Pulling the curtain on Wall Street's inside jokers

Tuesday, February 12, 2013   |   Posted by Jim Hightower
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Wall Street bankers have such fun!

I don't merely mean at their year-end bonus bashes, when each one rakes in more dollar bills than a tall tree has leaves, but year round. For example, one group of scamps are paid to invent crazy investment packages that go "Bang!" after unsuspecting suckers (otherwise know as customers) buy them. Called CDOs – collateralized debt obligations – such packages were the nuclear whoopee cushions that in 2007 crashed the housing market and our entire economy.

Yet, not a single one of these financial rascals was held accountable by federal authorities, so we commoners have not even been told about the details of the destructive inside jokes they were playing on us. However, a lawsuit filed against Morgan Stanley by a Taiwanese bank has now laid bare one of these prank investment packages, titled "Stack."

This $500-million CDO was literally stacked against those who bought it, including the Taiwan bank, because Morgan's fun-loving packagers deliberately filled it with bad housing loans. Here's the punch line: Morgan Stanley secretly put down a $170-million bet that the load of investment garbage it put in Stack would cause the CDO to fail, which it did. In short, these Wall Street jesters created Stack so Morgan Stanley could bet against it and cash in, even as the bank peddled it around the world as a safe and sound investment. The lawsuit unleashed an especially-fun set of exchanges among the bankers over what to name their mischievious CDO. "Hitman" suggested one; "Nuclear Holocaust," offered another; but the most telling title idea was: "A bag of [excrement]."

Of course, they are the real bags of excrement. Yet, by refusing to prosecute them, the government has winked at their hilarity, allowing them to keep doing their slapstick CDO routines.

"Suit Hints At Behavior By Bankers In Bubble," The New York Times, January 24, 2013.

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