Dr. Andrew Wakefield on the Autism/Vaccine Controversy and His Ongoing Professional Persecution


by Scott Smith

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The Daily Bell is pleased to present an exclusive interview with Dr. Andrew Wakefield.

Introduction: Dr. Andrew Wakefield, MB, BS, FRCS, FRCPath, is an academic gastroenterologist. He received his medical degree from St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School (part of the University of London) in 1981, one of the third generation of his family to have studied medicine at that teaching hospital. He pursued a career in gastrointestinal surgery with a particular interest in inflammatory bowel disease. He qualified as Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1985 and in 1996 was awarded a Wellcome Trust Traveling Fellowship to study small-intestinal transplantation in Toronto, Canada. He was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists in 2001. He has published over 130 original scientific articles, book chapters, and invited scientific commentaries. In the pursuit of possible links between childhood vaccines, intestinal inflammation, and neurologic injury in children, Dr. Wakefield lost his job in the Department of Medicine at London’s Royal Free Hospital, his country, his career, and his medical license.

Daily Bell: Can you fill our readers in on the controversy that has cost you so dearly?

Dr. Andrew Wakefield: Certainly. Let me give you a bit of background as to who I am. I am a gastroenterologist and an entirely conventional physician. I trained at St. Mary’s Hospital in London, qualifying in 1981 and then went on to study surgery and became a fellow at the Royal College of Surgeons. I had a particular interest in Crones Disease, Bowel disease, Osteo Colitis and pursued an academic career. I published about 130 papers in bowel disease prior to becoming involved in Autism in 1995.

Daily Bell: How did that happen?

Dr. Andrew Wakefield: A mother called me and said a child is developing perfectly normally and then had their MR vaccine. The child became extremely unwell, high fever for days and upon recovery was never the same. The child deteriorated into Autism – lost speech, communication, language, inter-action. I said, I’m terribly sorry, I’m a gastroenterologist, you must have rung the wrong number. I knew nothing about Autism; when I was in medical school, it was so rare – we were not even taught about it. And she said, No, you don’t understand my child has terrible bowel problems; he’s having diarrhea 12 times a day he’s lost continence; I know he’s in pain but he can’t tell me he’s in pain. He’s hitting himself, banging his head, biting himself and attacking people and I know this is because he is in pain.

Daily Bell: Did you believe her?

Dr. Andrew Wakefield: The first and most fundamental rule of clinical medicine, the kind of medicine I was trained to practice and my parents and grandparents were trained to practice, is to listen to the patient or the patient’s parents and they will tell you the problem. Now here is a mother who is not anti-vaccine, who took her child to be vaccinated, did all the right things and lo-and-behold this is what happened to her child. We eventually had a series of children whose mothers told exactly the same story. We decided, a team of us, at the Royal Free Hospital – including some of the most eminent pediatric gastroenterologists in the world such as Professor John Walker-Smith – to take a closer look at these children because they were clearly suffering. The children underwent a series of tests, colonoscopy and biopsy and we discovered they had bowel disease.

We treated the bowel disease, the inflammation, just as you might treat Crones disease or Colitis with anti-inflammatory and diet and the children got better, not only from the bowel disease perspective; their diarrhea improved and also their behavior improved. That was very, very interesting. So we decided to pursue this.

Daily Bell: How did you pursue it exactly?

Dr. Andrew Wakefield: By the time I left the Royal Free in 2001, nearly 200 hundred children with this condition had been seen and diagnosed. The problem came of course, when the parent said, my child regressed after the vaccine. If the child had regressed after, let’s say natural chicken pox, we would not be having this conversation right now. There would have been no controversy, it would have been, “that’s extremely interesting, let’s have a look at it.” There would have been no problem, but because it happened after a vaccine, all hell broke loose.

Daily Bell: And you are still living with the results.

Dr. Andrew Wakefield: My job is not to pander to the whims of the pharmaceutical industry or to government policy. My job is to answer the question that the parent presents to me when they call me or confront me at a meeting. That is my job and my duty as a doctor. So one came to a crossroads … well, if the parents are right about the bowel disease, are they right about the vaccine? We decided to look into that in more detail. And that’s where the controversy began. I am not in any way anti-vaccine, by the way, and my own children were vaccinated. But I had to understand the background. I put together a 250-page report on these safety studies and they were appalling, they were totally unsatisfactory.

Daily Bell: You’re saying those who make and regulate vaccines – both – were not properly vetting the effects of vaccines? That’s a strong statement to make.

