“What a tangled web we weave, When at first we practice to deceive”
© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.
Posted on 07 March 2012.
“What a tangled web we weave, When at first we practice to deceive”
© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.
Posted on 02 January 2012.
Those of you who’ve had any dealings with Ameriquest may find this interesting…
William McCloskey worked for Ameriquest from November 2004 till March 2005. William was fired after he reported illegal activity behind the walls of his Ameriquest branch, which virtually mirrored all of the widespread reports about the company (to local detectives, the PA Attorney General, the S.E.C. and the F.B.I).
William sued Ameriquest Mortgage Company under the whistleblower provision of the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002. The act pertained to publicly traded companies and issuers of securities under Section 15(d) and 12h-3 of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934.
[WJM 7]© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.
Posted on 17 October 2011.
October 17, 2011
Author David DeGraw and Prof. William Black talk about the politicians supporting the OWS movement for their own political gain as opposed to those who truly believe in the protests.
.© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.
Posted on 12 October 2011.
Q. At the point in time of this board
meeting, though, you were relating to the board
that you felt you had a commitment from the Fed and
the Treasury to make good on whatever harm is
caused by the increased losses at Merrill Lynch; is
A. I had verbal commitments from Ben
Bernanke and Hank Paulson that they were going to
see this through, to fill that hole, and have the
market perceive this as a good deal.
MR. CORNGOLD: Isn’t the only way to
fill that hole, though, to give you money,
not to give you money that you would have to
pay back at some interest rate with some
potential equity interest, too?
THE WITNESS: No. I think you have to
separate the fact that, yes, there is still
some short-term paying -it’s more
short-term paying now than we would have had
had all this not happened, but longer term we
still see a strategic benefit. So we saw it
as a short term versus a long term impact on
MR. CORNGOLD; When you entered into the
initial contract with Merrill Lynch did you
get a fairness opinion about the transaction?
THE WITNESS: Yes.
MR. CORNGOLD: From whom?
THE WITNESS; Chris Flowers something.
MR. CORNGOLD: And did you get a
fairness opinion from anyone about the
transaction that you entered into with the federal government and the Fed?
THE WITNESS: No. MR. CORNGOLD: Did you consider whether you had a legal obligation to do that? THE WITNESS: I would rely on the advice of the general counsel for that.
MR. CORNGOLD: But when you say that, does that mean that you asked and got advice, or that you didn’t ask but relied
THE WITNESS: I would rely on somebody bringing that question forth, and nobody did.
Q. Did you ask anyone to look into whether the oral, verbal commitments from the Fed and Treasury were enforceable?
A. No. I was going on the word of two very respected individuals high up in the American government.
Q. Wasn’t Mr. Paulson, by his instruction, really asking Bank of America shareholders to take a good part of the hit of the Merrill losses?
A. What he was doing was trying to stem a financial disaster in the financial markets, from his perspective.
Q. From your perspective, wasn’t that one
of the effects of what he was doing?
A. Over the short term, yes, but we still
thought we had an entity that filled two big
strategic holes for us and over long term would
still be an interest to the shareholders.
Q. What do you mean by “short term”?
A. Two to three years.
Q. So isn’t that something that any
shareholder at Bank of America who had less
than a three-year time horizon would want
A. The situation was that everyone felt
like the deal needed to be completed and to be able
to say that, or that they would impose a big risk
to the financial system if it would not.
MR. LAWSKY: When you say “everyone,”
what do you mean?
THE WITNESS: The people that I was
talking to, Bernanke and Paulson.
MR. LAWSKY: Had it been up to you would
you made the disclosure?
THE WITNESS: It wasn’t up to me.
MR. LAWSKY: Had it been up to you.
THE WITNESS: It wasn’t.
MR. CORNGOLD: Why do you say it wasn’t
up to you? Were you instructed not to tell
your shareholders what the transaction was
going to be?
THE WITNESS: I was instructed that “We
do not want a public disclosure.”
MR. CORNGOLD: Who said that to you?
THE WITNESS: Paulson.
