“As a nation we [The United States] have done a pretty good job in melding the races in the workplace. We work with one another, lunch together and, when the event is at the workplace during work hours or shortly thereafter, we socialize with one another fairly well, irrespective of race. And yet even this interaction operates within certain limitations. We know, by “American instinct” and by learned behavior, that certain subjects are off limits and that to explore them risks, at best embarrassment, and, at worst, the questioning of one’s character. And outside the workplace the situation is even more bleak in that there is almost no significant interaction between us. On Saturdays and Sundays America in the year 2009 does not, in some ways, differ significantly from the country that existed some fifty years ago. This is truly sad. Given all that we as a nation went through during the civil rights struggle it is hard for me to accept that the result of those efforts was to create an America that is more prosperous, more positively race conscious and yet is voluntarily socially segregated (Holder 2009-02-18).”

How do we as communities move towards voluntary socially de-segregated nations? Have a picnic?

On July 30, 2009 two Cambridge Massachussetts families will join the President of the United States for a picnic table summit. They represent the town and gown, but more significantly, two races, brought together in a gesture of reconciliation.

The press are stomping on the turf of the Professor’s yellow wood-frame home and the Sergeant’s Natick home and tomorrow they will be all over the White House lawn for the picnic.

Sgt. James M. Crowley, who grew up in Cambridge and now lives in Natick, Mass. with his wife and three children, has served with the Cambridge Police Department for 11 years. In 2004 he was selected by Ronny Watson, a former police commissioner (who is black) to be instructor at the Lowell Police Academy teaching colleagues how to avoid racial profiling. He was in the Mid-Cambridge district when at 12:45 p.m. July 16, he heard the call of a possible break-in at Ware Street in Harvard Square. A passer-by, Lucia Whalen, a fund-raiser for Harvard Magazine, saw two men struggling with the door of a yellow wood-frame home and called the Cambridge police. Sgt. Crowley answered the call although he was alone. When he encountered the individuals, whom he considered to be a threat, he called for assistance. He handcuffed one individual who was brought to the station for questioning, then released without any charges. He overreacted.

Henry Louis Gates Jr. moved to Harvard Square in 1991 when he joined the faculty of Harvard as Chair of the Department of African and African American Studies. Before coming to Harvard he taught at Yale, Cornell, and Duke. His autobiography entitled Colored People: A Memoir is taught in ethics courses among others. When he first moved to Harvard Square, “one of the most tolerant places on earth,” in 1991 he voluntarily introduced himself at the Cambridge Police Department hoping that he might avoid being pulled over constantly by police for being black while driving an expensive car. He is a very visible presence at Harvard University, his home. He is slight of build, small, (5’6″) and uses a cane. He is charismatic, distinguished and is impeccably dressed. He spent the week of July 9-16 on a documentary in China. Upon his arrival at Logan Airport, a Moroccan driver took him to his Ware Street resident. The door to his home was jammed. He was already fighting bronchial infection and was tired from a 14-hour flight so he asked the driver for help to force it open. When Sgt. Crowley arrived at his home asking him to prove his identity, he was confused and indignant. He refused to step outside as Sgt. Crowley requested (Hernandez, Rimer and Saulny 2009). He overreacted.

President Obama, who is a friend of Henry Louis Gates Jr., also overreacted.

We are human. We make mistakes. We apologize. And President Obama’s apology resonated.

In a rare White House statement to the press (2009-07-24) President Obama explained, “My sense is you’ve got two good people in a circumstance in which neither of them were able to resolve the incident in the way that it should have been resolved, and the way they would have liked it to be resolved. […T]he fact that it has garnered so much attention, I think, is a testimony to the fact that these are issues that are still very sensitive here in America, and — you know, so to the extent that my choice of words didn’t illuminate but rather contributed to more media frenzy, I think that was unfortunate. What I would like to do, then, is to make sure that everybody steps back for a moment, recognizes that these are two decent people. [… B]ecause of our history, because of the difficulties of the past, you know, African-Americans are sensitive to these issues, [a]nd even when you’ve got a police officer who has a fine track record on racial sensitivity, interactions between police officers and the African-American community can sometimes be fraught with misunderstanding. My hope is that as a consequence of this event, this ends up being what’s called a teachable moment where all of us, instead of pumping up the volume, spend a little more time listening to each other and try to focus on how we can generally improve relations between police officers and minority communities, and that instead of flinging accusations, we can all be a little more reflective in terms of what we can do to contribute to more unity. [T]here are some who say that as President I shouldn’t have stepped into this at all because it’s a local issue. I have to tell you that that part of it I disagree with. The fact that this has become such a big issue I think is indicative of the fact that race is still a troubling aspect of our society. Whether I were black or white, I think that me commenting on this and hopefully contributing to constructive — as opposed to negative — understandings about the issue, is part of my portfolio. So at the end of the conversation there was a discussion about — my conversation with Sergeant Crowley, there was discussion about he and I and Professor Gates having a beer here in the White House. We don’t know if that’s scheduled yet — (laughter) — but we may put that together. He also did say he wanted to find out if there was a way of getting the press off his lawn. (Laughter.) I informed him that I can’t get the press off my lawn. (Laughter.) He pointed out that my lawn is bigger than his lawn. (Laughter.) But if anybody has any connections to the Boston press, as well as national press, Sergeant Crowley would be happy for you to stop trampling his grass (Office of the Press Secretary of the White House. 2009-07-24. The Statement by the President).”

At the Department of Justice African American History Month Program, Attorney General Eric Holder (2009-02-18), cautioned that, “Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards. Though race related issues continue to occupy a significant portion of our political discussion, and though there remain many unresolved racial issues in this nation, we, average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race. It is an issue we have never been at ease with and given our nation’s history this is in some ways understandable. And yet, if we are to make progress in this area we must feel comfortable enough with one another, and tolerant enough of each other, to have frank conversations about the racial matters that continue to divide us. But we must do more- and we in this room bear a special responsibility. Through its work and through its example this Department of Justice, as long as I am here, must – and will – lead the nation to the “new birth of freedom” so long ago promised by our greatest President. This is our duty and our solemn obligation. We commemorated five years ago, the 50th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision. And though the world in which we now live is fundamentally different than that which existed then, this nation has still not come to grips with its racial past nor has it been willing to contemplate, in a truly meaningful way, the diverse future it is fated to have. To our detriment, this is typical of the way in which this nation deals with issues of race. And so I would suggest that we use February of every year to not only commemorate black history but also to foster a period of dialogue among the races. This is admittedly an artificial device to generate discussion that should come more naturally, but our history is such that we must find ways to force ourselves to confront that which we have become expert at avoiding. As a nation we have done a pretty good job in melding the races in the workplace. We work with one another, lunch together and, when the event is at the workplace during work hours or shortly thereafter, we socialize with one another fairly well, irrespective of race. And yet even this interaction operates within certain limitations. We know, by “American instinct” and by learned behavior, that certain subjects are off limits and that to explore them risks, at best embarrassment, and, at worst, the questioning of one’s character. And outside the workplace the situation is even more bleak in that there is almost no significant interaction between us. On Saturdays and Sundays America in the year 2009 does not, in some ways, differ significantly from the country that existed some fifty years ago. This is truly sad. Given all that we as a nation went through during the civil rights struggle it is hard for me to accept that the result of those efforts was to create an America that is more prosperous, more positively race conscious and yet is voluntarily socially segregated (Holder 2009-02-18).”

