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Banking Bailout News Articles
Excerpts of Key Banking Bailout News Articles in Media


Below are highly revealing excerpts of important bank bailout news articles from the major media suggesting a cover-up. Links are provided to the full news articles for verification. If any link fails to function, read this webpage. These bank bailout news articles are listed by order of importance. You can also explore the articles listed by order of the date of the news article or by the date posted. By choosing to educate ourselves and to spread the word, we can and will build a brighter future.

Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news articles on dozens of engaging topics. And read excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.


Where'd the Bailout Money Go? Shhhh, It's a Secret
2008-12-22, Fox News/Associated Press
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,470824,00.html

It's something any bank would demand to know before handing out a loan: Where's the money going? But after receiving billions in aid from U.S. taxpayers, the nation's largest banks say they can't track exactly how they're spending the money or they simply refuse to discuss it. "We've lent some of it. We've not lent some of it. We've not given any accounting of, 'Here's how we're doing it,"' said Thomas Kelly, a spokesman for JPMorgan Chase, which received $25 billion in emergency bailout money. "We have not disclosed that to the public. We're declining to." The Associated Press contacted 21 banks that received at least $1 billion in government money and asked four questions: How much has been spent? What was it spent on? How much is being held in savings, and what's the plan for the rest? None of the banks provided specific answers. "We're not providing dollar-in, dollar-out tracking," said Barry Koling, a spokesman for Atlanta, Ga.-based SunTrust Banks Inc., which got $3.5 billion in taxpayer dollars. The answers highlight the secrecy surrounding the Troubled Assets Relief Program, which earmarked $700 billion—about the size of the Netherlands' economy—to help rescue the financial industry. There has been no accounting of how banks spend that money. "It is entirely appropriate for the American people to know how their taxpayer dollars are being spent in private industry," said Elizabeth Warren, the top congressional watchdog overseeing the financial bailout. But, at least for now, there's no way for taxpayers to find that out.

Note: For more key information that the bankers don't want you to know, click here. For many revealing reports from reliable sources on the realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.


Iceland has jailed 26 bankers, why won't we?
2015-11-15, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/iceland-has-jailed-26-bankers-why-wont-we...

Iceland ... has just sentenced five senior bankers and one prominent investor to prison for crimes relating to the economic meltdown in 2008. The nation that gambled so heavily on the markets and lost so disastrously in the consequent crash has [now] sent 26 financiers to jail for combined sentences of 74 years. The authorities pursued bank bosses, chief executives, civil servants and corporate raiders for crimes ranging from insider trading to fraud, money laundering, misleading markets, breach of duties and lying to the authorities. Meanwhile the economy that collapsed so spectacularly has rebounded after letting banks go bust, imposing capital controls and protecting its own citizens over all other losers. This determination to hold people to account for actions that caused intense financial misery contrasts strongly with Britain, most of the rest of Europe and the United States. Britain never bothered holding a proper inquiry into the financial meltdown that still heavily impacts on public finances. In New York, a couple of minor British bankers have just been convicted of manipulating inter-bank lending rates. In London, the massive HSBC is playing political games ... to stave off regulatory pressures. This is the bank, remember, fined Ł1.2bn after a US investigation found it was laundering money for gangsters and rogue nations, then discovered to be helping wealthy clients evade tax in dozens of countries. Its former boss became a government minister and then chairman of the British Museum.

Note: So the one nation that jailed its big bankers and let banks go bust is doing very well. Why are so exceedingly few bankers in other countries being jailed for crimes involving trillions of dollars and bankrupting millions of citizens? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and in the financial industry.


A Secretive Banking Elite Rules Trading in Derivatives
2010-12-12, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/12/business/12advantage.html

On the third Wednesday of every month, the nine members of an elite Wall Street society gather in Midtown Manhattan. The men share a common goal: to protect the interests of big banks in the vast market for derivatives, one of the most profitable — and controversial — fields in finance. They also share a common secret: The details of their meetings, even their identities, have been strictly confidential. Drawn from giants like JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, the bankers form a powerful committee that helps oversee trading in derivatives, instruments which, like insurance, are used to hedge risk. In theory, this group exists to safeguard the integrity of the multitrillion-dollar market. In practice, it also defends the dominance of the big banks. The banks in this group ... have fought to block other banks from entering the market, and they are also trying to thwart efforts to make full information on prices and fees freely available. Banks’ influence over this market, and over clearinghouses like the one this select group advises, has costly implications for businesses large and small. The size and reach of this market has grown rapidly over the past two decades. Pension funds today use derivatives to hedge investments. States and cities use them to try to hold down borrowing costs. Airlines use them to secure steady fuel prices. Food companies use them to lock in prices of commodities like wheat or beef.

Note: To explore highly revealing news articles on the powerful secret societies which without doubt back these top bankers, click here. For a treasure trove of reports from reliable sources detailing the amazing control of major banks over government and society, click here.


Bank Bonuses Far Exceeded Profits
2009-07-30, CBS News
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/07/30/business/main5197668.shtml

Several financial giants that received federal bailout money in the last year paid out bonuses to employees in 2008 that greatly exceeded the amount of profit generated by the banks, according to a study on executive compensation released by New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo Thursday. Despite claims by bank executives that bonuses are tied to the company's performance, the report states that "there is no clear rhyme or reason to how the banks compensate or reward their employees." Cuomo's investigation "suggests a disconnect between compensation and bank performance that resulted in a 'heads I win, tails you lose' bonus system." According to the report: • Goldman Sachs, which earned $2.3 billion last year and received $10 billion in TARP funding, paid out $4.8 billion in bonuses in 2008 - more than double their net income. • Morgan Stanley, which earned $1.7 billion last year and received $10 billion in bailout funds, handed out $4.475 billion in bonuses, nearly three times their net income. • JPMorgan Chase, which earned $5.6 billion in 2008 and received $25 billion from the government, paid out $8.69 billion in bonus money. • Citigroup and Merrill Lynch lost a combined $54 billion last year. They received a total of $55 billion in bailouts and paid out $9 billion in combined bonuses. ($5.33 billion for Citigroup; $3.6 billion for Merrill Lynch, which was subsequently acquired by Bank of America.) Bonuses have been a hot-button issue surrounding these federally bailed out banks for months, with company executives facing heat from ... local officials like Cuomo angered by the exorbitant compensation plans for the same people widely seen as responsible for the country's financial crisis.

Note: Click here to read the full report. For lots more on the realities behind the taxpayer bailout of Wall Street, click here.


The $700 trillion elephant
2009-03-06, MarketWatch (Wall Street Journal Digital Network)
http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/The-700-trillion-elephant-room/story.as...

There's a $700 trillion elephant in the room and it's time we found out how much it really weighs on the economy. Derivative contracts total about three-quarters of a quadrillion dollars in "notional" amounts, according to the Bank for International Settlements. These contracts are tallied in notional values because no one really can say how much they are worth. But valuing them correctly is exactly what we should be doing because these comprise the viral disease that has infected the financial markets and the economies of the world. Try as we might to salvage the residential real estate market, it's at best worth $23 trillion in the U.S. We're struggling to save the stock market, but that's valued at less than $15 trillion. And we hope to keep the entire U.S. economy from collapsing, yet gross domestic product stands at $14.2 trillion. Compare any of these to the derivatives market and you can easily see that we are just closing the windows as a tsunami crashes to shore. The total value of all the stock markets in the world amounts to less than $50 trillion, according to the World Federation of Exchanges. To be sure, the derivatives market is international. But much of the trouble we're in began with contracts "derived" from the values associated with U.S. residential real estate market. These contracts were engineered based on the various assumptions tied to those values. Few know what derivatives are worth. I spoke with one derivatives trader who manages billions of dollars and she said she couldn't even value her portfolio because "no one knows anymore who is on the other side of the trade."

Note: Banks and financial firms deemed "too big to fail" were bailed out worldwide at taxpayers' expense. But what will happen if losses in the derivatives market skyrocket? No government in the world has the resources to save financial corporations from a collapse in their derivatives trading. For a treasure trove of reports from reliable sources detailing the amazing control of major banks over government and society, click here.


100 Years Later, The Federal Reserve Has Failed At Everything It's Tried
2013-12-20, Forbes
http://www.forbes.com/sites/markhendrickson/2013/12/20/100-years-later-the-fe...

On Dec. 23, 1913, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Owen Glass Act, creating the Federal Reserve. As we note its centennial, what has the Fed accomplished during the last 100 years? The stated original purposes were to protect the soundness of the dollar and banks and also to lessen the jarring ups and downs of the business cycle. Oops. Under the Fed’s supervision, boom and bust cycles have continued. Three of them have been severe: the Great Depression, the stagflationary period of 1974-82, and the current “Great Recession.” Bank failures have occurred in alarmingly high numbers. Depending on what measurements are used, the dollar has lost between 95 and 98 percent of its purchasing power. (Amazingly, the Fed’s official position today is that inflation is not high enough, so the erosion of the dollar continues as a matter of policy.) Having failed to achieve its original goals, the Fed also has had a miserable record in accomplishing later goals. The 1970 amendments to the Federal Reserve Act stipulated that the Fed should “promote effectively the goals of maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates.” In baseball parlance, the Fed has been “0-for-three.” So, what has the Fed accomplished during its century of existence? Well, it has become adept at bailing out mismanaged banks. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, the Fed orchestrated the big bailout of Wall Street. Politically, the Fed is repugnant. Its chairman is commonly referred to as the second most powerful person in the country. In a democratic republic, should the second most powerful policymaker be unelected?

Note: How remarkable for Forbes to publish an article chastising the Fed! The times are a changin'! For an essay by noted financial researcher Ellen Brown on this occasion, click here. For more on the collusion between government and the biggest banks, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Here's why Wall Street has a hard time being ethical
2013-11-25, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/nov/25/wall-street-hard-time-ethical

My first year on Wall Street, 1993, I was paid 14 times more than I earned the prior year and three times more than my father's best year. For that money, I helped my company create financial products that were disguised to look simple, but which required complex math to properly understand. That first year I was roundly applauded by my bosses, who told me I was clever, and to my surprise they gave me $20,000 bonus beyond my salary. When I did ask, rather naively, if this was all kosher, I would be assured multiple times that multiple lawyers and multiple managers had approved the sales. One senior trader, consoling me late at night, reminded me, “You are playing in the big leagues now. If a customer wants a red suit, you sell them a red suit. If that customer is Japanese, you charge him twice what it costs. ”Being paid very well also helped ease any of my concerns. Feeling guilty, kid? Here take a big check. I was, for the first time in my life, feeling valued for my math skills. Ego and money are nice salves for any potential feeling of guilt. After a few years on Wall Street it was clear to me: you could make money by gaming anyone and everything. The more clever you were, the more ingenious your ability to exploit a flaw in a law or regulation, the more lauded and celebrated you became. Nobody seemed to be getting called out. No move was too audacious. Traders got more and more audacious, and corruption became more and more diffused through the system. By 2006 you could open up almost any major business, look at its inside workings, and find some wrongdoing.

Note: For more on financial corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


The Last Mystery of the Financial Crisis
2013-06-19, Rolling Stone
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-last-mystery-of-the-financial-c...

It's long been suspected that ratings agencies like Moody's and Standard & Poor's helped trigger the meltdown. A new trove of embarrassing documents shows how they did it. Everybody else got plenty of blame: the greed-fattened banks, the sleeping regulators, the unscrupulous mortgage hucksters. But what about the ratings agencies? Thanks to a mountain of evidence gathered for a pair of major lawsuits by the San Diego-based law firm Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd, ... we now know that the nation's two top ratings companies, Moody's and S&P, have for many years been shameless tools for the banks, willing to give just about anything a high rating in exchange for cash. In incriminating e-mail after incriminating e-mail, executives and analysts from these companies are caught admitting their entire business model is crooked. Ratings agencies are the glue that ostensibly holds the entire financial industry together. Their primary function is to help define what's safe to buy, and what isn't. But the financial crisis happened because AAA ratings stopped being something that had to be earned and turned into something that could be paid for. The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission published a case study in 2011 of Moody's in particular and discovered that between 2000 and 2007, the agency gave nearly 45,000 mortgage-backed securities AAA ratings. One year Moody's doled out AAA ratings to 30 mortgage-backed securities every day, 83 percent of which were ultimately downgraded. "This crisis could not have happened without the rating agencies," the commission concluded.

Note: This is another great, well researched article by Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi. Why isn't the major media coming up with anything near the quality of this man's work? For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on financial corruption, click here.


Cypriot Bailout Sends Shivers Throughout the Euro Zone
2013-03-18, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/18/business/global/facing-bailout-tax-cypriots...

Europe’s decision to force depositors in Cypriot banks to share in the cost of the latest euro zone bailout has sparked outrage in Cyprus and fears that a run on deposits over the weekend might spread to larger countries at risk like Spain and Italy. Under an emergency deal reached early Saturday in Brussels, a one-time tax of 9.9 percent is to be levied on Cypriot bank deposits of more than 100,000 euros, or $130,000, effective [March 19]. That will hit wealthy depositors — mostly Russians who have put vast sums into Cyprus’s banks in recent years. But smaller deposits will also be taxed, at 6.75 percent, meaning that the banks will be confiscating money directly from retirees and ordinary workers to help pay the tab for the 10 billion euro bailout or $13 billion. Most of the 10 billion euros will go to bail out Cypriot banks, which took a blow when their substantial holdings of Greek government bonds were written down as part of that country’s second bailout. The island’s banks are also laden with loans made to Greek companies and individuals, which have turned sour as Greece endures its fourth year of economic and financial crisis. The "deposit tax", which is expected to raise 5.8 billion euros, was part of a bailout agreement ... among finance ministers from euro countries and representatives of the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank. The Cypriot bailout follows those for Greece, Portugal, Ireland and the Spanish banking sector — and is the first where bank depositors will be touched.

Note: What gives anyone the right to seize the deposits of ordinary bank account holders? Is this the first step towards establishing a precedent for governments to seize anything they want from ordinary citizens? For a report indicating that the Cypriot people may not take this attack lying down, click here.


HSBC, too big to jail, is the new poster child for US two-tiered justice system
2012-12-12, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/dec/12/hsbc-prosecution-fine-mon...

The US is the world's largest prison state, imprisoning more of its citizens than any nation on earth, both in absolute numbers and proportionally. It imprisons people for longer periods of time, more mercilessly, and for more trivial transgressions than any nation in the west. This sprawling penal state has been constructed over decades, by both political parties, and it punishes the poor and racial minorities at overwhelmingly disproportionate rates. But not everyone is subjected to that system of penal harshness. It all changes radically when the nation's most powerful actors are caught breaking the law. With few exceptions, they are gifted not merely with leniency, but full-scale immunity from criminal punishment. Thus have the most egregious crimes of the last decade been fully shielded from prosecution when committed by those with the greatest political and economic power: the construction of a worldwide torture regime, spying on Americans' communications without the warrants required by criminal law by government agencies and the telecom industry, an aggressive war launched on false pretenses, and massive, systemic financial fraud in the banking and credit industry that triggered the 2008 financial crisis. This two-tiered justice system was the subject of [the] book, With Liberty and Justice for Some. On Tuesday, not only did the US Justice Department announce that HSBC would not be criminally prosecuted, but outright claimed that the reason is that they are too important, too instrumental to subject them to such disruptions.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on government corruption, click here.


Goldman Sachs' Global Coup D'etat
2012-11-27, Truthout
http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/12996-goldman-sachs-global-coup-de-tat.html

When the people of Greece saw their democratically elected Prime Minister George Papandreou forced out of office in November of 2011 and replaced by an unelected Conservative technocrat, Lucas Papademos, most were unaware of the bigger picture of what was happening. Most of us in the United States were [equally] ignorant when, in 2008, [Congress] voted “yes” at the behest of Bush's Treasury Secretary Henry Paulsen and jammed through the biggest bailout of Wall Street in our nation’s history. But now, as the Bank of England ... announces that former investment banker Mark Carney will be its new chief, we can’t afford to ignore what’s happening around the world. Steadily – and stealthily – Goldman Sachs is carrying out a global coup d’etat. There’s one tie that binds Lucas Papademos in Greece, Henry Paulsen [and Timothy Geithner] in the United States, and Mark Carney in the U.K., and that’s Goldman Sachs. All were former bankers and executives at the Wall Street giant, all assumed prominent positions of power, and all played a hand after the global financial meltdown of 2007-08, thus making sure Goldman Sachs weathered the storm and made significant profits in the process. As Europe descends [into] economic crisis, Goldman Sachs's people are managing the demise of the continent. As the British newspaper The Independent reported earlier this year, the Conservative technocrats currently steering or who have steered post-crash fiscal policy in Greece, Germany, Italy, Belgium, France, and now the UK, all hail from Goldman Sachs. In fact, the head of the European Central Bank itself, Mario Draghi, was the former managing director of Goldman Sachs International.

Note: Once again truth-out.org carries this important article and vital information which no major media has covered. Strangely, the entire website went down for a while not long after the article was published. If the article cannot be found at the link above, click here. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on financial corruption, click here.


Libor: They all knew – and no one acted
2012-07-14, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/libor-they-all-knew--and-no-o...

Regulators on both sides of the Atlantic failed to act on clear warnings that the Libor interest rate was being falsely reported by banks during the financial crisis, it emerged last night. A cache of documents released yesterday by the New York Federal Reserve showed that US officials had evidence from April 2008 that Barclays was knowingly posting false reports about the rate at which it could borrow in order to assuage market concerns about its solvency. An unnamed Barclays employee told a New York Fed analyst, Fabiola Ravazzolo, on 11 April 2008: "So we know that we're not posting, um, an honest Libor." He said Barclays started under-reporting Libor because graphs showing the relatively high rates at which the bank had to borrow attracted "unwanted attention" and the "share price went down". The verbatim note of the call released by the Fed represents the starkest evidence yet that Libor-fiddling was discussed in high regulatory circles years before Barclays' recent Ł290m fine. The New York Fed said that, immediately after the call, Ms Ravazzolo informed her superiors of the information, who then passed on her concerns to Tim Geithner, who was head of the New York Fed at the time. Mr Geithner investigated and drew up a six-point proposal for ensuring the integrity of Libor which he presented to the British Bankers Association, which is responsible for producing the Libor rate daily. Mr Geithner, who is now US Treasury Secretary, also forwarded the six-point plan to the Governor of the Bank of England, Sir Mervyn King.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on regulatory and financial corruption and criminality, click here. For our highly revealing Banking Corruption Information Center, click here.


Was the petrol price rigged too?
2012-07-12, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/fuel/9401934/Libor-scandal-Was-the-pe...

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”.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on regulatory and financial corruption and criminality, click here.


Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs
2012-03-14, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/14/opinion/why-i-am-leaving-goldman-sachs.html

Today is my last day at Goldman Sachs. Over the course of my career I have had the privilege of advising two of the largest hedge funds on the planet [and] five of the largest asset managers in the United States. My clients have a total asset base of more than a trillion dollars. After almost 12 years at the firm ... I believe I have worked here long enough to understand ... its culture, its people and its identity. And I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it. To put the problem in the simplest terms, the interests of the client continue to be sidelined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making money. Today, if you make enough money for the firm (and are not currently an ax murderer) you will be promoted into a position of influence. What are three quick ways to become a leader? a) Execute on the firm's "axes," which is Goldman-speak for persuading your clients to invest in the stocks or other products that we are trying to get rid of because they are not seen as having a lot of potential profit. b) "Hunt Elephants." In English: get your clients -- some of whom are sophisticated, and some of whom aren't -- to trade whatever will bring the biggest profit to Goldman. c) Find yourself sitting in a seat where your job is to trade any illiquid, opaque product with a three-letter acronym. I attend derivatives sales meetings where not one single minute is spent asking questions about how we can help clients. It's purely about how we can make the most possible money off of them.

Note: The author of this article, Greg Smith, was a Goldman Sachs executive director and head of the firm’s United States equity derivatives business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. For an excellent compilation of news articles and government documents showing the huge risk of the derivatives bubble being manipulate by Goldman Sachs and others, click here.


The medieval, unaccountable Corporation of London is ripe for protest
2011-10-31, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/oct/31/corporation-london-city-m...

It's the dark heart of Britain, the place where democracy goes to die, immensely powerful, equally unaccountable. But I doubt that one in 10 British people has any idea of what the Corporation of the City of London is and how it works. As Nicholas Shaxson explains in his fascinating book Treasure Islands, the Corporation exists outside many of the laws and democratic controls which govern the rest of the United Kingdom. The City of London is the only part of Britain over which parliament has no authority. This is ... an official old boys' network. In one respect at least the Corporation acts as the superior body: it imposes on the House of Commons a figure called the remembrancer: an official lobbyist who sits behind the Speaker's chair and ensures that, whatever our elected representatives might think, the City's rights and privileges are protected. The mayor of London's mandate stops at the boundaries of the Square Mile. The City has exploited this remarkable position to establish itself as a kind of offshore state, a secrecy jurisdiction which controls the network of tax havens housed in the UK's crown dependencies and overseas territories. This autonomous state within our borders is in a position to launder the ill-gotten cash of oligarchs, kleptocrats, gangsters and drug barons. It has also made the effective regulation of global finance almost impossible.

Note: To understand how democracy is easily circumvented, read this full article. For lots more from reliable sources on the hidden background to the control over governments held by financial powers, click here.


Citigroup to Pay $285 Million to Settle Fraud Charges
2011-10-20, Wall Street Journal
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204618704576640873051858568.html

Wall Street's total price tag on settlements with U.S. securities regulators for allegedly misleading investors about mortgage bonds churned out ahead of the financial crisis surged past $1 billion with a deal by Citigroup Inc. to pay $285 million ... to end civil-fraud charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC claimed Citigroup sold slices of the $1 billion mortgage-bond deal without disclosing to investors that the bank was shorting $500 million of the deal, or betting its assets would lose value. Several Wall Street firms have settled similar claims by the SEC, which has generally stuck to the strategy used by the agency to get a $550 million settlement last year with Goldman Sachs Group Inc.. And the SEC's investigation of the Wall Street mortgage machine isn't over yet. Lorin Reisner, deputy enforcement director at the SEC, said civil mortgage-related cases against Goldman, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Countrywide Financial Corp., New Century Financial Corp. and other companies "read like an index to unlawful conduct in connection with the financial crisis." The SEC has collected a total of $1.03 billion through mortgage-bond-deal settlements. In addition to Citigroup, the total includes Goldman, J.P. Morgan, Royal Bank of Canada, Wells Fargo & Co. and Credit Suisse Group AG.

Note: For lots more from major media sources on the illegal profiteering of major financial corporations, click here.


Wall Street Aristocracy Got $1.2 Trillion in Secret Loans
2011-08-22, Businessweek/Bloomberg News
http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-08-22/wall-street-aristocracy-got-1-2-t...

Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp. were the reigning champions of finance in 2006 as home prices peaked, leading the 10 biggest U.S. banks and brokerage firms to their best year ever with $104 billion of profits. By 2008, the housing market’s collapse forced those companies to take more than six times as much, $669 billion, in emergency loans from the U.S. Federal Reserve. The loans dwarfed the $160 billion in public bailouts the top 10 got from the U.S. Treasury, yet until now the full amounts have remained secret. Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s [actions] included lending banks and other companies as much as $1.2 trillion of public money, about the same amount U.S. homeowners currently owe on 6.5 million delinquent and foreclosed mortgages. The largest borrower, Morgan Stanley, got as much as $107.3 billion, while Citigroup took $99.5 billion and Bank of America $91.4 billion, according to a Bloomberg News compilation of data obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, months of litigation and an act of Congress. It wasn’t just American finance. Almost half of the Fed’s top 30 borrowers, measured by peak balances, were European firms. Data gleaned [under the Freedom of Information Act] make clear for the first time how deeply the world’s largest banks depended on the U.S. central bank to stave off cash shortfalls. Even as the firms asserted in news releases or earnings calls that they had ample cash, they drew Fed funding in secret.

Note: For a treasure trove of information from reliable sources on the government transfer of public assets to private banks and financial corporations, click here.


The Fed Audit
2011-07-21, Official Government Website of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders
http://sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/news/?id=9e2a4ea8-6e73-4be2-a753-62060dcbb3c3

The first top-to-bottom audit of the Federal Reserve uncovered eye-popping new details about how the U.S. provided a whopping $16 trillion in secret loans to bail out American and foreign banks and businesses during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Among the [Government Accountability Office] investigation's key findings is that the Fed unilaterally provided trillions of dollars in financial assistance to foreign banks and corporations from South Korea to Scotland, according to the GAO report. The [report] also determined that the Fed lacks a comprehensive system to deal with conflicts of interest, despite the serious potential for abuse. In fact, according to the report, the Fed provided conflict of interest waivers to employees and private contractors so they could keep investments in the same financial institutions and corporations that were given emergency loans. For example, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase served on the New York Fed's board of directors at the same time that his bank received more than $390 billion in financial assistance from the Fed. The investigation also revealed that the Fed outsourced most of its emergency lending programs to private contractors, many of which also were recipients of extremely low-interest and then-secret loans.

Note: We don't normally use the website of a member of the U.S. Senate as a source, but as amazingly none of the media covered this vitally important story other than one blog on Forbes, we are publishing this here. The GAO report to back up these claims is available for all to see at this link. For how the media is so controlled, don't miss the powerful two-page summary with reports by many award-winning journalists at this link. For another good article on the Fed's manipulations, click here.


Top lobbying banks got biggest bailouts: study
2011-05-26, MSNBC/Reuters News
http://money.msn.com/business-news/article.aspx?feed=OBR&date=20110526&id=136...

The more aggressively a bank lobbied before the financial crisis, the worse its loans performed during the economic downturn -- and the more bailout dollars it received, according to a study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research this week. The report, titled "A Fistful of Dollars: Lobbying and the Financial Crisis," said that banks' lobbying efforts may be motivated by short-term profit gains, which can have devastating effects on the economy. "Overall, our findings suggest that the political influence of the financial industry played a role in the accumulation of risks, and hence, contributed to the financial crisis," said the report, written by three economists from the International Monetary Fund. Data collected by the three authors -- Deniz Igan, Prachi Mishra and Thierry Tressel -- show that the most aggressive lobbiers in the financial industry from 2000 to 2007 also made the most toxic mortgage loans. They securitized a greater portion of debt to pass the home loans onto investors and their stock prices correlated more closely to the downturn and ensuing bailout. The banks' loans also suffered from higher delinquencies during the downturn.

Note: If the above link fails, click here. For lots more from reliable sources on corruption in the government bailouts of the biggest banks, click here.


Speedy New Traders Make Waves Far From Wall Street
2010-05-17, New York Times
http://dealbook.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/05/17/speedy-new-traders-make-waves-fa...

Inside the humdrum offices of a tiny trading firm called Tradeworx, workers ... tend high-speed computers that typically buy and sell 80 million shares a day. But on the afternoon of May 6, as the stock market began to plunge in the “flash crash,” someone here walked up to one of those computers and typed the command HF STOP: sell everything and shutdown. Across the country, several of Tradeworx’s counterparts did the same. In a blink, some of the most powerful players in the stock market — high-frequency traders — went dark. The result sent chills through the financial world. After the brief 1,000-point plunge in the stock market that day, the growing role of high-frequency traders in the nation’s financial markets is drawing new scrutiny. Over the last decade, these high-tech operators have become sort of a shadow Wall Street — from New Jersey to Kansas City, from Texas to Chicago. Depending on whose estimates you believe, high-frequency traders account for 40 to 70 percent of all trading on every stock market in the country. Some of the biggest players trade more than a billion shares a day. These are short-term bets. Very short. The founder of Tradebot, in Kansas City, Mo., told students in 2008 that his firm typically held stocks for 11 seconds. Tradebot, one of the biggest high-frequency traders around, had not had a losing day in four years, he said.

Note: For key reports on the dubious practices which underlay the financial crisis and the impoverishment of the public treasury, click here.


Battle Over the Bailout
2010-02-14, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/14/nyregion/14fed.html

Mark Pittman, an investigative reporter for Bloomberg News ... filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Federal Reserve Board, seeking the details of its unprecedented efforts to funnel money to the collapsing banks of Wall Street. That was in September 2008. Just more than a year later, Mr. Pittman ... died unexpectedly at age 52. But his cause has persevered. It is now known as Bloomberg L.P. v. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, an attempt to unlock the vault of the largest Wall Street rescue plan in decades — or, as the legal briefs put it, to “break down a wall of secrecy” that the Fed has kept in place for nearly two years in its “controversial use of public money to prop up financial institutions.” The Federal Reserve has wrapped itself in secrecy since the turn of the 20th century, when a select group of financiers met at the private Jekyll Island Club off the eastern coast of Georgia and, forgoing last names to preserve their anonymity among the staff, drafted legislation to create a central bank. Its secrecy, of course, persists today, with Ben S. Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, refusing to tell even Congress which banks received government money under the bailout. There is also a heated battle to force the Fed to disclose its role in the controversial attempt to save the insurance giant American International Group.

Note: Isn't it interesting that Pittman died at age 52 while trying to expose manipulations of the big bankers? For a one-minute video proving the existence of a secret weapon which can cause an undetectable heart attack, click here. For a concise, excellent background on the hidden role of the Federal Reserve, click here.


Money talks, high court rules
2010-01-22, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/01/21/EDIL1BLS5N.DTL

Five robed radicals on the Supreme Court have pushed money-infused politics in the wrong direction by overturning a century's worth of campaign spending laws. Voters should prepare for the worst: cash-drenched elections presided over by free-spending corporations. The 5-to-4 ... majority's thinking is based on absolutist vision of free speech and belief that corporations and unions have the same constitutional protections as individuals when it comes to basic rights. This viewpoint is "a rejection of the common sense of the American people," said Justice John Paul Stevens, who read his angry dissent out loud. Corporations "are not themselves members of 'We the People,' by whom and for whom our Constitution was established." It's hard to overstate the legal sweep of the decision. It rejects two recent court rulings, one that barred corporations and unions from dipping into their treasuries to pay for candidate ads and the second that restricted these so-called independent expenditure efforts. The five-member majority didn't just blaze new ground; it torched the court's own past record. In practical terms, the decision amounts to a political earthquake. Big-money issues such as health care, cap-and-trade pollution controls and Wall Street regulations will drive attack ads against politicians who refuse to do the bidding of particular special interests.

Note: To join the over 40,000 who have already signed a petition to stop corporations from have legal personhood status in elections, click here. For more deep insights into the flaws in the US electoral system, click here. To read about the wonderful defender of elections free from corporate influence, Granny D, who recently passed away at the age of 100, click here.


Federal Reserve Seeks to Protect U.S. Bailout Secrets
2010-01-12, BusinessWeek/Bloomberg News
http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-01-12/federal-reserve-seeks-to-protect-...

The Federal Reserve asked a U.S. appeals court to block a ruling that for the first time would force the central bank to reveal secret identities of financial firms that might have collapsed without the largest government bailout in U.S. history. Bloomberg argued that the public has the right to know basic information about the “unprecedented and highly controversial use” of public money. Banks and the Fed warn that bailed-out lenders may be hurt if the documents are made public, causing a run or a sell-off by investors. New York-based Bloomberg ... sued in November 2008 after the Fed refused to name the firms it lent to or disclose the amounts or assets used as collateral under its lending programs. “Bloomberg has been trying for almost two years to break down a brick wall of secrecy in order to vindicate the public’s right to learn basic information,” Thomas Golden, an attorney for the company with Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, wrote in court filings. More than a dozen other groups or companies filed amicus, or friend-of-the-court, briefs, including the American Society of News Editors and individual news organizations. The judge postponed the application of her ruling to allow the appeals court to consider the case.

Note: When doling out trillions of dollars of tax-payers' money, doesn't the public have a right to know who is receiving the money and what it is being used for?


Is the Fed rigging the stock market?
2010-01-05, MSN Money
http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Investing/top-stocks/blog.aspx?post=1528464

It is not illegal for the Federal Reserve or the U.S. Treasury to buy S&P 500 futures. This type of intervention could explain some of the unusual market action in recent months, with stock prices grinding higher on low volume even as companies sold huge amounts of new shares and retail investors stayed on the sidelines. Some market watchers have charted that virtually all of the market’s upside since mid-September has come from after-hours futures activity. [These claims are] based on an analysis of the possible sources of the $600 billion in net new cash that was needed to boost the U.S. stock market capitalization by $6 billion since March. The usual sources, such as retail investors and pension funds, could muster only about $100 billion. The rest had to come from somewhere. The Fed has been openly buying some $1.7 trillion worth of long-term bonds since last March, which is something it hasn't done since the 1950s. Today, the Fed is making purchases to support housing by keeping mortgages cheap. As these purchases are phased out over the next few months, long-term interest rates will continue to move higher. This will cause long-term bond prices to fall, causing this new "bond bubble" to deflate. Stock investors will benefit, just as they did in the 1950s and 1960s as capital was moved from falling bonds into rising stocks.

Note: For a treasure trove of key reports from reliable sources on the secret manipulations keeping Wall Street afloat, click here.


Banks Bundled Bad Debt, Bet Against It and Won
2009-12-24, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/24/business/24trading.html

Pension funds and insurance companies lost billions of dollars on securities that they believed were solid investments, according to former Goldman employees with direct knowledge of the deals who asked not to be identified because they have confidentiality agreements with the firm. Goldman was not the only firm that peddled these complex securities ... and then made financial bets against them, called selling short in Wall Street parlance. Others that created similar securities and then bet they would fail ... include Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley, as well as smaller firms like Tricadia Inc., an investment company whose parent firm was overseen by Lewis A. Sachs, who this year became a special counselor to Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner. How these disastrously performing securities were devised is now the subject of scrutiny by investigators in Congress, at the Securities and Exchange Commission and at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. While the investigations are in the early phases, authorities appear to be looking at whether securities laws or rules of fair dealing were violated by firms that created and sold these mortgage-linked debt instruments and then bet against the clients who purchased them, people briefed on the matter say.

Note: So the banks were betting that their own customers would lose money on their products. Hmmmm. For lots of reliable, eye-opening reports on banking secrecy and corruption, click here.


G30, Ripe for Conspiracy Theorists
2009-12-04, Wall Street Journal blog
http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2009/12/04/g30-ripe-for-conspiracy-theorists

If you want to encourage the kind of conspiracy theories that have prospered in the wake of last year’s financial crisis — those that describe a secret cabal of elites running the world — try doing the following: Have a group of 30 high-powered economists, government officials and bankers meet under the auspices of an international group that shares ideas on how to run the global financial architecture. Have your Board of Trustees led by an influential former Federal Reserve chairman who’s now working as a senior advisor to the president of the United States. Name the former vice chairman of bailout behemoth AIG as the group’s Chairman and CEO (It helps that he [is] former governor of the Bank of Israel). Ensure that membership includes the likes of these: A former Treasury Secretary and president of Harvard who also now works as a top presidential economic advisor; Citigroup’s senior vice chairman; a former IMF deputy managing director and the current governor of the Bank of Israel; and top representatives of the world’s four most important central banks. Hold two days of closed-door meetings at the New York Fed. Do not publicize a list of attendees and leave everyone guessing about the agenda. These were the circumstances surrounding Friday’s start to the 62nd plenary meetings of the Group of 30, whose formal name is “The Consultative Group on International Economic and Monetary Affairs, Inc.”

Note: The article interestingly then goes on to claim that this secret meeting of the world's top bankers is not really anything to worry about, that they are really working for the public good. If so, why not have the meeting open and widely covered by the press? For many other revealing articles from major media reports on secret societies and secret meetings of the most rich and powerful people in our world, click here.


Public servants on $20m a year
2009-12-03, BBC News blog
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/robertpeston/2009/12/public_servants_...

Twice a year, the chairmen and chief executives of Europe's biggest banks gather in secret. They meet under the auspices of a hush-hush club formed after World War II, whose operations are so mysterious that even the grandees who attend it seem unclear what it's really called. One bank supremo told me its name was the Instituts d'Etudes Financieres ... another that it went by the moniker IIEB. Either way, what I can tell you is that it attracts a pretty high calibre of banker - and that its last meeting was just a few weeks ago at the plush London hotel, Claridges, where the main item on the agenda was the topical question of bankers' bonuses. Present were ... Stephen Green of HSBC, Philip Hampton of RBS, Marcus Agius of Barclays and David Mayhew of JP Morgan Cazenove, and their counterparts from Germany, Italy, France and so on. Now, let's be clear: the idea that banks would ever collude to solve a mutual problem would be an outrageous and unwarranted slur. That said, they would dearly love a collective agreement to cease hostilities on bankers' pay, because they know there is a one-to-one correlation between each million pound bonus they pay and damage to their reputations. But although they explored whether they could reach an entente on capping bankers' pay, they abandoned the ambition as a hopeless cause. Why? Because they can't get the Americans into the room. So what is the going rate for RBS's top profit generators? Last year, when the bonus pool was Ł900m [over $1.3 billion] for the investment bank, several hundred of its executives earned more than a million pounds each. [This year] quite a number of its top traders will be expecting $10m plus.

Note: You can bet that the money for this year's bonuses is coming out of taxpayers' pockets through the huge bailouts. So here is yet another secret meeting of the world's top bankers not being reported in the major media except for this BBC blog. For many other revealing articles from major media reports on secret societies and secret meetings of the most rich and powerful people in our world, click here.


How Goldman secretly bet on the housing crash
2009-11-01, Kansas City Star/McClatchy Newspapers
http://www.kansascity.com/437/story/1542453.html

In 2006 and 2007, Goldman Sachs Group peddled more than $40 billion in securities backed by at least 200,000 risky home mortgages, but never told the buyers it was secretly betting that a sharp drop in U.S. housing prices would send the value of those securities plummeting. Goldman's sales and its clandestine wagers, completed at the brink of the housing market meltdown, enabled one of the nation's premier investment banks to pass most of its potential losses to others before a flood of mortgage loan defaults staggered the U.S. and global economies. Only later did investors discover that what Goldman promoted as triple-A investments were closer to junk. Now, pension funds, insurance companies, labor unions and foreign financial institutions that bought those dicey mortgage securities are facing large losses, and a five-month McClatchy Newspapers investigation has found that Goldman's failure to disclose that it made secret, exotic bets on an imminent housing crash may have violated securities laws. "The Securities and Exchange Commission should be very interested in any financial company that secretly decides a financial product is a loser and then goes out and actively markets that product or very similar products to unsuspecting customers without disclosing its true opinion," said Laurence Kotlikoff, a Boston University economics professor who's proposed a massive overhaul of the nation's big banks. "This is fraud and should be prosecuted."

Note: For an eye-opening, powerful PBS video which reveals how the economic crisis was conscously allowed to happen, click here. It reveals that Fed chairman Alan Greenspan was against investigating any fraud. For many reports from reliable sources on corruption at the core of the Wall Street collapse and bailout, click here.


Sticker Shock: $23.7 Trillion Bailout?
2009-07-21, ABC News
http://abcnews.go.com/Business/Politics/story?id=8140184

"The total potential federal government support could reach up to $23.7 trillion," says Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, in a report released today on the government's efforts to fix the financial system. "The potential financial commitment the American taxpayers could be responsible for is of a size and scope that isn't even imaginable," said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. "If you spent a million dollars a day going back to the birth of Christ, that wouldn't even come close to just $1 trillion -- $23.7 trillion is a staggering figure." The government has about 50 different programs to fight the current recession, including programs to bail out ailing banks and automakers, boost lending and beat back the housing crisis. So far they've cost taxpayers around $4 trillion. But Barofsky says if each federal agency spent the maximum potential amount involved in these initiatives, taxpayers could be on the hook for trillions more. The watchdog also warned today that hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars could be lost if the government does not increase the transparency of the TARP program, which he says has grown to an unprecedented scope and scale. Requiring TARP recipients to report on how government funds are used is among the recommendations urged by Barofsky. He also wants the department to report on the values of its TARP portfolio so taxpayers know about the value of their investments.

Note: For a treasure trove of revelations from reliable sources on the hidden realities behind the Wall Street bailout, click here.


'Bailout psychology' destroying the economy
2009-04-05, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/04/04/INR316Q4F5.DTL

President Obama must stop the bailouts and start the prosecutions. It's time to focus on anti-poverty programs to protect the growing unemployed from hunger and homelessness. Stealth payments to billionaire bondholders must cease immediately. Since the mid-1970s, average Americans' wages have stayed flat when adjusted for inflation. Productivity rose, profits rose, but not wages. To compensate for stagnant wages and the desire to consume more each year, Americans worked more, retired later, spouses went to work, and many burned savings. Then they started borrowing. Debt became America's growth industry. The scheme collapsed because Americans' wages weren't sufficient to pay the interest on existing debts. The administration and the banks keep talking about a credit crisis, but there isn't one. Banks are lending. If you want a mortgage and can afford to pay it back, you can borrow at low rates today. But most Americans don't want more debt because it is a debilitating path to poverty. The average American family already pays 14 percent of annual income in interest to banks. To fix this fake crisis, there are fake discussions about what the government must do. The endlessly recycled plan to buy "troubled" assets isn't to get banks lending again, because they haven't stopped lending. The plan seeks for taxpayers to buy worthless assets at high prices to absorb rich investors' losses. That's it. It keeps coming back as a different plan, but with that same goal. There is no goal beyond that one goal: keep rich people from taking losses.

Note: For an extensive archive of key reports on the hidden realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.


The Madoff Economy
2008-12-19, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/19/opinion/19krugman.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&...

