Posted by The Web Guy
We live in an era of heartless, revolting dishonesty, writes Pat Murphy in Sun Valley, Idaho’s Idaho Mountain Express:
Bernard Madoff, the New Yorker who fleeced investors of $50 billion with heartless precision, and Vice President Dick Cheney, a principal architect of America’s ruin as an envied world leader and engineer of calculated abuse of power, share the same amoral lack of ethics except for one distinguishing fact. Madoff forlornly admits his revolting dishonesty and theft of investments from philanthropists, friends, foundations and celebrities.
However, right up to the last days of his dark reign, Cheney not only refuses to admit his deceit, but boasts that kidnapping and torture of terror suspects, wiretapping Americans, ignoring Congress, lying to the public, launching a war on fraudulent grounds, alienating overseas allies, pandering to loony religious agendas and legislating for the wealthy were collectively beneficial to Americans.
I won’t quibble with anyone about the mendacity of Darth Cheney, but I’m wondering if Madoff’s reported admission of malfeasance—- an acute attack of transient mensch manifestation syndrome?—really makes him any less of a disgrace.
And I’m thinking: Not so much.
4.27.11 at 10:21 am | Interviewed on the Today Show earlier this week,. . .
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December 30, 2008 | 3:55 pm
Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
Two weeks ago, Yeshiva University President Richard Joel wrote in a letter to the YU community that the New York college had lost $110 million in investments made with Bernard Madoff. Today YU drastically recharacterized its losses as only $14.5 million. Why the massive mark down?
“Although the university has an estimated loss of approximately $110 million, it now appears that any ‘profits’ above the $14.5 million were fictitious,” Gower said in the statement.
Ascot was controlled by J. Ezra Merkin, who resigned from his positions as a trustee and investment-committee chairman. Madoff, 70, who served as treasurer of Yeshiva’s board of trustees and chairman of the school’s Sy Syms School of Business, resigned from his positions.
Partly because of Madoff, Yeshiva’s endowment value fell to $1.2 billion, from $1.7 billion last Jan. 1, the school estimated on Dec. 16.
The Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles also has chosen to focus on how much it had invested with Madoff ($18 million) and not how much it believed that investment was worth ($25.5 million). But sticking to the smaller investment doesn’t mean YU only lost $14.5 million. Think of it this way:
Let’s say you put $10,000 in the bank. Over a few years, that investment grows to $15,000. You’re up $5,000 but if your account was wiped out, you’d wouldn’t be down $10,000—you’d be down $15,000.
Losses on paper are still losses, especially if those “fictitious” profits have been used in planning for future spending.
December 30, 2008 | 3:10 pm
Posted by Rob Eshman
Bernie Madoff claimed his Ponzi scheme took investors for $50 billion. Even if he’s lying about that too—investigators say a more likely figure is $30 billion—you have to wonder, where’d it all go?
According to a report in talkingpointsmemo.com, the answer is fourfold:
1. A fraction went to support his lavish lifestyle
2. A good sized hunk disappeared when the markets tanked
3. Some of it may be hiding in overseas accounts
4. The bulk of it was withdrawn to pay off investors—the M.O. of a Ponzi scheme
Investigators say it will take months to track down the assets. And lawyers may spend years trying to recover what’s recoverable.
Read the whole post here:
December 30, 2008 | 1:23 pm
Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
Ben Stein, the dry-eyed lawyer, writer, actor, economist, was offered a chance to invest with Bernard Madoff, and lived to tell about it:
ABOUT two years ago, a little delegation from a major investment bank arrived at my home in Beverly Hills. These nice young people were from the bank’s “wealth management division.” I told them straight away that I didn’t have anywhere near enough wealth to make their trip worth their time, but they smilingly insisted that we could help each other.
They told me that if I invested a certain sum with them, they would make sure that a large chunk of it was managed by a money manager of stupendous acumen. This genius, so they said, never lost money. He did better in up markets than in down markets, but even in down markets he did well. They said he used a strategy of buying stocks and hedging with options.
I protested that a perfect hedge would not allow making any money, because money made on the one side would be lost on the other. They assured me that this genius had found a way to spot market inefficiencies and, indeed, to make money off a perfect hedge.
I thanked them for their time and promptly looked up Bernard Madoff online. Nothing I saw was even a bit convincing that he had made a breakthrough in financial theory. Besides, this large financial firm was going to charge me roughly 2 percent to put my money with Mr. Madoff’s firm. I could invest my few shekels with Warren Buffett for no management fee at all.
I checked with my investment gurus, Phil DeMuth, Raymond J. Lucia and Kevin Hanley. None of us could see how Mr. Madoff could do what his friends said he could do. I politely passed and went on my way, finding my own inventive ways to lose money on a colossal scale during these last 15 months.
My point is not that I was so smart. I am not and I was not. Mistakes are a big part of my life. My point is that, as humans, we seem unable to learn from our mistakes very well.
That commission—2 percent—actually sounds like a steal compared to the 3.8 percent that Robert Chew said Stanley Chais charged on his $1.2 million investment with Madoff—now gone.
In the end, though, Stein applied the same wisdom that Rabbi Harold Schulweis imparted last week: “If they tell you it is too good to be true, then it’s too good to be true.”
This is elementary economics. In the above video, Ben Stein the history teacher talks about voodoo economics.
