And the Oscar Goes to Scumbag Billionaires!
It's Oscar weekend and Hollywood's elite will gather Sunday evening for the annual gala where we all wait to hear: "And the Oscar goes to...".
But Hollywood has been upstaged this year by the financial fiasco and the real life drama of Wall Street crooks.
A while ago I wrote a piece claiming that Madoff is the tip of the iceberg. It didn't take long for other cockroaches to come out from where they're hiding and get exposed.
The latest "mini-Madoff" is another scumbag billionaire called Allen Stanford:
They're already calling him Mini-Madoff, but, the Texas tycoon whose alleged "massive, ongoing fraud" was shut down last week by the SEC, is a different character than Bernie. Madoff kept his operation secret; Stanford is a flamboyant figure who has actively courted top U.S. politicians. How did he keep up the charade for so long?
For years, "Sir" Allen hired high-powered lawyers and lobbyists to influence legislation and help fend off federal regulators. In the mid-1990s he brought in a former top U.S. Customs investigator to help him in Antigua, where he had opened an offshore bank. More recently, he hired a former top DEA investigator as corporate security chief.
Stanford also bought breathing room by showering money on U.S. politicians—more than $2.4 million since 2000. After a 2002 news report raised questions about $90,350 that Stanford and his employees donated to a legal defense fund for former senator Robert Torricelli, some Democratic fundraisers began steering clear of him. "He didn't pass the vetting," said one party moneyman, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters.
But at last August's Democratic Convention in Denver, Stanford gave $150,000 to sponsor events thrown by the National Democratic Institute, which included a ceremony honoring Madeline Albright. In attendance: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who gave Stanford a public hug, and Bill Clinton, who plugged his company—two golden PR moments recorded by Stanford's own videographer.
Rivalries within the government may have delayed a crackdown on Stanford. According to a U.S. official, who also asked for anonymity, the Justice Department a few months ago asked the SEC to back off, apparently so the FBI could pursue its own investigation.
But earlier this month, after the blogosphere began buzzing about how Stanford's promises to investors were strikingly similar to Madoff's, the SEC finally moved in. So far, Stanford is not facing any criminal charges, and a spokeswoman declined comment. A close associate, who also asked not to be identified, said he was distraught and "drowning his sorrows."
Next to the airport are the Sticky Wicket and the Pavilion, two restaurants Stanford owns. Nearby is the cricket ground that bears his name and the office of the Antigua Sun, his newspaper. And most important of all, up a paved road lined with groomed gardens, is the Stanford International Bank (SIB), a palatial white building with an eagle crest on the front. The air-conditioned lobby has the feel of a gentleman’s club – green marble floors and dark wood panelling. This was the headquarters of a bank supposed to have $8 billion in assets, a hub of an empire that Stanford boasted managed $50 billion.
Late on Friday a British lawyer in a pinstripe suit emerged after studying the books. The bank, he told The Sunday Times, had “nothing like $8 billion here”. He added: “It appears to be a Ponzi scheme. The $8 billion you hear about in the media isn’t there.”
Nor was there any sign of where the money has gone. The lawyer, one of the court-appointed receivers, said investigators were hunting for the billions overseas. It was like the Madoff scandal, he said, referring to an alleged fraud in the US where $50 billion may have been lost.
As the lawyer left, a heavily made-up Venezuelan woman arrived. She had dyed blonde hair, Dior sunglasses and a leopard skin top with gold chains bouncing on her chest. What she didn’t have was the $3m she had entrusted to Stanford’s bank.
Hyperventilating she said: “Did anyone get any money? Why can’t I go in? They know me, they know me.” An Antiguan policeman blocked her way. She had just flown in from Caracas, she protested, and was “ruined”. The officer stood his ground.
At least five British investors also have “millions” at risk in SIB, according to David Greene, a London lawyer. Offshoots of the Stanford empire across South America were either closed or besieged by depositors wanting to take their money out. In the confusion some unconfirmed reports claimed that investigators were looking into links with money laundering.
There was even speculation over the fate of the bank’s auditor, an elderly man from a tiny firm who died last month the day after signing off the books. Although the funeral company in Antigua said Charlesworth Hewlett, 73, had passed away peacefully, family lawyers in England were unable to say exactly what had happened.
