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Italian banks battle through, German banks in trouble

Following stress-tests, state organised mutual bailouts and recapitalisations Italian banks struggle through whilst clouds darken around banks in Germany.

Daniele Pozzati

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Bruised, but not broke. Having failed the EU-wide stress tests, the Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS) has obtained the go-ahead for its rescue plan from the European Central Bank (ECB).

MPS is expected to sell a whopping 9,7 billions euros worth (so to speak) of bad performing loans, and, by the end of the year, to increase its capital by 5 billion euros.

Italy’s fourth largest bank – and the world’s oldest – now has its road map our of the crisis. But fresh questions have arisen as to where exactly the money will come from.

“The net value of the bank is currently 800 million euros,“ notes Panorama, a leading Italian weekly, “a capital increase of 5 billions represents a 6-fold increase of the net value of the bank. This implies asking the public to subscribe the remaining five sixth of new net value.“

Has everybody else done their maths? Don’t hold your breath.

Stress Tests: Germany fared worse

Last Friday the European Banking Authority (EBA) released the results of the stress tests, involving 51 European banks. The tests measure the capital solidity of each bank, and their ability to cope with challenges arising from a baseline and an adverse scenario. The tests have given banks indications as to their need to raise capital, reduce bad loans, etc.

German media were hardly enthusiastic about their banks performance. “And the stress for bank investors goes on,“ read a sarcastic headline by Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank among Europe’s weakest banks,“ wrote Der Spiegel, “They would be severely affected by a new financial crisis“.

Commerzbank proved the point by issuing a profit warning on Tuesday. This sent European stock exchanges into a roller coaster before it’s Oktoberfest. For Commerzbank, however, the only way seems down: it shares have lost 44% of their value since beginning of the year.

Angela Merkel has so far kept quiet. She still has to reply to Renzi’s remark that “if MPS crisis is one, then Deutsche Bank is one hundred“. In fact, for every million the MPS has in bad loans, the Deutsche Bank has one billion in derivative exposure.

So, Renzi’s remark to Merkel was wrong, after all. The ratio of MPS bad loans to Deutsche Bank’s derivative exposure is not 1:100. It is 1:1000

On Atlas’s shoulders

Steering away from a state-funded bail-out was key to obtain the ECB’s go-ahead. But Italy was just as keen on avoiding the new EU-brokered Bail-in procedure. “MPS has issued 5 Billions euros of subordinated bonds [a high performing, but low-ranking debt in case of liquidation of a bank],” wrote l’Espresso, another Italian weekly, “these bonds, in case of a Bail-In, risk not being reimbursed”

Besides, since April Italy has successfully implemented its own bank-rescuing devices. Four small banks have been saved, all saddled, just as MPS now, by poor performing loans. The Italian Treasury created an alternative investment fund financed – here’s the trick – not by the taxpayer, but by large Italian banks. 

Aptly called Atlas, the rescue fund financial shoulders were able to relieve small banks of 2 Billions euros in bad loans. Technically, Atlas would buy as many bad loans as needed to give the banks involved a new lease of life. The operation was victim of its success. By the time the four banks were rescued, Atlas’s financial shoulders had shrunk to half its initial capacity.

Bring on Jason, aka Atlas 2

To rescue the Monte dei Paschi in the same fashion, i.e. by relieving it from most of its bad loans, a new, dedicated “Fondo Alternativo d’Investimento“ was needed. By July, news begun circulating of an incoming, Treasury-engineered “Jason“ or “Atlas 2“.

The Golden Fleece is the money needed – without state help, and without the daunting Bail-in procedure – to recapitalize the MPS bank. Atlas 2 investment fund will buy most MPS’s bad loans, just as its predecessor did to rescue four local banks.

This double-pillar rescue plan is in line with ECB’s demands: recapitalization and cleaning up of most bad loans. The real issue now is where to find fresh private capital. We are talking of selling bad loans afterall, even if traded at a fraction of their original value. The investors buying it, usually specialized credit-recovery companies, will make a profit if they can recover a larger fraction of the loan than the one at which the loans traded.

Yet Rome remains confident. “In Italy there is no systemic crisis, and our banks, at least those reviewed by the Stress Tests, have done well,” Pierpaolo Baretta, undersecretary for the Economy ministry, told La Stampa, “This is important because it allows us to deal with crisis points with more lucidity. The MPS rescue plan we have agreed with the BCE, once implemented, would put MPS in the middle of the Stress Test ranking”.

No such plans have yet been devised in Germany to rescue the Deutsche Bank. And the ECB Stress Tests did not consider derivative exposure. It is really no wonder that Angela Merkel is, for once, keeping quiet about the rescue deal Rome has just brokered with the ECB.

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Trump Weighs In On The Single Worst Mistake In American History

Trump hits Bush: Invading Iraq ‘the single worst decision ever made’.

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Via Zerohedge


In a wide ranging interview with The Hill on Tuesday conducted in the Oval Office, President Trump was asked to give his take on the biggest mistake in American history.

