Posts Tagged ‘accounting fraud’

NYT Muffs Merrill/Magnetar Piece (And Why is No One Investigating the Related Bonus Fraud?)

NYT Muffs Merrill/Magnetar Piece (And Why is No One Investigating the Related Bonus Fraud?)

By Yves Smith and Tom Adams, an attorney and former monoline executive, at Naked Capitalism 

Radar Marking an Earthquake's Epicenter

Louise Story has penned what presents itself as an important story at the New York Times, one that charges Merrill Lynch with misrepresenting the size of its subprime, specifically, collateralized debt obligation exposures, in the runup to the global financial crisis. The ruse the article depicts is a CDO called Pyxis., which purportedly served as a dumping ground for exposures Merrill could not unload. Initially, Merrill was able to escape reporting these positions because it claimed to have hedged the risk. In fact, the hedges failed, the bank was ultimately on the hook and was later forced to ‘fess up to the magnitude of its holdings. This revelation sounds juicy in that Citigroup and some of its recent senior executives paid fines to the SEC for similar, albeit less convoluted-sounding, misconduct.

But in fact, the story is astonishingly incomplete, to the point of being misleading. While Merrill’s probable accounting improprieties are noteworthy and merit investigation by the authorities, they are not the most important element of this episode. CDO abuses amounted to accounting fraud to enable employees and executives to loot their companies. Moreover, they were not perpetrated by isolated actors, but were part of what Bill Black calls a criminogenic environment.

To put it more simply, if you think Merrill’s misrepresentations to investors are a big deal, they are only a small aspect of the bigger, and frustratingly largely untold, tale of the role of CDOs in the crisis. CDOs were the epicenter of the upheaval, the device that magnified a what otherwise would have been contained subprime bubble into an economy-wrecking meltdown. When the music stopped, it was the dealers themselves that wound up holding much of the toxic paper they’d created. AAA rated CDOs went from haircuts of 2-4% in early 2006 to 95% in later 2007. The collapse in CDO valuations and the resulting inability to use CDOs as collateral for repo was a major, if not the major, cause of dealer illiquidity and insolvency which resulted in massive bailouts and backdoor subsidies.

Accounts like Ms. Story’s are blind man and the elephant affairs: at best, they do a good enough job of depicting, say, the trunk, but leave the beast…
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My Life as a White-Collar Criminal

My Life as a White-Collar Criminal

Courtesy of Sam Antar at White Collar Fraud 

Last Friday evening, Marcia MacMillan from CTV News Channel (a 24-hour news network in Canada) interviewed me and asked me what it’s like to be a white-collar criminal and what role, if any, did morality play in my decisions to commit crime. 

 

You can watch the interview by clicking on this link.

Reflecting on my own white-collar criminal mind leaves no doubt that money is not the only motivating force compelling hardcore criminals to commit crimes.  There was also a passion for the act, a sense of accomplishment, that made me enjoy committing my crimes. It is perhaps the same positive feelings of success that law-abiding citizens experience for a legitimate job well-done.  

To better understand the behavior of white-collar criminals, take morality out of the equation. During my years at Crazy Eddie, we never had a single conversation about the morality of our actions. We did not give a damn about right and wrong.

Hardcore criminals don’t question their unethical and immoral conduct.  Laws, morality, and ethics are weaknesses of other people. They don’t factor in except by limiting society’s behavior. In our society, morality dictates that people are entitled to the benefit of the doubt. Ironically, the “benefit of a doubt” limits the behavior of law-abiding citizens while giving criminals greater opportunity to commit their crimes.  After all, no one likes to be called "a paranoid" or "impolite."  

Our late President Ronald Reagan used to say "trust, but verify." That initial trust gives criminals the freedom to take steps to evade detection.  For example, Joseph T. Wells, founder of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, described certain steps I took during Crazy Eddie’s audit to successfully execute my crimes: 

Crazy Eddie’s auditors were provided a company office during their examination. They had a key to lock the desk—which they kept in a box of paperclips on top of the desk in full view. After the auditors left for the day, Eddie’s cohorts would unlock the desk, increase the inventory counts on the work-papers and photocopy the altered records. Were the auditors stupid? No, just too trusting. After all, no one wants…
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SP Futures Reach Apex of Fraud As Earnings Season Arrives and Bank Accounting Dodgy as Ever, Doing God’s Work

"THE PROBLEM OF POWER IS HOW TO ACHIEVE ITS RESPONSIBLE USE RATHER THAN ITS IRRESPONSIBLE AND INDULGENT USE — OF HOW TO GET MEN OF POWER TO LIVE FOR THE PUBLIC RATHER THAN OFF THE PUBLIC." ROBERT F. KENNEDY

SP Futures Reach Apex of Fraud As Earnings Season Arrives and Bank Accounting Dodgy as Ever, Doing God’s Work

Courtesy of JESSE’S CAFÉ AMÉRICAIN

"At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow?

Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth in their military chest; with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.

At what point, then, is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide." Abraham Lincoln

Earnings season begins again this week in the States.

Investors remain skittish despite rosy predictions for earnings. This may be because of the suspicion that there are continuing misrepresentations of the true financial picture being permitted by the regulators, the ratings agencies, and the accountants.

For example, Bloomberg reports that if Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo were taking the appropriate reserves against loan losses, it would virtually wipe out all their expected profits for 2010. And I suggest that this loss estimate is likely to be conservative. But of course this is not going to happen in the land of extend and pretend.’

Reserves against losses? We don’t need no…
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Fraud and Failure: Bo Cutter’s Indictment of the Finance Industry (Part 1)

Fraud and Failure: Bo Cutter’s Indictment of the Finance Industry (Part 1)

By William Black, courtesy of New Deal 2.0

money-noose-150Bill Black explains how Bo Cutter’s defense of Tim Geithner reveals the fraud and failure that plagued the financial sector long before the crisis.

Bo Cutter has presented the best possible defense of Treasury Secretary Geithner.

It is a remarkable defense because it is premised on a scathing indictment of Wall Street, theoclassical economics, modern finance, and the sycophants that the financial community installed as anti-regulators. Indeed, Bo’s account is sometimes particularly credible because it is a confession. Bo was a managing partner of Warburg Pincus, a major global private equity firm and led President Obama’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) transition team. His defense of Geithner provides so rich a vein of ore that I will mine it in three installments: (1) Bo’s indictment of the finance industry, Greenspan, Geithner, Paulson and Bernanke, (2) the martyrdom of Geithner, and (3) Geithner as Bo’s Last Action Hero.

Bo’s explanation of Geithner’s unique virtues begins the indictment.

It comes down to this: the combination of brains, guts, calmness, and a willingness to act are virtually non-existent in Washington in any era, but particularly in this one. When you find the combination in a significant cabinet level job, you should value it.

[T]his crisis was long in coming and it was a totally integrated failure of intellectual traditions, global macro-economic imbalances, government policy making, regulatory supervision, financial sector greed, incomprehensible boards of directors, absences without leave, and breath-taking management short-sightedness. No one and no institution put together an understanding of the set of factors that triggered this particular debacle. Tim [Geithner] is included in this “no one”, but so is everyone else.

I think the last two years have revealed the single largest failure of senior management in the financial sector, and of the board system in American history. I think I am correct in saying that there was not a single independent director in America who stood up on this issue. I do not understand why every board of every institution that failed was not asked to resign immediately.

Bo’s indictment is compelling, but his logic proves a deeper failure. There is no reason to restrict his indictment to “the last two years.” The senior managers’ and directors’ failure did not begin with the recession.…
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Phil's Favorites

The Second Great Depression... But Not Really

 

The Second Great Depression… But Not Really

By John Mauldin, Thoughts from the Frontline 

"It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job;
it's a depression when you lose yours."

—Harry S. Truman, 33rd US President

In recent weeks, numerous commentators started to suggest the US and the world are entering a depression.

For some areas of the economy, that is clearly true. But not every area.

Today we will explore what some smart minds are saying about the current economic environment. I'll also aim to help you navigate through its complexity.

Here's one t...



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Zero Hedge

American Airlines Slated To Drop Dozens Of Flights To Smaller Cities As Government Aid Dries Up

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

With the government set to stop subsidizing the industry, airlines are gasp> actually going to have to make operational changes to effectively deal with the lack of demand. Oh, the horror of free market forces actually forcing companies to make business changes!

This starts with American Airlines, who is reportedly preparing to drop two dozen small and medium city flights as federal coronavirus aid is set to end. The aid had previously mandated that airlines were not allowed to cut service ...



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ValueWalk

Coronavirus stimulus checks talks fall apart as Congress goes on vacation

By Michelle Jones. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Our predictions regarding the coronavirus stimulus checks and related relief appears to be correct. Congress has abdicated its duty and gone on vacation while Americans await unemployment and other related stimulus programs. While the action is hard to fathom, there is a good chance the market will crash or other pressure will bring the sides together sooner than the current schedule of September 8th.

