Saturday, November 28, 2009

SEC Obtains Asset Freeze in Minnesota-Based Foreign Currency Trading Scheme


Washington, D.C., Nov. 24, 2009 — The Securities and Exchange Commission has obtained an emergency court order freezing the assets of a self-proclaimed Minneapolis-based money manager, a nationally syndicated radio personality and four companies they controlled in a foreign currency trading scheme that raised at least $190 million from more than 1,000 investors.


Additional Materials


The SEC alleges that Trevor G. Cook and Patrick J. "Pat" Kiley sold unregistered investments through shell companies by misrepresenting that they would deposit each investor's funds into a separate account in the investor's name to trade in foreign currencies and generate annual returns of 10 percent to 12 percent. They also misrepresented that their foreign currency trading program involved little or no risk and that investors' principal would be safe and could be withdrawn at any time. Kiley pitched the investments on his financially themed "Follow the Money" show that he hosted on radio stations nationwide.

According to the SEC's complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, Cook and Kiley instead pooled investors' funds in bank and trading accounts in the names of entities they controlled. The foreign currency trading they did conduct resulted in millions of dollars in losses. Moreover, they misused approximately half of investor funds collected to make Ponzi-like payments to earlier investors and pay for Cook's gambling losses and purchase of the historic Van Dusen Mansion in Minneapolis.

"Cook and Kiley told investors that their money would be invested safely and profitably," said Merri Jo Gillette, Director of the SEC's Chicago Regional Office. "Instead, they went on a $40 million-plus spending spree with investors' money and lost another $40 million in risky foreign currency trading."

In addition to Cook and Kiley, the SEC charged their unregistered companies UBS Diversified Growth LLC, Universal Brokerage FX Management LLC, Oxford Global Advisors LLC, and Oxford Global Partners LLC.

The SEC alleges that Cook and Kiley misappropriated $42.8 million of investors' money, including $18 million that Cook used to buy ownership interests in two trading firms; $12.8 million that Cook and Kiley transferred to Panama to purportedly finance the construction of a casino; $2.8 million that Cook used to acquire the Van Dusen Mansion and $4.8 million that Cook lost through gambling. Cook and Kiley also misspent approximately $51 million to make Ponzi-like payments to earlier investors. The SEC further alleges that Cook and Kiley placed $108 million of investors' funds into banking and trading accounts in the names of their various shell companies and used some of this money to trade foreign currencies, resulting in losses of at least $48 million.

The Honorable Michael J. Davis of the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota issued an Asset Freeze Order against all assets of Cook, Kiley, and the Defendant Companies on Nov. 23, 2009. The court also issued an asset freeze order against several relief defendants for the purposes of recovering investor funds in their possession: Basel Group LLC, Crown Forex LLC, Market Shot LLC, PFG Coin and Bullion, Oxford FX Growth L.P., Oxford Global FX LLC, Oxford Global Managed Futures Fund L.P, UBS Diversified FX Advisors LLC, UBS Diversified FX Growth L.P., and UBS Diversified FX Management LLC. The court also entered a freeze order against certain assets of Cook's in-laws, relief defendants Clifford and Ellen Berg, who received investor funds from Cook. In addition, Judge Davis issued an order appointing a receiver over all of these assets. The court issued the freeze and receivership orders under seal while the assets were being secured, and the seal has now been lifted.

The SEC's complaint charges Cook, Kiley, and their companies with violating Sections 5(a), 5(c) and 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder. In addition to the emergency relief already obtained, the complaint seeks preliminary and permanent injunctions and disgorgement from all defendants as well as financial penalties from Cook and Kiley, and disgorgement of ill-gotten gains from the relief defendants.

None of these entities using the UBS name are affiliated with UBS AG, the Switzerland-based global financial services firm.

The SEC acknowledges the assistance of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, the National Futures Association, and the Minnesota Attorney General in this investigation.

