Saturday, March 18, 2023

The lesson from bank concerns - you can't trust oligarchs and tech bros

Been busy dealing with the Madness of March over writing and other activities, and the Greatest Annual Sporting Event in America made for a nice escape. But I've certainly noticed what's going on in the financial markets in recent days, given that we just had a week where the DOW Jones was flat overall, but had 300+ point swings within most of the days of that week.

Not really fun to track on a day-to-day basis, and the nerves about some banks getting overextended and failing or needing central banks to shore them up with more money is at least annoying, if not worse.

I'm not overly great at the ins and outs of this type of gambling banking and investment games, . But I will note that it's not just a few tech-related banks on the US coasts having problems, as Credit Suisse reported difficulties late last week.
Credit Suisse confirmed in February that clients had pulled 110 billion Swiss francs ($119 billion) of funds in the fourth quarter while the bank suffered its biggest annual loss of 7.29 billion Swiss francs since the financial crisis. In December, Credit Suisse had tapped investors for 4 billion Swiss francs.

On Wednesday, Saudi National Bank, the bank's top backer, told reporters it could not give more money to the bank as it was constrained by regulatory hurdles, while saying it was happy with the bank's turnaround plan.

Credit Suisse shares have lost more than 75% of their value over the past twelve months.
And now we have reports of Deutsche Bank circling the withered body of Credit Suisse to bail it out and take those accounts.

Likewise, isn't it funny how GOP mega-donor/overall scumbag Peter Thiel led a run on Silicon Valley Bank by telling the companies he invested in to get out of the bank a couple of weeks ago.
Thiel's Founders Fund is thought to have propped up several startups that banked with SVB, which provided banking for nearly half of all US venture-backed startups, per its website. The fund had also called for its startups to withdraw their funds from the bank as well.

Bloomberg reported that VC funds Coatue Management, Union Square Ventures, and Founder Collective had all told their portfolio companies to pull their funds from SVB.
If I was a conspriatorial-type person, I'd almost say that Thiel would be fine with trying to cause chaos in the economy to hurt Joe Biden and grab more power for oligarchs like himself. Especially when former US Labor Secretary Robert Reich reminds us of what Thiel has previously said and done.
Peter Thiel, the billionaire tech financier who is among those leading the charge, once wrote, “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.”

Thiel is using his fortune to squelch democracy. He donated $15m to the successful Republican Ohio senatorial primary campaign of JD Vance, who alleges that the 2020 election was stolen and that Biden’s immigration policy has meant “more Democrat voters pouring into this country.”

Thiel has donated at least $10m to the Arizona Republican primary race of Blake Masters, who also claims Trump won the 2020 election and admires Lee Kuan Yew, the authoritarian founder of modern Singapore...

Thiel and his fellow billionaires in the anti-democracy movement don’t want to conserve much of anything – at least not anything that occurred after the 1920s, which includes Social Security, civil rights, and even women’s right to vote. As Thiel wrote:

The 1920s were the last decade in American history during which one could be genuinely optimistic about politics. Since 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women – two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians – have rendered the notion of “capitalist democracy” into an oxymoron.
Remember what happened to the economy at the end of the Gilded 1920s, a time when "real [male] leaders and optimistic job creators" controlled everything? It wasn't good.

Then add in the reality that the Federal Reserve kept interest rates near 0% for 2 years, even as the economy had picked up and the Biden/Dems in charge of DC had put in massive stimulus to bring the country back from its COVID-related doldrums. Tech bros used the rock-bottom interest rates to borrow at ridiculously low levels, and then as their products became less needed as the COVID pandemic faded, and the "optimism" about their "disruptions" didn't work out, they have little money coming in to justify the inflated stock prices.

Which is why I like to look at the S&P price-to-SALES ration to get insight on legitimate stock valuations. And it looks like a deflated Bubble over the last year.

Tech bros, bankers and other "great men" shouldn't be trusted to make things better for the Real America. But here was Donald Trump, all Republicans and too many Dems giving the green light in 2018 to allow for a lot of banks to play faster and looser with the money of depositors, and allowing someone like Peter Thiel to tank these banks with a couple of whisper campaigns and clicks of a mouse.

One Wisconsin Congressman in particular was glad to be seen supporting the changes, right before he skipped town to get paid on the East Coast.

But yet central bankers and other connected oligarchs think the big problem in our economy is that everyday people are getting 5% wage increases in a time of 4% inflation? As Jon Stewart told former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers recently - you guys need to get real about what's happening here.

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