Journalists who write about short selling hedge funds fall into three categories.
The first category is comprised of a very small number of journalists who have deliberately whitewashed the dubious activities of their short selling sources. These journalists–such as Herb Greenberg (whose stories for MarketWatch.com invariably served the interests of the same short sellers who are now paying Herb’s salary), and former BusinessWeek reporter Gary Weiss (who works with a cast of convicted criminals and flimflammers to smear the reputations of people who are critical of short selling crimes)–are, at some level, corrupt.
The second, larger category is comprised of journalists who gorge on the junk food fed to them by the hedge fund lobby, subsequently farting out the predictable fog – “short sellers are vital to the markets;” “short sellers are vital media sources;” “short sellers were right about company X because company X is now bankrupt.” To which you say, yeah, but some of those short sellers commit crimes that destroy companies – and the journalists say, yeah, that might be, but it’s hard to prove a crime, deadlines loom, and sloth has its appeal, so “fart, fart, fart.”
The third category is comprised of the small but growing number of journalists who have actually spent some time chewing on the data and the evidence – and are now digesting this nourishing roughage into something a bit more solid – something like stories that show that short selling shenanigans just might have contributed to the near total collapse of the American financial system.
As evidence that the latter sort of journalists do, indeed, exist, consider that no less than five Wall Street Journal reporters spent several weeks working together on an investigative story about how short selling might have helped fuel the panic that nearly took down Morgan Stanley in September.
The result, published yesterday, revealed that:
- Hedge fund managers Dan Loeb and Israel Englander pulled their money out of Morgan after taking large short positions in the company. Jim Chanos, head of the short seller lobby, also yanked his money, though he claims not to have been short Morgan. (The unstated suggestion is that the shorts might have worked together – simultaneously pulling their billions in order to create the illusion of a run on the bank.)
- At the same time that the hedge funds were yanking their money and taking big short positions, somebody bombarded the market with false rumors about Morgan losing access to credit. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and the Securities and Exchange Commission are looking into whether short sellers were responsible for these rumors.
- While the false rumors circulated, the price of Morgan Stanley credit default swaps soared. The New York AG and the SEC are examining “whether traders bought swaps at high prices to spark fear about Morgan’s stability in order to profit on other trading positions [short sales], and whether trading involved bogus price quotes and sham trades.”
- This “pattern of trading, which previously had battered securities firms Bear Stearns Cos. and Lehman, now is dogging Citigroup, whose stock fell 60% last week to a 16-year low.” (The unstated suggestion, contrary to what the Journal used to tell us all the time, is that it is not just “bad management” that causes stock prices to lose half their value in a few days.)
The Journal might have done one better by noting that Loeb, Englander, and Chanos are part of a tight clique of hedge fund managers who tend to attack the same companies.
The Journal might also have pointed out that when these hedge fund managers attack, they often “share ideas” (ie., spout the same false information and distorted analysis about their victim companies, sometimes anonymously on Internet message boards).
And it would have been worth noting that the companies targeted by these hedge fund managers are invariably victimized by naked short selling. That is, whenever these particular hedge funds are swarming, somebody is selling a lot of stock that they do not possess, and therefore failing to deliver the stock on time.
The SEC’s “failure to deliver” data for September will become public in a couple of weeks. If the data shows, as I suspect it will, that Morgan Stanley was targeted by illegal naked short selling, then maybe The Wall Street Journal will do a follow-up report.
Before that, The Journal’s reporters could take a look at the data through June, which shows quite clearly that in addition to the “pattern of trading” cited in yesterday’s story, Bear Stearns was buried under waves of naked short selling, beginning in January. On the day that CNBC’s David Faber reported the false news (fed to him by a hedge fund “I have known for twenty years”) that Goldman Sachs had cut off Bear’s access to credit, more than a million shares of Bear Stearns were sold naked, failing to be delivered within the allotted three days. Most of those shares – and another 10 million Bear Stearns shares sold short in March – have, to this day, never been delivered.
Then there is the data that shows that, market wide, “failures to deliver” doubled between 2007 and 2008, and peaked at 2 billion shares at the end of June – just before the SEC issued its July 15 “emergency order” protecting 19 big financial institutions from naked short selling.
While the “emergency order” was in place, stock prices increased dramatically. Within weeks after the “emergency order” was lifted, a number of those 19 protected companies – including Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac – saw their stocks plunge to crisis levels, and were then vaporized, nationalized, or bailed out.
