There was good news yesterday for taxpayers, sort of: the Federal Reserve turned $76.9 billion in 2011 profits over to the U.S. Treasury. The not so good news is that it amounts to a meager 2.6% return on the Fed’s $2.9 trillion portfolio. That may be better than George Soros and John Paulson did last year, but at what risk?
Whoever says there are no winners in the European banking crisis apparently has never woken up with a horse's head in their bed. According to a new report by Italian anti-crime group SOS Impresa, as reported by Reuters, "Organised crime has tightened its grip on the Italian economy during the economic crisis, making the Mafia the country's biggest "bank" and squeezing the life out of thousands of small firms, according to a report on Tuesday." You mean kinda like Intesa credit cards demanding a 39.95% APR: we knew we had seen that "life squeezing" thing before somewhere. Of course at least with the mafia you know that it will never rely on fake Libor fixings to pretend it is alive, or need an ECB bailout the next day due to being overly invested in US subprime mortgages (unless of course Goldman's rolodex stretches even further than we thought possible). It sure does, however, bring a new definition to the term "shadow banking"... or is that the old one, where nobody cared about repos, money markets, overnight drafts, and hyperrehypothecation and all the complexity could be explained away with a baseball bat. Yet the conclusion, no matter how defined, still strikes us as hilarious: '"With 65 billion euros in liquidity, the Mafia is Italy's number one bank," said a statement from the group, which was set up in Palermo a decade ago to oppose extortion rackets against small business." Because as we pointed out yesterday, it was companies which were responsible for bailing out banks in Europe. How long then until La Cosa Nostra provides a lifeline to UniCredit, but only if half the BOD is replaced with guys in tracksuits and buzzcuts? Actually, not too long we would wager...
GS&Co marketing materials for ABACUS 2007-AC1 – including the term sheet, flip book and offering memorandum for the CDO – all represented that the reference portfolio of RMBS underlying the CDO was selected by ACA Management LLC (“ACA”), a third-party
with experience analyzing credit risk in RMBS. Undisclosed in the marketing materials and unbeknownst to investors, a large hedge fund, Paulson & Co. Inc. (“Paulson”), with economic interests directly adverse to investors in the ABACUS 2007-AC1 CDO, played a significant role in the portfolio selection process. After participating in the selection of the reference portfolio, Paulson effectively shorted the RMBS portfolio it helped select by entering into credit default swaps (“CDS”) with GS&Co to buy protection on specific layers of the ABACUS 2007-AC1 capital structure. Given its financial short interest, Paulson had an economic incentive to choose RMBS that it expected to experience credit events in the near future. GS&Co did not disclose Paulson’s adverse economic interests or its role in the portfolio selection process in the term sheet, flip book, offering memorandum or other marketing materials provided to investors...The deal closed on April 26, 2007. Paulson paid GS&Co approximately $15 million for structuring and marketing ABACUS 2007-AC1. By October 24, 2007, 83% of the RMBS in the ABACUS 2007-AC1 portfolio had been downgraded and 17% were on negative watch. By January 29, 2008, 99% of the portfolio had been downgraded. As a result, investors in the ABACUS 2007-AC1 CDO lost over $1 billion. Paulson’s opposite CDS positions yielded a profit of approximately $1 billion for Paulson.By engaging in the misconduct described herein, GS&Co and Tourre directly or indirectly engaged in transactions, acts, practices and a course of business that violated Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, 15 U.S.C. §77q(a) ("the Securities Act"), Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, 15 U.S.C. §78j(b) ("the Exchange Act") and Exchange Act Rule 10b-5, 17 C.F.R. §240.10b-5. The Commission seeks injunctive relief, disgorgement of profits, prejudgment interest, civil penalties and other appropriate and necessary equitable relief from both defendants.