Dr. Andrew Wakefield: They did not look at the outcomes of the vaccine beyond the short-term. To put this in context, we are dealing with viruses that can cause disease many years later. Thus, you do not confine your safety studies to 3–6 weeks. As a result of this understanding, it became my clear conviction that parents deserved access to the option to access single vaccines – the way it was done before, which was perfectly effective.

Daily Bell: Sounds reasonable.

Dr. Andrew Wakefield: In fact, Measles, Mumps and Rubella had separate vaccines. The combined risk of three viruses in a vaccine, MMR, is a way in which nature has never seen them before. Never. And to subject those to inadequate safety studies is in my opinion, not acceptable. That was the essence of the controversy and what has happened ever since has been in essence what medicine and science have done perhaps for all time – crush dissent by discrediting the messenger … me.

It is simply an effort to silence me because of the egregious errors that have been made in vaccination safety studies. But this has happened since time immemorial. One of the classic cases has to do with the drug Thalidomide. The doctor who first described abnormalities following mothers taking Thalidomide during pregnancy was strongly attacked.

Daily Bell: Let’s back up to be clear. Exactly what did you suggest parents do as a result of your famous study published in the Lancet Journal in 1988?

Dr. Andrew Wakefield: The Autism study was a simple case series of 12 children and all it did was to tell the parents story of what they told us. It was to document the pinnacle findings in the children. Further research was needed into causes of autism.

Daily Bell: As we understand it, the paper suggested further research specifically regarding linkage between the MMR vaccine and autism, and thus you have been held responsible for the plunge in children getting vaccinated with MMR. However, it also seems to us that in thousands of articles written about all this recently that you’ve been constantly accused of making a direct link between vaccines and autism in that now-retracted paper.

Dr. Andrew Wakefield: Never before in the history of human endeavor has so much been said about a paper that has been read or understood by so few. It is quite extraordinary. The fact that we published 19 papers on the subject after that one is irrelevant. It’s never mentioned. Critics dwell only upon that one paper. I listened to the parents’ story and acted according to my professional and moral obligations to determine what was happening with these children.

Daily Bell: Did you pursue the logical ramifications of your work at The Thoughtful House in Texas – a clinic from where you have just recently resigned?

Dr. Andrew Wakefield: Did I continue the work that I started in England? Yes. Certainly. We continued to investigate the bowel disease; we looked for evidence of the measles virus from the vaccine being involved. Most importantly, what we did was a seven-year study looking at monkeys, infant primates, exposed to the vaccine schedule. It was something that had never been done before, but it should have been done and that is to ask what happens in the real world. Not test vaccines in isolation but test the schedule that children actually get.

This is a study that we did in primates because vaccines are tested on primates in pre-clinical studies. What we found, even with just the Hepatitis B vaccine containing mercury preservatives, even on the first day of life, even just after that vaccine, there was evidence of neurological damage. What was alarming to me, again, is that there had never been any safety studies that I could find of giving the Hepatitis B vaccine on day-one of life. That again is not acceptable.

Safety first. This must be the priority, particularly when you are dealing with the health of children who are well, who don’t have a disease, perfectly healthy and you are extending this policy to every child in the world. All these issues are now covered in my new book, Callous Disregard, just published.

Daily Bell: Did you see cures? Improvement? Give us details of the treatment.

Dr. Andrew Wakefield: Did we do trials for medical improvement? Yes, we endeavored to do several trials. What we see at an anecdotal level in individual patients, is a substantial improvement in symptoms following treatment of the bowel disease. And the treatment of the bowel disease is through the use of anti-inflammatory medications and diet. We found benefits from using exclusion diets for children who were sensitive to various foods such as wheat and gluten. We went on to do a clinical trial of hydro-therapy, which some people had suggested could benefit children with Autism. We did not find any benefit in our trial, publishing those results accordingly. So part of my role at Thoughtful House was to put the anecdotal observations into a scientific context to determine whether there were benefits or not.

Daily Bell: Guess that’s why it was called Thoughtful House. Obviously, this has attracted antipathy in some quarters.

Dr. Andrew Wakefield: Well, I think when you are in a field where there is so much vested interest in current beliefs, and where you are challenging public health policy and pharmaceutical industry profits, then you are inevitably going to invite huge controversy.

