How Capitalist Central Banks Have Been Creating The Next Financial Crisis

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By Jack Rasmus for Counter Punch – As central bankers, finance ministers, and government policy makers head off to their annual gathering at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, this August, 24-26, 2017, the key topic is whether the leading central banks in North America and Europe will continue to raise interest rates this year; another topic high on the agenda is when the three major central banks – the Federal Reserve, European Central Bank and Bank of England – might begin to sell off their combined $9.8 trillion dollar balance sheets that they accumulated since the 2008-09 banking crisis. But the more fundamental question – little discussed by central bankers and academics alike – is what are the likely effects of further immediate rate hikes and/or commencement of central banks’ balance sheet reductions? The assumption is further rate hikes and sell-offs will have little negative impact on the real economy or financial markets. But will they? The effects of hikes and sell off will prove the opposite of what they predict. Central banks in the US and Europe were grossly in error predicting in 2008 that massive liquidity injections and zero interest rates would re-stimulate their economies and return them to pre-crisis real GDP growth rates.

Federal Bank Regulator Drops A Bombshell As Corporate Media Snoozes

'Conventional monetary policy has failed,' writes Brown. An economy in service of the people, not industry and the banks, is what's needed now. (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens for Wall Street On Parade – Last Monday, Thomas Hoenig, the Vice Chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), sent a stunning letter to the Chair and Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee. The letter contained information that should have become front page news at every business wire service and the leading business newspapers. But with the exception of Reuters, major corporate media like the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News, the Business section of the New York Times and Washington Post ignored the bombshell story, according to our search at Google News. What the fearless Hoenig told the Senate Banking Committee was effectively this: the biggest Wall Street banks have been lying to the American people that overly stringent capital rules by their regulators are constraining their ability to lend to consumers and businesses. What’s really behind their inability to make more loans is the documented fact that the 10 largest banks in the country “will distribute, in aggregate, 99 percent of their net income on an annualized basis,” by paying out dividends to shareholders and buying back excessive amounts of their own stock.

Wells Fargo's Lyin' Cheatin' Ways: Banking With A Sociopathic Institution

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By Lainey Hashorva for Occupy – Are you facing serial cheating, abuse, lies, ongoing stress about money, issues of fidelity, questions about your future and are at a loss as to where to turn? Do you often feel angry, taken advantage of, less than, a voiceless victim? Did you put your trust and your nest egg, your faith and your money on someone or something that took you for all you’re worth, jilted your faith in the institution and robbed you blind? Deep down, do you think you may be going steady with a good looking grifter? I hate to tell you this, but you may be banking with a sociopath. That’s right. That harmless tall handsome stone wall that promises you the world, smiles at you shamelessly through bulletproof glass and marble floors, black suits and lollipops, is a sociopathic lover out to take all that you hold dear. All that you’ve put your faith, and money, into. This is not fifty shades of gray. It is now clearly black and white. Do you still bank with Wells Fargo? Can we talk? Maybe you have a thing for bad boys? Fast talking flashy – “Here’s a new credit card, baby,” Scaramucci-style pinky ring?

Move Your Money To The New Economy

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By Staff of New Economy Coalition – Banking Alternatives: Unlike Wall St. banks, which work to maximize profits for shareholders at the expense of communities and the environment, Community Development Credit Unions, as well as many other progressive credit unions, CDFIs, and community banks, offer a local alternative rooted in the well-being of their communities. Here are some places to learn more about values-aligned banking alternatives. Invest In the New Economy: Within NEC’s membership there are dozens of amazing organizations that can help you put your savings or investments to use in building the New Economy. Here are just a few. Reinvest in Our Power: Reinvest In Our Power is an emerging national network of reinvestment campaigns and grassroots organizations, that are working together to freeze dirty investments, move the money, and resource community-led solutions at the frontlines. Through a financial cooperative of regional loan funds, governed by the grassroots organizations, this project shifts both capital and decision-making out of corporate control, and puts it in service of people and the planet. Sachie, NEC staff organizer, serves as project coordinator for the network.

