On Friday morning, there was a CNBC interview with James Chanos,
president of Kynikos Associates. Chanos is one of the few analysts
who, in my opinion, never lies.
Chanos commented on Jon Corzine and the MF Global situation:
Jim Chanos wrote:> I just think - I'm not his lawyer - I think that comingling of
> customer accounts and corporate accounts - the scale that it
> appears to have happened is if not a sin of commission, is a
> material sin of omission - i.e., somebody should have seen that,
> somebody should have noticed.
> And he was signing -- as was the CFO -- documents under
> Sarbanes-Oxley -- signing off that their controls were adequate,
> and he testified that they were adequate.
The discussion was that rogue traders and other lower-level employees
(i.e., Gen-xers) would say, "I was too far down to know the money was
missing," and then the people at the top (i.e., Boomers) would say
that they didn't know what their employees were doing.
Chanos alluded to the recent 60 Minutes investigation that showed
that the Justice Department is systematically avoiding prosecution
of these criminals.
Jim Chanos wrote:> And the problem is we see no desire by anybody to look.
> We saw recently - the head of Countrywide internal fraud saying
> this was throughout that firm, and nobody asked her.
> There just seems to be a general unwillingness to look a little
> more closely at the whole idea of fraud, as opposed to, 'Oh we're
> all culpable, we're all in this together.'
Chanos referred to crimes that were being committed in 2007-2008,
where toxic assets in financial institutions were not being marked
Jim Chanos wrote:> Well I think the essence of the essence of the crime, the bezel so
> to speak in embezzlement, is the fact that you had untold amounts
> of securitizations, big banks and brokersages that could not be
> sold be sold to people like me, at prices they were being carried
> on the books.
> And consequently, they kept them on the books at inflated prices,
> which means profits were reported higher than they really were,
> which means bonuses were taken in cash out of these institutions -
> in effect these institutions were looted. And no one is going to
> that crux that I've seen, to examine the accounting, the risk
> management, who knew where these things should be marked, and why.
> And again we keep hearing that it's too complex. Why don't you
> try it?
I've written about exactly this many times. In 2008, I described how
New York Insurance Superintendent Eric Dinallo was fully involved in
fraud, by helping the banks and monoline insurance agencies collude to
keep these near-worthless toxic assets on banks' books at inflated
prices. I pointed out that this allowed the banks to lie by claiming
that they had higher profits and assets than they really had, so that
investors in the banks were being defrauded.
However, Chanos carries this a step farther than I did. I pointed
out that the inflated profits were defrauding investors, but
Chanos pointed out that it allowed the banks' employees to defraud
the banks. The inflated profits allowed the banksters to
award themselves astronomical bonuses, thus looting the banks.
(It's worth reminding you, Dear Reader, that these banks have
continued these practices. Citi and other banks were bailed out by
the government, and the banksters siphoned tens of millions off the
top of the bailout money to award themselves bonuses. Today, Citi and
other banks are charging 30% interest, and using the money to award
themselves multi-million dollar bonuses.)
Dinallo is as guilty of fraud as anyone is, but I've never seen that
mentioned anywhere except by me on this web site. Dinallo is perhaps
the quintessential Generation-X regulator: He commits criminal fraud
himself by going beyond refusing to prosecute criminals -- by actively
aiding them in their fraud.
This illustrates the difference between the Boomer culture of the
1980s and the Gen-X culture of today. In the 1980s, if you committed
a crime, then you went to jail. Today, if you commit a crime,
then the Gen-Xers lionize you as a victim of some vaguely
defined group of Boomers.
Gen-Xers may criticize me and other Boomers for being too arrogant and
moralistic, but at least we HAVE morals and ethics. Gen-Xers take
pride in the fact that they're completely lacking in morals and
ethics, and that they teach their children to have no morals
or ethics. (See the excerpt from Bourne earlier in this thread
to see what I'm talking about.)
Chanos next addressed the question of why prosecutors don't
try to make a name for themselves by going after the fraudulent
Jim Chanos wrote:> There's an elephant in the room,
> A lot of people whose fingerprints are on the corpse are still in
> positions of power. I think that's the problem. Unless we
> confront that issue.
> Why don't we ever see AIG e-mails? That's a simple one. We own
> the company.
> Just do a wiki dump, and let the press look at them and see what
> was going on in '07 and '08 - the phone logs and emails - what was
> going on? That was a company right at the nexus of everything.
> We haven't released them. Why not?
So Chanos makes the point that it would be quite easy to prosecute
a number of these crimes, but prosecutors refuse to do so because
they want to protect their buddies -- which makes the prosecutors
criminals as well.