by ilene - May 11th, 2011 11:57 pm
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…
by ilene - March 31st, 2011 11:53 am
Courtesy of Jim Quinn, The Burning Platform
“We now have an economy in which five banks control over 50 percent of the entire banking industry, four or five corporations own most of the mainstream media, and the top one percent of families hold a greater share of the nation’s wealth than any time since 1930. This sort of concentration of wealth and power is a classic setup for the failure of a democratic republic and the stifling of organic economic growth.” - Jesse –http://jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com/
by ilene - February 14th, 2011 11:46 am
Excellent article comparing current situation with lead up to the Great Depression. Well worth reading. – Ilene
Courtesy of Jim Quinn at The Burning Platform
by ilene - February 9th, 2011 3:49 pm
Courtesy of Mish
MarketWatch reports Paul slams Fed’s bond-buying program
Outspoken Federal Reserve critic Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, slammed the central bank’s latest $600 billion bond-buying program on Wednesday, saying it and near-zero interest rates haven’t led to job creation in the United States.
“Over $4 trillion in bailout facilities and outright debt monetization, combined with interest rates near zero for over two years, have not and will not contribute to increased employment,” Paul said at a hearing of a House Financial Services subcommittee he heads.
“Debt monetization” is a reference by Paul and other Fed critics to the Fed’s latest bond-buying program — a characterization rejected by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.
In essence, Paul is charging that the central bank is enabling profligate spending by the government. The term “debt monetization” is a buzzword for how some poorer countries conducted policies in the post-World War II era.
Political Pressure on Fed Mounts
WSJ’s Sudeep Reddy reports on concerns the Federal Reserve could be facing political pressure from Congress, as Rep. Ron Paul holds the first hearing of a new Fed oversight committee. Separately, Fed Chairman Bernanke updates Congress on the economy.
If the above YouTube does not play here is a link: Rep. Ron Paul Ignites Fed Worry
by ilene - February 7th, 2011 8:10 pm
Meredith Whitney has done it again, turning Wall Street against her with a contrarian call, this time on municipal bonds.
The analyst’s prediction for “50 to 100 sizable defaults” of U.S. municipal bonds totaling “hundreds of billions of dollars” could become her Big Wrong Call. If so, it will knock Whitney from a pedestal, to the satisfaction of her many critics.
She has staked her credibility on this forecast, broadcast Dec. 20 in an interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes.” Her summary of a 600-page report to clients prompted a National League of Cities analyst to say she possessed a “stunning lack of understanding.” Other critics called her prediction “ludicrous,” “irresponsible,” “damaging,” and “overreaching.”
There’s a huge gap between these descriptions and Whitney’s track record as an analyst. The chasm is so big that it is worth exploring. Something interesting is going unexamined or unexplained.
“If These Allegations Are Correct, It Appears To Have Been A Direct Transfer Of Wealth From The United States Treasury To Goldman Sachs Shareholders”: Josh Rosner
by ilene - January 28th, 2011 12:41 am
Courtesy of The Daily Bail
Our favorite quotes so far from today’s FCIC report and reaction from analysts…
- "Less than a 3 percent drop in asset values could wipe out a firm." – FCIC Report
- "The AIG counterparty bailout, which was spun as necessary to protect the public, seems to have protected the institution at the expense of the public." – Josh Rosner
- "The total was for proprietary trades," the report asserts. "Unlike the $14 billion received from AIG on trades in which Goldman owed the money to its own counterparties, this $2.9 billion was retained by Goldman."
- "At the time, the idea was the sucker could go down because there wasn’t enough liquidity in the system, money wasn’t moving, and you could see a domino effect," said Ann Rutledge, a principal at R&R Consulting in New York, which specializes in structured finance. In reality, she contends, those fears were overblown: There was ample money in the financial system. Rather, individual institutions did not have enough cash on hand to survive their losses, she asserts. But the fear of a broader liquidity crisis was used as justification for what now appears to have been a backdoor means of bailing out Goldman, said Rutledge.
- The details in the commission’s report leave Goldman "naked," she added. "It doesn’t have the fig leaf of a systemic risk argument. Normally what happens when you have a sophisticated institution that’s doing stupid credit stuff is you let them eat it, but that didn’t happen in the bailout."
