I realize the SEC’s task is a gargantuan one, especially considering the severely constrained resources, but there’s just no excuse for things like this. The SEC’s Division of Risk, Strategy, and Financial Innovation – the group created in 2009 to supposedly "enhance our capabilities and help identify developing risks and trends in the financial markets" – does not have anyone running the Office of Data & Data Analytics. How the hell is the Division supposed to do its job if there’s no one analyzing data?!?!?
I’d say to be fair, this website hasn’t been updated since 6/15/2010, but that actually makes this situation WORSE. How dysfunctional does an organization have to be that organization actions are not properly communicated via press releases and modifications to the organization’s website? This is not freaking rocket science!
If you think this is bad, get read, because it gets even worse: The head of the Division, Henry T. C. Hu left this month to go back to academia. According to an article from 1/20/2011 in the WSJ, his temporary replacement is the Division’s former Deputy Director, Jonathan Sobokin. The SEC issued a press release on 11/18/2010 that Hu would be leaving the organization, yet the "News" page of the Division’s website has no mention of Sobokin taking the reins. As a matter of fact, that is the most recent press release that appears on the page!
It’s one thing to suck at organizational communications, its another thing to take at least two months to find a replacement for a very important position, especially when given what appears to be advance notice. And it is another thing entirely to take well over a year to staff the Office tasked with performing the data analysis the Division needs in order to be effective!
The only good thing I can say here is that at least they brought Rick Bookstaber into the fold. I’ve met Rick and he’s a very, very smart man, and while I don’t always agree with him, I’m quite glad he’s at the SEC. Whether or not he has any authority or sway within the SEC is a whole different story upon which I can do little more than speculate…
The law, signed last week by President Obama, exempts the SEC from disclosing records or information derived from "surveillance, risk assessments, or other regulatory and oversight activities." Given that the SEC is a regulatory body, the provision covers almost every action by the agency, lawyers say. Congress and federal agencies can request information, but the public cannot.
That argument comes despite the President saying that one of the cornerstones of the sweeping new legislation was more transparent financial markets. Indeed, in touting the new law, Obama specifically said it would “increase transparency in financial dealings."
Mr. President, you’re a lying sack of crap.
Nor is this theoretical either. Fox News has already had an FOIA denied:
The SEC cited the new law Tuesday in a FOIA action brought by FOX Business Network.
Oh, by the way, this would mean that a Madoff or Stanford "thing" would leave the SEC immune from FOIA requests by the Press (including the "mainstream" along with media folks like myself) to discover whether they had effective and early notice that they intentionally ignored.
Isn’t that convenient, given that they did exactly that with Madoff and, it can be argued, Stanford as well?
Indeed, the SEC, The Fed, and Treasury have all tried to refuse compliance with FOIA requests into the backstories of the financial meltdown.
FOIA requests that could (and in some cases have, when they were forced to be complied with via lawsuits) reveal double-dealing, "sweetheart" treatment, and even willful blindness that, in many people’s opinion (including mine) reaches the level of intentional collusion that, in a private context, would lead to civil and/or criminal racketeering charges.
To President Obama and CONgress for sticking this in FinReg (and yeah, I missed it, even though I read the entire damn thing):
Now that Obama has signed FinReg into law, Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal appeared on The Breakdown with Chris Hayes yesterday to discuss the bill. Confused about the entire financial meltdown? Mike’s got you covered. He breaks the crisis down into four interconnected sectors: an exploitative, under-regulated system of consumer finance; dark markets in derivatives; the failures of “too big to fail” banks and the ripple effects they caused; and shadow banks that were able to avoid regulations (and also lacking, as Mike says, the “toilet training” necessary to behave).
These four sectors will also be the basis used for grading the potency of the bill. And as Mike notes, while it offers opportunities for some much-needed changes, it still falls short in several areas.
FinReg may fall short if power is channeled into Geithner’s hands.
More depressing news from the “change” President. The Washington Post has reported that one of the major impacts of the FinReg bill passed last week by Congress is the accretion of new power to Obama’s Treasury Secretary. According to the Post, Tim Geithner stands to inherit vast power to shape bank regulations, oversee financial markets and create a consumer protection agency.
Make no mistake: this is Timmy’s bill, plain and simple, as the Post makes clear: “The bill not only hews closely to the initial draft he released last summer but also anoints him — as long as he remains Treasury secretary — as the chief of a new council of senior regulators.”
The Geithner Treasury repeatedly pushed back against many sensible legislative proposals that would have made significant structural changes to practices that brought about the current economic crisis. And the article itself represents latest in a series of attempts to embellish the Treasury Secretary’s hagiography.
