Go to NakedShorts and read the entire 2001 article of the various ways some people challenged the Madoff story:


If it sounds too good to be true…


UPDATE: Paul points to this Barrons story from 2001

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
Barron’s MAY 7, 2001



Category: Legal, Regulation

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

65 Responses to “History Lesson: Madoff tops charts; skeptics ask how”

  1. trw says:

    This whole thing is hard to believe and very sad. How does the SEC not look at the books when they are in there?

  2. leftback says:

    I have become quite cynical living in Manhattan, but even I raised an eyebrow when I heard this story.

    Cox has got to go to jail at some point.
    Even if he wasn’t malfeasant, he has been criminally negligent, or unfeasant as Barry would say.

  3. Mannwich says:

    @leftback: Jail time for some of these jackals would actually be too kind.

  4. the0ther says:

    madoff is so old…he’s 70. he admitted his guilt. i think it’s time to start saving taxpayer money. fuck a trial. those FBI agents should have just put a bullet in his head. honestly. i suppose it’s wrong to hang a horse thief. but FIFTY BILLION dollars is, as far as i am concerned, a capital crime.

    and charge his family for the bullet. THAT’S what i call capitalism!

  5. Chief Tomahawk says:

    Larry Kudlow just set a new low….

    Covering the Madoff story, Larry repeatedly expressed shock that Madoff’s own sons “didn’t know”. Huh?!? If you’re pulling a fraud and know prosecution is possible, why would you involve your own kin????


  6. Patrick Neid says:

    When I’m not on the floor rolling around with nervous laughing seizures I just want to know how this guy slept at night, got up in the morning and went to work? How is it possible, day in, week out, year after year! Did he come home from work, open the door and say “hi honey, I’m home”?

    I cannot believe this and I really thought I had seen everything on Wall Street.

  7. jason says:

    Books smooks who needs them? Profits? Jobs? Overrated garbage!

    Give me dreams, hot air, fancy suits, big cars, silicon breasts and bailouts any day. It is the American Dream. Throw in some cocaine, movie stars and a BBJ and call it golden.

  8. JustinTheSkeptic says:

    “If it sounds to good to be true,”…tell that to the Bulls! How they think that we are anywhere close to being out of the woods with this economy is a lesson in stupidity!

  9. John Borchers says:

    The recession is ending. Like it or not.

  10. Mannwich says:

    @JB: LOL.

  11. Mannwich says:

    Click your heels three times and say, “the recession is ending, the recession is ending”, and voila, it will end.

  12. John Borchers says:

    I knew you would get a kick outta that but that’s what I believe. Keep betting against the market I suppose. You will lose big though.

  13. Mannwich says:

    @JB: I “will lose big?” Really? I’m still mostly long, but will be slowly selling into any significant strength. If you don’t do that, YOU will lose big. Please be sure to come back here to this blog when it happens.

    I will certainly face the music if I’m wrong too.

  14. John Borchers says:

    Your anger suggests you aren’t long.

  15. Mannwich says:

    I’m angry at the bigger picture, asshat, not my own situation. I know, hard to believe in this day and age but it’s true.

    Here are my longs, “Mr. 9 out of 10″:


    Most of my three IRA’s and 401K (mostly mutual funds, some long ETF’s like SSO and SDS). Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

  16. jason says:

    I don’t need to click my heels I have The Clapper V2 and we are in boom times as of 11:35AM PST 12/11/2008.

    I will let you know that I have an amazing clap and we are going into the greatest expansion the world has ever known. I promise a personal jet on everyone’s personal airstrip.

    I have one hyphenated word for you “Plastic-Surgery”. It is going to be huge. Amazingly people are getting older and vanity trumps everything. After that it will be Botox injections for the sagging brain.

  17. John Borchers says:

    10 out of 11. My GLW short was a huge success.

  18. Mannwich says:

    @JB: I don’t believe you.

  19. JustinTheSkeptic says:

    Hey Longs…Santi Claus is coming too town!!! Problem is all he has is black coal! Gone a-be a long, long winter!!!

