This is beyond a doubt the story of the week. Neil Barofsky has been a thorn in the side of the Treasury Department and the Fed since he first took office.
I doubt there will be criminal charges filed against Turbo Tim personally, since in his case the clueless CEO defense may have some traction. Unless, that is, they have wiretaps and/or emails showing collusion with some of the bailed out banks, in either insider trading or the manipulation of assets for extraordinary gains.
It is a boiling scandal, but emblematic of the corruption that has pervaded financial regulation in Washington for the past ten years at least. It did not start with Obama, but it may still bring down key members of his Administration.
April 28 (Bloomberg) — …That tense relationship [between Treasury and Barofsky] has grown out of Barofsky’s mandate to monitor and root out fraud and waste in the management of TARP, the $700 billion program passed in October 2008 to remove toxic debt from the banks. The special inspector general, in a series of reports, interviews and congressional hearings, has heaped criticism on the Treasury Department’s operation of the program.
Barofsky’s most recent broadside came on April 20, when a SIGTARP report labeled a housing-loan modification program funded with $50 billion of TARP money as ineffectual.
…The TARP watchdog has also criticized Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner in reports and in congressional testimony for his handling of the process by which insurance giant American International Group Inc. was saved from insolvency in 2008, when Geithner was head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The secrecy that enveloped the deal was unwarranted, Barofsky says, adding that his probe of an alleged New York Fed coverup in the AIG case could result in criminal or civil charges.
In Senate Finance Committee testimony on April 20, Barofsky said SIGTARP would investigate seven AIG-linked mortgage-related securities similar to Abacus 2007-AC1, the instrument underwritten by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. that is at the center
This article by the Financial Times should remove any doubt in anyone’s mind that Goldman Sachs was willfully selling fraudulent financial instruments. It appears that they were working in conjunction with Ratings Agencies, Mortgage Origination Firms, and Hedge Funds to cheat investors.
"Cheat" means to circumvent or distort the normal price discovery process through misrepresentation, price manipulation, and omissions and distortion of key data.
Carl Levin summarized the situation in his opening statement this morning in tying together various Congressional hearings and investigations into aspects of the recent financial crisis and the underlying frauds. It sounds remarkably like the frauds that Enron had so recently inflicted on the American public.
In particular, Congressman Levin gave a good description of the key role that derivatives played in this control fraud.
"Of special concern was Goldman’s marketing of what are known as “synthetic” financial instruments. Ordinarily, the financial risk in a market, and hence the risk to the economy at large, is limited because the assets traded are finite. There are only so many houses, mortgages, shares of stock, bushels of corn or barrels of oil in which to invest.
But a synthetic instrument has no real assets. It is simply a bet on the performance of the assets it references. That means the number of synthetic instruments is limitless, and so is the risk they present to the economy. Synthetic structures referencing high-risk mortgages garnered hefty fees for Goldman Sachs and other investment banks. They assumed an ever-larger share of the financial markets, and contributed greatly to the severity of the crisis by magnifying the amount of risk in the system.
Increasingly, synthetics became bets made by people who had no interest in the referenced assets. Synthetics became the chips in a giant casino, one that created no economic growth even when it thrived, and then helped throttle the economy when the casino collapsed."
This is also a good description of the basis of the emerging scandal in the silver market, and other commodity markets such as those that Enron manipulated, in which synthetic bets are being used to manipulate price, and improbable sales are being misrepresented under the cover of secrecy and opaque markets as…
Here is a video interview on France 24 television with Max Keiser speaking on Goldman Sachs from almost one year ago.
By the way, NO ONE who is a serious player on Wall Street is legitimately surprised by this, and probably no one in regulatory bodies are either, unless they are just showing up to collect a paycheck and obtain free Internet access.
The antics of Goldman Sachs have been getting by on a ‘wink and a nod’ from the regulators and the market for some time. Why? Because they are powerful, and because like Lehman and their off balance sheet frauds, they are almost ALL doing it on Wall Street as part of the franchise. Goldman has just been a pig about it, and probably burned some insiders and powerful investors in their fraudulent Abacus trade.
