Added: 28. January 2011
US Outlook: Even regulators have taken to using the phrase “window dressing” to describe Wall Street banks’ habit of reducing their short-term borrowings for a few days around the end of each quarter, in order to make themselves look less risky than they really are.
Window dressing is too benign a term. What banks, led by Lehman Brothers, but also including Bank of America and Citigroup, have been doing is much worse than simply dressing up their finest wares in the shop-front window. It is more like finding an Oscar de la Renta dress in the window of a Wal-Mart. It is misleading, and often deliberately so.
Thanks to an examiner’s report commissioned by the bankruptcy courts, we know that Lehman even had a name for the accounting trick: Repo 105. At the end of each quarter before its collapse in 2008, Lehman was able to make its balance sheet look $50bn (£32bn) lighter than it really was, deceiving worried investors who were pressing it to reduce its leverage.
From Academy Award® nominated filmmaker, Charles Ferguson (“No End In Sight”), comes INSIDE JOB, the first film to expose the shocking truth behind the economic crisis of 2008. The global financial meltdown, at a cost of over $20 trillion, resulted in millions of people losing their homes and jobs. Through extensive research and interviews with major financial insiders, politicians and journalists, INSIDE JOB traces the rise of a rogue industry and unveils the corrosive relationships which have corrupted politics, regulation and academia.
Narrated by Academy Award® winner Matt Damon, INSIDE JOB was made on location in the United States, Iceland, England, France, Singapore, and China.
Max Keiser – journalist, former Wall Street broker and options trader, and inventor of the software which is now being used for high frequency trading – claims that the big banks retroactively allocate losing trades to their clients, and keep the winning trades for their own proprietary trading desks:
Keiser Report: Goldman Sachs, Undeclared Enemy of the State
Added: 25. May 2010
This is the second time in the couple of weeks that Keiser has made this allegation. When he first brought this up, Keiser said that he has first-hand knowledge of this unlawful activity because – when he was a trader – he and everyone else did the same thing.
Submitted by George Washington on 05/27/2010 17:08 -0500
More on Goldman Sachs ‘doing God’s work’:
Prof. William Black scorched everyone with his testimony on the failure of Lehman Brothers before the House Financial Services Committee today. His prepared remarks can be found here (PDF).
CHAIRMAN KANJORSKI: And now we’ll hear from Mr. William K. Black, Associate Professor of Economics and Law, the University of Missouri, Kansas City School of Law. Mr. Black.
BILL BLACK: Members of the Committee, thank you.
You asked earlier for a stern regulator, you have one now in front of you. And we need to be blunt. You haven’t heard much bluntness in hours of testimony.
We stopped a nonprime crisis before it became a crisis in 1991 by supervisory actions.
We did it so effectively that people forgot that it even existed, even though it caused several hundred million dollars of losses – but none to the taxpayer. We did it by preemptive litigation, and by supervision. We broke a raging epidemic of accounting control fraud without new legislation in the period of 1984 through 1986.
Legislation would’ve been helpful, we sought legislation, but we didn’t get it. And we were able to stop that because we didn’t simply consider business as usual.
Lehman’s failure is a story in large part of fraud. And it is fraud that begins at the absolute latest in 2001, and that is with their subprime and liars’ loan operations.
Lehman was the leading purveyor of liars’ loans in the world. For most of this decade, studies of liars’ loans show incidence of fraud of 90%. Lehmans sold this to the world, with reps and warranties that there were no such frauds. If you want to know why we have a global crisis, in large part it is before you. But it hasn’t been discussed today, amazingly.
Financial institution leaders are not engaged in risk when they engage in liars’ loans – liars’ loans will cause a failure. They lose money. The only way to make money is to deceive others by selling bad paper, and that will eventually lead to liability and failure as well.
Goldman Sachs has been drawn into a fresh controversy as lawyers demand to know whether it was partly responsible for triggering Lehman Brothers’ downfall by shorting its rival’s shares.
The Wall Street behemoth is already being investigated by a number of financial regulators around the world in addition to the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s fraud charges over derivatives mis-selling. It has now been named in a court filing seeking information about short-selling Lehman shares.
Goldman has been subpoenaed to hand over documents to Lehman’s Bryan Marsal, the man responsible for winding up the bank’s affairs and repaying creditors. Goldman was named in the court filing along with four other firms, including hedge funds SAC Capital and Citadel. Goldman declined to comment on the Lehman case.
In a further potential legal case, it emerged that AIG is considering suing Goldman over about $2bn (£1.3bn) of losses it incurred from past derivatives instruments. The troubled insurer is understood to be considering action as a result of protection it was forced to pay to buyers of credit-default swaps when collateralised debt obligations (CDOs) in Goldman’s Abacus programme lost their value.
The new worries came as Goldman hit back against the SEC’s charges, which it said are “completely unfounded both in law and fact”.
Hiding behind the complexities of our financial system, banks and other institutions are being accused of fraud and deception, with Goldman Sachs just the latest in the spotlight. This has become the most pressing election issue of all
The global financial crisis, it is now clear, was caused not just by the bankers’ colossal mismanagement. No, it was due also to the new financial complexity offering up the opportunity for widespread, systemic fraud. Friday’s announcement that the world’s most famous investment bank, Goldman Sachs, is to face civil charges for fraud brought by the American regulator is but the latest of a series of investigations that have been launched, arrests made and charges made against financial institutions around the world. Big Finance in the 21st century turns out to have been Big Fraud. Yet Britain, centre of the world financial system, has not yet levelled charges against any bank; all that we’ve seen is the allegation of a high-level insider dealing ring which, embarrassingly, involves a banker advising the government. We have to live with the fiction that our banks and bankers are whiter than white, and any attempt to investigate them and their institutions will lead to a mass exodus to the mountains of Switzerland. The politicians of the Labour and Tory party alike are Bambis amid the wolves.
Just consider the roll call beyond Goldman Sachs. In Ireland Sean FitzPatrick, the ex-chair of the Anglo Irish bank was arrested last month and questioned over alleged fraud. In Iceland last week a dossier assembled by its parliament on the Icelandic banks – huge lenders in Britain – was handed to its public prosecution service. A court-appointed examiner found that collapsed investment bank Lehman knowingly manipulated its balance sheet to make it look stronger than it was – accounts originally audited by the British firm Ernst and Young and given the legal green light by the British firm Linklaters. In Switzerland UBS has been defending itself from the US’s Internal Revenue Service for allegedly running 17,000 offshore accounts to evade tax. Be sure there are more revelations to come – except in saintly Britain.
Well well well…. ( The origins of the next crisis – William White, the former chief economist at the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) gave an important speech at George Soros’ Inaugural Institute of New Economic Thinking (INET) conference in Cambridge.):
In essence, White was saying: “it’s the debt, stupid.” When aggregate debt levels build up across business cycles, economists focused on managing within business cycles miss the key ingredient that leads to systemic crisis. It should be expected that politicians or private sector participants worried about the day-to-day exhibit short-termism. But White says it is particularly troubling that economists and their models exhibit the same tendency because it means there is no long-term oriented systemic counterweight guiding the economy.
This short-termism that White refers to is what I call the asset-based economic model. And, quite frankly, it works – especially when interest rates are declining as they have over the past quarter century. The problem, however, is that you reach a critical state when the accumulation of debt and the misallocation of resources is so large that the same old policies just don’t work anymore. And that’s when the next crisis occurs.
It seems that Mr. Harrison has it figured out. He goes on to spend a lot of digital ink on the periphery of the bottom line, which is that we continue to think of debt in terms of service costs (indeed, you’ll hear Bernanke talk about it, but never about the actual gross financial system debt outstanding.)
When you boil all this down, however, you get to the following chart (trendline added by moi):
You can see what’s going on here – each “crisis” leads to lower lows and lower highs.
This presents two problems:
March 26 (Bloomberg) — JPMorgan Chase & Co., Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and UBS AG were among more than a dozen Wall Street firms involved in a conspiracy to pay below-market interest rates to U.S. state and local governments on investments, according to documents filed in a U.S. Justice Department criminal antitrust case.
A government list of previously unidentified “co- conspirators” contains more than two dozen bankers at firms also including Bank of America Corp., Bear Stearns Cos., Societe Generale, two of General Electric Co.’s financial businesses and Salomon Smith Barney, the former unit of Citigroup Inc., according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on March 24.
March 19 (Bloomberg) — The Federal Reserve Board must disclose documents identifying financial firms that might have collapsed without the largest U.S. government bailout ever, a federal appeals court said.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled today that the Fed must release records of the unprecedented $2 trillion U.S. loan program launched primarily after the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. The ruling upholds a decision of a lower-court judge, who in August ordered that the information be released.
The Fed had argued that disclosure of the documents threatens to stigmatize borrowers and cause them “severe and irreparable competitive injury,” discouraging banks in distress from seeking help. A three-judge panel of the appeals court rejected that argument in a unanimous decision.
The U.S. Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, “sets forth no basis for the exemption the Board asks us to read into it,” U.S. Circuit Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs wrote in the opinion. “If the Board believes such an exemption would better serve the national interest, it should ask Congress to amend the statute.”
The opinion may not be the final word in the bid for the documents, which was launched by Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, with a November 2008 lawsuit. The Fed may seek a rehearing or appeal to the full appeals court and eventually petition the U.S. Supreme Court.
