UPDATED: Includes the seven banks seized by the FDIC over the holiday weekend. Since the FDIC began publishing the failed bank list in 2000, 74% of the banks on the list were placed there during this recession.
Must Read: Wall Streeters Call for Reform & Say Federal Efforts to Combat Financial Crisis Inch Wide, Mile Deep
America and the world have found out the hard way how Wall Street’s fast and loose ways hurt regular folks more than the fatcats with Gulf Stream jets and golden parachutes. It’s heartening to see at least two creatures of The Street find religion and evangelize the good news of reform.
Sandy B. Lewis and William D. Cohan do just that in an op-ed piece headlined, The Economy is Still at the Brink, in Saturday’s New York Times. It’s a shame that the editors at the Times decided to run their important message in Saturday’s edition rather than Monday morning when it might have attracted more attention from the likes of CNBC or the day’s cable news cycle. Cast against the constant stream of “Everything’s Fine,” from the Obama Administration to the likes of Jim Cramer, Lewis and Cohan’s message is succinct and important to the long run of the U.S. economy.
In short, the pair are telling us that the structural issues with American high finance are still there, Bush and Obama Administration efforts to staunch the bleeding are merely fingers in Wall Street’s dike, the current system is too heavily weighted in favor of ‘insiders’ and a program of real reform is needed to restore full confidence and ensure a system that works for all levels of the economy.
Here are some take aways from their piece:
- If nearly everyone agreed six months ago that our banking system was a sham, why is every government program or action directed at preserving the old order? Lewis and Cohan say to start with compensating executives well for moving the ball, but create a system where their net worth is tied to their failures as well.
- The writers wonder why so many federal resources are going to propping up those at the top of the financial pyramid – the big banks and insurers – when recovery will come only when the bottom of the pyramid gets more confident.
- Rather than talk of the “imminent return” of the “good times” President Barack Obama should be messaging America with “living within our means.”
- For the “long term health of the market” shareholders and other investors in the big banks need to feel the “market’s wrath.” No more rescues for the banks that created the mess.
- More market discipline and fewer government bailouts – where will the federal government draw the line?
- Fewer academics should be advising the president and he should make room for more folks saavy in trading and markets – not to have the fox guard the henhouse, but to design incentives that will work to revive the capital markets.
- More transparency in the entire system – from providing the same real-time market information to citizens that’s available to Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley – to replacing the marketing exercise known as financialstability.gov with real information.
- Go after the bigwigs who brought this pox upon us – either through truth commissions or the same way the FBI prosecutes the mafia.
There’s a lot more detail in what Cohan and Lewis wrote – go check it out.
Data From Dept. of Commerce
Uber investor Marc Faber says he’s 100 percent sure the U.S. will experience hyperinflation and economist Nouriel Roubini says that while the U.S. economy may post modest growth in six to nine months there is still a chance for a second dip beginning some time in 2010.
The U.S. economy will enter “hyperinflation” approaching the levels in Zimbabwe because the Federal Reserve will be reluctant to raise interest rates, investor Marc Faber said.
Prices may increase at rates “close to” Zimbabwe’s gains, Faber said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in Hong Kong. Zimbabwe’s inflation rate reached 231 million percent in July, the last annual rate published by the statistics office.
“I am 100 percent sure that the U.S. will go into hyperinflation,” Faber said. “The problem with government debt growing so much is that when the time will come and the Fed should increase interest rates, they will be very reluctant to do so and so inflation will start to accelerate.”
Roubini stood by a recent article in which he mentioned the possibility of a “perfect storm” in 2010.
“There is even a risk of a double dip, a W-shaped recession at the end of next year,” he said, a combination of rising oil prices, rising public debt and increases in real interest rates, rising concerns about inflation and the expiration of a number of tax cuts in the United States.
From USA Today:
Federal tax revenue plunged $138 billion, or 34%, in April vs. a year ago — the biggest April drop since 1981, a study released Tuesday by the American Institute for Economic Research says.
When the economy slumps, so does tax revenue, and this recession has been no different, says Kerry Lynch, senior fellow at the AIER and author of the study. “It illustrates how severe the recession has been.”
For example, 6 million people lost jobs in the 12 months ended in April — and that means far fewer dollars from income taxes. Income tax revenue dropped 44% from a year ago.
“These are staggering numbers,” Lynch says.
Chart Source: American Institute for Economic Research
If you need a reminder of the impact of the financial crisis and recession on ordinary people, visit the Columbus Dispatch website today for the story on Warren, Ohio and its 30 year recession.
Once dominated by the steel and auto industries, Warren, located in Northeast Ohio near the state of Pennsylvania, is a microcosm of the fall of the manufacturing midwest.
When you think back to the quality of life enjoyed by many blue collar workers from the 1950s to the 1970s – and the quality of their American-made products – it opens the door of doubt on the efficacy of buying cheap crap from China.
Changes in the practices and ethics of the big businesses who employed America’s manufacturing workers had a lot to do with our demise here in the Midwest. But, if we are to solve the problems going forward, we need to realize that the unions have had their part in the fall.