Entire Cities Are Cutting Ties With Wells Fargo For Its Support Of Dakota Pipeline

A sign held at an anti-Enbridge protest in Vancouver. (Photo: travis blanston/flickr/cc)

By Ilana Novick for AlterNet – Conservatives have long had a monopoly on the love of states’ rights and local government, but in Trump’s America, it’s the left that has seized the opportunities of what Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called “laboratories of democracy.” Even as the Dakota Access Pipeline inches toward completion, multiple cities including Seattle, San Francisco, Albuquerque, Raleigh, and Philadelphia have spoken with their wallets, severing ties with the oil pipeline-funding banks—in particular, Wells Fargo. On May 31, New York City became the latest city to join the effort, when Mayor Bill de Blasio and comptroller Scott Stringer announced that they will vote to stop New York City from entering into new contracts with Wells Fargo and strip the bank of its role as book-running manager for NYC’s General Obligation and Transitional Finance Authority bond sales. Seattle was at the forefront of the movement back in February, when a coalition of activists convinced the city council to pass an ordinance that, as the Nation explained, “would effectively bar the local government from doing business with or investing in Wells Fargo in the future.

Left-Right Alliance To Break Up The Banks

'Conventional monetary policy has failed,' writes Brown. An economy in service of the people, not industry and the banks, is what's needed now. (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

By Staff of IPA – “Then legislators, lobbyists, bankers, and regulators started to chisel away at the wall separating those two kinds of banks. By November 1999, President Bill Clinton signed into law the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act that repealed the Glass-Steagall Act totally. The abusive marriages of gamblers and savers could once again be consummated. And who doesn’t remember the result: the financial crisis of 2007-2008 that led to taxpayer-funded bailouts, subsidies, loans, and sweetheart fraud-settlement deals. … “Under President Obama, the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act was signed into law. The Act sought to limit the ability of big banks to trade the riskiest types of securities. Through inclusion of something called the ‘Volcker Rule,’ Dodd-Frank prohibited the trading of securities (even if with many loopholes). What it didn’t do was actually break up the big banks again. That meant another 1933 still awaited its moment. “Then along came the bizarre 2016 presidential election campaign during which, strangely enough, Democrats and Republicans found one issue on which they had some common ground: the banking system.

U.S. Bank Becomes First Major Bank To Stop Financing Pipeline Construction

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By Staff of 350.org for Eco Watch – U.S. Bank has become the first major bank in the U.S. to formally exclude gas and oil pipelines from their project financing. This groundbreaking change to their Environmental Responsibility Policy was publicly announced at the annual shareholders meeting in Nashville in April. In addition to no longer providing “project financing for the construction of oil or natural gas pipelines,” the bank has stated that relationships with their clients in the oil and gas industries will be subject to “enhanced due diligence processes.” As recently as March 2017, U.S. Bank has renewed commitments with Energy Transfer Partners, the company constructing the Dakota Access Pipeline, and with Enbridge Energy, whose pipelines operate within Minnesota. However, advocates are hopeful that the bank’s newly released policy will limit other kinds of financing relationships with these industries. “U.S. Bank’s new policy is an important step in protecting the environment and moving towards a fossil free future,” said Wichahpi Otto, a volunteer with the climate justice group MN350, who travelled to Nashville for the shareholders meeting.

Top 25 U.S. Banks Have 222 Trillion Dollars Of Exposure To Derivatives

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By Michael Snyder for The Economic Collapse – The recklessness of the “too big to fail” banks almost doomed them the last time around, but apparently they still haven’t learned from their past mistakes. Today, the top 25 U.S. banks have 222 trillion dollars of exposure to derivatives. In other words, the exposure that these banks have to derivatives contracts is approximately equivalent to the gross domestic product of the United States times twelve. As long as stock prices continue to rise and the U.S. economy stays fairly stable, these extremely risky financial weapons of mass destruction will probably not take down our entire financial system. But someday another major crisis will inevitably happen, and when that day arrives the devastation that these financial instruments will cause will be absolutely unprecedented. During the great financial crisis of 2008, derivatives played a starring role, and U.S. taxpayers were forced to step in and bail out companies such as AIG that were on the verge of collapse because the risks that they took were just too great. But now it is happening again, and nobody is really talking very much about it. In a desperate search for higher profits, all of the “too big to fail” banks are gambling like crazy, and at some point a lot of these bets are going to go really bad.

