"End of Wall Street Boom" - Must-read history

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Postby Gouda » Mon Nov 17, 2008 6:27 am

Naming Names with Ishmael Reed

Now, Whites have been the most subsidized group in the history of the United States and maybe the history of the world, while Blacks were enslaved and were the assets of Whites. Slavery, [we were] like property. Native Americans were driven off their land. Lincoln even took part in the Black Hawk campaign against the Native Americans in Illinois. While they were being exterminated and driven off their land, Whites were collecting assets. The Great Society programs were for Whites. Two thirds of those who gained from the War on Poverty were White. I mean Marlon Fitzwater, former Reagan aide- when he talked about the Los Angeles riots, where the typical rioter was Latino, and the Whites burned down Korea Town but they blamed on Blacks. He said the riots were a result of the Great Society programs, pushing the myth of Black dependency, when 80% of the people getting Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security are White.

Also, the mortgage tax write-off is benefiting Whites to the tune of trillions since the FHA has discriminated against Blacks for many years. They have come around, half-heartedly, only recently. My mortgage was just sold to Wells Fargo; they will not give up records about their lending to African Americans as well as Whites. A report issued by the Association of Community for Reform Now in Sept.2005, said of Wells Fargo's lending practices: "When reviewing the combined totals of all of Wells Fargo's lending operations, one out of every four mortgages made to African-Americans was a high rate loan (24.71%), and one out of every nine loans made to Latinos (11.65%) had a high rate, compared to just one of out every thirteen loans to whites (7.44%). In comparative terms, this means that African-Americans were 3.3 times more likely than whites to receive a higher cost subprime loan from Wells Fargo and that Latinos were 1.6 times more likely than whites."

So, African Americans who have the same credit or better credit are charged higher interest rates than Whites. That's been documented: the Center for Responsible Lending, another place people can go to. Contrary to newspaper myths, two thirds of those homeowners who have been caught in this sub prime mess had good credit. They went to the sub prime predators because they were denied loans by red lining banks.

So, I'm in the position of backing White businesses and homeowners because of my mortgage is at Wells Fargo. So, they use my money to finance White businesses and White mortgages. So, we're out trillions of dollars over the years for financing White industries. In other words, why don't Obama and Henry Louis Gates and other "post race" intellectuals and politicians preach "personal responsibility" to Whites?
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Postby Fat Lady Singing » Mon Nov 17, 2008 12:28 pm

Nordic wrote:I was discussing this the other day with an African-American co-worker of mine, and learning that he was extremely well-informed about a great deal of this stuff (he has a lot of time to read on the internet while he's on his job) and when I expressed my disgust at how the right-wing is trying to blame this on CRA and poor people taking loans, he just laughed and said "they really expect us to believe that the entire world's banking system is being taken down by a few poor niggas buyin' houses?"

When you put it that way .... the sheer absurdity of their claim ....

Yet it seems to be taking hold, like so many fucking right-wing corporatist propaganda tricks. The lie turns to myth, the myth to "reality".

Absurdity is right. I kinda started figuring it out a little while ago, maybe a couple of months ago, when I read that there were a total of about 680,000 home loans at risk. That's not all that many in a country this large. It wasn't adding up for me -- it couldn't possibly be any where near billions of dollars of debt. The article in the OP finally made me understand how a few bad loans could add up to a huge disaster. And it certainly wasn't the individual borrowers' fault!

There are several problems that stand in the way for the average person such as myself to understand this fact. One is that for so long the media has been calling this the "sub-prime mortgage crisis." Another is that the whole thing is really complicated and difficult to explain -- how many people are going to sit and read this article all the way through? How many people will read the word "tranche" and say "oooookay, whatever" and let their eyes glaze over? And yet this article is the pithiest and clearest explanation I've read about the whole mess, and I've been reading a lot and trying to understand it since earlier this year. Lord knows that folks on RI, especially antiaristo, had seen this coming from miles away and tried to explain...

You know if someone really motivated like me has difficulty understanding it, most journalists won't understand it, either -- not that they're dumb, but a lot really aren't the brightest and still more are simply too busy with deadlines to try to make sense of it all, and the most dedicated probably have smaller audiences. It's simply so much easier to blame it on sub-prime mortgages.

What would be really interesting to me would be to add up the *actual* dollars lent in sub-prime mortgages during a certain period. Then add up how many of those dollars eventually wound up written off due to foreclosure. Then compare that to the billions and billions... that would make it clear that it wasn't the individual borrowers who created the problem.

Has anyone seen anything like that?
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Postby Fat Lady Singing » Mon Nov 17, 2008 12:41 pm

Thanks, Gouda -- really interesting commentary.

Plus, I'd point out that Black people make up a relatively small percentage of the population in general, so not only have they been discriminated against through redlining and so have not been able to get loans at all, I dare say that even if every single Black family owned a home with a sub-prime mortgage, it wouldn't add up to the billions and billions involved in the "crisis".

Again, the absurdity of it all just blows me away.
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Postby ultramegagenius » Mon Nov 17, 2008 12:54 pm

has anyone got a link to a piece that explains how derivative swaps "synthesize imaginary mortgages" a little more clearly? i know there were tons of bets made against each mortgage, multiplying the damage, but i don't quite get the mechanics implied in this spiffy article.
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Postby JackRiddler » Mon Nov 17, 2008 1:14 pm


Gouda: Thanks for the Ishmael Reed article. I had read it then, and am glad to re-read it.

A friend asked me about what we've been calling the "money paragraph" in the Lewis article:

friend wrote:I'm still not sure I get the significance of the claim you mention, because of the term "them". What specifically does it refer to?

