Here it is, the quote of the week!
"Choices made by Jon Corzine during his tenure as chairman and CEO sealed MF Global's fate."
No, sorry, that's not it. Here it is, the quote of the week!
"All of the firm's significant business decisions were subject to review, debate and approval by MF Global's board. At all times, Mr. Corzine acted in good faith and did what he believed was necessary to turn around MF Global."
The first quote is from written remarks penned by Rep. Randy Neugebauer, a Republican from Texas and the chairman of the oversight panel of the investigative subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee, which just last week issued its 100-page "report" on what happened at MF Global over a year ago.
The latter quote is from some PR (that's public relations) hack representing Jon Corzine.
Now, look, I'm not going to waste time talking about what's really important here. Sure, you guys seem to care a lot about the facts, but I'm not going to muck up this opinion space with any.
Facts clearly aren't that important.
Because if they were, I would be talking about how the bankruptcy trustee overseeing the charred carcass of MF Global already said – back in his June report – that it was Mr. Corzine's aggressive trading strategy and a lack of internal oversight that led to MF Global's downfall.
Or maybe I'd be talking about how the firm's lack of internal oversight was caused by Corzine stripping the company's chief risk officer, who formerly reported directly to Corzine, of his ability to monitor Corzine's giant European sovereign debt trades. And how the CEO punted oversight of his trades to the board of directors (of which he was chairman), who he handpicked to sleep on the job.
Or I'd be talking about how Corzine strong-armed his outside auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers to account for his trades in such a way that hid their potential to reduce the firm's profitability.
Or that Corzine exploited a loophole in CFTC rules to "use customer money like an A.T.M" to finance his massively leveraged, speculative bets on the always uncertain outcome of which direction European sovereign instruments are going to trade.
Or I'd even be pointing out that Corzine started making these huge side-pocket bets even while MF's core commodity business was struggling and unprofitable.
No, I'm just not going to waste your time with indisputable facts that don't tell the whole story.
Because here's the whole story, according to the new House report.
It Wasn't All Jon Corzine's Fault…??
If the regulators had their act together, none of this would have had to happen.
It was the regulators who "dunnit."
After all, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York bestowed on MF Global its imprimatur of excellence and unabiding faith in 2011. That's when it granted MF "primary dealer" status. That coveted position, in a tiny club, let MF Global deal directly with the NY Fed when they conducted their open market trading operations.
And if the Fed says you're cool, no one is going to bully you or say you aren't obviously a flush insider, darling.
After all, it was the CFTC that hid, I mean had, the loophole through which MF sucked its customers' money to finance its own trading book.
It was also the CFTC that instructed MF to plug a $220 million hole in its customer accounts – which somehow wasn't anything like the $1.6 billion of customer money that's still unaccounted for.
No – and this is not just my opinion, which is all that's important here – it's the opinion of the House subcommittee that if the regulators had been better at their jobs, then poor old Jon Corzine wouldn't have been in a position to make these bad judgment calls.
Because, after all, he was the chairman and CEO and prone to being human. But darn it, if the regulators had just caught his mistakes in time, all would be right with the world, and poor Jon Corzine would now be on top of the president's list to sit on the throne marked "Secretary of the Treasury."
At least now we know, thanks to the report, that there's something wrong with the regulators running the regulatory bodies here in the U.S.
As far as Jon-boy, he is just the poster boy for ineffectual regulation. And I'm sure that his board of directors will eventually come clean and admit that they missed the opportunity to catch the falling knives they didn't see stabbing their poor chairman in the back.
Thank goodness for the truth sometimes mysteriously enshrined in the ether of opinion.
So… what's your opinion on how the regulators screwed up poor Jon's political ambitions?
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About the Author
Shah Gilani boasts a financial pedigree unlike any other. He ran his first hedge fund in 1982 from his seat on the floor of the Chicago Board of Options Exchange. When options on the Standard & Poor's 100 began trading on March 11, 1983, Shah worked in "the pit" as a market maker.
He helped develop what has become known as the Volatility Index (VIX) - to this day one of the most widely used indicators worldwide. After leaving Chicago to run the futures and options division of the British banking giant Lloyd's TSB, Shah moved up to Roosevelt & Cross Inc., an old-line New York boutique firm. There he originated and ran a packaged fixed-income trading desk, and established that company's "listed" and OTC trading desks.
Shah founded a second hedge fund in 1999, which he ran until 2003.
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