David Stockman Berates Bruce Berkowitz's Bogus Bombast

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by David Stockman via Contra Corner blog,

The Fed’s serial bubble machine has not only bestowed massive speculative windfalls on the 1%, but it has also fostered a noxious culture of plunder and entitlement in the gambling casinos of Wall Street. After each thundering sell-off during the bust phase, crony capitalist gamblers have been gifted with ill-gotten windfalls during the Fed’s subsequent maniacal money printing spree.

Worse still, this trash-to-riches syndrome has unfolded so consistently since the late 1980s that there now exists a marauding gang of permanent vulture-speculators who impudently claim entitlement to any and all action by the state that might be needed to quickly reflate their gleanings from the bottom. The passel of hedge funds led by Elliot Capital which blackmailed the Obama White House into paying billions for the worthless debt of Delphi during the GM bailout is only one especially odious example.

In this context comes Bruce Berkowitz “scolding” and firing “salvos” at Washington from the front page of the Wall Street Journal. As it has happened, the usually craven denizens of the beltway have so far managed to ignore his petulant demands for a multi-billion payday on the worthless Fannie and Freddie preferred stock that his fund scooped up after the housing bust. Recall, these were the securities issued in 2008 at $25 per share to shore up the tottering housing finance agencies just before Hank Paulson’s bazooka sputtered.

Not inappropriately, when the Republican White House nationalized Freddie and Fannie in September 2008 these preferred shares plunged to 25 cents—-their true value all along. The fact is, the so-called GSEs do not “earn” profits; they merely book bloated accounting margins that reflect nothing more profound than the fact that Freddie and Fannie drastically underpay for renting Uncle Sam’s balance sheet. As finally became official when the U.S. Treasury threw them a $180 billion lifeline, the GSEs are now—and have always been—a branch office of the U.S. Treasury Department.

The only reason Freddie and Fannie are not prosecuted for filing fraudulent accounting statements, therefore, is the beltway fiction that they are “off-budget”. This convenient scam was first invented by Lyndon Johnson to magically shrink his “guns and butter” fiscal deficits, but it has since metastasized into a giant business fairy tale—namely, that behind the imposing brick façade of Fannie Mae there is a real company generating value-added services that are the source of its reported profits and current multi-billion pink sheet valuation. In fact, there is nothing behind those walls except a stamping machine that embosses the signature of the American taxpayer on every billion dollar package of securitized mortgages it guarantees and on all the bonds it issues to fund a giant portfolio of mortgages and securities from which it strips the interest.

If we wanted to have honest socialist mortgage finance, a handful of GS-14s could run Freddie and Fannie out of the U.S. Treasury building. Civil servants could emboss the taxpayers’ guarantee on every family’s home mortgage just as proficiently as the make-believe business executives who populate the GSEs today; and in the process we could dispense with the sheer waste involved in applying GAAP accounting to the operations of a mere government bureau.

In an alternative political universe not corrupted by crony capitalist mythology about the elixir of homeownership, of course, there would be no need for a Treasury Bureau of Home Mortgage Finance. The decision to own own or rent would be made by 115 million American households based on their best lights, not the inducements and favors of the state. Markets would clear the interest price of mortgage debt and set credit terms and maturities consistent with the risks involved. Undoubtedly, rates would be a few hundred basis points higher and 30-year fixed rates mortgages quite rare. And like in the seemingly prosperous precincts of Germany, the home-ownership rate might be 55% or any other number not selected by pandering politicians of the type who pinned the 70% disaster on the wall during the Clinton-Bush era.

At the end of the day, having 40 million renter-households and 25 million mortgage-free owner-households provide (in their capacity as taxpayers) trillions of subsidized credit to upwards of 50 million mortgage-encumbered households is absurd. Yet it could be dismissed as just another expression of the capricious and random shuffling of income among American citizens that is the tradecraft of the Washington puzzle palace.

Unfortunately, the reality is not so anodyne. In order to hide this random redistribution mischief, the Treasury Bureau of Home Mortgage Finance has been gussied-up to form the simulacrum of a profit-making enterprise—otherwise known as a GSE. In that posture, the GSEs have been repeatedly plundered by insiders like Franklin Rains, the 90 million dollar man who drove Fannie off the cliff; and by fast money stock speculators who managed to drive the combined market cap of Freddie and Fannie to the lunatic level of $140 billion during their hay-day at the turn of the century; and by the Wall Street dealers and so-called fund managers who inventory trillions of GSE debt securities in order to scalp profits from the economically pointless spread between regular treasury bonds and the GSE variant of the same thing.