# # #

For more information about this enforcement action, contact:

Timothy L. Warren
Associate Regional Director, SEC's Chicago Regional Office
(312) 353-7390

The Dollar Bubble

Kaiser on Tsunami Alert - Dubai debt collapse

Greece tests the limit of sovereign debt as it grinds towards slump

Greece is disturbingly close to a debt compound spiral. It is the first developed country on either side of the Atlantic to push unfunded welfare largesse to the limits of market tolerance.

Monday, November 23, 2009

3 Hebrew Boys guilty of $82 million Ponzi scheme

3 Hebrew Boys guilty of $82 million Ponzi scheme

You don't use God if you're going to defraud people'

The jury needed little time Friday to convict the Midlands men who called themselves the 3 Hebrew Boys for running a debt-relief ministry that turned out to be an $82 million Ponzi scheme.

The seven women and five men saw through the lies of Joseph Brunson, Tim McQueen and Tony Pough, one of the jurors said after the trio was convicted on 58 counts of mail fraud, money laundering and transporting stolen goods.

After two weeks of testimony, the jury reached a verdict in less than three hours.

"You don't use God if you're going to defraud people," said a juror who declined to give her name. "They never were helping people. They were just helping themselves."

The jury also ordered the 3 Hebrew Boys to repay $82 million. The men showed no emotion as the clerk read the word "guilty" 174 times. They face up to 30 years in prison when sentenced early next year.

The men called themselves the "3 Hebrew Boys" after the biblical tale of men who survived an inferno because of their faith.

Since 2004, the men had lured at least 7,000 investors from two dozen states, including many from military bases and churches, with promises to help pay off debt at a fraction of its cost. They also offered monthly lifetime residuals on investments.

They claimed to earn money from investing in foreign exchange markets using secrets known only to banks.

Their presentations banned attendance from anyone working in law enforcement, government agencies or the media. Investors had to sign a confidentiality agreement with a $1 million penalty for violating it.

Authorities said less than $100,000 was ever invested in foreign exchange markets - and that money was lost.

By the time they were arrested in 2007, the 3 Hebrew Boys would have had to pay investors more than $1 billion over the next two years and had just $17 million in bank accounts.

Winston Holliday, who helped prosecute the case for the government, said the scheme was attractive because it used an investment few understand - foreign exchange markets - and gave early investors big returns.

"It was exotic," he said. "People might have been skeptical, but that didn't matter after they saw the results. Once the money started to flow, people figured they had to join or get left behind."

The scheme also was helped by sales representatives who spread the word about the 3 Hebrew Boys' programs to worshippers at their churches and troops under their command, even in Iraq.

"They were trusted, so it must be good," Holliday said.

Even on the trial's last day, the 3 Hebrew Boys continued to argue their prosecution was unjust.

Without the knowledge of their court-appointed attorneys, they submitted a court filing Friday that accused Walt Wilkins, the U.S. attorney in South Carolina, of treason and committing an act of war against them.

The men have argued federal law does not apply to them because they are descendants of people who lived in the country before the colonists arrived.

U.S. District Judge Margaret Seymour revoked their bail and ordered them into custody after their convictions. The men handed over necklaces, rings, watches, money and wallets to family members before being escorted out of the courtroom.

At one point after the verdict was read, Brunson, pastor at a Northeast Richland church, turned to the gallery of friends and family and whispered: "Don't walk by what you see. Walk by what you know."

"I'm completely shocked because of the complete and total injustice," Brunson's wife, Isolde, said while leaving the courtroom.

Some 3 Hebrew Boys "depositors" - as they were called - did get returns on their investments that, in some cases, paid off mortgages, credit cards and cars. They received about $23 million.

But the men also spent about $25 million on a home near Walt Disney World, three Atlanta condos, three luxury stadium boxes in Charlotte and Atlanta, more than 20 cars, eight lots at a Northeast Richland subdivision, 20 acres of Orangeburg County land, a $1 million motor coach, and a $5 million personal jet.

Their court-appointed defense attorneys argued the trio planned to use all those purchases to raise money for their debt-relief programs. Their attorneys would not say Friday whether they planned an appeal.

