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Wells Fargo next? Kovacevich blasts BofA settlement

  • "It's definitely politics," Dick Kovacevich says of Bank of America's $16.65B mortgage settlement. "It has nothing to with justice or restitution to the innocent victims. In fact, more of the money is going to the coffers of the states and various departments than the victims."
  • Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) shareholders who remember the legal onslaught brought upon JPMorgan when Jamie Dimon dared to question U.S. regulators, can be thankful Kovacevich is a former chairman and CEO of their bank.
  • Kovacevich: "[Neither] JPMorgan or its employees [nor] Bank of America or its employees did anything wrong here. They just bought companies that did wrong ... Why are we charging the stock holders instead of going after the people who did wrong? Corporations don't engage in criminal behavior. They don't take advantage of innocent people. People do."
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Comments (47)
  • Blackbeard
    , contributor
    Comments (113) | Send Message
     
    "...They just bought companies that did wrong"

     

    When you acquire a company, you acquire its assets AND liabilities (financial and legal).
    21 Aug 2014, 09:32 AM Reply Like
  • JD in NJ
    , contributor
    Comments (1521) | Send Message
     
    But the point remains that specific individuals were responsible for creating the conditions for said wrong-doing. Those specific individuals should (dare I say must?) be held accountable for their actions, or nothing will bloody well change.
    21 Aug 2014, 10:00 AM Reply Like
  • Dirty Capitalist
    , contributor
    Comments (180) | Send Message
     
    If you were looking at this from a COMPENSATORY angle, I would agree with you, but BAC has already settled with most of the investor groups.

     

    This, on the other hand, is from a PUNATIVE perspective, and clearly is not warranted under the circumstances that BAC was "encouraged" to take on these companies (and should have bankrupted CW almost immediately).
    21 Aug 2014, 10:18 AM Reply Like
  • NYCTEXASBANKER
    , contributor
    Comments (3078) | Send Message
     
    jd in nj

     

    I do agree with you to hold accountable those specific individuals that did wrong.
    the problem is that a lot of what was done was legal not moral but we can't jail those with low morals.

     

    take this example a mortgage broker packages a bunch of loans and presents to an investment banker 100mil loans and a prospectus filed with the SEC. The investment banker goes to a credit agency pays a fee and gets a triple A rating. The investment banker then calls his salesmen to market the paper to funds, wealth individuals and other banks.
    I'm a salesman and I call you up and say I have a triple A mbs that your pension fund my want to buy. You buy for the pension fund and never read the prospectus which on page 127 says the value is not 80% but 95% meaning enclosed is non conforming loans. 18 months later the mbs is a problem.

     

    In that chain only one person besides the mortgage banker did wrong
    want to guess who it is
    21 Aug 2014, 03:46 PM Reply Like
  • NYCTEXASBANKER
    , contributor
    Comments (3078) | Send Message
     
    dirty c

     

    Just think the next time we need to have a big institution to help in a financial crisis the CEO's response to the government should be **** it.
    When history looks back at Obama, Holder and his boys. I have a feeling he will be at the bottom of the list.
    21 Aug 2014, 09:12 PM Reply Like
  • dhauff
    , contributor
    Comments (165) | Send Message
     
    I like that summary of events. How can anyone read that and not know who is really at fault here.
    22 Aug 2014, 08:55 AM Reply Like
  • dhauff
    , contributor
    Comments (165) | Send Message
     
    I believe Mr. Kov did say that when all the major banks were asked (forced) to take gov't bailout money.
    22 Aug 2014, 08:57 AM Reply Like
  • virginia long view
    , contributor
    Comments (174) | Send Message
     
    That would be wonderful, but if companies lobby to get things made legal that should be illegal then how can you hold them accountable under the law? That is the problem, too many protections under corporate law that shield top management from being held accountable. How may hundreds of millions did Lewis and the other top BAC execs walk away with? You can sue them but unless you can find criminal wrong doing, you won't win. Buffett has said the best fix would be to make the top company officials liable for all their wealth - not just their company holdings, then they might pay more attention, avoid gambling with shareholder money, instead of cashing in stock options and moving the money elsewhere. Let them play a 'heads I win, tails I don't lose" game and you get what we have. And be certain the big four will be buying votes very soon to get 'the government off our backs" and you will see the same boom and bust pattern repeated. It is the never ending story of banking in America.
    23 Aug 2014, 08:58 AM Reply Like
  • virginia long view
    , contributor
    Comments (174) | Send Message
     
