Tag Archives: Ponzi scheme

Upper Management Exodus At Tesla Continues – Why?

Phil Rothenberg, VP of Legal at Tesla, is leaving the company.  He’s been at Tesla for nearly 8 years; previously worked at the SEC.  I assume Phil has a lot of stock and a lot of stock options, having been at the Company for eight years, including a nice chunk of options he’s leaving on the table because they will never vest.  If everything at the Company was as amazing as presented by Musk and his meat-puppet CFO in the 3rd quarter earnings report, why leave now?

Apparently Phil, trained in securities law,  would have been the designee of reviewing and monitoring Musk’s Tweets and other social media venues per the terms of the SEC settlement.   Jonathan Chang, the other VP-level lawyer at TSLA, was not a trained securities lawyer.  I have to believe that the potential legal liabilities connected to being legally responsible for overseeing the manner in which Musk operates as his own PR organization weighed heavily on Phil’s decision to flee Telsa’s corporate Sodom and Gomorrah.

Although the SEC, for whatever reason, let Musk and Tesla off the hook on a slam-dunk securities fraud case with a mere wrist-slap, the provisions of the settlement will likely create a sticky legal spider web that can be utilized to snare Musk and those around him at the Company on several counts down the road.  I am certain a desire to legally disconnect from Tesla/Musk  explains the sudden exodus of high-level executives in the past 12 months.

After Tesla’s post-earnings price spike, the torrid stock market run-up that started October 30th played a major role in keeping Tesla’s stock propped up over the last two weeks. At the beginning of the week after Tesla reported (Monday, October 29th) Tesla’s stock was about to sell-off. But the major stock market indices began to shoot up, keeping Tesla’s stock supported. Today’s action in Tesla stock reinforces this theory, as TSLA plunged 5.5% while the SPX dropped just under 2%. Tesla’s stock is going lower – a lot lower.

Tesla will eventually implode – all Ponzi schemes fail. But Musk has proven to be adept at kicking the can down the road. In the analysis I did of Tesla’s Q3 10-Q that I presented to my Short Seller’s Journal on Sunday evening, I didn’t drill down into the 10Q as thoroughly as I could have because of lack of time. But I’ve never seen this degree of manipulation in the numbers from a company the size and profile of Tesla. Bernie Madoff’s company was private so there were never publicly available numbers to scrutinize. Tesla’s operations will eventually collapse under the weight of liabilities and a collapse in auto sales related to the economy and competition.

Elon Musk Turns U.S. Capital Markets Into A Complete Farce

“Nobody, when they’re looking at a privatization, dangles this way and does this sort of teasing dance of choreography. Somebody only does this when they are trying to distract us with a shiny new thing…There’s a lot of problems here. He can’t afford to build the new factory that he says he wants to build. This is a distracting strategy like attacking the press” – Jeffery Sonnenfeld, Yale School of Management on CNBC

Elon Musk has turned the U.S. capital markets into a complete farce. He’s made of mockery of the fact that the regulators no longer enforce rule of law. The idea that any financial institution on earth would fund the largest leveraged buyout in history at a level that values Tesla on par with Volkswagen – the world’s larges car manufacturer – is beyond absurd.

We should hope and pray that some truth-seeking entity will hold Musk accountable for what is likely a highly fraudulent claim. Or, then again, perhaps Musk took one of his flying automobiles and went to Mars on Monday to “secure funding” from his Martian financiers.

A careful dissection of Tesla’s latest 10-Q reveals a Company with negative working capital and an unmanageable level of debt and other fixed commitments headed for eventual insolvency.

Beyond ranting about the obvious here, I’m posting an insightful, if not poignant, comment from a friend and colleague:

I am pretty amazed/disgusted that we haven’t come to terms (as a society) with social media. It is in this grey area where leaders of Government and corporations can walk a tight rope of truth/fiction without any consequence or regard for the affect of the immorality and illegality.  Narcissistic psychopaths like Musk utilize cult of personality to harness the power of the hopelessly ignorant looking for a guru; looking for a reason to justify their worst impulses and implausible fantasies. From a social science standpoint: it is interesting. From a person of the society: it is mindblowingly frightening.

