Resume by Zerohedge:
In a wide-ranging look at the history and present of the barbarous relic, CBC’s Brian McKenna and Ann-Marie MacDonald have gathered many perspectives (pro and con) on gold. The following documentary moves from historical shipwrecks to Nazi ‘death gold’ and England’s war chest to recent years where widespread economic uncertainty has given the yellow metal a “new lustre in the world of high finance.” Valued for its permanence, beauty and scarcity, people will lie, cheat, steal and kill in the name of gold; and the clip provides color on many of the market manipulations of the last few years. As MacDonald says, whether it’s a few gold coins or gold bars stored in one of the many vaults around the world, many investors are taking a shine to gold. But there’s not a lot of it. It is said that, even melted down, there would not be enough to fill an Olympic swimming pool. Some claim that much of the gold held by the Bank of Canada, the Bank of England, the Federal Reserve and Fort Knox is gone – that for every 100 ounces of gold traded, there exists only one ounce of real, physical gold. So, where is the gold – and who really owns it?
Popcorn Weekend documentary Movies You Got To Watch # 3
The Fall of Lehman Brothers
On September 15, 2008, Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy. With $639 billion in assets and $619 billion in debt, Lehman’s bankruptcy filing was the largest in history, as its assets far surpassed those of previous bankrupt giants such as WorldCom and Enron. Lehman was the fourth-largest U.S.investment bank at the time of its collapse, with 25,000 employees worldwide. Lehman’s demise also made it the largest victim, of the U.S. subprime mortgage-induced financial crisis that swept through global financial markets in 2008. Lehman’s collapse was a seminal event that greatly intensified the 2008 crisis and contributed to the erosion of close to $10 trillion in market capitalization from global equity markets in October 2008, the biggest monthly decline on record at the time. (For more information on the subprime meltdown, read Who Is To Blame For The Subprime Crisis?)
The History of Lehman Brothers
Lehman Brothers had humble origins, tracing its roots back to a small general store that was founded by German immigrant Henry Lehman in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1844. In 1850, Henry Lehman and his brothers, Emanuel and Mayer, founded Lehman Brothers.
While the firm prospered over the following decades as the U.S. economy grew into an international powerhouse, Lehman had to contend with plenty of challenges over the years. Lehman survived them all – the railroad bankruptcies of the 1800s, the Great Depression of the 1930s, two world wars, a capital shortage when it was spun off by American Express in 1994, and the Long Term Capital Management collapse and Russian debt default of 1998. However, despite its ability to survive past disasters, the collapse of the U.S. housing market ultimately brought Lehman Brothers to its knees, as its headlong rush into the subprime mortgage market proved to be a disastrous step. (To learn more about previous financial disasters, be sure to check out our Crashes Special Feature.)
The Prime Culprit
In 2003 and 2004, with the U.S. housing boom (read, bubble) well under way, Lehman acquired five mortgage lenders, including subprime lender BNC Mortgage and Aurora Loan Services, which specialized in Alt-A loans (made to borrowers without full documentation). Lehman’s acquisitions at first seemed prescient; record revenues from Lehman’s real estate businesses enabled revenues in the capital markets unit to surge 56% from 2004 to 2006, a faster rate of growth than other businesses in investment banking or asset management. The firm securitized $146 billion of mortgages in 2006, a 10% increase from 2005. Lehman reported record profits every year from 2005 to 2007. In 2007, the firm reported net income of a record $4.2 billion on revenue of $19.3 billion. (Check out the answer to our frequently asked question What is a subprime mortgage? to learn more about these loans.)
Lehman’s Colossal Miscalculation
In February 2007, the stock reached a record $86.18, giving Lehman a market capitalization of close to $60 billion. However, by the first quarter of 2007, cracks in the U.S. housing market were already becoming apparent as defaults on subprime mortgages rose to a seven-year high. On March 14, 2007, a day after the stock had its biggest one-day drop in five years on concerns that rising defaults would affect Lehman’s profitability, the firm reported record revenues and profit for its fiscal first quarter. In the post-earnings conference call, Lehman’s chief financial officer (CFO) said that the risks posed by rising home delinquencies were well contained and would have little impact on the firm’s earnings. He also said that he did not foresee problems in the subprime market spreading to the rest of the housing market or hurting the U.S. economy.
The Beginning of the End
As the credit crisis erupted in August 2007 with the failure of two Bear Stearns hedge funds, Lehman’s stock fell sharply. During that month, the company eliminated 2,500 mortgage-related jobs and shut down its BNC unit. In addition, it also closed offices of Alt-A lender Aurora in three states. Even as the correction in the U.S. housing market gained momentum, Lehman continued to be a major player in the mortgage market. In 2007, Lehman underwrote more mortgage-backed securities than any other firm, accumulating an $85-billion portfolio, or four times its shareholders’ equity. In the fourth quarter of 2007, Lehman’s stock rebounded, as global equity markets reached new highs and prices for fixed-income assets staged a temporary rebound. However, the firm did not take the opportunity to trim its massive mortgage portfolio, which in retrospect, would turn out to be its last chance. (Read more in Dissecting The Bear Stearns Hedge Fund Collapse.)
Hurtling Toward Failure
Lehman’s high degree of leverage – the ratio of total assets to shareholders equity – was 31 in 2007, and its huge portfolio of mortgage securities made it increasingly vulnerable to deteriorating market conditions. On March 17, 2008, following the near-collapse of Bear Stearns – the second-largest underwriter of mortgage-backed securities – Lehman shares fell as much as 48% on concern it would be the next Wall Street firm to fail. Confidence in the company returned to some extent in April, after it raised $4 billion through an issue of preferred stock that was convertible into Lehman shares at a 32% premium to its price at the time. However, the stock resumed its decline as hedge fund managers began questioning the valuation of Lehman’s mortgage portfolio.
