David M. Shapiro, who teaches economics at New York's John Jay College, recently began a blog "about Fraud."  --  Last Friday he summarized important questions about the Great Financial Crisis of 2008 that have yet to be answered.[1]  --  Shapiro says he is developing his blog "to publicize my observations about the contrasts between the alleged world in which I live (i.e., appearance) and the actual world in which I live (i.e., reality)." ...



By David M. Shapiro

The Inference of Fraud
October 31, 2009


My favorite topic since 9/11 is the financial crisis.  Some outstanding issues that I’ve yet to see credibly addressed by U.S. leaders are the following:

1. Why did none of the financial institutions that allegedly needed (and actually received) TARP funds beginning in the Fall of 2008 not warn their shareholders of their precarious financial positions in prior public filings (e.g., Forms 10-K / 10-Q)?

2. If senior management and the boards of directors of these financial institutions were genuinely caught short and did not possess actual knowledge of the precarious financial positions of the financial institutions under their stewardship, did they possess constructive knowledge (i.e., they could have and should have known of the precarious financial condition)?

3. If they neither could have nor should known about the precariousness of the financial conditions of the financial institutions under their stewardship, how relevant and reliable were the accounting information systems of these financial institutions?

4. If the precariousness of the financial conditions was neither forecast nor capable of forecast (e.g., the perfect storm), why did some entities (e.g., hedge funds) take significant positions (e.g., credit default swap protection from loss of value of Lehman Bros. debt) from which they benefited enormously after the public dissemination of the precariousness of the financial positions of the financial institutions was exploited by politicians (e.g., U.S. Congress), administrators (e.g., U.S. Treasury Secretary), and regulators (e.g., Federal Reserve Bank of NY) to bail-out financial institutions’ creditors?

5. If the financial institutions and the ultimate beneficiaries of the bail-outs (e.g., financial institutions’ creditors) were indeed ‘too big to fail,’ why haven’t the individuals responsible for creating the bail-outs acted forthwith to correct such bigness and systemic risk?

6. If the financial institutions (and their creditors) have largely recovered as a result of the bail-outs, why hasn’t the U.S. economy created more jobs?

7. If the financial institutions’ responsibility is neither job creation in the U.S. nor development of projects promoting the general welfare of the U.S., why were they so important that they had to be rescued by U.S. taxpayers?

The U.S. taxpayers will support a bipartisan group (i.e., the so-called Angelides Commission) to investigate the financial crisis.  Some hope for a Pecora Commission redux.  What are the odds that it will more closely resemble a 9/11 Commission redux?

--Presently, David M. Shapiro is Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics at John Jay College in New York, NY; formerly, law enforcment agencies (i.e., Essex County NJ Office of the Prosecutor, F.B.I.) and corporate investigations (e.g., Kroll Associates, Inc.); practiced law and public accounting.