Posts Tagged ‘Michael Lewis’

Runaway Feedback Loops, Wealth Concentration and Gaming-The-System

Runaway Feedback Loops, Wealth Concentration and Gaming-The-System

Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds

Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador, iceberg in ocean

Positive feedback loops soon reach the runaway/self-destruction stage. Concentrations of wealth and gaming-the-system are reaching just such levels.

Positive feedback loops lead to runaway scenarios. The classic example is global warming and the Arctic ice cap. As temperatures rise, the the ice melts, exposing more land or seawater. Ice reflects solar radiation, and so as it shrinks then more solar radiation is absorbed, raising temperatures more, which melts the ice faster, which then leads to more solar radiation being absorbed, and so on.

The runaway feedback loop leads to the disappearance of the Arctic ice and a much warmer planet.

Nature has multiple feedback loops, and so the solar radiation flux may be acting to reduce temperatures as the positive feedback of melting ice raises temperatures. But the point is that positive feedback is self-reinforcing and it speeds up processes as it gathers momentum.

We can see runaway feedback loops in the economy and society, not just in Nature. One of the key runaway feedbacks in the U.S. is the concentration of wealth and political power.

As wealth has become concentrated in the top 1/10th of 1%, then the political power that can be purchased with that wealth also rises, which then enables the wealthy to increase their wealth via "Federal entrepreneurship" and other means.

The political process--once potentially a force resisting or moderating wealth--has been completely captured by an ever-expanding army of lobbyists, the fast-spinning revolving door between the Central State and corporations and unprecedented levels of corporate/Elites campaign contributions.

The judiciary, theoretically a force which could have resisted this concentration of wealth and political power, has also been co-opted by a marriage of ideology and wealth/power. Thus the courts have gutted every attempt at limiting corporate/insider influence over the processes of governance; the courts have enabled corporations to have the "right to free (paid) speech" unburdened by the obligations that go with such rights.

The wealth/power feedback has reached runaway levels. "Reforms" are gutted in backroom deals, votes to benefit the banking/mortgage/foreclosure industry are done on voice calls to evade public scrutiny, and a thousand other games and tricks are played daily to subvert the common good for the benefit of the few and their armies of technocrat toadies.

The other positive feedback loop approaching runaway levels is the Entitlement/Welfare State, both
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Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds

This is a fascinating study of Greece and how the largest of part of its bankruptcy may be in its collective conscience.  - Ilene 

Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds

Greece, Boat anchored at island

Vanity Fair’s Introduction: As Wall Street hangs on the question “Will Greece default?,” the author heads for riot-stricken Athens, and for the mysterious Vatopaidi monastery, which brought down the last government, laying bare the country’s economic insanity. But beyond a $1.2 trillion debt (roughly a quarter-million dollars for each working adult), there is a more frightening deficit. After systematically looting their own treasury, in a breathtaking binge of tax evasion, bribery, and creative accounting spurred on by Goldman Sachs, Greeks are sure of one thing: they can’t trust their fellow Greeks. 

BY MICHAEL LEWIS, Vanity Fair 

After an hour on a plane, two in a taxi, three on a decrepit ferry, and then four more on buses driven madly along the tops of sheer cliffs by Greeks on cell phones, I rolled up to the front door of the vast and remote monastery. The spit of land poking into the Aegean Sea felt like the end of the earth, and just as silent. It was late afternoon, and the monks were either praying or napping, but one remained on duty at the guard booth, to greet visitors. He guided me along with seven Greek pilgrims to an ancient dormitory, beautifully restored, where two more solicitous monks offered ouzo, pastries, and keys to cells. I sensed something missing, and then realized: no one had asked for a credit card. The monastery was not merely efficient but free. One of the monks then said the next event would be the church service: Vespers. The next event, it will emerge, will almost always be a church service. There were 37 different chapels inside the monastery’s walls; finding the service is going to be like finding Waldo, I thought.

“Which church?” I asked the monk.

“Just follow the monks after they rise,” he said. Then he looked me up and down more closely. He wore an impossibly long and wild black beard, long black robes, a monk’s cap, and prayer beads. I wore white running shoes, light khakis, a mauve Brooks Brothers shirt, and carried a plastic laundry bag that said eagles palace hotel in giant letters on the side. “Why have you come?” he asked.