  20. John Borchers says:

    I posted exactly as I acted. All written down as before I did it. Just like anything else I write. 35% gain on $7.50 GLW put taken to the bank.

  21. Mannwich says:

    Prove it.

  22. Winston Munn says:

    I happen to concur 100% with John Borchers.

    The recession IS ending; it’s the Depression that is getting underway.

    Full disclosure:
    Long GLD, SLV
    Short Warren Buffet (BNI) And true to my impeccable timing, the position was intitiated on the same day the world was notifed that Buffet had increased his postion by 3 million shares. That’s right. That’s what they call me….Mr. Timing….

  23. batmando says:

    @ jb and Mannwich:

    Guys, guys, if you want to have a piss-off, please just post your positions before/as you take them so we all can track them and do without your “Did so!” “Did not!”

  24. Mannwich says:

    OK, OK, just got a little fired up. Don’t like it when people question my honesty. Time for a truce. I’ll chill.

  25. John Borchers says:


    If you really want me to prove it with my option account you owe me $1K if I can prove I bought/sold GLW Put $7.50 Jan contract for 35% gain.

  26. batmando says:

    Ooops! Forgot, Full Disclosure:
    40% with FusionIQ
    40% with Mish
    20% in my own little sandbox where I have small longs in SRS SSO TBT, recently cashing out PRGN & GDX keeping most in cash for now.

  27. bernandoo says:

    We bounced off the SPX 30 DMA about 25 minutes ago… anyone think there will be another short covering on this Friday afternoon? I think the last 3/4 or 4/5 have seen huge rallies.

  28. John Borchers says:

    I think what happened is people were waiting for about a 50% fall from top. I was ready to go with IWM orders this morning and people kept the bid way higher than I was looking.

  29. Mannwich says:

    No worries, JB. I believe you. Was just making a point. Take my word and I’ll take yours. I’ve given you props in the past (not sure if you know that) for your accurate calls.

  30. Winston Munn says:

    Mannwich and John Borchers:

    You guys are starting to sound like Yahoo Message Boards instead of The Big Picture.
    How about contributing to the furtherence of the discussion/debate, instead?

  31. John Borchers says:

    The Madoff story is amazing that people could still fall for such a thing. Sad part is they did. The other thing that doesn’t make any sense is the so called ‘hedge funds’. These always make the assumption that 2 bets don’t lose. We find out this year there’s no such thing as a hedge. What a surprise.

  32. JustinTheSkeptic says:

    JB, yes there is a hedge – seeds and a garden in the spring! lol

  33. rww says:

    Borchers, give us the factual basis for your argument that the recession is ending.

  34. Itiswhatitis says:

    Borchers has been mumbling this bs for weeks.

    Listen Borchers, we are in the blowoff phase of this recession. This would be like saying the 73-75 was ending in December 1974. Guess, what it had another 5 months to go and really another 18months of actual recession conditions.

    Get it through your noggin.

  35. Read “The Pretender” by Ellen Pollock. http://www.amazon.com/Pretender-Frankel-Financial-Publicized-Manhunts/dp/0743204190

    It deals with the Martin Frankel affair, a previous ponzi scheme with similar characteristics.

    Several key lessons from that debacle could have prevented this one. A key learning (had anyone looked for one) would have been that using the hammer of Federal power to pre-empt and marginalize state and local officials is a bad idea. It was bad when it came to mortgage regulation, and it’s bad in most other cases. Frankel, of course, was not brought down by the SEC, but rather by a few diligent state insurance regulators who were not willing to believe the outsized returns he was able to deliver for insurance companies on their treasury portfolios.

    So far, this episode is not quite as weird as that one, though it is certainly bigger. But it’s getting close. Can’t wait for the book about this.


  36. wally says:

    “The Madoff story is amazing that people could still fall for such a thing.”

    OK. Explain how this is diferent than any other fund that has a moratorium on redemptions to cover the fact that they have lost the money. This is only one of many.

  37. leftback says:

    @ Borchers and Mannwich: Get a room !!! LOL. You guys are quite entertaining.

