Hello everyone.....sorry I missed you Monday but I was out at rallies and actions all day and hope you were too. I wanted to end discussion on the fiscal cliff today by stating the obvious......we all know that the entire $14 trillion can be paid down through recovery of corporate fraud across all business sectors, so the fact that your Third Way corporate incumbent isn't mentioning this means they are not working for you.....indeed they are openly saying they work for corporations. These Third Way democratic incumbents all said last year during the debt ceiling debate that they were ready to vote for the Grand Bargain which basically does to the middle-lower class what is about to happen now.....sweeping cuts in spending and government jobs. Remember, entitlements have already been slashed as $800 billion in Medicare cuts and hundreds of billion in Medicaid cuts have already happened. THE GOOD THING ABOUT THIS IS THAT VOTERS CAN NOW SEE WHY THEY NEED TO VOTE THEIR THIRD WAY INCUMBENT OUT OF OFFICE.
ALSO, TAKE TIME TO LOOK AT THE POLITICAL/JUSTICE, AND LABOR ORGANIZATIONS THAT SUPPORTED THESE INCUMBENTS AND ASK......BECAUSE THEY KNEW WHAT WOULD HAPPEN......ARE THESE ORGANIZATIONS WORKING FOR THE MIDDLE/LOWER CLASS? MANY PROGRESSIVE ORGANIZATIONS AND MANY LEADERS OF JUSTICE ORGANIZATIONS ARE SIMPLY THIRD WAY CORPORATE PEOPLE IN DISGUISE!
We had Montgomery County people rallying in Baltimore Monday because no progressive organizations were rallying against cuts to entitlements and Steny Hoyer is leading the way. Why? because they are Third Way corporate democrats.....not progressives!!!
One of my actions was to go to a rally attended by Maryland Representative Sarbanes. He is Third Way through and through yet people think he is a good guy because he makes a few good votes. I ask him each time I see him why he is not shouting to reinstate Rule of Law and make the corporate fraudsters pay the debt down and each time he openly admits that he works for corporations. So why is he always reelected with no competition? The union people at this rally cheered when I made the comment below to Sarbanes glad that someone brought this forward. THESE WORKERS ALL KNEW THAT THESE THIRD WAY CORPORATE POLS ARE NOT WORKING FOR THEM, THEY ARE WORKING AGAINST THEM. We need labor to stop supporting these pols as they fail again and again in promises made to labor!!!
We may not be ready for a Labor Party, but we are ready to take back the Democratic Party. WE WILL BE WATCHING HOW THESE RIDICULOUS AND CONTRIVED BUDGET TALKS GO!!!!!
I will talk about some of the financial reform/Wall Street issues these next few days.
I speak at length about the capture of all public leadership positions by elite university graduates. In disclosure, I am a part of the less-elite state university crowd that these elite grads like to now call 'the haters' or 'the victims'. I have many friends and family members who are elite grads and feel the same way I do, so this is not a stance against all people graduating from elite schools.....it is a recognition that there is an active agenda to move the US towards a global presence that has nothing to do with democracy or what is best for the citizens of the country. These policies only push what will make the families who attend these universities more wealthy. So as I say WE NEED TO GET ELITE GRADS OUT OF ALL THINGS PUBLIC ......I SAY IT AFFECTIONATELY AND WITHOUT MALICE.
Seriously, 95% of Americans are not served by Third Way corporate liberalism and these liberals are not Jack Kennedy people. Below you'll see an article that shows this class issue is out of hand as even Bloomberg Financial paints a picture resembling a 'Girls Gone Wild' campus behavior in elite schools. Loss of legal boundaries, morals, and ethics has created the state of America today. It is the problem and the solution.........WE NEED TO VOTE OUR INCUMBENTS OUT OF OFFICE AND WE NEED THE ELITE GRADS OUT OF PUBLIC POSITIONS!