– Timmy-Gate: Did Geithner Help Hide Lehman’s Fraud? (Prof. L. Randall Wray)
– EXPLOSIVE: Lehman Corruption – Where Are The Cops? (Market Ticker)
March 18 (Bloomberg) — Ernst & Young LLP, the Big Four auditor that failed to keep Lehman Brothers from misleading investors about its financial condition, still can’t get its facts straight.
Last week, after Lehman’s bankruptcy examiner accused E&Y of malpractice in a report on the investment bank’s collapse, the accounting firm issued a brief statement standing by its audit work and offering up its best defense.
“After an exhaustive investigation, the examiner made no findings in his report that Lehman’s assets or liabilities were improperly valued or accounted for incorrectly in Lehman’s November 30, 2007, financial statements,” E&Y said, referring to the last fiscal year for which it performed a full-fledged audit of Lehman’s books.
Part of that statement is a half-truth. The other part stretches the truth past the breaking point.
It’s true the examiner, Anton Valukas, didn’t find that Lehman’s assets or liabilities were improperly valued at the end of 2007. One thing E&Y left out: Valukas did find evidence that Lehman used unreasonable asset values for the first and second quarters of 2008, including one investment he said was overvalued by as much as $500 million.
E&Y issued signed opinion letters for both quarters. Those letters, which Lehman disclosed in its financial filings, said the firm had reviewed Lehman’s financial statements and found nothing wrong.
‘False and Misleading’
Timmy-Gate Takes a Turn For The Worse: Did Geithner Help Lehman Hide Accounting Tricks?
By L. Randall Wray
L. Randall Wray, Ph.D. is Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Research Director with the Center for Full Employment and Price Stability and Senior Research Scholar at The Levy Economics Institute. His research expertise is in: financial instability, macroeconomics, and full employment policy.
Just when you thought that nothing could stink more than Timothy Geithner’s handling of the AIG bailout, a new report details how Geithner’s New York Fed allowed Lehman Brothers to use an accounting gimmick to hide debt. The report, which runs to 2200 pages, was released by Anton Valukas, the court-appointed examiner. It actually makes the AIG bailout look tame by comparison. It is now crystal clear why Geithner’s Treasury as well as Bernanke’s Fed refuse to allow any light to shine on the massive cover-up underway.
Recall that the New York Fed arranged for AIG to pay one hundred cents on the dollar on bad debts to its counterparties-benefiting Goldman Sachs and a handful of other favored Wall Street firms. (see here) The purported reason is that Geithner so feared any negative repercussions resulting from debt write-downs that he wanted Uncle Sam to make sure that Wall Street banks could not lose on bad bets. Now we find that Geithner’s NYFed supported Lehman’s efforts to conceal the extent of its problems. (see here) Not only did the NYFed fail to blow the whistle on flagrant accounting tricks, it also helped to hide Lehman’s illiquid assets on the Fed’s balance sheet to make its position look better. Note that the NY Fed had increased its supervision to the point that it was going over Lehman’s books daily; further, it continued to take trash off the books of Lehman right up to the bitter end, helping to perpetuate the fraud that was designed to maintain the pretense that Lehman was not massively insolvent. (see here)
Geithner told Congress that he has never been a regulator. (see here) That is a quite honest assessment of his job performance, although it is completely inaccurate as a description of his duties as President of the NYFed. Apparently, Geithner has never met an accounting gimmick that he does not like, if it appears to improve the reported finances of a Wall Street firm. We will leave to the side his own checkered past as a taxpayer, although one might question the wisdom of appointing someone who is apparently insufficiently skilled to file accurate tax returns to a position as our nation’s chief tax collector. What is far more troubling is that he now heads the Treasury – which means that he is not only responsible for managing two regulatory units (the FDIC and OCC), but also that he has got hold of the government’s purse strings. How many more billions or trillions will he commit to a futile effort to help Wall Street avoid its losses?
– EXPLOSIVE: Lehman Corruption – Where Are The Cops? (Market Ticker)
Added: March 12, 2010 MSNBC
Added: 13th Mar 10
If Nostradamus were alive today, he’d have a hard time keeping up with Gerald Celente.
– New York Post
When CNN wants to know about the Top Trends, we ask Gerald Celente.
– CNN Headline News
There’s not a better trend forecaster than Gerald Celente. The man knows what he’s talking about.
Those who take their predictions seriously … consider the Trends Research Institute.
– The Wall Street Journal
A network of 25 experts whose range of specialties would rival many university faculties.
