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The Big Short....... the movie

 
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nw30



Joined: 21 Dec 2008
Posts: 3184
Location: The eye of the universe, Cen. Cal. coast

PostPosted: Sat Dec 26, 2015 8:53 pm    Post subject: The Big Short....... the movie Reply with quote

Just saw it, totally excellent, my wife was a mortgage underwriter in Fla. during those days, so it was a must see for both of us.
All about the housing collapse in the early 2000s, due to sub-prime mortgages, along with easy qualifying, and other new rules that made it possible. Great cast, true story, but I wish it went back farther in history when DC made it easier for the "first time buyer", a phrase that I got sick of hearing Bill Clinton say.
But hea, it's Hollywood so they weren't going to go back that far, but still an awesome flick, the fraud became soooooo ingrained.

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MalibuGuru



Joined: 11 Nov 1993
Posts: 5502

PostPosted: Sun Dec 27, 2015 2:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The biggest tragedy is that the banksters were saved by the politicians who were in turn rewarded with large contributions from the banksters.

None of this would have happened if it was clear that if the bank goes down, so goes the banksters pensions.
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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
Posts: 7725

PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2016 2:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Only one white collar crime prosecution. Disgraceful, and one of the few criticisms of Obama and Holder that is legitimate. Some serious fiscal penalties, but not enough to create an incentive. From Mother Jones:

Quote:
Standard & Poor's Finally Pays Up For Bogus Mortgage Ratings
—By Kevin Drum | Tue Feb. 3, 2015 12:44 PM EST

Standard & Poor's is finally paying up for its role in handing out bogus investment-grade ratings to risky mortgage securities during the housing bubble. Dean Starkman explains what happened:

In May 2004, as the U.S. housing market was heating up, Standard & Poor's Financial Services lost to a rival a huge deal to rate mortgage-backed securities to be issued by a major Japanese bank.

The reason? S&P's credit standards were too high, an employee complained to his boss. The company then went on to "downplay and disregard" its standards to win business, a federal lawsuit alleged, contributing to one of the most devastating financial collapses in history.

....One observer said the settlement would offer at least some accountability for a key player in the financial crisis. "Without the investment-grade ratings bestowed on pools of substandard mortgages, there would have been no mortgage crisis," said Jan Lawrence Handzlik of Los Angeles, a former federal prosecutor who specializes in white-collar criminal defense.

That's taking things too far. S&P and other ratings agencies certainly played a role in supercharging the housing bubble and thus contributing to its subsequent crash. Without the assurance of high ratings for CDOs and other securities that were full of fraudulent mortgages, there would have been less demand for those fraudulent mortgages. And lower demand would have meant fewer crappy mortgages, fewer defaults, and fewer problems with bank balance sheets full of toxic waste—which all came home to roost in 2008.

But there still would have been a housing bubble and a mortgage crisis, and the crash of 2008 still would have happened. The underlying factors that caused it were just too strong
. Nonetheless, it's certainly true that if the bubble had been a little smaller, the crash would have been smaller too. We've all paid a big price for S&P's duplicity.

In any case, this morning the settlement with S&P was made official. They'll be paying a total of more than $1 billion:

The $1.37 billion penalty, like the statement of facts, is the product of compromise.

The penalty, half of which is earmarked for the federal government and the rest for the states, is large enough to wipe out S.&P.’s operating profit for a year, and is three times what S.&P. originally offered to settle before the Justice Department filed its lawsuit. But it also falls far short of the $3.2 billion that the government demanded after S.&P. initially refused to settle.

Is $1.37 billion enough? Probably not. But no one has ever paid more than a fraction of the damage they helped cause during the runup to the financial crash. S&P is just the latest to skate by with a ruler to the wrist but not much more.
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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
Posts: 7725

PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2016 3:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

More, from Pro Publica:

Quote:
ProPublica, Dec. 6, 2011, 2:08 p.m.

It’s an issue we and others have noted again and again: Years after the financial crisis, there have still been no prosecutions of top executives at the major players in the financial crisis.

Why’s that? Well, according to a now-departed Justice Department official who used to be in charge of investigating such matters, the Justice Department has decided that holding top Wall Street executives criminally accountable is too difficult a task.

David Cardona, who recently left the FBI for a job at the Securities and Exchange Commission, told the Wall Street Journal that bringing financial wrongdoing to account is “better left to regulators,” who can bring civil cases. Civil cases, of course, can produce penalties from the banks -- as well as promises to be on better behavior -- but don’t put any executives behind bars. Here’s the Journal:

While at the FBI, Mr. Cardona oversaw dozens of criminal probes of large financial firms. The FBI's probes haven't led to any successful prosecutions of high-profile executives in relation to the financial crisis, despite demands from some lawmakers and angry Americans. In contrast, the SEC has filed crisis-related civil-fraud cases against 81 firms and individuals, and it has negotiated almost $2 billion in penalties in cases that have been settled.

Cardona told the Journal that the failed first attempt to charge financial players with crisis-related fraud -- the 2009 trial and eventual acquittal of two Bear Stearns Cos. hedge-fund managers -- triggered "a lot of rethinking on how we do things.” After that, he said, the federal government began to question its “ability to convince a jury that criminality has occurred” on complex and technical financial cases.

The lack of prosecutions was also raised in a ‘60 Minutes’ piece Sunday about large-scale mortgage fraud during the bubble. Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer told CBS that the Justice Department had not lost confidence and was “bringing every case that we believe can be made.”

“I get it. I find the excessive risk taking to be offensive,” said Breuer. “I may personally share the same frustration that American people all over the country are feeling, that in and of itself doesn’t mean we bring a criminal case.”

However, one question raised by the 60 Minutes segment is why the Justice Department isn’t building criminal cases against companies for violating Sarbanes-Oxley -- a landmark corporate reform law enacted after Enron. From the transcript:

The Sarbanes Oxley Act imposed strict rules for corporate governance, requiring chief executive officers and chief financial officers to certify under oath that their financial statements are accurate and that they have established an effective set of internal controls to insure that all relevant information reaches investors. Knowingly signing a false statement is a criminal offense punishable with up to five years in prison.

Frank Partnoy is a highly regarded securities lawyer, a professor at the University of San Diego Law School and an expert on Sarbanes Oxley.

Frank Partnoy: The idea was to have a criminal statute in place that would make CEOs and CFOs think twice, think three times before they signed their names attesting to the accuracy of financial statements or the viability of internal controls.

Kroft: And this law has not been used at all in the financial crisis.

Partnoy: It hasn't been used to go after Wall Street. It hasn't been used for these kinds of cases at all.

Kroft: Why not?

Partnoy: I don't know.

As Cardona -- the former Justice official -- sees it, financial regulators have been doing a “fine job” building civil cases against big firms.

That might come as a surprise to U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff, who’s repeatedly rebuked the SEC for striking relatively small agreements to settle civil charges against financial firms.

As we noted last week, Rakoff tore into a recent $285 million settlement with Citigroup, calling the financial penalty “pocket change” for Citi and blasting the SEC’s longstanding practice of allowing firms to settle without admitting wrongdoing.
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