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WikiLeaks, the ultra-controversial whistle-blower site that's been leaking classified U.S. military and foreign policy documents, says its next victim will be a U.S. bank.

Exposing a bank "will give a true and representative insight into how banks behave at the executive level in a way that will stimulate investigations and reforms," WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told Forbes. "For this, there's only one similar example. It's like the Enron emails."

The "Enron emails" refers to a database released in 2003 containing 1.5 million messages from Enron staff. The magazine Salon culled a few of the juicer morsels out of the database, including:

how the family of Ken Lay lived large in the glory days, how Tom DeLay and other members of Congress used the company as a veritable ATM for campaign contributions, how Enron plotted to place employees in the Bush-Cheney administration, how company executives almost obsessively followed the investigation into price gouging during California's energy crisis, and ultimately how Enron employees suffered when the company collapsed.

The thought of digging up similar dirt on banks is just soaking with suspense.

But what did the Enron emails really achieve? Not much. By the time they were revealed, everyone knew the company was fraudulent, overpaid executives, and had incestuous political ties. We knew two years before, when the company collapsed. In fact, Sarbanes-Oxley, a reform bill passed largely because of Enron's collapse, went into law more than a year before the emails were released. Neither regulators nor investors needed the emails to figure out what went wrong.

Blogger Barry Ritholtz makes a similar point about WikiLeaks going after banks: "We already know the banks are grossly incompetent, can't manage risk and would be dead without taxpayer support. What are we going to find in these leaks -- that free checking isn't really free?"

It's a fair point. When Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS  ) was charged with fraud earlier this year, the exposed fine details of its mischief were new, but everyone following the financial crisis already knew that chicanery was rampant. The public's response was mostly an exercise in unleashing some much-needed schadenfreude, not a newfound understanding of the financial world. Same with the 2008 exposure of the "it could be structured by cows and we would rate it" quote by a Standard & Poor's analyst. As juicy as the line was, the only possible response was, "No kidding. I've seen your results."

Still, I can think of a few things WikiLeaks could expose that would do real harm to banks.

Exposing banks' proprietary trading algorithms wouldn't mean much to Joe Public, but could be gold mines for hedge funds and other professional investors. Trading is disgustingly competitive. Lose your proprietary edge, and it's game over.

Exposing insider trading could also crack open an ordeal that's just recently starting to be brought to light. "Everybody is trading on the inside somehow or another," Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi says. "A lot of sources I talked to suggested this is endemic to the entire [Wall Street] culture." So little is known about insider trading that even a small leak could explode skepticism anew among public investors.

Catching bank executives saying one thing internally while telling shareholders something else could also be damning. If a CEO says publicly that an asset is worth $100, yet in private tells his staff that it's worth $80, he's broken his fiduciary duty to shareholders. This is essentially what former Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo was charged with last year. Mozilo and his team spoke candidly among themselves about how disastrous their loans were -- "In all my years in the business I have never seen a more toxic [product]," Mozilo lamented in private -- yet said nothing to investors. While keeping his secret, Mozilo allegedly dumped $140 million worth of stock onto those investors. Basic scam 101 stuff.

Who might WikiLeaks go after? Word is it already has a trove of Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) files awaiting release. The other usual suspects Goldman, Citigroup (NYSE: C  ) , JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM  ) , Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC  ) , Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS  ) , and AIG (NYSE: AIG  ) are all in the crosshairs. I'd imagine it could dig up more dirt going after a big hedge fund like SAC, Citadel, or Magnetar, but I'll take whatever we can get.

What do you think WikiLeaks will find?

Fool contributor Morgan Housel owns Bank of America preferred. Moody's is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Moody's is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. The Fool owns shares of Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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  • Report this Comment On December 01, 2010, at 7:01 PM, Glycomix wrote:

    What caused the US financial collapse? Key Democrats in the power structure (Barney Frank and Chris Dodd in congress, and Fannie Mae CEOs Jim Johnson and Claude Raines) used subprime welfare mortgages code-named “affordable housing goals” to re-elect Democrat politicians. Fannie and Freddie’s welfare mortgages have produced $6.4 trillion in additional, unrecognized US debt. How will we pay this when the yearly gross revenue coming into the US treasure is only $1 trillion and the gross income of everyone in the US is $8.2 trillion.

    Fannie Mae CEOs Jim Johnson (Dukakis named him to be Secy Treas) and Claude Raines (who participated in Obama’s and cabinet selection panels used Fannie and Freddie’s well-paying jobs to reward influential Democrats like Deputy Atty Gen Jamie Gorelick (who received $21 million to be VP of Fannie Mae without any qualifications) and to corrupt Republicans like Bob Bennet (whose son was appointed head of the Utah branch of Fannie Mae).They used Fannie and Freddie’s excess profits to harass congress’s attempts to regulate . The Democrats in congress continue to provide welfare loans as you’ll see in the current law in paragraph five of this letter.

