Corporate Corruption Media ArticlesExcerpts of Key Corporate Corruption Media Articles in Major Media
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After years of following the paper trail of $51 billion in U.S. taxpayer dollars provided to rebuild a broken Iraq, the U.S. government can say with certainty that too much was wasted. But it can't say how much. In what it called its final audit report, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Funds ... spelled out a range of accounting weaknesses that put "billions of American taxpayer dollars at risk of waste and misappropriation" in the largest reconstruction project of its kind in U.S. history. "The precise amount lost to fraud and waste can never be known," the report said. The office has spent more than $200 million tracking the reconstruction funds, and in addition to producing numerous reports, his office has investigated criminal fraud that has resulted in 87 indictments, 71 convictions and $176 million in fines and other penalties. These include civilians and military members accused of kickbacks, bribery, bid-rigging, fraud, embezzlement and outright theft of government property and funds. Of the $51 billion that Congress approved for Iraq reconstruction, about $20 billion was for rebuilding Iraqi security forces and about $20 billion was for rebuilding the country's basic infrastructure.
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Motorists may have been paying too much for their petrol because banks and other traders are likely to have tried to manipulate oil prices in the same way they rigged interest rates, an official report has warned. Concerns are growing about the reliability of oil prices, after a report for the G20 found the market is wide open to “manipulation or distortion”. Traders from banks, oil companies or hedge funds have an “incentive” to distort the market and are likely to try to report false prices, it said. Petrol retailers use oil price “benchmarks” to decide how much to pay for future supplies. The rate is calculated by data companies based on submissions from firms which trade oil on a daily basis – such as banks, hedge funds and energy companies. However, like Libor ... the market is unregulated and relies on the honesty of the firms to submit accurate data about all their trades. This is one of the major concerns raised in the G20 report, published last month by the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO). In the study for global finance ministers, including George Osborne, the regulator warns that traders have opportunities to influence oil prices for their own profit. It points out that the whole market is “voluntary”, meaning banks and energy companies can choose which trades to make public. IOSCO says this “creates opportunity for a trader to submit a partial picture in order to influence the [price] to the trader’s advantage”.
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JPMorgan Chase said Friday that its traders may have tried to conceal the losses from a soured bet that has embarrassed the bank and cost it almost $6 billion — far more than its CEO first suggested. The bank said an internal investigation had uncovered evidence that led executives to “question the integrity” of the values, or marks, that traders assigned to their trades. JPMorgan also said that it planned to revoke two years’ worth of pay from some of the senior managers involved in the bad bet, and that it had closed the division of the bank responsible for the mistake. “This has shaken our company to the core,” CEO Jamie Dimon said. The bank said the loss, which Dimon estimated at $2 billion when he disclosed it in May, had grown to $5.8 billion. The investigation, which covered more than a million emails and tens of thousands of voice messages, suggested traders were trying to make losses look smaller, the bank said. The revelation could expose JPMorgan to civil fraud charges. If regulators decide that employee deceptions caused JPMorgan to report inaccurate financial details, they could pursue charges against the employees, the bank or both. JPMorgan could not necessarily hide behind the actions of its employees. Regulators could decide that its oversight or risk management contributed to the problematic statements.
Note: Yet will anyone go to jail for these shady activities? For key investigative reports on the criminality and corruption in the financial industry and biggest banks, click here.
Once more the big banks are exposed in systematic fraudulent activity. When Barclays agreed to a $450 million fine for trying to rig the Libor, its CEO offered the classic excuse: Everyone does it. Once more the question remains: Will CEOs and CFOs, as well as traders, be prosecuted? Or will they depart with their multimillion dollar rewards intact, leaving shareholders to pay the tab for the hundreds of millions in fines? The Barclays settlement exposed that traders colluded to try to fix the Libor rate. This is the rate used as the basis for exotic derivatives as well as mortgages, credit card and personal loan rates. Almost everyone is affected. Fixing the rate even a few hundredths of a percentage point could make Barclays millions on any single day — money taken out of the pockets of consumers and investors. Once more the banks were rigging the rules; once more their customers were their mark. The collusion was systematic and routine. Investigations are underway not only in the United Kingdom but also in the United States, Canada and the European Union. Those named in the probes are all the usual suspects: JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, UBS, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, UBS and others. This wasn’t rogue trading, ... it was more like a cartel. The Economist writes that what has been revealed here is “the rotten heart of finance,” a “culture of casual dishonesty.”