MR. CORNGOLD: When did he say that to
THE WITNESS; Sometime after I asked Ben
Bernanke for something in writing.
Q. When did that occur?
A. Which one?
Q. When did Mr. Paulson state that he did
not want a public disclosure?
A. It was sometime late in the year. I
think it’s actually in the minutes.
MR. LIMAN: If you have the next set of
minutes it might help the witness.
Q. What’s your best recollection of what
Mr. Paulson said to you on that point?
A. That was the conversation that I
mentioned that I went to Bernanke to ask the
question, and he didn’t call me back but Hank did.
The request was for a letter stating what they
would do, and he had those two elements in there.
But the thing that we’re talking about is that he
said “We do not want a public disclosure.”
Q. A public disclosure of what?
A. Of what they were going to be doing for us until it was completed.
[ipaper docId=68566250 access_key=key-2dc4y4d1doa04df3yxe3 height=600 width=600 /]
© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.
Posted on 06 September 2011.
#WikiLeaks- PAULSON DISCUSSES FINANCIAL MARKETS, IRAN WITH SARKOZY, LAGARDE
While investors and nations around the world were happily giving trillions of dollars away to crooked Wall Street bankers top officials in the United States and France knew the market would soon collapse and people would be robbed of millions.
While raising the issue that the role of government regulators and rating agencies needed to be reviewed in the wake of the upcoming crisis, US officials ignored calls from the French government to enact necessary regulation to stop the rampant fraud that would soon result in investors losing tens of trillions of dollars they had invested into the markets.
The cable reveals that while discussing the ability of the French banks to survive the crisis, French President Sarkozy was pushing the US to enact regulations to forestall the crisis. Instead, Henry Paulson responded by telling Sarkozy not to overreacted because the” it would take months, not weeks, for credit to be re-priced” telling France this is “not a major crisis.”
Paulson went on to warn that the major problem was with the German banks and which would require a bailout from the taxpayer while warning that the assets held by banks but covered up from investors by being held off-balance sheet presented systematic risk to banks and to sovereign wealth.
The cable clearly reveals that taxpayer bailouts would be needed. Paulson further up sticks up for the Wall Street hedge fund saying they were not to blame for the crisis while acknowledging there were major Wall Street transparency issues.
To summarize, the cable reveals that top government officials in France and the US knew Wall street banks were committing fraud in the origination and packaging of sub-prime mortgage and lying to investors about the resulting securities they were creating and selling. Officials knew banks were also lying about their own liabilities and hiding them from investors by keeping the assets off their balance sheets. The government also knew that both regulators and ratings agencies were participating in the scheme.
Remember as you read this cable, these conversations all took place over a year before the 2008 financial collapse when taxpayers around the world were forced into giving up trillions of dollars for banker bailouts. Also keep in mind that while the cable discusses “systemic risk”, “bailouts” and “market turbulence”, none of these had happened yet. They were discussing what would soon happen in the future.
The discussion of “systemic risk”, “market turbulence” and “taxpayer bailouts” over a year before the markets actually collapsed and those events actually occurred, show they knew a global financial collapse. Not only did they know it would occur but knew what the consequences would be for the investors and the governments who were fleeced by Wall Street. As the cable reveals, Paulson chose to deal with the crisis by letting it continue and urging France to keep the issue underwaps by urging Sarkozy not to “over react”, hence allowing the scandal to the continue which just postponed the inevitable.
Also remember when we were forced into these bailouts, it was under the guise that our governments had no idea the banks were doing this and this was a sudden and unforeseeable crisis. Finally, remember that – while there have been plenty of accusations from “conspiracy theorists”, “fringe economists” and “wing nut” politicians such as Ron Paul – there still has been no admission from our government that financial regulators or the ratings agencies played a role in the crisis.
Posted on 26 May 2011.
HBO’s “Too Big To Fail”—I just caught up with it last night; thank you, HBO On Demand—is extraordinarily revealing about the financial crisis. Only its revelations are almost entirely inadvertent.