- Unemployment Rate in Trumbull County, home of Warren = 14.2%
- Poverty Rate = 14.6%
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. seized two banks in Illinois Friday evening.
Thirty six FDIC insured banks have failed this year, five in Illinois.
The deposits of Citizens National Bank are due to be acquired by Morton Community Bank as part of a “loss share” agreement with the FDIC. Over the weekend depositors of Citizens National may access their funds through ATMs and check writing. The FDIC estimates the cost to their Deposit Insurance Fund at $106 million.
The FDIC has entered into a purchase agreement with Midland States Bank for the assets of Strategic Capital Bank. Strategic Capital’s only office will reopen on Tuesday, following the Memorial Day holiday, as a branch of Midland States. Strategic Capital’s customers will be able to write checks and access their funds via ATM over the weekend.
Strategic Capital’s failure is expected to cost the Deposit Insurance Fund some $173 million.
Seventy percent of FDIC insured banks which have failed since 2000 have failed during the current recession.
Statistics Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor
As defined by the Dept. of Labor, a mass layoff is a situation in which 50 or more persons have filed initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits against an establishment during a consecutive 5-week period.
Headline is for the End Times Asshats.
More Americans than forecast filed claims for unemployment insurance last week, and the total number of workers receiving benefits rose to a record, signs the job market continues to weaken even as the economic slump eases.
Initial jobless claims fell by 12,000 to 631,000 in the week ended May 16, from a revised 643,000 the prior week that was higher than initially estimated, the Labor Department said today in Washington. The total number of people collecting benefits rose to 6.66 million, a record reading for a 16th straight week, and a sign companies are still not hiring.
Read the story on today’s Housing Starts release from Reuters.
Data from Eurostats. The title of the graph may be a bit misleading. You can break down EU unemployment by gender in Eurostats. This graph is men and women, hence the word “total.”
PIT = Personal Income Tax
from the Wall Street Journal:
The Federal Reserve significantly scaled back the size of the capital hole facing some of the nation’s biggest banks shortly before concluding its stress tests, following two weeks of intense bargaining.
In addition, according to bank and government officials, the Fed used a different measurement of bank-capital levels than analysts and investors had been expecting, resulting in much smaller capital deficits.
At least half of the banks pushed back against the preliminary findings of the tests, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people with direct knowledge of the process.
Citigroup’s capital shortfall was reduced to $5.5 billion from about $35 billion after bank executives persuaded the Fed to include future capital-boosting impacts of pending transactions, the story said.
Wells Fargo’s shortfall was cut to $13.7 billion from $17.3 billion and Fifth Third’s was reduced to $1.1 billion from $2.6 billion.
Full Text: Fed Chairman Bernanke Testimony to Joint Economic Committee, May 5, 2009 – Economic Outlook
Bernanke Says Economy Begins Growing Near End of 2009, but growth “subpar” for some time
(Source: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve)
Chairman Ben S. Bernanke
The economic outlook
Before the Joint Economic Committee, U.S. Congress, Washington, D.C.
May 5, 2009
Chair Maloney, Vice Chairman Schumer, Ranking Members Brownback and Brady, and other members of the Committee, I am pleased to be here today to offer my views on recent economic developments, the outlook for the economy, and current conditions in financial markets.
Recent Economic Developments
The U.S. economy has contracted sharply since last autumn, with real gross domestic product (GDP) having dropped at an annual rate of more than 6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of this year. Among the enormous costs of the downturn is the loss of some 5 million payroll jobs over the past 15 months. The most recent information on the labor market–the number of new and continuing claims for unemployment insurance through late April–suggests that we are likely to see further sizable job losses and increased unemployment in coming months.
However, the recent data also suggest that the pace of contraction may be slowing, and they include some tentative signs that final demand, especially demand by households, may be stabilizing. Consumer spending, which dropped sharply in the second half of last year, grew in the first quarter. In coming months, households’ spending power will be boosted by the fiscal stimulus program, and we have seen some improvement in consumer sentiment. Nonetheless, a number of factors are likely to continue to weigh on consumer spending, among them the weak labor market and the declines in equity and housing wealth that households have experienced over the past two years. In addition, credit conditions for consumers remain tight.
The chart below comes from the St. Louis Fed’s National Economic Trends for May. It appears lenders did tighten their purse strings, but perhaps not enough, nor quickly enough.
From the St. Louis Fed:
- Economy in U.S. shrank at 6.1% rate in Q1 – Bloomberg
“This is one of those good-bad numbers,” Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors Inc. in Holland, Pennsylvania, said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “Businesses are running about as lean as they possibly can be. It sets up the reality that any sort of increase in demand will cause firms to have to increase production.”
As a result, Naroff predicted growth won’t “be nearly as bad in the current quarter, and will probably be reasonably good.”
- U.S. Economy: 2nd Straight Quarter of Steep Decline - New York Times
Economists had predicted a drop of 4.7 percent, and the steep dip could dampen hopes that the pace of economic declines had begun to ebb. The decline was almost as sharp as in the previous quarter, when the economy shrank at a pace of 6.3 percent, its worst drop in a generation.
A plunge in business investment contributed to much of the overall decline in the nation’s economic output.