Lewis wrote:But when Eisman bought a credit-default swap, he enabled Deutsche Bank to create another bond identical in every respect but one to the original. The only difference was that there was no actual homebuyer or borrower. The only assets backing the bonds were the side bets Eisman and others made with firms like Goldman Sachs. Eisman, in effect, was paying
to Goldman the interest on a subprime mortgage. In fact, there was no mortgage at all. “They weren’t satisfied getting lots of unqualified borrowers to borrow money to buy a house they couldn’t afford,” Eisman says. “They were creating THEM out of whole cloth

My Question: Were they creating 'people', or mortgages? And how, exactly? I understand the sidebet casino, but that doesn't create new mortgages, just bets on the fate of the existing ones.

As I understand it, they were creating an additional level of derivatives mimicking the properties of the mortgage-backed securities, in effect as though there were more borrowers. They were creating duplicate bonds.

Start with the original mortgages. They are a source of interest income. They're bundled, sliced into tranches and resold to investors as bonds (mortgage-backed securities). The bond issuers themselves and others offer insurance contracts against the failure of the bonds (credit-default swaps, though these aren't called insurance or they'd fall under insurance regulations). These are bought not only by investors who bought the bonds, but by multiple third parties who didn't buy the mortgage-backed bonds. The swap buyers must pay annual rates to maintain the swap (again just like insurance). In the next step as described here by Eisner, the annual rates from third party swap buyers are then treated as the equivalent of interest payments on the original mortages bundled into bonds, i.e. as though they were a second (third, fourth, hundredth) set of actual mortgages. These are the basis for issuing new bonds that are effectively mirrors of the original mortgage-backed securities, and again sold to investors who have bought (or never understood they were buying) the premise that the original mortgage holders never default and the credit-default swap buyers keep paying their rates forever.

This is why the issuers of mortgage-backed securities are coming to Eisner and actually inviting him to bet against their bonds, so that they can issue duplicate bonds based on his bets.

When enough of the original mortgages default, they cause failure not only of the bond into which they were bundled, but of the mirror bonds as well (against which yet another level of swaps were also issued!). Then the swaps come due, multiple swaps on the original bonds and the mirror bonds, and the banks and insurance companies issuing swaps obviously lack the cash to cover those.

None of this would have been possible if there were a centralized regulated trading market for these bonds. By comparison, the stock market is a legit and transparent, centralized aggregator of information universally availalble and reported by the media. It can be abused to generate bubbles, but the size of the bubble and the mechanics of it are obvious to everyone participating. These new mortgage-based schemes (which logically came into play as the new magic money generator after the last stock market bubble failed in 2000-2001) are possible only because each transaction is a private matter between buyer and seller. The individual contracts are technically disclosed, but kept off the bond and swap issuers' corporate balance sheets, and no one is aggregating - although knowledge that it's an inverted pyramid that must collapse when the point on the ground gives way is widespread. But who cares, since each player assumes he bet right. The real patsies besides the subprime mortgage buyers are the pension fund managers and the like who bought the mortgage-backed securities, who didn't think they were betting at all since these were rated AAA, case closed, so who needs to read the 300-page contract or figure out the actual size of the market, which is impossible anyway?
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Postby Nordic » Mon Nov 17, 2008 2:28 pm

Well if I may try to make sense of it ....

If you're familiar with "buying on the margin" --- that means, that basically you can buy more stuff (corn futures, pork bellies, oil futures) than you are actually paying for.

Let's say the allowable margin is 10-1. You can "buy" ten tons of wheat futures and only pay for one.

So if the price goes up, you make out like a bandit. You make more than ten times the profit that you really "paid" for.

But if the price goes down, you're screwed, and you lose ten times more than you actually "lost" as far as the actual cash you paid.

What these banks were doing with the bond market was very similar, except they were doing it with bonds. And they were doing it at a rate of 65 - 1. Think about it. 65 - 1. To put that in "buying on the margin" terms, that's like you being alllowed, with on $1,000 in your e-trade account, to gamble on $65,000 worth of stuff.

Which is wonderful. For you. As long as the prices keep going up.

But the second they go down, you, and everybody else doing this, is royally fucked.

They were doing this with bonds, creating bonds that were NOTHING BUT margin bets AGAINST other margin bets! They paid Moody's to give them AAA ratings, even though Moody's employees KNEW damn well that these things were nothing but air.

And the second home prices started to drop, the game was over.

Which is why they were giving mortgages to anyone with a pulse. They needed suckers to keep it going. They needed more loans to feed the machine, and to do that they needed people who would fall for the "prices will always go up" bullshit, so they could sell them these idiotic mortgages where their payments would balloon in five years ("doesn't matter, you'll have sold it by then for a huge profit").

To me, that's a simple explanation (probably oversimplified, but there you have it).

This was nothing more than the gamblers running the casino. And they all go whining to the House when the game ends, clamoring for the House to give them their money back. In this case, the House is their chief sugar-daddy, Paulson, who is ONE OF THEM and one of the guys who LET THEM play this game, and he then threatened us all with martial law if he wasn't given $700 billion to pay back his buddies, with him in total control of it.

Gamblers running the Casino.

Just another example of "The Golden Rule": them with the gold makes the rules.
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Postby ultramegagenius » Tue Nov 18, 2008 2:45 pm

if so much of this market was composed of interest streams from bets AGAINST the underlying bonds, it seems that the market players were being quite disingenuous for years. every time the ballooning size of the derivatives market was brought up, it was accompanied by some quote to the effect that, " no one can predict how these things will unwind in the event of a serious bear market. " well if the structure was like this, then obviously they were going to unwind straight into the toilet at a rate of a thousand to one. in retrospect, their feigned ignorance sounds like a crack-addict pontificating about his next medical check-up; like Charles Manson giving an interview before his next interview with the parole board.

you almost have to wonder if Paulson's black ops aren't deep down tapped into a proverbial Swiss bank account, channeling profits from the recent mega-boom in guns and drugs trafficking through the FED window. what better way to launder the serious pile of cash that must have been accumulating under the boys from Connecticut?
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Postby JackRiddler » Sat Nov 22, 2008 1:10 am


Thanks to justdrew on a new thread for finding an interview with Lucy Komisar that goes into far greater depth and complexity (and a bit of speculation) on the same themes as in this thread, including much more on how phantom securities are generated.