All of these hundreds of billions were pocketed by adept cronies and speculators in the various debt, equity and preferred securities of the GSEs during the decades culminating in the 2008 financial crisis. Given the trauma of those events, Secretary Paulson’s desperate and ill-disguised nationalization of Freddie and Fannie should have put an end to the plunder.

But it hasn’t because there is no end to the zero cost-of-goods carry trades by which speculators scoop-up and fund financial assets—busted and not—during the Fed’s money printing marathons. Likewise, there is no end to crony capitalist marauders like Berkowitz, who have the temerity to demand make-wholes from the state, and K-Street hirelings—lawyers, accountants and consultants— who are skilled at the manufacture of specious public policy rationalizations for outright thievery.

So now comes the patented crony capitalist rush. The worthless Freddie and Fannie preferreds have lately erupted from $0.25 per share to $12, meaning that some speculators have already garnered a paper return of 48X. And why did this revival miracle transpire? Quite simply because Berkowitz’s Fairholme Capital and his posse of punters—-John Paulson, Perry Capital and Pershing Square, among others—have taken turns bidding up the paper.

Meanwhile, their deplorable plan to do the American people a favor and swap these bogus securities for those of a new tax-payer underwritten, mortgage guarantee stamping machine, has but one objective—that is, to put a statutory floor under the current $12 per share price and enable them to dicker with Capitol Hill staffs for an ultimate take-out at par($25) under the guise of “privatization”. The larceny intended here is not modest: the payday for Berkowitz and his hedge fund posse would amount to $35 billion on toxic paper which was purchased for rounding errors.

To be sure, Berkowitz and his sharpies blather that Freddie and Fannie have now returned $200 billion to the US Treasury, thereby repaying the original $180 billion drawdown, with some change to spare. But what hay wagon do they think even the clueless officialdom of Washington rides upon? Roughly $50 billion of that was for writing-up a “tax asset” that had earlier been written-down, owing to the fact that absent nationalization the GSEs had no prospect of booking even accounting income in the future. And the remaining $150 billion represents dividends paid to the Treasury since 2009 based on using Uncle Sam’s credit card to issue the bonds and guarantees which fund the assets from which these so-called GSE dividends are scalped.

In other words, the Berkowitz Gang wants to be paid a king’s ransom for ownership shares in what amounts to a bureau of the US Treasury. And yet these con men pound the table demanding to “wake up the (GSE) boards” so that they will execute their “fiduciary responsibility”. Indeed, so shameless are Wall Street’s princes of plunder that Berkowitz told a skeptical CNBC questioner last fall “we’ve helped before with AIG”, and that he now merely seeks a “win-win” to “help with jobs, help with the economy, help with the dream of homeownership”!

That gibberish is the measure of the crony capitalist deformation that has infested the nation’s financial markets and system of political governance. The obvious thing for Washington to do is close the doors at Fannie and Freddie and allow their $5 trillion portfolio to run-off in the manner of any liquidation. And if it must subsidize home mortgage credit, just bring back the metal filing cabinets in the Treasury Building where the so-called “secondary mortgage market” was birthed in 1938. Yet what it dare not do is succumb to the bogus bombast of the punters and sharpies who troll the financial wreckage inexorably created by the Fed’s serial bubble machine.

If it does, the people will find their pitchforks and torches - one of these days.

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Motorhead's picture

Deformation, bitchez!

HyBrasilian's picture

Alotta alliteration touting tale telling Tylers spamming 'Son of Sam' symbols!

philipat's picture

They will be climate friendly LNG torches to comply with environmental laws? The pitchforks will, of course, be made in China.

Flakmeister's picture

Ironic that Stockman was there when the wheels first started coming off back in the '80s...

This mistook a last kick of the can based on Prudhoe Bay and the North Sea as some kind of Rennaissance....

gjp's picture

However wrong he may have been then, to his credit, he left a lot of opportunity on the table, and he has become the most articulate and scathing critic of the financial fraud establishment.

Great article.  How can Fannie and Freddie still be a plaything for Wall Street?  And we point fingers at other nations for being corrupt!

Divided States of America's picture


Hey Flaky, tell me if its just a coincidence that Bruce Berkowitz, John Paulson, Richard Perry (Perry Capital) and Bill Ackman (Pershing Square) and probably Dan Loeb and Carl Icahn and Larry Fink ...you know where I am getting at. I mean when it comes to making money hands over fist and fucking everyone else, how come I dont get into any of these '48x your money ' deals, do you get any Flaks?


HyBrasilian's picture

If you're related to 'David Berkowitz', you're good to go... Because you can always BLAME it on 'antisemantic' BLACK DOGS... [Those bastards always show up out of the blue ~ througout history ~ when needed ~ to perpetuate the 6,000 year old LIE]... Evereyone's teenage daughter is there to keep it all going for the NEXT generation to enjoy...

