Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Statement On The Kotok Plagiarism

To Everyone in the Financial Blogosphere: 
Yesterday evening, I discovered that David Kotok, Chairman and Chief Investment Officer of Cumberland Advisors, plagiarized over fifty paragraphs of my recent post “The Second Leg Down of America's Death Spiral”, where I discussed the Mortgage Mess.
My post appeared in my own blog on October 12. The link is here
Then the post ran on Zero Hedge on October 14. The link is here
Mr. Kotok passed off my piece as his own writing in his “Market Commentary”, on October 15. The link is here. He posted no link or mention of my blog, or Zero Hedge. 
David Kotok olympically tried passing off my work as his own. 
It shouldn’t need stating, but Mr. Kotok is not the sharpest knife in the drawer: Only a fool plagiarizes something that has already gotten such intense exposure, as most posts in Zero Hedge tend to get. 
But then, instead of just coming clean about his plagiarism, Mr. Kotok began to lie. 
Once people realized what he had done, he altered his “market commentary” page, inserting a disclaimer at the top, claiming the post had been written by “an anonymous source”—then claimed the disclaimer had been there all along, and that readers simply hadn't noticed it. 
To prove that he is now lying, attached to this post are two screen shots of his “market commentary”—before he inserted his disclaimer, trying to hide the fact of his plagiarism. 
Top of plagiarized page.
Please click to enlarge.
Bottom of plagiarized page.
Please click to enlarge.
David Kotok is a plagiarist and a liar. 
The plagiarism—and the lying to cover it up—are in and of themselves trivial. After all, this isn’t life and death—it’s just a silly column that I wrote. On a blog. For free
But Mr. Kotok’s behavior points to something very troubling: 
David Kotok obviously plagiarized my work so as to look good with his clients. You have to wonder what else he’s doing—or will do—so as to look good with his clients. After all, Bernie Madoff looked good with his clients, too—until they discovered that he was a fraud. 
Morality is the template of a man’s soul—he applies that same template in all situations, large and small. 
If Mr. Kotok would so foolishly plagiarize from an obscure, insignificant blogger in order to look good—and then lie about it to cover his tracks—then one has to wonder what other actions he would commit, in order to look good. 
This is all I have to say about this matter—all I will ever say about this matter. 
Actually, the whole subject bores me—I slept like a baby last night. After all, I authored the piece, so my conscience is clear. And I don’t have any of my money with Cumberland Advisors, or with its Chairman, Mr. David Kotok. 
Thank you for your attention. 
Gonzalo Lira


  1. Gonzalo,

    I have read the half-dozen or so posts you have made over the last several months regarding the US Economy, the Second-Leg Dn, the analog with your home countries' hyperinflationary episodes and your expectations regarding same here in the US. They were very insightful and IMO accurate and prophetic - time will tell.

    Further, i read a piece of John Mauldin's last week where John clearly stated he was forwarded a piece from Mr. Kotok and John was not clear of the identity of the author but should one care to claim his 15 mins of fame - please contatct John. I did so for you but maybe you should do so as well. I think competent and thought-provoking work requires ones' time (as well as intellect) and both have clearly been shared freely by you on these subjects.

    Thanks and Best to You - Mark.

  2. This is disturbing on so many levels because it really speaks to the overall decline in morality in our society.

    For someone who is in a position of financial trust to repeatedly lie says a lot about the state of our financial system. Harming others and themselves for only a little bit of profit has been the order of the day.

    As they say "when things reach an extreme, they turn around."

    The purging is never pretty.

  3. The best form of flattery is plagiarism, right?

    These hacks can't tell the truth in their own accounting practices, so they'll do anything they can to cover their asses including "borrowing" original copyrighted content. Fuckwits.

  4. Agreed with Anonymous here - that's the real question - Given the behavior of market players, and given the absolutely bat-shit crazy market they now exist in "professionally", is it really suprising that they'd try and claim credit with their clients for any piece of *actual* insight into the future?