In Maryland we have our Johns Hopkins hold that heaps praise and stature to people we all know are notorious......and it is Johns Hopkins that dominates all public positions and policy-making. WE KNOW THE PROBLEM.......LET'S WORK FOR THE SOLUTION......
VOTE YOUR INCUMBENT OUT OF OFFICE!!!!!
THIS IS MY COMMENT TO NPR/WYPR MY 'PUBLIC' MEDIA STATIONS THAT ARE WALL STREET ALL-THE-TIME AND NEVER MENTION A FISCAL PROGRESSIVE STANCE ON ANY POLICY ISSUE.......SIMPSON -BOWLES AND BROOKINGS INSTITUTE ARE WHAT THEY GIVE YOU. THE PROBLEM IS THAT ALL THIS POLICY WORKS AGAINST THE MAJORITY OF THE PUBLIC INTEREST!
I had the opportunity to ask Representative Sarbanes why, given that the $14 trillion national deficit could be paid down completely by recovering corporate fraud across all business sectors....defense, health, finance, and for-profit education does he and fellow democrats not even mention reinstating Rule of Law and the recovery of criminal fraudulent gains as a solution. Rather these democrats are pretending to need to compromise on all kinds of spending and public services. I reminded him that ALL of democratic voters place reversing wealth inequity and holding corporations accountable as their top priorities and yet, no democratic politician speaks of this.
What we have are politicians openly suspending Rule of Law and ignoring democratic elections by choosing to pretend that corporate money in campaigns is making them act against the voting public's interest. One only has to look at Obama's reelection to see a Romney campaign funded by all corporate and Wall Street PACs and billions in advertisement against Obama ending in an Obama victory to know that these democratic incumbents are simply doing what they want to do, not what they are forced to do.
I would imagine that the shame of what these Third Way corporate democrats are doing will have them coming out in public less and less. The public needs to vote out these incumbents who think they can end democracy in America.
WE WANT THE BUSH TAX CUTS TO END FOR THE TWO PERCENT WHICH INCLUDES A RETURN TO AN ESTATE TAX OF 55%. DEMOCRATS SHOUTING AGAINST GOING OVER THE 'FISCAL CLIFF' ARE AT THE SAME TIME PROTECTING THOSE ESTATE TAXES FROM RISING.....IT IS SINGULARLY IMPORTANT THAT THESE ESTATE TAXES RISE TO BRING BACK THE WEALTH AND PROTECT AGAINST EMPIRE BUILDING. YOUR INCUMBENT KNOWS THIS AND SHOULD BE SHOUTING LOUDLY AND STRONGLY FOR THE HIGHEST ESTATE RATE.
WE HAVE OBAMA WHO HAS PROMOTED THE LOWER ESTATE RATE AND THIRD WAY DEMOCRATS WHO WILL FIGHT FOR WEALTH. WATCH TO SEE WHO PROTECTS THIS MOST IMPORTANT TOOL FOR REVERSING WEALTH INEQUITY.
Wealthy group that includes Warren Buffett, Jimmy Carter calls for heftier estate tax
By Bernie Becker - 12/11/12 01:23 PM ET The Hill Blog
A group of wealthy people that includes Warren Buffett, George Soros and former President Jimmy Carter is pressing Congress to roll back estate tax parameters, saying the current set-up leaves “too much revenue on the table.”
The group of roughly three dozen people released a statement on Tuesday calling for both the current estate tax exemption to fall, from roughly $5 million a person to $2 million, and for the rate to rise from a top level of 35 percent to a minimum of 45 percent. LOOK AT THE RELEASED STATEMENT TO SEE WHO IS ADVOCATING THE THE WEALTHY KEEP THEIR WEALTH RATHER THAN REVERSE INEQUITY BY AT LEAST 55% RATE THAT CAN BE HAD.....70% NEEDED. THESE ARE NOT BENEVOLENT PEOPLE. THEY ARE PROTECTING WEALTH INEQUITY. WHAT IS 45% OF 10 BILLION DOLLARS?
