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Before I delve into the connections I have uncovered, I would first like to say that for me each day is an adventure in understanding the blockchain – constantly uncovering new perspectives, finally wrapping my head around a technological term, or completely changing ideas and beliefs upon discovering new information.

I have come to see Bitcoin not as a currency, but as a form of value and rebellion against the central bankers and their overgrowing lust for power over our lives. Though fiat, just like every other currency, I saw a core energy of entrepreneurs, innovators, and everyday people sick of the same day, every day 9 – 5 monotony that separated Bitcoin from all of the other fear based fiat currencies.

Though I believe the concept of Bitcoin is unstoppable, I no longer believe Bitcoin itself will be the chisel that shatters the wall of centralization.

MORE HERE

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After spending three days trading above the price for an ounce of gold, Bitcoin prices crashed overnight – down over $120 in a few short hours – following Bloomberg headlines citing China officials saying that Bitcoin regulation is not temporary.

 

SOURCE

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Despite concerted efforts by authorities to crackdown on capital outflows – specifically through virtual currencies – prices for Bitcoin are soaring as the Chinese find way around regulatory controls. Bitcoin just topped $1100 – near record highs – as Chinese traders shift their action off regulated-exchanges to local peer-to-peer marketplaces.

China’s central bank has stepped up oversight of bitcoin exchanges this year, leading major trading platforms to impose halts on withdrawals and other checks to appease the regulator. But, as Quartz reports, Chinese traders aren’t playing along—they are apparently flocking to peer-to-peer marketplaces to continue buying and selling bitcoin.

As Yuan trading on bitcoin exchanges has plummeted…

MORE HERE

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James Howells searches for hard drive with £4m-worth of bitcoins stored

A Newport man has been searching a landfill site in south Wales hoping to find a computer hard drive he threw away which is now worth over £4m.

James Howells’s hard drive contains 7,500 bitcoins – which is a virtual form of currency for use online.

It had sat in a drawer for years and he had forgotten it contained the bitcoins, which he obtained in 2009 for almost nothing, when he threw it out.

But this week, a single bitcoin’s value hit $1,000 (£613) for the first time.

It means Mr Howells’s collection is now worth $7.5m (£4.6m).

A few years ago Mr Howells, who works in IT, had dismantled his computer after spilling a drink on it.

“I stored a couple of parts away like the hard drive, and the rest of the bits and pieces which were still working I sold for spares,” he told BBC Radio Wales.

“I kept the hard drive in a drawer in my office for three years without a second thought – totally forgot about bitcoin all together. I had been distracted by family life and moving house.

Continue reading the main story

How Bitcoin works

Visual representation of bitcoins

Bitcoin is often referred to as a new kind of currency.

But it may be best to think of its units being virtual tokens rather than physical coins or notes.

However, like all currencies its value is determined by how much people are willing to exchange it for.

There are currently about 11 million bitcoins in existence.

To receive a bitcoin a user must have a bitcoin address – a string of 27-34 letters and numbers – which acts as a kind of virtual postbox to and from which the bitcoins are sent.

Since there is no registry of these addresses, people can use them to protect their anonymity when making a transaction.

These addresses are in turn stored in bitcoin wallets which are used to manage savings.

They operate like privately run bank accounts – with the proviso that if the data is lost, so are the bitcoins owned.

“Fast forward to 2013 which is when I had a clearout of my old IT equipment – I hadn’t used this drive for over three years, I believed I’d taken everything off it… so it got thrown in the bin.”

Mr Howells later realised what was left on the hard drive.

He added: “I had been hearing a few stories of a chap from Norway who had bought a number of coins for a very low price and had sold them for a high price and that’s when I got back into checking the price and seeing what I’d done.

“When I found out what the price was, the penny dropped and I realised the coins I have ‘mined’ were on the drive I had thrown away.

“There was not a lot I could do.”

Mr Howells checked all of his back up files but could not locate the coins so went to the landfill site in south Wales.

“When I went to the tip the manager took me up to the current landfill site and when I saw it – it’s about the size of a football field – my first thought was ‘no chance’,” he said.

“The manager explained that things that were sent to landfill three or four months ago could be three to five feet deep.

“He confirmed my worst fears when he said that.

“He did mention that when people were investigating for evidence, they turn up with 15 to 20 people in full protective gear with diggers and dogs as well.

“The truth is I haven’t got the funds or ability to make that happen at the moment without a definite pay cheque at the end of it.”

World’s first

In a letter to the US Senate committee, the FBI said that it recognised virtual currencies offered “legitimate financial services” but added they could be “exploited by malicious actors”.

In October, the world’s first bitcoin ATM opened in Vancouver, Canada. The machine allows users to exchange bitcoins for cash and vice-versa.

The virtual currency has also been quickly adopted in China, where one exchange – BTC China – is said to be the most active globally.

