The Beginning Of The End
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Does The Trail Of Dead Bankers Lead Somewhere?

Trail - Photo by Ws47What are we to make of this sudden rash of banker suicides?  Does this trail of dead bankers lead somewhere?  Or could it be just a coincidence that so many bankers have died in such close proximity?  I will be perfectly honest and admit that I do not know what is going on.  But there are some common themes that seem to link at least some of these deaths together.  First of all, most of these men were in good health and in their prime working years.  Secondly, most of these “suicides” seem to have come out of nowhere and were a total surprise to their families.  Thirdly, three of the dead bankers worked for JP Morgan.  Fourthly, several of these individuals were either involved in foreign exchange trading or the trading of derivatives in some way.  So when “a foreign exchange trader” jumped to his death from the top of JP Morgan’s Hong Kong headquarters this morning, that definitely raised my eyebrows.  These dead bankers are starting to pile up, and something definitely stinks about this whole thing.

What would cause a young man that is making really good money to jump off of a 30 story building?  The following is how the South China Morning Post described the dramatic suicide of 33-year-old Li Jie…

An investment banker at JP Morgan jumped to his death from the roof of the bank’s headquarters in Central yesterday.

Witnesses said the man went to the roof of the 30-storey Chater House in the heart of Hong Kong’s central business district and, despite attempts to talk him down, jumped to his death.

If this was just an isolated incident, nobody would really take notice.

But this is now the 7th suspicious banker death that we have witnessed in just the past few weeks

- On January 26, former Deutsche Bank executive Broeksmit was found dead at his South Kensington home after police responded to reports of a man found hanging at a house. According to reports, Broeksmit had “close ties to co-chief executive Anshu Jain.”

- Gabriel Magee, a 39-year-old senior manager at JP Morgan’s European headquarters, jumped 500ft from the top of the bank’s headquarters in central London on January 27, landing on an adjacent 9 story roof.

- Mike Dueker, the chief economist at Russell Investments, fell down a 50 foot embankment in what police are describing as a suicide. He was reported missing on January 29 by friends, who said he had been “having problems at work.”

- Richard Talley, 57, founder of American Title Services in Centennial, Colorado, was also found dead earlier this month after apparently shooting himself with a nail gun.

- 37-year-old JP Morgan executive director Ryan Henry Crane died last week.

- Tim Dickenson, a U.K.-based communications director at Swiss Re AG, also died last month, although the circumstances surrounding his death are still unknown.

So did all of those men actually kill themselves?

Well, there is reason to believe that at least some of those deaths may not have been suicides after all.

For example, before throwing himself off of JP Morgan’s headquarters in London, Gabriel Magee had actually made plans for later that evening

There was no indication Magee was going to kill himself at all. In fact, Magee’s girlfriend had received an email from him the night before saying he was finishing up work and would be home soon.

And 57-year-old Richard Talley was found “with eight nail gun wounds to his torso and head” in his own garage.

How in the world was he able to accomplish that?

Like I said, something really stinks about all of this.

Meanwhile, things continue to deteriorate financially around the globe.  Just consider some of the things that have happened in the last 48 hours…

-According to the Bangkok Post, people are “stampeding to yank their deposits out of banks” in Thailand right now.

-Venezuela is coming apart at the seams.  Just check out the photos in this article.

-The unemployment rate in South Africa is above 24 percent.

-Ukraine is on the verge of total collapse

Three weeks of uneasy truce between the Ukrainian government and Western-oriented protesters ended Tuesday with an outburst of violence in which at least three people were killed, prompting a warning from authorities of a crackdown to restore order. Protesters outside the Ukrainian parliament hurled broken bricks and Molotov cocktails at police, who responded with stun grenades and rubber bullets.

-This week we learned that the level of bad loans in Spain has risen to a new all-time high of 13.6 percent.

-China is starting to quietly sell off U.S. debt.  Already, Chinese U.S. Treasury holdings are down to their lowest level in almost a year.

-During the 4th quarter of 2013, U.S. consumer debt rose at the fastest pace since 2007.

-U.S. homebuilder confidence just experienced the largest one month decline ever recorded.

-George Soros has doubled his bet that the S&P 500 is going to crash.  His total bet is now up to about $1,300,000,000.

For many more signs of financial trouble all over the planet, please see my previous article entitled “20 Signs That The Global Economic Crisis Is Starting To Catch Fire“.

