Sunday, January 18, 2009

Where Are All The Hedge Fund Managers Going?

There's seems to be some alien life force or nasty mutated virus that's taking all the hedge fund managers off the face of the planet and replacing them with missing assets and a bunch of bilked clients:

In a case with parallels to the Bernie Madoff scandal, a prominent Florida hedge-fund manager has vanished - and so has up to $350 million of his clients' money.

Sarasota police said they are looking into claims that Arthur Nadel, 76, defrauded investors before leaving a distraught note for his family and disappearing.

Nadel's wife, Peg, filed a missing person report with police on Wednesday. She told the Daily News on Saturday that she's cooperating.

"We are being very proactive," she said.

"There is nothing to show that anything was taken. They're investigating his disappearance for his own safety and his own well-being."

Some reports estimated that the hedge fund was out some $350 million, but Spitler said it's too soon to say exactly how much it was worth.


His disappearance comes a month after authorities charged Madoff, 70, with securities fraud for allegedly duping investors with a giant $50 billion Ponzi scheme.

Earlier this week, Marcus Schrenker, an Indiana investment adviser suspected of bilking investors, was taken into custody by police in Florida, after allegedly attempting to fake his death in a plane crash.

Frankly, I think the world would be a better place if all the hedge fund managers were taken to an island somewhere in the Pacific and left to fend for themselves, but you'll note how these parasites keep disappearing with all the money.

As do the former Masters of the Universe, the bankers - only they're disappearing with taxpayer money too. We've already ponied up $700 billion in TARP money for the financial industry even as Hank Paulson and Uncle Ben Bernanke have had the Federal Reserve buying a bunch of worthless crap off the balance sheets of banks like Citigroup and Bank of America and yet the financials still need more cash:

It’s too soon to say how much taxpayer money will be spent trying to rebuild banks hollowed out by bad lending practices. Paul J. Miller, an analyst at Friedman, Billings, Ramsey, thinks that the nation’s financial system needs an additional $1 trillion in common equity to restore confidence and to get lending — the lifeblood of a thriving and entrepreneurial free-market economy — moving again.

That $1 trillion would come on top of funds disbursed through the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which has tapped $700 billion, and the president-elect’s stimulus plan, clocking in at $825 billion.

And don't expect these policies to change with Barack Obama at the helm. Obama is expected to back an economic plan to send more cash to failing banks and financial companies while buying up hundreds of billions of dollars of "toxic assets" from these very same insolvent institutions.

In addition, his economic team, particularly his picks for Treasury and the SEC, are as implicated in creating the current financial mess as Paulson, Bernanke, and Ayn Rand's favorite economist, Alan Greenspan:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President-elect Barack Obama's choice to lead the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is likely to be roughed up at her confirmation hearing in connection with the Bernard Madoff scandal, but ultimately she is expected to be confirmed.

Mary Schapiro currently oversees the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the watchdog that supervises nearly 5,000 U.S. brokerages, and is in turn overseen by the SEC.

FINRA's role in the Madoff case has been drawn into the debate over why the SEC failed to uncover what could be the largest U.S. fraud in decades.


Politicians have slammed the SEC for not pursuing tips about Madoff from one of his competitors. They also fault the agency for missing red flags such as Madoff's uncanny ability to generate steady returns in all types of markets, and his firm's use of a small, little-known auditor.


"The primary regulator was FINRA because for throughout the entire scandal, Madoff had a registered broker-dealer entity," said Mercer Bullard, a securities law professor at the University of Mississippi and an advocate for mutual fund shareholders.

"Broker-dealer regulations are intended to address the problem of disappearing assets," continued Bullard, who once worked in the SEC investment management division. "It has surprised me that the SEC has borne the brunt of so much of the criticism. If fingers are to be pointed, they should be pointed first at FINRA."

As for Obama's pick at Treasury, not only is he a tax cheat with a nanny problem, he's an architect of the TARP program who agrees completely with Bernanke's and Paulson's candy store giveaway to the financial industry.

So if you liked the last few months when taxpayers and the Federal Reserve printing press handed out nearly a trillion and a half of cash to banks and companies that FAILED, you're going love the next couple of years.

Frankly, Cunning Realist got it right when he posted this today:

Two people have come out of nowhere recently and, by way of New York City, become national figures: Bernie Madoff and Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, the pilot who landed the jet in the Hudson River. No long post needed on the obvious contrasts.

But those contrasts are a good context for some larger issues. Sullenberger is everything this country -- and those who champion Wall Street as a pillar of patriotism -- likes to think it is about. Small-town Texas, top student, Air Force Academy, fighter pilot, distinguished career, family man, and ultimately a saver of lives. His counterpart in the news is, allegedly and apparently, a destroyer of lives. Without going into the separate issues of whether the Wall Street bailout is working, or what would have happened without it, there's a basic truth: it takes money from people like Sullenberger and gives it to people who sit in front of banks of computer screens all day making a living off flickering green dots.

Sullenberger's not the only one who's had a TARP pulled over his wallet. The emergency workers who got those passengers out of the Hudson River will send some of the money they earned that day to Washington, which will send it to traders and investment bankers. So will teachers, doctors, farmers, truckers, scientists, and small business owners. (And as a final insult, their savings will be inflated away.) The people who make this country run are spending part of every day working for people like this -- those who have done fantastically well in recent years, many of whom made dubious or ill-gotten profits. This is the "soft slavery" I've written about before, and it's getting less soft with every new bailout.

The Sully-Madoff contrast also brings into stark relief a more existential national choice, one that's been building for years. Should we value things like the ability to get into the cockpit of an airplane and fly hundreds of people across the country, or teach kids, or actually make things? Or, the past year or so aside, are we going to continue as a society to encourage our best and brightest to become slightly more legit versions of Bernie Madoff? This is partly why I and others have criticized the Federal Reserve, which made that choice for the country in the mid-90's and since then has seen itself as Keeper of the Flame of National Purpose.

I wonder if people have become so inured to these bailouts that they've lost sight of the underlying dynamic. The architects and beneficiaries of it would welcome that.

Indeed they would.

And if we can all forget about this stuff as the hedge fund managers continue to disappear with all the cash and the investment advisers fake their own deaths by jumping out of planes, the boys and girls who were supposedly watching the candy store the whole time - i.e., the Greenspans, the Bernankes, the Paulsons, the Coxes, the Geithners and the Schapiros - would be very, very happy people.
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