Vigilance and scrutiny were lacking both from outside and within the bank. One board member, Oliver Goswick, was a car dealer who had a serious stroke in 2000. According to the firm’s latest annual report, Goswick oversaw investments for SIB. Yet his son Richard said last week Goswick “can’t string seven words together”.
What is clear from interviews in Antigua and America is that Stanford was a maverick who amassed and spent a fortune, while the authorities failed to act despite numerous warning signs about his allegedly fraudulent activities. STANFORD always had his eye on the big time and in recent years lived lavishly. Quite apart from his properties on Antigua, he owns an estate on St Croix, in the Virgin Islands, and other property in the US.
According to a paternity claim filed in Florida by one of the mothers of his six children, at one time Stanford also lived at the “Wackenhut Castle”, a $10m extravaganza in Miami complete with a 57-room castle, a moat and a man-made cliff. When the couple separated, Stanford paid the woman $850,000 a year for housing, food and private school costs and provided $75,000 for Christmas gifts. On one occasion he gave $50,000 to buy eight Hermès handbags. With another girlfriend, Andrea Stoelker, Stanford took to spending a lot of his time on Sea Eagle Bikini, whose engines are so powerful it is capable of 35 knots – and costs more than $2,000 an hour to run.
Stanford did not socialise much, said one of his staff, preferring the seclusion of his yacht when he was not playing the showman for public consumption. Nevertheless, he did not stint on anything. When Stoelker was dissatisfied with the standard of dry-cleaning in Antigua, he sent it by jet to be done in St Croix 170 miles away.
How did he make the money to fund such a lifestyle? Stanford is said to have made his first millions from property speculation in Houston, Texas, after which he set up a bank called Guardian in Montserrat in the late 1980s.
At the time the island was, according to Jack Blum, an American lawyer expert in money laundering, “probably the most egregious jurisdiction in the world for bogus banks and funny money”.
According to Blum, the British authorities became interested in Stanford’s activities. The American tax authorities also reportedly began looking at Guardian, and in the 1980s Stanford moved his offshore banking operations to Antigua.
Renamed Stanford International Bank, the firm became Antigua’s largest bank serving offshore customers and Stanford became a confidant of the then prime minister, VC Bird, who was later succeeded by his son, Lester.
Interviewed last week, Lester recalled: “Stanford had some problem with the Montserrat government. He was checked out and we agreed there was no reason to stop him, so he was allowed to buy the Bank of Antigua. I was not in a close personal relationship with Mr Stanford. I’ve spoken to him maybe four times since 2004.”
However, rival politicians in Antigua have accused Bird’s party of allowing Stanford too much leeway. Baldwin Spencer, the present prime minister, has said of Stanford: “This man has a lien on our whole country.”
Last week Colin O’Neal, a local journalist, put it more bluntly: “Stanford’s history on our island has been one big land grab.”
By the late 1990s the country had a reputation for dodgy offshore banking and American authorities discovered that $3m deposited in Stanford’s bank had come from Amado Carrillo Fuentes, a Mexican drug runner known as “the lord of the heavens” for transporting drugs by air.
Fuentes died while having extensive plastic surgery that went wrong; the bodies of the surgeons were later found cemented into oil drums.
Stanford’s bank handed the $3m to US authorities, with Stanford observing: “It was the right thing to do morally, and it’s the legal thing to do.”
In an effort to clean up the country’s reputation, Bird asked Stanford to spearhead reform of the banking system. A delegation put together by Stanford met Jonathan Winer, then head of the US State Department’s Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.
Winer was not impressed. “Antigua needed to clean up its act,” he recalled.
One problem, he said, was that Stanford was directing reform while he was also being regulated.
Some improvements were made and Stanford stepped down from the committee. At the same time, however, new laws increased the secrecy of Antigua’s banking. It became an offence punishable by prison for anyone to release information about a bank customer without a court order.
Stanford’s bank appeared to boom, with assets and funds under management soaring as he offered high returns and secrecy. His empire grew to encompass banks and wealth management firms in the US, Latin America and Europe. In the past two years Stanford Group Suisse has targeted British investors with between $5m and $10m to invest.
As the money flowed in, Stanford built a pink villa at one of Antigua’s beautiful bays; bought an 18-acre island; and acquired a $9m mansion at Jumby Bay, a resort island two miles off Antigua. Stanford promptly knocked the house down and applied to build one costing $27m.