Could some of these deaths have something to do with this emerging financial crisis?

That is a very good question.

Once again, I will be the first one to admit that I simply do not know why so many bankers are dying.

But one thing is for certain – dead bankers don’t talk.

Everyone knows that there is a massive amount of corruption in our banking system.  If the truth about all of this corruption was to ever actually come out and justice was actually served, we would see a huge wave of very important people go to prison.

In addition, it is an open secret that Wall Street has been transformed into the largest casino in the history of the world over the past several decades.  Our big banks have become more reckless than ever, and trillions of dollars are riding on the decisions that are being made every day.  In such an environment, it is expected that you will be loyal to the firm that you work for and that you will keep your mouth shut about the secrets that you know.

In the final analysis, there is really not that much difference between how mobsters operate and how Wall Street operates.

If you cross the line, you may end up paying a very great price.

Why Are Banking Executives In London Killing Themselves?

JPMorgan Tower In London - Photo by Danesman1Bankers committing suicide by jumping from the rooftops of their own banks is something that we think of when we think of the Great Depression.  Well, it just happened in London, England.  A vice president at JPMorgan’s European headquarters in London plunged to his death after jumping from the top of the 33rd floor.  He fell more than 500 feet, and it is being reported by an eyewitness that “there was quite a lot of blood“.  This comes on the heels of news that a former Deutsche Bank executive was found hanged in his home in London on Sunday.  So why is this happening?  Yes, the markets have gone down a little bit recently but they certainly have not crashed yet.  Could there be more to these deaths than meets the eye?  You never know.  And as I will discuss below, there have been a lot of other really strange things happening around the world lately as well.

But before we get to any of that, let’s take a closer look at some of these banker deaths.  The JPMorgan executive that jumped to his death on Tuesday was named Gabriel Magee.  He was 39 years old, and his suicide has the city of London in shock

A bank executive who died after jumping 500ft from the top of JP Morgan’s European headquarters in London this morning has been named as Gabriel Magee.

The American senior manager, 39, fell from the 33-story skyscraper and was found on the ninth floor roof, which surrounds the Canary Wharf skyscraper.

He was a vice president in the corporate and investment bank technology department having joined in 2004, moving to Britain from the United States in 2007.

What would cause a man in his prime working years who is making huge amounts of money to do something like that?

The death on Sunday of former Deutsche Bank executive Bill Broeksmit is also a mystery.  According to the Daily Mail, police consider his death to be “non-suspicious”, which means that they believe that it was a suicide and not a murder…

A former Deutsche Bank executive has been found dead at a house in London, it emerged today.

The body of William ‘Bill’ Broeksmit, 58, was discovered at his home in South Kensington on Sunday shortly after midday by police, who had been called to reports of a man found hanging at a house.

Mr Broeksmit – who retired last February – was a former senior manager with close ties to co-chief executive Anshu Jain. Metropolitan Police officers said his death was declared as non-suspicious.

On top of that, Business Insider is reporting that a communications director at another bank in London was found dead last week…

Last week, a U.K.-based communications director at Swiss Re AG died last week. The cause of death has not been made public.

Perhaps it is just a coincidence that these deaths have all come so close to one another.  After all, people die all the time.

And London is rather dreary this time of the year.  It is easy for people to get depressed if they are not accustomed to endless gloomy weather.

If the stock market was already crashing, it would be easy to blame the suicides on that.  The world certainly remembers what happened during the crash of 1929

Historically, bankers have been stereotyped as the most likely to commit suicide. This has a lot to do with the famous 1929 stock market crash, which resulted in 1,616 banks failing and more than 20,000 businesses going bankrupt. The number of bankers committing suicide directly after the crash is thought to have been only around 20, with another 100 people connected to the financial industry dying at their own hand within the year.

But the market isn’t crashing just yet.  We definitely appear to be at a “turning point“, but things are still at least somewhat stable.

So why are bankers killing themselves?

That is a good question.

As I mentioned above, there have also been quite a few other strange things that have happened lately that seem to be “out of place”.

For example, Matt Drudge of the Drudge Report posted the following cryptic message on Twitter the other day…

“Have an exit plan…”

What in the world does he mean by that?

Maybe that is just a case of Drudge being Drudge.

Then again, maybe not.

