by ilene - October 21st, 2010 8:04 pm
With bankruptcy this lucrative, who needs solvency?
Lehman Brothers’ demise has so far meant more than a billion dollars in fees for its reorganization pallbearers. Makes you think we missed a great opportunity for economic stimulus by propping up so many other faltering companies up…
Lehman Brothers Holdings on Monday said it has paid more than $1 billion to its lawyers, consultants and financial advisers since filing the largest U.S. bankruptcy two years ago, Reuters reports.
Professional and other fees totaled $1.01 billion through September 30, up $51.8 million from $961.3 million a month earlier, a filing with the U.S. bankruptcy court in Manhattan shows.
Lehman’s bankruptcy is the costliest in U.S. history, surpassing Enron and WorldCom, according to the UCLA Law School professor Lynn LoPucki.
Well, I want in on some of that action! Maybe I’ll walk over and see if they could use a blogger on the job or something. I mean, since it’s a carrion feast anyway, how could one more beak in the mix hurt anyone?
by ilene - September 18th, 2010 3:55 am
Courtesy of Sam Antar at White Collar Fraud
The difference between arithmetic and accounting is that in accounting the result can be any number you want it to be.
See the video below:
Back in the day, my former nemesis Howard Sirota was lead attorney in the successful class action litigation against Crazy Eddie. Today, Sirota represents whistleblowers, such as me, who are frequent targets of retaliation by unscrupulous public companies.
Written by Sam E. Antar
I am a convicted felon and a former CPA. As the criminal CFO of Crazy Eddie, I helped my cousin Eddie Antar and other members of our family mastermind one of the largest securities frauds uncovered during the 1980′s. I committed my crimes in cold-blood for fun and profit, and simply because I could.
If it weren’t for the efforts of the FBI, SEC, Postal Inspector’s Office, US Attorney’s Office, and class action plaintiff’s lawyers who investigated, prosecuted, and sued me, I would still be the criminal CFO of Crazy Eddie today.
There is a saying, "It takes one to know one." Today, I work very closely with the FBI, IRS, SEC, Justice Department, and other federal and state law enforcement agencies in training them to identify and catch white-collar criminals.
I do not seek or want forgiveness for my vicious crimes from my victims. I plan on frying in hell with other white-collar criminals for a very long time.
Recently, I exposed GAAP violations by Overstock.com (NASDAQ: OSTK) which caused the company to restate its financial reports for the third time in three years. The SEC is now investigating Overstock.com and its CEO Patrick Byrne for securities law violations (Details here, here, and here).
In addition, the SEC is now investigating possible GAAP violations by Bidz.com (NASDAQ: BIDZ) after I alerted them about the company’s inventory accounting practices.
I do not own any securities in Overstock.com or Bidz.com, long or short. My investigation of these companies is a freebie for securities regulators to get me into heaven, though I doubt I will ever get there.
by ilene - September 11th, 2010 3:35 pm
Courtesy of Roddy Boyd, THE FINANCIAL INVESTIGATOR
Editor’s Note: There is perhaps nothing so silly and attention-seeking as the reporter who willingly inserts him- or herself into a story for some narrative purpose or other, but I am going to make a (big) and one-time exception to this rule by posting this.
The backstory: Prior to committing to a book on AIG and its collapse, I had begun to pitch a book called “Shifting The Blame.”
The idea was simplicity itself: I’d take about eight or nine companies–from Overstock to Lehman, from Arthrocare to MBIA–who had hit the skids and who had, at some point, blamed some combination of reporters and short-sellers for their woes. As opposed to, say, embellishing their financials, lying, losing money, hiding losses, incompetence…you take the point. My goal was to fuse investigative reporting and the naturally dramatic arc of their sleazy behavior and comeuppances to make for an eye-opening read. I’d raise a few eyebrows, get some laughs, maybe make a deeper point about free speech, investigative reporting and the real scandals in the market.
