Posts Tagged ‘Merrill’

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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SEC, Fed Alerted By Merrill of Lehman Balance Sheet Games in March 2008

SEC, Fed Alerted By Merrill of Lehman Balance Sheet Games in March 2008

By Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism

At least 35 villagers die in Kazakhstan flood

So which theory is it: stunning bureaucratic incompetence, wishful thinking and denial (a better gloss on theory #1) or a cover up? Or a combination of the above?

No matter which theory or theories you subscribe to, the continuing revelations of how the SEC and perhaps more important, the New York Fed conducted themselves in the months before Lehman’s collapse paint an increasingly damning picture.

The Valukas report shows both regulators were monitoring Lehman on a day-to-day basis shortly after Bear’s failure. They recognized that it has a massive hole in its balance sheet, yet took an inertial course of action. They pressured a clearly in denial Fuld to raise capital (and Andrew Ross Sorkin’s accounts of those efforts make it clear they were likely to fail) and did not take steps towards any other remedy until the firm was on the brink of collapse (the effort to force a private sector bailout as part of a good bank/bad bank resolution).

One of the possible excuses for the failure to do more was that the officialdom did not recognize how badly impaired Lehman was until too late in the game to do much more than flail about. But that argument is undercut by a story in tonight’s Financial Times…  [Read more by Yves here.>>] 

From the Financial Times:

Former Merrill Lynch officials said they contacted regulators about the way Lehman measured its liquidity position for competitive reasons. The Merrill officials said they were coming under pressure from their trading partners and investors, who feared that Merrill was less liquid then Lehman…

In the account given by the Merrill officials, the SEC, the lead regulator, and the New York Federal Reserve were given warnings about Lehman’s balance sheet calculations as far back as March 2008.

Former and current Fed officials say even in the competitive world of Wall Street, it is un­usual for rival bankers to relay such concerns to the Fed.

The former Merrill officials said they contacted the regulators after Lehman released an estimate of its liquidity position in the first quarter of 2008. Lehman touted its results to its counterparties and its investors as proof that it was sounder than some of its rivals,


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Full Suit By Andrew Cuomo Against Ken Lewis And Joe Price

Full Suit By Andrew Cuomo Against Ken Lewis And Joe Price

andrew cuomo - from the business insiderCourtesy of Zero Hedge

Highlights from the suit:

By early December 2008, Bank of America’s top management, including its CEO Ken Lewis and CFO Joseph Price, had two choices: they could tell the Bank’s shareholders about the huge material losses at Merrill since the merger proxy was filed, or they could hide them. Bank management chose to hide the information. In particular, Bank management failed to disclose that by December 5, 2008, the day Bank of America shareholders voted to approve the merger with Merrill Lynch, Merrill had incurred actual pretax losses of more than $16 billion. Bank management also knew at this time that additional losses were forthcoming and that Merrill had become a shadow of the company Bank of America had described in its Proxy Statement and other public statements advocating the merger. The Bank’s management thus left the Bank’s shareholders in the dark about fundamental changes at Merrill that were obviously important to their voting decision. These disclosure failures violated New York’s Martin Act.

Having obtained shareholder approval for the deal, Lewis then misled federal regulators by telling them that because 50% of Merrill’s tangible equity had disappeared, the Bank could not complete the merger without an extraordinary taxpayer bailout. Lewis went onto say how the Bank needed to “fill the hole” left by the unprecedented losses, which contradicted his public statements to the effect that the Bank would not need additional capital. Remarkably, between the time that the shareholders had approved the deal and the time that Lewis sought a taxpayer bailout, Merrill’s actual losses had only increased another $1.4 billion. The Bank’s management has not and cannot explain why they did not disclose to the Bank’s shareholders losses so great that, absent a historic taxpayer bailout, they threatened the Bank’s very existence.

On November 13, when Price knew of at least approximately $5 billion in after tax losses, Bank of America’s General Counsel, Timothy Mayopoulos, and lawyers from its outside law firm, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, determined the Bank should disclose the losses. The lawyers discussed the date of the disclosure, the manner of the disclosure, who would draft the disclosure, and that Price would approach Merrill CEO John Thain about the disclosure. Shortly thereafter, however, the decision was reversed, Wachtell’s role was marginalized, and the Bank made its


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Senator Bob Corker Needs to Be Updated on His Bank Failure History

Senator Bob Corker Needs to Be Updated on His Bank Failure History

Courtesy of Reggie Middleton

Senator Corker challenged Mr. Volcker’s stance in today’s congressional hearings on the Volcker Rule by saying that no financial holding company that had a commercial bank failed while performing proprietary trading. It appears as if Mr. Corker may have received his information from the banking lobby, and did not do his own homework.

