The Mornin' Mail is published every weekday except major holidays
Friday, December 18, 2009 Volume XVIII, Number 127

did ya know?

Did Ya Know?... The VFW Men’s Auxiliary will hold a turkey shoot every Sunday, from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. at the Post at the intersection of 96 & 171 highways. Public Invited, male and female.

Did Ya Know?... Saturday, December 19th, Salem Country Church Christmas Event at Red OakII. Jam Session starts at 5 p.m.with a Special Guest Cynthia Woodburn will join us at 8 p.m. for her Christmas tunes on the Bells ! Come join us, bring a friend.... There will be hot apple tea and Christmas Cookies

Did Ya Know?... Singles Reaching Out-West will meet Friday, Dec. 18 at 6:30 p.m. in the SMB Community room, 2417 S. Grand. The theme is a South of the border Christmas party. For info call 358-0235.

today's laugh

Astronomers were excited this week at having isolated a brief sound

which occurred immediately before the Big Bang.

Apparently, that sound was "uh oh.


Dogs have owners. Cats have staff.


Dogs believe they are human. Cats believe they are God.


"My husband said it was him or the cat... I miss him sometimes."

A Chronological Record of Events as they have Transpired in the City and County since our last Issue.

The Charge to be Quashed.

The end of the case against A.C. Loker, of this city, which attracted so much attention last summer, is now in sight. The prosecuting witness and the two principal witnesses against Mr. Loker are dead and without doubt the indictment which was found by the grand jury at Fayetteville, Arkansas, will be quashed.

Mr. Loker was arrested at midnight the 23rd of last June, at his home on west Chestnut street, by an Arkansas officer and went with him the next morning to Fayetteville without the formality of extradition papers. He was only in Fayetteville five hours and was allowed to return to Carthage on his own recognizance.

The charge was one of having embezzled several watches which he had taken to repair. Mr. Loker has led an altogether straightforward life while living in Carthage and has made many friends, none of whom ever had any doubt as to his innocence.

  Today's Feature

YMCA’s Christmas Break Camp.

Basketball is open all boys and girls ages Kindergarten-8th grade.

Cost to register for Christmas Break Camp is $20/day for Y-Members and $30 for Non-Members. Or parents may register children for all six days at a reduced rate..

Christmas Break Camp will run December 21-23 and December 28-30. Parents may drop their children off at the Y as early as 7:00 a.m. and pick them up by 6:00 p.m.

Activities will include games, swimming, crafts, sports, and much more. YMCA will provide a snack and parents are asked to make sure their child(ren) bring a sack lunch. Also, children will need to bring a swimming suit and towel each day.

Well-trained staff from the Y’s Summer Day Camp and After School programs will make sure kids are safe and have lots of fun.

For more information call the Y at 358-1070 or stop by the Y at 2600 S. Grand in Carthage.

City Election Update.

City Hall reports that Debbra Carter has filed for 3rd Ward Council position.

SEC Just Now Seeking Key Information On Meltdown

by Jake Bernstein and Jesse Eisinger, ProPublica

Almost three years since banks started taking losses that led to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, the Securities and Exchange Commission is still asking basic questions about what happened.

The SEC is conducting an information-gathering sweep of the key players in the market for collateralized debt obligations, the bundles of mortgage securities whose sudden collapse in price was at the center of the meltdown of the global banking system.

In a letter dated Oct. 22, the SEC sent what amounts to a questionnaire to a number of collateral managers, the middlemen between the investment banks that created the complex financial products and the investors who bought them.

Collateralized debt obligations are made up of dozens if not hundreds of securities, which in turn are backed by underlying loans, such as mortgages. Investment banks underwrite the structures and recruit their investors. Collateral managers, brought in by the investment banks but paid by fees from the assets, select the securities and manage the structures on behalf of the investors. CDO managers have a fiduciary duty to manage the investments fairly for investors.

Since 2005, $1.3 trillion worth of CDOs have been issued, with a record $521 billion in 2006, according to the securities industry lobbying group SIFMA. The collapse in value of mortgage CDOs triggered the 2008 financial collapse.

ProPublica and NPR have confirmed that the SEC letter was sent to several managers, although the distribution list was likely industrywide. At the height of the boom in 2006, only 28 managers controlled about half of all CDOs, according to Standard and Poor’s.

Banks began disclosing the first big losses on CDOs in early 2007. The infamous Bear Stearns hedge funds ran into problems beginning that summer. By that August, the credit markets began seizing up. Merrill Lynch and Citigroup were among the hardest hit by losses on bad investments in mortgage-based securities and CDOs.

The SEC’s letter focuses on information regarding "trading, allocation and valuations and advisers’ disclosure," though it also asks for other details on how the managers ran their businesses. The letter requests information on CDOs issued since Jan. 1, 2006.

The letter asks collateral managers for information about what investments they made on their own behalf and how they valued these investments. Securities experts say the letter indicates that the agency is still gathering basic information about the CDO market, despite its centrality to the banking crisis.

