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Adam Hayes

Adam Hayes

1 year ago

Bernard Lawrence "Bernie" Madoff, the largest Ponzi scheme in history

Madoff who?

Bernie Madoff ran the largest Ponzi scheme in history, defrauding thousands of investors over at least 17 years, and possibly longer. He pioneered electronic trading and chaired Nasdaq in the 1990s. On April 14, 2021, he died while serving a 150-year sentence for money laundering, securities fraud, and other crimes.

Understanding Madoff

Madoff claimed to generate large, steady returns through a trading strategy called split-strike conversion, but he simply deposited client funds into a single bank account and paid out existing clients. He funded redemptions by attracting new investors and their capital, but the market crashed in late 2008. He confessed to his sons, who worked at his firm, on Dec. 10, 2008. Next day, they turned him in. The fund reported $64.8 billion in client assets.

Madoff pleaded guilty to 11 federal felony counts, including securities fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, perjury, and money laundering. Ponzi scheme became a symbol of Wall Street's greed and dishonesty before the financial crisis. Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison and ordered to forfeit $170 billion, but no other Wall Street figures faced legal ramifications.

Bernie Madoff's Brief Biography

Bernie Madoff was born in Queens, New York, on April 29, 1938. He began dating Ruth (née Alpern) when they were teenagers. Madoff told a journalist by phone from prison that his father's sporting goods store went bankrupt during the Korean War: "You watch your father, who you idolize, build a big business and then lose everything." Madoff was determined to achieve "lasting success" like his father "whatever it took," but his career had ups and downs.

Early Madoff investments

At 22, he started Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC. First, he traded penny stocks with $5,000 he earned installing sprinklers and as a lifeguard. Family and friends soon invested with him. Madoff's bets soured after the "Kennedy Slide" in 1962, and his father-in-law had to bail him out.

Madoff felt he wasn't part of the Wall Street in-crowd. "We weren't NYSE members," he told Fishman. "It's obvious." According to Madoff, he was a scrappy market maker. "I was happy to take the crumbs," he told Fishman, citing a client who wanted to sell eight bonds; a bigger firm would turn it down.

Recognition

Success came when he and his brother Peter built electronic trading capabilities, or "artificial intelligence," that attracted massive order flow and provided market insights. "I had all these major banks coming down, entertaining me," Madoff told Fishman. "It was mind-bending."

By the late 1980s, he and four other Wall Street mainstays processed half of the NYSE's order flow. Controversially, he paid for much of it, and by the late 1980s, Madoff was making in the vicinity of $100 million a year.  He was Nasdaq chairman from 1990 to 1993.

Madoff's Ponzi scheme

It is not certain exactly when Madoff's Ponzi scheme began. He testified in court that it began in 1991, but his account manager, Frank DiPascali, had been at the firm since 1975.

Why Madoff did the scheme is unclear. "I had enough money to support my family's lifestyle. "I don't know why," he told Fishman." Madoff could have won Wall Street's respect as a market maker and electronic trading pioneer.

Madoff told Fishman he wasn't solely responsible for the fraud. "I let myself be talked into something, and that's my fault," he said, without saying who convinced him. "I thought I could escape eventually. I thought it'd be quick, but I couldn't."

Carl Shapiro, Jeffry Picower, Stanley Chais, and Norm Levy have been linked to Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC for years. Madoff's scheme made these men hundreds of millions of dollars in the 1960s and 1970s.

Madoff told Fishman, "Everyone was greedy, everyone wanted to go on." He says the Big Four and others who pumped client funds to him, outsourcing their asset management, must have suspected his returns or should have. "How can you make 15%-18% when everyone else is making less?" said Madoff.

How Madoff Got Away with It for So Long

Madoff's high returns made clients look the other way. He deposited their money in a Chase Manhattan Bank account, which merged to become JPMorgan Chase & Co. in 2000. The bank may have made $483 million from those deposits, so it didn't investigate.