Prior coverage

The two sides continue to drift apart on the bill over Coronavirus stimulus checks and relief legislation. From a game theory perspective, I believe the Democrats are in the driver’s seat. If the bill is not passed, the economy will crash further and lead to certain electoral losses for Trump and the GOP. Therefore, the Democrats have little incentive to push for a speedy passage of the bill.

...



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Biotech/COVID-19

Rapid screening tests that prioritize speed over accuracy could be key to ending the coronavirus pandemic

 

Rapid screening tests that prioritize speed over accuracy could be key to ending the coronavirus pandemic

Broad and frequent screening could catch coronavirus cases before they can spread to others. Vaidas Bucys/EyeEm via Getty Images

Courtesy of Zoë McLaren, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Broad access to testing is one of the most powerful tools to keep the COVID-19 pande...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Silver Could Be Creating Large Reversal Pattern, Says Joe Friday

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

Could Silver prices from 30-years ago be influencing price action this month? Joe Friday suggests it is possible.

This chart looks at Silver Futures on a monthly basis over the past 40-years. Fibonacci levels were applied to the 1980 highs ($50) and 1991 lows ($.350) in Silver.

The 50% retracement levels of the 1980 high/1991 low came into play as support for a few months at each (1). Once this support broke, Silver fell another 50%.

The impressive rally over the past 8-weeks has Silver testing the 50% retracement level as potential...



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The Technical Traders

Adaptive Fibonacci Price Modeling System Suggests Market Peak May Be Near

Courtesy of Technical Traders

Our Adaptive Fibonacci Price Modeling system is suggesting a moderate price peak may be already setting up in the NASDAQ while the Dow Jones, S&P500, and Transportation Index continue to rally beyond the projected Fibonacci Price Expansion Levels.  This indicates that capital may be shifting away from the already lofty Technology sector and into Basic Materials, Financials, Energy, Consumer Staples, Utilities, as well as other sectors.

This type of a structural market shift indicates a move away from speculation and towards Blue Chip returns. It suggests traders and investors are expecting the US consumer to come back strong (or at least hold up the market at...



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Chart School

Silver Big Channel

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

Big channels are the sand pit of price action. Lets review some big trends of these past months.


GLD
- Moving higher to upper solid red line channel


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XAU
- Ready to pause, or simply explode.



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SILVER
- Ready to pause, or simply explode.


Click for popup. Clear your browser cache if image i...



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Digital Currencies

Raoul Pal: "It May Not Be Worth Owning Any Asset Other Than Bitcoin"

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Authored by Turner Wright via CoinTelegraph.com,

Raoul Pal, CEO and founder of Real Vision, says Bitcoin may soon become his only asset for long-term investments.

image courtesy of CoinTelegraph ...



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Lee's Free Thinking

Texas, Florida, Arizona, Georgia - The Branch COVIDIANS Are Still Burning Down the House

 

Texas, Florida, Arizona, Georgia – The Branch COVIDIANS Are Still Burning Down the House

Courtesy of Lee Adler, WallStreetExaminer 

The numbers of new cases in some of the hardest hit COVID19 states have started to plateau, or even decline, over the past few days. A few pundits have noted it and concluded that it was a hopeful sign. 

Is it real or is something else going on? Like a restriction in the numbers of tests, or simply the inability to test enough, or are some people simply giving up on getting tested? Because as we all know from our dear leader, the less testing, the less...



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Members' Corner

Coronavirus, 'Plandemic' and the seven traits of conspiratorial thinking

 

Coronavirus, 'Plandemic' and the seven traits of conspiratorial thinking

No matter the details of the plot, conspiracy theories follow common patterns of thought. Ranta Images/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Courtesy of John Cook, George Mason University; Sander van der Linden, University of Cambridge; Stephan Lewandowsky...



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Insider Scoop

Economic Data Scheduled For Friday

Courtesy of Benzinga

  • Data on nonfarm payrolls and unemployment rate for March will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET.
  • US Services Purchasing Managers' Index for March is scheduled for release at 9:45 a.m. ET.
  • The ISM's non-manufacturing index for March will be released at 10:00 a.m. ET.
  • The Baker Hughes North American rig count report for the latest week is scheduled for release at 1:00 p.m. ET.
...

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TODAY's LIVE webinar on stocks, options and trading strategy is open to all!

Feb. 26, 1pm EST

Click HERE to join the PSW weekly webinar at 1 pm EST.

Phil will discuss positions, COVID-19, market volatility -- the selloff -- and more! 

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Mike will show off the TradeExchange's new platform which you can try for free.  

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Mapping The Market

How IPOs Are Priced

Via Jean Luc 

Funny but probably true:

...

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Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

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