Tag Archives | Plunder

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.

IMF-excessive-financialization-May-2015

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.

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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

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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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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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