Howard Davidowitz says Wall Street is A Ponzi Scheme with Lies and Fraud

Day one of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission’s two-day hearing on AIG derivatives contracts featured testimony from Joseph Cassano, the former head of AIG’s financial products unit. Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn was also on the Hill.Meanwhile, the Democrats are still trying to salvage the regulatory reform bill, with critical support from Senator Scott Brown (R-Mass.) reportedly still uncertain.According to Howard Davidowitz of Davidowitz & Associates, what connects the hearings and the Reg reform debate is the lack of focus on the real underlying cause of the financial crisis: Fraud.”It was a massive fraud… a gigantic Ponzi Scheme, a lie and a fraud,” Davidowitz says of Wall Street circa 2007. “The whole thing was a fraud and it gets back to the accountants valuing the assets incorrectly.”Because accountants and auditors allowed Wall Street firms to carry assets at “completely fraudulent” valuations, he says the industry looked hugely profitable and was able to use borrowed funds to make leveraged bets on all sorts of esoteric instruments. “Their bonuses were based on profits they never made and the leverage they never could have gotten if the numbers were right – no one would’ve given them the money in their right mind,” Davidowitz says.To date, the accounting and audit firms have escaped any serious repercussions from the credit crisis, a stark difference to the corporate “death sentence” that befell Arthur Anderson for its alleged role in the Enron scandal.To Davidowitz, that’s perhaps the greatest outrage of all: “Where were the accountants?,” he asks. “They did nothing, checked nothing, agreed to everything” and collected millions in fees while “shaking hands with the CEO.”

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Robert Prechter Says, “We Are On Schedule for a Very, Very Long Bear Market.”

MoneyBob NEW YORK (AP) — The Dow Jones industrials plunged below 10,000 Tuesday after traders dumped stocks on worries about the global economy and tensions between North and South Korea. The Dow fell about 190 points in late morning trading. It has fallen 1,346 points, or more than 12 percent, from its recent high of 11,205, reached April 26. The Dow and broader stock indexes all fell about 2 percent. Investors also exited the euro and commodities including oil and again sought safety in Treasury securities. Look out below!

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Faber and Mish – We’re Doomed and Washington Can’t Do Anything About It:

Washington is patting itself on the back for having orchestrated an amazing economic recovery. But Washington lawmakers are a delusional bunch of boneheads, say Marc Faber and Mike “Mish” Shedlock, editor of the Gloom, Boom, and Doom Report and investment advisor at SitkaPacific Capital Management, respectively.The economy is NOT recovering, they say, and the U.S. faces a depressing “eventuality” of either crushing deflation (Shedlock) or runaway inflation (Faber). The timing and type of this eventuality is uncertain, say the gurus, but they are certain it’s too late for America to change course.”It’s beyond repair — it’s too late,” to avert fiscal disaster, Faber declares.Mish agrees: “The day of reckoning has arrived. The question is how long it takes to play out.”This grim outlook doesn’t mean you’re helpless. Faber recommends individuals prepare for doomsday by buying gold, owning assets abroad and buying property outside of major cities.

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Robert Prechter sees “The Biggest Bubble in History”

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40%-50% Chance Stocks Will Crash To New Low, Says Gary Shilling

Last summer, our guest Gary Shilling of A. Gary Shilling & Co. predicted that stocks would fall 30%.  That hasn’t happened yet, but the extraordinary bull run that made idiots out of many of Wall Street’s greatest gurus last year has now finally reversed, and Gary is sticking by his bearish guns.

At Dow 10,000, Gary says, stocks are still priced to reflect a strong economic recovery throughout 2010 and 2011.  And that’s not going to happen.  Consumers still account for more than 70% of the spending in the U.S. economy, and consumers are retrenching.  The value of their assets has plummeted, so they’re finally saving again.  They’re unemployed.  They’re tapped out.  Put all that together, and consumer spending will continue to be weak, and the overall economy will only grow 2% a year.

When the market finally realizes that its dream of a v-shaped recovery is too optimistic, stocks will go lower–perhaps much lower.  In fact, Gary thinks there’s a 40%-50% chance they’ll crash right through the bear-market lows set last spring.

So what’s an investor to do?

Buy Treasury bonds, Gary says.  Contrary to the concerns of they hyper-inflation crowd, the world is awash in excess capacity.  We have too much production capacity, too many houses, too much labor.  Overcapacity leads to deflation, not inflation.  So today’s 4.5% long-term Treasury yield will go to 3%, making bondholders 25% in the process.

And buy the dollar.  At the end of last year, everyone agreed that the dollar was going to continue to collapse.  That was your queue to get the heck out.  It’s not that we don’t have serious problems with deficits and debt in the U.S., Gary says–it’s that our problems are less bad than the problems facing the Euro.  Gary thinks the dollar will rise back to parity with the Euro, a major move from the ~$1.35 it takes to buy a Euro today.

And sell commodities.  China is overheating, and as it corrects, it will take global commodity demand down with it.

In short, Gary says, do exactly the opposite of what everyone was telling you to do at the end of last year.

