FBI raids hedge funds as insider trading sweep begins

You see greedy traders getting the business from the feds… I see future governors of Florida …

From Reuters:

The FBI raided three hedge funds in connection with a widening probe into insider trading, the Wall Street Journal said on Monday.

Diamondback Capital Management LLC and Level Global Investors LP, two Connecticut funds run by former managers of Steven Cohen’s SAC Capital Advisors, were among those raided, according to the report.

Also raided was Boston-based Loch Capital Management, according to the report. Loch has had close ties with a witness who pleaded guilty in a separate insider trading probe centered on the Galleon Group hedge fund.

The raids come as federal prosecutors prepare to unveil a series of new insider trading cases against hedge fund traders, consultants and Wall Street bankers, several lawyers familiar with the investigation said.

This is on top of what prosecutors have described as the largest U.S. hedge fund insider trading case ever. That case is centered on Raj Rajaratnam’s hedge fund Galleon Group, and has led to criminal or civil charges against at least 23 people since being announced just over one year ago.

“The Justice Department promised a more muscular approach to white-collar crime, and is delivering,” said Eugene O’Donnell, a professor at the City University of New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice. …

Meanwhile, the WSJ profiles the new cop of Wall Street: Preet Bharara.

And David Sirota and Matt Taibbi throw down a few brews and agree: if you want to tame Wall Street (as if you could…) arrest more people. Maybe Eric Holder is listening…

Last but not least, the New Yorker says something so fundamentally and elegantly true, it’s surprising that it has to be said: most of what Wall Street does literally has no value.

Barely two years after Wall Street’s recklessness brought the global economy to the brink of collapse, the sight of a senior Wall Street figure talking about responsible finance may well strike you as suspicious. But on one point Pandit cannot be challenged. Since the promulgation of Hammurabi’s Code, in ancient Babylon, no advanced society has survived without banks and bankers. Banks enable people to borrow money, and, today, by operating electronic-transfer systems, they allow commerce to take place without notes and coins changing hands. They also play a critical role in channelling savings into productive investments. When a depositor places money in a savings account or a C.D., the bank lends it out to corporations, small businesses, and families. These days, Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase, and others also help corporations and municipalities raise money by issuing stocks, bonds, and other securities on their behalf. The business of issuing securities used to be the exclusive preserve of Wall Street firms, such as Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, but during the past twenty years many of the dividing lines between ordinary banks and investment banks have vanished.

And…

In effect, many of the big banks have turned themselves from businesses whose profits rose and fell with the capital-raising needs of their clients into immense trading houses whose fortunes depend on their ability to exploit day-to-day movements in the markets. Because trading has become so central to their business, the big banks are forever trying to invent new financial products that they can sell but that their competitors, at least for the moment, cannot. Some recent innovations, such as tradable pollution rights and catastrophe bonds, have provided a public benefit. But it’s easy to point to other innovations that serve little purpose or that blew up and caused a lot of collateral damage, such as auction-rate securities and collateralized debt obligations. Testifying earlier this year before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, said that financial innovation “isn’t always a good thing,” adding that some innovations amplify risk and others are used primarily “to take unfair advantage rather than create a more efficient market.”

Other regulators have gone further. Lord Adair Turner, the chairman of Britain’s top financial watchdog, the Financial Services Authority, has described much of what happens on Wall Street and in other financial centers as “socially useless activity”—a comment that suggests it could be eliminated without doing any damage to the economy. In a recent article titled “What Do Banks Do?,” which appeared in a collection of essays devoted to the future of finance, Turner pointed out that although certain financial activities were genuinely valuable, others generated revenues and profits without delivering anything of real worth—payments that economists refer to as rents. “It is possible for financial activity to extract rents from the real economy rather than to deliver economic value,” Turner wrote. “Financial innovation . . . may in some ways and under some circumstances foster economic value creation, but that needs to be illustrated at the level of specific effects: it cannot be asserted a priori.”

But hey, at least if they go down for white collar crimes they can clean things up by taking their ill gotten gains down here to the Sunshine State and running for governor. The voters down here really dig the smarmy fraudster type…

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