    Doing nothing today. Can’t pick market direction with the bailout stuff percolating.
    I will offer this: declining oil may mean a late sell-off in energy stocks which have led the market this week.
    If there is a late sell-off I would be a buyer here in my usual areas. Long COP, VLO, GDX.

  38. batmando says:

    Transparency is key. If gov’t regulation would only mandate tsufficeint transparency then market participants will have the information necessary.
    The Shadow Financial Regulatory Committee open letter to the new administration @ Cumberland Advisors http://tinyurl.com/5mf3x2
    from which these 3 suggestions (#5 particularly) seem most salient…

    3) Competitive policies and actions favoring financial industry consolidation:
    A clear lesson from the crisis is that some institutions are now too big to manage, and current rescue policies have fostered further consolidation.
    The Committee proposes that the disproportionate systemic risks posed by large complex institutions be recognized and an ex ante systemic risk premium surcharge be levied to internalize the costs that these institutions pose to the financial system.

    4) Prudential supervision and regulation of financial institutions and markets:
    The Committee also argues that a careful study of the causes of the crisis reveals that there was a significant breakdown in incentives to control risk taking, both within financial institutions and in the regulatory system.
    The remedy is not more government regulation but rather policies that efficiently ensure that risks are transparent, recognized, and acted upon by supervisors in a prompt fashion.

    5) Rules ensuring adequate disclosure and transparency in financial transitions and positions:
    Finally, it is clear that policies must be developed that ensure that financial institutions make themselves more transparent to investors, creditors, and counterparties and that regulators can play an important role in this process by ensuring that the information needed by market participants is made available.

  39. JustinTheSkeptic says:

    I’m shorting Trust-Fund-Kids, Madoff made off with their money. Gee, imagine…he sits in jail with all the other, “I can’t stand those rich people.” It will be interesting what his childhood background is. I’m guessing his brother was the one who told the conductor, “stop the train and let my brother Bernard Mad-off.”

  40. bonghiteric says:

    Madoff’s sons were in on it. Old man told them to go to the cops, he’ll take the fall.

  41. leftback says:

    @ Batmando: you make a good point about large complex institutions that extends beyond the financial arena.

    The bigger the organization, the less well anyone understands its functions, interconnections and the further its leaders become separated from the fundamentals of its business. This engenders risk, corruption and inefficiency. You can see this in Citibank, GM, GE, state and local governments, and even hospitals and universities. The end of the Jurassic saw dinosaurs replaced by smaller, more nimble species.

  42. Grindstone Financial says:

    Anyone that claims this recession is ending is spending all their time posting on blogs and none of their time in the real world.

    One component of my tech spending survey includes software sales. I’ve never heard such negative feedback. Software spending has gone the way of a the Cowboys post-season hopes (poof! up in smoke).

    Some of my industry contacts have 25 yrs in the biz and they said Q4 is beyond a disaster, Q1 is falling apart and Q2 pipelines are disappearing. It could change but that’s the reality that I see on the ground.

    * Disclosure – I’ve got puts and calls in anticipation of heightened volatility next week.

  43. Mannwich says:

    @Grindstone Financial: On that note, just got of the phone with a buddy, who is a sales rep at Oracle and he says they’re turning the screws big-time on everyone over there. The fun has just begin with tech. We ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

  44. karen says:

    Madoff ‘Big Lie’ Hits Fairfield Sentry, Kingate Funds (Update3)


  45. batmando says:

    With these anecdotal reports from guys on the ground in tech, would Steve Barry be piling on more QID at today’s prices? Steve?

  46. DP says:

    Market itself is showing incredible resilience though, no change in long term view but things look good for next week.

  47. leftback says:

    @ batmando: I can’t speak for Steve, but I am fairly confident that he is “ALL-IN QID” as of this moment…

    I will certainly be going in that direction at some point (REW might be a more direct tech play), but only after this rally has finally run its course – we have to wait until fund managers have stopped competing in the game of ” can i beat my benchmark by 1.5% ?? ” (i.e. losing 34% instead of 36% of OPM on the year).

  48. OkieLawyer says:

    Something I don’t understand:

    How can this not be affecting the stock market? Wouldn’t this be causing some selloffs? $50 billion isn’t chump change.