The revelation that Bernard Madoff — brilliant investor (or so almost everyone thought), philanthropist, pillar of the community — was a phony has shocked the world, and understandably so. The scale of his alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme is hard to comprehend. Yet ... how different, really, is Mr. Madoff’s tale from the story of the investment industry as a whole? The financial services industry has claimed an ever-growing share of the nation’s income over the past generation, making the people who run the industry incredibly rich. Yet, at this point, it looks as if much of the industry has been destroying value, not creating it. And it’s not just a matter of money: the vast riches achieved by those who managed other people’s money have had a corrupting effect on our society as a whole. Last year, the average salary of employees in “securities, commodity contracts, and investments” was more than four times the average salary in the rest of the economy. Earning a million dollars was nothing special, and even incomes of $20 million or more were fairly common. The incomes of the richest Americans have exploded over the past generation, even as wages of ordinary workers have stagnated. High pay on Wall Street was a major cause of that divergence. Wall Street’s ill-gotten gains corrupted and continue to corrupt politics, in a nicely bipartisan way. From Bush administration officials ... who looked the other way as evidence of financial fraud mounted, to Democrats who still haven’t closed the outrageous tax loophole that benefits executives at hedge funds and private equity firms ... politicians have walked when money talked. The pay system on Wall Street lavishly rewards the appearance of profit, even if that appearance later turns out to have been an illusion.

Note: This entire, penetrating article is well worth a read at the link above. For many revealing reports from reliable sources on the realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.


US diluted loan rules before crash
2008-12-01, ABC News/Associated Press
http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?section=news/business&id=6532267

The Bush administration backed off proposed crackdowns on no-money-down, interest-only mortgages years before the economy collapsed, buckling to pressure from some of the same banks that have now failed. It ignored remarkably prescient warnings that foretold the financial meltdown, according to an Associated Press review of regulatory documents. "Expect fallout, expect foreclosures, expect horror stories," California mortgage lender Paris Welch wrote to U.S. regulators in January 2006, about one year before the housing implosion cost her a job. Bowing to aggressive lobbying - along with assurances from banks that the troubled mortgages were OK - regulators delayed action for nearly one year. By the time new rules were released late in 2006, the toughest of the proposed provisions were gone and the meltdown was under way. The administration's blind eye to the impending crisis is emblematic of its governing philosophy, which trusted market forces and discounted the value of government intervention in the economy. Its belief ironically has ushered in the most massive government intervention since the 1930s. Many of the banks that fought to undermine the proposals by some regulators are now either out of business or accepting billions in federal aid to recover from a mortgage crisis they insisted would never come. In 2005, faced with ominous signs the housing market was in jeopardy, bank regulators proposed new guidelines for banks writing risky loans. Those proposals all were stripped from the final rules.

Note: For many revealing reports on the Wall Street bailout from reliable sources, click here.


All Fall Down
2008-11-26, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/26/opinion/26friedman.html?partner=rss&emc=rss...

I spent Sunday afternoon brooding over a [New York Times] front-page article, entitled ["Citigroup Saw No Red Flags Even as It Made Bolder Bets”]. In searing detail it exposed ... how some of our country’s best-paid bankers were overrated dopes who had no idea what they were selling, or greedy cynics who did know and turned a blind eye. But it wasn’t only the bankers. This financial meltdown involved a broad national breakdown in personal responsibility, government regulation and financial ethics. So many people were in on it: People who had no business buying a home, with nothing down and nothing to pay for two years; people who had no business pushing such mortgages, but made fortunes doing so; people who had no business bundling those loans into securities and selling them to third parties, as if they were AAA bonds, but made fortunes doing so; people who had no business rating those loans as AAA, but made fortunes doing so; and people who had no business buying those bonds and putting them on their balance sheets so they could earn a little better yield, but made fortunes doing so. Citigroup was involved in, and made money from, almost every link in that chain. And the bank’s executives, including ...the former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, were ... so ensnared by the cronyism between the bank’s risk managers and risk takers (and so bought off by their bonuses) that they had no interest in stopping it. These are the people whom taxpayers bailed out on Monday to the tune of what could be more than $300 billion.

Note: For many revealing reports on the Wall Street bailout from major media sources, click here.


Treasury gives banks multi-billion tax break windfall
2008-11-11, San Francisco Chronicle/Associated Press
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/11/11/BUTP141OVI.DTL

Some of the nation's biggest banks are in for a windfall – on top of the $700 billion government bailout – thanks to a new tax policy quietly issued by the Treasury Department. The notice gives big tax breaks to companies that acquire struggling banks hit hard by the mortgage crisis. In some cases, the tax breaks could exceed the cost of acquiring the banks, according to analyses by private tax experts. The change could cost the Treasury as much as $140 billion by enabling firms that acquire struggling banks to use more losses incurred by those banks to offset their own taxable profits. San Francisco's Wells Fargo & Co., which made a bid to acquire Wachovia Corp. just days after the notice was issued, stands to reap about $20 billion in additional tax savings because of the change, according to the analyses. Wells Fargo paid $14.8 billion in a stock deal to buy Wachovia. The notice was issued Sept. 30 as Congress debated the $700 billion bailout plan. Some members of Congress are upset that such a sweeping tax change was issued with no public hearings or congressional input. "I am concerned that the notice, which was never debated by Congress, could end up costing taxpayers tens of billions of more dollars on top of the hundreds of billions of dollars already approved by Congress in the financial rescue plan," Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a letter last week to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. Some tax lawyers questioned the legality of the notice. Before the notice was issued, the merged bank could write off only a limited amount of the losses. The notice removed those restrictions, enabling the acquiring banks to make huge reductions in their tax liabilities.

Note: With no limitations placed on the nine biggest banks receiving many billions of dollars in bailout money, they are free to buy up smaller banks. And they will likely receive huge tax breaks, sometimes even greater than the purchase price, for doing so! For many revealing, reliable reports on the Wall Street bailout, click here.


New Terrain for Panel on Bailout
2008-11-04, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/04/business/economy/04bailout.html?partner=rss...

Having been handed vast authority and almost no restrictions in the bailout law that Congress passed ... a committee of five little-known government officials, aided by a bare-bones staff of 40, is picking winners and losers among thousands of banks, savings and loans, insurers and other institutions. It is new and unfamiliar terrain for the officials, who are making monumental decisions — a form of industrial policy, some critics say — that contradict the free market philosophy they usually espouse. Predictably, the process is stirring alarm from Capitol Hill to Wall Street. Among the problems, critics say, is that despite earlier promises of transparency, the process is shrouded in secrecy, its precise goals opaque. Treasury officials have refused to disclose their criteria for deciding which banks ... get money. And officials have yet to say they even have a broader strategy, though banking executives are convinced the government wants to encourage acquisitions. Already, critics from Capitol Hill to Wall Street are lashing out at the program, saying the banks are misusing the capital infusions by hoarding the money rather than lending it. The government, the critics say, is wrongly steering funds to banks to take over weaker rivals. All this comes after Mr. Paulson abruptly shifted the focus of the program to injecting capital rather than buying distressed mortgage-related assets from the banks. This meant that Congress had never debated the details of how the government ought to carry out a recapitalization.

Note: With the intense secrecy and all of the lobbyist and big guns for banking fighting for hundreds of billions of dollars given practically free by the government, do you really think these "five little-known government officials" will be impartial in their decisions? For many revealing, reliable reports on the Wall Street bailout, click here.


So When Will Banks Give Loans?
2008-10-25, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/25/business/25nocera.html?partner=rssuserland&...

“Chase recently received $25 billion in federal funding. What effect will that have on the business side and will it change our strategic lending policy?” It was Oct. 17, just four days after JPMorgan Chase’s chief executive, Jamie Dimon, agreed to take a $25 billion capital injection courtesy of the United States government, when a JPMorgan employee asked that question [during] an employee-only conference call. The JPMorgan executive who was moderating the employee conference call didn’t hesitate to answer. “What we ... think it will help us do is perhaps be a little bit more active on the acquisition side or opportunistic side for some banks who are still struggling. I think there are going to be some great opportunities for us to grow in this environment, and I think we have an opportunity to use that $25 billion in that way.” Read that answer as many times as you want — you are not going to find a single word in there about making loans to help the American economy. On the contrary: It is starting to appear as if one of Treasury’s key rationales for the recapitalization program — namely, that it will cause banks to start lending again — is a fig leaf, Treasury’s version of the weapons of mass destruction. In fact, Treasury wants banks to acquire each other and is using its power to inject capital to force a new and wrenching round of bank consolidation. Treasury would even funnel some of the bailout money to help banks buy other banks. And, in an almost unnoticed move, it recently put in place a new tax break, worth billions to the banking industry, that has only one purpose: to encourage bank mergers. As a tax expert, Robert Willens, put it: “It couldn’t be clearer if they had taken out an ad.”

Note: Was the real purpose of the "bailout" to strengthen the biggest banks by enabling them to gobble up the smaller ones at the public's expense? No wonder the legislation was rushed through without discussion! For lots more highly revealing reports on the Wall Street bailout, click here.


Global Derivatives Market Expands to $516 Trillion
2007-11-22, Bloomberg News
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=a58EF32GpHeg

The market for derivatives grew at the fastest pace in at least nine years to $516 trillion in the first half of 2007, the Bank for International Settlements said. Credit-default swaps, contracts designed to protect investors against default and used to speculate on credit quality, led the increase, expanding 49 percent to cover a notional $43 trillion of debt in the six months ended June 30, the BIS said in a report published late yesterday. Derivatives of debt, currencies, commodities, stocks and interest rates rose 25 percent from the previous six months, the biggest jump since the Basel, Switzerland-based bank began compiling the data. Investors have been turning to credit derivatives as a way to speculate on a growing risk of defaults amid record U.S. mortgage foreclosures. The money at risk through credit-default swaps increased 145 percent from last year to $721 billion, the report said. The amount at stake in the entire derivatives market is $11.1 trillion, according to the BIS, which was formed in 1930 to monitor financial markets and regulate banks. Derivatives are financial instruments derived from stocks, bonds, loans, currencies and commodities, or linked to specific events like changes in interest rates or the weather. The report is based on contracts traded outside of exchanges in over-the- counter market.

Note: Like most reporting in the major media, this article trivializes the massive size of the derivatives market. $516 trillion is equivalent to $75,000 for every man, woman, and child in the world! Do you think the financial industry is out of control? For lots more powerful, reliable information on major banking manipulations, click here. For a powerful analysis describing just how crazy things have gotten and giving some rays of hope by researcher David Wilcock, click here.


Elizabeth Warren Asks Newly Chatty FBI Director to Explain Why DOJ Didn’t Prosecute Banksters
2016-09-14, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2016/09/15/elizabeth-warren-asks-newly-chatty-fbi-di...

Like a lot of other Americans, Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants to know why the Department of Justice hasn’t criminally prosecuted any of the major players responsible for the 2008 financial crisis. On Thursday, Warren released two highly provocative letters demanding some explanations. One is to DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, requesting a review of how federal law enforcement managed to whiff on all 11 substantive criminal referrals submitted by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC), a panel set up to examine the causes of the 2008 meltdown. The other is to FBI Director James Comey, asking him to release all FBI investigations and deliberations related to those referrals. The FCIC’s criminal referrals ... have never been made public. But Warren’s staff reviewed thousands of other documents released in March ... and found descriptions and records of them. They detail potential violations of securities laws by 14 different financial institutions: most of America’s largest banks. And the FCIC named names, specifying nine top-level executives who should be investigated on criminal charges: CEO Daniel Mudd and CFO Stephen Swad of Fannie Mae; CEO Martin Sullivan and CFO Stephen Bensinger of AIG; CEO Stan O’Neal and CFO Jeffrey Edwards of Merrill Lynch; and CEO Chuck Prince, CFO Gary Crittenden, and Board Chairman Robert Rubin of Citigroup. None of the 14 financial firms listed in the referrals were criminally indicted or brought to trial, Warren writes. Only five of the 14 even paid fines.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and in the financial industry.


A Whistleblower's Horror Story
2015-02-18, Rolling Stone
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/a-whistleblowers-horror-story-20150218

One man's story in particular highlights just about everything that can go wrong when you give evidence against your bosses in America: former Countrywide/Bank of America whistleblower Michael Winston. Two years ago this month, Winston was being celebrated in the news as a hero. He'd blown the whistle on Countrywide Financial, the bent mortgage lender that ... nearly blew up the global economy. Today, Winston [has] spent over a million dollars fighting Countrywide (and the firm that acquired it, Bank of America) in court. At first, that fight proved a good gamble, as a jury granted him a multi-million-dollar award for retaliation and wrongful termination. But after Winston won that case, an appellate judge not only wiped out that jury verdict, but allowed Bank of America to counterattack him. The bank eventually beat him for nearly $98,000 in court costs. That single transaction means a good guy in the crisis drama, Winston, had by the end of 2014 paid a larger individual penalty than virtually every wrongdoer connected with the financial collapse of 2008. When Winston protested his preposterous punishment on the grounds that a trillion-dollar company recouping legal fees from an unemployed whistleblower was unreasonable and unnecessary, a California Superior Court judge denied his argument — get this — on the grounds that Winston failed to prove a disparity in resources between himself and Bank of America! Four years later, we're still waiting for the first criminal conviction against any individual for crisis-era corruption. There's been no significant reform. What we've seen instead is a series of cash deals with the most corrupt companies.

Note: Countrywide bought political influence to more effectively defraud institutional investors and taxpayers. Thanks to Winston, they were caught and proven guilty. But Bank of America purchased Countrywide, and has been paying off officials in secret deals to continue skirting the law without admitting wrongdoing. And Michael Winston now has to pay Bank of America for their trouble.


Ex-Chief of Iceland Bank Sentenced to Jail for Role in 2008 Crisis
2014-11-19, New York Times
http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/11/19/ex-chief-of-iceland-bank-sentenced-to-...

The former chief executive of Landsbanki of Iceland was sentenced to prison on Wednesday, the third of the top executives of the country’s three largest banks that the government has successfully prosecuted and jailed for misconduct during the financial crisis. Iceland was one of the countries hardest hit by the financial crisis and was forced to nationalize its three largest lenders in 2008. Mr. Arnason is the third former chief executive of an Icelandic bank to be ordered jailed for misdeeds in the run-up to the nationalization of Landsbanki and two other of the island nation’s biggest lenders. Kaputhing, at one time Iceland’s largest lender, saw its chief executive, Hreidar Mar Sigurdsson, and its chairman, Sigurdur Einarsson, convicted of market manipulation last year. Mr. Sigurdsson was sentenced to five and a half years in prison, while Mr. Einarsson was sentenced to five years in prison. Larus Welding, the former chief executive of Glitnir, the first of the banks to be nationalized, was convicted of fraud in 2012. The Icelandic lenders expanded beyond their borders during the boom years, only to collapse under a mountain of debt as financial conditions worsened in 2008. After the banks were nationalized, Iceland’s government restructured them, purging their management and refusing to bail out foreign bondholders who held tens of billions of dollars of the banks’ debt. A special prosecutor, Olafur Hauksson, was appointed to investigate the actions of bank executives in the run-up to the financial crisis.

Note: So the one nation that jailed its big bankers and let banks go bust is doing very well. Why are so exceedingly few bankers in other countries being jailed for crimes involving trillions of dollars and bankrupting millions of citizens? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and in the financial industry.


Elizabeth Warren’s ‘A Fighting Chance’: An exclusive excerpt on the foreclosure crisis
2014-04-26, Boston Globe
http://www.bostonglobe.com/magazine/2014/04/26/elizabeth-warren-new-memoir-ex...

In fall 2009, Secretary Timothy Geithner invited people working on TARP oversight to a meeting. After we had listened to the secretary go on and on about his department’s cheery projections for recovery, I finally interrupted with a question about a new topic. Why, I asked, had Treasury’s response to the flood of foreclosures been so small? The Congressional Oversight Panel had been sharply critical of Treasury’s foreclosure plan. We thought that the program was poorly designed and poorly managed and provided little permanent help, and we worried that it would reach too few people to make any real difference. The secretary ... quickly launched into a general discussion of his approach to dealing with foreclosures, rehashing the plan that the Congressional Oversight Panel had already reviewed. Next, he explained why Treasury’s efforts were perfectly adequate. Then he hit his key point: The banks could manage only so many foreclosures at a time, and Treasury wanted to slow down the pace so the banks wouldn’t be overwhelmed. And this was where the new foreclosure program came in: It was just big enough to “foam the runway” for them. There it was: The Treasury foreclosure program was intended to foam the runway to protect against a crash landing by the banks. Millions of people were getting tossed out on the street, but the secretary of the Treasury believed the government’s most important job was to provide a soft landing for the tender fannies of the banks.

Note: Adapted from A Fighting Chance by Elizabeth Warren. For more on the government's collusion with the big banks before, during and after the 2008 financial crisis brought about by fraudulent mortgage sales, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


The Vampire Squid Strikes Again: The Mega Banks' Most Devious Scam Yet
2014-02-12, Rolling Stone
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-vampire-squid-strikes-again-the...

It's 1999, the tail end of the Clinton years. Most observers on the Hill thought the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 – also known as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act – was just the latest and boldest in a long line of deregulatory handouts to Wall Street that had begun in the Reagan years. Wall Street had spent much of that era arguing that America's banks needed to become bigger and badder, in order to compete globally with the German and Japanese-style financial giants. Bank lobbyists were pushing a new law designed to wipe out 60-plus years of bedrock financial regulation. The key was repealing – or "modifying," as bill proponents put it – the famed Glass-Steagall Act separating bankers and broker. Now, commercial banks would be allowed to merge with investment banks and insurance companies, creating financial megafirms potentially far more powerful than had ever existed in America. The [bill] additionally legalized new forms of monopoly, allowing banks to merge with heavy industry. A tiny provision in the bill also permitted commercial banks to delve into any activity that is "complementary to a financial activity and does not pose a substantial risk to the safety or soundness of depository institutions or the financial system generally." Today, banks like Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs own oil tankers, run airports and control huge quantities of coal, natural gas, heating oil, electric power and precious metals. They likewise can now be found exerting direct control over the supply of a whole galaxy of raw materials crucial to world industry and to society in general, including everything from food products to metals like zinc, copper, tin, nickel and ... aluminum.

Note: For more on government collusion with the biggest banks, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


The Untouchables: How the Obama administration protected Wall Street from prosecutions
2013-01-23, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/23/untouchables-wall-street-...

PBS' Frontline program on [January 22] broadcast a new one-hour report on one of the greatest and most shameful failings of the Obama administration: the lack of even a single arrest or prosecution of any senior Wall Street banker for the systemic fraud that precipitated the 2008 financial crisis: a crisis from which millions of people around the world are still suffering. What this program particularly demonstrated was that the Obama justice department, in particular the Chief of its Criminal Division, Lanny Breuer, never even tried to hold the high-level criminals accountable. What Obama justice officials did instead is exactly what they did in the face of high-level Bush era crimes of torture and warrantless eavesdropping: namely, acted to protect the most powerful factions in the society in the face of overwhelming evidence of serious criminality. Worst of all, Obama justice officials both shielded and feted these Wall Street oligarchs ... as they simultaneously prosecuted and imprisoned powerless Americans for far more trivial transgressions. As Harvard law professor Larry Lessig put it two weeks ago when expressing anger over the DOJ's persecution of Aaron Swartz: "we live in a world where the architects of the financial crisis regularly dine at the White House." As [documented in the] 2011 book on America's two-tiered justice system, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful, the evidence that felonies were committed by Wall Street is overwhelming.

Note: To watch this highly revealing PBS documentary, click here or here. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the collusion between government 'regulators' and the financial powers they 'regulate', click here.


Too Big to Indict
2012-12-12, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/12/opinion/hsbc-too-big-to-indict.html

It is a dark day for the rule of law. Federal and state authorities have chosen not to indict HSBC, the London-based bank, on charges of vast and prolonged money laundering, for fear that criminal prosecution would topple the bank and, in the process, endanger the financial system. They also have not charged any top HSBC banker in the case, though it boggles the mind that a bank could launder money as HSBC did without anyone in a position of authority making culpable decisions. Clearly, the government has bought into the notion that too big to fail is too big to jail. When prosecutors choose not to prosecute to the full extent of the law in a case as egregious as this, the law itself is diminished. The deterrence that comes from the threat of criminal prosecution is weakened, if not lost. In the HSBC case, prosecutors may want the public to focus on the $1.92 billion settlement. But even large financial settlements are small compared with the size of international major banks. More important, once criminal sanctions are considered off limits, penalties and forfeitures become just another cost of doing business, a risk factor to consider on the road to profits. If banks operating at the center of the global economy cannot be held fully accountable, the solution is to reduce their size by breaking them up and restricting their activities — not shield them and their leaders from prosecution for illegal activities.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on government collusion with financial corruption, click here.


Fighting Recession the Icelandic Way
2012-09-26, Bloomberg
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-09-26/is-remedy-for-next-crisis-buried-in-...

Few countries blew up more spectacularly than Iceland in the 2008 financial crisis. The local stock market plunged 90 percent; unemployment rose ninefold; inflation shot to more than 18 percent; the country’s biggest banks all failed. Since then, Iceland has turned in a pretty impressive performance. It has repaid International Monetary Fund rescue loans ahead of schedule. Growth this year will be about 2.5 percent, better than most developed economies. Unemployment has fallen by half. Iceland’s approach was the polar opposite of the U.S. and Europe, which rescued their banks and did little to aid indebted homeowners. Nothing distinguishes Iceland as much as its aid to consumers. To homeowners with negative equity, the country offered write-offs that would wipe out debt above 110 percent of the property value. The government also provided means-tested subsidies to reduce mortgage-interest expenses: Those with lower earnings, less home equity and children were granted the most generous support. In June 2010, the nation’s Supreme Court gave debtors another break: Bank loans that were indexed to foreign currencies were declared illegal. Because the Icelandic krona plunged 80 percent during the crisis, the cost of repaying foreign debt more than doubled. The ruling let consumers repay the banks as if the loans were in krona. These policies helped consumers erase debt equal to 13 percent of Iceland’s $14 billion economy. Now, consumers have money to spend on other things.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the collusion of most major governments with the financial sector whose profiteering contributed to the global economic crisis, click here.


Big Banks: No Crime, No Punishment
2012-08-26, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/26/opinion/sunday/no-crime-no-punishment.html

When the Justice Department recently closed its criminal investigation of Goldman Sachs, it became all but certain that no major American banks or their top executives would ever face criminal charges for their role in the financial crisis. Justice officials and even President Obama have defended the lack of prosecutions, saying that even though greed and other moral lapses were evident in the run-up to the crisis, the conduct was not necessarily illegal. But that characterization of the financial industry's actions has always defied common sense - and all the more so now that a fuller picture is emerging of the range of banks' reckless and lawless activities, including interest-rate rigging, money laundering, securities fraud and excessive speculation. The financial crisis, fomented over years by big banks and presided over by executives, involved reckless lending, heedless securitizations, exorbitant paydays and illusory profits, all of which led to government bailouts and economic calamity. Is it plausible that none of that broke the law and that none of the people in positions of power and authority knew what was going on? The statute of limitations, generally five years for securities fraud and most other federal offenses, is running out, precluding the possibility of bringing many new suits dating from the bubble years. The result is a public perception that the big banks and their leaders will never have to answer fully for the crisis. The shameless pursuit of Wall Street campaign donations by both political parties strengthens this perception, and further undermines confidence in the rule of law.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the collusion between government and the big banks, click here.


Bank scandals: Somebody must go to jail
2012-08-18, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/article/Bank-scandals-Somebody-must-go-to-jail-...

"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies." - Thomas Jefferson, 1816. When Thomas Jefferson spoke those words, banks were local and very small compared with the financial behemoths of today. Banks are more dangerous now than in Jefferson's time, and they are totally out of control. During the Depression of the 1930s, President Franklin Roosevelt referred to banks as the "money changers in the temple of our civilization," and little has been done since. It is well past the time that people on Wall Street live by the rule of law - not just pay fines - and some executives go to jail for their conduct. In 2008, the much-publicized Troubled Assets Relief Program bailed out banks and Wall Street to the tune of $700 billion with taxpayer money. While the banks were bailed out of the trouble they caused, they continued to pay out enormous executive bonuses with taxpayers' money in multimillion-dollar year-end gifts. JPMorgan received $25 billion from the government in 2008 and gave out nearly $9 billion in bonus money that year. When the derivative-driven housing market collapsed in 2008, Citigroup and Bank of America, the major banks in that market, and eight other top Wall Street firms got $1.2 trillion in then-secret loans of taxpayer money from the Federal Reserve. The Fed even went to court in an attempt to hide the identities of those banks from the public. Regulating the banks and bringing the rule of law to Wall Street banks is necessary now. Sending a few Wall Street banksters to jail would stop some of the abuse as well.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the corrupt relationship between government and the financial sector, click here.


The unrepentant and unreformed bankers
2012-08-18, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/article/The-unrepentant-and-unreformed-bankers-...

Money laundering. Price fixing. Bid rigging. Securities fraud. Talking about the mob? No, unfortunately. Wall Street. These days, the business sections of newspapers read like rap sheets. GE Capital, JPMorgan Chase, UBS, Wells Fargo and Bank of America tied to a bid-rigging scheme to bilk cities and towns out of interest earnings. ING Direct, HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank facing charges of money laundering. Barclays caught manipulating a key interest rate, costing savers and investors dearly, with a raft of other big banks also under investigation. Not to speak of the unprecedented wrongdoing that precipitated the financial crisis of 2008. Yet, it's clear that the unrepentant and the unreformed are still all too present within our banking system. A June survey of 500 senior financial services executives in the United States and Britain turned up stunning results. Some 24 percent said that they believed that financial services professionals may need to engage in illegal or unethical conduct to succeed, 26 percent said that they had observed or had firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing in the workplace, and 16 percent said they would engage in insider trading if they could get away with it. That too much of Wall Street remains unchanged is not surprising. Simply stated, the banks and their leaders have paid no real economic, legal or political price for their wrongdoing and thus have not felt compelled to change.

Note: The author of this article, Phil Angelides, is a former state treasurer of California and the chairman of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the corrupt relationship between government and the financial sector, click here.


Democracy falling prey to big money
2012-08-10, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/reich/article/Democracy-falling-prey-to-big-mon...

Who's buying our democracy? Wall Street financiers, the Koch brothers, and casino magnates Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn, among others. And they're doing much of it in secret. It's a perfect storm - the combination of three waves that are about to drown government as we know it. The first is the greatest concentration of wealth in America in more than a century. The 400 richest Americans are richer than the bottom 150 million Americans put together. The trend started 30 years ago, and it's related to globalization and technological changes that have stymied wage growth for most people, "trickle-down economics," ... tax cuts and the steady decline in the bargaining power of organized labor. The second is the wave of unlimited political contributions, courtesy of ... one of the worst decisions in Supreme Court history, Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, the 2010 ruling that held that corporations are people under the First Amendment, [meaning] that virtually any billionaire can contribute as much to a political campaign as he wants. The third is complete secrecy about who's contributing how much to whom. Political fronts posing as charitable, nonprofit "social welfare" organizations ... don't have to disclose their donors. As a result, outfits like the Chamber of Commerce and Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS are taking in hundreds of millions from corporations that don't even tell their own shareholders what political payments they're making. Separately, any one of these three would be bad enough. Put the three together, and our democracy is being sold down the drain.

Note: The author of this article, Robert Reich, is a professor of public policy at UC Berkeley and former U.S. secretary of labor, and author of the newly released Beyond Outrage: What Has Gone Wrong With Our Economy and Our Democracy, and How to Fix It.


Wall Street Legend Sandy Weill: Break Up the Big Banks
2012-07-25, CNBC
http://www.cnbc.com/id/48315170

Former Citigroup Chairman & CEO Sanford I. Weill, the man who invented the financial supermarket, called for the breakup of big banks in an interview on CNBC Wednesday. “What we should probably do is go and split up investment banking from banking, have banks be deposit takers, have banks make commercial loans and real estate loans, have banks do something that’s not going to risk the taxpayer dollars, that’s not too big to fail,” Weill told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” He added: “If they want to hedge what they’re doing with their investments, let them do it in a way that’s going to be mark-to-market so they’re never going to be hit.” He essentially called for the return of the Glass–Steagall Act, which imposed banking reforms that split banks from other financial institutions such as insurance companies. He said banks should be split off entirely from investment banks, and they should operate with a leverage ratio of 12 times to 15 times of what they have on their balance sheets. Banks should also be completely transparent, Weill said, with everything on balance sheet. “There should be no such thing as off balance sheet,” he said.

Note: For deeply revealing and reliable major media reports on corruption and criminality in the operations and regulation of the financial sector, click here.


Regulators and HSBC Faulted in Report on Money Laundering
2012-07-16, New York Times
http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/07/16/scathing-report-details-money-launderi...

The global bank HSBC has been used by Mexican drug cartels looking to get cash back into the United States, by Saudi Arabian banks that needed access to dollars despite their terrorist ties and by Iranians who wanted to circumvent United States sanctions, a Senate report says. The 335-page report released [on July 16] also says that executives at HSBC and regulators at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency ignored warning signs and failed to stop the illegal behavior at many points between 2001 and 2010. The problems at HSBC, Europe's largest financial institution, [are] indicators of a broader problem of illegal money flowing through international financial institutions into the United States. The report on HSBC is the latest of several scandals that have recently rocked global banks and highlighted the inability of regulators to catch what is claimed to be widespread wrongdoing in the financial industry. The British bank Barclays recently admitted that its traders tried to manipulate a crucial global interest rate, and multiple major banks are under investigation. JPMorgan Chase disclosed last week that its employees may have tried to hide trades that are likely to cost the bank billions of dollars. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has come under particularly harsh criticism for showing too much deference to the banks it regulates.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on regulatory and financial corruption and criminality, click here. For our highly revealing Banking Corruption Information Center, click here.


Time for ‘Banksters’ to be prosecuted
2012-07-10, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/katrina-vanden-heuvel-time-for-bankste...

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.”

Note: For key investigative reports on the criminality and corruption in the financial industry and biggest banks, click here.


Guilty bankers should clean toilets
2012-07-05, CNN
http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/05/opinion/quest-libor-analysis/index.html

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.


Joseph Stiglitz: Man who ran World Bank calls for bankers to face the music
2012-07-02, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/joseph-stigl...

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.

Note: For key investigative reports on the criminality and corruption in the financial industry and biggest banks, click here.


Libor scandal: How I manipulated the bank borrowing rate
2012-07-01, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/9368430/Libor...

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.


Heist of the century: Wall Street's role in the financial crisis
2012-05-20, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/may/20/wall-street-role-financial-crisis

Wall Street bankers could have averted the global financial crisis, so why didn't they? In this exclusive extract from his book Inside Job: The Financiers Who Pulled Off the Heist of the Century, Charles Ferguson argues that they should be prosecuted: The Securities and Exchanges Commission has been deservedly criticised for not following up on years of complaints about [Bernard L.] Madoff. But not a single bank that had suspicions about Madoff made such a call. Instead, they assumed he was probably a crook, but either just left him alone or were happy to make money from him. It is no exaggeration to say that since the 1980s, much of the global financial sector has become criminalised, creating an industry culture that tolerates or even encourages systematic fraud. The behaviour that caused the mortgage bubble and financial crisis of 2008 was a natural outcome and continuation of this pattern, rather than some kind of economic accident. This behaviour is criminal. We are talking about deliberate concealment of financial transactions that aided terrorism, nuclear weapons proliferation and large-scale tax evasion; assisting in major financial frauds and in concealment of criminal assets; and committing frauds that substantially worsened the worst financial bubbles and crises since the Depression. And yet none of this conduct has been punished in any significant way.

Note: For lots more from reliable sources on corruption and criminality in the finance industry, click here.


Too Big To Bank There
2012-03-24, Wall Street Journal
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304724404577297711326667808.html

We have finally reached the point in our financial history where even bankers hate bankers. Last week, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas issued its 2011 annual report with a 34-page essay, "Why We Must End Too Big To Fail—Now." The report [dubs the nation's largest banks] "a clear and present danger to the U.S. economy." It begins with a letter from regional Fed president Richard Fisher. "More than half of banking industry assets are on the books of just five institutions," he complains. "They were a primary culprit in magnifying the financial crisis, and their presence continues to play an important role in prolonging our economic malaise." This is a member of the Federal Reserve itself — an institution that bears responsibility for our banking system devolving into an untenable oligarchy that buys off politicians, captures regulators and eats up our money. This is a member of the establishment saying Too-Big-To-Fail, or TBTF, must die. "The term TBTF disguised the fact that commercial banks holding roughly one-third of the assets in the banking system did essentially fail, surviving only with extraordinary government assistance," the essay reads. Their executives paid themselves fortunes to execute failed mergers and acquisitions and accumulate unimaginable piles of toxic debts. We saved them to save the financial system. But now we must break them up so they don't put us in this ridiculous situation again.

Note: For lots more from major media sources on the criminal practices of the biggest banks and financial firms and the collusion of government agencies, see our "Banking Bailout" newsarticles.


Foreclosure abuse rampant across U.S., experts say
2012-02-17, MSNBC/Reuters
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46424973/ns/business/t/foreclosure-abuse-rampant-...

A report this week showing rampant foreclosure abuse in San Francisco reflects similar levels of lender fraud and faulty documentation across the United States, say experts and officials who have done studies in other parts of the country. The audit of almost 400 foreclosures in San Francisco found that 84 percent of them appeared to be illegal, according to the study released by the California city. "The audit in San Francisco is the most detailed and comprehensive that has been done - but it's likely those numbers are comparable nationally," Diane Thompson, an attorney at the National Consumer Law Center, told Reuters. Across the country from California, Jeff Thingpen, register of deeds in Guildford County, North Carolina, examined 6,100 mortgage documents last year, from loan notes to foreclosure paperwork. Of those documents, created between January 2008 and December 2010, 4,500 showed signature irregularities, a telltale sign of the illegal practice of "robosigning" documents. Robosigning involves the use of bogus documents to force foreclosures without lenders having to scrutinize all the paperwork involved with mortgages. The practice was at the heart of the foreclosure scandal that led to a $25 billion settlement between the U.S. government and five major banks last week.

Note: For lots more from major media sources on the illegal foreclosures made by the biggest banks and financial firms, the collusion of government agencies, and more, see our "Banking Bailout" news articles.


Wall Street shenanigans fuel public distrust
2011-12-18, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/12/17/IN5N1MBT60.DTL

Wall Street is its own worst enemy. It's busily shredding new regulations and making the public more distrustful than ever. The Street's biggest lobbying groups have just filed a lawsuit against the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, seeking to overturn its new rule limiting speculative trading in food, oil and other commodities. The Street makes bundles from these bets, but they have raised costs for consumers. In other words, a small portion of what you and I pay for food and energy has been going into the pockets of Wall Street. Just another redistribution from the middle class and the poor to the top. The Street argues that the commission's cost-benefit analysis wasn't adequate. Putting the question into the laps of federal judges gives the Street a huge tactical advantage because the Street has almost an infinite amount of money to hire so-called "experts" who will say benefits have been exaggerated and costs underestimated. But when it comes to regulating Wall Street, one big cost doesn't make it into any individual weighing: the public's mounting distrust of the entire economic system, generated by the Street's repeated abuse of the public's trust. Wall Street's shenanigans have convinced a large portion of America that the economic game is rigged. Wall Street has blanketed America in a miasma of cynicism.

Note: The author of this analysis, Robert Reich, is a former U.S. secretary of labor, is 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.


Derivatives industry eyes UK Lehman appeal ruling
2011-12-14, Reuters News Agency
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/14/britain-derivatives-idUSL6E7NE1YQ20...

Regulators and the world's $700 trillion derivatives industry are closely watching a legal battle that began in Britain ... and which will fuel a sea change in swaps payouts. Four cases, including one involving a unit of collapsed U.S. bank Lehman Brothers, are being presented in a five-day hearing at the UK Court of Appeal. All revolve around payouts under the derivatives industry's "master agreement", a framework contract. A bank that trades swaps with another bank typically has one master agreement which sets the terms for millions of transactions between them. The master agreement ... covers around 90 percent of off-exchange derivatives transactions. Under the agreement, Lehman's bankruptcy is considered a default. However, in the four cases before the court this week, the other party in the contracts elected not to terminate them because they would have had to pay out to the defunct bank.

Note: Like most reporting in the major media, this article trivializes the massive size of the derivatives market. $700 trillion is equivalent to $100,000 for every man, woman, and child in the world! Do you think the financial industry is out of control? For lots more powerful, reliable information on major banking manipulations, click here. For a powerful analysis of just how crazy things have gotten and with some rays of hope by researcher David Wilcock, click here.


What price the new democracy? Goldman Sachs conquers Europe
2011-11-18, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/what-price-t...

The ascension of Mario Monti to the Italian prime ministership is remarkable for more reasons than it is possible to count. By imposing rule by unelected technocrats, [Italy] has suspended the normal rules of democracy, and maybe democracy itself. And by putting a senior adviser at Goldman Sachs in charge of a Western nation, it has taken to new heights the political power of an investment bank that you might have thought was prohibitively politically toxic. The European Central Bank ... is under ex-Goldman management, and the investment bank's alumni hold sway in the corridors of power in almost every European nation, as they have done in the US throughout the financial crisis. Even before the upheaval in Italy, there was no sign of Goldman Sachs living down its nickname as "the Vampire Squid", and now that its tentacles reach to the top of the eurozone, sceptical voices are raising questions over its influence. Simon Johnson, the former International Monetary Fund economist, in his book 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown, argued that Goldman Sachs and the other large banks had become so close to government in the run-up to the financial crisis that the US was effectively an oligarchy. At least European politicians aren't "bought and paid for" by corporations, as in the US, he says. "Instead what you have in Europe is a shared world-view among the policy elite and the bankers, a shared set of goals and mutual reinforcement of illusions." This is The Goldman Sachs Project. Put simply, it is to hug governments close.

Note: For revealing major media articles on key secret societies which manipulate global politics, click here. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on financial corruption, click here.


Should You Join the Credit Union Boom?
2011-11-08, ABC News
http://abcnews.go.com/Business/WorldNews/credit-unions-54-percent-increase-me...

As a result of Bank Transfer Day, in which consumers were encouraged to switch to credit unions, 54 percent of credit unions reported an increase in share growth, according to a survey from the National Association of Federal Credit Unions sent to 10,000 respondents. At least 650,000 people have switched to credit unions since Sept. 29, according to the Credit Union National Association. About 80 percent of credit unions offer at least one free checking account with no minimum balance requirement and no monthly or activity fee, according to Moebs Services. About 64 percent of the largest U.S. banks offer the same. Credit unions can help consumers save money because they are non-profit, and can pay higher interest rates on savings accounts, and offer lower loan and credit card rates. The National Association of Federal Credit Unions ... has a web tool that allows people to search by address, credit union name or company/affiliation. The site had the highest traffic ever on Saturday, Bank Transfer Day. In October visits to the website were more than five times its monthly average. Visitors to the website last month increased by more than 700 percent compared to October 2010.

Note: To find a good credit union near you, click here. For key reports from reliable sources showing that the biggest banks have too much power, click here and here.


BofA Said to Split Regulators Over Moving Merrill Contracts
2011-10-18, Bloomberg/Businessweek
http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-10-18/bofa-said-to-split-regulators-ove...

Bank of America Corp., hit by a credit downgrade last month, has moved derivatives from its Merrill Lynch unit to a subsidiary flush with insured deposits. Derivatives are financial instruments used to hedge risks or for speculation. They’re derived from stocks, bonds, loans, currencies and commodities, or linked to specific events such as changes in the weather or interest rates. Keeping such deals separate from FDIC-insured savings has been a cornerstone of U.S. regulation for decades, including last year’s Dodd-Frank overhaul of Wall Street regulation. Three years after taxpayers rescued some of the biggest U.S. lenders, regulators are grappling with how to protect FDIC-insured bank accounts from risks generated by investment-banking operations. “The concern is that there is always an enormous temptation to dump the losers on the insured institution,” said William Black, professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a former bank regulator. “We should have fairly tight restrictions on that.” Bank of America’s holding company -- the parent of both the retail bank and the Merrill Lynch securities unit -- held almost $75 trillion of derivatives at the end of June. That compares with JPMorgan’s deposit-taking entity, JPMorgan Chase Bank NA, which contained 99 percent of the New York-based firm’s $79 trillion of notional derivatives.

Note: Remember that the GDP of the entire world is estimated at around $60 trillion, less than JPMorgan or BofA own in derivatives. For an excellent article laying out the incredible risk this creates of a major economic collapse, click here. For more on the high risk and cost to taxpayers of BofA moving its massive amount of derivatives to its subsidiary, click here. For lots more from major media sources on the illegal profiteering of major financial corporations enabled by lax government regulation, click here.


Megabanks growing even more dominant
2011-09-08, MSNBC
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44426180/ns/business-local_business/t/megabanks-g...

The American banking sector apparently is going to be vastly different when it finally emerges from the financial crisis that took hold more than three years ago. It is going to be significantly smaller, and the domination of a relative handful of behemoth institutions is going to increase. At the end of June, there were 7,522 commercial banks, down from 8,542 on Dec. 31, 2007. That is a decline of nearly 12 percent in just three and a half years. Of the more than 1,000 banks that disappeared, about 370 failed. But the rest of the decrease came through mergers and acquisitions as a decades-long pattern of consolidation continued. Most banks in the United States still are fairly small. The median size of a bank at the end of June, according to an analysis of statistics from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was about $155 million in assets. That’s about an 18 percent increase since the end of 2007. But those numbers seriously skew the nature of the industry. Of the more than $13.6 trillion in assets held by banks at the end of June, nearly $9.4 trillion is in the hands of just 37 institutions, each with more than $50 billion in assets. And of that, $5.5 trillion is held by just four banks: JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citibank and Wells Fargo. Each of those have more than $1 trillion in assets. In other words, the U.S. banking industry resembles a tall cake, with a very thick layer of icing on top.