When clients redeemed their investments, Madoff funded the payouts with new capital he attracted by promising unbelievable returns and earning his victims' trust. Madoff created an image of exclusivity by turning away clients. This model let half of Madoff's investors profit. These investors must pay into a victims' fund for defrauded investors.

Madoff wooed investors with his philanthropy. He defrauded nonprofits, including the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Peace and Hadassah. He approached congregants through his friendship with J. Ezra Merkin, a synagogue officer. Madoff allegedly stole $1 billion to $2 billion from his investors.

Investors believed Madoff for several reasons:

  • His public portfolio seemed to be blue-chip stocks.
  • His returns were high (10-20%) but consistent and not outlandish. In a 1992 interview with Madoff, the Wall Street Journal reported: "[Madoff] insists the returns were nothing special, given that the S&P 500-stock index returned 16.3% annually from 1982 to 1992. 'I'd be surprised if anyone thought matching the S&P over 10 years was remarkable,' he says.
  • "He said he was using a split-strike collar strategy. A collar protects underlying shares by purchasing an out-of-the-money put option.

SEC inquiry

The Securities and Exchange Commission had been investigating Madoff and his securities firm since 1999, which frustrated many after he was prosecuted because they felt the biggest damage could have been prevented if the initial investigations had been rigorous enough.

Harry Markopolos was a whistleblower. In 1999, he figured Madoff must be lying in an afternoon. The SEC ignored his first Madoff complaint in 2000.

Markopolos wrote to the SEC in 2005: "The largest Ponzi scheme is Madoff Securities. This case has no SEC reward, so I'm turning it in because it's the right thing to do."

Many believed the SEC's initial investigations could have prevented Madoff's worst damage.

Markopolos found irregularities using a "Mosaic Method." Madoff's firm claimed to be profitable even when the S&P fell, which made no mathematical sense given what he was investing in. Markopolos said Madoff Securities' "undisclosed commissions" were the biggest red flag (1 percent of the total plus 20 percent of the profits).

Markopolos concluded that "investors don't know Bernie Madoff manages their money." Markopolos learned Madoff was applying for large loans from European banks (seemingly unnecessary if Madoff's returns were high).

The regulator asked Madoff for trading account documentation in 2005, after he nearly went bankrupt due to redemptions. The SEC drafted letters to two of the firms on his six-page list but didn't send them. Diana Henriques, author of "The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust," documents the episode.

In 2008, the SEC was criticized for its slow response to Madoff's fraud.

Confession, sentencing of Bernie Madoff

Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC reported 5.6% year-to-date returns in November 2008; the S&P 500 fell 39%. As the selling continued, Madoff couldn't keep up with redemption requests, and on Dec. 10, he confessed to his sons Mark and Andy, who worked at his firm. "After I told them, they left, went to a lawyer, who told them to turn in their father, and I never saw them again. 2008-12-11: Bernie Madoff arrested.

Madoff insists he acted alone, but several of his colleagues were jailed. Mark Madoff died two years after his father's fraud was exposed. Madoff's investors committed suicide. Andy Madoff died of cancer in 2014.

2009 saw Madoff's 150-year prison sentence and $170 billion forfeiture. Marshals sold his three homes and yacht. Prisoner 61727-054 at Butner Federal Correctional Institution in North Carolina.

Madoff's lawyers requested early release on February 5, 2020, claiming he has a terminal kidney disease that may kill him in 18 months. Ten years have passed since Madoff's sentencing.

Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme aftermath

The paper trail of victims' claims shows Madoff's complexity and size. Documents show Madoff's scam began in the 1960s. His final account statements show $47 billion in "profit" from fake trades and shady accounting.

Thousands of investors lost their life savings, and multiple stories detail their harrowing loss.

Irving Picard, a New York lawyer overseeing Madoff's bankruptcy, has helped investors. By December 2018, Picard had recovered $13.3 billion from Ponzi scheme profiteers.

