Follow Up on the Silver Market Manipulations

On March 27th and March 29th I presented materials concerning evidence that was presented to the CFTC concerning whistle-blower and London trader Andrew Maguire and his various emails to Eliud Ramirez, a senior investigator for the CFTC‘s Enforcement Division.  These emails contained evidence that reported the illegal manipulation of the silver market by traders at JP Morgan Chase. Maguire told the CFTC how silver traders at JP Morgan Chase openly bragged about their exploits – including how they sent a signal to the market in advance so that other traders could make a profit during price suppression episodes. Traders would recognize these signals and would make money shorting precious metals alongside JP Morgan Chase.  Maguire explained to the CFTC how there would routinely be market manipulations at the time of option expires, during non-farm payroll data releases, during commodities exchange contract rollovers, as well as at other times if it was deemed necessary.

The video of the hearing in which this evidence was presented clearly demonstrates that the CFTC had no interest in pursuing this issue.  We were outraged when we learned a few days later Maguire and his wife were run down by an automobile shortly after Maguire’s return to London.  They are fine now. While it seems the CFTC is not going to pursue these allegations of racketeering, several investors are pursuing lawsuits to uncover the evidence.

According to  Bloomberg News, HSBC Holdings Plc and JPMorgan Chase & Co. were accused in an investor’s lawsuit of placing “spoof” trading orders to manipulate silver futures and options prices in violation of U.S. antitrust law.

The investor, Peter Laskaris, alleges that starting in March 2008, the banks colluded to suppress silver futures so that call options, or the right to buy, would decline, and put options for the right to sell would increase, according to the complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Manhattan. The collusion was also intended to maintain prices at levels at which some options would expire as worthless, Laskaris claims.

The banks placed so-called spoof trading orders, or the “submission of a large order which is not executed but influences prices and is then withdrawn before it reasonably can be executed,” according to the complaint.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission began probing allegations of price manipulation in the silver futures market in September 2008. At a hearing in Washington on Oct. 27, CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton said there have been “fraudulent efforts to persuade and deviously control” silver prices and that violators should be prosecuted.  Joseph Evangelisti, a spokesman for New York-based JPMorgan, declined to comment. Juanita Gutierrez, a spokeswoman for London-based HSBC, also declined to comment.

A separate, similar complaint filed yesterday on behalf of investor Brian Beatty, and naming the same banks as defendants, claims a whistleblower contacted the CFTC last year and reported the banks’ conspiracy to suppress prices of silver futures to profit from “enormous” short positions in silver futures.

The banks reduced their collusive trading and their holdings in the futures market after a government investigation of silver futures manipulation began in March, according to the complaint filed by Laskaris, which seeks class-action status. Since the banks cut back on their silver futures trading, prices have increased about 50 percent, the suit alleges.

“These price changes directly result, at least in one substantial part, from defendants’ reduction in their concentration and other reductions of their unlawful activities in the silver markets since the government investigation,” according to the Laskaris complaint.

What is truly sad here is that the CFTC has utterly failed to act, even when the evidence was overwhelming as to what banks were conducting the fraudulent trading practices, down to the specific employee names.  Even when Maguire even in one email predicted what was GOING to happen on the next trading cycle and exactly what he said happened.  Even when pressured, the banks pulled back and the price of silver found it true value by 50%!

Our economic reality is still tied to these banksters and their unabashed audacious belief they are in charge.  Real global financial reform is the ONLY action that is going to be effective.  Our political involvement should extend well beyond the mid-term elections in the US and the recent elections in the UK and the EU.

Every one of these governments is or will soon ask us all to suck up it one more time.  Our collective response should be sure, just as soon as you reign in the bankers and fix the causes of the whole damn thing in the first place.  I just think nothing less will have a chance of working within the next few years.

Seems Like Too Much Fear and Anxiety

I am reminded in these times of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first inaugural address in which he uttered those famous words; “let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

In today’s noisy background with terrorists, natural disasters, two wars being prosecuted, swine flu, bird flu, global warming, corrupt politicians, and financial gangsters, I try to find a place of quiet to reflect on just what the hell is going on, really!  I also remember “Deep Throat’s” advice, follow the money.

In fact, I make it a daily habit and have reported my findings extensively in my blog. What I know is that since 2007, someone has picked our personal pockets for about $11 Trillion dollars, robbed our national collective treasuries, because I include the EU primarily in the mess, although the GCC states got popped also, for about $20 Trillion collectively.  Add on top of that the cost of the wars and well you see very quickly that all of these events did not just show up on the timeline spontaneously.

It appears that some amount of planning and cooperation has gone into the unfolding of these events.  There are literally hundreds of conspiracy theories, but that is not the focus of my thoughts just now.  My thoughts are centered on how did we let this happen?  I mean collectively we, as Americans and Europeans, sit docile as we are being raped.  Why?

I think the answer comes down to two words, fear and apathy.  Ok, I know I am not saying anything that profound.  However, if you consider that there might be a possibility that those responses were being socially engineered to occur, then that might be another story, wouldn’t it?

I am bringing this all up now because if I am correct in my little theory, then we are collectively about to see the grand finale between now and next spring.  It is just a necessary timing thing.  That means there will be a need to ratchet up the feelings of fear and insecurity.

Some possible coming attractions are:

All out currency war with the yen, dollar, and Euro seeing significant devaluations. Hyperinflation is coming to a country near you.

Red flag minor terrorist attacks in a city near you.

Watch out for inbound asteroids!

Another Trillion plus bailout of the banks will be coming just after the elections.

Official disclosure that there are indeed aliens, lots of them, and they are all not necessarily friendly, so fear all of them, presented in new holographic technology.

Look, I am not a conspiracy nut.  There is just too much disinformation out there to really know anything significantly important.  I am however a lover of patterns.  I have liked patterns ever since my grandfather, whose was a master Indian weaver, taught me the “secret” of the pattern.  Simply stated, if you pay attention closely to the pattern, you will soon see and know what comes next.

The real point is though, that if the pattern exists, then there is a necessity to elevate the sense of helplessness to secure the “final objective”.  This however is predicated on our “conditioned” response to the “events” as they are unfolded.  In this state of anxiety and fear we tend to readily give up our personal freedoms and rights to be “protected”.  What happens if we do not buy it? What if we collectively take FDR’s advice?  Just a thought.  It is late and I have had a lot of coffee.