That was


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TWO DECADES OF GREED – THE UNRAVELING

TWO DECADES OF GREED – THE UNRAVELING 

Courtesy of Jim Quinn at The Burning Platform 

We are currently in the midst of a Fourth Turning. This twenty year Crisis began during the 2005 – 2008 timeframe with the collapse of the housing bubble and subsequent repercussions on the worldwide financial system. It is progressing as expected, with the financial crisis deepening and leading to tensions across the world. It will eventually morph into military conflict, as all prior Fourth Turnings have. The progression from High to Awakening through the Unraveling took from 1946 until 2006. The most treacherous period of the Saeculm is upon us. The intensity of a Crisis is very much dependent upon how a country and its citizens prepare for the Crisis during the final years of the Unraveling. The last Unraveling period in U.S. history from 1984 through 2005 was symbolized by Boomer greed, materialism, debt and selfishness. When Michael Lewis graduated from Princeton University in 1985 and joined Salomon Brothers, I’m sure he didn’t realize that he would end up book-ending the Unraveling period in his two best-selling books about Wall Street.

In his latest book, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, Lewis seems bewildered by the fact that his first book Liar’s Poker, written in 1989,  didn’t dissuade college students from pursuing careers on Wall Street. If Lewis had read The Fourth Turning by Strauss & Howe when it was published in 1997, he would have understood why the people on Wall Street couldn’t change. The generations were just acting out their part in a grand never ending cycle. Lewis explains what he thought would happen:

“I stumbled into a job at Salomon Brothers in 1985 and stumbled out much richer three years later, and even though I wrote a book about the experience, the whole thing still strikes me as preposterous—which is one of the reasons the money was so easy to walk away from. I figured the situation was unsustainable. Sooner rather than later, someone was going to identify me, along with a lot of people more or less like me, as a fraud. Sooner rather than later, there would come a Great Reckoning when Wall Street would wake up and hundreds if not thousands of young people like me, who had no business making huge bets with other people’s money, would be expelled from finance.”

Michael…
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Goldman Can Blame This 24-Year Ex-Harvard Girl For Its Grilling In Front Of The Senate

Goldman Can Blame This 24-Year Ex-Harvard Girl For Its Grilling In Front Of The Senate

Anna Katherine Barnett HartCourtesy of  Courtney Comstock at Business Insider/Clusterstock 

Apparently if it weren’t for the book The Big Short, the Senate wouldn’t ever have held a hearing on Goldman Sachs with anything. 

POLITICO has reports of Michael Lewis’ book, which was about those like Paulson and one desk at Goldman and basically every bank who made billions off the financial crisis, being mentioned 15 separate times in public settings by politicians.

And each time they heard about it they were basically like, oh my god, Goldman Sachs did what? AIG what?

Before they read it, they had no idea what any of this "CDO" business was. The book breaks it down so simply, say the Senators, that they recommended it to everyone, even their spouses, and everyone was shocked about what happened. 

So in a weird way, this girl, Anna Katherine Barnett Hart, who inspired Lewis’ book with her senior Harvard thesis and is now at Morgan Stanley, is a big part of why got Goldman charged.

Way to write a thesis that really shakes things up! 

But Lewis nails it when he says that anyway, their obsession with his book is a little disturbing.

“When senators are reading your book, it reaffirms your faith in society, on the one hand… and, on the other hand, it makes you nervous, because I don’t think of myself as advising people who are actually going to change things.”

Especially when an undergrad advised him.

So if you or your firm is mentioned in Lewis’ book, watch out. Senator Kaufman said reading The Big Short was like watching a horror movie so, if you’re on this list … you’re next-->

 

 


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Wall Street Lobbyists Report Back to their Paymasters

Wall Street Lobbyists Report Back to their Paymasters

Courtesy of Joshua M Brown, The Reformed Broker 

lobbyistsRegular readers know that I’m both a fan and a practitioner of the ‘Satirical Arts’.  Michael Lewis has a devastating op-ed up at the New York Times entitled Shorting Reform that just manages to skirt the line between outright fantasy and the actual current psyche of Wall Street’s lobbyist corps…

To: Wall Street chief executives

From: Your man in Washington

Re: Embracing the status quo

Our earnings are robust, our compensation has returned to its naturally high levels and, as a result, we have very nearly regained our grip on the imaginations of the most ambitious students at the finest universities — and from that single fact many desirable outcomes follow.

Thus, we have almost fully recovered from what we have agreed to call The Great Misfortune. In the next few weeks, however, ill-informed senators will meet with ill-paid representatives to reconcile their ill-conceived financial reform bills. This process cannot and should not be stopped. The American people require at least the illusion of change. But it can be rendered harmless to our interests.

To this point, we have succeeded in keeping the public focused on the single issue that will have very little effect on how we do business: the quest to prevent taxpayer money from ever again being used to (as they put it) “bail out Wall Street.”

As we know, we never needed their money in the first place, and by the time we need it again, we’ll be long gone. If we can keep the public, and its putative representatives, fixated on the question of whether their bill does, or does not, ensure there will be no more bailouts, we may entirely avoid a discussion of our relationship to the broader society.

