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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Phil's Favorites

Can Trump make real change as president?

 

Can Trump make real change as president?

Courtesy of Sharece Thrower, Vanderbilt University

Based on his erratic behavior during the campaign, many fear what Donald Trump will do in office. Some believe that his strong personality could lead to disastrous policies that could negatively affect health care, nuclear warfare and other aspects of our lives.

As a scholar of presidential power, I’d suggest such concerns are likely overblown. Despite his distinct individuality, Trump faces the same institutional constraints as any other president. In the end, he may be a more predictable president than many would believe.

From individual to the institutional

Political scientists have long been...



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Zero Hedge

Senate Confirms Mattis (Defense) & Kelly (Homeland) On Trump's First Day

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Just hours after President Trump was sworn into office, amid Chuck Schumer's jabs over HUD, the Senate has confirmed retired Marine General James Mattis as defense secretary and retired Marine General John Kelly as homeland security secretary. They were both expected to be confirmed easily, and were, but Democrats promised fights over several other nominees.

Mattis was the first to be confirmed by a vote of 98...



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ValueWalk

Europe Rose Because Of Jurisdictional Competition

By The Foundation for Economic Education. Originally published at ValueWalk.

During the dark ages, nations like China were relatively advanced while Europeans were living in squalid huts.

Governments were forced to adopt better policies because labor and capital had significant ability to cross borders in search of less oppression.

But that began to change several hundred years ago. Europe experienced the enlightenment and industrial revolution while the empires of Asia languished.

What accounts for this dramatic shift?

I’m not going to pretend there’s a single explanation, but part of the answer is that Europe benefited from decentralization and jurisdictional competition. More specifically, governments were forced to adopt better policies because labor and capital had significant ability to cross borders in searc...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Mr. President you want this to hold, says Joe Friday

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

Consumer Confidence of late has continued to move higher, now reaching above the highs hit back in 2007. Long-Term S&P 500 returns are far below historical norms, when confidence is this high. We are not saying that high consumer confidence means the market is at a top!

Below is a look at the Advance/Decline line on a short-term basis.

CLICK ON CHART TO ENLARGE

Joe Friday Just The Facts; It could be important for support to hold, of this bearish rising wedge above.

...

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Market News

News You Can Use From Phil's Stock World

 

Financial Markets and Economy

Oil and Trump: Russians full of optimism in Davos (Reuters)

Twelve months ago, the mood of the Russian delegation at the World Economic Forum in Davos was distinctly gloomy, with oil prices near 12-year lows below $30 per barrel and Western sanctions depressing their economy and financial markets.

The Mortgage Market’s $1 Trillion Pocket of Worry (The Wall Street Journal)

Bonds backed by certain risky single-family mortgages topped $1 trillion for the first time in November, crossing that threshold amid rising warnings for one corner of the housing market.

...



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Chart School

Small Cap Losses Accelerate

Courtesy of Declan.

Small Caps again took the brunt of the selling as Shorts took advantage of yesterday's small rally back to former support (turned resistance) to enter positions. With the 'bull trap' in full effect, the next target down for the index is 1,308. Of supporting technicals, only Stochastics [39,1] is left to break its bullish alignment,


The S&P took a modest loss, but not enough to break it out of its consolidation. Volume was also lighter. With the Russell 2000 on the way down, it's suggesting the S&P will follow suit....

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Members' Corner

How To Poop At Work?

Courtesy of Nattering Naybob.

Once again it's "in the Toilet Thursday" or "Thursday's in the Loo". 

In our last episode, How to Poop On A Date? we were graced with a delicate shituation: what ever to do when your finally back at her place, snuggling in for a little "brown chicken brown cow" and you get hit with "Love Potion #2".

This week in How to Poop At Work? ,what to do when your at a big fancy pants meeting, when out of nowhere, you need to download a brown load?



...

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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of January 16th, 2017

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

China's Bitcoin Exchanges Suspend Margin Trading

Courtesy of Zero Hedge

China's bitcoin traders who use the most popular bitcoin exchange not only in China, but also the entire world, BTCChina, were met with an unexpected warning on Friday:

Starting from January 12th, 2017, BTCChina has suspended margin loan service. If you have any questions, please contact Customer Service: support@btcc.com.

BTCChina, which commands over 37% of global bitcoin trading...

... wasn't alone.

Fo...



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Mapping The Market

If we try it enough, it will work.

Via Jean-Luc

Brownback wants Trump to emulate what he did in Kansas because it worked so well:

Sam Brownback Calls on Donald Trump to Mimic His Kansas Tax Plan

By RICHARD RUBIN and  WILL CONNORS

Sam Brownback, the Kansas governor whose tax cuts brought him political turmoil, recurring budget holes and sparse evidence of economic success, has a message for President-elect Donald Trump: Do what I did.

In 2013, Mr. Brownback set out to create a lean, business-friendly government in his state that other Republicans could replicate. He now faces a $350 million deficit when the Kansas legislature convenes in January and projections of a larger one in 2018. The state’s economy is flat and his party is fractured...

...

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Biotech

The Medicines Company: Insider Buying

Reminder: Pharmboy and Ilene are available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

I'm seeing huge insider buying in the biotech company The Medicines Company (MDCO). The price has already moved up around 7%, but these buys are significant, in the millions of dollars range. ~ Ilene

 

 

 

Insider transaction table and buying vs. selling graphic above from insidercow.com.

Chart below from Yahoo.com

...

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Promotions

Phil's Stock World's Las Vegas Conference!

 

Come join us for the Phil's Stock World's Conference in Las Vegas!

Date:  Sunday, Feb 12, 2017 and Monday Feb 13, 2017.            

Beginning Time:  8:00 am Sunday morning

Location: Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas

Notes

Caesar's has tentatively offered us rooms for $189 on Saturday night and $129 for Sunday night. However, we have to sign the contract ASAP. We need at least 10 people to pay me via Paypal or we may lose the best rate for the rooms. (Once we are guaranteed ten attendees, I will put up instructions to call the hotel for individual rooms.)

The more people who sign up,...



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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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About Phil:

Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

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