IEHI Feed: The Bank Implode-o-Meter http://implode-explode.com/ Tracking the many faces of the global credit implosion. en-us iehi-feed-63531 Tue, 16 Jan 2018 22:43:48 GMT BofA Tops IBM, Payments Firms With Most Blockchain Patents http://bankimplode.com/viewnews/2018-01-16_BofATopsIBMPaymentsFirmsWithMostBlockchainPatents.html Bank of America Corp. may not be willing to help customers invest in Bitcoin, but that doesn't mean it isn't plowing into the technology underlying the cryptocurrency.

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based lender has applied for or received at least 43 patents for blockchain, the ledger technology used for verifying and recording transactions that's at the heart of virtual currencies. It is the largest number among major banks and technology companies, according to a study by EnvisionIP, a New York-based law firm that specializes in analyses of intellectual property.

"Based on what's publicly out there, the technology sector hasn't embraced blockchain as much as the financial-services industry," Maulin Shah, managing attorney for EnvisionIP, said in an interview.

International Business Machines Corp., which has targeted blockchain and artificial intelligence for future growth, tied with Mastercard Inc. for second on the list, with 27 each.

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iehi-feed-63530 Tue, 16 Jan 2018 16:16:17 GMT Citigroup Plays Up Investor Payouts Once Tax Cuts Trigger Profits http://bankimplode.com/viewnews/2018-01-16_CitigroupPlaysUpInvestorPayoutsOnceTaxCutsTriggerProfits.html As big U.S. banks weigh how to divvy up their windfall from a massive U.S. tax cut, Citigroup Inc.'s approach appears to be set: Shower profits on investors. Lower tax rates mean the bank can stick to its multiyear plan to pay out at least $60 billion in capital to shareholders even after booking a larger-than-forecast charge of $22 billion to adjust to the new tax regime, the bank said Tuesday. Executives had braced investors last month for a $20 billion hit.

Banks face competing demands for a slice of the gains -- potentially raising pay for staff, cutting prices for clients or plowing more into charity. Wells Fargo & Co. executives said last week they'll boost donations to a philanthropic foundation, while JPMorgan Chase & Co. leaders said they're working on a plan to share the tax savings. Citigroup's statement announcing quarterly results only called out the cash coming investors' way.

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The bank took a bigger up-front hit from the changes because it had been sitting on a massive pile of deferred-tax assets -- a form of IOU that cuts tax bills. The company had accrued them by suffering losses during the financial crisis, then long touted them as a way to burnish future payouts to investors. But the tax overhaul wiped out almost half of their value.

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iehi-feed-63527 Tue, 16 Jan 2018 16:10:08 GMT Bitcoin, rival cryptocurrencies plunge on crackdown fears http://bankimplode.com/viewnews/2018-01-16_Bitcoinrivalcryptocurrenciesplungeoncrackdownfears.html Bitcoin slid as much as 18 percent on Tuesday to a four-week low, as fears of a regulatory crackdown on the market spread after reports suggested it was still possible that South Korea could ban trading in cryptocurrencies.

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That came amid news that a senior Chinese central banker had said authorities should ban centralised trading of virtual currencies and prohibit individuals and businesses from providing related services.

China shut down exchanges operating on the mainland last year - a move that also sparked a selloff, though the market later recovered.

"It's mainly been regulatory issues which are haunting (bitcoin), with news around South Korea's further crackdown on trading the driver today," said Think Markets chief strategist Naeem Aslam, who holds what he described as "substantial" amounts of bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple.

"But we maintain our stance. We do not think that the complete banning of cryptocurrencies is possible," he said.

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iehi-feed-63526 Tue, 16 Jan 2018 15:44:49 GMT Washington edges closer to a government shutdown http://bankimplode.com/viewnews/2018-01-16_Washingtonedgesclosertoagovernmentshutdown.html We've been here before -- Congress and the Trump White House facing a potential government shutdown -- and each time the major players have backed away from the brink. But this time feels different, with the government's funding expiring on Saturday.

...And maybe the biggest casualty here is the breakdown in trust -- between Trump and Durbin over the immigration profanity heard ‘round the world; between Sens. Tom Cotton and David Perdue (who denied Trump said the profanity) and everyone else who was in the room; and between Trump and Chief of Staff John Kelly and Stephen Miller, who believed Trump could be tricked on DACA. Without trust, you're not going to get a deal.