The data through June shows that nearly all of those companies had been hit with massive levels of naked short selling, with between one million and 12 million shares failing to deliver in multiple spurts of several days. Washington Mutual, IndyMac, and a few dozen other now-defunct financial companies were clobbered with even higher levels of fails — day after day for weeks on end. Many non-financial companies have been hit even harder.
In fact, the available data understates the problem. There could be ten, 100, or many more times as many failures to deliver, but we cannot know for sure because that black-box Wall Street outfit called the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation refuses to release more complete data. It also refuses to reveal which criminal hedge funds are engaged in naked short selling.
Meanwhile, the DTTC vehemently denies that naked short selling is a problem and attacks journalists, critics, and former DTTC employees who say otherwise – all part of a disinformation campaign orchestrated with help from the corrupt former BusinessWeek reporter Gary Weiss and his criminal accomplices, some of whom are paid by Dan Loeb, the hedge fund manager who features in yesterday’s Journal story.
Gary has gone so far as to hijack Wikipedia in cahoots with a Wikipedia administrator and former MI6 agent named Linda Mack. Anybody is supposed to be able to edit the online encyclopedia, but until recently only Gary and Linda Mack could touch the entry on “naked short selling” (which of course said there is no such crime). Gary flat out denies working with the DTCC and says that if somebody saw him go into the DTTC’s office, it was to “use an ATM machine.” He also continues to flat-out deny that he has ever edited Wikipedia, even though he has been exposed by The Register, a respected British publication.
After The Wall Street Journal figures out why the DTTC is protecting criminals, it could investigate why the SEC has never prosecuted a hedge fund for naked short selling, and why the Wall Street cronies who run the commission quashed at least two major investigations into suspected short selling crimes.
One of those investigations (targeting research firm Gradient Analytics, but meant to be the beginning of larger inquiry into the activities of Gradient’s short selling clients, was shut down under pressure from the aforementioned corrupt journalists, several of whom (Herb Greenberg, Jim Cramer, and Carol Remond of Dow Jones Newswires) had received government subpoenas because of their unusually close ties to Gradient and the aforementioned clique of short sellers.
Another investigation (into suspected naked short selling that SEC whistleblower Gary Aguirre described in a letter to the U.S. Congress as having the potential to “seriously injure the financial markets”) was shut down under pressure from Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack, who apparently had “juice” at the SEC. (For details see the U.S. Senate’s 700 page report on the matter. When the Senate refers to “market manipulation,” it is describing naked short selling.)
In yesterday’s story, The Journal notes that “sales of credit-default swaps were a profit gold mine for Wall Street. But, ironically, during those tumultuous few days in mid-September, the swaps market turned on Morgan Stanley like a financial Frankenstein.”
The Journal should have noted that naked short selling, too, was a gold mine for Morgan Stanley, and that given Mack’s role in shutting down the SEC investigation, it is kind of ironic that the Morgan CEO later found himself complaining to the SEC that short sellers had illegally manipulated his stock to single digits. Indeed, this was a stunning admission that a crime long denied by Wall Street does, in fact, occur.
The Journal could also investigate why the aforementioned corrupt journalists smeared Gary Aguirre, circulating the story (completely false, according to the U.S. Senate and the SEC inspector general, and all available evidence) that the SEC whistleblower had been fired for poor performance. There is also the question as to why these journalists, most of whom have yet to publish a story that was not sourced from the aforementioned clique of hedge funds, went to such lengths to smear other critics of naked short selling – everybody from Deep Capture reporter Patrick Byrne to the blogger who calls himself the Easter Bunny. .
The Journal might also be interested to know that one of those short selling hedge funds, Kingsford Capital (managed by corrupt journalist Herb Greenberg’s former co-editor at TheStreet.com) announced that it would begin paying my salary at the Columbia Journalism Review (where I was then an editor), just before CJR was going to publish a story about naked short sellers (including Kingsford Capital) and captured journalists (including Herb). Indeed, three of the four journalists who have begun work on major stories about naked short selling have ended up shelving or watering down their stories, not long before receiving funding or salaries from this same clique of hedge funds (more on this in a coming dispatch).
Perhaps a shifty hedge fund will offer jobs to the Journal’s hard-working reporters, too. Either that, or they will get smeared as “conspiracy theorists” or “knuckleheads who don’t understand markets and were fired from their previous jobs.” Maybe the hard-working reporters will give up.
Or maybe they’ll keep chewing on the facts and publish a story about how captured regulators, corrupt journalists, a colorful cast of convicted criminals, the black box DTTC, and the aforementioned clique of hedge funds all sought to cover-up a crime that is now implicated in the greatest market cataclysm since 1929.
Now, that would be some good shit.
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