Tuesday, December 21, 2010

You Owe the Fed $312,606.56; Net is Still Neutral; NJ vs. BofA

As Wall Street slowly wends its way to a year end with a blow-off topping Santa Rally, a few news items - that you won't get on CNBC, promise - were worth noting.

First, the Federal Reserve bought another $9.5 billion in Treasuries today, bringing their total to over $1 Trillion, or, for those who like lots of zeroes, $1,000,341,000,000. The Fed passed China as the largest holder of US government debt a few weeks ago, and now has surpassed the magic $1 Trillion mark, making everybody in the country indebted to the Federal Reserve (well, if you believe we are the government and thus responsible for their debt) to the tune of $312,606.56, roughly speaking.

So, rube, pay up!

The second of the day's big issues was the proposed FCC rules on Net Neutrality, or how the government will allow the big media companies to slice up the internet. What the FCC board did was pass, by a 3-2 vote, new rules, which are essentially the same as the old rules, except that they didn't publish them (rumored to be 100 pages long) and they don't apply to wireless services (phones, iPads, etc.). So, really, what they did isn't really news at all, but might be some day, like when the FCC gets sued again because most people don't believe they have the authority to regulate the internet at all. Larry Downes' guest column on Cnet has most of the dirt.

Our third newsy item is really juicy, however. It appears that some judges in New Jersey's Supreme Court haven't taken kindly to being abused and hoodwinked by some of the nation's largest banks.

The court has ordered a halt to all foreclosure proceedings in the state and has given the largest lenders, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, GMAC, Wells-Fargo and OneWest, until the 19th of January, 2011, to “show cause why the processing of uncontested residential foreclosure matters they have filed should not be suspended.”

Apparently, the judges are not convinced that the robo-signing and other frauds perpetrated on the state's courts were mere technicalities and wants the full mea culpa from the banks along with admissions of guilt. This really puts the banks in a tough spot, because they have to honestly and steadfastly assert their positions, which are largely lies and falsehoods about their fatally-flawed foreclosure practices.

Should they fail to convince the justices, they'll face a very long uphill road to ever be heard without prejudice in New Jersey courts. This also opens up the possibility that hundreds of thousands of flawed - and already settled - foreclosures could be reopened if New Jersey's stand becomes a precedent, not only in the state, but across the country.

Get ready for round two of fraudclosure-gate, or whatever they're calling it these days. In a similar vein, the 50 state Attorneys General investigating the foreclosure practices of the biggest banks, have said nothing since rumor broke three weeks ago that they were nearing a settlement with the offending and offensive banks, thus making the current rumor that all deals are off the table, especially since the states of Nevada and Arizona have separately sued Bank of America and Iowa AG Tom Miller, who heads the 50 states' AG investigation, has, together with the US Attorneys office, formed the Iowa Mortgage Fraud Working Group.

The Working Group will "identify and investigate targets for criminal prosecution" and, on the federal level, "will utilize the investigative expertise of agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development--Office of Inspector General (HUD-OIG). Other federal agencies that may participate in the working group include the Secret Service, Internal Revenue Service, United States Postal Inspection Service, and Social Security Administration."

Ouch, double ouch and triple ouch! Of course, Julian Assange, the operator of WikiLeaks, also contends that he has information that could bring down executives from a major bank, widely assumed to be none other than Bank of America, which, from all appearances, may be in need of a bigger bandage. The bank is currently involved in no less than 35 major lawsuits, most stemming from their mortgage business.

The question then arises, why are people buying Bank of America (BAC) stock, or, the shares of any of the big banks embroiled in the mortgage business, like JP Morgan Chase (JPM), Wells-Fargo (WFC) or Citi (C)?

One would assume, with all of the aforementioned issues, that investors would shun these stocks, yet the reality is that they have been leading the December rally. Since November 30, Bank of America is up 15%; JP Morgan up more than 9% and Wells-Fargo and Citigroup are both up 13%. Either the investor class is being sold a phony bill of goods (wouldn't surprise anybody) or they know something most of the casual-viewing public don't.

They were all up better than two per cent today, leading a broad-based rally.

Dow 11,533.16, +55.03 (0.48%)
NASDAQ 2,667.61, +18.05 (0.68%)
S&P 500 1,254.60, +7.52 (0.60%)
NYSE Composite 7,906.10, +59.14 (0.75%)

Advancing issues trampled decliners, 4680-1871. NASDAQ new highs were 213, to 26 new lows. On the NYSE, new highs led new lows, 257-34. Of course, all of this movement was on dismally-low volume levels.

NASDAQ Volume 1,680,521,625.00
NYSE Volume 3,925,677,000

Oil pushed higher by 45 cents, reaching $89.82. Gold was held in check, losing 30 cents, to $1385.50, while silver posted a two-cent gain, to $29.37. Copper reached an all-time high of $4.3626 per pound, making pennies minted between 1909 and 1982 worth $0.28, nearly triple their face value.

Time to break out the kid's piggy bank?

No comments: