Tag Archives | Plunder

Inside the Secretive Circle That Rules a $14 Trillion Market

The fix is out in the open, but it’s still a fix, a rigged market, by the bankers for the banks. Bloomberg Business pulls back the curtain on a multi-trillion dollar scandal in waiting:

Fifteen of the biggest players in the $14 trillion market for credit insurance are also the referees.

Bank Transfer Day

Firms such as JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. wrote the rules, are the dominant buyers and sellers and, ultimately, help decide winners and losers.

Has a country such as Argentina paid what it owes? Has a company like Caesars Entertainment Corp. kept up with its bills? When the question comes up, the 15 firms meet on a conference call to decide whether a default has triggered a payout of the bond insurance, called a credit-default swap. Investors use CDS to protect themselves from missed debt payments or profit from them.

Once the 15 firms decide that a default has taken place, they effectively determine how much money will change hands.

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The Crime of our Time

Danny Schechter, popularly dubbed “The News Dissector,” died earlier this year. He had an illustrious career in journalism and went on to become one of New York’s higher profile political activists. A regular blogger for disinformation, he also wrote the book “The Crime of our Time,” about the largely unprosecuted series of white collar crimes that led to the financial crisis of 2008 that Danny had presciently forecast in his film In Debt We Trust. Remembering Danny, here he joins and becomes a big part of the March on Wall Street.

The Crime of our Time is just $2.49 in our one-time only sale using coupon code “book blowout”. (We’re blowing out ALL of our books! Use the “book blowout” coupon for 50% OFF already discounted prices.)

It’s a hard-hitting investigation that shows how the financial crisis was built on a foundation of criminal activity.Read the rest

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How Wall Street’s Bankers Stayed Out of Jail

How did the banksters stay out of jail? The Atlantic investigates:

In her first major prosecutorial act as the new U.S. attorney general, Loretta Lynch unsealed a 47-count indictment against nine FIFAofficials and another five corporate executives. She was passionate about their wrongdoing. “The indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States,” she said. “Today’s action makes clear that this Department of Justice intends to end any such corrupt practices, to root out misconduct, and to bring wrongdoers to justice.”

Banksters - Get Out of Jail

Lost in the hoopla surrounding the event was a depressing fact. Lynch and her predecessor, Eric Holder, appear to have turned the page on a more relevant vein of wrongdoing: the profligate and dishonest behavior of Wall Street bankers, traders, and executives in the years leading up to the 2008 financial crisis. How we arrived at a place where Wall Street misdeeds go virtually unpunished while soccer executives in Switzerland get arrested is murky at best.

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Wall Street Costs The Economy 2% Of GDP Each Year

Isn’t the financial industry supposed to grease the wheels of commerce, rather than apply a severe brake on economic growth? It ain’t happening in the US, where Forbes says Wall Street is hogging so much for itself that it’s slashed growth by half of what it should be:

Wall Street is back,” says the New York Times, and the economic cost is high. The excessive financialization of the US economy reduces GDP growth by 2% every year, according to a new study by International Monetary Fund. That’s a massive drag on the economy–some $320 billion per year. Wall Street has thus become, not just a moral problem with rampant illegality and outlandish compensation of executives and traders: Wall Street is a macro-economic problem of the first order.


The Financial Tail Wags The Economic Dog

How has this happened? Properly scaled, the financial sector is a good thing.

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The Stock Market Is Rigged

John Crudele is one of the curmudgeons of financial reporting and in his regular column for the New York Post he confirms what many regular Joes have been thinking:

The stock market is rigged.

When I started making that claim years ago — and provided solid evidence — people scoffed. Some called it a conspiracy theory, tinfoil hats and that sort of stuff. Most people just ignored me.

But that’s not happening anymore. The dirty secret is out.

Giełda na Wall Street.JPG

New York Stock Exchange. Photo: Mika-93 (CC)


With stock prices rushing far ahead of economic reality over the last six or so years, more experts in the financial markets are coming to the same conclusion — even if they don’t fully understand how it’s being rigged or the consequences.

Ed Yardeni, a longtime Wall Street guru who isn’t one of the clowns of the bunch, said flat out last week that the market was being propped up.

