Wednesday, December 9, 2009

GOP Makes Deal w/Banksters to Thwart Regulatory Reform

In a little-noticed but potentially explosive remark last Friday, Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) accused Republican leadership of signing a political pact withthe banking industry: in exchange for help defeating a measure that would makeit easier for homeowners to restructure failing mortgages, GOP leadership in the Senate would help banks defeat any additional efforts at regulatory reform.The allegation of a quid pro quo was based on an email that Durbin received last spring after his amendment to allow judges to modify mortgages for homeowners who enter bankruptcy was defeated on the Senate floor. During a discussion to promote publicly-financed elections on Friday, the Illinois Democrat relayed that, shortly after the defeat of his "cram-down" amendment, a "banker friend"forwarded him the note from Tanya Wheeless, president & CEO of Arizona BankersAssociation."I have contacted the market presidents for each of the three banks (Chase,Wells and Bank of America) and explained that in my humble opinion it's a big mistake to cut a deal with Durbin and alienate our (in Arizona) Senator,"Wheeless's email reads. "I also told them that I thought this would drive awedge in our industry. [Senator Jon] Kyl has pointedly told them not to make a deal with Durbin and then come looking to Republicans when they need help on something like regulatory restructuring or systemic risk regulation.""I know the (sic) every state association will have to do what's best for its members, but I have told my largest three members that if they cut this deal,AzBA will fight them on it. They may be willing to alienate Republican leadership, but I'm not quite there yet."The email, (pasted into the original article and accessable in the link below), was passed to the Huffington Post by Durbin's office.The implication seems fairly clear: banks were being warned that if they negotiated with Durbin on cram-down, they were risking GOP support on regulatory reform. That the banking industry would take such a stance isn't entirely surprising, when one considers the narrow financial interests that influence theindustry. But the willingness of the GOP leadership to, apparently, use regulatory reform as a cudgel to pressure banks is illuminating of the horse-trading process that occurs behind the legislative curtains.At the very least, it shows just how stacked the deck is against passing consumer-oriented reforms. In the end, cram-down was defeated not once but twice on the Senate floor.Durbin said on Friday that, back then "I talked about the fact that when it comes to the banking lobby, they own the place. It might have been an overstatement. But not by much. One of the people I ran into afterwards said[the statement] was like a bolt of lightening in a swimming pool. It just woke everybody up that something is going on, on Capitol Hill."The email, he added, "is a total smoking gun as far as I'm concerned. It tells the whole story and it is in writing as to what is happening behind the scenes... So when people say I don't know if we should have public financing because that is my tax dollars, I can tell them that their resources, whether tax dollars or personal wealth, are being impacted every day by decisions being made by the special interest groups."

Click here to go to original article and for readable copy of Durbins email;

Sunday, November 8, 2009

More Small Town Banks Bought Out by The Big Ones

More Big Banks Sucking Up / Absorbing the Small

November 6, 2009

AMCORE Bank's Monroe and Argyle Branches Sold to First National Bank and Trust


ROCKFORD, Ill., Nov 6, 2009 (GlobeNewswire via COMTEX) - AMCORE Bank, N.A., a wholly-owned subsidiary of AMCORE Financial, Inc. (AMFI), today announced that it has completed the sale of its branches in the Wisconsin communities of Monroe and Argyle to First National Bank and Trust Company of Beloit, WI. The sale included approximately $70 million in loans, $135 million in deposits and sweep accounts, and up to $45 million in related trust accounts. The 401(k) plan business was not part of the sale and remains with AMCORE. The financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

In making the announcement, AMCORE Chairman and Chief Executive Officer William McManaman said: "The sale of these branches is another step in AMCORE's strategic efforts to raise capital as we continue to focus on serving our core markets. We are pleased that First National Bank and Trust Company has a strong community banking philosophy and we believe it will continue to serve customers with the high quality service that AMCORE proudly provided."

Steven M. Eldred, President and Chief Executive Officer of First National Bank and Trust, expressed his optimism for the potential new opportunities made possible by the acquisition. "For more than 127 years we've provided great service and sound financial advice to the Stateline. Our goal is simple; to help our customers succeed financially. In doing this we build a brighter future for our employees, customers and the communities we serve. We are proud to bring our brand of community banking to Monroe and Argyle."

ABOUT First National

First National Bank and Trust Company, headquartered in Beloit, WI, operates 11 banking locations in Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois. The bank has total assets of $631 million and offers full service banking to its customers, including consumer mortgage services, trust, brokerage and retirement services. Additional information about First National Bank and Trust Company is available on the company's website at


AMCORE Financial, Inc. is headquartered in Northern Illinois and has banking assets of $4.4 billion with 69 locations in Illinois and Wisconsin, (excluding Argyle and Monroe). AMCORE provides a full range of consumer and commercial banking services, a variety of mortgage lending products and wealth management services including trust, brokerage, private banking, financial planning, investment management, insurance and comprehensive retirement plan services.

AMCORE common stock is listed on The NASDAQ Stock Market under the symbol "AMFI." Further information about AMCORE Financial, Inc. can be found at the Company's website at


This news release contains, and our periodic filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission and written or oral statements made by the Company's officers and directors to the press, potential investors, securities analysts and others will contain, forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Act of 1934, and the Company intends that such forward-looking statements be subject to the safe harbors created thereby with respect to, among other things, the financial condition, results of operations, plans, objectives, future performance and business of AMCORE. Statements that are not historical facts, including statements about beliefs and expectations, are forward-looking statements. These statements are based upon beliefs and assumptions of AMCORE's management and on information currently available to such management. The use of the words "believe", "expect", "anticipate", "plan", "estimate", "should", "may", "will" or similar expressions identify forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made, and AMCORE undertakes no obligation to update publicly any forward-looking statements in light of new information or future events.

Contemplated, projected, forecasted or estimated results in such forward-looking statements involve certain inherent risks and uncertainties. A number of factors - many of which are beyond the ability of the Company to control or predict - could cause actual results to differ materially from those in its forward-looking statements. These factors include, among others, the following possibilities: (I) heightened competition, including specifically the intensification of price competition, the entry of new competitors and the formation of new products by new or existing competitors; (II) adverse state, local and federal legislation and regulation or adverse findings or rulings made by local, state or federal regulators or agencies regarding AMCORE and its operations; (III) failure to obtain new customers and retain existing customers and related deposit relationships; (IV) inability to carry out marketing and/or expansion plans; (V) ability to attract and retain key executives or personnel; (VI) changes in interest rates including the effect of prepayments; (VII) general economic and business conditions which are less favorable than expected; (VIII) equity and fixed income market fluctuations; (IX) unanticipated changes in industry trends; (X) unanticipated changes in credit quality and risk factors; (XI) success in gaining regulatory approvals when required; (XII) changes in Federal Reserve Board monetary policies; (XIII) unexpected outcomes on existing or new litigation in which AMCORE, its subsidiaries, officers, directors or employees are named defendants; (XIV) technological changes; (XV) changes in accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America; (XVI) changes in assumptions or conditions affecting the application of "critical accounting estimates"; (XVII) inability of third-party vendors to perform critical services for the Company or its customers; (XVIII) disruption of operations caused by the conversion and installation of data processing systems; (XIX) adverse economic or business conditions affecting specific loan portfolio types in which the Company has a concentration, such as construction and land development loans; (XX) zoning restrictions or other limitations at the local level, which could prevent limited branch offices from transitioning to full-service facilities; (XXI) possible changes in the creditworthiness of customers and value of collateral and the possible impairment of collectibility of loans; (XXII) changes in lending terms to the Company and the Bank by the Federal Reserve, Federal Home Loan Bank, or any other regulatory agency or third party; (XXIII) the recently enacted Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, and the various programs the U.S. Treasury and the banking regulators are implementing to address capital and liquidity issues in the banking system, all of which may have significant effects on the Company and the financial services industry, the exact nature and extent of which cannot be determined at this time; and (XXIV) failure by the company to comply with the provisions of any regulatory order or agreement to which the Company is subject could result in additional and material enforcement actions by the applicable regulatory agencies.

This news release was distributed by GlobeNewswire,

SOURCE: AMCORE Financial, Inc.

CONTACT: AMCORE Financial, Inc.
Media Inquiries:
Katherine Taylor
First National Bank and Trust
Media Inquiries:
Laura Pomerene

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Vaccines for the rich! Wall Street gets H1N1 vaccine bailout while school children told to wait

Friday, November 06, 2009 by: Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor

(NaturalNews) It seems the financial bailout isn't the only bailout happening on Wall Street these days. News has now leaked that investment firms Goldman Sachs and Citigroup both received preferential H1N1 swine flu vaccines even while local clinics that treat school children had no supply. The uproar is reminding the public just how much special treatment Wall Street banks get -- both financially and medically -- while everyday people are hung out to dry.

Not only that, but taxpayers got to foot the bill for those H1N1 vaccines handed to Wall Street insiders. It's yet one more way in which the general public is being screwed over (yet again) by the swine flu vaccine agenda.

There's one politically incorrect question in all this that's just begging to be asked, and let's assume for the moment that H1N1 vaccines actually work to save lives even though they don't: If a dangerous viral pandemic sweeps through the nation, killing people left and right, are Wall Street investment bankers really the people we want to save first?

Seriously. Doesn't it seem that school children should get the medicine first and Wall Street insiders should get it last?

The CDC claims that the vaccines sent to these Wall Street companies should have only been given to "high-risk people" who worked there. Sure they were, because we all know that Wall Street companies adhere to the highest standards of ethics, morality and civic responsibility. These people are shining examples of glorious human beings who always do the right thing, even if it requires giving up something for the benefit of someone else, right? And if they were on a sinking Titanic, they'd give up the life boats to the poor women and children, right?

But the real story here isn't that H1N1 vaccines are now being preferentially given to the rich instead of the school children. The real story is that people are panicking to get their hands on a complete joke of a vaccine -- a chemical cocktail that has never been subjected to even a single scientific test proving it actually works. People are lining up, in other words, to attain supply of something that's totally useless.

The crumbling social fabric of America
At the same time, this fabricated emergency reveals to us the complete lack of ethics in the distribution of these vaccines to the Wall Street rich, even while everyday poor people stand in line waiting for their turn.

It's yet another powerful commentary on the crumbling social fabric of America -- a nation that puts its morally bankrupt money slingers as a higher priority than everyone else. It's the Wall Streeters who get the trillion-dollar bailouts that the rest of us must someday pay out of our pockets. It's the Wall Streeters who get preferential treatment by Washington. And it's the Wall Streeters who are now getting the medicine that should be going to our children.

Of course, the medicine itself is a joke, too, but that's beside the point: These people THINK the vaccines are valuable, so their decisions on where to send them first reveal their true intentions.

There's a huge moral lesson in all this, by the way: Even those who get the H1N1 vaccine receive no benefit from it. People whose immune systems adaptively respond to the vaccine by building antibodies are the very people who could have done the same thing automatically in response to influenza exposure. Meanwhile, those with suppressed immune systems that are vulnerable to H1N1 have no ability to adaptively produce H1N1 antibodies anyway. In other words, even if you believe the H1N1 vaccine actually works, it only works on the people who don't need it!

