Nearly 80 years ago, on Capitol Hill, Ferdinand Pecora forced J. P. Morgan Jr. and other “banksters” to reveal the corruption that had fueled the Great Depression—bringing shame on the financial industry and resulting in new laws to curb abuses. Today, with Republicans having threatened to block reform and Goldman Sachs fighting fraud charges, the author looks back at the Pecora Commission hearings, which riveted America, and asks why there is no comparable investigation now.
J.P. Morgan Jr. was terrified. He was the most famous and arguably the most powerful banker in the United States, and also among the most secretive. But in May 1933, in the aftermath of the greatest financial crisis in the history of the United States, he was being called to testify before the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency to explain how the catastrophe had occurred. Morgan dreaded the prospect, in part because it was a painful reminder of his famous father’s unhappy experience testifying before the 1912 Pujo Committee, which had investigated the “money trust” (and was partly responsible for the creation of the Federal Reserve Board). The elder Morgan, mercilessly interrogated, had died shortly after the hearings. Many of his associates, not least his son, had blamed his death on his public humiliation.
Now it was the younger Morgan’s turn. Known to friends and associates as Jack, he was 65 years old and semi-retired. He feared that he might not be able to answer the committee’s questions, and he was even more afraid that he might lose his temper. His partners rehearsed Jack Morgan for days, peppering him with hostile and insulting questions. In the meantime, the Morgan bank’s powerful lawyer, John W. Davis, tried to keep the committee at bay. A onetime Democratic presidential nominee, Davis had helped pass a New York law barring any investigation of private bankers, and he argued in court that the Morgan bank was therefore entitled to privacy. But the U.S. Senate passed a resolution requiring the bank to open its books. The bank reluctantly complied and agreed to let Morgan testify.
He was to be questioned by Ferdinand Pecora, a former prosecutor who was now the special counsel to the committee. Pecora was known to be tough and unrelenting, and the prospect of his cross-examination attracted enormous publicity…
I wrote extensively in 2009 as to How Wall Street Bought Washington. Well, it would appear that the purchase and sales agreement between these two entities remains in place.
A recent press release highlights developments on Senator Chris Dodd’s proposed Financial Regulatory Reform along with a recent assessment by Washington insider and Illinois Senator Richard Durbin.
DEMOCRATIC FINANCIAL REFORM BILL EXITED SENATE BANKING COMMITTEE WITHOUT RESTORING KEY INVESTOR LEGAL RIGHT TO HOLD KNOWING AIDERS AND ABETTORS OF FRAUD ACCOUNTABLE
Senator Durbin Says: “Frankly, the banks own Congress,” as Investigation of Lehman Brothers Found Its’ Accountants and Lawyers Helped “Cook the Books”
March 24, 2010: The Senate Banking Committee financial reform bill was voted out of committee on Monday afternoon. On the previous Friday Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) offered an amendment to include the restoration of the legal rights of investors to hold accountable those who knowingly aid and abet fraud, a critical component of financial reform. The first draft of Senator Dodd’s bill, which was on the Committee Web site for months, contained this provision.
Chairman Dodd apparently dropped that important investor protection measure in a failed attempt to gain Republican and Wall Street support and the Democratic bill exited his Committee without it. As a result, Senator Merkley’s amendment was never even considered. Therefore as it now stands the legislation heading to the floor of the Senate does not restore the lost right of investors to hold knowing aiders and abettors accountable to the investors they help rob.
As Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said (prior to Chairman Dodd’s mark-up): “Hard to believe in a time when we are facing a banking crisis, that many of the banks created, that the banks are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. They frankly own the place.“ Senator Durbin said this in a radio interview on Monday, March 15 (WJJG-AM: “Mornings with Ray Hanania,” a big Chicago area political call in show).
Separately, also on March 15, in a Senate speech, Senator Ted Kaufman (D-Del) said: “Lehman Brothers was cooking the books. Fraud and potential criminal conduct were at the heart of the financial crisis.”