Update From the Currency Warfront

As we have discussed in previous articles, our fears relating to the lack of political will or statesmanship are seemingly coming true. Our global leaders seem to be struggling at the G20 summit when it comes to the subject of currency imbalances.

Consider these facts reported by the Telegraph UK …..With China resolutely refusing to allow the yuan to rise more quickly, the US shifted the debate on the first day of the G20 summit to address trade imbalances, the root issue behind exchange rate clashes.

Timothy Geithner, the US Treasury secretary, told G20 members they should commit to specific trade caps, allowing surpluses and deficits on their current account, the broadest measure of trade in goods and services, to be no more than 4pc of gross domestic product.

China’s current account surplus was 5.9pc in 2009, having almost halved from its peak of 10.6pc in 2007. The US, by contrast, had a current account deficit of 3pc last year.  In a letter to the G20, Mr Geithner called for a “co-operative effort” on the issue, but said there would have to be “some exceptions” for countries that imported large quantities of raw materials.

The US plan was seen as a way to side-step a direct confrontation over currencies. It was backed by the UK, Korea, Australia and Canada, but immediately opposed by large exporters such as Japan and Germany.  Rainer Bruederle, the German finance minister, rejected a “command economy” approach, while Yoshihiko Noda of Japan said “setting numerical targets would be unrealistic”.

India also said the trade caps would be hard to work out, while Russia said there would be no numerical limits set in the summit’s final statement.  Mr Geithner also called for G20 countries to refrain from “either weakening their currency or preventing the appreciation of an undervalued currency”. Mr Geithner, who also called for the IMF to monitor the G20’s commitments, added: “G20 advanced countries will work to ensure against excessive volatility and disorderly movement in exchange rates.”

Guido Mantega, the Brazilian Finance minister, who was not at the G20 summit, also revealed the Mr Geithner had telephoned him to reassure him that the US had no intention of allowing the dollar to weaken further.  “He guaranteed US policy is not to weaken the dollar, on the contrary, it is to strengthen the dollar,” said Mr Mantega. “He said the impact of the Fed policy was being overestimated. It is difficult, if you weaken the dollar and want the Chinese to let the yuan appreciate,” he added.

However, as the first day of meetings closed, there was little sign that currency issues would be resolved. With scepticism growing that the G20 was a focused enough forum to iron out global economic problems, Lee Myung-bak, the South Korean president who is hosting the summit, warned ministers that if they did not reach a compromise “we may not operate bus, train or airplane services to take you back home”.

In a final statement after two days of heated negotiation, the G20 said it would “move towards more market-determined exchange rate systems” and that the International Monetary Fund would “deepen” its supervision of exchange rates.

“This language calms everything down and gives us a route map forward,” said George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. “Obviously this colorful language about currency wars has got everyone excited,” he added.

Mr. Osborne clarified, however, that the statement was not a criticism of China for persistently undervaluing the Yuan. “What people have been nervous about is that the current imbalance would get worse as countries other than China look at the route of competitive devaluation.” He also said that while currencies “tend to grab the headlines”, they are just one part of wider economic imbalances.

While several member countries of the G20 hailed the summit in South Korea as a success, Japan immediately broke ranks to declare that, contrary to the spirit of the communique, it would continue to devalue the yen if it saw fit.  Yoshihiko Noda, Japan’s finance minister, said: “A prolonged appreciation in the yen is not good for Japan’s economy. Our stance, that we will take appropriate, bold action if needed, is unchanged.”

From all of this, the thing we need to fear the most is an outbreak of currency devaluation to counterbalance China’s refusal to let the Yuan finds its place in the market.  This could have disastrous effects on already stressed economies.

While a little inflation and growth would be a good thing, hyperinflation would be devastating to the US and EU economies that are at best still on their knees.  Relate this also to the fact that most of these nations have committed to rather severe austerity programs and the temperature in the pot will go up a few degrees I fear.

It is no secret that for months now that predictive linguistics has pointed to a major event that has been anticipated within the first 15 days of November.  Most recently, it seems to somewhat focus on the global economy.  PAY ATTENTION, very close attention to these events now unfolding.

Let’s Get Back to Being Real

We are facing all kinds of real threats to life as we know it.  The economic crisis threatens to push our country to third world status and most of us out of the middle class.  The so-called war on terrorism seems to be endless and as draining on our national treasury as was King Richard’s Folly.  In any great civilization, the first sign of failure is a common belief that the next generation will NOT be better than the current generation.  We are certainly at that point.

The good news of history, each great new arising civilization that arises from the ashes of the failed and corrupted society happened when the spirit of man was rising once again and inspiring dreams of how it could be if we adhered to what both believers and non-believers agreed was a noble standard of living and the pursuit of fame and fortune.  To create that type of environment and social standard, we have to ask a single fundamental question.  WHY ARE WE HERE?

While we will never be in agreement as to the detailed answer to that question, we can come to an universal concept of that standard.  For me, the answer was so succinctly addressed in a very ancient text, the Kolbrin.

“So long as the soul looks outward only, into the deceptive environment of matter and is satisfied with the material pleasures it finds there, and which its baser body finds compatible, it remains cut off from the greater realm of the spirit. It binds itself to matter, failing to find the greater pleasures always there in the silent depths of its being. Confirmed in his attitude by experiences in a deceptive environment, mortal man becomes convinced that all desirable things lie outside himself. He concludes that satisfaction comes from gaining the things which promote material welfare. This is the folly of the unbalanced man. However, balance is the keyword, for it is equally foolish to turn away from material things altogether. Man is made of earthly things, because it is intended that he should live and express himself on Earth. It is also intended that he should discover his nature through earthly conditions and experiences”. – KOLBRIN

These words are very contemporary.  It addresses the corruption and greed that is endemic.  It describes the follies of material pursuit as the end all.  It urges each of us to take a few moments a day to pursue an understanding of the nature of who we are in a place of quiet and solitude.  And certainly, I think no one would disagree with the fact we so desperately need to seek some balance in this madness that seems to be all about us.

It seems to me that we can sum up the current collective situation we face globally into three distinct pressures.  The first is extremism in religious fervor.  Whether it is Wahabism or Fundamental Christianity, Orthodox Judaism or Mormonism, we need to seek accommodation and reconciliation. There are a million paths to spiritual enlightenment, including seeking no path at all.  It’s all good.

