It is better to be an outcast, a stranger in one’s own country, than an outcast from one’s self. It is better to see what is about to befall us and to resist than to retreat into the fantasies embraced by a nation of the blind.
Chris Hedges

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Rigged Game

The Lehman Brothers 105Repo fiasco being brought to light, begs the question? Who else was doing this? In a classic off-balance-sheet switch, Lehman "sold" fragile debts to offshore banks to hide them, a week prior to the regular checks made by banking regulators, then bought the assets back after the regulators left. This was done in full view of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the SEC, without repercussion. In the end, Lehman was brought down by their competitors, JP Morgan and Citibank, who demanded cash collateral in deal roll-overs - cash Lehman never had.

The nail in the coffin was when Hank Paulson, then Treasury Secretary, allowed the firm to die. "Hammering" Hank had accomplished the job he was hired to do by Goldman Sachs, where he had served as CEO, prior to taking public office. The former linebacker was made CEO to counter the presence of Lehman CEO, Dick Fuld, a notorious bully who intimidated his staff and competitors alike. Hank's physical presence neutralised Fuld's dominance of the Wall Street banking community.
“Dick is in no condition to make any decisions,” Paulson is quoted as telling a group of bankers gathered at the New York Fed to try to arrange a private rescue of Lehman. “He is in denial,” Paulson added, calling Fuld “dysfunctional.”

One can only imagine the satisfaction for Paulson, when Fuld came begging during Lehman's dying hours.

Michael Lewis, author of Liar's Poker, has written a new book called, "The Big Short" that gives insight into the financial mess that is so deep, and has so captured the framework of checks and balances that was supposed to regulate it. Check out his interview on 60 minutes:

Watch CBS News Videos Online

An excerpt from The Big Short is included in the recent edition of Vanity Fair.

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