It must have been a nightmare for Neil Barofsky, former Inspector General overseeing TARP during the financial crisis. He was on CNBC this morning to hawk his new book, when all heck broke loose. An argument about TARP, the most despised law in the US … how it prevented the collapse of Wall Street or something. But they failed to mention that by the time TARP was handing out money, it had already become irrelevant. A much greater power had taken control.
Contributed by Chriss Street. According to a SEC regulatory filing, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. managed by world famous investor Warren Buffett, dumped half of its $16.5 billion investment in the municipal bond market. The Wall Street Journal described the huge secretive sale of munis by such a dominant investor as a “red flag.” The quick sale – and willingness to take a big loss – just before negative news was disclosed is highly suspicious.
They only bubble up rarely, these scandals at the Federal Reserve System, but when they do, they’re doozies, involving huge amounts of money, massive conflicts of interest, all-out manipulation, collusion, favoritism, dizzying cronyism…. Over the 100 years the Fed has existed, it has done an excellent job in one of its other functions, maintaining the dollar, which has lost only 96% of its value—instead of 100%. Yet, it just doesn’t want to be audited.
Normally we see the gory details only after a firm collapses, like Enron or Lehman, when vultures tear open its guts to fight over shriveled assets that had appeared fat and healthy on paper, and some of them had been written up repeatedly to create—which our accounting system encourages us to do—paper income. Other outfits get bailed out. JPMorgan among them. Yet, they still hollow out their balance sheets. And JPMorgan’s soon-to-be $7 billion trading loss shows how.
My twelve-and-a-half minutes of conversation with Max Keiser on the Keiser Report—“Where Money Goes to Die”—aired today on RT. In the first half of the show, Max and Stacy with their tongue-in-cheek, pungent, and edgy manner tear into central banks, bankers, NIRP, the new Apartheid, the Libor scandal…. It’s quite a ride! My part starts in the second half (video).
I’m shocked and appalled that the Libor fiasco could even occur in our modern, highly ethical, and transparent financial sector. Banks misreporting anything…. unheard of. Nevertheless, it occurred. Not just once, but from get-go. And everyone and his dog, even Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, back in 2008 when he was still President of the New York Fed, knew about it.
Fighting back: Jérôme Kerviel, the meek-looking French guy who became famous in January 2008 as the junior trader who lost €4.9 billion at French mega-bank Société Générale. Accused of a litany of shenanigans, he was condemned to five years in prison, though he claimed that his bosses had known about and had tolerated his activities. He just couldn’t prove it…. until now.
Contributed by Chriss Street: In another abrupt surprise, the respected Chairman of the Orange County’s Treasury Oversight Committee resigned on April 16. It seems he was asked to read into the public record at a meeting of the Board of Supervisors a letter by county Treasurer Shari Freidenrich stating that she had complied with the county’s Investment Policy Statement mandates. The community was already reeling from discovery that….
Contributed by Chriss Street: Like the Titanic that ignored warnings and ran full-speed into a massive iceberg, Orange County is taking enormous financial risks rather than addressing its gapping cash-flow deficit. The county quietly entered into $518 million of illiquid and unsecured interest rate wagers, mostly financed from payroll and savings accounts of local schools and other government agencies.
Treasury Secretary “Hank” Paulson was the trailblazer with his proposal for TARP in September 2008. He went to the Congress with a list of demands—unlimited powers to hand unlimited amounts of taxpayer money to whomever—and threatened that the whole world would collapse if his demands weren’t met. It worked. So Greek prime ministers imitated him. And now Christine Lagarde, managing director at the IMF, tried it too.