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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Phil's Favorites

Identifying a fake picture online is harder than you might think

 

Identifying a fake picture online is harder than you might think

If you know how photo editing works, you might have a leg up at spotting fakes. Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock.com

Courtesy of Mona Kasra, University of Virginia

It can be hard to tell whether a picture is real. Consider, as the participants in our recent research did, these two images and see whether you think neither, either or both of them has been doctored.

...



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Zero Hedge

Shocking Before & After Photos Reveal Awful Truth About Widespread US Crop Failures In 2019

Courtesy of Michael Snyder, The Economic Collapse

Torrential rains have been hammering the heartland of America for months, and at this point vast stretches of farmland in the middle of the country are nothing but mud.  As a result of the endless rain and unprecedented flooding that we have witnessed, millions of acres of farmland will have nothing planted on them at all in 2019, and that is a major national crisis.  But most farmers were able to get seeds planted in the deplorable conditions, and now they are desperately hoping that something will actually grow.  Unfortunately, on farm after farm what is coming out of the ground looks absolutely terrible.  Even if we get ideal weather conditions for the rest of the summer, there is no way that many of t...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Wilshire 5000 Creating A Triple Top? An Important Breakout Test Is In Play!

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

The stock market has been on fire of late, rallying up to the edge of price resistance on several indexes. Today, we look at one of those stock market indexes: the Wilshire 5000.

The Wilshire 5000 tracks all of the stocks in the US market, so it is a broad-based index that carries significant importance when gauging the health of the overall US stock market.

Looking at the long-term “weekly” chart above, it is pretty clear that the index is at an important price juncture.

The Wilshire 5000 spent the last 25 years trading within a rising price channel (1)...



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Insider Scoop

Jefferies Upgrades Deere, Cites 'Significantly Improved Farmer Income Outlook'

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Farmer buying power will remain pressured for 2019, but this will change for the better next year and will help support Deere & Company (NYSE: DE), according to Jefferies.

The Analyst

Jefferies' Stephen Volkmann upgraded Deere from Hold to Buy with a price target lifted from $150 to $190....



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Chart School

Formula for when the Great Stock Market Rally ends

Courtesy of Read the Ticker.

When valuations for the boring water company or the boring electric company is trading like your Facebook, Apple, Amazon or Netflix or Google (ie FANG) you know something is wrong.

This is when a seriously over valued market is screaming at you.

Of course the reader must understand in a world where money printing goes super nuts (Zimbabwe style) the stock market may go hyper inflationary and picking a time frame for a top is never a good idea, but we are not there yet. There is no Ben Bernanke helicopter money to the masses yet (ie MMT). 

To see when water company's (and such like) are nearing the crazy FANG like valuations a review of the Dow Jones Utility Index channel shows us how history can repeat. The c...

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ValueWalk

The "Tesla Killer" Car Is Nowhere In Sight

 

The “Tesla Killer” Car Is Nowhere In Sight

By Jacob Wolinsky, ValueWalk

Here’s some catnip for the Tesla bulls on this email list: my analyst, Kevin DeCamp, a longtime TSLA shareholder and car owner, took a test drive of the Jaguar I-PACE and, while it “looks great and is fun to drive… it is lacking in a few areas where Tesla really shines.” He concludes that “Tesla may end up killing itself, but the “Tesla killer” car is nowhere in sight.”

The Tesla Killer Hasn’t Arrived Yet: My Test Drive of the Jaguar I-PACE

By Kevin DeCamp

As a long-time, devoted Tesla...



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Digital Currencies

Cryptocurrencies are finally going mainstream - the battle is on to bring them under global control

 

Cryptocurrencies are finally going mainstream – the battle is on to bring them under global control

The high seas are getting lower. dianemeise

Courtesy of Iwa Salami, University of East London

The 21st-century revolutionaries who have dominated cryptocurrencies are having to move over. Mainstream financial institutions are adopting these assets and the blockchain technology that enables them, in what ...



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Biotech

Consumer genetic testing customers stretch their DNA data further with third-party interpretation websites

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

 

Consumer genetic testing customers stretch their DNA data further with third-party interpretation websites

If you’ve got the raw data, why not mine it for more info? Sergey Nivens/Shutterstock.com

Courtesy of Sarah Catherine Nelson, University of Washington

Back in 2016, Helen (a pseudonym) took three different direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic tests: AncestryDNA, 23andMe and FamilyTreeDNA. She saw genetic testing as a way...



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Members' Corner

Despacito - How to Make Money the Old-Fashioned Way - SLOWLY!

Are you ready to retire?  

For most people, the purpose of investing is to build up enough wealth to allow you to retire.  In general, that's usually enough money to reliably generate a year's worth of your average income, each year into your retirement so that that, plus you Social Security, should be enough to pay your bills without having to draw down on your principle.

Unfortunately, as the last decade has shown us, we can't count on bonds to pay us more than 3% and the average return from the stock market over the past 20 years has been erratic - to say the least - with 4 negative years (2000, 2001, 2002 and 2008) and 14 positives, though mostly in the 10% range on the positives.  A string of losses like we had from 2000-02 could easily wipe out a decades worth of gains.

Still, the stock market has been better over the last 10 (7%) an...



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Mapping The Market

It's Not Capitalism, it's Crony Capitalism

A good start from :

It's Not Capitalism, it's Crony Capitalism

Excerpt:

The threat to America is this: we have abandoned our core philosophy. Our first principle of this nation as a meritocracy, a free-market economy, where competition drives economic decision-making. In its place, we have allowed a malignancy to fester, a virulent pus-filled bastardized form of economics so corrosive in nature, so dangerously pestilent, that it presents an extinction-level threat to America – both the actual nation and the “idea” of America.

This all-encompassing mutant corruption saps men’s souls, crushes opportunities, and destroys economic mobility. Its a Smash & Grab system of ill-gotten re...



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OpTrader

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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Promotions

Free eBook - "My Top Strategies for 2017"

 

 

Here's a free ebook for you to check out! 

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.

Some other great content in this free eBook includes:

 

·       How 2017 Will Affect Oil, the US Dollar and the European Union

...

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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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