A Madoff Victim Fund (MVF) was created in 2013 to help compensate Madoff's victims, but the DOJ didn't start paying out the $4 billion until late 2017. Richard Breeden, a former SEC chair who oversees the fund, said thousands of claims were from "indirect investors"

Breeden and his team had to reject many claims because they weren't direct victims. Breeden said he based most of his decisions on one simple rule: Did the person invest more than they withdrew? Breeden estimated 11,000 "feeder" investors.

Breeden wrote in a November 2018 update for the Madoff Victim Fund, "We've paid over 27,300 victims 56.65% of their losses, with thousands more to come." In December 2018, 37,011 Madoff victims in the U.S. and around the world received over $2.7 billion. Breeden said the fund expected to make "at least one more significant distribution in 2019"


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More on Economics & Investing

Theresa W. Carey

Theresa W. Carey

1 year ago

How Payment for Order Flow (PFOF) Works

What is PFOF?

PFOF is a brokerage firm's compensation for directing orders to different parties for trade execution. The brokerage firm receives fractions of a penny per share for directing the order to a market maker.

Each optionable stock could have thousands of contracts, so market makers dominate options trades. Order flow payments average less than $0.50 per option contract.

Order Flow Payments (PFOF) Explained

The proliferation of exchanges and electronic communication networks has complicated equity and options trading (ECNs) Ironically, Bernard Madoff, the Ponzi schemer, pioneered pay-for-order-flow.

In a December 2000 study on PFOF, the SEC said, "Payment for order flow is a method of transferring trading profits from market making to brokers who route customer orders to specialists for execution."

Given the complexity of trading thousands of stocks on multiple exchanges, market making has grown. Market makers are large firms that specialize in a set of stocks and options, maintaining an inventory of shares and contracts for buyers and sellers. Market makers are paid the bid-ask spread. Spreads have narrowed since 2001, when exchanges switched to decimals. A market maker's ability to play both sides of trades is key to profitability.

Benefits, requirements

A broker receives fees from a third party for order flow, sometimes without a client's knowledge. This invites conflicts of interest and criticism. Regulation NMS from 2005 requires brokers to disclose their policies and financial relationships with market makers.

Your broker must tell you if it's paid to send your orders to specific parties. This must be done at account opening and annually. The firm must disclose whether it participates in payment-for-order-flow and, upon request, every paid order. Brokerage clients can request payment data on specific transactions, but the response takes weeks.

Order flow payments save money. Smaller brokerage firms can benefit from routing orders through market makers and getting paid. This allows brokerage firms to send their orders to another firm to be executed with other orders, reducing costs. The market maker or exchange benefits from additional share volume, so it pays brokerage firms to direct traffic.

Retail investors, who lack bargaining power, may benefit from order-filling competition. Arrangements to steer the business in one direction invite wrongdoing, which can erode investor confidence in financial markets and their players.

Pay-for-order-flow criticism

It has always been controversial. Several firms offering zero-commission trades in the late 1990s routed orders to untrustworthy market makers. During the end of fractional pricing, the smallest stock spread was $0.125. Options spreads widened. Traders found that some of their "free" trades cost them a lot because they weren't getting the best price.

The SEC then studied the issue, focusing on options trades, and nearly decided to ban PFOF. The proliferation of options exchanges narrowed spreads because there was more competition for executing orders. Options market makers said their services provided liquidity. In its conclusion, the report said, "While increased multiple-listing produced immediate economic benefits to investors in the form of narrower quotes and effective spreads, these improvements have been muted with the spread of payment for order flow and internalization." 

The SEC allowed payment for order flow to continue to prevent exchanges from gaining monopoly power. What would happen to trades if the practice was outlawed was also unclear. SEC requires brokers to disclose financial arrangements with market makers. Since then, the SEC has watched closely.

2020 Order Flow Payment

Rule 605 and Rule 606 show execution quality and order flow payment statistics on a broker's website. Despite being required by the SEC, these reports can be hard to find. The SEC mandated these reports in 2005, but the format and reporting requirements have changed over the years, most recently in 2018.