All of these scams were fraudulent, but not necessarily illegal as they were being invented in a deregulated vacuum; the key to exposure -- the first to be marched off to the legal guillotine -- are the ratings companies, who just had their hearing before Waxman. Now we'll see where that goes. That they were violating every law possible relating to their fiduciary responsibility, when they knowingly gave good ratings to the junk, of that there is no doubt. It's like how Arthur Andersen had to go down before the Enron execs could be indicted. I'm hopeful, because the deleveraging (crashing) itself is far from over, as every day on the markets tells us. (Citibank is next?!)

Oh, and it's from David Emery's site so there's an insertion of the Bormann mythology, but you can instead Listen to Lucy...



Introduction: Exploring reasons underlying the crash of 2008, investigative journalist Lucy Komisar reveals that the relevant question is not so much “What went wrong?” but “What didn’t go wrong?” An investment industry corrupt to its foundations, and colluding actively and routinely with the officials and institutions charged with its regulation, engaged in fraudulent commerce massive in scale and brazen in character. Lucy explores the use of devices and instruments such as short selling, naked short selling and credit default swaps in order to manufacture vast amounts of wealth in the markets.

“Short selling takes place when investors sell a stock they don’t own, in hopes it will fall and they will buy it more cheaply when they have to deliver it to the buyer. Under SEC rules they have to buy them and deliver them to their purchasers within three days. Except, they often don’t. They sell shares they don’t own and don’t intend to buy. That is called naked short selling. And since these days investors don’t get share documents on official paper, but simply trust their brokerages that their shares are on file, they generally don’t know that they’ve paid out money for nothing.”

Lucy defined credit default swaps:

” . . . the next crisis that will be provoked by short selling. Mortgage securities were bundled into large packages which were then transferred to large Wall Street firms. These firms created derivative contracts from them which were resold. The contracts could be traded in the credit swap market. Its prospective collapse dwarfs the problem of mortgage-backed securities. . . .”

Another major element of discussion concerned the necessity of the U.S. government using its stewardship of AIG to investigate the offshore operations through which it conducted business in the past. (Interested listeners can pursue the role of short-selling–probably executed by financial entities associated with the Underground Reich and its Bormann capital network–in operations associated with the assassination of JFK, the 9/11 attacks, and the collapse of investment bank Bear Stearns.

Program Highlights Include: AIG’s use of “captive” insurance companies; review of AIG’s Coral Reinsurance subsidiary; the manner in which naked short-selling and other investment practices corrupt corporate representation and governance; the manner in which naked short-selling and related practices destroy the value of companies that are targeted by the shorts; an overview of the corruption of the equities of the Taser company—in charge of manufacturing Taser devices for law enforcement; the roles of the DTC and DTSCC in assisting the shady stock operations that undermined the financial industry; RICO suits filed against SEC chairman Christopher Cox; collusion of the SEC with the nefarious stock operations.

1. Introducing one of the major focal points of discussion, Lucy explains “short selling” and “naked short selling,” as well as the roles of the Depository Trust Corporation in the gambit. Note the restrictions placed on short selling in the wake of the stock market crash of 1929, ascribed by some analysts to a “massive conspiracy” involving short selling.

“‘Naked short selling,’ the trade in counterfeit or non-existent shares, is a massive fraud run by the country’s big brokerages and the stock clearinghouse, the Depository Trust Corporation, with the collusion of the SEC.

Short selling takes place when investors sell a stock they don’t own, in hopes it will fall and they will buy it more cheaply when they have to deliver it to the buyer. Under SEC rules they have to buy them and deliver them to their purchasers within three days. Except, they often don’t. They sell shares they don’t own and don’t intend to buy. That is called naked short selling.And since these days investors don’t get share documents on official paper, but simply trust their brokerages that their shares are on file, they generally don’t know that they’ve paid out money for nothing.

Naked short selling works is done through a device called stock lending organized by the Depository Trust Corporation (DTC) in New York. It is a subsidiary of the DTCC (Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation) a holding company charged with clearance and settlement of securities. It is owned by its members, the major broker dealers. The Depository Trust Corporation (DTC) is the institution that transfers shares between buyers and sellers. When a DTC broker member sells shares and cannot deliver them to the purchaser, the depository makes arrangements to loan securities to the firm

It works like this. After the share trade occurs, it goes into the clearing system, if the seller does not have the securities available, the depository steps in with an automatic program that goes through all the available shares on deposit where account holders have said these shares can be loaned out if you need them. The DTC and the lender get commissions.

The DTC borrows the shares from its members -brokerages — to ‘deliver’ them to the buyer. But that’s just on paper; they are not really delivered. Shares used to be represented by paper certificates. Now that the DTC turned them into electronic files and kept the custody, it has made billions of dollars lending them out, over and over, getting a fee each time they ‘lend’ a share. The investor with an account at the lender has an account that says he owns those shares, and the buyer that has received shares also ‘owns’ the shares.

Through this stock lending, you can multiply the number of shares in circulation so the number is greater than the number of shares authorized and outstanding. The illegal system affects stocks, bonds, currencies, and strategic metals.

Restrictions on short selling were put into the Securities Acts of 1933 and 1934 because evidence that the ’sheer scale of the crashes was a direct result of intentional manipulation of US markets through abusive short selling by a massive conspiracy.’”

2. Lessons from the Great Depression went unlearned and the past has been repeated. The evolution of electronic records keeping exacerbated the problem. Former Director of Transfer Agent Services for Depository Trust Company Susanne Trimbath provides much of the information utilized by Lucy. Offshore accounts are used in these transactions, and one of the results of this is the corruption of corporate securities—more shares are counted in proxy fights than are in existence overall!

