The Financial Filter: How CNBC Handles Howard Dean vs. Susan Boyle

~~By  InsightAnalytical-GRL

Lately, I’ve been testing my mettle by actually tuning into CNBC occasionally. We don’t have FOX Business here, but you get enough of their angle on the regular FOX shows featuring Neil Cavuto and the weekend financial panels.

Yesterday, I caught Howard Dean just around the Noon hour ET (on Power Lunch), slugging it out with that panel they have which features Larry Kudlow among others.  I was wondering what Dean was doing on there following the latest Geithner comments, but perhaps he’s getting warmed up to defend the upcoming healthcare “reform” that will be vomited out of the Congress and Obamaville soon.

Anyway, Kudlow was yelling again about “why can’t the markets be allowed to correct themselves” to which Dean retorted in perfect Obot fashion “Look what the markets did to the American people!” (sic).

Well, I waited for the comeback…I waited to hear one of these panel people, including Kudlow, respond snappily with how Congress, particularly Democratic members, failed to provide oversight over the housing mortgage debacle, which seems to have precipitated much of the mess we’re in.

CRICKETS!

But, as I thought about it, I figured that’s exactly what I was expected to hear. The GE family of companies that “bring good things to life” don’t consider history and full debate healthy for the 5th-grade level critical skills level of the American viewer. Kudlow is probably under orders “not to go there,” so he doesn’t go there. He’s loud and passionate about “the markets” but he pulled up short with Dean.

But that’s the way it is now. The media is in a permanent state of coitus interruptus when in it comes to discussing financial matters…or most political news. Especially since the Obama folks are so cozy with GE…

Sue Herera and Bill Griffeth, still at it after all these years,  are stuck in the middle of all this.  They’ll get a couple of people on and ask some serious questions, but the upcoming segments which follow always involve some provocative pugilism.  After listening to the Dean segment, which included another guest plus Dean and the four CNBC panelists,  I felt whiplashed, not informed. Mission accomplished!

After 3 PM, we get a lot more sober discussion for a brief time as The Closing Bell airs and things settle down.   Gone is the screaming on the panels and the minute-by-minute, breathless spewing that sounds like the coverage of a sporting event while the market gyrates. Maria Bartiromo anchors and does interviews and the discussions are less hysterical. Today, I caught a young guy from the NY Times and a few experienced hands getting down to the real problems with the financial sector…including the one-time things done this quarter courtesy government largesse that won’t be around to play with over the next few quarters when the rubber meets the road.

Yeah, but then it’s over as we get Fast Money then Jim Cramer’s Mad Money to liven the pace for evening prime time with their gameshow approach to finance and to appeal to the young dreamers who want to get rich quick and don’t have a clue. And then Kudlow returns.

In a comment to yesterday’s post, Lee M. had a musing which captures the zeitgeist of CNBC these days, too…I’ve done some word substitutions where appropriate:

…the cretins over at MSNBC CNBC, having crossed the Rubicon, have no where else to go.

They know that those of us who value our Constitution [journalistic integrity] have written them off, so they keep pitching their wares to the far left and the Obots because without them they would have no audience at all.

Like Julius Caesar before them, the die is cast, and they can’t go back. So they will continue their vile jokes [obvious bias and omissions] that would have gotten anyone else censored [fired] before this. They are tolerated because that is the way TPTB want it for now.

So Howard Dean is treated with kid gloves, the facts be damned!

Oh, but the folks at CNBC certainly DO have somewhere to go, if I may quibble a bit with that first line of the above comment. Where? Well, let’s visit the CNBC website where yesterday afternoon I found somebody dragging Susan Boyle along in a “humor” piece that ties the global economy to her performance…with an odd mixture of  admiration (?) and the requisite mockery (of course).  How appropriate…the taunts begin the day after I write about “Smeargate” in the UK and the level of “discourse”  we have here in the U.S.:

Apr.21
1:49 PM ET

As she concluded the song and the crowd jumped to its feet cheering, Susan Boyle blew a kiss. A kiss that, like the butterfly that flapped its wings, set in motion a flutter of dollars, pounds, euros and yen that will get this global economy humming again.

Will YouTube Sensation Susan Boyle Save the Global Economy?
Posted By:Cindy Perman

As the world grapples with headlines about troubled loans at Bank of America [BAC 8.76 +  0.74 (+9.23%)
and pirates wreaking havoc on the high seas, a lone dove has emerged to save the global economy.

SNIP
Boyle rolls her unknown-to-man hips.

Teenage girls roll their eyes. (Yeah, we saw you, eye-rolling girl at 1:24)

SNIP
Susan Boyle has given people a reason to hope.

A reason to look up from their flaming 401(k) statements.

I dreamed a dream in time gone by

A reason to walk over to their computer and log on to YouTube.com.

