Another great report by FRONTLINE. It is a national disgrace that Ebbers, Weill, and Grubman are escaping prison time for this trillion-dollar scam against the public. These scandals are a major drag on the market that have largely destroyed investor confidence in the market. Giving this scum a slap on the wrist is not enough to restore investor confidence. For starters, Congress needs to immediately revisit the repeal of Glass-Steagall. Mixing banking and securities investment just does not work. Unbounded greed and this is the correct word is just too powerful a force to allow these activities to be combined.
Falls Church, VA
As a victim of Salomon Smith Barney's Jack Grubman, My $40,000 loss on Quest Communications has me so angry that you cannot imagine the bad things I'd like to see happen to him, his management and all the others like him.
While I stew over my losses, he sits in one of his multi-million dollar homes saying to himself, "mirror mirror on the wall..." I will bet that he has absolutly no concern for those who have lost their life savings as a result of his greed, ambition and amoral crookedness.
The question is how do those who were hurt organize? How about a follow-up program that offers suggestions on how the average guy like myself gets even. I've talked to lawyers who tell me that a law suit will cost more than my claim.
I would like to hear from anyone wishing to pursue Citi Corp and Smith Barney on the Quest Communications stock that Grubman recommended right up to it's collapse.
Great job, Frontline. You are by far and away the best investigative news team on television.
New York, NY
Excellent program, about the Worldcom scandal and how the Citicorp mafia issued fradulent strong buy ratings on telcom stocks. It is worst than organized crime, and should be punished accordingly.
If you get caught shoplifting even a small item, you not only pay for the item, you go to jail too. How come, these crooksEbbers, Weill and Grubman got away with 1 trillion dollars fraud and a direct job loss of 500,000.
We have no faith in companies, Research analyst and regulators. They all are part of an organized crime family. Unless govt confiscates the money and properties of these crooks and send them to jail, no one should give any credibility to or invest in the stock market.
Mir F. Khan
Your report on Wallstreet was excellent. But there is much more to report. The American people need to find about the actions of Mary Meeker, and Henry Blodgett, who acted in much the same manner an Mr Grubman, for other firms. They need to know about the Global Crossing story and how Terry McAuliffe the head of the DNC supposedly received $100,000 of Global Crossing stock PRE IPO and managed to sell it for $18,000,000.
This story is really about the stealing of seven trillion dollars of the hard earned savings of three generations of American working people. I know that I would really be glad if I could pay only 1.4 billion dollars in fines with no admitting of wrong doing after fleecing the American public of trillions.
Much more needs to be said about the mutual fund travesty. Investors need to know that the Wall Street crimes committed against us will be part and parcel to ruining the American Dream and at this time are largely going unpunished. The real estate bubble is about to burst next. Beware!!
Although the events detailed on your program were unfortunate and indeed, scandalous, it seems to me that any prudent investor in the stock market needs to take investment analysts' recommendations with a large grain of salt. If there were any sure-fire way to predict stock prices, there would be no need for any other type of investment asset bonds, cash, natural resources, et. al.; we'd all be exceedingly wealthy.
It's said that the two drivers of the stock market are fear and greed, and I feel that most of the biggest complainers are those that let greed overtake all rational thought.
Even if an investor was to have the ill fortune to invest in WorldCom AND Enron, a policy of diversification and discipline would likely insulate him from absolute financial disaster.
I think the responsibility for what happens to any investor lies squarely with the investor. Just as one shouldn't get on the highway without knowing how to drive or the rules of the road, committing capital to an investment plan without fundamental knowledge of prudent investment tenets seriously limits one's chance of a successful outcome.
The ''Wall St. Fix'' is compelling. It joins in a powerful way stories that were out there, known separately, at least in part, but never brought together to show the larger arc that connects 1929 to 1999.
Hedrick Smith and his team are showing the rest of the alleged news media what scope and courage really are. I have more to say about this superb journalism here: http://tom.weblogs.com/2003/05/08
The Wall St. fix was very timely. Maybe now this great country can get back to investing in and growing out the economy.
Now that the money's in the hands of the likes of Weill, Lay and Ebbers it will trickle down, resulting in the creation of burger-flipping jobs and the opening of dollar stores that can grow our tax base and reduce the federal and state budgets deficits. I'm sure our leaders have already forecasted when this will happen - maybe in time for next year's election?
Next, we should pass legislation in Congress that make's it un-American for foreign investors to withdraw their capital from the US economy. We could send our troops of financial analysts, stock brokers, shills and exemplary corporate leaders on a campaign to return that capital to the US where it belongs. With their skills the war to re-patriate those funds would be won in as short a time as the war on Terrorism in Iraq. We just have to make sure no post-war looting occurs as it did in Iraq.