Robert Rubin, the former Clinton-era Treasury secretary and a signer of the statement, told reporters on a conference call that expanding the reach of the estate tax would help protect key programs like Medicare and Social Security.
But more broadly, Rubin, now at the Council on Foreign Relations, also said that a heftier estate tax could help break up concentrations of wealth in the U.S., and others on the conference call to discuss the proposal said expanding the tax could battle income inequality.
A strong estate tax, Rubin said, “can contribute substantively and constructively to our economic well-being and our society. And I think a weak estate tax would be counterproductive.” WE WANT TO REMIND PEOPLE THAT ROBERT RUBIN IS THE ONE THAT UNLEASHED THIS GLASS-STEAGALL WALL BREAKING THAT CREATED THIS MASSIVE WEALTH INEQUITY!!!!
The White House, as part of its offer to avoid the looming spending cuts and tax increases in the "fiscal cliff," has called for returning the estate tax to its 2009 parameters of a $3.5 million exemption and a 45 percent top rate. THIS IS A BONANZA FOR THE RICH. ALONG WITH THE 20% CAPITAL TAX LIMIT, OBAMA IS SETTING WEALTH INEQUITY IN STONE!!!!! IT SOUNDS LIKE HE WAS WORKING FOR THE LITTLE PEOPLE DIDN'T IT
But some Senate Democrats — including Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (Mont.) and Sens. Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Mark Pryor (Ark.) and Jon Tester (Mont.) — have called for extending current estate tax policy, which was put into place in the lame-duck tax deal of 2010.This summer, Democratic leaders in the Senate were forced to drop the administration’s estate tax proposal from a plan to extend Bush-era tax rates for family income up to $250,000 a year.
Both Baucus and Pryor are up for reelection in 2014 in states that voted for GOP nominee Mitt Romney in this year’s presidential election.
Without congressional action, the estate tax will revert back to the 2001 parameters of a $1 million exemption and 55 percent top rate.
Republicans have long said that the estate tax drags down small businesses and family farms, with a large number of GOP officials calling for getting rid of the estate tax altogether. GOP lawmakers have said the estate tax is not an efficient collector of revenue, and can stifle economic growth.
Rubin and other participants on Tuesday’s call said those arguments didn’t hold water, even as they acknowledged that opponents of the estate tax — who have dubbed it the “death tax” — have done a good job with messaging.
Under current law, some businesses and farms can have up to 15 years to pay off their estate tax liabilities, leading Mike Lapham of the United for a Fair Economy to call the GOP argument a “canard.”
“As individuals and families that have benefited most significantly from public investments and a strong society, we are proud to have the opportunity to contribute back to the country that helped to make our success possible,” the group said in its statement for a “responsible estate tax proposal.”
The group is also calling for its proposed 45 percent rate to rise for even wealthier estates, but has not yet spelled out its preferred way for doing so.
According to the Tax Policy Center, the administration’s proposal for a $3.5 million exemption would hit somewhere around 7,000 or 7,500 estates in 2013, while extending the current $5 million policy would reach around 4,000 estates.
Snapping back to the $1 million exemption, on the other hand, would hit more than 50,000 returns, the tax center said.
That exemption, plus a 55 percent rate, would raise roughly $40 billion next year, while the administration’s proposal would raise about half that and the current policy about a third.
Bill Gates Sr., the father of the Microsoft founder; the television produce Norman Lear and members of the Disney and Rockefeller families also signed Tuesday’s statement.
IT IS IMPORTANT TO KEEP IN MIND THAT THERE IS A FUNDAMENTAL DECLINE IN THE VALUES AT THE TOP THAT ARE IN LINE WITH THE DEBAUCHERY OF THE LATE ROMAN EMPIRE. THE EMBRACE OF CRIMINALITY AND THE DISREGARD OF ACTIONS AS RELATES TO OTHERS IS THE REASON THE US IS WHERE IT IS TODAY. ALL OF THIS HAS TO DO WITH THE PURSUIT OF WEALTH AND POWER.