The Coming Run On Banks And Pensions

“There are folks that are saying you know what, I don’t care, I’m going to lock in my retirement now and get out while I can and fight it as a retiree if they go and change the retiree benefits,” he said.  – Executive Director for the Kentucky Association of State Employees,  Proposed Pension Changes Bring Fears Of State Worker Exodus

The public awareness of the degree to which State pension funds are underfunded has risen considerably over the past year.  It’s a problem that’s easy to hide as long as the economy is growing and State tax receipts grow.  It’s a catastrophe when the economic conditions deteriorate and tax revenue flattens or declines, as is occurring now.

The quote above references a report of a 20% jump in Kentucky State worker retirements in August after it was reported that a consulting group recommended that the State restructure its State pension system.   I personally know a teacher who left her job in order to cash completely out of her State employee pension account in Colorado (Colorado PERA).  She knows the truth.

But the problem with under-funding is significantly worse than reported.  Pensions are run like Ponzi schemes.  As long as the amount of cash coming in to the fund is equal to or exceeds beneficiary payouts, the scheme can continue.   But for years, due to poor investment decisions and Fed monetary policies, beneficiary payouts have been swamping investment returns and fund contributions.

Pension funds have notoriously over-marked their illiquid risky investments and understated their projected actuarial investment returns in order to hide the degree to which they are under-funded.  Most funds currently assume 7% to 8% future rates of return. Unfortunately, the ability to generate returns like that have been impossible with interest rates near zero.

In the quest to compensate for low fixed income returns, pension funds have plowed money into stocks, private equity funds and illiquid and very risky investments,  like subprime auto loan securities and commercial real estate.   Some pension funds have as much as 20% of their assets in private equity.  When the stock market inevitably cracks, it will wipe pensions out.

As an example of pensions over-estimating their future return calculations, the State of Minnesota adjusted the net present value of its future liabilities from 8% down to 4.6% (note:  this is the same as lowering its projected ROR from 8% to 4.6%).   The rate of under-funding went from 20% to 47%.

I can guarantee you with my life that if an independent auditor spent the time required to implement a bona fide market value mark-to-market on that fund’s illiquid assets, the amount of under-funding would likely jump up to at least 70%.  “Bona fide mark-to-market” means, “at what price will you buy this from me now with cash upfront?”

For instance, what is the true market price at which the fund could sell its private equity fund investments?   Harvard is trying to sell $2.5 billion in real estate and private equity investments.   The move was announced in May and there have not been any material updates since then other than a quick press release in early July that an investment fund was looking at the assets offered.  I would suggest that the bid for these assets is either lower than expected or non-existent other than a pennies on the dollar  “option value” bid.

At some point current pension fund beneficiaries are going to seek an upfront cash-out. If enough beneficiaries begin to inquire about this, it could trigger a run on pensions and drastic measures will be implemented to prevent this.

Similarly, per the sleuthing of Wolf Richter, ECB is seeking from the European Commission the authority to implement a moratorium on cash withdrawals from banks at its discretion. The only reason for this is concern over the precarious financial condition of the European banking system.  And it’s not just some cavalier Italian and Spanish banks.  I would suggest that Deutsche Bank, at any given moment, is on the ropes.

But make no mistake. The U.S. banks are in no better condition than their European counter-parts.  If Europe is moving toward enabling the ECB to close the bank windows ahead of an impending financial crisis, the Fed is likely already working on a similar proposal.

All it will take is an extended 10-20% draw-down in the stock market to trigger a massive run on custodial assets – pensions, banks and brokerages.  This includes the IRA’s.  I would suggest that one of the primary motivations behind the Fed/PPT’s  no-longer-invisible hand propping up the stock and fixed income markets is the knowledge of the pandemonium that will ensue if the stock market were allowed to embark on a true price discovery mission.