Note: To learn how these same four banks and their holding companies hold over 90% of the $700 trillion derivatives market, click here. For many revealing reports from reliable sources on the concentration and centralization of financial power by a few megabanks, click here.


SEC accused of dumping records
2011-08-17, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/sec-accused-of-dumping-records...

The SEC has violated federal law by destroying the records of thousands of enforcement cases in which it decided not to file charges against or conduct full-blown investigations of Wall Street firms and others initially suspected of wrongdoing, a former agency official has alleged. The purged records involve major firms such as Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and hedge-fund manager SAC Capital. At issue were suspicions of actions such as insider trading, financial fraud and market manipulation. A file closed in 2002 involved Lehman Brothers, the investment bank whose collapse fueled the financial meltdown of 2008, according to the former official. A file closed in 2009 involved suspected insider trading in securities related to American International Group, the insurance giant bailed out by the government at the height of the financial crisis. The allegations were leveled in a July letter to Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) from Gary J. Aguirre, a former SEC enforcement lawyer now representing a current SEC enforcement lawyer, Darcy Flynn. Flynn last year began managing SEC enforcement records and became concerned that records that were supposed to be preserved under federal law were being purged as a matter of SEC policy, Aguirre wrote.

Note: For more on this important news by Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi, click here. For lots more from reliable sources on the criminal practices of Wall Street corporations which led to global economic recession and massive government bailouts, click here.


Don’t Get Caught Holding Dollars When The U.S. Default Arrives
2011-07-23, Forbes.com blog
http://blogs.forbes.com/greatspeculations/2011/07/23/dont-get-caught-holding-...

By some measures, the United States is even more deeply in hock than Greece. Greece’s debt-to-GDP ratio is 143%. America’s is officially 97%. But the $14.3 trillion national debt, stacked up against a $14.7 trillion economy, doesn’t tell the whole story. [It] doesn’t count the black box of bailouts. We know how much the Federal Reserve doled out in emergency loans: $16.1 trillion between Dec. 1, 2007, and July 21, 2010. We know that because yesterday the Government Accountability Office completed its first-ever audit of the Fed, made possible largely through the persistence of Rep. Ron Paul (R.-Tex.) making that audit, however incomplete, the law. What we don’t know is how much of that has been paid back. “We have literally injected about $5.3 trillion,” said Dr. Paul earlier this month during his questioning of Fed chief Ben Bernanke, “and I don’t think we got very much for it. The national debt went up $5.1 trillion.” Bernanke did not challenge those figures. Even now, Americans are turning to their credit cards to pay for groceries and gas. According to First Data Corp., the volume of gasoline purchases put on credit cards jumped 39% over the last 12 months. You don’t want to be the average American in a default scenario, whenever it arrives. Ray Dalio, the head of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s biggest hedge fund, puts that day in “late 2012 or early 2013.”

Note: A careful Internet search reveals that no one in the major media except this Forbes blog even mentioned the astonishing results of the first ever audit of the Federal reserve - $16 trillion in secret loans. To understand how the media is controlled from reporting vitally important information like this, click here. For another revealing article showing what is happening from a historical perspective and its relationship to gold prices, click here. For an article detailing who received these trillions and links to the official GAO report, click here. For critical information on the financial system kept hidden from the public, click here.


Goldman Sachs faces contentious AGM
2011-05-06, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/may/06/goldman-sachs-set-contentious-agm

Goldman Sachs is bracing itself for what may be the most contentious annual meeting in the embattled investment bank's 142-year history. Angry shareholders, including a coalition of religious groups, are planning to call on Goldman's executives to justify the combined $69.6m (Ł42.4m) payday its top five executives received in 2010 and to answer questions about allegations that the bank misled clients and lied to Congress. The meeting comes amid mounting pressure on the bank. Earlier this week Eric Holder, the US attorney-general, confirmed that the justice department was investigating Goldman's role in the financial crisis following a withering report on the bank's role led by senators Carl Levin and Tom Coburn. The 650-page report "Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse," gave Goldman its own section titled "Failing to Manage Conflicts of Interest: A Case Study of Goldman Sachs." In July the bank paid $500m to settle charges brought by financial regulator the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that it misled customers over complex sub-prime mortgage products it sold in 2007. The spotlight on executive pay could not come at a more sensitive moment for the bank. The bank's top five executives received cash and stock last year that was 13 times greater than the year before. Goldman's 2010 net revenues fell 13% and profits fell 37%. Goldman paid Blankfein close to $19m in compensation for 2010, almost double his award for the previous year.

Note: For lots more on the financial chicanery of Goldman Sachs and other major financial corporations that led to the global economic crisis and massive taxpayer bailouts of the firms, click here.


Report: Market share drove faulty credit ratings decisions
2011-04-13, Kansas City Star/McClatchy News
http://www.kansascity.com/2011/04/13/2798570/report-market-share-drove-faulty...

Analysts who reviewed complex mortgage bonds that ultimately collapsed and ruined the U.S. housing market were threatened with firing if they lost lucrative business, prompting faulty ratings on trillions of dollars worth of junk mortgage bonds, a Senate report said [on April 13]. The 639-page report by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations confirms much of what McClatchy Newspapers first reported about mismanagement by credit ratings agencies in 2009. Credit rating agencies are supposed to provide independent assessments on the quality of debt being issued by companies or governments. Traditionally, investments rated AAA had a probability of failure of less than 1 percent. But in collusion with Wall Street investment banks, the Senate report concludes, the top two ratings agencies - Moody's Investors Service and Standard & Poor's - effectively cashed in on the housing boom by ignoring mounting evidence of problems in the housing market. Profits at both companies soared, with revenues at market leader Moody's more than tripling in five years. Then the bottom fell out of the housing market, and Moody's stock lost 70 percent of its value; it has yet to fully recover. More than 90 percent of AAA ratings given in 2006 and 2007 to pools of mortgage-backed securities were downgraded to junk status.

Note: For many key reports from major media sources illuminating how major financial corporations knowingly brought about the global financial crisis and profited from it, click here.


Unfair investment practices by wives of business bigs
2011-04-12, New York Daily News
http://articles.nydailynews.com/2011-04-12/gossip/29426543_1_matt-taibbi-stud...

Christy Mack, the wife of Morgan Stanley Chairman John Mack, and Susan Karches, the widow of the company's former investment-banking division president, Peter Karches, are among the chief investors in a company that received $220 million in low-interest loans. The funds came from a federal bailout program that "virtually guaranteed them millions in risk-free income," according to the article ... "The Real Housewives of Wall Street," which appears in [Rolling Stone]. In 2009, Christy Mack and Susan Karches launched Waterfall TALF Opportunity, a company with a Cayman Islands address, although the two women did not seem "to have any experience whatsoever in finance." TALF stands for "Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility." The federal aid they received "falls under a broader category of bailout initiatives designed" by Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. With an initial upfront investment of $15 million, Waterfall TALF received $220 million in cash from the Fed, most of which it used to purchase "student loans and commercial mortgages." The loans were set up so that the investors "would keep 100% of any gains on the deal while the Fed and the Treasury (read: the taxpayer) would eat 90% of the losses."

Note: We don't usually quote the New York Daily News, but as they were the only major media to report this important story, we've included it here. Why are the major media silent on this powerful information uncovered by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders? For the full story on this, click here. For lots more from reliable sources on corruption in the government bailouts of the biggest banks, click here.


Mortgage mess: Who really owns your mortgage?
2011-04-03, CBS News 60 Minutes Overtime
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504803_162-20049744-10391709.html

Do you know who really owns your mortgage? That question has become a nightmare for many homeowners since the invention of mortgage-backed securities. Yes, those were the exotic investments that sparked the financial collapse in this country. And they're still causing problems. As it turns out, Wall Street cut corners when it bundled homeowners' mortgages into securities that were traded from investor to investor. Now that banks are foreclosing on people, they're finding that the legal documents behind many mortgages are missing. So, what do the banks do? Some companies appear to be resorting to forgery and phony paperwork in what looks like a nationwide epidemic. Even if you're not at risk of foreclosure, there could be legal ramifications for a homeowner if the chain of title has been lost.

Note: Don't miss at the link above the most excellent, six-minute CBS video explaining more on this blatant deception and manipulation by many banks. You have to put up with a one-minute commercial shortly after the video starts. For lots more from reliable sources on the criminal practices of mortgage lenders, click here.


Why those from 'Inside Job' aren't inside a prison
2011-03-01, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/02/28/BURF1HV7AV.DTL

"Forgive me," said Berkeley filmmaker Charles Ferguson upon receiving an Academy Award on Sunday night for his documentary "Inside Job." "I must start by pointing out that three years after a horrific financial crisis caused by fraud, not a single financial executive has gone to jail - and that's wrong." A number of people would agree, including a majority of Americans, according to opinion polls, who blame U.S. banks and other private institutions for the 2007-08 financial meltdown documented in Ferguson's film. "He raised exactly the right question," said William Black, a senior regulator at the former Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corp., which helped clean up the far less costly S&L crisis of the late 1980s and early 1990s. More than 1,800 S&L officials were convicted of felonies in its aftermath, with more than 1,000 jailed. But the difference between then and now - and with the 1929 crash, which saw a number of bankers go to jail - is open to much debate. "We had well over 10,000 criminal referrals from regulators in the S&L crisis," said Black, now an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law. "This time, zero."

Note: For other major media articles revealing the vast extent of unmitigated corruption related to the banking bailouts, click here. For reliable, eye-opening information on how the public is continually deceived about banking, click here. And for an excellent study guide on the facts presented in this revealing film, click here.


Trustee: J.P. Morgan Abetted Madoff
2011-02-04, Wall Street Journal
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703652104576122300990479090.html

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. ignored or dismissed warning signs about the Madoff fraud even as it earned hundreds of millions of dollars from its relationship with his firm, according to a lawsuit unsealed [on February 3]. The $6.4 billion lawsuit ... claims that bankers at J.P. Morgan discussed the possibility that Bernard Madoff was operating a Ponzi scheme, worried that a firm of such size was audited by a storefront accountant and called his returns "too good to be true." "While numerous financial institutions enabled Madoff's fraud, JPMC was at the very center of that fraud, and thoroughly complicit in it," according to the 115-page lawsuit, filed under seal in December by Irving Picard, the trustee seeking to recover money for Mr. Madoff's victims. The complaint seeks the return of nearly $1 billion in J.P. Morgan's profits and fees, and $5.4 billion in damages. It goes into great detail about the bank's alleged efforts, starting in about 2006, to make money by offering products tied to Mr. Madoff through investment funds that fed money to him. The lawsuit offers a detailed account of the more than two decade relationship between J.P. Morgan and Mr. Madoff. The lawsuit claims that the bank didn't pay attention to billions of dollars passing through the Madoff firm's main J.P. Morgan account, much of it by hand-written check, or to discrepancies in the account balance and unreported obligations.

Note: For lots more from major media sources on the criminal practices of the biggest financial institutions, click here.


Deregulation of derivatives set stage for collapse
2011-01-30, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://articles.sfgate.com/2011-01-30/business/27091349_1_otc-derivatives-otc...

"We certainly applaud the efforts of the commission," said White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, referring to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Report. "Frankly, I'm not sure much has changed," said one of commissioners, Byron Georgiou. "The concentration of assets in the nation's 10 biggest banks is bigger now than it was five years ago, from 58 percent in 2006 to 63 percent now." Referring to executives who remain at the head of those banks that almost ran aground, Georgiou said ... "Either they knew and didn't want to tell us, or they really didn't know. Either way, they put their institutions at risk." And have yet to be held accountable. Commissioner Brooksley Born can enjoy a certain sense of vindication. Not only had "over-the-counter derivatives contributed significantly to this crisis," ... but the enactment of legislation in 2000 to ban their regulation "was a key turning point in the march toward the financial crisis." As head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in the 1990s, Born was aware of the damage the largely unregulated instruments had already caused. Born suggested some more regulation. [She] was squashed like a bug by Clinton administration heavyweights, including Lawrence Summers and Robert Rubin, [and] Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. One of the results: The Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 eliminated government oversight of the OTC market. As the report documents, the use of such derivatives ... helped bring the entire financial system to its knees. Born hasn't seen much change in terms of accountability. One thing the report makes clear ... is just how preposterous were the "Who knew?" and "Who could have predicted?" statements offered up by chief executives and top government officials.

Note: So the 10 biggest banks now control 63% of total U.S. bank assets. The total for these banking assets as of the second quarter of 2010 were calculated at $13.22 trillion. Yet four of these megabanks also control an astounding 95% of the $574 trillion derivatives market, a sum over 40 times the amount of bank assets! Do you think there might be a problem with a derivatives bubble?


Fed aid in financial crisis went beyond U.S. banks to industry, foreign firms
2010-12-02, The Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/01/AR20101201068...

New disclosures show the Federal Reserve rushed trillions of dollars in emergency aid not just to Wall Street but also to ... foreign-owned banks in 2008 and 2009. The central bank's aid programs also supported U.S. subsidiaries of banks based in East Asia, Europe and Canada. The biggest users of the Fed lending programs were some of the world's largest banks, including Citigroup, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Swiss-based UBS and Britain's Barclays, according to more than 21,000 loan records released [December 1] under new financial regulatory legislation. The data reveal banks turning to the Fed for help almost daily in the fall of 2008 as the central bank lowered lending standards and extended relief to all kinds of institutions it had never assisted before. The extent of the lending to major banks - and the generous terms of some of those deals - heighten the political peril for a central bank that is already under the gun for a wide range of actions, including a recent decision to try to stimulate the economy by buying $600 billion in U.S. bonds. "The American people are finally learning the incredible and jaw-dropping details of the Fed's multitrillion-dollar bailout of Wall Street and corporate America," said Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), a longtime Fed critic whose provision in the Wall Street regulatory overhaul required the new disclosures. "Perhaps most surprising is the huge sum that went to bail out foreign private banks and corporations." The Fed launched emergency programs totaling $3.3 trillion in aid, a figure reached by adding up the peak amount of lending in each program.

Note: The figure of $3.3 trillion cited in this article was simply the peak amount lent at one moment in time; the total amount lent by the Fed over the years covered by the data exceeded $20 trillion. For analysis of this data release, click here.


"Inside Job" rigorously shows how financial crisis happened
2010-10-29, Denver Post (Denver's leading newspaper)
http://www.denverpost.com/movies/ci_16451155

Somebody owes us $20 trillion. "Inside Job," a riveting, eye-opening, infuriating documentary about the financial collapse of 2008, coolly presents a prosecutor's brief against the culprits who engineered the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. They occupy both sides of the legislative aisle, corporate boardrooms, Ivy League faculty lounges and bank headquarters. They made money — sometimes obscene amounts of it — while rigging a monetary meltdown that left middle-class taxpayers holding the bag, and thousands of less-fortunate former homeowners holding cardboard signs beside freeway on-ramps. This is no dry economics lesson; it is a vital wakeup call. The presentation is articulate and rigorously factual, presented in six chapters, from "How We Got There" to "Accountability." The financial earthquake was not only entirely avoidable, but was utterly predictable given the steady erosion of scrutiny of financial markets here and abroad. Reducing state monitoring under the Reagan administration set the stage for the savings-and-loan crisis and the collapse of the junk-bond market. But that was a luau compared with what lay ahead. Successive administrations, Democratic and Republican alike, heeded advisers pushing for further deregulation, leading to WorldCom, Enron, the dot-com bubble and the 2008 panic. Many of those laissez-faire advocates were prominent academics receiving sizable consulting fees to testify in antitrust cases and in Congress on Wall Street's behalf.

Note: For lots more from reliable sources on the long history of criminal and corrupt practices of major financial powers and regulatory bodies, click here.


Commodity Futures Trading Commission judge says colleague biased against complainants
2010-10-19, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/19/AR20101019072...

As George H. Painter was preparing to retire recently as one of two administrative law judges presiding over investor complaints at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, he issued an extraordinary request: Please don't assign my pending cases to the other judge. [The CFTC oversees trading of the nation's most important commodities, including oil, gold and cotton.] Painter said Judge Bruce Levine ... had a secret agreement with a former Republican chairwoman of the agency to stand in the way of investors filing complaints with the agency. "On Judge Levine's first week on the job, nearly twenty years ago, he came into my office and stated that he had promised Wendy Gramm, then Chairwoman of the Commission, that we would never rule in a complainant's favor," Painter wrote. "A review of his rulings will confirm that he fulfilled his vow. Judge Levine ... forces pro se complainants to run a hostile procedural gauntlet until they lose hope, and either withdraw their complaint or settle for a pittance, regardless of the merits of the case." Levine was the subject of a story 10 years ago in the Wall Street Journal, which said that except in a handful of cases in which defunct firms failed to defend themselves, Levine had never ruled in favor of an investor. Gramm [wife of former senator Phil Gramm (R-Tex.)], was head of the CFTC just before president Bill Clinton took office. She has been criticized by Democrats for helping firms such as Goldman Sachs and Enron gain influence over the commodity markets. After leaving the CFTC, she joined Enron's board.

Note: For lots more from reliable sources on government corruption, click here.


How Goldman gambled on starvation
2010-07-02, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-how...

This is the story of how some of the richest people in the world – Goldman, Deutsche Bank, the traders at Merrill Lynch, and more – have caused the starvation of some of the poorest people in the world. At the end of 2006, food prices across the world started to rise, suddenly and stratospherically. Within a year, the price of wheat had shot up by 80 per cent, maize by 90 per cent, rice by 320 per cent. In a global jolt of hunger, 200 million people – mostly children – couldn't afford to get food any more, and sank into malnutrition or starvation. There were riots in more than 30 countries, and at least one government was violently overthrown. Then, in spring 2008, prices just as mysteriously fell back to their previous level. Jean Ziegler, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, calls it "a silent mass murder", entirely due to "man-made actions." Through the 1990s, Goldman Sachs and others lobbied hard and the regulations [controlling agricultural futures contracts] were abolished. Suddenly, these contracts were turned into "derivatives" that could be bought and sold among traders who had nothing to do with agriculture. A market in "food speculation" was born. The speculators drove the price through the roof.

Note: Some researchers speculate that the global elite are aware that alternative energies will eventually replace oil, which has been a prime means of control and underlying cause of many wars in recent decades. So as a replacement for oil, the elite and their secret societies are increasingly targeting control of the world's food supply through terminator crops which produce no seed, and through the patenting of seeds.


Stock market time bomb?
2010-05-10, Washington Times
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/may/10/stock-market-time-bomb/?page=all

Even the world’s most savvy stock-market giants (e.g., Warren E. Buffett) have warned over the past decade that derivatives are the fiscal equivalent of a weapon of mass destruction. And the consequences of such an explosion would make the recent global financial and economic crisis seem like penny ante. But generously lubricated lobbyists for the unrestricted, unsupervised derivatives markets tell congressional committees and government regulators to butt out. While banks all over the world were imploding and some $50 trillion vanished in global stock markets, the derivatives market grew by an estimated 65 percent, according the Bank for International Settlements. BIS convenes the world’s 57 most powerful central bankers in Basel, Switzerland, for periodic secret meetings. Occasionally, they issue a cry of alarm. This time, derivatives had soared from $414.8 trillion at the end of 2006 to $683.7 trillion in mid-2008 - 18 months’ time. The derivatives market is now estimated at $700 trillion. What’s so difficult to understand about derivatives? Essentially, they are bets for or against the house - red or black at the roulette wheel. Or betting for or against the weather in situations in which the weather is critical (e.g., vineyards). Forwards, futures, options and swaps form the panoply of derivatives. Credit derivatives are based on loans, bonds or other forms of credit. Over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives are contracts that are traded and privately negotiated directly between two parties, outside of a regular exchange. All of this is unregulated.

Note: Though not from one of the top U.S. newspapers, this incisive article lays bare severe market manipulations that greatly endanger our world. The entire article is highly recommended. $700 trillion is equivalent to $100,000 for every man, woman, and child in the world! Do you think the financial industry is out of control? For lots more powerful, reliable information on major banking manipulations, click here. For a powerful analysis describing just how crazy things have gotten and giving some rays of hope by researcher David Wilcock, click here.


The Trades of a Lifetime in 20 Minutes
2010-05-08, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/08/business/08cancel.html

Someone on Wall Street just made a killing. That was the subject of so much chatter among professional investors once the smoke cleared from the sudden panic and recovery on Thursday [May 6] that briefly knocked some stocks down to a penny or two a share. Who had kept his cool during those terrifying minutes and scooped up some dreamlike bargains? One thing, however, is certain: By luck, savvy, lightning speed or all three, there was money — gobs of it — to be made from the bargains that came and went in an instant. On Friday the blogosphere was alight with conspiracy theories suggesting that perhaps the whole thing had been instigated by a big bank or a hedge fund looking to make a quick profit. Some investment pros surely made a fortune from the trillion-dollar market swing. “Somebody got Accenture at a penny. They’re ready to announce their retirement,” joked Daniel Seiver, a finance professor at San Diego State University. Investors who owned gold or United States Treasuries ... saw big gains as global investors sought havens. But even those gains were small compared with those won by options traders who had placed bets on an index that rises in value when volatility increases. “The guys who probably made the most money in this were options players,” said Larry Tabb, chief executive of the Tabb Group, a financial services consulting firm.

Note: This article refers to the record-breaking 1,000 point intra-day drop in the Dow Jones index on May 7. For an abundance of deep reporting on the hidden realities of Wall Street's shadowy operations, click here.


SEC mulled national security status for AIG details
2010-01-24, CNN Money/Reuters
http://money.cnn.com/news/newsfeeds/articles/reuters/MTFH21979_2010-01-24_19-...

U.S. securities regulators [at the Securities and Exchange Commission] originally treated the New York Federal Reserve's bid to keep secret many of the details of the American International Group bailout like a request to protect matters of national security. The SEC ... agreed to limit the number of SEC employees who would review the document to just two and keep the document locked in a safe while the SEC considered AIG's confidentiality request. The SEC had also agreed that if it determined the document should not be made public, it would be stored "in a special area where national security related files are kept." Emails ... that have become public in recent weeks reveal that some at the New York Fed had gone to great lengths to keep the terms of the bailout private and the SEC may have played a role in contributing to some of the secrecy surrounding the AIG rescue package. "The New York Fed was orchestrating what can only be characterized as an extreme effort to ensure that details of the counterparty deal stayed secret," Rep. Darrell Issa ... said. "More and more it looks as if they would've kept the details of the deal secret indefinitely, it they could have."

Note: So now bank transactions are being considered a matter of "national security." What next? It's becoming ever more apparent that "national security" is used as a catch-all phrase for information that those in power don't want us to know about their secret dealings which benefit themselves at the expense of most of the rest of us.


Fed paid record $46.1B to Treasury last year
2010-01-12, Houston Chronicle/Associated Press
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/top/all/6811506.html

The Federal Reserve paid a record $46.1 billion in earnings to the Treasury Department last year, reflecting gains as the central bank bulked up its portfolio of securities to revive the economy and fight the financial crisis. The payment marks an increase of $14.4 billion from what the Treasury was provided in 2008 and is the largest since the Fed began operating in 1914, the central bank announced. The Fed's net income of $52.1 billion in 2009 also was a record, according to preliminary figures. It was up from $35.5 billion in 2008. Such income rose largely because the Fed's holdings of securities mushroomed, though increases in the value of the securities also helped, Fed officials said. Under one program that ended last year, the Fed snapped up $300 billion in government debt. Under another program, the Fed is on track to buy a total of $1.25 trillion in mortgage securities from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by the end of March. Those programs have boosted the value of securities held by the Fed.

Note: How interesting that the trillions of dollars of US taxpayer money funneled to the big banks brought record income in 2009, while the average American saw little to no benefit. For key background on the Federal Reserve, click here. For a trove of reports from major media sources that reveal hidden realities of the government bailout of the biggest financial firms, click here.


With Bigger Bonuses, Another Upside for Banks
2010-01-01, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/01/business/01bonus.html

Along with Wall Street’s resurgent bonuses will come a jump in an ancillary benefit: tax breaks. For all banks and Wall Street firms, “I’m sure we’re talking $200 billion total compensation, which would create a tax savings for the firms of $80 billion,” said Robert Willens, an accounting and tax analyst in New York. The tax deductions, which will increase the bottom line of the banks, are perfectly legal and not new. They come as compensation for 2009 has roared back after the largest banks paid back billions of dollars in federal aid, an outlay still fresh in the minds of taxpayers. As pay goes up, so do the deductions. Many American banks already pay minuscule federal income taxes. Because of various deductions and clever tax planning the payout-related breaks will reduce their tax bills further in coming years. The biggest tax break will go to Goldman Sachs. It expects to award its employees $23 billion in bonuses — the most in its history. Because most employee compensation is a deductible expense under tax laws, Goldman Sachs ... will save about $9 billion in federal income taxes on the bonuses it pays out for 2009.

Note: For a treasure trove of reliable reports on the government bailout of Wall Street, click here.


Trillions Of Troubles Ahead
2009-12-18, Forbes magazine
http://www.forbes.com/2009/12/18/government-budget-deficit-personal-finance-f...

If the government stays on the course it's been on for the past forty years without a radical change, the federal government will soon have a $10 trillion budget. In other words, the federal budget deficit will be $1.4 trillion. Just to make the size more visible, that's $1,400 billion. Our colleague Rob Arnott ... wrote in his recent report that "at all levels, federal, state, local and GSEs, the total public debt is now at 141% of GDP. That puts the United States in some elite company--only Japan, Lebanon and Zimbabwe are higher. That's only the start. Add household debt (highest in the world at 99% of GDP) and corporate debt (highest in the world at 317% of GDP, not even counting off-balance-sheet swaps and derivatives) and our total debt is 557% of GDP. Less than three years ago our total indebtedness crossed 500% of GDP for the first time."

Note: For many revealing reports from major media sources on the realities of the government-financed bank bailouts, click here.


Drug money saved banks in global crisis, claims UN advisor
2009-12-13, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/global/2009/dec/13/drug-money-banks-saved-un-cfief-...

Drugs money worth billions of dollars kept the financial system afloat at the height of the global crisis, the United Nations' drugs and crime tsar has told the Observer. Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said he has seen evidence that the proceeds of organised crime were "the only liquid investment capital" available to some banks on the brink of collapse last year. He said that a majority of the $352bn (Ł216bn) of drugs profits was absorbed into the economic system as a result. This will raise questions about crime's influence on the economic system at times of crisis. It will also prompt further examination of the banking sector as world leaders, including Barack Obama and Gordon Brown, call for new International Monetary Fund regulations. Speaking from his office in Vienna, Costa said evidence that illegal money was being absorbed into the financial system was first drawn to his attention by intelligence agencies and prosecutors around 18 months ago. "In many instances, the money from drugs was the only liquid investment capital. In the second half of 2008, liquidity was the banking system's main problem and hence liquid capital became an important factor," he said. Some of the evidence put before his office indicated that gang money was used to save some banks from collapse when lending seized up, he said. "Inter-bank loans were funded by money that originated from the drugs trade and other illegal activities... There were signs that some banks were rescued that way."

Note: For many revealing reports from major media sources on the hidden realities behind the global financial crisis, click here.


Lending Declines as Bank Jitters Persist
2009-11-25, Wall Street Journal
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125907631604662501.html

U.S. lenders saw loans fall by the largest amount since the government began tracking such data, suggesting that nervousness among banks continues to hamper economic recovery. Total loan balances fell by $210.4 billion, or 3%, in the third quarter, the biggest decline since data collection began in 1984, according to a report released ... by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The FDIC also said its fund to backstop deposits fell into negative territory for just the second time in its history, pushed down by a wave of bank failures. The decline in total loans showed how banks remain reluctant to lend, despite the hundreds of billions of dollars the government has spent to prop up ailing banks and jump-start lending. The issue has taken on greater urgency with the U.S. unemployment rate hitting 10.2% in October. "There is no question that credit availability is an important issue for the economic recovery," FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair told reporters Tuesday. "We need to see banks making more loans to their business customers." She said large banks -- which account for 56% of industry assets and received a large share of the government's bailout funds -- accounted for 75% of the decline.

Note: The big banks were given trillions in bailout funds with a mandate to increase loans and stimulate the economy. Why are they still giving out so few loans? Where did the huge amounts of our taxpayer money go? Why isn't the government demanding accountability with such huge sums of taxpayer money? For lots more on major manipulations by the big bankers, click here.


Cluster bomb trade funded by world's biggest banks
2009-10-29, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/oct/29/banks-fund-cluster-bomb-trade

The deadly trade in cluster bombs is funded by the world's biggest banks who have loaned or arranged finance worth $20bn (Ł12.5bn) to firms producing the controversial weapons, despite growing international efforts to ban them. HSBC, led by ordained Anglican priest Stephen Green, has profited more than any other institution from companies that manufacture cluster bombs. The British bank ... has earned a total of Ł657.3m in fees arranging bonds and share offerings for Textron, which makes cluster munitions described by the US company as "leaving a clean battlefield". HSBC will face protests outside its London headquarters today. Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, JP Morgan and UK-based Barclays Bank are also named among the worst banks in a detailed 126-page report by Dutch and Belgian campaign groups IKV Pax Christi and Netwerk Vlaanderen. Goldman Sachs, the US bank which made Ł3.19bn proft in just three months, earned $588.82m for bank services and lent $250m to Alliant Techsystems and Textron. Last December 90 countries, including the UK, committed themselves to banning cluster bombs by next year. But the US was not one of them. So far 23 countries have ratified the convention. The UK has yet to do so.

Note: For many verifiable revelations of war profiteering by large corporations, click here.


Voices of Power: Elizabeth Warren
2009-10-08, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/08/AR20091008007...

LOIS ROMANO: Welcome, Elizabeth Warren, Chairman of the Congressional Oversight Committee that is tasked with scrutinizing how the Treasury Department has spent $700 billion to shore up our failing financial institutions. There's a wonderful moment [in the movie "Capitalism: a Love Story"] when [Michael Moore] asks you where the $700 billion is, and you look at him and you say, "I don't know." So the question is: why don't you know? WARREN: Well, we don't know where the $700 billion is because the system was initially designed to make sure that we didn't know. When Secretary Paulson first put this money out into the banks, he didn't ask "what are you going to do with it?" He didn't put any restrictions on it. He didn't put any tabs on where it was going to go; in other words, he didn't ask. And if you don't ask, no one tells. And so we have a system that originally put more than $200 billion into the financial institutions basically saying just take it. ROMANO: And that money is gone. You have not been able to track where that money is? WARREN: Well, we don't know where the money went from the financial institutions. The big conversation at the time was that the credit markets are frozen; if we put money into the financial institutions, they will start lending it because that's what they do when they receive money. It was called the "Healthy Banks Program." Secretary Paulson kept saying, over and over, these are investments in healthy financial institutions, no one needs any subsidy, that [the] money was going to be used in lending to small businesses and consumers and kind of get our whole credit market going again. That didn't happen.

Note: To watch a powerfully revealing, five-minute video showing the Inspector General of the Federal Reserve testifying that she doesn't know where trillions of dollars are, click here. For a comprehensive overview of the realities underlying the government's bailout of the biggest financial institutions, click here.


Interview: Brooksley Born
2009-08-28, PBS Frontline
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/warning/interviews/born.html

As head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission [CFTC], Brooksley Born became alarmed by the lack of oversight of the secretive, multitrillion-dollar over-the-counter derivatives market. Her attempts to regulate derivatives ran into fierce resistance from then-Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, then-Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and then-Deputy Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, who prevailed upon Congress to stop Born and limit future regulation. PBS: Let's start with September 2008 as we all sat there and watched the economy melting down. Born: It was like my worst nightmare coming true. I had had enormous concerns about the over-the-counter derivatives [OTC] market ... for a number of years. The market was totally opaque. Nobody really knew what was going on. And then it became obvious as Lehman Brothers failed, as AIG suddenly appeared to be on the brink of tremendous defaults and turned out [to have been a major derivatives] dealer. PBS: How did it happen? Born: It happened because there was no oversight of a very, very big, dynamic, growing market. I would never say derivatives should be banned or forbidden. The problem is that they can be extremely misused. Traditionally, government has had to protect the public interest by overseeing the marketplace and keeping the extreme behavior under some check. All other financial markets have some kind of government oversight protecting the public interest. [But] not this one. The over-the-counter derivatives dealers business ... was something like 40 percent of the profits of many of these big banks as recently as a couple of years ago. PBS: We're the losers. Who were the winners? Born: Our largest banks. It was short-term benefit for a few major institutions at the expense of all the people who have lost their jobs, who have lost their retirement savings, who have lost their homes.

Note: Don't miss this entire, astonishing interview with Born, who practiced derivatives law for 20 years before being appointed head of the CFTC. She lays bare the level of deceit, greed, and corruption by both bankers and some of the politicians who protect them.


Fed Would Be Shut Down If It Were Audited, Expert Says
2009-06-10, CNBC News
http://www.cnbc.com/id/31204170

The Federal Reserve's balance sheet is so out of whack that the central bank would be shut down if subjected to a conventional audit, Jim Grant, editor of Grant's Interest Rate Observer, told CNBC. With $45 billion in capital and $2.1 trillion in assets, the central bank would not withstand the scrutiny normally afforded other institutions, Grant said. "If the Fed examiners were set upon the Fed's own documents ... to pass judgment on the Fed's capacity to survive the difficulties it faces in credit, it would shut this institution down," he said. "The Fed is undercapitalized in a way that Citicorp is undercapitalized." Grant said he would support legislation currently making its way through Congress calling for an audit of the Fed. Moreover, he criticized the way the Fed has managed the financial crisis, saying the central bank's target rate should not be around zero. "I think zero is the wrong rate for almost any economy," Grant said, adding the Fed has "embarked on a vast experiment in moral hazard. Interest rates are the traffic signals in a market economy, and everything's green. ... You have to wonder whether these interest rates are the right clearing rate or rather they are the imposition of a central bank." Amid a disparity between analysts predicting there will be no rate hikes soon and the fed funds futures indicating tightening by the end of the year, Grant said he thinks the Fed indeed will begin raising rates as inflation creeps into the picture. Fed funds futures have fully priced in as much as a half-point rise in the target rate from its current range of zero to 0.25 percent. "If the hairs on the back of your neck stand up when there's too much unanimity of opinion, then one begins to worry about this," he said. "The Fed proverbially has been late."

Note: For an astonishing five-minute video clip of a Congressional hearing where the Inspector General of the Fed acknowledges she knows almost nothing about trillions of dollars missing from the Fed, click here. For many more important reports shedding light on the hidden realities of the economic crisis, click here.


JPMorgan's Dangerous Derivatives
2009-05-07, Bloomberg/Businessweek
http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/09_20/b4131069034013.htm

Gillian Tett [is the author of] Fool's Gold: How the Bold Dream of a Small Tribe at J.P. Morgan Was Corrupted by Wall Street Greed and Unleashed a Catastrophe. Tett is a respected business journalist at the Financial Times. Tett successfully pieces together the colorful backstory of the bank's work to win acceptance in the market for its brainchild, turning credit derivatives "from a cottage industry into a mass-production business." With the benefit of hindsight, we know that while these inventions were intended to control risk, they amplified it instead. This novel idea turned noxious when applied broadly to residential mortgages, a game that the rest of Wall Street later entered into with gusto. We learn in deep detail about not only how collateralized debt obligations are assembled but also their many iterations. Perhaps it's noteworthy that Tett's book begins when JPMorgan had the face-value equivalent of $1.7 trillion in derivatives on its books. Today that number has jumped to a mind-boggling $87 trillion. Part of that portfolio includes almost $8.4 trillion in credit derivatives, more than Bank of America's (BAC), Citi's, and Goldman Sachs' (GS) holdings combined.

Note: So JP Morgan has $87 trillion in derivatives, a mass market it helped to create. That is greater than the GDP for the entire world! To verify this, click here. For a New York Times review of this revealing book, click here.


Fed Shrouding $2 Trillion in Bank Loans in ‘Secrecy,’ Suit Says
2009-04-16, Bloomberg News
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aS89AaGjOplw

U.S. taxpayers need to know the risks behind the Federal Reserve’s $2 trillion in lending to financial institutions because the public is now an “involuntary investor” in the nation’s banks, according to a court filing by Bloomberg LP. The Fed refuses to name the borrowers, the amounts of loans or assets banks put up as collateral under 11 programs, arguing that doing so might set off a run by depositors and unsettle shareholders. The largest U.S. banks have tapped more than $125 billion in government aid under the Troubled Asset Relief Program in the past seven months. Assets, including loans and securities, on the Fed balance sheet totaled $2.09 trillion as of April 9. Banks oppose any release of information because that might signal weakness and spur short-selling or a run by depositors, the Fed argued in its March 4 response. The release of the information “can fuel market speculation and rumors,” including a drop in stock price and a run on the bank, the Fed said. Bloomberg replied yesterday that “these speculative injuries relate only to the reactions of customers, shareholders and other members of the public, not to competitors’ use of the borrowers’ proprietary information to their advantage,” the exception to disclosure under the FOIA law. Government loans, spending or guarantees to rescue the U.S. financial system total more than $12.8 trillion since the international credit crisis began in August 2007, according to data compiled by Bloomberg as of March 31. The total includes about $2 trillion on the Fed’s balance sheet.

Note: For an extensive archive of key reports on the hidden realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.


‘No-Risk’ Insurance at F.D.I.C.
2009-04-07, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/07/business/07sorkin.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&...

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation was set up 76 years ago with the important but simple job of insuring bank deposits. Now, because of what could politely be called mission creep, it’s elbowing its way into the middle of the financial mess as an enabler of enormous leverage. In the fine print of Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner’s plan to lend as much as $1 trillion to private investors to help them buy toxic assets from our nation’s banks, you’ll find some details of how the F.D.I.C is trying to stabilize the system by adding more risk, not less, to the system. It’s going to be insuring 85 percent of the debt, provided by the Treasury, that private investors will use to subsidize their acquisitions of toxic assets. These loans, while controversial, were given a warm welcome by the market when they were first announced. And why not? The terms are hard to beat. They are, for example, “nonrecourse,” which means that if an investor loses money, he owes taxpayers nothing. It’s the closest thing to risk-free investing — with leverage! — around. But, as we’ve learned the hard way these last couple of years, risk-free investing is an oxymoron. So where did the risk go this time? To the F.D.I.C., and ultimately, to us taxpayers. A close reading of the F.D.I.C.’s statute suggests the agency is using a unique — some might call it plain wrong — reading of its own rule book to accomplish this high-wire act. Somehow, in the name of solving the financial crisis, the F.D.I.C. has seemingly been given a blank check, with virtually no oversight by Congress.

Note: For a powerfully revealing archive of reports from reliable sources on the hidden realities of the financial bailout, click here.


Fed Refuses to Disclose Recipients of $2 Trillion
2008-12-12, Bloomberg News
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601109&sid=apx7XNLnZZlc

The Federal Reserve refused a request by Bloomberg News to disclose the recipients of more than $2 trillion of emergency loans from U.S. taxpayers and the assets the central bank is accepting as collateral. Bloomberg filed suit Nov. 7 under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act requesting details about the terms of 11 Fed lending programs, most created during the deepest financial crisis since the Great Depression. The Fed responded Dec. 8, saying it’s allowed to withhold internal memos as well as information about trade secrets and commercial information. “If they told us what they held, we would know the potential losses that the government may take and that’s what they don’t want us to know,” said Carlos Mendez, a senior managing director at New York-based ICP Capital LLC. The Fed stepped into a rescue role that was the original purpose of the Treasury’s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. The central bank loans don’t have the oversight safeguards that Congress imposed upon the TARP. Total Fed lending exceeded $2 trillion for the first time Nov. 6. It rose by 138 percent, or $1.23 trillion, in the 12 weeks since Sept. 14, when central bank governors relaxed collateral standards to accept securities that weren’t rated AAA. “There has to be something they can tell the public because we have a right to know what they are doing,” said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Arlington, Virginia-based Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.


Financial Bailout Balloons to the Trillions
2008-11-25, ABC News
http://abcnews.go.com/Business/Economy/story?id=6332892

The government's financial bailout will be the most expensive single expenditure in American history, potentially costing around $7.5 trillion -- or half the value of all the goods and services produced in the United States last year. In comparison, the total U.S. cost of World War II adjusted for inflation was $3.6 trillion. The bailout will cost more than the total combined costs in today's dollars of the Marshall Plan, the Louisiana Purchase, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the entire historical budget of NASA, including the moon landing, according to data compiled by Bianco Research. It remains to be seen whether the government's multipronged approach to bail out banks, stimulate spending and buy up mortgages will revive the economy, but as the tab continues to grow so does concern over where the government will find the money. Monday the government guaranteed an additional $306 billion to bail out Citigroup, and today Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson pledged $800 billion to make credit more available to consumers and small businesses, and to buy up mortgages from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Congress last month allocated $700 billion for an emergency bailout of some of Wall Street's most storied firms by purchasing their troubled assets. The funds allocated through the Troubled Assets Relief Program are but a small part of the government's overall bailout spending. Bailout programs also include a Federal Reserve plan to buy as much as $2.4 trillion in short-term notes called commercial paper that began Oct. 27, and an FDIC plan to spend $1.4 trillion to guarantee bank-to-bank loans that commenced Oct. 14, according to Bloomberg News, which first compiled the total cost of the bailout.

Note: $7.5 trillion amounts to about $25,000 for every person in the U.S. What's going on here? For many revealing reports on the realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.