Brokers and market makers formed a working group with the Financial Information Forum (FIF) to standardize order execution quality reporting. Only one retail brokerage (Fidelity) and one market maker remain (Two Sigma Securities). FIF notes that the 605/606 reports "do not provide the level of information that allows a retail investor to gauge how well a broker-dealer fills a retail order compared to the NBBO (national best bid or offer’) at the time the order was received by the executing broker-dealer."

In the first quarter of 2020, Rule 606 reporting changed to require brokers to report net payments from market makers for S&P 500 and non-S&P 500 equity trades and options trades. Brokers must disclose payment rates per 100 shares by order type (market orders, marketable limit orders, non-marketable limit orders, and other orders).

Richard Repetto, Managing Director of New York-based Piper Sandler & Co., publishes a report on Rule 606 broker reports. Repetto focused on Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade, E-TRADE, and Robinhood in Q2 2020. Repetto reported that payment for order flow was higher in the second quarter than the first due to increased trading activity, and that options paid more than equities.

Repetto says PFOF contributions rose overall. Schwab has the lowest options rates, while TD Ameritrade and Robinhood have the highest. Robinhood had the highest equity rating. Repetto assumes Robinhood's ability to charge higher PFOF reflects their order flow profitability and that they receive a fixed rate per spread (vs. a fixed rate per share by the other brokers).

Robinhood's PFOF in equities and options grew the most quarter-over-quarter of the four brokers Piper Sandler analyzed, as did their implied volumes. All four brokers saw higher PFOF rates.

TD Ameritrade took the biggest income hit when cutting trading commissions in fall 2019, and this report shows they're trying to make up the shortfall by routing orders for additional PFOF. Robinhood refuses to disclose trading statistics using the same metrics as the rest of the industry, offering only a vague explanation on their website.

Summary

Payment for order flow has become a major source of revenue as brokers offer no-commission equity (stock and ETF) orders. For retail investors, payment for order flow poses a problem because the brokerage may route orders to a market maker for its own benefit, not the investor's.

Infrequent or small-volume traders may not notice their broker's PFOF practices. Frequent traders and those who trade larger quantities should learn about their broker's order routing system to ensure they're not losing out on price improvement due to a broker prioritizing payment for order flow.


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Sam Hickmann

Sam Hickmann

1 year ago

What is headline inflation?

Headline inflation is the raw Consumer price index (CPI) reported monthly by the Bureau of labour statistics (BLS). CPI measures inflation by calculating the cost of a fixed basket of goods. The CPI uses a base year to index the current year's prices.


Explaining Inflation

As it includes all aspects of an economy that experience inflation, headline inflation is not adjusted to remove volatile figures. Headline inflation is often linked to cost-of-living changes, which is useful for consumers.

The headline figure doesn't account for seasonality or volatile food and energy prices, which are removed from the core CPI. Headline inflation is usually annualized, so a monthly headline figure of 4% inflation would equal 4% inflation for the year if repeated for 12 months. Top-line inflation is compared year-over-year.

Inflation's downsides

Inflation erodes future dollar values, can stifle economic growth, and can raise interest rates. Core inflation is often considered a better metric than headline inflation. Investors and economists use headline and core results to set growth forecasts and monetary policy.

Core Inflation

Core inflation removes volatile CPI components that can distort the headline number. Food and energy costs are commonly removed. Environmental shifts that affect crop growth can affect food prices outside of the economy. Political dissent can affect energy costs, such as oil production.

From 1957 to 2018, the U.S. averaged 3.64 percent core inflation. In June 1980, the rate reached 13.60%. May 1957 had 0% inflation. The Fed's core inflation target for 2022 is 3%.
 

Central bank:

A central bank has privileged control over a nation's or group's money and credit. Modern central banks are responsible for monetary policy and bank regulation. Central banks are anti-competitive and non-market-based. Many central banks are not government agencies and are therefore considered politically independent. Even if a central bank isn't government-owned, its privileges are protected by law. A central bank's legal monopoly status gives it the right to issue banknotes and cash. Private commercial banks can only issue demand deposits.