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iehi-feed-63525 Mon, 15 Jan 2018 20:06:17 GMT Blame the deluded board members for Carillion's collapse http://bankimplode.com/viewnews/2018-01-15_BlamethedeludedboardmembersforCarillionscollapse.html ... the hard fact is that Carillion directors were boasting in March last year of having "substantial liquidity with some £1.5bn of available funding" yet the company ran out of money 10 months later.

That suggests delusion in the boardroom on a grand scale. Hedge funds, looking from outside and betting on the shares going south, seem to have had a better grasp of Carillion's financial distress than the insiders.

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In the end, it comes down to judgments made in the boardroom. Carillion, outrageously, was declaring a fatter dividend for shareholders only last spring. Given what we know now, the correct action would have been to go to those investors and ask for a big injection of capital via a rights issue. Half the board would have had to resign, but an over-stretched balance sheet might have been repaired. Instead Carillion seems to have chosen to chase more low-margin contracts in a desperate attempt to keep its revenue line moving.

Regarding the point about this all being obvious to hedge fund short sellers, this article has more.

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iehi-feed-63524 Mon, 15 Jan 2018 19:56:39 GMT Three years on from currency shock, Swiss central bank can't get back to normal http://bankimplode.com/viewnews/2018-01-15_ThreeyearsonfromcurrencyshockSwisscentralbankcantgetbacktonormal.html If it raises rates, the Swiss franc strengthens. If it sells off its massive balance sheet, the Swiss franc strengthens. If a global crisis hits, the Swiss franc strengthens.

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"The SNB will most probably be one of the last central banks to change course, and it will take years or even decades for monetary policy to return to ‘normal'," said Daniel Rempfler, head of fixed income Switzerland at Swiss Life Asset Managers.

The Bank of Japan illustrated the problem of reducing expansive policy when a small cut to its regular bond purchases sent the yen and bond yields higher.

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"It is very difficult to say you are ready to intervene in the forex markets when you also winding down the balance sheet," said Florian Weber, an analyst at Bank J.Safra Sarasin.

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iehi-feed-63523 Mon, 15 Jan 2018 19:46:12 GMT Euro Resurgence and QE Wind-down, US Political Dysfunction Weigh on Dollar http://bankimplode.com/viewnews/2018-01-15_EuroResurgenceandQEWinddownUSPoliticalDysfunctionWeighonDollar.html ... the drop [in the dollar of 12% this year so far and last year] is a bit of a mystery because the Federal Reserve has been raising interest rates for the past year... Hussein Sayed, chief market strategist at FXTM, an online currency brokerage firm, wrote in a report Monday that signs of life in Europe's economy, particularly Germany and France, are causing some investors to flock to the euro instead of the dollar.

Sayed added that the resurgence in Europe even has more investors betting that the European Central Bank will unwind its massive bond-buying program, similar to the Fed's after the 2008 financial crisis, sooner than expected.

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But the dollar's slide can't be pinned entirely on what's happening overseas. Some analysts suggest that political dysfunction in the United States is also pushing the dollar down.

Boris Schlossberg, managing director of foreign exchange strategy at BK Asset Management, said in a report Monday that "there is more to dollar weakness than just the global feel-good story."

Schlossberg said more investors are starting to believe there is a real chance of a government shutdown in Washington later this week. That would happen Friday unless Congress passes a short-term funding resolution to keep the government open.''

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iehi-feed-63522 Mon, 15 Jan 2018 18:27:58 GMT Don't be fooled. Wall Street, not Main Street, is the big tax winner http://bankimplode.com/viewnews/2018-01-15_DontbefooledWallStreetnotMainStreetisthebigtaxwinner.html While Winer is skeptical about how much money will be used to reward workers, he's confident about one thing: Most of the tax savings will be lavished on shareholders through stock buybacks and dividends.

"It's far better for investors than it is for employees," he said.'

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It's true that personal income taxes are going down for many Americans. The White House has said that 90% of wage earners will likely take home more money as soon as February.

But it would be tough for those gains to offset the huge savings companies are guaranteed. The tax cuts are "skewed toward businesses and high-income earners," Beth Ann Bovino, S&P Global's chief U.S. economist, wrote in a report.