After funding cricket in the Caribbean, he shot to prominence in Britain when he agreed to sponsor a match between England and the “Stanford Superstars” with prize money of $1m a man for the winning team. To announce the deal he arrived at Lord’s, cricket’s hallowed citadel, in vulgar style, in a helicopter apparently with $20m in cash. WHILE Stanford was building his empire and amassing millions, concerns about his activities surfaced.
In the US, there were complaints that his firms gave $90,000 to help a senator who sat on committees dealing with money-laundering. In Antigua, Spencer accused Stanford of bribing ministers. The billionaire denied the accusation, but admitted giving the ministers $100,000 each so that they could help the people of Antigua.
From 2007 US regulators were actively monitoring Stanford after his firms were fined small amounts for several failings, including providing “misleading, unfair and unbalanced information” about their investments. Two former employees also came forward, alleging malpractice in the firm – charges Stanford firmly rejected.
Mark Tidwell and Charles Rawl were sued by Stanford for “stirring up a hornets’ nest” after they questioned the high returns the firm was promising. The pair sued back and are now talking to the SEC. In their lawsuit they allege Stanford was destroying internal documents and prohibiting financial advisers from filing proper paperwork with the US Treasury.
According to Tidwell and Rawl, even as regulators were doubting Stanford’s “certificates of deposit”, the firm was offering bonuses and incentives to salesmen for pushing those same investments to customers. Employees who sold the most certificates won BMWs and all-expenses-paid trips to Geneva, New York and Mexico.
Stanford claimed the pair were disgruntled former employees who owed the firm $500,000 and were making false allegations.
As Stanford tried to pull in more money, the credit crunch was taking its toll. When the $50 billion financial empire of Bernard Madoff collapsed in December, Pershing, a US firm that processed money transfers for Stanford, grew worried and stopped acting for him.
Then in January, Alex Dalmady, an independent financial analyst, published a report in a Venezuelan economics magazine questioning Stanford’s figures. Investors began to withdraw money. Stanford’s firms began shifting tens of millions of dollars out of the US. The SEC finally acted.
After two days missing, Stanford was found last week in a modest $200,000 home, believed to be owned by a relative of Stoelker, in Fredericksburg, Virginia. He was said to be depressed but seeking legal advice to fight accusations of fraud. In an earlier e-mail to staff he said he was cooperating with the inquiries and would “fight to uphold” the firm’s good name.
Where has the money gone? In court documents, the SEC said that only Stanford and one of his associates had knowledge of how the vast majority of SIB’s “deposits” were deployed. Most of the money, said the SEC, “resides in a ‘black box’ shielded from any independent oversight”.
Investigators suspect much of it, far from being held in liquid assets, went into real estate, private equity deals and other ventures where it may not be recouped.
They are pinning their hopes on Laura Prendergest-Holt, SIB’s chief investment officer. She has also been accused of fraud – but investigators hope she may cooperate, in return for leniency, in unlocking the secrets of the missing Stanford billions.
Once again, the SEC missed numerous red flags surrounding Stanford:
For years, there were red flags -- so many they could have massed into a crimson blanket. As with the Bernard Madoff case, the scandal surrounding billionaire R. Allen Stanford now seems clear and obvious in hindsight.
Yet Stanford managed to run his alleged scheme while the Securities and Exchange Commission and other regulators stood by, well after he arose on their radar screens.
From his tiny accounting firm's office near a North London fish-and-chips shop to certificates of deposit promising outsized returns sold by a bank in Antigua, ample warning signs over the years suggested Stanford's business wasn't what it seemed.
--A finding by regulators in June 2007 that Stanford's company lacked enough capital to function properly as a securities brokerage firm. The company paid $20,000 to settle charges by the National Association of Securities Dealers without admitting or denying them.
--Stanford's businesses were inspected and investigated several times, starting in 2006 by the SEC and in 2004 by the NASD, the brokerage industry's self-policing group, now called the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or FINRA. NASD's scrutiny resulted in several disciplinary actions: the regulator fined his brokerage company four times, with penalties totaling $70,000, for violations that included misleading investors in sales materials about the risks of the CDs.
