Links 8/25/09

New clue found to disappearing honey bees AP (hat tip reader John D

1,000 CCTV cameras to solve just one crime, Met Police admits Telegraph

Healthcare insurers get upper hand Los Angeles Times (hat tip DoctoRx)

SEC adamant on BofA bonuses Financial Times. This “blame t on the lawyers” tactic is pretty lame.

Greed & The Other Seven Deadly Sins! Satyajit Das

The Federal Government Claims That Goldman Has Stock Manipulation Software Dean Baker

ASIC to get big teeth The Australian (hat tip reader Skippy)

Henry Kaufman Interview Aug 24 YouTube (hat tip Jesse)

Wall Street pay disclosure looms as flash point Reuters

FDIC to Ease Entry for Private-Equity Firms Buying Failed Banks Bloomberg

Insight: Do not fear falling bond prices George Magnus, Financial Times. This is much better than the headline.

Why have Canadian banks been more resilient? VoxEU

Antidote du jour. From reader Jim M:

Our deeply missed Sumo, who had more love and energy stuffed into his 85 pound frame than was surely legal.

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  1. attempter

    Re BofA and Merrill:

    This mindest displays how the financial sector has become so decadent and crapulent that its no longer capable of even trying to look out for its political image. The politics seem OK for now, because as Obama has assured them, he sees it as his great mission in life to "stand between you and the pitchforks".

    But is it prudent to assume any existing administration will always be willing and able to do this?

    In this case the judge demanded that they disclose who made the decision to cover up these bonuses, and they come back with this garbage answer.

    I don't know how the judge will take it. If he's consistent, he'll take it as a direct insult. If I demand to know, "Who made this decision", you damn well better not come back with the name of a mere advisor to the decision.

    Here we see how they try to push things beyond the rule of law into a Hobbesian no-man's-land. Just like with Bush/Obama and torture, so here the banksters/SEC are arguing that if "the lawyers" tell you to break the law then there really is no law which applies, and you can't be touched.

    We see how the law has abdicated and how we cannot solve the problems of the system within the framework of the existing law. We cannot rely upon the chance occurrence of a judge who actually takes his role as a public servant seriously. Most judges do not.

    In this case, there is no adversarial proceeding. The SEC are simply BofA's flunkies and a tactical conduit to offer up this "lawyer" defense. (Because if they made it directly themselves this would cancel some of their lawyer-client privilege. So BofA's brief doesn't claim this, but they launder the argument through the SEC's brief. The judge better reject this with all the contempt it deserves.)

    So we have an attempt by the defense, with the full collaboration of a corrupted "prosecution", to turn the proceedings into a kangaroo court. If the judge wants there to be a public advocate (which is supposed to be the role of the "regulator"), he has to do it himself. (I don't know if there's any other way.)

    So if he's consistent with his prior ruling he has to reject this, and should probably find BofA in contempt.

    As for the despicable bootlicking SEC, no amount of contempt heaped upon them could ever be enough.

  2. attempter

    Re British surveillance cameras:

    These were of course never intended to deter or solve crimes, nor were they intended to do so for terrorism.

    Those are always only the pretexts. Totalitarians in both America and Britain joyfully crawled out from under their rocks immediately after 9/11. Now they had the pretext they had long awaited. The bills and policy plans were already written and ready to go.

    The real intent (as well as the intrinsic inertia of technology itself) is totalitarian soical control.

    Re health care:

    The most dangerous thing now is the attitude, exemplified by this article, that the public has lost completely and must submit to whatever vile bill is finally retched up for a vote.

    Yes, reform is dead, but it's not a foregone conclusion that the status quo has to be further entrenched, that the feudal insurance parasite has to be further enriched and empowered by a conscript mandate market.

    There's still a movement in Congress to prevent this. The LAT article intentionally omits mention of it, but here's a link which gives all the details:

    Just look at the right-hand column, at the top and then halfway down.

    The criminal plan of Obama and the insurance rentiers can still be stopped.

  3. ds

    re: The Federal Government Claims That Goldman Has Stock Manipulation Software

    the link discusses the NYT article concerning Sergey Aleynikov. anyone notice that, in the article, the NYT quoted Sabrina Shroff, who is "a public defender who represents Mr. Aleynikov".

    I am not really familiar with legal matters, but what is Aleynikov doing with a public defender???

  4. ballyfager

    Re Wall Street pay disclosure, it's obvious to any thinking person that these people are paid way, way, way too much money. All the rest is talk.

    The idea that they know something or have unique management skills is absurd.

  5. LeeAnne

    "SEC adamant on BofA bonuses" Financial Times.

    Well, more lessons from the Great American Wall Street Heist.