“But the problem surfaced again in 1971, when the DTC was set up to handle clearing electronically, instead of have runners exchange checks and certificates between buyers and sellers. Ten years later the SEC approved a stock borrowing program that set up a pool of shares from brokers margin accounts (where the broker had lent cash to the customer to buy the securities). Then gave an opening to those who wanted to manipulate shares by borrowing them and never returning them to the pool. There was a sale but no delivery of real shares to the buyer.

Susanne Trimbath, Director of Transfer Agent Services for Depository Trust Company (1987 to 1993) first heard about the problem from the people organizing proxy voting. Then in 2003 in New York, she had coffee with two lawyers at a mid town Manhattan. She said, ‘They described scenarios of short selling, stock lending and offshore accounts and how some small firms were being driven out of business. They said what ten years earlier was a minor problem which occasionally created difficulties for corporate voting had expanded tremendously and become an enormous problem.

‘It occurred to me that someone outside the system had realized this loophole existed and began to exploit it.’ She said the scenario they laid out was that DTC was being used for or was engaged in fraudulent behavior. They said accounts in offshore Bermuda were being used.’

She explains, ‘Let’s say there are shares that have been borrowed by the DTC from one broker and loaned and delivered to the investor customer of another broker. That customer leaves the shares with the broker. The buyer’s broker can also say these shares are lendable and they are lent again to cover settlement for another buyer.’ Then three investors think they own the shares - the original owner/lender, the first buyer, and the second buyer. Through this stock lending, the number of shares in circulations can multiply so it can be greater than the number of shares authorized and outstanding. That means that the same shares can be shorted repeatedly and never delivered, making it possible to sell multiples of the shares that really exist. She said, ‘I don’t think there’s a limit to how many shares you can duplicate this way. There’s nothing in the system that would prevent you from turning ten shares into ten million.’

3. Like current Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson, former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin worked for Goldman Sachs, itself deeply implicated in many of these activities. A 1996 change in regulation permitted the lending of shares from pension funds to short sellers.

“In fact, 1993 was the year that Clinton’s Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, former managing partner of Goldman Sachs where he was head of arbitrage and trading, issued an exemption to the short-sale borrow rule: if you were a market maker, arbitrage or hedge fund, you didn’t have to locate stocks or bonds for shorting. You could just sell them without having them or even knowing where you could get them. SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt, and FED Chairman Alan Greenspan agreed. The rules would apply to those with the power to do the most damage.

Then, in 1996 there was a change in the margin rules. From 1934 to 1996, it was illegal to lend anything except securities held in margin accounts. Now for the first time securities in pension funds could be loaned to short sellers. Under criticism, the SEC in 2004 adopted Regulation SHO which required short sellers to locate securities to borrow before selling, and also imposes delivery requirements on broker-dealers for securities that were suffering substantial naked shorts. But it exempted market makers, and there were no penalties for violations.

Trimbath says sellers’ failure to deliver stocks to buyers went from $1.4 billion in 1995 to $13 billion in 2007. ‘The DTCC [the parent of the DTC) could throw out of system anyone who doesn't deliver securities for settlement. But they are owned and controlled by people who fail to deliver securities for settlement.'

The winners are the short sellers and the DTC and brokerages. They all make a lot of money selling shares that don't exist. This corrupt system has destroyed dozens, maybe hundreds of companies before it helped bring down Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and probably Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers. The SEC has known this for years and, siding with the brokerages, has chosen not to protect companies or investors. The result is that companies are beaten into the ground, their share prices falling because of massive sells. That hurts not only the companies, that can't borrow because of bets against their future earnings and stability, but victimizes shareholders, including pension funds that hold the retirement money of American workers, and employees of the companies who lose their jobs."

4. More about the massive irregularities caused by some of these devices, relating the misadventures of Zann Corporation, a Michigan firm. Note the deep complicity in this activity by the SEC and other agencies and institutions designed to attenuate this sort of behavior.

"In 2005, Robert Simpson, CEO of Zann Corp, a Michigan technology company, saw its shares drop 98% in two years. To test the system, he paid about $5,000 for more than one million shares of a property-development company called Global Links. He got delivery of the shares, which turned out to be 126,986 more shares than the company had issued. So he owned 100% plus. A day later, more than 37 million shares of the company were traded. The day after that, over 22 million traded. None of them were his. All of them were counterfeit.

Both the US government and municipalities who issue bonds also suffer. Trimbath says that because more investors claim that their dividends are from tax-free municipal bonds than there are bonds that exist, they are failing to pay $1.54 billion a year in federal taxes. The investors are simply getting cash from their brokers who tell them it is dividends, but in fact it is not. And since there is a greater market for municipal bonds than the bonds that exist, the municipalities could be selling more bonds and obtaining the cash. Instead, the brokers get their clients' cash and use it for their own purposes, paying out 'dividends' at a lower percentage than the interest they would have to pay if their borrowed that money legitimately.

Trimbath, highlighting the short selling problem on supposedly safe, conservative securities: Federal Reserve of NY data from the 22 primary dealers who have to report trades and failures to deliver show fails to deliver of $680 billion a day over the last 3 weeks. The most recent report, for October 8, 2008, show $2.5 trillion Treasury bill fails to deliver. It is the highest it's ever been. Since 2001, 15% of mortgage backed securities trades failed to settle. There were no mortgages under these bonds because they were phantom bonds. There was excess demand for these investments. Rather than allow this to push prices up, the regulators allowed failures to deliver to depress prices. If the 13% of extra outstanding shares of Fannie and Freddie had been translated into buyers getting real shares, that would have driven up the price.

The failure of regulation by the SEC and the clearing agencies on naked short selling is a matter of record. The SEC has the information showing more shares owned than issued, but has constantly allowed loopholes in the system and carries out no real enforcement. Civil penalties are minimal. One of the loopholes allows traders to avoid the normal settlement process of the National Securities Clearing Corporation (NSCC) and thereby to avoid public and regulatory scrutiny and to evade US securities laws.

