Audit Notes: Triple Dip; Bloomberg Terminals; Goldman, AIG, and the Fed

Jeffrey Verschleiser is in the news for renting out the entire ninety-four room Hotel Jerome this weekend for his daughter’s bat mitzvah.

Who’s Jeffrey Verschleiser?

Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi revisits the tale, reported by Teri Buhl in The Atlantic last year, of the former Bear Stearns executive who now works high up in Goldman Sachs and is being sued, along with his former and current employers, by the Federal Housing Finance Agency for fraud.

Verschleiser securitized toxic mortgages, sold them to investors, returned the obviously fraudulent ones to the banks, pocketed the money without telling the suckers, and then shorted the companies who insured his toxic waste, according to an insurance company’s lawsuit. Taibbi:

So in essence, Verschleiser was triple-dipping. First he was selling worthless “sacks of shit” to investors, representing them as good investments. Then, he kept the money from the return sales of the wormy apples. And then, on top of that, he made money by betting against the insurers he was sticking with these toxic assets.

We all know what happened from there. Bear, Stearns went under, thanks in large part to insane schemes like Verschleiser’s, and all of us were forced to pick up at least part of the tab as the Fed spent billions subsidizing Bear’s emergency takeover by JP Morgan Chase. In subsequent litigation, Chase has steadfastly refused to buy back the bad mortgages dumped on investors by the likes of Verschleiser, and has even fought tooth and nail to prevent the information in the Ambac suit from being made public.

Taibbi sums it up:

If there was ever a news story that crystalized the moral dementia of modern Wall Street in one little vignette, this is it.

The cheapest room next weekend at the Hotel Jerome, by the way, goes for $719 a night.

The New York Times has an interesting report on how the collapse of MF Global has hurt Bloomberg LP.

The broker-dealer had some 600 Bloomberg terminals, which cost twenty grand a year. That’s a million bucks a month:

The sudden loss of business caused Bloomberg employees to miss their target sales by 12 percent in 2011, people briefed on the matter said, a shortfall that could take a toll on the firm’s bonuses.

While $1 million sounds like a rounding error for Bloomberg, which generates nearly $7 billion in revenue a year, the hit underscores the symbiotic relationship between Wall Street and Bloomberg.

Bloomberg will be all right, though. It’s terminal count rose by 14,000 last year. That’s about $280 million in new revenue. Amazing.

— Goldman Sachs, AIG, toxic mortgages, and the Federal Reserve, back again.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Goldman Sachs of all companies is trying to buy AIG’s busted mortgage bonds from the Fed:

The bonds that Goldman sought to buy represented roughly a third of a mortgage portfolio with an unpaid principal balance of almost $20 billion, the people said. It couldn’t be determined how much Goldman offered, but the bonds in Maiden Lane II had an average fair value of roughly 47 cents on the dollar at the end of September, suggesting Goldman could have been willing to pay about $3 billion.

It is unclear if Goldman or another dealer will be able to buy the bonds from the New York Fed, which has previously said it will sell only if it can fetch good value for the securities.

Goldman, of course, got billions of dollars via the Fed and Tim Geithner’s no-haircut backdoor bailout via AIG in 2008.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum. Tags: , , , ,