    Morgan Housel’s article is blame-shifting: an exercise to move the blame for the economic collapse to banks instead of the authors of the debacle: Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, and Chuck Schumer and the Dems that supported them.. Using a straw-man, loans to banks instead of looking to Barney Frank whose authorization law exempted Fannie and Freddie from the SEC reporting transparency laws, (The 1933 and 1934 Securities Laws) and who fought to prevent Chris Shays from getting the authorization law amended to (1) provide transparency of the GSEs and (2) extend Sarbanes Oxley to Fannie and Freddie so company criminals who lied about the value of Fannie assets, like Claude Raines, would be serving time with Enron’s executives. (See video 8:34-8:54 (20 secs). In 2003 Chris Shays and the Citizens against Government Waste tried to get congress to make Fannie and Freddie follow financial transparency disclosure laws: the Security acts of 1933 and 1934. (p14. #8):

    Because Fannie and Freddie didn’t have to disclose their true financial status, and no penalty for lying to investors. Pension funds and community banks lost millions of dollars in Fanney Mae and Freddie Mac that they could ill afford. Frank and his Democrat collaborators insured that Fannie and Freddie In the following Video you’ll see the congressional black caucus harassing Fannie and Freddie’s

    Democrats like Michael Capulano insist that congress' banks, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, guarantee toxic subprime welfare-loans and turning those loans into securities which investors were duped into buying.(1) According to Greenspan, Fannie and Freddie provided 40% of all subprime loans from 2002-2004(2) The current authorization law requires Fannie and Freddie to continue to guarantee welfare loans to” (A) Low income families, (B) Families that reside in low income areas and (C) very-low income families.” ¶ 1.


    HUD set welfare loan goals, called by the codeword “affordable housing goals” for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: In 2007 HUD decided that 55% of Fannie and Freddie’s mortgages would go to group (A) above, Low income families who make below $21,000/yr; 35% of Fannie’s guaranteed loans to goal (B) areas with “at least 30% minorities” who make $30,000 or less; and 25% to goal (C) very poor to people who were 60% below the median income. The “very poor” are the same proportion as the 30% of taxfilers who pay no tax. In table 2 note 1,

    How can people who don’t make enough to pay tax (group C) afford a mortgage? That’s the problem. Democrats were using mortgages to pay for public housing. In a C-Span program on Fannie and Freddie in 2009, one of the callers was distressed about spending time in a Salvation Army homeless shelter. There wasn’t room for her in public housing, but her caseworker said that she could get a loan from Fannie Mae for a mortgage on a house. If she was in a homeless shelter, how was she going to pay-back that mortgage?

    Approximately 50% of 2007 subprime loans defaulted in 2009. Fed Chair Alan Greenspan tried to prevent the “systemic crisis” that defaults subprime and Alt-A loans could cause the destruction of the banking system by asking congress to reduce Fannie and Freddie’s welfare loan from 23% to 5% of the mortgage market as it had been under Clinton. All of these loans are likely to fail in an economic downturn, and Banks are funded to only 4% of loans. If they had invested in a significant amount of Fannie Mae’s “mortage debt obligations” which might have a 50% default, they’d be easily bankrupt.

    Instead of protecting the economy and the banking system, the Democrats protected their pork producer, the political credit that they got from these welfare loans. They fired Greenspan and fired Poole when he told that world that Fannie and Freddie were bankrupt by $1.17 Trillion by Jan 2007. At that time they were half of the mortgage market(a). By the time Fannie and Freddie went bankrupt in September 2008, they produced an additional $5.3 trillion in welfare loans because the Democrats forced them to extend the “affordable loans goals” to 76% of the mortgage market. Because the commercial banks that had made subprime loans were going bankrupt in 2007, Frank and Schumer and the Democrat leadership extended the “affordable housing” welfare mortgages to a group three times the size of the bank- mortgage market.(b) In a press release, Sen. Schumer boasted Democrats “forced the Bush regulators” to provide more subprime loans.(c)


    (b) ) [17:13 (58 seconds)]


    Increasing the subprime loans to three times the size of the regular mortgage market put pressure on Fannie and Freddie executives to find good candidates. The pressure led to their buying any loan, markedly increased the subprime default rate: Lockhart admitted that affordable Housing Goals caused Fannie and Freddie’s executives to guarantee unsafe loans: “HUD goals were too aggressive”.(2) Under the pressure of the HUD’s “affordable housing goals, Fannie and Freddie’s executive bad loans that caused more and more subprime defaults. Housing Wire reported “Standard and Poors now expects the default rate on subprime loans issued in 2005, 2006, and 2007 to be 11 percent, 30 percent, and 49 percent, respectively.”(3)

    (2) [16:12-17:50}


    As a result of the Democrat’s congressional pressure, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac caused the current depression and virtually destroyed European banks. They caused European banks $1 trillion in subprime-mortgage default write downs and US banks $1.6 trillion in defaults causing many bankruptcies and a shaky financial system.