The SEC ruling as a result of the financial crisis temporarily banned short-selling for shares of some 900 companies for a few weeks, But when the bailout was approved, it allowed short selling to resume. But the problem is not so much short selling, as naked short selling.

Harvey Pitt, who was Bush's first SEC chairman 2001 to 03, said in November, 'Phantom shares created by naked shorting are analogous to counterfeit money.' Pitt, however, ignored efforts by outside critics to get him to do something about naked short selling while he had the power to do so. C. Austin Burrell, a former options trader for Shearson Lehman and longtime critic of short selling, has pointed out to Pitt and other SEC officials over years that selling counterfeit and therefore unregistered securities was a violation of the Securities Act. But the SEC under Bush chairs Pitt, William Donaldson and Christopher Cox ignored him and other critics, and did nothing to stop it. In fact, the rules of the SEC and other market institutions facilitate it.

A DTCC (Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation) subsidiary, the National Securities Clearing Corporation (NSCC) is charged with clearing each trade. At the end of the day, the NSCC instructs the Depository Trust Company, also a DTCC subsidiary, to move shares between participants. The DTCC writes the rules. And it panders to the industry. One of its loopholes allows traders to avoid the normal settlement process of the NSCC and thereby avoid public and regulatory scrutiny and evade US securities laws. The rule allows them to settle shares between members outside the normal system. They use the clearing system for money transfers but agree to settle trades off market. This is called ex-clearing, ie an agreement between market participants to clear trades with each other rather than at the NSCC. The National Association of Securities Dealers has the same rule.

The SEC decided that provisions regarding naked short selling do not apply to shares that don't settle at NSCC. The SEC does not regulate fails to deliver outside of the National Securities Clearing Corporation NSCC system, supposedly because they're rare. But they are not rare. Do they know how frequent they are? They haven't a clue. Furthermore, SEC's July emergency order, requiring pre-borrowing shares of 19 other financial stocks to short them, exempted market makers. The primary market makers are Goldman Sachs (Fannie Mae) and LaBranche & Co. (Freddie Mac). (A market maker is a bank or brokerage company that will purchase the stock from a seller, even if it doesn't have a buyer lined up. In doing so, it is 'making a market' for the stock. The market maker makes money on the 'spread' (profit margin) on the stock that it sells after it buys it.) Most market participants were not allowed to short sell without pre-borrowing shares for settlement and in a 12 day period, this amount only accumulated to 5.5 million increased shorted shares. The majority of the 3.5 billion shares sold were not sold by legitimate investors who owned the shares. They must thus be shares counterfeited by the market makers, Goldman Sachs and LaBranche & Co. who could avoid the normal settlement process of the NSCC. The numbers were known by the regulatory and clearing institutions.

New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) collects trade-by-trade information. It would know that shares were all owned by registered institutions and that millions or even hundreds of millions of shares should not be trading. The National Securities Clearing Corporation (NSCC) also has records that show billions of shares could not have been legally settled through their settlement system. Why don't the institutional investors themselves notice that more shares are traded than owned? Private investment advisors to institutions don't care as long as the money keeps flowing, they buy stock, and get their fees."

5. One of the most devastating devices affecting the global financial landscape are credit default swaps.

"Credit Default Swaps: the next crisis that will be provoked by short selling. Mortgage securities were bundled into large packages which were then transferred to large Wall Street firms. These firms created derivative contracts from them which were resold. The contracts could be traded in the credit swap market. Its prospective collapse dwarfs the problem of mortgage-backed securities. On September 23, 2008, in testimony before the Senate Banking Committee, SEC Chair Cox asked Congress to regulate the market for credit default swaps, financial instruments that insure the holder against losses from declines in bonds and other types of securities. He said, 'I will conclude, Mr. Chairman, by warning of another similar regulatory hole in statute that must immediately be addressed or we will have similar consequences. The $58 trillion notional market in credit default swaps to which several of you have referred in your opening comments that is double the amount that was outstanding in 2006, is regulated by absolutely no one. Neither the SEC nor any regulator has authority over the CDS market, even to require minimum disclosure to the market. This market is ripe for fraud and manipulation and indeed we are using the full extent of our anti-fraud authority, our law enforcement authority right now to investigate this market.'

Credit default swaps are contracts between dealers on stocks, bonds, mortgage backed securities or other financial instruments ('securities') that can be hedged by selling the securities at the current market value. Speculators may trade a swapped contract for a future delivery of a security several years in the future. Then they hedge the contract by selling the securities into the public markets or to investment funds, such as pension funds, even though they don't own them.

It works like this. You are Merrill Lynch and I am Lehman. You and I decide we're going to short-sell a stock. I agree to write a contract to you that says in five years I will deliver to you 10 million shares of 'xyz' on Jan 1. You agree to write a contract to deliver to me 10 million shares on Jan 2. You and I never exchanged a dime, we just wrote a contract. We're allowed to hedge that. I can sell 10 million shares of 'xyz.' So can you. Even though we don't own them. 20 million counterfeit shares just got sold. At the end, the contracts are shredded. The money is made from naked short selling, from the price decline of the asset. The most profit is obtained if the security declines to zero.

Once they do their hedge, the brokers then can sell the contract to another party - to their favorite hedge fund client. Then that client is allowed tohedge again the risk of the ten million shares. It is legalized fraud."

6. More about the SEC's complicity in these gambit:

"They don't settle. Cox said we have no statutory authority, the SEC doesn't regulate contracts. But when they sell the equity into the market as a hedge, the SEC has control. It has turned a blind eye. Neither the SEC nor any regulator accepts authority over credit default swap market even to require minimum disclosure. Now they're saying we have antifraud provisions to go after these people. But they never used them.