Second, is to assure a reasonable distribution of wealth.  Nothing threatens our global stability more than this single issue.  We should seriously consider the declaration of a jubilee in its truest sense.  If we globally observed a Jubilee year, there would be no crushing debt, nor an imbalance of the very rich and the very poor. Land values would be relatively stable, and inflation and depressions would not occur. It would also result in good government and prosperity.  Although I understand it sounds a bit altruistic, I still put it to you, why wouldn’t it work?

Finally, there is the matter of social justice.  If we are a truly enlightened civilization, and I would think we are still at least a candidate for that honor, then we accept a responsibility to address the gross social injustices that exist today. I would hope that the universal goals for the 21st century would be to manage the world’s population in such a manner that everyone has universal rights to food, housing, health care, and education.  As I write these words, I already hear all the sighs and groans and the outright laughter from the “500,000,000” club.  However, the facts are we could do just that with the resources we currently possess. It is only a matter of will.

All over the world, people are waking up and standing up.  However, not unlike newborns, they are not sure why they are standing or just what they are standing up for.  In a number of cases, they are being exploited by those who wish to maintain the status quo.  I think the American Tea Party is a very good example how that plays out.

I certainly do not have a clue how we channel this emerging energy into a movement that really positively and fundamentally changes our present course.  All I know is it wouldn’t hurt to collectively decide why we are here and establish some global goals to achieve what we collectively agree are the major reasons we are here in the first place.  Who knows where that would take us.

Every once in awhile you just have to stop and ponder things from these altruistic heights.  My experience when you are then grounded again, you find yourself one more wrung up the ladder.

Death by 1,000 Cuts

As I watch the current political season unfold in the US, I am both ashamed and shocked.  I am ashamed that the current class of wannabes who are seeking our votes is by far the bottom of the class.  I am shocked that we, as the electorate, seem to be both accepting this and supporting these dangerous uninformed puppets!

I have just two questions.  First, why is there more money, and in a lot of cases from secret sources, spending more on this mid-term election than in any election in the history of this wonderful country? Secondly, why do none of the candidates, and I mean none of the candidates, tell us what their plans are?  All I see is a lot of negative campaigning, filled with lies and distortions.

As social safety net programs have been drained of reserves, many US citizens have also been burning through their personal savings. Over the past few years the percentage of Americans living paycheck to paycheck has dramatically increased. In 2007, 43 percent of Americans were living paycheck to paycheck.

In 2008, the percentage increased to 49 percent. In 2009, the number skyrocketed up to 61 percent. The most recent number for 2010 has exploded to a shocking 77 percent. This means in our nation of 310 million citizens, 239 million Americans are one setback away from economic ruin and millions more are in danger of having to rely on government assistance for survival.

In fact, almost four of every five employees say they live paycheck-to-paycheck, and 20 percent have missed payments on bills during the past year. It’s a sobering reminder that a bad economy is miserable, even for those with full-time jobs.

So, how are cash-strapped employees surviving? Well, they are making some of the lifestyle changes you would sort of expect:

• Cut back on leisure activities (eating out, movies, weekend getaways) — 54 percent.

• Used coupons or started/more shopping at discount stores (such as Target, Walmart) — 48 percent

• Drove less to save gas — 37 percent

• Canceled cable or other subscriptions — 12 percent

• Used public transportation (buses, light rail, etc.) — 5 percent

A few facts that grabbed my attention are the percentage of people who are saving less or passing on contributing to their employer 401(k) (I will avoid the lecture how it’s free money with a company match and great for retirement planning).

About one in five employees have lowered their 401(k) contributions, and one in three employees don’t have a 401(k) or put away money in a traditional savings account. And more than 40 percent of employees who put aside money, save very little every month — 28 percent less than $100, and 14 percent less than $50.

52 million Americans are currently surviving in “anti-poverty” programs and are gradually  being cut off from life-sustaining government assistance (for example, no cost of living increase for those on social security for two years now)- and as the 239 million people now living paycheck to paycheck, buried in debt, stressing out and working their asses off just to make ends meet realize that things are not going to be getting any better — and are only going to get worse — social unrest and outbursts of violence will eventually start to bubble up to the surface and the ruling elite will no longer be able to maintain power by simply deceiving the masses via mainstream media propaganda.

Outbreaks of civil unrest are something that the US government and Pentagon have been expecting, and preparing for.  It has already started in Europe.  Former US Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee stating that the greatest threat facing the US is not terrorism, it’s the current economic crisis: “The primary near-term security concern of the United States is the global economic crisis and its geopolitical implications. The crisis has been ongoing…. Of course, all of us recall the dramatic political consequences wrought by the economic turmoil of the 1920s and 1930s in Europe, the instability, and high levels of violent extremism.”

Intelligence Committee Vice-Chair Christopher Bond said the economic crisis is now “the primary focus of the intelligence community.” As the Army War College has warned, the response to this coming phase of the economic crisis “might include use of military force against hostile groups inside the United States. “ Further, DoD [the Department of Defense] would be, by necessity, an essential enabling hub for the continuity of political authority in a multi-state or nationwide civil conflict or disturbance.”

Journalist Chris Hedges summed up this report:  “The specter of social unrest was raised at the US Army War College in November of last year in a monograph titled ‘Known Unknowns: Unconventional ‘Strategic Shocks’ in Defense Strategy Development.’ … The ‘widespread civil violence,’ the document said, ‘would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security.’ ‘An American government and defense establishment lulled into complacency by a long-secure domestic order would be forced to rapidly divest some or most external security commitments in order to address rapidly expanding human insecurity at home,’ it went on…. “In plain English, something bureaucrats and the military seem incapable of employing, this translates into the imposition of martial law and a de facto government being run out of the Department of Defense.”  They are considering it. So should you.

All of this is being cast in the mainstream media as we are powerless to do anything about these realities because it is the bankers and financial institutions and their lobbyists that are in charge.  We, as the general public, are without remedy.  We are uninformed and ignorant.  We don’t cast informed votes and we are lazy or uneducated, so these folks know best.  Trust them! I ask you, do you believe this?  I think not.

