Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What me worry??

Not everybody was concerned about Wall Street indifference and chutzpah over the Street’s compensation schemes and post financial crash behavior.


Fast forward a few years. The following is a mythical scene from “Hell,” you know the place for condemned souls and eternal punishment. It is a figment of my imagination and not meant to reflect anyone living or dead!!

“Where am I,” said Floyd Cashfind-Keep, late of Wall Street, USA.

A voice responds, “Uh, you are in Hell, young man, Purgatory, you know and it’s a real bitch, having been here almost 240 years myself.

Who are you babe?” said a slightly flustered Cashfind-Keep, ”And, um, nice neck!”

“I my dear young man am Marie Antoinette, the mistress of this particular Hell
neighborhood. We call it the ‘food court.’ It’s you-know-who’s idea of humor, since it relates wickedly to why each of us wound as his guests.

“Really,” said Mr. CK, “Uh, do they have good grub here?”

“Not unless you like the entrails of dead goats, rodent parts—which don’t’ make it into the bologna—vitreous humors from eyes of newts and that’s just for breakfast, “smiled Marie.

“Yucko,” gagged Mr.CK, “Can I call out to my club or the deli?”

“No, no,” chastised Marie A, “ But, tell me young man, given all that I’ve read about you and your exploits—especially since you strongly implied publicly what I specifically said 300 years ago--I have to ask, do you have any cake?”

The Financial Meltdown Causes

Yep, Lloyd Blankfein (repeat: not depicted above) didn’t help his case or that of his fellow Wall Street big wigs, with his defensive statements about Wall Street behavior or its compensation schemes, when he testified before the Angelides Commission, which will report on who and what caused the greatest financial debacle in the past 70 years.

In playing “Defense,” Blankfein was pretty offensive.

Hey, risk and making money go hand-in-hand on Wall Street and elsewhere. That doesn’t bother me as much as the “rewards” being handed out by financial services companies which received massive federal support.

That’s where the Obama Administration should direct its ire, because at some point, Obama and the nation will want to take advantage of the entrepreneurial Wall Street spirit.

Drop the trial balloons and let’s hear some "recover the cash" details, Mr. President. You should have a relatively clear path on this one.

GSE Hearings

The House Banking Committee soon will begin a series of hearings on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the former Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs).

The Obama Administration once promised a substantive plan to restructure the GSEs in the coming budget, but that seems to have fallen a bit behind schedule. In the meantime, the Administration continues to employ the two companies as the nation’s major conventional secondary market investor, but with no indication of what it hopes to do with F&F when that role ends.

I hope the Treasury legal beagles know what”conservatorship” means and something tangible is left after their (mis) management.

One idea—which I don’t support—surfaced this week and a link to the suggestion appears below.

Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass) could do worse than conduct a primer session for all of his members, both sides of the aisle, before these hearings begin. There continues to be a lack of real knowledge about mortgages, mortgage markets, trading of same, and what the market looked like before the real estate debacle forced a restructuring which has the federal government—in one form or another—as the only mortgage game in town. That should not be a tenable situation for either political party.

I suspect this “education session” won’t happen, institutionally, because Members/Senators don’t like to acknowledge that they don’t understand the issues on which they are called upon to legislate, whether it’s mortgages or healthcare.

But, there has been so much “misinformation” spread in the years prior to and following the federal takeover of the GSEs, that it behooves the Committee to enlighten the membership and staff, with more than just handing out one-pagers on the eve of testimony..

You can bet the recently re-created FM Watch will do its best to confuse, bewilder, and demonize the subject.

Who will set the record straight, this Administration which refuses to hire anyone who worked at those two companies or pretends those it did hire didn’t really spend any time there?

Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn)

I always found him to be a stand up Senator, never arrogant, and someone who would listen to your position on a variety of issues. It’s a shame the Senate will lose him. I always thought his first love was foreign relations and there, not financial services or Healthcare, was where he could make his historical mark.

There will be a financial reform bill this year and it will have his name on it, but I have no idea what the content will resemble. His likely successor Tim Johnson (D-SD), is another solid public servant, whose political clout will grow as Dodd’s lessens, simply because one is departing and the other is the presumed successor to the Senate financial services throne.

Smart lobbyists are spending time with Johnson and his staff.

Lazio versus Cuomo??

Could that be a future Senate race in New York? Rick Lazio (R) is raising money here and elsewhere for the race.

Andrew wants higher office but is it the Senate or Governor?

If AG Andrew Cuomo (D) runs and wins the Senate seat, first challenging the weakened Governor’s chosen replacement, Sen. Gillebrand, I suggest that we all quickly invest in companies which make TV cameras, since the current senior Senator from New York and the new junior Senator will be rocking the airwaves and there won’t be enough video equipment on the east coast to provide coverage.

Maloni , 1-19-2010


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Bill Maloni said...

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Someone is using the "comments" section to sell a service or a product.

Whatever this is (since I don't know how to zap it), it is not soemthing I endorse or condone.)

Link at your own peril!!

Anonymous said...

What do you think of Rep. Barney Frank's statement on abolishing Fannie and Freddie? Is he reacting to the recent electoral results in MA or is he now -after 20 years of supporting the GSE's model- thinking that there could be a better model? How about returning them their private status? But abolishing to replace them with another institution? This is the typical politician that doesn't understand that it will be difficult to find other private companies to offer low-cost funding for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages and under goverment regulations.

Bill Maloni said...

You just made the same point as four mortgage professionals--playingn at my monthly poker game--made tonight.

It's not Fannie and Freddie perse that are important, it is the mortgage function they perform. For 40 years (in Fannie's case), they have been dedicated mortgage investors who will buy loans from hundreds of lenders across the country when they conform to the companies' underwriting guidelines.

No matter what the congressional committees do, they will come back to the fact that no lender is going to risk truly private capital and lend for and hold a 30 year fixed rate mortgages, without charging huge premiums. That means--if left to their own devices-- lenders will insist on making adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs), and likely still charge premiums for the risk in holding those loans.

The nation's lending community is just very risk adverse. It will take years to unwind that super cautious behavior.

I have no doubt thta Mr. Frank can come up with some ideas which seem unique, but don't be surprised if they are politically impractical or still involve the federal government in some role.

That is why I think the Congress/Administration would be better off looking to restructure Fannie and Freddie and move forward that way.

Anonymous said...

Very funny....the Obama administration instead of creating jobs will create 8,000 new unemployed (the GSEs workforce) in the Washington area and across the nation. That's what I call good government.

Bill Maloni said...

Again, I am not predicting that will occur, certainly not in 2010.

But, you wouldn't need 8,000 employees (roughly those in both F&F) to operate a "Ginnie Mae" for conventional mortgage loans.

But, during Mr. Frank's hearings, I expect many groups/individuals to call for just that, ignoring the details of how you go from here to there or the systemic reality.