by ilene - March 31st, 2011 11:53 am
Courtesy of Jim Quinn, The Burning Platform
“We now have an economy in which five banks control over 50 percent of the entire banking industry, four or five corporations own most of the mainstream media, and the top one percent of families hold a greater share of the nation’s wealth than any time since 1930. This sort of concentration of wealth and power is a classic setup for the failure of a democratic republic and the stifling of organic economic growth.” - Jesse –http://jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com/
by ilene - February 23rd, 2011 2:34 am
Courtesy of The Daily Bail
Citigroup ignored warning signs of Bernard L. Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, and a bank executive knew the con man’s stated trading strategy couldn’t generate the reported returns, the trustee liquidating Madoff’s firm said in a lawsuit.
The unidentified Citibank executive, who was responsible for making recommendations to clients on derivatives, “concluded” by June 2007 that returns reported by a Madoff feeder fund, Fairfield Sentry Ltd., couldn’t have come from the strategy, trustee Irving Picard said in a complaint unsealed yesterday. The executive reached his conclusion after meeting with analyst Harry Markopolos, a whistleblower who also alerted U.S. regulators to the fraud, Picard said.
The Citibank official later communicated with Markopolos orally and in writing, specifically discussing the fraud before the Ponzi scheme was exposed in December 2008, Picard alleged.
“Citi knew, and was on notice of, irregularities and problems concerning the trades reported by BLMIS, and strategically chose to ignore these concerns in order to continue to enrich themselves,” Picard said in the complaint, referring to Madoff’s firm, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC.
Picard laid out in the complaint details of a lawsuit he filed under seal in December against New York-based Citigroup and other banks. He is demanding $425 million from Citigroup – money it received “in connection with” a loan to a Madoff feeder fund and a swap transaction with a Swiss hedge fund linked to a second feeder fund, Picard said.
We first got an inkling of Picard’s filing from this Bloomberg story in December.
Citigroup, Bank of America Sued by Madoff Trustee
Citigroup Inc.’s Citibank, Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch unit and five other banks were sued by the trustee liquidating Bernard Madoff’s firm to recover more than $1 billion for the con man’s defrauded customers.
The banks, which include Natixis SA, Fortis Prime Fund Solutions Bank (Ireland) Ltd., ABN Amro Bank NV, Nomura Bank International Plc. and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA, received money through Madoff feeder funds when they knew, or should have known, that Madoff’s investments were a fraud, the trustee, Irving Picard, said yesterday in a statement.
Picard, who faces a two-year legal deadline that runs out Dec. 11, has filed hundreds of suits in the past month, seeking more than $34 billion from banks, feeder funds, investors and others alleged to have profited from Madoff’s decades-long Ponzi scheme, the biggest in…
by ilene - November 18th, 2010 7:11 pm
Courtesy of PAM MARTENS
Originally published at CounterPunch
On the President’s first day in office on January 21, 2009, he issued an Open Government memo promising the American people a new era of transparency. On March 19, 2009, under the President’s orders, the Attorney General’s office issued detailed guidelines on how Federal agencies were to respond going forward to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The guidelines instructed the agencies as follows:
“The key frame of reference for this new mind set is the purpose behind the FOIA. The statute is designed to open agency activity to the light of day. As the Supreme Court has declared: ‘FOIA is often explained as a means for citizens to know what their Government is up to.’ NARA v. Favish, 541 U.S. 157, 171 (2004) (quoting U.S. Dep’t of Justice v. Reporters Comm. for Freedom of the Press, 489 U.S. 749, 773 (1989)…The President’s FOIA Memoranda directly links transparency with accountability which, in turn, is a requirement of a democracy. The President recognized the FOIA as ‘the most prominent expression of a profound national commitment to ensuring open Government.’ Agency personnel, therefore, should keep the purpose of the FOIA — ensuring an open Government — foremost in their mind.”
It pains me to inform you, Mr. President, but the Treasury Department, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, and Securities and Exchange Commission (the trio that has been variously distracted minting trillions in currency, trading cash for trash with Wall Street, surfing for porn, or mishandling multiple voluminous tips on Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme) have misplaced your memo or, as many suspect, take their marching orders not from you but from Wall Street — perhaps because they perceive that this is where you take your orders too.