That is a matter of fact and it happened with Vioxx; it happened with Thalidomide and will happen every time a popular and profitable drug or treatment is challenged. It happened with smoking. You will remember we went through a period for at least 15–20 years where papers were published in medical literature saying how good smoking was for you. Well we now know that not to be true. But it was a challenge then to industrial interests and just as it is now to pharmaceutical interests. That is undoubtedly going to bring on controversy.

Daily Bell: Are you angry over your treatment?

Dr. Andrew Wakefield: When I went into it, I knew to some extent what it was going to involve. I am a student of medical history and I realized that there was going to be fallout from this. So, anger on my part, what has happened to me … not really, no. Frustration and sadness because I went into medicine believing it to be one thing – a discipline that puts the patients well-being, the patient’s welfare, above all other considerations. No compromise. So to find that many colleagues have departed from that ideology is sad to me, but nonetheless we have to deal with the real world.

What I think frustrates me and perhaps even angers me more is the way in which the children have been discarded. The children with this condition represent an uncomfortable truth and there has been an effort to erase them from the realm. Commit, if you like, editorial genocide to get rid of these children because they put at risk government policy, World Health organization policy and also drug company profits, but to me that is not acceptable. I find this very difficult to deal with.

Daily Bell: You have many supporters.

Dr. Andrew Wakefield: Without them I don’t think it would be possible to continue. They are absolutely extraordinary. I mean, there’s never been a complaint against me from a parent or an infected child. There’s only been support. I have only ever acted in their best interests and the parents instinctively know that. Mothers know their children, they know when they are well, they know when they are ill and they know when people are acting in their best interest. So, parental support has been absolutely marvelous. There are now more and more scientists and doctors who have realized what is going on and realized that the emperor has no clothes and that they must act in a way that their duty demands.

There are a very large number of people who are joining in with this now. I have just come back from China where they estimate there are some 4–5 million children with autism. One home has 3,000 children in it and has no idea how to treat them. I met with doctors and scientists in Hong Kong who were of a similar opinion that there is a major problem with the vaccination program in the context of childhood mental disorder. So that kind of support makes it possible to continue and do this kind of work.

Daily Bell: Would you pursue your autism/vaccine study if you had it to do over?

Dr. Andrew Wakefield: Yes, I think I would. I have no regrets about anything that has happened other than what has happened to the children or what hasn’t happened for them as a consequence of the controversy. I would like to think that I would follow exactly the same course even knowing what the consequences were, if presented with the same challenges again. It’s very difficult to look back and predict what one might have done then but I would like to think that I would have had the courage knowing what I know now.

Daily Bell: We’ve already touched on it, but explain please in detail why the initial paper was disavowed by the Lancet?

Dr. Andrew Wakefield: In the first instance, the Editor of the Lancet asked us to retract an interpretation of the paper. And that interpretation was that MMR vaccine was the cause of autism.

Daily Bell: But you didn’t make this claim did you?

Dr. Andrew Wakefield: No, the paper did not make that claim. It did not provide the interpretation that MMR vaccine is the cause of autism. However, it did raise the possibility that vaccines may be associated with autism. But you cannot retract a possibility. A possibility exists. It remains a possibility and therefore to retract it is illogical and was done purely as a political expedient.

Daily Bell: So you weren’t prepared to retract a possibility?

Dr. Andrew Wakefield: My two colleagues and I were not prepared to get involved in that kind of illogical, political process. The other reason that we were asked to withdraw the paper or retract that part of the paper is because I had not told the editor of the Lancet that I was funded to do a study, a quite separate study, to investigate whether vaccines could cause this bowel disease at all.

Daily Bell: Was that somehow unethical?

Dr. Andrew Wakefield: This is very important, and it may be a little complex, but in 1997 when the paper was submitted, the rules of that disclosure said that the author (that is me) had to decide whether something constituted a conflict or not. It was in the active voice. It was up to me to decide and I thought very hard about it. Those were the rules then. The rules now are very different. The rules now require that you put yourself in the third person and ask what might be perceived to be a conflict of interest. That is very much more onerous. But those were not the rules at the time. This is covered in my book.

Daily Bell: Do you believe in your paper despite the Lancet retraction?

Dr. Andrew Wakefield: Do I believe in what was in the paper? Absolutely. The bowel disease has now been confirmed in five separate countries. Papers have been published from Italy, Venezuela, the United States, from Canada and the UK confirming the presence of bowel disease. So that discovery stands absolutely. A vaccine issue – well, we will see. As yet we don’t know but we are continuing to investigate.

Daily Bell: Why did your co-writers disavow the study? Or did they?

