (but not if the banks retain the title). That’s because of Florida case law and what they see as due process protections in the foreclosure process that give foreclosed property owners a chance to challenge.
Boca Raton’s Margery Golant, who defends homeowners in foreclosure actions, said she thinks robosigning is nearly universal in foreclosure paperwork.
“Most of these cases are not litigated. Those that are, the plaintiffs fight tooth and claw to avoid discovery,” Golant said. “They don’t want to explain themselves, and when they do have to explain themselves, they can’t.”
“If you know what you’re looking for, you can find the fraud on the face of the document. It’s systemic,” said April Charney, a Jacksonville Area Legal Aid attorney and acknowledged expert on foreclosure defense. “It’s like paperwork HIV; everyone has the same virus because it was so systemic.”
She said the problem extends beyond foreclosures into the paperwork of most mortgages in recent years, because they were handled the same way to get them ready to be bundled and sold as mortgage-backed securities.
“It’s likely in any residential mortgage loan where there has been some transfer from the originating lender. Then you almost definitely have fraudulent paperwork in the chain of title on that loan,” she said.
READ the REST HERE ON WHO OWNS THE NOTE
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Party heardy NYU economist Nouriel Roubini went on Bloomberg TV on Aug. 31 to give his latest prediction of the global economy:
"We’ve reached a stall speed in the economy, not just in the U.S., but in the euro zone and the UK. We see probably a 60 percent probability of recession next year, and, unfortunately, we’re running out of policy tools.....and sovereigns cannot bail out their own distressed banks because they are distressed themselves."Regarding markets and QE3
"There’ll be more monetary easing and quantitative easing done by the Fed and other central banks, but the credit channel is broken. ...the market is rallying on the expectation of QE3, but I think it will be a short-lived rally. The macro data, ISM, employment, and housing numbers will come out worse and worse, the market will start to correct again."The bond market is already expecting a recession,
"...After the S&P downgrade, bond yields fell from 2.5% to 2% or below. The bond market is telling as a recession is coming and the flattening of the yield curve is telling us that." But since the short-term interest rate is artificially held down low by the Fed,
“Traditionally, you can have inversion of the yield curve. Right now, we have policy rates at 0......We cannot have an inversion because you can have negative long-term interest rates. That’s the reason we don’t see the inversion.” Dr. Doom did not forget about China either,
"I see a hard landing in China as the likely event, not this year or next year, but by 2013 when this over investment move will go bust..... Fixed investment has gone now to 50% of GDP. this over investment boom is going to go into a bust in a hard landing.” "[Chinese banks] have several trillion dollars yuans and we estimate 30% of these loans will go into default and become underperforming. The heat will be on the Chinese banks.” After the C, he then went on to cover the B in BRIC,
"Brazil has its own other domestic problems, if they do the structural reform that’s needed. It could have high potential growth, but the question is whether the new president will be willing to do those structural reforms to reduce the distortion and increase the potential growth of the country."Commentary by EconMatters
Shortly after the interview, Bloomberg ran this headline - U.S. Stocks Pare Gains After Rubini Says Recession Is Starting. It might be that markets really rise and fall on the words of Roubini or it could just be Bloomberg pumping its TV news show; regardless, we believe there's not enough clear indication to declare a coming recession yet.
Remember, this is the traditional summer doldrums, and markets are still reeling from the unprecedented downgrade of the U.S. debt by S&P, black swans flocking in Europe certainly has only added to the market turmoil and volatility. So it is logical to see some mixed and somewhat pessimistic data coming out of this current environment, but they are not indicative enough to extrapolate out a recession.
Also keep in mind that 2012, the year when Roubini predicts the recession would hit, is an election year. You can bet the Fed, the Obama Administration, and the Democratic Party will pull out all the stops to stave off a downright recession.
So we think a slow / anemic growth is a more likely scenario; however, this is not to say there's no possibility that Roubini could be right.....again. After all, the man has been predicting double dip for the past four years, and even a broken clock could be right at least twice a day.
