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.
As Athens prepares to try and convince eurozone creditors that its latest set of proposed reforms represents a credible attempt to address Greece’s fiscal crisis, and as Greek depositors face the very real possibility that they will soon be Cyprus’d, a leverage-less Alexis Tsipras faces a rather unpalatable choice: bow to the Troika which “wants real reforms… meaning that Greece finally has to implement some/any of the long ago promised and never delivered redundancies in the government sector,” or to quote Credit Suisse, be “digitally bombed back...
Instead of new rules making sure two people are in the cockpit at all times, how about a rule that says no one is cockpit? This is precisely how I felt after 911 and even more so after the disappearance of Malaysia Flight 370 on March 8.
The tragedy of Germanwings Flight 9525 in which a mentally ill co-pilot deliberately flew the plane into a mountain killing all 150 on board is icing cake.
Friday's release of the publicly available data from the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) puts its Weekly Leading Index (WLI) at 131.6, up slightly from 131.2 the previous week. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) is at -3.2, up from the previous week's -3.6 and off its interim low of -4.9 in mid-January.
"The Song Remains the Same"
As I type this, the featured article on the ECRI website remains the February 23rd piece, "The Song Remains the Same" (full report requires a subscription), which illustrates the shrinking GDP growth during the seven business cycle expansions since 1970:
Kim Parlee interviews Phil on Money Talk. Be sure to watch the replays if you missed the show live on Wednesday night (it was recorded on Monday). As usual, Phil provides an excellent program packed with macro analysis, important lessons and trading ideas. ~ Ilene
The replay is now available on BNN's website. For the three part series, click on the links below.
Part 1 is here (discussing the macro outlook for the markets)
Part 2 is here. (discussing our main trading strategies)
Part 3 is here. (reviewing our pick of th...
Well, it didn’t take long for the bulls to jump on their buying opportunity, with a little help from the bulls’ friend in the Fed. In fact, despite huge daily swings in the market averages driven by daily news regarding timing of interest rate hikes, the strength in the dollar, and oil prices, trading actually has been quite rational, honoring technical formations and support levels and dutifully selling overbought conditions and buying when oversold. Yes, the tried and true investing clichés continue to work -- “Don’t fight the Fed,” and “The trend is your friend.”
In this weekly update, I give my view of the cur...
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While I'm not going to argue the point about the possibility that Bitcoin drops to $1, or less, (that could happen yet, but not for the reasons you propose) I felt it necessary to point out something you seem to have overlooked.
While it's likely that the US government watching Bitco...
Bullish trades abound in Cypress Semiconductor options today, most notably a massive bull call spread initiated in the July expiry contracts. One strategist appears to have purchased 30,000 of the Jul 16.0 strike calls at a premium of $0.89 each and sold the same number of Jul 19.0 strike calls at a premium of $0.22 apiece. Net premium paid to put on the spread amounts to $0.67 per contract, thus establishing a breakeven share price of $16.67 on the trade. Cypress shares reached a 52-week high of $16.25 back on Friday, March 13th, and would need to rally 4.6% over the current level to exceed the breakeven point of $16.25. The spread generates maximum potential profits of $2.33 per contract in the event that CY shares surge more than 20% in the next four months to reach $19.00 by July expiration. Shar...
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PSW Members - well, what a year for biotechs! The Biotech Index (IBB) is up a whopping 40%, beating the S&P hands down! The healthcare sector has had a number of high flying IPOs, and beat the Tech Sector in total nubmer of IPOs in the past 12 months. What could go wrong?
Phil has given his Secret Santa Inflation Hedges for 2015, and since I have been trying to keep my head above water between work, PSW, and baseball with my boys...it is time that something is put together for PSW on biotechs in 2015.
Cancer and fibrosis remain two of the hottest areas for VC backed biotechs to invest their monies. A number of companies have gone IPO which have drugs/technologies that fight cancer, includin...
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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