The movie is set up in the Hollywood conventional way: A gang of misfits, each with a special expertise, is brought together for an impossible mission. There’s Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, steely eyed at the moment of truth. There’s New York Federal Reserve head Timothy Geithner, the athlete (he doesn’t just jog, but also plays what appears to be squash). And then there’s Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, the professor with a heart of gold and secret knowledge of the Great Depression.
Ostensibly it’s a story of their success against all odds. Michael Kinsley, reviewing the movie in the New York Times, labeled Hank Paulson  the “hero” of the account.
Except that the movie actually depicts something entirely different: failure upon failure. “Too Big To Fail” The Movie isn’t the story of how the Three Musketeers saved the global economy. It’s a story of how the three didn’t see the financial crisis coming; hadn’t prepared for it; made mistake after mistake as it was cresting; and then, in their moment of triumph, made their most colossal blunder of all.
Posted on 04 November 2010.
Please take the time to watch these videos with Mr. Paulson and where we are today after this…nothing has been done. What a Sham and a Shame!
Posted on 25 May 2010.
Cenk UygurHost of The Young Turks
Posted: May 24, 2010 06:44 AM
Sometimes when you explain to people that some of the most complicated financial transactions in the country were just side bets, they don’t really believe you. They think it’s an oversimplification. We couldn’t have wrecked the global economy because some people made side bets. These are sophisticated bankers with sophisticated financial instruments, so it must be more complicated than that. It isn’t. They bet one another, whoever lost got paid by the American taxpayer.
To be fair, sometimes they had the money to pay off one another without government bailouts, but not often. That’s because they were largely betting with money they never had. AIG is the perfect example. Their executives made hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses from the early wins in these bets, but then stuck the taxpayers with a $182 billion bill when they lost.
A credit default swap is when you bet that a certain asset is going to default. If you’re wrong, then you have to pay a little bit. If you’re right, you get paid a ton. So, AIG collected a lot of little winnings when they bet that mortgage backed securities would not go into default. But then when they did go into default, they lost big.
So, what does all of this have to do with us? Well, Hank Paulson, Tim Geithner and Ben Bernanke in their infinite wisdom decided that we should pay AIG’s bets for them. Did they go back and take the money the AIG executives got for their earlier so-called winnings? No, of course not. Did they even inquire into whether these bets were on actual assets that the other parties were on the hook for? Apparently not.
Let me explain that more. If you bought a package of mortgage backed securities and wanted to insure it in case anything went wrong, that’s a fairly normal derivative. That basically works as insurance for your security. So, if we paid off people who actually owned those securities, it still wouldn’t be right in my opinion but it would be a lot more understandable. The argument would be that it would destabilize the economy too much if all of the people holding the mortgages all of sudden lost most of their value.
But what if they didn’t hold the mortgages, they just bet on them? That’s like the difference between bailing out the Dallas Cowboys to help the local Dallas economy versus bailing out bookies who bet too much on the last Cowboys game. The latter is what we did with AIG. We paid off people’s bets for almost no reason.
I explain all of this because it’s very important that you understand that when we paid $62 billion to AIG “counterparties,” we weren’t saving the economy, we were paying off the bookies. The money we gave them didn’t go toward saving one house or one mortgage or even a package of mortgages or even investors who bought the packages of mortgages. It went to paying off people who made side bets on the mortgages (and even sometimes put down bets on a made up collection of mortgages that didn’t even exist in the real world called “synthetic” collateralized debt obligations).
This is insanity. When you understand what really happened, you have one natural reaction – I want my money back. It’s like we paid Donald Trump for a bet he made against Steve Wynn. Why did we do that? I don’t give a damn if The Mirage or Caesar’s Casino won. Why did you pay them with my money?
So, we’re now starting a campaign to get our money back. I’d love to get the whole $62 billion paid out to the AIG counterparties (let alone the whole $182 billion we’ve sunk into AIG all together). But, we’re going to start out nice and modest. We’d like to have Goldman Sachs pay us our $12.9 billion back that they got from AIG.
