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According to the Collins English Dictionary 10th Edition fraud can be defined as: "deceit, trickery, sharp practice, or breach of confidence, perpetrated for profit or to gain some unfair or dishonest advantage".[1] In the broadest sense, a fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual; the related adjective is fraudulent. The specific legal definition varies by legal jurisdiction. Fraud is a crime, and also a civil law violation. Defrauding people or entities of money or valuables is a common purpose of fraud, but there have also been fraudulent "discoveries", e.g. in science, to gain prestige rather than immediate monetary gain
*As defined in Wikipedia

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Manifesto from Goldman Sachs

Satire is defined as "a literary composition, in verse or prose, in which human folly and vice are held up to scorn, derision, or ridicule." That is a reminder for anyone who reads the following "manifesto" which could have been written by Goldman Sachs's Lloyd Blankfein. It works so well that readers might be convinced that he actually did write it. It makes all the points that he would have made if he were able to write such a thing.

Below is the beginning of a manifesto written by LV at InvestmentWatchBlog:

Wall Street Manifesto
by LV - InvestmentWatch
December 3rd, 2010

We, the bankers of these United States , want to assure all Americans that we are devoted, heart and soul, to the interests of this great nation. Contrary to countless disparaging remarks by so-called pundits, there is absolutely no daylight between the interests of Wall Street and Main Street . One of our leaders eloquently expressed this view when he said that we do God’s work. We labor night and day to furnish the financial resources that are needed to build this great country. We proudly carry on the great banking tradition of our forebears such as John Pierpont Morgan and Andrew Mellon. Without our munificence over the years, many great projects would never have been funded and, therefore, would have never been built. As President Calvin Coolidge succinctly put it, “the business of America is business”. It is Wall Street and the big banks that provide the lubricant in the form of capital that makes business work.

The past few years have been difficult for all of us. It is unfortunate that some misguided individuals have sought to fix the blame on us for all the troubles that currently beset our economy. Our intentions have always been honorable. Is it a crime for us to wet our beaks a little when we provide such a valuable service? Are we not entitled to our modest salaries and bonuses? Should not the taxpayers foot the bill when circumstances conspire against us through no fault of our own? Your elected representatives thought we should receive federal assistance and guarantees to get through a rough patch of road. We had the foresight to ensure that our emissaries were appointed to key posts in the government. Paulson, Bernanke, Geithner and Summers are excellent examples of our wisdom in this regard. We convinced the current president as we have convinced every president before him that it is best to leave the financial affairs of our country to professionals like ourselves. They, in turn, saw fit to appoint our recommended candidates to key positions such as Chairman of the Federal Reserve and Secretary of the U.S. Treasury. A banker is nothing if not prudent in such matters. We leave nothing to chance. We are sure you would agree that our country has been well served under the auspices of our handpicked stewards.

We value our relationship with government officials as much as we value our relationship with Main Street America. We understand that some uninformed individuals feel compelled to criticize us for all kinds of economic ills that have absolutely nothing to do with us. We are inured to such criticism. We also understand the proclivity of politicians to use us as convenient scapegoats. This is simply populist rhetoric as far as we are concerned. It is all right to let off steam as long as it does not interfere with our ability to make massive profits. We are big boys and can take the verbal abuse. What matters to us is the bottom line.

Our handling of a record number of delinquencies and foreclosures in the housing sector is a model of cooperation and forbearance. We have reached out to the community in its time of need. We have adjusted the terms of mortgages in record numbers. Yet, some ungrateful individuals vilify us for being heartless and not doing enough. To add insult to injury, the courts are taking us to task over minor glitches in mortgage documentation. These technicalities are preventing us from foreclosing and taking possession of property that rightfully belongs to us. People in default of their mortgage obligations are permitted to live their homes for a year and a half on average. In effect, deadbeats have become squatters with the assistance of the justice system. When we finally gain access to foreclosed homes, we find many of them stripped down to the floorboards. Not only is this outrageous, it is counterproductive because an economic recovery is not sustainable, or possible for that matter, until the backlog in housing inventory has cleared.

For the record, we thought that the housing market was dangerously overheated a few years ago. Nonetheless, we were encouraged or pressured, if you will, by the government to approve as many mortgages as possible. We dutifully complied. In order to meet strong demand, we bundled the mortgages into packages, which we sold to investors who could not get enough of them. We made sure those securities were rated triple A by our partners. We cannot help it if the housing market turned sour. It was a good run while it lasted. At least we had the good sense to protect ourselves by shorting the investments we sold to our customers. There are always two sides to a trade. We were just a little smarter as things turned out. We agreed that the optics were bad so we paid a fine out of petty cash to settle with the government when they filed frivolous charges against us. That is simply the cost of doing business. It was all for show. Even though we were faultless, we decided to settle the civil lawsuit because it was best for us to move on. We let the government look tough, but we do not want it to become a habit. Next time, we will not be so charitable.