Dr. Andrew Wakefield: This is a very good question and probably one for them – but they wanted to make it clear, I think, that they didn’t believe MMR caused autism. But in fact, that really is not what happened. Because as I say, the paper did not make that claim and we cannot retract a possibility so why they retracted is really a question for them.

Daily Bell: Was it fair of them?

Dr. Andrew Wakefield: I think they were frightened, I think they were very, very frightened at the time. And there were misunderstandings. Pressure was brought on them and me. I resisted.

Daily Bell: Are you surprised by the antipathy and inaccuracy of mainstream media – generally or specifically?

Dr. Andrew Wakefield: Yes I am. I am most disappointed by it. I think a lot of the problem has been the original Sunday Times article on this whole affair was grossly, factually inaccurate but that was the lead story that people have followed. Certain things became imbedded as part of the truth and people came to believe them simply because they were repeated time and time again. So, the media, I don’t think, for the most part has taken the trouble to examine the background of this and part of the reason for writing the book I’ve just written [Ed. Note: see information below] is to provide the media with some insight into what actually happened and the accuracies of the original report.

Daily Bell: Do you feel big pharmaceutical companies have targeted you and your research?

Dr. Andrew Wakefield: Do I feel that it is my impression that they have, absolutely.

Daily Bell: Is Big Pharma acting ethically regarding continued pressure for mandatory use of more and more vaccines?

With Just Six Words, Ron Paul Can Box in the Republican Establishment in November

The six words are: Public Law 111-148 is hereby repealed.

Public Law 111-148 is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This is the compulsory health insurance law that Democrats rammed through Congress and Obama signed.

The Republican Party voted unanimously to oppose it. Most of them did this for low-risk grandstanding reasons. Had George W. Bush proposed the bill, they would have voted for it, just as they voted for his prescription drug law.

Ron Paul can force their hands in November. By introducing the bill, he will guarantee that the Democrats will never let it get out of committee. That is to be expected.

Once it is bottled up in committee, it becomes politically active. At that point, Tea Party voters can ask their Republican candidates, “Do you promise to vote for Ron Paul’s bill to repeal Obama’s health insurance package if the Democrats lose in November? Do you also promise to vote for it without any amendments or any other modifications until it is signed into law by a Republican President, no matter what?”

That will put the fire under them. At that point, they will begin to mumble. They will say that Obama will veto it. Answer: “That’s true. Kiss Obama’s chances goodbye in 2012.”

Next, they will say that the timing is wrong. Answer: “The timing is never wrong to repeal government-controlled medical care.”

Next, they will say that . . . well, who knows what they will say? They are wafflers. Do not vote for them if they waffle.

The Tea Party people can run a rival candidate in the Republican primary. If the local primary is over, they can run a write-in candidate or an independent. It does not matter how they do it; they must see to it that the waffler is defeated in November. Then, in 2012, Tea Party candidates can run. They can run on a promise to repeal Obama’s health insurance law.

The reason why a bill to repeal this widely hated law would be effective in November is this: it will expose big-spending Republicans for what they really are. They are “me, too” Democrats. They are salami-slice Keynesians who believe in big government, but big government imposed by law at a slower rate. They want big government to subsidize big business and regulate entry in order to keep existing big businesses big. This has been the Republican Party’s tradition ever since 1861.

The only reason why Republicans seem conservative these days is that, after Woodrow Wilson won in 1912, the Democrats have overtaken them in the spending category. George W. Bush did his best to reclaim the Party’s position as the biggest spender, but Pelosi and Obama have fought back. The Democrats still hold the position as #1.

bob chapmans economic analysis

Goldman Sachs will get a hand slap, the Greek Tragedy continues, signs of growth not real, more market manipulation to report on, never incremental news, a broken system of risk-free trade and return

The DOE reported crude oil inventories up 646,000 barrels, gasoline fell 3.19 m/b and distillates rose 1.52 m/b.

The commercial paper market fell again by $2.6 billion to $1.073 trillion.

Goldman Sachs wants to settle with the SEC exactly as we predicted. They would neither admit nor deny and be fined $1 to $ 2 billion, which is chump change to them.

Lehman is seeking return of $8.6 billion that JPMorgan Chase seized before Lehman filed for bankruptcy. The claim is Morgan had unparalleled inside knowledge. There is no honor among thieves.

Part of the deflationary mode is borrowers are paying down debt and saving at a 3.4% rate. It could be the elitists, as we speculated months ago, want to take down the entire world financial system in the next 1-1/2 to 2 years. Hi Ho stimulus. The fiat Ponzi scheme is collapsing.