Professor Glen Loury, author of Race, Incarceration and American Values (2008) is hopeful that the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. and the resulting picnic table summit will illuminate hard-core issues such as the systemic crisis of “hyper-incarceration of poor black men” not end in more sensitivity training for police officers. He wants “something of lasting value” not mere moral posturing. Loury calls for deep reforms in our criminal justice system with a real investment “in helping the troubled people — our fellow citizens — caught in the law enforcement web to find a constructive role in society, and less in punishing them for punishment’s sake. We need to change the ways in which we deal with juvenile offenders, so that a foolish act in childhood doesn’t put them on the road to lifetimes in prison. We should seriously consider that many of our sentences are too long — “three strikes” laws may be good politics, but they are an irrational abomination as policy. We should definitely consider decriminalizing most drug use. We need to reinvent parole. And, most important, we should weigh more heavily the negative and self-defeating effects that our policy of mass incarceration is having on the communities where large numbers of young black and Hispanic men live (Loury 2009-07-26).”

Selected Bibliography and Webliography

Office of the Press Secretary of the White House. 2009-07-24. The Statement by the President. James S. Brady Press Briefing Room.

Child, Maxwell L.; Zhu, Peter F. 2009-07-24. “Obama Backs Off Gates Remarks After Police Ask for Apology.” The Harvard Crimson.

Editors. 2009. “Attorney general says U.S. a nation of ‘cowards’ when it comes to race“.” New York Times. Issue.

Harvard Faculty Biographies. “Henry Louis Gates, Jr Biography.”

Hernandez, Javier C.; Rimer, Sara; Saulny, Susan. 2009-07.

Hitchens, Christopher. 2009. “A Man’s Home Is His Constitutional Castle.” Washingtonpost. Newsweek Interactive Co. LLC.: Issue. /

Holder, Eric. 2009. Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by Attorney General Eric Holder at the Department of Justice African American History Month Program.

Loury, Glenn C. 2008. Race, Incarceration and American Values. Cambridge, Mass. Massachussets Institute of Technology.

Loury, Glenn C. 2009. “Obama, Gates and the American Black Man.” New York Times. Issue.

Parker, Kathleen. 2009. “Redemption on Tap: Why Cambridge Could Use a Cold One.” Washington Post. Issue.

Warner, Judith. 2009. “A Lot Said, and Unsaid, About Race.” New York Times. Issue.

It reads more like fiction than mainstream news.

“But, at about the time of High ‘Change, Pressure began to wane, and appalling whispers to circulate, east, west, north, and south. At first they were faint, and went no further than a doubt whether Mr Merdle’s wealth would be found to be as vast as had been supposed; whether there might not be a temporary difficulty in ‘realising’ it; whether there might not even be a temporary suspension (say a month or so), on the part of the wonderful Bank. As the whispers became louder, which they did from that time every minute, they became more threatening. He had sprung from nothing, by no natural growth or process that any one could account for; he had been, after all, a low, ignorant fellow; he had been a down-looking man, and no one had ever been able to catch his eye; he had been taken up by all sorts of people in quite an unaccountable manner; he had never had any money of his own, his ventures had been utterly reckless, and his expenditure had been most enormous. In steady progression, as the day declined, the talk rose in sound and purpose. He had left a letter at the Baths addressed to his physician, and his physician had got the letter, and the letter would be produced at the Inquest on the morrow, and it would fall like a thunderbolt upon the multitude he had deluded. Numbers of men in every profession and trade would be blighted by his insolvency; old people who had been in easy
circumstances all their lives would have no place of repentance for their trust in him but the workhouse; legions of women and children would have their whole future desolated by the hand of this mighty scoundrel. Every partaker of his magnificent feasts would be seen to have been a sharer in the plunder of innumerable homes; every servile worshipper of riches who had helped to set him on his pedestal, would have done better to worship the Devil point-blank. So, the talk, lashed louder and higher by confirmation on confirmation, and by edition after edition of the evening papers, swelled into such a roar when night came, as might have brought one to believe that a solitary watcher on the gallery above the Dome of St Paul’s would have perceived the night air
to be laden with a heavy muttering of the name of Merdle, coupled with every form of execration (Dickens 1857).

Using Google Maps we can actually follow in space and time, the story of this giant Ponzi scheme. This post is a draft and a work in progress . . .

Items on this Google Map have not been fully edited.

Items in the bibliography have not been properly edited yet . . .

to be continued . . .

I want to watch Midsomer Murders now . . .

Notes

Circumlocution Office is Dickens’ (1857) term to ridicule governmental offices that delayed business by passing through the hands of different officials. “That brilliant invention the Circumlocution Office was made up at a time when examinations were introduced for the Civil Service. Dickens felt that bureaucratic indolence and incompetence were responsible for the sufferings of British soldiers in the Crimean war. “This glorious establishment had been early in the field, when the one sublime principle involving the difficult art of governing a country, was first distinctly revealed to statesmen … Whatever was required to be done, the Circumlocution Office was beforehand with all the public departments in the art of perceiving – HOW NOT TO DO IT.” (Meaning, in Dickens’s time, how to avoid doing anything.) ( Byatt 2008-11-1.”

The Circumlocution Office is inhabited by a family of Tite Barnacles and relations.

General Motors (GMAC) The U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday approved GMAC Financial Services’ application to become a bank-holding company, a status that would give the auto-financing arm of General Motors Corp. access to government bailout dollars and the Fed’s discount window. The move complements a $17.4 billion emergency loan package the government extended to GM and (Wall Street Journal 2008-12-24)… “Merkin, who is chairman of GMAC LLC, is named in the lawsuit brought by NYU, along with his Gabriel Capital LP fund and Ariel Fund Ltd. GMAC is the finance business owned by General Motors Corp and private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP. The Funds ‘feeding’ money to Madoff, including Ariel, made a conscious effort to conceal Madoff’s involvement from their own investors,” the NYU lawsuit said. “This concealment was a requirement dictated by Madoff, which was agreed to by Merkin and other ‘feeder’ funds (McCool Reuters 2008-12-24).”