I don’t know about you, but I do not want to see my children living in abject poverty or worse yet, taking up pitch forks and torches against the most elite and technically sophisticated army in the world and dying for these reasons.  Again I will say, the big secret that those who are perpetrating this on us don’t want you to perceive is “One Man, One Vote”.  If we, as Americans, really understand this, the gig is up for these boys.  We really are out of time.  Get informed and vote. The most recent poll I saw said that half of the people who voted in the last election are not going to bother to show up for this election.  If you don’t vote in this election (and I don’t care of which political persuasion you are), it may be the last opportunity to do so.  I do not think that is an exaggeration, do you?

If You Are In Foreclosure, This is a Must Read

After a record 347,420 foreclosure filings and 102,134 bank repossessions in September alone, the U.S. is on pace to top 1.2 million foreclosures this year, up from about 1 million last year, according to new data from RealtyTrac, which collects and analyzes real estate records from across the country.

If you are one of those caught up in this mess, there are a number of things you need to know.  First, do not ignore any notices or requests to appear in court.  Have all of your paper work in order.  However, the most important thing is to make the lender PRODUCE their documentation which establishes their right to proceed with foreclosure.  In almost 75% of these cases THEY DO NOT HAVE IT.  As I wrote in my most recent article, this is a mess.

In a lot of cases, those facing these proceedings are financially strapped and think that they do not have the money to hire an attorney and so tragically they do nothing and are evicted.  What is doubly sad about this is that in most cases they have standing in the courts and could save their homes.  If you are in this situation, there is help out there and you cannot afford not to take advantage of that help.  Read below and may it help just one family.

Source: Herald Online


More than a year before lenders, law firms and document companies began owning up to widespread paperwork problems with their foreclosure filings, Lisa Epstein and Michael Redman already knew that something was wrong – very wrong.

Redman, a former online automobile consultant, got his first taste of the problem in early 2008, when he tried to help a relative who was facing foreclosure.

As he tried to determine which of three or four supposed lenders held the note, Redman, 35, realized that not only did he not know the answer, neither did any of the companies that were asking for payment.

Epstein, a nurse who cares for cancer patients, also is going through foreclosure. She got her baptism in the world of shoddy foreclosure paperwork in the summer of 2009, however, when she tried to help a brain tumor patient keep her home.

Epstein helped draft a letter challenging the foreclosure because, as in Redman’s case, it was unclear from court papers who owned the home’s mortgage.

After arriving at the summary judgment hearing in her nurse’s uniform, an emotional Epstein, 45, watched as the ill woman read their letter aloud in court. When the opposing attorneys never showed, the judge refused to finalize the foreclosure. The woman remains in her home as the legal wrangling continues.

For Epstein, who often helped her patients navigate disputes with their health insurance companies, the role of advocate wasn’t new – but the thrill of a courtroom victory was.

“It was like something struck inside me, like this is what I’m compelled to do. I can be a nurse for people caught in this foreclosure crisis,” Epstein said. “I remember thinking, ‘I’m not an attorney, and there are definite obstacles, but maybe there’s a role for me.’ And I ran back to the hospital like I had wings. I felt like this is my purpose.”

Within a year, she and Redman – who didn’t know each other at the time – would leave their respective jobs to pursue their passion for helping others and exposing injustice in the foreclosure industry.

After meeting late last year at a foreclosure fraud seminar, they teamed up to become two of the nation’s most influential civilian beat cops for the beleaguered foreclosure industry.

Equal parts agitators, activists and advocates, Redman and Epstein have made their presence felt in Florida and nationally through their respective websites, and

Under a sun-drenched sky recently, Redman proudly perused his Web log to see recent visits from the Internal Revenue Service, the Homeland Security Department, the Justice Department, Fannie Mae, the Housing and Urban Development Department and the CIA, among others. Someone from the executive office of the president took a recent look, too, he said.

Major banks also are peeping at Redman’s frequent postings and snarky analysis of embarrassing documents that appear to show foreclosure industry fraud.

Two weeks ago, he posted a deposition from a clerk at one of four Florida law firms that the state attorney general is investigating on suspicions that they’re using fabricated documents to evict thousands of homeowners. She told investigators that the firm’s employees regularly signed affidavits without reading them and put incorrect dates on documents.

“This kind of stuff goes on all the time, and it’s everywhere,” Redman said.

Problem foreclosure documents are the latest chapter in the housing crisis that triggered the Great Recession.

In foreclosure cases nationwide, bank officials have signed sworn affidavits, supposedly verifying their knowledge of the matters in question. However, after several bank officials told investigators they’d signed thousands of affidavits without reading them, the nation’s foreclosure process has ground nearly to a halt as officials investigate the practice known as “robo-signing.”

Major lenders JPMorgan Chase and Ally, formerly GMAC, have stopped evictions to check for bad paperwork in Florida and 22 other states that require court orders to seize property. Bank of America earlier this month halted foreclosures while it reviews paperwork in all 50 states.

On Wednesday, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said he’d lead the new Mortgage Foreclosure Multistate Group’s investigation of the problem and propose possible remedies. The bipartisan group includes state attorneys and state banking and mortgage regulators from all 50 states.

In Florida, where one of every 56 homes was in foreclosure proceedings in the third quarter of this year, Redman and Epstein have shined a light on efforts to ram cases through courts without much fact-checking.

Foreclosure defense attorney Chris Immel of Palm Beach County said the ongoing scandal was changing that practice nationally and in Florida.

“A lot of that has to do with the activism of people like Mike and Lisa. They get a lot of attention, and a lot of people look to them because they’re very active with their blogs and their activism,” Immel said.

Whether they’re being courted by prominent print news outlets or interviewed on cable television news shows, doing conference calls with state officials or protesting on courthouse steps, Redman and Epstein are consumed by their new roles.

They’ve filed briefs with the Florida Supreme Court and sent questionable documents to state investigators, the FBI, the Justice Department and numerous banking regulators.

Earlier this year, they led two busloads of people to the state capital in Tallahassee to protest a proposed change in Florida law that would have allowed foreclosures without court orders. The measure was defeated.

When it appeared several weeks ago that President Barack Obama might sign legislation that could weaken fraud protections in foreclosure cases, Redman and Epstein posted an action alert, urging people to call the White House and voice their opposition.

