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Sunday
Mar012009

Famous Madoff Qoutes: "I Suppose You Could Program a Computer To Violate A Regulation, But We Haven't Gotten There Yet"

 
Famous Madoff Qoutes: "I Suppose You Could Program a Computer To Violate A Regulation, But We Haven't Gotten There Yet", 60 million people retire next ten years? "Good Luck " and "I'm very close to the Regulators...my niece married one."
And More
 
As we proceed to work our way through the Madoff litigation, we tend to focus on those cases where we believe we can best find a scource of recovery for our clients. to date that has been principally the Tremont Rye Funds which were controlled by Oppenheimer and Massacusetts Mutual, audited by the Big Four accounting firms and supposedly had a cusodial bank, Bank of New York Mellon. We have focused also on the feeder funds to the Tremont Rye Funds, such as Spectrum, Future Select, Austin and Meridian. Others crop up every day. Nevertheless, these stories at this point are rather dry and our minds still drift over to how did Madoff pull this off. A video of Bernie Madoff discussing his business has surfaced onthe internet, and helps led us there.
 
When I watched this video of Bernie Madoff ( and his computer guru, Josh Stampfli) participating in a round table discussion, on the future of the stock market, I expected to find a hint of irrationality or slick behavior. The link to the video, audio and transcripts can be found here. Instead we hear a very rational human being, thoughfully discussing fraud, human behavior and profits. Download Madoff Transcript But we also see tremendous irony in Bernie's statements. I highly recommend anyone impacted by this scandal to watch, especially around the the 43 minute mark. An index to Bernies more ironic statements are as follows:
 
At minute 26 Bernie Madoff states:
 
"Now, no one is going to run a benefit for Wall Street, so whenever I go down to Washington and meet with the SEC and complain to them that the industry is either over-regulated or the burdens are too great, they all start to roll their eyes, just like all of our children do whenever we talk about the good old days."
 
At minute 28 Bernie Madoff states:
 

Today, basically the big money on Wall Street is made by taking risks. Firms were driven into that business, including us, because you couldn’t make money charging commissions, primarily because the rates were lowered and because of the regulatory infrastructure you had to have dealing with clients.

 
At minute 30 Bernie says:
 
"There are so-called Chinese Walls that are required to be established at every brokerage firm. They’re called Information Barriers—a term most people would understand—to sort of wall off a brokerage firm from taking advantage of information that he has as to what clients are basically going to trade or not going to trade. There are separate divisions within the firms and it is very carefully enforced and surveilled. It doesn’t mean there are not abuses, for sure, but by and large in today’s regulatory environment, it’s virtually impossible to violate rules. This is something that the public really doesn’t understand. If you read things in the newspaper and you see somebody violate a rule, you say well, they’re always doing this. But it’s impossible for a violation to go undetected, certainly not for a considerable period of time.  And when you consider the volumes of trading, the trillions of dollars of trading that go on today in Wall Street—I mean, our firm, for example, we trade an excess of $1 trillion dollars a year and that’s one firm—and you look at what we would consider to be the infractions, they’re relatively small, primarily because of all the regulation. Most firms do try to comply with that."
 
At minute 43 Bernie states:
 

So we determined that the best thing for us to do was basically to take the human being out of the equation. That had two advantages in our industry. Number one, when you take the human being out of the equation, you solve your regulatory problems because the nature of any human being, certainly anyone on Wall Street, is the better deal you give the customer, the worse deal it is for you. You’re on the other side of the transaction. It’s like going into any store—the store sells you a television at a higher price, they’re going to make more money. They sell you the lower price, their profit goes down accordingly. As honest as you try and get people to be, there’s this normal, natural pole that you have to deal with. By taking the human being out of the equation to a great extent and turning it over to a computer to make your decision—I guess you could also program the computer to violate the regulations, but we haven’t gotten there yet.

 
At minute 69 Bernie states:
 
"The future is silence. I don’t see a lot changing in the marketplaces. It’s hard to of course say that because everything always changes, but I cannot imagine what else we’d do, from an automation standpoint..."
 
At minute 71 Bernis states:
 
"You know, this is a psychoanalytical group, I guess, right?... I’m sort of curious—maybe because no one got a chance to ask any questions about it yet—what are human beings contributing to the marketplace?  Is there any change in their actions?
At minute 111: Bernie states:
 
"This is SEC’s concern today because they call us all the time and ask us: should we be concerned about the fact that certain firms have left certain areas of the industry and are not serving the public, or not serving even other parts of the industry itself? The answer is it’s too late, because you’ve done it. So there’s always this friction that goes on between the regulation side of the industry and the practitioners that say okay, where do you draw the line? I’m very close with the regulators so I’m not trying to say that what they do is bad. As a matter of fact, my niece just married one.  (Speaker:  My condolences) (Speaker; Did the SEC approve?) Madoff:  He’s an attorney. (Speaker:  Okay.)

Madoff:  The issue is, the way they tend to look at the industry if you’re making a profit there’s something wrong, even though intellectually they know that shouldn’t be.

 
At minute 118, Bernie states:
 
"You know, my theory—and I’ve always said this even though we were one of the ones that started all this automated algorithmic trading—was that I never wanted to get into a cockpit of a plane and see there wasn’t a pilot sitting there...But more importantly, in our firm—and I don’t know that we’re unique, but I know there are other firms that do not operate this way—we  have a group of traders that are watching the systems work and the results of the systems to make sure that from their sense of trading things look right. With all due respect to Josh and a lot of other people that we have with similar backgrounds, programmers—not that he’s a programmer—but people of his ilk can tend to believe too much in the math and in the model. They fall in love with it sometimes. Not so much Josh, which is why he’s with us, but we have a lot of people like Josh that we employ and deal with. They’re different. The thing that separates somebody that is a good algorithmic trader from somebody that is dangerous is somebody that just always believes the machine is right. There are people like that. It goes back to what Bob said about the joke of the dog. It’s supposed to make sure that nobody touches the machine. You always want to have the human factor involved in the process because that makes it better. At least that’s been our experience.

 

And most disturbing at minute 125:

 

Audience:  "My question is a little basic. It’s open for the whole audience. How do you feel that the baby-boomers retiring, starting this year, will affect the future of the stock market, considering there were probably about 60 million people who are going to retire in the next ten years?"

 

Madoff:  "Good luck."

What is the take from this...its hard to tell. Here we have a man who created the NASDAQ, and took the human element out of the trading, and yet clearly likes to spend time with people. Maybe he was bored and needed the human touch. By playing the big man on campus, and spreading largess, he was the center of attention. As he states in minute 69...."The reason why is it’s quiet. When you went up to our firm you said, “Well, I’m surprised at how quiet it is.” I find it difficult to get used to that because I’m used to a lot of noise and screaming."

 

Clearly worst punishment for Bernie Madoff will be silence.

 

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    Famous Madoff Qoutes: "I Suppose You Could Program a Computer To Violate A Regulation, But We Haven't Gotten There Yet" - Investor Fraud Blog - Reed R. Kathrein
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