What are living costs?

The cost of living is the amount needed to cover housing, food, taxes, and healthcare in a certain place and time. Cost of living is used to compare the cost of living between cities and is tied to wages. If expenses are higher in a city like New York, salaries must be higher so people can live there.

What's U.S. bureau of labor statistics?

BLS collects and distributes economic and labor market data about the U.S. Its reports include the CPI and PPI, both important inflation measures.

https://www.bls.gov/cpi/

Jan-Patrick Barnert

Jan-Patrick Barnert

1 year ago

Wall Street's Bear Market May Stick Around

If history is any guide, this bear market might be long and severe.

This is the S&P 500 Index's fourth such incident in 20 years. The last bear market of 2020 was a "shock trade" caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, although earlier ones in 2000 and 2008 took longer to bottom out and recover.

Peter Garnry, head of equities strategy at Saxo Bank A/S, compares the current selloff to the dotcom bust of 2000 and the 1973-1974 bear market marked by soaring oil prices connected to an OPEC oil embargo. He blamed high tech valuations and the commodity crises.

"This drop might stretch over a year and reach 35%," Garnry wrote.

Here are six bear market charts.

Time/depth

The S&P 500 Index plummeted 51% between 2000 and 2002 and 58% during the global financial crisis; it took more than 1,000 trading days to recover. The former took 638 days to reach a bottom, while the latter took 352 days, suggesting the present selloff is young.

Valuations

Before the tech bubble burst in 2000, valuations were high. The S&P 500's forward P/E was 25 times then. Before the market fell this year, ahead values were near 24. Before the global financial crisis, stocks were relatively inexpensive, but valuations dropped more than 40%, compared to less than 30% now.

Earnings

Every stock crash, especially earlier bear markets, returned stocks to fundamentals. The S&P 500 decouples from earnings trends but eventually recouples.

Support

Central banks won't support equity investors just now. The end of massive monetary easing will terminate a two-year bull run that was among the strongest ever, and equities may struggle without cheap money. After years of "don't fight the Fed," investors must embrace a new strategy.

Bear Haunting Bear

If the past is any indication, rising government bond yields are bad news. After the financial crisis, skyrocketing rates and a falling euro pushed European stock markets back into bear territory in 2011.

Inflation/rates

The current monetary policy climate differs from past bear markets. This is the first time in a while that markets face significant inflation and rising rates.


This post is a summary. Read full article here

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DC Palter

DC Palter

6 months ago

Why Are There So Few Startups in Japan?

Japan's startup challenge: 7 reasons

Photo by Timo Volz on Unsplash

Every day, another Silicon Valley business is bought for a billion dollars, making its founders rich while growing the economy and improving consumers' lives.

Google, Amazon, Twitter, and Medium dominate our daily lives. Tesla automobiles and Moderna Covid vaccinations.

The startup movement started in Silicon Valley, California, but the rest of the world is catching up. Global startup buzz is rising. Except Japan.

644 of CB Insights' 1170 unicorns—successful firms valued at over $1 billion—are US-based. China follows with 302 and India third with 108.

Japan? 6!

1% of US startups succeed. The third-largest economy is tied with small Switzerland for startup success.

Mexico (8), Indonesia (12), and Brazil (12) have more successful startups than Japan (16). South Korea has 16. Yikes! Problem?

Why Don't Startups Exist in Japan More?

Not about money. Japanese firms invest in startups. To invest in startups, big Japanese firms create Silicon Valley offices instead of Tokyo.

Startups aren't the issue either. Local governments are competing to be Japan's Shirikon Tani, providing entrepreneurs financing, office space, and founder visas.

Startup accelerators like Plug and Play in Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto, the Startup Hub in Kobe, and Google for Startups are many.

Most of the companies I've encountered in Japan are either local offices of foreign firms aiming to expand into the Japanese market or small businesses offering local services rather than disrupting a staid industry with new ideas.

