Posts Tagged Banks
by: Alexander Smoltczyk in Siena, Italy
August 7, 2012
Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the world’s oldest bank, took five centuries to accumulate its wealth — and three years to gamble it away. Its fall from grace is a disaster for its home city of Siena, which relied on distributed profits from the bank. Now the picturesque Tuscan city is trying to come to terms with the new reality.
Siena’s Financial Fiasco
Valentina still has exactly 22 hours before her future comes to an end. She has to drop off papers at the Italian Football Federation by 6 p.m. tomorrow to register her club in Serie A, Italy’s top soccer league. It would be a triumph, a well-earned conclusion of a season in which the female football team of the Italian city of Siena qualified for promotion into the country’s highest league for the first time.
Dropping off the papers in Rome on time wouldn’t have been the problem, but the €17,000 ($21,000) registration fee was. The club’s traditional sponsor had backed out, due to “an internal decision,” as had been explained in the fax, written on letterhead with the Monte dei Paschi Foundation’s logo of three beehives at the top.
Valentina Lorenzini is the coach, masseuse and organizer of the soccer club Siena Calcio Femminile. She is a stocky 43-year-old who refuses to believe that it’s over, that something has finally come to an end in her city. “We won and we can’t be promoted,” she says. “How sick is that?”
But there is still time. It’s only 8 p.m. Perhaps she’ll still manage to find someone.
A Happy Exception
This is the way it’s always been in Siena, an idyllic Tuscan city where even the curbstones look as if they’d been chiseled by the sculptor Bernini. It’s a city over which the profits of a major bank, Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS), were distributed year after year like manna. Sometimes it was €150 million, and sometimes it was even €200 million. It’s a lot of money for a city with a population of 55,000 people.
Siena was always considered a happy exception in Italy, a prosperous city with functioning hospitals, recycling and free buses for the schools. And now there isn’t even enough money to register the local women’s soccer club in Serie A. Siena’s coffers are empty, the main bank has to borrow money, the elites have failed and a commissioner has taken control of the city. Siena has gone from being an exception to a reflection of Italy’s general situation.
Most locals don’t perceive that as a compliment.
It is partly to do with the debt crisis, partly with the Italian state and a lot to do with Siena. It also has a lot to do with the fact that now, at 8 p.m., hundreds of Sienese wearing fake Yulia Tymoshenko-style braids and with pacifiers in their mouths are marching across the Piazza del Campo, banging on drums and waving blue-and-white flags.
July 27, 2012
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by: Jennifer Bendery
July 25, 2012
WASHINGTON — In a rare moment of bipartisanship, the House overwhelmingly passed a bill by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) to audit the Federal Reserve.
The bill, which has 270 co-sponsors, passed 327 to 98. All but one Republican — Rep. Bob Turner of New York — voted for it, along with 89 Democrats.
Paul teamed up with former Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) in 2010 to pass similar legislation that became part of the final Wall Street reform bill. But Paul has said new audit legislation is needed because the 2010 bill didn’t go far enough. Specifically, he states on his website that the audit called for in the 2010 bill only focused on emergency credit programs and procedural issues, rather than on the substantive details of the lending transactions. The 2012 bill doesn’t limit the focus of the audit.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke recently told the House Financial Services Committee that he agrees with the “basic premise” that the Fed should be transparent, but raised concerns that Paul’s bill doesn’t exempt monetary policy and deliberations from its reach.
Not including an exemption on this point could create “a political dampening effect on the Federal Reserve’s policy decisions,” Bernanke warned.
But Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) pointed out that the House vote on the bill comes on the same day that the Washington Post reported that the New York Fed “did not communicate in key meetings with top regulators that British bank Barclays had admitted to Fed staffers that it was rigging LIBOR,” the index which sets interest rates worldwide.
“The Fed creates trillions of dollars out of nothing and gives it to banks. Congress is in the dark. The Fed sets the stage for the subprime meltdown. Congress is in the dark. The Fed takes a dive on LIBOR. Congress is in the dark. The Fed doesn’t tell regulators what is going on. Congress is in the dark,” Kucinich shouted on the House floor, just before the vote.
Scandal At The IMF: Senior Economist Resigns, Says “Ashamed To Have Had Any Association With Fund At All”
By: Tyler Durden
July 20, 2012
The rats everywhere are now jumping furiously off the titanic, but few had taken the time to write a letter explaining in detail just how cracked and broken the hull really was. This has now changed, with the departure of Peter Doyle, formerly a division chief in the IMF’s European Department responsible for non-crisis countries and currently an adviser to the Fund. Not content with quietly slinking off the scandal ridden organization which has become the butt of all jokes in the international community, where humor about Lagarde’s Louis Vuitton panhandling bag is as pervasive as punchlines about just how incompetent the organization is at actually doing its duty, Doyle has penned the following scathing letter which tears down every myth about the IMF: from its impartiality, to the selection process of its head, to its effectiveness. The letter also contains the following gem: “After twenty years of service, I am ashamed to have had any association with the Fund at all.” Pretty much says it all. This is a scandal in the making, and one which may shake to the core the credibility of the IMF in the context of international organization.
Full letter (pdf)
June 18, 2012
To Mr. Shaalan, Dean of the IMF Executive Board
Today, I addressed the Executive Board for the last time—because I am leaving the Fund.
Accordingly, I wanted first to formally express my deep appreciation to the Swedish, Israeli, and Danish authorities with whom I have worked recently, as well as all others with whom I have worked earlier, for their extraordinary generosity towards me personally.
But I also wanted to take this opportunity to explain my departure.
After twenty years of service, I am ashamed to have had any association with the Fund at all.
This is not solely because of the incompetence that was partly chronicled by the OIA report into the global crisis and the TSR report on surveillance ahead of the Euro Area crisis. Moreso, it is because the substantive difficulties in these crises, as with others, were identified well in advance but were suppressed here. Given long gestation periods and protracted international decision-making processes to head off both these global challenges, timely sustained warnings were of the essence. So the failure of the Fund to issue them is a failing of the first order, even if such warnings may not have been heeded. The consequences include suffering (and risk of worse to come) for many including Greece, that the second global reserve currency is on the brink, and that the Fund for the past two years has been playing catch-up and reactive roles in the last-ditch efforts to save it.
July 19, 2012
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