Grapes of Wrath for Some, Wonderful Life for Others

Last week in The Hill newspaper I wrote a column calling for a six-month freeze in the foreclosure of homes, to halt the "Grapes of Wrath"-like spiraling of foreclosures that is devastating heartland America, taking down the value of homes for all homeowners and threatening to drive the nation into recession.

Since then, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), to her credit, has announced a major initiative following the model of my proposal, and President Bush announces today a plan that offers a freeze in mortgage rates (for some) that is a step forward but does not go nearly far enough.

Political leaders and the media are only now beginning to consider the injustice and the economic implications of this new "Grapes of Wrath" that threatens American homeowners and combines with other threats such as major oursoucing of jobs, layoffs, downsizing and catastrophic health emergencies that together constitute a massive attack on the middle
class, the lower middle class and, as always, the poor.

Many on the right are already attacking any support for the suffering as "socialism" and use phrases such as "moral hazard" (which in reactionary economic circles means the Darwinian destruction of those who cannot defend themselves, advocated by those who can, in the name of what they call capitalism but which is really socialism for the powerful and capitalism for the defenseless).

Today The New York Times informs us that there is a major investigation by the Securites and Exchange Commission (SEC), The Washington Post reveals there is a major investigation by the FBI and we are hearing on the news the full-throated cry from the right that any help for those who were victimized is socialist.

Let's have a brief chat about who is the real socialist in this debate. I am posting here some of the insider stock trades of one Angelo Mozilo, the chairman and CEO of Countrywide Financial.

Mr. Mozilo, a featured guest on CNBC for several years and guru of the housing boom, is now mentioned by CNBC as a candidate for the worst CEO of the year, because of the housing foreclosure boom, for which Mr. Mozilo bears an enormous personal and professional responsiblity.

Here is a list of Mr. Mozilo's insider stock sales for the period of October 2007 alone, taken from SEC information as listed on Yahoo Finance. What you will see is Mr. Mozillo enriching himself by millions of dolllars in October alone by exercising cheap options granted to him
through insider policies from his board of directors, then dumping massive amounts of his insider stock on the public market.

One can view here how much Mr. Mozilo paid for his stock through these insider options, then how much he profited by dumping the stock on the public market at far higher prices, usually on the same day.

I am not commenting here on the legality of his trading. The form of his trading program is morally unsavory but done through means that are legal and common, though opposed by many investors in principle. How these practices should be treated legally, in the context of the "Grapes of Wrath" crisis today, is a subject I have no comment on, for now.

I would suggest that anyone who claims that helping those who hurt is socialism might consider the enormous wealth received by one citizen who — as much as any living American has — contributed to, and profited during, this sad and sickening situation.

Here are one month's worth of his stock trades. Any citizen, investor, regulator or member of Congress can look at how the trading for October was replicated month after month, year after year, and draw their own conclusion.

139,916CFCOption Exercise at $9.94 per share. (Cost of $1,390,765) - 12-Oct-07

139,916CFCAutomatic Sale at $18.38 per share. (Proceeds of $2,571,656) - 11-Oct-07

139,918CFCOption Exercise at $9.94 per share. (Cost of $1,390,784) - 11-Oct-07

139,918CFCAutomatic Sale at $18.36 per share. (Proceeds of $2,568,894) - 10-Oct-07

139,918CFCOption Exercise at $9.94 per share. (Cost of $1,390,784) - 10-Oct-07

139,918CFCAutomatic Sale at $18.74 per share. (Proceeds of $2,622,063) - 9-Oct-07

139,918CFCOption Exercise at $9.94 per share. (Cost of $1,390,784) - 9-Oct-07

139,918CFCAutomatic Sale at $19.87 per share. (Proceeds of $2,780,170) - 8-Oct-07

139,918CFCOption Exercise at $9.94 per share. (Cost of $1,390,784) - 8-Oct-07

Understanding that this pattern is repeated in company after company, the full list of Mr. Mozilo's two-year bonanza of creating huge and staggering wealth for himself can be read on this link that details two years of trades.