There must be a reason Japan can develop world-beating giant corporations like Toyota, Nintendo, Shiseido, and Suntory but not inventive startups.

Culture, obviously. Japanese culture excels in teamwork, craftsmanship, and quality, but it hates moving fast, making mistakes, and breaking things.

If you have a brilliant idea in Silicon Valley, quit your job, get money from friends and family, and build a prototype. To fund the business, you approach angel investors and VCs.

Most non-startup folks don't aware that venture capitalists don't want good, profitable enterprises. That's wonderful if you're developing a solid small business to consult, open shops, or make a specialty product. However, you must pay for it or borrow money. Venture capitalists want moon rockets. Silicon Valley is big or bust. Almost 90% will explode and crash. The few successes are remarkable enough to make up for the failures.

Silicon Valley's high-risk, high-reward attitude contrasts with Japan's incrementalism. Japan makes the best automobiles and cleanrooms, but it fails to produce new items that grow the economy.

Changeable? Absolutely. But, what makes huge manufacturing enterprises successful and what makes Japan a safe and comfortable place to live are inextricably connected with the lack of startups.

Barriers to Startup Development in Japan

These are the 7 biggest obstacles to Japanese startup success.

  1. Unresponsive Employment Market

While the lifelong employment system in Japan is evolving, the average employee stays at their firm for 12 years (15 years for men at large organizations) compared to 4.3 years in the US. Seniority, not experience or aptitude, determines career routes, making it tough to quit a job to join a startup and then return to corporate work if it fails.

  1. Conservative Buyers

Even if your product is buggy and undocumented, US customers will migrate to a cheaper, superior one. Japanese corporations demand perfection from their trusted suppliers and keep with them forever. Startups need income fast, yet product evaluation takes forever.

  1. Failure intolerance

Japanese business failures harm lives. Failed forever. It hinders risk-taking. Silicon Valley embraces failure. Build another startup if your first fails. Build a third if that fails. Every setback is viewed as a learning opportunity for success.

4. No Corporate Purchases

Silicon Valley industrial giants will buy fast-growing startups for a lot of money. Many huge firms have stopped developing new goods and instead buy startups after the product is validated.

Japanese companies prefer in-house product development over startup acquisitions. No acquisitions mean no startup investment and no investor reward.

Startup investments can also be monetized through stock market listings. Public stock listings in Japan are risky because the Nikkei was stagnant for 35 years while the S&P rose 14x.

5. Social Unity Above Wealth

In Silicon Valley, everyone wants to be rich. That creates a competitive environment where everyone wants to succeed, but it also promotes fraud and societal problems.

Japan values communal harmony above individual success. Wealthy folks and overachievers are avoided. In Japan, renegades are nearly impossible.

6. Rote Learning Education System

Japanese high school graduates outperform most Americans. Nonetheless, Japanese education is known for its rote memorization. The American system, which fails too many kids, emphasizes creativity to create new products.

  1. Immigration.

Immigrants start 55% of successful Silicon Valley firms. Some come for university, some to escape poverty and war, and some are recruited by Silicon Valley startups and stay to start their own.

Japan is difficult for immigrants to start a business due to language barriers, visa restrictions, and social isolation.

How Japan Can Promote Innovation

Patchwork solutions to deep-rooted cultural issues will not work. If customers don't buy things, immigration visas won't aid startups. Startups must have a chance of being acquired for a huge sum to attract investors. If risky startups fail, employees won't join.

Will Japan never have a startup culture?

Once a consensus is reached, Japan changes rapidly. A dwindling population and standard of living may lead to such consensus.

Toyota and Sony were firms with renowned founders who used technology to transform the world. Repeatable.

Silicon Valley is flawed too. Many people struggle due to wealth disparities, job churn and layoffs, and the tremendous ups and downs of the economy caused by stock market fluctuations.

The founders of the 10% successful startups are heroes. The 90% that fail and return to good-paying jobs with benefits are never mentioned.