During the past few months the financial world and nations have been consumed with the problems of sovereign debt and so they should be. Debt is a worldwide problem, but that problem has been exacerbated by the ability of banks, brokerage houses and insurance companies to manufacture derivatives.

The Greek tragedy continues as the IMF and others get ready to fund not only Greece, but all the PIIGS as well. That includes Canada, the UK, which has refused to contribute, because they are broke, and the US whose end will be about $60 billion. Greece is rolling their old debt in order to bail out the banks. It won’t be long before Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Italy will be doing the same thing. The other euro zone members are saying why should we bail out these countries, which in turn are bailing out banks?

These euro zone countries are saying all we did was what everyone else was doing. Governmental debt has hit unprecedented levels worldwide. It is now called a sovereign debt crisis. Any recovery in any of these countries will remain anemic as long as this situation exists. More debt is being created via stimulus in some countries, and in others austerity has begun. In the US real growth is only 1.3%, and that is fading fast having fallen from 6.5% in the fourth quarter.

The top participant was penalized in 1985 at the Plaza Accord and in 1987 at the Louvre Account and as a result entered depression in 1992. That is Japan. Their debt is now 200% of GDP. Structural impairment still sticks out like a sore thumb. They are trapped in the same quandary, as Europe is, growth via debt. It is interesting to note that if global military spending of $1.5 trillion ended there would be o trouble funding debt. The US spends more than $600 billion a year, or over 40% of the world’s total, so they can bludgeon the world’s inhabitants into doing what the US wants them to do, it is called tyranny.

The foregoing is certainly not growth. Growth has to come from the development of domestic markets, not as it has been or is today via foreign trade and the endless creation of debt. The experiment of free trade, globalization, offshoring and outsourcing hasn’t worked. Look at what it has done to the US economy. It has gutted it. It has been based on the exploitation of what is essentially slave labor and the theory of comparative advantage. This method of impoverishing the US economy has been funded by the workers themselves via their savings and those of their pension plans. Instead of transnational conglomerates working with foreign governments to keep wages low they should be working to increase them. That never occurred to the Illuminists who run these corporations, nor governments such as China. As a result we have had the opposite effect. Slightly higher wages in China and much lower wages in the US. The ultimate result is going to be tariffs on goods and services to level the playing field.

The euro for Greece and others works both ways. The weaker members acquire a stronger currency and as a result a stronger economy based in part on the strength of its fellow members. Thus, Greece surrendered its sovereignty for the ability to create domestic debt. Unfortunately they cannot print euros, so they cannot devalue. Instead they default unless subsidized by other members.

The dollar had been probing lows on the USDX at 74 just several months ago. In order to solve the dollar weakness and sap euro strength a crisis was created. From out of nowhere Greece was exposed for its debt. Before this took place starting in October major NYC banks were accumulating dollars, because they knew what was going to happen, because they planned it that way. Do not forget Goldman Sachs knew all of Greece’s secrets – they created them.

The events in Greece have left many European banks badly exposed and riding to the rescue has been the Fed with a new swap facility. Last time, over 15 months, the Fed says they used $583 billion. The Fed is again printing money from out of thin air to be used by foreign nations to rescue European banks. They, of course, would have us believe it was to save the European financial structure, when the move was to save private banks that should have never made loans to Greece and other PIIGS, nor purchased their bonds. As professionals they knew better. Effectively the American taxpayer is funding these banks and they pay the price for this via inflation and greater debt. The Fed is further debasing the dollar.

As a result of what the public would call hocus-pocus, the price of gold has been rising. There are other factors making gold rise, but this is the latest. Finally professionals are paying attention to these problems, but more importantly, that the “President’s Working Group on Financial Markets” is manipulating all markets, but particularly the gold and silver markets. It won’t be long, within two weeks that a class action lawsuit, one of many by silver owners, will be filed against JPM Morgan Chase for manipulating the silver market. That should get Wall Street’s and Washington’s attention. This kind of suit is very difficult to defend against. Like Barrick Gold not many years ago, they admitted taking direction from the US government for hedging in the gold market, so will Morgan defer to the US government to explain their actions. Irrespective, Morgan will lose and the manipulation of the silver market and probably the gold market will end.

It should also be noted that the CFTC was complicit in this criminal activity. They had all the evidence and had to be forced to investigate. The Justice Department was forced to investigate as well.

