Daily Archives: January 23, 2009

Mark Madoff – didn’t trust Dad with his money

Hmm. If Walt Noel didn’t want any of his own money handled by Bernie, and if Mark Madoff pulled every penny from under Dad in 2003, why did son Andrew keep a couple of million there? I mean, it seems like everyone was in on the scam, so why did Andy leave even a portion with Madoff Investments – window dressing or a misguided hope that the Ponzi would continue a few more years? Perhaps we’ll find out, eventually.

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Libertarians and Republicans: an uneasy co-existence

As a limited-government, small “l” libertarian, I’d been wondering how to express my disappointment with the Republican Party these past eight years. Reader Michael Diamond has provided the answer. 

elephants

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

No use doing this in Greenwich

Dickie Fuld, in a move sure to infuriate Mad Monkey, sold his $14 million Jupiter Island Florida home to his wife for a couple of hundred bucks last November 10th. That’s well below MM’s $1,000 sf threshold, but there’s a point to Dickie’s generosity: Florida’s “Homestead exemption” law, which puts a Florida resident’s primary residence beyond the reach of creditors. Is Mrs. Fuld a Florida resident? If she isn’t, I’m sure she will be soon. Connecticut offers no such protection so I assume we can expect to see the house stay in whatever form of ownership it presently holds. Going back a ways to another Wall Street scandal, Richard (?) Levin (Levine?) managed to buy a $6 million dollar house in Florida before he was convicted and jailed as part of the Ivan Boseky insider trading fun. (all names are phonetic after all these years). Levine/Levin was a Kidder Peabody man, I think.

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Why write this blog when I have smart readers to do it for me?

From reader NP (I don’t know if he wishes to remain anonymous so I’m erring on the side of caution):

A few thoughts on Mr. Noel:
 
1)  Anyone basing the thought that the Noels are in some kind of financial turmoil because they rented out of their island paradise on Mustique are very much mistaken.  Even a first year litigator with middling grades and some personal hygiene issues would have forbid them from attending the island in December 2008.  When Mr. Noel and Fairfield Greenwich end up in court, it would not further his defence to have the following play out in open court:  “So, Mr. Noel, on December 11, 2008, when Mr. Madoff was arrested and the world discovered the fictitious nature of his business, after having fleeced your investors to the tune of $7.5 billion, which is larger than the gross national product of many nations, you immediately leapt into action to preserve your client’s interests by flying down in a private jet to your island getaway, which I understand sleeps 42?”  Any picture of the Noels at their “cottage”  would really, really put a jury off Mr. Noel, much like finding a used condom at the bottom of your soup bowl.
 
2)  The same litigator with the hygiene issue is going to have a field day with the fact that Mr. Noel did not have his own money with Madoff:  “So, Mr. Noel, you saw fit to entrust $7.5 billion with Mr. Madoff.  $7.5 billion dollars – money that you knew came from people and families that trusted you and who looked to you to guard their fortunes, however large or small. This, sir, was an awesome responsibility, the safe keeping of what amounted to many families’ entire life savings.  I am sure you must have taken all care in the world to find a safe haven for their money, and having done your due diligence, and painstakingly and tirelessly searched the land for the best, you placed the funds with Mr. Madoff.  Clearly this must have been because you believed you had found the finest investment advisor in the land.  You must have believed he was without peer: for what other reason would you put this incredible, unbelievable sum with him?  But Mr. Noel, for some reason, you did not trust this genius, this brilliant, brilliant individual with your own money – only the money belonging to your trusting and faithful clients.  Could you please explain that sir?”

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Won’t someone please amuse us by showing up for trial?

Blagojevich will skip his impeachment trial, Madoff’s going to drop dead of cancer, Walt Noel will forget he even has a trial and Art the Florida scammer has disappeared and no one in that state is even bothering to look for him. Oh how I long for the days of stand-up guys like O.J. and John Gotti.

Comments Off on Won’t someone please amuse us by showing up for trial?

Filed under Uncategorized

Antares sucks an egg?

Joe Beninati, principal at Antares, is most famous in my book for his boastful brag that “hedge funds treat rent payments like lunch bills” meaning that he could rent out his new office space at $100 sf even if comparable space rented for $70. I wondered then what would happen if there were no hedge funds to move in to buy lunch or pay rent and reported last month that Duff Associates was trying to sublease the 15,000 sf it had agreed to occupy. Now comes word that Duff as we knew it is no more, having “rightsized” (don’t you love that term? New to me) by firing 80% of its workforce.

According to insiders, Duff’s expenses in building out his hedge fund have raised eyebrows and have caused a rift between Duff and Lindsay Goldberg.

Sources said Duff last spring spent approximately $70 million hiring a posse of hedge-fund management teams as well as constructing new office space at 100 West Putnam Ave. in Greenwich, Conn., spurring insiders to criticize Duff for having spent too much money before his firm made even a single investment.

A spokesman for Duff said the firm is facing the same headwinds that all hedge funds have and has been “rightsizing,” but declined to comment on Duff’s expenses.

At this point, it’s unclear if Duff is still running the firm he founded.

As long as Antares’ hedge fund tenants exist and can pay their bills, the landlord will make out – lease or sub-lease, the funds will remain liable for their rent. But if the funds disappear, so too does their rent and, Joe’s optimism to the contrary, commercial rents are sinking, not rising. He couldn’t replace these guys at $50 a foot, I bet.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Buy and hold. And hold, and hold, and ….