It is likely the similar findings are true in the US. This weekend we saw statistics on the increase in child abuse cases as the financial crisis worsened.
The Wall Street Journal has a sobering but much needed piece on the recession-induced rise in suicides in Greece and the rest of the Eurozone.
Key sections of the Journal account:The media typically presents the consequences of job and income loss in anodyne, depersonalized terms: unemployment, foreclosure, default, delinquency, bankruptcy. Yet the event fray personal relationships and batter one’s identity and sense of self worth. Sure, there might be a vignette depicting how an individual is affected by a particular type of bad event, but then the story (at least if it’s on the business pages) shifts to the statistics and quotes from various experts. And many people don’t witness this sort of stress first hand, since most victims are deeply ashamed and suffer in silence until their situation becomes untenable.
Two years into Greece’s debt crisis, its citizens are reeling from austerity measures imposed to prevent a government debt default that could cause havoc throughout Europe. The economic pain is the price Greece and Europe are paying to defend the euro, the center…
The most dramatic sign of Greece’s pain, however, is a surge in suicides.
Recorded suicides have roughly doubled since before the crisis to about six per 100,000 residents annually….About 40% more Greeks killed themselves in the first five months of this year than in the same period last year…
Suicide has also risen in much of the rest of Europe since the financial crisis began, according to a recent study published in the British medical journal The Lancet, which said Greece is among the hardest hit…
A suicide help line at Klimaka, the charitable group, used to get four to 10 calls a day, but “now there are days when we have up to 100,” says a psychologist there, Aris Violatzis.
The caller often fits a certain profile: male, age 35 to 60 and financially ruined. “He has also lost his core identity as a husband and provider, and he cannot be a man any more according to our cultural standards,” Mr. Violatzis says…
Victims once were typically adolescent males or old people facing severe illness, and in normal times suicide cases often involve a mixture of factors including mental illness, says local [Heraklion, Crete] psychiatrist Eva Maria Tsapaki.
But the economic crash has created a “new phenomenon of entrepreneurs with no prior history of mental illness who are found dead every other week,” she says. “It’s very unusual.”..
“Our pride is as high as Psiloritis,” the island’s tallest mountain, says Yiannis Tsevabinas, a local lawyer. The culture breeds confident, extroverted and adventurous characters, he says, “but when pride is lost, it can also make you vulnerable.”
The story is anchored the sad account of how a man who operated a fruit and vegetable business, Vaggelis Petrakis, came to take his life. And although there are only 20 comments up so far at the Journal, it appears the story itself and perhaps the long grind of the post crisis downturn is leading to a more balanced discussion that I usually see there. Stories about Bad Shit Happening to Little People usually elicit a fair amount of moralizing and/or attributing the victim’s sorry fate to government interference. The shift in the mix of comments may be a sign that Americans are beginning to realize that only a very thin slice at the very top can shield themselves from the vagaries of the economy.
Monday, September 19, 2011
In the end, Floyd Mayweather sucker punched Ortiz with a left hook and right hand that dropped the stunned champion which led to him failing to beat the count.
To a chorus of boos, Mayweather then imploded in a post-fight interview with HBO's Larry Merchant as he questioned Merchant's boxing resume and then proceeded to terminate the dialogue in a profanity laced tirade. To Merchant's credit, he stood toe-to-toe with an obvious bully who seems to relish in antagonizing men twice his age, including his own father!
To Mayweather's shrewdness, he did offer Ortiz a rematch and didn't deny that the punches thrown off the break lacked any sense of fair play or sportsmanship.Cheap Shot: Floyd Mayweather Knocks Out Victor Ortiz in Controversial Finish | Bleacher Report
This was a fight that will go down as one more of boxing infamous moments that had so tarnished the reputation of the sport. The boxing commission should take the win away from Mayweather and at least call it a draw. It was not a win and it was not an official fight. It was just starting to shape into a reasonable fight after the first 3 rounds but the sucker punches from Mayweather did not reveal a true champion.
