Yesterday we broke the news of what is prima facie evidence, sourced by none other than the Federal Reserve's official August 16, 2007 conference call transcript, that then-NY Fed president and FOMC Vice Chairman Tim Geithner leaked material, non-public, and very much market moving information (the "Geithner Leak") to at least one banker, in this case then Bank of America CEO Ken Leiws, in advance of a formal Fed announcement - an act explicitly prohibited by virtually every capital markets law (and reading thereof). It was refreshing to see that at least several other mainstream outlets, including Reuters, The Hill and the NYT, carried this story which is far more significant than Season 1 of Lance Armstrong's produced theatrical confession and rating bonanza. What, however, the mainstream media has not touched upon, yet, is just how profound the market response to the Geithner Leak was, and by implication, how much money those who were aware of what the Fed was about to do, made. Perhaps, it should because as we show below, the implications were staggering. But perhaps what is even more relevant, is why the Fed's previously disclosed details of Mr. Geithner's daily actions at the time, have exactly no mention of any of this.
Goldman Wins Again As European Union Court Rules To Keep ECB Involvement In Greek Debt Fudging A SecretSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/29/2012 05:19 -0400
Three years ago, a hard fought landmark FOIA lawsuit was won by the great Bloomberg reports, the late Mark Pittman, in which the Fed was forced to disclose a plethora of previously secret bailout information, which in turn spurred the movement to "audit the Fed" and include a variety of largely watered down provisions in the Frank-Dodd bill. This victory came despite extensive objections by the Fed and the threat that the case may even escalate to the highly politicized Supreme Court, which lately has demonstrated conclusively that not only is justice not blind, but goes to the highest ideological bidder. Moments ago, Europe just learned that when it comes to secrecy of its supreme monetary leaders, in this case all originating from Goldman Sachs and defending data highly sensitive to the same Goldman Sachs, the European central bank's secrecy is not only matched by that of the Fed, but even more engrained in the "judicial" system of the Eurozone, after the European Union General Court in Luxembourg just announced that the European Central Bank will be allowed to refuse access to secret files showing how Greece used derivatives to hide its debt. Why? Simple: recall that it was Goldman Sachs who was the primary "advisor" on a decade worth of FX swaps-related deals which allowed Greece to outright lie about both its fiscal deficit and its total debt levels, and that it was a Goldman alum who became head of the same Greek debt office just before the country imploded. And certainly the ECB was involved and knew very all about the Greek behind the scenes shennanigans. And who happens to be head of the ECB? Why yet another former Goldman worker, of course. Mario Draghi.
This Is The Government: Your Legal Right To Redeem Your Money Market Account Has Been Denied - The SequelSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/19/2012 19:05 -0400
Two years ago, in January 2010, Zero Hedge wrote "This Is The Government: Your Legal Right To Redeem Your Money Market Account Has Been Denied" which became one of our most read stories of the year. The reason? Perhaps something to do with an implicit attempt at capital controls by the government on one of the primary forms of cash aggregation available: $2.7 trillion in US money market funds. The proximal catalyst back then were new proposed regulations seeking to pull one of these three core pillars (these being no volatility, instantaneous liquidity, and redeemability) from the foundation of the entire money market industry, by changing the primary assumptions of the key Money Market Rule 2a-7. A key proposal would give money market fund managers the option to "suspend redemptions to allow for the orderly liquidation of fund assets." In other words: an attempt to prevent money market runs (the same thing that crushed Lehman when the Reserve Fund broke the buck). This idea, which previously had been implicitly backed by the all important Group of 30 which is basically the shadow central planners of the world (don't believe us? check out the roster of current members), did not get too far, and was quickly forgotten. Until today, when the New York Fed decided to bring it back from the dead by publishing "The Minimum Balance At Risk: A Proposal to Mitigate the Systemic Risks Posed by Money Market FUnds". Now it is well known that any attempt to prevent a bank runs achieves nothing but merely accelerating just that (as Europe recently learned). But this coming from central planners - who never can accurately predict a rational response - is not surprising. What is surprising is that this proposal is reincarnated now. The question becomes: why now? What does the Fed know about market liquidity conditions that it does not want to share, and more importantly, is the Fed seeing a rapid deterioration in liquidity conditions in the future, that may and/or will prompt retail investors to pull their money in another Lehman-like bank run repeat?