Senator Kaufman was referring to the 2,200 page report issued last week on the investigation into Lehman Brother’s spectacular failure. It documents in-detail how Lehman’s banking counterparties, lawyers and accountants knowingly structured faux
Nomi Prins is a former investment banker turned journalist. She worked at Goldman Sachs and Bear Stearns. She is the author of several books; her latest, just out, is called It Takes a Pillage: Behind the Bonuses, Bailouts, and Backroom Deals from Washington to Wall Street. She spoke on the themes of the book at the Strand Bookstore in New York on September 29th.
If you or anyone you know still believes the government (or the media) tell us only the truth, please pass them this direct admission that lying is a primary strategic device for so-called “authority figures”:
Translation: when our elected representatives and their appointed officials believe we need to be manipulated, they rationalize their lies based on whether they think we need them at the time.
I am not naive. I firmly believe we have a problem with ignorance and sheeple in our country. However, the only way to fix the problem is to distribute more accurate information — not the opposite. Further, for those of us who work hard to stay educated, we expect to be treated like adults!
In this specific case, the Treasury Department’s lies (via Hank Paulson) encouraged people to hold their investments. Therefore, if you listened to Paulson et al, you literally lost your hard earned money and life savings. Last time I checked, citizens should not expect to get fiscally hosed by their Treasury Secretary.
To be fair, this is not only a Wall Street and Washington problem. Seemingly, most public discourse these days centers around complete lies, myths, and other rhetorical strategies aiming to put insular interests ahead of what’s best for the nation. It’s time to demand at least our public stewards accurately explain the true state of affairs so we can make informed decisions.
Lawmakers possess many perks. However, legal insider trading may be the biggest fringe benefit of all.
A study* released by Professor Alan Ziobrowski at Georgia State University concluded legislators in Congress make “significant abnormal returns.” Moreover, active traders outperform corporate executives. “We have every reason to believe they are trading on information that the rest of us don’t have,” reports Ziobrowski.
How the hell is this bullshit going on? Craig Holman at consumer watchdog organization Public Citizen notes, “The Securities and Exchange Act does not apply to members of Congress, congressional staff, or even lobbyists.” Outraged?
If you are a voting citizen, your public representatives can legally trade investment vehicles based on information received at work. And much information is gleaned long before trickling down to the good ‘ole People. Thus, as you already deduced, a major conflict of interest exists when your political representative must choose between your needs and those of his/her portfolio.
This is another example of the cosmic irony in which Wall Street is overseen by Washington yet no one is overseeing DC. During my interview with Congressman Alan Grayson he explained the importance of auditing the Federal Reserve. While we’re making a list and checking it twice, let’s get lawmaker insider trading into the “Must Do Now” column.
* The study used hundreds of personal financial disclosures and more than 6000 stock transactions by members of Congress going back up to 15 years.
Insider trading is illegal, but the definition of insider trading is not inclusive enough. Government employees, buying and selling on non-public information, clearly violates the spirit of insider trading laws, but till now has been overlooked.
With the federal government increasingly involved in the financial affairs of private companies, a pair of lawmakers has proposed prohibiting members of Congress and other federal employees from trading stocks
According to the experts, things are looking up. Central bankers have expressed "growing confidence…that the worst of the financial crisis [is] over and that a global economic recovery [is] beginning to take shape." A well known strategist asserts that the "recession is ending ‘right now.’" President Obama has said "the economy is ‘pointed in the right direction.’"
Small-business owners aren’t convinced the recession is ending and their outlooks darkened in July, according to a monthly survey conducted by the National Federation of Independent Business.
NFIB’s index of small-business indicators fell 1.3 points last month to 86.5, the second consecutive monthly decline. The biggest reason was a drop in the number of small-business owners who expect the economy to improve in the next six months.
