Is the SEC Covering Up Wall Street Crimes?

According to a whistleblower, the SEC has been systematically destroying records of investigations for the last twenty years:

By whitewashing the files of some of the nation's worst financial criminals, the SEC has kept an entire generation of federal investigators in the dark about past inquiries into insider trading, fraud and market manipulation against companies like Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and AIG. With a few strokes of the keyboard, the evidence gathered during thousands of investigations – "18,000 ... including Madoff," as one high-ranking SEC official put it during a panicked meeting about the destruction – has apparently disappeared forever into the wormhole of history.

How Rating Firms' Calls Fueled Subprime Mess

By 2006, S&P was making its own study of such loans' performance. It singled out 639,981 loans made in 2002 to see if its benign assumptions had held up. They hadn't. Loans with piggybacks were 43% more likely to default than other loans, S&P found. In April 2006, S&P said it would raise by July the amount of collateral underwriters must include in many new mortgage portfolios. For instance, S&P could require that mortgage pools have extra loans in them, since it now expected a larger number to go bad. Still, S&P didn't lower its ratings on existing securities, saying it had to further monitor the performance of loans backing them. It thus helped the market for these loans hold up through the end of 2006.

The Pirate

A profile of Rupert Murdoch from 1995, as he fought monopoly charges in the U.S. and U.K. and prepared to expand his empire into China.

Murdoch is a pirate; he will cunningly circumvent rules, and sometimes principles, to get his way, as his recent adventures in China demonstrate.

A Major-League Divorce

How Frank and Jamie McCourt bought the Dodgers for “for less than the price of an oceanfront home in Southampton” and eventually became entangled in one of the most expensive divorces in California history, which laid bare their finances and confirmed what many already knew: they had bankrupted one of the most storied franchises in baseball.

In all, the McCourts reportedly took $108 million out of the team in personal distributions over five years—a sum that Molly Knight, a reporter with ESPN who has extensively covered the story, notes is eerily similar to the cash payment that she says Frank McCourt has claimed he made for the team.

The Rise and Inglorious Fall of Myspace

How what was once one of the most popular websites on Earth—with ambitions to redefine music, dating, and pop culture—became a graveyard of terrible design and failed corporate initiatives:

In retrospect, DeWolfe says, the imperative to monetize the site stunted its evolution: "When we did the Google deal, we basically doubled the ads on our site," making it more cluttered. The size, quality, and placement of ads became another source of tension with News Corp., according to DeWolfe and another executive. "Remember the rotten teeth ad?" DeWolfe says. "And the weight-loss ads that would show a stomach bulging over a pair of pants?"

The Pet-Death Business

On animal cremation and burial in New York:

Riding around Manhattan on a delivery run with a car full of pet cremains, it's hard not to look at the world differently. The omnipresence of pets becomes glaringly obvious, and their inevitable fate is never far from the mind. It's easy to imagine the whippet being jaywalked across Eighth Avenue getting hit by a car. The cocker spaniel on 23rd Street? A bucket of cocker bones in the making.

How Rajat Gupta Came Undone

The downfall of a Goldman Sachs director:

"Now from, for the last three or four, I mean four or five years, I've given him a million bucks a year, right?" says Rajaratnam. "Yeah, yeah," says Gupta, who doesn't appear taken aback at all by Rajaratnam's next remark: "After taxes. Offshore. Cash."