Jun 06

The Real “Margin” Threat: $600 Trillion In OTC Derivatives, A Multi-Trillion Variation Margin Call, And A Collateral Scramble That Could Send US Treasurys To All Time Records… (ZeroHedge, June 6, 2011)

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Apr 29

Back in March of 2009 Zero Hedge, once again a little conspiratorially ahead of its time, solicited reader feedback on a key topic: CDS pricing manipulation, involving in addition to key cartel banks, such “independent” pricing services as MarkIt. We said: “Zero Hedge has received some troubling info (like there isn’t enough) regarding major pricing discrepancies between certain securities pricing services.

The services include companies such as IDC, Advantage Data, Markit and others. While I will not disclose which one may be a culprit, the allegation is that one (or more) are providing substantially above market pricing levels, specifically as pertains to distressed securities.” Then back in August 2010, we followed up by explaining that it is the ongoing price manipulation scheme, in addition to other factors, that allows Goldman Sachs (and other CDS dealers to a much lesser extent) to constantly generate massive profits from trading an opaque off-exchange product like CDS. It took two years and a month for others to take notice of this inquiry, although naturally not in that slum of corruption and market manipulation, the United States of America, but in Europe. Bloomberg reports: “Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and other 14 other investment banks face a European Union antitrust probe into credit-default swaps for companies and sovereign debt, regulators said. …The European Commission said it opened two antitrust probes. It will check whether 16 bank dealers colluded by giving market information to Markit, a financial information provider.” So while some post flow charts explaining the hilarity behind conspiracy theories, others actually expose the facts that today are a conspiracy and tomorrow are a full blown criminal investigation.

From Bloomberg Apr 29, 2011:

“Lack of transparency in markets can lead to abusive behavior and facilitate violations of competition rules,” said the EU’s antitrust chief, Joaquin Almunia, in an e-mailed statement. “I hope our investigation will contribute to a better functioning of financial markets.”

Global regulators have sought to toughen regulation of credit-default swaps saying the trades helped fuel the financial crisis. Lawmakers in the EU plan to encourage the use of clearinghouses and transparent trading systems. CDS are derivatives that pay the buyer face value if a borrower defaults.
Possible Collusion

JPMorgan, Bank of America Corp. (BAC), Barclays Plc (BARC), BNP Paribas (BNP) SA, Citigroup Inc. (C), Commerzbank AG (CBK), Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN), Deutsche Bank AG (DBK), Goldman Sachs, HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA), Morgan Stanley, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc (RBS), UBS AG (UBSN), Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), Credit Agricole SA (ACA) and Societe Generale (GLE) SA will be investigated for possible collusion in giving “most of the pricing, indices and other essential daily data only to Markit.”

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Jun 23

How Barack Obama Fronted for the Most Vicious Predators on Wall Street


Wall Street, known variously as a barren wasteland for diversity or the last plantation in America, has defied courts and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for decades in its failure to hire blacks as stockbrokers. Now it’s marshalling its money machine to elect a black man to the highest office in the land. Why isn’t the press curious about this?

Walk into any of the largest Wall Street brokerage firms today and you’ll see a self-portrait of upper management racism and sexism: women sitting at secretarial desks outside fancy offices occupied by predominantly white males. According to the EEOC as well as the recent racial discrimination class actions filed against UBS and Merrill Lynch, blacks make up between 1 per cent to 3.5 per cent of stockbrokers — this after 30 years of litigation, settlements and empty promises to do better by the largest Wall Street firms.

The first clue to an entrenched white male bastion seeking a black male occupant in the oval office (having placed only five blacks in the U.S. Senate in the last two centuries) appeared in February on a chart at the Center for Responsive Politics website. It was a list of the 20 top contributors to the Barack Obama campaign, and it looked like one of those comprehension tests where you match up things that go together and eliminate those that don’t. Of the 20 top contributors, I eliminated six that didn’t compute. I was now looking at a sight only slightly less frightening to democracy than a Diebold voting machine. It was a Wall Street cartel of financial firms, their registered lobbyists, and go-to law firms that have a death grip on our federal government.

Why is the “yes, we can” candidate in bed with this cartel? How can “we”, the people, make change if Obama’s money backers block our ability to be heard?

Seven of the Obama campaign’s top 14 donors consisted of officers and employees of the same Wall Street firms charged time and again with looting the public and newly implicated in originating and/or bundling fraudulently made mortgages. These latest frauds have left thousands of children in some of our largest minority communities coming home from school to see eviction notices and foreclosure signs nailed to their front doors. Those scars will last a lifetime.

These seven Wall Street firms are (in order of money given): Goldman Sachs, UBS AG, Lehman Brothers, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse. There is also a large hedge fund, Citadel Investment Group, which is a major source of fee income to Wall Street. There are five large corporate law firms that are also registered lobbyists; and one is a corporate law firm that is no longer a registered lobbyist but does legal work for Wall Street. The cumulative total of these 14 contributors through February 1, 2008, was $2,872,128, and we’re still in the primary season.

But hasn’t Senator Obama repeatedly told us in ads and speeches and debates that he wasn’t taking money from registered lobbyists? Hasn’t the press given him a free pass on this statement?
Barack Obama, speaking in Greenville, South Carolina on January 22, 2008:

“Washington lobbyists haven’t funded my campaign, they won’t run my White House, and they will not drown out the voices of working Americans when I am president”.