WHAT WE NEED TO KNOW IS THAT THESE GRADS ARE BEING SENT TO ALL LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT AND PERMEATE ALL MEDIA SO AS TO CONTROL INFORMATION AND CAPTURE POLICY. THIS IS WHAT WE NEED TO CHANGE. EDUCATION REFORM COMES FROM THIS.....THE NEW ECONOMY COMES FROM THIS....WALL STREET UNACCOUNTABILITY COMES FROM THIS....CORPORATE RULE COMES FROM THIS.
WE MUST ALLOW THE PENDULUM TO SWING THE OTHER WAY AND NOT VOTE FOR PEOPLE WHO GRADUATE FROM THESE ENVIRONMENTS. OF COURSE NOT EVERYONE WHO GRADUATES FROM AN ELITE SCHOOL IS UNFIT FOR SERVICE, BUT WE MUST REVERSE THE EFFORT TO DOMINATE ALL PUBLIC SECTORS. THE UNITED KINGDOM HAS HAD THIS BEHAVIOR FOR DECADES NOW AS THEY ENTERED THIS PHASE FIRST......LET'S SEE IT END HERE!!!!!
Ivy League Cracks Down as Students Spiral Out of Control By Chris Staiti - Dec 7, 2012 12:01 AM Bloomberg Financial
Michael Fein/Bloomberg Harvard University pennants at the Harvard Cooperative Society in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Harvard and Cornell universities have joined Yale University and Dartmouth College in cracking down on out-of-control behavior as drinking, hazing and sexual harassment endanger students and tarnish Ivy League reputations.
Dartmouth, based in Hanover, New Hampshire, was rocked by a hazing scandal in January when then-senior Andrew Lohse wrote about eating omelets made from vomit and other degrading rituals at Sigma Alpha Epsilon. Photographer: Jim Cole/AP Photo
Harvard faculty voted last month to require registration of parties and ban drinking games, and Cornell ordered fraternities to have live-in advisers. This fall, Dartmouth began security checks at Greek houses and Princeton University banned freshmen from joining them.
The moves are the latest effort to regulate campus behavior since rules controlling students -- known as in loco parentis -- were abolished in the 1960s. Disobedience crested last year for Ivy League schools, which cost more than $50,000 a year to attend. A Dartmouth hazing article detailed rituals involving bodily fluids. A Cornell student died of alcohol poisoning, and Yale was hit with a discrimination complaint after fraternity members chanted “No means yes! Yes means anal!”
“Colleges have been in an arms race to prove to students that they’re cool and give more freedom than the others,” said Lisa Wade, head of the sociology department at Occidental College in Los Angeles. “Now, maybe the pendulum is starting to swing the other way.”
College students have come to equate the absence of boundaries with fun, said Wade, who studies the casual sex culture on campuses. That, combined with large amounts of alcohol easily available on campus, can skew students’ sense of what is acceptable or even normal.
Homeless Pranks An undergraduate house at Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Harvard is under fire for an annual hook-up party its residents call Incest Fest. The event is so named because only house members are allowed to attend. Two university clubs have also staged pranks ridiculing homeless people in Harvard Square, according to the Crimson, the student newspaper.
At Yale, one of eight private schools in the U.S. Northeast that make up the Ivy League, eight students drank so much at September’s Safety Dance -- an annual 1980s-themed party -- they had to be hospitalized. That prompted the school in New Haven, Connecticut, to ban the event in the future. Senior Elizabeth Snow, 21, who helped organize a session on alcohol policy, said that without comparison data she doesn’t know if eight is a lot.
“I have no idea what a standard Saturday night looks like,” Snow said. Yale should be creating a safer environment for parties rather than “forcing students to find parties off campus,” she said.
Thomas Conroy, a spokesman for Yale, declined to comment.