The case came to light in 2007 when state authorities seized $17 million in cash from bank accounts tied to the 3 Hebrew Boys. The men also face state charges of securities fraud, failure to file state income tax returns and selling unregistered securities.

A federal court-appointed receiver is trying to sell the assets to repay investors. Claim forms could be available in a few weeks, the receiver said.

However, at least seven cars bought by the 3 Hebrew Boys are still missing, including two Mercedes roadsters valued at more than $330,000, authorities said.

The case was investigated by agents of the FBI, IRS, and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service. FBI special agent Ron Grosse pored over 14,000 pages of documents, Holliday said.

"We have been living this case for two years," he said. "We're glad to get complete justice."

Bank Enforcement Cease and Desist Actions Quickly Rising

Bank Enforcement Cease and Desist Actions Quickly Rising The financial crisis is causing a dramatic rise in the number of cease and desist orders by bank regulators and should be a warning sign for bank managers and directors, according to analysis by the Regulatory Fundamentals Group. By Melanie Rodier
More from this author November 20, 2009

The financial crisis is causing a dramatic rise in the number of cease and desist orders by bank regulators and should be a warning sign for bank managers and directors, according to analysis by the Regulatory Fundamentals Group (RFG). "Regulators are concentrating on the failure to meet basic standards for safety and soundness, such as capital adequacy and liquidity," Deborah Prutzman, CEO of RFG, stated. "We encourage senior management and directors to be especially vigilant about their governance program until the economy turns around." The report shows that federal banking agencies have issued 302 Cease and Desist Orders as of September 30, 2009, compared to 168 in all of 2008. In the third quarter alone, 159 Cease and Desist orders were issued. RFG analyzed the 159 Cease and Desist orders and found the majority of the orders (130) indicate banks were operating with an inadequate level of capital protection for the volume, type, and quality of the assets held. One hundred of the banks were ordered to reduce their level of criticized assets; 93 banks were ordered to cease operating with an inadequate methodology for determining the appropriate allowance for loan and lease losses; 83 orders required banks to develop a three-year business plan and goals based on sound banking practices; 75 banks with brokered accounts were required to adopt a written plan to eliminate reliance on brokered funds and/or stop accepting deposits. Adequacy of management was also a key issue for bank regulators. Of the 159 orders reviewed by RFG, 99 stressed the importance of adequate management and 51 focused on adequate board supervision. Interestingly, the number of orders directed at individuals, primarily civil money penalties and removal and prohibition orders, did not increase significantly during this time period. This indicates that the federal banking regulators are devoting resources to deal with the consequences of the recent financial crisis at the present time, the release said. The orders were issued by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC); Office of the Controller of the Currency (OCC), Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (FED). You can read the entire report at

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thinking different in a new economy
By Martin Melaver

Recently, I've been reading with my son The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. We're at that point in the story when our travelers arrive on the planet of Magrathea. Magrathea, you may recall, made a name for itself millions of years ago by specializing in building designer planets for the super-wealthy. Then, out of the blue, a severe economic recession hit the galaxy and demand for Magrathea's high-end product vaporized. The citizens of Magrathea decided to mothball the planet until market demand returned. Fast-forward five million years, and the Magratheans are still waiting. Talk about an allegory for our time.

In a recent webcast, Stephen Blank, Urban Land Institute's Senior Resident Fellow for Real Estate Finance, expressed what many in real estate already know and fear: that the downturn in residential real estate in 2007-8 was nothing compared to the tsunami coming at us in 2010 in the commercial sector. Values are likely to dip to 40 percent from three years ago, a commercial resurgence is not likely to occur until 2012, and the financial markets will continue to remain frozen except for the vulture plays stepping in with all-cash, low-ball purchases of distressed assets. Of the total $3.5 trillion in commercial debt out there, $900 billion is held in the problematic CMBS market. Thirty-nine billion dollars of that debt will be due in 2010; $150 billion by 2012.

By Joseph A. Giannone

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Sooner or later, office buildings and other commercial real estate financed during the credit bubble will generate hurricane-scale losses for banks.

