An outstanding discussion, primer and visual lesson on toxic assets, failed banks, the Federal Reserve, HR 1207, auditing the Fed, and you, the f*cked taxpayer. Don’t miss this clip and then send it to someone else. Pay it forward until we have millions of f*cked taxpayers who will at least be informed. Awareness is our only chance.
More green shoots from Dylan Ratigan’s awesome new show. Dylan puts on his Banker hat and swaps a (literal) bag of trash, on-air, for $13.9 Trillion worth of Monopoly money from a guy wearing a "Fed" hat. Dylan then explains why we should support Ron Paul’s Audit of the Fed (HR 1207) and explains in plain and simple terms how we have been screwed by the Fed’s bailout of the banks. This is really good stuff. I can’t help but admire Ratigan for what he’s doing with the new show. From our perspective, it just gets better and better. Here are just two of several choice morsels from this clip:
"The Federal Reserve just extended $14 Trillion of our money, our children’s money, America’s future…and now they don’t want to talk about what’s in the bag. And they did it because the banks created a garbage bag full of bad debts." (4:45)
"I feel as if America has suffered the greatest theft and cover-up — ever, … where banks created a pile of garbage, that they paid themselves billions of dollars in personal compensation, and then stuck the trillions of dollars worth of garbage with the American taxpayer. That, to me, is stealing." (7:05)
Lloyd Blankfein’s Days Are Numbered as Chairman of Goldman Sachs
It’s a testament to the odd world in which we live that when a Wall Street firm pays a $550 million fine by conceding negligence in how it dealt with clients, its stock surges, adding billions of dollars in market value for the firm’s shareholders.
But that’s what’s happening to Goldman Sachs, as it reached its long awaited settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission over how it sold a basket of mortgage related debt to investors in 2007.
Back when the SEC brought the case, the conventional wisdom on Wall Street and the financial media was that Goldman didn’t have to settle — the case was weak and Goldman is, after all, Goldman.
As I wrote on these pages back then, Goldman would have to settle because: (a) the SEC dug up some real questionable activity; and (b) no Wall Street firm, not even one with the ties to government that Goldman possesses can go to war with its primary regulator.
Now that Goldman has indeed settled, the news is being spun, again mostly by the financial media, that the deal with the SEC was a victory for Goldman’s CEO Lloyd Blankfein, who survived the investigation largely unscathed, paying a measly $550 million to the government (equivalent to a few days trading gains at Goldman) and without having to give up any power, such as relinquishing his role as chairman of the board, as senior executives both inside Goldman and at competing firms believed would be part of any settlement.
Well, if history is any guide, Blankfein may not go tomorrow, or even next month, but sometime in 2011, Blankfein will at the very least no longer be chairman of Goldman, and may also be forced out of the firm altogether.
If you don’t believe me ask former Citigroup CEO Sandy Weill. Like Blankfein, Weill (at least on paper) was a good CEO from an operational standpoint. Following the creation of Citigroup in 1998, shares of the big bank soared. The bank was what’s known as a Wall Street darling for its strong earnings and a surging stock price, and Weill was regarded as the King of Wall Street, having engineered the largest…
Eliot Spitzer and William Black call for an immediate Congressional investigation of Lehman’s accounting deception and the release of relevant emails and internal documents.
In December, we argued the urgent need to make public A.I.G.’s emails and “key internal accounting documents and financial models.” A.I.G.’s schemes were at the center of the economic meltdown. Three months later, a year-long report by court-appointed bank examiner Anton Valukas makes it abundantly clear why such investigations are critical to the recovery of our financial system. Every time someone takes a serious look, a new scandal emerges.
The damning 2,200-page report, released last Friday, examines the reasons behind Lehman’s failure in September 2008. It reveals on and off balance-sheet accounting practices the firm’s managers used to deceive the public about Lehman’s true financial condition. Our investigations have shown for years that accounting is the “weapon of choice” for financial deception. Valukas’s findings reveal how Lehman used $50 billion in “repo” loans to fool investors into thinking that it was on sound financial footing. As our December co-author Frank Partnoy recently explained as part of a major report of the Roosevelt Institute, “Make Markets Be Markets“, such abusive off-balance accounting was and is endemic. It was a major cause of the financial crisis, and it will lead to future crises.
According to emails described in the report, CEO Richard Fuld and other senior Lehman executives were aware of the games being played and yet signed off on quarterly and annual reports. Lehman’s auditor Ernst & Young knew and kept quiet.