How To Contact 17 Banks Funding Tar Sands Pipeline Expansion (Including Keystone XL)

Individual divestment has moved more than $80 million from banks financing DAPL, and organizers would like to see similar effort directed at the tar sands financiers. Photo by Lori Panico.

By James Trimarco for Yes! Magazine – Of the more than 60 banks helping to finance the expansion of tar sands infrastructure, the indigenous-led environmental campaign Mazaska Talks has identified 17 as worst offenders. These banks have either financed all four currently proposed tar sands pipelines or they’ve headed up major multi-bank loans to the companies building them. The proposed pipelines are the Keystone XL, Energy East, Trans Mountain, and Enbridge’s Line 3. All four begin in the tar sands of Alberta, Canada. “Our thought is to be proactive and stop the construction of Keystone now.” Back in November 2015, then-President Barack Obama rejected TransCanada’s application to build the Keystone XL pipeline, saying it would create only a few dozen permanent jobs, would have no significant effect on U.S. energy security, and would damage America’s leadership role on climate change. President Donald Trump reversed that decision in March. The indigenous-led Mazaska Talks campaign to stop the tar sands expansion is focusing on the financing of the pipelines.

US Bank To Stop Funding Pipelines As Divestment Movement Expands Worldwide

A child takes part in a Global Divestment Mobilisation (GDM) action in Davao, Philippines. (Photo: 350.org/flickr/cc)

By Nika Knight for Common Dreams – As a nearly ten-days-long global mobilization calling for divestment from fossil fuels comes to an end, climate campaigners are celebrating a major victory stateside: U.S. Bank has announced that it will no longer finance fossil fuel pipeline construction. “Move to a green economy and a future that does not profit off the destruction of Mother Earth and our communities.” —Tara Houska, Honor the EarthThe announcement came during the company’s April shareholder meeting, reported MN350, a state arm of international climate justice group 350.org, on Monday. As a result of the new policy, MN350 observes that the bank will no longer provide “project financing for the construction of oil or natural gas pipelines,” and will also apply “enhanced due diligence processes” to oil and gas industry clients. “U.S. Bank’s new policy is an important step in protecting the environment and moving towards a fossil free future,” said Wichahpi Otto, a MN350 volunteer, who attended the shareholder meeting in Nashville. “We applaud them for responding to the community and contributing to worldwide efforts to address climate change.”

Gusher In The Lobby

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By Reverend Billy Talen for The Stop Shopping Choir – Why is the stain of the oil giving us such a jolt? We all notice it. Today when Amadeus lay back on the floor of the bank and the crude oil stains her, the security guard shouts into his walkie-talkie like she’s a new species of vampire. Al is rumbling in his low voice, “Take your money out of TD. They put 360 million into the Dakota Access Pipeline…” David pours the anointing oil, the blood of the Earth on the vampiress… An investor at a desk in the corner sat there with his head in his hands like he’s going to be sick. Police cars drive by on 14th Street; no-one gets out. The bank manager accuses us of defacing her bank with our flyers. But the tellers – they are smiling. And we are harmonizing, “Earthalujah! This is our fourth Oily Banking action, and we invite you to try it. We leave in under ten minutes, cleaning up after, throwing a coat over our walking drip painting. The action is a sticky gash in hushed altar of banking. That blind gap between us and the fatal crimes that our money becomes is religiously maintained. It is an information gap but it is also a deadening of our feelings. It is a virulent form of fundamentalism.