Like every other attempt throughout history to control the laws of economics and perpetuate Ponzi schemes, the current attempt by Central Banks globally will end with a spectacular collapse.   I would suggest that this is one of the driving forces underlying the repeated failure by the western Central Banks to drive the price of gold lower since mid-December 2015.   I would also suggest that it would be a good idea to keep as little of your wealth as possible tied up in banks and other financial “custodians.” The financial system is one giant “Roach Motel” – you check your money in but eventually you’ll never get it out.

SNAP Stock Just SNAPPED: Down 29% From Its March IPO

SNAP just reported earnings and plunged after hours after missing everything.  It burned through $288 million in cash.  The more it spends, the more it loses.  An operational Ponzi scheme of sorts.

The SNAP IPO was led by Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Deutsche Bank, Barclays, Credit Suisse and Allen & Company. All the usual criminal cartel banks aside from Allen & Company.  Allen & Company is a financial “advisor” – i.e. sleazy stock broker – driven firm based in Florida. I don’t know how Allen & Co. was put on as an underwriting manager other than it’s likely that one of SNAP’s co-founders is buddies with one of the owners at Allen & Co.

Speaking of SNAP’s two co-founders, each sold $272 million worth of stock into the IPO. It would be impossible to know if they sold knowing that anyone who bought the IPO, or has bought share since the IPO, is going to end up holding an empty bag. But I provided an in-depth analysis of SNAP to subscribers of the Short Seller’s Journal in which I concluded that SNAP would eventually go below $2.

I have to believe that the Einsteins at Morgan Stanley, Goldman et al had to know this. That being the case, I don’t know how the public issuance of SNAP shares is not fraud. The venture capital and private equity funds who invested in the early rounds were given an out by the public – a public that was lied to about SNAP’s future prospects.

As I finish this, SNAP is now below $12/share ($11.85).  It’s still a great short here.  If I have time to pour through the numbers, I’ll be updating the subscribers of the Short Seller’s Journal and lay out a course of action to short the stock from here.  You can learn more about this newsletter here:  Short Seller’s Journal information.  There’s no minimum subscription period and subscribers get a 50% discount on the Mining Stock Journal.

SNAP Snapped – Stock Plunges 18%

SNAP just reported horrible numbers vs. Wall Street forecasts.  Net income was actually a Net loss of $2.31 vs. a loss of 19 cents forecast.  Revenues were light by $8 million, coming in at $149.6mm vs. $157.9 million expected.  Active subscribers were also lower than expected.   The Ponzi stock is down 18% as I post this:

IRD reviewed SNAP when it IPO’d and warned investors to avoid or short this stock:  Avoid SNAP.  Short Seller Journal subscribers were presented with an even more detailed analysis.

Investment Research Dynamics’ Short Seller’s Journal has presented several ideas recently which offered subscribers significant gains from shorting or buying puts on the ideas. KATE and IBM are two examples. Find out more clicking the link above or the banner below

Gold And Silver Investors Smell Central Bank Blood

The mainstream narrative that gold/silver moves inversely with stocks because the metals are a “risk off” trade has imploded. Since late January, when the S&P 500 began to “recover” from its 11% New Year’s plunge, the precious metals and the stock market have been rising in correlation, with the precious metals significantly outperforming the stock market since mid-February:

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As you can see, the move in the metals accelerated since the BREXIT vote.  The latest Central Bank induced market spike has pierced the boundaries of absurdity:

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The immediate “snap-back” in the stock market after a two-day post BREXIT vote 5.3% plunge in the S&P 500 has violated the sensibilities of all but the most idiotically apologetic stock market perma-bulls (Mark Zandi, Cramer, Suze Orman, Liz Sonders etc).

It’s clear that the Central Banks are desperate to keep the stock markets from plunging, despite the fact that the deterioration of economic and financial fundamentals globally – including and especially in the U.S. – has begun to accelerate.

