Tag Archives | Plunder

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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When The Government Compounds Crimes Rather Than Fights Them: The Case of Mortgage Fraud

The Crime of Our TimeWe were all victims of the financial crisis that began in 2007 (not 2008) but some of us suffered more than others. And, hundreds of millions of us are still living with the painful aftermath as its consequences began to be felt worldwide.

The first order of business in Washington back then was to bail out the victimizers, who have done quite well, thank you very much, in rebuilding their citadels of profit.

They were only marginally impacted  by some fines that were finally assessed in lieu of jail sentences.

That  money was paid by the financial institutions,  and their shareholders,  not by decision-makers who were never held accountable. It was written off as a “cost of doing business” just as fraud became a way of doing business.

We have all read about the outrageous compensation schemes that offending executives have been rewarded with, even as the media has finally discovered deepening income inequality.… Read the rest

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Commemorating the Financial Crisis: It Ain’t Over Yet

Lehman Brothers Headquarters on Bankruptcy Day. Photo:Robert Scoble (CC)

Lehman Brothers Headquarters on Bankruptcy Day. Photo: Robert Scoble (CC)

Media outlets love anniversaries. They become the makers and newspegs for one day stories that become pretexts for episodic coverage of key issues that substitute for ongoing critical reporting.

It’s a ‘how are we doing coverage ‘ that aims to give us a grade but not look too closely at the causes..

So, no surprise, the President will mark the occasion this week, with, what else—a speech, really remarks aimed at providing a positive spin for a series of economic disasters that we have yet to climb out of.

Reuters reports:

“A White House official said Obama will deliver remarks in the White House Rose Garden on Monday to mark the fifth anniversary of the financial crisis, which was accelerated on September 15, 2008 when the Lehman Brothers firm filed for bankruptcy protection.

The Democratic president will focus on the positive, discussing progress made and highlighting his prescriptions for boosting job creation amid budget battles expected with Republicans in Congress in the weeks ahead.”

Never mind that that venerable bank, Bear Stearns went down a year earlier in 2007, and that consumers were being targeted by financial predators pedaling subprime loans and other financial frauds for many years earlier.… Read the rest

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Liberty Reserve, “Bank of Choice for the Criminal Underworld”

Liberty reserveKurt Eichenwald likens the latest massively fraudulent bank scandal at Liberty Reserve to BCCI (remember them, the terrorist bankers of choice?), at Vanity Fair:

Another day, another alleged fraud. But this one—brought to light by the federal indictment of Liberty Reserve, which prosecutors said was one of the world’s largest online money operations—sounded a little bit too familiar.

According to the charges, the operators of Liberty Reserve constructed an extremely complex international network for financial transactions that allowed its customers to transmit vast sums of money around the globe, all while operating under layers of anonymity. As a result, the indictment says, “Liberty Reserve was in fact used extensively for illegal purposes, functioning in effect as the bank of choice for the criminal underworld.”

If that rings a bell for any of you fraud aficionados, think back to 1991 and the virtual financial explosion of a shadowy international institution called the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, best known as B.C.C.I.

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Obama in Plunderland: Down the Corporate Rabbit Hole

Zuckerberg meets ObamaThe president’s new choices for Commerce secretary and FCC chair underscore how far down the rabbit hole his populist conceits have tumbled. Yet the Obama rhetoric about standing up for working people against “special interests” is as profuse as ever. Would you care for a spot of Kool-Aid at the Mad Hatter’s tea party?

Of course the Republican economic program is worse, and President Romney’s policies would have been even more corporate-driven. That doesn’t in the slightest make acceptable what Obama is doing. His latest high-level appointments — boosting corporate power and shafting the public — are despicable.

To nominate Penny Pritzker for secretary of Commerce is to throw in the towel for any pretense of integrity that could pass a laugh test. Pritzker is “a longtime political supporter and heavyweight fundraiser,” the Chicago Tribune reported with notable understatement last week, adding: “She is on the board of Hyatt Hotels Corp., which was founded by her family and has had rocky relations with labor unions, and she could face questions about the failure of a bank partly owned by her family.… Read the rest

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The Illuminati Were Amateurs: The Second Huge Financial Scandal of the Year Reveals the Real International Conspiracy

Occupy Wall Street March 2012 foreclosure bannerThe biggest price fixing scandal ever is how Matt Taibbi describes it for Rolling Stone:

Conspiracy theorists of the world, believers in the hidden hands of the Rothschilds and the Masons and the Illuminati, we skeptics owe you an apology. You were right. The players may be a little different, but your basic premise is correct: The world is a rigged game. We found this out in recent months, when a series of related corruption stories spilled out of the financial sector, suggesting the world’s largest banks may be fixing the prices of, well, just about everything.

You may have heard of the Libor scandal, in which at least three – and perhaps as many as 16 – of the name-brand too-big-to-fail banks have been manipulating global interest rates, in the process messing around with the prices of upward of $500 trillion (that’s trillion, with a “t”) worth of financial instruments.

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Wall Street Whistleblower Gets Reamed

When the odds are stacked this heavily against whistleblowers, there's not much incentive to rat out wrongdoers. Matt Taibbi looks at how even the courts are in on it, for Rolling Stone:
A great many people around the county were rightfully shocked and horrified by the recent excellent and hard-hitting PBS documentary, The Untouchables, which looked at the problem of high-ranking Wall Street crooks going unpunished in the wake of the financial crisis. The PBS piece certainly rattled some cages, particularly in Washington, in a way that few media efforts succeed in doing. Now, two very interesting and upsetting footnotes to that groundbreaking documentary have emerged in the last weeks. The first involves one of the people interviewed for the story, a former high-ranking executive from Countrywide financial who turned whistleblower named Michael Winston...
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The Middle Class Has Been Saved – Or Has It?

Long live the middle class now that it has survived the fiscal cliff and been “saved.” President Obama is basking in the glory of having averted the deepening of a crisis that is more structural than political and hardly resolved. The markets are cheering, it is said, because markets love stability, unless there is money to be made off of volatility of their own making. Forget the working class. The term is passé, as is the so-called and usually undefined great mushy middle class moves into its rightful place at the center of everyone’s concerns. (When asked what class they are in—or aspire to be in—workers, and even the poor say Middle Class. Unless survey questions include the choice of working class that they usually don’t.) Analysts who looked closely at the big deal so hysterically pushed through Congress as the dramatic end-piece of a year of political warfare, say that there will be very little gain for the middle class with income taxes down but payroll taxes up, insuring that it will be more, at best, of a wash than a redistribution of wealth on any level. Many Americans, not just the rich, will be shelling out more, not less. Economist Lambert Strether calls it the “fecal cliff,” noting, “cuts and tax increases (especially on the rich) are not commensurate. A “sacrifice” where some give up luxuries and others give up necessities is in no way “shared. A marginal sacrifice for the rich is not commensurate to core sacrifices for the rest...
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