When hope was high

A reason to buy Kleenex in bulk at Costco. [COST 46.48 + 2.14 (+4.83%) ]

And life worth living

A reason to go to Amazon.com [AMZN 78.75 + 1.18 (+1.52%) ]

I dreamed that love would never die—

SNIP

I dreamed that God would be forgiving

A reason to watch the made-for-TV movie about her on Lifetime and expose themselves to millions of dollars in advertising. [DIS 19.47 + 0.06 (+0.31%) ]

Do you get the feeling that someone RESENTS the fact that Susan Boyle wasn’t manufactured by the entertainment industry and the mass media, but simply appeared and touched people’s souls without a filter? If the “money machine” were cranking up for one of their fake creations, would you get the slights and mockery that we see directed at Susan Boyle in this piece? Or the cheapening of a great performance (and a pretty darned good song, too) ? The vultures find it so distasteful that the the plebes responded spontaneously even though the entertainment biz types will be trying to make money off  her until the well runs dry?  Personally, I hope she makes a bundle on her own terms and then walks away…before we start getting the “whispers” about her single life that will probably be started up to shove her aside for some plastic doll that can be marketed and controlled for public consumption… Like, what? She doesn’t deserve to make any money off her REAL talent??  Mark my words, Simon Cowell will look like a compassionate saint compared to what could come down further along this road…

Yes, just like the filtering of political and financial news, we have to get a filter in place for Susan Boyle so the public can be redirected to enable the opinion/money makers can move onto creating a fab NEW item for which they can take full credit and reward themselves with extra executive compensation bonuses.  Maybe TPTB can recycle the filters they used with Sarah Palin, Hillary Clinton and a “feeble” John McCain as they deal with Susan Boyle.

Heart seems to have a short shelf-life these days…

Canadian Banks On the Move Buying U.S. Banks While Bailout Recipient AIG Sells Canadian Life Insurance Business to Bank of Montreal (“Picking over the Carcasses”)

“…Canadian subprime holdings amount to less than 5% of mortgages, compared with 20% in the U.S….”

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

A couple of days ago we featured a couple of stories about the Canadian banking system.  See: The SCANNER–International/Political Edition, 2/24/09 (Which Deficit is Obama “Halving”?; Canada Rubs U.S. Nose into Its Stable Banking System; GM/Chrysler Beg for Bailout Help in Canada, Too; Half of Foreign Criminals in Canada Are Fleeing to the U.S. [???]).  Here’s some more background on how Canadian banks are taking advantage of the current financial mess here in the States.

First, here’s some information on the status of the Canadian banking system which was part of a report issued back in October 2008 by the World Economic Forum. Read the “grading system” and you’ll understand completely why the U.S. has fallen to 40th place.

Canadian banks ranked soundest in the world

U.S. has fallen to No. 40 in World Economic Forum list

Canada has the world’s soundest banking system, closely followed by Sweden, Luxembourg and Australia, a survey by the World Economic Forum has found as a financial crisis and bank failures shake world markets.

Britain, which once ranked in the top five, has slipped to 44th place behind El Salvador and Peru, after its government pledged the equivalent of $97 billion Cdn this week to bolster bank balance sheets.

The United States, where some of Wall Street’s biggest financial names have collapsed in recent weeks, rated only 40th, just behind Germany, at 39th, and smaller states such as Barbados, Estonia and even Namibia, in southern Africa.

MORE

Over the summer, stories began surfacing about how Canadian banks were gearing up for an acquisition spree.

From June 13, 2008, this report from Reuters:

Canadian banks seen hitting U.S. acquisition trail

SNIP

“I think they’re in a position to really pick over the carcasses,” said Bushell, who runs the C$4.2 billion CI Signature Select Canadian fund.

Dennis Gartman, the Virginia-based author of investment newsletter The Gartman Letter, said at the same conference that Canadian banks would be “in the driver’s seat” for the next decade.

“They’re going to come around buying everything in the United States … they’re in great condition.”

MORE

The story goes on to report that Royal Bank of Canada had already acquired Alabama National Bancorp earlier in 2008 and how “Toronto-Dominion Bank just swallowed New Jersey-based Commerce Bank.”  Other big Canadian players were staying on the sidelines at that point.

By August 2008, more transactions were brewing:

Canadian banks may profit from U.S. banks’ pain

Doug Alexander and Sean B. Pasternak, Bloomberg Published: Monday, August 25, 2008

SNIP

Lenders including Bank of Nova Scotia and Toronto-Dominion Bank spent a record US$10-billion on U.S.-owned assets over the past year. Royal Bank of Canada and Bank of Montreal may also continue shopping, according to CIBC World Markets analyst Darko Mihelic, with potential targets including Regions Financial Corp. and Huntington Bancshares Inc.

