Britain on the brink of an economic depression, say experts

Britain is heading for economic depression for the first time since the 1930s, economists have warned.

Families must brace themselves for a slump of far greater severity and longevity than the recessions of the 1980s and 1990s, they warned. They said the current crisis will be of a scale to rival the biggest peace-time crisis in modern history – the Great Depression.

The warning was delivered by economists and politicians after the Office for National Statistics revealed that the economy shrank by 1.5 per cent in the final three months of 2008 alone.

The contraction follows a 0.6 per cent fall in gross domestic product (GDP) – the most comprehensive measure of Britain’s wealth generation – during the previous three months. This means Britain fulfils the criteria for a technical recession – two successive quarters of negative output.

Read moreBritain on the brink of an economic depression, say experts

Peter Schiff: We are the United States of Madoff (1/14/09)

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Source: YouTube

Read morePeter Schiff: We are the United States of Madoff (1/14/09)

No evidence Madoff traded a single share for clients, says regulator

  • Watchdog has examined books since 1960
  • Statements showing trades now look fictitious

The mystery surrounding Bernard Madoff’s $50bn Ponzi scheme deepened further last night as it emerged there was no evidence the alleged fraudster traded a single share on behalf of his clients.

America’s financial industry regulatory authority, told the Guardian that in more than 40 years examining the books of Madoff’s brokerage, investigators never saw a share traded on behalf of his investment advisory business.

Madoff is said to have confessed that his investment business was a Ponzi scheme that siphoned $50bn from friends, charities and thousands of others. The brokerage, meanwhile, was a legitimate business trading shares wholesale on behalf of investment banks, mutual funds and other institutions.

“Our investigations of Bernard Madoff’s broker dealership showed no evidence that any shares were ever traded on behalf of his investment advisory business,” a spokesman for Finra said, adding that the regulator had been looking at his books since 1960.

Read moreNo evidence Madoff traded a single share for clients, says regulator

Two more Ponzi schemes uncovered

The US Government moved to clamp down on fraudulent Ponzi schemes in the wake of the $50 billion (£33 billion) Bernard Madoff scandal, by charging two men for allegedly operating two similar schemes.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged a fund manager based in the Philadelphia area with operating a $50 million Ponzi scheme, in which he paid off early investors with money from later investors.

In a joint filing, the SEC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission allege that Joseph Forte, 53, reported consistently strong results to as many as 80 investors even though he routinely lost money, withdrew millions of dollars in personal fees and used recent investors’ contributions to repay earlier backers.

In a separate case, the SEC and the Department of Justice charged Richard Piccoli, an 82-year-old, with running a Ponzi scheme through his companies, Gen See Capital Corp and Gen Unlimited. Mr Piccoli, of Williamsville, New York, raised most of his money from clergy, Catholic parishioners, senior citizens and cemetery funds, many of them recruited through advertisements in Catholic newspapers.

Read moreTwo more Ponzi schemes uncovered

SEC Examines More Ponzi Schemes After Madoff

Jan. 2 (Bloomberg) — U.S. regulators working to untangle Bernard Madoff’s alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme are probing other money managers suspected of using similar tactics, two people with knowledge of the inquiries said.

Related article:
Whistleblower document warned SEC in Nov. 2005 about Madoff’s Ponzi scheme

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is pursuing at least one case in which investors may have been cheated out of as much as $1 billion, according to a person, who declined to name the manager and asked not to be identified because the probe isn’t public.

Read moreSEC Examines More Ponzi Schemes After Madoff

Whistleblower document warned SEC in Nov. 2005 about Madoff’s Ponzi scheme

Pam Martens worked on Wall Street for 21 years; she has no security position, long or short, in any company mentioned in this article:

I seldom have the urge to give a comforting pat on the back to people profiled in the Wall Street Journal.  But that was my reaction when I read the 21-page whistleblower document about Madoff that was written by Harry Markopolos to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on November 7, 2005. The Journal still has the document on its web site and Markopolos provides a step by step plan for the SEC to follow to nail Madoff as a Ponzi fraudster. The letter followed a five-year effort by Markopolos, who supplied documentation and made repeated requests to the SEC to investigate Madoff.

Here’s how the SEC characterized the letter from Markopolos  in a January 4, 2006 memo: “The staff received a complaint alleging that Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, a registered broker-dealer in New York (“BLM”), operates an undisclosed multi-billion dollar investment advisory business, and that BLM operates this business as a Ponzi scheme.  The complaint did not contain specific facts about the alleged Ponzi scheme…”

Here’s a tiny sampling of what Markopolos told the SEC in his 21-page November 7, 2005 letter.  You decide if these are “specific facts.”

