Tavakoli Structured Finance LLC

The Financial Report

By Janet Tavakoli

Rick Ungar Gives Barry Ritholtz a Lesson in the Law

Posted April 24, 2014

On April 24, 2010…

Rick Ungar, then writing at True Slant [1] and Barry Ritholtz, a blogger at The Big Picture [2], exchanged views.

At the time, Mr. Ungar was active as a lawyer. Barry Ritholtz’s blog bio states he passed the New York bar (searchable New York records are here) and New Jersey bar (I couldn’t pull up the record in the data available online, but see the following), and he became disenchanted with being a lawyer. The New York Office of Court Administration confirmed he let his registration lapse as of 1999. Nothing wrong with no longer being a lawyer; people move on.

Comedy Gold

Ungar read Ritholtz’s April 23, 2010, blog post on the SEC vs. Goldman case asserting it was going to be strong and aggressively prosecuted. Ritholtz added:

“I put together this list based on what I know as a lawyer [emphasis added], a market observer, a quant and someone with contacts within the SEC. (Note: This represents my opinions, and no one elses [sic]).”

Ritholtz concludes his screed by castigating those who mention “I’m not a lawyer, but . . . Then you should not be ignorantly commenting on securities litigation. Why don’t you pour yourself a tall glass of STF up.”

Mr. Ungar wrote his critique on April 24, 2010: “More stupid commentary on Goldman Sachs case.” After opining that Ritholtz isn’t a good lawyer (well…lapsed registration and all that), Mr. Ungar remarks:

“While Mr. Ritholtz would have us believe that his assurance as to the quality of the government’s case is based on some inside knowledge provided by his friends at the SEC, such a suggestion is pure crap and stated only for the purpose of making us believe that he is some ’special player’ that we should all be listening to with rapt attention.”

You’ll recall the result was one of the SEC settlement specials. The SEC fined Goldman $550 million, Goldman said it made a “mistake,” and hapless ex-Goldman salesman Fabrice Tourre was the sacrificial lamb.

2014: James Kidney, Retired SEC Lawyer, Exposes “Tentative and Fearful” Regulator

At SEC attorney James Kidney’s  retirement party in April, 2014, he revealed how timid the SEC was in such matters. Kidney wanted the SEC to go up the chain of command and sue Tourre’s boss. Kidney said some high profile names among his bosses made no secret they were at the SEC to punch their tickets. They end up leaving the SEC’s revolving door for lucrative jobs.

On April 16, 2010, I spoke with Katie Couric, then with the CBS Evening News, and said the SEC didn’t go far enough. I gave my opinion as a structured finance expert.

More Comedy Gold: Soliciting Sucker Bets Over the Internet

The comments section of Mr. Ungar’s commentary has several hilarious rejoinders. Among them, Ungar notes that in one of his responses, Ritholtz attempted to solicit a $1,000 sucker bet over the internet (in his own post Ritholtz wrote: “I have $1,000 against any and all comers…”). Ungar schools him as to why it’s a sucker bet, and then Ungar asserts: “you have broken any number of laws by attempting to solicit a bet on the internet – unless you’re based offshore somewhere.”

[1] Rick Ungar is currently “the token lefty” with Forbes, co-host of “Steele & Unger,” Sirius XM Radio POTUS Channel Journalist, and Fox News Political Analyst.

[2] Barry Ritholtz blogs at The Big Picture and Bloomberg Views and writes a column for the Washington Post. He is also Chairman and Chief Investment Officer for Ritholtz Wealth Management, a newly formed registered investment advisory.

See Also:

SEC Goldman Lawyer Says Agency Too Timid on Wall Street Misdeeds,” by Robert Schmidt, Bloomberg News, April 7, 2014.

Goldman Sachs: Spinning Gold,” TSF, April 10, 2014

Financial Journalism: ‘Sometimes Being Responsible Means Pissing Other People Off.’

Share This Post