US traders have issued credit default swap contracts far greater than housing issues. The value of these contracts has been estimated to be $58 to 62 trillion. Compare that to the fact that the entire U.S. public retirement accounts amounted to $17.6 trillion at the end of 2007. Sixty trillion dollars is equal to the value of all publicly traded stocks listed on all major global stock exchanges. Cox said, 'Because CDS buyers don't have to own the bond or the debt instrument upon which the contract is based, they can effectively naked short [ie, sell and never deliver] the debt of companies without any restriction, potentially causing market disruption and destabilizing the companies themselves.’ Because the companies’ shares will plummet.

He said, ‘This is a problem we have been dealing with, with our international regulatory counterparts around the world with straight equities and it’s a big problem in a market that has no transparency and people don’t know where the risk lies.’ In fact, the SEC has not dealt with this. Cox asked Congress for the first time to regulate the market for credit-default swaps, financial instruments that insure the holder against losses from declines in bonds and other types of securities. Days later the SEC issued a new order indicating it now realizes that voluntary submission of information by the major broker dealers does not work. So expect regulation.

The analyst said, ‘Money in Wall Street does not vaporize in a financial crisis; it is only transferred from investors to those Wall Street participants who benefit from market crashes. There have been very large credit default swap contracts and other methods of naked short selling used against U.S. securities. There is an incentive for the small number of profiteers in these large naked short positions to crash the value of the underlying securities, but this will, as it already has begun to, crash the U.S. economy. These profiteers can then conceal the fact that they have previously stolen the money from the financial system by selling securities they created from sham contracts. There are vast pools of money gained from this activity by a small number of identifiable participants and if the U.S. cannot counteract these pools, financial devastation is assured.

‘It’s collusion; it violates fraud and anti-manipulation rules, but the SEC has never enforced the rules against these types of contract. As soon as they get to the large broker dealers, they don’t deliver on promise to investigate. Now they say they’re going to.”

7. When in Congress current SEC chairman Christopher Cox helped to facilitate the implementation of these scams.

“In fact, Cox as a congressman in 1995 sponsored the private securities litigation reform act to knock civil securities cases out of the RICO law. A number of companies had brought RICO actions in federal court against prime brokers and hedge funds. Cox himself was sued in a RICO case in 1992. So he protected himself, the brokers and the funds. The law gave the SEC sole authority to bring RICO actions related to stock fraud. Awards under the law can be significant - three times the amounts stolen. The SEC has never used it.

The analyst said, ‘The exchanges, the clearing firms, the settlement firms have the data. It’s completely illegal to sell something long that you don’t own. The contracts are illegal because they mark the shares ‘long’ [meaning they own the shares they are selling] so they never show up as ’short.’ It’s the dealers’ responsibility. If they didn’t mark them as short, it’s fraud. And if they developed very large sums of these, it’s market manipulation by the fact of the number of shares they developed. This is theft on a major scale. They should do disgorgement of ill gotten gains. Should people go to jail? Absolutely?

He said, ‘I would completely revamp. They’ve taken a concept designed to be a risk hedge. It wasn’t a bad concept. But they changed it to hedge securities they don’t own. There’s no hedge. There’s no economic risk. That type of contract should be eliminated. Any credit default swap based on no underlying assets should not be allowed to trade. He said, ‘The only answer I see is to go after the very large amount of money that has been stolen from the economy. It’s not hard to track. Credit default swaps are ‘off balance sheet transactions’ in broker-dealers’ books, But they report them in footnotes in 10K filings and auditors are aware of them. Regulators don’t see them. It’s a non-reporting report. They use special accounts, trusts, special purpose enterprises — that is the likely home for the money that was stolen through manipulation of shares through fraudulent methods.

It’s sitting offshore, in the Cayman Islands or the British Virgin Islands. Or it flowed through there. We know who executed the trades. Henry Paulson as a Goldman Sachs executive and senior partner is very versed at how these types of markets work and understands the complexities of credit default swaps and that the prime broker dealers are carrying these transactions off the books. But they always back off of the large prime brokers.”

8. Lucy discussed the necessity of examining AIG’s use of offshore tax havens.

“The U.S. takeover of the world’s largest insurance conglomerate, AIG, puts it in a unique position to look into the inner dealings of a company that is a profligate user of tax havens. AIG has employed offshore shell companies to cook its books and dodge taxes. The new U.S. managers should investigate how they do it. AIG’s favorite offshore jurisdictions are Bermuda, Barbados, Switzerland, and Luxembourg, places immune from even the lax enforcement of America’s state insurance regulators and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). AIG’s offshore subsidiaries include American International Assurance Company Limited, Bermuda; American International Reinsurance Company, Ltd., Bermuda; AIG Life Insurance Company Ltd., Switzerland; and AIG Financial Advisor Services, S.A., Luxembourg. AIG in the past has used tax havens to evade regulations and hide insider connections in supposedly “arms-length” deals. This is especially significant as the company has moved into financial services and asset management. It has also used the offshore system to evade U.S. taxes.