That’s all taxpayer money. All of it went to Goldman for some silly bet they made with a buffoonish company that never had the money in the first place. As “sophisticated investors” they should have realized that AIG never really had the cash to pay them.
It’s like making a million dollar bet with your deadbeat friend. Do you really expect to get paid when he doesn’t have ten bucks to his name? How sophisticated can you be if you don’t even realize that your counterparties are broke? So, sad day for you, you made a bet with the wrong guy. That’s capitalism, baby. Go home, lick your wounds.
Except as we all know, that’s not how it worked out. Instead the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, Hank Paulson decided to give them the money anyway, from the United States Treasury. Paulson had made $700 million dollars earlier when he made the same kind of deals as the head of Goldman before he became our Treasury Secretary. Not much bias there, right?
So, other than this enormous conflict of interest, why target just Goldman Sachs? Many reasons. They were one of the largest beneficiaries of this “backdoor bailout” from AIG. They were the ones who set up many of the securities in the first place. In fact, they sold $23 billion worth of this junk to AIG (they’re lucky we’re not asking for all of that back).They set them to blow and then bet against them. And they said they didn’t need the money away. Great, then we’ll take it back please.
Yes, they actually said they didn’t need the taxpayers to pay them. They said many times on the record that they were “properly hedged” and that they could have gotten paid off by other companies and didn’t need AIG to pay them. Fantastic! Out with it. We’re going to be generous and not charge much interest, so we’ll take a check for $13 billion made to the United States Treasury.
I’m not kidding. We are going to start applying pressure to both Goldman and the Treasury Department to return that money to its rightful owners, the American taxpayer. Of course, we need your help. We want everyone across the political spectrum to put pressure on the Treasury Department to ask for that money back and for Goldman to give it back.
I invite conservatives, libertarians and tea party activists to join us as well. Don’t you want your money back? Weren’t you angry about the bailouts? Don’t you have a sense that the people in Washington and Wall Street are screwing you? Well, this is how they’re doing it. Time to stand up and fight. Tell Goldman not to tread on you.
To show you how nonpartisan this is, the first protest will be aimed at one of the one guys most responsible for this atrocious decision – Tim Geithner. He is our Treasury Secretary and should be fighting for us and not for the bankers. He can fix his original mistake (he was at the New York Fed when they decided to give these backdoor bailouts at a hundred cents on the dollar when no one thought they were worth anywhere near that much) and get our money back from Goldman.
I have a question for the tea party participants, have you ever wondered why you’ve never protested the one guy in the Obama administration most responsible for the bailouts and the economy? That’s the Treasury Secretary. And the reason you’ve never protested him is because the corporate front groups who organize your protests love Geithner and want to look out for him. Isn’t it time you corrected your mistake, too?
Come join us. Let’s do a real protest of the people who caused this mess in the first place. And let’s get our damn money back.
Join us on Monday, June 7th at noon in front of the Treasury building to demand our $13 billion back from Goldman Sachs. First job is to get Geithner to recognize that he should have never given that particular money to that particular bank for that particular transaction. Or to come out and justify his actions. Let him step out, greet us and tell us why it was such a smart idea to pay off AIG’s side bets with Goldman. I’ll be looking forward to that.
And I’ll be looking forward to seeing you at the protest, no matter what your politics are. You can RSVP by going to the Facebook page for this event. See you there.
UPDATE: Progressive Change Campaign Committee has joined our effort now and we are doing a joint petition to get our money back. Please sign the petition here so your voice can be heard on this even if you can’t make it out to the DC protest.
Everyone in the country should be able to agree to this. I was just on the Dylan Ratigan program on MSNBC and even the conservative on the panel agreed. Sign the petition and help get our money back.
Follow Cenk Uygur on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheYoungTurks
Posted on 17 April 2010.
The SEC’s complaint charges Goldman Sachs and Tourre with violations of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Exchange Act Rule 10b-5. The Commission seeks injunctive relief, disgorgement of profits, prejudgment interest, and financial penalties.
Posted on 16 April 2010.