Electronic Communications Networks (ECNs) trading model

Who’s Who

National Market System (NMS) Bernie Madoff presented his arguments at SEC hearings (2004-04-21 SEC) on the redesigning of “the existing national market system (“NMS”) rules to maximize profits and efficiency.

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Washington, DC.

Selected Timeline

1823 Charles Dickens’ father, John Dickens, was imprisoned in the infamous debtors’ prison in Borough High Street, the Marshalsea. At twelve-years of age the future novelist was sent sent to work in a boot-blacking factory. John Dickens was the model for both Mr. Dorrit in Little Dorrit and Mr. Micawber in David Copperfield. Charles Dickens is in effect, Little Dorrit. In a prescient move, the BBC broadcast its adaptation of Dickens’ (1857) Little Dorrit, a month before Bernie Madoff’s arrest in his luxury Upper East Manhattan apartment. The similarities between the two stories are uncanny. See Byatt, A. S. 2008-11-15. “Little Dorrit: Within the walls of the Marshalsea.” The Guardian.

1857 In Charles Dickens’ introduction of his 1857 novel Little Dorrit he apologized for any similarity between factual events in Britain and Ireland and the context and character of his fictional banker, Mr. Merdle, who embarked on a fraudulent scheme now being compared to Madoff’s.

“If I might offer any apology for so exaggerated a fiction as the Barnacles and the Circumlocution Office, I would seek it in the common experience of an Englishman, without presuming to mention the unimportant fact of my having done that violence to good manners, in the days of a Russian war, and of a Court of Inquiry at Chelsea. If I might make so bold as to defend that extravagant conception, Mr Merdle, I would hint that it originated after the Railroad-share epoch, in the times of a certain Irish bank, and of one or two other equally laudable enterprises. If I were to plead anything in mitigation of the preposterous fancy that a bad design will sometimes claim to be a good and an expressly religious design, it would be the curious coincidence that it has been brought to its climax in these pages, in the days of the public examination of late Directors of a Royal British Bank. But, I submit myself to suffer judgment to go by default on all these counts, if need be, and to accept the assurance (on good authority) that nothing like them was ever known in this land (Dickens 1857).”

Thanks to these sources for making the Madoff-Merdle link: Paul Krugman, The New York Times Op-Ed columnist, in his 2008-12-19 blog post entitled “Madoff/Merdle“; McCann, Vincent. 2008-12-20. “Separating fact from fiction in financial fraud case.” Scotsman.com News.

1920s Financial frauds of the 1920s. See Galbraith, John Kenneth. 1954. The Great Crash: 1929. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

1960 Bernie Madoff started his firm Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities with $5,000. Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC.

1938 Bernard L. Madoff was born?

1970s The creation of the consolidated system for disseminating market information generated enormous benefits for investors (SEC 2004-02-27).”

1980s The incorporation of The Nasdaq Stock Market, Inc. (“Nasdaq”) securities into the NMS generated enormous benefits for investors (SEC 2004-02-27).”

1990s The adoption of the Order Handling Rules in the 1990s generated enormous benefits for investors (SEC 2004-02-27).”

2004-02-27 SEC published Regulation NMS for public comment. “In addition to redesignating the existing national market system (“NMS”) rules adopted under Section 11A of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”), Regulation NMS would incorporate four substantive proposals that are designed to enhance and modernize the regulatory structure of the U.S. equity markets (SEC 2004-02-27).”

2004-04-21 Bernie Madoff presented his arguments at SEC hearings (2004-04-21 SEC) on the redesigning of “the existing national market system (“NMS”) rules held at the InterContinental The Barclay.

“The central objective of this review is to determine how the regulations governing the U.S. equity markets should be modernized. Our markets are continually evolving because of such factors as innovative trading technologies, new market entrants, and changing investment patterns. We believe that one of our most important responsibilities is to monitor these changes and to ensure that the U.S. regulatory structure remains up to date. In this way, we can help our markets retain their position as the deepest and most efficient in the world – markets that offer a fair deal to all types of investors, large and small.”

2004 Bernie Madoff presented his arguments at hearings on the redesigning of “the existing national market system (“NMS”) rules adopted under Section 11A of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”), Regulation NMS would incorporate four substantive proposals that are designed to enhance and modernize the regulatory structure of the U.S. equity markets.

Discussion: “Is access to markets through the members of an SRO and through the customers or subscribers of ECNs or market makers sufficient to assure fair and efficient access to their displayed quotes? Are there barriers to access that must be removed for this indirect access to be feasible?”

Participants: Ivan K. Freeman (Morgan Stanley), John C. Giesea (Security Traders Association), Robert Greifeld (Nasdaq Stock Market), Larry Leibowitz (Schwab Capital Markets), Bernard L. Madoff (Madoff Investment Securities) and Thomas Peterffy (Interactive Brokers Group)

2008-01 Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities claimed their investment advisory business managed $17.1 billion for 11 to 25 clients and boasted of an “unblemished record of value, fair-dealing and high ethical standards (Zambito and Smith 2008).”

2008-11-15 In a prescient move, the BBC broadcast its adaptation of Dickens’ (1857) Little Dorrit, a month before Madoff’s arrest in his luxury Upper East Manhattan apartment. The similarities between the two stories are uncanny. See Byatt, A. S. 2008-11-15. “Little Dorrit: Within the walls of the Marshalsea.” The Guardian.

2008-12-10 Andrew Madoff and Mark Madoff, Bernie’s sons and his employees claimed to be innocent victims of a fraud that they knew nothing about. They called the Securities and Exchange Commission, which told the FBI (Zambito and Smith 2008).”

2008-12-10 Special FBI Agent Theodore Cacioppi and a colleague questioned Madoff at his $9M East Manhattan luxury apartment on Thursday morning to investigate the possibility of any “innocent explanation.” “There is no innocent explanation,” Madoff replied. Within hours, investors who had trusted the 70-year-old Madoff for years – including the owner of the New York Mets – were reeling at charges that one of the most trusted names on Wall Street was a full-time fraud (Zambito and Smith 2008).”

2008-12-12 “[A]ngry investors crowded a Manhattan federal courtroom hoping to find out if the SEC would come to their rescue. Manhattan Federal Judge Louis Stanton issued an order freezing Madoff’s assets, as well as those of his firm, and named lawyer Lee Richard to oversee the business. The hearing was canceled, leaving investors bewildered (Zambito and Smith 2008).”

