Daily Archives: April 17, 2010

Goldman Sachs

The dissection of GS begins. And I’m not sure how to view their perfidy. I once had a personal accountant who sold me a low – income – housing  tax shelter and, after buying it, I reviewed (duh) the prospectus and discovered that my accountant had acted as a salesman on commission, not a trusted financial advisor. We had a chat, he agreed to buy back my position and wasn’t I lucky;  a few years later the IRS ruled the whole scheme a tax scam and invalidated the deal.

But that was a one-on-one relationship, a young lawyer with his Mill Pond Accountant. Should an institutional client of Goldman Sachs expect the same loyalty? The SEC seems to be saying “yes”, but I wonder whether all these sharks don’t deserve each other. The institutions buying all this CDO crap were absolutely positive that the people betting against them were fools, so someone was bound to lose. Goldman made the market that allowed the trade and made money doing so, but is that illegal?

I think GS is a dreadful outfit and when I am a billionaire, I will never entrust them with a dime, but I’m not sure I see a crime here.


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What the hell does this mean?

I have followed (and financially supported) Michael Yon while he has reported from Iraq and Afghanistan, but I have no way to understand this cryptic missive. I truly don’t understand what he’s talking about.


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High tech society, low tech world

One little volcano is shutting down air traffic around the globe. Imagine if a big one erupted?


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I personally prefer my brother Gideon’s Colt, but …

Firing the Glock

Point and shoot. Good tips on shooting.

[I’ve tried several times to make it obvious that I am NOT the author of this quote- I wish I were, but I am no arms expert – but it doesn’t seem to take. Hence this explicit text. Hit the link for the full article]

When it came my turn to do an edition of the Gun Digest Book of Combat Handgunnery, I said among other things, “There is no easier pistol to learn to shoot well!” It’s the truth, and the statement deserved the italics, then and now. The manual of arms is drastically simple. Insert magazine. Rack slide. Pistol will now shoot when trigger is pulled. End of story.

The low bore axis and the steep Luger-like grip angle make the Glock a “natural pointer.” If poor light or urgent circumstances keep you from getting the sight picture you might want, the wide flat top of its slide guides the eye in coarse aim like the “BROADway” rib popularized on tournament claybird shotguns by the Browning Superposed. Caliber for caliber, it kicks less than you’d think it should, because the polymer frame is flexing very slightly with the recoil and absorbing some of the impact.


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Count on foreclosures to linger on for years – what a mess

Document fraud exposed.

A Florida state-court judge, in a rare ruling, said a major national bank perpetrated a “fraud” in a foreclosure lawsuit, raising questions about how banks are attempting to claim homes from borrowers in default.

The ruling, made last month in Pasco County, Fla., comes amid increased scrutiny of foreclosures by the prosecutors and judges in regions hurt by the recession. Judges have said in hearings they are increasingly concerned that banks are attempting to seize properties they don’t own.

Since the housing crisis began several years ago, judges across the U.S. have found that documents submitted by banks to support foreclosure claims were wrong. Mistakes by banks and their representatives have also led to an ongoing federal criminal probe in Florida.

Some of the problems stem from the difficulty banks face in proving they own the loans, thanks to the complexity of the mortgage market.

The Florida ruling against U.S. Bank was also a critique of law firms that handle foreclosure cases on behalf of banks, dubbed “foreclosure mills.”

Lawyers operating foreclosure mills often are paid based on the volume of cases they complete. Some receive $1,000 per case, court records show. Firms compete for business in part based on how quickly they can foreclose. The David Stern firm had about 900 employees as of last year, court records show.[emphasis added]

“The pure volume of foreclosures has a tendency perhaps to encourage sloppiness, boilerplate paperwork or a lack of thoroughness” by attorneys for banks, said Judge Tepper of Florida, in an interview. The deluge of foreclosures makes the process “fraught with potential for fraud,” she said.

Forrest McSurdy, a lawyer at the David Stern firm that handled the U.S. Bank case, said the mistake was due to “carelessness.” The mortgage document was initially prepared and signed in 2007 but wasn’t notarized until months later, he said. After discovering similar problems in other foreclosure cases, he said, the firm voluntarily withdrew the suits and later re-filed them using appropriate documents.

“Judges get in a whirl about technicalities because the courts are overwhelmed,” he said. “The merits of the cases are the same: people aren’t paying their mortgages.”

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But surely there is a secret bank account he can access?

Volcano plume shuts down European air travel.

”I have been staying in a hotel but have now checked out and do not know what I am going to do — I have limited financial resources here,” said Anthony Adeayo, 45, who was due to travel from Britain to Nigeria with British Airways.

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