Enabling Students College administrators bear some responsibility for student drunkenness after years of ignoring it, said Toben Nelson, assistant professor of community health at the University of Minnesota, who has studied college drinking for more than 15 years. The most effective way to lower drinking rates is to cut the supply of alcohol, and few schools are willing to show that kind of leadership, he said.
“There’s a lot of enabling by college administrators,” Nelson said in a telephone interview. “Colleges are competing with each other to get these students, so they’re willing to tolerate a lot of things.”
Many alumni hamper attempts to curb alcohol abuse because they want access to a heavy-drinking ambiance when they return for homecoming and sporting events, Nelson said.
Alumni also contribute to a culture of hazing. In a 2008 study by University of Maine researchers, a quarter of students who reported being hazed in a college fraternity, group or sports team said alumni were present at the time. The practice is also found in theater groups, marching bands and other social organizations.
Taking Action With campus excesses becoming more unruly and, in some cases, deadly, schools are no longer standing by.
In rules issued last month, Cornell, based in Ithaca, New York, said new-member activities at Greek clubs must focus on the history and mission of the group and be approved by the university.
“If activities cause serious harm, physically or mentally, or are likely to, the University will not allow the group to continue to operate on our campus,” Cornell said in a slide presentation.
Cornell Tragedy Tragedy struck at Cornell in February 2011, when George Desdunes, a 19-year-old sophomore, died of alcohol poisoning. Desdunes was bound with zip ties and duct tape and left alone on a fraternity house sofa after pledges staged a mock kidnapping of upperclassmen and compelled them to drink, according to documents in a criminal case. The pledges were acquitted of hazing and other charges. The fraternity didn’t defend itself and was fined.
Travis Apgar, an anti-hazing activist and Cornell’s associate dean of student affairs, declined to comment on Desdunes’s death, citing further, pending litigation except to say that there’s not a day that goes by that he doesn’t think about it.
Cornell, which had started tightening its hazing and alcohol policies before Desdunes died, publishes a list of recent hazing incidents on its website. In one account, students were blindfolded and told they would be branded. Their skin was then touched with metal tongs that had been immersed in ice water. “Unable to distinguish cold from hot, new members thought they were being branded.”
Still, students are reluctant to report hazing, and those who do come forward are usually those who opted not to join a group, rather than current members.
‘Something Ridiculous’ “Nobody wants people to know they did something ridiculous in order to join a group,” Apgar said. He said colleges need to do more to stop the practice and should allow students to anonymously report it so administrators can step in earlier.
At Yale, the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights said it resolved a sex-discrimination complaint against the university in June without a fine after Yale agreed to overhaul its process for sexual-assault reporting and increase penalties for alcohol misuse. A group of students brought the complaint after the fraternity-chanting incident was posted on YouTube.
Besides ordering registration of off-campus parties, the school banned beer kegs at sporting events after a spectator was struck and killed by a delivery truck at last year’s Harvard- Yale football game.
Dartmouth Hazing Dartmouth, based in Hanover, New Hampshire, was rocked by a hazing scandal in January when then-senior Andrew Lohse wrote in the school newspaper about eating omelets made from vomit and other degrading rituals at Sigma Alpha Epsilon. Two other hazing victims came forward after Lohse was criticized by students and alumni.
In April, Ravital Segal wrote in the Huffington Post of being forced to chug bottles of hard liquor in a 2006 Dartmouth sorority initiation. She wrote that she woke up in an intensive care unit with a lethal level of alcohol in her system and two broken teeth. Three other women from two sororities were at the same hospital that night with alcohol poisoning and pressured each other into denying the incident was hazing, Segal said in the article. She declined to comment for this story.
In October, sophomore Yesuto Shaw, 18, described being beaten at a Dartmouth fraternity house, called demeaning names and barred from speaking with friends who weren’t members of the group.
“People are going to be held accountable more and more for hazing,” Shaw, who plans on becoming a pastoral counselor, said in a telephone interview. “They’ll know that something done in the dark might possibly come to light.”