This swap being done by the fed on the short-term could be somewhat injurious to gold, because the recipients are very liable to use some of those funds to short gold and silver.

As we explained earlier there is a fight going on between the dollar and gold for currency supremacy. The recent dollar rally was part of the plan to keep the dollar as the preferred asset or currency. It didn’t work all that well because gold rose more than the dollar. The dollar swap will be used to keep European banks from going under and that is inflationary. The Fed is obviously buying their subprime assets. The bank proceeds from the garbage sold to the Fed will in all likelihood be used to purchase US Treasuries. In a late note now that Fitch has lowered Spain’s credit rating from AAA to AA+, they’ll be even more pressure on European banks and government for Fed assistance. Now not only are the banks broke, but so are the governments. That said how could Treasuries be a store of value? They cannot thus; sooner or later professionals will be storming the gold parapets. If you think markets are currently volatile, just wait you haven’t seen anything yet.

There was a spike in purchase applications in April, followed by a decline to a 13 year low last week. As Fratantoni noted last week: “The data continue to suggest that the tax credit pulled sales into April at the expense of the remainder of the spring buying season.”

Top national GOP recruit Vaughn Ward on Tuesday lost his primary in Idaho after a series of missteps by his campaign, throwing the Republican Party’s chances in doubt against top-targeted Rep. Walt Minnick (D-Idaho).

Ward was trailing state Rep. Raul Labrador (R) 48 to 39 percent, with 90 percent of precincts reporting. The Associated Press called the race for Labrador early Wednesday.

Ward becomes the latest establishment favorite to go down in defeat, although his loss will more likely be chalked up to his campaign’s myriad gaffes.

He was one of the first 10 candidates named to the final stage of the National Republican Congressional Committee’s (NRCC) Young Guns program for its top 2010 hopefuls this cycle. Over the past month, however, his campaign has fallen victim to multiple charges of plagiarism, revelations that he didn’t vote in the 2008 presidential election and a slip-up in which he said (in front of his Puerto Rican-born opponent) that Puerto Rico is a country (hint: it’s not).

That opponent, Labrador, moves on to the general election and leaves national Republicans to evaluate where the race fits in their list of priorities this November. Labrador, an immigration attorney, is something of a blank slate to Washington.

He joined the NRCC’s Young Guns program but has yet to reach the goals required to be named to the first stage of the program.

Given the right candidate, the freshman Minnick’s district should be at the top of the GOP’s target list. It went for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) with 62 percent of the vote in 2008, but former Rep. Bill Sali (R-Idaho) severely underperformed the top of the GOP ticket, losing narrowly to Minnick.

Sali backed Labrador, while Ward was backed by former Alaska governor Sarah Palin (R).

Minnick has proven a savvy congressman, voting conservative on almost all major pieces of legislation and building a sizeable war chest for 2010. Republicans can’t rely on merely a good environment to take him out.

In other races in Idaho on Tuesday, Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter (R) and Sen. Mike Crapo (R) both overcame nominal primary opposition, as did Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), who faced a reasonably well-funded opponent and was a Troubled Asset Relief Program (a.k.a. bailout) supporter. All will be heavy favorites in the general election.

The federal prosecutors investigating Goldman Sachs are focusing on Timberwolf, the infamous “shitty deal” repeatedly cited in a tense Senate hearing last month, according to people who have been contacted by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office.

The probe raises the possibility of criminal charges against the storied Wall Street firm, which was charged in April by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission with civil fraud for allegedly misleading investors about another subprime mortgage-related security called Abacus.

Investigators from the U.S. Attorney’s office have reached out to individuals involved in the deal, including David Mapley, the former independent director of an Australian hedge fund who claims that the firm collapsed shortly after Goldman sold it $100 million of securities in Timberwolf, a $1 billion collateralized debt obligation.

In an interview with the Huffington Post from his office in Geneva, Mapley said that he has been contacted by the U.S. Attorney’s office and that he expects to be interviewed by them soon. Mapley brought his complaints about Goldman’s role in the deal to the SEC in December 2007, met with SEC lawyers several times in 2008 and he says that he continues to talk to them.

“Overall, the whole thing was a fraudulent concoction,” says Mapley, who says that it was one of the most egregious cases he had seen in his decades working in finance. “We examined the whole trade, what led up to the trade, the way it was marketed and everything about it was inaccurate. You think you’re buying one thing and what you see is totally different.”

Among the most serious allegations, Mapley claims that Goldman sold Timberwolf securities to the fund at marked-up prices — while Goldman’s trading desk was busy shorting such CDOs tied to toxic subprime mortgage securities.

