Addison Wiggin

“This is half-baked justice at best,” US District Judge Jed Rakoff wrote in an opinion yesterday afternoon. The SEC sued Bank of America for lying to their shareholders over the company having been forced to buy Merrill Lynch.

In a move that smacks of some backroom deal you and I will never be privy to, the SEC sued for only $150 million. That’s 2.4% of the $3.6 billion in 11th-hour bonuses Merrill execs awarded themselves days before they merged with BofA. It’s an even smaller fraction of the $4.4 billion bonus pool Bank of America henchmen enjoyed last year.

Half-baked justice? Yeah. On a pure cost-benefit model, it’s more like incentive for execs from BoA and Merrill and the Treasury and whoever else to go out rape, pillage, lie and steal all over again. Contrary to our Unofficial, Unauthorized Darwin Awards, these companies and execs climb the food chain when they concoct corrupt insider schemes.

Good luck restoring confidence in the financial system while they’re still lounging in the corner office…rather than in a cell next to some fat guy with “Mom” tattooed on his arm. Oy.

Even more for the “Wall Street Ire” file this morning: It has now been confirmed that Goldman Sachs bet against the very subprime assets it sold to AIG, which ultimately caused the insurer’s collapse. Here’s the breakdown, per a Bloomberg report and documents recently released from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform:

  • Goldman Sachs underwrote $17.2 billion of CDOs for AIG, more than any other firm
  • Knowing precisely the garbage it had underwritten (our assertion), Goldman bought billions in credit default swaps that would rise in value as AIG stumbled (fact)
  • AIG ultimately paid Goldman – with taxpayer dollars confiscated by many former Goldmanites in the Treasury – the full value of their default contracts: $14 billion.

Of course, all this has been suspected for so long that it was assumed to be true…but now it’s in stone. How this isn’t securities fraud, we don’t know… It’s like selling a teenager napalm (that you made in your backyard) and buying fire insurance on his dad’s house.

Addison Wiggin

Addison Wiggin is the executive publisher of Agora Financial, LLC, a fiercely independent economic forecasting and financial research firm. He's the creator and editorial director of Agora Financial's daily 5 Min. Forecast and editorial director of The Daily Reckoning. Wiggin is the founder of Agora Entertainment, executive producer and co-writer of I.O.U.S.A., which was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, the 2009 Critics Choice Award for Best Documentary Feature, and was also shortlisted for a 2009 Academy Award. He is the author of the companion book of the film I.O.U.S.A.and his second edition of The Demise of the Dollar, and Why it's Even Better for Your Investments was just fully revised and updated. Wiggin is a three-time New York Times best-selling author whose work has been recognized by The New York Times Magazine, The Economist, Worth, The New York Times, The Washington Post as well as major network news programs. He also co-authored international bestsellers Financial Reckoning Day and Empire of Debt with Bill Bonner.

Recent Articles

Why the Fed Will Launch Another Round of QE

Richard Duncan

Ben Bernanke introduced the world to the concept of "quantitative easing" back in 2002. It was an "unorthodox plan" to save the economy from the horrors of deflation. But the monstrous economy it has actually created is in some ways far worse. And as Richard Duncan explains, it's not going to end any time soon. Read on..


How to Safeguard Your Digital Currency

Dominic Frisby

While the technical details of Bitcoin may intimidate the novice, they shouldn’t keep him from getting in on a digital currency revolution that -- while taking different forms -- isn’t going away. How do you get the simplest, easiest-to-act-on tips about how to invest, safeguard and grow your digital wealth? Dominic Frisby has more…


Solar to Save the World, Ebola to Maim it

Chris Campbell

The duality is stark. In one hand, we have an energy renaissance underway, in the other, a virus is threatening to wreak havoc on the markets and, potentially, your life. Nothing we’re currently doing to fight the Ebola virus will work in 2014, say the researchers. Nothing we’re currently doing will beat it in 2015, either. We need a new game-plan. Read on…


How to Profit From the “Cycle of Hype”

Greg Guenthner

Lose your shirt in 3D printing stocks this year? Don’t kick yourself. You’re not alone. (Okay, kick yourself a little if it’ll make you feel better.) You need to make sure you don’t lose your 3D-printed shirt in the next tech craze. Because there will be a next time. Look, it’s really not your fault if you got taken for a ride on 3D stocks. Greg Guenthner has more...