Boxing has become more spectacle than profession and it is all about the money. Mayweather should not have gotten paid for that fight and he should have been fined for not following the referees orders and hitting a defenseless fighter. The type of injuries that cause severe concussions and brain injuries are even more likely to happen when someone is completely defenseless while being blindsided by their opponent. It is a shame all around. I know the boxers got paid, the referee got paid, HBO got paid but the fans got screwed as did the entire sport of boxing.
The article (read it here) from yesterday that showed the video of the nurse spokeswoman appealing for more help for those on the wrong end of the global scam to redistribute income to the wealthy. She was detailing many of the stress related illnesses and explaining how much worse people are when they wait too long to see a doctor because they can not afford to pay.
This article (on the increase in child abuse cases) is one more financial stress related statistic that is another horrible result of recession. I know the facts that the Wall Street players and the Too Big to Fail Banks that profited exponentially by causing trillions of dollars evaporate from the accounts of the middle class was not enough for anyone to be punished criminally but the more details that are revealed overtime show just how truly devastating this meltdown has been on human life. Our government has failed us completely as they have done nothing set an example for players of the next financial crisis. It is now all about the election and more rhetoric that will be full of promises of how great change is on the way but nothing will happen. If the government was interested in doing what was right for the community rather than only what will make themselves wealthy and lead to re election they would have not allowed the players who orchestrated the current crisis to go on working, collecting millions in salary and face no criminal charges. What I don't understand is why are executives from Enron still in prison for what they did when it was a fraction of the damage done by the banksters. It is sad to see the far reaching affects of the meltdown even in child abuse statistics. It definitely is time to move forward but our system is based on faith and trust. People invest money in good faith, trusting they are not investing in a Ponzi Scheme and that the government is going to see to it that the criminal activity and corruption is held to a minimum. However, what we have seen recently is that the government is really in on the criminal activity and corruption. If those who abused their power and freedom during the mortgage and banking crisis are not punished it will be clear that the government has lost control of the financial system. It will be a clear indication the fox really is guarding the hen house and doing so with the government blessing. Here is the link to the story on the increased rate of child abuse during the recession. Study: Child abuse increased as economy crashed - Health - msnbc.com
Saturday, September 17, 2011
This fight should not have been called the ref never signaled for the boxers to fight and the ref should have been in the middle of the boxers and never let them near each other and the fight was won with a sucker punch and the knock out should not have counted.
Victor Ortiz was losing the fight and his head but was a result of his aggression and excitement. He was penalized for that conduct but the referee turned his back on the fighters and should have penalized Mayweather for the cheap shot before the referee told the boxers to box.
When the referee calls for the fighters to break and calls for a time out. The fight does not start until the referee brings them back together and says to start boxing again. Ortiz was apologizing for the head but while the referee was telling the officials to deduct a points from the score card. It was an illegal punch that should not have counted and it was done out of anger and childish behavior of Mayweather but the biggest person at fault is the referee. He should have stopped the fight and penalized Mayweather for the cheap shots and allowed Ortiz to shake off the punches. It was terrible for the people at the fight and those watching at home because it was not a knock out, or a TKO. It was an illegal shot that should not have counted. The referee mistakenly just jumped in and started to count out Ortiz who was not even looking when Mayweather took his cheap shot and landed a left and then a direct right to the face that nearly knocked Ortiz cold. But it doesn't take much to know a defenseless person out cold. Ortiz was still waiting for the ref to say to start fighting again when he was punched twice.
It was weak. I can't believe they can get away with that crap. Floyd Mayweather didn't do anything for his popularity tonight. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and respected his record but this was not the fight of a champion and it was not a victory regardless of what the officials say. The fans were ripped off.
Victor Ortiz was wrong for head butting but he was penalized for it. Mayweather should have been penalized for the cheap shots while the referee was looking the other way.
Ortiz is a much bigger boxer. He has a 14 lb weight advantage over Money Mayweather. It is hard to believe Ortiz has gone up 17 lbs since the way.
The fight is starting.