--A 2006 lawsuit by a former employee alleging that Stanford's company ran a Ponzi scheme. Two other ex-employees asserted in a suit in January 2008 that Stanford's Antigua bank, Stanford International Bank Ltd., sold CDs based on inflated returns and had destroyed documents.
--A board of directors that included Stanford's father, his college roommate and a family friend who remained on the board years after suffering a debilitating stroke.
--The Antigua-based accounting firm that audited the offshore bank was tiny and little known.
--A 1999 Treasury Department advisory that warned U.S. banks to scrutinize transactions involving Antigua. It said a new regulator in Antigua was essentially a captive of offshore banks it was meant to supervise. (The advisory was lifted in 2001.)
Last week, the SEC accused Stanford in a civil lawsuit of a ''massive'' fraud. It said he peddled sham promises and funneled investors' money into real estate and other assets not easily turned into cash. FBI agents in Houston are running a parallel investigation.
Stanford, who was served legal papers by FBI agents last week, hasn't been charged with any crime.
The SEC began investigating Stanford's businesses in October 2006 but was asked by another, unidentified federal agency to suspend its inquiry, an SEC official in Texas told news organizations last week.
''This was an active investigation throughout and it was going on for some time,'' John Nester, an SEC spokesman in Washington, said Sunday. He wouldn't confirm that the investigation began in October 2006 or identify the other agency. But he said there were complexities in the probe, such as issues of foreign jurisdiction and the SEC's cooperation with other federal agencies, including some with criminal authority.
The SEC is looking into Stanford's regulatory history to be able to respond to media inquiries about the background of the case but not as a review of the agency's handling of it, Nester said.
Coming after the Madoff scandal, the case of another politically connected financier accused of a global fraud has deepened doubts about the SEC's oversight of such cases.
And it's led some to wonder whether the SEC chose to fast-track its case against Stanford only after the uproar over its failure to detect the alleged Madoff fraud. SEC investigators began interviewing Stanford employees in January, just weeks after Madoff's arrest.
''This is another black day for the SEC, unfortunately,'' said James Cox, a Duke University law professor and securities law expert. ''It's deja vu all over again.''
The lawsuit filed in 2006 by ex-Stanford employee Lawrence DeMaria was settled out of court. The suit brought in January 2008 by two financial advisers at Stanford International Bank has entered arbitration proceedings before FINRA. The bank claims that the advisers owe money it advanced to them.
Parallels between the Stanford and Madoff cases are striking.
The swashbuckling Stanford, 58, with a personal fortune pegged at $2.2 billion by Forbes magazine, allegedly attracted $8 billion in investors' money. He donated to campaigns of U.S. lawmakers and bankrolled public works and sports teams. He was knighted in Antigua.
Stanford's enterprises in Antigua include a newspaper, restaurants, a development company and the ornately landscaped Stanford cricket grounds. Stanford owns private jets and homes in Antigua, Texas, Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and runs businesses from Houston to Miami to Antigua to Switzerland.
He lured investors from Latin America who worried about stability in their home countries or currencies.
As for Madoff, he was long a high-powered figure on Wall Street, a former chairman of the Nasdaq Stock Market who served on SEC advisory committees.
He owns homes in New York and Palm Beach, Fla. In attracting an alleged $50 billion, Madoff solicited investments from charities, banks and European aristocrats.
A whistleblower, Harry Markopolos, had raised red flags to the SEC about Madoff starting 10 years ago. But the stature of a Madoff ''casts a glow around the person that might cause you to put your guard down a bit as a regulator,'' said Mercer Bullard, head of a mutual fund watchdog group and a former SEC attorney.
As with Stanford's offshore bank, Madoff's auditor was a no-name firm, run out of a drab building in a New York City suburb.
''That's one of the tests,'' Bullard said. ''You look at the accountants.''
Both Stanford's and Madoff's businesses had undergone investigations and inspections by the SEC and the predecessor of FINRA.
FINRA spokeswoman Nancy Condon said the two agencies' Stanford investigations ran parallel to each other, ''and at some point, both of us became aware of each other.'' FINRA has said it lacked jurisdiction over Stanford's investment business run by the offshore bank because it wasn't a securities brokerage operating in the U.S.
The regulator's oversight covered advertising material for Stanford's CDs but not for the financial products themselves sold by the bank, FINRA says.
