Category Archives: Guest Post

Tom Adams: The Ocwen Meltdown: When a Company Discloses Conflicts of Interest, You Should Believe Them

By Tom Adams, securitization professional for over 20 years and partner at Paykin, Krieg & Adams, LLP. You can follow him on Twitter at @advisoryA It’s been a while since I wrote here about Ocwen Financial Corporation http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2015/02/tom-adams-ocwens-servicing-meltdown-proves-failure-of-obamas-mortgage-settlements.html , the large non-bank mortgage servicer, but things haven’t gotten any better for the company or its […]

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Rajiv Sethi: Store Stickers and Indiana’s Law – A Separating Equilibrium

The intent of the “open for everyone” stickers is presumably to signal protest against the law. It’s telling that they appear to be springing up quickly in the face of a barrage of negative national press coverage as well as social media criticism.  Most retailers have thin margins, which means all things being equal, their margins are best served by not annoying possible shoppers. So one would assume rectitude on this issue would be the wisest commercial decision. Thus, aside from those owners who favor gay rights, the reaction also appears to signal where many store owners think their community’s opinion lies, as in fence sitting is more costly than saying they aren’t on the side of the new law (or what it might mean in a worst-case scenario). In other words, are we seeing that the heartlands are more liberal than the religious bloc (which punches above its weight politically due to its effectiveness in getting out the vote) would have the public believe?

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Joe Firestone: The New York Times Soft-Pedals the Dangers of the TPP

While the New York Times did a public service by joining Wikileaks in publishing a draft chapter of the TPP, the accompanying article is quite another matter. Joe Firestone has taken it upon himself toshred analyze it. The sad reality is that the Times is never going to oppose neoliberalism in a serious way.

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Central Banks Warn: Investors May Get Crushed When They All Run for the Exits

This post illustrates how remarkably short investors’ memories are. Or they may be betting that if they have a big enough hissy fit when monetary authorities raise rates, as they did during the taper tantrum of 2013, that central banks will lose their nerve.

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How Wall Street Used Swaps to Get Rich at the Expense of Cities

This post by Ed Walker provides a detailed description of how badly municipalities have been fleeced when they bought interest rate swaps from Wall Street as part of financings. It isn’t simply that these borrowers were exploited, but that the degree of pilfering was so extreme that the financiers clearly knew they were dealing with rubes and took full advantage of the opportunity.

But what is even more troubling than the fact set here is the failure of the overwhelming majority of abused borrowers to seek to recover their losses. Walker describes that multiple legal approaches lead you to the same general conclusion: the swaps provider, as opposed to the hapless city, should bear the brunt of the losses. So why haven’t cities like Chicago, that have been hit hard by swaps losses, fought back? Walker does not speculate, but in the case of Rahm Emanuel, it’s not hard to imagine that his deep ties to Big Finance are the reason.

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Bill Black: The DOJ and the SEC Spurn their Ace in the Hole – Richard Bowen

This is the second post in a devastating series on why major banks and their executives got away with large-scale, systematic fraud in the runup to the crisis. Bill Black uses Citigroup whistleblower Richard Bowen as a case example of how derelict the DOJ and SEC were in the performance of their duties.

Here, Black describes how historically frauds and criminal conduct were pursued primarily by regulators and the FBI. However, not only were regulations were weakened, but the Bush Administration ended criminal referrals: “References to the criminal referral coordinators disappeared or were removed from the bank examiners’ manuals.” FBI staffing for white collar crime was cut drastically as the war on terror was given precedence.

That meant, as Black describes, whistleblowers became more important than ever as not just a source of information for civil and criminal prosecutions, but as key witnesses. Yet in many cases they are problematic. They are often disaffected former employees who call out the bad conduct they saw after they were terminated, or were so badly roughed up by their former employer for becoming an internal dissident that they were traumatized and don’t hold up well on the stand. Hence, as Black explains, the failure to take advantage of a stellar whistleblower like Richard Bowen. As Bowen put it, “Not only did they bury my testimony, they locked it up.”

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John Helmer: Auction House Bonhams, Sued Over Frauds and Forgeries, Casts Pall Over Russian Art Market

We’ve said that fraud is the fastest growing business in the US, but the US is far from having a lock on that market. One of the proofs is the way our Richard Smith has turned chasing international scammers into a full-time activity.

Scamming has strong links to money laundering. That seems to have exploded as more and more of the global rich seek to move cash across borders in ways not readily tracked by tax men and border officials. The New York Times, for instance, did a major expose on high end real estate as a money laundering vehicle, focusing on one building, the Time Warner Center in Manhattan.

John Helmer looks at another nexus, that of art and very high end collectables, through the lens of auction house Bonhams. However, there are intriguing extra wrinkles with Bonhams which puts it closer to the Graham Greene world of shadowy dealing than is the norm for the art world. And since Bonhams is a major dealer in Russian art, the collateral damage extends to the Russian art market, as well as Bonham’s efforts to sell itself.

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Billl Black: The Lessons Richard Bowen’s FCIC Testimony Should Have Taught the Nation

Get a cup of coffee. This important post gives an in-depth analysis that helps explain how bad conduct was covered up or glossed over by the FCIC, and how much of the media fell in line with the official, sanitized story.

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