This is the ultimate comedy. People are desperately fighting over a chemical injection that will help no one. And the only reason they're so desperate about it is because the hysteria has been entirely fabricated precisely to create irrational demand (

Maybe we should send all the vaccines to Wall Street anyway. Let everybody else stand outside, waiting in lines and soaking up a little sunshine so that their bodies create the only thing that will really save them from influenza in the first place: Vitamin D.

Or better yet, We the People should charge Wall Street for these vaccines we paid for. And the price? One trillion dollars.

Sources for this story include:

Washington Post Buzz up!8 votes

AIG Gets Another ($4.2) BILLION Dollar BailOut @ Txpyrs Expnse

American International Group Inc., the insurer rescued by the U.S., tapped the Treasury Department for another $4.2 billion to help restructure its money-losing mortgage guarantor and the plane unit it’s trying to sell.

AIG accessed about $2.1 billion from its Treasury facility on Aug. 13 and told the government today it would draw down another $2.1 billion, the New York-based company said in a regulatory filing. AIG got the $29.8 billion facility in April as part of its fourth bailout.

“It shows that they’re still having trouble getting cash to continue to run their operations” without government support, said Sandler O’Neill Partners LP analyst Paul Newsome. “That’s despite the fact you’ve had some really favorable things happen, like the credit markets getting better.”

AIG was bailed out in September 2008 to prevent losses at banks that bought derivatives from the insurer. The $182.3 billion rescue includes a $60 billion Federal Reserve credit line, up to $52.5 billion to buy mortgage-backed securities owned or backed by the insurer, and a Treasury investment of as much as $69.8 billion in two facilities. AIG has already drained one of the Treasury programs, valued at $40 billion.

AIG is using Treasury funds to buy shares of International Lease Finance Corp. held by one of its insurance units, the company said in the filing. The transfer may ease the eventual sale of Los Angeles-based ILFC or its assets, Newsome said.

But wait, I thought OMG AIG turned a profit?!

CNN Money:

AIG reported its second profitable quarter in a row early Friday, as stabilization in its insurance businesses, and the credit and mortgage markets helped boost results.

The troubled insurer said its net income rose to $455 million, or 68 cents per share, an improvement over the $24.5 billion loss from a year earlier. Results included a one-time net charge of $1.5 billion for capital losses and hedging.

Without the charge, AIG would have earned $1.9 billion in the quarter, or $2.85 per share. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, who typically exclude one-time events, forecasted earnings of $1.98 per share.

Sales for the New York-based company rose 189% to $26 billion, topping analysts' forecasts of $23 billion.

"Our results reflect continued stabilization in performance and market trends," said AIG Chief Executive Robert Benmosche in a statement. "AIG employees are working to preserve the strength of our insurance businesses in a challenging market."

In August, AIG reported that it had returned to profitability after six straight losing quarters, a stretch in which the company lost more than $100 billion.

Monday, October 26, 2009

McDonalds Pulls Up Stakes in Iceland; Will Consumers Survive Big Mac Attacks?

Iceland says goodbye to McDonalds as Customers Wonder Where to Get Help for Their Next Big Mac Attack

McDonald's closes in Iceland as currency collapse takes a bite out of Big Mac profits

By Gudjon Helgason and Jane Wardell, Associated Press Writers
On 3:41 pm EDT, Monday October 26, 2009

REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) -- The Big Mac, long a symbol of globalization, has become the latest victim of this tiny island nation's overexposure to the world financial crisis.

Iceland's three McDonald's restaurants -- all in the capital Reykjavik -- will close next weekend, as the franchise owner gives in to falling profits caused by the collapse in the Icelandic krona.

"The economic situation has just made it too expensive for us," Magnus Ogmundsson, the managing director of Lyst Hr., McDonald's franchise holder in Iceland, told The Associated Press by telephone on Monday.

Lyst was bound by McDonald's requirement that it import all the goods required for its restaurants -- from packaging to meat and cheeses -- from Germany.

Costs had doubled over the past year because of the fall in the krona currency and high import tariffs on imported goods, Ogmundsson said, making it impossible for the company to raise prices further and remain competitive with competitors that use locally sourced produce.

A Big Mac in Reykjavik already retails for 650 krona ($5.29). But the 20 percent increase needed to make a decent profit would have pushed that to 780 krona ($6.36), he said.

That would have made the Icelandic version of the burger the most expensive in the world, a title currently held jointly by Switzerland and Norway where it costs $5.75, according to The Economist magazine's 2009 Big Mac index.

The decision to shutter the Icelandic franchise was taken in agreement with McDonald's Inc., Ogmundsson said, after a review of several months.

"The unique operational complexity of doing business in Iceland combined with the very challenging economic climate in the country makes it financially prohibitive to continue the business," Theresa Riley, a spokeswoman at McDonald's headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois, said in a statement. "This complex set of challenges means we have no plans to seek a new partner in Iceland."

McDonald's, the world's largest chain of hamburger fast food restaurants, arrived in Reykjavik in 1993 when the country was on an upward trajectory of wealth and expansion.

The first person to take a bite out of a Big Mac on the island was then-Prime Minister David Oddsson. Oddsson went on to become governor of the country's central bank, Sedlabanki, a position that he was forced out of by lawmakers earlier this year after a public outcry about his inability to prevent Iceland's financial crisis.

Lyst plans to reopen the stores under a new brand name, Metro, using locally sourced materials and produce and retaining the franchise's current 90-strong staff.

Ogmundsson said it was unlikely that Lyst would ever seek to regain the McDonald's franchise with Iceland still struggling to get back on its feet after the credit crisis crippled its overweight banking system, damaging the rest of its economy, last October.

"I don't think anything will happen that will change the situation in any significant way in the next few years," Ogmundsson said.

It is not the first time that McDonald's, which currently operates in more than 119 countries on six continents, has exited a country. Its one and only restaurant in Barbados closed after just six months in 1996 because of slow sales. In 2002, the company pulled out of seven countries, including Bolivia, that had poor profit margins as part of an international cost-cutting exercise.

BLOGGERS NOTE: What the good folks at Big Mac Inc do not tell us is the fact that they are opening 33,000 new stores in China within the next 10, er, ah, bad can they really be hurting? Hummmmm. Anyways, makes sense to me that they would choose China to expand their operations as McDonald Corp has been buying all their beef from them for all their stores as they DO NOT trust USA beef, - although, it is roumored that they maintain a small supply of USDA Inspected beef and will soon offer a burger made from USA beef and will call it The McMadCow Burger, made specifically for their American tourists and others of the like who simply dont give a dam what they eat or feed their children.

AP Business Writer Jane Wardell reported from London. AP Retail Writer Ashley Heher

Friday, October 16, 2009

Billionaire among 6 nabbed in inside trading case

Wall Street wake-up call: Hedge fund boss, 5 others charged in $25M-plus insider trading case

By Larry Neumeister and Candice Choi, Associated Press Writers
On 6:21 pm EDT, Friday October 16, 2009
Buzz up! 26
NEW YORK (AP) -- One of America's wealthiest men was among six hedge fund managers and corporate executives arrested Friday in a hedge fund insider trading case that authorities say generated more than $25 million in illegal profits and was a wake-up call for Wall Street.

Raj Rajaratnam, a portfolio manager for Galleon Group, a hedge fund with up to $7 billion in assets under management, was accused of conspiring with others to use insider information to trade securities in several publicly traded companies, including Google Inc.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Douglas F. Eaton set bail at $100 million to be secured by $20 million in collateral despite a request by prosecutors to deny bail. He also ordered Rajaratnam, who has both U.S. and Sri Lankan citizenship, to stay within 110 miles of New York City. The judge gave prosecutors until shortly after 6 p.m. to consider appealing his bail ruling.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara told a news conference it was the largest hedge fund case ever prosecuted and marked the first use of court-authorized wiretaps to capture conversations by suspects in an insider trading case.

He said the case should cause financial professionals considering insider trades in the future to wonder whether law enforcement is listening.

"Greed is not good," Bharara said. "This case should be a wake-up call for Wall Street."

Joseph Demarest Jr., the head of the New York FBI office, said it was clear that "the 20 million dollars in illicit profits come at the expense of the average public investor."

The Securities and Exchange Commission, which brought separate civil charges, said the scheme generated more than $25 million in illegal profits.

Robert Khuzami, director of enforcement at the SEC, said the charges show Rajaratnam's "secret of success was not genius trading strategies."

"He is not the master of the universe. He is a master of the Rolodex," Khuzami said.

Galleon Group LLP said in a statement it was shocked to learn of Rajaratnam's arrest at his apartment. "We had no knowledge of the investigation before it was made public and we intend to cooperate fully with the relevant authorities," the statement said.

The firm added that Galleon "continues to operate and is highly liquid."

Rajaratnam, 52, was ranked No. 559 by Forbes magazine this year among the world's wealthiest billionaires, with a $1.3 billion net worth.

According to the Federal Election Commission, he is a generous contributor to Democratic candidates and causes. The FEC said he made over $87,000 in contributions to President Barack Obama's campaign, the Democratic National Committee and various campaigns on behalf of Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer and New Jersey U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez in the past five years. The Center for Responsive Politics, a watchdog group, said he has given a total of $118,000 since 2004 -- all but one contribution, for $5,000, to Democrats.

The Associated Press has learned that even before his arrest, Rajaratnam was under scrutiny for helping bankroll Sri Lankan militants notorious for suicide bombings.

Papers filed in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn allege that Rajaratnam worked closely with a phony charity that channeled funds to the Tamil Tiger terrorist organization. Those papers refer to him only as "Individual B." But U.S. law enforcement and government officials familiar with the case have confirmed that the individual is Rajaratnam.

At an initial court appearance in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Assistant U.S. Attorney Josh Klein sought detention for Rajaratnam, saying there was "a grave concern about flight risk" given Rajaratnam's wealth and his frequent travels around the world.

His lawyer, Jim Walden, called his client a "citizen of the world," who has made more than $20 million in charitable donations in the last five years and had risen from humble beginnings in the finance profession to oversee hedge funds responsible for nearly $8 billion.

Walden promised "there's a lot more to this case" and his client was ready to prepare for it from home. Rajaratnam lives in a $10 million condominium with his wife of 20 years, their three children and two elderly parents. Walden noted that many of his employees were in court ready to sign a bail package on his behalf.

Rajaratnam -- born in Sri Lanka and a graduate of University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business -- has been described as a savvy manager of billions of dollars in technology and health care hedge funds at Galleon, which he started in 1996. The firm is based in New York City with offices in California, China, Taiwan and India. He lives in New York.

According to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Rajaratnam obtained insider information and then caused the Galleon Technology Funds to execute trades that earned a profit of more than $12.7 million between January 2006 and July 2007. Other schemes garnered millions more and continued into this year, authorities said.

Bharara said the defendants benefited from tips about the earnings, earnings guidance and acquisition plans of various companies. Sometimes, those who provided tips received financial benefits and sometimes they just traded tips for more inside information, he added.