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Organic food has become a wildly lucrative business for Big Food and a premium-price-means-premium-profit section of the grocery store. The industry’s image — contented cows grazing on the green hills of family-owned farms — is mostly pure fantasy. Or rather, pure marketing. Big Food, it turns out, has spawned what might be called Big Organic. Bear Naked, Wholesome & Hearty, Kashi: All three and more actually belong to the cereals giant Kellogg. Naked Juice? That would be PepsiCo, of Pepsi and Fritos fame. And behind the pastoral-sounding Walnut Acres, Healthy Valley and Spectrum Organics is none other than Hain Celestial, once affiliated with Heinz, the grand old name in ketchup. Over the past decade, since federal organic standards have come to the fore, giant agri-food corporations like these and others — Coca-Cola, Cargill, ConAgra, General Mills, Kraft and M&M Mars among them — have gobbled up most of the nation’s organic food industry. Pure, locally produced ingredients from small family farms? Not so much anymore. Many consumers may not realize the extent to which giant corporations have come to dominate organic food. Then again, giant corporations don’t exactly trumpet their role in the industry. Their financial motivation, however, is obvious. Between the time the Agriculture Department came up with its proposed regulations for the organic industry in 1997 and the time those rules became law in 2002, myriad small, independent organic companies — from Honest Tea to Cascadian Farm — were snapped up by corporate titans. Heinz and Hain together bought 19 organic brands.
The rapidly spreading scandal of LIBOR (the London inter-bank offered rate) ... is beginning to assume global significance. The number that the traders were toying with determines the prices that people and corporations around the world pay for loans or receive for their savings. It is used as a benchmark to set payments on about $800 trillion-worth of financial instruments, ranging from complex interest-rate derivatives to simple mortgages. The number determines the global flow of billions of dollars each year. Yet it turns out to have been flawed. Over the past week damning evidence has emerged, in documents detailing a settlement between Barclays and regulators in America and Britain, that employees at the bank and at several other unnamed banks tried to rig the number time and again over a period of at least five years. And worse is likely to emerge. Investigations by regulators in several countries, including Canada, America, Japan, the EU, Switzerland and Britain, are looking into allegations that LIBOR and similar rates were rigged by large numbers of banks. As many as 20 big banks have been named in various investigations or lawsuits alleging that LIBOR was rigged. The scandal also corrodes further what little remains of public trust in banks and those who run them.
Note: For key investigative reports on the criminality and corruption in the financial industry and biggest banks, click here.
The Libor scandal has confirmed what many of us have known for some time: There is something smelly in the London financial world and the stench is now overwhelming. The Financial Services Authority report [made it] clear just how widespread, how blatant was the fixing of the benchmark interest rate Libor and Euribor by Barclays. Brazen is the only word for it. The emails and phone calls reveal that on dozens of occasions those who stood to gain by the decisions asked for favors (and got them) from those who helped set the interest rates. And all the time the world believed Libor was somehow a barometer of what banks were lending to each other. It wasn't. It was the rate at which a bank was prepared to corrupt the money markets for its own narrow, venal gain. It is the way the traders, the rate submitters -- everyone involved in this cesspit -- [were] running to do wrong which makes it so egregious. With one or two feeble exceptions, no one ever seemed to stop and say "this is against the rules." Or, heaven forbid, "this is wrong." I have no doubt that Barclays wasn't the only one up to this. The FSA report makes it clear that other traders were putting pressure on their rate setters too. Libor and its cousin Euribor are the rates used to determine hundreds of trillions of dollars worth of highly specialized financial contracts called derivatives. Businesses and household loans are set by this benchmark. It is the backbone of the financial world and now it has been proven to be bent and crooked.