Divided States of America's picture

Yeah thats francis, flaks......i can see u starting to shake with your tail between your legs. u better hurry back to mommy's room.

Lonewar's picture


The reason you dont get in on any of these "48x your money" deals, is because you are a coward who doesnt know how to read a financial statement.

I am a nobody from Southern California, and I am in on this deal. ($2,000 invested, currently worth $130,000).

I looked at F&F in 2008 and said I want in, unfortunately, I didnt have any free money until Feb 2009, when the stock had gone from $0.05 per share to $0.64 per share, but I still bought. I have watched and traded into and out of that position over the last 5 years, and now its almost enough to pay off my house.

No inside information, no Wall Street connections, nothing but looking at a company that has a 0.75% spread on 3 TRILLION dollars and doing math that shows they will be able to pay the dividends that the Treasury demanded, and still show a profit.

ANYONE had the opportunity to do this. This wasnt so private, HNW individual only offer, this was a publically traded company that actually experience capitualation in its stock price, and did NOT get liquidated when it should have. (Politicians were too afraid to Nationalize it for what it would have done to the National Enslavement (Debt), and too afraid to liquidate it as that would have taken down the entire worlds financial crimes.)

So they put it into conservatorship, and that allowed it to heal. And when it was finally taken off of life support, and the government realized that it didnt die, they decided to make a slave of it instead.

But as Bruce stated below, the time for Slave Making was 2008, because after that some very rich people got involved. And now they want their money. And I am still betting that they will buy enough politicians and judges to get their money.

How I am betting it will go down is that they will win the lawsuit against the government, and the third treasury agreement will be modified so that all profits after the 10% treasury dividend are fowarded to the government as a PRINCIPLE payment (Other than a cushion of 3 billion) until the government is paid off, then profits will be used to build a true loss reserve (Say $100 billion) so the likelihood of this happening in the future are remote, and everything after than can then be released to shareholders. (Of which, the government, if it is smart, will be with an 80% stake)

BTW, this means there will be 6 billion shares of Fannie outstanding. Fannie earned 84 billion last year, of which 58 billion was a one time accounting gimick. That leaves 26 billion of real income. 26 billion minus treasury dividends of 12 billion is 14 billion, 14 billion divided by 6 billion shares is $2.33 per share in profit. At a conservative 12 trailing twelve months earnings, the price of the Fannie Common stock should be $28 per share. Its currently trading at ~$4.80. And these are conservative numbers... so you can still get in and get 5.5 times your money from it

Using shock and awe MSM numbers it would be 84 billion divided by 1.2 billion share for $70 per share trailing twelve month earnings for a price target of $1,050 per share using a 15X multiple... and it is still trading at ~4.80 per share... for a ludicrous potential of a ~225 ROI

As for the preferreds? They are about half way to their caps of either $25 or $50 per share depending on issue, so I only see the potential to double your money from them...

Divided States of America's picture

Dude, keep holding it till it goes to the moon.

Read a financial statement??? go read AMZN, TSLA, NFLX financials...or the biotechs nowdays?? Does it fuckin matter anymore?

You can call me anything else but how am I a coward? I only invest in something that I dont expect to make money because it may (more like WILL) get bailed out. Thats commone sense. If you want to talk about courage, keep buying the fuckin all time highs stud.

Btw, You got lucky that other investors that got into the FNM/FRE trade at 5 cents have surnames like those mentioned above, you just rode of their dirty coattails so you better start monetizing your nice gains before they crap it for their own benefit.

fonzannoon's picture

Here is what I don't get. Someone please explain this to me.... When it comes to this rigged casino...how can one have morals or be a coward?

Going long does not mean you sold out and going short ain't getting you into the pearly gates. There is one dude on here who used to tie religion into his trades. I don't see much of him anymore because I assume he lost his ass.

Anyway, I just don't get it, from either side. If I get to the gates of heaven, the first thing I will do is awkwardly apologize for thinking they did not exist, but if I get there and god has a checklist and the market is on there, I will call him a hypocritical asshole for some of the stuff that he apparently allows to go on every day in society and will head towards the elevator to presumably head down.

Divided States of America's picture

I agree with your assessment fonz, I reflect on the same thing all the time...i wish i could just sit on an island with nothing to worry about such as how to make money, what fine cuisine to eat, what to watch on tv.....i dont mind just chilling out in the water and lying in the sun but i dont think anybody (my gf or my family) would want that...maybe my dog wont mind.