Random Walkthroughs Dartmouth security now holds random walkthroughs of Greek houses and residence halls, and the school has banned open kegs and alcohol deliveries. Groups willing to disclose recent hazing violations can take part in an amnesty program and develop alternative activities for new members.
The measures “demonstrate the seriousness with which Dartmouth has approached this issue and the commitment we have to tackling it from multiple directions,” Justin Anderson, a spokesman, said in an e-mail.
More than 100 members of Dartmouth’s faculty signed a letter in February denouncing the drinking and hazing culture as one of “moral thuggery” that impedes their ability to teach.
“These problems have been here, underground, for a very long time,” said Lee Witters, a professor of medicine and biochemistry at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine. “The more public discussion about the binge drinking, the hazing, the homophobia, the more students themselves are willing to take the responsibility for it.”
Harvard, Princeton Harvard and Princeton University don’t formally recognize fraternities and sororities. Harvard began revising its alcohol policy almost three years ago to take a proactive approach to alcohol consumption, spokesman Jeff Neal said in an e-mail.
“The new policy is designed more explicitly to support the health, safety and general wellbeing of our students, while also ensuring that we and they abide by the legal drinking age,” Neal said.
Princeton barred freshmen from pledging this year to give new students the opportunity to become more involved in a wider campus social life, said Martin Mbugua, a university spokesman.
Many students behave in ways that reflect the community at large, said Wade, the Occidental sociologist.
“Colleges are a microcosm of American society,” Wade said. “It’s a story of hormone-driven kids packed into dorms like sardines. And what we see when we look there -- the glamorization of casual sex; the binge-drinking; the crude, insensitive humor; the homophobia; the racism -- is a story about us.”
As I shout loudly and strongly against the credit bond deals that permeate Maryland politics right now as I know it is the next Wall Street massive fraud and it will bring down the public sector, I watch as this coalition of 'community organizations' supporting this eventuality cheer an Baltimore City Council vote approving a massive school-building bond.....it's about the children you know! As you see below, the US economy is double-rife with crime and again ready to fall because of the same actions by the same people and THEY ARE ALL ELITE SCHOOL GRADS WHO ARE BASICALLY 'GIRLS GONE WILD'.
CALIGULA DIED 2 THOUSAND YEARS AGO....DO YOU REALLY WANT TO RETURN TO THAT?????
VOTE YOUR INCUMBENT OUT OF OFFICE!!!!!
SO WHAT DO YOU GET WHEN BANKERS ARE ABLE TO STEAL TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS, GET TO KEEP IT, AND GOT OFF SCOTT FREE? YOU GET THESE SAME PEOPLE WITH TONS MORE MONEY DOUBLING-DOWN ON THE SAME BEHAVIOR. THAT IS WHAT IS HAPPENING.....NO FINANCIAL REFORM IN PLACE TO SPEAK OF AND THIS IS WHY I AM SHOUTING LOUDLY AND STRONGLY AGAINST THESE CREDIT BOND LEVERAGING SCHEMES BECAUSE YOU KNOW IT WILL NOT END WELL FOR YOU AND ME!!!
Common Sense In a New Era of Insider Trading, It’s Risk vs. Reward Squared By JAMES B. STEWART Published: December 7, 2012 New York Times
In March 1991, Michael R. Milken, once the richest and most powerful financier of his generation, entered prison, signaling the end of an era of junk bond-financed hostile takeovers and high-visibility prosecutions that law enforcement officials hoped would deter insider trading for generations.
Enlarge This Image Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times Ivan F. Boesky admitted to insider trading after preaching to students that “Greed is all right, by the way,” and had to pay $100 million in fines and restitution.
