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


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


"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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Zero Hedge

PBOC Raises Interest Rate On Open Market Operations

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Moments after the Fed did as expected when it raised rates by 25bps, we - along with most other central bank watchers - made a prediction: now it was China's turn.

And now, it's China's turn to hike

— zerohedge (@zerohedge) March 21, 2018

And since in recent years, the PBOC has not hiked the main benchmark rate but engaged in "targeted" tightening using the various reverse-repo facilities, we had to wait until today's open market operation was un...

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Phil's Favorites

After Tempe fatality, self-driving car developers must engage with public now or risk rejection


After Tempe fatality, self-driving car developers must engage with public now or risk rejection

An autonomous vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian on March 18. via AP

Courtesy of Andrew Maynard, Arizona State University; Jameson Wetmore, Arizona State University, and Thaddeus R. Miller, ...

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Insider Scoop

20 Stocks Moving In Wednesday's Pre-Market Session

Courtesy of Benzinga.


  • Proteostasis Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: PTI) shares rose 12.4 percent to $5.80 in pre-market trading after the company reported withdrawal of equity offering due to market conditions.
  • China Auto Logistics Inc. (NASDAQ: CALI) shares rose 10.8 percent to $4.40 in pre-market trading after surging 15.41 percent on Tuesday.
  • Fennec Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: FENC) rose 8.9 percent to $10.38 in pre-market trading a... more from Insider

Digital Currencies

Why accountants of the future will need to speak blockchain and cryptocurrency if they want your money


Why accountants of the future will need to speak blockchain and cryptocurrency if they want your money


Courtesy of Anwar Halari, The Open University

If you haven’t already heard of Bitcoin, you either haven’t been paying attention or you’re a time traveller who just touched down in 2018. Because by now, most of us will have heard of Bitcoin and some of us have even jumped on the bandwagon, investing in cryptocurrencies.

But despite its popularity, many people still don’t understand the technology that underlines it: blockchain. In...

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Chart School

Stall in Decline

Courtesy of Declan.

The good news for bulls was the lack of follow through on the selling. An argument could be made for bullish harami doji in some key indices with stops on a loss of yesterday's lows.

The Semiconductor Index held on to breakout support in what looked to be a successful defense by traders in what could still be a pullback buying opportunity. There was a MACD trigger 'sell' which was a follow-through from Friday - leaving only stochastics in the green. However, relative performance remains in bulls favor. Long opportunities...

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Peter Thiel: Need To Rethink Tariffs In Light Of Trade Deficit With China; SF Sucks, Bitcoin Rocks

By VW Staff. Originally published at ValueWalk.

PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel in a wide-ranging interview on President Trump’s trade tariffs, China’s economy, technology regulations and his outlook for bitcoin.


Check out our H2 hedge fund letters here.

Peter Thiel: Need To Rethink Tariffs In Light Of Trade Deficit With China

Peter Thiel On Leaving Silicon Valley For Los Angeles

Billionaire investor Peter Thiel argues Silicon Valley is is a ‘totalitarian place’ where people are not allowed to have dissenting views.


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Members' Corner

Cambridge Analytica and the 2016 Election: What you need to know (updated)


"If you want to fundamentally reshape society, you first have to break it." ~ Christopher Wylie

[Interview: Cambridge Analytica whistleblower: 'We spent $1m harvesting millions of Facebook profiles' – video]

"You’ve probably heard by now that Cambridge Analytica, which is backed by the borderline-psychotic Mercer family and was formerly chaired by Steve Bannon, had a decisive role in manipulating voters on a one-by-one basis – using their own personal data to push them toward voting ...

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How your brain is wired to just say 'yes' to opioids

Reminder: Pharmboy and Ilene are available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.


How your brain is wired to just say ‘yes’ to opioids

A Philadelphia man, who struggles with opioid addiction, in 2017. AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Courtesy of Paul R. Sanberg, University of South Florida and Samantha Portis, University of South Florida


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Mapping The Market

The tricks propagandists use to beat science

Via Jean-Luc

How propagandist beat science – they did it for the tobacco industry and now it's in favor of the energy companies:

The tricks propagandists use to beat science

The original tobacco strategy involved several lines of attack. One of these was to fund research that supported the industry and then publish only the results that fit the required narrative. “For instance, in 1954 the TIRC distributed a pamphlet entitled ‘A Scientific Perspective on the Cigarette Controversy’ to nearly 200,000 doctors, journalists, and policy-makers, in which they emphasized favorable research and questioned results supporting the contrary view,” say Weatherall and co, who call this approach biased production.

A second approach promoted independent research that happened to support ...

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Swing trading portfolio - week of September 11th, 2017

Reminder: OpTrader is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.


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).

We also indicate our stop, which is most of the time the "5 day moving average". All trades, unless indicated, are front-month ATM options. 

Please feel free to participate in the discussion and ask any questions you might have about this virtual portfolio, by clicking on the "comments" link right below.

To learn more about the swing trading virtual portfolio (strategy, performance, FAQ, etc.), please click here ...

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NewsWare: Watch Today's Webinar!


We have a great guest at today's webinar!

Bill Olsen from NewsWare will be giving us a fun and lively demonstration of the advantages that real-time news provides. NewsWare is a market intelligence tool for news. In today's data driven markets, it is truly beneficial to have a tool that delivers access to the professional sources where you can obtain the facts in real time.

Join our webinar, free, it's open to all. 

Just click here at 1 pm est and join in!

[For more information on NewsWare, click here. For a list of prices: NewsWar...

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Kimble Charting Solutions

Brazil; Waterfall in prices starting? Impact U.S.?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

Below looks at the Brazil ETF (EWZ) over the last decade. The rally over the past year has it facing a critical level, from a Power of the Pattern perspective.


EWZ is facing dual resistance at (1), while in a 9-year down trend of lower highs and lower lows. The counter trend rally over the past 17-months has it testing key falling resistance. Did the counter trend reflation rally just end at dual resistance???

If EWZ b...

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All About Trends

Mid-Day Update

Reminder: Harlan is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Click here for the full report.

To learn more, sign up for David's free newsletter and receive the free report from All About Trends - "How To Outperform 90% Of Wall Street With Just $500 A Week." Tell David PSW sent you. - Ilene...

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About Phil:

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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Ilene is editor and affiliate program coordinator for PSW. She manages the site market shadows, archives, more. Contact Ilene to learn about our affiliate and content sharing programs.

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