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

After Mega Banks Supervised by the Fed Lose Over $10 Billion to a Highly Leveraged Hedge Fund, Fed Puts Lipstick on a Pig in its Financial Stability Report

Courtesy of Pam Martens

Remember the phrase “putting lipstick on a pig.” It became popular after the dot.com bust when it was learned that the big Wall Street banks had glowingly recommended “hot” new issues of stocks to their customers while secretly calling them “crap” and “dogs” in internal emails.

Putting lipstick on a pig is what the Federal Reserve is attempting to do in the Financial Stability Report it rel...



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Zero Hedge

Are Stocks Cheap, Or Just Another Rationalization?

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Authored by Lance Roberts via RealInvestmentAdvice.com,

Are stocks “cheap,” or is this just another bullish “rationalization.” Such was the suggestion by the consistently bullish Brian Wesbury of First Trust in a research note entitled ...



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Digital Currencies

NFTs are much bigger than an art fad - here's how they could change the world

 

NFTs are much bigger than an art fad – here's how they could change the world

Homes fit for zeroes (and ones). Julien Tromeur

Courtesy of James Bowden, University of Strathclyde and Edward Thomas Jones, Bangor University

Sotheby’s has become the latest establishment name in art to dive into NFTs (non-fungible tokens) through its collaboration with anonymous ...



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Biotech/COVID-19

India COVID crisis: four reasons it will derail the world economy

 

India COVID crisis: four reasons it will derail the world economy

India is the fifth largest economy in the world. Deepak Choudhary/Unsplash

Courtesy of Uma S Kambhampati, University of Reading

The second wave of the pandemic has struck India with a devastating impact. With over 300,000 new cases and 3,000 deaths across the country each day at present, the total number of deaths has just passed the 200,000 mark – that’s about one in 16 of all COVID deaths across the world....



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Chart School

Yellen can not stop the dollar decline

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

Printing money results in a lower currency, so long as the currency does not fall too fast.

Previous Post: US Dollar Forecast - Weakness

Here are the very strong fundamentals for a lower US dollar: 

(a) US inflation exploding.
(b) Massive US twin deficits.
(c) Better conditions in Europe.

However French election worries in 2022 Q1 and Q2 may provide US dollar strength (via European weakness) after Christmas, but this strength may come after a low in the DXY near $84.  

It looks like Yellen knows a down swing in the US dollar is near because ...

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Politics

If China's middle class continues to thrive and grow, what will it mean for the rest of the world?

 

If China's middle class continues to thrive and grow, what will it mean for the rest of the world?

Over the past few decades, hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens have become part of the middle class. AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

Courtesy of Amitrajeet A. Batabyal, Rochester Institute of Technology

China’s large and impressive accomplishments over the past four decades have spurred scholars and politicians to debate whether the decline of the West – including the ...



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ValueWalk

Managing Investments As A Charity Or Nonprofit

By Anna Peel. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Maintaining financial viability is a constant challenge for charities and nonprofit organizations.

Q4 2020 hedge fund letters, conferences and more

The past year has underscored that challenge. The pandemic has not just affected investment returns – it’s also had serious implications for charitable activities and the ability to fundraise. For some organizations, it’s even raised doubts about whether they can continue to operate.

Finding ways to generate long-term, sustainable returns for ...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Will Historic Selloff In Treasury Bonds Turn Into Opportunity?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

Long-dated treasury bonds have been crushed over the past year, sending ETFs like TLT (20+ Year US Treasury Bond ETF) spiraling over 20%.

Improving economy? Inflation concerns? Perhaps a combination of both… interest rates have risen sharply and thus bond prices have fallen in historic fashion.

Today’s chart looks at $TLT over the past 20 years. As you can see, the recent decline has truly been historic. $TLT’s price has swung from historically overbought highs to oversold lows.

At present, the long-dated bond ETF ($TLT) is trading 7.8% below its 200-...



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Mapping The Market

Suez Canal: Critical Waterway Comes to a Halt

 

Suez Canal: Critical Waterway Comes to a Halt

Courtesy of Marcus Lu, Visual Capitalist

The Suez Canal: A Critical Waterway Comes to a Halt

On March 23, 2021, a massive ship named Ever Given became lodged in the Suez Canal, completely blocking traffic in both directions. According to the Suez Canal Authority, the 1,312 foot long (400 m) container ship ran aground during a sandstorm that caused low visibility, impacting the ship’s navigation. The vessel is owned by Taiwanese shipping firm, Evergreen Marine.

With over 2...



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Promotions

Phil's Stock World's Weekly Webinar - March 10, 2021

Don't miss our latest weekly webinar! 

Join us at PSW for LIVE Webinars every Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 PM EST.

Phil's Stock World's Weekly Webinar – March 10, 2021

 

Major Topics:

00:00:01 - EIA Petroleum Status Report
00:04:42 - Crude Oil WTI
00:12:52 - COVID-19 Update
00:22:08 - Bonds and Borrowed Funds | S&P 500
00:45:28 - COVID-19 Vaccination
00:48:32 - Trading Techniques
00:50:34 - PBR
00:50:43 - LYG
00:50:48 - More Trading Techniques
00:52:59 - Chinese Hacks Microsoft's E...



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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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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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