    Investor groups were not the only people hurt by this, good hard working American families were devastated by it and the govt is acting - as it should - in their behalf. You could argue that investor groups are the ones that should have understood the risks while the homeowners were misled by unscrupulous lenders and realtors who have no fiduciary requirements to act in their clients best interests.
    23 Aug 2014, 09:03 AM Reply Like
  • dacama1
    , contributor
    Comments (226) | Send Message
     
    It has always been about gov't extortion. Nothing more or less.
    21 Aug 2014, 09:34 AM Reply Like
  • 6.5 swede
    , contributor
    Comments (99) | Send Message
     
    At the time, it seemed BOA was strong armed by Paulson to take over Countrywide and Merrill, as both were circling the drain.
    I thought BOA did Treasury a favor to clean up this mess.
    I guess Mr Obama and Mr Holder think otherwise.
    21 Aug 2014, 09:44 AM Reply Like
  • marc heilweil
    , contributor
    Comments (159) | Send Message
     
    amen
    21 Aug 2014, 09:53 AM Reply Like
  • dhauff
    , contributor
    Comments (165) | Send Message
     
    Kovacevich is 100% correct. But our country has gone awry and this is how business is done nowadays and don't really hope on a court or judge to support what is correct. Who ever thought you could be forced to eat brocolli?
    21 Aug 2014, 09:57 AM Reply Like
  • auto44
    , contributor
    Comments (3342) | Send Message
     
    Finally someone calls a spade a spade. If only the folks with defined benefit plans, both private and public would realized that this effects the health of those plans too. The government does this stuff to show how they can punish greedy wall street, foolish people fall for it, and don't understand the damage it does to them personally. One plus one is two is a simple equation only if you are interested enough look at it and want to understand it. The degree of voter ignorance and arrogance in this country is sickening and leading the political environment in this country down a slippery slope. You can thank a vastly overpriced higher education system for giving people this mind set. NEWS FLASH FOR HIGHER EDUCATION. Your endowments are negatively effected by this too.
    21 Aug 2014, 10:00 AM Reply Like
  • B Long
    , contributor
    Comments (4) | Send Message
     
    ....where are all those individuals that ripped off the mortgage industry?

     

    We need to go back to the middle ages and bring back debtor's prison!
    21 Aug 2014, 10:19 AM Reply Like
  • auto44
    , contributor
    Comments (3342) | Send Message
     
    (B Long) And drawing and quartering.
    24 Aug 2014, 09:41 AM Reply Like
  • JayPeters1
    , contributor
    Comment (1) | Send Message
     
    Yes, government pressured strong banks to take over the weak ones. Government pressured banks to lend $ to those with poor credit or no credit. Look what this favor gets them now.

     

    Hope WFC fights this to the end.
    21 Aug 2014, 10:19 AM Reply Like
  • pob
    , contributor
    Comments (17) | Send Message
     
    Blackbeard, if you look at any prior period of bank turmoil you will never see the government go afterthe banks who were their remedy in hard time. Never even once.
    21 Aug 2014, 10:20 AM Reply Like
  • Lakeaffect
    , contributor
    Comments (1230) | Send Message
     
    This reminds me of the way the good 'ol boy system worked in Mexico back in the '70's and '80's:

     

    Banksters get into trouble at the behest of government officials who are trying not to look bad --> Central bank over prints money to bail out the banks who got into trouble --> Government officials sue banksters to scoop up their share of the overprinted money for their use in buying votes --> Ordinary people suffer the negative effects of financial repression, currency devaluation, inflation and unemployment.

     

    In Mexico this cycle has endured for well over four decades, and included three massive economic dislocations in which the middle class has been badly hammered. The country has descended into increasingly chaotic conditions as the government has become more repressive and conflicted. The end game is observable: the government thieves are usurped by private criminal gangs.