So what does this ‘FRAUD” mean and the AIG bailout they received?
Posted on 20 March 2010.
By Craig Torres
March 20 (Bloomberg) — The Federal Reserve Board removed an exemption it had given to six banks at the start of the crisis in 2007 aimed at boosting liquidity in financing markets for securities backed by mortgage- and asset-backed securities.
The so-called 23-A exemptions, named after a section of the Federal Reserve Act that limits such trades to protect bank depositors, were granted days after the Fed cut the discount rate by half a percentage point on Aug. 17, 2007. Their removal, announced yesterday in Washington, is part of a broad wind-down of emergency liquidity backstops by the Fed as markets normalize.
The decision in 2007 underscores how Fed officials defined the mortgage-market disruptions that year as partly driven by liquidity constraints. In hindsight, some analysts say that diagnosis turned out to be wrong.
“It was a way to prevent further deleveraging of the financial system, but that happened anyway,” said Dino Kos, managing director at Portales Partners LLC and former head of the New York Fed’s open market operations. “The underlying problem was solvency. The Fed was slow to recognize that.”
The Fed ended the exemptions in nearly identical letters to the Royal Bank of Scotland Plc, Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Deutsche Bank AG, and Barclays Bank Plc posted on its Web site.
The Fed’s intent in 2007 was to provide backstop liquidity for financial markets through the discount window. In a chain of credit, investors would obtain collateralized loans from dealers, dealers would obtain collateralized loans from banks, and then banks could pledge collateral to the Fed’s discount window for 30-day credit. In Citigroup’s case, the exemption allowed such lending to its securities unit up to $25 billion.
“The goal was to stop the hemorrhaging of risk capital,” said Lou Crandall, chief economist at Wrightson ICAP LLC in Jersey City, New Jersey. “Investors were being forced out of the securities market because they couldn’t fund their positions, even in higher-quality assets in some cases.”
Using mortgage bonds without government-backed guarantees as collateral for private-market financing began to get more difficult in August 2007 following the collapse of two Bear Stearns Cos. hedge funds.
As terms for loans secured by mortgage bonds got “massively” tighter, haircuts, or the excess in collateral above the amount borrowed, on AAA home-loan securities rose that month from as little as 3 percent to as much as 10 percent, according to a UBS AG report.
By February 2008, haircuts climbed to 20 percent, investor Luminent Mortgage Capital Inc. said at the time. After Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. collapsed in September 2008, the loans almost disappeared.
“These activities were intended to allow the bank to extend credit to market participants in need of short-term liquidity to finance” holdings of mortgage loans and asset- backed securities, said the Fed board’s letter dated yesterday to Kathleen Juhase, associate general counsel of JPMorgan. “In light of this normalization of the term for discount window loans, the Board has terminated the temporary section 23-A exemption.”
The “normalization” refers to the Fed’s reduction in the term of discount window loans to overnight credit starting two days ago from a month previously.
The Fed eventually loaned directly to securities firms and opened the discount window to primary dealers in March 2008. Borrowings under the Primary Dealer Credit Facility soared to $146.5 billion on Oct. 1, 2008, following the collapse of Lehman Brothers two weeks earlier. Borrowings fell to zero in May 2009. The Fed closed the facility last month, along with three other emergency liquidity backstops.
The Fed also raised the discount rate a quarter point in February to 0.75 percent, moving it closer to its normal spread over the federal funds rate of 1 percentage point.
The one interest rate the Fed hasn’t changed since the depths of the crisis is the benchmark lending rate. Officials kept the target for overnight loans among banks in a range of zero to 0.25 percent on March 16, where it has stood since December 2008, while retaining a pledge to keep rates low “for an extended period.”
Removing the 23-A exemptions shows the Fed wants to get “back to normal,” said Laurence Meyer, a former Fed governor and vice chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers LLC in Washington. “Everything has gone back to normal except monetary policy.”