And on Tuesday we learned that a prominent Russian Bank has banned all cash withdrawals until next week…

Bloomberg reports that ‘My Bank’ – one of Russia’s top 200 lenders by assets – has introduced a complete ban on cash withdrawals until next week. While the Ruble has been losing ground rapidly recently, we suspect few have been expecting bank runs in Russia.

Yes, we have heard some reports of people having difficulty getting money out of their banks around the world lately, but this news out of Russia really surprised me.

Yet another story that seemed rather odd was a report in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week that stated that Germany’s central bank is advocating “a one-time wealth tax” for European nations that need a bailout…

Germany’s central bank Monday proposed a one-time wealth tax as an option for euro-zone countries facing bankruptcy, reviving a idea that has circled for years in Europe but has so far gained little traction.

Why would they be suggesting such a thing if “economic recovery” was just around the corner?

According to that same article, the IMF has recommended a similar thing…

The International Monetary Fund in October also floated the idea of a one-time “capital levy,” amid a sharp deterioration of public finances in many countries. A 10% tax would bring the debt levels of a sample of 15 euro-zone member countries back to pre-crisis levels of 2007, the IMF said.

So what does all of this mean?

I am not exactly sure, but I have got a bad feeling about this – especially considering the financial chaos that we are witnessing in emerging markets all over the globe right now.

So what do you think?  Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…

JPMorgan Tower In London - Photo by Danesman1

The Coming Derivatives Panic That Will Destroy Global Financial Markets

When financial markets in the United States crash, so does the U.S. economy.  Just remember what happened back in 2008.  The financial markets crashed, the credit markets froze up, and suddenly the economy went into cardiac arrest.  Well, there are very few things that could cause the financial markets to crash harder or farther than a derivatives panic.  Sadly, most Americans don’t even understand what derivatives are.  Unlike stocks and bonds, a derivative is not an investment in anything real.  Rather, a derivative is a legal bet on the future value or performance of something else.  Just like you can go to Las Vegas and bet on who will win the football games this weekend, bankers on Wall Street make trillions of dollars of bets about how interest rates will perform in the future and about what credit instruments are likely to default.  Wall Street has been transformed into a gigantic casino where people are betting on just about anything that you can imagine.  This works fine as long as there are not any wild swings in the economy and risk is managed with strict discipline, but as we have seen, there have been times when derivatives have caused massive problems in recent years.  For example, do you know why the largest insurance company in the world, AIG, crashed back in 2008 and required a government bailout?  It was because of derivatives.  Bad derivatives trades also caused the failure of MF Global, and the 6 billion dollar loss that JPMorgan Chase recently suffered because of derivatives made headlines all over the globe.  But all of those incidents were just warm up acts for the coming derivatives panic that will destroy global financial markets.  The largest casino in the history of the world is going to go “bust” and the economic fallout from the financial crash that will happen as a result will be absolutely horrific.

There is a reason why Warren Buffett once referred to derivatives as “financial weapons of mass destruction”.  Nobody really knows the total value of all the derivatives that are floating around out there, but estimates place the notional value of the global derivatives market anywhere from 600 trillion dollars all the way up to 1.5 quadrillion dollars.

Keep in mind that global GDP is somewhere around 70 trillion dollars for an entire year.  So we are talking about an amount of money that is absolutely mind blowing.

So who is buying and selling all of these derivatives?

Well, would it surprise you to learn that it is mostly the biggest banks?

According to the federal government, four very large U.S. banks “represent 93% of the total banking industry notional amounts and 81% of industry net current credit exposure.”

These four banks have an overwhelming share of the derivatives market in the United States.  You might not be very fond of “the too big to fail banks“, but keep in mind that if a derivatives crisis were to cause them to crash and burn it would almost certainly cause the entire U.S. economy to crash and burn.  Just remember what we saw back in 2008.  What is coming is going to be even worse.

It would have been really nice if we had not allowed these banks to get so large and if we had not allowed them to make trillions of dollars of reckless bets.  But we stood aside and let it happen.  Now these banks are so important to our economic system that their destruction would also destroy the U.S. economy.  It is kind of like when cancer becomes so advanced that killing the cancer would also kill the patient.  That is essentially the situation that we are facing with these banks.

