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Old 03-25-2010, 10:44 AM   #81
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Because I worked on a credit trading floor at one of the "too big to fail banks" at the time and I saw the system shutting down. It was really, really, really bad.
Let's say it was that bad, you saw it firsthand, so I beleive you. Folks involved in the leveraging or credit are one thing.........what about the car companies, why do they need bailouts?
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Old 03-25-2010, 11:02 AM   #82
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I will go point by point... with a few questions...

1) Agree... but how high? And what is 'capital'? And what happens if they go below that 'high' level? If you make it to high, then people will not get a good enough return on their investment and the economy will suffer.

2) Disagree... I would have all who take deposits are subject to banking regs. If someone wants to lend money, let them. If they go out of business it would not affect the economy as much as someone who held $1 trillion in deposits that the gov must cover.

3) Disagree... Again, if you are stupid enought to buy a bad loan, then you should suffer the losses. I am not saying that you can not go back and try and get something if they lied to you about the loan, but if they told the truth it would be fine. Also, this would create a huge problem for all the companies who sell things and need the capital (think of almost any furniture store, gym with their three year contract etc. )

4) This I do not care that much about... but if you did not allow 'banks' to do them, then who cares.

5) Disagree.. Breaking up someone just because they have done things 'better' is not something I agree with... if you have good regulations and don't let them get into these risky businesses they should be fine. Also look at one of my earlier posts... this does not address AIG, and the car companies... unless you say they are 'financial institutions'... I don't...

6) Agree.. but see my #2

7) Will never happen. I can see doing this to senior managers, but not the board. Also, you would be hard pressed to get people to be on a board if they could not get insurance to cover them... If I were a billionaire, there is no way I would risk my personal wealth on someone else's mistakes... and if you read what happened to AIG, it was a very small group of people who were either duped, stupid, greedy etc.... or all of them combined... there was no way anyone on the board knew what was down there...

1) I'll let the academics determine "how high is too high" but I'm of the view that the financial system shouldn't be a source of economic growth in its own right. Returns should be low. Because risks should be low. I think it is a very bad thing, and a tremendous miss-allocation of resources that our rocket scientists are building crazy financial products instead of discovering and building the next generation of real stuff. I don't want our banks to be exciting. I want them to be stable, and boring. I don't want our geniuses going into finance because they can make billions. I want them making billions by building companies that actually do something other than moving paper from one place to another.

2) Our financial system has progressed to the point where deposit taking institutions no longer control the flow of credit. It used to be enough to regulate the "money center banks" but an entire "shadow" banking system has developed that is mostly outside of the regulatory oversight that served us well for sixty years (1930-1990). The "shadow" banking system needs to operate under the same rules as the ordinary banking system.

3) The problem being addressed here is underwriting standards. In the olden days lenders performed due diligence on the loans they extended because they were on the hook if things went sour. Now lenders can hedge their credit exposure with securitization or credit default swaps. Lenders shouldn't be allowed to lend money and then completely insulate themselves from the risk they created.

5) Bigger is not necessarily better. I can get bigger just by merging a bunch of stuff together (see Citigroup under Sandy Weill). It doesn't have to even work that well (see Citigroup under Sandy Weill). But at some point, your size becomes a problem for everyone else in the industry because everyone has massive amounts of credit exposure to you. I agree that arbitrarily breaking up companies is bad, but unless we impose some other pretty onerous restrictions, it will be necessary.

7) I agree it would be hard to get people to serve under these circumstances unless the financial institutions were super safe, which is precisely the point (see #1 above).
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Old 03-25-2010, 11:05 AM   #83
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I suspect real financial reform would scare the heck out of Wall Street punching another hole in our portfolios.
Actually, I am not so sure about that.

One of the big problems during the crash was that suddenly the balance sheets of all financial institutions were suspect. Nobody knew who was carrying what assets at fantasy valuations, and lending started to shut down. Rules that allowed traders to have more confidence in balance sheets might help the market.

AIG got into trouble because its Financial Products group in London was selling credit default swaps with little or no capital reserve. Imposing reserve requirements on credit default swaps doesn't seem to be an overly onerous government intrusion in the markets. Insurance itself has "always" had reserve requirements. Would reserve requirements have prevented the melt-down? I dunno, but it is worth thinking about.
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Old 03-25-2010, 11:10 AM   #84
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And let's not forget:
The Commodities Futures Modernization Act of 2000 created the Enron loophole, exempting electronic energy trading from regulation. It also exempted Credit Default Swaps from regulation.
And more:
In 2004 the SEC changed the Net Capital Rule to allow Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley to operate with unlimited leverage.

Also in 2004:
The Consolidated Supervised Entities program attempted to replace regulation eliminated by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act with voluntary regulation.
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Old 03-25-2010, 11:11 AM   #85
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Let's say it was that bad, you saw it firsthand, so I beleive you. Folks involved in the leveraging or credit are one thing.........what about the car companies, why do they need bailouts?
The car companies probably didn't need a bailout. But its important to put these things in the proper context of the time. The change in my own personal views is illustrative . . .

Before Lehman went down I was in favor of letting them fail. I didn't think they were too big. Nobody thought Lehman, or Bear Sterns, was too big in 2007. What changed in 2008 was that the weakness of the entire system was laid bare. When Lehman failed, all hell broke loose. It was shocking to see how things were starting to unravel. People who thought it was a good idea to let Lehman fail (like me) changed their mind pretty quickly. After that experience, a bunch of us got gun shy. We were wrong on Lehman . . . what if we're wrong on GM too.

Here's what I said at the time.
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Old 03-25-2010, 11:31 AM   #86
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here's a start

1-7

That's a good start.
Yes, thank you. These are all 'discussable', IMO.

Just a quick note on your #3:

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3) Lenders of all kinds would have to retain a certain amount of net exposure to their loans.
Should we include 'borrowers' in that? I think so. A whole lot of people having highly leveraged home loans at a RE peak is one thing that has hurt the economy for others. And people with huge credit card and/or HELOC debt. An accident waiting to happen at the first economic downturn. It creates a positive feedback loop. Dangerous.

Shouldn't we go back to minimum 20% down on home loans, maybe based on some 'smoothed value' so that a quick 30% rise in prices doesn't effectively make that a -10% secured loan? Maybe unsecured debt should be made much tougher to obtain, and include better 'education' of the dangers (eliminate it and you drive it underground)?

OK, #1 while I'm at it: you mentioned that 'Returns should be low.' for financial institutions. I just don't like 'price controls' - we probably need certain changes here, but dictating the rate of return is just not a workable method, IMO.

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Old 03-25-2010, 11:58 AM   #87
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Should we include 'borrowers' in that? I think so. A whole lot of people having highly leveraged home loans at a RE peak is one thing that has hurt the economy for others.
It's probably not necessary if the lenders are properly regulated and capitalized. And if they actually have to retain exposure to these risky borrowers, they'll have an incentive to limit how much they lend to them. I'm perfectly willing to let the market determine what the right price and terms are for loans as long as the lender is on the hook and is required to keep a lot of equity against the loan.

The exception I'd make is to increase the lending standards for anyone getting a government backed loan. Better yet, get rid of government backed loans altogether.


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OK, #1 while I'm at it: you mentioned that 'Returns should be low.' for financial institutions. I just don't like 'price controls' - we probably need certain changes here, but dictating the rate of return is just not a workable method, IMO.

-ERD50
I don't have to dictate the rate of return. What I propose to dictate is how much equity financial institutions need to have. If I raise E, ROE goes down. I'm happy with that . . . although the stock market won't be.
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Old 03-25-2010, 12:15 PM   #88
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Nice to see we are all getting along this AM...
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Old 03-25-2010, 01:07 PM   #89
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I don't have to dictate the rate of return. What I propose to dictate is how much equity financial institutions need to have. If I raise E, ROE goes down. I'm happy with that . . . although the stock market won't be.
OK, that sounds a bit better. But if a business sees a low rate of return, they are going to move their resources elsewhere. Not sure if that helps or hurts in this case, but it isn't a static situation, there are always consequences.