Like him or hate him, Lewis nails this one.  Get over to NYT for the rest.

Source:

Shorting Reform (NYT) 

Photo courtesy of Jr. Deputy Accountant 


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Betting on the Blind Side

Betting on the Blind Side

By Michael Lewis, appearing in Vanity Fair

Michael Burry always saw the world differently—due, he believed, to the childhood loss of one eye. So when the 32-year-old investor spotted the huge bubble in the subprime-mortgage bond market, in 2004, then created a way to bet against it, he wasn’t surprised that no one understood what he was doing. In an excerpt from his new book, The Big Short, the author charts Burry’s oddball maneuvers, his almost comical dealings with Goldman Sachs and other banks as the market collapsed, and the true reason for his visionary obsession.

Excerpted from The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, by Michael Lewis, to be published this month by W. W. Norton; © 2010 by the author.

In early 2004 a 32-year-old stock-market investor and hedge-fund manager, Michael Burry, immersed himself for the first time in the bond market. He learned all he could about how money got borrowed and lent in America. He didn’t talk to anyone about what became his new obsession; he just sat alone in his office, in San Jose, California, and read books and articles and financial filings. He wanted to know, especially, how subprime-mortgage bonds worked. A giant number of individual loans got piled up into a tower. The top floors got their money back first and so got the highest ratings from Moody’s and S&P, and the lowest interest rate. The low floors got their money back last, suffered the first losses, and got the lowest ratings from Moody’s and S&P. Because they were taking on more risk, the investors in the bottom floors received a higher rate of interest than investors in the top floors. Investors who bought mortgage bonds had to decide in which floor of the tower they wanted to invest, but Michael Burry wasn’t thinking about buying mortgage bonds. He was wondering how he might short, or bet against, subprime-mortgage bonds.  

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Michael Lewis On The Daily Show

Michael Lewis On The Daily Show

Courtesy of John Carney at Clusterstock

Michael Lewis talks about the financial crisis and subprime mortgages with the only news anchor Americans trust, Jon Stewart.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Michael Lewis
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Health Care Reform

 


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Bashing Goldman Sachs Is Simply a Game for Fools: Michael Lewis

Michael Lewis dispels some misconceptions regarding Goldman Sachs.  

Bashing Goldman Sachs Is Simply a Game for Fools: Michael Lewis

Commentary by Michael Lewis

July 28 (Bloomberg) — From the moment I left Yale and started working for Goldman Sachs, I’ve felt uneasy interacting with those who don’t….

Thus, like many of my colleagues, I have adopted a strategy of never leaving Goldman Sachs, apart from a few brief, spasmodic attempts to make what you outsiders call “love” or “the beast with two backs.” Goldman recognizes how important it is for its people to replicate themselves. We bill no performance fees for the service… 

America stands at a crossroads, and Goldman Sachs now owns both of them. In choosing which road to take, ordinary Americans must not be distracted by unproductive resentment toward the toll-takers. To that end we at Goldman Sachs would like to dispel several false and insidious rumors.

Rumor No. 1: “Goldman Sachs controls the U.S. government.”

Every time we hear the phrase “the United States of Goldman Sachs” we shake our heads in wonder. Every ninth-grader knows that the U.S. government consists of three branches. Goldman owns just one of these outright; the second we simply rent, and the third we have no interest in at all. (Note there isn’t a single former Goldman employee on the Supreme Court.)…

Rumor No. 2: “When the U.S. government bailed out AIG, and paid off its gambling debts, it saved not AIG but Goldman Sachs.”

The charge isn’t merely insulting but ignorant. Less responsible journalists continue to bring up the $12.9 billion we received from AIG, as if that was some kind of big deal to us. But as our CFO David Viniar explained back in March, we were hedged. Our profits from AIG “rounded to zero.”…

Rumor No. 3: “As the U.S. government will eat the losses if Goldman Sachs goes bust, Goldman Sachs shouldn’t be allowed to keep making these massive financial bets. At the very least the $11.4 billion Goldman Sachs already has set aside for employees in 2009 — $386,429 a head, just for the first six months — is unfair, as the U.S. taxpayer has borne so much of the risk…
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Michael Lewis’ AIG Article in Vanity Fair: The Man Who Crashed the World

Michael Lewis’ AIG Article in Vanity Fair: The Man Who Crashed the World

Courtesy of Marketfolly

Here’s an excellent read in Vanity Fair from noted author Michael Lewis regarding the madness that is AIG. His piece is entitled ‘The Man Who Crashed the World.’ There has been a slew of intriguing journalistic pieces hitting the tabloids lately and its refreshing to see. Just last week, we brought you Matt Taibbi’s piece on Goldman Sachs as well.