Paulson makes it clear: He's in charge
2008-11-13, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/11/13/BUUK1439IF.DTL

Henry Paulson's speech Wednesday made it pretty clear: The Treasury secretary has seized control of the financial system. "He is absolutely the most powerful person in the country. Maybe the world," says Wall Street accounting expert Robert Willens. The most telling line in his speech came when Paulson was explaining why he did a 180-degree turn with money approved by Congress under the $700 billion bailout bill. Instead of using it to buy troubled mortgage assets from banks, as clearly envisioned, he scrapped that idea and used it to make equity investments in banks. "In consultation with the Federal Reserve, I determined that the most timely, effective step to improve credit market conditions was to strengthen bank balance sheets quickly through direct purchases of equity in banks," he said. If Paulson bothered consulting with President Bush, he didn't mention it. In fact, he didn't even mention the president until the tail end of his speech, when he talked about the global summit Bush is hosting this weekend. I can understand why Paulson wants to distance himself from an unpopular president, especially one who has little facility for complex financial matters. But Bush is [the] president and even President-elect Barack Obama knows there can be only one president at a time. And his last name is not Paulson. In September, when Paulson asked for a $700 billion blank check from Congress to fix the financial markets, he got a lot of blowback. By the time Congress was done with his proposal, it had grown from 2 1/2 pages to more than 450. Yet it now appears that Paulson got the blank check he wanted.

Note: Why doesn't Congress have some say in what is done with this $700 billion? That's over $3,000 for every taxpayer in the U.S. which is being spent with practically no accountability. Is this what democracy looks like? For many key articles revealing the hidden realities of the bailout, click here.


Government Rescue Spending: Clear or Cloudy?
2008-11-11, ABC News
http://abcnews.go.com/Business/Economy/story?id=6225744&page=1

After weeks of sometimes frenzied efforts by the federal government to rescue the financial system ... critics say there are many questions but few answers about the work performed by the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve. "The bailout, the Treasury, the Federal Reserve -- it's like a three-card monte game, you don't know where the money's coming from, you don't know who it's going to, and I think the public has every right to be outraged by this," said Bill Allison, a senior fellow at the Sunlight Foundation, a government transparency watchdog group. Gerald O'Driscoll, a former vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas ... said he worried that the failure of the government to provide more information about its rescue spending could signal corruption. "Nontransparency in government programs is always associated with corruption in other countries, so I don't see why it wouldn't be here," he said. Questions about transparency at the Federal Reserve, in particular, have prompted a lawsuit: Bloomberg L.P., which operates the news agency Bloomberg News, is suing the Fed for the release of information on its lending to private financial institutions. "We really don't know anything," Matthew Winkler, the editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News, told ABCNews.com. "All we know is something close to 2 trillion is being used and that money is the taxpayers'. ... We don't know whom it's being lent to and for what purpose because we can't see it because it isn't disclosed."

Note: For many revealing and reliable reports on the Wall Street bailout, click here.


Warning: King Henry's bailout like Rummy's Iraq
2008-11-10, MarketWatch (A Wall Street Journal Digital Network Website)
http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/reagonomics-hides-sleeper-cells-harbori...

So you thought Barack Obama's victory signaled the death of Reaganomics? Wrong, wrong: Reaganomics is very much alive. In a subtle, bloodless coup, the Reaganomics ideology magically pulled victory out of the jaws of defeat in the meltdown. The magic happened fast and quietly, in the shadows, while you were in a trance, distracted by the election drama. Recently Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, framed the issue perfectly: "Has the Treasury partially nationalized the private banks, as we have been told? Or is it the other way around?" The question was rhetorical, the answer painfully clear. In a few weeks Wall Street did the old bait and switch, emerging from an economic and market disaster with new powers, in total control of America. And thanks to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's brilliant bailout coup, Reaganomics is now the new "sleeper cell" quietly hidden inside the Obama White House and America's Treasury, where it will be for a long time to come. Listen closely folks: You and your government are and will continue being conned out of trillions. Klein further exposed this insanity in a recent Rolling Stone article, "The New Trough: The Wall Street bailout looks a lot like Iraq, a 'free-fraud zone' where private contractors cash in on the mess they helped create." Paulson's privatization, outsourcing and management of the $700 billion bailout has the exact same Reaganomics ideological, strategic and deceptive footprints that President George W. Bush and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld used to privatize, outsource and mismanage the costly Iraq War blunder.

Note: For the powerfully revealing article by Naomi Klein mentioned in the article above, click here. Speaking on Tulsa Oklahoma’s 1170 KFAQ, Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma (Republican) has revealed that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson was the source of the threat of martial law in the US if the $700 billion bailout bill was not passed that was exposed on the House floor by Rep. Brad Sherman. For many key articles revealing the hidden realities of the bailout, click here.


White House defends money for banks
2008-10-30, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/30/AR20081030022...

Under fire from Democrats and Republicans alike, the White House ... defended giving billions of bailout dollars to banks that plan to reward shareholders and executives -- or even buy other banks. Allowing banks to engage in such normal business activities actually could help loosen lending and revive the sagging economy, said Ed Lazear, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. He said the administration would not impose any conditions on banks beyond those required when Congress created the bailout program, which authorized the government to buy stock in financial institutions. Lazear was put before the cameras in the White House briefing room amid a rising chorus of complaints from lawmakers about the latitude that banks will have when they receive bailout money from Washington. That bailout was originally sold by the administration as a plan for the government to purchase toxic mortgage-based assets from financial institutions, to get them off their books and inspire the resumption of normal lending. After passage, though, the administration decided the better course would be to devote $250 billion into buying ownership stakes in banks. With taxpayers' money flowing into their vaults, banks are going ahead with paying dividends to shareholders, giving bonuses to top executives and acquiring competitors. Lawmakers are asking why banks with the money to do those things need taxpayer-funded help. The rescue legislation included some limits on executive compensation, considered weak by many. And while it does not allow institutions receiving the money to increase dividends, it does not prevent them from paying those dividends.

Note: For extensive coverage of continuing revelations about the Wall Street bailout, click here.


Bernanke Is Fighting the Last War
2008-10-18, Wall Street Journal
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122428279231046053.html

"Nothing," [famed economist] Anna Schwartz says, "seems to have quieted the fears of either the investors in the securities markets or the lenders and would-be borrowers in the credit market." The credit markets remain frozen, the stock market continues to get hammered, and deep recession now seems a certainty -- if not a reality already. [Recently, according to Schwarz, Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson has] shifted from trying to save the banking system to trying to save banks. These are not, Ms. Schwartz argues, the same thing. In fact, by keeping otherwise insolvent banks afloat, the Federal Reserve and the Treasury have actually prolonged the crisis. "They should not be recapitalizing firms that should be shut down." Rather, "firms that made wrong decisions should fail," she says bluntly. "You shouldn't rescue them. Everything works much better when wrong decisions are punished and good decisions make you rich." How did we get into this mess in the first place? As in the 1920s, the current "disturbance" started with a "mania." But manias always have a cause. "In every case, it was expansive monetary policy that generated the boom in an asset. The particular asset varied from one boom to another. But the basic underlying propagator was too-easy monetary policy and too-low interest ratest. And then of course if monetary policy tightens, the boom collapses." Today's crisis isn't a replay of the problem in the 1930s, but our central bankers have responded by using the tools they should have used then. They are fighting the last war. The result, she argues, has been failure.

Note: Anna Schwarz and Nobel-winner Milton Friedman authored A Monetary History of the United States. It's the definitive account of how misguided monetary policy turned the stock-market crash of 1929 into the Great Depression. The excellent article above mentions that Fed Reserve Chairman Bernanke once said "I would like to say to Milton and Anna: Regarding the Great Depression. You're right, we did it. We're very sorry. We won't do it again." Top bankers and their cronies have been aware of what causes the boom/bust cycle for over 100 years and taken full advantage of it. Try to find one top banker who lost significant money in any bust cycle.


Derivatives the new 'ticking bomb'
2008-03-10, MarketWatch (Part of the Wall Street Journal's digital network)
http://www.marketwatch.com/story/derivatives-are-the-new-ticking-time-bomb

"In our view, however, derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction, carrying dangers that, while now latent, are potentially lethal." That warning was in [Warren] Buffett's 2002 letter to Berkshire shareholders. He saw a future that many others chose to ignore. Wall Street didn't listen to Buffett. Derivatives grew into a massive bubble, from about $100 trillion to $516 trillion by 2007. Despite Buffett's clear warnings, a massive new derivatives bubble is driving the domestic and global economies, a bubble that continues growing today parallel with the subprime-credit meltdown triggering a bear-recession. Data on the five-fold growth of derivatives to $516 trillion in five years comes from the most recent survey by the Bank of International Settlements, the world's clearinghouse for central banks in Basel, Switzerland. Keep in mind that while the $516 trillion "notional" value (maximum in case of a meltdown) of the deals is a good measure of the market's size, the 2007 BIS study notes that the $11 trillion "gross market values provides a more accurate measure of the scale of financial risk transfer taking place in derivatives markets." The fact is, derivatives have become the world's biggest "black market," exceeding the illicit traffic in stuff like arms, drugs, alcohol, gambling, cigarettes, stolen art and pirated movies. Why? Because like all black markets, derivatives are a perfect way of getting rich while avoiding taxes and government regulations. And in today's slowdown, plus a volatile global market, Wall Street knows derivatives remain a lucrative business.

Note: $516 trillion is equivalent to $75,000 for every man, woman, and child in the world! Do you think the financial industry is out of control? For lots more powerful, reliable information on major banking manipulations, click here. For a powerful analysis describing just how crazy things have gotten and giving some rays of hope by researcher David Wilcock, click here.


Bill Moyers talks with [NY Times reporter] David Cay Johnston about Free Lunch
2008-01-08, PBS Bill Moyers Journal
http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/01182008/transcript1.html

BILL MOYERS: Why do some of the most powerful and privileged people in the country get a free lunch you pay for? You'll find some of the answers [in]: Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill). The theme of the book as I read it is that not that the rich are getting richer but that they've got the government rigging the rules to help them do it. DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: That's exactly right. And they're doing it in a way that I think is very crucial for people to understand. They're doing it by taking from those with less to give to those with more. We gave $100 million dollars to Warren Buffett's company last year, a gift from the taxpayers. We make gifts all over the place to rich people. Donald Trump benefits from a tax specifically levied by the State of New Jersey for the poor. Part of the casino winnings tax in New Jersey is dedicated to help the poor. But $89 million of it is being diverted to subsidize Donald Trump's casino's building retail space. George Steinbrenner, like almost every owner of a major sports franchise, gets enormous public subsidies. The major sports franchises [make] 100 percent of their profits from subsidies. In fact, if it weren't for these subsidies, the baseball, football, hockey, and basketball enterprises as a whole would be losing hundreds of millions of dollars a year. George Bush owes almost his entire fortune to a tax increase that was funneled into his pocket and into the use of eminent domain laws to essentially legally cheat other people out of their land for less than it was worth to enrich him and his fellow investors.

Note: Watch part of this amazingly revealing interview online at this link. Johnston is a prolific writer with the NY Times; to see a list of his many articles there, click here. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on financial corruption, click here.


‘The Big Short,’ Housing Bubbles and Retold Lies
2015-12-18, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/18/opinion/the-big-short-housing-bubbles-and-r...

In May 2009 Congress created a special commission to examine the causes of the financial crisis. Some commission members sought to block consideration of any historical account that might support efforts to rein in runaway bankers. One ... wrote [that] it was important that what they said “not undermine the ability of the new House G.O.P. to modify or repeal Dodd-Frank,” the financial regulations introduced in 2010. Never mind what really happened; the party line, literally, required telling stories that would help Wall Street do it all over again. Which brings me to a new movie the enemies of financial regulation really, really don’t want you to see. “The Big Short” is based on the Michael Lewis book of the same name, one of the few real best-sellers to emerge from the financial crisis. It does a terrific job of making Wall Street skulduggery entertaining. Many influential, seemingly authoritative players, from Alan Greenspan on down, insisted not only that there was no bubble but that no bubble was even possible. And the bubble whose existence they denied really was inflated largely via opaque financial schemes that in many cases amounted to outright fraud - and it is an outrage that basically nobody ended up being punished for those sins aside from innocent bystanders, namely the millions of workers who lost their jobs and the millions of families that lost their homes. While the movie gets the essentials of the financial crisis right, the true story of what happened is deeply inconvenient to some very rich and powerful people.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and in the financial industry.


Meanwhile, in Iceland, the 26th banker has been jailed for their role in the 2008 financial crisis
2015-10-23, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://i100.independent.co.uk/article/meanwhile-in-iceland-the-26th-banker-ha...

While British and American bankers who brought the world's economy to its knees in 2008 have barely faced the consequences for their actions, in Iceland, it's a different story. The Nordic nation, which was one of the worst affected by the 2008 financial crisis, has sentenced 26 bankers to a combined 74 years in prison. In two separate rulings last week, the Supreme Court of Iceland and Reykjavik District Court sentenced six top managers of two national banks for crimes committed in the lead up to the banking sector's collapse, bringing the total number of people who have faced the music for their roles in the crash to 26. At the moment the maximum penalty for white collar crime in Iceland is six years. Iceland deregulated its financial sector in 2001, and manipulation of the markets by bankers led to a system-wide meltdown when the global economy tanked in 2008. Iceland's economy is now in comparatively [good] health since the country was forced to borrow heavily from the International Monetary Fund seven years ago. As Iceland's president Olafur Ragnar Grimsson said when asked how the country recovered so quickly: "We were wise enough not to follow the traditional prevailing orthodoxies of the Western financial world in the last 30 years. We introduced currency controls, we let the banks fail, we provided support for the poor, and we didn’t introduce austerity measures like you’re seeing in Europe." In the US and the UK, of course, we just bailed them out.

Note: According to the New York Times, the lines between Washington and Wall Street are blurred. Will US officials ever get serious about about financial industry corruption?


What to do about big banks?
2015-10-14, Baltimore Sun (One of Baltimore's leading newspapers)
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/bal-what-to-do-about-big-banks-20151...

Giant Wall Street banks continue to threaten the well-being of millions of Americans. Back in 2000, before they almost ruined the economy and had to be bailed out, the five biggest banks on Wall Street held about 25 percent of the nation's banking assets. Now they hold more than 45 percent. In 2012, JPMorgan Chase, the largest bank on Wall Street, lost $6.2 billion betting on credit default swaps - and then publicly lied about the losses. It later came out that the bank paid illegal bribes to get the business in the first place. In May, the Justice Department announced a settlement of the biggest criminal price-fixing conspiracy in modern history, in which the biggest banks manipulated the $5.3 trillion-a-day currency market in a "brazen display of collusion," according to Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Wall Street's investment bankers, key traders, top executives, and hedge-fund and private-equity managers wield extraordinary power. They're major sources of campaign contributions to both parties. In addition, a lucrative revolving door connects the Street to Washington. Key members of Congress, especially those involved with enacting financial laws or overseeing financial regulators, have fat paychecks waiting for them on Wall Street when they retire. Which helps explain why no Wall Street executive has been indicted for the fraudulent behavior that led up to the 2008 crash. Or for the criminal price-fixing scheme settled in May. Or for other excesses since then.

Note: Does it at all seem strange that after the bailout in 2008, the percentage of US banking assets held by the big banks has almost doubled? Could this possibly have been planned? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing financial industry corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.


Perhaps the world's conspiracy theorists have been right all along
2015-06-15, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/thinking-man/11671617/Perhaps-the-worlds-consp...

Today’s conspiracy theory is tomorrow’s news headlines. The truth is not only out there, but it’s more outlandish than anything we could have made up. So, what are some of our biggest conspiracies? The Iraq War. America is attacked by terrorists and so, declares war on a country that had nothing whatsoever to do with the attacks, while ignoring an oil rich ally which had everything to do with them. The result is a disaster. And yet, we can’t really bring ourselves to hold anyone accountable. Fifa [is] the conspiracy du jour. We always knew Fifa was shonky and bribey, but ... it now looks like every World Cup in the last three decades ... could have been fixed. For those who say "it’s only a stupid sport", well, recently we’ve heard accusations of arms deals for votes involving ... Saudi Arabia. The banking crisis [is a] nice financial counterpoint to Iraq. Virtually destroy the western financial system. Get bailed out by the taxpayers who you’ve been ripping off. Oh, and while we’re at it, the banks played a part in the Fifa scandal. Paedophiles. At first it was just a few rubbish light entertainers. Then we had people muttering about the political establishment – and others counter-muttering don’t be ridiculous, that’s a conspiracy theory. But it wasn’t. Now, it’s a slow-motion train crash and an endless series of glacial government inquiries.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the corporate world.


Three charts that show Iceland's economy recovered after it imprisoned bankers and let banks go bust - instead of bailing them out
2015-06-11, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/three-charts-that-show-icelan...

Six years ago ... Iceland made the shocking decision to let its banks go bust. Iceland also allowed bankers to be prosecuted as criminals – in contrast to the US and Europe, where ... chief executives escaped punishment. While the UK government nationalised Lloyds and RBS with tax-payers’ money and the US government bought stakes in its key banks, Iceland ... said it would shore up domestic bank accounts. Everyone else was left to fight over the remaining cash. It also imposed capital controls restricting what ordinary people could do with their money. The plan worked. Iceland took a huge financial hit, just like every other country caught in the crisis. This year the International Monetary Fund declared that Iceland had achieved economic recovery 'without compromising its welfare model' of universal healthcare and education. Other measures of progress like the country’s unemployment rate, compare ... well with countries like the US. Rather than maintaining the value of the krona artificially, Iceland chose to accept inflation. This pushed prices higher at home but helped exports abroad – in contrast to many countries in the EU, which are now fighting deflation. This year, Iceland will become the first European country that hit crisis in 2008 to beat its pre-crisis peak of economic output.

Note: Iceland's plan to retake control of its money supply from the banks was labelled "Radical" by mainstream economists. Now we learn that their plan rooted out financial industry corruption and successfully got their economy back on track.


Why putting bank bosses behind bars is still nigh on impossible
2015-05-23, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/may/23/putting-bankers-in-jail-nigh-...

Since the 2008 banking crisis led to multibillion-pound bailouts, some bankers have ended up behind bars. However, to many, the list seems short when compared with the $235bn of fines that Reuters calculates have been imposed on 20 major banks in the past seven years for market rigging, sanctions busting, money laundering and mis-selling mortgage bonds in the runup to the 2008 crisis. Robert Jenkins, a former Bank of England policymaker [says] one reason regulators backed away from proceedings against individuals is fear. This dates back to 2002, when accountancy firm Arthur Andersen was convicted of destroying documents related to its audits of Enron. The prosecution was overturned in 2005, too late to save what had been one of the world’s biggest accountants from collapse. There was, Jenkins said, “fear by the US authorities of a banking version of Arthur Andersen at a time of financial fragility”. But he lists other problems, [such as] lobbying by bankers and the naivete of regulators. Jenkins added the banks should ... face the threat of being broken up: “When it comes to the systematic wrongdoing on their watch, either the senior executives knew, did not know or cannot be expected to know. If they knew they are complicit. If they did not know they are incompetent. And if the banks are so large and complex that they cannot be expected to know, then they are a walking argument for breaking up the banks.”

Note: After the bailout in 2008, the percentage of US banking assets held by the big banks has almost doubled. Could this possibly have been planned? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and in the financial industry.


Iceland convicts bad bankers and says other nations can act
2015-02-12, CNBC/Reuters
http://www.cnbc.com/2015/02/12/iceland-convicts-bad-bankers-and-says-other-na...

Iceland's government appointed a special prosecutor to investigate its bankers after the world's financial systems were rocked by the discovery of huge debts and widespread poor corporate governance. "This ... sends a strong message that will wake up discussion," special prosecutor Olafur Hauksson told Reuters. "It shows that these financial cases may be hard, but they can also produce results." The country's efforts contrast with the United States and particularly Europe, where though some banks have been fined, few executives have been tried and voters suffering post-crisis austerity conditions feel bankers got off lightly. Iceland struggled initially to appoint a special prosecutor. Hauksson ... was encouraged to put in for the job after the initial advertisement drew no applications. Icelandic lower courts have convicted the chief executives of all three of its largest banks for their responsibility in [the] crisis. They also convicted former chief executives of two other major banks, Glitnir and Landsbanki, for charges ranging from fraud and market manipulation. Many Icelanders have been frustrated that justice has been slow. The prosecutors' office has been hit by budget cuts since it was set up. But Hauksson believes the existing rulings mean there is less chance of similar scandals in the future. "There is some indication that the banks are more cautious," he said. Asked whether he would take the job again ... Hauksson replied, laughing: "Yes. And I'd probably be the only applicant again."

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing financial industry corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.


IMF chief says banks haven't changed since financial crisis
2014-05-27, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/may/27/imf-chief-lagarde-bankers-eth...

The head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, told an audience in London that six years on from the deep financial crisis that engulfed the global economy, banks were resisting reform and still too focused on excessive risk taking to secure their bonuses at the expense of public trust. She said: "The behaviour of the financial sector has not changed fundamentally in a number of dimensions since the crisis. The industry still prizes short-term profit over long-term prudence, today's bonus over tomorrow's relationship. Some prominent firms have even been mired in scandals that violate the most basic ethical norms - Libor and foreign exchange rigging, money laundering, illegal foreclosure." Lagarde warned the too-big-to-fail problem among some of the world's largest financial institutions was still unresolved and remained a major source of systematic risk, with implicit subsidies of $70bn (Ł42bn) in the US, and up to $300bn in the eurozone. Lagarde said international progress to reform the financial system was too slow. Lagarde told [the] conference that rising inequality was also a barrier to growth, and could undermine democracy and human rights. The issue has risen up the agenda in recent months with the publication of the French economist Thomas Piketty's book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century. "One of the leading economic stories of our time is rising income inequality, and the dark shadow it casts across the global economy," Lagarde said.

Note: For more on financial corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Fed knew about Libor rigging in 2008
2014-02-21, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/libor-scandal/10654977/Fed-knew-about-Libo...

The US Federal Reserve knew about Libor rigging three years before the financial scandal exploded but did not take any firm action, documents have revealed. According to newly published transcripts of the central bank’s meetings in the run-up to and immediate aftermath of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, a senior Fed official first flagged the issue at a policy meeting in April 2008. William Dudley expressed fears that banks were being dishonest in the way they were calculating the London interbank offered rate – a global benchmark interest rate used as the basis for trillions of pounds of loans and financial contracts. Three years after his remarks, it emerged that traders at more than a dozen banks, including Lloyds, Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays, had routinely been trying to fix the official Libor rate in order to boost their own bonuses and profits. The transcript of the Fed’s April 2008 meeting raises questions about why the central bank did not move to properly tackle the scandal. There was no official regulator for Libor at the time, and officials at the US Federal Reserve tried to blame British authorities for allowing the benchmark interest rate to get out of control in the first place. The Fed declined to comment on the transcripts or why it had not taken firm action..

Note: For more on government collusion with the biggest banks, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Let Banks Fail Is Iceland Mantra as 2% Joblessness in Sight
2014-01-27, Washington Post/Bloomberg News
http://washpost.bloomberg.com/Story?docId=1376-MZURR66S973B01-76OMQ0EAA8SI8FK...

Iceland let its banks fail in 2008 because they proved too big to save. Now, the island is finding crisis-management decisions made half a decade ago have put it on a trajectory that’s turned 2 percent unemployment into a realistic goal. While the euro area grapples with record joblessness, led by more than 25 percent in Greece and Spain, only about 4 percent of Iceland’s labor force is without work. Prime Minister Sigmundur D. Gunnlaugsson says even that’s too high. The island’s sudden economic meltdown in October 2008 made international headlines as a debt-fueled banking boom ended in a matter of weeks when funding markets froze. Policy makers overseeing the $14 billion economy refused to back the banks, which subsequently defaulted on $85 billion. The government’s decision to protect state finances left it with the means to continue social support programs that shielded Icelanders from penury during the worst financial crisis in six decades. Of creditor claims against the banks, Gunnlaugsson says “this is not public debt and never will be.” Successive Icelandic governments have forced banks to write off mortgage debts to help households. The government’s 2014 budget sets aside about 43 percent of its spending for the Welfare Ministry, a level that is largely unchanged since before the crisis. Inflation, which peaked at 19 percent in January 2009, ... was 4.2 percent in December. To support households, Gunnlaugsson in November unveiled a plan to provide as much as 7 percent of gross domestic product in mortgage debt relief. The government intends to finance the plan, which the OECD has criticized as being too blunt, partly by raising taxes on banks.

Note: Why is Iceland's major success in letting banks fail getting so little press coverage? For a possible answer, click here. For more on government responses to the banking crisis and their impacts on people, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


China's princelings storing riches in Caribbean offshore haven
2014-01-21, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/world/ng-interactive/2014/jan/21/china-british-vir...

More than a dozen family members of China's top political and military leaders are making use of offshore companies based in the British Virgin Islands, leaked financial documents reveal. The brother-in-law of China's current president, Xi Jinping, as well as the son and son-in-law of former premier Wen Jiabao are among the political relations making use of the offshore havens, financial records show. The documents also disclose the central role of major Western banks and accountancy firms ... in the offshore world, acting as middlemen in the establishing of companies. The Hong Kong office of Credit Suisse, for example, established the BVI company Trend Gold Consultants for Wen Yunsong, the son of Wen Jiabao, during his father's premiership — while PwC and UBS performed similar services for hundreds of other wealthy Chinese individuals. The disclosure of China's use of secretive financial structures is the latest revelation from "Offshore Secrets", a two-year reporting effort led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which obtained more than 200 gigabytes of leaked financial data from two companies in the British Virgin Islands, and shared the information with the Guardian and other international news outlets. In all, the ICIJ data reveals more than 21,000 clients from mainland China and Hong Kong have made use of offshore havens in the Caribbean. Between $1tn and $4tn in untraced assets have left China since 2000, according to estimates.

Note: Read the ICIJ's full report of the latest offshore links. For more on financial corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


EU fines banks record $2.3B over Libor
2013-12-04, CNN
http://money.cnn.com/2013/12/04/news/companies/libor-europe-fines

The European Union has levied a record antitrust fine of €1.71 billion ($2.3 billion) on six European and U.S. banks and brokers for rigging benchmark interest rates. Deutsche Bank was hit with the single biggest penalty of €725.4 million for participating in illegal cartels to manipulate the Euro Interbank Offered Rate, or Euribor, and London interbank offered rate, or Libor. "What is shocking about the Libor and Euribor scandals is ... the collusion between banks who are supposed to be competing with each other," said Joaquin Almunia, Europe's top antitrust official. Other banks fined [were] Societe Generale (€446 million), Royal Bank of Scotland (€391 million), JP Morgan (€79.9 million) and Citigroup (€70 million). U.K.-based broker RP Martin was fined €247,000 for facilitating one infringement. EU investigators said the Euribor cartel operated for nearly three years between 2005 and 2008, as traders discussed submissions used to calculate the benchmark rate, and compared trading and pricing strategies. They also discovered illegal collusion in the setting of Libor in Japanese yen between 2007 and 2010. UBS and Barclays, [which] have already been fined by regulators in the U.K. and U.S. for Libor rigging, were spared further punishment because they cooperated with the European Commission investigation. They dodged new fines of €2.5 billion and €690 million respectively. The scandal broke in the middle of 2012 when Barclays admitted trying to manipulate Libor, which together with related rates is used to price trillions of dollars of financial products around the world.

Note: Notice that no one is going to jail and no one is being personally fined for these incredibly outrageous manipulations. For an analysis that argues the "record fines" are really just a "slap on the wrist" for the big banks, click here. For more on financial corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


JPMorgan settlement is a payout to victims
2013-11-20, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/editorials/article/JPMorgan-settlement-is-a-pay...

When the fires from the 2007-08 financial crisis were still being fought, JPMorgan Chase looked like a winner. Not only was JPMorgan Chase able to scoop up former rivals Washington Mutual and Bear Stearns for bargain basement prices, but its stock value shot up by nearly 31 percent over the past 4 1/2 years. But this year has been a little less kind to JPMorgan Chase. On [November 20) JPMorgan Chase agreed to a $13 billion settlement with the federal government over selling toxic mortgage investments. It also admitted to wrongdoing in knowingly peddling the instruments. Both settlements are for the "incomplete information" JPMorgan Chase gave to the pension funds for their purchases of toxic securities during the years 2004 to 2008. Even for a colossus such as JPMorgan Chase, $13 billion is a lot of money - about half of its annual profit. Forcing JPMorgan to admit wrongdoing - a rare concession - may open the door to more headaches for the company, especially because the government is continuing a criminal probe into its mortgage prices. The scale of the devastation is still so enormous that the only question left for the Justice Department to answer is why no one from any of the big banks has yet to go to jail. Wall Street's wrongdoing was about more than a dollar cost - it was about the widespread human suffering that remains with us today. Jail time would be more than appropriate, but so far the banks have been able to pay their way out of it.

Note: Because JP Morgan Chase can write off $11 billion of the fine as tax deductible, the real fine is actually reduced by $4 billion to about $7 billion, just one-third of Chase's $21 billion profit in the year 2012. For more on financial fraud, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Greg Palast: Potential Fed Chair Summers at Heart of Global Economic Crisis
2013-09-03, Truthout
http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/18555-revealed-potential-fed-chair-summers...

Investigative journalist Greg Palast has obtained a secret memo authored by then deputy Treasury secretary Larry Summers and his protégé Timothy Geithner detailing their plans to roll back financial regulation. In the piece, titled "The Confidential Memo at the Heart of the Global Financial Crisis", [Palast] writes: "The Memo confirmed every conspiracy freak's fantasy: that in the late 1990s, the top U.S. Treasury officials secretly conspired with a small cabal of banker big-shots to rip apart financial regulation across the planet. When you see 26.3 percent unemployment in Spain, desperation and hunger in Greece, riots in Indonesia and Detroit in bankruptcy, go back to this End Game memo, the genesis of the blood and tears." [Palast:] This is really important right now because Larry Summers is President Obama's top choice to become head of a Federal Reserve Board. He would take Ben Bernanke's place. And what this memo is--they call it the "end game memo". Geithner calls it the "end game". And what's the game being played? The memo asks Summers to get back to the five biggest, most powerful bankers in the United States to act on and determine what our policy should be for world governance of the banking system. Basically, there were secret calls going between Larry Summers and the head of Bank of America, the head of Goldman Sachs, the head of Citibank and Merrill, the five big boys, to find out what should happen to the world financial policing order. And the answer was: smash it. Summers was holding secret meetings with the big bankers to come up with a scheme to eliminate financial regulation across the planet.

Note: Greg Palast is a New York Times-bestselling author and a freelance journalist for the British Broadcasting Corporation as well as the British newspaper The Observer. He is one of the few journalists uncovering the deepest layers of secrecy in our world. For a key past report of his on elections corruption, click here.


Sen. Warren Leads Charge to Break Up Big Banks
2013-07-07, CNBC
http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?play=1&video=3000182337

CNBC’s BRIAN SULLIVAN: Is there anyone else in the Senate that is a professor? ELIZABETH WARREN: I don't think so. ... We had the big crash in 2008. What does everyone say about it? They say too much concentration in financial services creates too big to fail. It puts us at bigger risk. And what's happened since 2008? The four biggest financial institutions are now 30% bigger than they were in 2008. The central premise behind a 21st century Glass-Steagall is to say if you want to get out there and take risks, go ahead and do it. But ... you can't get access to FDIC insured deposits when you do. That way ... at least one portion of our banking sector stays safe. From 1797 to 1933, the American banking system crashed about every 15 years. In 1933, we put good reforms in place, for which Glass-Steagall was the centerpiece, and from 1933 to the early 1980s, that’s a 50 year period, we didn’t have any of that – none. We kept the system steady and secure. And it was only as we started deregulating, [you hit] the S&L crisis, and what did we do? We deregulated some more. And then you hit long-term capital management at the end of the 90s, and what did we do as a country? This country continued to deregulate more. And then we hit the big crash in 2008. You are not going to defend the proposition that regulation can never work, it did work. SULLIVAN: I didn’t say regulation never worked, Senator. By far and away, and I agree, there were fewer bank failures in that time after Glass-Steagall. ELIZABETH WARREN: “Fewer,” as in, of the big ones, zero.

Note: Sen. Warren is one of the few bright lights in Congress. Watch this interview to see why. To read about later censorship of this interview by NBC, click here.


Rigged-Benchmark Probes Proliferate From Singapore to UK
2013-06-16, Bloomberg Businessweek
http://www.businessweek.com/news/2013-06-16/rigged-benchmark-probes-prolifera...

The probe of Libor manipulation is proving to be the tip of the iceberg as inquiries into assets from derivatives to foreign exchange show that if there’s a chance to rig benchmark rates in world markets, someone is usually willing to try. Singapore’s monetary authority last week censured 20 banks for attempting to fix interest rate levels in the island state and ordered them to set aside as much as $9.6 billion. Britain’s markets regulator is looking into the $4.7 trillion-a-day currency market after Bloomberg News reported that traders have manipulated key rates for more than a decade, citing five dealers. “It’s happened time and again: all of these markets have been influenced by major market-makers, which is a polite way of saying they’ve been rigged,” Charles Geisst, a finance professor at Manhattan College in Riverdale, New York, said. While the indexes under scrutiny are little known to the public, their influence extends to trillions of dollars in securities and derivatives. Barclays, UBS and Royal Bank of Scotland have been fined about $2.5 billion in the past year for distorting the London interbank offered rate, which is tied to $300 trillion worth of securities. Regulators are also probing ISDAfix, a measure used in the $370 trillion interest-rate swaps market, as well as how some oil products prices are set. Inquiries are broadening into the transparency of benchmarks whose levels can be determined by the same people whose income they affect. In the case of Libor, traders who stood to profit worked with bank employees responsible for submissions for the benchmark to rig the price.

Note: To read highly revealing major media articles showing just how crazy and unregulated the derivatives market is, click here. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on financial corruption, click here.


Top economist Jeffrey Sachs says Wall Street is full of 'crooks' and hasn't changed since the financial crash
2013-04-29, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/top-economist-jeffrey-sachs-...

One of the world's most respected economists has said Wall St is full of "crooks" and hasn't reformed its "pathological" culture since the financial crash. Professor Jeffrey Sachs told a high-powered audience at the Philadelphia Federal Reserve earlier this month that the lack of reform was down to “a docile president, a docile White House and a docile regulatory system that absolutely can’t find its voice.” Sachs, from Columbia University, has twice been named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World, and is an adviser to the World Bank and IMF. “What has been revealed, in my view, is prima facie criminal behavior,” he said. “It’s financial fraud on a very large extent. There’s also a tremendous amount of insider trading. We have a corrupt politics to the core, I am afraid to say, and . . . both parties are up to their neck in this. This has nothing to do with Democrats or Republicans." Sachs described an environment of Wall Street influencing politicians with growing campaign contributions. In the 2012 election cycle, political contributions by the securities and investment sector hit $271.5 million, compared with $176 million in 2008, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. “I am going to put it very bluntly: I regard the moral environment as pathological. They have no responsibility to pay taxes; they have no responsibility to their clients; they have no responsibility to people, to counterparties in transactions,” he said. “They are tough, greedy, aggressive and feel absolutely out of control in a quite literal sense, and they have gamed the system to a remarkable extent.”

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on criminal practices of Wall Street corporations, click here.


Everything Is Rigged: The Biggest Price-Fixing Scandal Ever
2013-04-25, Rolling Stone
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/everything-is-rigged-the-biggest-fi...

Conspiracy theorists of the world, ... we skeptics owe you an apology. You were right. The world is a rigged game. 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 ... perhaps as many as 16 ... banks have been manipulating global interest rates, in the process [manipulating] the prices of upward of $500 trillion ... worth of financial instruments. Now Libor may have a twin brother. Word has leaked out that the London-based firm ICAP, the world's largest broker of interest-rate swaps, is being investigated by American authorities for behavior that sounds eerily reminiscent of the Libor mess. Regulators are looking into whether or not a small group of brokers at ICAP may have worked with up to 15 of the world's largest banks to manipulate ISDAfix, a benchmark number used around the world to calculate the prices of interest-rate swaps. Interest-rate swaps are a tool used by big cities, major corporations and sovereign governments to manage their debt, and the scale of their use is almost unimaginably massive. [It's] a $379 trillion market, meaning that any manipulation would affect a pile of assets about 100 times the size of the United States federal budget. It should surprise no one that among the players implicated in this scheme to fix the prices of interest-rate swaps are the same megabanks – including Barclays, UBS, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and the Royal Bank of Scotland – that serve on the Libor panel that sets global interest rates.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the criminal practices of the financial industry, click here.


Big banks 'more dangerous than ever', IMF's Christine Lagarde says
2013-04-10, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/9985280/Big-b...

Europe needs to recapitalise, restructure or shut down its banks as part of a vital clean-up of the industry, International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde said as she warned that the threat from world’s biggest lenders was “more dangerous than ever”. Speaking in New York ahead of next week’s IMF Spring meeting, Ms Lagarde launched a broadside against the financial services industry for resisting urgent reform. “In too many cases – from the United States in 2008 to Cyprus today – we have seen what happens when a banking sector chooses the quick buck ..., backing a business model that ultimately destabilizes the economy. We simply cannot have pre-crisis banking in a post-crisis world. We need reform, even in the face of intense pushback from an industry sometimes reluctant to abandon lucrative lines of business.” Almost five years since Lehman Brothers collapsed, she claimed: “The 'oversize banking’ model of too-big-to-fail is more dangerous than ever. We must get to the root of the problem with comprehensive and clear regulation.” Regulators have forced banks to increase significantly their loss-absorbing capital buffers since the crisis, but are still working on "resolution" mechanisms that will allow giant lenders to fail without hitting the taxpayer and threatening financial stability. Regulators must also work together, she added, amid evidence that some countries are caving into pressure from the banking lobby.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on financial corruption, click here.


Elizabeth Warren Wants HSBC Bankers Jailed for Money Laundering
2013-03-07, ABC News
http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2013/03/elizabeth-warren-wants-hsbc-bank...

Elizabeth Warren has a question: How much money does a bank have to launder before people go to jail? Warren ... posed that question numerous times to financial regulators at a Senate Banking Committee hearing [on] banks and money laundering. In December, U.S. Justice Department officials announced that HSBC, Europe’s largest bank, would pay a $1.92 billion fine after laundering $881 million for drug cartels in Mexico and Colombia. The two regulators, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen and Federal Reserve Governor Jerome H. Powell, deflected Warren’s questions, saying that criminal prosecutions are for the Justice Department to decide. An exasperated Warren said, as she wrapped up her questioning, “If you’re caught with an ounce of cocaine, the chances are good you’re going to jail. If it happens repeatedly, you may go to jail for the rest of your life. But evidently, if you launder nearly a billion dollars for drug cartels and violate our international sanctions, your company pays a fine and you go home and sleep in your own bed at night — every single individual associated with this — and I just think that’s fundamentally wrong.”

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the collusion between government and finance, click here.


Once-jailed banker gets $104 million whistleblower payout
2012-09-11, NBC News
http://bottomline.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/09/11/13804631-once-jailed-banker-ge...

Attorneys for jailed former Swiss banker Bradley Birkenfeld announced [on September 11] that the IRS will pay him $104 million as a whistleblower reward for information he turned over to the US government. The information Birkenfeld revealed detailed the inner workings of the secretive private wealth management division of the Swiss bank UBS, where the American-born Birkenfeld helped his US clients evade taxes by hiding wealth overseas. Tuesday's announcement represents an astonishing turn of fortune for Birkenfeld, who was released from federal prison in August after serving 31 months on charges relating to his efforts to help a wealthy client avoid taxes. Birkenfeld attorney Stephen Kohn said the information the former Swiss banker turned over to the IRS led directly to the $780 million fine paid to the US by his former employer, UBS, as well as leading over 35,000 taxpayers to participate in amnesty programs to voluntarily repatriate their illegal offshore accounts. That resulted in the collection of over $5 billion dollars in back taxes, fines and penalties that otherwise would have remained outside the reach of the government. Birkenfeld's disclosures also led to the first cracks in the legendarily secretive Swiss banking system, and ultimately the Swiss government changed its tax treaty with the United States. UBS turned over the names of more than than 4,900 U.S. taxpayers who held illegal offshore accounts. Investigations into those accounts are ongoing.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the collusion between financial corporations and government regulators, click here.


Why Goldman Sachs, Other Wall Street Titans Are Not Being Prosecuted
2012-08-14, The Daily Beast/Newsweek
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/08/14/why-goldman-sachs-other-wall...

On [August 9] the Department of Justice announced it will not prosecute Goldman Sachs or any of its employees in a financial-fraud probe. Despite the Obama administration’s promises to clean up Wall Street in the wake of America’s worst financial crisis, there has not been a single criminal charge filed by the federal government against any top executive of the elite financial institutions. Why is that? In a word: cronyism. Take Goldman Sachs, for example. In 2008, Goldman Sachs employees were among Barack Obama’s top campaign contributors, giving a combined $1,013,091. [Attorney General] Eric Holder’s former law firm, Covington & Burling, also counts Goldman Sachs as one of its clients. Furthermore, in April 2011, when the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations issued a scathing report detailing Goldman’s suspicious Abacus deal, several Goldman executives and their families began flooding Obama campaign coffers with donations, some giving the maximum $35,800. The individuals the DOJ’s “Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force” has placed in its prosecutorial crosshairs seem shockingly small compared with the Wall Street titans the Obama administration promised to bring to justice. To be sure, financial fraud of any kind is wrong and should be prosecuted. But locking up “pygmies” is hardly the kind of financial-fraud crackdown Americans expected in the wake of the largest financial crisis in U.S. history. Increasingly, there appear to be two sets of rules: one for the average citizen, and another for the connected cronies who rule the inside game.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on financial corporations' control over government, see our Banking Bailout archive here.