On October 6, 2010, I filed three FOIA requests with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). I had come by information that the official government report on the stock market’s “Flash Crash” of May 6, 2010 was materially wrong and I wanted to buttress my investigative report to the public with documents the SEC had obtained or compiled in conducting its investigation.
I followed the SEC’s FOIA instructions and emailed the requests to email@example.com as instructed by the web site, asking for a small amount of very…
by ilene - September 28th, 2010 2:19 am
The following is Part I to David DeGraw’s new book, “The Road Through 2012: Revolution or World War III.” This is the second installment to a new seven-part series that we will be posting throughout the next few weeks. You can read the introduction to the book here. To be notified via email of new postings from this series, subscribe here.
Editor’s Note: The following is Part I to David DeGraw’s new book, “The Road Through 2012: Revolution or World War III.” This is the second installment to a new seven-part series that we will be posting throughout the next few weeks. You can read the introduction to the book here. To be notified via email of new postings from this series, subscribe here.
When we analyze our current crisis, focusing on the past few years of economic activity blinds us to the history and context that are vital to understanding the root cause. What we have been experiencing is not the result of an unforeseen economic crash that appeared out of the blue with the collapse of the housing market. It was certainly not brought on by people who bought homes they couldn’t afford. To frame this crisis around a debate on economic theory misses the point entirely. To even blame it on greedy bankers,…
by ilene - September 12th, 2010 3:23 pm
MUST READ: Some Bailout Questions FED Czar ‘Bernanke The Magnificent’ STILL Hasn’t Answered (Beatdown)
Courtesy of The Daily Bail
Why were bank bondholders made whole, while taxpayers got shafted? That’s the most important question of all, yet no one has ever asked him.
Two exceptional editorials from the WSJ earlier this week. Reprinted with permission.
On the key facts behind the bailouts of 2008, regulators have stonewalled the public, the press and even the inspector general of the Troubled Asset Relief Program. On Wednesday, we’ll find out if they can also stonewall the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission.
Chairman Phil Angelides and his panel will begin two days of hearings on the subject of "Too Big to Fail," featuring testimony from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Chairman Sheila Bair. Across bailouts from Bear Stearns to AIG, the government has refused to release its analysis of the "systemic risks" that compelled it to mount unprecedented interventions into the financial system with taxpayer money. Two years after the crisis, Mr. Angelides and his colleagues should finally let the sun shine on this critical period of our economic history.
A year ago we told you about former FDIC official Vern McKinley, who has made a series of Freedom of Information Act requests. He wanted to know what Fed governors meant when they said a Bear Stearns failure would cause a "contagion." This term was used in the minutes of the Fed meeting at which the central bank discussed plans by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to finance Bear’s sale to J.P. Morgan Chase. The minutes contained no detail on how exactly the fall of Bear would destroy America.
He also requested minutes of the FDIC board meeting at which regulators approved financing for a Citigroup takeover of Wachovia. To provide this assistance, the board had to invoke the "systemic risk" exception in the Federal Deposit Insurance Act, and it therefore had to assert that such assistance was necessary for the health of the financial system. Yet days later, Wachovia cut a better deal to sell itself to Wells Fargo, instead of Citi. So how necessary was the assistance?
by ilene - August 18th, 2010 10:49 pm
Courtesy of Jr. Deputy Accountant
OK now I have officially had enough with this settlement bullsh*t. The state of New Jersey is allowed to lie about pension funding and defraud investors, and isn’t even levied a penalty? That’s not a slap on the wrist, it’s a slap in all of our faces.
Basically all it means for NJ is that they can’t sell these crap bonds anymore. Way to regulate, you lazy, toothless **cks. Now what about the idiots who invested in this crap? Throw them on the pile with the rest of New Jersey’s creditors?
The Securities and Exchange Commission accused the State of New Jersey of securities fraud on Wednesday for telling the bond markets that it was properly funding state workers’ pensions when it was not, The New York Times’s Mary Williams Walsh reports.