Banks in recent years have been hammered by losses on home mortgages, buyouts and corporate defaults. Now, lenders face big losses from loans backed by commercial real estate, where a stagnant economy will eventually take its toll, financial services executives told the Reuters Global Finance Summit.

"The commercial real estate business still has not been marked down. It's not been marked to market," Cantor Fitzgerald LP Chief Executive Howard Lutnick said. "The economy can't, in my opinion, grow fast enough that the tenants are going to go out and start hiring and growing and building and take up all these rents at $60 a foot. It's nonsense."

U.S. banks held $1.65 trillion of commercial real estate loans on their balance sheets as of November 4, according to the Federal Reserve. Total assets were $11.8 trillion.

Yet banks have postponed their day of reckoning, extending loans in hopes the economy will improve and demand for space will rebound. Banks have resisted selling assets, or taking them away from underwater borrowers, in fear of setting a new and lower market price.

It is a strategy neatly summarized as "a rolling loan gathers no loss," Lutnick quipped.

Lutnick, whose firm is now building out a real estate restructuring business, noted the equity invested in almost every transaction during the peak bubble years of 2005 through early 2007 has been wiped out. Lenders are under deep stress, because the value of their collateral has fallen.


But there is a limit to how long landlords can hold out for the old pre-recession rents. And once one building is marked down to reflect lower rents, neighboring buildings also should fall in value.

Lutnick added most commercial loans come in the form of five-year balloon loans, so a wave of 2005-vintage assets will test creditors next year.

"When you're in the eye of the hurricane, it sure feels good until you look at the TV screen and then you say, 'look, the hurricane is all around you,'" Lutnick said.

Banks do have a few things going in their favor. Chief among them is a friendly Federal Reserve, whose policy of free money lets banks reap windfall lending profits.

"The Fed has pushed interest rates down to nothing. The spreads on portfolios and securities are generating a huge amount of net interest income," Broadpoint Gleacher Securities Group (BPSG.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) Chief Executive Lee Fensterstock said at the Summit. "That will enable them to resolve some of their commercial real estate positions."

The commercial real estate problem also pales in size next to the previous waves of mortgage, leveraged loan, credit card and other consumer loan losses.

FBR Capital Markets analyst Paul Miller, while generally negative on banks, on Wednesday played down the danger of commercial real estate losses.  Continued...

GLOBAL ECONOMY WEEKAHEAD-A glimpse into the mind of the U.S. Fed
11.22.09, 3:00 PM ET

United States -

By Emily Kaiser

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Federal Reserve is about to provide a little more insight into how long an extended period of time might be.

The U.S. central bank, has been repeating that "extended period" phrase since March to signal that it intends to keep its benchmark short-term interest rate near zero for the foreseeable future.

With the U.S. economy now growing again, there is considerable debate about how far that horizon stretches.

After its last policy-setting meeting in early November, the Fed spelled out more clearly the economic conditions that it thought justified ultra-low rates -- namely high unemployment and subdued inflation trends and expectations.

On Tuesday, the Fed will release minutes from that meeting, offering a glimpse into its closed-door discussions that may provide more clues about when rates will go up.

A recent Reuters poll of economists found they expect the Fed to hold interest rates steady until the third quarter of 2010, even though the economy is likely to keep growing.

"We think the Fed will want to see several quarters of strong growth and a falling unemployment rate before it is willing to raise rates," said Barclays Capital economist Dean Maki, who expects modest tightening starting in September.

The Fed got three months of above-average growth in the third quarter, although revised figures coming Tuesday are expected to show the pace was not quite as peppy as the 3.5 percent annual rate that was initially reported.

Revised figures for Britain's economy, slated for release Wednesday, are expected to show its third-quarter contraction was not as deep as first thought, although the fact the economy was still shrinking has kept pressure on the Bank of England to do more to spur activity.

As for U.S. unemployment, that stands at a 26-year peak of 10.2 percent and is widely expected to stay abnormally high at least through 2010.