Silicon Valley startup culture and Japanese corporate culture are opposites. Each have pros and cons. Big Japanese corporations make the most reliable, dependable, high-quality products yet move too slowly. That's good for creating cars, not social networking apps.

Can innovation and success be encouraged without eroding social cohesion? That can motivate software firms to move fast and break things while recognizing the beauty and precision of expert craftsmen? A hybrid culture where Japan can make the world's best and most original items. Hopefully.

Cory Doctorow

Cory Doctorow

9 months ago

The downfall of the Big Four accounting companies is just one (more) controversy away.

Economic mutual destruction.

Multibillion-dollar corporations never bothered with an independent audit, and they all lied about their balance sheets.

It's easy to forget that the Big Four accounting firms are lousy fraud enablers. Just because they sign off on your books doesn't mean you're not a hoax waiting to erupt.

This is *crazy* Capitalism depends on independent auditors. Rich folks need to know their financial advisers aren't lying. Rich folks usually succeed.

No accounting. EY, KPMG, PWC, and Deloitte make more money consulting firms than signing off on their accounts.

The Big Four sign off on phony books because failing to make friends with unscrupulous corporations may cost them consulting contracts.

The Big Four are the only firms big enough to oversee bankruptcy when they sign off on fraudulent books, as they did for Carillion in 2018. All four profited from Carillion's bankruptcy.

The Big Four are corrupt without any consequences for misconduct. Who can forget when KPMG's top management was fined millions for helping auditors cheat on ethics exams?

Consulting and auditing conflict. Consultants help a firm cover its evil activities, such as tax fraud or wage theft, whereas auditors add clarity to a company's finances. The Big Four make more money from cooking books than from uncooking them, thus they are constantly embroiled in scandals.

If a major scandal breaks, it may bring down the entire sector and substantial parts of the economy. Jim Peterson explains system risk for The Dig.

The Big Four are voluntary private partnerships where accountants invest their time, reputations, and money. If a controversy threatens the business, partners who depart may avoid scandal and financial disaster.

When disaster looms, each partner should bolt for the door, even if a disciplined stay-and-hold posture could weather the storm. This happened to Arthur Andersen during Enron's collapse, and a 2006 EU report recognized the risk to other corporations.

Each partner at a huge firm knows how much dirty laundry they've buried in the company's garden, and they have well-founded suspicions about what other partners have buried, too. When someone digs, everyone runs.

If a firm confronts substantial litigation damages or enforcement penalties, it could trigger the collapse of one of the Big Four. That would be bad news for the firm's clients, who would have trouble finding another big auditor.

Most of the world's auditing capacity is concentrated in four enormous, brittle, opaque, compromised organizations. If one of them goes bankrupt, the other three won't be able to take on its clients.

Peterson: Another collapse would strand many of the world's large public businesses, leaving them unable to obtain audit views for their securities listings and regulatory compliance.

Count Down: The Past, Present, and Uncertain Future of the Big Four Accounting Firms is in its second edition.

https://www.emerald.com/insight/publication/doi/10.1108/9781787147003

Isaiah McCall

Isaiah McCall

9 months ago

There is a new global currency emerging, but it is not bitcoin.

America should avoid BRICS

Photo by Artyom Kim on Unsplash

Vladimir Putin has watched videos of Muammar Gaddafi's CIA-backed demise.

Gaddafi...

Thief.

Did you know Gaddafi wanted a gold-backed dinar for Africa? Because he considered our global financial system was a Ponzi scheme, he wanted to discontinue trading oil in US dollars.

Or, Gaddafi's Libya enjoyed Africa's highest quality of living before becoming freed. Pictured:

Twitter

Vladimir Putin is a nasty guy, but he had his reasons for not mentioning NATO assisting Ukraine in resisting US imperialism. Nobody tells you. Sure.

The US dollar's corruption post-2008, debasement by quantitative easing, and lack of value are key factors. BRICS will replace the dollar.

BRICS aren't bricks.

Economy-related.

Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa have cooperated for 14 years to fight U.S. hegemony with a new international currency: BRICS.

BRICS is mostly comical. Now. Saudi Arabia, the second-largest oil hegemon, wants to join.

So what?

The New World Currency is BRICS

Russia was kicked out of G8 for its aggressiveness in Crimea in 2014.

It's now G7.

No biggie, said Putin, he said, and I quote, “Bon appetite.”

He was prepared. China, India, and Brazil lead the New World Order.

Together, they constitute 40% of the world's population and, according to the IMF, 50% of the world's GDP by 2030.

Here’s what the BRICS president Marcos Prado Troyjo had to say earlier this year about no longer needing the US dollar: “We have implemented the mechanism of mutual settlements in rubles and rupees, and there is no need for our countries to use the dollar in mutual settlements. And today a similar mechanism of mutual settlements in rubles and yuan is being developed by China.”

Ick. That's D.C. and NYC warmongers licking their chops for WW3 nasty.

Here's a lovely picture of BRICS to relax you:

BRICS

If Saudi Arabia joins BRICS, as President Mohammed Bin Salman has expressed interest, a majority of the Middle East will have joined forces to construct a new world order not based on the US currency.

I'm not sure of the new acronym.

SBRICSS? CIRBSS? CRIBSS?

The Reason America Is Harvesting What It Sowed

BRICS began 14 years ago.

14 years ago, what occurred? Concentrate. It involved CDOs, bad subprime mortgages, and Wall Street quants crunching numbers.

2008 recession

When two nations trade, they do so in US dollars, not Euros or gold.

What happened when 2008, an avoidable crisis caused by US banks' cupidity and ignorance, what happened?

Everyone WORLDWIDE felt the pain.

Mostly due to corporate America's avarice.

This should have been a warning that China and Russia had enough of our bs. Like when France sent a battleship to America after Nixon scrapped the gold standard. The US was warned to shape up or be dethroned (or at least try).

We need to go after the banks and the representatives who bailed them out, again. (Source)

Nixon improved in 1971. Kinda. Invented PetroDollar.

Another BS system that unfairly favors America and possibly pushed Russia, China, and Saudi Arabia into BRICS.

The PetroDollar forces oil-exporting nations to trade in US dollars and invest in US Treasury bonds. Brilliant. Genius evil.

Our misdeeds are:

  • In conflicts that are not its concern, the USA uses the global reserve currency as a weapon.

  • Targeted nations abandon the dollar, and rightfully so, as do nations that depend on them for trade in vital resources.

  • The dollar's position as the world's reserve currency is in jeopardy, which could have disastrous economic effects.

  • Although we have actually sown our own doom, we appear astonished. According to the Bible, whomever sows to appease his sinful nature will reap destruction from that nature whereas whoever sows to appease the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.

Americans, even our leaders, lack caution and delayed pleasure. When our unsustainable systems fail, we double down. Bailouts of the banks in 2008 were myopic, puerile, and another nail in America's hegemony.

America has screwed everyone.

We're unpopular.

The BRICS's future

It's happened before.

Saddam Hussein sold oil in Euros in 2000, and the US invaded Iraq a month later. The media has devalued the word conspiracy. The Iraq conspiracy.

There were no WMDs, but NYT journalists like Judy Miller drove Americans into a warmongering frenzy because Saddam would ruin the PetroDollar. Does anyone recall that this war spawned ISIS?

I think America has done good for the world. You can make a convincing case that we're many people's villain.

Learn more in Confessions of an Economic Hitman, The Devil's Chessboard, or Tyranny of the Federal Reserve. Or ignore it. That's easier.

We, America, should extend an olive branch, ask for forgiveness, and learn from our faults, as the Tao Te Ching advises. Unlikely. Our population is apathetic and stupid, and our government is corrupt.

Argentina, Iran, Egypt, and Turkey have also indicated interest in joining BRICS. They're also considering making it gold-backed, making it a new world reserve currency.

You should pay attention.

Thanks for reading!