“At one point, so many people were calling (the comment line) that you couldn’t even get through. I absolutely think our silent army is not being silent anymore,” said Karen Pooley of Seattle, a 48-year-old building material saleswoman who credits Epstein’s website with teaching her how to find evidence of fabricated paperwork. She ended up finding suspicious documents that helped a friend get his foreclosure sale canceled.

“Not postponed, but canceled,” said Pooley, who’s also fighting her own foreclosure and organizing local volunteers to look for more bad documents. “Lisa was very helpful in teaching me how to search and get this army started.”

Andrew Delaney, who’s fighting the foreclosure of his home in Ashburnham, Mass., drove all the way to Florida in the spring to meet with Redman. He said Redman’s advice on checking court documents for flawed paperwork has allowed him to avoid foreclosure for more than two years as banks try to prove who holds his note.

So don’t give up and ask for help. Also, if you know anyone facing this situation, please pass this article to them.

The Company No One Knows is at the Heart of the Mortgage Disaster.

Over 100,000 were foreclosed on during the month of September, a record number by any measure.  There were also over 350 homes where foreclosure procedures, including eviction, were conducted where the homes weren’t even mortgaged!!  WHAT!??  Yes, that is correct.  In most cases these involved homes that were either recently auctioned or short sold.  The titles cleared fine, but the folks in the banks didn’t tell MERS that and foreclosure procedures were actually and will continue to be initiated on unwary home owners.

This is where the biggest little company you never heard of comes into play.  In fact, it was supposedly created to deal with just such situations to insure they didn’t happen.  You’ve heard the name Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems or “MERS” mentioned in relation to the foreclosure problems in the residential real estate market. This is especially true if you have been a victim.  But what is MERS?

According to an article in Washington’s Blog it is the company created and owned by all of the big banks to process title to property in the U.S.  Approximately 60% of the nation’s residential mortgages are recorded in the name of MERS.  That’s right they own the paper, or ah someone inside MERS has all the documentation.  The fact of the matter is no one has the paper. These mortgages were sold and resold so many times in most cases that the now OWNER or mortgage holder has NO paper work at all. MERS is no exception.

So if MERS owns 60% of all mortgages, it must have thousands of employees and hundreds of offices across the country.  Well, not exactly.  In fact sit down for this one. MERS is a shell corporation with no employees, but thousands of officers.

As the treasurer and secretary of MERS admitted in a deposition:

Q Does MERS have any salaried employees?
A No.
Q Does MERS have any employees?
A Did they ever have any? I couldn’t hear you.
Q Does MERS have any employees currently?
A No.
Q In the last five years has MERS had any
A No.
Q To whom do the officers of MERS report?
A The Board of Directors.

Q How many assistant secretaries have you
appointed pursuant to the April 9, 1998 resolution; how
many assistant secretaries of MERS have you appointed?
A I don’t know that number.
Q Approximately?
A I wouldn’t even begin to be able to tell you right now.
Q Is it in the thousands?
A Yes.
Q Have you been doing this all around the
country in every state in the country?
A Yes.
Q And all these officers I understand are unpaid
officers of MERS
A Yes.
Q And there’s no live person who is an employee
of MERS that they report to, is that correct, who is an
A There are no employees of MERS.

In another deposition, a legal assistant at a law firm initiating 4000 to 7000 foreclosures per month in Florida held herself out as “vice president” and “assistant secretary” of MERS. She testified:

Q: The question was you have no job duties as an assistant secretary of MERS, correct?
A: I do not have any job duties other than signing the assignments and mortgage. Does that help?
Q: Yes. Here, I’ll try to rephrase this. Do you attend any board meetings at MERS?
A: No, sir.
Q: Do you attend any meetings at all at MERS?
A: No, sir.
Q: Do you report to the secretary of MERS?
A: No, sir.
Q: Who is the secretary of MERS?
A: I have no idea.
Q: Where are the MERS offices located?
A: I can’t remember.
Q: How many offices do they have?
A: I have no idea.
Q: Do you know where their headquarters are?
A: Nope.
Q: Have you ever been there?
A: No.
Q: How many employees do they have?
A: I have no idea.

She further testified that her signatures on “these assignments,” which from all indications were and are at least several thousand in number, were in no way attestations that the statements contained therein were accurate or truthful. She further testified that she was the person with the most knowledge about the subject assignment.

For example, she testified:

Q: It says, ‘but effective as of the 19th day of February, 2008.” Do you see that?
A: Yes.
Q: Where did you get that date from?
A: I did not pick that date. That date was put in by the processor that prepared the
Q: And who was that?
A: Off the top-of-my-head, I do not know who actually typed this assignment.
Q: Okay. But you are signing on behalf of MERS, and you are stating here that it is effective as of the 19th day of February, 2008, correct?
A: Correct.
Q: At the time you signed this, what reason did you have, as agent for MERS, to make it
effective as of the 19th day of February, 2008?
A: I did not pick that date. And I do not recall this document.
Q: Sitting here today, you have no idea why it is that it says, “effective as of the 19th day of February, 2008.” Is that correct?
A: Looking at this one particular piece of paper, I do not recall or know the answer to that question, no.
Q: Is there some general practice, of which you are aware, that would give us information as to why this particular date was inserted?
A: That information was determined by the people that review the file prior to me.
Q: And what would they base that on, as a general practice?
A: I do not know.
Q: You don’t know? Were, to your knowledge, any physical documents transferred on February 19, 2008?
A: I do not know.
Q: To your knowledge, does the 19th day of February, 2008 have any significance?
A: I do not know.
Q: Ma’am, if you signed this document on behalf of MERS, picking this date, this effective
date – –
A: I did not pick the effective date.
Q: But you ratified it by signing this; didn’t you?
Q: Didn’t you attest to the accuracy of that date by signing this document?
A: I would say, no.
Q: Did you attest to this document, as a whole, by signing it?
A: I do not think that in my capacity of signing these assignments, it was my position to attest. My role was to be given a document that had been reviewed by an attorney, had been reviewed by a title examiner, had instructions from the client, and I was to sign the assignment as secretary on behalf of MERS.
Q: Right. And when you signed it as secretary on behalf of MERS, were you approving and agreeing with the terms contained therein for MERS?
A: I believe I was approving and agreeing to the fact that the mortgage needed to be assigned from MERS to another entity.