2008-12-23 “[H]edge fund executive Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet, 65, was found dead in his office in an apparent suicide, reportedly distraught over being duped by Madoff. New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Villehuchet had cuts on his wrists from a box cutter and pills nearby. The Frenchman’s Access International had an exposure of $1.5 billion, officials said (McCool 2008-12-24).”

2008-12-24 Washington: “The U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday approved GMAC Financial Services’ application to become a bank-holding company, a status that would give the auto-financing arm of General Motors Corp. access to government bailout dollars and the Fed’s discount window. The move complements a $17.4 billion emergency loan package the government extended to GM and …” Wall Street Journal McCool, Grant. 2008-12-24. “(McCool 2008-12-24) New York University sued fund executive over Madoff
2008-12-24. “Fed Grants GMAC’s Request to Become Bank-Holding Company.” Wall Street Journal.

Webliography and Bibliography

Byatt, A. S. 2008-11-15. “Little Dorrit: Within the walls of the Marshalsea.” The Guardian.

McCool, Grant. 2008-12-24. “New York University sues fund executive over Madoff.” Reuters.

Quinn, James. 2008-12-16. “An American Tragedy.” Financial Sense.

Zambito, Thomas; Smith, Greg B. 2008-12-13. “Feds say Bernard Madoff’s $50 billion Ponzi scheme was worst ever.” New York Crime. Daily News.  

2008-12-22. “Jewish leaders bracing for Madoff fallout.” The Boston Globe.

Unlikely Player Pulled Into Madoff Swirl.”NYTimes.com

A.G. takes himself out of Madoff probe | Deseret News (Salt Lake City) | Find Articles at BNET

Fund Fraud Hits Big Names – WSJ.com 

2008-12-14.Bodyblow to Wall Street at The Brian Sullivan Blog

Business News – AOL Money Canada 

U.S. Congress to probe SEC role in Madoff affair

edmontonsun.com – World – $50B fraud plot thickens

Madoff Mess manoeuvres 

Judge orders Madoff to tally his assets

Don’t Be Scammed by Madoff Investor Sob Stories – Seeking Alpha

Madoff investors unlikely to regain money

Madoff bad omen for fund of hedge funds industry – AOL Money Canada

Run by investors, for investors – North American Markets end lower, Madoff scandal raises concerns over financials – North American Market Summary

More banks reveal exposure to Madoff scandal – Yahoo! Canada News
Bernard Madoff scandal draws publishers 

IOC has nearly $5 million tied to Madoff – AOL Sports Canada

Some Madoff investors may have to give back gains – Dec. 19, 2008

Madoff’s auditor Friehling and Horowitz doesn’t audit? – Dec. 17, 2008 
Did Bernard Madoff act alone? – Dec. 18, 2008

Answers to 6 Madoff questions – Dec. 18, 2008

A stock exchange caught in the Madoff mess – Dec. 18, 2008

‘A Giant Ponzi Scheme’ 

reportonbusiness.com: Madoff debacle reveals stunning failure of due diligence

Midas Letter –  Health, Wealth and Prosperity

Meet the real Ponzi behind the ‘scheme’ – Dec. 15, 2008

TheStar.com | Business | Banks, funds among clients who lost billions

Charities hit hard as Madoff fraud losses mount 

Madoff: ‘Bloodbath’ for Twin Cities investors

Pigeon King owes $23 million | Farm andDairy – The Auction Guide and Rural Marketplace

globeandmail.com: Farmers should have been warned about pigeon venture: critics

The Canadian Press: Royal Bank says clients have $50M in exposure to alleged Madoff fraud

Ponzi schemes strike in U.S., Russia and Colombia | Worldfocus

Bloomberg.com: Worldwide

The Madoff Fraud: How Culpable Were the Auditors? – TIME

Madoff Victims Look for Ways to Recover Their Money – TIME

Wall Street’s Latest Downfall: Madoff Charged with Fraud – TIME

How I Got Screwed by Bernie Madoff – TIME

Bernie Madoff’s man to see – The Boston Globe 

Bull Market 

Top Trader Is Accused of Defrauding Clients – NYTimes.com

Bernard L. Madoff News – The New York Times

The New York Times > Books > Sunday Book Review > His Last Name Is Scheme

A Scheme With No Off Button – NYTimes.com 

Ponzi Schemes – News – The New York Times

Even Winners May Lose With Madoff.” NYTimes.com

Madoff Agrees to Security ‘to Prevent Harm or Flight’ -NYTimes.com

“Talking Business – Avoiding a Financial Collapse, Indian-Style.” – NYTimes.com

“Madoff Scheme Kept Rippling Outward, Across Borders.” NYTimes.com

“Madoff Ponzi Scheme Lawsuit: Attorneys for Defrauded Investors.”

Madoff Scheme Kept Rippling Outward, Across Borders.” NYTimes.com

“Top Trader Is Accused of Defrauding Clients.” NYTimes.com

Op-Ed Columnist – The Brightest Are Not Always the Best -NYTimes.com

Wall Street fallout shakes economy

 

Testosterone-drivenThe combination of increasingly complex high-risk financial instruments (unknown, under-acknowledged, under-estimated and/or misunderstood by public and private policy sector workers at all levels of governance) and a thriving culture of testosterone-driven traders

with their hands firmly on the throttle of oil-dependent muscle vehicles, flooring-it on shared virtual highways with silently condoned (albeit) unwritten permission and even enthusiastic encouragement to exceed safe speed limits, the exponential growth in wealth of the upper quintile of the upper quintile accompanied by the exponential increase in poverty of the lower quintile of the lower quintile, the global expansion and implementation of the belief-system based on unfettered, self-regulated market political economies (loosely called market liberalism although best-served by political conservatism) promulgated around the planet through mass media content packaged to sell imagery of the invisible hand of the market as the right hand of the new secular god surrounded by soldiers of the user-pay, private-is-better, blame-the-poor, monetize-everything, blame-the-ill, social-justice-vs-economic-efficiency, base-minumum-wage-on-pin-money-workers, minimum-government, trickle-down-affect, legal-but-not-ethical, group-think-culture led by the Triad of Mises-Friedman-Hayek has led to market chaos that is not theoretical but Really Real.

According to this article (2008-04-19) by Dan Mitchell in the New York Times, “Movements in financial markets are correlated to the levels of hormones in the bodies of male traders, according to a study by two researchers from the University of Cambridge.”

This is twisted curve in the winding road of ancient arguments that prohibited participation of hormone-driven women (emotional versus logical, intuitive versus deductive, feelings versus reason) in pivotal positions of decision-making.

read more | digg story

Does this mean the invisible hand of the market should be wearing a glove? Should the use of Viagra be monitored on the trading floor?

