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Posts Tagged ‘is Wall Street on the up and up’

SEC Attorney Darcy Flynn Blows Whistle on Wall Street-Washington Incest….MUST READ

Posted by Larry Doyle on August 17th, 2011 4:33 PM |

BOMBSHELL!!!

Since early 2009 I have written at length about the regulatory capture that has dominated the financial industry. I have defined this concept in layman’s terms as the Wall Street-Washington incest. Today a close friend and regular reader of Sense on Cents shares a story which blows the cover off this incest.

This story is written by Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi, perhaps Wall Street’s greatest nemesis. I commend him and those from whom he has sourced this information to have the courage of their conviction and the embodiment of the true American spirit to bring this story to light.

I ardently believe this expose should lead to public Congressional hearings and ultimately a federal judicial inquiry. Might it be the beginning of the end for Mary Schapiro? (more…)

Did Wall Street Violate the Racketeering Act…AGAIN??!!

Posted by Larry Doyle on April 29th, 2011 11:46 AM |

Earlier this month I inquired Did Wall Street Violate the Racketeering Act? in regard to the rampant abuses centered on Wall Street institutions involved in the mortgage foreclosure travesty. That commentary written on April 4th generated the strongest and most vocal reaction to any commentary I have written since the inception of Sense on Cents in January 2009. (I encourage you to scan the comments to that article to gain a sense of the pain and anguish felt by so many in our nation today!)

Today I repeat the question.

Did Wall Street Violate the Racketeering Act …Again??” in regard to the pricing and potential manipulation of the credit derivatives market? Why has Wall Street fought the legislative and regulatory proposals to bring greater transparency into this corner of the casino? Why does Wall Street want to maintain its hegemony over the cash cow known as ‘credit derivatives’? Let’s navigate across the pond and review a probe of Wall Street’s CDS business by the EU. The European Union put out this official press release this morning:  (more…)

Is Wall Street On the Up and Up?

Posted by Larry Doyle on October 3rd, 2009 11:57 AM |

The core of that question resides within the regulatory oversight of our financial industry.  The American public is beginning to learn a lot about this financial regulatory oversight. How so? A month ago, SEC Inspector General David Kotz released a report, Investigation of Failure of the SEC to Uncover Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi Scheme (embedded here). Yesterday, the Wall Street self-regulatory organization, FINRA, released Report of the 2009 Special Review Committee on FINRA’s Examination Program In Light of the Stanford and Madoff Schemes.

What did we learn from yesterday’s report? Plenty. For that, I commend all those involved in this effort. With all due respect to FINRA employees who have legitimately tried to fulfill their obligations to the best of their abilities, yesterday’s report is nothing short of a massive indictment of FINRA’s management, FINRA’s board, and the SEC which is charged to oversee FINRA. Why? Having read this report twice and studied critical components of it, FINRA is exposed as nothing more than a collection of crossing guards . . . said with all due respect to crossing guards. Have the supervisors of the crossing guards been so heavily influenced by Wall Street so as to render large parts of the FINRA mission ineffective? Many believe this to be true, including me.

Why so harsh? Let’s navigate and be a little more aggressive than the mainstream financial media in analyzing this report. In the process, I think you will appreciate my assessment and also realize there are many more questions which need to be answered.

The FINRA report is largely divided into the organization’s dealings with the financial frauds encompassing Allen Stanford and Bernard Madoff. Referencing the massive regulatory failings on FINRA’s behalf in these two cases, the authors provide recommendations which FINRA’s management will present for approval or ratification at the December 2009 Board meeting.

For purposes here, I will not regurgitate the numerous individual failings of FINRA examiners and management in each of these cases. Rather, I will highlight those failings which I find most egregious. In turn, I want to focus on highlighting the recommendations so the American public can truly understand how woefully inept, incompetent, and ill-prepared this financial self-regulatory organization has been and currently is to uphold its mission to protect investors. Against that backdrop, I will then lay out questions which I deem to be critically important for FINRA to answer if the American public can ever regain a degree of confidence in the oversight of Wall Street.

>> Stanford Case

1. In 2003, the Stanford broker-dealer generated 68% of its revenues from the sale of Stanford International Bank CD’s. Are you kidding me? Red Flag!! That finding did not prompt the examiner to dig deeper?!

2. A 2003 Anonymous Tip Letter laid out the Stanford scheme in detail.

3. In 2005, a FINRA examiner learned that the Stanford broker-dealer is paid an annual fee of 3% of the deposit sum for every CD. Another red flag! Standard practice would have bankers or securities salespeople earning a one-time fee of maximum .25%.

At this point, Stanford International Bank had raised approximately $1.5 billion in what would grow to a $7.2 billion scam.

With all due respect to FINRA employees who may have continued to look into Stanford over the 2005-2008 time period, truth be told FINRA did not further aggressively pursue this case until the Madoff situation broke in December 2008.