The Fed itself has predicted the jobless rate will remain above normal at least through 2011. Tuesday's minutes will include updated forecasts for economic growth and employment, and may show the central bank taking an even gloomier view.

Its June forecasts pegged unemployment in the range of 9.8 percent to 10.1 percent for 2009, but the actual figure has already exceeded that. Its 2010 forecast for 9.5 percent to 9.8 percent unemployment may also be nudged higher.


Some private economists think this recession has done even deeper structural damage to the job market, pushing the longer-run "normal" level of unemployment to somewhere around 6 percent rather than the 5 percent range that Fed officials had thought.

Indeed, the Fed's June forecasts show at least one of its policy-setting committee members thinks longer-run unemployment may now be 6 percent. If more officials have shifted to that view, the Fed's longer-run forecast could get bumped up.

For financial markets, a Fed promising cheap money indefinitely has helped to lift stock markets and steepen the yield curve, making lending more profitable for banks.

But global markets developed a case of the jitters last week after eight months of relative calm, reflecting a bit of uncertainty about the health of the economy and what that might mean for central banks' ultra-loose policies.

Lena Komileva, an economist with Tullett Prebon in London, thinks the recent market unrest may be an early warning of worse to come next year.

The Fed and its counterparts in Europe and elsewhere have cut interest rates to record lows and poured trillions of dollars into special lending programs to try to prop up the economy. Komileva said that succeeded in turning investor attention away from the sort of depression scenarios that were prevalent last year, but the effects may be temporary.

Reports last week showing the U.S. housing market still suffering from soaring defaults "made for a chilling wake-up call," she said. Investors responded by pulling money out of assets seen as risky.

If the recent wobbles are showing markets had assumed a healthier and speedier economic recovery than what has materialized, central banks will have to decide whether they can provide more assistance without sowing the seeds of future problems such as runaway inflation.

"In financial (market) valuations, the global economy now looks a bit too perfect," she said. "It appears that the effects of central banks'... anesthetic for global financial risks are beginning to wear off." (Editing by Neil Stempleman)

Copyright 2009 Reuters, Click for Restriction


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Kevin Brady asks Timothy Geithner to step down

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Worst is yet to Come: Unemployed Americans Should Hunker Down for More Job Losses

From the Daily News:

Think the worst is over? Wrong. Conditions in the U.S. labor markets are awful and worsening. While the official unemployment rate is already 10.2% and another 200,000 jobs were lost in October, when you include discouraged workers and partially employed workers the figure is a whopping 17.5%.

While losing 200,000 jobs per month is better than the 700,000 jobs lost in January, current job losses still average more than the per month rate of 150,000 during the last recession.

Also, remember: The last recession ended in November 2001, but job losses continued for more than a year and half until June of 2003; ditto for the 1990-91 recession.

So we can expect that job losses will continue until the end of 2010 at the earliest. In other words, if you are unemployed and looking for work and just waiting for the economy to turn the corner, you had better hunker down. All the economic numbers suggest this will take a while. The jobs just are not coming back.

There's really just one hope for our leaders to turn things around: a bold prescription that increases the fiscal stimulus with another round of labor-intensive, shovel-ready infrastructure projects, helps fiscally strapped state and local governments and provides a temporary tax credit to the private sector to hire more workers. Helping the unemployed just by extending unemployment benefits is necessary not sufficient; it leads to persistent unemployment rather than job creation.

The long-term picture for workers and families is even worse than current job loss numbers alone would suggest. Now as a way of sharing the pain, many firms are telling their workers to cut hours, take furloughs and accept lower wages. Specifically, that fall in hours worked is equivalent to another 3 million full time jobs lost on top of the 7.5 million jobs formally lost.

This is very bad news but we must face facts. Many of the lost jobs are gone forever, including construction jobs, finance jobs and manufacturing jobs. Recent studies suggest that a quarter of U.S. jobs are fully out-sourceable over time to other countries.

Other measures tell the same ugly story: The average length of unemployment is at an all time high; the ratio of job applicants to vacancies is 6 to 1; initial claims are down but continued claims are very high and now millions of unemployed are resorting to the exceptional extended unemployment benefits programs and are staying in them longer.