Lonewar's picture

Financial statements do matter, as long as the stock isnt a momo favorite or a TBTF financial. (BTW an unmentioned Momo favorite is P... and I dont see anyone mentioning it...)

Other bets that you could have taken during the same time period are Ford at $1.00, or a couple of others. The market was about 1 week from a true capitulation, but the money masters couldnt take it anymore... so the demanded the bailout from their minions, and now we have endless QE...

What I am saying is that anyone, and everyone can make money in this market, as long as you dont try and short it. (without inside information). The money masters were looking at their formulas, which were saying probable revolution, and so they turned on the money spigots to calm the populace down. Granted, only a few drops made it to the public, but those, along with MSM bullshit, have kept the general public at bay... for now.

And it wasnt luck, it was trying to think like a corrupt politician, and when I did, I determined that they would NOT do the right thing and liquidate F&F, or do the smart thing, which is Nationalize them, so that left the stupid thing, which was bail them out, which meant there was money to be made.

But that does NOT mean that a person stops prepping, or that they stop speaking out against a corrupted system, or even buying gold and silver to try and destroy the system. It means that it is easier to do all of the above when you have money. And just because we have a stupid corrupt system, it means that I need to live in it, as I dont have the resources, yet, to live outside of it. So if I am going to live in it, I am going to try to do my best to encourage it because we are racing towards a crash. I am just hoping that I jump off in time...

As for buying, not buying, trading into and out of, yes, but not buying new. Buying was 5 years ago, now is the liquidation time. The philosophy is buy low sell high, not buy high sell low...

My one question is if Bruce got out at $5.00 like he was planning? Or if he is still in this game like I am. If he did, after I told him not to, it makes up for me not bailing on Molycorp after he told me to.

Meanwhile, my price target is $45.00 per share on the commons, with that I get to retire at 41, and go find a nice cabin in the middle of nowhere to lose my gold around...

Divided States of America's picture

Makes sense what you say but I had a choice that I took which is to think rationally, logically and I have decided I want no part of this game anymore. I was duped into thinking that there was accountability in this world back in 2008 (ie. let those institutions fail who risked big and lost and send their CEOs to jail) but i was wrong....and 5 years later, it has gotten even worse.

It really is hard to get away from this tainted industry since my work entails looking at the BS all day long. Its like quitting smoking or quitting drug addiction. Easier said than done.

Well anyways I wish you good luck bro when it comes to jumping off the train before it veers off a cliff.

Lonewar's picture


A VERY large part of me wants to live in a world where NO ONE is above the law. Where Capitalism actually exists. Where our government actually tries to do what is best for the PEOPLE of the country and NOT just the elites.

And the small, greedy, evil part, wants to retire, as I am sick and tired of working for this fucked up, corrupt system.

I would love to be able to have my cabin in the woods somewhere, but I refuse to become a leech on the system to get there, so I work, and I invest to the best of my ability. So that hopefully I can leave it all behind...

ConfederateH's picture

Bravo, you sided with the parasites and won big.  What does that make you?  Why are you any different than all the federal government parasite employees gorging at the government slop trough?

Lonewar's picture


Because I am risking my money, that I earned from the sweat of my brow.

I am not a TBTF, if this idea had failed (Like it should have), I would not have gotten a dime. And while not all of my eggs are in this basket, enough are that having it go poof would have hurt.

But as for working for 40+ years, paying taxes, and supporting the system, fuck that, I want out. If this works the way I hope it will, I will have $1 million in a RothIRA, which will give me $5,000 per month tax free. And, as that is twice what I make now, after taxes, that will allow me to check out, and best of all, the leeches will no longer get 20% of my life each year. And even better is that I wont need to become a leech to do it either.

SpinDrift's picture

Seems like a decent plan.  I've worked my ass off for the last 20 years building up my skills to make more money (from my trade) however all that it's really done is fatten me up to have the blood funnel shoved further up my ass.  Last year I paid $28K in federal income tax and I'm thinking, I worked 20 years to finally break the $100k mark and all I've done is enable the fuckers to take even more of my money.  I'm a basic guy, don't really want to learn the stock market, bitcoin, or whatever the latest gambling fad is...but, I am paying a high price and providing fuel for the bankster fuckers to keep their high going.  As for being a leech...I'm guessing the second I tried that everything I applied for would be red stamped "DENIED" - as if the system knows I'm a fat little grub who needs to get back onto the feeding line to do my duty.   Hell, my buddy ditched his $100k a year job after his divorce to pull coffee for a few years and the courts rule he HAD to get a job paying equivilent salary based on his past work experience!   

