Posts Tagged ‘finances’

“The People Vs. Goldman Sachs” – Taibbi’s Magnum Opus

Courtesy of Tyler Durden

By Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone Magazine

The People vs. Goldman Sachs

They weren’t murderers or anything; they had merely stolen more money than most people can rationally conceive of, from their own customers, in a few blinks of an eye. But then they went one step further. They came to Washington, took an oath before Congress, and lied about it.

Thanks to an extraordinary investigative effort by a Senate subcommittee that unilaterally decided to take up the burden the criminal justice system has repeatedly refused to shoulder, we now know exactly what Goldman Sachs executives like Lloyd Blankfein and Daniel Sparks lied about. We know exactly how they and other top Goldman executives, including David Viniar and Thomas Montag, defrauded their clients. America has been waiting for a case to bring against Wall Street. Here it is, and the evidence has been gift-wrapped and left at the doorstep of federal prosecutors, evidence that doesn’t leave much doubt: Goldman Sachs should stand trial.

The great and powerful Oz of Wall Street was not the only target of Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse, the 650-page report just released by the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations, chaired by Democrat Carl Levin of Michigan, alongside Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. Their unusually scathing bipartisan report also includes case studies of Washington Mutual and Deutsche Bank, providing a panoramic portrait of a bubble era that produced the most destructive crime spree in our history — "a million fraud cases a year" is how one former regulator puts it. But the mountain of evidence collected against Goldman by Levin’s small, 15-desk office of investigators — details of gross, baldfaced fraud delivered up in such quantities as to almost serve as a kind of sarcastic challenge to the curiously impassive Justice Department — stands as the most important symbol of Wall Street’s aristocratic impunity and prosecutorial immunity produced since the crash of 2008.

To date, there has been only one successful prosecution of a financial big fish from the mortgage bubble, and that was Lee Farkas, a Florida lender who was just convicted on a smorgasbord of fraud charges and now faces life in prison. But Farkas, sadly, is just an exception proving the rule: Like Bernie Madoff, his comically excessive crime spree (which involved such lunacies as kiting checks to his own bank…
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Cardano’s Gambit

Cardano’s Gambit

Courtesy of Tim at The Psy-Fi Blog  

Gamblers ‘Nonymous

Investing is, up to a point, gambling. Most of us don’t think of it in that way but if we conceive of the universe of stocks as a gas of randomly moving particles buffeted this way and that by forces largely beyond their – and certainly beyond our – control then there’s no other conclusion that can be drawn.

Close-up of feathers of a peacock Horizontal

However, we don’t really believe this. What we generally believe is that although randomness is pervasive in stocks there’s a pattern that lies beneath the surface which we, in spite all evidence to the contrary, can pick out. For the idea that there are repeatable patterns hidden within apparently random games of chance we can thank one of our more unlikely heroes. Meet Girolamo Cardano, medieval physician, professional gambler and mathematician extraordinaire.

God’s Will

For a very long time in human history there was no appreciation or investigation of probability, the mathematics that lies behind assessments of risk. For the most part people didn’t believe in chance: stuff happened and that was God’s will. The idea that there was some order in the chaos either seems not to have occurred or to have been literally unthinkable.

Fishing hook with die

Gamblers, however, did have some vague understanding that there were patterns in the randomness and quite a lot of self-interest in figuring these out. It’s no surprise that gambling figures quite large in early accounts of advances in probability theory. In Cardano, who seems to have been addicted to gambling, the will to understand and the ability to do so came together.

Elementary Probability

In many ways what Cardano figured out is today regarded as almost trivial, but at the time it was revolutionary and it allowed him an insight into why and when he should take a risk and when he shouldn’t. Perhaps the simplest example is to do with dice. At the time it was regarded as a bit of a mystery why, when three dice were rolled, the sum of face-up numbers came to ten more often than nine, despite the fact that there were six ways of summing possible numbers to both.

The answer to this conundrum is almost childishly simple to our eyes. There are twenty seven ways of combining the possible sums to ten while there are only…
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Inside the Dire Financial State of the States

Inside the Dire Financial State of the States

By David von Drehle, courtesy of TIME 

Ellen Weinstein for TIME 

In New Jersey, taxes are high, the budget’s a mess, government is inefficiently organized, and the public pension fund is blown to kingdom come. Which makes New Jersey a lot like most other states in 2010. What makes the state unusual is its rookie governor, a human bulldozer named Chris Christie, who vowed to lead like a one-termer and is keeping his promise with brio. He has proposed chopping $11 billion from the state’s budget — more than a quarter of the total — for fiscal year 2011 (which starts July 1). He’s backing a constitutional cap on property taxes in hopes of pushing the state’s myriad villages and townships to merge into more efficient units. He’s locked in an ultimate cage match with the New Jersey teachers’ union. It may be the bitterest political fight in the country — and that’s saying something this year. A union official recently circulated a humorous prayer with a punch line asking God to kill Christie. You know, New Jersey humor. And in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Christie didn’t talk about the possibility that his fiscal initiatives might be compromised or defeated; he pictured himself "lying dead on State Street in Trenton," the state capital. Presumably that was a figure of speech.

