Best of the Week
Most Popular
1.Will UK Interest Rate Rises Crash House Prices? - Nadeem_Walayat
2.Full on Crash Alert for Major World Stock Markets... - Clive_Maund
3.Gold And Silver Market Bottoming? Big Rally Imminent? Reality Check Says NO - Michael_Noonan
4.The Coming Silver Price Rally Will Outperform All Previous Ones - Hubert_Moolman
5.The Trigger For The Upcoming Stock Crash - Harry_Dent
6.Imploding Department Store Results - James_Quinn
7.Dr. Copper is Speaking, are you Listening? ... - Rambus_Chartology
8.Pandemonium in the Stock Market, Dow falls 1,000 points in a week - EWI
9.Asia's Whirling Dervish of Devaluations Has Encircled China's Exports - Keith_Hilden
10.China Weakens the Yuan; Rattles Global Stock and Financial Markets - Gary_Dorsch
Last 5 days
Aging Stocks Bull Market - 29th Aug 15
Economic Destabilization, Financial Meltdown and the Rigging of the Shanghai Stock Market? - 29th Aug 15
The Stocks You Should Be Buying After the Market Drop - 29th Aug 15
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Market Fluctuations - 28th Aug 15
China's Yuan Devaluation: Why It Was "Expected" - 28th Aug 15
Stocks Go Nuts But the Question Remains – Will the Rally Stick? - 28th Aug 15
Fed’s Stock Market Levitation is Failing - 28th Aug 15
The Eight Energy Systems Driving The Stock Market Rout - 28th Aug 15
Silver Sold, then Squeezed - 28th Aug 15
U.S. Economic Fundamentals 'Look Good' - Bullard of St. Louis Fed - 28th Aug 15
Stock Market Margin Calls Mount - 28th Aug 15
Einstein, Physics, Gold and The Formula To End Economic Decay - 28th Aug 15
The 10 Best Stocks for Options Trading Plays in This Market - 28th Aug 15
Economics of a Stock Market Crash - 28th Aug 15
Currency Wars Detonate; Gold Refuses to Budge - 28th Aug 15
UK Immigration Crisis Hits New Record, Trending Towards Becoming a Catastrophe - 28th Aug 15
The Ultimate Cash-Management Guide - 27th Aug 15
Why a Fed Rate Hike Could Be a Blessing for Gold Prices - 27th Aug 15
Why Devaluing the Yuan Won't Help China's Economy - 27th Aug 15
Stock Market Trend & Trade Signal Of the Decade - 27th Aug 15
Keep Your Eye On the Gold and Silver Bear - 27th Aug 15
Refugees Expose Europe’s Lack Of Decency - 27th Aug 15
How to Profit from China's Currency War - 27th Aug 15
How China's Currency Policies Will Change the World - 27th Aug 15
Chinese Medicine not Impressing Dr Copper - 27th Aug 15
Novel Biotech Novel Technology Platforms with Dramatic Growth Potential - 27th Aug 15
China Stocks Bear Market Crash, Are We Near the Bottom Yet? - 27th Aug 15
Stock Market Crash Black Wednesday Rally Crushes the Bears - 26th Aug 15
VIX Shorts Being Squeezed While SPX Prepares for Another Decline - 26th Aug 15
Why China's Economy is Deteriorating - 26th Aug 15
Citizenship as a Weapon: Travel Controls and What You Can Do About It - 26th Aug 15
Gold and Silver - How To Manipulate a Market - 26th Aug 15
How to Make a Quick 20% When the Stock Market Crashes - 26th Aug 15
Why We Can’t Handle A Stocks Bear Market - State Budgets Will Implode - 26th Aug 15
Stocks Bear Market, Is This 1929 All Over Again? - 26th Aug 15
The One Trading Strategy You Needed for Stock Market Crash - 26th Aug 15
Second Chance To Buy Cheap Gold Mining Stocks - 25th Aug 15
Gold Facts and Gold Speculations - 25th Aug 15
The Stock Market Crash Season is Here… - 25th Aug 15
Liftoff Setback Leads to U.S. Dollar Pullback - 25th Aug 15
The Stock Markets Are Extraordinarily Volatile, Here's What to Do - 25th Aug 15
Israel: The Case Against Attacking Iran - 25th Aug 15
Saudis Could Face An Open Revolt At Next OPEC Oil Meeting - 25th Aug 15
How to Calmly Weather This Stock Market Downturn - 25th Aug 15
Stock Market Sound the Alarm - 25th Aug 15
Stock Market Meltdown - Dow Monday 1000 Point Crash then Rebound, What's Next? - 25th Aug 15
El-Erian: Stock Market Sell off Is Not 1998 or 2008 - 25th Aug 15
Gold the Ultimate Financial Crisis Insurance - 25th Aug 15
Stock Market Black Monday Crash Fizzles Out, Next Black Tuesday? - 25th Aug 15
Black Monday - Rolling A Wheelbarrow Of Dynamite Into A Crowd Of Fire Jugglers - 24th Aug 15
Playing the Chinese Trump Card - 24th Aug 15
Gold and Silver: Heading for a “Blue Screen of Death” Event? - 24th Aug 15
Japan Economy Clear Conclusions Concerning QE - 24th Aug 15
Stock Market Blockbuster Right From the Open... - 24th Aug 15
Silver And The Petrodollar - 24th Aug 15
Why the Stock Market Sell-Off Happened – and How to Make Money on It - 24th Aug 15
Stocks Correct, Panic Ensues. The End Of The World? - 24th Aug 15
Stock Market - The Sky IS Falling - 24th Aug 15
SP500, DAX, FTSE - When Stock Markets Talk, Pay Attention - 24th Aug 15
Stock Market Black Monday - Full Crash Alert! - 24th Aug 15
Stock Markets Implode as China Literally Explodes - 23rd Aug 15
Stock Market Bloodbath - The Feds Gonna Need A Bigger Balance Sheet - 23rd Aug 15
Stock Market Due For A Breather (But More To Go) - 23rd Aug 15
Stock Market 20% Bear Market in the Works - 23rd Aug 15
Ankara: the New Capital of Jihad, U.S. Policy for Strengthening ISIS - 23rd Aug 15
Will Rising Interest Rates Crash UK House Prices? - Video - 23rd Aug 15