>> Madoff Case

1. FINRA largely limits its review of the Madoff scam to the 2003-present time period. Why not go back further? FINRA had longstanding oversight of the Madoff enterprise.

2. FINRA largely reduces the extensive relationships between Bernie Madoff and family members with FINRA to nothing more than a footnote. That footnote on page 46 provides a cursory approval of FINRA’s relationship with the Madoff firm and family. Why aren’t these relationships more deeply explored?

3. The report acknowledges what we always knew about FINRA having oversight of Madoff’s operation. FINRA representatives, including Mary Schapiro, have willingly and intentionally misrepresented the fact that FINRA had oversight of Madoff’s enterprise. Did Mary Schapiro perjure herself on this topic during her confirmation hearings to be Head of the SEC? Well, she may not have perjured herself, but she and others have willingly misrepresented FINRA’s required oversight of Madoff over the long time period when Madoff was strictly a registered broker-dealer and ran this massive Ponzi scheme within that framework.

4. FINRA failed to detect the full breadth of the relationship between Cohmad Securities and Madoff.  Bernie Madoff and his brother Peter owned 24% of Cohmad, and the Cohmad broker-dealer operated within the same office space as Bernard Madoff Investment Securities. Cohmad was largely a front for feeding customers into Madoff’s scam. The report provides:

Cohmad was registered as a broker-dealer and reported having approximately 750 to 850 customer accounts, which were held by and cleared through Bear Stearns Securities Corporation. These accounts usually generated roughly 300 transactions per month, mostly in equities and, to a lesser extent, municipal bonds.

I would very much like to know more details about these municipal bonds. Were they municipal auction rate securities?

5. How did FINRA miss the Madoff scam? This report acknowledges the fact that FINRA examiners merely took Madoff and his representatives at their word that Madoff was running nothing more than a broker-dealer. Are you kidding me? It was common knowledge that Madoff had a money management business. FINRA maintains that the FINRA ‘crossing guards’ checked the little boxes on their Madoff review sheets and went on their way. (more…)

Wall Street Has a Problem as High Frequency Trading Moves to Main Street

Posted by Larry Doyle on July 24th, 2009 6:54 AM |

I am not here to rain on the parade, but I do think developments overnight have the potential to dramatically change the nature of our markets if not our economy. I am referring to issues surrounding high frequency program trading.

Until now, the debate over high frequency trading has largely been relegated to Wall Street periodicals, financial news outlets, and blogs, including Sense on Cents.

Well, this morning America awakens to see this high frequency debate course across the front page of The New York Times, Traders Profit With Computers Set at High Speed:

It is the hot new thing on Wall Street, a way for a handful of traders to master the stock market, peek at investors’ orders and, critics say, even subtly manipulate share prices.

It is called high-frequency trading — and it is suddenly one of the most talked-about and mysterious forces in the markets.

Powerful computers, some housed right next to the machines that drive marketplaces like the New York Stock Exchange, enable high-frequency traders to transmit millions of orders at lightning speed and, their detractors contend, reap billions at everyone else’s expense.

These systems are so fast they can outsmart or outrun other investors, humans and computers alike. And after growing in the shadows for years, they are generating lots of talk.

Nearly everyone on Wall Street is wondering how hedge funds and large banks like Goldman Sachs are making so much money so soon after the financial system nearly collapsed. High-frequency trading is one answer.

This article is likely sweeping the globe at this very minute and, in my opinion, is particularly devastating in its tone and delivery . . . and justifiably so.

I can only imagine the commentary this evening at the local Rotary Club, Knights of Columbus, Lions Club, town carnivals, and church fairs. Probably something along these lines:

“Have you heard how Wall Street is screwing us?”

“I knew that game was never on the up and up.”

“What a bunch of thieves.”

Without entering into a debate over the merits or lack thereof of this high frequency program trading, I think Wall Street has a huge problem on its hands. Why? A question of fundamental fairness. With the publication and dissemination of this article, try to explain to the average Joe looking to buy 50 shares of IBM how he is being treated equitably.

As the New York Times reports:

“You want to encourage innovation, and you want to reward companies that have invested in technology and ideas that make the markets more efficient,” said Andrew M. Brooks, head of United States equity trading at T. Rowe Price, a mutual fund and investment company that often competes with and uses high-frequency techniques. “But we’re moving toward a two-tiered marketplace of the high-frequency arbitrage guys, and everyone else. People want to know they have a legitimate shot at getting a fair deal. Otherwise, the markets lose their integrity.” (LD’s highlight)

What do you think? Please share your thoughts and opinions.

LD

Related Commentary

Is Uncle Sam Manipulating the Markets?  July 1, 2009

Is Uncle Sam Manipulating the Markets?  Part II July 6, 2009

Is Uncle Sam Manipulating the Markets?  Part III July 8, 2009

Why High Frequency Program Trading Smells  July 14, 2009

High Frequency Trading: Point-Counterpoint July 17, 2009






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