'Deception Detector' Hunts for Wall Street’s Secrets
CNBC Washington Reporter
"Maria does a good job of recognizing probably that he had ducked the question the first time," Houston said. "So she went back to the question and immediately when she did, you see another anchor point shift."
Anchor points, Houston explains, are those parts of our body that attach us to the earth — our feet when we are standing, or our hands when we are leaning on a table.
One of the indicators he says reveals concealment of information is movement of anchor points within 5 seconds of being asked a question. "It strongly suggests a little bit of a spike in his anxiety," Houston said.
Ben Bernanke Chairman, Federal Reserve
Ben Bernanke Chairman, Federal Reserve Press Conference, June 20.
Mark Gregory, BBC: How much worse will the situation in Europe have to get before it starts seriously denting the prospects for recovery in the American economy and thus really changing the direction of Fed's policymaking?
Bernanke: Well, we hope it doesn't get worse. I think it's already one of the factors that has been a drag on the U.S. recovery. Not the only factor by any means — there are a number of others that I mentioned — but it has been having an effect, and it's been having an effect on the economies of other countries as well, of countries that export to Europe.
The CIA-style Analysis:
Houston said he saw a "very large deceptive cluster" in Bernanke's response to this question — that is, he manifested several of the indicators that Houston looks for when people are deceiving their questioners.
"Right at the beginning of his response he did something we call an 'inappropriate level of concern,' or what the psychologists call 'duping delight:' He smiled," Houston said. Often, he explained that a smile that is inappropriate to the subject matter — in this case economic decline, which would not normally provoke humor, is an indication that a person is about to be deceptive.
And after reviewing another comment from Bernanke about European leaders ability to deal with the economic crisis, Houston said, "It clearly suggests a lack of confidence that they could get it right."
At a minimum, Houston added, Bernanke "believes it could get much worse."
Jon Corzine, Former CEO, MF Global
Jon Corzine Former CEO, MFGlobal Testimony before Senate Agriculture Committee, December 8, 2011
Jon Corzine Testimony:
Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK): Did you authorize a transfer of customer funds from these segregated accounts?
Corzine: I never intended to break any rules, whether it dealt with the segregation rules or any of the other rules that are applicable.
Rep. Lucas: Are you aware of any transfers, authorized or unauthorized, of funds out of customer accounts?
Mr. Corzine: I'm not in a position, given the number of transactions, to know anything specifically about the movement of any specific funds. And I will repeat: I certainly would never intend to direct or have segregated funds moved.
The CIA-Style Analysis:
In this exchange Houston spotted what he called "a lot of deceptive indicators." "His response is very problematic," Houston said, "behaviorally my antenna goes way up."
Part of the reason, Houston explained, is that Corzine doesn't answer the question of whether he authorized the controversial funds transfers from MFGlobal, and instead resorts to what Houston calls "convincing statements", which are designed to offer mitigating details, while not directly responding to the question itself.
Houston's opinion, based solely on the way Corzine answered the question, is this: "It suggests to me that there's a real possibility that he was involved in the process, potentially."
-By CNBC's Eamon Javers