"One wonders why this letter, especially given the general nature of it, is just now being sent. And why wasn’t it sent several years ago, as the CDO market was exploding?" says Lynn Turner, who was the SEC’s chief accountant in the late 1990s. "It makes it look like the SEC is several years behind the markets."

Even Wall Street executives and securities lawyers who were involved in the CDO business at its height have privately expressed surprise that the SEC was only now contacting them for such rudimentary information.

The SEC declined to comment on the letter. As a policy, a spokesman said, the agency doesn’t comment on its regulatory actions. The SEC has jurisdiction over CDO managers,and enforces rules against securities manipulation, among other violations. The letter does not use the words "inquiry" or "investigation."

Interviews with market participants and former regulators point to several areas that the SEC might be investigating. Some managers had their own in-house investment funds and may have taken positions that were in conflict with those of the investors in the structures that they managed. In some cases, their hedge funds may have bet against the very slices of the securities they were managing on behalf of the investors in the structure.

Underwriting investment banks often had influence over the investment choices some CDO managers made, giving rise to another possible conflict of interest. The agency may be looking at whether that influence was proper or not.

"The possibility for conflicts and self-dealing is huge," says Turner, the former SEC chief accountant.

To date, the agency has little to show for its probes into the causes of the crisis that engulfed global financial markets just over a year ago. In June 2007, Christopher Cox, then the SEC chairman, testified before Congress that the agency had "about 12 investigations" under way concerning CDOs and collateralized loan obligations and similar products. A little more than a year later, Cox told Congress that the number of investigations into the financial industry, including the subprime mortgage origination business, had ballooned to over 50 separate inquiries.

There could be multiple reasons why investigations are proceeding slowly. Such cases are complex and require enormous resources and expertise. Regulators also face the hurdle of proving intent to defraud.

Under Cox’s stewardship, the SEC fell into disarray, and it was harshly criticized by Congress and its own inspector general, particularly for its failure to catch the Ponzi scheme of Bernie Madoff. The turnover of the new administration, which ushered in new leadership at the much-criticized agency, has also likely slowed efforts. In recent months, under new Chairman Mary Schapiro, the SEC has made insider-trading inquiries a high priority.

So far, there have been few indictments or civil complaints. In a sign of how long these cases can take, the mortgage company New Century Financial Corporation disclosed in March 2007 that it was the subject of an SEC investigation into possible insider stock sales and accounting irregularities. It wasn’t until last week -- Dec. 7 -- that the SEC filed a formal complaint against former executives of the company. The government’s highest-profile prosecution involving the financial collapse – the case against two managers of the Bear Stearns hedge fund for alleged securities and wire fraud – failed to gain a conviction when a jury decided that the men were simply bad businessmen rather than criminals.

Just Jake Talkin'

I’m told that even though the Council ran out of budgeted money to buy netbooks for its members, the equipment that is bein’ purchased will still move the meetings away from quite a bit of paper use.

All documents will be put on file and emailed to Council members. The packets delivered to each members door frequently contains over a hunderd pages of information. The setup could also allow more frequent use of color for charts and such.

At this point the digital files won’t be a requirement for members, if they want hard copies they can request ‘em. The present Council seems to be comfortable with the electronic version, but havin’ a computer and email capabilities isn’t a new requirement to be able to serve. Bein’ able to make sense of the documents is recommended.

This is some fact, but mostly,

Just Jake Talkin’.

Sponsored by Carthage Printing Weekly Columns



ART NOTES from Hyde House

by Sally Armstrong, Director of artCentral

At the end of each year it has been my custom to thank those local business and patrons who have given so generously of their support throughout the previous year. This can have been in their allowing us to display art or literature on their premises, and this year I would thank again Terry and BillieMcDonald for the use of the space at the front of the local Sirloin Stockade restaurant on Central Avenue, the "Atrium Gallery", which has displayed the work of artists from eight different shows through this past season. I thank all the businesses that allow our newsletters and invitations to be laid down and picked up by the public. These include the Public Library, McCune Brooks Regional Hospital, Powers Museum, the Civil War Museum, the Chamber of Commerce, Hometown Bank, SMB, UMB, the Carthage Deli, the Sassy Spoon, and the county License Bureau. Additionally, we sell yearly quite a number of the classic cookbooks, Palettes & Palates.

Originally produced in 1996 as a general fundraiser for artCentral, we continue to sell numerous copies at the reduced donation of $5.00 each year, or a $15.00 donation for the limited edition artist autographed copies. And in Joplin, we are in continual gratitude to both Cleo’s Gallery and Framing and SPIVA Center for the Arts, who both support artCentral in so many ways. I thank Peachtree Dental for allowing the books in their office, as well as McCune Brooks Hospital in the gift shop, the County License Bureau, and the Grand Avenue Inn. We have the books here at the gallery as well. Lastly and not "leastly" I thank our two local gallery businesses, Koral Martin at KOKA Art Gallery on the square, and Cherry Poulson at Cherry’s Gallery and Framing. They are most helpful to both me and to the artists, to provide a permanent venue for the art as well as a place to advertise our mission here at artCentral. Thanks girls for your help and presence. Next week I will site and thank our marvelous underwriters for 2009, to whom we are in the greatest debt!

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