Court Papers Undercut Ratings Agencies' Defense
2012-07-03, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/03/business/documents-seem-to-endanger-ratings...

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.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on financial corruption, click here.


MF Global Still Set to Pay Bonuses
2012-03-12, Wall Street Journal
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203961204577269841477216320.html

Three top executives of MF Global Holdings Ltd. when it collapsed could get bonuses of as much as several hundred thousand dollars each under a plan by a trustee overseeing the securities firm's bankruptcy case. Louis Freeh, the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director now in charge of unwinding what is left of the New York company, is expected to ask a bankruptcy-court judge as soon as this month to approve performance-related payouts for the chief operating officer, finance chief and general counsel at MF Global. Under the expected pay plan, the three executives and as many as 20 other MF Global employees working for Mr. Freeh would get the bonuses only if they hit specified targets such as increasing the value of MF Global's estate for creditors. The bonus plan could face fierce resistance. One reason: Criminal and civil investigators are scrutinizing the role of top executives and others at MF Global in money transfers that resulted in a $1.6 billion shortfall in customer accounts. So far, many hedge funds, farmers and other investors who bought and sold through MF Global have gotten about 72 cents out of every $1 held by the firm when it collapsed. Hopes for additional recoveries have dimmed as the probe grinds on. Neal Wolkoff, a former executive at the New York Mercantile Exchange who now works as a consultant, said it "is shocking" that Messrs. Abelow and Steenkamp still work at MF Global and could earn bonuses "because it represents a conflict of interest."

Note: For an abundance of major media articles revealing major financial manipulations, click here.


Icelandic Anger Brings Debt Forgiveness in Best Recovery Story
2012-02-28, Bloomberg/Businessweek
http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-02-28/icelandic-anger-brings-debt-forgi...

Icelanders who pelted parliament with rocks in 2009 demanding their leaders and bankers answer for the country’s economic and financial collapse are reaping the benefits of their anger. Since the end of 2008, the island’s banks have forgiven loans equivalent to 13 percent of gross domestic product, easing the debt burdens of more than a quarter of the population, according to a report published this month by the Icelandic Financial Services Association. “You could safely say that Iceland holds the world record in household debt relief,” said Lars Christensen, chief emerging markets economist at Danske Bank A/S in Copenhagen. “Iceland followed the textbook example of what is required in a crisis. Any economist would agree with that.” Most polls now show Icelanders don’t want to join the European Union, where the debt crisis is in its third year. The island’s households were helped by an agreement between the government and the banks, which are still partly controlled by the state, to forgive debt exceeding 110 percent of home values. On top of that, a Supreme Court ruling in June 2010 found loans indexed to foreign currencies were illegal, meaning households no longer need to cover krona losses.

Note: The amazing story of the Icelandic people demanding bank reform is one of the most underreported stories in recent years. Why isn't this all over the news? To see what top journalists say about news censorship, click here. For blatant manipulations of the big banks reported in the major media, click here.


Retired Supreme Court Judge shoved up against a wall and threatened by NYPD at Occupy Wall Street clashes
2011-11-20, Daily Mail (One of the UK's largest-circulation newspapers)
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2063716/You-want-arrested-lady-The-re...

A retired New York Supreme Court judge has claimed she was manhandled by a policeman after watching him beat a woman at the Zuccotti Park raids. Karen Smith was working as a legal observer when she saw a distressed woman pushed to the ground and beaten by an officer, she said. When she demanded he [stop], the unidentified cop pushed her against a wall and threatened her with arrest. Ms Smith had attended the raids ... to note down the names of people arrested as the Occupy Wall Street camp was cleared. She was wearing a fluorescent green baseball cap bearing the words 'National Lawyers Guild Legal Observer' to show she was not taking part in the protests. Ms Smith, who was also carrying a pad and pen, said the incident happened at around 1.30am on Tuesday at Dey Street and Broadway Street in New York City. Speaking to Democracy Now, she described the scene as ‘a paramilitary operation if there ever was one’. It was ‘what we call a stealth eviction’, she added. Ms Smith explained her son had participated in Occupy Wall Street and she had been ‘very concerned’ about his safety.

Note: We don't normally use the UK's Daily Mail as a reliable source, but as no other major media are reporting this story, we felt it warranted inclusion. The judge gives her own testimony in a video near the bottom of the article.


Did You Hear the One About the Bankers?
2011-10-30, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/30/opinion/sunday/friedman-did-you-hear-the-on...

Citigroup had to pay a $285 million fine to settle a case in which, with one hand, Citibank sold a package of toxic mortgage-backed securities to unsuspecting customers — securities that it knew were likely to go bust — and, with the other hand, shorted the same securities — that is, bet millions of dollars that they would go bust. It doesn’t get any more immoral than this. James Stewart, a business columnist for The [New York] Times, noted that Citigroup’s flimflam made “Goldman Sachs mortgage traders look like Boy Scouts.” This gets to the core of why all the anti-Wall Street groups around the globe are resonating. Our financial industry has grown so large and rich it has corrupted our real institutions through political donations. Our Congress today is a forum for legalized bribery. One consumer group using information from Opensecrets.org calculates that the financial services industry, including real estate, spent $2.3 billion on federal campaign contributions from 1990 to 2010, which was more than the health care, energy, defense, agriculture and transportation industries combined. Why are there 61 members on the House Committee on Financial Services? So many congressmen want to be in a position to sell votes to Wall Street.

Note: For lots more from major media sources on the collusion between financial interests and government, click here.


'Occupy Wall Street' -- It's Not What They're for, But What They're Against
2011-10-14, Fox News
http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2011/10/14/understanding-occupy-wall-street/

Critics of the growing Occupy Wall Street movement complain that the protesters don’t have a policy agenda and, therefore, don’t stand for anything. They're wrong. The key isn’t what protesters are for but rather what they’re against -- the gaping inequality that has poisoned our economy, our politics and our nation. In America today, 400 people have more wealth than the bottom 150 million combined. That’s not because 150 million Americans are pathetically lazy or even unlucky. In fact, Americans have been working harder than ever -- productivity has risen in the last several decades. Big business profits and CEO bonuses have also gone up. Worker salaries, however, have declined. Most of the Occupy Wall Street protesters [want] an end to the crony capitalist system now in place, that makes it easier for the rich and powerful to get even more rich and powerful while making it increasingly hard for the rest of us to get by. The question is not how Occupy Wall Street protesters can find that gross discrepancy immoral. The question is why every one of us isn’t protesting with them. According to polls, most Americans support the 99% movement, even if they’re not taking to the streets.

Note: For lots more on the reasons why people all over the world are occupying their city centers, check out our "Banking Bailout" news articles.


Can Liberals and Libertarians Find Common Ground?
2011-10-12, Forbes.com
http://www.forbes.com/sites/benzingainsights/2011/10/12/can-liberals-and-libe...

The Occupy Wall Street movement has the potential to turn into a political firestorm. We have become so divided as a nation that it is very difficult to prognosticate if anything good will come out of these protests from a political perspective. Let’s examine a number of issues that have been raised by Occupy Wall Street, the Tea Party and liberals and libertarians and see where there is agreement. Get Corporate Money Out Of Politics – This is the issue that really kick started Occupy Wall Street. Americans are sick and tired of mega-corporations and Wall Street banks being in bed with our politicians in Washington D.C. End the Federal Reserve – The Federal Reserve is directly responsible for the Too Big To Fail banking cartel, the U.S. debt, the perpetual deficits, and ... the Fed has also robbed the poor and working class blind as a result of their inflationary policies. End The Wars – The American people are fed up with these conflicts, and even large percentages of the military believe that the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan were not worth fighting in the first place. It is time for our troops to come home. End The Drug War - The drug war is an absolute failed policy. The U.S. incarcerates a higher percentage of its population than any country on Earth, yet we call ourselves “The Home of the Free.” Repeal The Patriot Act – The assault on our civil liberties in the wake of 9/11 has been swift and draconian. These are the types of things that go on in totalitarian states, and now, apparently the United States as well.

Note: For lots more from major media sources on the reasons why people worldwide are occupying the financial centers of their cities, check out our "Banking Bailout" news articles.


Goldman Sachs let off paying Ł10m interest on failed tax avoidance scheme
2011-10-11, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/oct/11/goldman-sachs-interest-tax-avo...

Britain's tax authorities have given Goldman Sachs an unusual and generous Christmas present, leaked documents reveal. In a secret London meeting last December with the head of Revenue, the wealthy Wall Street banking firm was forgiven Ł10m interest on a failed tax avoidance scheme. HM Revenue and Customs sources admit privately that the interest-free deal is "a cock-up" by officials, but refuse to say who was responsible. Documents leaked to Private Eye magazine and published in full by the Guardian record that Britain's top tax official, HMRC's permanent secretary Dave Hartnett, personally shook hands on a secret settlement last December. Hartnett also refused to give the facts about Goldman Sachs to MP Jesse Norman on the Treasury committee last month, claiming disclosure would be illegal. He also refuses to brief ministers on the details. The Ł10m Christmas gift for Goldman was the culmination of a prolonged attempt by the US firm to avoid paying national insurance on huge bonuses for its bankers working in London. The sum was pocket change to Goldman, whose employees received $15.3bn (Ł9.5bn) in pay and bonuses last year.

Note: For lots more from reliable sources on corporate and government corruption, click here and here.


World facing worst financial crisis in history, Bank of England Governor says
2011-10-06, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/8812260/World-facing-worst...

The world is facing the worst financial crisis since at least the 1930s “if not ever”, the Governor of the Bank of England said last night. Sir Mervyn King was speaking after the decision by the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee to put Ł75billion of newly created money into the economy in a desperate effort to stave off a new credit crisis and a UK recession. Economists said the Bank’s decision to resume its quantitative easing [QE] showed it was increasingly fearful for the economy, and predicted more such moves ahead. Sir Mervyn said the Bank had been driven by growing signs of a global economic disaster. “This is the most serious financial crisis we’ve seen, at least since the 1930s, if not ever. We’re having to deal with very unusual circumstances, but to act calmly to this and to do the right thing.” Announcing its decision, the Bank said that the eurozone debt crisis was creating “severe strains in bank funding markets and financial markets”. Financial experts said the committee’s actions would be a “Titanic” disaster for pensioners, savers and workers approaching retirement. Under QE, the Bank electronically creates new money which it then uses to buy assets such as government bonds, or gilts, from banks. By increasing the demand for gilts, QE pushes down the interest rate yields paid to holders of these and other bonds. Critics of the policy say it pushes up inflation and drives down sterling.

Note: For lots more on the global financial crisis from reliable sources, click here.


Senate panel concludes Goldman Sachs profited from financial crisis
2011-04-14, Los Angeles Times
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-crisis-probe-20110414,0,6709903.story

A Senate panel has concluded that Goldman Sachs Group Inc. profited from the financial crisis by betting billions against the subprime mortgage market, then deceived investors and Congress about the firm's conduct. Some of the findings in the report by the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations will be referred to the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission for possible criminal or civil action, said Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the panel's chairman. The giant investment bank was just one focus of the subcommittee's probe into Wall Street's role in the financial crisis. The 639-page report — based on internal memos, emails and interviews with employees of financial firms and regulators — casts broad blame, saying the crisis was caused by "conflicts of interest, heedless risk-taking and failures of federal oversight." Among the culprits cited by the panel are Washington Mutual, a major mortgage lender that failed in 2008, as well as the Office of Thrift Supervision, a federal bank regulator, and credit rating firms. Asked if he was disappointed that no Wall Street figures had gone to jail in connection with the crisis, Levin responded, "There's still time."

Note: For many key reports from major media sources illuminating how major financial corporations knowingly brought about the global financial crisis and profited from it, click here.


Mortgage paperwork mess: Next housing shock?
2011-04-01, CBS News 60 Minutes
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/04/01/60minutes/main20049646.shtml

It's bizarre but, it turns out, Wall Street cut corners when it created those mortgage-backed investments that triggered the financial collapse. Now that banks want to evict people, they're unwinding these exotic investments to find, that often, the legal documents behind the mortgages aren't there. Caught in a jam of their own making, some companies appear to be resorting to forgery and phony paperwork to throw people - down on their luck - out of their homes. This past January in Los Angeles, 37,000 homeowners facing foreclosure showed up to an event to beg their bank for lower payments on their mortgage. In February in Miami, 12,000 people showed up to a similar event. For many that's when the real surprise comes in: these same banks have fouled up all of their own paperwork to a historic degree. There were a million foreclosures last year. And there will be another million this year - those lawsuits are forcing open those bundled, mortgage-backed securities that Wall Street cooked up in the mid 2000s, and exposing a lack of ownership documents all across the country. Banks are defensive because all 50 state attorneys general want to punish them: the states are seeking about $20 billion in damages for what they say is the irresponsible, perhaps criminal way, that some mortgage companies handled what is, for most folks, the most important investment of their lives.

Note: To watch the amazing 14-minute video of this article, click here. Learn how banks paid a company which hired people off the streets to pretend they were bank vice presidents and sign thousands of documents fraudulently. For lots more from reliable sources on the criminal practices of mortgage lenders, click here.


The Michigan Monarchy Legislates Financial Martial Law -- Nation Yawns
2011-03-18, Forbes blog
http://blogs.forbes.com/rickungar/2011/03/18/the-michigan-monarchy-legislates...

This week, the Michigan legislature passed – and the governor signed into law – a bill that would permit Governor Rick Snyder to push aside elected city officials and replace them with emergency financial managers in any municipality or school district facing financial difficulties. The law would include virtually every town and city in the state as those cities that aren’t bankrupt already soon will be once the governor’s proposed budget – which cuts billions in aid to municipalities and school districts – is approved by the legislature. One of the most shocking, Draconian, democracy-destroying measures in the history of this country has became law – and the nation has seemingly slept through it. The new law, described by one of the GOP legislators sponsoring the bill as “financial martial law”, empowers the governor’s appointees [referred to as ‘Emergency Financial Managers’] to fire duly elected local officials, cancel labor contracts and even dissolve entire communities and school districts. This is about so much more than collective bargaining agreements and unions. This law gives an appointee of the governor – which, by the way, may be a corporation – the authority to dismiss any or all of a municipality’s elected government officials.

Note: For a treasure trove of reports by major media sources on the collusion between government and financial powers against the public interest, click here.


Financial meltdown culprits seem too big to jail
2011-03-07, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/03/06/EDPG1I481K.DTL

What's wrong with this picture: Years have passed since Wall Street's financial meltdown. Due to the crisis, the economy tanked, the mortgage market has yet to recover, and millions of jobs were lost. Many of those jobs losses will be permanent. The only person who went to jail for any of this was Bernie Madoff. When he accepted his Academy Award for the documentary "Inside Job," Berkeley filmmaker Charles Ferguson reminded Americans that the lack of criminal prosecutions for the financial crisis is, simply, "wrong." No matter what kinds of logical, legal explanations that the Justice Department has trotted out to explain why all of these senior financial executives are too big to jail, it's outrageous that there has not been and will not be any comeuppance for the men who plunged the American economy into chaos. The fact that some of these executives have or will receive some financial punishment in civil court is of little consequence - if ruining the economy isn't worth a little jail time, then what is? The Obama administration has not made it a priority to prosecute financial executives. Its reticence to punish was prominently on display last month, when the Justice Department decided not to prosecute Angelo Mozilo, the former CEO of Countrywide Financial. Mozilo left an e-mail trail detailing his feelings about Countrywide's "toxic" mortgage products and negotiated a $67.5 million payout in a civil suit that was brought against him by the Securities and Exchange Commission. If the feds don't go after him, it's unlikely that they'll go after anyone else. It's a bitter contrast to the 1980s savings-and-loan crisis, when the federal government threw enormous resources at criminal prosecutions and sent even well-connected executives, like Charles Keating, to jail.

Note: For other highly revealing major media articles showing just how much control big bankers have over government, click here.


America's favorite bankers have outdone themselves yet again
2011-01-30, CNN
http://finance.fortune.cnn.com/2011/01/30/money-for-nothing-at-goldman/

How might you compensate management for a year in which profits plunged, you spent $550 million of shareholder money to settle a fraud investigation and your stock ended up more or less exactly where it started? You might be tempted to nix raises or withhold bonuses to send a responsible message about linking pay to performance. But if so, you wouldn't be Goldman Sachs. It just had the year described above – and responded by tripling everyone's base salary while boosting bonuses by 40%. Is this a great country or what? Goldman said in a filing [on January 28] that CEO Lloyd Blankfein will make $2 million this year, and his top lieutenants will each make $1.85 million. Top Goldman brass had been making $600,000 annually in salary since the firm's 1999 initial public offering. All 470 of Goldman's partners will get higher salaries. The top five officers will also get $12.6 million each in bonuses. That's up from $9 million each last year. That may seem like a high price to pay for a pretty lousy year – and one that ended with a Fed-inspired reminder that Goldman, just in case anyone forgot, took billions upon billions of dollars in bailout loans in 2008 and 2009.

Note: For key articles from reliable sources detailing the outrageous compensation awarded to the highest officers of Wall Street financial corporations after they were bailed out by the government, click here.


State Budgets: The Day of Reckoning
2010-12-19, CBS News
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/12/19/60minutes/main7166220.shtml

There is [a] financial crisis looming involving state and local governments. In the two years since the "great recession" wrecked their economies and shriveled their income, the states have collectively spent nearly a half a trillion dollars more than they collected in taxes. There is also a trillion-dollar hole in their public pension funds. The states have been getting by on billions of dollars in federal stimulus funds, but the day of reckoning is at hand. The debt crisis [could] cost a million public employees their jobs and require another big bailout package that no one in Washington wants to talk about. "The most alarming thing about the state issue is the level of complacency," Meredith Whitney, one of the most respected financial analysts on Wall Street. "It has tentacles as wide as anything I've seen. I think next to housing this is the single most important issue in the United States, and certainly the largest threat to the U.S. economy," she [said]. California, which faces a $19 billion budget deficit next year, has a credit rating approaching junk status. It now spends more money on public employee pensions than it does on the state university system, which had to increase its tuition by 32 percent. Arizona is so desperate it sold off the state capitol, Supreme Court building and legislative chambers to a group of investors and now leases the buildings from their new owner. The state also eliminated Medicaid funding for most organ transplants.

Note: For key reports from major media sources on the devastating consequences for Main Street of the criminal bailout of Wall Street, click here.


Brooksley Born foresaw disaster but was silenced
2010-12-05, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/12/05/BUHC1GLHFA.DTL

There's a brief scene in "Inside Job," the locally produced documentary on the Great Financial Meltdown, in which a colleague of the head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in 1997 describes how "blood drained from her face" after receiving a phoned-in tongue-lashing from deputy Treasury Secretary Larry Summers. The target of Summers' wrath was Brooksley Born, ... the first female president of the Stanford Law Review and a recognized legal expert in the area of complex financial instruments. Her crime: Born had the temerity to push for regulation of the increasingly wild trading in derivatives, which, as we learned a decade later, helped bring the U.S. economy, and much of the world's, to its knees. Summers, with 13 bankers in his office, told Born to get off it "in a very grueling fashion," said the colleague. The story is told in much more detail in All the Devils are Here, the latest, but eminently worthwhile, book on the roots of the crisis, by Bethany McLean and ... Joe Nocera. It makes for dispiriting, even appalling, reading. Responding to growing evidence of manipulation and fraud in unregulated derivatives trading - "the hippopotamus under the rug," as Born and others referred to it - Born suggested the commission should perhaps be given some sort of oversight. She had a 33-page policy paper drawn up, full of questions and suggestions, like, for example, whether establishing a public exchange for derivatives might not be a bad idea. Responding to the policy paper, Summers, "screaming at her," according to the book, told Born the bankers sitting in his office "threatened to move their derivatives business to London," if she didn't stop.

Note: For key reports on financial fraud from reliable sources, click here.


Senator Bernie Sanders on the War Between the Shrinking Middle Class and the Wealthy
2010-11-30, U.S. Senate Testimony
http://sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/news/?id=c8f26b05-01e7-429f-a5e0-a9a6bd1a0f40

Mr. SANDERS. Mr. President, there is a war going on in this country, and I am not referring to the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. I am talking about a war being waged by some of the wealthiest and most powerful people in this country against the working families of the United States of America, against the disappearing and shrinking middle class of our country. The reality is, many of the Nation's billionaires are on the warpath. They want more, more, more. Their greed has no end, and apparently there is very little concern for our country or for the people of this country if it gets in the way of the accumulation of more and more wealth and more and more power. The percentage of income going to the top 1 percent has nearly tripled since the 1970s. In the mid-1970s, the top 1 percent earned about 8 percent of all income. In the 1980s, that figure jumped to 14 percent. In the late 1990s, that 1 percent earned about 19 percent. And today, as the middle class collapses, the top 1 percent earns 23 1/2 percent of all income--more than the bottom 50 percent. Today, if you can believe it, the top one-tenth of 1 percent earns about 12 cents of every dollar earned in America.

Note: To see a video of this amazing speech by courageous Senator Bernie Sanders (Independent), click here.


Winning the Class War
2010-11-27, The New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/27/opinion/27herbert.html

The class war that no one wants to talk about continues unabated. Even as millions of out-of-work and otherwise struggling Americans are tightening their belts for the holidays, the nation’s elite are lacing up their dancing shoes and partying like royalty as the millions and billions keep rolling in. Recessions are for the little people, not for the corporate chiefs and the titans of Wall Street who are at the heart of the American aristocracy. They have waged economic warfare against everybody else and are winning big time. The ranks of the poor may be swelling and families forced out of their foreclosed homes may be enduring a nightmarish holiday season, but American companies have just experienced their most profitable quarter ever. The corporate fat cats are becoming alarmingly rotund. Their profits have surged over the past seven quarters at a pace that is among the fastest ever seen, and they can barely contain their glee. On the same day that The Times ran its article about [record corporate] profits, it ran a piece on the front page that carried the headline: “With a Swagger, Wallets Out, Wall Street Dares to Celebrate.” Anyone who thinks there is something beneficial in this vast disconnect between the fortunes of the American elite and those of the struggling masses is just silly. It’s not even good for the elite. The rich may think that the public won’t ever turn against them. But to hold that belief, you have to ignore the turbulent history of the 1930s.

Note: For many reports from reliable souces on corporate profiteering, click here.


Wall Street Pay: A Record $144 Billion
2010-10-11, Wall Street Journal
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704518104575546542463746562.html

Compensation on Wall Street is on pace to break a record high for a second consecutive year, as more than three dozen top banks and securities firms will pay $144 billion in salary and benefits ... a 4% increase from the $139 billion paid out in 2009. Compensation was expected to rise at 26 of the 35 firms. Overall, Wall Street is expected to pay 32.1% of its revenue to employees, the same as last year, but below the 36% in 2007. Profits, which were depressed by losses in the past two years, have bounced back from the 2008 crisis. But the estimated 2010 profit of $61.3 billion for the firms surveyed still falls about 20% short from the record $82 billion in 2006. Over that same period, compensation across the firms in the survey increased 23%. "Until focus of these institutions changes from revenue generation to long-term shareholder value, we will see these outrageous pay packages and compensation levels," said Charles Elson, director of the Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance.

Note: For many key reports from reliable sources on Wall Street's profiteering, click here.


Congressional Staffers Gain From Trading in Stocks
2010-10-11, Wall Street Journal
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703431604575522434188603198.html

Chris Miller nearly doubled his $3,500 stock investment in a renewable-energy firm in 2008. It was a perfectly legal bet, but he's no ordinary investor. Mr. Miller is the top energy-policy adviser to Nevada Democrat and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who helped pass legislation that wound up benefiting the firm. Mr. Miller isn't the only Congressional staffer making such stock bets. At least 72 aides on both sides of the aisle traded shares of companies that their bosses help oversee, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of more than 3,000 disclosure forms covering trading activity by Capitol Hill staffers for 2008 and 2009. The Journal analysis showed that an aide to a Republican member of the Senate Banking Committee bought Bank of America Corp. stock before results of last year's government stress tests eased investor concerns about the health of the banking industry. A top aide to the House Speaker profited by trading shares of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae in a brokerage account with her husband two days before the government authorized emergency funding for the companies. The aides identified by the Journal say they didn't profit by making trades based on any information gathered in the halls of Congress. Even if they had done so, it would be legal, because insider-trading laws don't apply to Congress. Unlike many Executive Branch employees, lawmakers and aides don't have restrictions on their stock holdings and ownership interests in companies they oversee.

Note: Why is Congress exempt from so many of its own laws? Who is willing to start a movement to stop this? For lots more on government corruption from major media sources, click here.


Insider Trading Inside the Beltway
2010-07-02, UCLA School of Law
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1633123

A 2004 study of the results of stock trading by United States Senators during the 1990s found that Senators on average beat the market by 12% a year. In sharp contrast, U.S. households on average underperformed the market by 1.4% a year and even corporate insiders on average beat the market by only about 6% a year during that period. A reasonable inference is that some Senators had access to – and were using – material nonpublic information about the companies in whose stock they trade. Under current law, it is unlikely that Members of Congress can be held liable for insider trading. The proposed Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act addresses that problem by instructing the Securities and Exchange Commission to adopt rules intended to prohibit such trading. This article analyzes present law to determine whether Members of Congress, Congressional employees, and other federal government employees can be held liable for trading on the basis of material nonpublic information. It argues that there is no public policy rationale for permitting such trading and that doing so creates perverse legislative incentives and opens the door to corruption. The article explains that the Speech or Debate Clause of the U.S. Constitution is no barrier to legislative and regulatory restrictions on Congressional insider trading.

Note: Do you think that these highly successful investors in the US Senate might have a vested interest in protecting the existing financial and legal structure that makes their profits possible and protects them from criminal charges?


U.S. banks' role in Mexican drug trade
2010-06-30, San Francisco Chronicle/Bloomberg News
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/06/29/BU2L1E6LV2.DTL

Wachovia [Bank] ... made a habit of helping move money for Mexican drug smugglers. San Francisco's Wells Fargo & Co., which bought Wachovia in 2008, has admitted in court that its unit failed to monitor and report suspected money laundering by narcotics traffickers - including the cash used to buy four planes that shipped a total of 22 tons of cocaine. The admission ... sheds light on the largely undocumented role of U.S. banks in contributing to the violent drug trade that has convulsed Mexico for the past four years. Wachovia admitted it didn't do enough to spot illicit funds in handling $378.4 billion for Mexican currency exchange houses from 2004 to 2007. That's the largest violation of the Bank Secrecy Act, an anti-money-laundering law, in U.S. history - a sum equal to one-third of Mexico's current gross domestic product. "Wachovia's blatant disregard for our banking laws gave international cocaine cartels a virtual carte blanche to finance their operations," said Jeffrey Sloman, the federal prosecutor who handled the case. "It's the banks laundering money for the cartels that finances the tragedy," said Martin Woods, director of Wachovia's anti-money-laundering unit in London from 2006 to 2009. Woods says he quit the bank in disgust after executives ignored his documentation that drug dealers were funneling money through Wachovia's branch network. "If you don't see the correlation between the money laundering by banks and the 22,000 people killed in Mexico, you're missing the point," he said.

Note: For abundant reports from reliable sources on the many dubious ways in which major financial firms make their profits, click here.


Lawmakers Negotiating Bank Bill Hold Industry Stocks
2010-06-17, Bloomberg/Businessweek
http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-06-17/lawmakers-negotiating-bank-bill-h...

Lawmakers writing the biggest overhaul of financial regulations since the Great Depression may have a stake in the outcome. Eight of 11 senators and six of 22 House members on a conference committee writing the final legislation own stocks in financial companies affected by the legislation, disclosure statements released yesterday show. One senator and nine representatives who also sit on the committee got extensions of the filing deadline and haven’t yet disclosed their holdings. “It’s always a concern that personal interests influence legislation,” said Lisa Gilbert, a lobbyist for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a Boston-based organization pushing for stronger financial regulations. Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire reported Bank of America stock holdings and a savings account valued between $1 million and $5 million. The 43 negotiators are trying to iron out differences between the House and Senate versions of the legislation as they respond to an economic crisis that forced the U.S. to provide $700 billion in bailout funds for New York-based Citigroup Inc. ... Bank of America Corp. and other banks.

Note: For abundant reports from reliable sources on government corruption, click here.


Former Fed chief Volcker backs change in system
2010-05-20, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/05/19/BU101DHAMC.DTL

The United States must curb consumption and credit and boost production and savings, but its citizens and leaders so far lack the will to change, economist Paul Volcker said. Volcker, 82, an adviser to the Obama administration, ... said the United States spiraled toward the Great Recession through an excess of debt that subsidized an appetite for consumer goods, many of them imported. The chief bugaboo, in Volcker's view, was a runaway financial sector that ... became a factory to make money by manipulating money. He said under-regulated financiers made big profits and bonuses by swapping derivatives and other exotic instruments that produced few of the widespread benefits - like better jobs and wages - that normally flow from investment. Now that this financial house of cards has collapsed, Volcker said, U.S. and world leaders must figure out how to stop powerful mega-banks and hedge funds from engaging in the same shenanigans that forced taxpayers to bail them out to prevent further catastrophe. "The central issue with which we have been grappling is the doctrine of 'too big to fail,' " Volcker said, alluding to how the United States bailed out institutions like insurer AIG to prevent their collapse from further damaging the economy.

Note: For a great collection of reports from major media sources on the hidden realities of the Wall Street crisis and the government bailout of big finance, click here.


Four Big Banks Score Perfect 61-Day Run
2010-05-12, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/12/business/12bank.html

It is the Wall Street equivalent of a perfect game of baseball — 27 up, 27 down, the final score measured in millions of dollars a day. Despite the running unease in world markets, four giants of American finance managed to make money from trading every single day during the first three months of the year. Their remarkable 61-day streak is one for the record books. Perfect trading quarters on Wall Street are about as rare as perfect games in Major League Baseball. But Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase & Company produced the equivalent of four perfect games during the first quarter. Each one finished the period without losing money for even one day. Their showing ... underscored the outsize — and controversial — role that trading has assumed at major financial institutions. It also drives home the widening lead that a handful of big banks are enjoying over lesser rivals on post-bailout Wall Street. The four banks ... reaped big rewards without necessarily placing big bets that stocks or bonds would go up or down. “This is not about hitting home runs,” said Jaidev Iyer, who runs his own risk management consulting firm, J-Risk Advisors. “This is just, as we call it, milking the market and your captive client base.”

Note: For an astounding list on the Forbes website of the richest companies in the world by assets, click here. All of the top 10 companies are banks, with collective assets of over $22 trillion! Yet we as taxpayers continue to pay to bail them out when they have problems. Is something wrong with this picture? For a graphic representation of this, click here. And for an abundance of deep reporting in major media articles on the hidden realities of Wall Street's shadowy operations, click here.


'Goldman Conspiracy' must kill reforms
2010-05-04, MarketWatch (a Wall Street Journal Digital Network website)
http://www.marketwatch.com/story/goldman-conspiracy-must-kill-bank-reform-201...

Capitalism is dead. The economy has a new Invisible Hand, the Goldman Conspiracy of Wall Street bankers. This transfer of power happened suddenly. As recently as late 2008 the Invisible Hand was on life support, near death. Suddenly, miraculously the Treasury secretary, Goldman's former CEO, transferred the power into a new Invisible Hand of God, the free-market ideology of Reaganomics ... a power absolutely essential to the survival of Wall Street's mega-bonus culture. Yes, that's why the Goldman Conspiracy must kill financial reforms ... why they will kill effective reform with the backroom support of Obama. This was predicted back in late 2008, even before the bailouts, back when we thought Reaganomics dead. Shock Doctrine author Naomi Klein warned: "Free market ideology has always been a servant to the interests of capital ... During boom times it's profitable to preach laissez faire, because an absentee government allows speculative bubbles ... When those bubbles burst, the ideology becomes a hindrance and goes dormant while big government rides to the rescue," then a neo-Reaganomics "ideology will come roaring back when the bailouts are done. The massive debts the public is accumulating to bail out the speculators will then become part of a global budget crisis," setting up a new bubble, bigger meltdown, and the Great Depression 2 the world narrowly avoided in 2008.

Note: For a wealth of key reporting on the hidden realities of the Wall Street's shadowy operations, click here.


Goldman's White House connections raise eyebrows
2010-04-21, Miami Herald/McClatchy Newspapers
http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/04/21/1591442/goldmans-connections-to-white.html

While Goldman Sachs' lawyers negotiated with the Securities and Exchange Commission over potentially explosive civil fraud charges, Goldman's chief executive visited the White House at least four times. White House logs show that Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein traveled to Washington for at least two events with President Barack Obama, whose 2008 presidential campaign received $994,795 in donations from Goldman's employees and their relatives. He also met twice with Obama's top economic adviser, Larry Summers. Meanwhile, however, Goldman is retaining former Obama White House counsel Gregory Craig as a member of its legal team. In addition, when he worked as an investment banker in Chicago a decade ago, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel advised one client who also retained Goldman as an adviser on the same $8.2 billion deal. Goldman's connections to the White House and the Obama administration are raising eyebrows at a time when Washington and Wall Street are dueling over how to overhaul regulation of the financial world. Lawrence Jacobs, a University of Minnesota political scientist, said that "almost everything that the White House has done has been haunted by the personnel and the money of Goldman ... as well as the suspicion that the White House, particularly early on, was pulling its punches out of deference to Goldman and its war chest."

Note: For lots more from major media sources on the corrupt relationship between the biggest financial firms and government, click here.


How did Big Finance grow so powerful that its hijinks nearly brought down the global economy?
2010-04-16, PBS Bill Moyers Journal
http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/04162010/watch.html

Why is it so hard to hold Wall Street accountable? Even as we speak the banking industry and corporate America are fighting against financial reform with all the money and influence at their disposal. Their effort is to preserve a system that would enable them to ransack the country once again. What can ordinary Americans do? That's the question I want to put to my guests, Simon Johnson and James Kwak. They have written this new book, 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown. It's a must read - already a best seller -- and it couldn't have come at a better time. This book could change the debate over financial reform by tipping it in favor of the public. Together James Kwak and Simon Johnson run the indispensable economic website BaselineScenario.com. [Moyers:] Let me get to the blunt conclusion you reach in your book. You say that two years after the devastating financial crisis of '08 our country is still at the mercy of an oligarchy that is bigger, more profitable, and more resistant to regulation than ever. Correct? SIMON JOHNSON: Absolutely correct, Bill. The big banks became stronger as a result of the bailout. That may seem extraordinary, but it's really true. They're turning that increased economic clout into more political power. And they're using that political power to go out and take the same sort of risks that got us into disaster in September 2008.

Note: For a treasure trove of reports from reliable sources on the hidden methods used by financial corporations to manipulate the world economy and gain huge profits at the expense of taxpayers, click here.


Banks Bet Greece Defaults on Debt They Helped Hide
2010-02-25, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/25/business/global/25swaps.html

Bets by some of the same banks that helped Greece shroud its mounting debts may actually now be pushing the nation closer to the brink of financial ruin. Echoing the kind of trades that nearly toppled the American International Group, the increasingly popular insurance against the risk of a Greek default is making it harder for Athens to raise the money it needs to pay its bills, according to traders and money managers. These contracts, known as credit-default swaps, effectively let banks and hedge funds wager on the financial equivalent of a four-alarm fire: a default by a company or, in the case of Greece, an entire country. If Greece reneges on its debts, traders who own these swaps stand to profit. “It’s like buying fire insurance on your neighbor’s house — you create an incentive to burn down the house,” said Philip Gisdakis, head of credit strategy at UniCredit in Munich. As Greece’s financial condition has worsened, undermining the euro, the role of Goldman Sachs and other major banks in masking the true extent of the country’s problems has drawn criticism from European leaders. But even before that issue became apparent, a little-known company backed by Goldman, JP Morgan Chase and about a dozen other banks had created an index that enabled market players to bet on whether Greece and other European nations would go bust.

Note: For lots more from reliable sources on the realities of the global financial crisis, click here.


Troubled banking industry sharply reduced lending in 2009
2010-02-24, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/23/AR20100223021...

Lending by the banking industry fell by $587 billion, or 7.5 percent, in 2009, the largest annual decline since the 1940s, as the number of troubled financial institutions rose sharply, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. [has] reported. The FDIC considered 702 banks to be in some danger of failing as of the end of 2009, more than double the number at the beginning of the year. [FDIC Chairman Sheila C.] Bair said that the vast majority of the lending decline was the result of cutbacks by the nation's largest banks, which have tightened qualification standards for borrowers and increased the proportion of money that they hold in reserve against unexpected losses. The decline in lending is a looming issue as the economy begins to recover. But for the recovery to continue, for businesses to expand and employment to grow, lending must begin to expand, too. The decline also has become a major political issue amid broad public anger that the federal rescue of the banking industry has restored profitability but not the flow of loans. The FDIC [said] that the nation's 8,012 banks posted an aggregate profit of $12.5 billion in 2009. The largest banks accounted for most of those profits as a growing number of smaller banks have struggled to survive losses on commercial real estate loans.

Note: Wasn't the main purpose of the huge stimulus packages given to banks to increase lending? Where did those trillions go? For a treasure trove of revealing reports from major media sources on the realities of the banking bailouts that were supposedly intended to increase lending, click here.


Secret summit of top bankers
2010-02-06, Herald Sun (Australia's largest circulation daily newspaper)
http://www.heraldsun.com.au/business/world-bankers-meet-in-sydney-as-recovery...

The world's top central bankers began arriving in Australia yesterday as renewed fears about the strength of the global economic recovery gripped world share markets. Representatives from 24 central banks and monetary authorities including the US Federal Reserve and European Central Bank landed in Sydney to meet tomorrow at a secret location, the Herald Sun reports. Organised by the Bank for International Settlements last year, the two-day talks are shrouded in secrecy with high-level security believed to have been invoked by law enforcement agencies. The arrival of the high-powered gathering coincided with a fresh meltdown on world sharemarkets, sparked by renewed concerns about global growth and sovereign debt. Fears countries including Greece, Portugal, Spain and Dubai could default on debt repayments combined with disappointing US jobs data to spook investors. "This does feel like '08 and '07 all over again whereby we had these sort of little fires pop up and they are supposedly contained but in reality they are not quite contained,'' said H3 Global Advisors chief executive Andrew Kaleel.

Note: For lots more from reliable sources on the secret deliberations by the highest levels of government and private elites in their attempts to bail out the biggest financial corporations, click here.


The Other Plot to Wreck America
2010-01-10, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/10/opinion/10rich.html

In the 16 months since ... the crash precipitated by the ... failure of Lehman Brothers, most of us are still ignorant about what Warren Buffett called the “financial weapons of mass destruction” that wrecked our economy. What we don’t know will hurt us, and quite possibly on a ... devastating scale. Americans must be told the full story of how Wall Street gamed and inflated the housing bubble, made out like bandits, and then left millions of households in ruin. And without reform, another massive attack on our economic security is guaranteed. Now that it can count on government bailouts, Wall Street has more incentive than ever to pump up its risks — secure that it can keep the bonanzas while we get stuck with the losses. The window for change is rapidly closing. [The] voices of Americans who have lost pay, jobs, homes and savings are either patronized or drowned out entirely by a political system where the banking lobby rules in both parties and the revolving door between finance and government never stops spinning.

Note: For many reports from reliable sources which reveal how the biggest Wall Street firms intentionally created and then cashed out on the financial crisis which destroyed the livelihoods and wealth of millions, click here.


Goldman Holders Miffed at Bonuses
2009-11-20, Wall Street Journal
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB20001424052748704533904574545981008841004.html

Some of the largest shareholders in Goldman Sachs Group Inc. have urged the Wall Street firm to reduce the size of its bonus pool, arguing that it should pass along more of its blockbuster earnings to investors, according to people familiar with the situation. Their complaints in private conversations with the company and at analyst meetings show how anger over its big-money culture is spilling into the ranks of investors who typically shy away from debates over Wall Street pay. Despite record net income and compensation at Goldman as markets rebound and the firm outmuscles weakened rivals for business, analysts expect its 2009 earnings per share to be 22% lower than in 2007 and roughly equal to its 2006 earnings, according to Thomson Financial. The decline is caused by issuing more than 100 million shares in the past year to bolster Goldman's financial position and capital. Some major Goldman shareholders also are concerned about a little-noticed change in the company's financial statements that increased the firm's total head count by adding temporary employees and consultants. The change reduced per-employee compensation, making it look like Goldman employees earn less than they actually do. The figure is a lightning rod for criticism of Goldman because its staff is on pace to earn about $717,000 apiece for 2009. Excluding temporary employees and consultants would increase compensation per employee to about $775,000.

Note: For many revealing reports from reliable sources on the realities behind the Wall Street bailout, click here.


TARP on steroids
2009-10-30, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/10/30/EDTG1ACEDE.DTL

It was 9/29/08 - a moment when a rare blast of populist democracy briefly singed the economic terrorists who hold the Capitol hostage. It had been a dark and stormy month of financial collapse, culminating in an attempted power grab. Pushed by his fellow Wall Street Ponzi schemers, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson - a former Goldman Sachs CEO - was threatening Armageddon unless Congress ratified his ... decree for a no-strings-attached bank bailout. Today, the episode seems merely to have set minimum standards for chicanery. As evidenced by two little-noticed sections of the Obama administration's Wall Street "reform" bill, presidents and their bank benefactors are back to thinking they can pilfer whatever they want by burying their demands in the esoterica of lengthier bills. Finding this latest giveaway means digging all the way down to sections 1109 and 1604 of the White House's mammoth proposal. At a recent hearing, Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Sherman Oaks (Los Angeles County), called the language "TARP on steroids," noting the provisions would deliberately let the executive branch enact even bigger, more unregulated bailouts than ever - and by unilateral fiat. TARP on Steroids includes no specific oversight or executive pay constraints. TARP on Steroids allows taxpayer cash to go only to the behemoths (which, not coincidentally, tend to make the biggest campaign contributions). TARP on Steroids would let [the Treasury Secretary] spend as much as he wants.