Just What Is Mario Draghi Hiding? ECB Declines To Respond To Bloomberg FOIA Request On Greek-Goldman SwapsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/14/2012 13:38 -0400
Back in February 2010, in the aftermath of the discovery that none other than Goldman Sachs had facilitated for nearly a decade the masking of the true magnitude of non-Maastricht conforming Greek debt, Zero Hedge first identified the prospectus for a Goldman underwritten swap agreement securitization titled Titlos PLC. We titled the analysis "Is Titlos PLC The Downgrade Catalyst Trigger Which Will Destroy Greece?" because for all intents and purposes it was: at that time a rating agency downgrade of the country would lead to a chain of events which would make billions in assets ineligible for ECB collateral, forcing a massive margin call on the National Bank of Greece, which likely would have precipitated a Greek default there and then. But that is irrelevant for the time being: what is relevant is Titlos itself, and what Bloomberg did after we posted the analysis. It appears that in following in the footsteps of Mark Pittman, Bloomberg sued the ECB under Freedom of Information rules requesting "access to two internal papers drafted for the central bank’s six-member Executive Board. They show how Greece used swaps to hide its borrowings, according to a March 3, 2010, note attached to the papers and obtained by Bloomberg News. The first document is entitled “The impact on government deficit and debt from off-market swaps: the Greek case.” The second reviews Titlos Plc, a securitization that allowed National Bank of Greece SA, the country’s biggest lender, to exchange swaps on Greek government debt for funding from the ECB, the Executive Board said in the cover note. The ECB's response: "The European Central Bank said it can’t release files showing how Greece may have used derivatives to hide its borrowings because disclosure could still inflame the crisis threatening the future of the single currency." Maybe. But what is far more likely is that the reason why the ECB, headed by none other than former Goldmanite Mario Draghi, is desperate to keep these documents secret is for another reason. A very simple reason:
Mario Draghi - 2002-2005: Vice Chairman and Managing Director at Goldman Sachs International
New York Fed Refuses To Disclose Data On "The Largest Theft Of Funds In National History" Which Could Be Three Times Larger Than ExpectedSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/22/2011 10:22 -0400
A week ago we reported on the case of the "The Largest Theft Of Funds In National History" or the missing $6.6 billion in Iraq war reconstruction funding, which was literally composed of "shrink-wrapped bricks of $100 bills", which was part of a $20 billion total in "Marshall Plan" investment meant to stimulate the post-war economy. When discussing this so far undisclosed cash loss, "Stuart Bowen, special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, an office created by Congress, said the missing $6.6 billion may be "the largest theft of funds in national history." Two new developments have emerged in this fascinating story. The first, as CNBCs Eamon Javers reports is that "The New York Fed is refusing to tell investigators how many billions of dollars it shipped to Iraq during the early days of the US invasion there." Javers adds: "The Fed's lack of disclosure is making it difficult for the inspector general to follow the paper trail of billions of dollars that went missing in the chaotic rush to finance the Iraq occupation, and to determine how much of that money was stolen." Well, for what it's worth, we may have an estimate of this largest war theft ever: talking to Al Jazeera, "Osama al-Nujaifi, the Iraqi parliament speaker, has told Al Jazeera that the amount of Iraqi money unaccounted for by the US is $18.7bn - three times more than the reported $6.6bn." If indeed the total theft amounts to virtually the entire amount of reconstruction spending that could possibly explain why the Fed is so coy in discussing this issue. Alas, just like the Fed's multitrillion bailout of the financial system, it is unlikely it will be able to keep the topic from reemerging, and that very soon - al-Nujaifi adds: "There is a lot of money missing during the first American administration of Iraqi money in the first year of occupation. "Iraq's development fund has lost around $18bn of Iraqi money in these operations - their location is unknown. Also missing are the documents of expenditure. "I think it will be discussed soon. There should be an answer to where has Iraqi money gone." Who will be the next Mark Pittman to sue the New York Fed to get the required information on how much cash the FRBNY was complicit in "disappearing" - we can't wait to find out.