“The recession is wearing Main Street folks down,” says Bill Dunkelberg, NFIB chief economist. “And unfortunately, lawmakers in Washington are doing more to scare small-business owners than to reassure them of an economic recovery.”
Small-business owners are worried about higher taxes and proposed mandates to provide health insurance, Dunkelberg says. Taxes were cited as the No. 1 business problem by 22 percent of the small-business owners surveyed.
A bigger problem, cited by 32 percent, was poor sales.
Hmmm, I wonder which group -- those who are supposedly in the know or those who are struggling to get by -- is living in the economic no-spin zone?
Quote: "Power alters the basic neurological processes in the brain and inhibits those parts of the brain that would allow a person to show restraint. It allows them to systematically ignore the consequences of their actions." Adam Galinsky, Kellogg School of Management.
It is too bad Eliot could not have exercised better judgement, knowing that he would be targeted by the powers on Wall Street and Washington when he took them on. See the quote at the top of this blog for the most likely reason.
That he was exposed in his scandal by an intense Federal investigation speaks to the depth of the corruption of Washington under Bush, and even now, by the financial powers.
He is right of course, and everything that the Obama Administration is doing on the economic front is a sham.
There is a ‘new regulatory spirit’ and the Democrats under the skillful hand of Larry Summers and Barney Frank seek to channel it into irrelevancy.
July 14 (Bloomberg) — Eliot Spitzer, the former New York governor and attorney general, said U.S. banks made a “bloody fortune” while receiving taxpayer money without a proven benefit to the wider economy.
Politicians understand the “populist rage” with excesses in the financial industry and in this case the “public is right,” said Spitzer in a Bloomberg Television interview today. “We have saved financial services, we have not created a single job. We are still bleeding jobs.”
As New York attorney general, Spitzer was known as “the sheriff of Wall Street.” He changed business practices and collected billions of dollars in settlements from financial corporations such as Merrill Lynch & Co., American International Group Inc. and Marsh & McLennan Cos. He later became governor, resigning in March 2008 after he was identified as a client of the Emperors Club VIP, a high-priced prostitution ring.
Spitzer said new rules proposed by President Barack Obama’s administration are irrelevant because regulators failed to enforce existing regulations.
“Regulatory agencies already had the power to do everything they needed to do,” he said. “They just affirmatively chose not to do it.”
“You don’t need new regs to do it, you just need the will to do
Stocks fell as investors reacted negatively to the adoption of the “Volcker rule”, which prohibits banks from proprietary trading.
The major stock indices took hard falls on Wednesday, as investors pondered the future of a stock market without proprietary trading by banks. Most stocks were in the red on Wednesday, after the Federal Reserve and four financial regulatory agencies adopted the so-called “Volcker rule”, named after former Fed Chair, Paul Volcker.
Although Volcker was not personally involved in writing the 71-page document, it resulted from Volcker’s insistence that the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act should include prohibitions on proprietary trading by banks, to prevent those institutions from taking on ex...
US stock indexes nosedived today, with the benchmark S&P 500 losing 1.13%. The index hit its intraday high, up 0.02%, five minutes into the session and then cascaded to a mid-day trading range, down about half a percent, that held until shortly before the final hour. It then continued the slide to its worst percentage loss since the 1.32% selloff on November 11th.
The popular financial press attributes today's selling to the news of a budget deal in congress, e.g., the CNBC spin: "the provisional budget deal in Washington raised speculation that the Federal Reserve could pull back on its stimulus program soon."
Lest today's slump seem overly gloomy, note that the 1.32% decline on November 7th was followed by a 1.34% gain the following day.
For the last year or two, European banks have engaged in the ultimate of self-referential M.A.D. trades - buying the sovereign debt of their own nation in inordinate size to maintain the ECB's illusion of control (even as their economies collapse and stagnate) while referentially obtaining the funding for said purchase from the ECB by repoing the purchase back to the central bank, usually with no haircut to mention. Today though, as The FT reports, a top official at the ...