In that light, Yves Smith’s report that “no one in the industry transferred the paper” makes perfect sense. But why was MERS created in the first place? MERS, the banks and the mainstream financial press all say that it was simply to save fees by digitizing mortgage electronic.

But as Ellen Brown notes, there is in reality a very different reason that the big banks created MERS: The rating agencies required that the conduit be “bankruptcy remote,” which meant it could hold title to nothing ….

Indeed, the secretary and treasurer of MERS admitted this in a deposition, stating:

As a requirement for mortgages that were securing loans or promissory notes that were sold to securitize trust, the rating agencies would only allow mortgages MERS — well let me step back. They required that a bankruptcy remote single purpose entity be created in order for transactions holding loans secured by MERS, by mortgages MERS served as mortgagee to be in those pools and receive a rating, an investment grade rating without any changes to the credit enhancement. They required that to be a bankruptcy remote single purpose subsidiary of MERS, of Merscorp.

And as a a forthcoming article in the Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Journal notes, saving fees was another motivation for the giant banks in running mortgages through MERS, but in a way which is shadier than routine cost-cutting efforts. In the mid-1990s mortgage bankers decided they did not want to pay recording fees for assigning mortgages anymore. This decision was driven by securitization—a process of pooling many mortgages into a trust and selling income from the trust to investors on Wall Street. Securitization, also sometimes called structured finance, usually required several successive mortgage assignments to different companies. To avoid paying county recording fees, mortgage bankers formed a plan to create one shell company that would pretend to own all the mortgages in the country—that way, the mortgage bankers would never have to record assignments since the same company would always “own” all the mortgages.

AP notes that banks hired hair stylists, Walmart floor workers and people who had worked on assembly lines as foreclosure “experts”. Some of these folks testified in deposition that they hardly knew what a mortgage or an “affidavit” is, and admitted that they knew they were lying when they signed the foreclosure affidavits and that they agreed with the defense lawyers’ accusations about document fraud. While I have not yet seen any evidence that the folks signing on behalf of MERS were of this caliber, nothing would surprise me at this point. MERS was and is, a large part of a laundering process.

So if you have been reading the newspaper or watching the little coverage of this in MSM and wondering why all these banks are halting their foreclosure procedures on their own initiative or why Attorney Generals in several states have stepped in and stopped or are threatening to halt these foreclosure efforts, now you know a little more and if you are like me I don’t like what I now know.

When you combine this information with articles circulating that banks are trading these toxic mortgages back and forth between themselves to also generate tax carry forward losses, well, my blood begins to rise in temperature a bit.  Sure smells a lot like fraud, tax evasion, and criminal activity that certainly should be controlled by the Rico Act.  We talk about financial reform legislation.  I think the Rico Act will do just fine. I think a few of these “big boys” modeling the latest fashion in broad stripped suits in front of a discerning crowd of hardened felons will do more to facilitate reform than all the hot air in Washington. It would also create an unemployment problem with lobbyists which isn’t a bad thing either.

Update from the Currency War Front

The war has begun that I voiced concern about early last month.  It appears that the first salvos have been fired and the battle lines are being drawn.  I suspect some may raise their eyebrows when I say that this is the most dangerous war the world has ever dealt with in its history.  What is so dangerous about this war?

First, it is a war that very few people understand.  Politicians have no clue and the average person cannot make the connection between this war and their personal lives.  That is until the war swings into full combat mode.  Then they will understand too late.  Let’s just say when you have to take a truck load of money to the grocery store to buy a loaf of bread everyone will understand then.  What we really need now is intervention to prevent this war from escalating.  This is the job for international economic agencies like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the G20, or the World Bank to step in!

Well…. According to the Telegraph today, it looks like we have had our first opportunity to see these diligent and social responsible agencies in action on the war front.

The IMF policy committee, which has been struggling to agree a consensus on easing currency tensions among key economies including China and the US, said the organisation should instead keep the issue under watch.  Pressure has been piling on China to speed up the pace of economic reform by dropping its policy of using a weak currency and reserve accumulation to boost exports. Finance ministers at the 187-strong lending agency have accused China of imperiling the global recovery by fostering the imbalances that are preventing deficit countries like the US and UK from returning to economic health.

IMF officials argue that if China let its currency appreciate, Chinese imports would become more expensive, potentially sparking demand for US goods. The US is facing crippling levels of unemployment despite returning to growth, which has raised fears of a “jobless recovery” that could trigger political and social unrest.

European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet last night pointedly reminded China of its commitment last June to “engage in exchange rate flexibility”, adding: “There is no need for [emerging economies] to continue to accumulate immense amount of reserve assets.”

Earlier, US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told the committee that the IMF had to speak more forcefully about how countries manage their currencies. He called on the IMF to “increase the candour of its surveillance” and said that “meaningful reform of IMF surveillance is a core challenge of the institution”.

Despite calls for tougher action, the IMF could only pledge to “work towards a more balanced pattern of global growth, recognising the responsibilities of deficit and surplus countries”.

Mr Trichet added that while “we have a consensus on imbalances, the problem is implementation – as always”. China on Friday hit back at calls for it to let the currency rise, saying it rejected such “shock therapy” but is committed to a more “flexible” currency regime.

George Soros, the respected hedge fund manager, also weighed into the debate. Speaking in London, he said a global “currency war” pitting China versus the rest of the world could lead to the collapse of the world economy. Mr Soros said the China had created a “lopsided currency” system and suggested it allow the yuan to appreciate by 10pc a year – far more than the Chinese will contemplate.

The IMF Committee’s chairman Youssef Boutros-Ghali said at the conclusion of talks at the agency’s Washington headquarters that “frictions” did exist. “These are being addressed. We have come to the conclusion that the IMF is the place to deal with these issues,” he said.

IMF managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, when asked about the failure to come up with a stronger statement, said that “there is only one obstacle, and that is an agreement of the members”, before adding that the line was a joke. He added that “I don’t believe action can be done in a way other than in a co-operative way.”

Recent IMF figures showed Beijing had currency reserves of $2.447 trillion, the largest in the world and nearly 30pc of the global total.

So maybe bankers will step in and save the day.  Well… maybe not.  Consider this:

The Institute of International Finance, a group that represents 420 of the world’s largest banks and finance houses, has issued yet another call for a one-world global currency, Jerome Corsi’s Red Alert reports.