Webliography and Bibliography

Coates, J. M. and J. Herbert. 2008. “Endogenous steroids and financial risk taking on a London trading floor.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. http://snurl.com/250a7

Emarketer. 2008-03-18. “Online Advertisers To Spend Through Turbulence.” http://snurl.com/250e6

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2008-04-19. “Complex Financial Instruments and Testosterone-Driven Trading: Algorithm of Market Chaos.” http://snurl.com/250a6

Mitchell, Dan. 2008-04-19. “Trading on Testosterone.” New York Times. http://tinyurl.com/5tvolz permalink

Palmer, Jason. 2008-04-14. “Traders’ raging hormones cause stock market swings.” NewScientist.com. http://snurl.com/2508n

Rubel, Steve. 2008-04-17. “Study: A Billion Dollars in Internet Advertising is Wasted.” Micro Persuasion. http://snurl.com/250au

Rubel, Steve. 2008-04-19. Twitter.

Notes:

1. Algorithm: a “problem-solving procedure: a logical step-by-step procedure for solving a mathematical problem in a finite number of steps, often involving repetition of the same basic operation” or a “problem-solving computer program: a logical sequence of steps for solving a problem, often written out as a flow chart, that can be translated into a computer program,” a term used in the late 17th century. It is an alteration, “after Greek arithmos “number,” of algorism, via Old French and medieval Latin based on the Arabic al-Ḵwārizmī , the name of the 9th century mathematician who introduced algorithms to the West.” See MSC (1998-2005) Encarta.

The combination of increasingly complex high-risk financial instruments (unknown, under-acknowledged, under-estimated and/or misunderstood by public and private policy sector workers at all levels of governance) and a thriving culture of testosterone-driven traders with their hands firmly on the throttle of oil-dependent muscle vehicles, flooring-it on shared virtual highways with silently condoned (albeit) unwritten permission and even enthusiastic encouragement to exceed safe speed limits has led to market chaos that is not theoretical but Really Real.

NYT article on the at-risk lifestyles of high-speed, high-stress, high-adrenalin lifestyles of pro-bloggers chasing new improved on-line newstories 24/7.

Thanks to twitter and Steve Rubel’s lifestream for bringing this article to my attention.

“digg.com blurb: “Some professional bloggers complain of physical and emotional strain created by an Internet economy that demands a constant stream of news and comment.”

read more | digg story

This reminded me of an article by Kate Argyle (1996) in Rob Shields useful anthology entitled Cultures of the Internet. Argyle’s account of what happens when a member of a virtual community dies challenged notions of that Internet communities were blasé and that the Internet itself fostered  a culture of distance and indifference. See http://www.socresonline.org.uk/1/3/van_loon.html

Webliography and bibliography

Argyle, Kate. 1996. “Death on the Internet.” in Shields, Rob. 1996. Cultures of the Internet: Virtual Spaces, Real Histories, Living Bodies. Chapter 8. London: Sage. ISBN 0 8039 7519 8

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work in process

CC 2008 Flynn-Burhoe

“Mortgage Meltdown” a digitage on Flickr

see also related webliography

1965-2005 Between 1965 to 2005 there was no national US real-estate bust as home prices surpassed inflation by a percentage point or two on average. However local reversals have taken place and some cities have never recovered (Christie 2005).

1973-5 US investors in the S&P 500 lost 14% in 1973 and 26% in 1974 but gained 37% in 1975 (Mann 2000).

1970s “The additional grades or risk have arisen from the willingness to underwrite mortgages for more risky borrowers, encouraged by the democratization of credit since the 1970s. Lending to more risky borrowers is, by definition, more risky. More loans to risky borrowers increases the total amount of risk to be sold in the marketplace” (Mason and Rosner 2007).

1980-1990 In Los Angeles real estate was turbocharged for nearly 10 years (Christie 2005).

1985 In Peoria, Ill. a more traditional area the average home price fell from $60,800 in 1981 to $51,400 in 1985 partially because of strikes and lay-offs at Caterpillar, the city’s biggest employer (Christie 2005).

1987 Canadian families saved 20 percent of their take-home pay (Ed 2007).
1987 Stock market crash
1988 In “oil patch” cities like Oklahoma City prices plummeted 26 percent from 1983 to 1988. They only returned to 1983 levels in 2003 fifteen years later. In Oklahoma City, the inflation-adjusted price in 1983 was $196,600. Today, it’s just $135,100 (Christie 2005).

1988 Houston home prices fell 22 percent from $111,000 in 1983 to $86,800 in 1988 rebounded only in 2003. Counting inflation, the average Houston home, which cost just $159,700 in 2004, is actually worth less [in 2005] than it was [in 1983]. When, adjusted for inflation, a home cost about $219,000 in 1983 (Christie 2005).

1988 – 1990s Real estate prices fell in Northern California first followed by the rest of the state “as employers fled, incomes dwindled, quakes rumbled, sales fell and prices slipped. [. . .] Silicon Valley’s housing market crashed into recession along with the state’s economy (Perkins 2001).

1989-90 The notorious price bubble of 1989-90 was linked to central banks specifically the Bank of Japan. “The Japanese economy continued to suffer during the early 1990s, and remained in recession until the end of 1993. Nominal GDP growth rates, which had been around 7 percent during the bubble period, fell beginning in 1990 and by 1991-93 were close to zero. Profits in the manufacturing sector fell 24.5 percent in 1991 and 32.1 percent in 1992. Bankruptcies began to rise starting in the latter half of 1990; by 1992, bankruptcies with debt more than Y10 million totaled 14,569 cases. Failures of real estate firms or of firms engaged in “active fund management” constituted more than half the corporate bankruptcies in 1991 and 1992 (Miller 2001).”

1991 Inflation-adjusted take-home pay in Canada froze to this level (Ed. 2007).”

1992 A new car in Canada cost $20, 000.

1992 – 2000 “Japan remained pretty stagnant in the last eight years, with the majority of the loss coming in the first two, when it eventually fell by more than 60%. There was never a big drop, just a constant and inexorable drift downward. Real estate prices plummeted, almost no Japanese company ended 1992 higher than it started 1990. In the interim, banks have failed (and if it weren’t for the financial props of the Japanese government, many more would have), and companies have had to reassess some of their basic assumptions, such as lifetime employment and large benefit packages” (Mann 2000).

1996 There was a housing market reversal in Los Angeles with average house price dropping from $222,200 in 1990 to $176,300 in 1996, a loss of 20.7 percent. “Furthermore, those are nominal prices, not real values. To calculate the loss more realistically you would have to figure in the cost of inflation: $222,200 in 1990 would have been worth $266,700 in 1996 dollars, which means the actual loss for homeowners buying in 1990 and selling in 1996 was closer to 34 percent (Christie 2005).”