    The Democrat’s manipulation of Fannie and Freddie caused the need for the Fed to extend $3.3 T in loans in 2008 to stabilize the banking system including foreign banks that took in their toxic loans.|headline|quot...

    Fannie and Freddie’s $6.3 trillion in bad loans can’t easily be paid. The entire income of the US government is $1 trillion and the gross income of everyone in the US is only $8.2 trillion.

    If we doubled the tax rate and dedicated it exclusively to pay for our welfare mortgage debt, it’ll take 15 years to pay for the taxpayers pay off what Democrats accumulated in five years.

    To keep the ship of state from sinking we have to fix the leaks: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac must be deauthorized.

  • Report this Comment On December 01, 2010, at 7:26 PM, rd80 wrote:

    "What do you think WikiLeaks will find?"

    Nothing. Deserved or not, banks' reputations are so far in the dumps it's hard to imagine anything very damaging coming out of this.

    Even if WikiLeaks produces some evidence, anyone trying to take action on it would be faced with proving the files were genuine and unaltered - suspect that might be a bit of a challenge.

    Maybe some juicy gossip or grist for the rumor mill, but that's about it.

  • Report this Comment On December 02, 2010, at 4:02 PM, Glycomix wrote:

    First Some self-corrections to my previous posting:

    1. - Gorelick was vice-CHAIR not vice-president of Fannie Mae.

    2. - The video shows the Congressional Black Caucus, eg Meeks and Clay, harassing Fannie and Freddie's regulator, OFEO Administrator Armando Falcon, for doing his job. I annoyingly didn't complete that sentence.

    Was Fannie and Freddie(1992-2008) like Tammany Hall?

    Slate’s article on Fannie and Freddie showed their corrupting influence. Johnson and Raines rewarded Clinton’s Deputy Attorney General, Jamie Gorelick, with $28 million job as a Vice Chairman of Fannie Mae although she is not a banker and was totally unqualified for that job. Raines and Johnson also corrupted Republican Senator Bob Bennett of Utah to play along by making his son the head of the Utah office of Fannie Mae.

    Beth Mclean documented other corruption tactics Johnson and Raines as CEO of Fannie made on the behalf of the Democratic machine in "The fall of Fannie Mae" in Dec 2005. Pork (showing constituents what you did to benefit them directly) by politician's photo-opportunities with individuals whose loans were guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. The times that politicians were leaned on by Fannie: When the senate "Housing and Finance Committee" was having hearing on Fannie, Claude Raines approved advertisements showing crying children whose parent consolingly said, "Congress is trying to take away our house".

    In 2002, Chris Shays's documented how he was harassed by threats from lobbyists when he told a close friend in congress that he was considering a law that held Fannie Mae executives to high standards of reporting economic data to stockholders for GSEs (Government Sponsored Enterprises) like Fanne-Mae and Freddie-Mac as Sarbanes-Oxley did for private corporations.

    Fannie and Freddie's welfare loans have been an election bonanza for Democrats. In his 2004 election, Freshman senator Chuck Schumer was reelected with 71%of the vote. Other Democrats have had similar results.

    Anyone who wanted Fannie Mae's regulation investigated attacked the the Democrat's pork-barrel vote-getting machine. Consequently they were viciously executed. Witness what happened to Sen Elizabeth Dole when she ran for re-election in 2008. A Democrat slush fund tidal-wave overwhelmed her re-election campaign.

    The Democrats and their friends in the media targeted and discredited anyone who pointed out the dangers Freddie and Fannie were causing us. They fired Fed Governors Alan Greenspan and William Poole when they quietly tried to warn the nation about the Dems destruction of the banking system though Freddie and Fannie's.

    As late as June 2008, when Fannie and Freddie were found to be bankrupt, Chair of the Senate Housing and Finance Committee Chris Dodd (Ct) told the press. "Freddie and Fannie are financially sound." LIAR! He knew they weren't. However, excepting only the Wall Street Journal, no one contradicted him.