Bitcoin’s use in China has been attributed to it being an effective way of reliably getting money out of the country.

Various bitcoin exchanges have been set up around the world, with MTGox – one of the virtual currency’s major exchanges – being the most prominent.

Mr Howells added: “I still believe in bitcoin. I believe its value is going to go much, much higher and it’s still in its early days.

“As soon as access to bitcoin is opened up to the general public I think a lot more people will be using it, hence the price will increase further.”

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The bitcoin logo

The bitcoin logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bitcoin, Encryption, Drug Use, and the FBI’s Own Bitcoin Wallet; What’s the War on Drugs “Really” About?

Last week, the FBI shut down the underground website known as “Silk Road” and confiscated the bitcoin wallet of Ross Ulbricht, the site operator, on drug charges.

The estimated value of Ulbricht’s bitcoin wallet is $80 million, but the FBI has been unable to crack the encryption code. Escrow accounts were not as protected. The FBI also seized (stole if you prefer) various escrow accounts, moving the funds to its own bitcoin wallet.

Bitcoin Background

On the off chance you do not know what bitcoin is or how it works, Wikipedia offers a history and description of bitcoin that is rather fascinating.

Also consider Mish Interview With “Bitcoin Jesus”

FBI Unable to Crack Bitcoin Security

With that background, please consider the Extreme Tech report FBI unable to seize 600,000 Bitcoins from Silk Road operator

Closing down the Silk Road and arresting its alleged operator has left the FBI in uncharted territory. After shuttering the hidden site, law enforcement went to work confiscating the money and materials belonging to supposed drug kingpin Ross Ulbricht, but this usually routine procedure is proving especially troublesome in this case. The cache of more than 600,000 bitcoins in Ulbricht’s personal fortune are still inaccessible to the FBI.

The only way to move Bitcoins out of a private wallet is to have the corresponding private key to authorize the transaction. The FBI has been unable to get through the encryption protecting Ulbricht’s wallet, leaving all those Bitcoins — amounting to roughly $80 million at current rates — out of reach. Based on publicly available data, this is about 5% of all Bitcoins in existence right now.

Funds held by users of the site, however, were not so well-protected. Before completing transactions on the Silk Road, users would load Bitcoins into an escrow account on the site. The agreed upon coins would only be transferred to the seller’s private wallet once the buyer had verified delivery of the goods. When the feds took over the Silk Road, there were over 26,000 Bitcoins in user accounts that were relatively easy to snatch up.

The FBI has transferred all 26,000-plus seized Bitcoins to its own personal wallet, but because Bitcoin transactions are tracked publicly, it didn’t take the internet long to find the FBI’s wallet address. Users have taken to transferring tiny fractions of a Bitcoin to the FBI with public comments attached decrying the war on drugs and the arrest of Ulbricht. Users have even helpfully tagged the wallet address as “Silkroad Seized Coins.”

While authorities have control of Ulbricht’s wallet, that’s not the same as having the funds. It’s akin to seizing a computer from a suspect with valuable data inside, but being unable to access it because strong encryption was used to prevent access. Ulbricht himself surely has the necessary information to unlock his wallet — otherwise there would be little use in accumulating $80 million worth of Bitcoins. It’s possible prosecutors will use the leverage they have on him to work out a deal that includes turning over the encryption keys.

“Silkroad Seized Coins”

As Extreme Tech reports, bitcoin users located the FBI’s wallet and tagged it with the address Silkroad Seized Coins.

People are transferring bitcoins to the FBI’s wallet along with statements. Many of the transactions are for 0.00000001 BTC.

According to Bitcoin Calculator, 1 bitcoin is worth about $134 at current prices.

0.00000001 BTC is worth less than a thousandth of a penny (worthless).

What’s the Seizure Really About?

Pater Tenebrarun on the Acting Man blog gets to the heart of the matter in Bitcoin and the Silk Road Bust.

By now it is well known that the proprietor of the ‘Silk Road’ internet marketplace for drugs and other illicit products has been busted by the FBI. Of course, the idea that the State should prohibit drug use by adults is highly questionable. If one studies the history of legislation in this regard, it soon becomes clear that while these prohibitions have been variously dressed up in Puritan morality or appeals to the need to preserve the ‘Volksgesundheit‘ (the peoples’ health), these laws really were largely protectionist measures.

For instance, it is no coincidence that marihuana use became illegal around the time chemical concerns such as Du Pont de Nemours introduced artificial fibers. Making the plant that produces marihuana illegal at the same time removed the biggest competition to artificial fibers – hemp.