Note: For many revealing reports from reliable sources on the continuing Wall Street bailout, click here.


In Harsh Reports on S.E.C.’s Fraud Failures, a Watchdog Urges Sweeping Changes
2009-09-30, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/30/business/30sec.html

The Securities and Exchange Commission’s independent watchdog called for a sweeping overhaul of the agency’s investigation and enforcement practices on Tuesday, after a blistering report on the S.E.C.’s failure to detect Bernard L. Madoff’s extensive Ponzi scheme. Two reports, released by the S.E.C.’s inspector general, H. David Kotz, recommended dozens of changes in the way the agency evaluates tips, trains investigators and documents examinations of securities firms. The first report, which covers the S.E.C.’s inspections and examinations office, outlines 37 improvements that would revamp nearly every aspect of the division’s operations, including how investigators follow up on tips and creating step-by-step procedures in identifying potential violations of securities laws. Mr. Kotz also issued 21 recommendations to the S.E.C.’s division of enforcement, including the start of a formal process for handling complaints and improving working relationships within the division. One measure would mandate that tips and complaints be reviewed by at least two individuals experienced in the subject before taking further action. The proposed changes come after Mr. Kotz’s office completed an exhaustive investigation this month of the S.E.C.’s failure to detect the Madoff fraud despite many warnings and a flood of complaints from credible sources. At nearly every turn, the investigation found, the agency had failed to properly examine Mr. Madoff’s firm and had not adequately followed up on tips from as far back as 1992 that could have unearthed the estimated $65 billion scheme.

Note: For a treasure trove of key revelations on the realities behind the Wall Street crash and bailout, click here. Contact your political representatives urging them to support these recommendations.


Fed Urges Secrecy on Banks in Bailout Programs
2009-08-27, ABC News/Reuters
http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory?id=8426669

The U.S. Federal Reserve asked a federal judge not to enforce her order that it reveal the names of the banks that have participated in its emergency lending programs and the sums they received, saying such disclosure would threaten the companies and the economy. The central bank filed its request ... two days after Chief Judge Loretta Preska of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan ruled in favor of Bloomberg News, which had sought information under the federal Freedom of Information Act. Preska said the Fed failed to show that revealing the names would stigmatize the banks and result in "imminent competitive harm." Underlying this case and a similar one involving News Corp's Fox News Network is a question of how much the public has a right to know about how the government is bailing out a financial system in a crisis. The case arose when two Bloomberg reporters submitted FOIA requests about actions the Fed took to shore up the financial system in 2007 and early 2008, including an expansion of lending programs and the sale of Bear Stearns Cos to JPMorgan.

Note: Don't tax payers have a right to know to which bankds the trillions of tax dollars are going in the bank bailout? For lots more on government secrecy, click here.


666: Goldman's latest bonus bears the mark of the beast
2009-05-03, The Independent (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/666-goldmans...

Something strange is afoot when Popbitch – provider of a weekly email beloved of students, stuffed full of celebrity tittle-tattle and links to the silliest miscellany of the web – breaks off from such glorious trivia to encourage readers to support GoldmanSachs666.com, a deadly serious website measuring the political tentacles of the mighty investment bank. The credit-market catastrophe that has plunged the world into recession is everywhere stirring new ways of thinking about how banking relates to the wider world, but nowhere more so than among a generation coming into political consciousness in these searing times. Something is brewing, some argue, that could make the "regulatory-financial complex" something to rail against in the same way that the military-industrial complex was in the Cold War. This should worry Goldman Sachs. More so than any other firm, it exists at the intersection of politics and high finance. "It was listening to the news coming out of AIG that got me fired up," says Mike Morgan, founder of GoldmanSachs666.com. "While politicians were screaming about $165m paid out to AIG executives in bonuses, $180bn was walking out the door." The Federal Reserve and the then-treasury secretary, Hank Paulson, decided to funnel public funds to AIG, and its counterparties were paid in full. You don't have to scratch far into the internet to find conspiracy theories: Mr Paulson was chief executive of Goldman before going into government; he appointed Edward Liddy, formerly of Goldman, to run AIG; Goldman was AIG's biggest counterparty, receiving $12.9bn from AIG after the bailout.

Note: For lots more on the Wall Street bailout, click here.


Why Creditors Should Suffer, Too
2009-04-05, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/05/business/economy/05view.html?partner=rss&em...

The Obama administration’s proposals to reform financial regulation sound ambitious enough as they aim to bring companies like A.I.G. under a broader umbrella of government rule-making and scrutiny. But there is a big hole in these proposals, as there has already been in the government’s approach to bailing out failing financial companies. Even as they focus on firms deemed too big to fail, the new proposals immunize the creditors and counterparties of such firms by protecting them from their own lending and trading mistakes. This pattern has been evident for months, with the government aiding creditors and counterparties every step of the way. Yet this has not been explained openly to the American public. In truth, it’s not the shareholders of the American International Group who benefited most from its bailout; they were mostly wiped out. The great beneficiaries have been the creditors and counterparties at the other end of A.I.G.’s derivatives deals — firms like Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank, Société Générale, Barclays and UBS. These firms engaged in deals that A.I.G. could not make good on. The bailout, and the regulatory regime outlined by Timothy F. Geithner, the Treasury secretary, would give firms like these every incentive to make similar deals down the road. In both the bailouts and in the new proposals, the government is effectively neutralizing creditors as a force for financial safety. This suggests a scary possibility — that the next regulatory regime could end up even worse than the last.

Note: For a powerfully revealing archive of reports from reliable sources on the hidden realities of the financial bailout, click here.


Big Bonuses at Fannie and Freddie Draw Fire
2009-04-04, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/04/business/04bonus.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&p...

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two troubled companies at the heart of the nation’s mortgage market, are set to pay their employees “retention bonuses” totaling $210 million, despite calls from lawmakers to cancel the payments. The bonuses, which were made public on Friday, were defended by the companies’ federal regulator, James B. Lockhart, who said he intended to let them proceed. In a letter sent last week to Senator Charles E. Grassley, an Iowa Republican, Mr. Lockhart disclosed that 7,600 Fannie and Freddie workers were scheduled to receive payouts aimed at retaining those “employees most critical to keep and difficult to replace.” Under the plan, 213 employees will receive retention bonuses worth more than $100,000 this year, and one Freddie Mac executive will receive $1.3 million. Those figures drew sharp rebukes from Mr. Grassley and other lawmakers, who noted that Fannie and Freddie had received pledges of $400 billion from taxpayers to offset huge losses since they were seized by the government in September. Similar bonuses paid by the American International Group, which was also bailed out by taxpayers, incited fiery attacks from the White House and legislators when they were revealed last month. “It’s hard to see any common sense in management decisions that award hundreds of millions in bonuses when their organizations lost more than $100 billion in a year,” Mr. Grassley said in a statement. “It’s an insult that the bonuses were made with an infusion of cash from taxpayers.”

Note: For many revealing reports on the realities behind the Wall Street bailouts, click here.


Obama’s Ersatz Capitalism
2009-04-01, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/01/opinion/01stiglitz.html?partner=rss&emc=rss...

The Obama administration’s $500 billion or more proposal to deal with America’s ailing banks has been described by some in the financial markets as a win-win-win proposal. Actually, it is a win-win-lose proposal: the banks win, investors win — and taxpayers lose. Treasury hopes to get us out of the mess by replicating the flawed system that the private sector used to bring the world crashing down, with a proposal marked by overleveraging in the public sector, excessive complexity, poor incentives and a lack of transparency. In theory, the administration’s plan is based on letting the market determine the prices of the banks’ “toxic assets” — including outstanding house loans and securities based on those loans. The reality, though, is that the market will not be pricing the toxic assets themselves, but options on those assets. The two have little to do with each other. The government plan in effect involves insuring almost all losses. Since the private investors are spared most losses, then they primarily “value” their potential gains. This is exactly the same as being given an option. Under the plan by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, the government would provide about 92 percent of the money to buy the asset but would stand to receive only 50 percent of any gains, and would absorb almost all of the losses. Some partnership! What the Obama administration is doing is far worse than nationalization: it is ersatz capitalism, the privatizing of gains and the socializing of losses. It is a “partnership” in which one partner robs the other.

Note: The author of this analysis, Joseph E. Stiglitz, is a professor of economics at Columbia University. He was chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers from 1995 to 1997, and was awarded the Nobel prize in economics in 2001. For many revealing reports on the realities behind the Wall Street bailouts, click here.


A.I.G. Planning Huge Bonuses After $170 Billion Bailout
2009-03-15, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/15/business/15AIG.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&pag...

The American International Group, which has received more than $170 billion in taxpayer bailout money from the Treasury and Federal Reserve, plans to pay about $165 million in bonuses by Sunday to executives in the same business unit that brought the company to the brink of collapse last year. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner told the firm they were unacceptable and demanded they be renegotiated, a senior administration official said. But the bonuses will go forward because lawyers said the firm was contractually obligated to pay them. The payments to A.I.G.’s financial products unit are in addition to $121 million in previously scheduled bonuses for the company’s senior executives and 6,400 employees across the sprawling corporation. The payment of so much money at a company at the heart of the financial collapse that sent the broader economy into a tailspin almost certainly will fuel a popular backlash against the government’s efforts to prop up Wall Street. A.I.G., nearly 80 percent of which is now owned by the government, defended its bonuses, arguing that they were promised last year before the crisis and cannot be legally canceled. Of all the financial institutions that have been propped up by taxpayer dollars, none has received more money than A.I.G.. The bonuses will be paid to executives at A.I.G.’s financial products division, the unit that wrote trillions of dollars’ worth of credit-default swaps that protected investors from defaults on bonds backed in many cases by subprime mortgages. Seven executives at the financial products unit were entitled to receive more than $3 million in bonuses.

Note: For many revelations of the amazing realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.


Some Banks, Feeling Chained, Want to Return Bailout Money
2009-03-11, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/11/business/economy/11bailout.html?partner=rss...

Financial institutions that are getting government bailout funds have been told to put off evictions and modify mortgages for distressed homeowners. They must let shareholders vote on executive pay packages. They must slash dividends, cancel employee training and morale-building exercises, and withdraw job offers to foreign citizens. As public outrage swells over the rapidly growing cost of bailing out financial institutions, the Obama administration and lawmakers are attaching more and more strings to rescue funds. The conditions are necessary to prevent Wall Street executives from paying lavish bonuses and buying corporate jets, some experts say. Some bankers say the conditions have become so onerous that they want to return the bailout money. The list includes small banks ... as well as giants like Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo. They say they plan to return the money as quickly as possible or as soon as regulators set up a process to accept the refunds. A senior Treasury official involved in the bailout effort said the administration was carefully trying not to do anything that could harm the banks and was giving financial incentives to modify mortgages. But by keeping weak banks operating, the markets continue to sink and taxpayer costs are mounting, outside experts said. “The current policy is likely to result in weaker banks,” Mr. Seidman said. “And keeping insolvent banks in operation does not benefit the system.”

Note: Could it be that that the main reason top bank executives are now talking about giving money back is that don't want to give up their lavish bonuses and corporate jets? What about all the talk about how the whole world would go to pot if they didn't get this bailout money? Somehow this is not surprising.


New Bank Bailout Could Cost $2 Trillion
2009-01-29, Wall Street Journal
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123319689681827391.html

Government officials seeking to revamp the U.S. financial bailout have discussed spending another $1 trillion to $2 trillion to help restore banks to health, according to people familiar with the matter. President Barack Obama's new administration is wrestling with how to stem the continuing loss of confidence in the financial system, as it divides up the remaining $350 billion from the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program launched last fall. The potential size of rescue efforts being discussed suggests the administration may need to ask Congress for more funds. The administration is expected to take a series of steps, including relieving banks of bad loans and distressed securities. The so-called "bad bank" that would buy these assets could be seeded with $100 billion to $200 billion from the TARP funds, with the rest of the money -- as much as $1 trillion to $2 trillion -- raised by selling government-backed debt or borrowing from the Federal Reserve. The administration is also seeking more effective ways to pump money into banks, and is considering buying common shares in the banks. Government purchases so far have been of preferred shares, in an effort to both protect taxpayers and avoid diluting existing shareholders' stakes. Given the weakened state of the banking industry, with bank share prices low and their capital needs high, economists say the government probably can't avoid owning at least some banks for a temporary period.

Note: Note that the U.S. government has to borrow from the Federal Reserve, which most people don't realize is privately owned by the richest banks. For more on this, click here. The $2 trillion of taxpayer money for Wall Street's toxic assets revealed here is in addition to over $7 trillion already committed according to CNN and others. Wouldn't government debt of this magnitude threaten a broad range of government services and risk seriously weakening the dollar? For many other revealing reports on the Wall Street bailout, click here.


Execs of bailed-out banks got $1.6B last year, AP finds
2008-12-21, USA Today/Associated Press
http://www.usatoday.com/money/companies/management/2008-12-21-bank-execs-bail...

Banks that are getting taxpayer bailouts awarded their top executives nearly $1.6 billion in salaries, bonuses, and other benefits last year, an Associated Press analysis reveals. The rewards came even at banks where poor results last year foretold the economic crisis that sent them to Washington for a government rescue. Some trimmed their executive compensation due to lagging bank performance, but still forked over multimillion-dollar executive pay packages. Benefits included cash bonuses, stock options, personal use of company jets and chauffeurs, home security, country club memberships and professional money management. The total amount given to nearly 600 executives would cover bailout costs for many of the 116 banks that have so far accepted tax dollars to boost their bottom lines. The AP compiled total compensation based on annual reports that the banks file with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The 116 banks have so far received $188 billion in taxpayer help. Among the findings: • Lloyd Blankfein, president and chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs, took home nearly $54 million in compensation last year. The company's top five executives received a total of $242 million. The New York-based company on Dec. 16 reported its first quarterly loss since it went public in 1999. It received $10 billion in taxpayer money on Oct. 28. • John A. Thain, chief executive officer of Merrill Lynch, topped all corporate bank bosses with $83 million in earnings last year. Like Goldman, Merrill got $10 billion from taxpayers on Oct. 28.

Note: For many reports on the realities of the Wall Street bailout from reliable sources, click here.


House Arrest for Madoff in $7 Million Apartment
2008-12-17, abcnews.com
http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/WallStreet/story?id=6480363

Bernard Madoff, accused of the largest fraud in U.S. history, will be allowed to remain in his $7 million Park Avenue apartment instead of being sent to jail, under terms of an agreement announced today by federal prosecutors. Madoff was unable to meet the bond conditions set last week by a federal magistrate which required him to get four people to sign his personal recognizance bond. According to the U.S. Attorney's office, only Madoff's wife and brothers were willing to sign the document. But instead of ordering him held in jail, prosecutors agreed to home detention with electronic monitoring. Madoff and his luxury apartment on Manhattan's upper east side will be fitted with an electronic monitoring device by the court's pre-trial services and Madoff will be under a curfew of between 7 p.m. through 9 a.m. Madoff's wife agreed to post the mansions in her name in Palm Beach, Florida and in Montauk on New York's Long Island. The Securities and Exchange Commission chairman said today the agency has found "no evidence of wrongdoing by any SEC personnel" in connection with Madoff's alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme and that the SEC intends to get to the bottom of where it may have gone wrong. "I was very concerned to learn this week that credible allegations about Mr. Madoff had been made over nearly a decade and yet never referred to the commission for action," Commissioner Christopher Cox said at a press conference. Yesterday, Cox acknowledged what amounted to a generational failure on the part of the SEC to discover any hint of Madoff's scheme, despite allegations dating back to 1999.

Note: Why is the criminal responsible for the largest single banking scandal in history given house arrest rather than jail before his trial? Isn't it remarkable that the hands-off treatment Madoff received over the years from the SEC seems to be continuing from the Federal prosecutors? For more on Wall Street corruption, click here.


Why AIG Gets Billions, GM Gets Scorn
2008-12-12, U.S. News & World Report blog
http://www.usnews.com/blogs/flowchart/2008/12/12/why-aig-gets-billions-gm-get...

AIG, the huge insurance company, has so far gotten $173 billion worth of federal aid, because traders at one small division made bets on exotic securities that were so calamitous they threatened to bring down the whole company. So far, the amount of money the feds have pledged to this one firm equals nearly one-third of the nation’s defense budget. General Motors, America’s biggest automaker, has asked for a $10 billion federal loan, equal to one-seventeenth of what AIG has gotten – and Congress has said no. There were no rogue traders at GM, and the company’s problems have intensified in plain view, over several months, instead of coming from out of nowhere in a single, cataclysmic episode. Make sense? Doesn’t to me. So maybe if we look at each company a bit more closely, it will be clearer why the government favors companies like AIG over ones like GM. Does have AIG have friends in high places? You could say that. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke both support the AIG bailout, and they’ve steered money to the company without Congressional approval. GM’s most important friends in Washington have been the Michigan Congressional delegation, which obviously doesn’t have the clout it used to. Paulson has actually argued against using part of the huge $700 billion financial bailout fund to help the automakers, because they can’t pass a “viability” test proving they’ll stay in business long enough to pay back the loans. But AIG hasn’t passed a viability test either, and without federal help there’s little doubt it would be in bankruptcy.

Note: At least someone is asking the right questions! For many highly revealing reports from reliable sources on the realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.


Wall Street legend Bernard Madoff arrested over '$50 billion Ponzi scheme'
2008-12-12, Times of London
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article5331997.ece

Shock and panic spread through the country clubs of Palm Beach and Long Island after Bernard L Madoff, a trading powerbroker for over four decades, allegedly confessed to a massive fraud that will cost his wealthy investors at least $50 billion, perhaps the largest swindle in Wall Street history. Mr Madoff, 70, a former Nasdaq stock chairman, was apparently turned in by his two sons and arrested on Thursday morning at his Manhattan apartment by the FBI. The FBI claims that three senior employees of Mr Madoff's investment firm - once a towering presence on Wall Street - turned up at his apartment on Wednesday to ask questions about the company's solvency. Two of them are believed to be his sons, Andrew and Mark, who have worked for their father for two decades. Mr Madoff told them that he was "finished", that he had "absolutely nothing", and that "it's all just one big lie". He said the investment arm of his firm was "basically a giant Ponzi scheme," and that it had been insolvent for years. A Ponzi scheme, named after the swindler Charles Ponzi, is a fraudulent investment operation that pays abnormally high returns to investors paid from money put into the scheme by subsequent investors, rather from real profits generated by share trading. The FBI complaint states that Mr Madoff told his sons he believed the losses from his scheme could exceed $50 billion. If that is the case, his fraud would be far greater than past Ponzi schemes and easily the greatest swindle perpetrated by one man.

Note: If a former Nasdaq chairman was committing this kind of blatant fraud while still the chairman of Nasdaq, what does it say about the level of corruption on Wall Street? For a treasure trove of reports from reliable sources exposing the realities of the Wall Street corruption, click here.


15 corporate chieftains each top $100 million in 5 years
2008-11-20, Denver Post/Wall Street Journal
http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_11036514

The credit bubble has burst. The economy is tanking. Investors in the U.S. stock market have lost more than $9 trillion since its peak a year ago. But in industries at the center of the crisis, plenty of top officials managed to emerge with substantial fortunes. Fifteen corporate chieftains of large home-building and financial-services firms each reaped more than $100 million in cash compensation and proceeds from stock sales during the past five years, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis. Four of those executives, including the heads of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Bear Stearns Cos., ran companies that have filed for bankruptcy protection or seen their share prices fall more than 90% from their peak. The study ... showed that top executives and directors of the firms cashed out a total of more than $21 billion during the period. The issue of compensation and other rewards for corporate executives is front-and-center in the wake of the financial meltdown. In the tech bubble of the late 1990s, more than 50 individuals each made more than $100 million from selling shares just prior to the crash. Many had just founded companies that had never turned a profit. "The system tends to reward people for participating in bubbles," says Roy C. Smith, a finance professor at New York University's business school.

Note: For many revealing reports on the Wall Street bailout from reliable sources, click here.


A.I.G. Secures $150 Billion Assistance Package
2008-11-11, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/11/business/11insure.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&...

The American International Group said on Monday that it ... had secured a new $150 billion government assistance package intended to stem the bleeding from its complex financial contracts. A central component of the new package will be to get the most tainted assets out of the company, in an effort to stop the collateral calls that have been rapidly draining A.I.G.’s cash. A.I.G.’s trading partners in these financial contracts will largely be made whole in the process. [An] important feature will be government investments of about $50 billion to create special-purpose entities to relieve the company of its most tainted assets. About $30 billion of the government money will be used to buy complex debt securities that were insured by A.I.G. and about $20 billion more will be used to buy securities backed by home loans. A.I.G.’s counterparties — financial institutions in the United States and Europe — have not borne significant losses on the financial contracts that led A.I.G. to the brink, and the new program suggests they will not. “We’re funding somebody on the other side” of A.I.G.’s derivatives contracts, said Lynn E. Turner, a former chief accountant with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Neither A.I.G. nor the federal government has been willing to provide the names of the company’s biggest counterparties, or their amount of exposure. “We’ve had way too many things here that nobody knows anything about,” said Mr. Turner, who is on the Treasury’s Advisory Committee on the Auditing Profession. “That’s why no one has faith in the capital markets.”

Note: The culture of secrecy around this bailout using nearly $1 trillion of taxpayer money is appalling. For many revealing and reliable reports on the Wall Street bailout, click here.


Fed Defies Transparency Aim in Refusal to Disclose
2008-11-10, Bloomberg News
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aatlky_cH.tY

The Federal Reserve is refusing to identify the recipients of almost $2 trillion of emergency loans from American taxpayers or the troubled assets the central bank is accepting as collateral. Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said in September they would comply with congressional demands for transparency in a $700 billion bailout of the banking system. Two months later, as the Fed lends far more than that in separate rescue programs that didn't require approval by Congress, Americans have no idea where their money is going or what securities the banks are pledging in return. Bloomberg News has requested details of the Fed lending under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act and filed a federal lawsuit Nov. 7 seeking to force disclosure. The Fed made the loans under terms of 11 programs, eight of them created in the past 15 months. The Fed's lending is significant because the central bank has stepped into a rescue role that was also the purpose of the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, bailout plan -- without safeguards put into the TARP legislation by Congress. Total Fed lending topped $2 trillion for the first time last week and has risen by 140 percent, or $1.172 trillion, in the seven weeks since Fed governors relaxed the collateral standards on Sept. 14. The nation's biggest banks, Citigroup, Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley, declined to comment on whether they have borrowed money from the Fed. They received $120 billion in capital from the TARP, which was signed into law Oct. 3.

Note: For many revealing and reliable reports on the Wall Street bailout, click here.


Was There a Loan It Didn’t Like?
2008-11-02, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/02/business/02gret.html?partner=rssuserland&em...

As a senior mortgage underwriter, Keysha Cooper was proud of her ability to spot fraud and other problems in a loan application. But as a senior mortgage underwriter at Washington Mutual during the late, great mortgage boom, Ms. Cooper says she found herself in a vise. Brokers squeezed her from one side, her superiors from the other, she says, and both pressured her to approve loans, no matter what. “At WaMu it wasn’t about the quality of the loans; it was about the numbers,” Ms. Cooper says. “They didn’t care if we were giving loans to people that didn’t qualify. Instead, it was how many loans did you guys close and fund?” When underwriters refused to approve dubious loans, they were punished, she says. In February 2007 ... the pressure became intense. WaMu executives told employees they were not making enough loans and had to get their numbers up, she says. “They started giving loan officers free trips if they closed so many loans, fly them to Hawaii for a month,” Ms. Cooper recalls. “One of my account reps went to Jamaica for a month because he closed $3.5 million in loans that month. If a loan came from a top loan officer, they didn’t care what the situation was, you had to make that loan work,” she says. One loan file was filled with so many discrepancies that she felt certain it involved mortgage fraud. She turned the loan down, she says, only to be scolded by her supervisor. Ms. Cooper says that her bosses placed her on probation for 30 days for refusing to approve the loan and that her team manager signed off on the loan.

Note: For lots more on corporate corruption from reliable sources, click here.


Panel grills credit raters over inflated ratings
2008-10-23, MSNBC/Associated Press
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27326652

Executives and employees at the major credit ratings agencies were often aware of problems in the AAA grades awarded to thousands of mortgage-related securities whose downgrades helped plunge the nation into a financial meltdown. The companies — Standard & Poor, Moody’s and Fitch, Inc. — made enormous profits as they evaluated a ballooning number of mortgage-backed bonds, many of which were given top marks as long as housing prices went up. “The story of the credit rating agencies is a story of colossal failure,” said Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The California Democrat said, “Millions of investors rely on them for independent, objective assessments. The rating agencies broke this bond of trust, and federal regulators ignored the warning signs and did nothing to protect the public. The result is that our entire financial system is now at risk.” The companies are important because their high assessments assured investors that their money should be safe. The inflated ratings awarded to securities backed up by subprime loans led investors to buy them in enormous numbers. But now, most of these securities have been downgraded and the market for them has largely evaporated, contributing to the current crisis. The panel also heard former ratings agency executives say there’s an inherent conflict of interest in the industry because they’re paid by bond issuers instead of investors who trust their ratings to make smart investments.

Note: For many reports on corporate corruption from reliable sources, click here.


This Bailout Doesn’t Pay Dividends
2008-10-21, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/21/opinion/21stein.html?partner=rssuserland&em...

Secretary Paulson [has been] described as playing the role of the Godfather, making the banks [a bailout] offer they could not refuse. But in one important respect, he was more Santa Claus than Vito Corleone: the agreement allowed the banks to continue paying dividends to common shareholders. These dividends, if they are paid at current levels, will redirect more than $25 billion of the $125 billion to shareholders in the next year alone. A significant fraction of [the bailout] money will wind up in shareholders’ pockets — and thus be unavailable to plug the large capital hole on the banks’ balance sheets. The officers and directors of the nine banks will be among the leading beneficiaries of the dividend payout. Their personal take of the dividends will amount to approximately $250 million in the first year. Why would the banks want to maintain large dividend payouts when they’ve had such a hard time borrowing, are starved of cash, and the credit markets believe that they run a significant risk of defaulting? Shouldn’t these distressed banks be marshalling all of the financial resources available to them to ensure their viability? Here’s why: Each dollar paid out as a dividend today is a dollar that cannot be seized by creditors in the event of bankruptcy. For a distressed company, dividends are not in the interest of the enterprise as a whole (shareholders and lenders taken together), but only in the interest of shareholders. They are an attempt by shareholders to beat creditors out the door. The government should close the door by putting an immediate stop to the dividend payouts of any banks receiving direct federal support.

Note: Is the fox guarding the hen house? For many revealing, reliable reports on the banking bailout, click here.


Wall Street's 'Disaster Capitalism for Dummies'
2008-10-21, MarketWatch.com (owned by Dow Jones)
http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/14-reasons-main-street-loses/story.aspx...

Sorry to pop your bubble folks, but it no longer matters who's president. Why? The real "game changer" already happened. Democracy has been replaced by Wall Street's new "disaster capitalism." That's the big game-changer historians will remember about 2008, masterminded by Wall Street's ultimate "Trojan Horse," Hank Paulson. Congress simply handed over voting power and the keys to trillions in the Treasury to Wall Street's new "Disaster Capitalists" who now control "democracy." We let it happen. In one generation America has been transformed from a democracy into a strange new form of government, "Disaster Capitalism." Three decades of influence peddling in Washington ... accelerated under Reaganomics and went into hyperspeed under Bushonomics, both totally committed to a new disaster capitalism run privately by Wall Street and Corporate America. No-bid contracts in wars and hurricanes. A housing-credit bubble -- while secretly planning for a meltdown. Finally, the coup de grace: Along came the housing-credit crisis, as planned. Press and public saw a negative, a crisis. Disaster capitalists saw a huge opportunity. Yes, opportunity for big bucks and control of America. This end game was planned for years in secret war rooms on Wall Street, in Corporate America, in Washington and the Forbes 400. Naomi Klein summarizes the game in Shock Doctrine: the Rise of Disaster Capitalism. This "new economy" generates enormous profits feeding off other peoples' misery: Wars, terror attacks, natural catastrophes, poverty, trade sanctions, subprime housing meltdowns and all kinds of economic, financial and political disasters.

Note: The author of this highly critical commentary, Paul B. Farrell, is a well-known writer on finance and investment and a long-time columnist at The Wall Street Journal's sister-site MarketWatch.


Stimulus Plan a Scam to Benefit the Rich
2008-02-03, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/02/03/IN8LUO095.DTL

Congress is about to sell us the biggest fraud in American history. It's been highly touted as an economic stimulus bill that will help millions of Americans. As part of the bill, Congress is set to rush through an increase in the mortgage loan limits for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (and Federal Housing Administration insurance, too) - from $417,000 to $729,750 - the first step toward a massive financial disaster in which taxpayers will end up paying through the nose. Now, thanks to Congress, junk bond investors will be able to pawn off their bad debt to Fannie and Freddie. This shift will certainly doom Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, so don't be surprised if we, the taxpayers, have to bail out poor Fannie and Freddie - to the tune of more than $1 trillion. The irony here is that the collapse in housing prices could make Fannie insolvent even without raising the loan limit. Increasing Fannie's limit is like going on a spending spree with your credit cards because you know you are going to file for bankruptcy in a few months. Only here the taxpayer is left holding the bag. Our children will pay interest on this debt in perpetuity. It is our debt. It is inescapable. In the coming months, Fannie and Freddie will buy up mortgages based on old, fraudulent appraisals and on loans with bogus inflated incomes. Unfortunately, many of these loans will still default. Expansion of Fannie and Freddie's reckless lending is exactly what Congress wants because it's plausibly deniable. Teary-eyed lawmakers can take to the airwaves a year from now and declare: "We had no idea Fannie could go under, but we can't cut and run now. Those same lawmakers won't mention the fact that they get paid far more by real estate lobbyists than they do from our Treasury.

Note: The author wrote this article seven months before the collapse of Fannie Mae and eight months before the huge banking bailout. For more news articles suggestion major manipulations to transfer public tax monies to the banking sector, click here.


Ireland jails three top bankers over 2008 banking meltdown
2016-07-29, Reuters
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-ireland-banking-court-idUSKCN10912E

Three senior Irish bankers were jailed on Friday for up to three-and-a-half years for conspiring to defraud investors in the most prominent prosecution arising from the 2008 banking crisis. The trio will be among the first senior bankers globally to be jailed for their role in the collapse of a bank during the crisis. The crash thrust Ireland into a three-year sovereign bailout in 2010. It could take another 15 years to recover the funds pumped into the banks still operating. Former Irish Life and Permanent Chief Executive Denis Casey was sentenced to two years and nine months. Willie McAteer, former finance director at the failed Anglo Irish Bank, and John Bowe, its ex-head of capital markets, were given sentences of 42 months and 24 months respectively. All three were convicted of conspiring together and with others to mislead investors, depositors and lenders by setting up a 7.2-billion-euro circular transaction scheme between March and September 2008 to bolster Anglo's balance sheet. "They manufactured 7.2 billion euros in deposits by obvious sham transactions," Judge Martin Nolan told the court. No senior industry executives in [the US or UK] have been sent to jail.

Note: Iceland allowed big banks to fail and in 2015 sent 26 bankers to jail for their role in the 2008 financial crisis. It's economy is in good shape. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and in the financial industry.


Eric Holder’s Longtime Excuse for Not Prosecuting Banks Just Crashed and Burned
2016-07-12, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2016/07/12/eric-holders-longtime-excuse-for-not-pros...

Eric Holder has long insisted that he tried really hard when he was attorney general to make criminal cases against big banks in the wake of the 2007 financial crisis. [Yet Holder] held his department back [according to] a new, thoroughly-documented report from the House Financial Services Committee. Prosecutors in 2012 wanted to criminally charge the global bank HSBC for facilitating money laundering for Mexican drug lords and terrorist groups. But Holder said no. In September 2012, the Justice Department’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section (AFMLS) formally recommended that HSBC be prosecuted for its numerous financial crimes. From 2006 to 2010, HSBC failed to monitor billions of dollars of U.S. dollar purchases with drug trafficking proceeds in Mexico. It also conducted business going back to the mid-1990s on behalf of customers in Cuba, Iran, Libya, Sudan, and Burma, while they were under sanctions. Such transactions were banned by U.S. law. AFMLS Chief Jennifer Shasky wanted to seek a guilty plea for violations of the Bank Secrecy Act. On November 7, Holder presented HSBC with a “take it or leave it” offer of a deferred prosecution agreement, which would involve a cash settlement and future monitoring of HSBC. No guilty plea was required. HSBC [then] successfully negotiated to have individual executives immunized from prosecution. Lack of desire at the highest levels of the Justice Department was ... the primary reason that no prosecutions took place.

Note: While attorney general of the United States, Eric Holder consistently refused to prosecute Wall Street. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and in the financial industry.


Goldman Sachs Will Pay $5 Billion To Settle Financial-Crisis Claims
2016-01-14, NPR
http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/01/14/463107541/goldman-sachs-wil...

Goldman Sachs will pay about $5 billion to resolve state and federal investigations into its handling of mortgage-backed securities in the years leading up to the 2008 financial crisis, the bank said today. The agreement will settle "actual and potential civil claims" by the U.S. Justice Department and the attorneys general of New York and Illinois, as well as the Federal Home Loan Banks of Chicago and Seattle and the National Credit Union Administration. Goldman said the settlement, an agreement in principle, has not yet been finalized by the parties involved. If it is, it will reduce earnings for the last three months of 2013 by $1.5 billion. Ever since the subprime mortgage crisis upended the global financial system, authorities have been investigating a number of large financial institutions and their sale of mortgage-backed securities. The investigations have centered on whether the banks misrepresented the real value of the assets. Regulators have already won large multibillion-dollar settlements from several large banks, including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup. Last May, Goldman announced it was negotiating with federal and state authorities to resolve claims against it.

Note: Yet no individual goes to jail for their actions which costs taxpayers billions of dollars. Once again, those who commit white collar crimes go free. And since the bailout in 2008, the percentage of US banking assets held by the big banks has almost doubled. Could this possibly have been planned? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and in the financial industry.


Bernie Sanders: To Rein In Wall Street, Fix the Fed
2015-12-23, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/23/opinion/bernie-sanders-to-rein-in-wall-stre...

Seven years ago, the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department bailed out the largest financial institutions in this country because they were considered too big to fail. But almost every one is bigger today than it was before the bailout. If any were to fail again, taxpayers could be on the hook for another bailout. To rein in Wall Street, we should begin by reforming the Federal Reserve, which oversees financial institutions. Unfortunately, an institution that was created to serve all Americans has been hijacked by the very bankers it regulates. What went wrong at the Fed? The chief executives of some of the largest banks in America are allowed to serve on its boards. During the Wall Street crisis of 2007, Jamie Dimon, the chief executive and chairman of JPMorgan Chase, served on the New York Fed’s board of directors while his bank received more than $390 billion in financial assistance from the Fed. Next year, four of the 12 presidents at the regional Federal Reserve Banks will be former executives from one firm: Goldman Sachs. We would not tolerate the head of Exxon Mobil running the Environmental Protection Agency. And we should not allow big bank executives to serve on the boards of the main agency in charge of regulating financial institutions. Financial reforms must not stop with the central bank. We must reinstate Glass-Steagall and break up the too-big-to-fail financial institutions. The sad reality is that the Federal Reserve doesn’t regulate Wall Street; Wall Street regulates the Fed.

Note: After the bailout in 2008, the percentage of US banking assets held by the big banks has almost doubled. Could this possibly have been planned? And why is the only US presidential candidate talking seriously about bank reform being given little attention by mainstream media? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and in the financial industry.


Where's the outrage? Congress changes savings accounts and retirement funds, and America sleeps
2014-12-16, The Guardian
http://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/dec/16/budget-sets-stage-for-next-meltdown

Congress has passed, and President Obama has said he would sign, a budget bill that allows banks to use your savings when they make giant financial bets called derivatives. Again. And because those savings are insured by the federal government, you, the taxpayer, would be on the hook if those bets go south. Again. This isn’t arcane financial stuff we can ignore. These are the exact financial mechanisms that led to the global crisis just six (short!) years ago. The Dodd-Frank reform law that was passed in the wake of that crisis forbade this from ever happening. People in the personal finance field love to talk about how if we could just get more Americans to save, if we could just get more Americans to learn the basics of the stock market, if we could just convince Americans to forego that latte at Starbucks, if we could just put Americans on a budget, then things would be OK. But how is any of that supposed to work when banks can use people’s savings to play the roulette wheel that is the stock market – and then when they lose, they just order another cup of coffee and use the federal budget to make sure that the losses fall not on them but on the people who just tried to save a little money in the first place? This one is only on workers if they say nothing and fail to educate themselves on what is being plundered from their futures. The powers that be are counting on you not to pay attention, or to feel so impotent that you just give up.

Note: Read how literally hundreds of trillions of dollars are being recklessly gambled by the banks using our savings and retirement. For more along these lines, see these concise summaries of deeply revealing articles about widespread corruption in government and banking and finance.


Gangster Bankers: Too Big to Jail
2014-02-14, Rolling Stone
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/gangster-bankers-too-big-to-jail-20...

The deal was announced quietly, just before the holidays. The U.S. Justice Department granted a total walk to executives of the British-based bank HSBC for the largest drug-and-terrorism money-laundering case ever. They issued a fine – $1.9 billion, or about five weeks' profit – but they didn't extract so much as one dollar or one day in jail from any individual, despite a decade of stupefying abuses. For at least half a decade, the storied British colonial banking power helped to wash hundreds of millions of dollars for drug mobs, including Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel, suspected in tens of thousands of murders just in the past 10 years. The bank also ... aided countless common tax cheats in hiding their cash. That nobody from the bank went to jail or paid a dollar in individual fines is nothing new in this era of financial crisis. What is different about this settlement is that the Justice Department, for the first time, admitted why it decided to go soft on this particular kind of criminal. It was worried that anything more than a wrist slap for HSBC might undermine the world economy. "Had the U.S. authorities decided to press criminal charges," said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer at a press conference to announce the settlement, "HSBC would almost certainly have lost its banking license in the U.S., the future of the institution would have been under threat and the entire banking system would have been destabilized."

Note: For more on the collusion of government with the biggest, most corrupt banks, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


New York regulator demands bank documents as investigation widens
2014-02-05, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/feb/05/new-york-regulator-banks-trad...

New York state’s top financial regulator has demanded documents from more than a dozen banks including Barclays, Deutsche, Goldman Sachs and RBS as a probe widened into trading practices in the $5.3tn-a-day global foreign exchange markets. Benjamin Lawsky, New York's financial services superintendent, made the move following the banks’ decision to fire or suspend at least 20 traders following reports that employees at some firms had shared information about their currency positions with counterparts at other companies. Lawsky’s move marks the latest escalation in a global investigation by regulators into the manipulation of benchmark rates. The currency probe comes as regulators are still investigating the manipulation of the Libor lending rate by traders at some of the world’s biggest banks. The Wall Street Journal reported that Goldman Sachs’ Steven Cho, formerly global head of spot and forward foreign exchange trading for major currencies, was retiring from the bank. His departure came a day after Citigroup announced that Anil Prasad, its global head of foreign exchange, was leaving the company. It is not know if his retirement is in any way linked to any investigation. Prasad’s exit comes a month after Rohan Ramchandani, formerly Citi’s head of European spot foreign exchange trading, was fired. Ramchandani had been a member of the Bank of England’s foreign exchange joint standing committee.

Note: For more on financial corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Even After Volcker, Banks Aren't Safe Enough
2013-12-30, Time Magazine
http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2160950,00.html

Despite the hoopla over the approval of the Volcker rule, which restricts banks from making certain types of speculative investments, our financial system isn't much safer than it was before 2008. A major reason for the continued complexity and risk in the financial system is lobbying power. The Volcker rule as it stands now has been turned into Swiss cheese by bank lobbyists, who represent the second biggest corporate special-interest bloc after the health care complex, spending nearly half a billion dollars a year on lobbying, according to the nonprofit, nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. So while the rule limits federally insured banks from trading for its own sake, they are still allowed to hedge their portfolios, which opens up a lot of gray territory for trading. Certainly having more lenders rather than fewer would help other kinds of businesses, and having trading walled off from lending would encourage that. The fact that the five largest U.S. financial holding companies control 55% of industry assets--compared with 20% in 1990--keeps competition low and credit constrained. In the next two to five years, there will likely be another crisis or trading loss of the kind that reignites the debate over closing trading loopholes and creating a truly safer financial system. Right now, banks complain about rules that would require them to hold a mere 5% of their assets in high-quality, low-risk capital (known as Tier 1 capital), despite the fact that in any other industry, doing business with less than 50% of your own cash would be considered extreme.