Paul Krugman says, We’ll be Repeating the Great Mistake of 1937

Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman

That 1937 Feeling

Published: January 3, 2010

Here’s what’s coming in economic news:  The next employment report could show the economy adding jobs for the first time in two years. The next G.D.P. report is likely to show solid growth in late 2009. There will be lots of bullish commentary — and the calls we’re already hearing for an end to stimulus, for reversing the steps the government and the Federal Reserve took to prop up the economy, will grow even louder.

But if those calls are heeded, we’ll be repeating the great mistake of 1937, when the Fed and the Roosevelt administration decided that the Great Depression was over, that it was time for the economy to throw away its crutches. Spending was cut back, monetary policy was tightened — and the economy promptly plunged back into the depths.

This shouldn’t be happening. Both Ben Bernanke, the Fed chairman, and Christina Romer, who heads President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, are scholars of the Great Depression. Ms. Romer has warned explicitly against re-enacting the events of 1937. But those who remember the past sometimes repeat it anyway.

As you read the economic news, it will be important to remember, first of all, that blips — occasional good numbers, signifying nothing — are common even when the economy is, in fact, mired in a prolonged slump. In early 2002, for example, initial reports showed the economy growing at a 5.8 percent annual rate. But the unemployment rate kept rising for another year.

And in early 1996 preliminary reports showed the Japanese economy growing at an annual rate of more than 12 percent, leading to triumphant proclamations that “the economy has finally entered a phase of self-propelled recovery.” In fact, Japan was only halfway through its lost decade.

Such blips are often, in part, statistical illusions. But even more important, they’re usually caused by an “inventory bounce.” When the economy slumps, companies typically find themselves with large stocks of unsold goods. To work off their excess inventories, they slash production; once the excess has been disposed of, they raise production again, which shows up as a burst of growth in G.D.P. Unfortunately, growth caused by an inventory bounce is a one-shot affair unless underlying sources of demand, such as consumer spending and long-term investment, pick up.

Which brings us to the still grim fundamentals of the economic situation.

During the good years of the last decade, such as they were, growth was driven by a housing boom and a consumer spending surge. Neither is coming back. There can’t be a new housing boom while the nation is still strewn with vacant houses and apartments left behind by the previous boom, and consumers — who are $11 trillion poorer than they were before the housing bust — are in no position to return to the buy-now-save-never habits of yore.

What’s left? A boom in business investment would be really helpful right now. But it’s hard to see where such a boom would come from: industry is awash in excess capacity, and commercial rents are plunging in the face of a huge oversupply of office space.

Can exports come to the rescue? For a while, a falling U.S. trade deficit helped cushion the economic slump. But the deficit is widening again, in part because China and other surplus countries are refusing to let their currencies adjust.

So the odds are that any good economic news you hear in the near future will be a blip, not an indication that we’re on our way to sustained recovery. But will policy makers misinterpret the news and repeat the mistakes of 1937? Actually, they already are.

The Obama fiscal stimulus plan is expected to have its peak effect on G.D.P. and jobs around the middle of this year, then start fading out. That’s far too early: why withdraw support in the face of continuing mass unemployment? Congress should have enacted a second round of stimulus months ago, when it became clear that the slump was going to be deeper and longer than originally expected. But nothing was done — and the illusory good numbers we’re about to see will probably head off any further possibility of action.

Meanwhile, all the talk at the Fed is about the need for an “exit strategy” from its efforts to support the economy. One of those efforts, purchases of long-term U.S. government debt, has already come to an end. It’s widely expected that another, purchases of mortgage-backed securities, will end in a few months. This amounts to a monetary tightening, even if the Fed doesn’t raise interest rates directly — and there’s a lot of pressure on Mr. Bernanke to do that too.

Will the Fed realize, before it’s too late, that the job of fighting the slump isn’t finished? Will Congress do the same? If they don’t, 2010 will be a year that began in false economic hope and ended in grief.

Jim Rogers Says, Gold Will Hit $2,000 and USA Will Lose Status As The World’s Reserve Currency

Good Time To Buy Gold

Good Time To Buy Gold

Famed investor Jim Rogers is “quite sure gold will go over $2000 per ounce during this bull market.”Rogers’ confidence gold will continue to rally stems from a view the U.S. dollar is on its way to losing status as the world’s reserve currency.”Is it going to happen? Yes,” Rogers says. “I don’t like saying it [and] I’m extremely worried about it but we have to deal with the facts. America is not getting better [and] the dollar is going to be replaced just like pound sterling [was].”Rogers didn’t offer a timetable, and it’s likely gold would exceed $2000 per ounce if the dollar were to lose its reserve status.Still, “I wouldn’t buy gold today,” Rogers says. “I think I’ll make more money in other commodities, which are cheaper,” as discussed in more detail here.Among many others, Rogers is “worried about the fact the U.S. government is printing huge amounts, spending gigantic amounts of money it doesn’t have,” the investor and author says. “People are very worried [and] skeptical about paper money [and] looking for places to protect themselves. The best way is to buy real assets. [That] has always protected one during currency turmoil, and it will again.”

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