In recent months, we have been hearing about institutions and municipalities all over the world who are suffering huge losses on the interest-rate swaps negotiated by U.S. big-banks.
Jefferson County, Alabama, is set to become the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history – due solely to massive losses on the interest-rate swaps sold to the county by JP Morgan (JPM). A recent Bloomberg article on this victim of Wall Street provided no firm estimates as to the ultimate amount of losses suffered. However, we can infer the amount of those losses by looking at another institution scammed in this manner: Harvard University.
Harvard recently announced a $500 million loss on its own interest rate swaps, merely to partially exit those swaps. The $500 million covers swaps on just $1.1 billion of Harvard debt (equal to an annual interest rate of nearly 50%). A Bloomberg article on this scam noted that Harvard would pay an additional $425 million in penalties on swaps covering another $764 million of Harvard debt.
With Jefferson County using interest-rate swaps on about $5 billion of debt, clearly its losses will exceed $1 billion – the only question is how many billions will the county lose. The Alabama bureaucrat who negotiated the deals is now looking at spending decades in prison. It seems that the bankers who operated this scam didn't think the interest-rate swaps would sell themselves, so they showered him with gifts like Rolex watches and designer clothes – in exchange for the $7 million in fees alone which the bankers received for scamming the county.
There are two pieces of information which have not been included in any article on this topic – since this story first broke nearly one year ago. First, who was the bankster-intermediary who negotiated the deal (and presumably also made the bribes to close the deal)? More importantly, who will be making over a billion in profits on this scam?
Most likely it was JP Morgan, but for some strange reason JP Morgan has no comment on this deal – despite how much banksters love to brag about their “profits”. It is a very simple question, since there are only two possibilities, yet no one in the mainstream media seems to have the slightest curiosity about this enormously important fact.
While it is possible that JP Morgan served as an intermediary, negotiating this deal between Jefferson County and another third-party financial institution, most likely it was JP Morgan, itself, who also took the other side on this bet. Keep in mind that unlike many financial transactions, it is guaranteed that there will be a loser and a winner on every one of these swaps. Interest rates can only go up or down. If they go up, one party wins the bet, if they go down, the other bettor wins.
If JP Morgan negotiated and financed this deal, there is a clear conflict of interest – due to a lack of an “arm's length” relationship because the negotiator is also the other bettor (much like a “bookie”). On the other hand, if a third-party was involved, it raises other issues about these “negotiations”.
Obviously the JP Morgan banker who scammed Jefferson County was able to con them into believing that U.S. interest rates would be going much higher. But what would this same banker be saying to a third-party bank who assumed the other side of the bet? Presumably it would be something along the lines of “I found another sucker willing to bet on higher interest rates, do you want to cash-in on this deal?” The only alternative message would have been something like, “I'm trying to help this county save money on their interest payments. Will you take the losing side of this bet to help subsidize the county's debt?”
Knowing bankers as we now know them, which scenario has the ring of truth to it?
The reason why conflict of interest arises in this situation as opposed to a normal insurance contract, where the insurer negotiates and finances their insurance contracts is because of one, very important factual difference. When an insurer sells fire insurance on a home, the insurer's own behavior has no effect on the probability of a fire occurring. Conversely, with U.S. bankster-oligarchs dominating the entire U.S. debt market, their own behavior dramatically influences which side will/would win the bets on these interest-rate swaps.
Given the inherent conflict of interest in all these interest-rate swaps, and given that all the news reports on these transactions show the non-bank always on the losing end of these bets, you don't have to be a suspicious precious metals commentator to conclude that interest-rate swaps represent yet another trillion dollar Wall Street scam.
Let us not lose site of the accomplice who made this interest-rate swap scam possible. Even at the absolute peak of the U.S. housing bubble, when anyone with even a modest understanding of economics knew that a huge crash was coming, “Helicopter” Ben was telling the world (and Wall Street scam-victims) that the U.S. had a “Goldilocks economy” where U.S. markets and U.S. house prices would simply keep moving higher forever.