- "If these allegations are correct, it appears to have been a direct transfer of wealth from the Treasury to Goldman’s shareholders." – Josh Rosner
by ilene - January 27th, 2011 2:38 pm
The majority report finds fault with two Fed chairmen: Alan Greenspan, who led the central bank as the housing bubble expanded, and his successor, Ben S. Bernanke, who did not foresee the crisis but played a crucial role in the response. It criticizes Mr. Greenspan for advocating deregulation and cites a “pivotal failure to stem the flow of toxic mortgages” under his leadership as a “prime example” of negligence.
Anyone else running out tomorrow to get a copy?
Like the 9/11 Commission, we could have saved a whole lot of money and time by simply verifying alternative media claims instead of starting from scratch as if no one knew anything all along.
by ilene - January 27th, 2011 2:33 pm
By Elliott Wave International
Since its creation in 1913, the primary intended role of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank has been that of protector. In theory, the central bank was bestowed with the power to shape monetary policy in a way that would keep both booms and busts in check. The two main tools at its disposal — interest rates and money creation — would provide a "ceiling of normalcy" above expansions AND a "net of safety" below contractions.
To this day, the financial mainstream holds great faith in the Fed’s ability to fulfill its save-the-day duties — as these recent news items make plain:
- "Why Raising Fed Funds Rate Is Positive For Equities." (Seeking Alpha)
- "Fed’s Moves Lift All Asset Classes." (Associated Press)
- "US Stocks Erasing Losses: The aggressive moves of the Fed have been an important driver for the stabilization of stock prices." (Bloomberg)
But of all the variables the Fed creators took into account, there’s one glaring factor they neglected to consider: Namely, it cannot force consumers to spend, creditors to lend, or businesses to borrow. The events of 2007-2009 "credit crunch" and the subsequent "Great Recession" made that obvious. Remember how the government was upset at banks for sitting on the bailout funds instead of lending them out to consumers? And consumers weren’t exactly lining up on the street to get a loan, either.
The Fed’s inability to change social mood is the central theme in Chapter 13 of EWI President Bob Prechter’s NY Times business bestseller book Conquer the Crash. There, Bob describes the Fed’s strategy of lowering the federal funds rate to stimulate spending to be as effective as "pushing on a string." Writes Bob:
"The primary basis for today’s belief in perpetual prosperity and inflation with an occasional recession is what I call the ‘Potent Directors Fallacy.’ It is nearly impossible to find a treatise on macroeconomics today that does not assert or assume that the Federal Reserve Board has learned to control both our money and our economy. Many believe that it also possesses the immense power to manipulate the stock market. The very idea that it can do these things is false."
by ilene - January 25th, 2011 4:07 pm
One of the big reasons there have been so few fraud charges leveled against what looks like clear and widespread banking industry is that under the law, “fraud” is pretty difficult to prove. Needless to say, that puts commentators in a bit of a bind, because they can be depicted as being hysterical if they use the “f” words, since behavior that is often fraud by any common sense standard may be hard or impossible to prove in court.
The hurdle in litigation and prosecution is proving intent. Basically, the party who is being accused has to not only have done something bad, he has to have been demonstrably aware that he was up to no good. Thus po-faced claims of “I had no idea this was improper, my accountants/lawyers knew about it and didn’t say anything” or “everyone in the industry was doing it, so I had not reason to think this was irregular” is a “get out of jail free” card. Similarly, even if lower level employees knew that their company was up to stuff that stank, if the decision-makers can plausibly claim ignorance, again they can probably get away with it.
So it is gratifying in a perverse way to see a case in which the perp not only looks to have engaged in chicanery, but the facts make it pretty hard for him to say he didn’t know he was pulling a fast one. And even more fun, it involves JP Morgan, which has somehow managed to create the impression that it was better than all the other TARP banks, when on the mortgage front, there is plenty evidence to suggest that all the major banks have been up to their eyeballs in bad practices.
The case involves the bond insurer Ambac and the mortgage company EMC, which was the Bear Stearns conduit for buying mortgages to securitize and now thus part of JP Morgan. In 2010, reports surfaced that EMC had been falsifying mortgage data to keep its pipeline moving as fast as Bear wanted and contain costs.
But a suit by bond insurer Ambac alleges far more serious misbehavior. The discovery process in outstanding putback litigation has unearthed a scheme to defraud investors and Ambac and led the bond insurer to add fraud charges to its complaint. The Atlantic, which broke the 2010 story, gives a…
by ilene - January 23rd, 2011 3:20 pm