Smart investors smell Central Bank blood and the latest market intervention just reeks of desperation.  This is the dynamic that is propelling gold and silver higher, despite the preponderance of bearish calls from all corners of the market, including many precious metals market analysts.

The Central Banks went overboard with the latest round of stock market intervention.  The recent increased movement of investment funds from fiat-based “assets” into gold/silver reflects the more widespread perception that the Central Banks are trapped by long series of bad policy decisions.  The obvious conclusion is that Central Banks are now forced to hyperinflate the money supply or face a total stock market collapse.

Of course, the hyperinflation of currencies will do nothing to stimulate real economic growth or fix the completely unmanageable global debt and derivatives problem.

Perhaps the poster-child example of the damage done to the markets by radical Central Bank intervention and manipulation is Tesla (TSLA).  If not Amazon, TSLA is perhaps the greatest stock Ponzi scheme in U.S. history.  Aside being riddled with total accounting fraud, TSLA is technically insolvent and overloaded with debt that it will eventually impale itself on.  It was reported today that the test driver in a TESLA self-driving car was killed when the car crashed into tractor-trailer at high speed.  The test-driver was watching a movie in the car.  At least he didn’t know what hit him.

TSLA stock in a freely trading market would have been decimated today on that news.  But today it’s trading unchanged from yesterday’s close.  The only bigger tragedy than this fact is the death of someone who put their faith in Tesla.

Tesla would not exist in its present form if it weren’t for the extreme Central Bank intervention and manipulation of the capital markets.  It certainly would not have had the capital to work on an auto-piloted car given that its core business model lost nearly a billion dollars last year. This is the type of “blood” in the streets to which the price of gold/silver is responding.

If  you review a long term graph of gold/silver vs. the S&P 500 (on your own), you will note that  best price performance periods for the precious metals have been preceded by a short period of time in which the metals are highly correlated to the upside with the stock market…

MSJ is a great resource!!!  – Johnny – You can subscribe to my Mining Stock Journal here: LINK – or my Short Seller’s Journal here:  LINK.    I am currently offering new MSJ subscribers all of the back-issues (March 4th debut).   I also offer a 50% discount on the second subscription to anyone who subscribes to both (email me for the discount link).

I must say that Tesla is a perfect example of how screwed up the stockmarket is. Only bad news for the company like the purchase of the bankrupt company, Solar City. Wheels falling of the cars and bad suspension on cars that are almost new. Death accidents with malfunctioning auto pilots. Risks of lawsuits due to this. And the stock goes up- how retarded is this? No fundamentals matter at all. I´m really enjoying the silver rally and I bet you do as well. All the best from the negative interest rate Sweden.

SoT Market Update: Fed Market Intervention And Stock Market Fraud

The Shadow of Truth presents a “Market Update” in which we discuss the extreme fraud and deception that has engulfed the stock market – see below for our audio discussion:

The governments in my view, with their agents the Federal Reserve and other central banks and with the treasury department, they will do anything not to let asset prices go down…If the stock markets go down, I’m convinced all the central banks will buy stocks. All of them. – Mark Faber on CNBC

The S&P 500 has clawed back nearly 80% of its 250 plunge that occurred at the beginning of 2016.  The pervasive “muscle reaction” of mainstream investors is to behave as if the nascent bear market in stocks is already over and we’re headed to 30k on the Dow.  This tendency is epitomized by Cramer’s latest “c’mon on back in, the water is fine and stocks are cheap” declaration about a week ago.  This graphic below exemplifies the current  mainstream financial media narrative (sourced from Twitter with SoT edits) click to enlarge image:

This graph shows the number of stocks in the Russell 2000 index which have gained 50% Untitled11for more in the last month of trading since October.  As you can see, up until the current bear market dead-cat bounce, the market is “hot” when 20-30 stocks move up 50% in a month.  In the current market nearly 80 stocks have moved up in the last month.   This graph shows the omnipresent footprints of both the Plunge Protection Team and HFT trading.   It’s gotten to the point at which every time the stock market seems ready to sell-off hard, some sort of “invisible hand” comes in and scoops up stocks, driving the market back up.