This victory will ensure that the American investor comes back to his proper place at the trough that is Wall Street. Gullibility will be restored and the Wall St. honchos can once again smile all the way to the 'bank'. Remember, the Wall Street honcho is a protected species and all force the government can bring in their protection is warranted.
thank you for your informative program. citigroup's special
group in los angeles under richard olson, where ipo stocks were
given to ebbers and others, is nothing more than a kick back
scheme for high level corporate managers in exchange for lucrative investment banking. this morning, 9 may, the ny
times report that citigroup have dismissed 2 more exectuives
who were associated with this entire affair.
i like millions of americans have lost significant amount of
money in worldcom. can you provide information on any legalrecourse we might have toward citigroup and other investmentbanks for this malfeasance?
new york, ny
FRONTLINE's editors respond:
The section of this web site for our report --the section called FIXING THE STREET ---offers information on this. The information is contained in the article entitled "What's an Investor To Do?"
RE: "The Wall Street Fix" - Excellent Program
I was employed at AT&T when the wireless IPO was issued. It was presented to the employees as a "safe" investment at $29.50 per share. Today the stock has been as low as $3. Jack Grubman had placed a buy on the IPO stock and gave it great ratings. Buyer beware? Crying over a bad investment decision, perhaps. All I know is that the national media did nothing to warn the unsuspecting public of the inherent risks in these investments and the fraud surrounding them.
I was also employed at Worlcom and up to the very day the $11 billion scandal was announced Worldcom was issuing Power Point presentations to its salespeople to give to business propects on the the "solid" financial condition Worldcom was in. Some of my prospects had even bought Worldcom stock on these glowing financial reports Worldcom headquarters had issued.
In my opinion the Jack Grubmans a fitting name, right? and Bernnie Ebbers and all the others responsible for the 500,000 jobs lost in telecom should be doing 10 years in jail.
As for any future investments in the stock market - vote with your dollars and do not put any of your investment money into the stock market for at least 10 years. Instead, put the money in your homes and real estate, its the only really safe place that pay's a decent return. This sends a very clear message to the Wall Street crew that there mess hasn't been cleaned up with this $1.4 billion minor inconvenience fine.
Short and to the point . . . Unless and until such time as the likes of Weil, Grubman, Ebbers, Lay, et. al. are in orange jumpsuits, their kind of unconscionable behavior will continue. Put them in prison, and impose fines that are meaningful and proportional instead of a mere slap on the wrist!
Thank you for your usual exemplary job of presenting thorny issues. Unfortunately, tonightís message was completely demoralizing. It is another egregious example of the increasing trend in our society that the only thing that matters is ME. "The bottom line . . .is the bottom line!"
What is so disheartening is that none of the greedy, lying SOBs will do one day in jail. Nor, will they, as I understand it, be required to forfeit any of what they - through outright lies and fraud - STOLE from thousands of people who trusted the information they were given. T
flagstaff , az
The last thing you would think they would have to resort to at the top levels of business and banking in this country is fraud.
Fraud is an expression of their intentions and reveals their lack of character. However, they have lost the things that mean more to them than the millions, their reputations, influence, and egos. For those foolish enough to think that the government, or the inocent employees are going to protect them from fraud, welcome to the real world.
I was in NY,NY in Feb 2001 when the analyst told the retail brokers that the research reports were written with "tongue in cheek". Since receiving my MBA, I have been aware of possible conflicts among investment banking and retail brokerage business. Therefore, I have never relied on research reports in making recomendations. Individuals do not have the time, experience, or education to make investment decesions themselves. They need brokers. The biggest problem with the industry is that with ONLY a GED one can take the Series 7 exam and recomed securities to the investing public.
We may not need more regulation, but we do need stricter requirements for those whom the investing public is trusting, their friend, their bank, their advisor, their broker. Whomever it is, more than likely has very little knowledge about investing and is only highly skilled at "selling".
Former Smith Barney Broker
Great Show! Now I think its time for Frontline to move on and do a story how to prevent you from being a victim of so many of the similar stories of the scandalous Wall Street.
Frontline, how about a story on how to approach the market correctly, you think these firms stopped playing their smoke and mirror games? They just recently upgraded Home Depot ticker symbol HD @ 29.00, what was wrong with doing it at 20.00 bucks, nice try again Wall Street were in the game with you at 20.00.
Frontline, A+, Keep up the great work!
I will give you a little bit of credit for at least bringing the timelne back to the beginning of the problem. This problem had it's origins in the early to mid 90's, not during either Bush administration as many have tried to portray, including PBS and Frontline.
However, I found it conveniently downplayed when the the discussion was about Sandy Weill going to Rubin and Clinton to push for the law changes that would enable the combination of CitiGroup and Solomon. The manipulation with the two year exemption ensured the deregulation on a permanent basis because the genie would now be out of the bottle. I did find it telling at the end when Frontline pointed out the lack of consequences endured by the perpetrators, but neglected to include the fact that Robert Rubin is now a celebrated executive officer at Citigroup and was in fact the Citigroup executive that contacted a Bush administration Treasury official requesting that he intervene to delay the downgrade of ENRON's rating.