Based on my best judgment, it is most likely that the unemployment rate will peak close to 11% and will remain at a very high level for two years or more.

The weakness in labor markets and the sharp fall in labor income ensure a weak recovery of private consumption and an anemic recovery of the economy, and increases the risk of a double dip recession.

As a result of these terribly weak labor markets, we can expect weak recovery of consumption and economic growth; larger budget deficits; greater delinquencies in residential and commercial real estate and greater fall in home and commercial real estate prices; greater losses for banks and financial institutions on residential and commercial real estate mortgages, and in credit cards, auto loans and student loans and thus a greater rate of failures of banks; and greater protectionist pressures.

The damage will be extensive and severe unless bold policy action is undertaken now.

Roubini is professor of Economics at the Stern School of Business at New York University and Chairman of Roubini Global Economics.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Wall Street Spends $1.8 Billion A Year on Data Centers, Tabb Group Says

Wall Street Spends $1.8 Billion A Year on Data Centers, Tabb Group Says

Proximity attracts a hefty premium from ultra-low-latency trading firms; 82% of firms say power is their overriding concern.
By Penny Crosman
April 01, 2009

With financial markets firms investing an average of $1.8 billion annually on data center space, power and cooling — sell-side firms and execution venues alone spend nearly 75% of that total — power, location, connectivity, flexibility and security are critical elements in the creation and selection of financial data centers. According to research from Tabb Group in a new report published today, "Financial Services Data Centers: Power, Proximity and Profit," 66% of the current US equity trading volume is driven by fewer than 1% of the firms deploying ultra low latency strategies that physically require being located within feet of an execution venue matching engine.

The report is based on interviews with front-office staff and technologists at bulge bracket broker-dealers, proprietary trading firms, execution venues and IT solution providers. "Once hidden only in basements of downtown Manhattan buildings and staffed with people in ripped jeans and sneakers, today's data centers contain some of the world's most bleeding-edge technology, run by some of the industry's best and brightest," says Kevin McPartland, senior analyst and TABB and author of the IT research report. "These centers house the heart of nearly every financial services business. From high-speed trading to derivatives pricing, the soaring need for compute power has made data center space the virtual replacement of Wall Street."

Although data centers will remain the realm of engineers, the front office has grown acutely aware of their importance, forced to recognize the impact of the world's changing politics and economics, specifically how cutting-edge hardware requires considerable electricity to run. Multiply that need, says McPartland, by tens of thousands of servers used in any given data center, which explains why 82% of those interviewed ranked power as their most pressing concern, surpassing connectivity and cost.

He cites an example using a single blade server that consumes about 100 watts per hour, same as an incandescent light bulb. With 30 blades per rack and an estimated 100 racks in a single data center cage, 300,000 watts per hour would be used, approximately the same amount of power used by 3,000 suburban homes in the U.S., excluding additional energy to heat and cool the servers. The 300,000 watts must then be multiplied by 24 hours, multiplied by seven days, multiplied by 365 days — all for one cage of one firm's data center. Reinforcing the point, he says, "Financial services data centers are the largest users of power in the State of New Jersey."

The TABB report covers data center business models, third-party product and service solutions, power density, carrier density, security and proximity. For this last point, he explains that the trading engine needs to be optimized, market data must by gathered with the least latency possible and the hardware this runs on must be perfectly suited for the task. "Except for a dozen or so firms at the top of the low-latency trading world, very few have a correctly optimized infrastructure to benefit from such close proximity to an execution venue's matching engine."

In the not-so-distant future, the shared services facility business model will move beyond common power, heating and cooling into the area of cloud computing where firms can rent CPU cycles and memory-on-demand.

NSA To Build $1.5 Billion Cybersecurity Data Center

NSA To Build $1.5 Billion Cybersecurity Data Center


The massive complex, comprising up to 1.5 million square feet of building space, will provide intelligence and warnings related to cybersecurity threats across government.