The tone of the New Jersey budget battle may be distinctive, but many of the same notes can be heard in state capitals across the country. From Hartford to Honolulu, once sturdy state governments are approaching the brink of fiscal calamity, as the crash of 2008 and its persistent aftermath have led to the reckoning of 2010. Squeezed by the end of federal stimulus money on one hand and desperate local governments on the other, states are facing the third straight year of staggering budget deficits, and the necessary cuts will cost jobs, limit services and touch the lives of millions of Americans. Government workers have been laid off in half the states plus Puerto Rico. Twenty-two states have instituted unpaid furloughs. At least 28 states have ordered across-the-board budget cuts,…
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Reform We Can Believe In

Reform We Can Believe In

Courtesy of John Mauldin at Thoughts from the Frontline 

New York Mets Opening Day at Citi Field in New York

It’s Time for Reform We Can Believe In 
The Fed Must Be Independent 
Credit Default Swaps Threaten the System 
Too Big To Fail Must Go 
And This Thing About Leverage 
What Happens If We Do Nothing? 
New York, Media, and La Jolla

Casey Stengel, manager of the hapless 1962 New York Mets, once famously asked, after an especially dismal outing, "Can’t anybody here play this game?" This week I ask, after months of worse than no progress, "Can’t anybody here even spell financial reform, let alone get it done?" We are in danger of experiencing another credit crisis, but one that could be even worse, as the tools to fight it may be lacking when we need them. With attacks on the independence of the Fed, no regulation of derivatives, and allowing banks to be too big to fail, we risk a repeat of the credit crisis. The bank lobbyists are winning and it’s time for those of us in the cheap seats to get outraged. (And while this letter focuses on the US and financial reform, the principles are the same in Europe and elsewhere, as I will note at the end. We are risking way too much in the name of allowing large private profits.) And with no "but first," let’s jump right in.

Last Monday I had lunch with Richard Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Mr. Fisher is a remarkably nice guy and is very clear about where he stands on the issues. My pressing question was whether the Fed would actually accommodate the federal government if it continued to run massive deficits and turn on the printing press. Fisher was clear that such a move would be a mistake, and he thought there would be little sentiment among the various branch presidents to become the enabler of a dysfunctional Congress.

federal reserveBut that brought up a topic that he was quite passionate about, and that is what he sees as an attack on the independence of the Fed. There are bills in Congress that would take away or threaten the current independence of the Fed.

I recognize that the Fed is not completely independent. Even Greenspan said so this past week: "There’s a presumption that …
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I’m Dancing as Fast as I Can

"If you wanted (as Paul Krugman and some of the questioners at the FCIC hearings did) to know just why things went awry, you’re wasting your time, says the Epicurean Dealmaker: Top bankers are "smart, scary smart," but they have little interest in why things are – and rather plenty of interest in how they can take advantage of the way things are."  Phil

Bank teller

See also Trust No Bankers.

A study of recent—and not so recent—financial reform and regulation yields two rules. Rule No. 1: The banks have no idea what kind of regulation is good for them. Rule No. 2: If you ever think the banks have a point, remember Rule No. 1…

Tom Lindmark summarizes:

So there you have it from one of their own. They just didn’t have time to think about how paying exorbitant amounts of money to themselves that they earned from a game the government rigged for them, after the government bailed them out would play out. They weren’t stupid or foolish, just preoccupied with making money. As TED says, that is what they’re all about.

And here is TED’s full inside story:

I’m Dancing as Fast as I Can

Courtesy of The Epicurean Dealmaker

"Aesthetics is for artists what ornithology is for birds."

— Barnett Newman

Good morning, class.

Our quote for the day comes from Barnett Newman, painter, artist, and member of the loosely affiliated post-war group of US artists known as the Abstract Expressionists. Mr. Newman was widely regarded by many—none more so than himself—to be one of the smartest and most intellectual of this group, which contained other, less articulate1 but arguably more talented artists such as Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko. Mr. Newman is credited with unleashing this bon mot upon an unexpecting world in the course of discussing art critics, art criticism, and aesthetics—the philosophy of art and beauty.

* * *

I recalled this quote to mind today when I read Paul Krugman’s latest broadside against all things—and people—financial in The New York Times. In his jeremiad, "Bankers Without a Clue," Mr. Krugman picks apart the recent testimony by four Wall Street CEOs at the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission and asks the rhetorical question

Do the bankers really


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Zero Hedge

Iceland Has Offered Foreign Bondholders A "Choice": Sell Now, Or Have Cash Impounded Indefinitely

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

Iceland has had a difficult past few months politically, as its Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunlaugsson became the first casualty of the Panama Papers.

Economically however, the story is more upbeat, as the country has rebounded since the financial crisis. The Icelandic Krona has stabilized against the Euro, the rate of change in inflation has slowed, and the...



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Chart School

World Markets Weekend Update: The Global Rally Accelerates

Courtesy of Doug Short's Advisor Perspectives.