Let’s reference the largest commercial bank/thrift failure of all:

From …
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Zero Hedge

BBC Claims Iranian Government Is Lying About Outbreak: Real Death Toll Is 210, Not 34

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Given the Iranian regime's recent history of brazenly lying to the public despite its obvious culpability, we were certainly intrigued when a local lawmaker in Qom told reporters that at least 50 people had died from the coronavirus in his city alone.

Iranian authorities denied these ...



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Phil's Favorites

Don't fear a 'robot apocalypse' - tomorrow's digital jobs will be more satisfying and higher-paid

  Don't fear a 'robot apocalypse' – tomorrow's digital jobs will be more satisfying and higher-paid

Tomorrow’s good jobs will require digital skills like programming. alvarez/Getty Images

Courtesy of Christos A. Makridis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

If you’re concerned that automation and artificial intelligence are going to disrupt the economy over the next decade, join the club. But while policymakers and academics agree there’ll be significant disruption, they differ about its impa...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Financial Crisis Deja Vu: Home Construction Index Double Top?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

Most of us remember the 2007-2009 financial crisis because of the collapse in home prices and its effect on the economy.

One key sector that tipped off that crisis was the home builders.

The home builders are an integral piece to our economy and often signal “all clears” or “short-term warnings” to investors based on their economic health and how the index trades.

In today’s chart, we highlight the Dow Jones Home Construction Index. It has climbed all the way back to its pre-crisis highs… BUT it immediately reversed lower from there.

This raises concerns about a double top.

This pr...



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Insider Scoop

A Peek Into The Markets: US Stock Futures Plunge Amid Coronavirus Fears

Courtesy of Benzinga

Pre-open movers

U.S. stock futures traded lower in early pre-market trade. South Korea confirmed 256 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, while China reported an additional 327 new cases. Data on U.S. international trade in goods for January, wholesale inventories for January and consumer spending for January will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET. The Chicago PMI for February is scheduled for release at 9:45 a.m. ET, while the University of Michigan's consumer sentime...



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Biotech & Health

Could coronavirus really trigger a recession?

 

Could coronavirus really trigger a recession?

Coronavirus seems to be on a collision course with the US economy and its 12-year bull market. AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

Courtesy of Michael Walden, North Carolina State University

Fears are growing that the new coronavirus will infect the U.S. economy.

A major U.S. stock market index posted its biggest two-day drop on record, erasing all the gains from the previous two months; ...



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The Technical Traders

SPY Breaks Below Fibonacci Bearish Trigger Level

Courtesy of Technical Traders

Our research team wanted to share this chart with our friends and followers.  This dramatic breakdown in price over the past 4+ days has resulted in a very clear bearish trigger which was confirmed by our Adaptive Fibonacci Price Modeling system.  We believe this downside move will target the $251 level on the SPY over the next few weeks and months.

Some recent headline articles worth reading:

On January 23, 2020, we ...



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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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Chart School

Oil cycle leads the stock cycle

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

Sure correlation is not causation, but this chart should be known by you.

We all know the world economy was waiting for a pin to prick the 'everything bubble', but no one had any idea of what the pin would look like.

Hence this is why the story of the black swan is so relevant.






There is massive debt behind the record high stock markets, there so much debt the political will required to allow central banks to print trillions to cover losses will likely effect elections. The point is printing money to cover billions is unlikely to upset anyone, however printing trillions will. In 2007 it was billions, in 202X it ...

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Members' Corner

Threats to democracy: oligarchy, feudalism, dictatorship

 

Threats to democracy: oligarchy, feudalism, dictatorship

Courtesy of David Brin, Contrary Brin Blog 

Fascinating and important to consider, since it is probably one of the reasons why the world aristocracy is pulling its all-out putsch right now… “Trillions will be inherited over the coming decades, further widening the wealth gap,” reports the Los Angeles Times. The beneficiaries aren’t all that young themselves. From 1989 to 2016, U.S. households inherited more than $8.5 trillion. Over that time, the average age of recipients rose by a decade to 51. More ...



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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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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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