Considering just how open-ended a question that is, it’s perhaps surprising that he merely went back less than a couple decades into the Bush presidency, though Trump’s base will certainly welcome it as it hearkens back to his “America First” foreign policy vision of the campaign trail.

“The worst single mistake ever made in the history of our country: going into the Middle East, by President Bush,” the president during his interview with Hill.TV.

“Obama may have gotten them (U.S. soldiers) out wrong, but going in is to me the biggest single mistake made in the history of our country,” he said.

Trump explained the reasoning behind this choice, and why it wasn’t something like the civil war or another defining and devastating event reaching far into American History.

“Because we spent $7 trillion in the Middle East. Now if you wanna fix a window some place they say, ‘oh gee, let’s not do it. Seven trillion, and millions of lives — you know, ‘cause I like to count both sides. Millions of lives,” the president explained.

Some scholars and humanitarian groups estimate that over one million Iraqis were killed in the US invasion and occupation of Iraq starting in 2003. A 2008 Opinion Research Business (ORB) poll, for example, found that approximately 1.03 million people had died as a result of the war.

“To me it’s the worst single mistake made in the history of our country. Civil war you can understand. Civil war, civil war. That’s different. For us to have gone into the Middle East, and that was just, that was a bad day for this country, I will tell you.”

Various estimates on the Iraq war’s cost have put the total taxpayer bill as low as near $2 trillion, but none dispute that it is in the multiple trillions, and estimates will vary widely depending on if veteran care is factored into it.

The comments echo things Trump said on the campaign trail in 2016. For example during one of his first major foreign policy speeches then candidate Trump said, “I will never send our finest into battle unless necessary, and I mean absolutely necessary, and will only do so if we have a plan for victory with a capital V.” And referencing the famous quote of John Quincy Adams, he said during the same speech, “The world must know that we do not go abroad in search of enemies.”

He had previously shocked pundits for being the first Republican nominee for president to trash George W. Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq, and has more recently likened it to “throwing a big fat brick into a hornet’s nest”.

All of this is a hopeful sign considering the extremely heightened and dangerous tensions over Syria this week, and given Trump seems to have vacillated between “bringing the troops home” and getting more involved. On Monday Trump hinted that a decision on the U.S. role in Syria is coming soon.

Commenting on the over 2,000 troops now in Syria ostensibly as part of the “anti-ISIL” coalition campaign, Trump indicated this mission could end soon: “We’re very close to being finished with that job,” he said. He followed with: “And then we’re going to make a determination as to what we’re going to do.”

We consider it a hopeful and a good sign that Trump is possibly revisiting his “America First” foreign policy pledges by identifying the Iraq War as the worst mistake in US history.

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Brett Kavanaugh eleventh hour smear begins to fall apart (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 112.

Alex Christoforou

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US President Trump is urging the woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh to testify and be heard.

Trump said he wants to hear from Christine Blasey Ford, noting that it would be “unfortunate” if she does not testify before a Senate committee. Trump told reporters Wednesday as he left the White House to view hurricane damage in North Carolina…

“If she doesn’t show up, that would be unfortunate.”

“If she shows up and makes a credible showing, that would be very interesting.”

From Trump’s lips to God’s ear…Blasey Ford came out to issue a statement essentially saying that she will not testify to Congress, either in an open or closed door session.

Furthermore it appears that Ford will not even allow Senate investigators to fly to California and obtain her statement from the comfort of her own home (as Senator Grassley has offered to do).

Ford is demanding an FBI investigation into an allegation with no date, time or place attached to it. 

RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou discuss the dangerous game of identity politics being played by the establishment, Democrat left, and their mainstream media minions.

The premise that a four decades old accusation is all that is needed to destroy a person’s entire life, threatens to tear down the most basic foundational values adhered to from within the US Constitution, and propel the United States of America towards a fascist state where censorship, citizen surveillance, and evidence free accusations are used to keep the establishment left in power and the American population cowered in fear.

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According to Zerohedge, Democrats’ Hail Mary play to stymie the confirmation of Trump SCOTUS pick Brett Kavanaugh is beginning to fizzle out. As angry Dems demanded that a Monday hearing on the allegations against Kavanaugh be delayed until the FBI has a chance to investigate, turncoat Republicans (on whom the Dems had been depending for votes) instead withdrew their support and fell in line after Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley declared that he would not honor Democrats’ request. Grassley revealed his intention to stand firm late Tuesday after lawyers for Palo Alto University professor Christine Blasey, who is claiming that Kavanaugh attempted to sexually assault her 35 years ago when the two were 17-year-old high school students, said their client wouldn’t be wiling to appear at Monday’s hearing.

According to the HillGrassley said Tuesday that there was “no reason” to delay the hearing now that Republicans have invited both Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, his accuser, to testify publicly. However, while Ford’s attorneys have insisted that their client has taken a polygraph test and “deserves to be heard”, Ford has bizarrely insisted that the FBI should have an opportunity to investigate her claims before she appears before the committee in order to spare her the “trauma” of confronting her alleged assailant.

