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

Why do people believe con artists?

 

Why do people believe con artists?

Would you buy medicine from this man? Carol M. Highsmith/Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Barry M. Mitnick, University of Pittsburgh

What is real can seem pretty arbitrary. It’s easy to be fooled by misinformation disguised as news and deepfake videos showing people doing things they never did or said. Inaccurate information – even deliberately wrong informatio...



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Members' Corner

Why do people believe con artists?

 

Why do people believe con artists?

Would you buy medicine from this man? Carol M. Highsmith/Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Barry M. Mitnick, University of Pittsburgh

What is real can seem pretty arbitrary. It’s easy to be fooled by misinformation disguised as news and deepfake videos showing people doing things they never did or said. Inaccurate information – even deliberately wrong informatio...



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Zero Hedge

Easily Overlooked Issues Regarding COVID-19

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Authored by Gail Tverberg via Our Finite World,

We read a lot in the news about the new Wuhan coronavirus and the illness it causes (COVID-19), but some important points often get left out.

[1] COVID-19 is incredibly contagious.

COVID-19 transmits extremely easily from person to person. Interpersonal contact doesn’t need to be...



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The Technical Traders

Gold Rallies As Fear Take Center Stage

Courtesy of Technical Traders

Gold has rallied extensively from the lows near $1560 over the past 2 weeks.  At first, this rally didn’t catch too much attention with traders, but now the rally has reached new highs above $1613 and may attempt a move above $1750 as metals continue to reflect the fear in the global markets.

We’ve been warning our friends and followers of the real potential in precious metals for many months – actually since early 2018.  Our predictive modeling system suggests Gold will rally above $1650 very quickly, then possibly stall a bit before continuing higher to target the $1750 range.

The one thing all skilled traders must consider is the longer-term fear that is build...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Precious Metals Eyeing Breakout Despite US Dollar Strength

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

Gold and silver prices have been on the rise in early 2020 as investors turn to precious metals as geopolitical concerns and news of coronavirus hit the airwaves.

The rally in gold has been impressive, with prices surging past $1600 this week (note silver is nearing $18.50).

What’s been particularly impressive about the Gold rally is that it has unfolded despite strength in the US Dollar.

In today’s chart, we look at the ratio of Gold to the US Dollar Index. As you can see, this ratio has traded in a rising channel over the past 4 years.

The Gold/US Dollar ratio is currently attempting a breakout of this rising channel at (1).

This would come on further ...



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Insider Scoop

68 Stocks Moving In Friday's Mid-Day Session

Courtesy of Benzinga

Gainers
  • Trans World Entertainment Corporation (NASDAQ: TWMC) shares climbed 120.5% to $7.72 after the company disclosed that its subsidiary etailz entered into a deal with Encina for $25 million 3-year secured revolving credit facility.
  • Celldex Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: CLDX) fell 39.8% to $3.1744. Cantor Fitzgerald initiated coverage on Celldex Therapeutics with an Overweight rating and a $8 price target.
  • TSR, Inc. (NASDAQ: TSRI) gained 36.2% to $8.17.
  • ...


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Biotech & Health

Deep learning AI discovers surprising new antibiotics

 

Deep learning AI discovers surprising new antibiotics

A colored electron microscope image of MRSA. NIH - NIAID/flickr, CC BY

Courtesy of Sriram Chandrasekaran, University of Michigan

Imagine you’re a fossil hunter. You spend months in the heat of Arizona digging up bones only to find that what you’ve uncovered is from a previously discovered dinosaur.

That’s how the search for antibiotics has panned out recently. The relatively few antibiotic hunters out there ...



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Digital Currencies

Altcoin season 2.0: why bitcoin has been outgunned by crypto rivals since new year

 

Altcoin season 2.0: why bitcoin has been outgunned by crypto rivals since new year

‘We have you surrounded!’ Wit Olszewski

Courtesy of Gavin Brown, Manchester Metropolitan University and Richard Whittle, Manchester Metropolitan University

When bitcoin was trading at the dizzying heights of almost US$2...



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ValueWalk

What US companies are saying about coronavirus impact

By Aman Jain. Originally published at ValueWalk.

With the coronavirus outbreak coinciding with the U.S. earnings seasons, it is only normal to expect companies to talk about this deadly virus in their earnings conference calls. In fact, many major U.S. companies not only talked about coronavirus, but also warned about its potential impact on their financial numbers.

Q4 2019 hedge fund letters, conferences and more

Coronavirus impact: many US companies unclear

According to ...



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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: Tuesday, 01 October 2019, 02:18:22 AM

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Comment: Wall of worry, or cliff of despair!



Date Found: Tuesday, 01 October 2019, 06:54:30 AM

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Comment: Interesting.. Hitler good for the German DAX when he was winning! They believed .. until th...



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Lee's Free Thinking

Why Blaming the Repo Market is Like Blaming the Australian Bush Fires

 

Why Blaming the Repo Market is Like Blaming the Australian Bush Fires

Courtesy of  

The repo market problem isn’t the problem. It’s a sideshow, a diversion, and a joke. It’s a symptom of the problem.

Today, I got a note from Liquidity Trader subscriber David, a professional investor, and it got me to thinking. Here’s what David wrote:

Lee,

The ‘experts’ I hear from keep saying that once 300B more in reserves have ...



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Mapping The Market

How IPOs Are Priced

Via Jean Luc 

Funny but probably true:

...

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Promotions

Free eBook - "My Top Strategies for 2017"

 

 

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Phil has a chapter in a newly-released eBook that we think you’ll enjoy.

In My Top Strategies for 2017, Phil's chapter is Secret Santa’s Inflation Hedges for 2017.

This chapter isn’t about risk or leverage. Phil present a few smart, practical ideas you can use as a hedge against inflation as well as hedging strategies designed to assist you in staying ahead of the markets.

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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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