by ilene - August 31st, 2010 10:33 am
Courtesy of Tyler Durden
Paul Farrell’s take on Jeremy Grantham’s recent essay Seven Lean Years (previously posted on Zero Hedge) is amusing in that his conclusion is that should Obama get reelected, his entire tenure will have been occupied by fixing the problems of a 30 year credit bubble, and if anything end up with the worst rating of all time, as the citizens’ anger is focused on him as the one source of all evil. "Add seven years to the handoff from Bush to Obama in early 2009 and you get no recovery till 2016. Get it? No recovery till the end of Obama’s second term, assuming he’s reelected — a big if." Also, Farrell pisses all over the recent catastrophic Geithner NYT oped essay, which praised the imminent recovery which merely turned out to be the grand entrance into the double dip: "In his recent newsletter, "Seven Lean Years Revisited," Grantham tells us why expecting a summer of recovery was unrealistic, why America must prepare for a long recovery. Grantham details 10 reasons: "The negatives that are likely to hamper the global developed economy." Sorry, but this recovery will take till 2016."
For those who have not had a chance to read the original Grantham writings, here is Farrell’s attempt to convince you that Grantham is spot on:
But should you believe Grantham? Yes. First: Like Joseph, Grantham’s earlier forecasts were dead on. About two years before Wall Street’s 2008 meltdown Grantham saw: "The First Truly Global Bubble: From Indian antiquities to modern Chinese art; from land in Panama to Mayfair; from forestry, infrastructure, and the junkiest bonds to mundane blue chips; it’s bubble time. … The bursting of the bubble will be across all countries and all assets … no similar global event has occurred before."
Second: The Motley Fools’ Matt Argersinger went back to the dot-com crash of 2000: Grantham "looked out 10 years and predicted the S&P 500 would underperform cash." Bull’s-eye: The S&P 500 peaked at 11,722; it’s now around 10,000. Factor in inflation: Wall Street’s lost 20% of your retirement since 2000. Yes, Wall Street’s a big loser.
Third: What’s ahead for the seven lean years? Wall Street will keep losing. Argersinger: "Grantham predicts below-average economic growth, anemic corporate-profit margins, and other
by ilene - August 18th, 2010 10:49 pm
Courtesy of Jr. Deputy Accountant
OK now I have officially had enough with this settlement bullsh*t. The state of New Jersey is allowed to lie about pension funding and defraud investors, and isn’t even levied a penalty? That’s not a slap on the wrist, it’s a slap in all of our faces.
Basically all it means for NJ is that they can’t sell these crap bonds anymore. Way to regulate, you lazy, toothless **cks. Now what about the idiots who invested in this crap? Throw them on the pile with the rest of New Jersey’s creditors?
The Securities and Exchange Commission accused the State of New Jersey of securities fraud on Wednesday for telling the bond markets that it was properly funding state workers’ pensions when it was not, The New York Times’s Mary Williams Walsh reports.
As a result, the S.E.C. said in a cease-and-desist order, investors bought more than $26 billion worth of New Jersey’s bonds, without understanding the severity of the state’s financial troubles. New Jersey, the S.E.C. said, has agreed to accept the order, without admitting or denying the finding. The agency did not impose a financial penalty.
Wednesday’s action was the first time the federal agency has accused a state with violating securities laws. The S.E.C.’s powers of enforcement against the states are tightly limited by states’-rights concerns and constitutional law, and it has standing to get involved only when there is a clear-cut case of fraud.
“The State of New Jersey didn’t give its municipal investors a fair shake, withholding and misrepresenting pertinent information about its financial situation,” Robert Khuzami, director of the S.E.C.’s division of enforcement, said in a statement. The cease-and-desist order named only the State of New Jersey, and not the financial institutions that helped it issue the bonds. Its largest bond underwriters during the period in question include Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs and Barclays Capital.
Well who cares, even if they did name banks by name it’s not like they’d actually DO anything about it, right? Maybe they priced in a few million extra when they last settled with EACH of those banks for financial misdeeds.
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.
by ilene - April 28th, 2010 12:11 pm
Courtesy of Tyler Durden
As Bruce Krasting disclosed yesterday, Goldman’s Josh Birnbaum "slipped" when disclosing the firm’s prop equity positions, in listing the companies his firm was actively shorting. We hope none of these were naked shorts as that would not reinforce the case of prudent risk management by Goldman’s discount window-accessible hedge fund (in other words, the entire firm). Today, via the full exhibit list, we learn that in addition to Bear Stearns, in July 2007 the firm, via Josh, was also actively shorting a variety of other mortgage-related firms at the Structured Products Group via puts, which in addition to Bear, included Moody’s, National City, PMI, WaMu, and Capital One. The firm only had a micro S&P long offset. As the list demonstrates, the firm had a big delta short in fins offset with no financial longs, thus refuting Josh’s testimony that this was a "hedge" when in reality this was nothing than a directional short bet on fins. What is more troubling is that Josh was planning on expanding the list to a whole slew of other firms, and specifically competitors, most of which eventually going under: including Lehman, Merrill, and Morgan Stanley.