The timing of the arrests might be explained by a footnote in the complaint against Rajaratnam. In it, an FBI agent said he had learned that Rajaratnam had been warned to be careful and that Rajaratnam, in response, had said that a former employee of the Galleon Group was likely to be wearing a "wire."

The agent said he learned from federal authorities that Rajaratnam had a ticket to fly from Kennedy International Airport to London on Friday and to return to New York from Geneva, Switzerland next Thursday.

Also charged in the scheme are Rajiv Goel, 51, of Los Altos, Calif., a director of strategic investments at Intel Capital, the investment arm of Intel Corp., Anil Kumar, 51, of Santa Clara, Calif., a director at McKinsey & Co. Inc., a global management consulting firm, and Robert Moffat, 53, of Ridgefield, Conn., senior vice president and group executive at International Business Machines Corp.'s Systems and Technology Group.

The others charged in the case were identified as Danielle Chiesi, 43, of New York City, and Mark Kurland, 60, also of New York City.

Bail for Kurland was set at $3 million while bail for Moffat and Chiesi was set at $2 million each. Lawyers for Moffat and Chiesi said their clients will plead not guilty.

According to court papers, Chiesi worked for New Castle, the equity hedge fund group of Bear Stearns Asset Management Inc. that had assets worth about $1 billion under management. Kurland is a top executive at New Castle.

Kumar's lawyer, Isabelle Kirshner, said of her client: "He's distraught." He was freed on $5 million bail, secured in part by his $2.5 million California home.

Kerry Lawrence, an attorney representing Moffat, said: "He's shocked by the charges."

It was not immediately clear who would represent the others in their initial court appearances.

A criminal complaint filed in the case shows that an unidentified person involved in the insider trading scheme began cooperating and authorities obtained wiretaps of conversations between the defendants.

In one conversation about a pending deal that was described in a criminal complaint, Chiesi is quoted as saying: "I'm dead if this leaks. I really am. ... and my career is over. I'll be like Martha (expletive) Stewart."

Stewart, the homemaking maven, was convicted in 2004 of lying to the government about the sale of her shares in a friend's company whose stock plummeted after a negative public announcement. She served five months in prison and five months of home confinement.

Prosecutors charged those arrested Friday with conspiracy and securities fraud.

A separate criminal complaint in the case said Chiesi and Moffat conspired to engage in insider trading in the securities of International Business Machines Corp.

According to another criminal complaint in the case, Chiesi and Rajaratnam were heard on a government wiretap of a Sept. 26, 2008, phone conversation discussing whether Chiesi's friend Moffat should move from IBM to a different technology company to aid the scheme.

"Put him in some company where we can trade well," Rajaratnam was quoted in the court papers as saying.

The complaint said Chiesi replied: "I know, I know. I'm thinking that too. Or just keep him at IBM, you know, because this guy is giving me more information. ... I'd like to keep him at IBM right now because that's a very powerful place for him. For us, too."

According to the court papers, Rajaratnam replied: "Only if he becomes CEO." And Chiesi was quoted as replying: "Well, not really. I mean, come on. ... you know, we nailed it."

The criminal complaints in the case also captured what authorities said were efforts by the defendants to hide their conversations from authorities.

In one conversation, Chiesi was heard telling Rajaratnam that she was "glad that we talk on a secure line, I appreciate that," to which Rajaratnam replied: "I never call you on my cell phone," the complaint said. It added that Chiesi said she was "nervous" about being investigated.

Associated Press Writers Tom Hays in Riverside, Calif., and Beth Fouhy in New York contributed to this story.

Ding-Dong the Dollar is Dead

From freedoms Phoenix; Posted: 15 Oct 2009 04:51 PM PDT

Oh dude. The dollar is fucked! I sincerely hope you've long since diversified away from greenbacks and if you haven't, please don't come near me as I don't want to catch whatever brain-eating disease it is you've got that would compel you to stick with the funniest of the funny money.

WC Varones has some sound advice on investments and was kind enough to extend his expertise to my good friend Exuberant Accountant. See? Isn't it great when we can all play nice together?

Anyway. Pay attention, this stuff is important. Put down the remote and grab the scissors, we're debt-free from here on out.


The dollar may drop to 50 yen next year and eventually lose its role as the global reserve currency, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp.’s chief strategist said, citing trading patterns and a likely double dip in the U.S. economy.

“The U.S. economy will deteriorate into 2011 as the effects of excess consumption and the financial bubble linger,” said Daisuke Uno at Sumitomo Mitsui, a unit of Japan’s third- biggest bank. “The dollar’s fall won’t stop until there’s a change to the global currency system.”

The dollar last week dropped to the lowest in almost a year against the yen as record U.S. government borrowings and interest rates near zero sapped demand for the U.S. currency. The Dollar Index, which tracks the greenback against the currencies of six major U.S. trading partners, has fallen 15 percent from its peak this year to as low as 75.211 today, the lowest since August 2008.

The gauge is about five points away from its record low in March 2008, and the dollar is 2.5 percent away from a 14-year low against the yen.

“We can no longer stop the big wave of dollar weakness,” said Uno, who correctly predicted the dollar would fall under 100 yen and the Dow Jones Industrial Average would sink below 7,000 after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. last year. If the U.S. currency breaks through record levels, “there will be no downside limit, and even coordinated intervention won’t work,” he said.

China, India, Brazil and Russia this year called for a replacement to the dollar as the main reserve currency. Hossein Ghazavi, Iran’s deputy central bank chief, said on Sept. 13 the euro has overtaken the dollar as the main currency of Iran’s foreign reserves.

This is, in essence, a big bitchslap for our buddy Zimbabwe Ben who is probably stunned by this news. What do you mean dollar fears?! Huh?!

Check it out, ZB, I'm a fucking genius too you know. Like could have kicked your ass on the SATs if I hadn't have been hungover when I took mine (and still came pretty damn close). And I can speak from experience when I say that some of the most brilliant people I know are total idiots. Personally, I am often confused by broken escalators. I know, stupid, right?! So, Dr Bernanke, I've got your damn card. I know how it is, you're probably sitting there scratching your bald little head going "well wait, why do these people not buy Geithner's line about a strong dollar policy?!"

Well allow me to answer that question for you, my dear money-printing maniac, it's because actions speak louder than words and your actions say "Holy fuck I'm out of my God-forsaken mind and will be over here imploding the dollar if anyone needs me, thanks!!"

You're welcome. Bitch.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

JP Morgan Reports $3.6 Billion Profits in 3Q - What Were Your Profits so Far this Year?

It pays to be President Obama's favorite banker. Both Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual were gifted to JPMorgan by the United States government, and the results are showing.

Net income for the third quarter climbed to $3.6bn, or 82 cents a share, from $527m, or 9 cents, in the same period a year ago.

JPMorgan, itself, said it had continued to benefit from its acquisition of Washington Mutual and that it had seen fewer markdowns on legacy leveraged lending and mortgage positions.

Investment banking was also strong. No doubt helped by the fact that, as NyPo reported, JPM is scoring lead mandates to help both troubled auto companies restructure as well as handling the planned merger of Chrysler's finance arm with GMAC, resulting in lucrative fees for the bank... END

Comment mine (Lori Smith) readers prepared to be shocked take a look at the MIND BOGGLING amount of the Derivatives held by JP Morgan here...

For a more detailed look at the connection of JPM obamas favorite banker with a video that really helps to explain the ties here...

And this is a MUST READ

Read Full Story

Reported by Lori Smith

Click on title above to read full story;

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Why Did Goldman Get A $3 Million Gov't Gift For "National Security"

Lawrence Delevingne|Oct. 7, 2009, 3:17 PM | 902 |5

GS Oct 7 2009, 06:40 PM EDT

WIth all the company's riches, why is a Goldman Sachs (GS) subsidiary getting a $3 million earmark from Washington?

Politico: A mining company owned by Goldman Sachs and two private equity funds is in line to get a $3 million earmark for work at a rare earth elements mine in Mountain Pass, Calif. — raising questions as to why Congress would take on some of the risk for a bailed-out investment giant that’s already making a profit.

As the article notes, Molycorp's mine is a rich source of elements used to produce powerful magnets for precision-guided weapons, hand-held communication devices, wind turbines and hybrid cars.

California Republican Rep. Jerry Lewis inserted the earmark for the mine into the House Defense appropriations bill, reasoning that it's a national security concern. The other major source for the minerals, China, could cut exports.

This concern is fair, though probably overblown. There's a lot of hype about China limiting exports of so-called rare earth metals, but that's far from clear -- plus, how does the taxpayer subsidizing Goldman Sachs change anything?

Of course, the chance to line up at the government trough is a big reason why companies get into areas relating to green or weaponry.

Goldman and Molycorp didn't immediately respond to our requests for comment.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Filthy Rich are Getting Poorer (But not by Much)

The Forbes 400 Richest Americans
Wednesday, September 30, 2009provided by
Almost all of America's wealthiest citizens are poorer this year.

America's super rich are getting poorer. For only the fifth time since 1982, the collective net worth of The Forbes 400 — our annual tally of the nation's richest people — has declined, falling $300 billion in the past 12 months from $1.57 trillion to $1.27 trillion.

Faltering capital markets and real estate prices, along with divorce and fraud, pushed the fortunes of 314 members down and drove 32 plutocrats off the rankings.

Hurt the most: Warren Buffett, America's second-richest citizen. The Oracle of Omaha dropped $10 billion from his personal balance sheet as shares of Berkshire Hathaway fell 20% in 12 months. He is now worth (only) $40 billion.

Beating out Buffett for the 16th straight year as America's richest man is Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. Sluggish Microsoft shares and declining outside investments pushed the software visionary's net worth down $7 billion in 12 months.

Rounding out the top 10 on The Forbes 400: Oracle founder Larry Ellison ($27 billion); Wal-Mart heirs Christy Walton ($21.5 billion), Jim C. Walton ($19.6 billion), Alice Walton ($19.3 billion), and S. Robson Walton ($19 billion); media maven Michael Bloomberg ($17.5 billion) and energy titans Charles and David Koch ($16 billion each).

The 10 richest Americans lost a combined $39.2 billion in the past 12 months, a 14% decline.

Other big losers include casino mogul Kirk Kerkorian, whose nest egg shed $8.2 billion in the past year. Shares of his gambling giant MGM Mirage have fallen 90% from their October 2007 high.

Also hitting the brakes: Enterprise Rent-A-Car founder Jack C. Taylor. The rental car titan's fortune is down $7 billion in a year as the travel industry slows and private-company valuations fall.

The biggest gainer is banker Andrew Beal, who tripled his net worth to $4.5 billion buying up cheap loans and assets as the markets crumbled last fall.

Membership on the list was made easier as the price of admission dropped $350 million, from $1.3 billion last year to $950 million this year, paving the way for 19 new members and 19 returnees.

Newcomers to the list include Marvel Entertainment chief Isaac Perlmutter, whose net worth soared to $1.55 billion after Disney agreed to buy the superhero outfit in August for $4 billion in cash and stock.

