Investigations

In-depth research on public interest topics frequently ignored by corporate media.

Maria Bartiromo and the Co-Branding of CNBC and Citigroup: February 2, 2007

The cozy nexus between CNBC and Citigroup, the company on which it is supposed to be providing objective reporting.

Madoff and the SEC’s Revolving Door: August 31, 2009

…the background of the member of the team heading up the Inspector General’s Office of Investigations, J. David Fielder, should have sounded alarm bells to Congressional investigators.

Wall Street Titans Use Aliases to Foreclose on Families: October 5, 2009

A federal agency tasked with expanding the American dream of home ownership and affordable housing free from discrimination to people of modest means has been quietly moving a chunk of that role to Wall Street since 2002.  In a stealth partial privatization, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) farmed out its mandate of working with single family homeowners in trouble on their mortgages to the industry most responsible for separating people from their savings and creating an unprecedented wealth gap that renders millions unable to pay those mortgages.

Judges Start Nixing Foreclosures By Wall Street Firms: October 21, 2009

The financial tsunami unleashed by Wall Street’s esurient alchemy of spinning toxic home mortgages into triple-A bonds, a process known as securitization, has set off its second round of financial tremors.

After leaving mortgage investors, bank shareholders, and pension fiduciaries awash in losses and a large chunk of Wall Street feeding at the public trough, the full threat of this vast securitization machine and its unseen masters who push the levers behind a tightly drawn curtain is playing out in courtrooms across America.

Why A Criminal Case Against Goldman Sachs Matters and Why Charges Could Stick: May 4, 2010

Change appears to be swallowing Goldman Sachs.  It began quietly moving out of its storied and staid headquarters at 85 Broad last Fall to flashy new multi-billion dollar digs at 200 West Street, including a 54,000 square foot gym (roughly the size of 20 homes for average Americans; those who can still afford one after the Wall Street pillage). And after the release of internal emails by the SEC and Senate, Goldman looks more like a sleazy boiler room pump and dump operation in drag than an investment bank (in drag as a bank holding company).  Comedy talk show hosts are having a field day (Jon Stewart calls them “those f*!*!ing guys”) and Goldmanfreude (pleasure in watching Goldman shamed for the pain it inflicted on others) is in full swing.

The May 6 Stock Crash Revisited: May 12, 2010

Cumulatively, mom and pop investors lost many millions of dollars on their stop loss orders from this free fall on May 6. Only those trades occurring between 2:40 and 3 pm that were 60 percent or more away from the market are being cancelled.  That means the losses in Procter & Gamble and dozens of other stocks are real losses for those who got stopped out and real profits for those on the other side of the trade.

Over my 21 years on Wall Street, I never saw anything as suspicious as the trading activity on May 6 or as nonresponsive as the SEC’s investigation to date.

SEC Admits to Lacking Tools to Conduct Meaningful Investigations: May 17, 2010

SEC Chair Mary Schapiro made a stunning admission during House subcommittee hearings last week seeking answers to the May 6 hit and run in the stock market which briefly trimmed 998 points off the Dow and caused massive losses to small investors who had placed stop loss orders on individual stocks.

According to Ms. Schapiro, the SEC has no consolidated audit trail that captures time and sales in a chronological order among the 40 or more electronic trading platforms and exchanges that constitute today’s deeply fragmented U.S. stock market.

Flash Crash Report Raises Suspicions on Stock Exchanges Inside Wall Street Firms: October 4, 2010

“Detailed analysis of trade and order data revealed that one large internalizer (as a seller) and one large market maker (as a buyer) were party to over 50 per cent of the share volume of broken trades, and for more than half of this volume they were counterparties to each other (i.e., 25 per cent of the broken trade share volume was between this particular seller and buyer).”

Koch Footprints Lead to Secret Slush Fund to Keep Fear Alive: October 26, 2010

A secretive libertarian nonprofit with ties to Charles Koch bankrolled what was widely perceived to be a fear mongering effort to throw the Presidential election to Senator John McCain in 2008. Until now, where the money came from has been a hotly debated mystery.

The Hidden Cost of Free Market Newsmen: September 12, 2011

When Larry Kudlow of CNBC, WABC Radio and National Review speaks, who’s really talking?  Is it Kudlow or is it the $332,500 he has pocketed from the Koch-funded Mercatus Center.  While Kudlow did previously acknowledge accepting $50,000 from Enron after he wrote an article about the company and failed to disclose it, he has not disclosed the Mercatus money to readers of his columns, blog or to viewers of his programs as he openly pitches the Mercatus/Koch agenda.

When John Stossel gives us his free market shtick on his weekly program on the Fox Business Network, who’s putting the words in his mouth?  Is Stossel a muckracker or a buckracker in the debt of a web of shadowy right wing nonprofits that manage his name and message?