We are confident that sooner or later AIG made the list, if not so much on the equity short side, as long CDS. If anyone wants to make the conspiratorial case that Goldman may have had the upper hand on these firms by knowing their liquidity situation and profited from it by shorting them as each bank in turn experienced a bank run, this could be a good place to start. It also begs the question if Dodd’s worthless bill has anything to see about predatory practices by Wall Street firms which actively short each other, potentially leading to a destabilization of the system.
by ilene - April 27th, 2010 7:44 pm
by ilene - April 19th, 2010 9:29 pm
Courtesy of James Howard Kunstler
It’s interesting and instructive to read The New York Times’ lead story this morning, TOP GOLDMAN LEADERS SAID TO HAVE OVERSEEN MORTGAGE UNIT. While it pretends to report all the particulars of the huge scandal growing out of Friday’s SEC action against Goldman Sachs, the story really comes off as an attempt to create an alibi for the so-called "bank." It pretends that some kind of an intellectual struggle was going on among GS executives as to whether the housing market was doing just fine or poised to tank — therefore muddling the company’s intent in setting up investment deals based on sketchy mortgages designed to blow up so that a favored big customer, John Paulson, could collect on the deal insurance known as credit default swaps.
The truth is that anyone with half a brain could see the securitized mortgage fiasco coming from ten-thousand miles away. I said as much in Chapter Six ("Running on Fumes: the Hallucinated Economy") of my book The Long Emergency [The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century ], which was published in 2005 but written well before that in 2002-4. And I had had no work experience whatsoever in banking generally or Wall Street investment banking in particular.
One week before the SEC action against GS, the Pro Publica website published a story about virtually the same kind of mischief being run out of the Chicago-based hedge fund Magnetar led by a clever young fellow named Alec Litowitz. Like Goldman Sachs, Magnetar deliberately constructed investments (bundles of bundled mortgage-backed securities called collateralized debt obligations) that were certain to fail so that Magnetar could collect on credit default swaps that amounted to a bet against products they themselves had participated in creating. There was no question that Litowitz and his employees did this absolutely on purpose. Nor is there any question that they aggressively sold positions in these CDOs to credulous investors like Thrivent Financial for Lutherans and others.
The question that now begs to be answered is: why is this activity not being investigated and prosecuted under the federal RICO statutes against racketeering? The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act was designed to punish exactly this kind of behavior, whether the defendant’s name ended in a vowel or not.…
by ilene - April 18th, 2010 11:59 am
Courtesy of Mish
Merrill Lynch now stands accused of the same fraudulent actions as Goldman Sachs. Please consider Merrill Used Same Alleged Fraud as Goldman, Bank Says
Merrill Lynch & Co. engaged in the same investor fraud that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission accused Goldman Sachs Group Inc. of committing, according to a bank that sued the firm in New York last year.
Cooperatieve Centrale Raiffeisen-Boerenleenbank BA, known as Rabobank, claims Merrill, now a unit of Bank of America Corp., failed to tell it a key fact in advising on a synthetic collateralized debt obligation. Omitted was Merrill’s relationship with another client betting against the investment, which resulted in a loss of $45 million, Rabobank claims.
“This is the tip of the iceberg in regard to Goldman Sachs and certain other banks who were stacking the deck against CDO investors,” said Jon Pickhardt, an attorney with Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, who is representing Netherlands-based Rabobank.
Goldman Sachs, the most profitable securities firm in Wall Street history, created and sold CDOs tied to subprime mortgages in early 2007, as the U.S. housing market faltered, without disclosing that Paulson helped pick the underlying securities and bet against them, the SEC said in a statement yesterday.
The SEC allegations are “unfounded in law and fact, and we will vigorously contest them,” Goldman said in a statement.
“When one major firm becomes aware of the creative instrument of others, there is historically an effort to replicate them,” said Jacob Frenkel, a former SEC lawyer now in private practice in Potomac, Maryland.
SEC spokesman John Heine declined to comment on whether it is investigating Merrill’s actions.
Merrill loaded the Norma CDO with bad assets, Rabobank claims. Rabobank seeks $45 million in damages, according to a complaint filed in state court in June 2009. Rabobank initially provided a secured loan of almost $60 million to Merrill, according to its complaint.
That Merrill Lynch now stands accused should not surprise anyone. Nor will it be any surprise if Morgan Stanley and Citigroup are accused of similar dealings. Indeed, it may be interesting to see who is not accused.