Mapley says that the hedge fund, Basis Yield Alpha Fund, where he was an outside director, ultimately went into liquidation “with Timberwolf tipping the balance.”

To help us understand exactly what’s going on, and why debt loads that have been growing for years have suddenly become a market-melting issue, I turned this week to Satyajit Das, an independent credit analyst in Australia. Though his vantage point is half a world away, Das is frequently sought out as a consultant by central bankers, government officials and fund managers for his unconflicted insights and his unusually clear explanation of the dense pathways of debt and its derivatives.
I started by asking why the sovereign bond crisis reared up to spook investors last week despite the lack of any new news.

“It’s never incremental news — it’s how old news sinks into the people with brains the size of caraway seeds who populate the financial markets,” he said from his office in Sydney. “They always depend on selective information and process it in uneven ways. Even smart people tend to believe what they want to believe, and they right now they’re using the idea that central banks and governments will miraculously prevail as a crutch. This is magical thinking. I have said from the beginning that governments won’t have enough money to bail everyone out.”

Das believes the central problem is that governments have already spent more than $1 trillion in taxpayer-generated and borrowed funds but are not getting as much bang for their buck as expected. If you strip out government spending and low interest rates, he notes, there’s not a whole lot of activity going on. The government has tried to prime the pump, but the pump is still just dribbling.

He suggests we not be fooled by recent earnings reports or government stats, pointing to U.S. bank earnings as especially inaccurate. JP Morgan has a balance sheet of $1 trillion and can borrow at essentially zero, he notes. So if they just go out and buy 10-year bonds at 3% they should be able to earn $30 billion a year. Yet the bank announced a profit of $3.3 billion last quarter.

“What does that tell you? It says they are losing money on everything else,” Das says. “Strip out the gifts, and it’s big net loss.” And at big industrial concerns like General Electric, he argues, revenue growth is anemic — so earnings growth is solely stemming from cost-cutting and layoffs.

In February, Defense Secretary Robert Gates authorized $150 million in security assistance for Yemen for fiscal 2010, up from $67 million last year.

Officials told Reuters the money would be used in part to bolster Yemen’s special operations forces to lead an offensive targeting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which claimed responsibility for a failed plot to blow up a U.S. passenger plane on Christmas Day.

The group has emerged as one of al Qaeda’s most active affiliates, and the Obama administration recently took the extraordinary step of authorizing the CIA to kill a leading figure linked to the group — American-born Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.

The U.S. government’s Aaa bond rating will come under pressure in the future unless additional measures are taken to reduce projected record budget deficits, according to Moody’s Investors Service Inc.

The U.S. retains its top rating for now because of a “high degree of economic and institutional strength,” the New York- based ratings company said in a statement today that was little changed from a credit opinion released in February. The outlook is stable, the statement said.

The government’s finances have been “substantially worsened by the credit crisis, recession, and government spending to address these shocks,” Moody’s analysts lead by Steven A. Hess wrote. “The ratios of general government debt to GDP and to revenue are deteriorating sharply, and after the crisis they are likely to be higher than the ratios of other Aaa-rated countries.”

Debt to revenue has more than doubled over the past three years and is now over 400 percent, which could lead to “potential stress” on finances, the report said.

“This whole financial crisis in Europe has actually benefited the U.S. government in its access to finance,” Hess said in a telephone interview. “The U.S. Treasury market has become once again, as it was during the recent financial crisis globally, the safe haven, and therefore lots of money flows into the U.S. Treasury market and that is a very positive.”

Tuesday morning rumors and a FT story about Germany extending its short-selling ban prevented US stocks from a larger opening decline and generated a rally after the opening onslaught.

One rumor said the ECB would cut its 1.00% benchmark rate by 50bps generated a rally in US stocks after the opening carnage.

Any ECB rate cut would pressure the euro, which in turn would induce traders to sell European sovereign debt, which would exacerbate Europe’s debt-death spiral.

On Tuesday morning, the NYSE invoked Rule 48, which allows the NYSE to suspend the requirement to disseminate price indications at the open. Looks like all that technology isn’t very useful – or does the opaqueness aid and abet the connected few in their desire to operate with ‘an edge’?

Tuesday’s rally got a second-stage boost during midday when Cong. Barney Frank stated that forcing banks to spin off their derivatives operations “goes too far” in regard to financial reform.