    Clearly we're not dealing with overly creative people, so this seems true to character for me.

  5. I think you have also been plagiarized by someone named "Ray Gano" at this link: http://www.prophezine.com/PZArticles/HowIBelieveTheDollarWillDieByRayGano/tabid/1225/Default.aspx

  6. In your own words re: Live through This - click here and read it for free... This is what everyone should be doing because there is always more where that came from vs. some who just don't have anything to give. How sad. And how fortunate you are to have a bottomless well of enrichment. Children are born with at least seven gifts, when not acknowledged and encouraged those gifts die. Obviously, you were pointed in the right direction, Gonzalo, and Kotok was not. Probably not the first time Kotok's plagiarized, either. Remember this point please, there is always more where that comes from - in you. You lose nothing when it happens.

  7. yeah.... when I read about this on Yves Smith's Naked Cap.... The first thought that came into my mind was...... "what a pathetic, miserable douche bag......! I think that has been the thought that everyone has defaulted to...

    keep up the good work Gonzalo... and don't trip over any comemierdas..

    Best regards,


  8. I am a writer and frequently find or am editing others material that is plagiarized. If one spent some time looking at Kotok's past they would find him stealing thoughts and words again and again.

    Good money dictates he steals from clients and cheats on his wife and taxes. These things don't usually occur in a vacuum.

  9. May that frickin' Kotok burn for a long time in plagiarism purgatory.
    This is just another example of the intellectual bankruptcy of those in pin striped suits.
    Kotok can either come clean and send Gonzalo a profuse apology (or a poem) to lessen his time in purgatory - or he can just ignore the technological glitch of how a page from Gonzalo somehow got digitally transferred to his site. Possibly Kotok's site was hacked into, not that I'm making an alibi for him, but I do suspect he is inffatuated with Gonzalo.

  10. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. It's better if they ask first.

  11. Thanks, Gonzalo. First time here but I've caught some of your (attributed) posts over at NakedCapitalism.com. Yves Smith noted this "little glitch", er "paperwork problem" by Kotok on her site.

    As I commented there, Kotok hides his plagiarism under protecting his source but most interesting is his concern for "decency" in his retroactive disclaimer:

    “The original text was laced with expletives and I would not use it in the form I received it. Therefore the text below has had some substantial editing in order to remove that language…The writer shall remain anonymous.”

    Oh, c’mon. Give us refreshing, raw profanity especially when the topic warrants it, but please —dump the hypocrisy. We've had quite enough false moralizing by Wall Street/DC looters.

  12. Much of this should be familiar:


  13. Thank you, Anonymous, for pointing me to yet another plagiarist: This time one Mark Rasmussen, a real estate appraiser from Reno, NV.

    What the hell is going on? Is it “steal from Lira” day, and nobody told me? Jeez-Louise . . .


  14. I just sent an e-mail to Ray Gano at info@prophezine.com, telling them that Jesus sees what they did, and they will rot in hell.

  15. GL,
    No, it's not "Steal From Lira Day," it's "The Steal From Everyone Decade."

    What you have experienced is a testament to the times in which we live. Theft and prevarication have been a growing phenomenon in our major institutions - academia, government, the press, our financial system - for many years. Those who populate these institutions have brought their odious habits and bad character with them to the internet.

    But because thieves and liars are ubiquitous and theft and lying have become the accepted way of doing business, a new cultural norm is developing. In our new cultural norm, people will be drawn to those on the web who tell the truth and live lives of high moral character.

    And the net exposes plagiarists and liars instantaneously. It is the ultimate truth detector.

    Thieves and liars, beware.

    K Smith

  16. Kotok and Rasmussen for Congress! Mordor on the Potomac needs you!

  17. K.Smith,
    Right on the money. Here is an article from Chuck Smith on this subject.

    The Rot Within: Our Culture of Financial Fraud and the Anger of the Honest
    Misrepresentation, fraud and gaming the system are all heavily incentivized in the U.S. culture and economy, and honesty is punished. This truth is finally being revealed on a grand scale. The coming implosion of the U.S. economy has been richly earned.