The National Security Agency, whose job it is to protect national security systems, will soon break ground on a data center in Utah that's budgeted to cost $1.5 billion.

Ericsson has become the first vendor to prove end to end interoperability in TD-LTE, another standard of 4G radio technologies designed to increase the capacity and speed of mobile telephone networks.

The NSA is building the facility to provide intelligence and warnings related to cybersecurity threats, cybersecurity support to defense and civilian agency networks, and technical assistance to the Department of Homeland Security, according to a transcript of remarks by Glenn Gaffney, deputy director of national intelligence for collection, who is responsible for oversight of cyber intelligence activities in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

"Our country must continue to advance its national security efforts and that includes improvements in cybersecurity," Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, said in a statement. "As we rely more and more on our communications networks for business, government and everyday use, we must be vigilant and provide agencies with the necessary resources to protect our country from a cyber attack."

The data center will be built at Camp Williams, a National Guard training center 26 miles south of Salt Lake City, which was chosen for its access to cheap power, communications infrastructure, and availability of space, Gaffney said. The complex will comprise up to 1.5 million square feet of building space on 120 to 200 acres, according to the NBC affiliate in Salt Lake City.

According to a budget document for the project, the 30-megawatt data center will be cooled by chilled water and capable of Tier 3, or near carrier-grade, reliability. The design calls for the highest LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standard within available resources.

The U.S. Army Corps of engineers will host a conference in Salt Lake City to provide further detail the data center building and acquisition plans. The project will require between 5,000 and 10,000 workers during construction, and the data center will eventually employ between 100 and 200 workers.

As part of its mission, NSA monitors communications "signals" for intelligence related to national security and defense. Gaffney gave assurances that the work going on at the data center will protect civil liberties. "We will accomplish this in full compliance with the U.S. Constitution and federal law and while observing strict guidelines that protect the privacy and civil liberties of the American people," Gaffney said.

On Nov. 30, the Department of Homeland Security will formally open a new cybersecurity operations center, the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, in Arlington, Va. The facility will house the National Cyber Security Center, which coordinates cybersecurity operations across government, the National Coordinating Center for Telecommunications, which operates the government's telecommunications network, and the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team, which works with industry and government to protect networks and alert them of malicious activity.

InformationWeek Analytics has published a report on the 10 steps to effective data classification. Download the report here (registration required).

French Currency Trader and Fund Manager Blochet leaves Brevan Howard

By Tom Cahill

Nov. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Jean-Philippe Blochet, a founding partner in Brevan Howard Asset Management LLP and the source of the "B" in its name, is leaving Europe's biggest hedge fund.

Blochet, 46, a French native, worked with co-founder Alan Howard on Credit Suisse First Boston's proprietary fixed-income trading desk before starting the London-based money manager in 2002. The first part of the firm's name comes from the initials of founding partners Blochet, Christopher Rokos, James Vernon and Trifon Natsis.

Blochet is at least the second European hedge-fund founder to step down this week. John Horseman of London's Horseman Capital Management LP said Nov. 12 he was leaving as manager of the Horseman Global Fund Ltd. Blochet, who was a currency trader at Credit Suisse, had taken a sabbatical in 2008.

"Over the last few years they've built up a very extensive infrastructure and business," said Clayton Heijman, founder and chief executive officer of Darwin Platform, an Amsterdam-based provider of hedge-fund services. "It's only natural that at a certain point of time people move on."

The Brevan Howard Master Fund, the firm's largest, returned 20.4 percent in 2008 when the average fund lost 19 percent, according to Hedge Fund Research Inc. The fund is up 18 percent this year through Nov. 6, Bloomberg data show.

Blochet declined to comment. Brevan Howard, which managed $25.7 billion at the end of September, confirmed his departure in an e-mail yesterday.

Management Team

Brevan Howard isn't expected to alter its management structure, according to people familiar with the firm. Blochet was part of the firm's macro team, focusing on currencies, interest rates and other investments linked to global economic trends.