Then there is financial regulation. This legislation almost spun out of control, but our lobbyists convinced elected officials to back off and water down the bill. We believe that less government regulation is best because regulation strangles innovation. The banking industry is quite capable of policing itself, contrary to what others may believe and contrary to the recent meltdown of our economy. We know we can reach out to various regulatory agencies to convince them that we are able to conduct business without the need for oppressive oversight. One only has to look at the copious benefits that accrued to the banking industry after the onerous Glass-Steagall Act was repealed in 1999 to know that less regulation always trumps more regulation. Unfortunately, there are certain individuals who are demanding the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall because of the current economic downturn. Rest assured that this is never going to happen, if Wall Street has anything to say about it.

Read the rest of the manifesto here


Anonymous said...

Watch the video:

Federal Reserve Bankster Machine Maneuvers To Stop Ron Paul »

Newt Gingrich, owned by Wall Street and the Fed, denied him the monetary policy chairmanship in 1994 when Republicans took the House.

Paul says confidently below, "It's not going to happen this time!"

Anonymous said...

Ron Paul: "What We Need Is More WikiLeaks On The Federal Reserve"

Anonymous said...

The New American Oligarchy

This is what nowadays passes for the heart and soul of American democracy. It used to be that citizens in large numbers, mobilized by labor unions or political parties or a single uniting cause, determined the course of American politics. After World War II, a swelling middle class was the most powerful voting bloc, while, in those same decades, the working and middle classes enjoyed comparatively greater economic prosperity than their wealthy counterparts. Kiss all that goodbye. We're now a country run by rich people.

Let's call those select few in the penthouse the New Oligarchy, an awesomely rich sliver of Americans raking in an outsized share of the nation's wealth. They're oil magnates and media tycoons, corporate executives and hedge-fund traders, philanthropists and entertainers. Depending on where you want to draw the line, they're the top 1%, or the top 0.1%, or even the top 0.01% of the population. And when the Supreme Court handed down its controversial Citizens United decision in January, it broke the floodgates so that a torrent of anonymous donations from this oligarchic class could flood back down from the heights and inundate the political lands below.

"Step by step and debate by debate," they write, "America's public officials have rewritten the rules of American politics and the American economy in ways that have benefitted the few at the expense of the many."

"Some people call you the elites; I call you my base," and who pledged that his 2001 tax cuts would be a boon for all Americans. They weren't: according to Hacker and Pierson, 51% of their benefits go to the top 1% of earners.

Those cuts will be around a lot longer if the GOP has its way. Take Republican Congressman Dave Camp's word for it. On November 16th, Camp, a Republican from Michigan, said the only acceptable solution when it came to the Bush-era tax cuts was not just upholding them for all earners, rich and poor, but passing more such cuts. Anything in between, any form of compromise, including President Obama's proposal to extend the Bush cuts for the working and middle classes but not the wealthy, was "a terrible idea and a total non-starter."

Of course, it's not just what politicians did that helped create today's oligarchy, but what they failed to do. A classic example: in the 1990s, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), a private American accounting regulator, set its sights on a loophole big enough to drive a financial Mack truck through. Until then, stock options included in executives' skyrocketing pay packages -- potentially worth tens of millions of dollars when exercised -- were valued at zero when issued. That's right: zero, zilch, nada. When FASB and the SEC tried to close the loophole, however, big business leapt to its defense. An avalanche of money went into the pockets of an army of K Street lobbyists and leviathan business trade associations. In the end, nothing happened. Or rather, everything continued happening. The loophole remained.

Anonymous said...


On the Edge with Greg Hunter


Anonymous said...

Sunday, December 5, 2010
Adam Levitin Shreds American Securitization Forum Defenses

It isn’t clear why the American Securitization Forum decided to walk into a buzzsaw, but the carnage is proving to be an amusing spectacle.

If the breakdown was as widespread as it appears to be, at a minimum, in the overwhelming majority of states, it will become more and more difficult to foreclose as consumer lawyers and judges wise up to these issues. And in a worst case scenario, it is entirely possible in some, perhaps many cases, no assets got the the trusts by closing, which would make them void under New York law, which governs virtually all mortgage securitization trusts (even if true, investors may choose not to pursue that theory in a lawsuit, but more evidence of pervasive problems may lead investors use related theories to press to have the deal unwound, which is still a pretty dire outcome).

Joyce said...

Thank you all for the above links. I shall probably put Max Keiser on the next blog entry. He's always interesting to hear.

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