Note: For an incredibly incisive interview between Eliot Spitzer, Matt Taibbi, and a top banking expert on how the LIBOR scandal undermines the integrity of all banking, click here. For astounding news on the $700 trillion derivatives bubble, click here. For a treasure trove of reliable reports on the criminality and corruption within the financial and banking industries, click here.
The nuclear accident at Fukushima was a preventable disaster rooted in government-industry collusion and the worst conformist conventions of Japanese culture, a parliamentary inquiry [has] concluded. The report, released by the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, challenged some of the main story lines that the government and the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant have put forward. Most notably, the report said the plant’s crucial cooling systems might have been damaged in the earthquake on March 11, 2011, not only in the ensuing tsunami. That possibility raises doubts about the safety of all the quake-prone country’s nuclear plants just as they begin to restart after a pause ordered in the wake of the Fukushima crisis. “It was a profoundly man-made disaster — that could and should have been foreseen and prevented,” said Kiyoshi Kurokawa, the commission’s chairman, in the report’s introduction. “And its effects could have been mitigated by a more effective human response.” The 641-page report criticized Tepco as being too quick to dismiss earthquake damage as a cause of the fuel meltdowns at three of the plant’s six reactors, which overheated when the site lost power. Tepco has contended that the plant withstood the earthquake that rocked eastern Japan, instead placing blame for the disaster on what some experts have called a “once in a millennium” tsunami that followed.
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The former Countrywide Financial Corp., whose subprime loans helped start the nation's foreclosure crisis, made hundreds of discount loans to buy influence with members of Congress, congressional staff, top government officials and executives of troubled mortgage giant Fannie Mae, according to a House report. The report ... said the discounts — from January 1996 to June 2008 — were not only aimed at gaining influence for the company but to help mortgage giant Fannie Mae. Countrywide's business depended largely on Fannie, which ... was responsible for purchasing a large volume of Countrywide's subprime mortgages. "Documents and testimony obtained by the committee show the VIP loan program was a tool used by Countrywide to build goodwill with lawmakers and other individuals positioned to benefit the company," the report said. "In the years that led up to the 2007 housing market decline, Countrywide VIPs were positioned to affect dozens of pieces of legislation that would have reformed Fannie" and its rival Freddie Mac, the committee said. The Justice Department has not prosecuted any Countrywide official, but the House committee's report said documents and testimony show that Mozilo and company lobbyists "may have skirted the federal bribery statute by keeping conversations about discounts and other forms of preferential treatment internal. Rather than making quid pro quo arrangements with lawmakers and staff, Countrywide used the VIP loan program to cast a wide net of influence."
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Dr. David Healy is an internationally renowned psychiatrist, psychopharmacologist, scientist, and author. He was responsible for submitting the key document that led to New York State's successful fraud action against GlaxoSmithKline. [Q.] You’ve written at your blog that “evidence-based medicine and RCTs [random controlled trials] are ... simply not the answer to determining cause and effect,” [because] they’re “quite likely to hide rather than reveal a problem like antidepressant induced suicidality.” How in fact do RCTs hide such information? [Dr. Healy:] There are ... specific problems like miscoding, where suicidality becomes “nausea” or “emotional lability” or even “treatment non-responsiveness.” There is also the problem of mislocation – patients on placebo end up being given problems they never had – and of nonexistent patients, who don’t of course have adverse events. Beyond that, there are more sophisticated tricks that companies can and do play – such as claiming that increased rates of a problem on a drug are not really evidence of an increase in rates if the data are not statistically significant. In this way, companies have hidden many more heart attacks on Vioxx and Avandia or suicidal acts on SSRIs than have been hidden by miscoding or mislocation. When it comes to adverse events, trials almost never get the right answer. The deeper problem ... is the combination of product patents, prescription-only status, and the use of clinical trials as a means of determining efficacy – in particular, when the data from those trials are not made available. This creates a perfect product ... which industry can manipulate to mean whatever they want them to mean.