1994- 1996 “In 1994, [Japanese] banks wrote off non-performing assets of Y5.7 trillion, exceeding the previous high of Y4.3 trillion in fiscal year 1993. As yet, no major bank has failed, although a number have reportedly encountered serious difficulties. In December, 1994, the Bank of Japan supervised the takeover of two credit cooperatives, the Tokyo Kyowa Credit Cooperative and the Anzen Credit Cooperative, through the creation of a bridge bank with government support. The Bank’s decision not to let these institutions fail and pay off depositors under the deposit guarantee program was based, largely, on concern for the potential systemic effects of a deposit payoff on public confidence in the banking system in general. The “jusen,” or housing finance banks, suffered the most serious problems; these institutions, which were typically organized and sponsored by major commercial banks and staffed, in part, by former officials from the Ministry of Finance, lost tens of billions of dollars as a result of the collapse of the price bubble, and became one of the most contentious political issues of the day during 1995-86 (Miller 2001)”.

1996 “How do we know when irrational exuberance has unduly escalated asset values, which then become subject to unexpected and prolonged contractions as they have in Japan over the past decade? And how do we factor that assessment into monetary policy? We as central bankers need not be concerned if a collapsing financial asset bubble does not threaten to impair the real economy, its production, jobs, and price stability. Indeed, the sharp stock market break of 1987 had few negative consequences for the economy. But we should not underestimate or become complacent about the complexity of the interactions of asset markets and the economy. Thus, evaluating shifts in balance sheets generally, and in asset prices particularly, must be an integral part of the development of monetary policy.” – Alan Greenspan (December 5, 1996)**

1998 There was a market correction in the United States in October of 1998.
1992 – 2000 “Japan remained pretty stagnant in the last eight years, with the majority of the loss coming in the first two, when it eventually fell by more than 60%. There was never a big drop, just a constant and inexorable drift downward. Real estate prices plummeted, almost no Japanese company ended 1992 higher than it started 1990. In the interim, banks have failed (and if it weren’t for the financial props of the Japanese government, many more would have), and companies have had to reassess some of their basic assumptions, such as lifetime employment and large benefit packages” (Mann 2000).
2004 British Columbia graduates from university have an average debt of $20, 000.
2005 Real-estate investing spiked, pressuring prices upward. In Phoenix, according to Bill Jilbert, president and COO of the Coldwell Banker brokerage there, investors from Nevada and California have invaded the Arizona market, and “affordable housing has been pushed to extremes (Christie 2005).”
2000 In Tampa Bay Florida, high risk adjustable-rate mortgages (ARM) made homes “seem affordable when wages stagnated as prices soared. They were just the ticket for cash-out refinancings and home equity credit lines that bought cars and swimming pools and paid off credit card debt. “What happened in a lot of expensive real estate markets is that first-time home buyers who felt they could not afford a home otherwise, took on a loan that had lower monthly payments than a traditional mortgage would have,” said Allen Fishbein, director of housing policy for the Consumer Federation of America. “They weren’t being underwritten on the basis of the borrower’s reasonable capacity to handle these loans.” The payments started out manageable, especially since many loans offered teaser rates. But borrowers are getting a lesson in what the word “adjustable” means. More than $130-billion in mortgages payments were reset in 2006″ In 2006 nearly a third of Tampa Bay mortgages were the high-risk varieties, up from 10 percent in 2003 (Huntley 2006).
1991- 2005 “[I]ncreased complexity from increased grading of risk can also result in increased opacity. Risk that is more difficult to see, by virtue of complexity, is risk just the same. There are plenty of reasons to believe that the amount of risk in the marketplace has increased. Figure 3 shows that defaults on ABS and residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) increased substantially between 1991 and 2005” (Mason and Rosner 2007).
2006 Fitch Global Structured Finance 1991-2005 Default Study revealed that, “the overwhelming majority of global structured finance defaults over the 1991-2005 period were from the U.S., accounting for more than 97 percent of the total. While the 1,000 U.S. defaults were mainly concentrated in the Asset-Backed Securities._ (ABS) sector, the 27 international defaults were primarily from the collateralized debt obligations (CDO) sector.” See Mason and Rosner (2007) warn that risk continues to increase, as ratings agencies revise their loss expectations to account for the dynamics of the mortgage meltdown. For instance, on March 27, Standard & Poor’s raised its expectation for losses on
2006 In Florida millions of homeowners were warned of the mortgage meltdown in which they will “face a financial nightmare brought on by a combination of higher interest rates, risky mortgages and a housing market gone cold (Huntley 2006).
2007 Since 1991 inflation-adjusted hourly wages rose only 10 cents (Ed. 2007).”
2007 A new car in Canada cost $32,000 a 60 percent increase from 1992 (Ed. 2007).”
2007Canadians collectively owe three quarters of a trillion dollars in personal debt. Canadian families not only have no savings, they draw on pension savings to make ends meet.

“The result of the easy credit is that an average family now owes far more than it takes in. That means we remain solvent only so long as the book value of our assets — things like our home, pension funds or investments — continue to increase (Ed. 2007).”

2007 British Columbia graduates from university have an average debt of $27, 000.

2007 It is now acceptable for Canadian families to pay 60 percent of income to pay monthly payments of their home mortgages (Ed. 2007).

2007 The British Columbia government will allow home owners who are over 55 to defer property tax payments for as long as they live. The government will claim unpaid taxes after you die or sell effectively placing the tax burden on the children (Ed. 2007).

2007 “The number of corporate failures in Japan rose for the third month in a row totaling 896 cases in December up 18.2%. November flops were up 6.5% and the number of companies going belly up in October were up 7.8%. The amount of debts the insolvent companies left behind were up 30.6% to 463.09 billion yen (Belew 2007).

2007 In March Bob Lawless reported in his blog that, “The folks at Automated Access to Court Electronic Records or AACER regularly collect data from all the bankruptcy courts for creditors and attorneys. They have a wealth of information that does not show up in the mainstream media. Most recently, they tell me that there were 58,640 total U.S. bankruptcy filings in February 2007 as compared to 55,088 total U.S. bankruptcy filings in January 2007. OK, that looks like a slight increase, but looks are deceiving. It’s actually a fairly hefty increase. The February filings were spread over only nineteen business days while the January filings were spread over twenty-one days. On a daily basis, the February filings were up 17.7% as compared to January (Lawless 2007).”

