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

How George Washington used his first Thanksgiving as president to unite a new country

 

How George Washington used his first Thanksgiving as president to unite a new country

President George Washington aimed to unify the country with his first Thanksgiving message. Getty Images

Courtesy of Maurizio Valsania, Università di Torino

On Thursday, Nov. 26, 1789, George Washington woke early. Assisted by his enslaved valets – William “Billy” Lee and the young ...



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ValueWalk

Crash Protection For Tesla

By David Pinsen. Originally published at ValueWalk.

At the end of May, Elon Musk’s SpaceX sent two astronauts into space – the first manned launch from U.S. soil in nine years. Also at the end of May, Tesla (TSLA) made our list of top ten names. Since then, the stock’s up 256%.

Astronauts onboard the SpaceX Dragon capsule approach the International Space Station on May 31st (photo via SpaceX).

Tesla Shares Rocket Higher

Still Bullish On Tesla, But Others Have Issues

Our system is still bullish on Tesla. Our a...



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Zero Hedge

Dow Drops Below 30,000, Global Rally Fizzles Ahead Of Data Deluge

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

US index futures dropped alongside shares in Europe with Dow Jones futures sliding back under 30,000...

... as a furious three-day rally paused ahead of a slew of pre-holiday economic indicators. Data, from jobless claims to consumer confidence and personal income, are due before markets close and traders head off for Thanksgiving.Ppositive vaccine news and the formal start of President-elect Joe Biden’s transition to power - including the selection of Jan...



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Biotech/COVID-19

Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is cheaper than Pfizer's and Moderna's and doesn't require supercold temperature

 

Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is cheaper than Pfizer's and Moderna's and doesn't require supercold temperature

Now there is a third possible vaccine for fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Courtesy of Sanjay Mishra, Vanderbilt University

The biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has released data on what is now the third promising vaccine candidate against COVID-19 – and it has several advantages over those of its competitors, ...



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Politics

TRUMP CONCEDES (SORT OF)

 

TRUMP CONCEDES (SORT OF)

Courtesy of Teri Kanefield

The Trump Legal team filed more documents today in the appellate court. I tweeted a bit about how silly they were (let me know if you all want me to march through them). Then this happened:

Trump giving the go-ahead for the transition to get underway was (I believe) the closest he will get to conceding the election. Two amusing things happened. First, Trump tweeted this about 10 minutes after Emily Murphy submitted a letter saying she would move forward, and that she has made her decisions solely on her own and not at anyone’s direction. Looks like Trump wanted people to think that she was, in fact, acting at his direction.

The other amusing part was that Tr...



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Chart School

RTT browsing latest..

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

Please review a collection of WWW browsing results. The information here is delayed by a few months, members get the most recent content.



Date Found: Friday, 12 June 2020, 08:06:43 PM

Click for popup. Clear your browser cache if image is not showing.


Comment: Interesting (2)



Date Found: Saturday, 13 June 2020, 12:27:02 AM

Click for popup. Clear your browser cache if image is not showing.


Comment: Recession Forecasts Time Frame



Date Found: Monday, 15 June 2020, 11:07:52 PM

...

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Kimble Charting Solutions

Transports Sending Strong Bullish Message To Other Dow Indices?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

Are Transportation stocks about to send a quality bullish message to other Dow indices this month? Sure could be!

This 3-pack looks at the Dow Jones Industrials, Transports, and Utilities indices on a monthly basis.

One week from the end of a month, the DJ Transports are attempting an important bullish breakout at (1). Unless a sharp reversal takes place in the next week, Transports could close out the month at new monthly closing highs!

The Dow is attempting to close at all-time highs this month, while the Dow Utilities Index remains a few percent below 2020 highs....



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Digital Currencies

Dalio Admits "I Might Be Missing Something" As Bitcoin Surges Above $18,000

Courtesy of ZeroHedge

Since the US election, Bitcoin prices (in USD) have surged a stunning 40%, also lurching higher after each vaccine headline hit.

Source: Bloomberg

Getting ever closer to its all-time record high...

Source: Bloomberg

As crypto prices soared overnight, Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio stepped back into the fray, saying in a Twitter thread that “I might be missing something about Bitco...



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Mapping The Market

COVID-19 Forces More Than Half of Asset Management Firms to Accelerate Adoption of Digital Marketing Technology

By Jacob Wolinsky. Originally published at ValueWalk.

There is no doubt that the use of technology to support client engagement initiatives brings both opportunities and threats but this has been brought into sharp focus this year with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The crisis has brought to the fore the need for firms to enable flexibility in client engagement – the expectation that providers will communicate to clients on their terms, at their speed and frequency and on their preferred channels, is now a given. This is even more critical when clients are experiencing unparalleled anxiety from both market conditions and their own personal circumstances.

...

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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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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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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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Promotions

Free, Live Webinar on Stocks, Options and Trading Strategies

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! 

This week, we also have a special presentation from Mike Anton of TradeExchange.com. It's a new service that we're excited to be a part of! 

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

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