    The main-stream media have been a large part of the Democrat party's strategy to shift the blame for the debacle to the banks instead of Fannie Mae and the Democrats in congress.

    In 2005, when Greenspan warned the Nation that Fannie and Freddie's portfolio (its percentage of of the mortgage market) must be decreased from 23% to 5% of mortgages, the New York Times business section ran Sen. Charles Schumer's statement that Fannie and Freddie were financially sound. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

    The New York Times has never come back at him and made Schumer explain his lies.

    The Democrat party and the major media outlets are in bed together. In 2004 Mike Wallace made patently unfounded accusations against President Bush. In 2004 Matt Drudge published reports showing that ABC's Political editor Mark Halpern sent a memo to ABC reporters to slant the news to make Democrat politicians look good and Republicans look bad.

    In 2008 CNN headline news reported every 20 mintues about the "corrupt Republicans". This starting point for this attibution that a Republican Lobbyist, Abrahamoff, had been convicted of undue influence. When called, the announcer refused to change his message although Democrat New Orleans congressman Jefferson had been convicted of selling his vote and Democrats in charge of Fannie Mae like Conneticut Senator Chris Dodd and Fannie CEO Jim Johnson were named as having received kickbacks and favorable loans from Countrywide's Bank's CEO.

    In the House Finance Commitee meeting in March 2010, Treas. Secy Geithner asked the Democrats to get rid of Fannie and Feddie's mortgages to save the banking system, Rep. Michael Capuano (Boston Cambridge) replied. "For me, subjecting ... potential home owners to the private market has been tried and has failed. When Fannie and Freddie we have created and sustained the middle class. For me, anything short of that my emotions might force me to cry out that ... some group of people is a home-ownership killer, if they got rid of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac".

    (go to 1:19:11- 1:21:30)

    - Quote taken from 1:21:00-1:21:30.

    As long as Michael Capuano and the radical Democrat "Progressives" are in power the US Banking system is in danger of total destruction.

    In the case of the debasement of the currency and possible hyperinflation, We need to preserve a route out of depression and poverty. The banking and investment systems need to be preserved.

    The easiest way out of a hyperinflation is exporting goods. The US needs the following:

    1. Deauthorize Fannie and Freddie, make all other GSE's (Government Sponsored Enterprises) publish monthly reports on their financial state and legislate that they must be in the black or stop lending money until they are.profitable.

    Place all GSEs under the 1933 and 1934 securities acts and Sarbanes-Oxley and reinstate the Glass-Stengall act.

    2. No taxes on exports as in Europe.

    3. Re-establish the Regan Section 179 100% Investment Tax credit for new investments up to $200k. The Democrats repealed it in 2009 and propose replacing it with a 50% tax credit. Reagan's tax credit produced prosperity and jobs. The Democrats' repealing it has lost jobs.

    4. Let the Bush Tax cuts expire. We must pay for what we can and cut services we can't pay for. Borrow nothing. The only exception to this rule is MILITARY spending in the event of attack. For example, we can still build a defensive missile system that Civil deficit spending must be illegal as well as "borrowing" from Social Security and Medicare.

    5. Repeal the Progressive Democrats' $10.3trillion in new welfare programs.(a) It promises to produce another $9 trillion in new debt.(b)

    (a) ; (b)

    6. Emphasize individual responsibility in all loans. Give Micro-loans to groups of poor entrepreneurs commensurate with their ability to pay the loan back. Middle-Tennessee State professor Mohammad Yunnus proved that this program works with his Grameen Bank in India and Bangla Desh.

    Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was bankrupt by $1.17 trilion in October 2006. ($2.82T Debt - $1.65T assets =Bankrupt by $1.17T.) (paragraph 2)

    That's more than the entire yearly revenue stream of the US government.

    If you find that I'm not lying, please act to let others know before our entire financial system is destroyed. Write a letter to the editor in your home-town newspaper. Make speeches to the Lions and the Kiwanis clubs in your home town. Put this information into context. How much must our taxes rise to avoid hyperinflation? What will happen if we sit back and preserve our energy?

    Hitler arose in the wake of Germany's hyperinflation. We must temper our message with compassion and provision for the poor.

    These radical "Progressive" Democrats have hijacked the name applied to Teddy Roosevelt and the Progressive Democrats of the 1890s. They are anti-religious bigots who hate restraint. They provide entitlements by borrowing and they destroy business incentives and exports to provide more entlements.

    What they're doing is like cutting down the orchard to provide more fruit to more people. That works for a year, but it results in famine until the orchard can be re-established.