Similarly, drug prohibition leaves the field of supplying the population with various uppers and downers in the hands of the pharmaceutical industry, which is producing dangerous psychoactive medication by the wagon loads these days. What the long term consequences of feeding the population with various benzodiazepines and other types of psychoactive drugs that influence the serotonin, norepinephrine or dopamine balance in the brain (such as the infamous and widely prescribed antidepressant Prozac) are is not really known, but we do know that a great many mass murderers that have gone ‘postal’ in modern times have been taking such psychotropic drugs.

Today here is a vast variety of anti-depressants, stimulants, ‘mood stabilizers’, anxiolytics and anti-psychotic drugs on the market that produce billions in profits for the pharmaceutical industry. We would wager that if the prohibition of currently criminalized drugs (most of which are produced by nature) were rescinded, this business would suffer a steep decline.

The senseless ‘war on drugs’ has not achieved a single one of its purported objectives. Drug use has not decreased because of it. However, it has had a huge cost both in terms of money and lives. So why is it continuing in spite of the crushing weight of evidence proving that it does more harm than good? That’s simple: if you want to know why, follow the money.

A huge amount of money is made because certain drugs are illegal. If prohibition were rescinded, a major source of revenue for criminal cartels would dry up, and a great many minions of the State would see their jobs becoming redundant. Moreover, a major source of their funding would disappear as well, which is currently available to them via ‘civil forfeiture‘. As we pointed out previously, this pays inter alia for the militarization of the police, which these days can deploy a great many lethal toys as a result of this source of income.

In Prohibition: Up in Smoke we argued that the changing social mood could actually lead to an end of prohibition in spite of all the vested interests arrayed in favor of maintaining it.

The ‘Dread Pirate’ apparently believed in non-coerced free markets, which he cited as a major reason to open his online drug bazaar. What is perhaps not widely known is that he was actually not busted because of any weaknesses in the TOR-based ‘dark web’. He simply made a number of stupid mistakes that allowed the authorities to track him down by employing standard investigative procedures.

For readers interested in the technical aspects of the bust, this article at ‘The Verge‘ has more detail on the topic. As the Verge maintains, the ‘Dread Pirate’ may have been busted, but the ‘Dark Web’ lives on. Note here that the TOR network is not merely something that is exclusively used by criminals. For many a regime critic and political dissident living in an authoritarian regime the anonymity of the ‘Dark Web’ is a literally a life saver. Naturally, governments everywhere dislike it, regardless of whether they are democratic or authoritarian: they dislike it simply because it is not under their control. However, there seems nothing they can do about it short of shutting down the internet altogether.

War on Drugs, a Failure

As Tenebrarum points out, there is no reason at all to stop consenting adults from taking whatever drugs they want. Ironically, many prescribed drugs are far worse.

The background on Hemp is rather interesting. I wrote about hemp in regards to biofuels way back in 2006 in The Politics of Ethanol. Here is the pertinent information, copied from my 2006 article, from a MIT.EDU report on “Hemp and the Environment” (the MIT link no longer works).

Hemp and the Environment

An acre of hemp produces four times as much paper as an acre of trees. Every pot-smoking hippy in the country knows that. The problem is, why doesn’t anyone else? In this short article, I will attempt to educate you, the reader, of the many ways in which hemp can Save The Planet. No kidding.

Herbicides are also virtually unnecessary as the plants grow 6 to 16 feet tall in only 110 days. The complex root structure prevents erosion and decays quickly after harvest.

That’s all well and good, but what do you do with the hemp? Well, as I mentioned above, its great for making paper. That’s most of the reason that industrial hemp is illegal in the U.S. See, in the mid-1930’s, there were two industries that had just made breakthrough machines that would make paper productions much more cost-effective. One was the hemp industry, the other was DuPont. Coincidentally, the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was passed, effectively making hemp illegal by charging transfers $1/ounce or, for unregistered dealers, $100/ounce, even for industrial grade hemp.

So, with hemp out of the way, DuPont was free to become the giant corporation that it is today, and to produce the great majority of the toxic sludge that contaminates our Northwestern and Southeastern rivers. Had hemp become our primary paper source, this pollution would have been vastly reduced, and here is why: Hemp means no deforestation, which results in less topsoil erosion, more oxygen, less carbon dioxide, less destruction of natural habitats, etc. Hemp paper is much easier to bleach, and does not require chlorine, which means no more thousands of tons of toxic sludge pouring into the water. Scientists in Sweden have developed a hemp-bleaching process that uses only natural enzymes and some pounding of the pulp.

Cotton, the other big evil, is grown on 3% of the world’s arable land and uses 26% (wow!) of the world’s pesticides and 7% of the world’s fertilizer annually. It requires heavy irrigation, depleting the water supply even as it poisons it. Many developing countries grow cotton as a cash crop, trying desperately to pay off foreign debt. While the country’s land and water is being destroyed, food crops are neglected, so the people go hungry.