“A core group of the world’s leading economies need to come together and hammer out an understanding,” Charles Dallara, the Institute of International Finance’s managing director, told the Financial Times.  An IIF policy letter authored by Dallara and dated Oct. 4 made clear that global currency coordination was needed, in the group’s view, to prevent a looming currency war.

“The narrowly focused unilateral and bilateral policy actions seen in recent months – including many proposed and actual measures on trade, currency intervention and monetary policy – have contributed to worsening underlying macroeconomic imbalances,” Dallara wrote. “They have also led to growing protectionist pressures as countries scramble for export markets as a source of growth.”

Dallard encouraged a return to the G-20 commitment to utilize International Monetary Fund special drawing rights to create an international one-world currency alternative to the U.S. dollar as a new standard of foreign-exchange reserves.

Likewise, a July United Nations report called for the replacement of the dollar as the standard for holding foreign-exchange reserves in international trade with a new one-world currency issued by the International Monetary Fund.

The 176-page report, titled “United Nations World Economic and Social Survey 2010,” was issued at a high-level meeting of the U.N. Economic and Social Council and published in its entirety on the U.N. website.

What is obvious is that no agency or governmental body in the world, no matter its size or scope has either the courage or the power to stop the escalation.  The major governments involved, US, EU, China, and India cannot muster the political strength within their respective regions to implement the policies that must be put in place to correct the existing imbalances.

I am certain that if the general public understood that this is a war in which every home, every family on the planet will be victims and causalities of the war, maybe we can rally our weak-kneed and greedy politicians and bankers to implement the policies now to stop this insane war.  You know, a Godfather like discussion.  An offer they can’t refuse.

The Decrees of Fate are Many but the Decrees of Destiny are Few

Destiny can be likened to travelling to a distant city whether or not you wish to make the trip. The way the man gets to the city is his only choice and therefore whatever occurs as a result of his decision is where fate comes in.

When I contemplate all that I am currently observing in the world with wars, natural disasters, and economic hardships, I think about us.  I mean the collective “US”. WE, as mankind have a destiny.  We might not know the ultimate destiny, but we all sense we are moving toward something more.  We sense when we are not moving forward to that destiny, as we collectively sense now.  We have lost what we call  “our spirit” or the “spirit of mankind.”  More realistically we can say it is the collective aspirations of all men.  This universal inspiration sets us apart from all other creatures we are aware of in existence.

I wonder how we allowed ourselves to make the choices we have made or are making.  Would are ancient ancestors look with pride at how far we have progressed or will they be saddened that we are still at war, or that there are still far too many of us hungry, sick, or marred in poverty and victimized on a daily basis?

I also wonder that if our current situation is the decrees of fate that has resulted from the choices we have made, then why do we feel so powerless to change those choices?  Let’s be honest here.  On an individual basis, we all are sickened at how many of our finest young men and women are dying in distant wars we know little about and yet as individuals we do nothing more than lip service on occasion to change it. Why?

We all know that a very few have a vastly disproportionate amount of the collective wealth and they are amassing even more everyday and we know they are not using their wealth in any meaningful way for the betterment of all.  Yet we allow them the continued privilege that such wealth generates.  Why?

I understand the wisdom that a man realizes more readily the depth of his soul when confronted with disaster than while sitting in the lap of luxury, but where are WE right now?  For me it came down to some pretty basic stuff.  Do I really have a soul and do I really have a destiny?  For me, the answer to both questions is yes. While trials and tribulations are the tuition of a soul, we have choices, choices as individuals and collective choices.

I feel I am on fairly solid ground here.  This has nothing to do with religious dogma or belief systems.  I don’t pretend to have even the slightest clue to the “TRUTH”.  I think even most agnostics or atheists you would meet would agree that you cannot rule out the possibilities of some sort of eternal  or dimensional existence.

So why am I rambling about this now?  Is it too much coffee or not enough sleep?  No, it’s the stories of people having their retirement plans so impacted that they must continue to work well past 65, or 4500 children dying every minute of starvation or disease.  It is the agony and pain of women, children, and the elderly caught in the vise grips of war and conflict.  It is the deterioration of our systems of education and infrastructure.  It is 2 million families that will be thrown from their homes in just America this year.

Can WE not do better than this?  What is really stopping us from drinking from the Chalice of Fulfillment?  When will these unnecessary hardships and suffering actually become intolerable to us?  Please do not misunderstand what I am trying to say, I really don’t have any of the answers, only the questions.

I know it is easier for the soul in each of us to devolve rather than evolve, but it seems we are almost severed from that which we call the “spirit of man”.  That same spirit that created England and the Magna Carta.  The same spirit that sparked the French and American Revolution. The same spirit that allowed the world to survive two major global wars.

It seems to me that we should re-empower OURSELVES as individuals. We need to reconnect to our spirit of who we are and then collectively we need to clean this mess up pronto.  What say you?

The Fox is in the Henhouse, Right on Schedule.

I have written in previous articles concerning how big finance is now hunting to raid pension funds, especially large state based funds.  That was back in November of last year I believe.

In April the corruption scandal at New York State’s public pension fund had broke and has now tainted multimillion-dollar investment deals in at least two other states – California and New Mexico. Pension systems are reacting with changes meant to cast sunlight on a shadowy system, particularly on the role of investment middlemen called “placement agents.” The agents work for a variety of investment management firms, large and small, that seek to manage a slice of the assets held by big pension funds. The agents’ fees can run into the millions of dollars and are usually not disclosed.

Who are the players?

Pension systems –Public retirement systems are some of the country’s biggest investors. The top three alone have combined assets of around $400 billion. They collect money from public employees – such as teachers, firefighters and police – as well as contributions from their employers, and invest that money with the aim of being able to pay for those employees’ retirement and other benefits.  Professional staffers at the largest funds are typically overseen by a board that signs off on investment decisions and is often composed of elected politicians or political appointees.

Investment firms –The pension systems look to earn strong returns on their money while minimizing risk, and there are many investment-management firms that want their business. Some money-management firms emphasize traditional stocks and bonds, while others concentrate in real estate. Some are hedge funds, meaning they embrace a wide number of investment opportunities, including short sales, which involve selling borrowed stock with the expectation that its price will decline. Some are “private-equity” firms that raise money to buy undervalued businesses they can improve and resell at a profit.