Note: For more on government collusion with the biggest banks, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Andrew Huszar: Confessions of a Quantitative Easer
2013-11-11, Wall Street Journal
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303763804579183680751473884

I can only say: I'm sorry, America. As a former Federal Reserve official, I was responsible for executing the centerpiece program of the Fed's first plunge into the bond-buying experiment known as quantitative easing. The central bank continues to spin QE as a tool for helping Main Street. But I've come to recognize the program for what it really is: the greatest backdoor Wall Street bailout of all time. Where are we today? The Fed keeps buying roughly $85 billion in bonds a month, chronically delaying so much as a minor QE taper. Over five years, its bond purchases have come to more than $4 trillion. Amazingly, in a supposedly free-market nation, QE has become the largest financial-markets intervention by any government in world history. And the impact? Even by the Fed's sunniest calculations, aggressive QE over five years has generated only a few percentage points of U.S. growth. By contrast, experts outside the Fed, such as Mohammed El Erian at the Pimco investment firm, suggest that the Fed may have created and spent over $4 trillion for a total return of as little as 0.25% of GDP (i.e., a mere $40 billion bump in U.S. economic output). Both of those estimates indicate that QE isn't really working. Unless you're Wall Street. Having racked up hundreds of billions of dollars in opaque Fed subsidies, U.S. banks have seen their collective stock price triple since March 2009. The biggest ones have only become more of a cartel: 0.2% of them now control more than 70% of the U.S. bank assets. As for the rest of America, good luck.

Note: For more on government corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Finally, a Guilty Verdict for Wall Street
2013-10-24, US News & World Report
http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/pat-garofalo/2013/10/24/bank-of-america-t...

"The Hustle." That's the name of a program run by Countrywide, the slimy subprime lender purchased by Bank of America in 2008. Under the program, Countrywide brokers were paid bonuses to originate loans, firing them off to borrowers with less than stellar credit in an attempt to gin up quick profits. The loans were then sold to government-backed mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, where they often went sour. This sounds like a fairly typical tale from the financial crisis: Most of the nation's largest banks have, in one way or another, been accused of formulating sloppy loans and dumping them off on the taxpayer or of selling toxic mortgage securities to unwitting customers. But there's a new twist to the old story: Yesterday, a jury found Bank of America guilty of fraud, the first time that a major U.S. bank has been held responsible by a U.S. court for actions tied to the financial crisis. The jury also held a former Countrywide manager liable for fraud. That we're still wondering whether the banks will face any consequences for their actions more than five years after the financial crisis began in earnest is a pretty damning indictment of the Obama administration's approach to the matter. Can lawmakers summon the will to actually take on Wall Street or are a few good headlines from DOJ all we can hope for? The Dodd-Frank financial reform law was a good opening effort and, despite its imperfections, will make some difference in reining Wall Street. But there is still a lot that the law either left unaddressed or up to the interpretation of regulators who are bombarded by missives from Wall Street lobbyists.

Note: For more on the collusion of big banks and banking regulators, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


The Stench of the Potomac
2013-08-01, New York Magazine
http://nymag.com/news/frank-rich/this-town-washington-lobbyists-2013-8/

The tale of how the Obama economic team was recruited en masse from Robert Rubin acolytes who either facilitated Wall Street’s pre-crash recklessness while in the Clinton administration or cashed in on it later (or, like Rubin, did both) never loses its power to shock. Michael Froman, Rubin’s chief of staff as Clinton Treasury secretary, not only served as the Obama transition team’s personnel director but moonlighted as a Citigroup managing director while doing so. “Obama essentially entrusted the repairing of the china shop to the bulls who’d helped ransack it,” [Jeff] Connaughton writes [in The Payoff: Why Wall Street Always Wins]. [In This Town Mark] Leibovich updates the story of the tacky prehistory of the Obama White House with its aftermath—the steady parade of Obama alumni who traded change we can believe in for cash on the barrelhead as soon as they left public service. The starry list includes, among many others, Peter Orszag (director of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, now at Citi), Jake Siewert (the Treasury Department counselor turned chief flack for Goldman Sachs), and David Plouffe (the campaign manager and senior presidential adviser who did consulting for Boeing and General Electric). “When I am president,” Obama had said in 2008, “I will start by closing the revolving door in the White House that’s allowed people to use their administration job as a stepping-stone to further their lobbying careers.” Puzzling over how so many colleagues have strayed from this credo, the former press secretary Robert Gibbs has theorized that either “somehow we have all changed” or, alternatively, “maybe Washington changed us.”

Note: For more on government corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Why this is the worst economic recovery on record
2013-04-15, Christian Science Monitor
http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Robert-Reich/2013/0415/Why-this-is-the-wors...

We’re now witnessing what happens when all of the economic gains go to the top. Four years into a so-called recovery and we’re still below recession levels in every important respect except the stock market. A measly 88,000 jobs were created in March, and total employment remains some 3 million below its pre-recession level. Labor-force participation is it’s lowest since 1979. The underlying problem is the vast middle class is running out of money. They can’t borrow more — and shouldn’t, given what happened after the last borrowing binge. Real annual median household income keeps falling. It’s down to $45,018, from $51,144 in 2010. All the gains from the recovery continue to go to the top. Widening inequality is not inevitable. If we wanted to reverse it and restore middle-class prosperity, we could. We could award tax cuts to companies that link the pay of their hourly workers to profits and productivity, and that keep the total pay of their top 5 executives within 20 times the pay of their median worker. And impose higher taxes on companies that don’t. We could raise the minimum wage to half the average wage. We could increase public investment in education, including early-childhood. We could eliminate college loans and allow all students to repay the cost of their higher education with a 10 percent surcharge on the first 10 years of income from full-time employment. And we could pay for all this by adding additional tax brackets at the top and increasing the top marginal tax rate to what it was before 1981 – at least 70 percent.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the collapse of the global economy assisted by speculation and profiteering by financial corporations, click here.


The corporate ‘predator state’
2013-03-26, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/katrina-vanden-heuvel-the-corporate-pr...

Bipartisan agreement in Washington usually means citizens should hold on to their wallets or get ready for another threat to peace. Beneath all the partisan bickering, bipartisan majorities are solid for a trade policy run by and for multinationals, a health-care system serving insurance and drug companies, an energy policy for Big Oil and King Coal, and finance favoring banks that are too big to fail. Economist James Galbraith calls this the “predator state,” one in which large corporate interests rig the rules to protect their subsidies, tax dodges and monopolies. This isn’t the free market; it’s a rigged market. Wall Street is a classic example. The attorney general announces that some banks are too big to prosecute. Despite what the FBI called an “epidemic of fraud,” not one head of a big bank has gone to jail or paid a major personal fine. Bloomberg News estimated that the subsidy they are provided by being too big to fail adds up to an estimated $83 billion a year. Corporate welfare is, of course, offensive to progressives. But true conservatives are — or should be — offended by corporate welfare as well. Conservative economists Raghuram Rajan and Luigi Zingales argue that it is time to “save capitalism from the capitalists,” urging conservatives to support strong measures to break up monopolies, cartels and the predatory use of political power to distort competition. Here is where left and right meet, not in a bipartisan big-money fix, but in an odd bedfellows campaign to clean out Washington. For that to happen, small businesses and community banks will have to develop an independent voice in our politics.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the collusion between the US government and corrupt financial corporations, click here.


Hot Money Blues
2013-03-25, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/25/opinion/krugman-hot-money-blues.html

Whatever the final outcome in the Cyprus crisis ... the island nation will have to maintain fairly draconian controls on the movement of capital in and out of the country. It will mark the end of an era for Cyprus, which has in effect spent the past decade advertising itself as a place where wealthy individuals who want to avoid taxes and scrutiny can safely park their money, no questions asked. But it may also mark at least the beginning of the end for something much bigger: the era when unrestricted movement of capital was taken as a desirable norm around the world. [With] the rise of free-market ideology, the assumption [is] that if financial markets want to move money across borders, there must be a good reason, and bureaucrats shouldn’t stand in their way. But the truth, hard as it may be for ideologues to accept, is that unrestricted movement of capital is looking more and more like a failed experiment. It’s hard to imagine now, but for more than three decades after World War II financial crises of the kind we’ve lately become so familiar with hardly ever happened. Since 1980, however, the roster has been impressive: Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Chile in 1982. Sweden and Finland in 1991. Mexico again in 1995. Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Korea in 1998. Argentina again in 2002. And, of course, the more recent run of disasters: Iceland, Ireland, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Cyprus. The best predictor of crisis is large inflows of foreign money: in all but a couple of the cases ... the foundation for crisis was laid by a rush of foreign investors into a country, followed by a sudden rush out.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the collusion between the US government and corrupt financial corporations, click here.


Realities Behind Prosecuting Big Banks
2013-03-11, New York Times
http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/03/11/big-banks-go-wrong-but-pay-a-little-pr...

Are banks too big to jail? If there was any doubt about the answer to that question, Eric H. Holder Jr., the nation’s attorney general, last week blurted out what we’ve all known to be true but few inside the Obama administration have said aloud: Yes, they are. “I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if we do prosecute — if we do bring a criminal charge — it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy,” Mr. Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I think that is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large.” Mr. Holder continued, acknowledging that the size of banks “has an inhibiting influence.” To put this in the proper perspective, Mr. Holder said, for the first time, that he has not pursued prosecutions of big banks out of fear that an indictment could jeopardize the financial system. Does this mean that our banks are still too big to fail? Should we prosecute corporations? Should the size of an institution or its systemic importance influence the decision of prosecutors? “It has been almost five years since the financial crisis, but the big banks are still too big to fail,” [Senator Elizabeth] Warren, a Democrat, said in a statement. “Attorney General Holder’s testimony that the biggest banks are too-big-to-jail shows once again that it is past time to end too-big-to-fail.”

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the collusion between government and finance, click here.


Senator Elizabeth Warren grills regulators, ending quiet first month in office
2013-02-14, Boston Globe
http://www.boston.com/politicalintelligence/2013/02/14/senator-elizabeth-warr...

After campaigning last year as an outspoken consumer advocate and Wall Street critic, Senator Elizabeth Warren was surprisingly quiet during her first month on Capitol Hill. But that changed on [Feb. 14] at the Massachusetts senior senator’s first hearing, when she rebuked federal regulators for settling civil cases with big banks instead of taking them to trial. Looking at the seven regulators arrayed before the Senate Banking Committee, and noting that she had often sat at the same witness table before becoming a senator, she used her new power to question why the federal government has not been more aggressive. “The question I really want to ask is about how tough you are — about how much leverage you really have,” Warren said. “Tell me a little bit about the last few times you’ve taken the biggest financial institutions on Wall Street all the way to trial.” None of the witnesses — representing the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and others — offered a response. Warren seized the hearing to chide regulators for not taking legal stands against Wall Street, saying that the threat of trial is an important tool in keeping big banks in line, despite the vast resources required to do so. “If a party is unwilling to go to trial — either because they’re too timid or they lack resources — the consequence is they have a lot less leverage,” Warren said. “If [banks] can break the law and drag in billions in profits and then turn around and settle paying out of those profits, they don’t have that much incentive to follow the law.”

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the corrupt regulation of financial activities, click here.


11 EU nations to plan tax on financial transactions
2013-01-22, Los Angeles Times
http://www.latimes.com/news/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-11-eu-tax-financial-trans...

Pressing ahead where others have balked, 11 European countries received the green light ... to plan a financial transaction tax that could generate billions of dollars in revenue for cash-strapped governments. Led by Germany and France, the European Union’s two heavyweights, the nations will now work out how to introduce a levy on the buying and selling of stocks and bonds and on the use of complex financial instruments known as derivatives. Advocates say such a tax is not only necessary to help discourage risky transactions like those that precipitated the 2008 global financial meltdown but also a fair way to make financial institutions pay to help clean up the leftover mess. The U.S., at the urging of Wall Street, has opposed a financial transaction tax; so has Britain, which is home to Europe’s largest financial trading hub. Hesitation in London as well as some other European capitals stalled a proposal, made in September 2011, to charge a unified financial transaction tax across the 27-nation EU. The 11 countries, all of which share the euro as their currency, decided to forge ahead on their own, deepening integration among a subset of EU members that together account for more than half of the region’s economic output. EU-wide, officials had estimated that a levy of just 0.1% on trades of stocks and bonds and 0.01% on derivatives could bring in $75 billion a year.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the profiteering of an unregulated financial industry, click here.


The “People’s Bailout” Was Just the Beginning: What’s Next for Strike Debt?
2012-12-13, Yes! Magazine
http://www.yesmagazine.org/new-economy/peoples-bailout-just-the-beginning-wha...

Syracuse University art professor Thomas Gokey earned his Master of Fine Arts degree five years ago, but remains chained to his alma mater by $49,983 of debt. Soon after he graduated, the grim prospect of indefinite payments inspired its own art piece. Gokey put his debt up for sale in reconstituted squares of shredded money from the Federal Reserve. This year, together with the activist group Strike Debt, he helped organize a bold "People's Bailout" called the Rolling Jubilee, which has raised over $465,000. Bringing that money to the marketplace where collections companies buy and sell debt for pennies on the dollar, Strike Debt intends to purchase about $9 million of Americans' medical and educational debt—and then cancel it. Strike Debt, which grew out of Occupy Wall Street, wants to foment conversation about the debt we rack up in pursuit of basic needs, and the industries that profit from that debt. Gokey is currently on a year-long unpaid leave from teaching to help organize the Rolling Jubilee and upcoming Strike Debt projects. Thomas Gokey: Since I'm an educator, I'm thinking about the ways in which my students and I seem to be getting taken advantage of. We look at how much it's costing each one of my students to take one of my classes, and how much I'm getting paid to teach the class. And we look at each other and think, why don't we just go hold our classes at the public library? Somebody's obviously making money off both of us, so can't we cut out that middleman and focus on education?

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on income inequality, click here.


HSBC to Pay $1.92 Billion to Settle Charges of Money Laundering
2012-12-10, New York Times
http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/12/10/hsbc-said-to-near-1-9-billion-settleme...

State and federal authorities decided against indicting HSBC in a money-laundering case over concerns that criminal charges could jeopardize one of the world’s largest banks and ultimately destabilize the global financial system. Instead, HSBC announced ... that it had agreed to a record $1.92 billion settlement with authorities. The bank, which is based in Britain, faces accusations that it transferred billions of dollars for nations like Iran and enabled Mexican drug cartels to move money illegally through its American subsidiaries. The case, officials say, will claim violations of the Bank Secrecy Act and Trading with the Enemy Act. While the settlement with HSBC is a major victory for the government, the case raises questions about whether certain financial institutions, having grown so large and interconnected, are too big to indict. Four years after the failure of Lehman Brothers nearly toppled the financial system, regulators are still wary that a single institution could undermine the recovery of the industry and the economy. But the threat of criminal prosecution acts as a powerful deterrent. If authorities signal such actions are remote for big banks, the threat could lose its sting.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on government collusion with financial corruption, click here.


SEC Rocked By Lurid Sex-and-Corruption Lawsuit
2012-11-19, Rolling Stone blog
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/sec-rocked-by-lurid-sex-a...

Move over, adulterous generals. It might be time to make way for a new sexual rats' nest – at America's top financial police agency, the SEC. In a salacious 77-page complaint ... David Weber, the former chief investigator for the SEC Inspector General's office, accuses the SEC of retaliating against Weber for coming forward as a whistleblower. According to this lawsuit, Weber was made a target of [retaliation] after he came forward with concerns that his bosses may have been spending more time copulating than they were investigating the SEC. Weber claims that in recent years, while the SEC Inspector General's office has been attempting to investigate the agency's seemingly-negligent responses in such matters as the Bernie Madoff case and the less-well-known (but nearly as disturbing) Stanford Financial Ponzi scandal, two of the IG office's senior officials – former Inspector General David Kotz and his successor, Noelle Maloney – were sleeping together. Weber also claims that Kotz was also having an affair with a lawyer representing a key group of Stanford victims, a Dr. Gaytri Kachroo. Weber claims that Maloney last year refused to meet with Kachroo as part of the Stanford investigation. By then, Kotz had stepped down as SEC IG and Maloney had replaced him as Acting IG. Weber was fired on October 31st. Apparently he has decided not to take the firing quietly. "When David Weber began to uncover the depth of dysfunction at the SEC, they fired him," his attorney Cary Hansel said. "He has no intention of being silenced by threats and false allegations."

Note: We don't normally use Rolling Stone as a source, but this important story has not been covered elsewhere in the major media.


An Excerpt: 'Plutocrats'
2012-10-15, NPR
http://www.npr.org/books/titles/162800856/plutocrats-the-rise-of-the-new-glob...

Branko Milanovic is an economist at the World Bank. He first became interested in income inequality studying for his PhD in the 1980s in his native Yugoslavia, where he discovered it was officially viewed as a "sensitive" subject — which meant one the ruling regime didn't want its scholars to look at too closely. But when Milanovic moved to Washington, he discovered a curious thing. Americans were happy to celebrate their super-rich and, at least sometimes, worry about their poor. But putting those two conversations together and talking about economic inequality was pretty much taboo. "I was once told by the head of a prestigious think tank in Washington, D.C., that the think tank's board was very unlikely to fund any work that had income or wealth inequality in its title," Milanovic ... explained in a recent book. "Yes, they would finance anything to do with poverty alleviation, but inequality was an altogether different matter." "Why?" he asked. "Because 'my' concern with the poverty of some people actually projects me in a very nice, warm glow: I am ready to use my money to help them. Charity is a good thing; a lot of egos are boosted by it and many ethical points earned even when only tiny amounts are given to the poor. But inequality is different: Every mention of it raises in fact the issue of the appropriateness or legitimacy of my income." When the discussion shifts from celebratory to analytical, the super-elite get nervous.

Note: Excerpted from Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else by Chrystia Freeland. For revealing major media articles showing the stark gap between the uber-rich and the rest of us, click here.


Washington's Wall Street Sugar Daddies
2012-08-14, Yes! Magazine
http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/washingtons-wall-street-sugar-daddies

How much is democracy worth to you? If you’re like most people, it’s priceless. But for the hedge funds and insurance companies on Wall Street, it does have a price tag: approximately $4.2 billion. That’s how much the Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate (F.I.R.E.) sector has invested in political influence through campaign contributions and lobbying since 2006. That comes to $1,331 a minute spent on political power. The new report is called “Meet the F.I.R.E. Sector: How Wall Street Is Burning Democracy.” It was developed by Elect Democracy, a nonpartisan effort ... to expose and challenge the impact of corporate money in U.S. politics. The report ... analyzes exactly how Wall Street has secured ... “industry-loyal voting practices” in Congress: by shoveling stacks of campaign cash in the direction of Congressional hopefuls from both major political parties. That money lets these industries get what they want in Washington. The F.I.R.E. sector contributed $879 million to members of Congress since 2006, and took positions on 383 bills during the 112th Congress. For instance, they supported Free Trade Agreements with Korea, Panama, and Colombia in 2007, and backed the bailout in 2008. Bills they opposed include the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009, the Limited Homeowner and Investor Loss in Foreclosure Act of 2010, and the Stop Student Loan Interest Rate Hike Act of 2011. At every turn, the F.I.R.E. sector demands special treatment for Wall Street while consumers, homeowners, and students get stuck with the bills.

Note: Though not a major media source, Yes! Magazine is one of the very few media working towards positive, sustainable solutions to the problems of our world. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the corrupt relationship between government and the financial sector, click here.


Wall Street sleaze keeps growing
2012-07-14, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/reich/article/Wall-Street-sleaze-keeps-growing-...

Just when you thought Wall Street couldn't sink any lower - when its excesses are still causing hardship to millions of Americans and its myriad abuses of public trust have already spread a miasma of cynicism over the entire economic system - an even deeper level of public-be-damned greed and corruption is revealed. Libor is the benchmark for trillions of dollars of loans worldwide - mortgage loans, small-business loans, personal loans. It's compiled by averaging the rates at which the major banks say they borrow. So far, the scandal has been limited to Barclays, a big, London bank that just paid $453 million to U.S. and British bank regulators, whose top executives have been forced to resign, and whose traders' e-mails give a chilling picture of how easily they got their colleagues to rig interest rates in order to make big bucks. But Wall Street has almost surely been involved in the same practice, including the usual suspects - JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America - because every major bank participates in setting the Libor rate, and Barclays couldn't have rigged it without their witting involvement. In fact, Barclays' defense has been that every major bank was fixing Libor in the same way, and for the same reason. And Barclays is "cooperating" (i.e., providing damning evidence about other big banks) with the Justice Department and other regulators in order to avoid steeper penalties or criminal prosecutions, so the fireworks have just begun.

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.


Wells Fargo to pay $175 million to settle lending bias allegations
2012-07-13, Los Angeles Times
http://www.latimes.com/business/realestate/la-fi-wells-bias-settlement-201207...

Wells Fargo & Co.'s settlement of allegations that it overcharged minorities for home loans and wrongly steered them into subprime mortgages requires the bank to pay $125 million in damages, including about $10 million to African Americans and Latinos in the Los Angeles area. The settlement ... also requires the San Francisco company, by far the nation's largest home lender, to provide $50 million in down-payment assistance to residents of areas where the alleged discrimination had a significant effect. The $175-million total is the second-largest fair-lending settlement by the civil rights arm of the Justice Department. The largest, reached in December, requires Bank of America Corp. to pay $335 million to settle claims against Countrywide Financial Corp., the aggressive Calabasas lender it acquired in 2008. Another former Wells Fargo unit — the now-defunct subprime storefront lender Wells Fargo Financial Inc. — was the target of a separate investigation by the Federal Reserve. Wells Fargo agreed last year to pay $85 million to settle allegations that Wells Fargo Financial employees improperly pushed borrowers into more expensive subprime loans and exaggerated income information on mortgage applications. The agreement covers lending from 2004 through 2009 in the wholesale section of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, which made loans of all kinds, including prime and subprime mortgages, through independent brokers.

Note: For key investigative reports on the criminality and corruption in the financial industry and biggest banks, click here.


Lawmakers got loan deals from Countrywide
2012-07-05, MSNBC/Associated Press
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/48081344/ns/business-stocks_and_economy#.T_h445H4KNU

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."

Note: For a treasure trove of reliable reports on the criminality and corruption within the financial and banking industries, click here.


The Bank of England told us to do it, claims Barclays
2012-07-03, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/9374289/The-B...

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.

Note: For deeply revealing and reliable major media reports on corruption and criminality in the operations and regulation of the financial sector, click here.


Wall Street banks angling for Dodd-Frank loophole
2012-06-30, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/reich/article/Wall-Street-banks-angling-for-Dod...

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.


Big banks craft "living wills" in case they fail
2012-06-27, Chicago Tribune/Reuters
http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-06-27/business/sns-rt-us-banks-bailou...

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.

Note: For other key major media articles showing blatant financial corruption, click here. For more vitally important information on banking manipulations, explore the excellent, reliable information in our Banking Corruption Information Center available here.


Why the U.S. Senate Sucks Up to Public Enemy Jamie Dimon
2012-06-20, Alternet
http://www.alternet.org/news/155962/why_the_u.s._senate_sucks_up_to_public_en...

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.


The Jamie Dimon Cufflinks Mystery
2012-06-14, CNBC
http://www.cnbc.com/id/47820947

There's been a lot of speculation about the cufflinks [JPMorgan Chase CEO] Jamie Dimon wore during [his Congressional] testimony. They caught the eye of folks because they seemed to bear some sort of official government stamp. As it turns out, they were emblazoned with the seal of the President of the United States. CNN's Lizzie O'Leary first confirmed the story last night over Twitter. They were, in fact, a gift from a resident of the White House. But people close to the JPMorgan Chase CEO won't say which president gave them to him. Dimon's got a bunch of official U.S. government cufflinks. Search for images of him and you'll see FBI cufflinks, for example. Was Dimon trying to send any particular message by wearing the presidential cufflinks? Was he, for instance, trying to remind the Democrats he supported Obama? Or subtly hinting that he's really the guy in charge?

Note: For powerful reports on financial corruption, click here.


Family net worth plummets nearly 40%
2012-06-11, CNN
http://money.cnn.com/2012/06/11/news/economy/fed-family-net-worth/

The average American family's net worth dropped almost 40% between 2007 and 2010, according to a triennial study released [on June 11] by the Federal Reserve. The stunning drop in median net worth -- from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010 -- indicates that the recession wiped away 18 years of savings and investment by families. The results ... highlight the marked deterioration in household finances brought on by the financial crisis and ensuing recession. Much of the drop off in net worth -- to levels not seen since 1992 -- was attributable to a sharp decline in housing values, the Fed said. In 2007, the median homeowner had a net worth of $246,000. Three years later that number had fallen to $174,500, a loss of more than $70,000 on average. Making matters worse, income levels also fell during the tumultuous three-year period, with median pre-tax income falling 7.7% as earnings from capital gains all but disappeared. The loss of income and net worth appears to have impacted savings rates, as the number of Americans who said they saved in the prior year fell from 56.4% in 2007 to 52.0% in 2010 -- the lowest level recorded since the early 1990s. Families in the top 10% of income actually saw their net worth increase over the period, rising from a median of $1.17 million in 2007 to $1.19 million in 2010. Middle-class families who ranked in the 40th to 60th percentile of income earners reported that their median net worth fell from $92,300 to $65,900 over the same time period.

Note: What this article fails to emphasize sufficiently is that while most people have lost vast amounts of wealth, the wealthiest 1% has grown incredibly richer even through the recession. Is something wrong here? For key reports from reliable sources on wealth inequality, click here.


JPMorgan's top-down role in risky investments
2012-05-20, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/05/19/BUD41OJUG3.DTL

Congress gets into the JPMorgan Chase affair Tuesday with the first in a series of hearings into how a federally insured bank incurred [huge] losses on the kind of risky bets some, mistakenly, thought were a thing of the past. The losses, as suspected, look to be far higher than the $2 billion initially estimated. As of Friday, the number was $5 billion. What did CEO Jamie Dimon know, and when did he know it? "Dimon personally approved the concept behind the disastrous trades," according to the Wall Street Journal. Reportedly, similar trades, involving credit derivatives, date to 2006, ramping up with ever bigger bets as risk controls were eased in 2011.On the one hand, JPMorgan and other U.S. corporations are banking record profits and ever-growing piles of cash - $2 trillion at last count. On the other, U.S. unemployment remains unacceptably high, people are still losing their homes, small businesses are screaming for credit, local governments are cutting services left and right, and the nation's infrastructure is crumbling. Tons of money [are] sloshing around, courtesy of the Federal Reserve, but banks and corporations ... are hoarding it.

Note: For lots more from reliable sources on corruption and criminality in the finance industry, click here.


Anti-NATO protest calls for "Robin Hood" tax on financial institutions
2012-05-18, CBS News
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57436981/anti-nato-protest-calls-for-robi...

Thousands of nurses and other protesters gathered [on May 18] at a downtown Chicago plaza for a noisy but peaceful demonstration demanding a "Robin Hood" tax on banks' financial transactions. Members of National Nurses United, the nation's largest nurses union, were joined by members of the Occupy movement, unions and veterans at the rally city officials have said could attract more than 5,000. The nurses and their supporters dressed in red shirts and wore green felt Robin Hood caps with red feathers. The rally — which originally was scheduled to coincide with the start of the G-8 economic summit before it was moved from Chicago to Camp David — drew a broad spectrum of causes, from anti-war activists to Occupy protesters. Meanwhile, lawyers for NATO summit protesters said police on [May 18] released four of nine activists arrested ... on accusations that they had or planned to make Molotov cocktails. The lawyers said police, with their guns drawn, raided an apartment building where activists were staying and arrested nine people. The Chicago chapter of the National Lawyers Guild said officers broke down doors in the building in the South Side Bridgeport neighborhood and produced no warrants. "The nine have absolutely no idea what they're being charged with because they were not engaged in any criminal activity at all," said guild attorney Sarah Gelsomino. "They're really very confused and very frightened." The Chicago Police Department refused to comment.

Note: For more on the defense of the victims of the police crackdown on Occupy in Chicago and elsewhere, click here. For a most excellent two-minute video of former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich presenting five of the most urgent problems with the economy and an easy solution all in two minutes, click here. For an enlightening five-minute TED talks video further showing how the rich getting richer while they pay increasingly less taxes is at the root of most economic woes, click here.


JPMorgan losses look familiar to Phil Angelides
2012-05-15, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/05/14/BUOO1OHO2G.DTL

What strikes Phil Angelides the most about the $2 billion (and counting) loss sustained by JPMorgan Chase on a big trade gone bad, is how little has changed since the financial crash of 2008. "The big banks continue to be casinos," said the chairman of the government-appointed Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, which laid out how such trades, referred to in some quarters as "bets," contributed to the crash that the country is still struggling to pull itself out of. "It has to be stopped," he said. Trouble is - as Angelides, the former California state treasurer, and others point out - no one is stopping them. Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan's CEO, dismissed initial concerns about the trades last month as a "complete tempest in a teapot." His main concern, he told analysts, was how the affair "plays right into the hands of a bunch of pundits out there." Dimon was referring to those who have been pushing for regulations to prevent federally insured banks like JPMorgan from indulging in such trades in the first place. "They've been fighting a ferocious rear-guard, no-holds-barred action," said Angelides, referring to the army of lobbyists hired and millions of dollars spent to beat back the regulations. The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the trades, which involved the use of complex financial instruments called credit default swaps as a hedge against the value of U.S. bonds.

Note: For a most excellent two-minute video of former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich presenting five of the most urgent problems with the economy and an easy solution all in two minutes, click here. For an enlightening five-minute TED talks video further showing how the rich getting richer while they pay increasingly less taxes is at the root of most economic woes, click here. For a treasure trove of revealing reports from reliable sources on the criminality and corruption of major financial corporations and their "regulators" in government, click here.


Before Loss, JPMorgan Was One of Volcker Rule's Fiercest Foes
2012-05-11, New York Times
http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/05/11/before-big-loss-jpmorgan-was-one-of-vo...

The $2 billion trading loss that JPMorgan Chase disclosed late on Thursday provided ample ammunition for supporters of the Volcker Rule, which would restrict government-backed banks' ability to conduct proprietary trading. But it also prompted a fair amount of finger-wagging toward the company, given JPMorgan's stance as one of the rule's fiercest opponents. JPMorgan has been among the most outspoken detractors of the proposed financial regulation that is making its way through Washington. The firm has laid bare its feelings about the Volcker Rule several times, including in a Feb. 13 comment letter to the Federal Reserve. In that document, JPMorgan argued that the proposal would restrict its efforts to rein in risk-taking and would harm the firm's ability to compete against foreign rivals that did not face the same restrictions. In the letter, JPMorgan specifically mentions its chief investment office, the trading group which caused the $2 billion trading loss. JPMorgan also happens to run one of the most active and best-financed lobbying operations within the commercial banking industry. In the first four months of 2012, the firm has spent $1.92 million, barely trailing Wells Fargo in terms of banks' lobbying expenses. Last year, JPMorgan spent $7.62 million; two years ago, it spent $7.41 million, the most in its industry. And JPMorgan's chief, Jamie Dimon has been among the most frequent visitors to Washington to press his case.

Note: For lots more from major media sources on the corruption of major financial corporations, click here.


Homeowners deserve protections afforded businesses
2012-02-17, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/02/16/EDKF1N8M4N.DTL

[A] report from San Francisco auditors [shows] that 84 percent of foreclosures examined contained at least one violation of the law by the foreclosing party. The report is only the latest in a series of incidents involving bad actors in the foreclosure crisis. In fact, problems have been so rampant that banks now require many buyers of foreclosed homes to sign contracts absolving the bank of liability should irregularities appear with the original foreclosure. In light of these negligent practices, the $26 billion settlement last week between the U.S. Department of Justice, state attorneys general and the major banks raises as many questions as answers. For instance: If a house is illegally foreclosed upon and subsequently sold by the bank, who owns the home? The new buyer or the original owner? Untangling this mess might require new consumer protections, not just a payout from the banks accused of wrongdoing. The best way to prevent foreclosure problems, however, has always been to prevent foreclosures in the first place. Offering families facing foreclosure the same bankruptcy protections enjoyed by business speculators is one place to start. As it stands today, a single family that buys a home in a housing development is treated differently in bankruptcy court than a businessman who bought 10 units in the same project. If and when the housing bubble bursts, the underwater speculator is able to seek bankruptcy relief on all 10 units, while the owner of the single home is left out in the cold.

Note: For lots more from reliable sources on the impacts of the financial crisis on homeowners, click here.


We must stop this corporate takeover of American democracy
2012-01-20, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/jan/20/us-constitutio...

The corporate barbarians are through the gate of American democracy. Not satisfied with their all-pervasive influence on our culture, economy and legislative processes, they want more. They want it all. Two years ago, the United States supreme court betrayed our Constitution. In its now infamous decision in the Citizens United case, five justices declared that corporations must be treated as if they are actual people under the Constitution when it comes to spending money to influence our elections, allowing them for the first time to draw on the corporate checkbook – in any amount and at any time – to run ads explicitly for or against specific candidates. What's next … a corporate right to vote? When the supreme court says ... that corporations are people, that writing checks from the company's bank account is constitutionally-protected speech and that attempts by the federal government and states to impose reasonable restrictions on campaign ads are unconstitutional, our democracy is in grave danger. Corporations are not people with constitutional rights equal to flesh-and-blood human beings. Corporations are subject to regulation by the people.

Note: For key reports on the overpowering influence of corporate money on the US political system, click here and here.


A medieval oligarchy - America's real occupiers
2012-01-13, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/01/12/EDUT1MOLI4.DTL

[The US is now] a country whose patrician overlords are regularly conjuring the feudalism of Europe circa the Middle Ages. Today, our mayors deploy police against homeless people and protesters; our governors demand crushing budget cuts from the confines of their taxpayer-funded mansions; our Congress exempts itself from insider-trading laws and requires the government to offer lawmakers the good health benefits so many Americans have no access to ; and our nation's capital has become one of the world's wealthiest cities, despite the recession. Taken together, we see that there really are "Two Americas," as the saying goes - and that's no accident. It's the result of a permanent elite that is removing itself from the rest of the nation. Nowhere is this more obvious than in education - a realm in which this elite physically separates itself from us mere serfs. The Washington Post, for instance, notes that it has become an unquestioned "tradition among Washington's power elite" - read: elected officials - to send their kids to the ultra-expensive private school Sidwell Friends. At the same time, many of these officials have backed budget policies that weaken public education. In many cases, these aristocrats aren't even required to publicly explain themselves. Worse, on the rare occasions that questions are posed, privacy is the oft-used excuse to not answer. This might be a convincing argument about ordinary citizens' personal education choices, but it's an insult coming from public officials.

Note: For a treasure trove of reliable reports on social inequality in the US, click here and here.


Banking on the people
2011-11-02, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/11/02/ED3B1LP64K.DTL

Why give our money to Bank of America, only to have it lend us our own money at high interest rates or with ridiculous fees? We could hold onto our money, save quite a bit in fees, and lend it back to ourselves and to the businesses and people ... at more affordable rates. In 2008, Ellen Brown authored The Web of Debt, an analysis of the U.S. banking system that now is even more pertinent in light of the Occupy Wall Street movement. The thesis is that the power to create money has been usurped by a private international banking cartel [the Federal Reserve], which issues our money as debt and lends it back to us at interest. The cartel makes it appear that governments are creating our money, and governments get blamed when things go wrong; but they are just pawns of the cartel. We ... can regain our government and our republic only by reclaiming the power to create our own money. We can use the same credit system that private banks use, but administer it as a public utility - that is, monitored and overseen by public servants on the model of libraries and courts. To be a sustainable system, profits need to be returned to the community rather than siphoned off into private coffers.

Note: Few people realize that money in the U.S. is created by an entity privately owned by the largest banks – the Federal Reserve. For lots more important information on this, click here. For lots more from major media sources on the collusion between financial interests and government, click here.


Faith in the 99 percent: What drives Occupy Wall Street?
2011-10-20, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-faith/post/faith-in-the-99-percent-wha...

“We are the 99 percent!” The chant thunders through the streets, from Wall Street in New York City, where the Occupy movement began, to K Street in Washington, where high-paid lobbyists influence government, to streets in cities and small towns all across the nation. In hundreds of Occupations, ordinary people have been moved to fill parks and streets and squares with signs, tents, impromptu soup kitchens, intense conversations and lengthy meetings. What’s going on? All share a common heart, a revulsion against an economy and a politics that increasingly say, “You don’t count, except as something to exploit. Your voice is drowned out by money, your labor is expendable, your needs must be sacrificed to the gods of profit.” The Occupy movement demonstrates a very different model of organizing: emergent, decentralized, without a command and control structure. At its essence, the message of the Occupations is simply this: “Here in the face of power we will sit and create a new society, in which you do count. Your voice carries weight, your contributions have value, whoever you may be. We say that love and care are the true foundations for the society we want to live in. We’ll stand with the poor and sleep with the homeless if that’s what it takes to get justice. We’ll build a new world.”

Note: Find your nearest occupation at: http://www.occupytogether.org/ . For lots more from major media sources on the reasons why people worldwide are occupying the financial centers of their cities, check out our "Banking Bailout" news articles.


Wall Street Protests Spread Globally as Rome Turns Violent
2011-10-15, Bloomberg/Businessweek
http://news.businessweek.com/article.asp?documentKey=1376-LT1FUB1A1I4H01-651L...

The Occupy Wall Street protest against income disparity spread across Western Europe, Asia, the U.S. and Canada today. Rome's demonstration turned violent, contrasting with peaceful events elsewhere. The rallies started last month in New York's financial district, where people have been staying in lower Manhattan's Zuccotti Park. They widened to 1,500 cities today, including Sydney and Toronto, the organizers said, in a “global day of action against Wall Street greed.” Protesters say they represent “the 99 percent,” a nod to a study by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz showing the top 1 percent of Americans control 40 percent of U.S. wealth. In Berlin, 6,000 took to the streets and 1,500 gathered in Cologne, ZDF television said. In Frankfurt, 5,000 marched by the European Central Bank headquarters. In New York, demonstrators marched past a JPMorgan Chase & Co. branch urging clients to transfer accounts to “a financial institution that supports the 99 percent.” They distributed fliers with a list of community banks and credit unions. New York police arrested 24 at a Citigroup Inc. bank branch and 6,000 gathered in Times Square. About 1,000 people gathered in Toronto's financial district carrying signs saying “Nationalize the Banks.” Demonstrations turned violent in Italy, where the unemployment rate for 15-to-24-year-olds was 27.6 percent in August.

Note: For lots more on the reasons why people all over the world are occupying their city centers, check out our "Banking Bailout" news articles.


‘Occupy Wall Street,’ a primer
2011-10-03, Washington Post blog
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/occupy-wall-street-a-prim...

‘Occupy Wall Street,’ the growing, decentralized protest movement that’s clashing with police in New York City, spreading across the country, and grabbing headlines across the world ... is also, somewhat unusually, a protest movement without clear demands, an identifiable leadership, or an evident organizational structure. Decisions are made by the NYC General Assembly, which Nathan Schneider describes as “a horizontal, autonomous, leaderless, modified-consensus-based system with roots in anarchist thought,” and thus far, the General Assembly has decided against yoking the movement to a particular set of goals, or even a particular ideology. Which is all to say that it’s important to try and understand the movement on its own terms, rather than the terms most of us are used to. Here are five places to start: - The ... ‘Occupy Wall Street blog’, and in particular, the blog’s forums. Here, for instance, is the movement’s ‘Declaration of the Occupation of New York City.’ - Nathan Schneider’s ‘Occupy Wall Street FAQ’. I’d perhaps recommend this as the single best place to start. - ‘Understanding the theory behind Occupy Wall Street’s approach,’ by Mike Konczal. Also see his post, ‘15 definitions of freedom from Occupy Wall Street.’

Note: For lots more on the reasons why people all over the world are occupying their city centers, check out our "Banking Bailout" news articles.


As Scorn for Vote Grows, Protests Surge Around Globe
2011-09-28, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/28/world/as-scorn-for-vote-grows-protests-surg...

Their complaints range from corruption to lack of affordable housing and joblessness, common grievances the world over. But from South Asia to the heartland of Europe and now even to Wall Street, these protesters share something else: wariness, even contempt, toward traditional politicians and the democratic political process they preside over. They are taking to the streets, in part, because they have little faith in the ballot box. Economics have been one driving force, with growing income inequality, high unemployment and recession-driven cuts in social spending breeding widespread malaise. Alienation runs especially deep in Europe, with boycotts and strikes. The protest movements in democracies are not altogether unlike those that have rocked authoritarian governments this year, toppling longtime leaders in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Protesters have created their own political space online that is chilly, sometimes openly hostile, toward traditional institutions of the elite. “You’re looking at a generation of 20- and 30-year-olds who are used to self-organizing,” said Yochai Benkler, a director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. “They believe life can be more participatory, more decentralized, less dependent on the traditional models of organization, either in the state or the big company. Those were the dominant ways of doing things in the industrial economy, and they aren’t anymore.”

Note: For key insights from major media sources into the reasons why so many are protesting worldwide, click here.


U.S. Faulted on Failing to Catch Credit-Crunch ‘Bandits'
2011-05-23, Bloomberg/Businessweek
http://news.businessweek.com/article.asp?documentKey=1376-LKQQ2B0D9L3501-7O8F...

In November 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder vowed before television cameras to prosecute those responsible for the market collapse a year earlier, saying the U.S. would be “relentless” in pursuing corporate criminals. In the 18 months since, no senior Wall Street executive has been criminally charged. Prosecutions of three categories of crime that could be linked to the causes of the crisis -- corporate, securities and bank fraud -- declined last fiscal year by 39 percent from 2003, the period after the accounting scandals at Enron Corp. and WorldCom Inc., Justice Department records show. “You need a massive prosecutorial effort,” said Solomon Wisenberg, a white-collar defense attorney at Barnes & Thornburg LLP in Washington and a former federal prosecutor. “I don't see evidence that it's happening." The seizing up of credit markets led to the collapse of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and sparked the worst economic slump in the U.S. since the Great Depression. Much of the blame belongs to banks that profited from selling products that imploded with the housing market.

Note: For undeniable evidence of fraud at the highest levels of Wall Street, click here.