Other new members include Bloomberg LP co-founder Charles Zegar ($1 billion), mapping-software magnate Jack Dangermond ($2 billion) and trading titan Steven Schonfeld ($1 billion).

Former New York lawyer and accountant Jeffry Picower makes his debut on The Forbes 400 with a net worth of $1 billion. A longtime investor with Bernard Madoff, he is likely worth billions more (Picower is alleged to have extracted billions of dollars from Madoff's fund before it collapsed).

Picower and his foundation are named in a lawsuit by the liquidator for Madoff's investment business, who is seeking to recover funds allegedly obtained through "fraudulent activity." Picower claims if he knew Madoff was a fraud he would not have transferred money into Madoff accounts.

In December 2008, the Picower Foundation shut down after losing its $1 billion endowment in Madoff's Ponzi scheme. The charity had given millions to MIT, Human Rights First and the New York Public Library. Picower made his first fortune selling medical device maker Alaris in 2004.

Among those returning is venture capitalist Michael Moritz, who rode Amazon's purchase of online shoe retailer Zappos and surging Google stock back onto the list.

Divorce forced Google exec Omid Kordestani from the rankings, while R. Allen Stanford lost his billionaire status when the feds froze his assets after charging him with allegedly running an $8 billion Ponzi scheme.

Several Forbes 400 mainstays also fell off the list, including former Citigroup czar Sanford Weill, mall developer Matthew Bucksbaum and condo kingpin Jorge Perez.

Six members died, including glass giant William Davidson and newspaper maven Frank Batten Sr.

The Forbes 400 is a snapshot of wealth on Sept. 10, 2009. Gap co-founder Donald Fisher, who ranks No. 296 on our list, died Sept. 27 at his home in San Francisco at age 81.

Edited by Matthew Miller and Duncan Greenberg

The Top 21 Richest Americans

© Ryan Pierse/Getty Images 1. William H. Gates III

Net Worth: $50 billion

Source: Microsoft

Residence: Medina, Wash.

Age: 53

Despite losing $7 billion in 12 months, software man retains his title as America’s richest person for the 16th straight year.
Microsoft shares down 8% in past year but up 65% from March lows. He sells stock every quarter, redeploys proceeds via personal investment outfit Cascade.
More than 60% of fortune held outside Microsoft; investments include Four Seasons hotels, Televisa, AutoNation.
Stepped down from day-to-day duties at Microsoft last summer to focus on philanthropy.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation dedicated to fighting hunger, improving education in America’s high schools, developing vaccines against malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS. Endowment: $30 billion.
Penned first report on foundation’s projects in January. Touted progress made on preventing fatal childhood diseases; confessed frustration at challenge of creating an affordable, effective AIDS vaccine.
Ramping up personal contributions: donating $3.8 billion this year, $500 million more than in 2008.


© Michael Buckner/Getty Images 2. Warren Buffett

Net Worth: $40 billion

Source: Berkshire Hathaway

Residence: Omaha

Age: 79

America’s favorite investor lost $10 billion in past 12 months on his Berkshire Hathaway shares.
Provided calming guidance to panic-stricken investors during financial crisis last fall; avowed enduring faith in U.S. economy, advised bargain hunting: “Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful.”
Shrewdly invested $5 billion in Goldman Sachs and $3 billion in General Electric last fall.
Suffered a $1.5 billion loss in first-quarter 2009; Berkshire notched $3.3 billion profit in second quarter thanks in part to bet on Goldman.
Son of Nebraska politician filed first tax return at age 13, claiming $35 deduction for bicycle bought for paper route.
Met value investor Benjamin Graham while studying economics at Columbia.
Took over textile firm Berkshire Hathaway 1965, used as vehicle to invest in insurance (Geico), food (Dairy Queen), utilities (MidAmerican Energy) and recently green tech (electric-car maker BYD).
Believed to be grooming NetJets Chief David Sokol to eventually take over Berkshire.
Appearing in cartoon form on upcoming online-tutor series The Secret Millionaires Club.
Page 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Click on title above for full article

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Hedge funders' suit claims money went to porn investment, swingers' resort

BY Jose Martinez

Wednesday, August 12th 2009, 4:00 AM

A swingers' resort was one of the investments, a suit claims Milton (Todd) Ault 3rd invested their money in.

A California moneyman with X-rated interests is being sued by several hedge funds who accuse him of shoveling their millions into porn and a planned Catskills swingers ranch.

Milton (Todd) Ault 3rd is charged with stiffing a dozen hedge funds on a $4.2 million investment with his firm Zealous Inc.

The Manhattan Supreme Court suit says the money was supposed to be steered to an "integrated global community of trading partners."

"The financing was a scam," the suit says. "He intended to, and did, use plaintiffs' money to fund [his] lifestyle, which included the development of a 'swingers ranch' in the Catskills and other pornographic-related endeavors."

Ault, whose online bio boasts that he has traded stocks since he was 11, has dabbled in adult entertainment, and his company co-produced a porn flick based on Sarah Palin.

He declared the suit "worthless" and said any talk of a swinger hideaway in New Lebanon, N.Y., was a "joke."

"We were subdividing it into eight lots," Ault said. "There was never going to be a swingers club."

Ault, who worked at Dean Witter Reynolds and Prudential Securities before starting Zealous, said the money was always earmarked for the creation of a platform for the trading of securities.

"These hedge funds didn't do their homework when they made their investment," said Ault, adding that the funds have already recouped a chunk of the money.

He said the 130-acre plot of land on Wadsworth Road was purchased long before the hedge funds invested in his company.

Last September, Ault merged Zealous into Adult Entertainment Capital Inc., a publicly traded firm that issued a press release about plans for a 140-acre East Coast project for the "fast-growing swingers lifestyle."

Ault insisted yesterday a swingers ranch was never seriously planned for woodsy Columbia County.

"That was simply a joke," he said.

A lawyer for the hedge funds did not return calls.

Read more:

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Uncle Sam Manipulating Bond Market

Originally Posted in "Freedoms Phoenix" News That Matters or Should Matter to YOU!
08/08/2009 • Market Skeptic

Uncle Sam is goosing the bond market just like he is the stock market. Take a look at Treasury's latest bit of chicanery which was stuffed in the back pages of the Wall Street Journal back in June: "The sudden increase in demand by foreign buyers for Treasurys, hailed as proof that the world's central banks are still willing to help absorb the avalanche of supply, mightn't be all that it seems. When the government sells bonds, traders typically look at a group of buyers called indirect bidders, which includes foreign central banks, to divine overseas demand for U.S. debt. That demand has been rising recently, giving comfort to investors that foreign buyers will continue to finance the U.S.'s budget deficit. But in a little-noticed switch on June 1, the Treasury changed the way it accounts for indirect bids, putting more buyers under that umbrella and boosting the portion of recent Treasury sales that the market perceived were being bought by foreigners."

Reported by Lori Smith

Click on title above for full article as appeared in "Freedoms Phoenix" ;

Laundering Money through the Big Banks: Bernanke's Quid Pro Quo

Global Research, August 3, 2009
by Mike Whitney

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is a man who knows how Washington works and uses that knowledge to great effect. His appearances on Capital Hill are always worth watching. He sits politely with his hands folded in front of him playing the bashful professor while one one preening congressman after another makes a fool out of themself. In contrast, Bernanke looks like a modest and thoughtful academic faithfully upholding the public's trust. But things aren't always as they seem. The Fed chief is sticking it to the American people big-time and no one seems to have any idea of what's really going on. Former hedge fund manager Andy Kessler sums it up in a recent Wall Street Journal article, "The Bernanke Market". Here's a clip:

"By buying U.S. Treasuries and mortgages to increase the monetary base by $1 trillion, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke didn't put money directly into the stock market but he didn't have to. With nowhere else to go, except maybe commodities, inflows into the stock market have been on a tear. Stock and bond funds saw net inflows of close to $150 billion since January. The dollars he cranked out didn't go into the hard economy, but instead into tradable assets. In other words, Ben Bernanke has been the market."

What does it mean?

It means the revered professor Bernanke figured out a way to circumvent Congress and dump more than a trillion dollars into the stock market by laundering the money through the big banks and other failing financial institutions. As Kessler suggests, Bernanke knew the liquidity would pop up in the equities market, thus, building the equity position of the banks so they wouldn't have to grovel to Congress for another TARP-like bailout. Bernanke's actions demonstrate his contempt for the democratic process. The Fed sees itself as a government-unto-itself.

Over at Zero Hedge, Tyler Durden did the math and figured that the recent 45% surge in the S&P 500 had nothing to do with the fictional economic "recovery", but was just more of the Fed's hanky panky. Durden noticed that the money that's been sluicing into stocks hasn't (correspondingly) depleted the money markets. That's the clue that led him to the truth about Bernanke's 6 month stock rally.

Zero Hedge: "Most interesting is the correlation between Money Market totals and the listed stock value since the March lows: a $2.7 trillion move in equities was accompanied by a less than $400 billion reduction in Money Market accounts!

Where, may we ask, did the balance of $2.3 trillion in purchasing power come from? Why the Federal Reserve of course, which directly and indirectly subsidized U.S. banks (and foreign ones through liquidity swaps) for roughly that amount. Apparently these banks promptly went on a buying spree to raise the all important equity market, so that the U.S. consumer who net equity was almost negative on March 31, could have some semblance of confidence back and would go ahead and max out his credit card. Alas, as one can see in the money multiplier and velocity of money metrics, U.S. consumers couldn't care less about leveraging themselves any more."

So, the magical "Green Shoots" stock market rally was fueled by a mere $400 billion from the money markets. The rest ($2.3 trillion) was main-lined into the market via Bernanke's quantitative easing (QE) program, of which Krugman and others speak so highly.

Wouldn't you like to know if Bernanke sat down with G-Sax and JPM executives and mapped out the details of this swindle before the printing presses ever started rolling?

So, how long can this kind of fakery go on before our creditors grow weary of dealing with chiselers and stop buying US Treasuries altogether? Here's a blurp from Friday's Wall Street Journal on that very topic:

"Shaky auctions of Treasury notes this week reignited concerns about whether the government can attract buyers from China and elsewhere to soak up trillions in new debt.

A fuse was lit this week when traders noted China's apparent absence from direct participation in two Treasury bond auctions. While China may have bought Treasurys just before the auctions, market participants read the country's actions as a worrying sign that China and other foreign investors may be ratcheting back purchases at a time when the U.S. is seeking to fund a $1.8 trillion budget deficit.

This week alone, the U.S. deluged the bond market with more than $200 billion in record-size sales. The U.S. has had little trouble finding buyers in recent months. But that demand is fading, and the Treasury market has become volatile."

Uncle Sam is goosing the bond market just like he is the stock market. Take a look at Treasury's latest bit of chicanery which was stuffed in the back pages of the Wall Street Journal back in June:

"The sudden increase in demand by foreign buyers for Treasurys, hailed as proof that the world's central banks are still willing to help absorb the avalanche of supply, mightn't be all that it seems.

When the government sells bonds, traders typically look at a group of buyers called indirect bidders, which includes foreign central banks, to divine overseas demand for U.S. debt. That demand has been rising recently, giving comfort to investors that foreign buyers will continue to finance the U.S.'s budget deficit.