     

    It's a slow moving train wreck, a generational thing. Much of the time, we don't see what's happening because our reference points are in years while the process is in decades.
    21 Aug 2014, 10:21 AM Reply Like
  • john_d_sullivan_jr
    , contributor
    Comments (3) | Send Message
     
    This is fundamentally stupid; it teaches the financial sector only one lesson, to wit, ignore any future government appeals for marginally-stronger institutions to take over clearly-failed institutions. The more serious the crisis, the more important the lesson. Perhaps such inflexible behavior will yield the "best" economic result over the long term, but the immediate consequence could well be a population in such panic that they (that's we) take to the streets, figuratively or literally, which will have its own economic as well as political consequences.
    21 Aug 2014, 11:28 AM Reply Like
  • duhaus
    , contributor
    Comments (320) | Send Message
     
    "Corporations don't engage in criminal behavior. They don't take advantage of innocent people. People do." Really ?? I guess you missed the memo, corporations ARE people. You can't have your cake and eat it too.
    21 Aug 2014, 11:38 AM Reply Like
  • dkamla
    , contributor
    Comment (1) | Send Message
     
    One thing is certain - corporations are a legal entity, not a living being making independent decisions. A corporation is incapable of taking actions independent of the people representing it. Those individuals that engaged in criminal behavior on behalf of their corporate employer, and/or as directors thereof, as well as those that failed to adequately supervise this behavior, should be punished - not the shareholders.
    21 Aug 2014, 01:50 PM Reply Like
  • virginia long view
    , contributor
    Comments (174) | Send Message
     
    So the shareholders have no responsibility for the investment decisions they make, for the management they put in place? Anyone watching the performance of the banks' stocks in the years leading up to the crash should have smelled a rat: banks paying 6% dividends growing at 10% = a bank taking outsized risks. Banking should be boring not a path to outsized profits. When investing in banks is not boring then soon the whole economy will be in trouble period.
    23 Aug 2014, 09:12 AM Reply Like
  • NYCTEXASBANKER
    , contributor
    Comments (3078) | Send Message
     
    V L V

     

    The shareholders can't even determine the salary of the CEO.
    WHY
    because in most cases the companies are incorporated in Delaware.
    they make the rules and I have no vote to change the rules as I now live in Texas. THE BIGGEST PROBLEMS we face is that you and most of the people think shareholders should do something however they do NOT realize regulations get in the way
    23 Aug 2014, 10:33 AM Reply Like
  • virginia long view
    , contributor
    Comments (174) | Send Message
     
    I absolutely agree that shareholders have little say but shareholders can always vote with their feet. The biggest problem is political and there votes do have some say. Do regulations get in the way? That is the whole point of regulation: to get between bank speculation and the american economy and people. Banking is the one area of the economy that can wreck the whole economy and has done so several times in our history. It is a systematic problem and must be controlled systematically. When speculation begins and outsized profits start in one place it quickly spreads because if others don't join in they get fired for 'underperforming'. When regulation is lax, the system does not self-regulate as Mr Greenspan thought, it weeds out the rational.
    24 Aug 2014, 08:50 AM Reply Like
  • NYCTEXASBANKER
    , contributor
    Comments (3078) | Send Message
     
    V L V
    I agree with regulations, just like we need traffic laws. We have a spot here in Texas where a 4 lane paved intersects with an unpaved two lane
    road. you can see four 2 miles in every direction. They made it a 4 way stop. When I asked why wasn't it a yield on the 4 way and a stop on the 2 way the constable (yes, we do have constables) said "your trying to use logic to fix a dumb situation".
    The point is we need good regulations with sunset provisions so those in charge must review them. I also happen to believe that the bigger banks should be reduced in a size on the style that happened to ma bell, meaning separate territories and reasonable size.
    The public expected Congress to fix the to big too fail and what we got with Dood Frank is a three class system with the big guys made more not less dangerous.
    24 Aug 2014, 09:43 AM Reply Like
  • duhaus
    , contributor
    Comments (320) | Send Message
     
    @dkamla
    Given your statement then corp's should not be given the rights and benefits of "living beings" but they are in any instance where it benefit$ the corp. It's obscene and fundamentally wrong, anyone who says otherwise is only interested in one thing and it's not about being morally or ethically right.
    26 Aug 2014, 01:43 PM Reply Like
  • NYCTEXASBANKER
    , contributor
    Comments (3078) | Send Message
     
    DUHAUS AND DKAMIA

     

    I think that you both have a very small view of why a corporation in law has the same rights as a person. I also thing you both don't know where the civil law becomes criminal law. Its simplistic to say the executives are responsible when it could be the problem at a lower level.
    26 Aug 2014, 02:33 PM Reply Like
  • banmate6
    , contributor
    Comments (1280) | Send Message
     
    We live in a great country. There is still a lot of opportunity. However, as these bullet points illustrate, there is a lot of random corruption. In this case, it is simply immense, given the dollar amounts.