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The Middle Class is Poorer Today Than it Was in 1989


Photo by Brendel (CC)

No surprises for guessing who hogged the gains in the economy over the last 25 years. Yes, you guessed it, the wealthy 1%, per the Washington Post:

The fundamentals of the economy are, well, okay.

It’s been slow and steady, but the recovery has chugged along enough to get us back to something close to normal. The economy has surpassed its pre-crisis peak, unemployment is at a six-year low, and stocks have more than tripled from their 2009 low. It’s not the best of times, but it’s certainly not the worst — which was a very real possibility after Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy threatened to send us into a second Great Depression.

President Obama and his fellow Democrats, naturally, would like to claim some of the credit for that. If voters credited them with this economic turnaround, Obama and his party might have a better chance of holding the Senate this fall, an outcome that looks precarious.

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Michael Lewis on the Federal Reserve and the Secret Goldman Sachs Tapes

2013 Federal Reserve Bank of New York from Maiden LaneMichael Lewis is the former Wall Streeter who wrote the bestselling books Liar’s Poker, Moneyball and Flash Boys (among others). His dissection for Bloomberg View of the Carmen Segarra tapes (listen here) recorded while she was employed by the Federal Reserve is well worth a read. For those who don’t know, the main revelation is a recording of a discussion at the Fed in which a Goldman Sachs deal is described as “legal but shady”:

…First, a bit of background — which you might get equally well from today’s broadcast as well as from this article by ProPublica. After the 2008 financial crisis, the New York Fed, now the chief U.S. bank regulator, commissioned a study of itself. This study, which the Fed also intended to keep to itself, set out to understand why the Fed hadn’t spotted the insane and destructive behavior inside the big banks, and stopped it before it got out of control.

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Finally, Wall Street gets put on trial: We can still hold the 0.1 percent responsible for tanking the economy

Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan ChaseA recent fraud trial in Califirnia could finally pave the way for culpable Wall Street banksters to be criminally prosecuted, reports Thomas Frank at Salon:

The Tea Party regards Barack Obama as a kind of devil figure, but when it comes to hunting down the fraudsters responsible for the economic disaster of the last six years, his administration has stuck pretty close to the Tea Party script. The initial conservative reaction to the disaster, you will recall, was to blame the crisis on the people at the bottom, on minorities and proletarians lost in an orgy of financial misbehavior. Sure enough, when taking on ordinary people who got loans during the real-estate bubble, the president’s Department of Justice has shown admirable devotion to duty, filing hundreds of mortgage-fraud cases against small-timers.

But high-ranking financiers? Obama’s Department of Justice has thus far shown virtually no interest in holding leading bankers criminally accountable for what went on in the last decade.

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Why Do Banksters Get Help but Not Homeowners?

20070509 CitibankThe Daily Take Team at The Thom Hartmann Program critiques the Citibank settlement at TruthOut:

It’s time to start helping the people, and stop helping Wall Street.

According to an agreement announced earlier today, big bank Citigroup will pay $7 billion to settle a Department of Justice investigation into that bank’s involvement with risky subprime mortgages.

The agreement stems from Citigroup’s role in the trading of subprime mortgage securities, which helped to cause the 2007 financial collapse and Great Recession.

Of the $7 billion total settlement, $4 billion will be in the form of a civil monetary payment to the Department of Justice, $500 million will go to state attorney’s general and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and an additional $2.5 billion will go towards “consumer relief.”

But make no mistake about it. This agreement is another win for the big banks.

Under the agreement, Citigroup will most likely get a $500 million tax write-off.

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The Real LIBOR Scandal That Will Cause A Terrible Financial Crisis

Jesse Colombo writes for Forbes that you can forget about the LIBOR interest rate fixing scandal of a couple of years ago; the real LIBOR scandal is how the conspiring banks have kept interest rates so low for so long that a massive bubble has been inflated. A crash and crisis is inevitable…

Amid all of the attention that the Libor rate-fixing scandal has received, the world is completely overlooking a far worse Libor “scandal” that has been occurring right under our noses this entire time. Though the Libor rate-fixing scandal is certainly no trivial matter, the losses caused by it amount to a few tens of billions of dollars, which is ultimately a drop in the bucket compared to the size of the global economy and financial system. In addition, as dramatic as the term “rate-fixing” sounds, the Libor manipulations only moved the Libor rate by a few basis points (basis points are .01 percentage points) for just a few brief moments at a time.

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