The other highly fraudulent aspect of this market is the way earnings are reported. Companies now report GAAP and “non-GAAP” earnings.  The difference between the two presentation methods can be summed up as, “somewhat fake earnings” and “mostly fake earnings.”

UntitledIn 2015, 20 of the 30 companies in the Dow Jones Industrial index reported non-GAAP earnings.  For 18 of these 20, non-GAAP EPS was higher than GAAP.  On average, non-GAAP earnings were 31% higher than GAAP for these 20 companies.  In 2014, non-GAAP was 12% higher than GAAP for the non-GAAP reporting companies (FACTSET.COM)  This illustrates the degree to which companies are now going to disguise and/or fabricate their earnings.

As if to throw gasoline of the fire of fraud and deception which has engulfed our financial system, most large corporations are now borrowing money in order to buy back their shares.  This benefits no one except the insiders who receive huge stock-laden compensation packages and then turnaround and sell their stock into the company’s buyback program.  At its root, this is nothing more than a massive transfer of wealth from shareholders to insiders.  Why not just ask the shareholders to get out their checkbooks and send insiders a personal check instead?

 Here’s an idea for reform, which of course will never happen:  prohibit insiders from selling shares whenever a company has a shareholder buyback program in place.  But don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen….

Jeff Bezos Is The Poster Child For U.S. Systemic Ponzi Scheme

Forbes released its annual list of wealthiest Americans this week.  The data shows that Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon.com, made $16 billion in 2014.  While perhaps admired by the segment of our society that worships the dollar above all else, this is nothing more than the grotesque reminder how just how fraudulent the United States system has become.

Bezos earned in one year more than 8x the amount of net income that he has delivered to AMZN shareholders cumulatively over the 20-year operating history of the Company:

AMZNnetIncThis is well beyond the bounds of obscenity. It’s criminal. The SEC allows Bezos to get away with semi-fraudulent accounting. It lets him get away with misrepresenting the Company’s “free cash flow” when it makes its quarterly “earnings” report to shareholders.

Jeff Bezos represents the most insidious form of fraud of in this country. He’s far worse than Madoff. Madoff just screwed over his wealthy peers. Bezos is sucking wealth from every nook and cranny in the investment fund world, including and especially the the average middle class mutual fund and every single pension fund invested in AMZN stock.

Amazon’s operations burn cash like a Weimar-era furnace.  The company burned over $4 billion dollars between end of its first quarter in 2015 (end of March) and the end of its second quarter in 2015 (end of June).   The Company had almost no debt at the beginning of 2012 and by the end of 2014 it had $9 billion.  Nearly half of the cash was incinerated during the April – June quarterly period this year.

But it’s not entirely Bezos’ fault.  Ultimately the blame falls on the institutional pools of investment capital and the retail investors who trust their “expert” financial advisors with their money.   The idea of value investing and investing based on fundamentals was exterminated from the system a long time ago.  Almost every single pension fund manager and every single investment advisor in this country would  not know how to engage in serious fundamental investing even if it were required to save their lives.

Of course, we know what Jeff Bezos thinks about all of this:

Amazon.com Is The Corporate Symbol Of Dystopic America

Several readers of my research report sent me an article from the NY Times titled:   Inside Amazon:  Wrestling Big Ideas In A Bruising Workplace.   The article describes a stunning Darwinian corporate culture in which employees must transform themselves into de-humanized Amazonian robots.

The article reads like a chapter from Aldus Huxley’s “Brave New World.  Employees are even encouraged and incentivized to report on each other:

The internal phone directory instructs colleagues on how to send secret feedback to one another’s bosses. Employees say it is frequently used to sabotage others. (The tool offers sample texts, including this: “I felt concerned about his inflexibility and openly complaining about minor tasks.”)