But in a little-noticed switch on June 1, the Treasury changed the way it accounts for indirect bids, putting more buyers under that umbrella and boosting the portion of recent Treasury sales that the market perceived were being bought by foreigners." ("Is foreign Demand as Solid as it Looks, Min zeng)

Nice touch, eh? So, someone doesn't want you and me to know when foreign demand drops off a cliff, so they just bend-and-twist the definitions so they meet the Fed's requirements. How's that for transparency?. Apparently, Bernanke et al. don't believe the Chinese have translators who can make sense of all this subterfuge. That may be a miscalculation, however, given recent rumblings from the Orient.

Mike Whitney is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Mike Whitney


Ill Winds Blowing Fast & Hard

Things Grow Worse So Fast These Days

Posted by Neal McCluskey

This morning, posted an op-ed I wrote on the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsbility Act (SAFRA). It lays out a lot of the problems with this horrible bill, but given the blistering pace at which Congress is trying to blow stuff by the public, op-eds can’t be written and posted quickly enough to keep up with all the latest news. Indeed, congressional leaders are moving so fast their own budget office can’t keep up.

In my op-ed, I offer the following warning about the likely, true impact of the bill, which supporters say won’t end up costing a new dime thanks to $87 billion in savings to be achieved by ending federal guaranteed student lending and going completely to direct lending:

Finally, roughly $10 billion is supposed to go toward reducing the federal government’s deficit, a ludicrously small figure considering that it recently surpassed $1 trillion for fiscal year 2009 and the SAFRA bill supposedly creates savings without causing current beneficiaries any pain. If all the proclaimed savings don’t appear, the last two words in ‘Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility’ become an even bigger joke.

Well, reading the bill, and then taking in two CBO analyses of it released after the House Education and Labor Committee passed it, shows that the latter half of the bill’s title really is laughable.

First off, the bill doesn’t say one word about reserving bucks for deficit reduction.

Next, looking at the first CBO estimate released after Education and Labor passed the bill, it’s clear that once one considers all the new spending in it, SAFRA will cost taxpayers many additional ducats. While the bill is expected to save a net $7.8 billion in direct spending over ten years, it’s expected to cost $13.5 billion in additional appropriated funding, such as administrative costs, for a net new cost to taxpayers of $5.7 billion. And that’s not all….

In a letter to Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) written a few days after the official cost estimate, the CBO said that had its estimate fully accounted for additional risk to the government of doing all direct lending, the projected savings would have been about $33 billion lower than projected. Add that greatly reduced savings to the net costs in the previous estimate, and suddenly a bill being touted as a deficit reducer is a deficit grower, to the estimated tune of almost $40 billion!

Of course, those probably won’t be the final numbers, so there will no doubt be more news on this bill to come.

Monday, August 10, 2009

During Crisis, Paulson's Calls to Goldman Posed Ethics Test

Before he became President George W. Bush’s Treasury secretary in 2006, Henry M. Paulson Jr. agreed to hold himself to a higher ethical standard than his predecessors. He not only sold all his holdings in Goldman Sachs, the investment bank he had run, but also specifically said that he would avoid any substantive interaction with Goldman executives for his entire term unless he first obtained an ethics waiver from the government.

But today, seven months after Mr. Paulson left office, questions are still being asked about his part in decisions last fall to prop up the teetering financial system with tens of billions of taxpayer dollars, including aid that directly benefited his former firm. Testifying on Capitol Hill last month, he was grilled about his relationship with Goldman.

“Is it possible that there’s so much conflict of interest here that all you folks don’t even realize that you’re helping people that you’re associated with?” Representative Cliff Stearns, Republican of Florida, asked Mr. Paulson at the July 16 hearing.

“I operated very consistently within the ethic guidelines I had as secretary of the Treasury,” Mr. Paulson responded, adding that he asked for an ethics waiver for his interactions with his old firm “when it became clear that we had some very significant issues with Goldman Sachs.”

Mr. Paulson did not say when he received a waiver, but copies of two waivers he received — from the White House counsel’s office and the Treasury Department — show they were issued on the afternoon of Sept. 17, 2008.

That date was in the middle of the most perilous week of the financial crisis and a day after the government agreed to lend $85 billion to the American International Group, which used the money to pay off Goldman and other big banks that were financially threatened by A.I.G.’s potential collapse.

It is common, of course, for regulators to be in contact with market participants to gather valuable industry intelligence, and financial regulators had to scramble very quickly last fall to address an unprecedented crisis. In those circumstances it would have been difficult for anyone to follow routine guidelines.

While Mr. Paulson spoke to many Wall Street executives during that period, he was in very frequent contact with Lloyd C. Blankfein, Goldman’s chief executive, according to a copy of Mr. Paulson’s calendars acquired by The New York Times through a Freedom of Information Act request.

During the week of the A.I.G. bailout alone, Mr. Paulson and Mr. Blankfein spoke two dozen times, the calendars show, far more frequently than Mr. Paulson did with other Wall Street executives.

On Sept. 17, the day Mr. Paulson secured his waivers, he and Mr. Blankfein spoke five times. Two of the calls occurred before Mr. Paulson’s waivers were granted.

Michele Davis, a spokeswoman for Mr. Paulson, said that the former Treasury secretary was busy writing his memoirs and that his publisher had barred him from granting interviews until his manuscript was done. She pointed out that the ethics agreement Mr. Paulson agreed to when he joined the Treasury did not prevent him from talking to Goldman executives like Mr. Blankfein in order to keep abreast of market developments.

Ms. Davis also said that Federal Reserve officials, not Mr. Paulson, played the lead role in shaping and financing the A.I.G. bailout.

But Mr. Paulson was closely involved in decisions to rescue A.I.G., according to two senior government officials who requested anonymity because the negotiations were supposed to be confidential.

And government ethics specialists say that the timing of Mr. Paulson’s waivers, and the circumstances surrounding it, are troubling.

“I think that when you have a person in a high government position who has been with one of the major financial institutions, things like this have to happen more publicly and they have to happen more in the normal course of business rather than privately, quietly and on the fly,” said Peter Bienstock, the former executive director of the New York State Commission on Government Integrity and a partner at the law firm of Cohen Hennessey Bienstock & Rabin.

He went on: “If it can happen on a phone call and can happen without public scrutiny, it destroys the standard because then anything can happen in that fashion and any waiver can happen.”

Inevitable Questions

Concerns about potential conflicts of interest were perhaps inevitable during this financial crisis, the worst since the Great Depression. In the weeks before Mr. Paulson obtained the waivers, Treasury lawyers raised questions about whether he had conflicts of interest, a senior government official said.

Indeed, Mr. Paulson helped decide the fates of a variety of financial companies, including two longtime Goldman rivals, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, before his ethics waivers were granted. Ad hoc actions taken by Mr. Paulson and officials at the Federal Reserve, like letting Lehman fail and compensating A.I.G.’s trading partners, continue to confound some market participants and members of Congress.

Skip to next paragraph

Rep. Stearns Spars With Paulson (
Keeping in Touch in a Critical Week
Times Topics: Henry M. Paulson Jr. | Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
Add to Portfolio
Goldman Sachs Group
Go to your Portfolio »

“I think it’s clear he had a conflict of interest,” Mr. Stearns, the congressman, said in an interview. “He was covering himself with this waiver because he knew he had a conflict of interest with his telephone calls and with his actions. Even though he had no money in Goldman, he had a vested interest in Goldman’s success, in terms of his own reputation and historical perspective.”

Adding to questions about Mr. Paulson’s role, critics say, is the fact that Goldman Sachs was among a group of banks that received substantial government assistance during the turmoil. Goldman not only received $13 billion in taxpayer money as a result of the A.I.G. bailout, but also was given permission at the height of the crisis to convert from an investment firm to a national bank, giving it easier access to federal financing in the event it came under greater financial pressure.

Goldman also won federal debt guarantees and received $10 billion under the Troubled Asset Relief Program. It benefited further when the Securities and Exchange Commission suddenly changed its rules governing stock trading, barring investors from being able to bet against Goldman’s shares by selling them short.

Now that the company’s crisis has passed, Goldman has rebounded more markedly than its rivals. It has paid back the $10 billion in government assistance, with interest, and exited the federal debt guarantee program. It recently reported second-quarter profit of $3.44 billion, putting its employees on track to earn record bonuses this year: about $700,000 each, on average.

Ms. Davis, the spokeswoman for Mr. Paulson, said Goldman never received special treatment from the Treasury. Mr. Paulson’s calendars do not disclose any details about his conversations with Mr. Blankfein, and Ms. Davis said Mr. Paulson always maintained a proper regulatory distance from his old firm.

A spokesman for Goldman, Lucas van Praag, said: “Lloyd Blankfein, like the C.E.O.’s of other major financial institutions, received calls from, and made calls to, Treasury to provide a market perspective on conditions and events as they were unfolding. Given what was happening in the world, it would have been shocking if such conversations hadn’t taken place.”

Although federal officials were concerned that Goldman Sachs might collapse that week, Mr. van Praag said the only topics of discussion between Mr. Blankfein and Mr. Paulson at the time involved Lehman Brothers’ troubled London operations and “disarray in the money markets.” Mr. van Praag said Goldman was fully insulated from financial fallout related to a possible A.I.G. collapse in mid-September of last year.

However, Mr. Paulson believed he needed to request the ethics waivers during that tumultuous week, after regulators had become concerned that the same crisis of confidence that felled Bear Stearns and Lehman might spread to the remaining investment banks, including Goldman Sachs.

At a conference call scheduled for 3 p.m. on Sept. 17, 2008, Fed officials intended to discuss the financial soundness of Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley, and they had asked Mr. Paulson to participate, according to Mr. Paulson’s calendars and his spokeswoman.

That was the first time during the crisis that Mr. Paulson’s involvement required a waiver, Ms. Davis said. The waiver was requested that morning and granted orally that afternoon, just before the 3 p.m. conference call.

A few minutes later, in an e-mail message to Mr. Paulson, Bernard J. Knight Jr., assistant general counsel at the Treasury, outlined the agency’s rationale for granting the waiver.

“I have determined that the magnitude of the government’s interest in your participation in matters that might affect or involve Goldman Sachs clearly outweighs the concern that your participation may cause a reasonable person to question the integrity of the government’s programs and operations,” Mr. Knight wrote.

Goldman’s Windfall

For investors in the United States and around the world, the days after the A.I.G. rescue were perilous and uncertain; the Dow Jones industrial average fell 4 percent on Sept. 17 as credit markets froze and investors absorbed the implications of the insurance giant’s collapse. That day, Mr. Paulson and his colleagues at the Federal Reserve were scrambling to contain the damage and shore up investor confidence.

But Mr. Paulson has disavowed any involvement in the decision to use taxpayer funds to make Goldman and A.I.G.’s trading partners whole. In his July testimony to the House, he said: “I want you to know that I had no role whatsoever in any of the Fed’s decision regarding payments to any of A.I.G.’s creditors or counterparties.”