Make big money in penny stocks today
People end up being sicker when they arrive at the hospital and therefore they usually have take longer for recovery. There is no such thing as early treatment when you are uninsured. For anyone who has gone without health insurance knows the reality that even though you can get car at the emergency room, you are going to likely get lower quality care if you can't afford to pay or if you have no insurance if only because you will not have any follow up care or return visits to the doctor during your recovery once you leave the hospital.
This is a smart plan put forth by the nurses and they are going to be the best source for information regarding the health care system and the devastating effects lack of insurance and the increase of stress can have on the public.
READ THE FULL STORY BY FOLLOWING THE LINK BELOW
Nurses Hold Actions Across Country Demanding Wall Street Transaction Tax « naked capitalism
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/09/dimon-says-us-banks-should-dictate-to-regulators.htmlNow that Steve Jobs has retired from Apple, Jamie Dimon seems determined to assume his role as the CEO with the most effective reality distortion sphere. You can infer that from the magnitude of the whoppers he is telling and the size of the audience he is trying to bamboozle.
But while Jobs’ Svengali tendencies have gotten more than occasional mention, they weren’t a major failing. Jobs not only saved Apple, but he spearheaded the development of important new product categories. By contrast, Dimon has long been a bully, a smart and capable bully, but a bully nevertheless (I have reports going back to his first year at Harvard Business School, and it takes some doing to be memorably obnoxious by dint of the competition in that category).
Now on the surface, Dimon’s latest brazen remark isn’t quite as gross as my headline suggests. He is merely saying that US banks should not be subject to the new incoming international bank rules, known as Basel III. That might seem to be a narrower statement, but as we show, when you parse his logic, it amounts to banking uber alles.
Here is the relevant section of an interview published today in the Financial Times:
New international bank capital rules are “anti-American” and the US should consider pulling out of the Basel group of global regulators, Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, has said….Let’s start with some background. Treasury secretary Geithner said repeatedly during the Dodd Frank process that the shortcomings in the legislation didn’t matter all that much, since having banks carry larger capital buffers would do the trick, and that was coming with Basel III. In other words, Geithner argued the higher capital requirements to be imposed by international rulemaking process was where the critical banking regulatory fix would happen. And this is what Dimon is now, loudly, out to undermine.
The Basel III capital rules are designed to make the financial system safer by making banks build up risk-absorbent “core tier one” capital to at least 7 per cent of risk-weighted assets. The biggest, including JPMorgan, have to reach 9.5 per cent.
“I’m very close to thinking the United States shouldn’t be in Basel any more. I would not have agreed to rules that are blatantly anti-American,” he said. “Our regulators should go there and say: ‘If it’s not in the interests of the United States, we’re not doing it’.”
Mr Dimon also criticised global liquidity rules, arguing that regulations that viewed covered bonds – a European market feature – as highly liquid but discounted government-backed mortgage-backed securities in the US were unfair and that other details hit investment banking activity core to US banks hardest.
Regulators say all countries compromised on agreeing the rules, which put eight banks – five from outside the US – in the top level of capital. But Mr Dimon said there was a threat that Asian banks, in particular, could take US market share because of the combination of US domestic and global rules.
“I think any American president, secretary of Treasury, regulator or other leader would want strong, healthy global financial firms and not think that somehow we should give up that position in the world and that would be good for your country,” said Mr Dimon. “If they think that’s good for the country then we have a different view on how the economy operates, how the world operates.”
Let’s go to the Dimon argument, such as it is. What about “international” does he not understand? If you want to play outside America’s borders, you can expect to be subject to different rules. The Eurozone, much to the consternation of US and UK players, has basically told the Anglo private equity firms to go to hell. They are forbidden both from doing deals in EU countries and from raising funds there unless they register and obey local rules. The Eurozone has gotten sick of rapacious foreign players buying decent European companies, cutting jobs, saddling them with lots of debt, and shrugging their shoulders when they miscalculate (often) and the rent extraction kills the company. The EU rules, among other things, will restrict how much a PE firm could lever up a portfolio company.
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