SHLD – Sears Holdings Corp. – Options volume on Sears today rose well above the average daily level for the stock during morning trading, with the bulk of the activity concentrated in far out of the money Jan 2014 expiry puts. Overall volume on the stock is approaching 30,000 contracts just before midday in New York, roughly 155% of SHLD’s average daily options volume of around 18,000 contracts. Shares in Sears are off 0.70% at $46.54 at present, off earlier session lows that saw the stock touch down to $45.98, the lowest level since September 5th.
Alan Blinder, a professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University and former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, is back at it.
In an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal Blinders says "Don't only drop the interest rate paid on banks' excess reserves, charge them."
Please consider The Fed Plan to Revive High-Powered Money. Unless you are part of the tiny portion of humanity that dotes on every utterance of the Federal Open Market Committee, you probably missed an important statement regarding the arcane world of "excess reserves" buried deep in the minutes of its Oct. 29-30 policy meeting. It reads: "[M]ost participants thought that a reduction by the Board of Governors in the interest rate paid on excess reserves could be worth ...
Today, with very little market moving news, the S&P 500 closed at 1808.4, yet another new closing daily high. The index did touch the 1811 area on at least three distinctly different time slots creating a new resistance level. But after last week’s bevy of positive economic surprises, the sharp gain of 1.1% on Friday, leaving the index just a tiny point away from its ninth consecutive up week, we can’t be too quick to suggest today was a topping rally. For one thing, volume was quite low as traders seemed to be trying to sort out the odds on the earliest date of Fed tapering. Estimates range from this month to March and even later. But it’s going to happen…so why so much emphasis on when? Perhaps protection of end-of-the-year profits in so many fund managers portfolios? ...
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This post is for all our live virtual trade ideas and daily comments. Please click on "comments" below to follow our live discussion. All of our current trades are listed in the spreadsheet below, with entry price (1/2 in and All in), and exit prices (1/3 out, 2/3 out, and All out).
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These rallies are becoming familiar. In early July we saw a streak of 12 of 13 sessions in a row up, early September 11 of 12, and mid October 11 of 13 (current streak). It is a bit uncanny the similarities and how the escalator goes straight up in vertical ascent as we see indexes come out of mini corrections during QE. So we are about at the same stage where the last two began to tire, so it will be interesting if this is similar or if the current consensus of the market that there is nothing to worry about until next year as the Fed and D.C. are both off the table and this 3% annual growth rate in earnings we are now seeing in the S...
Welcome to the fouth update of the IRA Virtual Portfolio. First I am going to summarize the current state of the Portfolio then I will get into all the activity we had during September expiration.
Profit and Loss – Net of closed positions the portfolio is up a total of $769
Market Commentary – Last expiration I said, "I would like to put a total of $20,000 to work by the end of SEP expiration. If the VIX pops up to around 20 I plan to put about $50,000 total to work." The market didn't quite reach the goal but I did manage to deploy $15,000 of buying power. I still feel the market is too high and expect a correction during October. If the vix pops up to around 20 I still plan to put about $50,000 to work. If a correction doesn't happen I still plan to have a total of $25,000 in buying power put to work by October expiration. Now on to the act...
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Come and get it! Read all about it! Biotechs, biotechs and more biotechs to buy buy buy for your portfolio! To date, almost 30 biotech companies have hit the market. Most of the time, there are fewer than 10-12!
For the last five years, biotechs have had issues obtaining offer prices above expectations. In 2013, that trend looks to be broken. According to BiotechNow, the offer prices are 4% above expectations! In addition, biotechs are going public with little more than a wing and a prayer (pre-clinical or Phase 1 data only). Really? What this means is that the drug or technology looks good in mice, rats, or dogs, etc, but there is no smidgen of evidence that it will work in humans. That's what is called an appitite for RISK!
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