This doesn't even discuss the deficit effect. Guess who's going to pay for that (in the form of inflation)? Hint: the inflation measure for social security and other support payments was modified by this legislation to be even lower.

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iehi-feed-63521 Mon, 15 Jan 2018 18:25:25 GMT Britain's Carillion collapses after banks pull the plug http://bankimplode.com/viewnews/2018-01-15_BritainsCarillioncollapsesafterbankspulltheplug.html Carillion collapsed on Monday when its banks pulled the plug, triggering Britain's biggest corporate failure in a decade and forcing the government to step in to guarantee public services from school meals to roadworks.

The 200-year-old business went into compulsory liquidation at 0600 GMT after costly contract delays and a slump in new business left it swamped by debt and pensions liabilities of at least 2.2 billion pounds ($3 billion).

Its demise threatens to hurt smaller suppliers, merchants, rivals and Britain's biggest banks. The British government was left to ensure there was no disruption to public services... The government stopped short, however, of bailing out the company as it did with major banks during the 2007-09 financial crisis.

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Employing 43,000 people around the world, including 20,000 in Britain, Carillion has been fighting for survival since July, when it revealed it was losing cash on projects and had written down the value of its contract book by 845 million pounds.

With banks refusing in recent days to accept the latest restructuring plan, May's senior ministers met around the clock, under pressure from the Labour Party and unions not to use taxpayer money to prop up the failing company.

Ministers, top bankers and company bosses scrambled to find a way to save the company in last-ditch talks over the weekend.

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Spun out of Tarmac nearly 20 years ago and including construction names such as Wimpey and Alfred McAlpine, Carillion operates in Britain and Ireland, Canada, the Middle East and North Africa.

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iehi-feed-63520 Sun, 14 Jan 2018 18:45:24 GMT Trump Floated Post-2007 By Secretive, High Money Laundering-Risk Condo Purchases http://bankimplode.com/viewnews/2018-01-14_TrumpFloatedPost2007BySecretiveHighMoneyLaunderingRiskCondoPurch.html More than one-fifth of Donald Trump's US condominiums have been purchased since the 1980s in secretive, all-cash transactions that enable buyers to avoid legal scrutiny by shielding their finances and identities, a BuzzFeed News investigation has found.

Records show that more than 1,300 Trump condominiums were bought not by people but by shell companies, and that the purchases were made without a mortgage, avoiding inquiries from lenders.

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Treasury's financial-crimes unit has, in recent years, launched investigations around the country into all-cash shell-company real-estate purchases amid concerns that some such sales may involve money laundering. The agency is considering requiring real-estate professionals to adopt anti-money-laundering programs.

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The surge was driven by the opening of 11 Trump condo buildings between 2008 and 2010 as Trump shifted his real-estate business from developing high-rises to licensing them. Nine were Trump-licensed, and they drew hundreds of shell companies that paid an average of $1.2 million in cash for a condo. In six of the licensed buildings, cash-paying shell companies bought at least a third of the condos, records show.

It's not clear how much Trump received from the sale of Trump-licensed condos, but when Trump announced his candidacy in 2015, he said his "real estate licensing deals" and other brands were worth $3.3 billion.

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Eighty-three percent of the secretive sales occurred in markets that FinCEN is investigating for possible money laundering in real estate sales. In those markets -- Manhattan, South Florida, and Honolulu -- FinCEN is examining every luxury-home sale to a shell company that paid cash.

At least 28 shell companies resold their Trump properties within six months of buying them in cash. The National Association of Realtors says that immediate resales can indicate money laundering, "especially if the resale price is significantly higher or lower than the original purchase price."

At the Trump SoHo Hotel Condominium New York in Manhattan, 77% of the sales were to shell companies that paid cash. One of the project's Russia-born developers was convicted of money laundering in the 1990s. A pending lawsuit calls Trump SoHo a "monument to spectacularly corrupt money-laundering and tax evasion," though it says in a footnote that "there is no evidence that Trump took any part in, or knew of, their racketeering."