Hemp can be used to make clothing that is, if treated properly, soft like cotton and far more durable, thus rendering cotton unnecessary. Adidas and Ralph Lauren already have hemp products, and Calvin Klein insists that hemp will hit the fashion industry full-force in the years to come.

While an acre of trees is about 60% cellulose, an acre of hemp is nearly 75%. How much hemp is necessary to meet current US energy needs? Somewhere between 10 million and 90 million acres, depending on how efficient the production is. Every year, the US government pays farmers (in cash or “kind”) to *not* farm what they call the “soil bank”, which happens to be about 90 million acres of farmland. The math is pretty simple.

Hemp seed oil is very similar to petroleum diesel fuel, and produces full engine power with reduced carbon monoxide and 75% less soot and particulates. Hemp stalk (different than the part that can make paper and textiles) can be converted into 500 gallons of methanol/acre.

It seems so simple, you must be saying. If this is true, why are we still using petroleum and paper and cotton? Well, there are corporations who sponsor politicians that have a reason to keep hemp down, like, the oil industry, etc.

So here we are. Hemp is still illegal, but numerous psychic drugs promoted by the health-care industry are readily available (at an insane price of course).

And some states like California have a three-strikes policy of prison for life, promoted by the unions who make inordinate sums of money as prison guards.

US Incarceration

Wikipedia discloses the sorry story of US Incarceration.

The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate in the world. At year-end 2009, it was 743 adults incarcerated per 100,000 population.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), 2,266,800 adults were incarcerated in U.S. federal and state prisons, and county jails at year-end 2011 – about 0.7% of adults in the U.S. resident population. Additionally, 4,814,200 adults at year-end 2011 were on probation or on parole.[11] In total, 6,977,700 adults were under correctional supervision (probation, parole, jail, or prison) in 2011 – about 2.9% of adults in the U.S. resident population.

In addition, there were 70,792 juveniles in juvenile detention in 2010.

Although debtor’s prisons no longer exist in the United States, residents of some U.S. states can still be incarcerated for debt as of 2011.



What’s the War on Drugs “Really” About?

One of the alleged reasons for the war on drugs is to prevent money from getting into the hands of terrorists. But if drugs were legal, prices would crash,  theft would plunge (drugs are expensive and addicts don’t have the money),  and terrorists would not make anything off drugs. Millions in prisons would not be there, and the pension problem of states would be far less.

Clothes would be made out of hemp, which has fiber softer than cotton. Hemp plants and seeds can be converted into biofuel far better than corn (which requires high quantities of fertilizer and water, and needs to be replanted every year).

Yet the extremely costly war and economically asinine war on drugs continues. Why?

The unions, the religious-wrong, the plastic manufacturers like Du Pont, the fertilizer companies, and the economic fools all want it that way.

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Guest Post By Paul Rosenberg, FreemansPerspective.com

An increasing number of people have complained about governments and central banks in recent years, even using the word “tyranny” to describe them. They are, of course, called names in the establishment press: conspiracy theorists, mainly.

Calling someone a name, however, does not erase their argument (at least not among rational people) and both the governments and the big banks stand accused.

Up till now, however, these accusations were never accepted by the general public. The average guy really didn’t want to hear about the evils of government money. After all, that was the only thing he had ever used to buy food, clothes, gasoline, cars, and so on. He didn’t want to acknowledge the accusations because he feared what might happen to him without his usual money.

Now, however, we have a brand new currency (called Bitcoin) available to us: something radically different. This gives us a new way to directly address the subject of monetary tyranny, providing a clear test for the governments and money masters of the world:

If they are truly NOT tyrannical, they will leave this new currency alone.

If they ARE tyrannical, they will attack the new currency because it eats into their scam.

In other words, Bitcoin is a test for “the powers that be.” The way they deal with this new method of exchange will reveal their true nature.

If they ignore Bitcoin, they refute the charges of tyranny. If they attack it, they verify those charges.

After all, what honest reason could there be to attack an inherently peaceful tool for transferring value?

Prospective Reasons

Reasons to attack Bitcoin have recently appeared in the “public square.” Here are the three most popular ones, each followed with some analysis:

1. It can be used for money laundering.

Of course it can be used for money laundering — ANY currency can be used for money laundering. Currencies are neutral — that is their purpose! Currencies are valuable precisely because they can be exchanged for anything else — that’s why we use them!

Moreover, dollars and Euros and Pounds are used for money laundering every day. Consider the recent money laundering crimes of HSBC and Wachovia/Wells Fargo. These banks laundered hundreds of billions of dollars for violent drug cartels. And consider that this amount of laundered money is several hundred times the value of every Bitcoin in existence.

No one from either bank went to jail. Neither bank was shut down. Neither bank suffered more than a minor fine. So, how much of a concern can money laundering really be to governments and banks? Clearly not much.