On June 9, Lehman announced a second-quarter loss of $2.8 billion, its first loss since being spun off by American Express, and reported that it had raised another $6 billion from investors. The firm also said that it had boosted its liquidity pool to an estimated $45 billion, decreased gross assets by $147 billion, reduced its exposure to residential and commercial mortgages by 20%, and cut down leverage from a factor of 32 to about 25. (Read Hedge Fund Failures Illuminate Leverage Pitfalls to learn more about the double-edged sword of leverage.)
Too Little, Too Late
However, these measures were perceived as being too little, too late. Over the summer, Lehman’s management made unsuccessful overtures to a number of potential partners. The stock plunged 77% in the first week of September 2008, amid plummeting equity markets worldwide, as investors questioned CEO Richard Fuld’s plan to keep the firm independent by selling part of its asset management unit and spinning off commercial real estate assets. Hopes that the Korea Development Bank would take a stake in Lehman were dashed on September 9, as the state-owned South Korean bank put talks on hold.
The news was a deathblow to Lehman, leading to a 45% plunge in the stock and a 66% spike incredit-default swaps on the company’s debt. The company’s hedge fund clients began pulling out, while its short-term creditors cut credit lines. On September 10, Lehman pre-announced dismal fiscal third-quarter results that underscored the fragility of its financial position. The firm reported a loss of $3.9 billion, including a write-down of $5.6 billion, and also announced a sweeping strategic restructuring of its businesses. The same day, Moody’s Investor Service announced that it was reviewing Lehman’s credit ratings, and also said that Lehman would have to sell a majority stake to a strategic partner in order to avoid a rating downgrade. These developments led to a 42% plunge in the stock on September 11.
With only $1 billion left in cash by the end of that week, Lehman was quickly running out of time. Last-ditch efforts over the weekend of September 13 between Lehman, Barclays PLC and Bank of America, aimed at facilitating a takeover of Lehman, were unsuccessful. On Monday September 15, Lehman declared bankruptcy, resulting in the stock plunging 93% from its previous close on September 12.
Lehman’s collapse roiled global financial markets for weeks, given the size of the company and its status as a major player in the U.S. and internationally. Many questioned the U.S. government’s decision to let Lehman fail, as compared to its tacit support for Bear Stearns (which was acquired by JPMorgan Chase) in March 2008. Lehman’s bankruptcy led to more than $46 billion of its market value being wiped out. Its collapse also served as the catalyst for the purchase of Merrill Lynch by Bank of America in an emergency deal that was also announced on September 15. (To learn more about the financial crisis, read The 2007-08 Financial Crisis In Review.)
Popcorn Weekend Documentary Movies You Got To Watch # 2
Money and Speed: Inside the Black Box
Money and Speed: Inside the Black Box is a thriller based on actual events that takes you to the heart of our automated world.
Based on interviews with those directly involved and data visualizations up to the millisecond, it reconstructs the flash crash of May 6th 2010: the fastest and deepest U.S. stock market plunge ever.Money and Speed: Inside the Black Box is developed by filmmaker Marije Meerman in close collaboration with design studio Catalogtree.
This exploratory documentary is a marriage of strong storytelling and meticulous visual analysis. A rare opportunity to experience what is happening inside the black boxes of our rapidly evolving financial markets.
Popcorn Weekend documentary
Movies You Got To Watch # 1
Financial History – “The Ascent of Money” by Niall Ferguson
5 Episodes in one video player – “not knowing this stuff can seriously damage your wealth”…. Niall Ferguson ====…Popcorn and dip are recommended, enjoy Dimitri 🙂 ====
The Ascent of Money
|The Ascent of Money|
13 November 2008
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Episodes – Original Version
Ep. 1: Dreams of avarice
From Shylock‘s pound of flesh to the loan sharks of Glasgow, from the “promises to pay” on Babylonian clay tablets to the Medici banking system. Professor Ferguson explains the origins of credit and debt and why credit networks are indispensable to any civilization.
Ep. 2: Human bondage
How did finance become the realm of the masters of the universe? Through the rise of the bond market in Renaissance Italy. With the advent of bonds, war finance was transformed and spread to north-west Europe and across the Atlantic. It was the bond market that made the Rothschilds the richest and most powerful family of the 19th century.
Ep. 3: Blowing bubbles
Why do stock markets produce bubbles and busts? Professor Ferguson goes back to the origins of the joint stock company in Amsterdam and Paris. He draws telling parallels between the current stock market crash and the 18th century Mississippi Bubble of Scottish financier John Law and the 2001 Enron bankruptcy. He shows why humans have a herd instinct when it comes to investment, and why no one can accurately predict when the bulls might stampede.
Ep. 4: Risky business
Life is a risky business – which is why people take out insurance. But faced with an unexpected disaster, the state has to step in. Professor Ferguson travels to post-Katrina New Orleans to ask why the free market can’t provide some of the adequate protection against catastrophe. His quest for an answer takes him to the origins of modern insurance in the early 19th century and to the birth of the welfare state inpost-war Japan.
Ep. 5: Safe as houses
It sounded so simple: give state-owned assets to the people. After all, what better foundation for a property-owning democracy than a campaign of privatisation encompassing housing? An economic theory says that markets can’t function without mortgages, because it’s only by borrowing against their assets that entrepreneurs can get their businesses off the ground. But what if mortgages are bundled together and sold off to the highest bidder?
Ep. 6: Chimerica
Niall Ferguson investigates the globalisation of the Western economy and the uncertain balance between the important component countries of China and the US. In examining the last time globalisation took hold – before World War One, he finds a notable reversal, namely that today money is pouring into the English-speaking economies from the developing world, rather than out.