October 23, 2008 – 12:39 pm

Fractional reserve banking is a confidence game built on the foundation of a Ponzi scheme. So long as the rollover of Ponzi finance flows depositors confidence remains high that their money is safe, but for Wachovia that foundation eroded rapidly from beneath its shaky pillars and as the confidence game began to teeter the depositors began to run.

Wachovia Corp., the bank that came within hours of collapse last month, reported a $24 billion loss today and said business customers drained a quarter of their deposits as the lender sought a rescuer.

It was here that the incestuous insider influence which Wachovia bought it when it hired Robert Steel to be its CEO paid dividends’ dividends to Wells Fargo also.

Wachovia Chief Executive Officer Robert Steel spurned an offer by Citigroup Inc., accepting a $14 billion bid by Wells Fargo that formed the largest U.S. branch network. The loss confirmed analysts’ contentions that Charlotte, North Carolina- based Wachovia overpaid for takeovers such as Golden West, the California lender at the forefront of the option-adjustable-rate mortgages that punctured profit throughout the industry.

“Wachovia management always looked at the glass half- full,” said Gerard Cassidy, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets in Portland, Maine. “Wells Fargo has come in and is saying, `We want to take the worst-case view.”’

Well actually Mr. Cassidy as we will show Wells Fargo wants much more than that, and even half full the cup runneth over.

The Wachovia Corporation announced a $23.9 billion third-quarter loss on Wednesday as it prepared to be taken over by Wells Fargo.

The bank took an $18.7 billion charge to write down the value of good will and wrote off $6.6 billion in credit losses tied largely to its disastrous purchase of Golden West Financial in 2006. And the red ink is unlikely to end soon.

Wachovia’s quarterly loss appears to be one of the largest in banking history. It is bigger than the market values of 422 companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, and slightly more than the gross domestic product of Panama.

The third quarter loss was more than a sensational it was a record-setting and self-serving. With investors begging Wachovia to give up the kitchen sink since the beginning of the credit ciris, why did management suddenly do so in such a spectacular fashion in its swan song? Answer that and you’ve answered the question why did Wells Fargo shoot like a bolt from the blue to snatch Wachovia from the dirty rim of Citigroup’s deep pockets. You will also expose another government lie that there would be no cost to the taxpayer in the deal. The answer was

Taxes. It was all about the taxes.

The day after Citigroup made its bid, the Treasury changed a tax rule that lets banks accelerate the losses and writedowns on banks they acquire against their own net income, offsetting the charges as tax write-offs.

That’s right, the day after Citigroup made its bid, the Treasury changed a tax rule.

Under the old ruling, companies could only write off a small portion of the losses of the company and they were acquiring, but this ruling removes any limitation on how much a company can offset its income with the losses of an acquired company. This of course is neatly packaged for Wells Fargo, which has said it expects to write down Wachovia’s loan portfolio by about $74 billion.

Wells plans on writing off some $74 billion of Wachovia’s $498 billion loan portfolio — an insanely large amount that reflects just how poisoned Wachovia’s books really were. With the new tax rules, it gets to use all of that $74 billion as a charge against its own net income, which means one thing: Wells Fargo’s going to be a tax-write-off machine for years to come.

What it really means is that well Wells Fargo just extended its lifespan, but the new ruling was probably more for the benefit of Wachovia and Bob Steele. Bob Steel long time right hand man of US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson was stuck dealing with a stingy Citigroup willing to give up but $2.1 billion, until four days later when Wells Fargo dropped a big $15 billion bombshell on Citigroup. So the deal pays off handsomely for Wachovia and Wells Fargo, and finance as it was by the IRS comes on the back of the US working stiffs.

just how much will it save? The Wall Street Journal, citing an independent tax analyst, estimates Wells Fargo could reap a tax savings of about $19.4 billion. To put that in perspective, the 0.1991 shares of its own stock Wells Fargo is offering Wachovia comes out to around $6.24 per share, or roughly $13.8 billion. Yes, Wells Fargo gets a $19.4 billion tax break for a company it’ll pay just under $14 billion for (if the deal closed today).

In other words, Wells Fargo didn’t pay anything for Wachovia: The IRS paid it more than $5 billion to take it. Who ever said you have to fear the taxman?

Well former treasury Undersecretary Robert Steel certainly has nothing to fear. It’s a seemingly strange coincidence that the IRS ruling which saved the day his new company as it was stern up slipping beneath the waves came on the just the very day before Wells Fargo rode in on its $15 billion horse. It’s nice but kinda strange how things just happen to work out for the well-connected insider ones.

  1. 4 Responses to “Swan Song”

  2. wachovia/wells fargo employee: supposedly is a quality assurance personnel(troy porter) in charlotte nc
    who should be working during business hours (trying to save his bank) is doing his personal shopping. this is one of the reasons, customers like me will be pulling my money out of wells fargo/wachovia…..employees do not care about their employer….in return do not care about their customers….I know my 60K is just a drop for wellsfargo, but it will give me personal satisfaction……sm

    By sandra miller on Jun 16, 2009

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