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December 11, 2009 in Campaign 2008, Campaign 2010, Campaign 2012, Capitalism, Economy, Politics, socialism, Uncategorized | Tags: Barack Obama, Depression, econimic stimulus package, Economic downturn, Federal Reserve, Great Deoression, Greater Depression, recession, SEC, Treasury, Wall Street | 1 comment
Ok, it is a bit confusing, and I do not profess to be an economics expert. But from the governments own data, this chart, and others show the dire nature of where we are, and where we are headed:
NOTE: As you view these charts, please take a moment on each one to read the left hand scale. Some are year over year (yoy) percent change, some are yoy change in Billions of dollars, and some are simply the index value or raw data. Charts and data can be displayed in many ways, so you must think about what each means. Keep in mind that we are now two years from the peak in the markets, so year over year data is change from the point that was one year into the decline already…
Before you get started with these charts, please take the time to follow this link and view the charts recently produced by Morgan Stanley in their article Here Comes A Brutal 2010 (ht Dan).
August 12, 2009 in Campaign 2010, Campaign 2012, Capitalism, Economy, Politics, socialism, Terrorism, Uncategorized | Tags: Barack Obama, Bernie Madoff, Harry Markopolos, Obama birth certificate, ObamaCare, Ponzi scheme, SEC | Leave a comment
HARRY Markopolos — the whistleblower on Bernie Madoff who proved to be much smarter than the SEC — says there are evildoers out there who will make the Ponzi scum “look like small-time.” Markopolos gave a speech to 400 of the faithful at the Greek Orthodox Church in Southampton and predicted major scandals will soon be revealed about the unregulated, $600 trillion, credit-default swap market. “To put it in simple terms, it is like buying fire insurance policies from five different insurance companies on your neighbor’s house and then burning down the house,” he said. After his lecture, Hampton Sheet publisher Joan Jedell reports Markopolos was feted at a dinner at Nello Summertimes hosted by John Catsimatidis and his wife, Margo, who were joined by Al D’Amato and Greek shipping magnates Nicholas Zoullas and Spiros Milonas.
August 6, 2009 in Campaign 2008, Campaign 2010, Campaign 2012, Capitalism, Economy, Family values, Politics, socialism, Terrorism, Uncategorized | Tags: Bank of America, Barack Obama, Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve, Henry Paulson, Larry Sinclair, SEC, Wall Street | 2 comments
Almost the entire fight to save the American financial system and punish those responsible for it has gone on in the executive and legislative branches. The third leg of the government, the judicial branch, has been silent.
The courts asserted themselves today as a judge rejected the $33 million settlement between Bank of America (BAC) and the SEC. The bank was accused of not properly disclosing when and why Merrill Lynch employees were paid bonuses as Bank of America bought the brokerage.
Several media reports about the judge’s decision say that he stated two major concerns. The first is that he fears that the judgment penalty may be paid out of money that the federal government advanced the bank. The other is that the agreement with the SEC “would leave uncertain the truth of the very serious allegations made in the complaint.”
Put another way, the SEC deal with Bank of America is a bit of a cover-up.
April 17, 2009 in Campaign 2008, Campaign 2010, Campaign 2012, Capitalism, Economy, Family values, Politics, socialism, Terrorism, Uncategorized | Tags: Car Czar, Obama birth certificate, Pay to Play, Pres. Barack Obama, Quadrangle Group, SEC, Steve Rattner | Leave a comment
By PETER LATTMAN and CRAIG KARMIN
Steven Rattner, the leader of the Obama administration’s auto task force, was one of the executives involved with payments under scrutiny in a probe of an alleged kickback scheme at New York state’s pension fund, according to a person familiar with the matter.
A Securities and Exchange Commission complaint says a “senior executive” of Mr. Rattner’s investment firm met in 2004 with a politically connected consultant about a finder’s fee. Later, the complaint says, the firm received an investment from the state pension fund and paid $1.1 million in fees.
The “senior executive,” not named in the complaint, is Mr. Rattner, according to the person familiar with the matter. He is co-founder of the investment firm, Quadrangle Group, which he left to join the Treasury Department to oversee the auto task force earlier this year. Neither Mr. Rattner nor Quadrangle has been accused of any wrongdoing. Mr. Rattner did not return calls for comment.
For Full Article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123992516941227309.html
April 8, 2009 in Campaign 2008, Campaign 2010, Campaign 2012, Capitalism, Economy, Family values, Politics, socialism, Terrorism, Uncategorized | Tags: Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Obama birth certificate, Pres. Barack Obama, Rep. Barney Frank, SEC, TARP, Timothy Geithner | Leave a comment
Madoff Whistleblower: “I gift wrapped and delivered the largest Ponzi scheme in history to the SEC”; They had no clue what to do with it!
February 4, 2009 in Campaign 2008, Campaign 2010, Campaign 2012, Capitalism, Economy, Family values, Politics, socialism, Terrorism, Uncategorized | Tags: Bernie Madoff, CSPAN, Harry Markopolos, Obama birth certificate, Ponzi scheme, President Barack Obama, SEC, Securities Exchange Commission | 4 comments
Harry Markopolos, of Independent Financial Fraud, testified before Congress today about Bernie Madoff, his Ponzi schemes, and the research that he presented to the SEC, of which all was ignored until the economy caused Madoff’s house of cards to begin to crumble. The video, from CSPAN, shows that the SEC was not capable of handling the information that was presented to them, even as well “gift wrapped ” as Mr. Markopolos made it for them. The video is 12 minutes long, but worth listening to Mr. Markopolos.
It seems that, according to Mr. Markopolos, only the “tip of the iceberg” has been uncovered in the Madoff schemes.
FBI Saw the Mortgage Fraud Growing; Missed the cues when the Bad Mortgages were packaged as Securities; SEC failed to pass tips on to FBI
January 30, 2009 in Campaign 2008, Campaign 2010, Campaign 2012, Capitalism, Economy, Family values, Politics, socialism, Uncategorized | Tags: FBI, President Barack Obama, President George W. Bush, Rep. Barney Frank, Rep. Maxine Waters, SEC, Sen. Harry Reid, Speaker Nancy Pelosi | 2 comments
Blame for the mortgage crisis is flowing everywhere. Of course, the legislators who pushed the banks into making homes available to “Everyone” (Barney Frank, Maxine Waters), and community stabilization groups (ACORN, Barack and Michelle Obama, Father Pfleger), have claimed no responsibility in the debacle.
The follwoing article is from Seattlepi.com:
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Last updated 2:58 p.m. PT
FBI saw mortgage fraud early
By PAUL SHUKOVSKY
The FBI was aware for years of “pervasive and growing” fraud in the mortgage industry that eventually contributed to America’s financial meltdown, but did not take definitive action to stop it.
“It is clear that we had good intelligence on the mortgage-fraud schemes, the corrupt attorneys, the corrupt appraisers, the insider schemes,” said a recently retired, high FBI official. Another retired top FBI official confirmed that such intelligence went back to 2002.
The problem, according to the two FBI retirees and several other current and former bureau colleagues, is that the bureau was stretched so thin that no one noticed when those lenders began packaging bad mortgages into bad securities.
“We knew that the mortgage-brokerage industry was corrupt,” the first of the retired FBI officials told the Seattle P-I. “Where we would have gotten a sense of what was really going on was the point where the mortgage was sold knowing that it was a piece of dung and it would be turned into a security. But the agents with the expertise had been diverted to counterterrorism.”
The FBI not only lacked the resources, but also never got the tips it needed from the banking regulatory agencies. The Securities and Exchange Commission, the Office of Thrift Supervision and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency also failed to detect the securities issue, said the first retired FBI official.
“These are very resource-intense cases that take a lot of work by very skilled people,” said John Falvey Jr., a former federal prosecutor who currently does white-collar criminal defense work in Boston.
And Falvey said that financial executives who deliberately chose not to learn the facts about dicey mortgage-lending practices in their companies — who chose to be “willfully blind” to such practices and the subsequent securitization of those mortgages — could be vulnerable to prosecution for securities fraud.
Both retired FBI officials asserted that the Bush administration was thoroughly briefed on the mortgage fraud crisis and its potential to cascade out of control with devastating financial consequences, but made the decision not to give back to the FBI the agents it needed to address the problem. After the terrorist attacks of 2001, about 2,400 agents were reassigned to counterterrorism duties.
This mass reassignment was first chronicled by the Seattle P-I in the Terrorism Tradeoff, a series of investigative reports beginning in 2007 and stretching into 2008. That administration policy, the P-I reported, resulted in a dramatic plunge in FBI criminal investigations and referrals for prosecution. And recent data from Syracuse University researchers shows the problem has worsened.
FBI Assistant Director Ken Kaiser — in a statement – took issue last week with any implication “that if the FBI had made more arrests for mortgage fraud, the crisis could have been averted. To even suggest that is a cry for a lesson in both civics and basic economics.
“It is not a fair or realistic assessment.”
The FBI is now making one of its largest hiring pushes ever. The bureau is seeking 850 new agents this year, some to fill vacancies that had been allowed to languish for years even as the administration blocked efforts to reinforce the FBI’s crime squads.
Still, a P-I analysis of information provided by the FBI shows that 850 new agents doesn’t come close to restoring the bureau’s crime squads. It would take more than double the number of agents and at least $400 million of new funding to bring the bureau’s corps of crime-fighters back to pre- 9/11 levels.
But Deputy Director Steve McMillin of the Bush White House’s Office of Management and Budget told the P-I last year that even partially restoring the FBI crime-fighting capabilities was not a priority.
“The assumption that how it was pre- 9/11 is how it ought to be for all time is not the correct premise,” he said.
The first retired FBI official said: “We made a direct pitch (for more agents) to the OMB even though we weren’t supposed to and they said no.” Instead, “we were looking at reductions, not additions.”