The excuses being made for Goldman by some on Bloomberg Television and CNBC are setting new lows in journalism. It was just a simple failure to disclosure Paulson’s involvement right? Almost a technicality. No one forced the customers to buy those fraudulently packaged and labeled assets or stocks (this was a favorite excuse from Joe Kernan during the Internet/tech bubble collapse). No involvement from the Ratings Agencies in the purposeful crafting of a fraudulent financial instrument. Guest Calls Cramer a ‘PR Man for Goldman Sachs’ and is ejected from the show by the resident money honey.
Why, these derivatives were SO complex that the poor Goldman management barely understood them themselves. They were tricked by Paulson. Tourre is a rogue trader. Bernie Madoff ate their Series 7 cheatsheets. Compliance was seconded to the Riviera. Lloyd was busy doing missionary work in Bangkok. More regulation will just hurt the recovery.
Don’t just regulate them. Break them up. And audit the Fed.
I am glad the professor is from HEC. I did my international business MBA sequence (an extended field trip for adults, but the refreshments were good) at the ‘other’ business school in Paris at La Defense, ESSEC.
Out all day on university visits with my son, returned to see the miracle GDP recovery number bull the market higher, after Goldman Sachs had cast a pall of gloom the prior day. Le Proprietaire had investments that leaned towards smelling bear trap, and was gratified to see the gains, especially after a day reviewing prospective tuition and fees.
There is little doubt in this mind that the number will be revised lower, and the chain deflator lowball will prove to be transitory, and the recovery will be ephemeral, at least based on real numbers. The Clunkers programs pulled sales forward, which is a useful thing only if there is the follow up of systemic reform. The consumer is flat on their back, and median wages and employment are going nowhere. One can stoke monetary inflation with enough Fed expansion, but without the vitality that bestows permanence and self-sufficiency.
A reader sent in this prescient warning from 1995, when then Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, late of Goldman Sachs, mentor to Larry and Timmy of the current US ship of state, wanted to unleash the power of the big money center banks to ensure their "efficiency and international competitiveness."
If only the US had rejected the Rubin – Greenspan doctrine then, and firmly said no to freewheeling finance, and not succumbed to the hundreds of millions of dollars in lobbying and donations spread about Washington in that 1990′s campaign by Wall Street that culminated in Fed preemptive action, followed by a massive lobbying campaign led by Sandy Weill.
In December 1996, with the support of Chairman Alan Greenspan, the Federal Reserve Board issues a precedent-shattering decision permitting bank holding companies to own investment bank affiliates with up to 25 percent of their business in securities underwriting (up from 10 percent).
This expansion of the loophole created by the Fed’s 1987 reinterpretation of Section 20 of Glass-Steagall effectively renders Glass-Steagall obsolete. Virtually any bank holding company wanting to engage in securities business would be able to stay under the 25 percent limit on revenue. However, the law remains on the books, and along with the Bank Holding Company Act, does impose other restrictions on banks, such as prohibiting them from owning insurance-underwriting companies.
This is a non-trading topic, but I wanted to post it during trading hours so as many eyes can see it as possible. Feel free to contact me directly at email@example.com with any questions.
Last fall there was some discussion on the PSW board regarding setting up a YouCaring donation page for a PSW member, Shadowfax. Since then, we have been looking into ways to help get him additional medical services and to pay down his medical debts. After following those leads, we are ready to move ahead with the YouCaring site. (Link is posted below.) Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated; not only to help aid in his medical bill debt, but to also show what a great community this group is.
We are both by design and by culture inclined to be anything but humble in our approach to investing. We usually invest on the basis that we're certain that we've picked winners, we sell in the certainty that we can re-invest our capital to make more money elsewhere. We are usually wrong, often extremely wrong.
These tendencies come partially from hard-wired biases and partly from emotional responses to the situations we perceive ourselves to be in. But they also arise out of cultural requirements to show ourselves to be decisive and thrusting; we rarely reward those who show caution in the face of uncer...
The S&P 500, not surprisingly, remained subdued in advance of the 2 PM Fed action, which included the FOMC statement and a separately released set of economic projections (PDF format). The trader gaming began about 15 minutes before the statement was released and continued through Chair Yellen's 2:30 PM press conference. After the Fed inspired volatility, the index closed with a small gain of 0.13%.
