Friday, March 18, 2011

Yay Dividends!

After the latest round of stress tests, the Fed has decided to play nice and allow some of the 19 largest US banks to do the fun stuff they used to love to do before they all fell into the big black hole of 2008. Banks have the Fed's permission to pay dividends and buy back stocks again! Yippee!!

Everybody seems to have forgotten just how much $40 stock Citigroup bought right before it went straight to $3. Or Wa Mu. Yes, the same Wa Mu whose former executives (and their no-good, asset-shuffling wives!) are getting sued by the FDIC, used to spend all day paying $45 for its own stock, months before it was seized by the FDIC. These firms spent billions upon billions of capital, capital that would've really come in handy when all their fraudulent mortgage underwriting was finally unveiled, to help boost their stocks so that executives (and their money-sucking gold-digging wives!) could sell stock and collect north of $900 million in comp. The FDIC is looking for $900 million dollars, so you know the wives have run off with way more than that.

See, everybody just has way too much capital sitting around and it's just so wasteful. It's not like we're ever going to need that capital for any reason. Because if you can just go crying to the Treasury and Fed for more capital and cheap financing every time your own balance sheet throws up on itself after looking at its asset, then why would you need any excess capital? We've already rewarded employees, time to get back to our second favorite thing to do, rewarding our shareholders.

So if you're reading the news, and you're wondering why on earth the market is staging a comeback today given all the turmoil in the Middle East, possibility of nuclear armageddon in Japan, and the Fed's determination to continue to ease in the face of recent inflationary data, you have your answer: bank dividends. Whoopdy Doo.

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