“I am a derivatives expert and have traded or assisted in the trading of several billion $US in options strategies for hedge funds and institutional clients…(Highly Likely) Madoff Securities is the world’s largest Ponzi Scheme…The [Madoff] family runs what is effectively the world’s largest hedge fund with estimated assets under management of at least $20 billion to perhaps $50 billion…The third parties organize the hedge funds and obtain investors but 100% of the money raised is actually managed by Madoff Investment Securities, LLC in a purported hedge fund strategy.  The investors that pony up the money don’t know that BM [Bernie Madoff] is managing their money…Some prominent US based hedge fund, fund of funds, that “invest” in BM in this manner include: A. Fairfield Sentry Limited (Arden Asset Management) which had $5.2 billion invested in BM as of May 2005…Access International Advisors…which had $450 million invested with BM as of mid-2002…Tremont Capital Management, Inc…Tremont oversees on an advisory and fully discretionary basis over $10.5 billion in assets.  Clients include institutional investors, public and private pension plans, ERISA plans, university endowments, foundations, and financial institutions, as well as high net worth individuals…Madoff does not allow outside performance audits.  One London based hedge fund, fund of funds, representing Arab money, asked to send in a team of Big 4 accountants to conduct a performance audit during their planned due diligence.  They were told ‘No, only Madoff’s brother-in-law who owns his own accounting firm is allowed to audit performance’…Only Madoff family members are privy to the investment strategy.  Name one other prominent multi-billion dollar hedge fund that doesn’t have outside, non-family professionals involved in the investment process.  You can’t because there aren’t any…There are too many red flags to ignore.  REFCO, Wood River, the Manhattan Fun, Princeton Economics, and other hedge fund blow ups all had a lot fewer red flags than Madoff and look what happened at those places…”

Here is what the SEC’s memo of November 21, 2007 said following its investigation:

“The staff found no evidence of fraud…All files have been prepared for closing…Termination letters have been sent to Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, Bernard L. Madoff, and Fairfield Greenwich Group.  The staff has no objection to the eventual destruction of the files and has no knowledge of any impediment to such a disposition.”

Let me run that by you again.  Mr. Markopolos, a private citizen, uses his personal time and energy over a seven year period to document a fraud occurring under the nose of the SEC that could impact the international reputation of the United States along with the financial well being of pensioners, university endowments, foundations and private investors.  After losing track of the case for five years, the SEC finally gets around to investigating using taxpayers’ monies.  They come up with nothing despite being given a perfect path to follow to the fraud.  And their final suggestion for dealing with the investigation is to destroy the files!  With regulators like these, who needs Ponzi artists?

Read moreWhistleblower document warned SEC in Nov. 2005 about Madoff’s Ponzi scheme

A Trillion Dollar Rescue for Wall Street Gamblers

Nothing for Families and Retirees

If the move to a Unitary Executive of unfettered presidential power frightens you, America’s radical right turn to Unitary Finance should compound your fears–and your debts as well. The financial events of the last two weeks of March 2008 demonstrate that the “economic royalists” and “money changers” whom Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) drove from the temple of finance have returned to mismanage our economy into dire straights of unprecedented risk–debt creation, euphemized as “leveraging” and “wealth creation.”

The few checks and balances that remain in the way of the financial sector’s increasingly centralized planning, especially at the state level, are being swept aside under the guise of “saving the system.” Few Wall Street beneficiaries who use this phrase explain just what the system is. For starters, its political managers are industry lobbies appointed to high managerial and planning positions in the public agencies that are supposed to regulate these industries. Their idea of financial planning is to put a trillion dollars in government agency funds and credit guarantees at risk. This agency funding was supposed to be used to help average American families obtain housing and health care, and to protect their savings and provide for their retirement. Instead, it is being mobilized to support the economy’s bankers and financial managers. Indeed, the past few weeks have seen seemingly trillions of dollars committed for war making and bank support.

The banking system’s free creation of credit, doubling each five years or so for the economy at large, threatens to culminate in debt peonage for many American families and also for industry and for state and local governments. The economic surplus is being quickly absorbed by a combination of debt service and government bailouts for creditors whose Ponzi schemes are collapsing right and left, from residential to commercial real estate and corporate takeover loans to foreign bubble-economy credit.

This is the context in which to view the past few weeks’ financial turmoil surrounding Bear Stearns, JPMorgan/Chase and the rapidly changing debt landscape. “The system” that the Treasury, Federal Reserve and the New Deal agencies captured by the Bush Administration is trying to save is an economy-wide Ponzi scheme. By that I mean that the business plan is for creditors to lend debtors enough money for them to pay the interest costs so as to keep current on their loans.

Super Imperialism – New Edition: The Origin and Fundamentals of U.S. World Dominance

Read moreA Trillion Dollar Rescue for Wall Street Gamblers