But, since they accuse Bitcoin of being used for bad things, let’s be clear about the situation:

— Every mafioso uses government money.

— Every drug smuggler uses government money.

— Every terrorist uses government money.

— Every pornographer uses government money.

— Every criminal of every type uses government money.

They also use the telephone system and the mail and banks and a wide variety of government services. But government money is good and Bitcoin is bad?

The argument fails.

2. It could destabilize the current system.

A tiny, new currency is a threat to the long-established king of the hill? Comparing Bitcoin to dollars, Euros and Yen is like comparing an ant to a dinosaur. This is a threat?

Please understand also that no one is forcing anyone to use Bitcoin. If you don’t think it’s a great idea, you don’t have to use it. If its price movements (relative to dollars) bother you, you don’t have to use it. How is that destabilizing to the current system? It is entirely separate.

And what of the current system? It was falling apart on its own before the Bitcoin program was ever written. And I could go on at length on the insane levels of government debt, hundreds of trillions in derivatives, rehypothecation, and innocent people being forced to bail-out failed banks.

The current system has massive problems, but none of them can be blamed on Bitcoin.

This argument fails also.

3. Bitcoin provides no customer protection.

Well, no, it doesn’t. Bitcoin is a currency, not a legal system.

What is implied by this argument is that the government banking system does protect customers. That is an outright lie. People are ripped-off via the banking system every day. And more than that, consider what happened just a month ago in Cyprus: Thousands of innocent people were ripped-off BY the banking system — purposely — all at once and without recourse. This argument is, really, an insult to one’s intelligence.

And I should add something else: If Bitcoin is used properly, the crime of identity theft (a big problem with government money) vanishes — there is no identity available to be stolen.

So, again, the argument fails. Only those people who believe anything a government says will buy it.

In the End

In the end, it is said, we judge ourselves. Bitcoin has now put governments and banks in the position of judging themselves. They will write their own verdicts.

It should be interesting to watch.

[Editor’s Note: Paul Rosenberg is the “outside the Matrix” author of FreemansPerspective.com, a collection of insights on topics ranging from Internet privacy and economic freedom, to alternative currencies. Join our free e-letter list to receive other articles like this one… and immediately get a report that explains in a unique way how the US Government got into the mess it’s in, the dangers that creates for us, and how to protect ourselves from it.]

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AstroEcon

by Robert Hitt

What is really needed that we do not have yet is alternate currency..  The boyz at the fed and ECB know that if that be the case they will lose control of all of us.. A small group of guerilla economists like Max Kieser and Gerald Celante have been ringing the alarm a good while.. Those of us who have known that silver is the antidote to fiat slavery should be pouring it on HUGE right now.  IF ALL AMERICANS BOUGHT EVEN 10 OUNCES OF SILVER IT WOULD BE A GAME CHANGER

The Japanese a few days ago unleashed a 1.4 trillion “stimulus” … the largest such thing in history .. the yen dropped 3-4% in a heartbeat on that note.. The EUR and USD will play along but it is obvious to me they will join in the race to the bottom in due time.

The very recent upside explosion in BITCOIN value vs fiat is due to demand for an alternate currency.. I am not going to endorse BITCOIN because frankly it smells of CIA but there is a better way now anyway.. SILVER IN PARTICULAR is attractive at current prices.  Psychical silver is without a doubt the very best way to deal with currency devaluation outside the fiat system and the PTB know this.  The price of silver has been driven down relentlessly by the likes of JPM with billions of selling paper contracts on silver that does not exist..  This naked shorting is so massive it is like a gun to the head of politicians that KNOW if they do not cooperate with the bankers crimes the naked short in silver is going to blow the system up waaaay worse than the 2008 episode.  In essence is governance by blackmail.

It was only just a few years ago that one could open up an FX trading account (example is OANDA) and trade from one currency to another on margin and that INCLUDED gold and silver as CURRENCY.. the rules change in 2011 makes it impossible to trade metal on leverage in an FX acct but it is still a way to protect the cash value in an event when ALL the fiat currency goes belly up across the board.

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source Link Zero Hedge

It is my opinion that banks worldwide are simply not safe anymore, and we are on the precipice of a banking crisis that will make the Lehman fiasco look like a test run. For one, interest rates will definitely have to rise. Yes, I know Bernanke is running ZIRP, the ECB is QE to infinity and beyond, yada, yada… But these entities are not the end all and be all for market rates. They can manipulate rates, but they can’t ultimately control them for the long term. After 6 years, it’s been long term…  With banks failing and taking depositor’s and bondholder’s funds with them, there’s simply not enough people stupid enough to accept .7% returns in exchange for the very likely possibility of losing a large chunk of (the majority of, or possibly all of) their principal to go around!!! This central bank Ponzi scheme of printing more money to pay for the debt that you couldn’t afford to pay back because you didn’t have the money relies on the “Greater Fool Theory”. Common sense dictates that this theory is predicated on an ample supply of “Greater Fools”. What you will read below should shake the foundations of your belief in the EU banking system, and hopefully will start a dearth in “Greater Fools”! Even more alarming, it actually gets worse from here. Oh yeah, if you have believe that the information below actually identifies a gross misrepresentation of fact, omission or outright fraud, simply contact the SEC and let them know that Reggie Middleton suggested they look into it. You can actually use this form to convery my message.

