Tag Archives: investment banks

Can You Trust Your Bank? UK High Street Banks Still Misleading Pensioners

12 Jun

From the BBC:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0120ydb

“The Panorama team goes undercover to test whether staff in Britain’s high street banks have learnt the lessons from the massive penalties imposed for mis-selling insurance and investment products. Financial journalist Penny Haslam meets savers who have lost out because they were persuaded to put their money into risky investments, and talks to former staff about the pressure they faced to sell.”

The full documentary will air on 13 June 2011, BBC One, 20:30.

Here is a preview:

7 Ways The Investment Banking Industry Is Built On Fraud, Lying, And Stealing

1 Jun

The asymmetry of information in research, mergers and acquisitions, trading volumes and patterns, buy-side and sell-side orders provides investment banks with vast resources of information that they leech to drive profitability. This should be vexing everyone in the country right now and yet we don’t even see. Banks blowing their own smoke were behind the curve and they represent the very core of our systemic economic problems. The deception continues. Although this article focuses on hedge funds it is more relevant to investment banks. Via disinfo.com:

1. Insider Trading. If the Feds could tape every hedge fund we’d get an earful of how hedge funds use “expert networks” to transfer bits of illegal information that provide hedge fund managers with knowledge of events that are sure to move markets and make them a bundle.

2. Ponzi Schemes. Madoff isn’t the only one. Hedge funds and Ponzi schemes are made for each other since the funds are designed to evade so many disclosure regulations. It’s virtually a sure thing that every new year will reveal another Ponzi scheme through which a hedge fund steals money from investors and then uses new investor money to pay returns to the old investors.

3. Tax Evasion. No surprise here. Wherever you find billionaire financiers, you’ll find schemes to move money around the globe to dodge taxes. Fortunately, Rudolf M. Elmer, a Swiss banker, has blown the whistle on an international web of rich investors, banks and hedge funds that evade taxes by illegally shifting money to low-tax jurisdictions. There’s something particularly slimy about hedge fund tax dodging, given that they only pay a 15 percent federal tax rate no matter how much they make.

4. Front-running trades. With their high-speed trading systems and algorithms that sense ever so slight market moves, the biggest hedge funds and banks are able to trade just a fraction of a second before the rest of us do. The SEC is also worried that brokers leak information about large trades by institutional investors to hedge funds so that favored hedge funds can pull off the trade just a split second sooner, thereby earning a quick, easy, and illegal profit.

5. Late Trading. When Eliot Spitzer was New York Attorney General (and earned the handle, “Sheriff of Wall Street”), he uncovered hedge funds maneuvering around trading rules like a Ferrari speeding around the hapless shmoes stuck in midtown traffic. In violation of all rules, hedge funds were allowed by mutual fund managers to jump in and out of mutual funds many more times than normal investors, enabling them to score high returns at the expense of regular mutual fund customers. They even got away with booking trades hours after the market closed for the day—a real perk, since market-moving announcements often are made right after closing.

6. Accounting Irregularities. Boring stuff, but the stuff of big money. Hedge funds and banks cook the books to avoid showing losses and to artificially inflate profits. Hedge funds are also deeply involved in helping other companies—like Enron and WorldCom—bend their books. According to a study by Bing Liang at the University of Massachusetts, as of 2004, 35 percent of all hedge funds cited no dates for their last audit. Hmmm.

7. Setting up bets that can’t fail. I just can’t get enough of how banks and hedge funds collude to rig securities so that they are designed to fail. The best part is that in order to win their negative bets, they have to market the securities to chumps as if they were pure gold. This ploy always seems to involve a big investment bank and a hedge fund. You have Goldman Sach’s dancing with Paulson and Company, and then there’s JP Morgan Chase doing a two-step with Megatar.

CARL ICAHN: Wall Street – you can’t teach an old dog new tricks

28 May

Carl Icahn is concerned that little has changed over at Wall St. His bearish stance has already led him to return capital to outside investors in his hedge fund.

Commenting on Wall St. behaviour Icahn stated in a CNBC interview:

“I do think though that there could be another major problem. Now, will it happen next week, next year, I don’t know? Certainly nobody knows, but I don’t think that the system is working properly. I really find it amazing that we’re almost back to where it was, where there’s so much leverage going on in the investment banks today. There’s just way too much leverage and way too much risk-taking, with other people’s money. 

I know a lot of my friends on Wall Street will hate my saying this, but the Glass-Steagall thing or something like it wasn’t a bad thing.  In other words, a bank should be a bank. Investment bankers should be an investment banker. Investment bankers serve a purpose, raising capital and whatever, but I think today, and I know a lot of people won’t like hearing this, what’s going on today, I think we’re going back in the same trap, and I will tell you that very few people understood how toxic and how risky those derivatives were. CDS were extremely risky the way they were used, and you look at Wall Street and you say, hey, they did it, but then you can’t really blame the Wall Street guys. You can’t blame a tiger.  If you take a fierce man-eating tiger and put him in with a lot of sheep, you can’t blame the tiger for eating the sheep. That is his nature. And that’s the nature of Wall Street guys and I’m not saying their bad but that’s their nature. And the government should regulate finance.” 

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Global Witness unveils Libyan Investment Authority holdings and the key bankers

26 May

From the Global Witness website:

“Global Witness has been leaked a draft presentation that appears to show the investment position for the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) as of 30 June 2010, which stood at $53 billion. The information shows the diversity of Libyan assets held by major financial institutions:

  • HSBC holds $292.69 million across ten accounts and Goldman Sachs has $43 million in three accounts. The funds are in U.S. dollars, British pounds, Swiss Francs, Euros and Canadian dollars.
  • A much larger portion of the LIA’s deposits – $19 billion – are held in Libyan and Middle Eastern banks, including the Central Bank of Libya, the Arab Banking Corporation and the British Arab Commercial Bank.
  • Almost $4 billion of the LIA’s funds are held in structured products with banks, hedge funds and private firms such as Societe Generale ($1 billion), JP Morgan ($171 million) and OCH-ZIFF ($329 million).  
  • The LIA owns billions of dollars of shares in household name companies such as General Electric, BP, Vivendi and Deutsche Telekom.”

Download the full document here

Michael Burry’s FCIC Testimony – Audio

29 Apr

http://fcic.law.stanford.edu/interviews/view/14

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