Blochet completed the Marathon des Sables, a six-day, 151- mile (243 kilometer) foot race across the Sahara desert, in 2006. Competitors cover the equivalent of five and a half marathons over six days in temperatures reaching 120 degrees Farenheit (49 celsius), with packs for food and sleeping gear on their backs. The race, which raises money for charities, was described as "The Toughest Footrace on Earth" in the 2007 book "Seven Days in the Sahara" by an event competitor.

Blochet finished the race 157th out of 800 competitors, according to Marathon des Sables' Web site.

"Following his return from sabbatical last year, Jean- Philippe Blochet has decided to cease to be an active member of Brevan Howard Asset Management LLP," the company said in the e- mail.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Cahill in London at

Last Updated: November 13, 2009 19:01 EST

Thursday, November 12, 2009

IEA says world running out of oil

The International Energy Agency (IEA) issued their annual World Energy Outlook, and despite a drop in 2009 demand due to the global recession, the numbers look grim. As Nobuo Tanaka, Executive Director of the IEA put it;

"...a continuation of current trends in energy use puts the world on track for a rise in temperature of up to 6°C and poses serious threats to global energy security."

The IEA is to consuming countries what OPEC is to producing ones, advising members on energy supply and policy.Their activities include estimating how much oil is available and what future energy consumption will look like, and things may be even grimmer than they have been letting on. 

Oil supplies in flux
According to a report in the Guardian, the Agency may have deliberately overstated world oil supplies, in order to avoid a worldwide buying panic. An unnamed (and therefore unverified) sources claim that the US has played an influential role in encouraging the organization to "underplay the rate of decline from existing oil fields while overplaying the chances of finding new reserves." Another (also unnamed) source was quoted as saying "We have [already] entered the 'peak oil' zone. I think that the situation is really bad."

"Peak oil" refers to the point at which the rate of production of oil, which has generally marched steadily upwards, begins to decline. If we continue our current energy habits and assume no change in government policies (called the 'Reference Scenario'), we will need to produce an additional 20 million barrels a day by 2030. It is not clear where that oil supply would come from, and is projected as "crude oil fields yet to be found." 

Is even '450' a stretch?
In the 'Reference Scenario', the world's primary energy demand in 2030 is estimated to grow by a staggering 40% over the current figures. Much of this increase would be in coal use, which would grow by 50% and have a severe impact on climate change.

The IEA also looked at the alternative scenario needed to hold greenhouse gasses to 450 ppm, which is generally considered the maximum upper limit to avoid irreversible and possibly cataclysmic change (we are currently at 385.)  What would need to happen? By 2030, a third of the world's power needs to come from renewables and/or nuclear, 60% of cars need to be plug in or hybrid, and we need to invest nearly $10 Trillion globally in energy efficiency. These are all what I would call 'stretch goals', and is partially why others have described  staying below 450 ppm as pursuing "the greatest achievement in the history of the human race."

The IEA didn't even bother figuring out what it would take to reduce total ghg back to 350 ppm, a 'do no harm' target which seems to be completely out of reach. 

Pay now or pay later

Conspiracy theorists claim that global warming is a hoax designed to create new 'green' profits via cap-and-trade and clean technology. While some concerns about Wall Street are always warranted, here is the simple math: The IEA estimates that carbon should eventually carry a cost of around $50 per ton, which translates to $20 per barrel of oil. If we continue on our current path, however, demand will likely drive up oil prices by at least $50 per barrel, sending over $4 trillion dollars to OPEC members in the next 20 years, just for the oil  And the cost of climate change? The NRDC estimates that in the US alone, it will be $300 Billion a year by 2030. Many put the global figure in the Trillions.

So whether for the planet or the pocketbook, it's time to wake up. Things simply will not stay the way they are. We can either start spending on clean energy and efficiency now, or pay even more for the privilege of using up more fossil fuel and polluting the planet, with dire consequences. Why does this seem like a difficult choice? 

Read more: global warming, 350, climate change, 450, peak oil, iae


Sunday, November 8, 2009

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How to build automated systems - Forex - Futures Magazine

How to build automated systems - Forex - Futures Magazine

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