  18. Well, GL, whatever you and I have 'had words over' in the past, this is basically Evil Shit. Stupid, too. I ALWAYS attribute when I use other folk's words. In my model of the world, such tends to reinforce my own point of view.

  19. I guess I plagiarize too since when I read something brilliant and utterly perceptive here with the ring of pure truth I'll snip a few lines, cut and paste, add quotation marks and post it. Perhaps the quotation marks remedy some of my personal moral rot...

  20. What's worse, the plagerism or the fact that all of this douchebag's clients did not immediately fire him when they heard about it? Or perhaps that they are paying so little attention that they are not even aware that it happened?

    A nation of moral rot and inattentive, gullible fools we are for sure.

  21. It looks like there may be some justice... It appears that the website (Financial Sense -- which I've read before and actually thought was well done) has removed Mark Rasmussen's post.

    The link provided by Anonymous above now defaults to FS' list of contributors.

  22. I just sent Mr. Kotok an e-mail asking why I would want to invest my money with someone of such low moral fiber. He can be reached here:


    Dartagnan Jones

  23. God Bless you Gonzalo,
    Only the best are plagarized...take this as a badge of honor...;-)

    I just fired off emails to the scumbags,
    to Mr. Kotok,
    In order to recover any self respect, you had, you should contact Gonzalo Lira and apologize.
    And, post that apology, on your page, and promise not to do it again.

    Its ok, to read others writing, and comment upon it, with attribution, but you've just betrayed your pin striped suit.
    It is people like you, that will define the coming age, and the answer to the worlds most vexing question;

    Do bankers taste like chicken?

    The Piper

  24. For as long as the internet remains around, a google search of David Kotok will yield (right now link #4):

    Gonzalo Lira - 2 visits - Sep 20
    Yesterday evening, I discovered that David Kotok, Chairman and Chief Investment Officer of Cumberland Advisors, plagiarized over fifty paragraphs of my ...

    He is only beginning to understand the implications of google's page rank technology's effect on his livelihood.

  25. Yea, David Kotok is a lazy sack of something, probably copying other money manager's investment picks too.

    Now he's got the nerve to opening insult the article on his website.

  26. I used to get Kotok's letter, but no longer. I was initially suspicious of his character when he begged for a post-Katrina rate cut, when natural gas was at 15 and oil was in the middle of its historic climb. My suspicions were confirmed when he had one of the biggest media liars of all -- the appropriately named, Steve Liesman -- at his yearly fishing trip.

  27. Mr. Lira,

    In addition to your blog, I read the posts at Financial Sense most every day. I recognized your work in Rasmussen's article and sent a note to their Webmaster with a link to your site. The response from the Financial Sense representative was... "I have since deleted the article and notified Mark Rassmusen of plagiarism. We have little tolerance for contributors who fail to properly source material." It is commendable for Financial Sense to demonstrate such intregrity in their immediate attention to the matter. Additionally, it was a genuine pleasure to see your article on their site this morning. I hope to see your fine work there in the future, as well as many other blogs, as a regular and properly acknowledged contributor.
    Thank you for your much-appreciated efforts at bringing objectivity and truth to financial media.

  28. http://blogs.forbes.com/investor/2010/10/19/where-is-the-housing-recovery/?source=patrick.net#socialvotestarget

    Dude! John Mauldin over at Forbes wants to give you credit! Apparently, Mr. Liar passed your statement on to Mauldin (middle of the article):

    The Foreclosure Mess
    In a serendipitous moment, Maine fishing buddy David Kotok sent me this e-mail on the mortgage foreclosure crisis just as I was getting ready to write much the same thing. It is about the best thing I have read on the topic. Saves me some time and you get a better explanation. From Kotok:

    “Dear Readers, this text came to me in an e-mail from sources that are in the financial services business and with whom I have a personal relationship. The original text was laced with expletives and I would not use it in the form I received it. Therefore the text below has had some substantial editing in order to remove that language. The intentions of the writer are undisturbed..."

