Naked short-selling and the fall of Bear Stearns
Er is een reden waarom een muziekblad zoals Rolling Stone en niet The Wall street Journal - om er maar één te noemen - tracht dieper te graven in de financieel-economische crisis en de rol van Wall Street firms en de centrale bank. In de afgelopen weken heeft Rolling Stone een aantal artikels uitgebracht die de vinger leggen op een aantal belangrijke problemen: manipulatie door shortselling, de macht van Goldman Sachs, de afrekening met Bear Stearns, de lobby bij de overheid, de manipulatie van koersen, en de straffeloosheid van dit alles. Voor degenen die het gemist hebben, dit is een dik pak weekendliteratuur...
En de reden waarom Rolling Stone dit schrijft ? Angst om persona non grata te worden bij hun klanten, informatiebronnen en bij de overheid misschien?
From tech stocks to high gas prices, Goldman Sachs has engineered every major market manipulation since the Great Depression - and they're about to do it again.
Het start met een lang artikel over Goldman Sachs en het ontstaan van bubbles. Een analyse van een aantal belangrijke financiële overdrijvingen, en de oorzaken ervan. Ten slotte ook een vingerwijzing naar de passiviteit van de politici en de bevolking :
It's not always easy to accept the reality of what we now routinely allow these people to get away with; there's a kind of collective denial that kicks in when a country goes through what America has gone through lately, when a people lose as much prestige and status as we have in the past few years. You can't really register the fact that you're no longer a citizen of a thriving first-world democracy, that you're no longer above getting robbed in broad daylight, because like an amputee, you can still sort of feel things that are no longer there.
But this is it. This is the world we live in now. And in this world, some of us have to play by the rules, while others get a note from the principal excusing them from homework till the end of time, plus 10 billion free dollars in a paper bag to buy lunch. It's a gangster state, running on gangster economics, and even prices can't be trusted anymore; there are hidden taxes in every buck you pay. And maybe we can't stop it, but we should at least know where it's all going.
Daarna kwam er een nieuw en lang artikel over shortselling, de technieken, de misbruiken en de gevolgen: dat leest u hier inRolling Stone. De auteur maakt duidelijk met eenvoudige voorbeelden hoe deze technieken werken, en hoe dit een geoorloofde diefstal toelaat in de financiële markten:
ere's how naked short-selling works: Imagine you travel to a small foreign island on vacation. Instead of going to an exchange office in your hotel to turn your dollars into Island Rubles, the country instead gives you a small printing press and makes you a deal: Print as many Island Rubles as you like, then on the way out of the country you can settle your account. So you take your printing press, print out gigantic quantities of Rubles and start buying goods and services. Before long, the cash you've churned out floods the market, and the currency's value plummets. Do this long enough and you'll crack the currency entirely; the loaf of bread that cost the equivalent of one American dollar the day you arrived now costs less than a cent.
With prices completely depressed, you keep printing money and buy everything of value homes, cars, priceless works of art. You then load it all into a cargo ship and head home. On the way out of the country, you have to settle your account with the currency office. But the Island Rubles you printed are now worthless, so it takes just a handful of U.S. dollars to settle your debt. Arriving home with your cargo ship, you sell all the island riches you bought at a discount and make a fortune.
Het verhaal zoomt ook in op wat er is gebeurd met Bear Stearns, hoe het ten prooi viel aan een onbekende shortseller, aan geruchten en tenslotte op erg korte tijd in de touwen ging:
The best way to grasp what happened is to look at the data: On Tuesday, March 11th, there were 201,768 shares of Bear that had failed to deliver. The very next day, the number of phantom shares leaped to 1.2 million. By the close of trading that Friday, the number passed 2 million and when the market reopened the following Monday, it soared to 13.7 million. In less than a week, the number of counterfeit shares in Bear had jumped nearly seventyfold.
The giant numbers of undelivered shares over the course of that week amounted to one of the most blatant cases of stock manipulation in Wall Street history. "There is not a doubt in my mind, not a single doubt" that naked short-selling helped destroy Bear, says Sen. Ted Kaufman, a Democrat from Delaware who has introduced legislation to curb such financial fraud. Asked to rate how obvious a case of naked short-selling Bear is, on a scale of one to 10, former SEC counsel Brent Baker doesn't hesitate. "Easily a 10," he says.
At the same time that naked short- sellers were counterfeiting Bear's stock, the firm was being hit by another classic tactic of bear raids: negative rumors in the media. Tipped off by a source, CNBC reporter David Faber reported on March 12th that Goldman Sachs had held up a trade with Bear because it was worried about the firm's creditworthiness. Faber noted that the hold was temporary the deal had gone through that morning. But the damage was done; inside Bear, Faber's report was blamed for much of the subsequent panic.
"I like Faber, he's a good guy," a Bear executive later said. "But I wonder if he ever asked himself, 'Why is someone telling me this?' There was a reason this was leaked, and the reason is simple: Someone wanted us to go down, and go down hard."
At first, the full-blown speculative attack on Bear seemed to be working. Thanks to the media-fueled rumors and the mounting anxiety over the company's ability to make its payments, Bear's share price plummeted seven percent on March 13th, to $57. It still had a ways to go for the mysterious short-seller to make a profit on his bet against the firm, but it was headed in the right direction. But then, early on the morning of Friday, March 14th, Bear's CEO, Alan Schwartz, struck a deal with the Fed and JPMorgan to provide an emergency loan to keep the company's doors open. When the news hit the street that morning, Bear's stock rallied, gaining more than nine percent and climbing back to $62.
The rally proved short-lived Bear ended the day at $30 but it suggested that all was not lost. Then a strange thing happened. As Bear understood it, the emergency credit line that the Fed had arranged was originally supposed to last for 28 days. But that Friday, despite the rally, Geithner and then-Treasury secretary Hank Paulson the former head of Goldman Sachs, one of the firms rumored to be shorting Bear had a sudden change of heart. When the market closed for the weekend, Paulson called Schwartz and told him that the rescue timeline had to be accelerated. Paulson wouldn't stay up another night worrying about Bear Stearns, he reportedly told Schwartz. Bear had until Sunday night to find a buyer or it could go fuck itself.
Bear was out of options. Over the course of that weekend, the firm opened its books to JPMorgan, the only realistic potential buyer. But upon seeing all the "shit" on Bear's books, as one source privy to the negotiations put it including great gobs of toxic investments in the subprime markets JPMorgan hedged. It wouldn't do the deal, it announced, unless it got two things: a huge bargain on the sale price, and a lot of public money to wipe out the "shit."
De auteur duidt niet met een vinger rechtstreeks naar Goldman Sachs of JP Morgan of een andere zakenbank. Maar zijn insinuatie is duidelijk:
We may never know who killed Bear and Lehman. But it sure isn't hard to figure out who's left.
En eindigt met een kritische noot:
The nation's largest financial players are able to write the rules for own their businesses and brazenly steal billions under the noses of regulators, and nothing is done about it. A thing so fundamental to civilized society as the integrity of a stock, or a mortgage note, or even a U.S. Treasury bond, can no longer be protected, not even in a crisis, and a crime as vulgar and conspicuous as counterfeiting can take place on a systematic level for years without being stopped, even after it begins to affect the modern-day equivalents of the Rockefellers and the Carnegies. What 10 years ago was a cheap stock-fraud scheme for second-rate grifters in Brooklyn has become a major profit center for Wall Street. Our burglar class now rules the national economy. And no one is trying to stop them.
De teksten in Rolling Stone zijn het makkelijkst te lezen in de "Print Version".