     

    In this case, the letter of the law is being abused to flout the spirit of the law. As usual, ad-hoc parochial interests, delivered with a class warfare populist edge, trump genuine concern for the commonweal. This is yet again a punitive measure against savers, investors, and folks who generally did the right thing.

     

    I'm an avid capitalist. But I also have a social conscience. I have no problem paying higher taxes and assisting those in need. But let's be fair in how we tax and redistribute.

     

    The crash of 2008 was collective: government, main street, wall street, and the fed. All of these factored in the repeal of Glass-Steagall, diminishing lending standards, cheap money, and abusing debt to speculate wildly in housing. We did it together.

     

    But I have to say, I have a special contempt for government. More than any other player, it did the most damage. It allowed the other parties opportunities to be economically abusive. It could have used its considerable power to properly regulate, tune, and intervene.

     

    It's for me the epitome of hypocrisy for government now to go after banks. Especially banks that merged or acquired offenders. Go after those who actually committed fraud...as opposed to siphoning wealth off what politicians see as cash cows to fund their pandering schemes.

     

    Again, don't get me wrong. I love my country. But for the love of sanity, can't our governments find a way to optimize spending and stay within budgets? Mitigating the need for excessive and unfair wealth redistribution.

     

    Sure. Take some wealth from me and redistribute. I get that this is social contract. But it gets irritating when its abused.
    21 Aug 2014, 02:22 PM Reply Like
  • virginia long view
    , contributor
    Comments (174) | Send Message
     
    If people do wrong under the cover of corporate governance and you can't really punish them so you go after the "corporate person'. By all means let's change the law where CEOs of financial institutions put all their personal wealth on the line, not just the part they own in the company and hold them legally accountable as well and then they might take oversight of their companies seriously. Now they just transfer wealth out of the company and keep gambling with shareholders ownership. Theft and fraud and outsized risks are always immoral but in corporate America they are not often illegal.
    21 Aug 2014, 03:46 PM Reply Like
  • banmate6
    , contributor
    Comments (1280) | Send Message
     
    @virgina

     

    There are laws for what you're vaguely discussing. In particular, Glass-Steagall before it was systematically diminished was in place to avoid passing risk to commercial banks. Moreover, there remain SEC laws about misrepresentation of market instruments and fraud.

     

    Government played a key role in all of this. They diminished Glass-Steagall. They coerced diminished lending standards. They didn't oppose Greenspan and his ill advised cheap money issuing. And main street certainly did their part in running up real estate on extreme leverage.

     

    Apply the law in this case. At least in terms of strict criminality. Again, I see no justice in effectively seizing wealth from shareholders, whom might have been morally innocent in all of this.

     

    I'm a BAC share holder. But I paid 25% down for a nice home. I never missed a payment. I bought only what I could afford. I endured the crash. Now why hurt my interests like this?

     

    What could I have done to prevent BAC from buying Countrywide? I was to review internal accounting and balance sheets? Come on.

     

    If you are an investor, you would know that it's impossible to read and discern every board ballot. Never mind understand all of them. And as I discussed, this topic is beyond what normal shareholder-proxy voting dynamics could have reasonably handled.
    23 Aug 2014, 10:23 AM Reply Like
  • virginia long view
    , contributor
    Comments (174) | Send Message
     
    Aren't the 'they you are talking about Us". Repeal of G/Segal passed with over 75% majorities in both houses of congress; when President Clinton threatened veto, his fellow Dems in NY and CT reminded him it was 'veto proof' based on those majorities. Don't know the precise vote, but a safe guess is your and my reps and our senators voted repeal. What could you have done as a BAC shareholder ( i was one too)? Recognized that banks paying 6% dividends that they are growing at 10% have to be doing something screwy and sell! Not the first time, not the last time this cycle will occur, a freshman level reading of American financial history tells you it is the recurrent theme. Yet the ride up seems so sweet! A lot of people here want you to believe that BAC got in trouble just because of Meryl and Countrywide, not so - they were busy making their share of bad mortgages - pushing them on people they knew were bad risk. Lewis' ego wanted BAC to be the biggest bank on the planet and he took outsized risks to get there then when his ambitions failed he screamed 'the government made me do it". Yet try to get a law passed that criminalizes such behavior and the banks will spend billions opposing it - just as they successfully opposed the re-reinstatement of G/S after the crash.
    24 Aug 2014, 09:10 AM Reply Like
  • NYCTEXASBANKER
    , contributor
    Comments (3078) | Send Message
     