Note: Dr. Healy is the author of more than 150 peer-reviewed articles and 20 books. For an excellent article going further into Dr. Healy's amazing work, click here. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on health corruption and manipulations, click here.
For years, the ratings agencies have contended that the grades they assign debt securities are independent opinions and therefore entitled to First Amendment protections, like those afforded journalists. But newly released documents in a class-action case ... cast doubt on the independence of the two largest agencies, Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s. The case, filed in 2008 by a group of 15 institutional investors against Morgan Stanley and the two agencies, involves a British-based debt issuer called Cheyne Finance. Cheyne collapsed in August 2007 under a load of troubled mortgage securities. Even though Cheyne’s portfolio was bulging with residential mortgage securities, some of its debt received the agencies’ highest ratings, a grade equal to that assigned to United States Treasury securities. When the primary analyst at S.& P. notified Morgan Stanley that some of the Cheyne securities would most likely receive a BBB rating, not the A grade that the firm had wanted, the agency received a blistering e-mail from a Morgan Stanley executive. S.& P. subsequently raised the grade to A. After the institutions that bought Cheyne’s debt sued Morgan Stanley and the ratings agencies, Moody’s and S.& P. immediately mounted a First Amendment defense. But Shira A. Scheindlin, the federal judge overseeing the matter ... argued that the ratings were not opinions but were misrepresentations that were possibly a result of fraud or negligence.
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The Deputy Governor of the Bank of England encouraged Barclays to try to lower interest rates after coming under pressure from senior members of the last Labour government, documents have disclosed. A memo published by Barclays suggested that Paul Tucker gave a hint to Bob Diamond, the bank’s chief executive, in 2008 that the rate it was claiming to be paying to borrow money from other banks could be lowered. His suggestion followed questions from “senior figures within Whitehall” about why Barclays was having to pay so much interest on its borrowings, the memo states. Barclays and other banks have been accused of artificially manipulating the Libor rate, which is used to set the borrowing costs for millions of consumers, businesses and investors, by falsely stating how much they were paying to borrow money. The bank claimed yesterday that one of its most senior executives cut the Libor rate only at the height of the credit crisis after intervention from the Bank of England. The memo, written on Oct 29, 2008, by Mr Diamond and circulated to two other senior bank officials, said: “Mr Tucker reiterated that he had received calls from a number of senior figures within Whitehall to question why Barclays was always toward the top end of the Libor pricing.” Government sources suggested that Baroness Vadera, one of Gordon Brown’s closest colleagues, was responsible for the contact with the Bank of England.
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The Barclays Libor scandal may have shocked the British public, but Joseph Stiglitz saw it coming decades ago. And he's convinced that jailing bankers is the best way to curb market abuses. [Former World Bank Chief Economist] Stiglitz wrote a series of papers in the 1970s and 1980s explaining how when some individuals have access to privileged knowledge that others don't, free markets yield bad outcomes for wider society. That insight (known as the theory of "asymmetric information") won Stiglitz the Nobel Prize for economics in 2001. And he has leveraged those credentials relentlessly ever since to batter at the walls of "free market fundamentalism". It is a crusade that [includes] his new book The Price of Inequality. When traders working for Barclays rigged the Libor interest rate and flogged toxic financial derivatives – using their privileged position in the financial system to make profits at the expense of their customers – they were unwittingly proving Stiglitz right. "It's a textbook illustration," Stiglitz said. "Where there are these asymmetries a lot of these activities are directed at rent seeking [appropriating resources from someone else rather than creating new wealth]. That was one of my original points. It wasn't about productivity, it was taking advantage." He argues that breaking the economic and political power that has been amassed by the financial sector in recent decades, especially in the US and the UK, is essential if we are to build a more just and prosperous society. The first step, he says, is sending some bankers to jail.