Here are two examples, the first reported exclusively by this writer. AIG helped Victor Posner, a notoriously crooked investor, set up an offshore reinsurance company so that Posner could evade U.S. taxes. The policy scam was discovered in the early 1990s, after the SEC prosecuted Posner for a fraudulent takeover scheme concocted with Wall Street thieves Michael Milken and Ivan Boesky, ordered him to pay $4 million to fraud victims and banned him from serving as officer or director of any publicly-held company. New managers took over Posner’s NVF Corp., which ran a Delaware vulcanized rubber plant. An insurance agent charged with examining company policies discovered that NVF was paying AIG’s National Union Fire of Pittsburgh substantially over market for workmen’s compensation insurance. AIG reinsured the policy through Chesapeake Insurance, an offshore reinsurance company Posner owned in Bermuda. In essence, NVF, owned by Posner, was buying insurance from an AIG company which was buying reinsurance for the policy from an offshore company owned by Posner. Bermuda provided tax and corporate secrecy, so Chesapeake’s books were safe from the eyes of American regulators and tax authorities. AIG and Posner made out like bandits. AIG got a higher commission from the inflated NVF premium before sending the rest to Chesapeake. Posner wrote off the entire amount as a business expense and enjoyed the extra cash in Bermuda, tax free, stiffing the U.S. government. Reduced profits also meant smaller dividends and share prices for investors. The insurance agent cancelled the NVF policy with AIG, but the Delaware Insurance Department did not make the scam public or take any action against AIG. A former insurance department regulator told me, “This was not an isolated case with Vulcan [NVF]. AIG did that a lot. AIG helped companies set up offshore captive reinsurance companies.” A “captive” is owned by the company it insures. AIG, he alleged, “would then overcharge on insurance and pay reinsurance premiums to the captives, giving the captive owners tax-free offshore income.”

AIG says that it “pioneered the formation of captives” and offers management facilities to run them in offshore Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Isle of Man, and Luxembourg - all places where corporate and accounting records are secret and taxes minimal or nonexistent. Another scam helped AIG dodge taxes and U.S. regulations. Insurance companies normally insure themselves by laying off part of their risk to reinsurance companies, so if a claim comes in above a certain amount, the reinsurance company will pay it. State laws also require them to keep a certain amount of capital available to pay out claims. If they have reinsurance, that amount can drop. Companies have to show losses - amounts they have paid out - on their books. If they have enough good reinsurance, they get a credit for that against their losses. The reinsurer, of course, has to be an independent company; the risk isn’t reduced if it’s just moved to another division of the same company. In the mid-1980s, two of AIG’s reinsurers failed. AIG would have had to curtail writing new business, since rules require a certain ratio of assets to risk. Finding new reinsurers was going to be difficult and expensive. CEO Maurice “Hank” Greenberg persuaded several of his business friends to set up a company into which he could “cede” AIG insurance. The company was launched with a private sale of shares organized by Goldman Sachs, then headed by Robert Rubin. Greenberg’s front men were loaned the money to “buy” risk-free shares in the new Coral Re, an allegedly independent offshore reinsurance company, to allow it to illegally move debt off AIG’s books and violate rules about maintaining minimum levels of reserves required to pay off claims. The company was registered in Barbados, where capital requirements and regulation are minimal, where American regulators couldn’t readily discover AIG’s involvement and where, as an added incentive, it could evade U.S. taxes. If Coral Re was an AIG affiliate, it would have to pay taxes on its income. . . .”

http://ftrsupplemental.blogspot.com/200 ... f-tax.html
Last edited by JackRiddler on Sat Nov 22, 2008 1:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby JackRiddler » Sat Nov 22, 2008 1:11 am

(oops dupe delete)
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Postby ultramegagenius » Sun Nov 23, 2008 10:50 am

that is a mind-boggling level of fraud! no wonder they had to get rid of Spitzer.
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Postby JackRiddler » Mon Dec 29, 2008 2:55 pm


New wrinkle: no paper trail works great long as the scheme is still growing, but then... !

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/28/busin ... wanted=all

Fair Game
A Mortgage Paper Trail Often Leads to Nowhere

Published: December 26, 2008

WITH home prices in free fall and mortgage delinquencies mounting, pressure to modify troubled loans is ratcheting up.
Times Topics: Gretchen Morgenson

But lawyers who represent candidates for modifications say the programs are hobbled by the complexity of securitization pools that hold the loans, as well as uncertainty about who actually owns the notes underlying the mortgages.

Problems often emerge because these notes — which are written promises to repay the full amount of a mortgage — weren’t recorded properly when they were bundled by Wall Street into pools or were subsequently transferred to other holders.

How can a loan be modified, these lawyers ask, if the lender cannot prove that it actually owns the note? More and more judges are asking the same thing about lenders trying to foreclose on borrowers.

And here is another hurdle: Most loan servicers — the folks responsible for handling all the paperwork surrounding monthly mortgage payments — aren’t set up to handle all of the details involved in a modification.

Loan servicing operations are intended to receive borrowers’ payments; producing loan histories and verifying that payments were received or junk fees were not applied is considerably more labor intensive. This cuts into profits.

“These servicers are not staffed up and they don’t have a chance in the world to do the stuff they are supposed to do,” said April Charney, a consumer lawyer at Jacksonville Legal Aid. Many servicers continue to stonewall troubled borrowers who ask for a history of their loan payments and fees, she said.

“This is your biggest, hugest expense — your home — and when you ask for a life-of-loan history your servicer tells you to get lost,” she said. “And when you ask for a list of charges in the loan history that’s not going to happen.”

So even if loan modifications were to rise rapidly, it is unclear that borrowers can trust what lenders tell them about what they owe.

Consider a federal bankruptcy court case in Colorado. It involves two borrowers who got into trouble on their loan but agreed, under a bankruptcy plan, to make revised mortgage payments to get back on track.

The lender in the case is Wells Fargo, and last Monday the judge overseeing the matter took a tough stance on the bank’s recordkeeping and billing practices.

In June 2004, Brandon M. Burrier and Denon A. Burrier received a $183,126 loan for a property in Arvada, Colo. The note was later transferred to Wells Fargo, court filings show.

The Burriers fell behind on their loan and in February 2007, they filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, agreeing to pay $12,000 that Wells Fargo said they owed. Chapter 13 bankruptcies allow debtors to retain their property and work out a repayment plan based on their income and the level of their indebtedness.

The Burriers’ payment plan was confirmed by the bankruptcy court in August 2007; last December, a second plan requiring higher payments was approved by the court.

Two months later, Wells Fargo told the court that the Burriers had failed to make four of their payments and that it should be allowed to begin foreclosure proceedings.