The Valukas report also exposes the dysfunctional relationship between the country’s main regulatory bodies and the systemically dangerous institutions (SDIs) they are supposed to be policing. The NY Fed, the regulatory agency led by then FRBNY President Geithner, has a clear statutory mission to promote the safety and soundness of the banking system and compliance with the law. Yet it stood by while Lehman deceived the public through a scheme that FRBNY officials likened to a “three card monte routine” (p. 1470). The report states:
“The FRBNY discounted the value of Lehman’s pool to account for these collateral transfers. However, the FRBNY did not request that Lehman exclude this collateral from its reported liquidity pool. In the…
Specifically, if I read him correctly, Felix is annoyed that:
1) I have a job that in a just world would belong to a normal out-of-work journalist who hasn’t been at the center of a huge financial scandal, and
2) I have not explained every last detail of my scandalous background in my Business Insider bio, which states merely that, at the end of my Wall Street career, I was "keelhauled by then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer over conflicts of interest between research and banking."
Well, it is no fun to annoy the king of financial bloggers, so let me address these points, starting with the second one.
In the 7 years since I settled the widely publicized civil securities-fraud complaint brought against me by Eliot Spitzer and the SEC, I have contributed commentary to more than a dozen news organizations, including Slate, Fortune, NPR, MSNBC, CNN, FT, the BBC, The Atlantic, Forbes, The New York Times, Bloomberg, EuroMoney, Yahoo (I’m a host of their finance show, TechTicker), and CNBC. When appropriate, I have gone to great lengths to detail every last bit of what had happened, so the readers, viewers, and listeners of these organizations would know exactly who they were dealing with (cue scary music).
In the early years, I also launched my own blog, Internet Outsider, in which I addressed what had happened in as much detail as I was able to. (Thanks to various legal agreements, I have never been able to discuss the allegations publicly. Eventually, when there’s not a soul left on earth who gives a damn, I’ll be able to tell my side of the story. My grandchildren will love it!)
Two years ago, when we launched Business Insider, I again frequently discussed what had happened to me, lest there were any readers who had not already gotten sick of my story. This effort was made easier by the help of the folks who posted Eliot Spitzer’s press release in the comments whenever I said something they disagreed with. Whenever possible, I responded to readers’ questions about
RealClearMarkets has an interesting interview with Charlie Gasparino regarding his new book "The Sellout." There seems to be a consensus forming that something has gone seriously wrong with the US republic, and that the Obama administration is failing to address it, failing badly.
One has to wonder what it will take to give Washington a wakeup call. It seems that, when confronted by white collar crime, people lose all the perspective which they have when it comes to fighting crime and injustice. "It won’t work, it can’t be done, they will just come back and do it again."
Well, duh. If you make it worth their while, administer wristslap justice at worst, and let all the top dogs openly flout the law, of course they will be back. What the US needs is the reincarnation of Melvin Purvis with a minor in finance. I would put Eliot Spitzer in charge of the SEC with the right resources and let him rip through Wall Street like the wrath of God, and make the bankers howl.
But that probably won’t happen, because there is too much dirt, too many scandals on both sides of the aisle for this crew to administer its oath to uphold the Constitution.
Here is an excerpt from the interview:
"I don’t know when it’s going to happen, but if history is any guide, it has to happen again--the "it" being another financial crash. Of course, it won’t happen tomorrow or next week, or maybe not even two years from now. But when the memory of 2008 wears off, and mark my words it will wear off, excessive risk taking will be back in a form that evades all these alleged regulatory controls that have been established. Regulation can never cure the disease of excessive risk.
The only thing that can cure it is tough love--allowing firms to fail. That doesn’t mean I wanted the Fed and the Treasury to walk away last year. That would have meant Armageddon. But they should have walked away before that, when the systemic risk was smaller and the damage would have been limited. 1998 would have been a great place to start. Let Long Term Capital Management fail; let Lehman, and as I show in my book, possibly Merrill to fail,
If street thugs were to hold up a convenience store and drive off with $1 million, it would be national news. But when a venerable Boston bank rips off California’s two largest pension funds for $56 million, it’s business-as-usual — at least to the anchors of CNBC.
State Street Bank — the world’s largest servicer of pensions — systematically ripped off CalPERS and CalSTRS over a period of eight years. It did this by adding a tiny surcharge on foreign currency trades. But this adds up, especially considering that some $35 billion in 42,000 transactions were traded by these funds since 2001.
So when two whistle-blowers filed suit under seal in April 2008, attorneys from my office immediately investigated — examining hundreds of thousands of pages of documents, interviewing witnesses and subpoenaing records.