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An anonymous insider from one of Britain's biggest lenders ... explains how he and his colleagues helped manipulate the UK's bank borrowing rate. Neither the insider nor the bank can be identified for legal reasons. It was during a weekly economic briefing at the bank in early 2008 that I first heard the phrase. A sterling swaps trader told the assembled economists and managers that "Libor was dislocated with itself". What the trader told us was that the bank could not be seen to be borrowing at high rates, so we were putting in low Libor submissions, the same as everyone. How could we do that? Easy. The British Bankers' Association, which compiled Libor, asked for a rate submission but there were no checks. The trader said there was a general acceptance that you lowered the price a few basis points each day. According to the trader, "everyone knew" and "everyone was doing it". There was no implication of illegality. After all, there were 20 to 30 people in the room – from management to economists, structuring teams to salespeople – and more on the teleconference dial-in from across the country. The discussion was so open the behaviour seemed above board. In no sense was this a clandestine gathering. Libor had dislocated with itself for a very good reason – to hide the true issues within the bank.
Note: For an incredibly incisive interview between Eliot Spitzer, Matt Taibbi, and a top banking expert on how the LIBOR scandal undermines the integrity of all banking, click here. For a treasure trove of reliable reports on the criminality and corruption within the financial and banking industries, click here.
Wall Street has already watered down or delayed most of Dodd-Frank [financial reform act]. Now it wants to create a giant loophole, exempting its foreign branches from the law. Yet the overseas branches of Wall Street banks are where the banks have done some of their wilder betting. Four years ago, bad bets by American International Group's London office nearly unraveled the U.S. financial system. When the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the main regulator of derivatives (bets on bets), recently proposed extending Dodd-Frank to the foreign branches of Wall Street banks, the banks screamed. "If JPMorgan overseas operates under different rules than our foreign competitors," warned Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan, Wall Street will lose financial business to the banks of nations with fewer regulations, allowing "Deutsche Bank to make the better deal." This is the same Jamie Dimon who chose London as the place to make highly risky derivatives trades that have lost the firm upward of $2 billion so far - and could leave American taxpayers holding the bag if JPMorgan's exposure to tottering European banks gets much worse. JPMorgan's risky betting in London is added proof that unless the overseas operations of Wall Street banks are covered by U.S. regulations, giant banks will hide irresponsible bets overseas. Squadrons of Wall Street lawyers and lobbyists have been pressing all the agencies charged with implementing Dodd-Frank to go easy on the Street.
Note: The author of this article, Robert Reich, is former U.S. secretary of labor, professor of public policy at UC Berkeley and the author of Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future. He blogs at www.robertreich.org.
A scandal over the rigging of key interest rates could plunge the global banking industry into a legal morass for years, analysts said. The head of the Bank of England said there needed to be "real change" in the industry's culture. Referring to what he called the "deceitful manipulation" of rates, Mervyn King told a news conference [that] the London Interbank Offer Rate (LIBOR) should be reformed to reflect actual market transactions. U.S. and British authorities fined Barclays $453 million on Wednesday for manipulating LIBOR, which underpins some $360 trillion of loans and financial contracts around the world - and analysts forecast more banks would soon be named for collusion. Others predicted Barclays and other banks could face billions in costs from litigation, especially in the United States, in much the same way that oil major BP ran into drawn-out legal rows over its oil spill. Barclays was the first bank to settle in an investigation which is looking at other large financial institutions in Europe, Japan and North America.
Note: This article states that LIBOR underpins some $360 trillion of loans and financial contracts around the world. That's $50,000 for every man, woman, and child on this planet. And it is being hugely manipulated. For more vitally important information on this, learn about the huge amounts of derivatives being manipulated at this link and explore the excellent, reliable information in our Banking Corruption Information Center available here.
Five of the biggest banks in the United States are putting finishing touches on plans for going out of business as part of government-mandated contingency planning that could push them to untangle their complex operations. The plans, known as living wills, are due to regulators no later than July 1 under provisions of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law designed to end too-big-to-fail bailouts by the government. The living wills could be as long as 4,000 pages. Since the law allows regulators to go so far as to order a bank to divest subsidiaries if it cannot plan an orderly resolution in bankruptcy, the deadline is pushing even healthy institutions to start a multi-year process to untangle their complex global operations, according to industry consultants. JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are among those submitting the first liquidation scenarios to regulators at the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The liquidation plans are coming amid renewed questions about the safety of big banks following JPMorgan's stunning announcement last month that a trading debacle has cost it more than $2 billion.