Ms. Davis reiterated this, saying that Mr. Paulson’s involvement in the A.I.G. bailout was meant to forestall a collapse of the entire financial system and not to rescue any individual firms exposed to A.I.G., like Goldman. However, she said, federal officials were worried that both Goldman and Morgan Stanley were in danger themselves of failing later in the week and it was in that context that Mr. Paulson received a waiver.

“The waiver was in anticipation of a need to rescue Goldman Sachs,” Ms. Davis said, “not to bail out A.I.G.”

Treasury Department lawyers said a waiver for Mr. Paulson regarding A.I.G. was not necessary, Ms. Davis said, because the A.I.G. rescue was conducted by the Federal Reserve. The Treasury had no power to rescue A.I.G., she said. Only the Fed could make such a loan.

But according to two senior government officials involved in the discussions about an A.I.G. bailout and several other people who attended those meetings and requested anonymity because of confidentiality agreements, the government’s decision to rescue A.I.G was made collectively by Mr. Paulson, officials from the Federal Reserve and other financial regulators in meetings at the New York Fed over the weekend of Sept. 13-14, 2008.

These people said Mr. Paulson played a major role in the A.I.G. rescue discussions over that weekend and that it was well known among the participants that a loan to A.I.G. would be used to pay Goldman and the insurer’s other trading partners.

Over that weekend, according to a former senior government official involved in the discussions, Mr. Paulson said that he had been warned by lawyers for the Treasury Department not to contact Goldman executives directly. But he said Mr. Paulson told him he had disregarded the advice because the “crisis” required action.

Ms. Davis said: “Hank doesn’t recall saying that. Staff had advised that he interact one on one with Goldman as little as possible, not because it would be a violation but for appearances, recognizing someone would likely attempt to read too much into it.”

On Sept. 16, 2008, the day that the government agreed to inject billions into A.I.G., Mr. Paulson personally called Robert B. Willumstad, A.I.G.’s chief executive, and dismissed him. Mr. Paulson’s involvement in the decision to rescue A.I.G. is also supported by an e-mail message sent by Scott G. Alvarez, general counsel at the Federal Reserve Board, to Robert Hoyt, a Treasury legal counsel, that same day.

The subject of the message, acquired under the Freedom of Information Act, is “AIG Letter,” and it contains a reference to a document called “AIG.Paulson.Letter.draft2.09.16.2008.doc.” The letter itself was not released.

Ms. Davis said this letter was intended to confirm that the Treasury and Mr. Paulson supported the loan to A.I.G. and that its officials recognized that any Fed losses would be absorbed by taxpayers. She said the existence of the letter did not confirm that Mr. Paulson was extensively involved in discussions about an A.I.G. bailout.

Since last September, the government’s commitment to A.I.G. has swelled to $173 billion. A recent report from the Government Accountability Office questioned whether taxpayers would ever be repaid the money loaned to what was once the world’s largest insurance company.

Constant Contact

In the ethics agreement that Mr. Paulson signed in 2006, he wrote: “I believe that these steps will ensure that I avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest in the performance of my duties as Secretary of the Treasury.”

While that agreement barred him from dealing on specific matters involving Goldman, he spoke with Mr. Blankfein at other pivotal moments in the crisis before receiving waivers.

Mr. Paulson’s schedules from 2007 and 2008 show that he spoke with Mr. Blankfein, who was his successor as Goldman’s chief, 26 times before receiving a waiver.

On the morning of Sept. 16, 2008, the day the A.I.G. rescue was announced, Mr. Paulson’s calendars show that he took a call from Mr. Blankfein at 9:40 a.m. Mr. Paulson received the ethics waiver regarding contacts with Goldman between 2:30 and 3 the next afternoon. According to his calendar, he called Mr. Blankfein five times that day. The first call was placed at 9:10 a.m.; the second at 12:15 p.m.; and there were two more calls later that day. That evening, after taking a call from President Bush, Mr. Paulson called Mr. Blankfein again.

When the Treasury secretary reached his office the next day, on Sept. 18, his first call, at 6:55 a.m., went to Mr. Blankfein. That was followed by a call from Mr. Blankfein. All told, from Sept. 16 to Sept. 21, 2008, Mr. Paulson and Mr. Blankfein spoke 24 times.

At the height of the financial crisis, Mr. Paulson spoke far more often with Mr. Blankfein than any other executive, according to entries in his calendars.

The calls between Mr. Paulson and Mr. Blankfein, especially those surrounding the A.I.G. bailout, are disturbing to Samuel L. Hayes, a professor emeritus at Harvard Business School and a consultant in the past for government agencies, including the Treasury Department.

“We don’t know what they talked about,” Mr. Hayes said. “Obviously there was an enormous amount at stake for Goldman in whether or not the A.I.G. contracts would be made whole. So I think the burden is now on Mr. Paulson to demonstrate that there was no exchange of information one way or the other that influenced the ultimate decision of the government to essentially provide a blank check for A.I.G.’s contracts.”

In a letter accompanying the government’s production of Mr. Paulson’s calendar under the Freedom of Information Act request, Kevin M. Downey, a lawyer for Mr. Paulson, raised questions about how comprehensive the schedules were. He noted, for example, that the calendars did not reflect the Treasury secretary’s attendance at several public events. Mr. Downey did not return phone calls or e-mail messages seeking further comment.

Moreover, because the schedules include only phone calls made through Mr. Paulson’s office at Treasury, they provide only a partial picture of his communications. They do not reflect calls he made on his cellphone or from his home telephone.

According to the schedules, Mr. Paulson’s contacts with Mr. Blankfein began even before the height of the crisis last fall. During August 2007, for example, when the market for asset-backed commercial paper was seizing up, Mr. Paulson spoke with Mr. Blankfein 13 times. Mr. Paulson placed 12 of those calls.

By contrast, Mr. Paulson spoke six times that August with Richard S. Fuld Jr. of Lehman, four times with Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase and only twice with John Thain of Merrill Lynch.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

What Is This "Free Market" We Keep Hearing About?

By Tom Mullen
Published 08/08/09

"... every man, as long as he does not violate the laws of justice, is left perfectly free to pursue his own interests his own way and to bring both his industry and capital into competition with those of other men."
— Adam Smith (1776)

As President Obama and his pet Congress continue their crusade to expand the reach of government into our lives, "conventional wisdom" continues to tell us that socialized medicine, rampant wealth redistribution, and government control over one industry after another is "necessary" because of the supposed failure of the free market to adequately address the needs of society. The way the "free market" is characterized by politicians and media pundits, it is not surprising that most Americans seem to regard it as some sort of special interest group (Mr. Undersecretary, the gentlemen from the free market are here to see you). Doubtless, when most Americans hear the words "free market," they picture the CEO’s of Detroit automakers flying in on corporate jets or Wall Street financiers busy mastering the universe. This mischaracterization of the free market is ironic, seeing as both of these groups have recently sought and obtained capital from people who were not free to refuse (taxpayers).

So, before trying to ascertain whether or not the free market has failed society, it is necessary to define exactly what it is. This is not so much difficult as it is inconvenient for those who either wish to exert control over our lives or who wish to be controlled by those that they believe can offer them security in exchange for their liberty - even if it means destroying liberty for everyone. For both of these groups, the "free market" is something that must be characterized as something that it is not. To recognize it for what it is would both threaten their own ability to justify their positions and concede to their victims that what they advocate is in fact abject slavery. Neither result is palatable to opponents of the free market, so gibberish is necessary for them from both a moral and practical perspective.

So, let us say here what it seems that no one anywhere wants to come out and say: the free market is nothing more than all members of society exercising their inalienable rights. It is nothing more and nothing less. Any other system, by definition, violates some or all of these rights.

Every individual has a natural right to labor and to keep the fruits of his labor (his property). This is his only means of pursuing his happiness. There is only one role for government in this area: to defend the property of each individual against theft by another person or group. A truly free market limits government’s role in regards to property to this natural boundary — for any further role constitutes government committing the very crime it exists to prohibit.

Every individual has a natural right to liberty — to do as he pleases as long as he does not commit aggression against the equal rights of another. In a free market, there can be no "regulation" (as we incorrectly understand the term today). The laws that restrict human action must be limited to those few necessary to ensure that no individual is forced or defrauded while participating in an exchange of property nor forced to accept any terms that he does not freely consent to. As the quote from Adam Smith illustrates, one cannot talk about "free markets" without at the same time incorporating the Non-Aggression Principle of Liberty. While Smith is generally regarded as the "father of capitalism," he never actually called his economic system by that name. Instead, he referred to it as "a system of natural liberty." Given the confusion that now accompanies the word "capitalism," it might be better to revert to Smith’s terminology.

Since a free market is by definition the only system that allows individuals to exercise their rights, to say that an unfettered free market does not work is to say that society will not work unless those rights are systematically violated and that those violations must be protected by the law. A greater perversion of justice is unimaginable. Yet, the majority of our elected officials champion exactly this. Sadly, the majority of their constituents blindly parrot their horrific slogans.

In response to this argument, the more cunning opponents of liberty will say that we have given the free market a chance to work and it has failed. False prophet of freedom Alan Greenspan is notable among this gang of vipers. However, any lucid analysis of the difficulties that we find ourselves in now can indisputably be traced to the aspects of our society that prevent free markets. Bad mortgage loans were made because government committed the fraud of monetary inflation combined with the theft of guaranteeing loans with taxpayer money. The skyrocketing cost of health care is a result of government committing the theft of taking money from one individual and using it to buy health care for another, suspending the natural law of supply and demand with artificial demand. Contrary to the idea that individual rights must be balanced with societal needs, it is the violation of individual rights that causes all of our societal problems, most pervasively our economic problems.

As it is merely the economic application of the Non-Aggression Principle of Liberty, the free market is the only system that allows individuals the ability to exercise their right to pursue their happiness. By doing so, they naturally seek to profit from their labor and compete with each other without committing aggression against each other’s rights. History shows that individuals acting in this manner produce enormous benefits for their fellow human beings. The steam engine, the automobile, the airplane, the telephone, and virtually every other technological advance that provides a tangible improvement in the quality of human life have been the result of human beings peacefully competing with each other for profit.

Conversely, the atomic bomb, the concentration camp, and every other technology which serves the purpose of death, destruction, and enslavement have been the result of governments forcefully confiscating property from their citizens which would otherwise have been put to productive use.[2] It has only been by violating the individual, inalienable rights to life, liberty, and property that any of these horrors were able to come to fruition.

The free market has not failed. The free market is Freedom itself, and while it has only occurred for brief moments throughout history, it has never, will never, and can never fail. When we are confronted with gibberish about the failure of free markets and the need for government to "play a role in the economy," or for a "public-private partnership," let us not let ourselves be led into a carefully framed argument about what might provide more health care, produce more automobiles, or save more jobs. Let us recognize these arguments for what they are: a declaration of war upon our inalienable rights.

As our Declaration of Independence states, government’s purpose is to secure our rights, including our inalienable right to a free market within which to exchange our property. Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of this end, it is our right and our duty to alter or abolish it. Not only must we resist further government expansion into our economy, we must begin dismantling the institutions of tyranny that government has already established over the past century. Our representatives must hear this from us every day until they call off their attack upon our rights or until they can be removed from office. There is nothing in any of our lives that is more important than this right now.