FINRA said Sunday, in a statement in response to questions: ''It became apparent early in our review that, as it was in 2007, our jurisdictional inability to reach certain aspects of the Stanford businesses and personnel likely would interfere with, if not stymie, our investigation. That, plus the breadth of the SEC's recent action, has led us to stay our investigation for the time being.''
Though they aren't named in the SEC's complaint, regulators said Allen Stanford was helped in running the Antigua-based operation by his 81-year-old father, James, and by another resident of Mexia, Texas, described on the company Web site as an ''active investor and cattle rancher.''
But that man, O.Y. Goswick, 85, suffered a stroke in 2000 and hasn't been able to speak, according to his son, Richard. Richard Goswick said the two older men became board members in the company's infancy and were kept on through the years.A bank's board is supposed to oversee management. But only two board members -- Allen Stanford and James Davis, his college roommate -- knew how the money was invested, the SEC alleges.
It was a week ago that independent investigator Harry Markopolos told a House Financial Services subcommittee that he’d turn over documentation to prove that another giant hedge fund was nothing more than a Ponzi scheme.So who is the next 'mini-Madoff'? Stay tuned, I guarantee you there will be more scumbag billionaires on the horizon.
Markopolos, who spent nearly a decade trying to get the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate Bernard Madoff’s alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme, unleashed blistering criticism on the securities regulator’s action, calling it an “abject failure.”
The topper to his much anticipated testimony, though, was Markopolos’ announcement that he’d repeated his feat and found yet another billion-dollar scheme, or “mini-Madoff.”
He said he’d turn over his new information to SEC Inspector General David Kotz. And though Kotz confirmed to CNN that he was scheduled to meet with the persistent whistle-blower, the SEC itself won’t say what, if any, information Markopolos had turned over.
A spokesman for the commission declined to comment at all on the new Markopolos tip. And in a related move, the SEC announced that Enforcement Director Linda Thomsen is stepping down. She was one of the SEC officials called on the carpet by Congress for the commission’s failures during last week’s hearing.
A 14-year veteran of the SEC, Thomsen was promoted to director of the Enforcement Division in 2005 and led the investigation of the Enron scandal, among other high-profile inquiries.
The new SEC chairman appointed by President Barack Obama, Mary Shapiro, has pledged to reinvigorate the agency, particularly its enforcement apparatus.
Thomsen, the SEC said, is returning to the “private sector.”
I wanted to end this comment with something a friend of mine put together on investing in movies. He is an entertainment lawyer who co-authored a movie script which he is looking to finance.
Here is the comment he sent me:
Investing in motion pictures is often equated with other highly speculative vehicles, such as mining for precious metals or drilling for crude. After all, recouping an investment in a motion picture is in large part a function of the project's production and distribution costs, distribution and marketing strategies, packaging and public appeal. The extent to which a motion picture will appeal to the public is dependent upon unpredictable critical reviews, public tastes, popular trends and even the mood of the nation. How can one ever justify investing is such an ostensibly volatile product, dependent on so many intangibles?
In fact, the time may be ripe to consider entertainment industry related investments. Interest rates are at an historical low. Securities markets are in the pits. Traditionally secure blue chips are no longer secure (who hasn't taken a beating on what were otherwise perceived as generally no-lose low-risk vehicles?). Indeed, is there such a thing as a blue chip anymore? In contrast, I recently prepared an investment memorandum for a feature film, a high concept action adventure, budgeted at around CAD$14-15m.
The producers seek private equity at a time when private equity has never been so scarce. Scarce not because the cash is not there, scarce because the cash is stuffed in proverbial matresses for lack of any comprehensible, interesting and consistent investment products. Equity investors, by definition, have a stronger stomach for risk than the average investor. But the risks must be calculated, not cavalier.
The entertainment industry has historically been, if not recession-proof, a die-hard in bad economic times. I was recently visiting with a fellow entertainment lawyer on the lot of a major Hollywood studio. In the course of our chat, she revealed to me that a legal issue had required her to dig up a few of the studio's corporate minute books dating back to the early 1930s -- in the heat of the Great Depression. Interestingly, at a time when Wall Street pundits and insiders were flinging themselves from skyscraper windows, the studio had increased its spending dramatically. The minute books revealed that the studio recorded one fiscal year in the red, and by year two of the Depression, its balance sheets were in the black and profits rose steadily and unabated throughout the Depression. The nation was despondent and dispossessed, but it was still going to the movies -- it was the only regular source of escapism left that anyone could afford.
