We haven’t updated this site in years due to laziness.
05/29/15 at The Melody Inn
06/12/15 at The 5th Quarter (w/The Dockers, Stealing Volume, and more!)
07/31/15 at The Melody Inn (Mr. Clit & The Pink Cigarettes album release show!)
Market commentators are fond of talking about “free market capitalism,” but according to Wall Street commentator Max Keiser, it is no more. It has morphed into what his TV co-host Stacy Herbert calls “rigged market capitalism”: all markets today are subject to manipulation for private gain.
Keiser isn’t just speculating about this. He claims to have invented one of the most widely used programs for doing the rigging. Not that that’s what he meant to invent. His patented program was designed to take the manipulation out of markets. It would do this by matching buyers with sellers automatically, eliminating “front running” – brokers buying or selling ahead of large orders coming in from their clients. The computer program was intended to remove the conflict of interest that exists when brokers who match buyers with sellers are also selling from their own accounts. But the program fell into the wrong hands and became the prototype for automated trading programs that actually facilitate front running.
Also called High Frequency Trading (HFT) or “black box trading,” automated program trading uses high-speed computers governed by complex algorithms (instructions to the computer) to analyze data and transact orders in massive quantities at very high speeds. Like the poker player peeking in a mirror to see his opponent’s cards, HFT allows the program trader to peek at major incoming orders and jump in front of them to skim profits off the top. And these large institutional orders are our money — our pension funds, mutual funds, and 401Ks.
When “market making” (matching buyers with sellers) was done strictly by human brokers on the floor of the stock exchange, manipulations and front running were considered an acceptable (if morally dubious) price to pay for continuously “liquid” markets. But front running by computer, using complex trading programs, is an entirely different species of fraud. A minor flaw in the system has morphed into a monster. Keiser maintains that computerized front running with HFT has become the principal business of Wall Street and the primary force driving most of the volume on exchanges, contributing not only to a large portion of trading profits but to the manipulation of markets for economic and political ends.
April 27, 2010
Today’s Senate hearings, carried on CNBC, Bloomberg, and C-SPAN, represent the first major exposure of the American people to the scandalous frauds of the derivatives casino, including synthetic collateralized debt obligations (synthetic CDOs or CDO²). These are things most people have heard very little about. They begin to open up the shocking reality behind such shopworn euphemisms like “toxic assets,” “exotic instruments,” and “troubled assets.” Reactionaries in general and Republicans in particular have done everything possible to hide the role of derivatives, which must be considered the main cause of the financial panic of September 2008 which brought down Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, and AIG, after felling Bear Stearns in March of the same year. The reactionary legend, repeated yesterday on the Senate floor by financier minion GOP Sen. Gregg of New Hampshire, is that the crisis was caused by poor people taking out subprime mortgages and then defaulting, bringing down the entire Anglo-American banking system and triggering the bailouts. Either that, or too much government spending was too blame.A mass of kited derivatives blew up in September 2008
This Big Lie has come from such propaganda sources as the Limbaugh Institute of Retarded Reactionary Ranting. But the $1.5 trillion in subprime mortgages were dwarfed by the $15 trillion US residential real estate market, to say nothing of the $1.5 thousand trillion world derivatives bubble. But, starting with Bush-Goldman Sachs Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, the talk has been of a “housing correction,” not a derivatives panic. It must be pointed out that derivatives are nothing but wagers, bets placed from a distance on securities which themselves are often not mortgages, but rather other derivatives. The bettor buying a synthetic CDO or CDO² does not own the underlying mortgages or mortgage-backed securities, any more than someone who bets on a racehorse owns part of the horse. Blankfein and others tried to portray derivatives as a service to hedgers and end-users, but it’s clear that the vast majority of derivatives involve neither hedgers nor users, but only bettors on both side of the transaction. It is in any case this mass of kited derivatives which blew up in 2008, bringing on the present world economic depression.Goldman Sachs executives are babbling cretins
The mystique of Goldman Sachs is based in large part on their reputation as the smartest financiers on Wall Street. After today’s hearings, this mystique has permanently dissipated. The Goldman executives babbled. They sounded dumb. They stalled and stammered and went into contortions to avoid giving straight answers to simple questions. They were mendacious and evasive when they did speak. Financial powers around the world will note carefully the refusal of three out of four Goldman executives on one panel to state that they had a duty to defend the interests of their clients. Who will want to do business with such a gang? Goldman Sachs got $10 billion of taxpayer money in low-interest loans under the Bush-Paulson TARP. Part of that money went to pay for obscene bonuses for Goldman executives like the ones on display today. The argument for bonuses is that they must be paid to retain the highly talented personnel, virtual geniuses, who are indispensable for Wall Street speculative success. But these are no geniuses, they are imbeciles. No more bonuses should be paid by banks saved through public money.
The Iranian government is celebrating the capture of Abdolmalek Rigi, the leader of a violent group called Jundullah (Arabic for Soldiers of God), which Tehran says is a terrorist organization supported by the United States, Great Britain, and Israel.
Jundullah is one of several groups that have been conducting bombings and other violent attacks against Iran’s Islamic regime with the aim of knocking it off balance.
In a July 7, 2008, article for The New Yorker magazine, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh quoted Robert Baer, a former CIA clandestine officer who worked in South Asia and the Middle East for nearly two decades, as saying that Jundullah was one of the militant groups in Iran benefiting from U.S. support.
Hersh also reported that President George W. Bush signed an intelligence finding in late 2007 that allocated up to $400 million for covert operations intended to destabilize Iran’s government, in part, by supporting militant organizations.
Hersh identified another one of the militant groups with “long-standing ties” to the CIA and the U.S. Special Operations communities as the Mujahedin-e-Khalq, or MEK, which has been put on the State Department’s list of terrorist groups.
But Jundullah has been spared that designation, a possible indication that the U.S. government views it as a valuable asset in the face-off against Iran, or in the parlance of the “war on terror,” as one of the “good guys.”