As a result, the S.E.C. said in a cease-and-desist order, investors bought more than $26 billion worth of New Jersey’s bonds, without understanding the severity of the state’s financial troubles. New Jersey, the S.E.C. said, has agreed to accept the order, without admitting or denying the finding. The agency did not impose a financial penalty.
Wednesday’s action was the first time the federal agency has accused a state with violating securities laws. The S.E.C.’s powers of enforcement against the states are tightly limited by states’-rights concerns and constitutional law, and it has standing to get involved only when there is a clear-cut case of fraud.
“The State of New Jersey didn’t give its municipal investors a fair shake, withholding and misrepresenting pertinent information about its financial situation,” Robert Khuzami, director of the S.E.C.’s division of enforcement, said in a statement. The cease-and-desist order named only the State of New Jersey, and not the financial institutions that helped it issue the bonds. Its largest bond underwriters during the period in question include Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs and Barclays Capital.
Well who cares, even if they did name banks by name it’s not like they’d actually DO anything about it, right? Maybe they priced in a few million extra when they last settled with EACH of those banks for financial misdeeds.
by ilene - July 23rd, 2010 4:48 pm
Courtesy of Jr. Deputy Accountant
So let me make sure I have this right because Lord knows I’ve been drinking more than usual lately. Feinberg spent months putting together this report only to discover 17 firms had paid out $1.8 billion in questionable bonuses but then comes out and says he’s not going to do anything about it.
What the f*ck are we paying this guy for then?
U.S. "pay czar" Kenneth Feinberg on Friday declined to request 17 financial firms that doled out $1.6 billion in "ill advised" executive compensation to return the excessive payouts, saying to do so would be unfair to the companies and could trigger private lawsuits and additional Congressional investigation.
Mr. Feinberg released a report that found 17 firms—including Goldman Sachs Group Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc.—made the bonus-like payouts to top executives in late 2008 and early 2009 even as the companies were receiving taxpayer assistance.
Mr. Feinberg, the Obama administration’s special master for compensation, said he deemed these payments as "ill advised" both for the sheer amount—some individual payouts exceed $10 million, he said—and the lack of reasonable rationale for their payment.
Other firms Mr. Feinberg criticized for poor judgment included: American Express Co., American International Group Inc., Bank of America Corp., Boston Private Financial Holdings Inc., Capital One Financial Corp., CIT Group Inc., M&T Bank Corp., Regions Financial Corp., Sun Trust Banks Inc., Bank of New York Mellon Corp., Morgan Stanley, PNC Financial Services Group Inc., U.S. Bancorp and Wells Fargo & Co.
"Lack of reasonable rationale" hahahahaha. Maybe we should charge Obama with that for giving this guy a fake job patrolling payouts in the first place.
by ilene - July 13th, 2010 11:51 am
A few years back there was a fear in some parts about black UN helicopters that were supposedly taking part in the planning of an invasion of the United States. While there was no foundation for this fear, there is basis for concern about the attack of another international organization, the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Last week the IMF told the United States that it needs to start getting its budget deficit down. It put cutting Social Security at the top of the steps that the country should take to achieve deficit reduction. This one is more than a bit outrageous for two reasons.
First, the IMF deserves a substantial share of the blame for the economic crisis that gave us big deficits in the first place. The IMF is supposed to oversee the operations of the international financial system. According to standard economic theory, capital is supposed to flow from rich countries like the United States to poor countries to finance their development. In other words, the United States should be having a trade surplus, which would correspond to the money that we are investing in poor countries to finance their development.
However, the IMF messed up its management of financial crises so badly in the last 15 years that poor countries decided that they had to accumulate huge amounts of currency reserves in order to avoid ever being forced to deal with the IMF. This meant that capital was flowing in huge amounts in the wrong direction. One result of this reverse flow was that the United States ran a huge trade deficit instead of a trade surplus.