My agent, summoning me to a breakfast one Saturday, said she loved the idea but, well, there was another book coming out by a fellow named Rick Sauer and it was going to hit on a few of the same themes. I lamely tried to suggest that Sauer’s book was an “Inside-the-SEC guy-turned-shortseller” type thing, where as my work was a series of inter-connected investigative essays.
No matter. The market is the market and the market didn’t, apparently, want two of these books. So I scrapped it.
This was the preface to the book, telling a story about an earnest PR guy who had the unenviable job of spinning a discredited yarn into gold for his revenge-hungry clients. I found it in a musty corner of the hard-drive and showed it to a few pretty smart former colleagues of mine who said they liked it.
I sort of do too. It’s dated, but like a hiss on an old record album, it gives it some gravity. Maybe.
The origin of this book lies with a series of phone conversations between myself and Jeffrey Lloyd, a partner at the public relations firm of Sitrick and Company, in the early autumn of 2008.
by ilene - September 7th, 2010 1:12 pm
Amongst the items coming out of the FCIC hearings last week were new docs that revealed exactly how over-reliant LEH was on daily, short term funding to cover their longer terms costs. It was a recipe for disaster, a trailer park in search of a tornado.
Here is the WSJ:
“In looking last week at Lehman’s demise, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission produced testimony and documents that suggest the firm’s short-term funding was a serious problem well before its Sept. 15, 2008 crash. The new Lehman material is a brutal reminder of the flightiness of short-term debt. And it begs the question: Why didn’t Dodd-Frank do more to limit banks’ use of things like repo markets, in which banks take out short-term collateralized loans?
It was in the repo market that Lehman experienced stress from early 2008. J.P. Morgan Chase, which plays a central role in the “triparty” repo market, decided to introduce a reform in early 2008 aimed at making the market safer. The firm decided that borrowers would have to start providing collateral that slightly exceeded the intraday amounts it had advanced them. This extra collateral is called margin. When discussing the change, a Lehman executive called it “a problem,” in a February 2008 email contained in FCIC documents.”
by ilene - September 3rd, 2010 5:04 pm
Courtesy of MICHAEL HUDSON, writing at CounterPunch
What is the difference between today’s economy and Lehman Brothers just before it collapsed in September 2008? Should Lehman, the economy, Wall Street – or none of the above – be bailed out of bad mortgage debt? How did the Fed and Treasury decide which Wall Street firms to save – and how do they decide whether or not to save U.S. companies, personal mortgage debtors, states and cities from bankruptcy and insolvency today? Why did it start by saving the richest financial institutions, leaving the “real” economy locked in debt deflation?
Stated another way, why was Lehman the only Wall Street firm permitted to go under? How does the logic that Washington used in its case compare to how it is treating the economy at large? Why bail out Wall Street – whose managers are rich enough not to need to spend their gains – and not the quarter of U.S. homeowners unfortunate enough also to suffer “negative equity” but not qualify for the help that the officials they elect gave to Wall Street’s winners by enabling Bear Stearns, A.I.G., Countrywide Financial and other gamblers to pay their bad debts?
There was disagreement last Wednesday at the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission now plodding along through its post mortem hearings on the causes of Wall Street’s autumn 2008 collapse and ensuing bailout. Federal Reserve economists argue that the economy – and Wall Street firms apart from Lehman – merely had a liquidity problem, a temporary failure to find buyers for its junk mortgages. By contrast, Lehman had a more deep-seated “balance sheet” problem: negative equity. A taxpayer bailout would have been an utter waste, not recoverable.
Lehman CEO Dick Fuld is bitter. He claims that Lehman was unfairly singled out. After all, the Fed lent $29 billion to help JPMorgan Chase buy out Bear Stearns the preceding spring. In the wake of Lehman’s failure it seemed to gain the courage to say, “Never again,” and avoided new collapses by bailing out A.I.G. – saving all its counterparties from having to take a loss.