1. Smith, Adam An Inquiry into the Wealth of Nations from An Inquiry into the Wealth of Nations: Selections edited by Laurance Winant Dickey Hackett Publishing Indianapolis, IN 1993 pg. 165
2. The reader should avoid confusing private companies developing weapons for the government with "the free market." The fact that the companies are privately owned does not mean that they are operating in a free market. Quite the contrary. Since the buyers of their products do so involuntarily (taxes), the development of new weapons and subsequent sale of them to the government has nothing to do with a free market.

Copyright © 2009 Thomas Mullen

The Health Care Smoke Screen Masking the Financial Cancer

Saturday, August 8, 2009

By Mike Morgan of

The ObamaRamaLamas continue. While Goldman Sachs was slithering away with more than $12 billion out the back door, the ObamaRamaLama buffoons were busy stoking the flames about $165 million in AIG bonuses. We saw demonstrations throughout the country, as well as in Europe. All of this over $165 million while Goldman Sachs slithered out with 72 times that amount.

Wake Up America . . . Obama promised CHANGE and he is doing just that. He's changing the very fabric of America . . . and it will be dark, ugly and violent.

Health Care - Just Another Smoke Screen - Instead of addressing the financial crisis from the roots, Obama and his team of merry banditos are once again throwing up a smoke screen. Do you really think the town meetings and all of the demonstrations are spontaneous? Do you really think the outrage over the pittance of AIG bonuses was spontaneous? Not a chance. If either of them were, than why are we not seeing the same outrage over the billions in bonuses being paid out or the $100 million bonus being paid to just one man that was most responsible for the oil bubble and world oil crisis last year. Crooks paying off crooks. That's what Congress and the Regulators are all about?

Let's take this from the very basic level. We are told that we need about a trillion dollars to make health care happen. What are we arguing about?

We gave Hank Paulson $700 billion based on a one page document and his "word" that the world was going to end. And what did he do with the $700 billion? First he put a 35 year old nobody in charge of it . . . because this nobody was a Goldman Sachs lieutenant. Then King Henry leveraged it up to almost $2 trillion with the help of Bernanke, Geithner, Bair, Dodd, Frank and others. And where is this money going? Into the deep pockets of King Henry's Bankster Buddies . . . Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley and the lesser princes like Fifth Third Bank, Suntrust, etc. Not to mention a myriad of buddies and blackmailers like insurance companies, auto companies and the likes..

If we had half the money that King Henry scammed from the American public, we could pay for health care. Unfortunately, paying for health care is one thing. Having enough doctors and nurses to provide the care, is another story. And we don't have anywhere near enough doctors and nurses. That's the problem in Canada.

But back to reality. King Henry himself made almost a billion dollars while he orchestrated the world's biggest financial crisis. And he's not alone. There are several thousand people that were unjustly rewarded at the expense of Americans and the world. If we only had the balls to go after these crooks and claw back the money they stole, we could pay for health care and still have enough left to cure cancer, autism, world hunger and a few other problems facing humanity.

But instead, we will allow men like King Henry, Lord Blankfein, Carney Frank, Desperado Dodd and our Pompous President continue to rape America. CHANGE is what Obama promised. And CHANGE is what he is giving you. He will turn this country upside down and leave it in chaos.

Health Care is a smoke screen. If he really wanted it, he could pay for it by going after the thieves. And he can start with King Henry and his band of evil thugs.
Posted by Mike Morgan, J.D., CRS, SRES at 10:05

Friday, August 7, 2009

Big Oil & Gas "Energy & Investment" Conference Planned

August 4, 2009
EnerCom, Inc. Announces Presenting Companies for The Oil & Gas Conference(R) August 9-13, 2009
PR Newswire

DENVER, Aug 04, 2009 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- EnerCom, Inc., today announced the lineup and schedule for The Oil & Gas Conference(R), on August 9-13, 2009 in Denver. In its 14th year, the Conference is the oldest and largest energy investment conference hosted in Denver, showcasing more than 80 companies with a combined enterprise value of more than $750 billion. This premier forum offers institutional investors, energy research analysts, retail brokers, investment bankers and energy industry professionals a unique opportunity to meet and discuss important topics concerning the global oil and gas industry over five days. Participating industry leaders and key senior management from micro-cap to billion-dollar-plus companies in the global energy exploration, production and service sectors will discuss their future plans, growth opportunities and industry trends. The schedule of presenting companies at the Conference can be found at

EnerCom, Inc. founded The Oil & Gas Conference(R) in 1996. Sponsors for this year's events include: Calyon Corporate Investment Bank; Netherland, Sewell & Associates; NYSE Euronext; Natixis Bleichroeder Inc.; Rivington Capital Advisors, LLC; Howard Weil Incorporated; Tristone Capital; Preng & Associates; Allied Irish Bank; Hein & Associates LLP; and Stifel Nicolaus.

Investment professionals interested in attending this event can register at This year's line-up for EnerCom's 2009 The Oil & Gas Conference(R), listed alphabetically by day:

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Charity Golf Tournament at Arrowhead Golf Club, benefiting Cerebral Palsy of Colorado.

Monday, August 10, 2009 Presentations

Arrow Energy Limited (ASX: AOE)

Bill Barrett Corporation (BBG)

Brigham Exploration Company (BEXP)

Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation (COG)

Calyon Securities (USA), Inc.

CARBO Ceramics Inc. (CRR)

Cimarex Energy Company (XEC)

Continental Resources Inc. (CLR)

Core Laboratories N.V. (CLB)

Dawson Geophysical Company (DWSN)

EnerCom, Inc.

Energy XXI (Bermuda) Limited (EXXI)

Goodrich Petroleum Corporation (GDP)

Panhandle Oil & Gas Inc. (PHX)

Range Resources Corporation (RRC)

Rex Energy Corporation (REXX)

Shell (NYSE: RDS-B)

Southwestern Energy Company (SWN)

Superior Well Services Inc. (SWSI)

TransGlobe Energy Corporation (TGA)

Venoco Inc. (VQ)

Whiting Petroleum Corporation (WLL)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009 Presentations

Bucking Horse Energy Inc. (TSX: BUC.TO)

Carrizo Oil & Gas Inc. (CRZO)

Dune Energy Inc. (NYSE Amex: DNE)

Endeavour International Corporation (NYSE Amex: END)

Energen Corporation (EGN)

EQT Corporation (EQT)

Geokinetics Inc. (NYSE Amex: GOK)

GeoResources, Inc. (GEOI)

GMX Resources, Inc. (GMXR)

McMoRan Exploration Company (MMR)

NGP Capital Resources Company (NGPC)

Patterson-UTI Energy Inc. (PTEN)

Petrohawk Energy Corporation (HK)

Petroleum Development Corporation (PETD)

PetroQuest Energy Inc. (PQ)

Progress Energy Resources Corporation (TSX: PRQ.TO)

Rosetta Resources, Inc. (ROSE)

St. Mary Land & Exploration Company (SM)

Ultra Petroleum Corporation (UPL)

Unit Corporation (UNT)

XTO Energy Inc. (XTO)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009 Presentations

ATP Oil & Gas Corporation (ATPG)

BPZ Resources, Inc. (NYSE Amex: BPZ)

Callon Petroleum Company (CPE)

Concho Resources Inc. (CXO)

Denbury Resources, Inc. (DNR)

EnCana Corporation (ECA)

EnerPlus Resources Fund (ERF)

FX Energy, Inc. (FXEN)

Gastar Exploration, Ltd. (NYSE Amex: GST)

GeoMet, Inc. (GMET)

Harvest Natural Resources Inc. (HNR)

InterOil Corporation (IOC)

Key Energy Services Inc. (KEG)

Mariner Energy, Inc. (ME)

Natixis Bleichroeder Inc.

Netherland, Sewell & Associates, Inc.

Parker Drilling Company (PKD)

Penn Virginia Corporation (PVA)

Questar Corporation (STR)

Willbros Group Inc. (WG)

Thursday, August 13, 2009 Presentations

American Energy Group Ltd. (AEGG)

Anadarko Petroleum Corporation (APC)

Atlas Energy Resources LLC (ATN)

Baytex Energy Trust (BTE)

Berry Petroleum Company (BRY)

Forest Oil Corporation (FST)

Gastem Inc. (TSX VENTURE: GMR.V)

Gulfport Energy Corporation (GPOR)

Legacy Reserves LP (LGCY)

Northern Oil and Gas, Inc. (NYSE Amex: NOG)

NYSE Euronext, Inc. (NYX)

Penn West Energy Trust (PWE)

Pinnacle Gas Resources, Inc. (PINN)

Precision Drilling Trust (PDS)

RPC, Inc. (RES)

Talisman Energy Inc. (TLM)

Transatlantic Petroleum Corporation (TSX: TNP.TO)

About EnerCom, Inc.

Founded in 1994, EnerCom, Inc.,, is a nationally recognized investor communications consultancy firm advising and serving energy-centric clients on corporate strategy, investor relations, media and corporate communications, and visual communications design. The Company's professionals have more than 150 years of industry and business experience and a proven track record of success. Headquartered in Denver, EnerCom uses the team approach for delivering its wide range of services to public and private companies large and small, operating in the global exploration and production, drilling, Oilservice, and associated advanced-technology industries.

For more information about EnerCom and its services, please call: Gregory B. Barnett, President, at +303-296-8834 or visit

About Calyon Credit Agricole CIB

Calyon is the corporate and investment banking arm of the Credit Agricole Group, the world's seventh-largest and Europe's third-largest bank on the basis of Tier 1 capital. The Group is present in 70 countries and has 162,000 employees worldwide. Calyon, with approximately 13,000 professionals in more than 50 countries, specializes in capital markets and corporate & investment banking.

Calyon Americas oversees Calyon's corporate and investment banking and market activities in the Americas, with the exception of execution and clearing in futures markets handled by Newedge, and European brokerage, handled by Cheuvreux. With headquarters in New York City, and U.S. offices in Chicago, Dallas, and Houston, Calyon offers its corporate and institutional clients financial products and services and made-to-order structuring, origination and distribution, through both its banking unit Calyon, and the full service broker-dealer Calyon Securities (USA) Inc., which is a member of the NYSE and NASD. Calyon is also present in Montreal, Canada, and in Latin America with offices in Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico.

Specializing in this sector for over 100 years, Energy represents the single largest concentration of industry exposure at Calyon. Calyon focuses on all segments of the business and covers it on a truly global basis. The Bank's Energy practice for the U.S. is located in Houston, Texas.

For more information about Calyon, please contact Dennis Petito, Managing Director, Head of North American Energy, Calyon Credit Securities at 713-890-8601 or Mark Urness, Managing Director, Head of Energy Research, Calyon Securities, at 212-408-5683.

About Netherland, Sewell & Associates, Inc.