Goldman's business model is designed around the exploitation of secrecy. Secrecy is organizing principle that governs modern credit markets. Credit default swaps, privately placed structured securitizations (e.g. CDOs), and hedge funds have all flourished-- they dominate the debt markets--because they are all designed to exploit secrecy. They all create extraordinary profits by keeping the rest of us in the dark. So in late 2006, if you wanted to find out what was happening in this newly created synthetic RMBS market, you couldn't find out much of anything. You couldn't find out anything about who bought or sold any CDO, or what was in any CDO, or how any CDO performed, unless Goldman or some other CDO underwriter deemed you sufficiently worthy of their selective disclosures. You couldn't learn anything from the sales or trading activity of mortgage bonds, because the related trading in credit default swaps was kept hidden beneath the surface. You didn't know anything about the trading activity related to the ABX indices, since that, also, was kept secret. And since the privately-held company that owned the ABX, CDS IndexCo LLC, operated in total secrecy, and since the privately-held company that published the price of the ABX, Markit Group Limited , operated in total secrecy, you had no way of knowing the extent to which the price of the ABX was manipulated through round-tripping, side deals with synthetic CDOs, or anything else. The only thing you knew, your only link to the illusory "reality " of market sentiment, was the quoted price of the ABX. And you might happen to know that the Chairman of CDS IndexCo was Brad Levy, a managing director at Goldman, which, along with a handful of other banks, controlled CDS IndexCo and Markit Group. Both the FCIC and the Levin subcommittee disclosed a wealth of information that others with a more skeptical bent can scrutinize in depth. This information poses a direct challenge to Goldman's dissembling, and to the moral hazard of access journalism, which is no substitute for the full transparency of a free and open marketplace of ideas.
More Political Capture: Goldman Hires Top Republican Fed Transparency Foe; Spends More Time With SEC Than Any Other BankSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 05/28/2011 12:55 -0400
The name Judd Gregg is not new to Zero Hedge readers. Back in the 2009-2010 battle for Fed transparency, which continues to be only fractionally on the way to being won, Gregg, who then served as the top Republican on the Budget Committee and a member of the Banking Committee, said that "opponents of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's second term are
guilty of "pandering populism"." Odd that these populism panderers, of which Zero Hedge was a proud member, ultimately succeeded in not only getting a one time Fed audit, but also won the legal case initiated by Mark Pittman to expose the Fed's dirty laundry, without which we would not know that not only did the Fed bail out primarily foreign investment banks during the financial crisis, but also that the biggest user of the Fed's somewhat secret Short Term Open Market Operations facility, also known as a 0.01% subsidy, was none other than Goldman Sachs, contrary to the firm's sworn statements that it did not really need bailing out. Gregg continued: "There's a lot of populism going on in this country right now, and I'm tired of it." Gregg warned that the growing tide of populism would threaten some of the most central institutions to the economy's recovery. "What it's going to do is burn down some of the institutions which are critical to us as a nation and as an economy to recover and create jobs," he warned." It was therefore only a matter of time that Gregg, following the end of his political career, has decided to step down, and work for one of these "central institutions to the economy's recovery" - Goldman Sachs. As such we present the list of companies that courtesy of their "top contributor" status with the senator over the years, are about to get preferential treatment from Goldman's sell side analysts, and see a prompt upgrade to Buy and/or Conviction Buy list in the near term. After all there is no such thing as squid-pro-zero in a world controlled by Wall Street's institutions "central to the economy's recovery."
