Tag Archives | Barry Ritholtz

Mortgage Fraud

Today's post is not about options. I am so upset by what has been going on in the mortgage foreclosure scene that I thought I'd share some information for readers who have not been following the news.

I've taken the time to write to a financial reporter and to my Congresswoman in an attempt to get something done.  It's probably futile because action requires that Congress have the balls to stand up to the banks.  Yes, those very same banks we, the taxpayers, saved from bankruptcy and allowed to remain in business. 

Barry Ritholtz quotes Matt Taibbi and continues his barrage of blog posts against what is being done to the American homeowner. [Yes, some who are behind on their mortgages truly deserve what they get for buying more house than they could afford.  But those represent a small minority of people who are suffering incredible harm by the unethical, illegal foreclosure process]

Taibbi's article appears in the Nov 11, 2010 issue of Rolling Stone and bears this delicious title:

Courts Helping Banks Screw Over Homeowners

“The foreclosure lawyers down in Jacksonville had warned me, but I was skeptical. They told me the state of Florida had created a special super-high-speed housing court with a specific mandate to rubber-stamp the legally dicey foreclosures by corporate mortgage pushers like Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan Chase. This “rocket docket,” as it is called in town, is presided over by retired judges who seem to have no clue about the insanely complex financial instruments they are ruling on — securitized mortgages and labyrinthine derivative deals of a type that didn’t even exist when most of them were active members of the bench. Their stated mission isn’t to decide right and wrong, but to clear cases and blast human beings out of their homes with ultimate velocity. They certainly have no incentive to penetrate the profound criminal mysteries of the great American mortgage bubble of the 2000s, perhaps the most complex Ponzi scheme in human history — an epic mountain range of corporate fraud in which Wall Street megabanks conspired first to collect huge numbers of subprime mortgages, then to unload them on unsuspecting third parties like pensions, trade unions and insurance companies (and, ultimately, you and me, as taxpayers) in the guise of AAA-rated investments. Selling lead as gold, shit as Chanel No. 5, was the essence of the booming international fraud scheme that created most all of these now-failing home mortgages.

The rocket docket wasn’t created to investigate any of that. It exists to launder the crime and bury the evidence by speeding thousands of fraudulent and predatory loans to the ends of their life cycles, so that the houses attached to them can be sold again with clean paperwork. The judges, in fact, openly admit that their primary mission is not justice but speed. One Jacksonville judge, the Honorable A.C. Soud, even told a local newspaper that his goal is to resolve 25 cases per hour. Given the way the system is rigged, that means His Honor could well be throwing one ass on the street every 2.4 minutes.”

Taibbi, and Ritholtz (in prior posts) mince no words.  They believe, as do I, that the big banks committed outright fraud and have so far, escaped by being rewarded with hundreds of billions in bailout money and zero punishment for serious crimes.  To me, jail is too good for the entire board of directors at each of these banks.

The fact that these acts are being performed in broad daylight, with no attempt at secrecy, tells us that the banks feels so secure in their outright ownership of Congress that they can get away with anything. First they go belly-up, but instead of being forced to go out of business, you and I saved them.  Then, they are immediately back into the high-risk business, earn lots of money, and instead of offering a portion to the taxpayers, they just give themselves big bonuses. 

As Taibbi noted, first they cheat selling the mortgages, now they cheat foreclosing on those same mortgages.  Is there no justice?  [Sorry.  Silly question. Obviously there's no justice]

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Do you know a Trading Mistake when you see one

I found an interesting quote from Barry Ritholtz

"Good traders know that opportunistic speculation is a process. Ignore
any one single outcome, focus on the methodology that can consistently
avoid catastrophic losses, manage risk, preserve capital. A good process
can be replicated, a random spin of the wheel cannot.

…if we expect to be wrong, then there will be no ego tied up in
admitting the error, honoring the stop loss, and selling out the loser —
and preserving the capital."

This mindset does not only apply to speculation.  It applies to all aspects of trading/investing.  I've seen many beginners do something that does not turn out well, and immediately decide that he/she has discovered a trading rule to be used for a lifetime.

We all make decisions that could have turned out better.  Many times such decisions are not 'mistakes' in the true sense of the word.  It's a mistake to make a large investment in a business when you know nothing about that business.  It's a mistake to turn a small loss into a large loss by being stubborn. 

But it's not a mistake to make a trade and then see the stock market behave in a manner that was not anticipated.  Believing that you can consistently predict where the market is moving, and when it will get there – that's a mistake.

I know someone who failed to take a profit on one trade , watched that profit disappear, and has now devised a trading plan based on always taking profits when they reach that same percentage gain.  He has seen far too few trades to make such a decision.  That's a  big mistake.

We all know traders who wrote covered calls, watched the stock rally, and forgetting the reason for writing the call in the first place, they get greedy and repurchase the call – only to see the stock move back to its original level.  Sure a trader can change his/her mind and decide to buy the call, but most people do that to 'correct the mistake' of selling the call in the first place.  It wasn't a mistake.  It was a reasoned trade that gave a winning result, but not the maximum result. Buying that call option with no rationale other than 'it was a mistake to sell it,' is a mistake. 

As a result, some people decide to 'never again; write a covered call.  That's an unreasonable conclusion based on a need to earn top dollar on every trade, and something that I categorize as a mistake.

When devising a trade plan or formulating a trading style that is expected to last your entire trading career, decisions must be made on more than a single event.  Each trade offers another learning experience and data point that can be used.  But no single trade should be used as the basis for a permanent trading plan.   Gain experience, don't jump conclusions, and as a result, you will be in better position to devise a trading plan that is based on your own personal experiences. 

Please don't assume that every time you lose money that you made a mistake.  But don't always blame it on bad luck.  Analyze your trade decision and decide whether it was appropriate.  When you make a mistake, that's a learning experience.  However, it's important to recognize the difference between a true mistake and a situation in which a trade didn't work.

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