    VLV
    I also would like to see G/S reinstated in a more realistic form.
    24 Aug 2014, 09:47 AM Reply Like
  • banmate6
    , contributor
    Comments (1280) | Send Message
     
    @Virginia

     

    I've posted before about the key factors the caused the perfect financial storm that crashed the economy of 2008. I've consistently noted the main actors: government, the fed, wall street, and main street. We did it together.

     

    However, as stated, I reserve a special contempt for government. Again, due to voter apathy and ignorance, main street lets minority votes all too often repeal things like Glass-Steagall and allow for activism that, for example, diminishes lending standards. Irresponsible behavior is rewarded.

     

    The salient point remains that in the aftermath a minority of innocent shareholders are being punished. Nothing you said detracts from this. Especially your comment about growing dividends implying something illicit.

     

    The icing on the cake is you absolving gamblers as victims, asserting that banks pushed risky mortgages on them. Please. I live in San Francisco. I was routinely outbid by folks who were not putting much down. Never mind what I was seeing in other markets. The buyers in nearly all my exchanges were irrationally exuberant about new real estate rules and growth. They were suddenly as expert in real estate as they were on stocks during dot com...but betraying the same ignorance about cash flow, balance sheets, interest amortization, ROI, and assessment of value.

     

    As I explained, I stuck to my guns in holding out with 25% down, funding a mortgage that was 1/4 of my take home pay. Sure, I made an exception in buying BAC stock, as normally I'm a value investor. It's my worst performer. I only hold it as a grim reminder to invest more intelligently.

     

    It's also now a continuous reminder of the hypocrisy of our government and modern society. To come full circle, I'm now specially being punished as a shareholder...beyond my deserved punishment for my risk in BAC by the collapse of its stock. By a government that essentially set the rules for a game of last fool standing in a crash that rivaled 1929.

     

    Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn't say that I have my doubts that you were a BAC shareholder. You almost take a certain glee in this judgement against BAC. You go to some lengths to build a case against BAC and shareholders, albeit logically fallacious. You even claim it's alleged wrongs could have been seen by shareholders.

     

    Yet you were a shareholder? Forgive me for my negative speculation. But all too often in these kinds of chats, folks push their partisan biases. That's how you come off to me...making this about those bad banks, their 1% executives, and us greedy investors in the stock market.

     

    I speculated in BAC. I paid. $50 down to $5. I doubled down at $8 and am overall down 13%. As I keep saying, I paid the price...as set by the rules.

     

    Don't hit me again. That's all. Especially as a means of wealth redistribution. That's what my taxes are for. Which I am willing to pay a higher amount on in order to help us keep recovering from the crash of 2008.

     

    All the best.
    24 Aug 2014, 11:13 AM Reply Like
  • virginia long view
    , contributor
    Comments (174) | Send Message
     
    I owned both bac and wamu thru the crash. I want the rules tough and enforceable to protect shareholders as well as the economy as a whole. If there aren't strong punishments in hand, it will happen again
    27 Aug 2014, 08:06 AM Reply Like
  • lennykor
    , contributor
    Comments (4) | Send Message
     
    I stick by Barney Franks' quote when asked about JPM being fined when he said "No good deed should go unpunished".
    21 Aug 2014, 04:23 PM Reply Like
  • dhauff
    , contributor
    Comments (165) | Send Message
     
    ++++ I forgot about Barney and his intellect.
    22 Aug 2014, 09:05 AM Reply Like
  • NYCTEXASBANKER
    , contributor
    Comments (3078) | Send Message
     
    lennykor

     

    he's one of the guys who wrote the legislation that came back to haunt us
    21 Aug 2014, 04:43 PM Reply Like
  • auto44
    , contributor
    Comments (3342) | Send Message
     