It would be hard to overstate the recklessness of these banks.  The numbers that you are about to see are absolutely jaw-dropping.  According to the Comptroller of the Currency, four of the largest U.S. banks are walking a tightrope of risk, leverage and debt when it comes to derivatives.  Just check out how exposed they are…

JPMorgan Chase

Total Assets: $1,812,837,000,000 (just over 1.8 trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $69,238,349,000,000 (more than 69 trillion dollars)

Citibank

Total Assets: $1,347,841,000,000 (a bit more than 1.3 trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $52,150,970,000,000 (more than 52 trillion dollars)

Bank Of America

Total Assets: $1,445,093,000,000 (a bit more than 1.4 trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $44,405,372,000,000 (more than 44 trillion dollars)

Goldman Sachs

Total Assets: $114,693,000,000 (a bit more than 114 billion dollars – yes, you read that correctly)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $41,580,395,000,000 (more than 41 trillion dollars)

That means that the total exposure that Goldman Sachs has to derivatives contracts is more than 362 times greater than their total assets.

To get a better idea of the massive amounts of money that we are talking about, just check out this excellent infographic.

How in the world could we let this happen?

And what is our financial system going to look like when this pyramid of risk comes falling down?

Our politicians put in a few new rules for derivatives, but as usual they only made things even worse.

According to Nasdaq.com, beginning next year new regulations will require derivatives traders to put up trillions of dollars to satisfy new margin requirements.

Swaps that will be allowed to remain outside clearinghouses when new rules take effect in 2013 will require traders to post $1.7 trillion to $10.2 trillion in margin, according to a report by an industry group.

The analysis from the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, using data sent in anonymously by banks, says the trillions of dollars in cash or securities will be needed in the form of so-called “initial margin.” Margin is the collateral that traders need to put up to back their positions, and initial margin is money backing trades on day one, as opposed to variation margin posted over the life of a trade as it fluctuates in value.

So where in the world will all of this money come from?

Total U.S. GDP was just a shade over 15 trillion dollars last year.

Could these rules cause a sudden mass exodus that would destabilize the marketplace?

Let’s hope not.

But things are definitely changing.  According to Reuters, some of the big banks are actually urging their clients to avoid new U.S. rules by funneling trades through the overseas divisions of their banks…

Wall Street banks are looking to help offshore clients sidestep new U.S. rules designed to safeguard the world’s $640 trillion over-the-counter derivatives market, taking advantage of an exemption that risks undermining U.S. regulators’ efforts.

U.S. banks such as Morgan Stanley (MS.N) and Goldman Sachs (GS.N) have been explaining to their foreign customers that they can for now avoid the new rules, due to take effect next month, by routing trades via the banks’ overseas units, according to industry sources and presentation materials obtained by Reuters.

Unfortunately, no matter how banks respond to the new rules, it isn’t going to prevent the coming derivatives panic.  At some point the music is going to stop and some big financial players are going to be completely and totally exposed.

When that happens, it might not be just the big banks that lose money.  Just take a look at what happened with MF Global.

MF Global has confessed that it “diverted money” from customer accounts that were supposed to be segregated.  A lot of customers may never get back any of the money that they invested with those crooks.  The following comes from a Huffington Post article about the MF Global debacle, and it might just be a preview of what other investors will go through in the future when a derivatives crash destroys the firms that they had their money parked with…

Last week when customers asked for excess cash from their accounts, MF Global stalled. According to a commodity fund manager I spoke with, MF Global’s first stall tactic was to claim it lost wire transfer instructions. Then instead of sending an overnight check, it sent the money snail mail, including checks for hundreds of thousands of dollars. The checks bounced. After the checks bounced, the amounts were still debited from customer accounts and no one at MF Global could or would reverse the check entries. The manager has had to intervene to get MF Global to correct this.

How would you respond if your investment account suddenly went to “zero” because the firm you were investing with “diverted” customer funds for company use and now you have no way of recovering your money?

Keep an eye on the large Wall Street banks.  In a previous article, I quoted a New York Times article entitled “A Secretive Banking Elite Rules Trading in Derivatives” which described how these banks dominate the trading of derivatives…

On the third Wednesday of every month, the nine members of an elite Wall Street society gather in Midtown Manhattan.

The men share a common goal: to protect the interests of big banks in the vast market for derivatives, one of the most profitable — and controversial — fields in finance. They also share a common secret: The details of their meetings, even their identities, have been strictly confidential.

According to the article, the following large banks are represented at these meetings: JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and Citigroup.

When the casino finally goes “bust”, you will know who to blame.

Without a doubt, a derivatives panic is coming.

It will cause the financial markets to crash.