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iehi-feed-63518 Sun, 14 Jan 2018 15:09:19 GMT Caliber Home Loans Busted Selling Client Information To Sex Predators http://bankimplode.com/viewnews/2018-01-14_CaliberHomeLoansBustedSellingClientInformationToSexPredators.html iehi-feed-63517 Sun, 14 Jan 2018 14:45:54 GMT Mr. Amazon Steps Out - Jeff Bezos Goes Public http://bankimplode.com/viewnews/2018-01-14_MrAmazonStepsOutJeffBezosGoesPublic.html As he was shaping Amazon into one of the world's most valuable companies, Mr. Bezos developed a reputation as a brilliant but mysterious and coldblooded corporate titan. He preferred to hunker down in Amazon's hometown, Seattle, at least partly because he thought it was better for Amazon's growing business, largely avoiding public causes and the black-tie circuit.

But while Mr. Bezos -- who at 53 is the world's richest person, with a net worth of more than $100 billion -- can afford virtually any luxury, obscurity is no longer among them.

Amazon, now a behemoth valued at more than $600 billion, has become one of the faces of "big tech," along with Apple, Alphabet's Google and Facebook. These companies are facing a backlash. Amazon is under the microscope for what critics say is its corrosive effect on jobs and competition, and Mr. Bezos has become a bête noire for President Trump, who repeatedly singles out him and Amazon for scorn on Twitter.

"People are starting to get scared of Amazon," said Steve Case, a co-founder of America Online, who recently started an investment fund focused on start-ups in underserved areas, with Mr. Bezos among its contributors. "If Jeff continues to hang out in Seattle, he's going to get a lot more incoming. Even for just defense reasons, he has to now play offense."

Mr. Bezos' portfolio of other ventures has thrust him farther into the spotlight. Four years ago, he bought The Washington Post for $250 million, jump-starting a renaissance of the paper. In 2016, Mr. Bezos bought a $23 million home in Washington, one of the city's most expensive, which is undergoing extensive renovations to make it a suitable party spot for the city's political class. Nearby neighbors include former President Barack Obama and his family, and Mr. Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner.

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But for nearly two decades, he was adamant that the company should largely stay out of the political limelight and not make a stir in local communities. It also had a bare-bones lobbying operation.

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A turning point came for Mr. Bezos around 2011 when Amazon faced a public showdown with state governments.

At the time, legislators began hounding internet retailers like Amazon to collect sales tax. In California, Amazon initially campaigned to overturn a new law imposing an internet sales tax. But Mr. Bezos backed off after it became clear that Amazon's image could be tarnished, a former employee involved in the matter said.

Instead, Amazon began to make peace. In 2011, it signed an agreement with California to collect sales tax in the state, reaching numerous similar agreements around the same time.

As part of those state deals, Amazon began building warehouses across the country, which allowed Amazon to deliver orders more quickly and let local politicians trumpet the arrival of thousands of jobs.

Suddenly, a company that once refused to confirm how many employees it had at its Seattle headquarters could not stop talking about how many jobs it was creating. It now has 542,000 employees.

As Mr. Bezos and the company talked about creating jobs, though, he and Amazon faced a counternarrative from critics that the company was really a job-killing bully.

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iehi-feed-63515 Sat, 13 Jan 2018 18:19:24 GMT Fed Pays Banks $30 Billion Risk-Free for 2017 http://bankimplode.com/viewnews/2018-01-13_FedPaysBanks30BillionRiskFreefor2017.html ... note how the surging interest payments to the banks slashed into the remittances to the Treasury. If the Fed hadn't decided to pay interest on excess reserves, to benefit the banks, it could remit this money to the Treasury. In other words, every dime the banks receive comes indirectly out of the pocket of taxpayers.

The Fed will likely raise rates further this year. There is talk of four rate hikes. This would push the rate on excess reserves to 2.5% by the end of the year. Excess reserves will likely shrink as QE is being unwound, but not fast enough. And the amount that the Fed pays the banks this year might surge to $40 billion or more -- a glorious and hidden subsidy extracted from taxpayer pockets.

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iehi-feed-63514 Sat, 13 Jan 2018 17:06:37 GMT 3 Lies Bitcoin Skeptics Tell Themselves http://bankimplode.com/viewnews/2018-01-13_3LiesBitcoinSkepticsTellThemselves.html iehi-feed-63513 Fri, 12 Jan 2018 21:36:22 GMT Dept. Commerce finishes probe on steel imports; Is mum on findings http://bankimplode.com/viewnews/2018-01-12_DeptCommercefinishesprobeonsteelimportsIsmumonfindings.html The U.S. Commerce Department said on Thursday it had completed its probe into whether imports of certain steel products threatened U.S. national security and sent its conclusions to President Donald Trump. In a statement that offered no indication of the investigation's findings, the Commerce Department said Trump now has 90 days to decide "on any potential action."

The probe could lead to broad tariffs or import quotas.

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In August, senior executives from 25 U.S. steel and steel-related companies sent a letter to Trump asking for immediate import restrictions. The executives from companies including Nucor, U.S. Steel, ArcelorMittal and Commercial Metals said the sustained surge of steel imports into the United States had "hollowed out" much of the domestic steel industry and was threatening its ability to meet national security needs.

Critics charge that using national security to erect steel tariffs could trigger a trade war with China, undermine the global rules-based trading system and hurt U.S. allies more than China and damage global growth prospects.

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iehi-feed-63512 Fri, 12 Jan 2018 20:29:32 GMT SCAM ALERT Serenity Financial Services Sends Out Deceiving Solicitation http://bankimplode.com/viewnews/2018-01-12_SCAMALERTSerenityFinancialServicesSendsOutDeceivingSolicitation.html iehi-feed-63511 Fri, 12 Jan 2018 15:58:38 GMT Greece to Remain Under Lenders' Supervision Until 2059 http://bankimplode.com/viewnews/2018-01-12_GreecetoRemainUnderLendersSupervisionUntil2059.html iehi-feed-63510 Thu, 11 Jan 2018 20:35:50 GMT MoneyGram to test payments with Ripple's XRP cryptocurrency http://bankimplode.com/viewnews/2018-01-11_MoneyGramtotestpaymentswithRipplesXRPcryptocurrency.html iehi-feed-63509 Thu, 11 Jan 2018 20:34:38 GMT Sam's Club is closing and converting dozens of locations http://bankimplode.com/viewnews/2018-01-11_SamsClubisclosingandconvertingdozensoflocations.html Sam's Club, the membership warehouse owned by retail giant Walmart, is shutting down or converting 63 stores, a Walmart official confirmed Thursday.

Of those locations, about 50 will be going out of business for good... Additionally, about 10 to 12 Sam's Club stores are slated to be closed temporarily as the retailer converts them to regional distributional centers to help ramp up its ability to fulfill online purchases. While those stores will reopen in a new role, workers previously employed at those locations are not necessarily guaranteed a role in the new positions.

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"We've decided to right-size our fleet and better align our locations with our strategy,'' he wrote. "We will be closing some clubs, and we notified them today. We'll convert some of them into eCommerce fulfillment centers - to better serve the growing number of members shopping with us online and continue scaling the SamsClub.com business.''

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iehi-feed-63507 Thu, 11 Jan 2018 16:43:05 GMT China moves to shutter bitcoin mines http://bankimplode.com/viewnews/2018-01-11_Chinamovestoshutterbitcoinmines.html

China is moving to eradicate the country's bitcoin mining industry over concerns about excessive electricity consumption and financial risk, reflecting authorities' judgment that cryptocurrencies are not a strategic industry.

A multi-agency task force has instructed provincial governments to "actively guide" companies in their respective regions to exit the cryptocurrency mining industry, according to a document seen by the Financial Times. The move to pressure miners follows China's shutdown of local bitcoin exchanges and its ban on initial coin offerings.

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Many bitcoin miners have established operations in remote areas without even registering a company. Some have also skirted Chinese regulations that forbid end users from purchasing electricity directly from power producers rather than grid operators.

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Bitcoin mining "consumes a large amount of electricity and also encourages a spirit of speculation in 'virtual currencies'", according to the document. Mining operations contradict efforts to prevent financial risk and to discourage activities that "deviate from the needs of the real economy", it added.

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The order does not call on regional authorities to shut mining operations directly, but rather to squeeze them out by strictly enforcing policies on electricity consumption, land use, tax collection and environmental regulation.

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Chinese miners are now seeking ways to transfer their operations abroad, either by physically moving factories or selling their expertise. Cheap electricity and a cool climate, which helps prevent computers from overheating, are the main requirements. Canada, Iceland, eastern Europe and Russia are seen as the most promising destinations.

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