    From my reading of this article, rather than lawyers risking loss of license for enabling law breaking, in the corporate world, lawyers are surrogates for hire for law breaking clients, placing both lawyer and client above the law with regulators like the SEC having the final say on this arrangement. No recourse for shareholders?

    Do I have that right?

  6. Kelli K

    But Ballyfager, can't you spare some sympathy for the poor $25 M Dollar man whose ability to parent will be negatively impacted if his neighbors and children learn what this Honda-driving paragon of virtue makes???

    I mean, what kind of leverage will this guy have when negotiating allowance increases.

    "Dad, this is my compensation attorney. He'd like to set up a meeting with you."

    Or at the Block Party,

    "What, 25 mil and all you bring is a six-pack of Bud? Where's the case of Chateaunauf de Pape, ya cheap bastard??"

    For God's sake, have some pity!

  7. Peripheral Visionary

    Re: SEC, BofA Settlement.

    I do not see this issue as being specific to this case; it is, rather, symptomatic of an "above the law" attitude in the legal industry. Lawyers do not like the idea of being held accountable–either from a legal perspective or from a social perspective–for their actions. There are, granted, certain protections for lawyers acting in good faith for their clients, such as client-attorney privilege, but that concept has been extended much too far, to the point that "the lawyers did it" is considered a legitimate defense for bad behavior.

    If this argument flies (and I certainly hope it does not) it will only perpetuate the current practice of quietly offloading dirty work to law firms, who can safely assume that their peers in the profession will not prosecute them. What is really needed is the naming of individuals–executives, lawyers, somone–to reinforce the point that there really does need to be accountability for decisions made.

    Unfortunately, the SEC will not (voluntarily) be the agency to help effect any change to the accountability of lawyers, as, of course, it is composed primarily of lawyers. Any serious change would likely have to come from the political level–which is also unlikely to happen, as the politicians, up to and including the chief executive, are themselves lawyers.

  8. ronald

    re: Wall Street pay disclosure looms as flash point

    Keeping pay packages secret even though the taxpayer is footing the bill says much about the financial working of government today.

  9. clara

    Re: BofA and SEC–Yves, how can you continue to defend the SEC with all this chicanery? I don't get it.

    As for the Canadian banks–a quick look at their Texas ratios suggest that they are going to have a whole lot of problems soon. They didn't have to act as badly as their American counterparts to drive themselves into the ground.

    We'll see.

  10. LeeAnne

    Tying executive performance to share price is a conflict of interest and a moral hazard. Short term stock market action is antithetical to the long term corporate planning required for economic growth and stability.

    You don't have to look any further than the 'non-profit' AARP ties to United Health whose former CEO has $1.6billion in potential stock gains for neither producing or creating anything; on the contrary, it is the practice to 'ration' health care to benefit the healthiest as well as themselves. That $1.6billion could be used to significantly improve prenatal care where the US infant mortality rate is now 33rd in the world.

    Link to Bloomberg Aug 25 "UnitedHealth yesterday said it delayed its second-quarter earnings report while it determines whether it will have to restate results because of inappropriate options accounting."

    The current use of stock options for corporate pay since the 1994 $1m cap under Clinton is another finance innovation (geniuses at work) that has produced the predicted corrupt results.

    That innovation is a twist on stock options that had been used primarily in pubic offerings for apportioning the interests of high-risk venture investors/founders' for future earnings, some of whom may or not actually run the company. The responsibility of the CEO on the other hand is unambiguous -it is to manage and grow the company. Only in recent years have corporations, through the CFO, been obligated legally to put shareholders first -another 'genius' financial innovation.

    This innovation of the last couple of decades is taught in Banking 101 and now embedded in law, but the purpose of the corporation on the contrary is to produce products and services and employ people which, if successful, will produce increased stock market prices for the benefit of shareholders.

    Increasing share prices as the primary purpose of the publicly traded corporation was formerly the province of criminals and bucket shops.

    CEO manipulation of share earnings and stock options for the 'benefit' of CEOs doesn't change the 'criminal' part, and today's Wall Street brokerages follow the bucket shop model created by Lehman Brothers' retail operations of the 1980s with its 'leave your brains at the door' instructions to new recruits -more evidence of genius at work responsible for training an army of finance people as robo zombies for TPTB.

  11. skippy

    @Comparetowhat, thanks for the link.

    I find it incredulous to think anyone could surmise, that all that need to be done is create a safety net for risky deeds. The FIRE should be hot, so those that play with it get burned/learn.

    As long as rewards/reinforcement for anti-social behaver is the order of the day we will keep charging in to brick walls. Whee look how fast my feet are moving, BANG, now who put that there ow.

    Ken Rogoff make valid points, but seems to be playing nice as not to draw other's ire.

    Skippy…""There are no Atheists in foxholes" isn't an argument against Atheism, it's an argument against foxholes." James Marrow

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