I've been waiting for a good time to bring this story to Daily Kos and, since it's CNBC day (or week hopefully), I figured now would be a good time.
And now, Jon Stewart has joined in for some good fun. But you haven't seen real fun until you've immersed yourself into the story of Deep Capture.
This rabbit hole involves the thugs surrounding Jim Cramer and some of the top financial "journalists" from the New York Times, WSJ, Fortune magazine and BusinessWeek, top hedge funds, the Mafia, and the DTCC. It also includes "blackmail, smear campaigns, espionage, fraud, harassment, extortion, bribery, rumor-mongering, sabotage, off-shore money laundering, political cronyism, frivolous lawsuits, witness tampering, biased financial research, false identities, bogus credit ratings, bribery, libelous blogs, bad science, forgery, wiretapping, counterfeiting, collusion, lying, cheating, threats and theft."
Unfortunately, this story is so rich and multi-dimensional that I cannot possibly hope to do it justice here. So I will primarily focus on the financial media angle and, specifically, Jim Cramer and his thug cronies.
The story begins when a very highly respected journalist and business editor for the Columbia Journalism Review, Mark Mitchell, decides to look into allegations made by the CEO of Overstock.com, that some top hedge fund managers, in cahoots with a circle of financial analyst and reporters, had conspired to make a lot of money by betting short on companies and then systematically destroying those companies by spreading false negative information about them and employing other tactics such as flooding the market with "phantom shares" to drive down a stock's value.
To understand this you have to understand how short selling works. A short seller will borrow stock (say at $10) and then sell it immediately and pocket the money ($10). Then, when the company's stock value plummets ($1), they buy it at its deflated value and pocket the difference ($9). This is perfectly legal. But there's another variety that takes place because of a flaw in the system.
This is where a short seller sells stock that they haven't actually borrowed yet. There are loopholes that allow shorters to do this legally, but those loopholes have allowed the practice to be abused - which is illegal. Therefore, it is quite easy to fraudulently put on the open market shares of stock that do not, nor ever will, exist. These phantom shares do nothing but crash the value of a stock and therefore make legitimate short transactions highly profitable.
This is what Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne had discovered had been done to his company. Naked short selling combined with bogus financial analysis, lies and rumors propagated by CNBC reporters all served to trash his company's stock. So he decided to fight back. He gave a big conference call presentation to a bunch of corporate CEOs and broke the story. That's when Mark Mitchell comes in. (For the record, Byrne is a Republican. I don't much care for him. But this is completely irrelevant to this story.)
To the 500 Wall Street honchos who listened in to this conference call, Patrick said that a network of miscreants was using a variety of tactics – including naked short selling (phantom stock) – to destroy public companies for profit. He said this scheme had the potential to crash the financial markets, but that the SEC did nothing because the SEC had been compromised – or "captured" – by unsavory operators on Wall Street.
In January 2006, I [Mark Mitchell] was working as an editor for the Columbia Journalism Review, a well-respected ( if somewhat dowdy) magazine devoted to media criticism. Patrick had claimed that some prominent journalists were "corrupt" and were working with prominent hedge funds to cover up the naked short selling scandal, so I called to discuss.- Advertisement -
Patrick picked up the phone and said: "Chasing this story will take you down a rabbit hole with no end." He said that the story had it all – diabolical billionaires, phantom stock, dishonest journalists, crooked lawyers, black box organizations on Wall Street, and a crime that could very well cause a meltdown of our financial system [This was in 2006].
Not only that, Patrick said, but "the Mafia is involved, too."
Well, Patrick seemed basically sane. I decided to write a story about the basically sane CEO who was fighting the media on an important financial issue while harboring some eccentric notions about the Mafia.