I have compiled a list of at least 6 banks which I feel are at risk of being Cyprus’d, with more being added weekly. The first bank report, whose subject is still steadily accepting deposits at measly interest rates, is available for download right now for all paying BoomBustBlog subscribers (click here to subscribe), reference File Icon EU Bank Capital Confusion, Potential Failure. Those of you who actually follow this banking stuff may very well be shocked at how bold the actions described therein actually are!

First Off Let’s Make Bank Collapse Real…

To begin with, let’s make this Cyprus thing real, by showing a live example of what happens when to a real small business that had the gall to bank with Laikie Bank, from the Bitcoin forum I excerpt a post that puts things into perspective, re: bank account confiscation:

Most of the circulating assets on our business Current Account are blocked. 
Over 700k of expropriated money will be used to repay country’s debt. Probably we will get back about 20% of this amount in 6-7 years.
I’m not Russian oligarch, but just European medium size IT business. Thousands of other companies around Cyprus have the same situation.
The business is definitely ruined, all Cypriot workers to be fired.
We are moving to small Caribbean country where authorities have more respect to people’s assets. Also we are thinking about using Bitcoin to pay wages and for payments between our partners.
Special thanks to:
– Jeroen Dijsselbloem
– Angela Merkel
– Manuel Barroso
– the rest of officials of “European Comission”

Laiki Bank has offered details…

DecreeEN Page 1DecreeEN Page 2DecreeEN Page 3

Next, Let’s Realize That Cyprus Is Not A “Special Case”, It Is Like The Template For Future Actions

Just the fear of another wave of bank collapse has government officials and regulators in fear. Why are they afraid? I made the cause of such fear clear to all as the keynote speaker at the ING Valuation Conference in Amsterdam.

With the knowledge contained in the video above, it’s not hard to see the Infection spreads to North America as The Canadian Government Offers “Bail-In” Regime, Prepares For The Confiscation Of Bank Deposits To Bail Out Banks! Hold on, before you start worrying about your Canadian bank, you should be aware that the EU banks are still much, much, much worse off. Let’s forget Cyprus for a minute and look deeper into the EU, into a larger country with more globally interconnected banks.

On Thursday, 29 April 2010 I warned my subscribers to Beware of the Potential Irish Ponzi Scheme! Shortly thereafter, the BoomBustBlog Irish Research Became Reality. That same month, I warned again with the post, “Many Institutions Believe Ireland To Be A Model of Austerity Implementation But the Facts Beg to Differ!” Five months later, I went back at Ireland again with “If the World Knew What BoomBustBlogger’s Know, Would Ireland Default Today?” This post was the clincher, to wit:

The Farce!

The government has set up an asset management agency – NAMA, which will buy toxic assets from banks at a discount and will in turn issue government-guaranteed securities. NAMA was expected to buy about $81 billion of toxic assets at a price of $43 billion and issue government-guaranteed securities in return. Since these securities have collateral backing and are likely to be repaid through the pay back of underlying loans, these securities are considered off-balance-sheet and are not part of general government debt by Eurostat. According to Davy research, while the projected gross government debt excluding the impact of promissory notes and NAMA bonds is 84.8% in 2012, including the impact of promissory notes and NAMA bonds (in other words, including the truth), the gross government debt can rise to 117.4% of GDP. This either competes with or bests Greece, 2010’s poster child of flagrant spending.

This means that the teacher has created a very harsh austerity plan for its “learner”/student/tax paying populace that has materially lowered the standard of living – all based upon numbers that were bogus to begin with. In other words, it ain’t gonna work!

Well, today we have proof and that proof will likely leave some EU bank despositors “Cyprus’d”, and I don’t mean just those in Cyprus either.

Introduction and Background

In 2007 Ireland had significant cross border exposure to UK and US banks through derivatives and property products. As I warned in 2007, the real estate bubble in the the US/UK popped in 2008, sending pathogenic contagion straight through the Irish banking system. The entire banking system started collapsing. On February 15, 2008, Ireland took extraordinary measures (which we will explore in depth a little later on) to mitigate said collapse, measures that many a layperson would deem misleading, if not fraudulent. RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland, one of the largest financial institutions in the countries of Ireland and the UK) was effectively nationalized by the UK and a bad bank was formed to purchase bad debt/products from the Zombie Irish banks in exchange for government bonds, backed by a country that just simply couldn’t afford it.