December 30, 2008 | 11:57 am
Posted by Dean Rotbart
The Jewish Journal and its team coverage of the Bernard L. Madoff scandal were showcased yesterday on the nationally broadcast Hugh Hewitt Show.
The program, which airs in Los Angeles on KRLA-870 AM, devoted about 20 minutes to reviewing Madoff-related news and insights that first appeared online and in the print editions of The Jewish Journal.
Mark Isler, a veteran talk show host, served as guest host of the program. Hewitt, the program’s namesake, is off for the week.
Isler interviewed Dean Rotbart, one member of The Jewish Journal editorial team and a former investigative reporter for the Wall Street Journal. Isler and Rotbart also took calls and answered questions from listeners.
The entire interview can be heard on the TownHall.com web site. The interview with The Jewish Journal comes up roughly 11 minutes into the 33 minute streaming audio.
December 30, 2008 | 1:16 am
Posted by The Web Guy
A Greek, right wing newspaper features a big headline informing us all that Obama will end Hebrew domination of the planet.
Hebrew domination, you ask?
” . . . a Jewish plutocracy, having made the “wealth of the century at the expense of the economies of the world,” is preparing to put in motion “war machines” in various hot spots around the world in order to control the price of oil, redistribute the world’s natural resources and start a new cycle of weapons production . . . ”
Man, all this time I thought Madoff was just a rogue operative, refusing to take Smiley’s phone call. I need to go to the Elders of Zion Klonklaves more often!
Avriani newspaper led its front page with anti-Semitic accusations for the second time in several weeks. Sunday’s headline read: “After the American Jews acquired once again the world’s wealth and plunged the planet into an unprecedented financial crisis, they started rehearsing for WWIII.”
Midway through the paper’s story on Israel’s operation in Gaza, the story, under the heading “The Plan,” explains that a Jewish plutocracy, having made the “wealth of the century at the expense of the economies of the world,” is preparing to put in motion “war machines” in various hot spots around the world in order to control the price of oil, redistribute the world’s natural resources and start a new cycle of weapons production.
Avriani also blames U.S. President-elect Barack Obama for “playing dead” in the present crisis by not saying anything against the Jews, urging him to prove that he is not owned by the Jewish lobby.
On Nov. 4, the day after Obama was elected president, the paper ran a headline that said, “The end of Jewish domination. Everything changes in the U.S.A. and we hope that it will be more democratic and humane.”
December 29, 2008 | 9:46 pm
Posted by The Web Guy
The former Liberal Democrat peer Lord Jacobs of Belgravia today revealed that he was a victim of Bernie Madoff, the American fraudster whose $50 billion scam has plunged New York and London investment markets into turmoil. As investigators in the United States and London continued their probe into Madoff’s affairs, Lord Jacobs disclosed to the Evening Standard that he had suffered “a real loss”.
He declined to put a figure on the amount but said: “It’s not peanuts,” reflecting the fact that Madoff demanded at least $1 million from his wealthy clients and encouraged them to invest $10 million or more.
The 78-year-old peer is spending Christmas at his holiday home in Palm Beach, Florida, where he first met Madoff. “Such a charming man,” he said. “He was obviously very wealthy but he didn’t live high on the hog. I used to see him and we’d chat. He seemed like a very nice guy.”
Lord Jacobs, whose fortune was estimated at £128 million in this year’s Sunday Times Rich List, prospered with businesses including the British School of Motoring and fast food chains - Spudulike was one of his brands. He is thought to have given the Liberals and Lib-Dems more than £1 million over the past 20 years but he recently left the party to become a crossbencher. He cited differences with leader Nick Clegg over tax policies.
Like many casualties of 70-year-old Madoff’s fraud, Lord Jacobs was drawn into the scheme through social contacts in the wealthy Jewish community in Palm Beach. This was one of the main centres of Madoff’s operations where, according to the Standard’s inquiries, he operated with a cynicism that was breathtaking. While he and his wife Ruth were befriending people, his so-called fund was robbing them.
Now friends, such as Lord Jacobs, are left wondering how much the elegant and highly-likeable Mrs Madoff knew about what was happening. “It seems impossible that he could have acted alone,” Lord Jacobs said. “I found Ruth a rather quiet lady, concerned with her charity work. But she’s certainly no fool and his sons were closely involved in the business.”
We don’t know if this Lord is a MOT, but Wikipedia notes he has an honorary degree from the University of Haifa
We’ll let Lord Jacobs have the last word:
“I don’t suppose I shall see him again,” Lord Jacobs said, “but if I did I should like to ask him this: ‘Bernie, you had a very good business. You were doing so well. Why did you do it?’”
December 29, 2008 | 4:43 am
Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
I can’t imagine anyone is going to feel too choked up over Bernard Madoff’s loss of the statue pictured. From the New York Post:
Swindler extraordinaire Bernard Madoff got a taste of his own medicine last weekend when a burglar stole a $10,000 statue from his posh, $9.4 million Palm Beach estate, according to a police report.
The theft occurred sometime between 3 p.m. on Dec. 19 and 11:30 a.m. last Sunday, a week after Madoff confessed to ripping off $50 billion from investors in a decades-long Ponzi scheme.
The five-foot, copper artwork overlooked the Madoffs’ inground pool, and portrays two young lifeguards sitting on a raised stand.
Madoff is currently under house arrest at his $7 million Park Avenue apartment.
He also owns a $3 million oceanfront estate in Montauk, LI, which has been pummeled by severe beach erosion. The surrounding estates have been largely spared.