Below is the embedded AIG article. RSS & Email readers will need to come to the blog to view it. Again, our apologies for using Scribd as we know many of you dislike it. However, the other alternatives we have tried out have not been any better. As such, we are stuck using the lesser of many evils. If you need the actual .pdf of this article please let us know and we’ll do our best to meet all the requests (we were inundated with requests for the GS article last week and are still sifting through all those!) Don’t try to print the article directly from Scribd as it will mess up the margins and come out illegible. We recommend clicking on the Scribd logo, going to their page and selecting the ‘download’ option which will let you save the .pdf to your desktop. Do note that you’ll need a free account there to do this.

 

Marketfolly


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ValueWalk

Bishop urges Congress to consider immigrants, refugees for coronavirus stimulus checks

By Aman Jain. Originally published at ValueWalk.

The first round of stimulus checks helped millions of people meet their financial needs. Although the CARES Act offered stimulus checks to most Americans, it missed a few groups as well. Two such groups are immigrant and refugee families. To ensure that immigrant and refugee families are not left out again, the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ migration committee has asked Congress to include them the next time they send coronavirus stimulus checks.

Q2 2020 hedge fund letters, conferences and more

Coronavirus stim...

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Zero Hedge

"Very Sorry": Kim Jong-Un Issues Ultra Rare Apology Over Killing Of South Official

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has issued an extremely rare apology over the Thursday killing of a South Korean fisheries official who breached the border in the water off the coast while allegedly trying to defect. He had been shot on site by the north's border patrol in a boat who happened upon the life jacket wearing man, his body also immediately burned on coronavirus fears.

Kim's messag...



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Phil's Favorites

Why do bankers behave so badly? They make too much money to ask questions

 

Why do bankers behave so badly? They make too much money to ask questions

Rudy Balasko/Shutterstock

Courtesy of Mark Crosby, Monash University

Over the past 16 months journalists have been scouring through more than 2,000 Suspicious Activity Reports originally sent by banks to the United States Treasury, before being leaked to Buzzfeed and then passed along to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

The reports relate to more than US$2 trillion in transactions over the period from 2000 to 2017. Some of these transactions will already have been investigated, and may be legitimate. In the case o...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Key Inflation Indicators Facing Big Test In September!

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

Inflation has long been a word that the Federal Reserve uses but the general markets have forgotten about.

Why? Well because it’s been virtually non-existent for years. Key indicators like commodities (i.e. copper) have been in a down-trends and the Materials Sector (XLB) has lagged… until this year.

In today’s chart 3-pack, we take a look at the Equal Weight Commodity Index, ...



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Digital Currencies

The Great Unbanking: How DeFi Is Completing The Job Bitcoin Started

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Authored by Paul De Havilland via CoinTelegraph.com,

While most of us will prefer to forget the horrors of 2020, DeFi may well prove to be the guarantee of a better, more liberated future...

...



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Politics

'Colossal Backdoor Bailout': Outrage as Pentagon Funnels Hundreds of Millions Meant for Covid Supplies to Private Defense Contractors

 

'Colossal Backdoor Bailout': Outrage as Pentagon Funnels Hundreds of Millions Meant for Covid Supplies to Private Defense Contractors

"If you can't get a Covid test or find an N95, it’s because these contractors stole from the American people to make faster jets and fancy uniforms."

By Jake Johnson

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley hold an end of year press conference at the Pentagon on December 20, 2019 in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Instead of adhering to congressional inten...



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Biotech/COVID-19

How and when will we know that a COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective?

 

How and when will we know that a COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective?

How much longer must society wait for a vaccine? ANDRZEJ WOJCICKI/Getty Images

By William Petri, University of Virginia

With COVID-19 vaccines currently in the final phase of study, you’ve probably been wondering how the FDA will decide if a vaccine is safe and effective.

Based on the status of the Phase 3 trials currently underway, it i...



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Chart School

Stocks are not done yet - Update

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

There are a few times in history when a third party said this US paper (stocks, funds or bonds) is worthless.

Here is two.

1) 1965 Nixon Shock - The French said to US we do not want your paper dollars please pay us in gold. This of course led to the US going off the gold standard.

2) 2007 Bear Stern Fund Collapse - Investors said their funds collateral was worth much less than stated. This of course was the beginning of the great america housing bust of 2008.


In both cases it was stated .."look the Emperor is naked!"... (The Empe...

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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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Promotions

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Feb. 26, 1pm EST

Click HERE to join the PSW weekly webinar at 1 pm EST.

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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