Following my warning in February of 2008, Lehman filed bankruptcy in September sending an additional set of contagion shock through Ireland and its banking system, causing Ireland to issues bonds and further indebt itself to save its Zombie banks – again! This time through blanket bank guarantees backed by the full faith of the government.

In September of 2010, a large swath of said government guarantees for the banks were about to expire. Reference this excerpt from the book “Zombie Banks: How Broken Banks and Debtor Nations Are Crippling the Global Economy”:

In September 2010, some of Ireland’s government guarantees for bank debts were about to expire, which put U.S. Treasury officials on edge. If the guarantee wasn’t renewed, the banks would likely default on their bonds, triggering the next event in line: a slew of credit default swap (CDS) contracts on Irish banks’ debt. U.S. Treasury officials had reason to worry – the names backing those contracts were the largest U .S. banks, and they could end up paying billions in case of default. Any more weight on U.S. banks could be a tipping point to collapse. Treasury officials made inquiries to their counterparts at the Irish finance ministry asking about the course of action the country was planning to take and indicated their concern about possible default and its CDS repercussions. A year after having issued blanket guarantees on the banks’ liabilities the Irish government once again didn’t dare let the bank fail. Instead it ended up asking for financial assistance from the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IIMF): the country had been pushed to the brink of collapse.

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The next few posts will document details the financial shenanigans played by several EU banks (Ireland included), among others, to the tune of over €40 billion. This money was essentially double counted, or to put more simply, at least one version of it simply doesn’t exist on someone’s balance sheet.

For now, let’s focus on Ireland and the Irish banks.

Anglo Irish Bank

Anglo Irish Bank which subsequently became Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), was recently liquidated by the Irish Government. Included below are three documents executed by this bank. The first two are charge documents that the bank entered into on the 15th of February, 2008. These charges are in favor of the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland (the ECB). They are floating charges over Secured Obligations (repo agreements) and the banks payment module account.

Anglo Irish Bank Charge Doc no2 Page 1Anglo Irish Bank Charge Doc no2 Page 1Anglo Irish Bank Charge Doc no2 Page 2Anglo Irish Bank Charge Doc no2 Page 2Anglo Irish Bank charge doc Page 1Anglo Irish Bank charge doc Page 1Anglo Irish Bank charge doc Page 2Anglo Irish Bank charge doc Page 2

So, What’s So Special About These Documents???

The reasons given for the floating charges are the banks participation in Target 2, which is a interbank, cross-border EU real-time payment system. A former Group Chief Auditor of one of Ireland’s largest banks who was part of the team who conducted the stress testing for the European Banking Authority was allegedly quite shocked to see the various charge documents herein. He informed BoomBustBlog consultants that these charge documents were not included in the stress testing. For those who don’t get the gravity of this statement – the previous encumbering of the Irish bank’s assets were ignored or not known by those who conducted the stress testing for the banks. What makes things even worse was despite the fact the bank’s assets were double counted, allowing them to pass the stress tests, they promptly started failing post stress test… And I do mean promptly, as in within months.

The chief auditor was also allegedly able to inform that the reasons given for the purpose of the charges was a red herring. He allegedly advised that Target 2 is only a payment system and the description stated was a complete misrepresentation of the true reasons.

The real reasons for the charges were because the bank was completely bust. The bank had already previously entered into repo transactions (secured obligations) with the Irish Central Bank (ECB) and had run out of money. The Irish Central Bank gave further funding using these charge documents. The share price of Anglo in February 2008 was still quite high but started to collapse over the coming months. These charge documents are not disclosed in the Annual Accounts (the EU version of an annual report) for the 31st of March, 2008.

Questions also arise as to the validity of the asset transfer, the legality of Anglo Irish Bank and/or the ECB entering into repo agreements, and the activity of Anglo Irish Bank in regards to its trading activity… If a charge was given over ALL of Anglo Irish’s assets, then exactly how did it legally engage in the MBS, derivative and trading activity? Underlying assets must be pledged to a trust in order to create many derivative structures, including MBS, but if there’s a negative pledge clause in the charge and the charge covers nearly everything, then those assets don’t truly belong to said trust, do they? You can imagine how far one can go with this line of thinking, no?

If you were an investor, shareholder, bondholder or regulator the information above was critical information – EXTREMELY CRITICAL INFORMATION! Anglo ADR’s were also traded through brokers in the USA. I am sure that ADR holders would have liked to have been aware of this information, as well as the SEC.

I see a number of avenues which could be worth pursuing, including terms of recompense for junior bondholders who got hosed, equity shareholders who lost capital, counterparties, etc. This is, to my lay ears, tantamount to blatant fraud. Of course, I’m not an international banking lawyer, so what do I know??? Yet, I have only touched on some of the issues. There’s a lot more to come.