Ford’s lawyers conveyed her request in the form of a letter sent to the committee, a copy of which was obtained by CNN.

Senator Grassley said he would refuse this request as several Republicans who had appeared to be on the cusp of defecting said they wouldn’t support further delays should Ford prove unwilling to testify.

Via the Hill…

“Republicans extended a hand in good faith. If we don’t hear from both sides on Monday, let’s vote,” said GOP Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.), who was one of the first Republicans to call for the Judiciary Committee to hit pause on Kavanaugh’s nomination on Sunday.

GOP Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) told reporters earlier Tuesday that Ford’s lack of response to the committee about testifying was “puzzling.”

And GOP Sen. Jeff Flake, who had threatened to vote against Kavanaugh if Ford wasn’t given the chance to be heard, told CNN that he expected the committee to move on if she doesn’t appear.

“I think we’ll have to move to the markup,” he told CNN. “I hope she does (appear). I think she needs to be heard.”

Via Zerohedge…

Kavanaugh has denied Ford’s allegations and insisted he didn’t attend the party where the physical assault allegedly took place. Patrick Smyth, a fellow former Georgetown Prep student whom Ford alleges was also in attendance during the party issued a statement via his lawyer standing up for Kavanaugh. And in a separate letter to Grassley and Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, not only does Smyth repudiate Ford’s allegations, but he adds that he doesn’t remember this party even taking place.

Of course, Feinstein – who admitted last night that she couldn’t say for certain that Ford’s story is entirely truthful – sat on Ford’s allegations for three months before referring them to the FBI and sharing them with other lawmakers (who purportedly “leaked” it to the press). President Trump on Tuesday said that he “feels sorry” for Kavanaugh, adding that he doesn’t want to “play into [Democrats] hands”, presumably by giving them more time to drag out the confirmation process.

“They should have done this a long time ago, three months ago, not now. But they did it now. So I don’t want to play into their hands,” Trump said.

Without the support of their Republican allies, Democrats will lack the votes on the committee to hold up the nomination past Monday. Though bizarrely, Kavanaugh himself hasn’t said yet whether he would or wouldn’t testify, which begs the question: If neither Kavanaugh nor Ford appear at the hearing, what exactly will lawmakers discuss?

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‘Hell on Earth’: MSF doctor tells RT of rape, violence, inhumane conditions in Lesbos refugee camp

One toilet for over 70 people, rape, and mental health issues – a doctor from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and an aid worker told RT about the dire conditions in the overcrowded Moria refugee camp in Greece.

Alex Christoforou

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Via RT


One toilet for over 70 people, rape, and mental health issues – a doctor from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and an aid worker told RT about the dire conditions in the overcrowded Moria refugee camp in Greece.

The overcrowded camp on the island of Lesbos, built to accommodate 3,100, houses around 9,000 people. “It’s a kind of hell on Earth in Europe,” Dr. Alessandro Barberio, an MSF clinical psychiatrist, said, adding that people in the camp suffer from lack of water and medical care. “It is impossible to stay there,” he said.

According to Barberio, asylum seekers are subjected to violence “during night and day.””There is also sexual violence”which leads to “mental health issues,” he said, adding that all categories of people at the camp may be subjected to it. “There is rape against men, women and children,” and the victims of sexual violence in the camp often have nightmares and hallucinations, Barberio told RT.

Asylum seekers in Moria “are in constant fear of violence,” and these fears are not groundless, the psychiatrist said. “Such cases [of violence] take place every week.”

There is “one toilet for 72 people, one shower for 84 people. The sanitation is bad. People are suffering from bad conditions,” Michael Raeber, an aid worker at the camp, told RT. They suffer from mental health problems because they are kept for a long time in the camp, according to Raeber.

“There is no perspective, they don’t know how their case will go on, when they will ever be able to leave the island.” The camp is a “place where there is no rule of law,” with rampant violence and drug addiction among the inhabitants, Raeber said.

In its latest report, MSF, which has been working near Moria since late 2017, criticized the unprecedented health crisis in the camp – one of the biggest in Greece. About a third of the camp population consists of children, and many of them have harmed themselves, and have thought about or attempted suicide, according to the group.

Barberio was behind an MSF open letter on the state of emergency in Moria, released on Monday, in which he writes that he has never “witnessed such overwhelming numbers of people suffering from serious mental health conditions.”

Calling the camp an “island prison,” he insisted that many of his patients in the camp are unable to perform basic everyday functions, “such as sleeping, eating well, maintaining personal hygiene, and communicating.”

A number of human rights groups have strongly criticized the conditions at the camp and Greece’s “containment policy”regarding asylum seekers.

Christina Kalogirou, the regional governor of the North Aegean, which includes Lesbos, has repeatedly threatened to shut down the facility unless the government improves the conditions. On Tuesday, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said that Greece will move 2,000 asylum seekers out of the severely overcrowded camp and send them to the mainland by the end of September.

Greece, like other EU states, is experiencing the worst refugee crisis since WWII. According to International Organization for Migration estimates, 22,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Greece since the start of this year alone.

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