2007 Jayson Seth analysed data in National Association of Realtors (NAR) June 24, 2007 report. Seth argues that “America’s easy-credit, quick-flipping, borrow-now-and-forget-the-consequences lifestyle is coming to an increasingly painful, grinding halt” and the “confidence of homebuilders is at a 16-year low (Seth 2007).”

2007 Lawrence Yun, National Association of Realtors announced that the real estate market is softening due to psychological factors, tighter credit for subprime borrowers. NAR’s Lawrence Yun explained that since late 2006 housing sales have slowed as buyers double up with family, friends or just mortgage helper units in their homes to be able to pay for higher-priced homes.

2007 Mason and Rosner (2007) warn that risk continues to increase, as ratings agencies revise their loss expectations to account for the dynamics of the mortgage meltdown. For instance, on March 27, Standard & Poor’s raised its expectation for losses on 1. “Residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) market has experienced significant changes [from 1997-2007]” Furthermore they caution that “structural changes in mortgage origination and servicing have interacted with complex RMBS and highly volatile CDO funding structures to place the U.S. housing market at risk. Equally as important, however, is that housing market weaknesses feed back through financial markets to further weaken financial instruments backing today’s CDOs. Decreased housing starts that will result from lower liquidity in the MBS sector will further weaken credit spreads and depress CDO and MBS issuance. This feedback mechanism can create imbalances in the U.S. economy that, if left unchecked, could lead to prolonged domestic economic implications for U.S. standing in the world economic order [. . .] The potential for prolonged economic difficulties that also interfere with home ownership in the United States raises significant public policy concerns. Already we are witnessing restructurings and layoffs at top financial institutions. More importantly, however, is the need to provide stable funding sources for economic growth. The biggest obstacle that we have identified is lack of transparency.” (Mason and Rosner 2007).

2007 In a Marketplace interview Amy Scott asked interviewees about the disturbing consequences of the interconnections between banks, hedge funds, high risk mortgages and pension funds. In June two major hedge funds managed by the investment bank Bear Stearns, who purchased securities that were essentially a “repackaging of all kinds of risky mortgages” to tap into the subprime mortgage market are now verging on collapse as the number of borrowers defaulting on these mortgages increases. Joseph Mason explained that “this isn’t just a Wall Street problem. Your 401k or pension fund may be invested in similar mortgage-related securities.” The investor-base is broad and it is difficult to know who is at risk. “Investment managers don’t have to report their holdings. And unlike stocks, these securities aren’t quoted on an open market.” Mason has been a firm proponent of more transparency in financial dealings (Scott 2007).

2010-05-06 According to a report entitled “The Microstructure of the ‘Flash Crash’: Flow Toxicity, Liquidity Crashes and the Probability of Informed Trading” in The Journal of Portfolio Management, “The ‘flash crash’ of May 6th 2010 was the second largest point swing (1,010.14 points) and the biggest one-day point decline (998.5 points) in the history of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. For a few minutes, $1 trillion in market value vanished.” Report authors argued that the ‘flash crash’ was the result of the new dynamics at play in the current market structure.”

Easley, David, Lopez de Prado, Marcos M. and O’Hara, Maureen, “The Microstructure of the ‘Flash Crash’: Flow Toxicity, Liquidity Crashes and the Probability of Informed Trading.” (November 19, 2010). The Journal of Portfolio Management, Vol. 37, No. 2, pp. 118-128, Winter 2011. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1695041

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1695041

See also article was written by Heather Stewart and Simon Goodley, for The Observer on Sunday 9th October 2011 00.06 Europe/London

Credit crunch, Financial crisis, Financial sector, Banking, Global recession, Stock markets, Business, Lehman Brothers, Margaret Thatcher,

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see also related timeline

Belew, Bill. 2007. “ Corporate Bankruptcies climb for third month in a row.” Uploaded January 21, 2007. Accessed June 24, 2007.

Christie, Lee. 2005. “Real estate: When booms go bust: Home prices can and do go down. Here’s what declines have looked like in the past.” CNN/Money. September 19, 2005.

Editorial. 2007. “Family finances under pressure.” Victoria, British Columbia. Times Colonist. June 24. D2.

“Leonhardt, David. 2008. “Economic Scene: Can’t Grasp Credit Crisis? Join the Club.” New York Times. March 19, 2008.

Fitch IBCA, 2006. Fitch Global Structured Finance 1991-2005 Default Study, Nov. 26, 2006.

Huntley, Helen. 2006. “Mortgage Meltdown.” Tampa, Florida: St. Petersburg Times. Uploaded October 2, 2006.

Jayson, Seth. 2007. “Housing Slumps. Who’s Surprised?” The Motley Fool. Uploaded June 25, 2007. Accessed June 25, 2007.

Lawless, Bob. 2007. “Bankruptcy Filings Up 18% in February 2007.” Credit Slips: A Discussion on Credit and Bankruptcy. Uploaded March 6, 2007. Accessed June 24, 2007.

Mann, Bill. 2000. “An Investment Opinion: What a Real Bear Market Feels Like.” >> Fool on the Hill. Uploaded April 26, 2000.

Mason, Joseph R.; Rosner, Joshua. 2007. “Where Did the Risk Go? How Misapplied Bond Ratings Cause Mortgage Backed Securities and Collateralized Debt Obligation Market Disruptions.” Uploaded May 2007. Accessed June 24, 2007.

Miller, Geoffrey P. 2001. “The Role of a Central Bank in a Bubble Economy.” July 16, 2001.

Molony, Walter. 2007. “May Existing: Home Sales Show Market is Under Performing.” Washington. Uploaded June 25, 2007.

Perkins, Broderick. 2001. “California Real Estate Won’t Mirror Silicon Valley Volatility.” >> Realty Times. Uploaded May 18, 2001. Accessed June 24, 2007.

Scott, Amy. 2007. “Mortgage meltdown hits Bear Stearns.” New York: Marketplace. Uploaded June 20, 2007. Accessed June 24, 2007.

Winzer, Ingo. 2005. president of Local Market Monitor, which sells real-estate market analysis to corporate and consumer clients.

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “Democratization of Debt: Wall Street’s Bear Stearn’s and Tampa’s Mortgage Meltdown.” >> Speechless. June 24, 2007.Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “Democratization of Debt: Bear Stearn & Mortgage Meltdown.” >> Google docs
http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=ddp3qxmz_320dqk9nt

Selected Bibliography and Webliography on the Mortgage Meltdown (content to be added to timeline)

Andrews, Edmund L. 2008-03-16. “Fed Chief Shifts Path, Inventing Policy in Crisis.” << New York Times. March 16, 2008.

Andrews, Edmund L. 2008-03-17. “Fed Acts to Rescue Financial Markets.” << New York Times. March 17, 2008.