Mad Monkey won’t like this: the reason the banks went belly up is that, unlike the dot.com era when they flipped their fecal inventions as soon as they could sell them, they held on to their phony baloney securitized mortgage “assets” figuring they’d be worth more down the road.

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of all this is that its clear that banks and regulators continue to hold on to exactly the same idea: these assets will appreciate, housing will go up, if we just hold them we’ll make money. The fact that this was the road to ruin apparently doesn’t cause any hesitancy to march down it all over again.

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Mortgage cram downs next blow to banks?

This guy thinks so and gives at least three reasons why. The banks have probably been carrying the performing loans at full value but when Congress gets through, that may prove a sad delusion. Law of unintended consequences and all that but, on reflection, does this matter? We’re dumping billions on banks already, what’s a trillion more?

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Would you buy an apple from this man?

id74271_2_depression_applesBernie Madoff dying of pancreatic cancer?  It actually seems plausible, given his family’s behavior. The boys are off scurrying around the world in Dad’s private jet while Bernie stays in his penthouse, insisting against all possibility, that he maintained his scam alone and unaided. He checks out, the boys have the money and all is right in the Madoff world. Unless there’s a Hell.

But won’t this be a fizzle if Bernie drops out of the game and Walter Noel is left drooling alone in the witness box telling fractured stories of his boyhood? Darn it, we want a story!

Comments Off on Would you buy an apple from this man?

Filed under Uncategorized

Shock story of the day

Bruno charged with corruption. The entire New York legislature is corrupt, has been forever (at least since Theodore Roosevelt moved from Albany to Washington) and everyone has known it. I don’t ask, “why Bruno?” because he’s as good a place to start as any, but why not every single sitting politician up there?

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Where do new houses go when they die?

634 North Street

634 North Street

A reader has expressed surprise that this house on North Street could dream of getting anything close to its asking price of $8.950 million, notwithstanding its easy proximity to the Merritt Parkway and its exits. EZ ON/EZ OFF certainly works for MacDonalds, so why not for (lots of ) sheetrock?

But convenience to transportation doesn’t always suffice for picky Greenwich buyers, and I fear for the future of some of the twenty-one spec houses currently for sale in town at $7.5 million and up. Forty-five Meadow Drive, for instance, enjoys direct tidal waterfront in Belle Haven but also has I-95 as a neighbor in its backyard. The fact that one could hop onto a  trucktop and tour New England, free, so far hasn’t proved enough of a draw to attract a buyer, and the place sits vacant despite dropping its price from $17.9 million to a post-Madoff bargain price of $16.7.

2 Deer Park, 16,000 sf of house on bucolic Lake Avenue also provides an opportunity for car spotting, at all hours, but it won’t sell, even though its builder/seller has violated Mad Monkey’s rule and dropped its price below $1,000 sf. Give the man credit: he tried to move this stone collection at $16,250,000 but couldn’t do it, and has lowered his sights a tad to $14,750,000. It’s possible that Mad Monkey will grant him absolution because of this first attempt or even forgive him entirely because the shoulder of Lake Avenue is not the “truly prime” location that MM has now defined as his area of expertise.

Jordan Saper is moving his house somewhere in the sevens (maybe), but at the rate we’re going this year, these builders are looking at ten years of inventory. We all hope the market will improve a bit within ten years, but if not, the houses may still be around but their prices, and their builders, will not. Hmmm.

19 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Free the Gitmo 200!

Obama has heard our plea and acted. And, in view of the ridicule heaped on our former president who called the people held there “the worst of the worst”, this should be reassuring. “Freed from Guantanamo, accused terrorist renounces violence and spends time crocheting booties for Mother Theresa’s orphans.”

Oops! Wrong story. Here’s what I was looking for: “Freed by U.S., terrorist now is head of Al Qaeda in Yeman.” 

BEIRUT, Lebanon — The emergence of a former Guantánamo Bay detainee as the deputy leader of Al Qaeda’s Yemeni branch has underscored the potential complications in carrying out the executive order President Obama signed Thursday that the detention center be shut down within a year.

The militant, Said Ali al-Shihri, is suspected of involvement in a deadly bombing of the United States Embassy in Yemen’s capital, Sana, in September. He was released to Saudi Arabia in 2007 and passed through a Saudi rehabilitation program for former jihadists before resurfacing with Al Qaeda in Yemen.

His status was announced in an Internet statement by the militant group and was confirmed by an American counterterrorism official.

Now that’s change I can believe in.

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

When all about you lose their heads

John Thain spent $1.2 million of other people’s money redecorating his Merrill Lynch offices two months ago, while his underlings drowned. The man is clearly a genius for selling Ken Lewis a 50 lb sack of crap for $50 (?) billion but I don’t think I’ve read of a more despicable individual in American business, ever. There’s still time for that title to be contested and these days, I’m sure other candidates will emerge. But for now, Thain makes Dickie Fuld look like a warm, genuine human being.

13 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Hedge funds – $ under management fell 37% in ’08

That 2% fee may have to go and, with a few exceptions, there will be no 20% slice of profits for a long time while the hedgers work their way back to zero. That’s a lot less cash available to sustain Mad Monkey’s price structure  that he’d like to impose on Greenwich real estate. On the other hand, Greenwich has always attracted bright, industrious people who figure out ways to make tons of money. I smell a resurgence for the popcorn entrepreneurs.

Comments Off on Hedge funds – $ under management fell 37% in ’08

Filed under Uncategorized