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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ValueWalk

The price you pay determines the base earning yield

By Adam Parris. Originally published at ValueWalk.

One advantage of investing in stocks has over investing property is that you can start small with only 1,000 dollars and all without the need to carry the heavy burden of debt.

Q1 2020 hedge fund letters, conferences and more

But, is starting with such a small amount of money worth it?

Especially if you are not using debt as leverage?

Yes, absolutely.

The Little Bluey Portfolio.

This is the primary purpose of the Little Bluey $1,000 Portfolio.

Along with showing the Share Investors Blueprint members, and prospective members,...



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Phil's Favorites

Riot or resistance? How media frames unrest in Minneapolis will shape public's view of protest

 

Riot or resistance? How media frames unrest in Minneapolis will shape public's view of protest

Protesters outside of a burning Minneapolis police precinct. AP Photo/John Minchillo

Courtesy of Danielle K. Kilgo, Indiana University

A teenager held her phone steady enough to capture the final moments of George Perry Floyd’s life as he apparently suffocated under the weight of a Minneapolis police officer’s knee on his neck. The video went...



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Zero Hedge

Valuations Point To A Decade Of Anemic Returns Ahead

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Submitted by Joseph Carson, former chief economist of Alliance Bernstein

Macro measures of equity market valuations offer investors a fundamental assessment of the risk-reward ratio in investing at various points in the cycle. Macro equity valuation measures highlight “richness” and “cheapness” in the broad equity market.

History shows that investors who time their entry into the broad equity market at depressed levels of macro valuations far outperform investing strategies that remain fully invested. Current macro valuations indicate a very poor risk-r...



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Biotech/COVID-19

Antigen tests for COVID-19 are fast and easy - and could solve the coronavirus testing problem despite being somewhat inaccurate

 

Antigen tests for COVID-19 are fast and easy – and could solve the coronavirus testing problem despite being somewhat inaccurate

Antibodies are incredibly good at finding the coronavirus. Antigen tests put them to work. Sergii Iaremenko/Science Photo Library via Getty Images

Courtesy of Eugene Wu, University of Richmond

In late February, I fell ill with a fever and a cough. As a biochemist who teaches a class on viruses, I’d been tracking the outbreak of...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Tech Indicator Suggesting A Historic Top Could Be Forming?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

Tech stocks have been the clear leader of the stock market recovery rally, this year and since the lows back in 2007!

But within the ranks of leadership, and an important ratio may be sending a caution message to investors.

In today’s chart, we look at the ratio of large-cap tech stocks (the Nasdaq 100 Index) to the broader tech market (the Nasdaq Composite) on a “monthly” basis.

The large-cap concentrated Nasdaq 100 (only 100 stocks) has been the clear leader for several years versus the ...



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The Technical Traders

M2 Velocity Collapses - Could A Bottom In Capital Velocity Be Setting Up?

Courtesy of Technical Traders

M2 Velocity is the measurement of capital circulating within the economy.  The faster capital circulates within the economy, the more that capital is being deployed within the economy to create output and opportunities for economic growth.  When M2 Velocity contracts, capital is being deployed in investments or assets that prevent that capital from further circulation within the economy – thus preventing further output and opportunity growth features.

The decline in M2 Velocity over the past 10+ years has been dramatic and consistent with the dramatic new zero US Federal Reserve interest rates initiated since just after the 2008 credit crisis market colla...



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Lee's Free Thinking

US Southern States COVID19 Cases - Let's Give Credit Where Due

 

US Southern States COVID19 Cases – Let’s Give Credit Where Due

Courtesy of  

The number of new COVID 19 cases has been falling in the Northeast, but the South is not having the same experience. The number of new cases per day in each Southern state has been rangebound for the past month.

And that’s assuming that the numbers haven’t been manipulated. We know that in Georgia’s case at least, they have been. And there are suspicions about Florida as well, as the State now engages in a smear campaign against the fired employee who built its much praised COVID19 database and dashboar...



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Chart School

Is this your local response to COVID 19

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

This is off topic, but a bit of fun!


This is the standard reaction from the control freaks.








This is the song for post lock down!







What should be made mandatory? Vaccines, hell NO! This should be mandatory: Every one taking their tops off in the sun, they do in Africa!

Guess which family gets more Vitamin D and eats less sugary carbs, TV Show



...



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Digital Currencies

Blockchains can trace foods from farm to plate, but the industry is still behind the curve

 

Blockchains can trace foods from farm to plate, but the industry is still behind the curve

App-etising? LDprod

Courtesy of Michael Rogerson, University of Bath and Glenn Parry, University of Surrey

Food supply chains were vulnerable long before the coronavirus pandemic. Recent scandals have ranged from modern slavery ...



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Members' Corner

Coronavirus, 'Plandemic' and the seven traits of conspiratorial thinking

 

Coronavirus, 'Plandemic' and the seven traits of conspiratorial thinking

No matter the details of the plot, conspiracy theories follow common patterns of thought. Ranta Images/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Courtesy of John Cook, George Mason University; Sander van der Linden, University of Cambridge; Stephan Lewandowsky...



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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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Promotions

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Feb. 26, 1pm EST

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Phil will discuss positions, COVID-19, market volatility -- the selloff -- and more! 

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Mike will show off the TradeExchange's new platform which you can try for free.  

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Mapping The Market

How IPOs Are Priced

Via Jean Luc 

Funny but probably true:

...

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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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