Without a doubt Jeff Bezos has become a cult of personality who has deluded employees to sacrifice and distort their humanity in order to conform to his empire of deceit, propaganda and fraud.

Lost in the NY Times article is that, despite the mania that has engulfed Amazon’s stock, and despite the vision of a highly motivated and productive workforce, Amazon has failed to generate any meaningful degree of profitability in its 21-year history.   In fact, as my research report shows in detail, Amazon’s GAAP operating margins have declined from over 6% in 2004 to near zero now (6% is standard for big retailers).

The article is worth reading if you think about it in the context of “Brave New World” and Orwell’s “Animal Farm.” But I would also suggest thinking about it – in the context of the facts presented in my AMAZON dot CON research report – the way you would think about Enron or Bernard Madoff.

The stock has been driven up to insanely absurd levels given the fact that Amazon burns cash like a trash incinerator. If you doubt this, then you need to read to my report.  I show how and why Amazon has failed – and will fail going forward – to generate real net income and will continue burning cash.  You can access my report here:   AMAZON dot CON.

My report shows in intricate detail from a technical accounting standpoint, which actual examples that are easy to understand, how Amazon hides its inability to make any money. Although the extreme intervention in the stock market by the Fed/Government makes it extremely challenging to short any stock right now, I believe that the market is starting roll over despite the manipulation.  As this happens, the market itself will lift the “emporer’s robe” on companies like Amazon and a brutal downside reality to the stock will commence.

Any professional money manager who owns a big position in AMZN with other people’s money is breaching their fiduciary duty if they don’t read my report and consider the facts presented.

From a reader of my report:

I audited many of the high fliers that crashed and burned, took companies public & was at the printers the day the bubble really burst which ultimately tabled that IPO. Then, was a CFO at a software company for a couple years during the really ugly times. My point is I’ve got a heavy tech background.   So, when I say Amazon’s financials are the most misleading and misunderstood I’ve ever seen and their stock will crash mightily, we sound like we’re on the same page

AMZN: The World’s Greatest Ponzi Show – Find Out Why

Dave  was brilliant in his 25 page Amazon.dot.con report detailing the financial manipulation at the hand of Jeff Bezos. His investigative mind and tenacity in digging further for the truth has exposed Amazon’s/Jeff Bezos’ fraudulent activities to the public. Dave has a unique way of explaining every aspect of each graph, photo and financial statement throughout his report that anyone without the experience in the field can comprehend.  – “Kim” in Connecticut

AMAZON dot CON – the price is going up after tomorrow.

The Wall Street Journal in an article on AMZN’s “transparency” reports that, “In the case of Amazon, the company finally broke out details showing that its AWS business is now generating about $6 billion a year in revenue with operating margins of 21%—far above the 5% margin seen in its North American retail business.

Yet AWS is still projected to account for less than 10% of Amazon’s total revenue this year and next. Amazon, meanwhile, now trades at more than 150 times forward earnings.   Here’s the link:  WSJ

Of course, I would never expect a financial media journalist to understand accounting and finance.  Why should they?  Their job is to regurgitate the pig vomit served up to them by the Wall Street firms that buy expensive advertising in their publications.

AMZN in fact revealed very little about its AWS “cloud computing” business other than showing us revenues and a rigged operating income number.  My research report explains why the operating income number attributed to AWS is not only highly misleading but the source of revenues fueling the growth of AWS is of very low quality.   And AWS is A LOT less than 10% of AMZN’s total revenues.

Furthermore, that “150 times forward earnings” number is a complete fabrication of Wall Street hockey puck projections.  AMZN has lost money on a net income basis in two of the last three years and, nothwithstanding the temporary boost to operating income from AWS, will continue to absolutely bleed cash.   It’s burned through $4 billion in cash in just the first six months of 2015.

My report goes into a level of in-depth analysis that will never be published by Wall Street or the financial media.  You can access my report here:    AMAZON dot CON

The price of this report is going up after tomorrow.

AMZN