Netherland, Sewell & Associates, Inc. (NSAI) was founded in 1961 to provide the highest quality engineering and geological consulting to the petroleum industry. Today they are recognized as the worldwide leader of petroleum property analysis to industry and financial organizations and government agencies. With offices in Dallas and Houston, NSAI provides a complete range of geological, geophysical, petrophysical, and engineering services and has the technical experience and ability to perform these services in any of the onshore and offshore oil and gas producing areas of the world. They provide reserves reports and audits, acquisition and divestiture evaluations, simulation studies, exploration resources assessments, equity determinations, and management and advisory services. For a complete list of services or to learn more about Netherland, Sewell & Associates, Inc. please visit

For more information about NSAI, call C.H. (Scott) Rees, Chief Executive Officer, at 214-969-5401 or send an email to

About NYSE Euronext

NYSE Euronext (NYX) operates the world's leading and most liquid exchange group, and seeks to provide the highest levels of quality, customer choice and innovation. Its family of exchanges, located in six countries, includes the New York Stock Exchange, the world's largest cash equities market; Euronext, the Eurozone's largest cash equities market; Liffe, Europe's leading derivatives exchange by value of trading; NYSE Liffe, the company's U.S. futures business and NYSE Arca Options, one of the fastest growing U.S. options trading platforms. NYSE Euronext offers a diverse array of financial products and services for issuers, investors and financial institutions in cash equities, options, futures and derivatives, ETFs, bonds, market data, and commercial technology solutions. As the world's largest exchange group by number of listings and market capitalization, NYSE Euronext is home to more than 6,500 listed issues (as of Oct. 1, 2008) with total global market capitalization more than four times that of any other exchange group. The average daily trading value of NYSE Euronext's equity exchanges represent more than one-third of the world's cash equities trading. NYSE Euronext is part of the S&P 500 index and the only exchange operator in the S&P 100 index.

For more information about NYSE Euronext and its services, please call: Bruce Poignant, Managing Director, 212-656-5804.

About Natixis

Natixis's dedicated Energy team combines renowned expertise and personalized client service to tailor solutions that assist energy-related businesses in North America, Europe and the Emerging Markets with their strategic financial goals. Seamlessly integrating market expertise across our entire franchise, we provide our energy clients with a comprehensive range of services including financing, investment banking, distribution, sales and trading, and equity research, among others. Since 1979, our commitment to serving the needs of E&P, Oilfield Services, Midstream, Downstream, Coal and Energy Financial Sponsor clients has only strengthened. It does not end at the transaction; we invest in a relationship for the long term.

By leveraging an extensive banking network spanning 68 countries and a 22,000-strong workforce, Natixis acts as a partner to corporations and institutions worldwide, providing expertise through five complementary divisions - Corporate and Investment Banking, Asset Management, Private Equity and Private Banking, Financial Services and Receivables Management. Natixis is a listed subsidiary of two major French banking groups whose central institutions are scheduled to merge in summer 2009 to create the second-largest banking group in France.

Within the US, our Energy team operates primarily out of our office in Houston, as well as our US-registered broker-dealer Natixis Bleichroeder.

To learn how we can help you, contact Tim Polvado, Head of US Energy at Natixis (713-571-8739,, Donovan Broussard, E&P at Natixis (713-759-0973,, Gregg Schoenberg, Head of US Capital Markets at Natixis Bleichroeder (212-698-3412, or Michael London in Energy Capital Markets at Natixis Bleichroeder (212-698-3108,

About Rivington Capital Advisors, LLC

Rivington Capital Advisors, LLC ("RCA") is an independent advisory firm providing services to small and medium-sized energy companies ("issuers") and the financial institutions investing in these sectors ("investors"). Advisory services include arrangement and execution of all forms of private debt and equity placements, merger, acquisition, divestiture and financial due diligence assistance, derivative and hedging assistance, reorganization, recapitalization and corporate valuation work. RCA principals have extensive experience in sourcing, structuring, negotiating and closing transactions for issuers and investors.

For more information about Rivington Capital, contact: Scott A. Logan, Co-founder, Rivington Capital Advisors, LLC, 303-225-0880, or visit us at

About Howard Weil Incorporated

Howard Weil is an energy investment boutique that provides equity research, institutional sales and trading, and investment banking services. Established in 1946, Howard Weil is comprised of experienced professionals who focus exclusively on the energy industry. Howard Weil has been recognized as one of the top boutiques and regional firms in the energy industry by Institutional Investor's "Best of Boutiques and Regional Firms" annual research survey.

Equity Research: Howard Weil's equity research professionals cover energy companies operating in the following sectors: Major Integrated Oils, Exploration and Production, Oilfield Service, Gas and Power, Independent Refiners and Coal Producers.

Institutional Sales and Trading: Howard Weil's sales and trading professionals are focused exclusively on the energy sector. As a result, the firm believes that its sales and trading professionals possess a deeper understanding of energy-industry and company-specific events and trends than sales and trading professionals at more diversified firms. Howard Weil's sales and trading expertise spans multiple sectors of the energy industry and includes small, mid and large market capitalization companies.

Investment Banking: Howard Weil offers a full range of investment banking services, including public offerings, private placements, M&A and other financial advisory services, fairness opinions and valuations. With its exclusive focus on the energy industry, Howard Weil's investment banking professionals have developed a deep level of industry knowledge and contacts, which can significantly enhance the level of service to the firm's energy investment banking clientele. Since re-establishing its investment banking department in 2005, Howard Weil has served as a co-manager, co-placement agent or lead manager of 49 equity and debt financings, collectively raising over $17 billion for a wide range of energy companies.

For more information about Howard Weil, please visit

About Tristone Capital

Tristone Capital is a global energy advisory firm that provides comprehensive Investment Banking, Acquisitions & Divestitures, and Global Equity Capital Markets services. With over 170 employees, and offices in five locations on three continents, Tristone is the solution for global financial energy needs. Founded in 2000, Tristone has more than 150 technical and financial experts throughout offices in the UK, Argentina, Canada and the United States. Tristone offers exclusively energy-focused expertise to exploration and production companies, oilfield service and midstream companies, government entities, royalty trusts, MLP's and institutional investors worldwide.

The energy industry worldwide involves global commodities, global corporations, and global capital. As one of the largest independent, international energy advisory firms, Tristone provides fully integrated global solutions for our clients no matter where they, or their opportunities, are located. Since 2001, Tristone has participated in more than 400 energy equity financings with proceeds over $25 billion, 100 corporate energy M&A transactions valued over $27 billion, and more than 300 energy asset packages valued over $17 billion.

Tristone Capital is a Member of the CIPF, SIPC, IDA and FINRA. Tristone Capital Limited is authorized and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

For more information about Tristone Capital, please contact George Gosbee, Chairman, President & C.E.O. at 403-294-9541.

About Preng & Associates

Preng & Associates, founded in 1980, is the only retainer-based, international executive search firm specializing solely in the energy industry. Its number one priority is to assist clients with their executive selection, organization development, and human resource needs by providing the highest quality service. Preng's record of accomplishment is directly attributable to their experienced staff, worldwide network of industry contacts, proven search methodology, and high standards of professionalism. Preng has conducted over 2800 searches in its 29-year history and has the highest success and repeat client track record.

Preng's practice is based on the premise that the search process is most effective when conducted by professionals with significant search industry experience. The company has earned a reputation for combining professional search disciplines with an in-depth industry and market understanding and has succeeded in some of the industry's most challenging and high-profile searches. Preng's international reach allows it to effectively conduct global engagements; and as a member of the Association of Executive Search Consultants, Preng practices and promotes its high standards of conduct and professionalism.

For more information about Preng & Associates, contact Charles Carpenter, Partner at 713-243-2610 or

About Allied Irish Bank

At AIB Corporate Banking North America, the bank's Structured, Energy & Utilities Finance Group comprises an expert team that specializes in lending to the U.S. and Canadian Oil & Gas markets. AIB is active in the Upstream, Midstream, and Downstream segments of the Oil & Gas industry, and has successfully executed numerous highly structured lending transactions including Reserve-Based Facilities, Asset-Based Facilities, and Project Financings. The team is very active in both club transactions and the wider syndicated loan markets, both primary and secondary. We are committed to growing the U.S. and Canadian Oil & Gas business, as demonstrated by the opening of our Houston and Toronto offices in 2007. We continue to seek opportunities to build broader customer relationships in our Oil & Gas core market, and other core markets such as Wind and Power finance.

We are involved in the following areas in Energy lending: oil & gas (upstream, mid-stream and downstream); regulated utilities; traditional power generation; renewables (hydro, wind, biomass and ethanol); and infrastructure transactions.

For more information about Allied Irish Bank, please contact: Ed Fenk, Vice President, 713-292-1022, or

About Hein & Associates LLP

Hein & Associates LLP is one the few full-service accounting and business advisory firms in the nation with a primary market niche in the oil and gas industry. For over 30 years, we have provided a full range of professional services to public and private companies of all sizes, including: financial statement audit and review, tax planning and consulting, SEC reporting and SOX compliance, enterprise risk management services, IT management services, and litigation/valuation advisory services. Our professionals work regularly with private equity groups, investment banks, and other financial organizations whenever our clients participate in acquisitions or seek funding.

With offices in Denver, Houston, Dallas, and Southern California, and a network affiliation with one of the largest associations of accounting and advisory firms in the world, we serve as a resource for the business community both domestically and around the world. Ranked as one of the 50 largest firms in the country, our SEC practice is recognized as among the largest in the nation. We regularly conduct seminars and roundtables, as well as publish articles on a variety of topics affecting the energy industry. In addition, our partners communicate regularly with public company policy-makers as members of the (1) Professional Practice Executive Committee of the American Institute of CPAs, and (2) Financial Accounting Standards Advisory Council. These groups provide access to the PCAOB, SEC, FASB, and other regulators for public companies. We remain on the cutting edge of important changes affecting public companies and can provide a forum for clients' questions and concerns.

For more information about Hein & Associates, contact Larry Unruh, Managing Partner, at 303-298-9600, or visit us at

About Stifel Nicolaus

Founded in 1890, Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated is the principal subsidiary of Stifel Financial Corp. (SF), a financial services holding company headquartered in St. Louis. Stifel Nicolaus is a full-service retail and institutional brokerage and investment banking firm with 236 offices in 36 states and the District of Columbia and 3 European offices through Stifel Nicolaus Limited.

Stifel Nicolaus is a leading Investment Bank principally focused on the middle-market. Our Energy and Natural Resources Investment Banking Group delivers timely advice to a wide range of firms in the oil and gas exploration and production, oilfield services and equipment, mining and metals and midstream/master limited partnership industries. We provide strategic advisory, underwriting and placement agent services, including mergers and acquisitions advice, equity, convertibles, preferred stock and debt issuances, in both the public and private capital markets. Our Energy and Natural Resources Investment Banking Group's success is driven by the depth of its expertise, longstanding relationships with key industry participants and thorough understanding of the internal and external forces driving industry trends and the financial markets.

For more information about our Energy and Natural Resources Investment Banking Group's capabilities, please contact either of our co-Group Heads: Sandy Stewart (443-224-1407) or Chris Shebby (301-941-2407). To learn more about Stifel, please visit the company's web site at

SOURCE EnerCom, Inc.