    Contrast South-Africa and Zimbabwe. South Africa has freedom for all groups but didn't destroy its businesses and so has produced greater prosperity.

    Famine and hyperinflation came to Zimbabwe, when it's elected president destroyed economic incentives for businesses, got rid of constitutional guarantees to due process and allowed squatters to take over farms owned by white farmers. The squatters didn't know how to farm efficiently. Consequently, farms produced much less (10%of their former output?). During the past 10 years this has caused starvation in as much of 90% of Zimbabwe.

    Zimbabwe, one of Africa's richest nations in resources and farm productivity became one of the poorest by mismanagement and political ideologues who sound like our "Progressive" Democrats. Don't let it happen in the US.

    The 1980s were known as the "lost decade" in Latin America when Latin American governments borrowed more than they could pay in taxes.

    We must accept all groups without discrimination and provide a chance for religious charities that don't promote violence to provide for the poor. , We must allow the nation to prosper by providing economic incentives for innovative ideas and for manufacturing these items in the US.

    I know that I'm repeating myself, but Frank, Schumer and Capulano are still attempting to destroy the US Banking system by these welfare loans where no responsibility is required because of securitization of the debt. What do we do about this?

    We need to ...

    1) Deauthorize Fannie and Freddie or any entity that provides mortgage or loan that does not require personal responsibility as shown by a high percentage of loan repayment.

    2) Repeal the Community Reinvestment Act and the portions of that act that require loans based upon race or nationality rather than economic merit or ideas

    3) Establish Grameen-style banks that provide micro-loans to groups of 5 or so poor entrepreneurs. They vote within themselves as to who is to get the loan. Who has the strongest plan and is likely to pay the loan back quicker. When the first entrepreneur pays back the loan, it goes to the next person. The Grameen banks show a 98% repayment rate. This means that they stay very profitable while keeping their interest lower than comparable commercial banks.

    4) Provide easily available low-interest loans and technical help to any company or organization that profitably exports legal goods manufactured or grown in the US.

    5) Cut red-tape from oil drilling because the US will run out of gas in 10 years if we don't drill any more oil wells. OBama loaned Billions to Mexico to drill only a few hundred miles from the gulf area where he's denying US drillers the right to produce oil wells.

    6) Medicare debt is increasing at $2T/yr. We must Raise taxes to pay for the Medicare prescriptions or limit them to generics, while providing prescription wholesale to the cheapest provider.

  • Report this Comment On December 02, 2010, at 4:54 PM, Glycomix wrote:

    Correction on posting 1:

    - The proof that Fannie and Freddie are making welfare mortgages was in paragraph 6 not 5.

    The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provided goals for Fannie and Freddie until July 2008.

    The current law kept the former requirements: mortgage guarantees to go to

    A) the poor who are below 50% of the median US (c $19,000) or local Income .whichever is lower.

    B) The very poor who pay no income tax. I reported the story of a woman who called CSPAN to thank whomever that she'd get a mortgage instead of living in a homeless shelter. She didn't have enough money to go into public housing. C) and Areas with >30% Minority (with 110% of the Median income or less.) ¶ 1.

    For clarity, HUD's 2007 regulations in Table 2 Note 1 sharpened the meaning of the the law so that it fit the aforementioned definitions.

    Is it any wonder that minority representatives actively inquire whether this law's goals are being carried out and why the congressional black caucus fought so vehemently to ensure that they weren't regulated.

    See following video for evidence of harassment of regulator and Maxine Water's complement of Raines for providing no-downpayment welfare loans.

  • Report this Comment On December 03, 2010, at 9:29 PM, Pr0metheus wrote:

    "What do you think WikiLeaks will find?"

    I think that, whatever it finds, the end result will the same as all of its other leaks to date: humiliating, damning, but hardly earth-shattering.

    Then again, who knows? The past ten years have made the Average Joe a tough crowd, but trouble has a knack for popping up when you think things can't get any worse.

  • Report this Comment On December 10, 2010, at 8:49 PM, LemonMeister wrote:

    KB Home Mortgage became KB Home Countrywide Mortgage. It went to become Countrywide Home Loans. Tanked and became Bank of America Home Loan. It was once called Bank of Italy. Bank of America's investment arm was purchased by Merrill Lynch. Merrill Lynch tanked and was bought out by Bank of America. Wikileak's you go girl! America is in Love with White collar crime. The people with the money (Like the Inside Man?) are using Government's from around the World to go after Wikileaks, surely the Ace in the hole is being held close to their chest! Can't wait to see the chickens running around with their H _ _ Ds cut off. If everything Wikileak's publishes is old news according to Glen Beck, who cares?

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