Finding the culprits of the crisis

Derivatives expert Janet Tavakoli takes a hard look at what — and who — caused the financial crisis.

In a way, Obama has been the anti-regulator because he didn’t put people in the regulatory agencies, the Fed or the Treasury who would investigate and fix things that are wrong in our global financial system.

If he’s re-elected, then presumably, things will continue in this same way?

Yes.

What if a Republican is elected President?

Who else is not in the pocket of Big Money interests!

So, no matter who’s President, these crimes — if you want to call them crimes — will be perpetuated?

Yes. And we do want to call them crimes! They are crimes.

What should Obama do now to help Americans?

He has a lot of resources at his disposal, one main one being moral suasion — he’s got the pulpit. When there was a crisis, Reagan, Carter, Bush went on television and explained what needed to be done. We haven’t seen that kind of leadership from President Obama. If anything, the American people have been told things to make them think [conditions] aren’t really as bad as they are: inflation isn’t as bad as you think because an iPad is cheaper now — nonsense like that.

So the public is being poorly informed?

Yes. Therefore, financial advisors need to be doing fundamental analysis of investments and not [only] be reading the Wall Street Journal or, God forbid, watching CNBC.

In other words, FAs should do their own research and figure things out for themselves.

Yes. Sadly, you’re on your own. That’s part of how we got into this mess: We lost the art of rolling up our sleeves and looking for opportunities.

On Internet TV, you stated that we’re “absolutely vulnerable to a repeat [crisis] because the fraud went unpunished and we printed money like crazy to bail us out of the last one.” That’s scary.

But the fact is we’ve bailed people out and had no consequences for them. So it emboldened them to turn around and behave in the same way. Look at banks like JP Morgan: Shortly after the crisis, they thumbed their nose at the idea of trying to separate speculation from the rest of the bank. So if you don’t have restraints on behavior, you’ll see it repeated. And now we’ve made it worse. It’s like handing a drunk driver who got into a crash the keys to a bigger, faster car together with a bottle of vodka.

In every area of finance where we bailed people out, you see the same wrongdoers volunteering to help fix the situation. That’s pretty funny: They weren’t trustworthy before, and they’re not trustworthy now.

But what about the investigations that already have been held?

They’re all for show, and people end up with a slap on the wrist for minor issues. Investigators should be looking instead at the interconnected fraud that infected the mortgage lending market. And there is still a lot today, especially fraud on borrowers. If you go to the root of the problem and choke off the money supply, you stop the fraud in its tracks.

But the banks say they lost money.

The fact that a bank lost money isn’t an indication that they were a victim as opposed to being a perpetrator. A classic problem with control fraud is that the parasites destroy the host — in this case, the host being the bank and the parasites being the bank employees. If you were the victim of a control fraud by the people who worked in your own bank but meanwhile, you were collecting huge bonuses, you overlooked the control fraud within your own institution.

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