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Nice to see we are all getting along this AM...
Day's not over yet. ( Jack Palance to Billy Crystal in 'City Slickers' )


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Old 03-25-2010, 01:14 PM   #90
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Day's not over yet. ( Jack Palance to Billy Crystal in 'City Slickers' )-ERD50
Would you support "real" financial reform?

"They took everything- even the stuff we didn't steal!"
(John Belushi to Tim Matheson in 'Animal House')
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Old 03-25-2010, 01:32 PM   #91
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Would you support "real" financial reform?

"They took everything- even the stuff we didn't steal!"
(John Belushi to Tim Matheson in 'Animal House')
Whenever I think of the shortcomings of past efforts at reform in the financial system, I am reminded of another line from Animal House:
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"Face it, you f*&$ed up, you trusted us."
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Old 03-25-2010, 01:55 PM   #92
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But if a business sees a low rate of return, they are going to move their resources elsewhere. Not sure if that helps or hurts in this case, but it isn't a static situation, there are always consequences.
Understood.

I'm not sure that there is a benefit to be had in engaging in a "race to the bottom" in financial regulation. If other countries want their banking system to be unsound, then maybe we should cede financial market-share to them.

On the other hand, there may be a benefit to having a super strong financial system . . . non-financial capital may see the U.S. as a safer place to do business.
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Old 03-25-2010, 01:56 PM   #93
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Whenever I think of the shortcomings of past efforts at reform in the financial system, I am reminded of another line from Animal House:

Probably one of the best all-time movie quotes.
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Old 03-25-2010, 02:00 PM   #94
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Whenever I think of the shortcomings of past efforts at reform in the financial system, I am reminded of another line from Animal House:
One of my favorite lines, too!

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Old 03-25-2010, 02:33 PM   #95
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1) I'll let the academics determine "how high is too high" but I'm of the view that the financial system shouldn't be a source of economic growth in its own right. Returns should be low. Because risks should be low. I think it is a very bad thing, and a tremendous miss-allocation of resources that our rocket scientists are building crazy financial products instead of discovering and building the next generation of real stuff. I don't want our banks to be exciting. I want them to be stable, and boring. I don't want our geniuses going into finance because they can make billions. I want them making billions by building companies that actually do something other than moving paper from one place to another.

2) Our financial system has progressed to the point where deposit taking institutions no longer control the flow of credit. It used to be enough to regulate the "money center banks" but an entire "shadow" banking system has developed that is mostly outside of the regulatory oversight that served us well for sixty years (1930-1990). The "shadow" banking system needs to operate under the same rules as the ordinary banking system.

3) The problem being addressed here is underwriting standards. In the olden days lenders performed due diligence on the loans they extended because they were on the hook if things went sour. Now lenders can hedge their credit exposure with securitization or credit default swaps. Lenders shouldn't be allowed to lend money and then completely insulate themselves from the risk they created.

5) Bigger is not necessarily better. I can get bigger just by merging a bunch of stuff together (see Citigroup under Sandy Weill). It doesn't have to even work that well (see Citigroup under Sandy Weill). But at some point, your size becomes a problem for everyone else in the industry because everyone has massive amounts of credit exposure to you. I agree that arbitrarily breaking up companies is bad, but unless we impose some other pretty onerous restrictions, it will be necessary.

7) I agree it would be hard to get people to serve under these circumstances unless the financial institutions were super safe, which is precisely the point (see #1 above).

1) That is fair enough... so we both are OK with this.. and I think most people do. However, I do not care if they make some good money... as long as they follow the rules and regs... if they want to be a bank, be a bank and if you want to be something else... be something else... but don't be a bank and then say 'we also want to be something else'....