Reading it, one wonders whether the Washington Post inhabits a strange parallel universe. Have the writers actually paid attention to what is truly happening in the economy? The WaPo persists in towing the party line that Geithner’s tenure has been marked with conspicuous success, supposedly by advocating a response to the financial crisis that allegedly later proved correct: “Geithner vigorously resisted calls by some lawmakers and financial experts to nationalize the nation’s largest and most troubled banks during the most perilous days. Instead, he helped get the financial system back on its feet, in particular by pressing for stress tests of big banks.” (my emphasis)
Oh, really? I would argue that Washington continues to allow the big banks to operate “business as usual” and to cook the books to show profits so that they can pay out big bonuses to the geniuses who created the toxic waste that brought on the crisis. Most continue to show profits based not on fundamentally health lending activity, but one-off gains, and accounting gimmickry. Commenting on the latest JP Morgan results, my friend and colleague Randy Wray has noted:
On the heels of a tough Senate fight that initially saw Democrats oppose granting fast-track authority on trade deals, President Obama was just dealt a fresh blow related to what some say is another example of Presidential overreach.
As Reuters reports, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled that an executive order on immigration designed to prevent the deportation of undocumented immigrants will remain on hold as 26 Republican sta...
The curious story of the day is back-to-back reports, minutes apart, by the same news agency, saying different things.
Greece Says has Begun Drawing Up Agreement with Creditors
Here is Reuters headline number one: Greece Says has Begun Drawing Up Agreement with Creditors Greece and its creditors are starting to draft a technical-level agreement, a government official said on Wednesday, signalling progress in long-running talks to unlock aid for the cash-strapped country.
"At the Brussels Group (of credit negotiators) today procedures to draw up a staff-level agreement are beginning," the official said, adding that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras would be in constant tou...
When one looks back over the past year, Health Care ETF (XLV) has been a good place to be. The above table looks at the 9 key sectors of the S&P 500, which reflects that XLV has done really well, grabbing the #1 spot over this time frame. Year-To-Date, XLV remains in the top spot as well.
Can this hot performance continue? Check out the pattern XLV has been forming the past few months
CLICK ON CHART TO ENLARGE
Over the past 90-days, XLV remains at the top spot as well, up a little over 2...
Last week we remarked how the S&P 500 finally had broken out of a multi month range… but then it did little. Usually once a stock/ETF moves out of a long range it has a pronounced move; but the S&P 500 didn’t – it barely budged. Today that move collapsed. The S&P 500 fell 1.03% and the NASDAQ 1.11%. Most pointed to some vague increase in a chance of a rate hike but this is too much tea leaving – the Federal Reserve has said everything is data dependent.
Early last week, stocks broke out, with the S&P 500 setting a new high with blue skies overhead. But then the market basically flat-lined for the rest of the week as bulls just couldn’t gather the fuel and conviction to take prices higher. In fact, the technical picture now has turned a bit defensive, at least for the short term, thus joining what has been a neutral-to-defensive tilt to our fundamentals-based Outlook rankings.
In this weekly update, I give my view of the current market environment, offer a technical analysis of the S&P 500 chart, review our weekly fundamentals-based SectorCast rankings of the ten U.S. business sectors, and then offer up some actionable trading ideas, including a sector rotation strategy using ETFs and an enhanced version using top-ranked stocks from the t...
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Understanding the new normal of a business model is key to the success of any company. The managment of companies need to adapt to the changing demand, but first they must recognize what changes are taking place. Big Pharma's business model is changing rapidly, and much like the airline industry, there will be but a handful of pharma companies left at the end of this path.
Most Big Pharma companies have traditionally done everything from research and development (R&D) through to commercialisation themselves. Research was proprietary, and diseases were cherry picked on the back of academic research that was done using NIH grants. This was in the heyday of research, where multiple companies had drugs for the same target (Mevocor, Zocor, Crestor, Lipitor), and could reap the rewards on multiple scales. However, in the c...
Bitcoin, the virtual digital currency, has been called the future of banking, a dangerous fad, and almost everything in between, but we're finally about to get some solid data to help settle the debate.
On Monday, the Nasdaq (NDAQ) stock exchange said it would ...
Chris Kimble likes the idea of shorting the US dollar if it bounces higher. Phil's likes the dollar better long here. These views are not inconsistent, actually, the dollar could bounce and drop again. We'll be watching.
Phil writes: If the Fed begins to tighten OR if Greece defaults OR if China begins to fall apart OR if Japan begins to unwind, then the Dollar could move 10% higher. Without any of those things happening – you still have the Fed pursuing a relatively stronger currency policy than the rest of the G8. So, if anything, I think the pressure should be up, not down.
UNLESS that 95 line does ultimately fail (as opposed to this being bullish consolidation at the prior breakout point), then I'd prefer to sell the UUP Jan $25 puts for $0.85 and buy the Sept $24 call...
Back in December, I wrote a post on my blog where I compared the performances of various ETFs related to the oil industry. I was looking for the best possible proxy to match the moves of oil prices if you didn't want to play with futures. At the time, I concluded that for medium term trades, USO and the leveraged ETFs UCO and SCO were the most promising. Longer term, broader ETFs like OIH and XLE might make better investment if oil prices do recover to more profitable prices since ETF linked to futures like USO, UCO and SCO do suffer from decay. It also seemed that DIG and DUG could be promising if OIH could recover as it should with the price of oil, but that they don't make a good proxy for the price of oil itself.
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...
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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