Free Instant Analysis

Free Instant Technical Analysis


Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Global Stocks Slide

The Detroit Bail-In Template for Fleecing Pensioners to Save the Banks

Politics / Credit Crisis 2013 Aug 11, 2013 - 03:13 PM GMT

By: Ellen_Brown

Politics

The Detroit bankruptcy is looking suspiciously like the bail-in template originated by the G20’s Financial Stability Board in 2011, which exploded on the scene in Cyprus in 2013 and is now becoming the model globally. In Cyprus, the depositors were “bailed in” (stripped of a major portion of their deposits) to re-capitalize the banks. In Detroit, it is the municipal workers who are being bailed in, stripped of a major portion of their pensions to save the banks.


Bank of America Corp. and UBS AG have been given priority over other bankruptcy claimants, meaning chiefly the pensioners, for payments due on interest rate swaps they entered into with the city. Interest rate swaps – the exchange of interest rate payments between counterparties – are sold by Wall Street banks as a form of insurance, something municipal governments “should” do to protect their loans from an unanticipated increase in rates. Unlike ordinary insurance, however, swaps are actually just bets; and if the municipality loses the bet, it can owe the house, and owe big. The swap casino is almost entirely unregulated, and it is a rigged game that the house virtually always wins. Interest rate swaps are based on the LIBOR rate, which has now been proven to be manipulated by the rate-setting banks; and they were a major contributor to Detroit’s bankruptcy.

Derivative claims are considered “secured” because the players must post collateral to play. They get not just priority but “super-priority” in bankruptcy, meaning they go first before all others, a deal pushed through by Wall Street in the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005. Meanwhile, the municipal workers, whose pensions are theoretically protected under the Michigan Constitution, are classified as “unsecured” claimants who will get the scraps after the secured creditors put in their claims. The banking casino, it seems, trumps even the state constitution. The banks win and the workers lose once again.

Systemically Dangerous Institutions Are Moved to the Head of the Line

The argument for the super-priority of derivative claims is that nonpayment on these bets represents a “systemic risk” to the financial scheme. Derivative bets are cross-collateralized and are so inextricably entwined in a $600-plus trillion house of cards that the whole financial scheme could go down if the betting scheme were to collapse. Instead of banning or regulating this very risky casino, Congress has been persuaded by the masterminds of Wall Street that it needs to be preserved at all costs.

The same tortured logic has been used to justify the fact that the federal government deigned to bail out Wall Street but not Detroit. Supposedly, the mega-banks pose a systemic risk and Detroit doesn’t. On July 29th, former Obama administration economist Jared Bernstein pursued this line of reasoning on his blog, writing:

[T]he correct motivation for federal bailouts — meaning some combination of managing a bankruptcy, paying off creditors (though often with a haircut), or providing liquidity in cases where that’s the issue as opposed to insolvency – is systemic risk. The failure of large, major banks, two out of the big three auto companies, the secondary market for housing – all of these pose unacceptably large risks to global financial markets, and thus the global economy, to a major industry, including its upstream and downstream suppliers, and to the national housing sector.

Because a) there’s not much of a case that Detroit is systemically connected in those ways, and b) Chapter 9 of the bankruptcy code appears to provide an adequate way for it to deal with its insolvency, I don’t think anything like a large scale bailout is forthcoming.

Holding Main Street Hostage

Detroit’s bankruptcy poses no systemic risk to Wall Street and global financial markets. Fine. But it does pose a systemic risk to Main Street, local governments, and the contractual rights of pensioners. Credit rating agency Moody’s stated in a recent report that if Detroit manages to cut its pension obligations, other struggling cities could follow suit. The Detroit bankruptcy is establishing a template for wiping out government pensions everywhere. Chicago or New York could be next.

There is also the systemic risk posed to the municipal bond system. Bryce Hoffman,writing in The Detroit News on July 30th, warned:

Detroit’s bankruptcy threatens to change the rules of the municipal bond game and already is making it more expensive for the state’s other struggling towns and school districts to borrow money and fund big infrastructure projects.

In fact, one bond analyst told The Detroit News that he has spoken to major institutional investors who have already decided to stop, for now, buying any Michigan bonds.

The real concern of bond investors, says Hoffman, is not the default of Detroit but the precedent the city is setting. General obligation municipal bonds have always been viewed as a virtually risk-free investment. They are unsecured, but bondholders have considered themselves protected because the bonds are backed by the “unlimited taxing authority” of the government that issued them. Detroit, however, has shown that the city’s taxing authority is far from unlimited.  It already has the highest property taxes of any major city in the country, and it is bumping up against a ceiling imposed by the state constitution. If Detroit is able to cut its bond debt in half or more by defaulting, other distressed cities are liable to look very closely at following suit. Hoffman writes:

The bond market is warning that this will make Michigan a pariah state and raise borrowing costs — not just for Detroit and other troubled municipalities, but also for paragons of fiscal virtue such as Oakland and Livingston counties.

However, writes Hoffman:

Gov. Rick Snyder dismisses that threat and says the bond market is just trying to turn Detroit away from a radical solution that could become a model for other struggling cities across America.

A Safer, Saner, More Equitable Model

Interestingly, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, Snyder’s Democratic opponent in the last gubernatorial race, proposed a solution that could have avoided either robbing the pensioners or scaring off the bondholders: a state-owned bank. If the state or the city had its own bank, it would not need to borrow from Wall Street, worry about interest rate swaps, or be beholden to the bond vigilantes. It could borrow from its own bank, which would leverage the local government’s capital into credit, back that credit with the deposits created by the government’s own revenues, and return the interest to the government as a dividend, following the ground-breaking model of the state-owned Bank of North Dakota.

There are other steps that need to be taken, and soon, to prevent a cascade of municipal bankruptcies.  The super-priority of derivatives in bankruptcy needs to be repealed, and the protections of Glass Steagall need to be restored. While we are waiting on a very dilatory Congress, however, state and local governments might consider protecting themselves and their revenues by setting up their own banks.

Ellen Brown developed her research skills as an attorney practicing civil litigation in Los Angeles. In Web of Debt, her latest book, she turns those skills to an analysis of the Federal Reserve and “the money trust.” She shows how this private cartel has usurped the power to create money from the people themselves, and how we the people can get it back. Her earlier books focused on the pharmaceutical cartel that gets its power from “the money trust.” Her eleven books include Forbidden Medicine, Nature’s Pharmacy (co-authored with Dr. Lynne Walker), and The Key to Ultimate Health (co-authored with Dr. Richard Hansen). Her websites are www.webofdebt.com and www.ellenbrown.com and http://PublicBankingInstitute.org.   .

Ellen Brown is a frequent contributor to Global Research.  Global Research Articles by Ellen Brown

© Copyright Ellen Brown , Global Research, 2013

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Centre for Research on Globalization. The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article.


© 2005-2015 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

Biggest Debt Bomb in History