The Burriers denied that they had missed payments, but in April, to keep their home, they agreed to make double payments to cover the ones Wells Fargo claimed they had missed.

If the borrowers could prove that the mortgage checks were submitted, Wells Fargo said, their account would be credited and they would no longer have to make up the payments. The proof required by Wells Fargo and approved by the court was “valid, accurate and true copies” of the front and back of the checks the borrowers sent in.

Last August, the parties were back in court, with Wells Fargo stating that the borrowers had failed to comply with the deal. Ms. Burrier testified that she had asked her local bank repeatedly for proof of the payments made to Wells Fargo, but had had no luck. The payments to Wells Fargo were processed electronically, she learned, and that meant it did not return the checks to her bank.

The borrowers did produce bank statements showing that the checks Wells said were missing were actually cashed by “WFHM,” an entity that they assumed was Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.

But Tara E. Gaschler, the lawyer representing the borrowers, said that Wells Fargo continued to maintain that it hadn’t received the money.

The bank flew in an expert to testify that all checks received by Wells Fargo from borrowers in Chapter 13 cases were processed by hand, Ms. Gaschler said. “Even when presented with bank statements, they told the court there must be some mistake,” she added.

Finally, Wells Fargo demanded that the Burriers provide the routing number of the account at Wells Fargo that their money went into. If they could not, the bank said, they would have to keep making extra payments.

But Sidney B. Brooks, the judge overseeing the case, was clearly dismayed by the bank’s performance.

In his opinion, he fumed that Wells Fargo had asked the borrowers for canceled checks as proof of payment, even though such checks were often not available. Wells Fargo’s request for canceled checks was especially troubling, the judge said, given that the bank was a proponent of the 2003 law that allowed banks to stop returning canceled checks to customers.

The only institution that could have the original checks is Wells Fargo, he concluded.

“The payments have, evidently, been lost in a black hole of the creditor’s organization or through accounting mismanagement,” the judge wrote. “This is a major lender/mortgage loan servicer where the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing — the collection department does not know what the check processing and accounting departments are doing.”

Because this is not the first time the judge has encountered problems in Wells Fargo’s operations, he is considering sanctions on the bank.

“This dispute might portend a widespread abuse of collection practices or creditor overreaching,” he wrote, “demanding of debtors what it, the creditor itself, is unable to provide: accurate and reliable record keeping and billing practices.”

A spokesman for Wells Fargo said: “We are currently reviewing the court’s opinion to determine whether or not an appeal is appropriate. The Burrier case is quite factually specific, and we disagree with the court’s conclusions. We are confident that our payment processing practices are accurate and sound.”

Ms. Gaschler says that this kind of dispute is becoming more common in her practice and that borrowers wind up losing too often.

“A lot of times clients don’t keep canceled checks or maybe their bank account was closed and they can’t go and get the proof,” she said. “The bank gets that extra money for as long as the debtor can keep it up and when they can’t they are pushed out of their homes.”

While judges are starting to see how flawed loan servicers’ systems can be, those rushing to modify loans may not be as aware of the problems.

In the interests of fairness, modification programs should require life-of-loan histories from servicers and a justification of each entry. New loans, especially ones backed by taxpayers, are no place to bury dubious fees or extra borrower payments to cover those that were allegedly, but not actually, missed.

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Postby nathan28 » Mon Dec 29, 2008 3:18 pm

I didn't like Komisar's interview with Dave Emory, but that article is much clearer. Search youtube or google for "Phantom Shorting" to bring up a thrity-minute Bloomberg piece on shorting shares that never exist to being with. The "Failure to Deliver" rate is 1% a day for those clearinghouses. That means for every $99 made on the schlock markets, give or take, 1% is imaginary money. Remember that scheme where you subtract .5 cents from every bank account a month and no one knows?

I'm okay w/ that Ishmael Reed article if you say "certain segments of" in front of the "White People" subsidization part. But that said, real estate particularly and retail personal finance in general are easily some of the most racist industries in the US. In Queens and Brooklyn, many of the black neighborhoods got hit with substantially more ARM and "exotic" (i.e., more expensive) products than white neighborhoods where incomes were the same. That's not because black people bought more things than they could afford--it's because prime-level black borrowers were sold subprime products. That's fucked up. The reason we have credit scores--the only reason--is to make credit strictly based on the numbers, because this is more "efficient". But looks like your friendly neighborhood bankers had a skin-color coefficient they adjusted those credit scores with.

And, for the breadcrumbs back to the Octopus headquarters, look up Riggs Bank's lending practices w/r/t the black community in DC. It is like Kevin at Cryptogon says: the reason stock markets are public is to legitimize a massive criminal undertaking by making it a social project.
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Postby Extradimensional Beatnik » Mon Dec 29, 2008 3:24 pm

And there's already talk of another major financial scandal/panic next year sometime. Apparently, A LOT of people are defaulting on their credit cards, guess who will be next in line for a federal bail-out? But is anyone really surprised what with (sometimes) 30% interest rates?
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Postby vigilant » Mon Dec 29, 2008 11:44 pm

freemason9 wrote:Does this also validate my growing impression that this catastrophe is borne of idiots? The more I see of it, the more convinced I am that Wall Street's rise was based on the ability to believe baseless lies.

I always enjoy your input and I have tried my best to see this from the perspective of "a system gone amock because of the idiots involved" but I just don't see it.

I think Smiths said it best in this thread when he alluded to the fact that its intricate design and counter intuitive nature contradicts a system run amock due to the incompetence of idiots.

Idiots didn't do this. Near genius did. Even though I agree that putting millions of people in pain is something an idiot would do.

If that makes sense....?
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Postby Pele'sDaughter » Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:42 am

I prefer to define them as predators. It's much easier to understand their behavior that way and easier to avoid describing by emotionally charged terms like evil.
Don't believe anything they say.
And at the same time,
Don't believe that they say anything without a reason.
---Immanuel Kant
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