Christine Harper, Michael Moore and Bob Ivry have been quite busy today. After poring through the lifetime legacy project of their late colleague Mark Pittman, the trio may have just made a discovery that in a non-banana republic could be enough to at least force a special hearing into whether Goldman COO Gary Cohn committed perjury while testifying to the FCIC on June 30. The culprit: Goldman's (ab)use of the discount window not once, not twice, but five times. Well everyone else was doing it, especially Goldman's insolvent peers like JPM, Merrill Lynch, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Bank of America, Wachovia, UBS, Credit Suisse and, well, everyone else. So what's wrong with that? Here's what: "Goldman Sachs President and Chief Operating Officer Gary D. Cohn told the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission June 30 that “we used it one night at the request of the Fed to make sure our systems were linked with their systems, and it was for a de minimis amount of money.” Peter J. Wallison, a member of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, then asked, “you never had to use it after that?” “No, and as I said, we used it on the Fed’s request,” Cohn replied. Alas, that is a lie. And last time we checked, lying to Congress under oath is not quite the right the way to conduct God's work (and yes, a perfectly innocuous "I don't recall" ala David Sokol from his CNBC interview would have sufficed). Alas no: Goldman just had to demonstrate how very immune from the legal process it is, by "risking" its credibility and reputation with the assumption that it is either never wrong, or, like Warren Buffett, that it can never be caught doing wrong. Well, it just was.
After years of threats about untold destruction should the Fed release discount window borrowings by both the Fed and the Clearinghouse Association (read the bulk of the Primary Dealers), the Fed today released "thousands of pages" of discount window borrowings. And while we are waiting for the docs to be uploaded in a publicly disclosable and legible format, we observe that not only has the market not plunged, but the Dow is in fact higher at this moment, confirming yet again that not only is each and every threat by the Fed that if it does not get its way hollow and baseless, but the whole TARP rescue which pledged over $20 trillion in taxpayer capital to prevent the apocalypse was likely just as much of an empty threat, whose sole purpose was to prevent the bankruptcy of bank management and shareholders. We will release the documents with our analysis as soon as we get them, but in the meantime, here is the summary on this event from Bloomberg, whose employee Mark Pittman was responsible for this lawsuit, and won.
Final Count: Pittman Wins, Fed Loses, As Supreme Court Refuses To Grant Confidential Data Disclosure Appeal Sought By BanksSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/21/2011 10:43 -0400
In a crushing blow against the Fed and the banks that own it, in this case represented by the Clearing House Association, the Supreme Court rejected an industry appeal set forth by the CHA, that sought to keep critical bailout data from going public. The lawsuit was originally started by the great and late Mark Pittman, who tragically passed away around Thanksgiving 2009: we are confident we would be delighted to learn that his unprecedented act of suing the Fed in order to generate more transparency has finally succeeded. From Matt Winkler: " "At some point long before the credit markets seized up in 2007, financial markets collapsed and the economy plunged into the worst recession since the 1930s, the Federal Reserve forgot that it is the central bank for the people of the United States and not a private academy where decisions of great importance may be withheld from public scrutiny. As only Congress has the constitutional power to coin money, Congress delegates that power to the Fed and the Fed must be accountable to Congress, especially in disclosing what it does with the people's money."
