Monthly Archives: December 2010

“Summer” Rerun: CNBC Publicizes This Blog

This post first appeared on June 8, 2008

I suppose I should be pleased, since readers wrote to inform me that Charles Gasparino of CNBC made mention of us on Friday (this clip, starting at 1:30) for our coverage of Lehman. However, I would have been happier if the statements made were correct. It’s remarkable that a seasoned journalist would assert that a critic of a company was short its stock, which implies an intent to manipulate its price, with no factual basis for that view, and no effort made to verify that statement. And indeed it is untrue, for I have never been short Lehman or indeed, any stock.

It’s even more remarkable that that same journalist called me a couple of hours later to threaten litigation over the accuracy of my reporting.

Read more...

“Summer” Rerun: MBIA Lies in Attack on New York Times

This post first appeared on June 19, 2008

Let’s start with some admissions: Gretchen Morgenson, one of two authors (the other is Vikas Bajaj) of a takedown piece on MBIA yesterday, has some detractors in the blogsphere because, frankly, her understanding of credit instruments leaves something to be desired. Her critics overlook her solid work on executive comp and corporate malfeasance. When she has access to court documents and SEC filings. she is specific and accurate.

Based on watching months of the slugfest between MBIA and Bill Ackman, where MBIA would make vitriolic charges against Ackman which (aside from the obvious fact that he was short) often deliberately misconsrued what he had written (written, mind you, so it was possible to track things back), I’d take Morgenson over MBIA in general, and in particular, since the first two items (the most important ones by far) in its salvo against the piece are a bald-faced lie followed by an attempt at obfuscation that actually confirms the NYT’s position.

Read more...

Links Christmas Day

A Merry Christmas to all of you who observe the day, and hope the rest of you are having fun. From the surfing Santa of Indonesia to where it all began in Bethlehem… Christmas celebrations around the world Daily Mail (hat tip reader May S) UK trains Bangladeshi government’s “death squad”: Wikileaks Tehelka (hat tip […]

Read more...

“Summer” Rerun: Should the Fed Be Independent?

This post was first published on June 6, 2008

An article in today’s Wall Street Journal, “Insider Joins Critics of the Fed, Faulting Credit-Crisis Programs,” discusses at some length a recent speech by Richmond Fed president Jeffrey Lacker in which he took issue with some of the Fed’s recent financial services industry rescue efforts. The article itself failed to do justice to his speech, which was more nuanced than the usual “bailing out banks creates moral hazard” argument.

In fact, as we’ll discuss, the expanded charter of the Fed calls into question the appropriateness of its independence. It is increasingly making resource allocation decisions which are political in nature and should arguably be debated and determined in that realm.

Read more...

Holiday Programming Note

I hope all of you are enjoying the holiday season. I’m off to hang out with sinners in New Orleans and will be off the grid completely through the 28th. I will probably be back to a light version of normal programming on the 29th, but it might not be on the normal early AM schedule.

I have scheduled some “‘Summer’ Reruns,” which are a selection from the earlier work on this blog. We are now up to vintage 2008. You will still get a daily antidote, and Richard Smith may also be graciously providing his own material, as well as any good sightings from the web.

Read more...

Links Christmas Eve Day

New solar fuel machine unveiled BBC Scientifically, You Probably Are in the Slowest Moving Line HotHardware. Where did they find people who said a single queue is slower? The Great Adventure of Sergei Diaghilev New York Review of Books The Blast Shack Webstock (hat tip reader Fred A). Bruce Sterling on Assange. Where Do We […]

Read more...

Fraud Ruling Against Wells Fargo in Minnesota Points to Widespread Abuses in Securities Lending Program

A fraud and breach of fiduciary duty ruling against Wells Fargo in a major scandal in Minnesota may have much broader ramifications for this sanctimonious bank.

The facts are not pretty. Wells Fargo, in its investment management operation, used securities lending to boost returns. But the returns it increased appeared to be only those of the bank.

Read more...

Inside Job’s Charles Ferguson on the Corruption of Academic Economics

Readers may have seen the movie Inside Job (if you haven’t, you really need to) or a clip from the movie that got quite a bit of attention on finance blogs, that of director Charles Ferguson grilling former Federal Reserve vice chairman Frederic Mishkin on a dubious, sponsored paper he wrote touting Iceland as a well run banking center not long before its implosion.

Read more...

Guest Post: Eurocrisis: We knew all we needed to know…

Yves here. The alternative title for this post could be “No ‘whocouldanode’ excuses for the Eurozone crisis.”

By Geoffrey R D Underhill, Professor of International Governance, University of Amsterdam. Cross posted from VoxEU

Many policymakers have reacted to both the financial crisis and the recent Eurozone sovereign debt problems as though they were unexpected. This column argues that we knew more than enough to anticipate both problems, that the evidence was easily accessible, and that the institutional and political weaknesses of the Eurozone were hardly a mystery either.

Read more...

More on the FDIC’s Fight Versus Other Bank Regulators on Servicer Abuses; Rep. Miller Backs More Aggressive Action

We’ve mentioned that the FDIC has been pushing to reform the securitization process, including imposing standards on servicers. That has put it at odds with the bank-friendly Treasury and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (the SEC has proposed securtization reforms but of a much more modest nature than the FDIC’s). This behind the scenes battle is heating up further because Dodd Frank calls on bank regulators to draft new rules to improve the operation of the mortgage securitization market. The FDIC intends to include mortgage servicer behavior in those provisions and want the rules ready in January.

Read more...