The trade deficit in the United States was a big part of the story of the housing bubble. The trade deficit cost millions of workers their jobs. This was one of the main reasons that economy was so weak coming out of the 2001 recession. This weakness led the Fed to keep interest rates at 50-year lows, until the growth of the housing bubble eventually began to generate jobs in the fall of 2003.
by ilene - June 24th, 2010 2:01 am
Courtesy of Jr. Deputy Accountant
[click on images/tables to enlarge]
Pic credit: MTTS
A-ha! I f**king love "reform" in this country. God bless America!
Three of the five U.S. banks that dominate swaps trading already perform most transactions outside their depository institutions and would face minimal disruption from a congressional proposal to reorder the derivatives business, financial statements and banking records show.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. would be hit hardest by the proposal, crafted by Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln, to wall off swaps desks from commercial banks. JPMorgan had 98 percent of its $142 billion in current value derivatives holdings inside its bank in the first quarter of this year while Citigroup had 89 percent of $112 billion, the records show.
Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., each of which entered the commercial banking business in 2008 in the midst of the financial crisis, would be less affected. Morgan Stanley kept just over 1 percent of its $86 billion in derivatives holdings in its bank in the first quarter, and Goldman Sachs Group’s held 32 percent of its $104 billion. Bank of America Corp., which absorbed broker-dealer Merrill Lynch in 2009, had 33 percent of its $115 billion in its bank.
Now might be a good time to introduce a handy chart that shows the latest OCC data on derivatives exposure, or, more specifically, shows the concentration of said derivatives exposure among FIVE banks. You know, that would be the five banks that Blanche Lincoln might have wanted to target with this "reform" plan of hers. Just sayin, cue chart:
And let’s see, just who are those five banks?
JP Morgan, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Citi, and Wells Fargo eh? Well four out of five ain’t bad except that fifth is a b#*ch, how on Earth does Goldman get to weasel out of this?
From the OCC report:
The report shows that the notional amount of derivatives held by insured U.S. commercial banks increased by $8.5 trillion (or 4.2 percent) in the fourth quarter to $212.8 trillion. Interest rate contracts increased $7 trillion to $179.6 trillion, while credit derivatives increased 8 percent to $14 trillion.
The report also
by ilene - May 19th, 2010 2:17 pm
Courtesy of Tyler Durden
Hugh Hendry, whose previous appearances have been well-logged by Zero Hedge, and who is currently raking the money thanks to long Treasury bet and his EURUSD short from when the pair was 20% higher, has never been a fan of China, and almost got into a fight with Marc Faber recently discussing the country’s future prospects. In fact, Hendry uttered this memorable soundbite back in February, in which he mopped the floor with Goldman permabull Jim "BRIC" O’Neill: "I love Jim O’Neill. I love that Goldman Sachs guy. He says you either get it, or you don’t. I don’t get it. In the future there will be a Confucius saying: the wise man not invest in overcapacity. The flaw of the business model, at the center of it is a craving for power as opposed to profit." BusinessWeek reports that Hendry has now officially put his money where his mouth is and has bought puts on 20 companies that will profit from “a dramatic collapse” of China’s growth. With the Chinese stock market approaching 52 week lows, will Ecclectica soon become the next Paulson & Co. hedge fund iteration, even as the latter continues (allegedly) to bet on a US recovery, and thus stands to lose tens of billions if the thesis does not play out (although we are fairly confident Paulson’s long stock positions are matched by even longer CDS hedges… but without additional data, we can never be sure).
More from BusinessWeek:
“There are striking parallels with Japan in the 1920s, when ultimately the whole system collapsed,” said Hendry, 41, whose firm manages $420 million in assets. “China could precipitate a much greater crisis elsewhere in the world.”
Japan’s export boom collapsed after the war amid excess global capacity, slashing growth and sparking a stock-market crash and bank runs.
Hendry’s flagship Eclectica Fund, a global macro hedge fund with $180 million in assets, may gain almost $500 million from its options if China’s economy plunges into a recession, he said. The options cost the fund about 1.5 percent of its net asset value annually, Hendry said.
China’s vulnerability to a crash comes from the “inherent instability” created by a lending binge for infrastructure projects that’s “unprecedented in 400 years of economic history,” Hendry said. The country is also exposed to exports to