NYT’s autogenerated keywords: Federal Reserve System, Bear Stearns Cos, Morgan J P Chase & Co, Treasury Department, Finances, Interest Rates, Stocks and Bonds, United States Economy, Mergers Acquisitions and Divestitures, Bernanke Ben S, Paulson Henry M Jr, Schwartz Alan D, Wall Street (NYC), Washington (DC)

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2008. “Merrill Lynch Bull Reflecting on Enron.” « oceanflynn @ Digg.

Adobe PhotoShop/Flickr image Tag Cloud of Tse’ (2008) article: Tse, Tomoeh Murakami. 2008. “Economic Downturn Emboldens Shareholder Activists.” Washington Post. February 19, 2008. tag cloud. business economy economics risk.society risk.management banking.sector cyber.citizens Del.icio.us flickr flynn-burhoe semantic.web tagging Tag.Clouds tags corporate.governance CEO activist.investors Wall.Street subprime.mortgages hedge.funds credit.crisis transparency recession Merrill.Lynch

Grynbaum, Michael M.; Bradsher, Keith. 2008-03-17. “U.S. Markets Volatile After Fed Actions. Permalink << New York Times.
March 17, 2008.

NYT’s autogenerated keywords: Stocks and Bonds, International Trade and World Market, United States Economy, Bear Stearns Cos, Morgan J P Chase & Co, Federal Reserve System.” http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/17/business/worldbusiness/17cnd-stox.html?
ex=1363492800&en=ed6b8e647d5b59ed&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink

Sorkin, Andrew Ross; Thomas, Landon Jr. 2008. “JPMorgan Acts to Buy Ailing Bear Stearns at Huge Discount.” Permalink<< New York Times. March 16, 2008.

Most emailed NYT story March 16-7, 2008. NYT’s autogenerated keywords: “Bear Stearns Cos, Finances, Morgan J P Chase & Co, Federal Reserve System, Cayne James E, Schwartz Alan D, Molinaro Samuel Jr, Banks and Banking, Bankruptcies” My delicious tags: 2008 2008-03 Bear.Stearns bankruptcies banking.industry business finance governance US.economy Wall.Street http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/16/business/16cnd-bear.html?em&ex=1205899200&en=ca62f6b1b4fd516e&ei=5087%0ASorkin, Andrew Ross. 2008. “Sale Price Reflects the Depth of Bear’s Problems.” << New York Times. March 17, 2008. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/17/business/17cnd-bear.html?ex=1363492800&en=8e8e9fbff8c8f606&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink

Tse, Tomoeh Murakami. 2008. “Economic Downturn Emboldens Shareholder Activists.” Washington Post. February 19, 2008.

Tag.Clouds tags corporate.governance CEO activist.investors Wall.Street subprime.mortgages hedge.funds credit.crisis transparency recession Merrill.Lynch << Google docs http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=ddp3qxmz_525cb82bcdn

More state intervention through laws and regulations: the future of financial intruments as mortgage-meltdown reveals high cost of unfettered markets. The US heads towards recession, shares plungs, oil prices have reached a $120 peak, gold a $1000, OPEC spurns US call for more oil production, activist shareholders call for more transparency and accountability of CEOs, but complex financial instruments used by hedge funds and private equity funds that operate outside of regulation, continue to create more wealth for the wealthy. Wealth disparities intensify as hedge funds and private equity funds skim off the cream of global markets by operating from tax-free offshore locations using everything from emotions, gut feelings, intuition, chaos theory and complex financial algorithms (based on variables, outcomes and values that might be realized in the future and money that is more cyber that really real. These financial institutions with their rhizome-like roots have permeated practically every aspect of our economic lives through our pensions, mortgages and investments. They have create havoc in the economies of nation states and lower quintile households. They gamble big and lose big. When their losses cause the inevitable domino effect, nation states and citizens are forced to cover their losses to prevent the worst. The financial crisis has been triggered by the invisible hand impatient for higher returns, controlled not by a law of nature, human or otherwise, but by an insatiable addiction to a money game. Law makers and regulators from the state and the market are calling a halt.

Bajaj, Vikas. 2008. “Mortgage Defaults Reach a New High.” New York Times. March 6, 2008.

Other related New York Times stories:

  • Bush and Fed Step Toward a Mortgage Rescue (March 5, 2008)
  • Bundled Mortgages and Dubious Fees Complicate Foreclosure Cases (March 4, 2008)
  • Spitzer to Present a Plan to Reduce Foreclosures (March 4, 2008)
  • Other related stories:  

    Acharya, A., H. Almeida, and M. Campello, 2006, “Is cash negative debt? A hedging perspective on corporate financial policies.” Journal of Financial Intermediation.

    Bates, Thomas W.; Kahle, Kathleen M.; Stulz, René M. 2007. “Why do U.S. firms hold so much more cash than they used to?”  (October 2007). Fisher College of Business Working Paper No. 2007-03-006 Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=927962

    Dittmar, A., and J. Mahrt-Smith. 2007. “Corporate governance and the value of cash holdings.” Journal of Financial Economics 83, 599-634.

    Johnston, Megan. 2007. “Whatcha doin’ with all that cash?: Summer money scramble to be one hot topic at AFP confab.” Financial Week. October 22, 2007.

    McDonald, Ian. 2006. “Cash Dilemma: How to Spend It.” Wall Street Journal. May 24, 2006. p. C3. McDonald, Ian. 2006. Capital Pains: Big Cash Hoards.” Wall Street Journal. July 21, 2006. p. C1. Polczer, Shaun. 2008. Scientific investor finds predictability in chaos: Check your emotions before acting.” Calgary Herald. March 04, 2008.

  • Relief for Homeowners Is Given to a Relative Few (March 4, 2008) 
  • Walter Zimmerman, principal partner in New York-based United Energy brokers, applies chaos theory to commodity markets. ” Chaos theory is not based on chaos but on the theory that extremely complex phenomena, like the market, have underlying hidden patterns that can be revealed by delving deeply to glean predictive information about that which was seemingly chaotic. He bases his market predictions on the assumption that markets are reflections of human nature and that both are unchanging, both are more emotional than logical, and that behavioural patterns of human nature/herd instinct/the market will be repeated over time. He advises his clients, the bigger oil producers in Calgary to hedge production against high commodity values (oil at $120 a barrel). If the economy continues to unravel, oil prices will correct lower to about $70 or $80.  He argues that governments cannot fight a recession and inflation at the same time. Cutting interest rates to fight recession leads to inflation and fighting inflation depresses economic activity. Summary of (Polczer 2008-03-04).

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