Several of the “too big to fail” banks will likely crash and burn and require bailouts.

As a result of all this, credit markets will become paralyzed by fear and freeze up.

Once again, we will see the U.S. economy go into cardiac arrest, only this time it will not be so easy to fix.

Do you agree with this analysis, or do you find it overly pessimistic?  Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below…

The Unbelievably Rampant Corruption On Wall Street

In order for a financial system to be able to function properly, it is absolutely essential that the general population has faith in it.  After all, who is going to want to invest in the stock market or entrust their money to big financial institutions if there is not at least the perception of honesty and fairness in the financial marketplace?  For decades, the American people did have faith in Wall Street.  But now that faith is being shattered by a string of recent revelations.  It seems as though the rampant corruption on Wall Street is seeping up almost everywhere now.  In fact, some of the things that have come out recently have been absolutely jaw-dropping.  The truth is that the corruption on Wall Street is much deeper and much more systemic than most of us ever dared to imagine.  As the general public digests these recent scandals, it is going to result in a tremendous loss of faith in the U.S. financial system.  Once faith in a financial system is lost, it can take years or even decades to get back.  So how is the U.S. financial system supposed to work properly when large numbers of people simply do not believe in it anymore?

Just consider some of the recent revelations of Wall Street corruption that have come out recently….

*Bloomberg is reporting that a massive network of big banks and financial institutions have been involved in blatant bid-rigging fraud that cost taxpayers across the U.S. billions of dollars.  The U.S. Justice Department is charging that financial advisers to municipalities colluded with Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Lehman Brothers, Wachovia and 11 other banks in a conspiracy to rig bids on municipal financial instruments.  Apparently what was going on was that it was decided in advance who would win the auctions of guaranteed investment contracts, which public entities purchase with the proceeds from municipal bond sales, and then other intentionally losing bids were submitted in order to make the process look competitive.  The U.S. Justice Department claims that this fraud has been industry-wide and has been going on for years.  In fact, at least four financial professionals have already pleaded guilty in this case.

*An industry insider has come forward with “smoking gun” evidence that some of the biggest banks have been openly and blatantly manipulating the price of gold and silver.  For a time it looked like the federal government was just going to ignore all of this fraud, but after substantial public uproar some action is indeed being taken.  In fact, it has been reported that federal agents have launched parallel criminal and civil probes of JPMorgan Chase and its trading activity in the precious metals markets.

*Goldman Sachs is getting most of the press about fraud in the mortgage-backed securities market these days.  Of course Goldman is strenuously denying that it “bet against its clients” when it changed its position in the housing market in 2007.  But we all know the truth at this point.  The truth is that Goldman Sachs clearly bet against its clients and was involved in a whole lot of things that were even worse than that.  Many did not think the U.S. government would dare go after Goldman, but that is what we are starting to see.  U.S. federal prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into whether Goldman Sachs or its employees committed securities fraud in connection with its trading of mortgage-backed securities, and it will be very interesting to see if anything comes of that investigation.

*But not everyone is being held accountable for their actions.  The guy who helped bring down AIG is going to get off scott-free and is going to be able to keep the millions in profits that he made in the process.

*Entire U.S. cities have been victims of this rampant Wall Street fraud.  In fact, it is now being alleged that the biggest banks on Wall Street are ripping off some of the largest American cities with the same kind of predatory deals that brought down the financial system in Greece.

*The really sad thing is that fraud is very, very lucrative.  Executives at many of the big banks that received large amounts of money during the Wall Street bailouts are being lavished with record bonuses as millions of other average Americans continue to suffer economically.  Even the CEOs of bailed-out regional banks are getting big raises.  It must be really nice to be them.

So does all of this make you more likely or less likely to invest in the stock market?

Do you think that the American people can see all of this and still believe that the financial system is “fair” and “honest”?

The truth is that Wall Street is full of rip-off artists and fraudsters who don’t even try to hide their greed anymore.

It is as if a thousand junior Gordon Gekkos have been unleashed and they are all trying to be masters of the universe at any cost.

But what they are doing is ripping the heart out of the U.S. financial system.

If people lose faith in the system the system will ultimately fail.

A financial system that allows open fraud and manipulation is operating on borrowed time.

So will the rampant corruption on Wall Street now be cleaned up?

Only time will tell.

But one thing is for certain.

The American people will be watching.

SILVER MART

 

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