2) Yes, the shadow banking system has been growing since the 1980s.. at least that is when I started working at a bank and was seeing them.. the problem I have is that your definition would include almost any kind of lending... payday loan, car title loans, pawn shops, etc. etc. you can get money at a lot of places that I do not care if they are regulated or not LIKE A BANK... sure, have some minor regs on fees and truth in lending etc., but calling them a 'financial institution' is bad IMO. Also, if one of them goes under there is not as big of financial hurt... Look at CIT (if I am remembering the firm correctly)... a ho-hum... Usually the 'masses' do not have money in these people unless they invested in stock or bonds and know the risk. Someone who opens a checking account wants to make sure their money is there when they need it... without an major undue risk. A 'bank' is that institution and a bank takes deposits.

Interesting is what about MM accounts at FIDO, Vanguard etc... they are not 'banks'.... but take in deposits... hmmmm....

3) Again, there is a lot of commerce that goes on that are 'loans' that making the person who initiated it keep 'part' just does not work well. As I mentioned before, if you sign a contract for a 3 year gym memebership, they turn around and sell that to a funding trust within the week (I was a trustee on one of these)... the investors had a criteria for what they would accept and what they would not accept (underwriting)... if the originating place did not follow that underwriting, the trust did not buy it... if they did, then they got their money and the trust was not on the hook. I am not mentioning the discount that was involved in the transaction... that is the price, not the underwriting... This happens in car dealerships, furniture stores etc. etc. Almost any big ticket item is being financed by someone else that is not the company you are buying from... and trying to make that firm become a 'lending institution' is not smart...

Now, if you are talking about the banks that package CC debt, student loans, car loans, etc. etc... just to get them off their balance sheet... then I can agree that they should have a residual bond. Most of the ones that I was trustee on did.... but it was a very small percent... so maybe that percent should be bigger. But the bank was 'selling' their risk... the buyer should have been smart enought NOT to buy bad loans...

5) I did not say bigger is better... I just said having an arbitrary level where you can not get above is not good. And truth be told, there IS a maximum... IIRC, no bank can have more than 10% of the deposits. I do not know how low a level that goes down (federal, state, city)... but if you think how much that is.. it did not stop Citi, Chase, BofA etc.. who are now multi-trillion dollar banks..

7) Still, if they were on the hook... even if super safe... it is something most smart rich people would avoid... If I were rich... I would... not enough reward for the risk....
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Old 03-25-2010, 03:01 PM   #96
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2 a.) Money market funds need to change. They proved to be dynamite to the financial system during this last crisis. A simple fix here is to require that the NAV of these funds is marked to market like every other mutual fund.

3) Certainly regs can be sized to be reasonable. If I run a tab at my local bar, that doesn't need to be regulated. Nor do I think "pay-day-lenders" need capital requirements.

But I disagree that general receivable sales and secruitization should be exempt. A big reason the sub-prime crisis metastasized was the separation of the underwriting process from the credit risk it created. I don't see why you won't eventually have similar problems in other areas where the same situation applies. That is unless we want to get in the business of dictating credit terms (which I think is a worse idea than the one I floated).

I'm not an expert on accounts receivable financing, but my understanding is that these are generally structured in the very same way as I'd require for the larger securitization market. The seller of receivables typically takes the "first loss" position in the pool he is selling. It's not like he takes a bunch of IOUs from a bunch of bums and can wash his hands of his credit risk by selling them into a conduit. But that is exactly what underwriters of mortgages were doing.

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But the bank was 'selling' their risk... the buyer should have been smart enought NOT to buy bad loans...
..
I agree. But in practice it didn't work out that way (we can get into why, if you want). But the short answer is that the credit evaluation process was outsourced to credit rating agencies who had some conflicts of interest. So as another reform I'd get rid of all regulations and laws that are based on credit ratings.

So to my original list I'll add . . .

8) Require MMFs to have a floating NAV
9) Eliminate credit rating requirements and/or standards wherever they currently exist.
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Old 03-25-2010, 04:17 PM   #97
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here's a start


3) Lenders of all kinds would have to retain a certain amount of net exposure to their loans.

I wonder if the Volker rule, getting depository banks out of the investment business wouldn't work for doing this. The downside of this rule is the situation that a local bank Central Pacific has found itself in. It expanded operations to California made a number of construction loans, which turned out badly. They are now selling these loans to raise capital per FDIC decree, I would assume that wouldn't be prohibited.

Perhaps an alternative would require that any origination fees associated with a loan to be amortized over the life of the loan and included in type of securitization. So if bank sells a $10,000,000 MBS with 2% origination fees,would collect their 200K in fees over the lifetime of the security.

This would highly incentives everyone to make good loans.
.

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7) Unlimited personal liability for CEO's, directors and senior management of financial institutions that require a government bailout
One of the things that was highlighted by most everybody from Buffett, to Sorkin in To Big to Fail, is that when the investment houses like Goldman,Lehman and Bear switched from a partnership to the public company the liability for those on top also changed dramatically. They no longer were on the hook for any dumb thing another partner did. This almost certainly contributed to higher level of risk taking.

As part of of financial form, I hope they figure out a way of fixing corporate democracy. For a variety of reason the owners (i.e. us via mutual fund and pension funds) have almost no say on how corporations are run including the compensation for the top managers.
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Old 03-25-2010, 04:33 PM   #98
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While I think the idea behind "the Volker Rule" makes a ton of sense, I don't see how it can practically be implemented. You just can't distinguish between proprietary trading and trading done on behalf of a customer in many instances. For example. When a market-maker trades a security with a client, he may be doing it because the client initiated the trade. Or he could be doing it to put on a risk position that he likes. How on earth can anyone tell the difference?

I think the only way you can do that is to physically separate the investment bank from the commercial bank (as in bring back "Glass-Steagall")


I agree 100% about the problems with investment banks being run as corporations these days. I think a huge area of moral hazard that is overlooked in our financial system is that everyone, from the trader to the investment banker to the CEO is paid huge sums to take risks with other people's money. That is not a good set up, in my view.
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Old 03-26-2010, 10:10 AM   #99
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I wonder if reform, real or not, would be a greater impact on ER than market craziness. We've had two big drops in less than ten years, and I wonder how much of the blame should go to things that could be changed by reform, and how much to the huge numbers of 401K and other investors doing foolish things—jumping in as the market goes up, increasing the inflation of a bubble, and panic selling when the bubble bursts, making the downturn even deeper when it comes. I wonder if sheer demographics, the move of 78 million baby boomers from accumulation to utilization of portfolios and selling off real estate to harvest the equity (if there's any left), is going to outweigh any benefit that might come from reform. I'm not opposed to reform on principle, I just wonder whether other factors may swamp its effect on ER.
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Old 03-27-2010, 02:54 AM   #100
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Lots of interesting and probably worthy ideas for reform.

So what are our congress critters doing. Here is one example from the Huffington Post of all places.

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Tucked away in a few pages in the comprehensive financial reform bill outlined by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Senator Dodd (D-Conn.) are provisions that would raise the costs of angel investments in startup ventures. These provisions are both unnecessary and unhelpful at a time when policymakers should be looking for ways to make it easier to finance new businesses, especially the potentially high-growth, job-creating companies capable of attracting outside investors.

Under existing law, startup companies can raise money easily and quickly from "accredited investors" -- individuals with substantial wealth or income. There is no need for the companies or the investors to gain approval from any state or regulatory official.

All of this would change if Section 926 of the Dodd bill is included in any final reform legislation. That section would require, for the first time, companies seeking angel investment to make a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which would have 120 days to review it. This would both raise the cost of seeking angels and delay the ability of companies to benefit from their funding.
The negative impact of the SEC filing requirement would be aggravated by the proposed doubling of the net worth or income thresholds required for investors to be "accredited.
The rest here

I have to say I am just speechless, and I seen both liberal and conservative involved with High Tech react the same way.
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