Court: Cities Can Sue Banks Over Discriminatory Practices

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By Bill Chapell for NPR – The city of Miami can sue Wells Fargo and Bank of America for damages under the Fair Housing Act, the Supreme Court says, allowing a lawsuit to continue that accuses the big banks of causing economic harm with discriminatory and predatory lending practices. The 5-3 vote saw Chief Justice John Roberts form a majority with the court’s more liberal justices. Justice Anthony Kennedy, widely seen as the court’s “swing” justice, sided with Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. The court’s newest justice, Neil Gorsuch, wasn’t involved in the case. After lower courts had issued back-and-forth opinions on whether Miami’s lawsuit should continue, the Supreme Court says the city should be allowed to make its case. “But the justices said that to win damages, the city must prove a direct link to the revenue loss and increased costs,” NPR’s Nina Totenberg tells our Newscast unit, “and that is an extremely high bar to clear.” The ruling comes nearly two years after the Supreme Court sided with civil rights groups who argued that, as we reported, “claims of racial discrimination in housing cases shouldn’t be limited by questions of intent.”

A Bank Even A Socialist Could Love

"[Public banking] enables local resources to be applied locally," says Mike Krauss of the Public Banking Institute. (Andrey Popov/Shutterstock)

By David Dayen for In These Times – “Money is a utility that belongs to all of us,” says Walt McRee. McRee is a velvety-voiced former broadcaster now plotting an audacious challenge to the financial system. He’s leading a monthly conference call as chair of the Public Banking Institute (PBI), an educational and advocacy force formed seven years ago to break Wall Street’s stranglehold on state and municipal finance. “This is one of the biggest eye-openers of my life,” says Rebecca Burke, a New Jersey activist on the call. “Once you see it, you can’t look back.” This ragtag group—former teachers, small business owners, social workers— wants to charter state and local banks across the country. These banks would leverage tax revenue to make low-interest loans for local public works projects, small businesses, affordable housing and student loans, spurring economic growth while saving people—and the government—money. At the heart of the public banking concept is a theory about the best way to put America’s abundance of wealth to use. Cities and states typically keep their cash reserves either in Wall Street banks or in low-risk investments. This money tends not to go very far.

Concerned About Climate Change? Change Where You Bank!

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By Todd Larsen for Other Words – At the end of April, hundreds of thousands of people will take part in the People’s Climate March in DC and around the country. The march will send a clear message that the majority of Americans understand that climate change is all too real — and they’ll continue to raise their voices until the government takes action. The march is also a great way to inspire people to take action for climate solutions in their own communities — whether by calling their elected officials or speaking up at town halls, pushing their local and state governments to act, or working with schools and houses of worship to address the climate crisis without waiting for Washington. If all that’s not for you, there may be an even simpler option: Move your money. Many people might not realize that their savings may be working directly against efforts to address climate change. If you bank with any of the largest American banks — including Citibank, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo — then every dollar you put in to your checking and savings accounts is funding fossil fuel development across the country.

Keystone XL Opponents Target Banks Funding Climate Destruction

After fierce nationwide opposition forced the Obama administration to halt the Keystone XL pipeline, President Donald Trump has given it the green light and the climate movement has vowed to fight it once again. (Image via Rainforest Action Network)

By Lauren McCauley for Common Dreams – Kicking off a week of actions targeting the institutions financing the controversial Keystone XL (KXL) tar sands pipelines, activists on Saturday protested at banks in 25 cities to shine a spotlight on the roll they are having on climate destruction. “It’s back—and so are we,” reads the call to action. After fierce nationwide opposition forced the Obama administration to halt the project, President Donald Trump has given it the green light and the climate movement has vowed to fight it once again. The peaceful demonstrations are “designed to shine a spotlight on the the four key financial institutions bankrolling the KXL pipeline— Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and TD Bank—and pressure them and the broader financial community to pull out and ‘defund’ the project,” said the Rainforest Action Network, which is organizing the week of protest. In addition to demonstrating outside banks, activists across the country are also planning a banner drop in Los Angeles and a protest targeting local government in San Franciscothroughout the week of action, which will culminate on Earth Day. Find an action near you here.