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Showing posts from July, 2008

The Ballad of Sam and Phil

Two long-running dramas in the futures industry came to an end in July when former Refco CEO Phillip R. Bennett was sentenced to 16 years in prison for his role in the fraud that resulted in the bankruptcy of the giant commodity brokerage firm in October of 2005. Bennett was facing 130 years in prison for his role in the series of round trip loans used to hide $430 million in losses. He pleaded guilty to all counts and is helping prosecutors locate assets on behalf of Refco creditors. Meanwhile, in upstate New York, Sam Israel III went on the lam rather than begin serving a 20-year sentence for his role in the Bayou hedge fund frauds. Three weeks after he faked suicide, Israel turned himself in to officers in Massachusetts. "It was interesting how differently the two matters were handled," muses David A. Kettel, a partner at the law firm of Venable LLP and a former assistant U.S. attorney. The government set a very high bond for Bennett, including his Park Avenue penthouse, a

Recession Hurts

Note: This feature length cover story by Chris McMahon originally appeared in the July 2008 issue of Futures Magazine. Link to original @ Futures Magazine Recession Hurts Call it a slowdown, call it recession, but don't call it a depression. Not yet, anyway. In the first quarter of 2008, real U.S. gross domestic product increased by 0.9%, beating initial estimates of 0.6%, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. And while that is far from stellar performance, it could help to undermine the persistent pessimism that has dogged the United States and hammered the greenback. "While the latest employment report showed a big jump in the unemployment rate, the details behind the rise, with some of it due to stronger labor force growth, were not quite as alarming. Meanwhile, Q1 GDP was slightly positive and the ISM reports have not been as weak as expected. So the overall economy has not collapsed yet," says James O'Sullivan, senior economist for UBS. He exp