In relation to Anglo Irish Bank (IBRC), the 2008 charge document states that the charge covers ‘all present and future liabilities whatsoever of the company, to the Central Bank of Ireland (ECB).’ But there is no disclosure of this in the Anglo 2008 accounts (annual report). This appears to illustrate concealment of the true facts. If these charge documents have not been overridden, then a massive amount of assets in the bank have been over-encumbered. Even if the charges have been overridden in some form or fashion, the mere omission of their existence is a misrepresentation of the banks financial condition, particularly in the stress testing of the banks and regulatory financial reporting (ex. SEC).

If you believe that the information above actually identifies a gross misrepresentation of fact, omission or outright fraud, simply contact the SEC and let them know that Reggie Middleton suggested they look into it. You can actually use this form to convey my message.

As a reminder for those who wish to ignore my banking calls as a frivolous episode of Chicken Little, BoomBustBlog is the place that was the first to reveal:

  1. The collapse of Bear Stearns in January 2008 (2 months before Bear Stearns fell, while trading in the $100s and still had buy ratings and investment grade AA or better from the ratings agencies): Is this the Breaking of the Bear?
  2. The warning of Lehman Brothers before anyone had a clue!!! (February through May 2008): Is Lehman really a lemming in disguise? Thursday, February 21st, 2008 | Web chatter on Lehman Brothers Sunday, March 16th, 2008 (It would appear that Lehman’s hedges are paying off for them. The have the most CMBS and RMBS as a percent of tangible equity on the street following BSC.
  3. The collapse of the regional banks (32 of them, actually) in May 2008: As I see it, these 32 banks and thrifts are in deep doo-doo! as well as the fall of Countrywide and Washington Mutual
  4. The collapse of the monoline insurers, Ambac and MBIA in late 2007 & 2008: A Super Scary Halloween Tale of 104 Basis Points Pt I & II, by Reggie Middleton, Welcome to the World of Dr. FrankenFinance! and Ambac is Effectively Insolvent & Will See More than $8 Billion of Losses with Just a $2.26 Billion
  5. The ENTIRE Pan-European Sovereign Debt Crisis (potentially soon to be the Global Sovereign Debt Crisis) starting in January of 2009 and explicit detail as of January 2010: The Pan-European Sovereign Debt Crisis
  6. Ireland austerity and the disguised sink hole of debt and non-performing assets that is the Irish banking system: I Suggest Those That Dislike Hearing “I Told You So” Divest from Western and Southern European Debt, It’ll Get Worse Before It Get’s Better!
The problems that plagued Cyprus banks plague banks in much larger nations within, and around the EU. From Overbanked, Underfunded, and Overly Optimistic: The New Face of Sovereign Europe you see institutions that are literally too big to be handled safely…

The Banks Are Bigger Than Many of the Sovereigns

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Definitions:

Charge

The document evidencing mortgage security required by Crown Law (law derived from English law). A Fixed Charge refers to a defined set of assets and is usually registered. A Floating Charge refers to other assets which change from time to time (ie. cashinventory, etc.), which become a Fixed Charge after a default.

Repurchase Agreement

A repurchase agreement, also known as a repo, RP, or sale and repurchase agreement, is the sale of securities together with an agreement for the seller to buy back the securities at a later date. The repurchase price should be greater than the original sale price, the difference effectively representing interest, sometimes called the repo rate. The party that originally buys the securities effectively acts as a lender. The original seller is effectively acting as aborrower, using their security as collateral for a secured cash loan at a fixed rate of interest.

A repo is equivalent to a spot sale combined with a forward contract. The spot sale results in transfer of money to the borrower in exchange for legal transfer of the security to the lender, while the forward contract ensures repayment of the loan to the lender and return of the collateral of the borrower. The difference between the forward price and the spot price is effectively the interest on the loan, while the settlement date of the forward contract is the maturity date of the loan.

Target 2

TARGET 2 is an interbank payment system for the real-time processing of cross-border transfers throughout the European Union. TARGET2 replaced TARGET (Trans-European Automated Real-time Gross Settlement Express Transfer System) in November 2007.

Next up is a bank that is still steadily accepting deposits at a steady clip, paying ungodly low interest rates, and setting itself up to potentially get “Cyprus’d”. Paying subscribers can download the report now, before capital controls are set in – see File Icon EU Bank Capital Confusion, Potential Failure. Everybody else can subscribe or wait until either I make it public or the respective government does the Cyprus Thang! Yes it pays to be a BoomBustBlog member (click here to subscribe).

I will start posting a list of definitive bank names that I have apparently caught in some amazingly duplicitous and misleading capital schemes, at least as it appears to me and my staff. I know I wouldn’t have MY money in them, particularly after reading the info above.

Related posts of extreme interest:

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