  49. DL says:

    leftback @ 3:11

    Average volume on REW is only 126K per day

  50. gregh says:

    @okieLawyer – one (of many) bottom signs is the non-response to negative news…..just sayin

  51. wnsrfr says:

    Here’s some real pain out there–the Robert I Lappin foundation is a charity that sends kids and teachers to Israel for almost free…no more…

    December 12, 2008

    Dear Parents and Teens,

    It is with a heavy heart that I have to announce the discontinuation of the programs of the Robert I. Lappin Charitable Foundation and the Robert I. Lappin 1992 Supporting Foundation, effective immediately, including Youth to Israel and Teachers to Israel. Money used to fund these programs was invested with Bernard Madoff Investment Securities. Yesterday, Bernard Madoff was arrested and charged with security fraud, which could involve losses of more than $50 billion, including the money needed to fund the programs of the Lappin Foundation.

    The Foundation staff has been terminated as of today. We will work on processing refunds for those who paid fees and deposits.

    Robert I. Lappin

  52. jason says:

    Here is an interesting read:

    I Knew Bernie Madoff Was Cheating–That’s Why I Invested With Him


  53. Scott F says:

    Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
    Bernie Madoff is so secretive, he even asks investors to keep mum

    Bernie Madoff might as well hang that sign on his secretive hedge-fund empire. Even adoring investors can’t explain his enviably steady gains.

    Two years ago, at a hedge-fund conference in New York, attendees were asked to name some of their favorite and most-respected hedge-fund managers. Neither George Soros nor Julian Robertson merited a single mention. But one manager received lavish praise: Bernard Madoff.

    Folks on Wall Street know Bernie Madoff well. His brokerage firm, Madoff Securities, helped kick-start the Nasdaq Stock Market in the early 1970s and is now one of the top three market makers in Nasdaq stocks. Madoff Securities is also the third-largest firm matching buyers and sellers of New York Stock Exchange-listed securities. Charles Schwab, Fidelity Investments and a slew of discount brokerages all send trades through Madoff.

    But what few on the Street know is that Bernie Madoff also manages $6 billion-to-$7 billion for wealthy individuals. That’s enough to rank Madoff’s operation among the world’s three largest hedge funds, according to a May 2001 report in MAR Hedge, a trade publication.

    What’s more, these private accounts, have produced compound average annual returns of 15% for more than a decade. Remarkably, some of the larger, billion-dollar Madoff-run funds have never had a down year.

    When Barron’s asked Madoff Friday how he accomplishes this, he said, “It’s a proprietary strategy. I can’t go into it in great detail.”

    Nor were the firms that market Madoff’s funds forthcoming when contacted earlier. “It’s a private fund. And so our inclination has been not to discuss its returns,” says Jeffrey Tucker, partner and co-founder of Fairfield Greenwich, a New York City-based hedge-fund marketer. “Why Barron’s would have any interest in this fund I don’t know.” One of Fairfield Greenwich’s most sought-after funds is Fairfield Sentry Limited. Managed by Bernie Madoff, Fairfield Sentry has assets of $3.3 billion.

    A Madoff hedge-fund offering memorandums describes his strategy this way: “Typically, a position will consist of the ownership of 30-35 S&P 100 stocks, most correlated to that index, the sale of out-of-the-money calls on the index and the purchase of out-of-the-money puts on the index. The sale of the calls is designed to increase the rate of return, while allowing upward movement of the stock portfolio to the strike price of the calls. The puts, funded in large part by the sale of the calls, limit the portfolio’s downside.”

    Among options traders, that’s known as the “split-strike conversion” strategy. In layman’s terms, it means Madoff invests primarily in the largest stocks in the S&P 100 index — names like General Electric , Intel and Coca-Cola . At the same time, he buys and sells options against those stocks. For example, Madoff might purchase shares of GE and sell a call option on a comparable number of shares — that is, an option to buy the shares at a fixed price at a future date. At the same time, he would buy a put option on the stock, which gives him the right to sell shares at a fixed price at a future date.

