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 firstname.lastname@example.org as instructed by the web site, asking for a small amount of very…
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):
Key selection from the Second Circuit’s Fed FOIA appeal:
The “public interest” standard rejected in Merrill is the functional equivalent of the “program effectiveness” test, as the Board invokes it: the agency gets to withhold whatever it deems harmful to disclose--and an agency’s decision as to its own mission and effectiveness is the kind of thing that ordinarily commands deferential review. The Board and the Clearing House undertake to show that disclosure would harm the banks that borrowed (by disclosing their prior distress) and the banking system as a whole (because banks under stress may hesitate to seek relief or rescue), and that these harms will reduce the effectiveness of measures critical to the banking system. The arguments are plausible, and forcefully made. But a test that permits an agency to deny disclosure because the agency thinks it best to do so (or convinces a court to think so, by logic or deference) would undermine “the basic policy that disclosure, not secrecy, is the dominant objective of [FOIA].” See Rose, 425 U.S. at 361.
The requirement of disclosure under FOIA and its proper limits are matters of congressional policy. The statute as written by Congress sets forth no basis for the exemption the Board asks us to read into it. If the Board believes such an exemption would better serve the national interest, it should ask Congress to amend the statute.
In other words: if the Fed wants to maintain its strict secrecy, it better get Congress to change the laws immediately. Of course, if that happens it will become very clear who controls not just the fiscal and monetary destiny of America, its executive control (via the recently institued bilateral decision making of who apoints who – the President of the United States <-> The President of the FRBNY, and vice versa), but also the legislative. As for the judicial, we will know definitively when the Supreme Court overturns this decision. In other words, the Federal Reserve is about to become the President, the Congress and the Supreme Court (not to mention Wall Street) all rolled into one.
Congrats Paul La Monica. Your editorial, “Shut up, Lloyd Blankfein!” is spreading like wildfire. It’s ‘gone viral’ as they say. However, it is clear that your knowledge of the issues involved is limited, at best.
It draws in populists with the provocative “Shut Up” headline, then morphs into stealth Goldman ass-kissing. It essentially tells Goldman-critics to man up and stop whining.
It starts out with a bit of promise:
The public relations gurus who are advising Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein might want to give him some new advice. Shut up!
Blankfein made a startling confession Tuesday. He apologized for Goldman’s role in the financial crisis, saying that the bank ‘participated in things that were clearly wrong and have reason to regret.’
But any redeeming qualities end there. He goes on to display ignorance in the subjects of finance and banking. He essentially argues that Goldman should be allowed to do as it pleases. This part particularly rankled me:
The notion that Goldman’s good fortune is a problem is silly. Even though many average Americans are still struggling financially, it’s misguided to suggest that everybody should be suffering and that the nation would have been better off if Wall Street went under. . .
Goldman Sachs is a bank. It’s supposed to make money. It’s supposed to take risks. Lloyd isn’t exactly running the March of Dimes.
Where to begin? Monica’s statement that banks are “supposed” to take risks is interesting. Because I thought a bank was supposed to safeguard people’s money, while making responsible loans to others. That’s how fractional-reserve banking works.
Goldman Sachs is an investment bank/hedge-fund with government guarantees. They’re not a “bank” in the traditional sense of the word.
When the U.S. converted GS and other “systemically important” firms to bank holding companies, it flat-out saved their asses. Ongoing perks include cheap Fed funds and the ability to issue government-guaranteed debt (Goldman still has around $20b in gov-backed debt).
And Monica says they are supposed to take risk, with explicit government-backing? That, my friends, is 100% pure garbage.
His statement that we should get off Goldman’s back, since they
Using a Prechteresque term, Bill Gross Says the "Bull Market Super-Cycle is Nearing End". The attempt by global central banks to cure a debt crisis with more debt doesn’t have much further to run, which will end a rally that’s lasted three and a half decades, the 71-year-old manager wrote in an investment outlook for Janus Capital Group Inc. Investors should stop focusing on price appreciation and instead look to “mildly levered income,” such as his recommendation to short German government debt, he said.
“Credit-based oxygen is running out,” Gross wrote in the outlook, titled “A Sense of an Ending,” in which he compared the final stages of the market cycle with his o...
Our estimates show that the developing world lost US$991.2 billion in illicit financial flows in 2012, over ten times the amount of official development aid received by these countries in that year, and greater than the amount of net foreign direct investment received. From 2003 – 2012, US$6.6 trillio...
After posting record highs the previous week, stocks closed last week slightly down overall. But the major indexes held their psychological levels, including Dow at 18,000, S&P 500 at 2100, NASDAQ at 5,000, and Russell 2000 at 1200. Although the bulls continue to find reliable support levels nearby, strong overhead technical resistance and neutral-to-defensive rankings in our SectorCast fundamentals-based quant model continue to suggest that a major upside breakout is not quite imminent, although a selloff doesn’t seem to be in the cards, either. Overall, stocks appear to be coiling ever tighter while awaiting...
It was a bit of a non-event for indices as early gains were unable to hold by the close of business. As a result, some of the challenges on highs faded and all indices remained inside prior consolidations. Volume was also down on Friday's, which kept things muted. For example, the S&P touched on 2120 resistance, but finished below this level. The Nasdaq is stuck in the middle of its bearish rising wedge While the Russell 2000 was unable even to mount a challenge of overhead resistance at 50-day or 200-day MA...
Margin Debt of late hit all-time highs, surpassing levels reached in 2000 and 2007, should we be concerned? In the long-term, margin debt at these levels will most likely become an issue that will impact markets, possibly like it has in the past.
In the past, it wasn’t high levels that ended up being the signal to reduce exposure to stocks. So what was the signal? When should we be concerned that these levels could impact stocks?
Below looks at Margin debt on a 12-month rolling Average basis. The chart below reflects that when margin debt was expanding rapidly on a 12-month basis in 2000 and 2007; then it turned sharply lower, that is when investors sh...
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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.
Here's an interesting argument by Felix Salmon, although I think he is taking two correct observations and mistakenly attributing a cause-and-effect relationship to them: Bitcoin is going nowhere because women are not involved.
More likely, in my opinion, women are not involved in bitcoin because bitcoin is going nowhere (and they know it). Or maybe, simply, bitcoin is going nowhere and women are not involved.
Nathaniel Popper’s new book, Digital Gold, is as close as you can get to being the definitive account of the history of Bitcoin. As its subtitle proclaims, the book tells the story of the “misfits” (the first generation of hacker-l...
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...
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PSW Members - well, what a year for biotechs! The Biotech Index (IBB) is up a whopping 40%, beating the S&P hands down! The healthcare sector has had a number of high flying IPOs, and beat the Tech Sector in total nubmer of IPOs in the past 12 months. What could go wrong?
Phil has given his Secret Santa Inflation Hedges for 2015, and since I have been trying to keep my head above water between work, PSW, and baseball with my boys...it is time that something is put together for PSW on biotechs in 2015.
Cancer and fibrosis remain two of the hottest areas for VC backed biotechs to invest their monies. A number of companies have gone IPO which have drugs/technologies that fight cancer, includin...
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 email@example.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.
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