Goldman’s statement The SEC allegations are “unfounded in law and fact, and we will vigorously contest them” is an interesting theoretical debate.
by ilene - March 19th, 2010 2:04 pm
Courtesy of Karl Denninger at The Market Ticker
Remember, Bernanke said under questioning the other day that "they hid it" in response to a question about whether or not The Fed knew about the Lehman "105" repo arrangements, which appear to have been structured to intentionally mislead the public (and investors) about its liquidity position.
But in the deep of the night Financial Times published an article that resoundingly calls "BS" on that claim:
Securities and Exchange Commission and Federal Reserve officials were warned by a leading Wall Street rival that Lehman Brothers was incorrectly calculating a key measure of its financial health months before its collapse in 2008, people familiar with the matter say.
Former Merrill Lynch officials said they contacted regulators about the way Lehman measured its liquidity position for competitive reasons. The Merrill officials said they were coming under pressure from their trading partners and investors, who feared that Merrill was less liquid than Lehman.
Beyond the apparent perjury (which our Congress seems to ignore any time a "powerful" person commits it) there is the larger problem in that if the Chairman of The Fed has lied about this, what else has he lied about?
Most critically, what about all those other banks out there with HELOC exposure behind underwater first mortgages that are not being paid on time?
The Market Ticker has reported on the wildly inaccurate and ridiculous treatment of firsts in this environment – people being "allowed" to remain in a home even though they haven’t made a payment in a year – and sometimes two, loans that are reported to credit bureaus as having payments made on them "by agreement" when the consumer is not only not paying but has never talked with the financial institution involved about it. A quick look at the 10Qs and 10Ks filed by the big financial institutions discloses that these institutions have literal hundreds of…
by ilene - February 5th, 2010 3:05 pm
Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist
One of the primary reasons for our move to sell equities in mid-January was the warning shot the CDS market was sending. Specifically, we said:
As the problem of debt refuses to go away and in fact, quietly spreads, we’ve seen another slow development over the course of the last few weeks – problems in Greece appear to be worse than originally expected and credit default swaps are sending warning messages again. The term structure in Greek CDS recently inverted as investors are now increasingly concerned of a default in the next few months. This is something we saw in 2008 before the financial markets nearly collapsed. That time the inversion was in Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch CDS.
As the problems in the banking sector unfolded in late Summer 2008 the sovereign debt of the big three developed nations began to skyrocket before reaching a crescendo in early 2009. What’s alarming with the situation in Greece is the similarities in CDS price action. The recent uptick could be serving as a warning flag of things to come in 2010 and 2011 when the problem of debt has potential to rear its ugly head again. Barclays might not have been too far off when they said the probability of a crisis would grow in 2010.
Well, this situation has only worsened in recent weeks and the equity
“The danger for every risk asset beyond IG credit is that if higher quality assets see forced re-pricing then it surely has to impact the riskier end of markets. The situation is increasingly reminding us of August/September 2008 when the credit market was sending out a strong sell signal to the equity market. Failing a quick sovereign bail-out, the credit markets are sending out a similar sell signal.”
by ilene - February 4th, 2010 12:10 pm
Today, Andrew Cuomo announced fraud charges against Bank of America and top executives over the Merrill Lynch merger debacle.
The charges are civil, but Cuomo says there are pending criminal investigations.
Here’s the full release:
ATTORNEY GENERAL CUOMO FILES FRAUD CHARGES AGAINST BANK OF AMERICA, FORMER CEO KENNETH LEWIS, AND FORMER CFO JOSEPH PRICE
Suit Alleges Bank of America’s Top Management Hid Skyrocketing Losses at Merrill Lynch
Bank of America Management Manipulated Federal Government into Granting Massive Taxpayer Bailout
NEW YORK, NY (February 4, 2010) – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo,
joined by Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief
Program Neil Barofsky, today announced a lawsuit against Bank of
America, its former CEO Kenneth D. Lewis, and its former CFO Joseph L.
Price for duping shareholders and the federal government in order to
complete a merger with Merrill Lynch. According to the lawsuit, Bank of
America’s management intentionally failed to disclose massive losses
at Merrill so that shareholders would vote to approve the merger. Once
the deal was approved, Bank of America’s management manipulated the
federal government into saving the deal with billions in taxpayer funds
by falsely claiming that they would back out of the deal without bailout
“This merger is a classic example of how the actions of our
nation’s largest financial institutions led to the near-collapse of
our financial system,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “Bank of
America, through its top management, engaged in a concerted effort to
deceive shareholders and American taxpayers at large. This was an
arrogant scheme hatched by the bank’s top executives who believed they
could play by their own set of rules. In the end, they committed an
enormous fraud and American taxpayers ended up paying billions for Bank
of America’s misdeeds.”
“The events surrounding the Bank of America/Merrill Lynch merger and
the United States Government’s investment in Bank of America through
the Troubled Asset Relief Program are an important part of the history
of the financial crisis,” said Special Inspector General Neil
Barofsky. “Attorney General Cuomo and his staff, working hand…