    The strategy, in effect, creates a boundary on a stock, limiting its upside while at the same time protecting against a sharp decline in the share price. When done correctly, this so-called market-neutral strategy produces positive returns no matter which way the market goes.

    Using this split-strike conversion strategy, Fairfield Sentry Limited has had only four down months since inception in 1989. In 1990, Fairfield Sentry was up 27%. In the ensuing decade, it returned no less than 11% in any year, and sometimes as high as 18%. Last year, Fairfield Sentry returned 11.55% and so far in 2001, the fund is up 3.52%.

    Those returns have been so consistent that some on the Street have begun speculating that Madoff’s market-making operation subsidizes and smooths his hedge-fund returns.

    How might Madoff Securities do this? Access to such a huge capital base could allow Madoff to make much larger bets — with very little risk — than it could otherwise. It would work like this: Madoff Securities stands in the middle of a tremendous river of orders, which means that its traders have advance knowledge, if only by a few seconds, of what big customers are buying and selling. By hopping on the bandwagon, the market maker could effectively lock in profits. In such a case, throwing a little cash back to the hedge funds would be no big deal.

    When Barron’s ran that scenario by Madoff, he dismissed it as “ridiculous.”

    Still, some on Wall Street remain skeptical about how Madoff achieves such stunning double-digit returns using options alone. The recent MAR Hedge report, for example, cited more than a dozen hedge fund professionals, including current and former Madoff traders, who questioned why no one had been able to duplicate Madoff’s returns using this strategy. Likewise, three option strategists at major investment banks told Barron’s they couldn’t understand how Madoff churns out such numbers. Adds a former Madoff investor: “Anybody who’s a seasoned hedge- fund investor knows the split-strike conversion is not the whole story. To take it at face value is a bit naïve.”

    Madoff dismisses such skepticism. “Whoever tried to reverse-engineer \, he didn’t do a good job. If he did, these numbers would not be unusual.” Curiously, he charges no fees for his money-management services. Nor does he take a cut of the 1.5% fees marketers like Fairfield Greenwich charge investors each year. Why not? “We’re perfectly happy to just earn commissions on the trades,” he says.

    Perhaps so. But consider the sheer scope of the money Madoff would appear to be leaving on the table. A typical hedge fund charges 1% of assets annually, plus 20% of profits. On a $6 billion fund generating 15% annual returns, that adds up to $240 million a year.

    The lessons of Long-Term Capital Management’s collapse are that investors need, or should want, transparency in their money manager’s investment strategy. But Madoff’s investors rave about his performance — even though they don’t understand how he does it. “Even knowledgeable people can’t really tell you what he’s doing,” one very satisfied investor told Barron’s. “People who have all the trade confirmations and statements still can’t define it very well. The only thing I know is that he’s often in cash” when volatility levels get extreme. This investor declined to be quoted by name. Why? Because Madoff politely requests that his investors not reveal that he runs their money.

    “What Madoff told us was, ‘If you invest with me, you must never tell anyone that you’re invested with me. It’s no one’s business what goes on here,’” says an investment manager who took over a pool of assets that included an investment in a Madoff fund. “When he couldn’t explain \ how they were up or down in a particular month,” he added, “I pulled the money out.”

    For investors who aren’t put off by such secrecy, it should be noted that Fairfield and Kingate Management both market funds managed by Madoff, as does Tremont Advisers , a publicly traded hedge-fund advisory firm.

  54. ben22 says:


    thanks for the link, amazing.

    For all of you that are wondering “how this happened to smart people?”

    It is simple: GREED
    and anyway, it didn’t really happen to them

    I hope, like some above, that he goes to jail, but that, like Mannwich already said, jail time would be too kind.

  55. gregh says:

    leftback @ 3:11

    Is there an ultrashort for this OPM you mention? ; )

  56. jason says:

    A Ponzi scheme is rocking Colombia, it is not as large but may bring the government down as it is far more widespread:


  57. the0ther says:

    nice dick-measuring contest in these comments.