There is a new dynamic that most people cannot cogitate: The current crisis is not the usual crisis of a private-sector firm or problem appearing that needs a public sector bailout.

Now, the public sector needs a bailout and there is no private sector entity large enough to bailout the public sector. So government officials and central banks are trying to euchre the markets and people into accepting the notion that the imploding public sector can bailout itself out by increasing its indebtedness.

In the Nineteenth Century and early Twentieth Century the private sector (i.e. JP Morgan or Europeans) bailed out governments. Then the Twentieth Century movement of gigantic government that increased its size and control over the private sector produced governments and central banks that would bail out private sector firms. But now, governments and central banks are too large for a private sector bailout.

This of course, destroys the multi-decade concepts of risk-free rate of return, Keynesian economics, freely-traded markets, buying every market dip, central bank omnipotence and child-like belief in a supra entity that stands ready at all times to bailout everyone in order to prevent another depression.

Paychecks from private business shrank to their smallest share of personal income in U.S. history during the first quarter of this year. At the same time, government-provided benefits — from Social Security, unemployment insurance, food stamps and other programs — rose to a record high during the first three months of 2010. The result is a major shift in the source of personal income from private wages to government programs.

The trend is not sustainable, says University of Michigan economist Donald Grimes [How is this different that Greece or most of Europe?]

A record-low 41.9% of the nation’s personal income came from private wages and salaries in the first quarter, down from 44.6% when the recession began in December 2007.

http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/income/2010-05-24-income-shifts-from-private-sector_N.htm

US Plays Down European Crisis but China Worried The United States suggested Europe’s debt crisis would have minimal impact on global growth, but China took a more pessimistic view, warning it would impact demand for its exports and other regions would suffer too.

Loans guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration, the U.S.-owned mortgage insurer, may be involved in more home-purchase transactions than borrowing financed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

FHA lending last quarter may have topped the combined volume of government-supported Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in a home-lending market that’s still a “government-financed market,” David Stevens, the agency’s head, said today at a conference in New York, citing research by consultant Potomac Partners.

This is a market purely on life support, sustained by the federal government,” he said at the Mortgage Bankers Association conference. “Having FHA do this much volume is a sign of a very sick system.”

The Conference Board’s confidence index rose to 63.3 for May, the highest reading in two years. 58.5 was consensus. If you have been playing along at home over the past year, you already are assuming that future expectations once again soared. You are correct.

The Conference Board’s ‘present conditions’ increased to 30.2; but ‘expectations for the next six months’ surged to 85.3, the highest level since August 2007. The stock market peaked in October 2007.

In October of last year  <http://www.zerohedge.com/article/rare-glimpse-feds-discount-window-courtesy-brewing-lehman-barclays-scandal> [1]we wrote an extended piece discussing the conflict between the bankrupt Lehman Brothers estate (i.e., its unsecured creditors) and Barclays, in which JPMorgan played a prominent part, as it was the critical tri-party repo clearing bank on all of Lehman’s collateral that would subsequently go to Barclays. As we summarized, extortion attempts back then by Barclays only had the adverse effect of making Jamie Dimon very, very angry: “Barclays’ attempt to nickel and dime JPM (and the US taxpayers) so infuriated Jamie Dimon that he penned an angry letter to John Varley <http://chapter11.epiqsystems.com/viewdocument.aspx?DocumentPk=5c307517-d810-4392-b1cc-83c4a9ed2e0f>  [2], Barclays Group CEO (which CC:ed Barclays’ president Bob Diamond), threatening with litigation in case Barclays is intent on sticking JPM with Lehman collateral that it thought was without value and not worth assuming in a time when every single day stock prices were crashing further lower.” As we expected in October, the resolution would most likely involve litigation, as by dint of its collateral clearing position, JPM had unprecedented knowledge about Lehman’s affairs: a special status that would likely be abused in a court of law. Sure enough, here is the lawsuit: the estate of Lehman Brothers, desperate to pick another several bps in recovery on their Lehman General Unsecured Claims, has sued JPMorgan, claiming Jamie Dimon’s bank pushed Lehman into bankruptcy by forcing it to turn over $8.6 billion in collateral. As Lehman was completely insolvent long before JPM demanded any incremental collateral comfort, claiming that JPM was the catalyst for Lehman’s bankruptcy is absolutely the same as saying that Goldman forced AIG’s bankruptcy by increasing its collateral demands. While both arguments are ludicrous, should the JPM case proceed to court, it is tantamount that AIG immediately seek legal action against Goldman Sachs on identical grounds.