They found in the course of an 18-month investigation that State Street was contractually obligated to give CalPERS and CalSTRS the "interbank rate" at the precise time of the trade. Instead, State Street consistently charged at or near the highest rate of the day, even if the interbank rate was lower at the time of trade. And traders concealed the fraud by deliberately failing to include time stamp data in its reports, so that the pension funds could not determine the true execution costs.
When the suit was filed, we notified the media and held a press conference — to bring the fraud to light and to deter other financial traders from considering similar action. This is a routine part of prosecuting important corporate fraud cases.
But, in a commentary post today, CNBC anchor Michelle Caruso-Cabrera sneered at California’s effort to recover $200 million in damages and penalties, using a made-up quote from Elliot Spitzer to call it "quaint."
This follows an interview Tuesday that was straight out of the Daily Show. CNBC invited me on to talk about the case, and then Caruso-Cabrera asked why I would come on the air to talk about it.
Her co-anchors seemed to have no problem with the rip-off ("as long as they quoted you a dollar…
Eliot Spitzer was kind enough to sit down with me on TechTicker last week. This was the second time I had ever met him--the first being not when he was pulverizing me as Attorney General, but later, when I was writing for Slate Magazine and he was running for Governor. It was the first time I’d ever talked to him about any of this stuff.
It was a very interesting half-hour to say the least. We’ll post a couple of clips here…
As many of you know, my career as a top-ranked Wall Street research analyst ended in 2002, when a then-little-known New York Attorney General named Eliot Spitzer accused me and my firm (Merrill Lynch) of producing bogus research to curry favor with banking clients.
Merrill denied and then settled the charges, but Spitzer’s allegations resonated with furious investors who had lost their shirts in the market crash. Spitzer soon expanded his research investigation to other firms, eventually forcing the industry into a "Global Settlement" that changed the longstanding relationship between bankers and research analysts. I, meanwhile, got tossed out of the securities industry.
For Spitzer, the research investigation was the first of many. Over the next few years, as the newly crowned ‘Sheriff of Wall Street’, he launched similarly aggressive investigations into mutual funds, insurance, and other industries, often exposing shady practices that had come to be regarded as business as usual.
By 2003, when I was taking the first steps toward rebuilding my shattered reputation--writing commentary for Slate, The Atlantic, and other publications--Eliot Spitzer’s fame and success had soared. In 2004, he was re-elected as Attorney General. In 2006, he was elected Governor of New York in a landslide. By 2007, he was frequently mentioned as a possible future presidential candidate.
Meanwhile, by the spring of last year, thanks to the generous second chance many people had given me, I was beginning to rebuild some credibility. TechTicker was doing well, The Business Insider was growing rapidly, and Valleywag had even taken to referring to me as "the disgraced analyst everyone listens to."
Then, one day, I got a note from a New York Times reporter saying I should check out the lead story about Eliot Spitzer that had just hit their front page. I checked it out--and my
In a wide-ranging discussion of the bank bailouts on MSNBC’s Morning Meeting, host Dylan Ratigan described the process by which the Federal Reserve exchanged $13.9 trillion of bad bank debt for cash that it gave to the struggling banks.
Spitzer — who built a reputation as “the Sheriff of Wall Street” for his zealous prosecutions of corporate crime as New York’s attorney-general and then resigned as the state’s governor over revelations he had paid for prostitutes — seemed to agree with Ratigan that the bank bailout amounts to “America’s greatest theft and cover-up ever.”
Advocating in favor of a House bill to audit the Federal Reserve, Spitzer said: “The Federal Reserve has benefited for decades from the notion that it is quasi-autonomous, it’s supposed to be independent. Let me tell you a dirty secret: The Fed has done an absolutely disastrous job since [former Fed Chairman] Paul Volcker left.
“The reality is the Fed has blown it. Time and time again, they blew it. Bubble after bubble, they failed to understand what they were doing to the economy.
Bernanke Goes On Media Blitz
Bernanke is mindful of the fact that he has done a horrible job. In an attempt to change perceptions, Bernanke has gone on a media blitz attempting to whitewash the Fed’s failures, while seeking still more power for the Fed.
Bernanke stepped up his advertising campaign this weekend in a town hall meeting on public TV. The show will air this week in three installments on PBS’ "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer."
Jim Lehrer invited questions and comments in advance. Here is the question/comment that I submitted.
Given that you failed miserably to see what was coming, how can giving the Fed more regulatory power possibly fix anything? I have a better idea, let’s get rid of the Fed totally along with its micro-mismanagement of interest rates that repetitively blows bubbles of
Quote: "Power alters the basic neurological processes in the brain and inhibits those parts of the brain that would allow a person to show restraint. It allows them to systematically ignore the consequences of their actions." Adam Galinsky, Kellogg School of Management.