The yield on the 10-year Note closed at 2.62%, up 2 bps from yesterday's close. It is now 28 bps above its 2014 low.
Here is a 5-minute chart of that illustrates today's fast trade gamesmanship.
BOTTOM LINE: There were few surprises from Fed Chair Yellen's post-FOMC press conference.
1. Yellen made two slightly dovish remarks on labor market developments. First, she stated directly that she felt the slow increase in wages was indicative of labor market slack. Second, she said that her own personal view was that there was a "meaningful" cyclical shortfall in participation, when asked about a recent paper by some Fed authors indicating otherwise.
2. On the topic of "considerable time," Yellen declined to provide any specificity on what the phrase means ...
If GOOGLE, the NSA, and Bill Gates all got together in a room with the task of building the most accurate trading algorithm… it wouldn’t just be any ordinary system… it’d be the greatest trading algorithm in the world.
Well, I hate to break it to you… they never got around to building it, but my colleagues at Market Tamer did.
Although the stock market displayed weakness last week as I suggested it would, bulls aren’t going down easily. In fact, they’re going down swinging, absorbing most of the blows delivered by hesitant bears. Despite holding up admirably when weakness was both expected and warranted, and although I still see higher highs ahead, I am still not convinced that we have seen the ultimate lows for this pullback. A number of signs point to more weakness ahead.
In this weekly update, I give my view of the current market environment, offer a technical analysis of the S&P 500 chart, review our weekly fundamentals-based SectorCast rankings of the ten U.S. business sectors, and then offer up some actionable trading ideas, including a sector rotation strategy using ETFs and an enhanced version using top-r...
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This post is for all our live virtual trade ideas and daily comments. Please click on "comments" below to follow our live discussion. All of our current trades are listed in the spreadsheet below, with entry price (1/2 in and All in), and exit prices (1/3 out, 2/3 out, and All out).
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The CBOE Vix Index is in positive territory on Friday morning as shares in the S&P 500 Index move slightly lower. Currently the VIX is up roughly 2.75% on the session at 13.16 as of 11:35 am ET. Earlier in the session big prints in October expiry call options caught our attention as one large options market participants appears to have purchased roughly 106,000 of the Oct 22.0 strike calls for a premium of around $0.45 each. The VIX has not topped 22.0 since the end of 2012, but it would not take such a dramatic move in the spot index in order to lift premium on the contracts. The far out-of-the-money calls would likely increase in value in the event that S&P500 Index stocks slip in the near term. The VIX traded up to a 52-week high of 21.48 back in February. Next week’s release of the FOMC meeting minutes f...
Despite the various opinions on Bitcoin, there is no question as to its ultimate value: its ability to bypass government restrictions, including economic embargoes and capital controls, to transmit quasi-anonymous money to anyone anywhere.
Opinions differ as to what constitutes "money."
The English word "money" derives from the Latin word "moneta," which means to "mint." Historically, "money" was minted in the form of precious metals, most notably gold and silver. Minted metal was considered "money" because it possessed luster, was scarce, and had perceive...
Author Helen Davis Chaitman is a nationally recognized litigator with a diverse trial practice in the areas of lender liability, bankruptcy, bank fraud, RICO, professional malpractice, trusts and estates, and white collar defense. In 1995, Ms. Chaitman was named one of the nation's top ten litigators by the National Law Journal for a jury verdict she obtained in an accountants' malpractice case. Ms. Chaitman is the author of The Law of Lender Liability (Warren, Gorham & Lamont 1990)... Since early 2009, Ms. Chaitman has been an outspoken advocate for investors in Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC (more here).
Reminder: Pharmboy is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.
Well PSW Subscribers....I am still here, barely. From my last post a few months ago to now, nothing has changed much, but there are a few bargins out there that as investors, should be put on the watch list (again) and if so desired....buy a small amount.
First, the media is on a tear against biotechs/pharma, ripping companies for their drug prices. Gilead's HepC drug, Sovaldi, is priced at $84K for the 12-week treatment. Pundits were screaming bloody murder that it was a total rip off, but when one investigates the other drugs out there, and the consequences of not taking Sovaldi vs. another drug combinations, then things become clearer. For instance, Olysio (JNJ) is about $66,000 for a 12-week treatment, but is approved for fewer types of patients AND...
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