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Two prominent seismologists said on Tuesday that Japan is ignoring the safety lessons of last year's Fukushima crisis and warned against restarting two reactors next month. Japan has approved the restart of the two reactors at the Kansai Electric Power Ohi nuclear plant, northwest of Tokyo, despite mass public opposition. They will be the first to come back on line after all reactors were shut following a massive earthquake and tsunami last March that caused the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl at Tokyo Electric Power's Daiichi Fukushima plant. Seismic modeling by Japan's nuclear regulator did not properly take into account active fault lines near the Ohi plant, Katsuhiko Ishibashi, a seismologist at Kobe University, told reporters. "The stress tests and new safety guidelines for restarting nuclear power plants both allow for accidents at plants to occur," Ishibashi told reporters. "Instead of making standards more strict, they both represent a severe setback in safety standards." Experts advising Japan's nuclear industry had underestimated the seismic threat, Mitsuhisa Watanabe, a tectonic geomorphology professor at Tokyo University, said at the same news conference. "The expertise and neutrality of experts advising Japan's Nuclear Industrial Safety Agency are highly questionable," Watanabe said.
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The New York Times has published several terrifying reports about New Jersey’s system of halfway houses — privately run adjuncts to the regular system of prisons. The horrors described are part of a broader pattern in which essential functions of government are being both privatized and degraded. So what’s really behind the drive to privatize prisons? One answer is that privatization can serve as a stealth form of government borrowing, in which governments avoid recording upfront expenses (or even raise money by selling existing facilities) while raising their long-run costs in ways taxpayers can’t see. Another answer is that privatization is a way of getting rid of public employees. But the main answer, surely, is to follow the money. As more and more government functions get privatized, states become pay-to-play paradises, in which both political contributions and contracts for friends and relatives become a quid pro quo for getting government business. Are the corporations capturing the politicians, or the politicians capturing the corporations? One thing the companies that make up the prison-industrial complex — companies like Community Education or the private-prison giant Corrections Corporation of America — are definitely not doing is competing in a free market. They are, instead, living off government contracts. And ... despite many promises that prison privatization will lead to big cost savings, such savings — as a comprehensive study by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, part of the U.S. Department of Justice, concluded — “have simply not materialized.” A corrupt nexus of privatization and patronage [is] undermining government across much of our nation.
Note: Have you noticed that crime rates are at the lowest in many years, yet prison spending continues to skyrocket? Is something wrong with this picture? For key major media new articles exposing more on corruption within the "prison-industrial complex," click here.
When Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase Bank, appeared before the Senate Banking Committee on June 13, he was wearing cufflinks bearing the presidential seal. “Was Dimon trying to send any particular message by wearing the presidential cufflinks?” asked CNBC editor John Carney. “Was he . . . subtly hinting that he’s really the guy in charge?” The groveling of the Senators was so obvious that Jon Stewart did a spoof news clip on it. JPMorgan Chase is the biggest campaign donor to many of the members of the Banking Committee. Financial analysts Jim Willie and Rob Kirby think it may be something far larger, deeper, and more ominous. They contend that the $3 billion-plus losses in London hedging transactions that were the subject of the hearing can be traced, not to European sovereign debt (as alleged), but to the record-low interest rates maintained on U.S. government bonds. The national debt is growing at $1.5 trillion per year. Ultra-low interest rates must be maintained to prevent the debt from overwhelming the government budget. Near-zero rates also need to be maintained because even a moderate rise would cause multi-trillion dollar derivative losses for the banks, and would remove the banks’ chief income stream, the arbitrage afforded by borrowing at 0% and investing at higher rates. The low rates are maintained by interest rate swaps, called by Willie a “derivative tool which controls the bond market in a devious artificial manner.”
Note: We don't usually use alternet.org as a reliable source, but because the major media failed to ask the hard, very important questions posed in this article, we've included it here. For powerful reports on financial corruption, click here.
Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news articles on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.