    When I read the entire selection, I got really excited because I knew it was from you--your work--I had read days earlier! At the end, it seems as Mr. Mauldin wants to recognize you as the author--your "15 minutes of fame". I actually think you're so perceptive that it will be a hell of a lot more than 15 minutes. Keep up the good work, greatness is often imitated, never duplicated.


  29. Here is the email from David when I complained he was a plagiarist:
    Original Cumberland piece disclaimed writing it. I got it forwarded with no ID. Follow up piece gave writer ID. And link to his URL.

  30. "Plagiarizers die hungry and alone" - source unknown :)

  31. Is it possible that it was more abject stupidity then moral lapse? How hard would it have been to just credit you, quote you, and then add a couple of his own insights or comments ?

    Of course, being that stupid, reflects even worse on his potential to handle an investment fund than the moral lapse would.

  32. The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.

    Clearly David Kotok has no creativity.

    I read Gonzalo's blog and thought it wonderful. I then read the same thing the next day, and it was like being lied to, because i knew the words were from this site, albeit with no expletives, and that was even worse.

    Keep writing Gonzalo, you are superb.

  33. John Mauldin always gives credit to others work, as do most of us. It is easy, accepted, and reflects good judgment. I advise everyone to use a program like endnote to make all citations in all documents really easy. I believe some locations such as Facebook imply that work of any length is not original, so that is different than a blog post. Am I wrong here?

  34. Fuck Kotok, he's just your average, run of the mill Pigman. I will surmise the next ten years worth of Kotok's monthly investor newsletters as follows "We are fully invested in the market and expect returns exceeding normal for the naxt twelve months"

    Now watch. He'll plagarize me next!

  35. I agree with your take on morals, Gonzalo.

    And I stopped reading Kotok...years ago.

  36. Anonymous said "Only the best are plagarized..."


    Although in one instance for me it was far more amusing. My orignal post was satire:


    While not technically plagarism, Alex Jones Prison Planet lifted my entire essay and posted it as Breaking News - without a link to the source, tags identifying it as satire nor the accompanying silly images:


    The resulting comments at Prison Planet were hilarious as the beans & bullets crowd became highly agitated due to the impending passage by Congress of the "Jail The Poor" bill.

  37. I'm on no one's side here, but does this not explain, to some degree, what happened? Kotok's claiming he received the text in an email without attribution and the email chain seems pretty straightforward... again, I don't know. But it doesn't look as evil as it's being presented here (but I could be wrong - I'm not spending much time on this, to be clear). Is there some factual error in the explanation in the link?


  38. Regarding the Oct. 23, 1:04pm, comment by Anonymous:

    I would not be surprised to learn it was a troll in Cumberland/Kotok's employ.

    As it is an anonymous comment, I cannot ascertain this unequivocally—but like I said, I wouldn't be surprised.


  39. In the end the plagiarist unintentionally benefited you by putting your work in front of 1.5 million Mauldin readers, many of whom--like me--had never heard of you (or of Yves Smith) till this happened. You can bet I will be exploring your blog history to read the story in the original, and will drop by to see your new postings.

  40. I echo Rainy Sunday comment.
    I'm pretty sure that in the end the unintended consequences of this plagiarism will be good for your blog.
    (I ended up here after reading Maudlin's piece which gave you credit)

  41. In "The Subprime Debacle: Act 2, Part2", John Mauldin writes: "As a side note, I quoted a letter that came to me anonymously via David Kotok. I said if I found out who wrote it, I would give them credit. It was originally written by Gonzalo Liro, at www.gonzalolira.blogspot.com."

    It would have been decent if Mauldin had acknowledged that his "fishing buddy" Kotok had managed to pull a fast one by him and tried to pass your post as his own. It would have been nice if he had not misspelled your last name.

  42. From Anton Kleinschmidt / South Africa. I am one of many who picked up your name from John Mauldins newsletter. You put out some great stuff.


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