    (NYCTEXASBANKER) Not many folks realize that Barney, Chris, and their boys were responsible for the mess then with political aplomb the bill that is suppose to fix things is called the Dodd Frank bill. If it weren't so seriously sad it would make a great comedy. Ya can't make this stuff up!
    21 Aug 2014, 08:45 PM Reply Like
  • NYCTEXASBANKER
    , contributor
    Comments (3078) | Send Message
     
    auto44

     

    The public got screwed by the Democrats BIG time and they don't even know it.
    I've been a Democrat my whole life and when I look at what they have done to this country in certain places it really annoys me. These bozos told everybody they would fix TOO BIG TOO FAIL. What have they done they cemented control of the financial system to two dozen banks. You can't grow if your a middle market bank because the legal cost are too great. The latest joke is that under the living will that banks file it can not use the discount window. When the official was asked why then do you have the discount window we get the deer in the headlights look. Like you say ya can't make this stuff up. I'm hoping the 18 to 35 year olds wake up in November but if they don't 10 years from now when their standard of living is worse than their parents as a group they will only have themselves to blame.
    21 Aug 2014, 09:02 PM Reply Like
  • virginia long view
    , contributor
    Comments (174) | Send Message
     
    I believe it was Phil Graham, a republican senator from Texas, a former economics professor, who was the prime mover behind repeal of G/S; and a prime proponent of the notion that financial markets self-regulated. He certainly had a lot of support from Dems in and around NY, but he was a die-in-the-wool financial free marketer! And the Rep solidly opposed re-instating G/S, an easy and obvious fix to the problem. But by that time, the big banks were rolling in investment band profits and opposed reinstating G/S. If the public got screwed, it was a bi-partisan love fest!
    24 Aug 2014, 09:39 AM Reply Like
  • auto44
    , contributor
    Comments (3342) | Send Message
     
    You gotta wonder if Mr.Buffet is still enamoured with Mr. Obama! I am sure his friends at BAC aren't.
    21 Aug 2014, 09:05 PM Reply Like
  • virginia long view
    , contributor
    Comments (174) | Send Message
     
    Buffett has said the best answer is to hold top management of financial firms legally responsible and to put all their financial assets - not just their holdings in the companies they run - at risk. That might lead them to do conservative due diligence (get us back to where we were when the investment banks were private companies). Of course he has also profitied immensely from the crisis thru sweet heart investments in BAC, GE and Salmon so he might be quite happy with both Bush and Obama.
    24 Aug 2014, 09:47 AM Reply Like
  • jozpad
    , contributor
    Comments (11) | Send Message
     
    It's nothing but a government shakedown to extract money for there own benefit.......60pct of the banks in this country have been downgraded to a 3 rating, (mostly smaller community banks who can't afford the legal fight) and this means that they pay significantly higher FDIC insurance problems ..... These ratings are all very subjective.... Again, shakedown money, that results in forced mergers, and loss of jobs.
    21 Aug 2014, 10:11 PM Reply Like
  • Jack Cumming
    , contributor
    Comments (125) | Send Message
     
    Clearly there is no justice in penalizing bank shareholders. They, above all others, were the true victims of the financial crisis. The so called Government bailouts may have kept the institutions afloat, but shareholder value was decimated! And many failed members of top management walked away with their personal fortunes relatively undamaged. Now shareholders of BAC must eat another $17B?? I really cannot understand current management accepting this. Once again, they are not operating in the best interest of shareholders. SHAREHOLDERS UNITE IN DEFIANCE OF THE LATEST RIPOFF!
    23 Aug 2014, 01:51 PM Reply Like
  • virginia long view
    , contributor
    Comments (174) | Send Message
     
    Jack, management stopped acting in shareholder interest the day stock options were made a major component of executive pay. Get that fixed and you might stop lots of speculation and short-term thinking. KO management just got a package that will give them 14% of the company if they meet certain goals. Get back to cash bonuses and a lot of mischevous goes away.
    24 Aug 2014, 10:23 AM Reply Like
  • NYCTEXASBANKER
    , contributor
    Comments (3078) | Send Message
     
    VLV
    The trick is to break options by times into 3,7,10 & retirement age of soc sec.
    24 Aug 2014, 11:24 AM Reply Like
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