Andrew Ross Sorkin
Like Houston, the financial system has been flooded with liquidity over recent years which has ultimately only had one place to flow - the financial markets. That excess liquidity has sent prices soaring to record highs despite weakting macro economic data. While many hope that the Central Banks can somehow figure out how to keeps the rivers of liquidity from overflowing their banks, history suggests that eventually bad things will happen. Of course, for investors, that translates into a significant and irreperable loss of capital.
As the following update of CNBC's perhaps most popular (if least watched, lagging even Mad Money) day breaking segment, SquawkBox, the show that features Joe Kernen, Becky Quick and Andrew Ross Sorkin just suffered its worst quarterly Nielsen rating in the show's history.
Despite the authorities' best efforts to keep everything orderly, we know how this global Game of Geopolitical Tetris ends: "Players lose a typical game of Tetris when they can no longer keep up with the increasing speed, and the Tetriminos stack up to the top of the playing field. This is commonly referred to as topping out."
"I’m tired of being outraged!"
Every year, David Collum writes a detailed "Year in Review" synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year's is no exception. "I have not seen a year in which so many risks - some truly existential - piled up so quickly. Each risk has its own, often unknown, probability of morphing into a destructive force. It feels like we’re in the final throes of a geopolitical Game of Tetris as financial and political authorities race to place the pieces correctly. But the acceleration is palpable. The proximate trigger for pain and ultimately a collapse can be small, as anyone who’s ever stepped barefoot on a Lego knows..."
As if the market needed any further proof it is not only manipulated and rigged (at least under a legal system that classifies trading on insider information as illegal), but is constantly abused by those with material, non-public information - i.e., insiders - here comes a study conducted by professors at McGill and New York Universities, which, as the NYT summarizes, finds that "A quarter of all public company deals may involve some kind of insider trading."
Never in a million years did we think we’d ever use an article by Andrew Ross Sorkin as the basis of a blog post, but here we are. While probably entirely unintentional, his article serves to further solidify as accurate the prevailing notion across America that former head of the New York Federal Reserve and Obama’s first Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, is nothing more than an addled, crony, bureaucratic banker cabin boy. Simply put, "Geithner is so bad, he actually makes Larry Summers look good."
Mike Krieger brings to our attention this clip from the Daily Show, in which Jon Stewart takes on the orgy of crony capitalists, vacuous celebrities and corrupt politicians that is the World Economic Forum in Davos, or as he calls it, "The Money Oscars."
Events in Cyprus stem from precisely the same source as the surge in US home prices, namely monetary expansion by the Fed.
We couldn't have said it better: "Bank of America blocks users from accessing websites that present certain risks to the bank."
While the theater of the presidential election hits peak season, and InTrade odds for this candidate or that are approaching flash crash territory, the one person who truly runs not only the US, but the entire "developed" world, Ben Bernanke, is going nowhere. At least not until January 2014. At which point he may be going somewhere - retirement. Reuters cites the NYT: "U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has told close friends he probably will not stand for a third term at the central bank even if President Barack Obama wins the November 6 election, the New York Times reported." In other words: the republican Fed Chairman who mysteriously became a Democrat president's bestest friend (and has been publicly threatened by every other GOP candidate, including Romney, although that would be merely to replace him with Bill Dudley, not Glenn Hubbard) that $4 trillion that the Fed will have in assets at the time of Ben's departure, and $5 trillion at December 31, 2014, just became someone else's problem. Good luck to that someone else unwinding a Fed balance sheet which as we explained previously, will at one point in the next 2 years hold well over half of the marketable US Treasury debt inventory. How the sale of this inventory will happen in a time of spiking rates (because that's what the Fed wants - inflation) is literally anyone's guess, because in practice it will never happen.
The European Union has been, in a very real sense, like a masquerade ball. The intricately painted masks covering manipulated stress tests, hiding inaccurate debt to GDP ratios, falsified accounting practices, glossing over any sort of contingent liabilities as if the scars were not there and double counting assets however, like all extravaganzas of this type, is about to reach a conclusion. The night has been long and the hour is late but one by one the masks are being removed and the characters are seen for what they are; a less than pretty sight. There are negative yields in the short maturities for Germany, France and the Netherlands which might soon be found in the United States. We are not sure what Mr. Bernanke will make of institutions paying him to leave their money with the United States government but it will be a classic example of a point in time where “Return OF Capital” became much more important that “Return ON Capital” but as we have asserted time and time again, given the 36% loss of wealth during the American Financial Crisis, that “Preservation of Capital,” are manifestly the byword of the Faith at present.
Fraud ... What Fraud?
Remember the look on one's face when one hears there is no Santa Claus, or tooth fairy? That, more or less, is what the visage on everyone's favorite CNBC anchors Becky Quick, Joe Kernen and Andrew Ross Sorkin was, when Chris Whalen matter of fact (because it is a fact) let a rare glimpse of reality on the NBC Universal distraction and entertainment show, when he said "There is no Chinese Wall. Please. Come on. This is Wall Street." Awkward silence follows. And why not: if the banks officially call frontrunning an "Asymmetric Information Initiative" to mask the simple illegality from the idiot regulators, why not call a spade a spade, and expose one more aspect of the lies and crime that is shoved down investors' throats every single day.
In the aftermath of the Zachery Kouwe plagiarism fiasco, the last thing Andrew Ross Sorkin's Dealbook needs is another scandal. Yet this is precisely what may come out of a recent column by the TBTF author, in which ARS insinuated that Lehman whistleblower Matthew Lee came forth with incriminating Repo 105 evidence only after he was made aware he was about to be "downsized." The Columbia Journalism Review's Ryan Chittum debunks this story, after pointing out some potentially gross misrepresentations in the Sorkin column, which go to directly to motive and to the integrity behind Lee's actions. "The Times’s DealBook editor Andrew Ross Sorkin, who wrote the column, quotes the sources saying the whistle blower came forward only after “it became clear” he was to be replaced in his job. We’ll get to that peculiar phrasing in a minute, but the main problem is the Times story gives no indication that Lee was called for comment. In fact, he wasn’t called, according to Lee’s lawyer, Erwin Shustak, whom I talked to yesterday. “I’ve never spoken to the man (Sorkin) in my life,” Shustak says. “Nobody’s spoken to Matthew.” That doesn’t meet a basic fairness test. As it happens, Shustak tells us that Lee had no idea his job was in danger." If indeed Sorkin misstated facts, a retraction is the only recourse as the potential for legal escalation on all sides of the story is huge. We are confident that while to Lehman managing directors $50 billion may have been a drop in the ocean, legal prosecution going after either ARS (or Lee) to reclaim it in part (or in whole) will surely make the Dealbook editor's head spin, even after accounting for Paulson and Geithner's 10,000 purchases of TBTF each (exaggeration ours... we hope).