What's Up in Bankster Land?

bankstersIt might just be election time. We have Bank of America being sued for Countrywide's hustle, a program which pawned off bad mortgages onto Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from 2007 to 2009. The U.S. District Attorney, Office’s Civil Frauds Unit in New York filed a civil complaint against BoA, who acquired Countrywide, for $1 billion.

The Complaint seeks civil penalties under FIRREA, as well as treble damages and penalties under the False Claims Act, for over $1 billion in losses suffered by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for defaulted loans fraudulently sold by COUNTRYWIDE and BANK OF AMERICA.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “For the sixth time in less than 18 months, this Office has been compelled to sue a major U.S. bank for reckless mortgage practices in the lead-up to the financial crisis. The fraudulent conduct alleged in today’s complaint was spectacularly brazen in scope. As alleged, through a program aptly named ‘the Hustle,’ Countrywide and Bank of America made disastrously bad loans and stuck taxpayers with the bill. As described, Countrywide and Bank of America systematically removed every check in favor of its own balance – they cast aside underwriters, eliminated quality controls, incentivized unqualified personnel to cut corners, and concealed the resulting defects. These toxic products were then sold to the government sponsored enterprises as good loans. This lawsuit should send another clear message that reckless lending practices will not be tolerated.”

This is five years after the crisis, 2008 and the Civil Frauds Unit works in coordination with President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force and most of these civil suits have settled for trump change, in the low millions.

Next we have a convicted insider trader getting only two years in jail when he faced 20.

Disgraced Wall Street titan and philanthropist Rajat Gupta was sentenced to only two years in prison, a much lighter sentence than U.S. prosecutors had demanded, even though the federal judge who imposed it on Wednesday called his insider trading crimes "disgusting" and "a terrible breach of trust."

Guess who petitioned for leniency, why Bill Gates! At the height of the financial crisis, Gupta gave critical information about Goldman Sachs getting an investment by Warren Buffet and the result is we get Bill Gates asking for leniency.

The connections between Raj Rajaratnam, the Galleon Hedge fund manager, Gupta and onto McKinsey & Co. are outlined in the Wall Street Journal's interactive graphic. The web is an amazingly link between India, Silicon Valley, Wall Street and insider trading. McKinsey is one of the biggest proponents of offshore outsourcing and heavily promotes India as the destination of American jobs.

Next up, a group of CEOs wrote a manifesto demanding Congress deal with the fiscal cliff and the deficit and they are pouring in $40 million in a lobbying campaign.

The group said it has raised $40 million in private donations for its cause, and plans to use paid media after the elections to champion its position as talks on taxes and spending heat up. Executives also plan on making their case to their employees, urging them in turn to put pressure on lawmakers to strike a compromise. Chief executives joining the cause include the heads of Aetna, Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase, General Electric and Boeing.

The executives were organized by the Campaign to Fix the Debt, a bipartisan group founded by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, the former co-chairmen of the president's deficit-reduction commission and authors of a deficit-reduction plan that bears their names.

While the fiscal cliff is real and a recession threat due to across the board cuts, Felix Simon points out what this band of corporate brothers is up to isn't so egalitarian, in spite of this same group calling on the top personal income tax rates to be increased.

The WSJ has what it calls “CEOs Deficit Manifesto ” — a copy of the letter, signed by 80-something US CEOs, urging action on the debt and deficit. It’s not a particularly impressive document. It starts like this:

Policy makers should acknowledge that our growing debt is a serious threat to the economic well-being and security of the United States.

It is urgent and essential that we put in place a plan to fix America’s debt.

This is ridiculous. There are lots of serious threats out there to the economic well-being and security of the United States, and the national debt is simply not one of them. Nor is it growing.

Ex Goldman Sachs whistle blower Greg Smith went on 60 Minutes to talk about his experiences and book. The interview is below.

The smear campaign against him has been intense. Naked Capitalism talks about the blow back Mr. Smith.

Smith’s sin seems to be that he’s an insider from an uber prestigious, connected firm who dared say something bad about his former employer. The “don’t rock the boat” attitude is so deeply ingrained in America that it’s considered reckless to be candid about why you are quitting a job in an exit interview. And it’s not a stretch to call the reaction totalitarian when it’s Wall Street that is on the receiving end of criticism.

Meanwhile the financial crisis, bail outs, lack of criminal prosecutions and the fact most of the Dodd-Frank hasn't even been implemented doesn't get a mention this political season.

The Libor manipulation scandal just widened with nine more banks added to the probe. Bear in mind, we've had many probes, investigations, Congressional hearings to date and beyond some minor fines, there are no serious consequences.

Nine of the world’s biggest banks are facing increased scrutiny from US state prosecutors probing alleged attempts to manipulate the lending gauge known as Libor.

Eric Schneiderman, New York attorney-general, and George Jepsen, Connecticut attorney-general, have sent subpoenas to Bank of America, Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ, Credit Suisse, Lloyds Banking Group, Rabobank, Royal Bank of Canada, Société Générale, Norinchukin Bank and West LB as they investigate whether the banks participated in any schemes to rig the London interbank offered rate, a person familiar with the matter said.

Jon Corzine asked a Judge to throw out a civil lawsuit against him.

The WSJ reports that "Corzine's lawyers blasted the investors' suit as a "jumble of assertions and accusations" that makes "no sense" that should be dismissed in a filing Friday in U.S. District Court in New York." The plainitffs, now led by Virginia Retirement System, "sued Mr. Corzine, other company executives and the banks that backed the trading firm, claiming they failed to disclose the risks associated with MF Global's European sovereign debt trades using repurchase-to-maturity transactions."

This editorial expresses what we all feel, every time, Wall Street and the Banksters get completely away with it.

The collapse of MF Global was the most dramatic financial debacle in decades. I cannot remember a case, where it was so clear cut that one person was responsible for such a disaster. There was the company's surprise bankruptcy over a single weekend, 1,100 employees summarily terminated, $1.5 billion of investor deposits in segregated accounts stolen to pay margin calls and last but not least, the taxpayer-funded unemployment benefits and takeover of pension obligations.

As usual, our public servants could find no fraud (since most are likely hoping to get a job at Mr. Corzine's alma matter, Goldman Sachs, and Mr. Corzine's recommendation will do the trick).

Finally, two Senators, Jeff Merkley and Carl Levin, both Democrats wrote a letter to the Fed asking why the Volcker rule hasn't been implemented.

The Merkley-Levin Provisions on proprietary trading and conflicts of interest, commonly referred to as the “Volcker Rule,” have been the law of the land for over two years. Now, nearly four months past the deadline for it to go into effect, we call for an end to the delay in issuing its implementing regulations.

It is four years since the global financial system imploded and instead of dramatic change on how banking, investment is done, all we have is the entire topic thrown under the rug, lying there, waiting for when it can all fester and blow up again.



Trading shut down for Hurricane Sandy

I think the real story here is they had originally planned to shut down just physical trading but let electronic trading run, no human involved. I don't know the particulars but it sounded like a HFT vulnerability to me.

This site's servers I imagine won't go down, but we are taking some time to work on site upgrades. Hope all don't lose their power for long.