03 July 2009

More Banks Fail in "Deepening Financial Crisis"

More green shoots for the fungus collection.

What if they gave a Great Depression but systematically rigged the statistics, manipulated the markets, inflated the currency, and were able to convince the majority that it was not all that bad?

Would it still be a Great Depression? Or a Great Delusion?

How angry would people be when they realized they had been fooled into making very destructive personal financial decisions based on this deception?

Would the perpetrators be able to claim immunity because they were performing a service to the government? This is one defense that Barrick Gold (and JP Morgan) used when they were initially sued for manipulating the price of gold in the New Orleans court case. Barrick Corp Drops Bombshell

"The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the [public] is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country." Edward Bernays
“It is the absolute right of the State to supervise the formation of public opinion...If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and military consequences of the lie.” Joseph Goebbels

Seven U.S. Banks Seized in Busiest Year for Closures Since 1992
By Ari Levy and Flynn McRoberts

July 3 (Bloomberg) -- Six banks in Illinois and one in Texas were seized by regulators as the deepening financial crisis pushed the toll of failed U.S. lenders this year to 52, the most since 1992.

Twelve banks have failed this year in Illinois, the most of any state. The seven lenders seized yesterday, with total assets of $1.49 billion and deposits of $1.34 billion, were closed by state or federal regulators and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was named receiver, according to statements from the FDIC. Buyers were named for each of the closed institutions.

The Illinois banks are affiliates of Peotone Bank & Trust Co., in Peotone, Illinois, about 45 miles (72 kilometers) south of Chicago. The failures resulted primarily because of soured loans and losses on investments in collateralized debt obligations, the FDIC said. Illinois, with an unemployment rate above the national average, was one of seven states to begin the fiscal year without a spending plan.

"The six failed Illinois banks are all controlled by one family and followed a similar business model that created concentrated exposure in each institution," the FDIC said. CDOs, which packaged bonds and loans into notes of varying risk and yield, lost money as real estate defaults soared.

Regulators this year have closed the most banks since the savings-and-loan crisis of the 1990s as lenders struggle with mounting losses on mortgages and commercial loans. The total for 2009 is more than double the 25 banks shuttered in 2008 and surpasses the 50 that were closed in 1993. The prior year there were 181 failures or government-assisted transactions.


The FDIC estimates yesterday's seizures will cost its insurance fund $314.3 million. The regulator imposed an emergency fee in May to raise $5.6 billion to rebuild the fund, which has deteriorated in the past 18 months. More assessments are possible, the FDIC said.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, a Democrat, refused to sign a budget because lawmakers failed to approve raising the income tax. In his original $53 billion budget proposal in March, the governor sought personal and corporate tax increases to help eliminate an $11.6 billion deficit and maintain state services.

Chicago is 280 miles from Detroit, home to General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC, which were forced into bankruptcy. Lear Corp., the Southfield, Michigan-based maker of automotive seats, announced plans yesterday to enter bankruptcy. The unemployment rate in Illinois was 10.1 percent in May, compared with 9.4 percent nationally.

A Mess

"This is a mess," said Jack Ablin, who oversees $60 billion as chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank in Chicago. "We're a manufacturing state and in the Midwest, so we're influenced by the autos."

In addition to CDOs, the failed banks were plagued by losses on commercial real estate loans. Founders Bank of Worth, the biggest of the Illinois banks seized yesterday, had $374 million in construction and commercial real estate loans as of March, accounting for 63 percent of the bank's net loans and leases, according to a regulatory report.

Millennium State Bank of Texas, the Dallas-based bank taken over yesterday, had $67.5 million in such loans, or 81 percent of its total loans.

"The common denominator for most of the bank failures so far has been troubled construction loans," said Matthew Anderson of Foresight Analytics, an Oakland, California-based real estate research firm. "There's no easy way out with defaulted construction loans in today's environment..."