Without Bernanke's propaganda, there is no way that Wall Street could have lined up a huge string of victims who would all willingly take the losing side on Wall Street's scam. Never forget that as the perpetrators of this multi-trillion Ponzi-scheme based on the U.S. housing “bubble”, Wall Street bankers knew that a crash in financial markets was coming – when (as with all Ponzi schemes) the scam eventually 'blew up'. Thus, they knew in advance which side would win all of these interest-rate swaps – since their own, criminal conduct guaranteed this.
Thus, the bigger news on all these stories on the huge bets made on interest-rate swaps is not “who lost?”, but rather “who won?” For instance, if the shills in the business media could report on even a single swap where a bank was not on the winning end, it might be possible to convince people that interest-rate swaps were not simply another, giant Wall Street fraud-scheme. Absent such examples, the circumstantial evidence is overwhelming. For those who sneer at such “proof”, I should point out that the U.S. criminal justice system regularly executes people – based upon circumstantial evidence.
This brings me to the Harvard scam. There is one critical difference between the Harvard interest-rate swap scam and the Jefferson County scam. At the time Harvard made its billion-dollar bad bet, the president of Harvard was life-time banker, and now senior economic advisor to the Obama regime, Larry Summers.
As one of the most arrogant people on Earth, Summers will tell anyone who would listen that he's much too intelligent (and experienced in the banking industry) to be scammed for $1 billion in financing less than $2 billion of Harvard's debt. Thus, the open question is how could this brilliant economist, and experienced banker allow the institution which he ran to be cheated in this manner?
Presumably, Summers would not have been given the inane spiel of a “Goldilocks economy”, which the banksters used to con all their other scam-victims. So how did Summers allow Harvard to get scammed out of $1 billion?
Bloomberg also did a long piece on the scamming of Harvard. Yet in all those paragraphs, they only could squeeze in two sentences about Summer's role in the scam. One short sentence noted he was Harvard's president when the scam occurred, the other short sentence was a “no comment” from a White House spokesman.
Surely if Bloomberg couldn't summon up more curiosity about Summer's role in the fleecing of Harvard that they could have come up with a follow-up piece – on the extraordinarily poor judgment and inherent corruptness of the Obama regime, as evidenced by Obama's choices for senior positions in his government.
The first act of Obama as president was to hand the keys to the U.S. Treasury to a confirmed tax-cheat – Tim Geithner. As regular readers will recall, Geither was also head of the New York Fed, and thus the primary regulator of Wall Street during its crime-spree. Obama followed this up by naming as his senior economic advisor a man who managed to suffer a $1 billion loss in financing less than $2 billion of debt.
While nearly the entire U.S. financial sector has become a cesspool of corruption, some aspects of its relentless scamming are much easier to identify and prove than others. Clearly, the deals involving interest-rate swaps are one such example. These are deals with huge losers and huge winners – and apparently all the winners were U.S. banks.
Absent any evidence to the contrary, we have yet another example of the blind (or spineless?, or corrupt?) media not even willing/able to zero-in on the real “news” from these stories. As a result, I would encourage readers to keep their own “score-cards” on the interest-rate swaps which get mentioned. Observe whether 100% of the winners continue to be U.S. banks. Observe whether the media ever takes note of this peculiar fact.
Previously, I heaped scorn upon Wall Street banksters – by pointing out how they had gotten caught holding trillions of dollars worth (in nominal value) of their own scam-products. However, apparently I have failed to give them enough credit. While Wall Street was too greedy to (willingly) cease to expand its housing-sector Ponzi scheme, as the end approached, the banksters were extremely busy in contriving their own trillion-dollar “insurance policy”.
To pay for this “insurance” (essentially another Wall Street bail-out), countless thousands of innocent victims have already lost their jobs as these institutions try to recover from these huge losses. More than a thousand people in Jefferson County alone will lose their jobs just from this single contract. Multiply that by the hundreds (thousands?) of such “deals” arranged by Wall Street, and we begin to get an idea of the real story on interest-rate swaps.
Disclosure: I hold no position in JP Morgan