But now, less than one generation later, federal prosecutors and enforcement lawyers at the Securities and Exchange Commission have exposed a vast network of insider trading that in its sophistication, breadth and profits dwarfs that of the earlier era. And with the emergence of Steven A. Cohen, the founder of the hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors, as a subject of interest, the government has identified a financier whose power and wealth surpasses even that of Mr. Milken in his heyday.
Why has insider trading proved so persistent, even in the face of prosecutions and popular Hollywood films like “Wall Street”?
The risk-versus-reward equation that has always been a factor in financial markets has changed drastically in the last 20 years. Ivan F. Boesky, the once-celebrated arbitrageur who admitted to insider trading after preaching to graduates of the University of California, Berkeley in 1986 that “Greed is all right, by the way,” had to pay fines and restitution then considered a milestone: $100 million.
When the government revealed that Mr. Milken earned $550 million in a single year in the 1980s, the sum astonished Wall Street and even his fellow traders at his now-defunct firm, Drexel Burnham Lambert. The Wall Street Journal calculated that $550 million was more than it cost to launch the space shuttle, build a B-1 bomber or, adjusted for inflation, pay for the Louisiana Purchase. (Mr. Milken’s take would be $1.07 billion in 2011 dollars.)
By contrast, the average hedge fund manager in the top 25 performers today makes that in a good year, and a few have earned more than $4 billion in a single year. Mr. Cohen reportedly earned $1.4 billion in 2009, and Forbes estimated his net worth in 2012 at $8.8 billion. (Mr. Milken’s fortune, by comparison, is estimated by Forbes at $2 billion, which puts him in the middle of the magazine’s list of the richest 400 Americans.)
At the same time, the tactics and technologies available to inside traders today are more sophisticated and more difficult both to detect and to prove.
A large majority of hedge funds have not been tainted by any wrongdoing, just as most junk bond traders were never accused of any crime. Mr. Cohen hasn’t been accused of any wrongdoing nor has his firm, although the S.E.C. has said it may face civil charges.
This week, I stopped by St. Andrews Plaza in Lower Manhattan to see Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, and his deputy, Richard Zabel, the former head of the criminal division. Both said they couldn’t discuss any pending cases. But many people who work in financial markets “are highly skilled at cost-benefit analysis,” Mr. Bharara told me. “They’re highly intelligent. They’ve been to the best schools. They weigh the risk of getting caught against the potential reward, and they decide it’s worth the risk. We’re trying to tilt that equation.”
There’s no doubt that the potential for gain “has soared,” Robert S. Khuzami, head of enforcement at the S.E.C., told me, and not because there are more takeovers and other market-moving events to trade on. “That’s a big change from the 1980s and ’90s. Hedge funds can take massive positions, use short-selling and derivatives, and employ trading techniques that aren’t transparent, and make huge amounts of money on small fluctuations on price. They don’t need to hit a home run on a $20 pop on a takeover announcement. These bets may be bunts and singles, but they get to the same place.” IT WAS THE SEC AND THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT THAT ALLOWED THESE PEOPLE TO KEEP THE WEALTH FOR GOODNESS SAKE!!!! ALL GRADS FROM ELITE SCHOOLS DOING THEIR JOBS.
Even at lower rungs of the hedge fund world, the potential gains have shot up. Mathew Martoma, a former SAC trader who was accused last month of using secret information to help SAC gain profits, was paid a $9.4 million bonus in 2008, when he was just 34. At the same time, the cost of failure can be catastrophic. When he failed to replicate that kind of information, he was fired a little more than a year later. (Mr. Martoma pleaded not guilty to the charge, and, through his lawyer, has denied any wrongdoing.)
The pressure to get an “edge,” as hedge fund traders often put it, has never been greater. “There’s a cruciblelike intensity of competition now that didn’t exist at the time of Boesky,” Mr. Zabel told me. “With hedge funds, there’s a lot of capital, and they’re competing ruthlessly. You have to be better every quarter or you’re not going to exist. Add the tremendous incentive of great wealth, and it’s not surprising that some people lack the moral fiber to resist that kind of pressure.”