– The Economist
– EXPLOSIVE: Lehman Corruption – Where Are The Cops? (Market Ticker)
The implosion of Lehman Brothers was in part triggered by excessive capital demands from JP Morgan Chase and Citigroup, and in part by the manipulation of its balance sheet by leading directors, a wide-ranging official report into the investment bank’s collapse has found.
In what is likely to kick-start a series of costly and long-running court cases, the exhaustive investigation found that the two Wall Street banks demanded significant amounts of capital and extra guarantees in the run-up to Lehman’s downfall – with JP Morgan Chase requesting $5bn (£3.3bn) just three days before Lehman’s bankruptcy filing.
At the same time, Lehman directors, including chairman Dick Fuld and former finance director Erin Callan, failed to disclose key practices, and certified misleading statements. The astonishing claims are made in a 2,200-page, nine-volume report written by court-appointed examiner Anton Valukas, which Judge James Peck admitted read “like a best seller”.
The explosive report also calls into question:
• The use of accounting tactics designed to move $50bn from Lehman’s balance sheet.
• The work of auditor Ernst & Young.
• Barclays’ subsequent purchase of Lehman’s US assets.
Among Mr Valukas’s findings – which are designed to help the court and the bank’s trustees establish where there may be legal grounds for future claims – he asserts that the evidence “may support the existence of a . . .[valid] claim that JP Morgan breached the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing by making excessive collateral requests” to Lehman.
“The demands for collateral by Lehman’s lenders had direct impact on Lehman’s liquidity pool,” he says.
From the paper:
Lehman employed off-balance sheet devices, known within Lehman as “Repo 105” and “Repo 108” transactions, to temporarily remove securities inventory from its balance sheet, usually for a period of seven to ten days, and to create a materially misleading picture of the firm’s financial condition in late 2007 and 2008.2847
Oh yeah, that’s legal? It’s not supposed to be!
Lehman regularly increased its use of Repo 105 transactions in the days prior to reporting periods to reduce its publicly reported net leverage and balance sheet.2850 Lehman’s periodic reports did not disclose the cash borrowing from the Repo 105 transaction – i.e., although Lehman had in effect borrowed tens of billions of dollars in these transactions, Lehman did not disclose the known obligation to repay the debt.2851 Lehman used the cash from the Repo 105 transaction to pay down other liabilities, thereby reducing both the total liabilities and the total assets reported on its balance sheet and lowering its leverage ratios.
Isn’t that special?
It gets better, as you might expect.
The Examiner concludes that colorable claims of breach of fiduciary duty exist against Richard Fuld, Chris O’Meara, Erin Callan, and Ian Lowitt, and that a colorable claim of professional malpractice exists against
Arthur AndersonErnst & Young.2915 (strikethrough mine, not in the original)
It is stated that Government Regulators (FRBNY and The SEC) had “no knowledge” of these practices. Perhaps true. But this calls into question why we’re hearing of this just now, and whether other firms have or are at present doing the same sort of thing.
There also appears to be a colorable claim that Lehman Management was fully-aware of what was going on:
Jan. 29 (Bloomberg) — The idea of secret banking cabals that control the country and global economy are a given among conspiracy theorists who stockpile ammo, bottled water and peanut butter. After this week’s congressional hearing into the bailout of American International Group Inc., you have to wonder if those folks are crazy after all.
Wednesday’s hearing described a secretive group deploying billions of dollars to favored banks, operating with little oversight by the public or elected officials.
We’re talking about the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, whose role as the most influential part of the federal-reserve system — apart from the matter of AIG’s bailout — deserves further congressional scrutiny.
The New York Fed is in the hot seat for its decision in November 2008 to buy out, for about $30 billion, insurance contracts AIG sold on toxic debt securities to banks, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co., Societe Generale and Deutsche Bank AG, among others. That decision, critics say, amounted to a back-door bailout for the banks, which received 100 cents on the dollar for contracts that would have been worth far less had AIG been allowed to fail.
That move came a few weeks after the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department propped up AIG in the wake of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s own mid-September bankruptcy filing.
Saving the System
“When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.”
– Benjamin Franklin
Added: 22. October 2009
Fall Of The Republic documents how an offshore corporate cartel is bankrupting the US economy by design. Leaders are now declaring that world government has arrived and that the dollar will be replaced by a new global currency.
President Obama has brazenly violated Article 1 Section 9 of the US Constitution by seating himself at the head of United Nations’ Security Council, thus becoming the first US president to chair the world body.
A scientific dictatorship is in its final stages of completion, and laws protecting basic human rights are being abolished worldwide; an iron curtain of high-tech tyranny is now descending over the planet.
A worldwide regime controlled by an unelected corporate elite is implementing a planetary carbon tax system that will dominate all human activity and establish a system of neo-feudal slavery.
Added: 16. September 2009