Last Updated: March 20, 2010 00:00 EDT
Posted in bank of america, bear stearns, bernanke, bloomberg, chase, citi, concealment, conspiracy, corruption, Dick Fuld, fdic, FED FRAUD, federal reserve board, FOIA, forensic mortgage investigation audit, freedom of information act, G. Edward Griffin, geithner, jpmorgan chase, lehman brothers, note, RON PAUL, scam, washington mutual, wells fargoComments (0)
Posted on 17 March 2010.
This in combination with A.K. Barnett-Hart’s Thesis make’s one hell of a Discovery.
Discussion Paper No. 612
Harvard Law School Cambridge, MA 02138
This paper explores the economic and legal causes and consequences of recent difficulties in the subprime mortgage market. We provide basic descriptive statistics and institutional details on the mortgage origination process, mortgage-backed securities (MBS), and collateralized debt obligations (CDOs). We examine a number of aspects of these markets, including the identity of MBS and CDO sponsors, CDO trustees, CDO liquidations, MBS insured and registered amounts, the evolution of MBS tranche structure over time, mortgage originations, underwriting quality of mortgage originations, and write-downs of investment banks. In light of this discussion, the paper then addresses questions as to how these difficulties might have not been foreseen, and some of the main legal issues that will play an important role in the extensive subprime litigation (summarized in the paper) that is underway, including the Rule 10b-5 class actions that have already been filed against the investment banks, pending ERISA litigation, the causes-of-action available to MBS and CDO purchasers, and litigation against the rating agencies. In the course of this discussion, the paper highlights three distinctions that will likely prove central in the resolution of this litigation: The distinction between reasonable ex ante expectations and the occurrence of ex post losses; the distinction between the transparency of the quality of the underlying assets being securitized and the transparency as to which market participants are exposed to subprime losses; and, finally, the distinction between what investors and market participants knew versus what individual entities in the structured finance process knew, particularly as to macroeconomic issues such as the state of the national housing market. ex ante expectations and the occurrence of ex post losses; the distinction between the transparency of the quality of the underlying assets being securitized and the transparency as to which market participants are exposed to subprime losses; and, finally, the distinction between what investors and market participants knew versus what individual entities in the structured finance process knew, particularly as to macroeconomic issues such as the state of the national housing market.
Posted in bank of america, bear stearns, bernanke, chase, citi, concealment, conspiracy, corruption, credit score, Dick Fuld, FED FRAUD, G. Edward Griffin, geithner, indymac, jpmorgan chase, lehman brothers, mozillo, naked short selling, nina, note, scam, siva, tila, wachovia, washington mutual, wells fargoComments (1)
Posted on 16 March 2010.
March 15, 2010, 4:59 PM ET
Deal Journal has yet to read “The Big Short,” Michael Lewis’s yarn on the financial crisis that hit stores today. We did, however, read his acknowledgments, where Lewis praises “A.K. Barnett-Hart, a Harvard undergraduate who had just written a thesis about the market for subprime mortgage-backed CDOs that remains more interesting than any single piece of Wall Street research on the subject.”
While unsure if we can stomach yet another book on the crisis, a killer thesis on the topic? Now that piqued our curiosity. We tracked down Barnett-Hart, a 24-year-old financial analyst at a large New York investment bank. She met us for coffee last week to discuss her thesis, “The Story of the CDO Market Meltdown: An Empirical Analysis.” Handed in a year ago this week at the depths of the market collapse, the paper was awarded summa cum laude and won virtually every thesis honor, including the Harvard Hoopes Prize for outstanding scholarly work.
Last October, Barnett-Hart, already pulling all-nighters at the bank (we agreed to not name her employer), received a call from Lewis, who had heard about her thesis from a Harvard doctoral student. Lewis was blown away.
“It was a classic example of the innocent going to Wall Street and asking the right questions,” said Mr. Lewis, who in his 20s wrote “Liar’s Poker,” considered a defining book on Wall Street culture. “Her thesis shows there were ways to discover things that everyone should have wanted to know. That it took a 22-year-old Harvard student to find them out is just outrageous.”