The same applies today. The entertainment industry is poise to be one of the few profitable industries during what promises to be a prolonged recession. The theatrical motion picture is not the only source of escapism anymore (with video games and home video eating up the lion's share of the market), but the movie theatre experience still generated record box office revenues in 2008 and there is no reason to expect this to be any different for 2009.
So, back to my investment memo. How, then, does one calculate risk on a film? How does one minimize it?
Not all films are worth investing in, of course. At the last American Film Market, film production mogul Harvey Weinstein was quoted in the trades as saying, and I paraphrase, "we are no longer interested in artistic integrity, we are interested in commercial integrity." Ok, so this means, for now, it's time to stear away from arthouse and repertoire flics. There is a glut of these on the market anyway and nobody is buying them (at least not at decent prices). They may be inexpensive to produce, but they don't generate interesting box office, nor is their ancillary market potential particularly exciting and they have zero merchandising or product placement potential. In short, we're depressed enough as it is, who the hell wants to see a dark dramatic tear jerker or a war epic to make us feel any worse? So, the investor will seek to limit his investment to certain genres: action / adventure and romantic comedies are a great bet, generally appeal to broad demographics, make for commercially viable feel-good popcorn movies and boast a great shelf life in ancillary markets.
Next, keep the budget tight. Hollywood spends an average of $60m per film. Much of that does not appear on screen -- it's studio fat and inflated fees. Indies are not immune to artificially inflated budgets. So when assessing an indie project, look at the budget. Overspending on a film means that the producer must generate greater box office and ancillary revenue to break even. Clint Eastwood knows how to run a tight ship -- his budgets are typically below Hollywood averages, yet his box office receipts are typically above-average. It's more than just picking the right scripts, it's also about capping your costs to the extent possible, which leads me into the next item of concern.
The producer (and by extension the investor) is better off when he controls the film's distribution. If a studio "picks up" the project and assumes the task (and cost) of prints and advertising (or P&A for short), the investor is unlikely to recoup from theatrical revenues. Correction, the investor will not recoup from theatrical revenues, even if the $14-15m film generates $50m at the box office. That's because, after the exhibitor takes its 50% cut, the distributor eats up the remainder with a 30-35% fee and recoupment of its distributor expenses (systematically inflated costs that guarantee that the studio will declare a loss, despite the film's stellar performance). However, if the producer controls the process by assuming P&A costs himself, then the relationship with the studio becomes what we refer to in the biz as a "rent-a-studio" deal. The studio will take a reduced fee (around 8-15%) and can only spend the P&A money that the producer makes available to it (via the investor).
In my $14-15m film example, by adding another $6m to the investment, for an aggregate investment of about $20m, the producer has locked up 100% of the production and P&A budgets. The investor would recoup the P&A costs first, with a premium. The investor would then be entitled to a 15% return on its initial investment in first position and would share a genuine back end with the producer 50-50 (I am not aware of ANY investment vehicle today that pays these rates of return no matter what the risk).
By controlling the distribution process, you eliminate the studio fat and maximize the opportunity to recoup the investment from theatrical exploitation alone. Ancillary market revenues would be cream. To boot, because the producer will be entitled to tax credits and minimum guarantees payable from foreign distributors, the investor's exposure is further reduced. In other words, the initial $20m investment in my example would, when deducting the value of the tax credits and pre-sales, be reduced to about half of the original investment (about $10m, more or less).
I may have oversimplified, but the message is that motion picture financing is a worthwhile investment vehicle to explore. Some of the variables are more or less predictable: commercial viability of certain genres, what foreign buyers will pay for certain films, access to soft money incentives in an increasing number of jurisdictions, etc. So, any venture capitalists looking for an outlet during these strange economic times may find solace in an industry that has withstood the tests of time, depression and recession.
If you are interested in viewing the investment memo, feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I have read it and I think he has an excellent film that needs financing.
But remember, even the best movies can't compare to the real life drama that is unfolding as the global financial system implodes. You'll have to wait for my movie script to come out to enjoy this drama. In the meantime, keep reading the Pulse.