Was this not a giveaway? Fuld implied. Why couldn’t the Fed and Treasury do for Lehman what they did with other Wall Street investment firms and stock brokers: let it reclassify itself as a bank so it could pawn off…
by ilene - September 2nd, 2010 2:55 pm
Courtesy of Jr. Deputy Accountant
Alright so he didn’t come out and admit he’s a big fat liar but it’s about the closest to that admission as we might ever get so enjoy it, kids.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said he regretted not saying in congressional testimony shortly after the failure of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in 2008 that the central bank had no authority to save the firm.
The testimony at the time “has supported this myth that we did have a way of saving Lehman,” Bernanke said in response to questions during a Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission hearing in Washington today. “I regret not being more straightforward there because clearly it has supported the mistaken impression that in fact we could have done something.”
Is Bernanke sure that the Fed had the authority to save the firms they did? Is Maiden Lane (I, II and III) within the Fed’s authority? Is it in the Fed’s authority to lie and say the crap they took on their balance sheet isn’t really junk grade like it is?
Me thinks the baldy doth protest too much.
by ilene - July 30th, 2010 1:50 am
Courtesy of MIKE WHITNEY writing at CounterPunch
On Tuesday, the 30-year fixed rate for mortgages plunged to an all-time low of 4.56 per cent. Rates are falling because investors are still moving into risk-free liquid assets, like Treasuries. It’s a sign of panic and the Fed’s lame policy response has done nothing to sooth the public’s fears. The flight-to-safety continues a full two years after Lehman Bros blew up.
Housing demand has fallen off a cliff in spite of the historic low rates. Purchases of new and existing homes are roughly 25 per cent of what they were at peak in 2006. Case/Schiller reported on Monday that June new homes sales were the "worst on record", but the media twisted the story to create the impression that sales were actually improving! Here are a few of Monday’s misleading headlines: "New Home Sales Bounce Back in June"--Los Angeles Times. "Builders Lifted by June New-home Sales", Marketwatch. "New Home Sales Rebound 24 per cent", CNN. "June Sales of New Homes Climb more than Forecast", Bloomberg.
The media’s lies are only adding to the sense of uncertainty. When uncertainty grows, long-term expectations change and investment nosedives. Lying has an adverse effect on consumer confidence and, thus, on demand. This is from Bloomberg:
The Conference Board’s confidence index dropped to a 5-month low of 50.4 from 54.3 in June. According to Bloomberg News:
"Sentiment may be slow to improve until companies start adding to payrolls at a faster rate, and the Federal Reserve projects unemployment will take time to decline. Today’s figures showed income expectations at their lowest point in more than a year, posing a risk for consumer spending that accounts for 70 per cent of the economy.
“Consumers’ faith in the economic recovery is failing,” said guy LeBas, chief fixed-income strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott LLC in Philadelphia, whose forecast of 50.3 for the confidence index was the closest among economists surveyed by Bloomberg. “The job market is slow and volatile, and it’ll be 2013 before we see any semblance of normality in the labor market." (Bloomberg)
Confidence is falling because unemployment is soaring, because the media is lying, and because the Fed’s monetary policy has failed. Notice that Bloomberg does not mention consumer worries over "curbing the deficits". In truth, the public has only a passing interest in the large…
by ilene - May 27th, 2010 12:58 pm
Courtesy of Jr. Deputy Accountant
First WaMu came back from the grave to haunt JP Morgan, now Lehman is rising from the dead and demanding reparations for its murder. Go figure.
I’m not arguing that Lehman didn’t have it coming, I’ll leave it for a judge to decide whether or not it was JP Morgan’s fault for taking advantage of that fact.
Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. sued JPMorgan Chase & Co. to recover tens of billions of dollars in “lost value,” accusing the bank of precipitating its downfall and preventing it from winding down in an orderly fashion.
JPMorgan, which was Lehman’s main short-term lender before its September 2008 bankruptcy, helped cause the failure by demanding $8.6 billion of collateral as credit markets tightened during the financial crisis, Lehman said in a complaint filed yesterday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York.
“On the brink of LBHI’s bankruptcy, JPMorgan leveraged its life and death power as the brokerage firm’s primary clearing bank to force LBHI into a series of one-sided agreements and to siphon billions of dollars in critically needed assets,” Lehman said in the complaint.