Further complicating efforts to detect and prosecute mortgage fraud, banks and other mortgage lenders were making so much money from the constant churn of transactions and the continually escalating price of homes that the fraud that did arise simply didn’t cost the industry enough money to raise their concerns.
“You had victim banks that would not acknowledge that they were victims,” said the first retired FBI official. ” ‘We’re not out any money,’ they would say. Nothing has been foreclosed. The banks weren’t reporting, the regulators weren’t regulating and the FBI was concentrating on external mortgage fraud as opposed to the underlying internal problem.”
And the administration’s attention was turned to terrorism.
When FBI Director Robert Mueller was briefed on mortgage fraud, “his eyes would glaze over,” the first retired FBI official said. “It was not something that he would consider a high priority. It was not on his radar screen.”
“We knew we had a broader problem, but you’ve got a Justice Department and the administration saying you need to concentrate on domestic intelligence and counterterrorism,” the first official said. “It wasn’t very popular to ask for resources for anything. It was dead on arrival.”
The second FBI official said: “Mueller was caught in a box.
“Mueller actually circumvented the Justice Department and the OMB to get resources. But he was shut down” by the administration.
Public statements by one high FBI executive shows that the bureau was well aware of the potentially devastating impact of rampant mortgage fraud at least five years ago. The executive ominously foretold the crisis in testimony before Congress.
“Based on various industry reports and FBI analysis, mortgage fraud is pervasive and growing,” Chris Swecker, then assistant director of the criminal investigation division, said in October 2004 before the House subcommittee on housing and community opportunity.
Then Swecker made a chillingly accurate prediction of the coming mortgage meltdown and financial collapse:
“The potential impact of mortgage fraud on financial institutions in the stock market is clear. If fraudulent practices become systemic within the mortgage industry and mortgage fraud is allowed to become unrestrained, it will ultimately place financial institutions at risk and have adverse effects on the stock market.”
Swecker went on to describe the scenario that ultimately wrecked financial havoc around the world: “Often mortgage loans sold in secondary markets are used by financial institutions as collateral for other investments. … When loans sold in the secondary market default and have fraudulent or material misrepresentation … these loans become a nonperforming asset, and in extreme fraud cases, the mortgage-backed security is worthless. Mortgage fraud losses adversely affect loan-loss reserves, profits, liquidity levels and capitalization ratios, ultimately affecting the soundness of the financial institution itself.”
Swecker declined recently to comment, other than to say, “My testimony in 2004 speaks for itself.”
But Kaiser, who currently occupies Swecker’s old post, warned against misinterpreting the testimony.
“In context, Assistant Director Chris Swecker meant he believed the FBI could stay focused on mortgage fraud to prevent fraud from becoming the major driver that would cause a collapse of credit in the housing market,” Kaiser said in comments e-mailed to the P-I earlier this month. “We believe by a good measure, the bureau did that.
“The FBI’s Criminal Division has arrested 1,000 suspects and targeted 180 criminal enterprises since 2004,” Kaiser said. “We targeted those lenders and buyers involved in multiple frauds or cases where the profits went to drug crews, gangs or organized crime. More investigations are ongoing. But the FBI is a law enforcement and intelligence agency, we are not banking regulators.”
It wasn’t just the FBI’s white-collar crime program that lacked the resources and political will to do its job.
The Office of Thrift Supervision and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency “and the bank regulators are really the first line of defense,” the first official said. “The investigative agencies (like the FBI) are the second line of defense. We all caught the mortgage fraud aspect. But none of us caught the corporate fraud aspect.”
But even if the regulatory agencies had come to the FBI with the tips, the resources necessary to pull off such an inquiry simply did not exist.
“There were two hurdles,” said the second retired FBI official, “not enough agents working in the criminal area and not enough (federal prosecutors) to prosecute these complex cases. You have to have investigators to follow the money, you have to follow the decision making to take it up to the corporate suites. And we didn’t have it.”
The FBI had every certified public accountant in the bureau working on big fraud cases such as Enron and HealthSouth, the first retired FBI official said. “The ones that weren’t working (those cases) went to terrorist financing.”
The SEC, said the official, did not show an interest in working with the FBI on the problem, either. And it didn’t begin responding to pervasive financial corruption until after the economy collapsed.
“The regulators are the ones embedded in the banks,” the first retired FBI official said. “They would be able to see it if they were looking. They were the first line of defense in detecting it.”
SEC officials declined to comment.
Thrift office spokesman William Ruberry said, “The OTS has a robust enforcement program to investigate and take appropriate action against corruption and fraud uncovered by our examiners, reported by consumers or conveyed by other sources.”
Comptroller’s office spokesman Kevin Mukri said only that “the OCC has always had and continues to have a professional and cooperative working relationship with all law enforcement agencies.”
Nevertheless, high FBI and Bush administration officials knew a potentially devastating problem was on the horizon and failed to stop it.
“It was a sleight of hand because the public thought the administration was resourcing counterterrorism when in fact they were forcing cannibalization of the criminal program,” the retired FBI official said. “Now the chickens have come home to roost.”