SAT 800's picture

Go read his book ignoramus; and find out something important about the country you live in; what really happened during the Reagan Presidency. Only simple minded people have one note sambas; and one idea explanations for everything. Sound familiar?

RaceToTheBottom's picture

It is only going to get worse until some real retribution occurs.

dvfco's picture

Or, maybe it just started getting better.  It depends on the perspective.  It seems like we to collapse and crash before we can be on the road back to prosperity.  Otherwise, we're staying on the road to hell.

fooshorter's picture

I love David Stockman!, his book Deformation of Capital, really worth the read...

fonzannoon's picture

one of these days....

Divided States of America's picture

How do you cheer up when the same shit happens every fuckin day?

Ban KKiller's picture

I'm going to cut you into little pieces. 

giggs's picture

This guy is the shizzle!!

starman's picture

Does this mean I should buy the dip?




El Hosel's picture

The Federal Tongue up Wall Streets Wazooo, its good to be a Bankster.... if you don't mind being a whore.

Keep that nail gun loaded, you never know when your scruples might visit.

Murf_DaSurf's picture



As long as I get paid when they fuck me, its better than the current situation

NihilistZero's picture

To quote Milton Friedman...

"Capitalisim is a sytem of profit and loss, and the loss is JUST as important as the profit."

So Bruce Berkowitz can suck it.

Bangin7GramRocks's picture

It's too late! You are telling a stage 4 cancer patient to eat his vegetables and get more sleep. There is no return from this level of systemic corruption and fraud.

Johnny Cocknballs's picture
Bruce Berkowitz is the Father of Lies.

In other news, the Pope is Catholic.

delivered's picture

So tell us what you really think! Would be even a better read when he's really fired-up. Reminds me when GS blackmailed the government/Fed to make good on the CDS's they owned related to AIG. GS claimed that AIG was without question, TBTF in 2008. Gov/Fed steps in and bails out AIG (from taxpayer resources). Funds then flow from AIG directly to GS (I believe around $15 billion). GS really leveraged the situation and manipulated the parties to scalp the masses once again.

Use to be America was the greatest creator of wealth in the world. Now it has become the absolute master in transferring wealth from the many to the few (i.e., the greatest transfer agent in the world). Isn't this really the only true definition of a bank? If one needs any proof, just look at the total market cap and profits generated by the banks/financial industry today versus 50 to 100 years ago. Their influence in markets is almost beyond comprehension at this stage (e.g., rigging commodity markets by controlling the entire supply chain such as with aluminum).

Bruce Krasting's picture

I wonder if Stockman has ever made a mistake - I know I have, and I suspect that DS has too. In this world, when you make a mistake, you pay a price. It's rare to err and not pay.


As for the GSE's, well a big mistake was made there. F/F should have been put in the tank in 2008 - but that did not happen. Big guns-Hank Paulson and Timmy Geithner- were the ones who failed to put F/F to sleep when they could have. But they didn't, and that was one of those mistakes.

You can't kill them anymore. That opportunity was lost 5 years ago. So the question for DS is what is he proposing today? Blowing smoke does nothing at all.

And yes, the fact that mistakes were made in 2008 has opened the door for people to make money. Like I said, when mistakes happen, there are always consequences.

Flakmeister's picture

The Chinese not reading the fine print on their MBSs had something to do with it...

That and the preferreds being at the foundation for a lot of small banks balance sheets...

Otherwise I agree with you...

ebworthen's picture

Mistakes made on purpose that destabilize the nation and rob generations of savings is treason.

Treason is a hanging offense.

g speed's picture

I call BS Bruce---they would be easy to kill--- just pull the guarantees/mortagage backing  ---just say "oops sorry no more guarantees" of past/ preasent or future anything that had anything to do with F/F  ---let the market kill F/F  


SAT 800's picture

As for the GSE's, well a big mistake was made there. NO. uh-uh. Not going to fly, Bruce. that's not a mistake. Misses the definition by a mile. It's called cronyism. they were, and are, servants of their friends, not public servants; malfeasance of public office. Not a "mistake". I'm surprised at you; and surprised that you think anyone here is going to be willing to label that a "mistake".

ptoemmes's picture

I think Stockman said, let me paraphrase, Fuck You Berkowitz.

WhiteWolf's picture

How about sniper rifles and bullets?
Guillotine are a better display of liberty rising.

DOGGONE's picture

You wrote "... serial bubbles ...". Take a look at inflation-adjusted price histories!

ebworthen's picture

Blisteringly truthful and well written unmasking of the harpies and warlocks of Wall Street from David Stockman, again.  Bravo.

Ban KKiller's picture

Prepperes in Ukraine looking good now? Laundry soap...long!