Barack Obama, in an email to supporters on June 25, 2007, as reported by the Boston Globe:

“Candidates typically spend a week like this – right before the critical June 30th financial reporting deadline – on the phone, day and night, begging Washington lobbyists and special interest PACs to write huge checks. Not me. Our campaign has rejected the money-for-influence game and refused to accept funds from registered federal lobbyists and political action committees”.

The Center for Responsive Politics website allows one to pull up the filings made by lobbyists, registering under the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 with the clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives and secretary of the U.S. Senate. These top five contributors to the Obama campaign have filed as registered lobbyists: Sidley Austin LLP; Skadden, Arps, et al; Jenner & Block; Kirkland & Ellis; Wilmerhale, aka Wilmer Cutler Pickering.

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Dec 04

NEW YORK: The U.S. phone giant AT&T said Thursday that it would eliminate 12,000 jobs, about 4 percent of its work force, as it joins a raft of corporations trying to slash costs in the face of the economic downturn.

AT&T will cut the jobs over the remainder of 2008 and 2009, and take a charge of about $600 million in this year’s fourth quarter for severance.

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Dec 02

The economic downturn delivered another battering to the UK’s financial services sector yesterday (December 1st), with HSBC and Credit Suisse announcing major cutbacks and the London Scottish Bank collapsing into administration.

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Oct 16

Pedestrians walk past a branch of the UBS bank in Bern, Switzerland, on Thursday, Oct. 2, 2008. Photographer: Adrian Moser/Bloomberg News

Oct. 16 (Bloomberg) — Switzerland gave UBS AG, the European bank with the biggest losses from the credit crisis, a $59.2 billion rescue and pushed Credit Suisse Group AG to raise funds, joining authorities around the world in shoring up banks.

UBS will get 6 billion Swiss francs ($5.2 billion) from the government and put as much as $60 billion of risky assets into a fund backed by the central bank, the Zurich-based company said. Credit Suisse Group AG raised 10 billion francs from investors including Qatar and Tel Aviv-based Koor Industries Ltd.

Switzerland is the last of the world’s financial centers to pour cash into ailing financial institutions after losses on bad debts reached $647 billion globally and credit markets froze. The Swiss government plans to raise deposit guarantees and is ready to back the short- and medium-term interbank loans of the nation’s banks, after countries across Europe took similar measures.

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Jul 15

Related article:Big Traders Dive Into Dark Pools

We can almost hear that ominous “Jaws” theme music in the background and can see that huge dorsal fin as it slices threateningly through the water – knowing full well that the real terror is hidden beneath the water’s surface.

But this time around, it’s not a “Great White” that’s sparking our fears; it’s a well-capitalized and broadly based series of secret stock exchanges known as “Dark Pools of Liquidity,” “Dark Liquidity,” or just “Dark Pools.”

Most investors have never even heard the term – and are truly shocked to discover these “off-the-books” trading networks actually exist.

But to Wall Street insiders looking to anonymously move billions of dollars in stocks, bonds, and other investment instruments, dark pools are de rigueur – especially when you’re an institutional trader who doesn’t want to reveal your intentions or your actions to the “rest” of the market, until after the fact when the orders are “printed.”

And that makes these dark pools of capital highly problematic when it comes transparency: There is literally none in most pools and only limited visibility in others.

Dark Pools: From Trading Haven to Heavyweight

Dark Pools are electronic “crossing networks” that offer institutional investors many of the same benefits associated with making trades on the stock exchanges’ public limit order books – without tipping their hands to others, meaning publicly quoted prices aren’t affected. This is the capital markets’ version of a godsend – especially for traders who desire to move large blocks of shares without the public investors ever knowing.

Some examples of so-called crossing networks include Liquidnet Inc., Pipeline, the Posit unit of Investment Technology Group (ITG), or the SIGMA X unit of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS).

In an era in which “secret” transactions contributed to what’s shaping up to be the largest credit crisis in history, you’d think that any mechanism that allows insiders to trade in complete secrecy and with total anonymity would be scrutinized more closely than a Roger Clemens vitamin shot. But that’s not the case with Dark Pools.

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Mar 14

World central banks unite to ease credit strain

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Reserve and four other central banks on Tuesday teamed up to get hundreds of billions of dollars in fresh funds to cash-starved credit markets, allowing financial firms to use securities backed by home mortgages as collateral for central bank loans.


Stocks surged, bonds fell and the long-suffering U.S. dollar soared in reaction to the moves, a sign financial markets saw the plan as a step in the right direction to ease a crisis that has threatened world economic growth. The Dow Jones industrials closed nearly 3.6 percent higher.

In the latest effort to ease a credit contraction that has disrupted global finance, the Fed, Bank of Canada, Bank of England, European Central Bank and Swiss National Bank announced a series of aggressive measures to boost liquidity. It was the second time in three months that central banks from around the globe had launched coordinated efforts.

Wall Street economists were quick to call the new lending facility a step in the right direction, but what’s most needed is time for the de-leveraging of billions of dollars in loans globally. Continue reading »

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Mar 14

Bear Stearns is one of the best-known US Wall Street firms

US bank Bear Stearns has got emergency funding, in a move that raises fears that one of Wall Street’s biggest names is on the verge of collapsing.

JP Morgan Chase will provide the money to Bear Stearns for 28 days with the Federal Reserve of New York’s backing. Continue reading »

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