Toronto-Dominion, based in Toronto, spent about US$7.1-billion in March for Commerce Bancorp Inc., New Jersey’s biggest locally based lender, setting a record for foreign bank purchases by Canadian companies. Scotiabank, also based in Toronto, is acquiring the Canadian unit of E*Trade Financial Corp. for US$442-million and has said it may buy more U.S. assets.

One reason for the gap is that Canadian subprime holdings amount to less than 5% of mortgages, compared with 20% in the U.S., according to the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals.

Royal Bank targets may include Regions Financial, the biggest bank based in Alabama, and BB&T Corp. in North Carolina, while Bank of Montreal could pursue firms such as Green Bay-based Associated Banc-Corp. and Huntington Bancshares Inc. of Columbus, Ohio, Mr. Mihelic said. Any of these targets would represent record takeovers for the two Canadian banks.

MORE

Again, get that amazing comparison??  “…Canadian subprime holdings amount to less than 5% of mortgages, compared with 20% in the U.S….”

That sums it all up in a nutshell.

By September 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was on the record, declaring:

Harper says no bailout for Canadian banks similar to U.S. plan

By THE CANADIAN PRESS

2008-09-19

SNIP

Harper said Friday the Canadian financial system is very strong and the balance sheets of the banks and insurance companies are solid enough that they don’t need any financial aid.

MORE

Then, on January 9 of this year, there was this story:

Canadian banks to be patient in the U.S.

Senior executives from the Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank and Bank of Montreal said at an investor conference in Toronto that they will be cautious and patient, though they added they will be on the lookout for small acquisitions, according to press reports.

“We’re looking at opportunities as a result of the turmoil to add to our existing franchises in a sensible way where we can take advantage of them,” Royal Bank president and CEO Gordon Nixon was quoted by Reuters as saying. “But in terms of significant dramatic transformational acquisitions, whether it be the U.S., Europe or Asia, we just don’t believe in this environment that it’s the appropriate time to be aggressively deploying capital.”

All three banks already have a beachhead in the United States:

  • Royal Bank, the largest Canadian bank, already owns the RBC Centura banking operation in the Southeast.
  • Toronto-Dominion operates TD Bank on the East Coast.
  • Bank of Montreal, the No. 4 Canadian bank, is the parent of Harris Bank in the Midwest.

The Globe and Mail added that TD chief executive Ed Clark said the Canadian banks have increased their capital and taken government funds because the market expects them to do it. But he also added the banks don’t need it and will emerge from the recession extremely well capitalized. “Canada will emerge, as long as we don’t do anything stupid, as the only country in the world where the banks didn’t need the government help,” he was quoted by the Globe as saying. It is an opportunity to redefine Canadian banking, and the country, “to say, ‘somehow you guys did it right,'” Clark said. “And so I think that’s worth fighting hard for.”

So apparently some government money is going to Canadian banks, but not for the reasons banks in the U.S. are receiving government money. (But don’t ask me the details of what THAT’s all about…)

A few days later, an interesting deal was reported involving AIG, one of the first companies to get U.S. bailout funds in September 2008, just after the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the government takeover of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and the sale of Merrill Lynch to Bank of America. To refresh your memory about these 10 days of financial hell, see this article from the Washington Post, dated September 16, 2008 : U.S. to Take Over AIG in $85 Billion Bailout; Central Banks Inject Cash as Credit Dries Up/Emergency Loan Effectively Gives Government Control of Insurer; Historic Move Would Cap 10 Days That Reshaped U.S. Finance

The London Free Press

Banks in buying mood

ACQUISITIONS: With plenty of capital, Canadian banks are finding bargains

Wed, January 14, 2009

By GARY NORRIS, THE CANADIAN PRESS

TORONTO — Canada’s big banks are sitting on plump capital cushions, waiting for healthy assets of distressed foreigners to fall into their laps.

In what could herald a series of deals, Bank of Montreal is paying $375 million for the Canadian life insurance business of American International Group Inc.

The cash transaction comes as AIG, once the world’s biggest insurer, restructures following a US$150-billion bailout from the U.S. government after its near-death.

Last week, TD Ameritrade Holding Corp., a U.S.-based brokerage owned 40 per cent by Toronto-Dominion Bank, agreed to buy online operator Thinkorswim Group for US$606 million. It’s paying about US$8.70 a share for Thinkorswim shares valued at US$16 a year ago.

BMO said yesterday AIG Life of Canada, bringing 300 employees and 400,000 customers, will add to the bank’s earnings within a year, expanding its array of investment, financial planning and insurance products.

MORE

At the rate things are going, Canada will be moving in to the U.S. banking sector bigtime.  Get ready to speak “Canadian” when you go into a bank to cash a check!  And it may be sooner than you think!

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Click here for an overview on the “Big Five Banks” in Canada.