It is too bad Eliot could not have exercised better judgement, knowing that he would be targeted by the powers on Wall Street and Washington when he took them on. See the quote at the top of this blog for the most likely reason.
That he was exposed in his scandal by an intense Federal investigation speaks to the depth of the corruption of Washington under Bush, and even now, by the financial powers.
He is right of course, and everything that the Obama Administration is doing on the economic front is a sham.
There is a ‘new regulatory spirit’ and the Democrats under the skillful hand of Larry Summers and Barney Frank seek to channel it into irrelevancy.
July 14 (Bloomberg) — Eliot Spitzer, the former New York governor and attorney general, said U.S. banks made a “bloody fortune” while receiving taxpayer money without a proven benefit to the wider economy.
Politicians understand the “populist rage” with excesses in the financial industry and in this case the “public is right,” said Spitzer in a Bloomberg Television interview today. “We have saved financial services, we have not created a single job. We are still bleeding jobs.”
As New York attorney general, Spitzer was known as “the sheriff of Wall Street.” He changed business practices and collected billions of dollars in settlements from financial corporations such as Merrill Lynch & Co., American International Group Inc. and Marsh & McLennan Cos. He later became governor, resigning in March 2008 after he was identified as a client of the Emperors Club VIP, a high-priced prostitution ring.
Spitzer said new rules proposed by President Barack Obama’s administration are irrelevant because regulators failed to enforce existing regulations.
“Regulatory agencies already had the power to do everything they needed to do,” he said. “They just affirmatively chose not to do it.”
“You don’t need new regs to do it, you just need the will to do
The Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Commission has released the latest report on Traffic Volume Trends, data through March.
"Travel on all roads and streets changed by 5.0% (13.0 billion vehicle miles) for March 2016 as compared with March 2015." The less volatile 12-month moving average was up 0.41% month-over-month and 3.2% year-over-year. If we factor in population growth, the 12-month MA of the civilian population-adjusted data (age 16-and-over) is up 0.33% month-over-month and up 2.1% year-over-year.
Here is a chart that illustrates this data series from its inception in 1971. It illustrates the "...
I repeat this Jeff Gundlach quote a lot because I love it and it constantly applies to something: “Whenever you hear people in the investment business say ‘Never’, that’s when you know it’s about to happen.”
The Dow is 2.6% away from record highs now that we’re through the fairly lousy earnings season. The SPX is even closer, just 2% away. There’s no reason. Anything can happen.
We’re getting a really great reminder of this every night, courtesy of the NBA East and West finals. Golden State barely lost a game in the regular season and pretty much manhandled their opponents in the first...
WASHINGTON D.C. – On Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the FBI and the SEC are investigating Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) for his lucrative stock trades of real estate investment giant CBL Associates Properties, a real estate company based in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Federal officials...
Central banks likened to pornographers. Greece, believe or not, is still getting bailed out, and China is apparently next. US corporate share buybacks are starting to peter out. Japan lobbies for bigger deficits around the wold. Sprott’s Rick Rule how and why the gold bull market is for real, while precious metals continue correcting. Look for next week’s COT report to be a lot more positive. Pensions are back in the news, and the numbers are as usual very bad. Doug Noland on why the Fed probably can’t raise rates in June — or ever.
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Do you remember when you were growing up and all your friends were allowed Atari game consoles but you weren’t?
Well, I do and the things seemed as foreign to me as Venus. Mostly because the little time I managed to spend on the gaming consoles when my friends weren’t hogging them I found it all a bit silly. I never “got” computer games, and to this day still have poor comprehension of things like Angry Birds.
I suspect that many people around the world view Bitcoin in the same way as I view Angry Birds: with mild amusement and a general lack of understanding as to what the hell all the fuss is about.
I was thinking of this since a buddy of mine recently started ...
After a three-year bull run that more than quadrupled its value by its peak last July, IBD’s Medical-Biomed/Biotech Industry Group plunged 50% by early February, hurt by backlashes against high drug prices and mergers that seek to lower corporate taxes.
Although we try to stay focused on finding and managing promising trade ideas, the comments in the comment section sometimes take a political turn (for access, try PSW — click here!). So today, Jean Luc writes,
The GOP debate last night was just unreal – are these people running to be president of the US or to lead a college fraternity! Comparing tool size? The only guy that looks semi-sane is Kasich. The other guys are just like 3 jackals right now.
And something else – if Trump is the candidate, that little Romney speech yesterday is probably already being made into a commercial. And all these little snippets from the debate will also make some nice ads! If you are a conservative, you have to be scared now.
Phil writes back,
I was expecting them to start throwing poop at each other &n...
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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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