  58. Madoff= truly, the E was missing..

  59. harold hecuba says:

    i have not read any of the above comments but honestly (no offense) my wife and i can’t help laughing as i explained to her the lunacy of this situation. good lord what the fuck is WALL STREET? wall street is a comedy show. i really have nothing left to say anymore besides my targets for the s+p are most likely way to high. confidence in this market is shot to hell. seriously we have a sideshow going on that the rest of the world finds hilarious. what a complete and total destruction of capitalism. what in god’s name keeps this shit of a market up besides collusion for a year end rally. i traded the japanes market for 15 years. 15 YEARS!!! and i though it was a sideshow I thought i had seen gov incompetence to the max. but this market blows everything away. look for the markets to bottom 80-90% off their highs. god help everyone. protect your capital at all costs and protect your family.

  60. AGG says:

    Finally something in the way of righteous indignation by the law enforcement people will take place. All of us little guys will benefit. There are some serious toes getting smashed in this Maddoff scam that have the Democratic AND the Republican phones ringing. The elite tend to get huffy and vengful when they get scammed. That’s only supposed to happen to the non rich. The lawyers at the justice department are growing a huge set right now. This should be fun. Oh, the rocks of this “free for the rich to steal” market are about to be moved to see what wonderous creeping slime lies underneath. Caveat emptor, my ass!

  61. Dow says:

    From various news articles, like Bloomberg and WSJ.


    Ascot Partners – hedge fund
    J. Ezra Merkin, the chairman of GMAC
    Fred Wilpon, the principal owner of the New York Mets
    Saul Katz
    Sterling Equities
    Sterling Stamos (?)
    Judy & Fred Wilpon Family Foundation
    Norman Braman, who owned the Philadelphia Eagles
    Stephen J. Helfman, a lawyer in Miami
    Robert I. Lappin Charitable Foundation in Salem, Mass.
    Richard Spring, Boca Raton resident and former securities analyst
    Bramdean Alternatives Limited of UK
    Irwin Kellner, of Port Washington, New York
    Joyce Greenberg, a philanthropist and retired financial adviser in Texas
    Lawrence Velvel, dean of the Massachusetts School of Law
    Fairfield Greenwich Group
    Fairfield Sentry Ltd.
    Pioneer Alternative Investments
    Ira Roth, a New Jersey resident
    French bank BNP Paribas
    Nomura Holdings Inc. – Tokyo
    Neue Privat Bank – Zurich
    Banque Benedict Hentsch – Geneva
    Tremont Capital Management of New York – a unit of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co.’s Oppenheimer Funds Inc.
    Maxam Capital Management LLC
    Sandra Manzke, Maxam’s founder and chairman
    Loeb Family
    Banco Santander
    Union Bancaire – Geneva
    Optimal Investment Services SA – Geneva
    Kingate Management Ltd

    Note: according to the WSJ, shares offered by Neue Privat and Nomura were leveraged 3x

  62. DavidB says:

    The games of the greedy have been kicking people like me in the butt for years. It’s nice to know the every once in a while greed levels the playing field. I have waited a long time for this day

  63. TheReformedBroker says:

    He’ll have some time on his hands

    Buy Bernie a book from his amazon wishlist:


  64. A reader writes in from Palm beach:

    What is happening on Worth Ave in Palm Beach this morning is dire and
    sad. People have lost everything. Older Jewish couples in their 80′s
    are walking into jewelry shops with diamonds in their pockets selling
    them at any price.

    People are pleading with real estate brokers to sell their homes at
    any price.

    The quote of the morning from someone I go to Temple with was this:
    “This is the most devastating thing to happen to Jews since Hitler.”

    I was a Bar Mitzvah in Jerusalem in the early 1970′s and never thought
    I would hear a comparison like this ever made in my lifetime.

  65. Dow says:

    So few are happy to settle for modest returns and a reasonably comfortable lifestyle. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Again and again.

    More clients…

    Carl and Ruth Shapiro
    The Shapiro Family Foundation
    Avram and Carol Goldberg, former owners of the Stop & Shop supermarket chain
    Stephen A. Fine, president of Biltrite Corp. in Waltham
    Robert Jaffe, Cohmad Securities Corp.
    Massachusetts state pension