Seven of the eight indexes on our world watch list posted gains over the past week, up from five the week before, and the average of the eight was an impressive 2.60%. India's SENSEX was the outstanding out performer with a 5.34% surge, and three indexes, France's CAC 40, the Hong Kong's Hang Seng and Germany's DAXK closed the week with gains in the mid-three percents. China's Shanghai was the sole loser with its fractional 0.16% decline. Japan's Nikkei had the second worse performance with a modest gain of 0.59%. Incidentally, the Nikkei about 4% below its late January close when the Bank of Japan adopted its negative interest rate policy.

A Closer Look at the Last Four Weeks

The tables below provide a concise overvi...



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Phil's Favorites

Rauner Vetoes Bill Reducing Pension Contributions Despite Massive Underfunding, Chicago Mayor Whines

Courtesy of Mish.

Chicago pension plans are massively underfunded to the tune of $18.6 billion. Yet, the Illinois legislature passed a bill that would actually reduce contributions to the fund.

Governor Bruce Rauner made the fiscally responsible decision to veto the bill.

As expected, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel points the finger at the Governor instead of looking in the mirror to see what the real problem is.

Pensions & Investments reports Illinois governor vetoes bill to reduce Chicago fire, police pension contributions.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed Friday a ...



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Market News

News You Can Use From Phil's Stock World

 

FInancial Markets and Economy

Fed reaction to data barrage is focus for stocks (Business Insider)

Data on inflation and employment, two of the economic indicators most important to a "data-dependent" U.S. Federal Reserve are expected next week.

Here’s one really obvious way to boost the US economy (Quartz)

If you’re confused about why American economic growth has been so disappointing, consider this: US government investment in capital, research and development, and education and training is at its lowest point in 45 years. In 2014, feder...



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ValueWalk

Billionaire Stephen Schwartzman How To Spot the Trends that Other Miss

By Jacob Wolinsky. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Billionaire Stephen Schwartzman How To Spot the Trends that Other Miss

Published on Mar 27, 2016

Billionaire Stephen Schwartzman How To Spot the Trends that Other Miss [HD]

Stephen Allen Schwarzman (born February 14, 1947) is an American business magnate and financier. He is the chairman and CEO of the Blackstone Group, a global private equity and financial advisory firm he established in 1985 with former US Secretary of Commerce Pete Peterson. His personal fortune is estimated at $12.9 billion, according to Forbes.As of 2015, Forbes ranked Schwarzman at 100th on its World’s Billionaires List.

The post ...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Gold Mining Stocks- Most dangerous time to own them in years?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

CLICK ON CHART TO ENLARGE

The rally in mining stocks since the first of the year has been very impressive.

The rally has taken Gold Miners ETF GDX up to test the 23% retracement of the collapse over the past 5-years. At the same time it is hitting the 23% level, two other resistance lines are being put to a test, with momentum at the highest levels in the past 5-years.

Joe Friday Just The Facts...



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Insider Scoop

Graham Media Group To Buy WCWJ, CW affiliate In Jacksonville, NBC Affiliate in Roanoke

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Graham Media Group, Inc., a Graham Holdings Company (NYSE: GHC) subsidiary, said it struck a deal with Nexstar Broadcasting Group, Inc. and Media General, Inc. to purchase WCWJ, a CW affiliate television station in Jacksonville, Florida and WSLS, an NBC affiliate television station in Roanoke, Virginia for $60 million in cash and the assumption of certain liabilities.

The agreement to acquire Nextar Broadcasting included pension obligations. Graham Media Group, Inc. would continue to operate both stations under their current network affiliations.

Graham Media said the acquisition is subject to approval by the FCC, other regulatory appr...



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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of May 23rd, 2016

Reminder: OpTrader is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

 

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).

We also indicate our stop, which is most of the time the "5 day moving average". All trades, unless indicated, are front-month ATM options. 

Please feel free to participate in the discussion and ask any questions you might have about this virtual portfolio, by clicking on the "comments" link right below.

To learn more about the swing trading virtual portfolio (strategy, performance, FAQ, etc.), please click here ...



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Digital Currencies

The Biggest Bitcoin Arbitrage Ever?

Courtesy of Chris at CapitalistExploits

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 ...



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All About Trends

Mid-Day Update

Reminder: Harlan is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Click here for the full report.




To learn more, sign up for David's free newsletter and receive the free report from All About Trends - "How To Outperform 90% Of Wall Street With Just $500 A Week." Tell David PSW sent you. - Ilene...

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Biotech

This Is Why Biotech Stocks May Explode Again

Reminder: Pharmboy and Ilene are available to chat with Members.

Here's an interesting article from Investor's Business Daily arguing that biotech stocks are beginning to recover from their recent declines, notwithstanding current weakness.

This Is Why Biotech Stocks May Explode Again

By 

Excerpt:

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.

...



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Mapping The Market

About that debate last night

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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We know you love coming here for our Stocks & Options education, strategy and trade ideas, and for Phil's daily commentary which you can't live without, but there's more!

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News: If you missed it, you can probably find it in our Market News section. We sift through piles of news so you don't have to.   

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Help One Of Our Own PSW Members

"Hello PSW Members –

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 jennifersurovy@yahoo.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.

http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/help-get-shadowfax-out-from-the-darkness-of-medical-bills-/126743

Thank you for you time!




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