And so the spirit of Mark Pittman lives on. Bloomberg, which last year sued the Fed in a landmark FOIA case, and won (a decision which is being appealed by the kleptocrats but not the Fed), has decided to go transatlantic, and is now suing that smaller and far less viagraed cousin of the Fed, the ECB. Per Bloomberg: "The lawsuit asks the European Union’s General Court in Luxembourg to overturn a decision by the ECB not to disclose two internal documents drafted for the central bank’s six-member executive board in Frankfurt this year. The notes show how Greece used swaps to hide its borrowings, according to a March 3 cover page attached to the papers obtained by Bloomberg News. ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet withheld the documents after the EU and International Monetary Fund led a 110 billion- euro bailout ($144 billion) for Greece. The dossier should be disclosed to stop governments from employing the derivatives in a similar way again and to show how EU authorities acted on information they had on the swaps, according to the suit, filed by Bloomberg Finance LP, the parent of Bloomberg News." And for all those who were concerned that Mutual Assured Destruction is purely a US response to a rat being cornered, it appears the virus has gone airborne: "The information contained in the two documents would
undermine the public confidence as regards the effective conduct
of economic policy,” Trichet wrote in an Oct. 21 letter,
turning down Bloomberg’s request for the documents. Disclosure
“bears, in the current very vulnerable market environment, the
substantial and acute risk of adding to volatility and
instability.” Hello, McFly... We got the impression that PGBs moving 350 bps in two hours after Trichet's own bucket shop of a central bank decided to buy every single outstanding bond in the open market may be a far more potent reason for market "volatility." As for undermining confidence, perhaps this murder of charlatans should have considered that before they set off on the world's most ridiculous pilgrimage to the gods of lies, hubris, deceit, market manipulation and propaganda. Lastly, as this is merely a "protect Goldman" exercise, which as everyone knows is the main party involved in this Greek swap "transaction" - who cares: everyone in the world knows full well the high ethical standards of the West 200-based hedge fund.
It’s now two years later, Bloomberg has won at both the U.S. District Court and the Second Circuit Appeals Court and the information is still being withheld.
Bloomberg responds to the Kleptocratic House Association
By now everybody has heard about today's most recent butchering of Obama's farcical campaign promise of transparency, as exhibited by his superior: the Federal Reserve, which replied to a FOIA request submitted by the late Mark Pittman with 560 pages of blacked out lack of disclosure, all of which highly irrelevant, and a typical demonstration of the Fed's modus operandi of criminal opacity. Since there is little we could add to this narrative, we thought long and hard how to most poetically give justice to the ongoing saga between the late Mark and the soon to be late Fed. We couldn't come up with anything profound. So we decided to fall back on the simplicity of truth. And the truth is that in this most recent attempt to foul the memory of a great journalist and greater man, the Fed once again merely digs the grave of its own demise ever deeper. Even from beyond, Pittman reminds us that one simple man can continue to challenge the multi-headed hydra that is the Fed, and win. The truth is that the Fed's response is simply another acknowledgment that it only has lies, deceit, cowardice and secrets to protect it from a hundred years of accumulated crimes against the public of the United States. The truth is that Pittman's memory will live longer and have a far greater impact than that of all the Fed's pathetic chairmen combined, the most recent iteration of whom are finally realizing they are fighting a losing war to preserve their institution, now in its terminal phase, after which their legacy will be at best forgotten, and at worst a sorrowful reminder of what happens when a nation allows itself to fall under the tyranny of a few corrupt and worthless men.
Mark Pittman's last valiant effort to bring some transparency to the most destructive organization in the history of mankind has succeeded. According to testimony to be delivered to the House tomorrow, "under a framework established by
the act, the Federal Reserve will, by December 1, provide detailed
information regarding individual transactions conducted across a range
of credit and liquidity programs over the period from December 1, 2007,
to July 20, 2010. This information will include the names of
counterparties, the date and dollar value of individual transactions,
the terms of repayment, and other relevant information. On an ongoing
basis, subject to lags specified by the Congress to protect the efficacy
of the programs, the Federal Reserve also will routinely provide
information regarding the identities of counterparties, amounts financed
or purchased and collateral pledged for transactions under the discount
window, open market operations, and emergency lending facilities." Luckily this action by Bernanke will prevent the rioting that would have followed an appeal to the Supreme court, which would have certainly sided with the secretive group of Keynesian priests. If nothing else, the plethora of data will keep the blogosphere preoccupied for days upon days, rummaging through millions of pages of explicit corruption.