Lehman, once the fourth-biggest investment bank, has said it may spend another five years selling assets to pay unsecured creditors as little as 14.7 cents on the dollar. Any money recovered through lawsuits may increase the payout.
“The lawsuit is ill conceived, and the costly litigation will cause a further drain on the limited resources available to the Lehman bankruptcy estate,” said Joe Evangelisti, a JPMorgan spokesman.
by ilene - May 17th, 2010 3:59 am
Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist
If the chart below doesn’t grab your attention then few things will. In my opinion, the performance of the dollar is the surest evidence of the kind of environment we’re currently in. The surging dollar is a clear sign that inflation is not the concern of global investors. This is almost a sure sign that deflation is once again gripping the global economy and should be setting off red flags for equity investors around the world.
The recent action in the dollar is eerily reminiscent of the peak worries in the credit crisis when deflation appeared to be taking a death grip on the global economy and demand for dollars was extremely high. The recent 16% rally in the dollar is a sign that investors are once again worried about the continuing problem of debt around the world and they’re reaching for the safety of the world’s reserve currency – the dollar. As asset prices decline and bond yields collapse this is a clear sign that inflation is not the near-term concern, but rather that the debt based deflationary trends continue to dominate global economic trends.
This is exactly the kind of market action we saw leading up to Lehman Brothers. In 2008 the dollar rallied as signs of deflation began to sprout up. This was an instant red flag for anyone who understood the deflationary forces at work (and a total surprise for the inflationistas). The dollar ultimately rallied 26% from peak to trough. Coincidentally, the dollar had rallied 16% from trough to peak just prior to the Lehman collapse when the dollar surge accelerated.
Of course, the inflationistas will argue that gold is rising in anticipation of inflation. In my opinion, this is incorrect. First of all, if inflation were a major global concern the Goldman Sachs Commodity Index wouldn’t be almost 65% off its all-time high and just 33% above its 2009 low. Second, and perhaps most importantly, bond yields around the globe wouldn’t be plummeting if there were rampant inflationary fears. For a much more detailed analysis on the reasons why inflation is not a near-term concern please see here.
by ilene - May 17th, 2010 3:43 am
Courtesy of John Lounsbury
Definition from Wikipedia:
Check kiting is the illegal act of taking advantage of the float to make use of non-existent funds in a checking or other bank account. It is commonly defined as writing a check from one bank knowingly with non-sufficient funds, then writing a check to another bank, also with non-sufficient funds, in order to cover the absence. The purpose of check kiting is to falsely inflate the balance of a checking account in order to allow checks that have been written that would otherwise bounce to clear.
From July 2004 through September 2008, Lawrence G. McDonald was a Vice President of Distressed Debt and Convertible Securities Trading at Lehman Brothers (LEHMQ.PK). He is now a Managing Director at Pangea Capital Management LP. Lawrence is most famous as author of the best selling book "A Colossal Failure of Common Sense: the Inside Story of the Collapse of Lehman Brothers".
MacDonald, in an article at The Huffington Post entitled "The Geithner Deception", lays major blame for the financial collapse of 2008 at the feet of now Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Geithner was President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York from 2003 through 2008 as the credit bubble expanded and exploded into crisis.
Unsettled Derivatives Trades
McDonald’s premise is that a major reason for the collapse of Lehman and, very quickly, the world’s financial structure, was unsettled derivative trades. The most notorious of these were known as CDS (credit default swaps) which amounted to guarantees by a seller to make payment to the buyer should there be a credit default by a third party. We’ll come back to discuss CDSs further in the next section.
But first, let’s complete the picture so well laid out by Lawrence McDonald. He compares the operation of CDS trades to those in a regulated market, such as the stock exchanges or regulated derivative markets such as the CBOE (The Chicago Board of Options Exchange). When trades are made in those markets, the buyer must deliver payment by the settlement date or the trade is cancelled. In the case of stocks, settlement is required within three days.