Private equity boomed in the last 10 years, and many public pension funds pumped billions of dollars into these unregulated, opaque firms. The advantage to the pension funds was threefold: They liked being able to put money in investments that, supposedly, weren’t vulnerable to volatility in the stock market. The funds also liked the high returns many of these firms delivered – though performance has been affected by the global financial crisis. Finally, many public pension funds set aside money to invest in start-ups and investment-management firms owned by women and minorities.

Placement agents –Placement agents are the middlemen between the pension systems and the investment firms. Placement agents help investment firms pitch projects in return for large fees. Many placement agents are small boutique shops, but major investment firms and banking conglomerates also provide placement services.

What happened in New York? –New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo alleges in an indictment that Hank Morris, a longtime political consultant, set up a pay-to-play scheme at New York state’s pension fund, which has assets worth $122 billion, according to the most recent data.  Morris was an adviser to former state Comptroller Alan Hevesi. In New York, the comptroller has nearly unfettered control over investment decisions at the fund.  Morris set up shop as a placement agent, working with a Connecticut firm, Searle & Co. In that role, he essentially was able to charge a commission for bringing clients to Hevesi

What does a placement agent normally do?

Placement agents help investment firms target funds that are likely to be interested in financial products the firm is offering, set up meetings with key decision makers and help craft marketing materials to sell the project.  Many large financial institutions offer placement services. Morgan Stanley, for example, calls its service “Capital Introductions” and says it provides “strategic positioning” and “support throughout the process” of pitching a deal. The company boasts of “long-standing relationships” with hundreds of large investors, including pension funds.

How much do placement agents earn?

Typically, fees are between 1 percent and 2 percent of the total value of the investment. So if a client wins a $100 million commitment from a fund, the placement agent can pocket between $1 million and $2 million in fees, which are often undisclosed.

Are placement agents really necessary?

Many people have asked why good investment firms would ever need a placement agent. After all, shouldn’t professional pension fund staffers be able to size up potential investments themselves? What does a placement agent add?

Chris Ailman, the chief investment officer at one of the largest pension funds – the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) – said placement agents can be helpful to smaller firms that don’t have a marketing staff or the time to spend promoting deals on the road.  Ailman said the placement agents can be useful by steering investment opportunities to funds most likely to be interested: “Instead of getting 40 pitches from people where there’s no interest, you just get the projects that are likely to work.”

So, what’s the problem with placement agents?

The industry has suffered a series of corruption scandals. Experts cite two key factors: lack of transparency and the role of campaign contributions.  Because placement agents are not hired directly by the pension funds, there has been limited disclosure of who is involved, fees they charge and what is done to earn them.

In 2006, CalSTRS, widely viewed as a model of transparency, began requiring investment firms to disclose the names of placement agents and fees they were paid. The information must be submitted before the system considers a proposed investment.  Then, after reports that it did business with Morris and another firm named in the New York indictment, the California Public Employees Retirement System said it will draft new disclosure rules .  CalPERS is the nation’s biggest public pension system.

How are New York, California and New Mexico connected?

Several of the players named in the New York indictment have done business in California and New Mexico. ProPublica reported that Wetherly Capital Management – a Los Angeles placement firm – split fees in New York and California with Morris

Two New Mexico funds have suspended their relationships with another fund manager, Aldus Equity, after it was cited in the Morris indictment.  Meanwhile , investigators and law enforcement agencies from other states also expanded new joint efforts as the pay-to-play scandal continued to broaden.

Saul M. Meyer was arrested in New York and later released on bail, said Linda Lacewell, the lead New York prosecutor on the case. Meyer owns an investment management and advisory firm called Aldus Equity, which operates in multiple states, including New York, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Louisiana. It has $6 billion under management, according to a new Securities and Exchange Commission complaint filed today .

Meyer is alleged to have paid $300,000 in bribes to the man at the center of the scandal, Hank Morris, who was a political adviser to the former New York state comptroller, Alan Hevesi. Morris helped Meyer obtain a $375 million investment from the New York pension system, Cuomo said.   Under the deal, Meyer agreed to kick back 35 percent of the fees he earned to a shell company owned by Morris, according to the Attorney General’s complaint. Morris would then split that money with a third party – another placement agent not named in the complaint.

The Securities and Exchange Commission took a step toward cracking down on “pay to play” schemes, barring investment advisers who want to manage public pension funds from donating to politicians who oversee the funds.  The 5-0 decision by the SEC’s commissioners followed scandals in New York state and elsewhere in which investment advisers were accused of making political payments to help themselves get government business.

The agency backed off a related proposal that would have banned investment advisers from hiring so-called placement agents to help them secure pension-fund business.

In August, the Securities and Exchange Commission opened an “informal inquiry ” into the millions paid to placement agents who helped drum up business for investment funds hoping to manage Kentucky’s pension fund for state and county retirees.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which regulates investment markets, has opened “an informal inquiry” into the Kentucky Retirement Systems’ use of middlemen known as placement agents.

The SEC’s Division of Enforcement in New York on Thursday sent a letter asking for documents from KRS, which oversees the $12.5 billion fund that provides benefits to state and county retirees.

Specifically, the SEC asked for a copy of an internal audit conducted this year that identified nearly $15 million in fees paid to placement agents, the middlemen who help private investment companies sell their products to KRS. The fees are paid by the investment companies, who then are paid by KRS.
Trustees of the Kentucky Employees Retirement System were shocked to discover that money managers paid $12 million to middle men to line up their fund as a client, it was revealed Thursday.

The public disclosure of the $12 million in payments over five years, including $5 million to a lone middleman, were made with results of a fund audit during a meeting of the $14 billion (assets) Kentucky Employees Retirement System’s investment committee.

This is the last bastion of America’s middle class nest egg.  My question is that if these guys are this unscrupulous in just obtaining the business, then how are they managing the monies placed under their trust.  I suspect nothing has changed since 2008 and quite frankly given the current market conditions, pension funds should weigh investments less and and look at innovative ways these funds could help stimulate growth and maybe participate in improving our education system and direct investments into businesses to stimulate growth. The next time you hear a politician carping that we don’t need more regulation in the financial community, remember the fox in the henhouse.  Then tell him or her to get back to Washington and make sure the SEC does its complete job.