Barnett-Hart says she wasn’t the most obvious candidate to produce such scholarship. She grew up in Boulder, Colo., the daughter of a physics professor and full-time homemaker. A gifted violinist, Barnett-Hart deferred admission at Harvard to attend Juilliard, where she was accepted into a program studying the violin under Itzhak Perlman. After a year, she headed to Cambridge, Mass., for a broader education. There, with vague designs on being pre-Med, she randomly took “Ec 10,” the legendary introductory economics course taught by Martin Feldstein.
“I thought maybe this would help me, like, learn to manage my money or something,” said Barnett-Hart, digging into a granola parfait at Le Pain Quotidien. She enjoyed how the subject mixed current events with history, got an A (natch) and declared economics her concentration.
Barnett-Hart’s interest in CDOs stemmed from a summer job at an investment bank in the summer of 2008 between junior and senior years. During a rotation on the mortgage securitization desk, she noticed everyone was in a complete panic. “These CDOs had contaminated everything,” she said. “The stock market was collapsing and these securities were affecting the broader economy. At that moment I became obsessed and decided I wanted to write about the financial crisis.”
Back at Harvard, against the backdrop of the financial system’s near-total collapse, Barnett-Hart approached professors with an idea of writing a thesis about CDOs and their role in the crisis. “Everyone discouraged me because they said I’d never be able to find the data,” she said. “I was urged to do something more narrow, more focused, more knowable. That made me more determined.”
She emailed scores of Harvard alumni. One pointed her toward LehmanLive, a comprehensive database on CDOs. She received scores of other data leads. She began putting together charts and visuals, holding off on analysis until she began to see patterns–how Merrill Lynch and Citigroup were the top originators, how collateral became heavily concentrated in subprime mortgages and other CDOs, how the credit ratings procedures were flawed, etc.
“If you just randomly start regressing everything, you can end up doing an unlimited amount of regressions,” she said, rolling her eyes. She says nearly all the work was in the research; once completed, she jammed out the paper in a couple of weeks.
“It’s an incredibly impressive piece of work,” said Jeremy Stein, a Harvard economics professor who included the thesis on a reading list for a course he’s teaching this semester on the financial crisis. “She pulled together an enormous amount of information in a way that’s both intelligent and accessible.”
Barnett-Hart’s thesis is highly critical of Wall Street and “their irresponsible underwriting practices.” So how is it that she can work for the very institutions that helped create the notorious CDOs she wrote about?
“After writing my thesis, it became clear to me that the culture at these investment banks needed to change and that incentives needed to be realigned to reward more than just short-term profit seeking,” she wrote in an email. “And how would Wall Street ever change, I thought, if the people that work there do not change? What these banks needed is for outsiders to come in with a fresh perspective, question the way business was done, and bring a new appreciation for the true purpose of an investment bank – providing necessary financial services, not creating unnecessary products to bolster their own profits.”
Ah, the innocence of youth.
Here is a copy of the thesis: 2009-CDOmeltdown
Posted on 11 March 2010.
By Simon Johnson
If you’ve read, are reading, or plan to read Andrew Ross Sorkin’s Too Big To Fail, you also need to pick up a copy of Hank Paulson’s memoir, On The Brink. Sorkin has the bankers’ story, in sordid yet compelling detail, of how they received the most generous bailout in the world financial history during fall 2008 – and set us up for great problems to come. Paulson tells us why, when, and how exactly he let them get away with this.
Hank Paulson does not, of course, intend to be candid. As I review in detail on The New Republic’s The Book site this morning, On The Brink is actually a masterpiece of misdirection and disinformation.
But still, he gives it all away – and if any details remain obscure, check them in Sorkin. Paulson honestly believes that the financial sector as constructed is productive, makes sense, and should continue to operate in roughly its current form.
Whether or not Paulson really understands the functioning of big banks in the US today is an interesting question – for example he never mentions how they treated customers during the boom, and there is not one word about the need for greater consumer protection moving forward. On the other hand, perhaps this omission tells us that he understands the game all too well – and is keen for it to continue.
He certainly did his best to make that happen.
Source: The Baseline Scenario