Tag Archives | Wall Street

The US justice divide: why crime and punishment in Wall Street and Ferguson are so different

By Debra Sweet via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

By Debra Sweet via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

via The Guardian:

Like nearly all white, American journalists, I’ve spent most of my career a million miles from places like Ferguson, Missouri. The mainstream media in the US hates the urban racism story and always has: too depressing; no patriotic angle; too hard to sell to advertisers.

So, reporters like me often find themselves tugged in the direction of less commercially upsetting beats. It might be presidential politics, gay marriage, global warming. In my case, it was high finance. As a correspondent for Rolling Stone, I spent years covering Wall Street corruption, briefly earning disrepute in lower Manhattan for calling Goldman Sachs a “vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity”.

But about two years before an unarmed 18-year-old named Michael Brown was shot and killed on the streets of Ferguson by a white police officer, my Wall Street beat started leading me inexorably in the direction of the US’s growing urban disaster.

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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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The Mantra on Wall Street Is ‘Don’t Fight the Fed’, but Do You Know What the Fed Is Doing? And Where Did Belgium Get $141 Billion to Purchase U.S. Treasury Bonds?

via chycho

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The main mantra on Wall Street is ‘Don’t Fight the Fed’, implying that if monetary policy is geared towards easing – lowering of interest rates – then riskier markets are the game in town, and if monetary policy is geared towards tightening – rising interest rates – then volatile markets are to be avoided. But do we know what the Fed is up to?

I. DOW, S&P 500, QE, and Tapering

Both the DOW and S&P 500 are sitting at all-time highs. Since bottoming out in early March 2009 (DOW, S&P 500), the DOW is up approximately 150% and the S&P 500 approximately 180%. Astronomical returns no matter what period you compare this to.

It’s no secret that the only reason the markets have been soaring is because of unlimited quantitative easing [QE], i.e., stimulus, stimulus, and indefinite-stimulus – “fundamentally a regressive redistribution program that has been boosting wealth for those already engaged in the financial sector or those who already own homes, but passing little along to the rest of the economy.”

By December 2012, funds were being pumped into the markets to the tune of $85 billion a month – a last resort, desperate measure that the FOMC began so that their ‘growth’ targets could be met.

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The Fiefdom Will Soon Be Complete: Wall Street Buying Up Farmland

PIC: LOC (PD)

PIC: LOC (PD)

Not merely satisfied with purchasing our foreclosed homes en masse and charging us to rent them back (thanks to a crisis they created), Wall Street has set their sights on America’s fertile soils. Sing it with me! This land is their land, this land is their land…

Via Tom Philpott at Mother Jones:

In a couple of posts last fall, I showed that corporations don’t do much actual farming in the United States. True, agrichemical companies like Monsanto and Syngenta mint fortunes by selling seeds and chemicals to farmers, and grain processors like Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill reap billions from buying crops cheap and turning them into pricey stuff like livestock feed, sweetener, cooking oil, and ethanol. But the great bulk of US farms—enterprises that generally have razor-thin profit margins—are run by independent operators.

That may be on the verge of changing. A recent report by the Oakland Institute documents a fledgling, little-studied trend: Corporations are starting to buy up US farmland, especially in areas dominated by industrial-scale agriculture, like Iowa and California’s Central Valley.

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Fragmentation of Bitcoin Community Begins after the Collapse of Mt. Gox and Secondmarket’s Wall Street Exchange Proposal

bitcoin wall streetvia chycho

A few comments regarding Bitcoin and the recent developments with Mt. Gox (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9) and the announcement that SecondMarket is stepping into the game and planning to launch the “first New York-based Bitcoin exchange” (emphasis added):

“SecondMarket CEO Barry Silbert says that he’s modeling it after the early days of The IntercontinentalExchange (ICE), and that he hopes to have a set of founding members in place by the end of March (i.e., a ‘seat’ model). These members are expected to include Wall Street banks and well-funded Bitcoin startups (think Circle and Coinbase). Non-member firms or individuals would not be allowed to trade — at least at the outset — but likely could do business via the member firms.

When Wall Street insiders announce that they are joining your game, but not allowing you to play on their field, which is what is implied with “Non-member firms or individuals would not be allowed to trade”, one should be concerned that the fundamental rules of the game may be changing, but, unfortunately, with fear running rampant within the Bitcoin community due to the collapse of Mt.

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37-Year-Old JPMorgan Executive Is The Latest Leading Banker To Die Strangely Over The Past Three Weeks

jpmorgan chaseTwo weeks ago we noted that in a span of six days, a former Federal Reserve economist was found dead in an apparent suicide, a former senior manager for Deutsche Bank was discovered hanging from a noose in his home, and a JPMorgan Chase vice president seemingly jumped to death in London. The Financial Post reports that the string of sudden fatalities among masters-of-the-universe continues:

A 37-year-old JPMorgan Chase & Co executive director who died from unknown causes Feb. 3 appears to be the latest in a series of untimely deaths among finance workers and business leaders around the world in the past three weeks.

Ryan Crane, a JPMorgan Chase & Co. employee who in a 14-year career at the New York-based bank rose to executive director of a unit that trades blocks of stocks for clients, died in his Stamford, Connecticut, home. The cause of death will be determined when a toxicology report is completed in about six weeks.

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