Chapter 17. Hopeful Signs from the Hill

They alone were alive, and they sought for other things that were alive in order that they might devour them and continue to live.

Jack London, White Fang, 1906

Often painfully, sometimes furiously, the auction-rate debacle appeared to have turned a corner.

There were lingering cases in July 2009, puzzling and complex cases, still much debate, but a significant number of settlements had been accomplished. The question remained: How much frozen cash had yet to be thawed? As of July 2009, estimates from the secondary market, where ARS investors go to redeem their bonds at a discount, were as follows: approximately $200 billion had been redeemed. This left about $120 billion to $160 billion still floating about, mostly tied up in student loans, municipal bonds, collateralized debt obligations, and the secondary market itself. "They're spread all over," a secondary market guru said. "A vibrant secondary market has emerged."

"So more than half the money has gotten back to investors," Sandy said, checking my figures. "You must feel pretty good about it."

"It sure looks better than it did a year ago," I replied.

On the ride into Manhattan from LaGuardia Airport, I flipped through the recently printed pages of Harry's web site. It was a sizeable sheaf of paper, nearly 200 pages.

I noticed that Harry had posted stories I had sent to him on a $456 million settlement by TD Ameritrade. Another story spoke of an ex-Credit Suisse broker, Julian Tzolov, having ...

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