Supreme Seduction: Bringing Low the High Court: October 3, 2011

For the past three years the U.S. has been served up a heaping dose of free market creative destruction that is the sine qua non of legions of corporate funded front groups.  First Wall Street, then housing, now the nation’s highest court has been brought low by its force.  As it turns out, creative destruction is 90 percent corruption and 10 percent creative.

Wall Street Firms Spy on Protesters in Tax-Funded Center: October 18, 2011

Wall Street’s audacity to corrupt knows no bounds and the cooptation of government by the 1 per cent knows no limits.  How else to explain $150 million of taxpayer money going to equip a government facility in lower Manhattan where Wall Street firms, serially charged with corruption, get to sit alongside the New York Police Department and spy on law abiding citizens.

Libor Scandal: The Unvarnished Story of Wall Street’s Heist of the Century: July 16, 2012

When much of Wall Street collapsed in 2008 as a direct result of their corrupt business model, their pals in Washington used the public purse to resuscitate the same corrupt financial model – allowing even greater depositor concentration at JPMorgan and Bank of America through acquisitions of crippled firms. And now, Wall Street may get away with the biggest heist of the public purse in the history of the world. You know it’s an unprecedented crime when the conservative Economist magazine sums up the situation with a one word headline: “Banksters.”

Appellate Court Finds Misconduct by SEC and Prosecutors in Squawk Box Case; Overturns Convictions: August 3, 2012 

As if we needed more evidence – the Second Circuit Appellate Court handed down a decision yesterday strongly suggesting that if you stick with the Wall Street traders’ code and steal for the house, you’re good to go.  But take money from the house and all manner of deceit will be leveraged against you to convict.  The Wall Street Code is inviolate; the order of things must be maintained at all cost.

U.S. Ally Abu Dhabi Levels $4 Billion Fraud Charge Against Citigroup: September 5, 2012

It started with a handshake from former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin; now it’s a Federal case with its own Wikileaks memo.

Meet the Lawyer Who Gets Citigroup Out of Fraud Charges: September 6, 2012

The litany of fraud charges against Citigroup, accompanied by the perpetual get-out-of-jail-free card reliably delivered by Brad Karp, has become so ubiquitous that it raises the obvious question: is Citigroup the hapless target of a world-wide network of frivolous lawsuit filers, or does Brad Karp have some secret sauce for getting a serial miscreant off the hook?

Few Are Aware the Federal Reserve Has Been Given Domestic Police Powers; With Glock 22s and Patrol Cars: September 17, 2012

By mid morning today, as Occupy Wall Street protesters marched around the perimeter of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, all signs that an FRPD (Federal Reserve Police Department) existed had disappeared. The FRPD patrol cars and law enforcement officers had been replaced by NYPD patrol cars and officers. That decision may have been made to keep from drawing attention to a mushrooming new domestic police force that most Americans do not know exists. Quietly, without fanfare or Congressional hearings, the USA Patriot Act in 2001 bestowed on the 12 privately owned Federal Reserve Banks, domestic policing powers.

Now That You Know Wall Street Can Eat Up Two-Thirds of Your 401(k) With Fees, You Should Also Know It Formed a Coalition to Block Full Disclosure of That Fact: April 30, 2013

Since at least 1998 the U.S. Department of Labor, which oversees the nation’s 401(k) plans, has known that fee gouging was eroding the ability of workers to adequately build wealth for retirement in 401(k) plans. It took more than a decade for the Federal agency to pass a regulation mandating that 401(k) recipients receive fee disclosure in an annual mailing. Leading the charge against full disclosure was a coalition of trade associations dominated by Wall Street. 

NYU’s Gilded Age: Students Struggle With Debt While Vacation Homes Are Lavished On the University’s Elite: June 17, 2013

A review of deeds and mortgages in some of the toniest towns on the East Coast reveals that not only is New York University financing luxury Manhattan brownstones and high rise condos for its faculty and administrators out of its nonprofit coffers, it has also been secretly financing country homes for a select group. These extravagances have fallen directly on the shoulders of financially struggling students. NYU ranks fourth in Newsweek’s 2012 list of the least affordable colleges.  

JPMorgan and Madoff Were Facilitating Nesting Dolls-Style Frauds Within Frauds: January 13, 2014   

Last week JPMorgan Chase paid $2.6 billion in fines and restitution, signed a deferred prosecution agreement and walked away from their 22-year involvement with Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. But according to court documents filed in 2011 by the Trustee of the Madoff victims’ fund, Irving Picard, this was not a simple case of poor risk management at JPMorgan. This was an operation structured like those Russian nesting dolls, with the Ponzi scheme as the outside doll with many more frauds layered inside the big one.  

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