Why Haven't Wall Streeters Gone to Jail?
2011-05-19, Time Magazine blog
http://curiouscapitalist.blogs.time.com/2011/05/19/ny-ag-investigation-why-ha...

The New York Attorney General's office has been requesting information from Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley on how they created and structured mortgage bonds at the height of the credit boom. That investigation has reignited questions about why, nearly three years after the financial crisis, no Wall Streeter has yet to face criminal charges directly related to the mortgage bonds and other toxic deals that lead to the financial crisis. No one really knows the answer, but there are a number of theories out there. Here are the best ones: Theory No. 1: Prosecutors have been told to back off. In mid-April, the New York Times did a large investigative piece that found a number of instances where prosecutors were told not to pursue Wall Street. Theory No. 2: Wall Street is innocent. It may seem like the most bizarre answer, but it is getting some traction. No one is really saying that Wall Street didn't do anything wrong. It's clear that setting up risky mortgage bonds to sell to investors and then betting against them yourself is wrong. But is it illegal? It's not quite clear. Theory No. 3: The cases are still in the works. There seems to be some evidence that prosecutors are starting to be more aggressive in pursuing cases. It's not clear what part of the mortgage process, or what potential wrong doing, the NY AG Eric Schneiderman is investigating. The truth is that Wall Streeters rarely go to jail. Yes, other bubbles and financial crises have resulted in numerous convictions, but generally not of Wall Streeters.

Note: Remember that Elliot Spitzer probably got taken down for going after Wall Street. Now his successor, Eric Schneiderman, is doing the same thing. For an excellent article on this brave man, click here.


The Unwisdom of Elites
2011-05-09, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/09/opinion/09krugman.html

The past three years have been a disaster for most Western economies. The United States has mass long-term unemployment for the first time since the 1930s. Meanwhile, Europe’s single currency is coming apart at the seams. How did it all go so wrong? The fact is that what we’re experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. The policies that got us into this mess ... were, with few exceptions, policies championed by small groups of influential people — in many cases, the same people now lecturing the rest of us on the need to get serious. And by trying to shift the blame to the general populace, elites are ducking some much-needed reflection on their own catastrophic mistakes. What happened to the budget surplus the federal government had in 2000? First, there were the Bush tax cuts, which added roughly $2 trillion to the national debt over the last decade. Second, there were the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which added an additional $1.1 trillion or so. And third was the Great Recession, which led both to a collapse in revenue and to a sharp rise in spending on unemployment insurance and other safety-net programs. So who was responsible for these budget busters? It wasn’t the man in the street. We need to place the blame where it belongs, to chasten our policy elites. Otherwise, they’ll do even more damage in the years ahead.

Note: For highly revealing major articles exposing secret gatherings of the global elite and their activities, click here.


Fed to release bank loan data after Supreme Court rejects appeal
2011-03-21, Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg News
http://articles.latimes.com/2011/mar/21/business/la-fi-fed-banks-20110321

The Federal Reserve will disclose details of emergency loans it made to banks in 2008, after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an industry appeal that aimed to shield the records from public view. The justices ... left intact a court order that gives the Fed five days to release the records, sought by Bloomberg News' parent company, Bloomberg. The order marks the first time a court has forced the Fed to reveal the names of banks that borrowed from its oldest lending program, the 98-year-old discount window. "I can't recall that the Fed was ever sued and forced to release information" in its 98-year history, said Allan H. Meltzer, the author of three books on the U.S central bank and a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. The disclosures, together with details of six bailout programs released by the central bank in December under a congressional mandate, would give taxpayers insight into the Fed's unprecedented $3.5 trillion effort to stem the 2008 financial panic. Under the trial judge's order, the Fed must reveal 231 pages of documents related to borrowers in April and May 2008, along with loan amounts. News Corp.'s Fox News is pressing a bid for 6,186 pages of similar information on loans made from August 2007 to November 2008.

Note: For a treasure trove of reports from major media sources on the hidden activities of the Fed and the biggest Wall Street and international banks, click here.


Michigan bill would impose "financial martial law"
2011-03-11, CBS News
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20042299-503544.html

Michigan lawmakers are on the verge of approving a bill that would enable the governor to appoint "emergency managers" -- officials with unilateral power to make sweeping changes to cities facing financial troubles. Under the legislation ... the governor could declare a "financial emergency" in towns or school districts. He could then appoint a manager to fire local elected officials, break contracts, seize and sell assets, eliminate services - and even eliminate whole cities or school districts without any public input. The measure passed in the state Senate this week; the House passed its own version earlier. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has said he will sign the bill into law. U.S. Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat who represents Detroit, said in a statement that in a given city, the governor's new "financial czar" could "force a municipality into bankruptcy, a power that will surely be used to extract further concessions from hardworking public sector workers." He said the legislation raises "serious constitutional concerns."

Note: The bill was made law. For more, click here. For a treasure trove of reports from major media sources exposing the control exerted by financial powers on government officials, click here.


On Street, Pay Vaults to Record Altitude
2011-02-02, Wall Street Journal
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704124504576118421859347048-sea...

When it comes to paychecks, Wall Street's law of gravity is back in full force: What goes down must come back up. In 2010, total compensation and benefits at publicly traded Wall Street banks and securities firms hit a record of $135 billion, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal. The total is up 5.7% from $128 billion in combined compensation and benefits by the same companies in 2009. At 25 large financial firms that have reported full-year results, revenue rose to $417 billion, another all-time high. "Things are shifting back to where they were before," said J. Robert Brown, a law professor at the University of Denver who studies compensation and corporate-governance issues. Buried in the numbers, though, are signs of how Wall Street's pay culture is bending in response to pressure from regulators and shareholders. Last year, deferred compensation made up as much as half of total pay, up from about a third previously, estimates Alan Johnson, managing director of Johnson Associates Inc., a New York pay consultant. Banks and securities firms are deferring a larger percentage of compensation than they used to, trying to counter criticism that yearly cash bonuses encourage unwise risk-taking by executives, traders and other employees aiming for a big payday.

Note: For the NY State Comptroller's analysis of Wall Street bonuses in 2010, click here and here.


US foreclosures in new legal trouble
2011-01-07, BBC
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12140877

Two of the US's biggest mortgage lenders have had mortgage foreclosures cancelled in a case that could affect other banks. The Supreme Court in Massachusetts ruled against US Bancorp and Wells Fargo in a widely watched case. Backing a lower court ruling made in 2009, it said two foreclosure sales were invalid because the banks did not prove that they owned them at the time. The decision is among the earliest to address the validity of foreclosures done without proper documentation - so-called robo-loans because they were carried out by people who were unqualified and who often did not check a single line in the paperwork. Marty Mosby, an analyst at Guggenheim Securities said: "A ruling like this will slow down the foreclosure process. They're going to have to be really precise and get everything in order. It doesn't leave a lot of wiggle room." The case also applies retrospectively to people who have already been foreclosed. Glenn Russell, a lawyer for one of the couples in the case said: "I'm ecstatic. The fact the decision applies retroactively could mean thousands of homeowners can seek recovery for homes wrongfully foreclosed upon." Analysts said the decision may also threaten banks' ability to package mortgages into securities, and may raise the spectre that loans transferred improperly will need to be bought back.

Note: For lots more from major media sources on the criminal profiteering by the largest banks and Wall Street financial firms, click here.


While Washington pursues CEOs, they snub U.S.
2010-12-26, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=%2Fc%2Fa%2F2010%2F12%2F25%2FINJV1...

America's big businesses are less and less American. They're going abroad for sales and employees. That's one reason they've showed record-breaking profits in 2010 while creating almost no American jobs. Consider one of the most popular products for Christmas gifts of all time - Apple's iPhone. Researchers from the Asian Development Bank Institute have dissected an iPhone, whose wholesale price is around $179, to determine where the money actually goes. Only about $11 of that iPhone goes to American workers, mostly researchers and designers. Even old-tech American companies made big money abroad in 2010 - and created scads of jobs there. General Motors, for example, is now turning a nice profit, and American investors are bullish about its future. That doesn't mean GM will be creating lots more blue-collar jobs in America, though. 2010 was a banner year for GM's foreign sales - already two-thirds of its total sales, and rising. In October, GM became the first automaker to sell more than 2 million cars a year in China. The company is now making more cars in China than in the United States. Meanwhile, back home in the United States, GM has slashed its labor costs. New hires are brought in at roughly half the wages and benefits of former GM employees, under a two-tier wage structure accepted by the United Auto Workers. Almost all of GM's U.S. suppliers have also cut their payrolls.

Note: Robert Reich, former U.S. secretary of labor, is professor of public policy at UC Berkeley and the author of the new book Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future. He blogs at www.robertreich.org.


Cuomo lashes out at Ernst & Young
2010-12-21, Reuters blog
http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2010/12/21/cuomo-lashes-out-at-ernst-yo...

Excerpts from complaint by New York State Attorney General (and Governor-Elect) Andrew Cuomo: E&Y [Ernst and Young] substantially assisted Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., now bankrupt, to engage in a massive accounting fraud, involving the surreptitious removal of tens of billions of dollars of securities from Lehman’s balance sheet in order to create a false impression of Lehman’s liquidity, thereby defrauding the investing public. As the financial crisis deepened in 2007 and 2008 and Lehman’s liquidity problems intensified, E&Y ... assisted Lehman in defrauding the public about the Company’s deteriorating financial condition, particularly its leverage. As the public auditor for Lehman, E&Y had the absolute obligation to ensure that Lehman’s financial statements ... did not mislead the public. Instead of fulfilling this obligation ... E&Y sat by silently while Lehman deceived the public by concealing [fraulent] transactions and misrepresenting the Company’s leverage. By doing so, E&Y directly facilitated a major accounting fraud, and helped Lehman mislead the public as to its true financial condition. E&Y, which reaped over $150 million in fees from Lehman, must be held accountable for its role in this fraud.

Note: For key reports from reliable sources detailing the fraud that led to the financial crisis and bailout of Wall Street by taxpayers, click here.


$2tn debt crisis threatens to bring down 100 US cities
2010-12-20, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/dec/20/debt-crisis-threatens-us-cities

More than 100 American cities could go bust next year as the debt crisis that has taken down banks and countries threatens next to spark a municipal meltdown, a leading analyst has warned. Meredith Whitney, the US research analyst who correctly predicted the global credit crunch, described local and state debt as the biggest problem facing the US economy, and one that could derail its recovery. "Next to housing this is the single most important issue in the US and certainly the biggest threat to the US economy," Whitney [said]. "There's not a doubt on my mind that you will see a spate of municipal bond defaults. You can see fifty to a hundred sizeable defaults – more. This will amount to hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of defaults." American cities and states have debts in total of as much as $2tn. US states have spent nearly half a trillion dollars more than they have collected in taxes, and face a $1tn hole in their pension funds, said the CBS programme, apocalyptically titled The Day of Reckoning.

Note: For a treasure trove of reports from major media sources on the dire impacts of the financial crisis and government bailout of financial capitalists at taxpayers' expense, click here.


A Real Jaw Dropper at the Federal Reserve
2010-12-02, Yahoo News/Huffington Post
http://news.yahoo.com/s/huffpost/20101202/cm_huffpost/791091

As a result of an amendment that I was able to include in the Wall Street reform bill, we have begun to lift the veil of secrecy at the Fed. It is unfortunate that it took this long, and it is a shame that the biggest banks in America and Mr. Bernanke fought to keep this secret from the American public every step of the way. But, the details on this bailout are now on the Federal Reserve's website. This is a major victory for the American taxpayer and for transparency in government. After years of stonewalling by the Fed, the American people are finally learning the incredible and jaw-dropping details of the Fed's multi-trillion-dollar bailout of Wall Street and corporate America. What have we learned so far from the disclosure of more than 21,000 transactions? We have learned that the $700 billion Wall Street bailout signed into law by President George W. Bush turned out to be pocket change compared to the trillions and trillions of dollars in near-zero interest loans and other financial arrangements the Federal Reserve doled out to every major financial institution in this country.

Note: The author is Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). For key reports from reliable sources on the massive federal bailout of the biggest banks and financial firms, click here.


Corporate Profits Were the Highest on Record Last Quarter
2010-11-24, The New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/24/business/economy/24econ.html

The nation’s workers may be struggling, but American companies just had their best quarter ever. American businesses earned profits at an annual rate of $1.659 trillion in the third quarter, according to a Commerce Department report. That is the highest figure recorded since the government began keeping track over 60 years ago. The next-highest annual corporate profits level on record was in the third quarter of 2006, when they were $1.655 trillion. Corporate profits have been doing extremely well for a while. Since their cyclical low in the fourth quarter of 2008, profits have grown for seven consecutive quarters, at some of the fastest rates in history. As a share of gross domestic product, corporate profits also have been increasing, and they now represent 11.2 percent of total output. That is the highest share since the fourth quarter of 2006, when they accounted for 11.7 percent of output.

Note: Long-term unemployment is at a record high, yet corporations are raking in record profits. With record profits, why aren't corporations hiring more new employees? For many reports from reliable souces on corporate profiteering, click here.


Is hard currency on its way out? Introducing the new virtual world currency.
2010-10-28, Christian Science Monitor
http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/The-Daily-Reckoning/2010/1028/Is-hard-curre...

When discussing reserve currency alternatives to the US dollar, conversation almost inevitably returns to the International Monetary Fund’s “synthetic reserve asset,” the Special Drawing Right (SDR). However, the SDR basket of currencies is noticeably antiquated in its design, including only the currencies of industrialized nations. This week, foreign exchange manager Overlay Asset Management [OAM] has announced a currency basket it’s launching in order to offer a more up-to-date “virtual world reserve currency.” According to the Financial Times: “[OAMs] Wealth Preservation Currency Index consists of the currencies of the world’s 15 largest economies, weighted by their gross domestic product, adjusted for purchasing power parity. Overlay’s rationale is that investment portfolios are often heavily exposed to the dollar, but many investors have doubts as to whether the greenback can retain its value and remain the world’s primary reserve currency.” The global “currency war” — as many are calling it — continues to heat up, with no obvious resolution in sight. While it wouldn’t be a simple, quick, or painless process to replace the US dollar as reserve currency, it seems inevitable that calls for just such action are bound to increase, especially if currently loose US monetary policy ... continues unabated.

Note: You can read more details in Financial Times coverage of how a new world currency index has launched.


Documentary 'Inside Job' only tells part of story
2010-10-24, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/10/24/BUAV1G0LEA.DTL

"Inside Job," as the movie title implies, sees the 2008 financial meltdown, its causes and ongoing catastrophic consequences, as the work of crooks. Crooks as in members of the financial services industry. Aided and abetted by ... administrations of both political stripes, ratings agencies and regulators, all of whom were committed to an ideology that enabled larceny on a grand scale. The documentary, written, produced and directed by Bay Area high-tech entrepreneur turned filmmaker Charles Ferguson, opened in Bay Area cinemas [on October 22]. Even if you've read through the growing pile of books, congressional hearings and material generated by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, it has plenty to remind you why you are furious, all over again. If further proof is needed, the film effectively demolishes the "who knew?" argument proffered by Goldman Sachs Group CEO Lloyd Blankfein and his peers. And it makes a convincing case that much of the obscenely compensated financial services industry has been rotten to the core for decades, but is yet to be held truly accountable for activities, both immoral and illegal.

Note: For lots more from reliable sources on the criminal practices of the largest financial corporations and regulatory agencies which led to the current economic crisis, click here.


U.S. companies buy back stock in droves as they hold record levels of cash
2010-10-07, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/06/AR20101006067...

For months, companies have been sitting on the sidelines with record piles of cash. Now they're starting to deploy some of that money - not to hire workers or build factories, but to prop up their share prices. Sitting on these unprecedented levels of cash, U.S. companies are buying back their own stock in droves. So far this year, firms have announced they will purchase $273 billion of their own shares, more than five times as much compared with this time last year, according to Birinyi Associates, a stock market research firm. But the rise in buybacks signals that many companies [do not plan to] spend their cash on the job-generating activities that could produce economic growth. "They don't know what they want to do with all the cash they're sitting on," said Zachary Karabell, president of RiverTwice Research. Historically low interest rates are also prompting some companies to borrow to repurchase shares. Microsoft, for instance, borrowed $4.75 billion last month by issuing new bonds at rock-bottom interest rates and announced it would use some of that money to buy back shares. The company already has nearly $37 billion in cash. A share buyback is a quick way to make a stock more attractive to Wall Street. It improves a closely watched metric known as earnings per share, which divides a company's profit by the total number of shares on the market. Such a move can produce a sudden burst of interest in a stock, improving its price.

Note: For lots more from reliable sources on the massive profiteering by corporate recipients of government financial largesse, click here.


American Companies Wrest Big Earnings From Lower Revenue
2010-10-03, Wall Street Journal
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704523604575511864156149040.html

U.S. companies are rebounding quickly from the recession and posting near-historic profits, the result of aggressively re-tooling their operations to cope with lower revenue and an uncertain outlook. An analysis by The Wall Street Journal found that companies in the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index posted second-quarter profits of $189 billion, up 38% from a year earlier and their sixth-highest quarterly total ever, without adjustment for inflation. For all U.S. companies, the Commerce Department estimates second-quarter after-tax profits rose to an annual rate of $1.208 trillion, up 3.9% from the first quarter and up 26.5% from a year earlier. That annual rate is the highest on record, though it doesn't account for inflation. As a percentage of national income, after-tax profits were the third-highest since 1947, surpassed only by two quarters in 2006, near the peak of the last economic expansion. The data indicate that big companies are recovering from the downturn faster and more strongly than the overall economy, helping send stock prices higher this year. To achieve that performance, companies laid off hundreds of thousands of workers, closed less-profitable units, shifted work to cheaper regions and streamlined processes. Despite the hefty profits, executives aren't expected to boost spending on new employees, products and equipment anytime soon. "We've focused on permanent changes that won't have to be undone as sales improve," said John Riccitiello, chief executive of Electronic Arts.

Note: For highly revealing reports on income inequality, click here.


Probe Circles Globe to Find Dirty Money
2010-09-03, Wall Street Journal
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703431604575468094090700862.html

An intelligence analyst named Eitan Arusy [at the district attorney's office in Manhattan] began studying a slim lead. Suspicious money was flowing to and from an Iranian nonprofit. Mr. Arusy's probe, later merged with a Justice Department inquiry, ultimately widened to some of Europe's vaunted banks, helping spark a global inquiry that found they actively evaded U.S. law in aiding sanctioned countries, banks or other enterprises move some $2 billion undetected. Nine banks have been caught up in the probe. These weren't rogue operations. The investigators discovered that the banks ran dedicated units to systematically aid the undetected transfer of money through the U.S. banking system. They did that by removing identifying coding on fund transfers so they could evade automated U.S. bank computer systems designed to spot money flowing from a sanctioned state. The far-reaching inquiry started small. Mr. Arusy arrived at the district attorney's office in 2005 to help ferret out illegal financing tied to the Middle East. Though the office prosecutes everyday crime, it carved out a role infiltrating crimes tied to the city's financial markets and institutions. Its expertise dates to the 1990s, when it led the investigation of Bank of Credit & Commerce International, or BCCI, which collapsed in a fraud and money-laundering scandal.

Note: For a treasure trove of articles from reliable sources revealing the criminality of many major financial corporations, click here.


Goldman reveals where bailout cash went
2010-07-24, USA Today
http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/banking/2010-07-24-goldman-bailout-c...

Goldman Sachs sent $4.3 billion in federal tax money to 32 entities, including many overseas banks, hedge funds and pensions, according to information made public [on July 23]. Goldman Sachs disclosed the list of companies to the Senate Finance Committee after a threat of subpoena from Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Ia. Goldman Sachs received $5.55 billion from the government in fall of 2008 as payment for then-worthless securities it held in AIG. Goldman had already hedged its risk that the securities would go bad. It had entered into agreements to spread the risk with the 32 entities named in Friday's report. Overall, Goldman Sachs received a $12.9 billion payout from the government's bailout of AIG, which was at one time the world's largest insurance company. Goldman Sachs also revealed to the Senate Finance Committee that it would have received $2.3 billion if AIG had gone under. Other large financial institutions, such as Citibank, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley, sold Goldman Sachs protection in the case of AIG's collapse. Those institutions did not have to pay Goldman Sachs after the government stepped in with tax money. Shouldn't Goldman Sachs be expected to collect from those institutions "before they collect the taxpayers' dollars?" Grassley asked. "It's a little bit like a farmer, if you got crop insurance, you shouldn't be getting disaster aid."

Note: For lots more from reliable sources on the Wall Street bailout by taxpayers, click here.


20 people arrested at the G20 tell of ‘inhumane’ treatment at the hands of police
2010-06-28, Toronto Star (One of Toronto's leading newspapers)
http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/torontog20summit/article/829921--i-will-not-f...

*Lulu Maxwell, 17, Grade 12, Rosedale Heights: Maxwell and a friend were hanging around near Queen and Dufferin Sts. at a convergence centre for protesters on Sunday afternoon when police started making arrests. “My friend was blowing bubbles and I was scribbling peace signs on the sidewalk.” Within minutes, her friend was grabbed and Lulu was put up against a wall. Her backpack was searched and Lulu says an officer said she could be charged with possession of dangerous weapons “because I had eyewash solution in my backpack.” She was taken to the detention centre and almost 12 hours after her arrest was allowed to call her parents. She was released, without charges being laid, at 5 a. m. *Erin Boynton, 24, London, Ont. She was arrested at The Esplanade early Sunday morning after police boxed dozens of protesters in. “I was with a protest marching peacefully down Yonge from Dundas Square,” she said. “When the cops came at us, many people scattered and those who were left in front of the (Novotel) got arrested.” She said police came from all sides and “squished us in. They didn’t give us a warning to leave…. just announced that we are arresting all of you.” She said a lot of people at the detention centre were innocent bystanders. “The police violated all our rights . . . there was police brutality. Quite frankly, it was quite disgusting.” Boynton wasn’t charged.

Note: For lots more from major media sources on mounting threats to civil liberties, click here.


Origin of Wall Street’s Plunge Continues to Elude Officials
2010-05-08, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/08/business/08trading.html

A day after a harrowing plunge in the stock market, federal regulators were still unable on Friday [May 7] to answer the one question on every investor’s mind: What caused that near panic on Wall Street? The cause or causes of the market’s wild swing remained elusive, leaving what amounts to a $1 trillion question mark hanging over the world’s largest, and most celebrated, stock market. The initial focus of the investigations appeared to center on the way a growing number of high-speed trading networks interact with one another and with venerable exchanges like the New York Stock Exchange. Most investors are unaware that these competing systems have fractured the traditional marketplace and have displaced exchanges like the Big Board as the dominant force in stock trading. In a joint statement issued after the close of trading, the S.E.C. and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission said they were ... looking particularly closely at how different trading rules on different exchanges, which temporarily halted trading on some markets while activity in the same stocks continued on other markets, might have contributed to the problem. The pressure in the less-liquid markets was amplified by the computer-driven trades, which led still other traders to pull back.

Note: For more information on the impact of the new high-speed computer-driven trading methods, click here.


Plan for Congressional Audits of Fed Dies in Senate
2010-05-07, Wall Street Journal
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704370704575228164133105390.html

Last-minute maneuvering in the Senate allowed the Federal Reserve to sidestep legislation that would have exposed its interest-rate decision-making to congressional auditors. Pressure from the Obama administration led Senate lawmakers to alter a provision pushed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) that was gaining momentum despite opposition from the Treasury and the Fed. It would have largely repealed a 32-year-old law that shields Fed monetary policy from congressional auditors. Thursday's Senate showdown came after senators on the left and right joined forces to support Mr. Sanders' provision. "At a time when our entire financial system almost collapsed, we cannot let the Fed operate in secrecy any longer," Mr. Sanders said. "The American people have a right to know." But Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke ... said in a letter to Congress the Sanders measure would "seriously threaten monetary policy independence, increase inflation fears and market interest rates, and damage economic stability and job creation."

Note: For an abundance of deep reporting on the hidden realities of Wall Street's shadowy operations, click here.


The Great Federal Reserve Bank Con Job
2010-04-13, MSNBC
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/36233217#36233217

[video transcript:] In America today we are getting closer to fully exposing the greatest con and cover-up in this [country's] history. It involves our banks, the federal reserve, our congress, and, of course, you and me. Here's how the con went down. The bankers were operating under an implicit guarantee from the godfather [at] the Federal Reserve, in the form of guaranteed interest rates, guaranteed cheap money exclusively for the con men. Then, Chairman Greenspan, the godfather, would agree to hold those rates -- let's say 2% -- for as far as the eye could see. The banks, or bankers, the con men, would borrow that money from the Federal Reserve, let's say 2%, and turn around and lend it back to [you], and let's say 6%. That encouraged the patsies, you and me, to be drawn into the con because 6% looks like a pretty low rate. Low rates for houses, low rates for cars. Heck, you could join a health club, make that into payments, turn that into bonds, and of course promises of a higher-than-average return for those managing teachers and policemen's and judge's pension funds that are buying into the con as well. And here exactly is where the con comes in. As you and I both know, the banks had no money. They were getting it from the Federal Reserve. It's funny money.

Note: For abundant reports from reliable sources on the hidden realities of what may be the greatest con job in financial history, click here.


Court Orders Fed to Release Bailout Documents
2010-03-19, ABC News/Reuters
http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory?id=10148656

In a significant victory for news media, a federal appeals court said the Federal Reserve must disclose records on emergency lending programs to banks bailed out by the government in the financial crisis. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals on [March 19] ordered the Fed to release details of programs it adopted starting in late 2007 to shore up the financial system and forestall a complete meltdown of global financial markets. Bloomberg ... and News Corp's Fox News Network sought details of the central bank's actions under the federal Freedom of Information Act. The Fed argued against disclosure, citing an exemption that it said lets federal agencies keep secret various trade secrets and commercial or financial information. Writing for a unanimous three-judge appeals court panel, Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs said, however, that to give the Fed power to deny disclosure because it thinks it best to do so "would undermine the basic policy that disclosure, not secrecy, is the dominant objective." Sen. Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat, said the rulings will help shed light on the Fed, which he called "the least transparent institution" in government.

Note: Isn't it crazy that the Fed would try to keep secret what it did with nearly $1 trillion of US taxpayer money?


Lehman whistleblower lost his job weeks after raising alarm
2010-03-16, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/mar/16/lehman-whistleblower-auditors-...

A worried accounting executive at Lehman Brothers, who raised the alarm about what he saw as dubious number-crunching at the doomed Wall Street bank, lost his job barely a month after alerting the auditor Ernst & Young, his lawyer [has] claimed. Matthew Lee, a senior vice-president in Lehman's finance division, outlined six allegations of unethical accounting in a memo sent on 16 May 2008 to Lehman's senior managers, who asked Ernst & Young to investigate. In discussions with partners at Ernst & Young, he highlighted controversial "repo 105" transactions that artificially boosted Lehman's balance sheet by $50bn. Lee's lawyer, Erwin Shustak, said his client lost his job in late June 2008, officially as part of a broader downsizing. Shustak told the Wall Street Journal: "It was just easier to shut him up and let him go." Lee, 56, has emerged as a crucial figure in Lehman's downfall and in controversy over the conduct of Ernst & Young. The six allegations made by Lee included claims that Lehman's monthly balance sheet listed $5bn of assets above reality, that the bank failed to value its inventory of financial products in a "fully realistic or reasonable" way, that audit-level personnel were inadequately qualified, that systems were ineffective and that there were "tens of billions of dollars" of possibly toxic liabilities.

Note: For a treasure trove of revelations of the hidden realities behind the financial crisis and bailouts, click here.


Lehman debacle: one of greatest crimes ever?
2010-03-15, Christian Science Monitor
http://www.csmonitor.com/Money/The-Daily-Reckoning/2010/0315/Lehman-debacle-o...

After 15 months and 2,200 pages of writing, the Lehman Brothers report has been released. As expected, the details are pretty gruesome. It explains how Repo 105 transactions allowed Lehman to exchange illiquid assets for short-term cash loans in order to disguise the crumbling financial state of the firm in its last days. How bad were the lies? Well, the report shows the transactions were not shown as loans. Instead, they were listed as sales … making Lehman’s accounting essentially fraudulent. According to emails described in the report, CEO Richard Fuld and about three different CFOs were all likely aware of the cover-up. Yet they still approved and signed off on the quarterly and annual reports. Further, it appears that even Lehman’s auditor Ernst & Young … in the not-so-fine tradition of Arthur Andersen — that was brought down in the Enron scandal – knew about the Repo transactions and did nothing to sound an alarm. So much deception … and so many accomplices.

Note: To watch a powerfully revealing, 10-minute MSNBC video on this topic, click here. Transcript available here. Host Dyland Ratigan in the clip describes what happened as "an accounting fraud perpetrated by bank CEOs against the American taxpayer."


More Americans Considering Community Banks
2010-02-17, NPR News
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122945143

Bailouts and bonuses have many Americans frustrated with big banks. Some consumers think these giant institutions have lost touch with customers and basic good business practices. They're so fed up that they're holding these behemoths accountable by moving their money to community banks. Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post is spearheading a campaign called Move Your Money, which encourages people to move from the banking giants to smaller community banks. "There's a lot of anger about the way banks have acted," says Huffington. "It's a total lack of empathy and concern." The group's Facebook page has more than 27,000 fans. "I think it's already an enormous success," says Huffington. "The fact that people are considering it; the fact that people are doing it; the fact that people are feeling empowered."

Note: Please consider going local and supporting credit unions and community banks. For information on moving your checking and savings accounts from profit oriented banks to membership run credit unions, click here and here.


Wall St. Helped to Mask Debt Fueling Europe’s Crisis
2010-02-14, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/14/business/global/14debt.html

Wall Street tactics akin to the ones that fostered subprime mortgages in America have worsened the financial crisis shaking Greece and undermining the euro by enabling European governments to hide their mounting debts. As worries over Greece rattle world markets, records and interviews show that with Wall Street’s help, the nation engaged in a decade-long effort to skirt European debt limits. One deal created by Goldman Sachs helped obscure billions in debt from the budget overseers in Brussels. As in the American subprime crisis and the implosion of the American International Group, financial derivatives played a role in the run-up of Greek debt. Instruments developed by Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and a wide range of other banks enabled politicians to mask additional borrowing in Greece, Italy and possibly elsewhere. In dozens of deals across the Continent, banks provided cash upfront in return for government payments in the future, with those liabilities then left off the books. Greece, for example, traded away the rights to airport fees and lottery proceeds in years to come. Critics say that such deals, because they are not recorded as loans, mislead investors and regulators about the depth of a country’s liabilities.

Note: For a treasure trove of investigations from reliable sources into the many tricks by which Wall Street firms enriched themselves at the expense of others, click here.


Secret Banking Cabal Emerges From AIG Shadows
2010-01-29, Bloomberg News
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601039&sid=aaIuE.W8RAuU

The idea of secret banking cabals that control the country and global economy are a given among conspiracy theorists. After this week’s congressional hearing into the bailout of American International Group Inc., you have to wonder if those folks are crazy after all. Wednesday’s hearing described a secretive group deploying billions of dollars to favored banks, operating with little oversight by the public or elected officials. We’re talking about the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, whose role as the most influential part of the federal-reserve system -- apart from the matter of AIG’s bailout -- deserves further congressional scrutiny. The New York Fed is in the hot seat for its decision in November 2008 to buy out, for about $30 billion, insurance contracts AIG sold on toxic debt securities to banks. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was head of the New York Fed at the time of the AIG moves. The hearing revealed some of the inner workings of the New York Fed and the outsized role it plays in banking. This insight is especially valuable given that the New York Fed is a quasi-governmental institution that isn’t subject to citizen intrusions such as freedom of information requests, unlike the Federal Reserve. This impenetrability comes in handy since the bank is the preferred vehicle for many of the Fed’s bailout programs. It’s as though the New York Fed was a black-ops outfit for the nation’s central bank.

Note: For lots more from reliable sources on the secret deliberations by the highest levels of government and private elites in their attempts to bail out the biggest financial corporations, click here.


Want to protest bank bailouts? Move your money, a new campaign urges.
2010-01-07, Christian Science Monitor
http://www.csmonitor.com/Money/new-economy/2010/0107/Want-to-protest-bank-bai...

Mad about the bank bailouts? Had enough of huge bonuses and too-big-to-fail apologies? Here's one way to do something about it. Take your money out. That's right. Take your checking and savings account out of that big money-center financial institution and move it to a community bank or credit union. There's even a movement afoot to help consumers make the switch, called Move Your Money. The website offers search tools so consumers thinking about switching can type in their zip codes to find a credit union or a strong community bank nearby. Even in 2008, the latest numbers available, credit unions and community banks have seen an increase in depositors. Now "other people are taking up the call to move their money into a community bank," says Karen Tyson, senior vice president for communications at the Independent Community Bankers of America. "We can't help but be happy with that." Amber Taylor of Arlington, Va., is one of those who's actually switching. "I never thought about what bank I chose before," she says. "I don't know what huge difference this will make in the big world [but] it's one little thing that I discovered I could do."


Bankers Get $4 Trillion Gift From Barney Frank
2009-12-30, Bloomberg News
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601039&sid=a48c8UpUMxKQ

H.R. 4173 [is] the financial-reform legislation passed earlier this month by the House of Representatives. The Senate has yet to pass its own reform plan. The baby of Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, the House bill is meant to address everything from too-big-to-fail banks to asleep-at-the-switch credit-ratings companies to the protection of consumers from greedy lenders. At 1,279 pages, the “Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act” is a real slog. While banks opposed the legislation, they should cheer for its passage by the full Congress in the New Year: There are huge giveaways insuring the government will again rescue banks and Wall Street if the need arises. For all its heft, the bill doesn’t once mention the words “too-big-to-fail,” the main issue confronting the financial system. Instead, it supports the biggest banks. It authorizes Federal Reserve banks to provide as much as $4 trillion in emergency funding the next time Wall Street crashes. So much for “no-more-bailouts” talk. The bill also allows the government, in a crisis, to back financial firms’ debts. Bondholders can sleep easy -- there are more bailouts to come.

Note: For a treasure trove of reliable reports on the government bailout of Wall Street, click here.


Banks With Political Ties Got Bailouts
2009-12-21, New York Times/Reuters News
http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2009/12/21/business/business-us-banks-study.html

U.S. banks that spent more money on lobbying were more likely to get government bailout money. Banks whose executives served on Federal Reserve boards were more likely to receive government bailout funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, according to the study from Ran Duchin and Denis Sosyura, professors at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business. Banks with headquarters in the district of a U.S. House of Representatives member who serves on a committee or subcommittee relating to TARP also received more funds. Political influence was most helpful for poorly performing banks, the study found. "Political connections play an important role in a firm's access to capital," Sosyura, a University of Michigan assistant professor of finance, said in a statement. Banks with an executive who sat on the board of a Federal Reserve Bank were 31 percent more likely to get bailouts through TARP's Capital Purchase Program. Banks with ties to a finance committee member were 26 percent more likely to get capital purchase program funds. As of late September, nearly 700 financial institutions had received bailouts of $205 billion under the capital purchase program. The banking industry has long been criticized for using political influence to obtain bailouts.

Note: For lots more from reliable sources on the symbiosis between big finance and big government, click here.


Are some Wall Street firms too big to punish?
2009-12-10, Miami Herald/McClatchy News
http://www.miamiherald.com/business/story/1374463.html

Forget too big to fail. In the eyes of federal regulators, many Wall Street firms are too big to punish. During the past three years, some of the nation's largest financial firms have been accused by the government of cheating or misleading clients and ripping off tens of thousands of consumers of their investments. Despite these findings, these financial giants got, sometimes repeatedly, special exemptions from the Securities and Exchange Commission that have saved them from a regulatory death penalty that could have decimated their lucrative mutual fund businesses. Among the more than a dozen firms that have gotten these SEC get-out-of-jail cards since January 2007 are some of Wall Street's biggest, including Bank of America, Citigroup and American International Group. SEC rules permit corporate lawbreakers to apply for what are known as Section 9(c) waivers from one of the agency's harshest penalties — effectively shuttering the violator's mutual fund operations — but regulators never rejected any of these firms' applications. In fact, the last time the SEC's staff could recall a waiver being turned down was 1978. The SEC declined to comment in detail.

Note: For lots more from reliable sources on the realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.


Chrysler drops three electric vehicles despite having touted them to get billions in government bailout cash
2009-11-09, USA Today
http://content.usatoday.com/communities/driveon/post/2009/11/620001133/1

If you believed all the talk from Chrysler about how our tax dollars would help finance its fast-track electric-vehicle future, you're in for a big disappointment. Chrysler has disbanded the engineering team that was trying to bring three electric models to market as a rush job. Chrysler [had] cited its devotion to electric vehicles as one of the key reasons why the Obama administration and Congress needed to give it $12.5 billion in bailout money. The change of heart on electric vehicles has come under Fiat. At a marathon presentation of Chrysler's five-year strategy, CEO Sergio Marchionne talked about just about everything on Chrysler's plate ... except its earlier electric-car plans. With the group's disbanding, Chrysler's electric plans will be melded into Fiat's. Marchionne is apparently no fan of electric power. He says electrics will only make up 1% or 2% of Fiat sales by 2014 and that he doesn't put a lot of faith in the technology until battery developments are pushed forward. As a result, Chrysler won't have an electric car on sale as soon as next year, such as the Dodge Circuit sports car concept it had unveiled. The change has come so fast that Chrysler's website has been still featuring pictures of the electric vehicles. As late as August, Chrysler took $70 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a test fleet of 220 hybrid pickup trucks and minivans, vehicles now scrapped in the sweeping turnaround plan for Chrysler.

Note: For reports from reliable sources on promising new developments in electric automobile technologies, click here.


Bailout Helps Fuel New Era of Wall Street Wealth
2009-10-17, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/17/business/economy/17wall.html

Even as the economy continues to struggle, much of Wall Street is minting money — and looking forward again to hefty bonuses. Many Americans wonder how this can possibly be. How can some banks be prospering so soon after a financial collapse, even as legions of people worry about losing their jobs and their homes? It may come as a surprise that one of the most powerful forces driving the resurgence on Wall Street is not the banks but Washington. Many of the steps that policy makers took last year to stabilize the financial system — reducing interest rates to near zero, bolstering big banks with taxpayer money, guaranteeing billions of dollars of financial institutions’ debts — helped set the stage for this new era of Wall Street wealth. Titans like Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase are making fortunes in hot areas like trading stocks and bonds, rather than in the ho-hum business of lending people money. They also are profiting by taking risks that weaker rivals are unable or unwilling to shoulder — a benefit of less competition after the failure of some investment firms last year. So even as big banks fight efforts in Congress to subject their industry to greater regulation — and to impose some restrictions on executive pay — Wall Street has Washington to thank in part for its latest bonanza. “All of this is facilitated by the Federal Reserve and the government,” said Gary Richardson, a research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. “But we have just shown them that they can have the most frightening things happen to them, and we will throw trillions of dollars to protect them. I have big concerns about that.”

Note: For lots more on the realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.


Wall Street's Naked Swindle
2009-10-14, Rolling Stone magazine
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/30481512/wall_streets_naked_swindle

On Tuesday, March 11th, 2008, somebody — nobody knows who — made one of the craziest bets Wall Street has ever seen. The mystery figure spent $1.7 million on a series of options, gambling that shares in the venerable investment bank Bear Stearns would lose more than half their value in nine days or less. It was madness — "like buying 1.7 million lottery tickets," according to one financial analyst. In order for the bet to pay, Bear would have to fall harder and faster than any Wall Street brokerage in history. The very next day, March 12th, Bear went into free fall. By the end of the week, the firm had lost virtually all of its cash and was clinging to promises of state aid; by the weekend, it was being knocked to its knees by the Fed and the Treasury, and forced at the barrel of a shotgun to sell itself to JPMorgan Chase (which had been given $29 billion in public money...) at the humiliating price of … $2 a share. Whoever bought those options on March 11th woke up on the morning of March 17th having made 159 times his money, or roughly $270 million. Six months after Bear was eaten by predators, virtually the same scenario repeated itself in the case of Lehman Brothers — another top-five investment bank that in September 2008 was vaporized in an obvious case of market manipulation. From there, the financial crisis was on. When Bear and Lehman made their final leap off the cliff of history, both undeniably got a push ... in the form of a flat-out counterfeiting scheme called naked short-selling.

Note: Why isn't this being reported in the major media and aggressively investigated? For many reports from reliable sources on the corruption at the core of the Wall Street collapse and bailout, click here.


Wall Street On Track To Award Record Pay
2009-10-14, Wall Street Journal
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125547830510183749.html

Major U.S. banks and securities firms are on pace to pay their employees about $140 billion this year -- a record high that shows compensation is rebounding despite regulatory scrutiny of Wall Street's pay culture. [Executives] at 23 top investment banks, hedge funds, asset managers and stock and commodities exchanges can expect to earn even more than they did the peak year of 2007, according to an analysis of securities filings for the first half of 2009 and revenue estimates through year-end by The Wall Street Journal. Total compensation and benefits at the publicly traded firms analyzed by the Journal are on track to increase 20% from last year's $117 billion -- and to top 2007's $130 billion payout. This year, employees at the companies will earn an estimated $143,400 on average, up almost $2,000 from 2007 levels. The growth in compensation reflects Wall Street firms' rapid return to precrisis revenue levels. Even as the economy is sluggish and unemployment approaches 10%, these firms have been boosted by a stronger stock market, thawing credit market, a resurgence in deal making and the continuing effects of various government aid programs. So far, regulators and lawmakers have focused on making sure pay practices discourage excessive risk-taking, leaving to companies the question of how much is too much.

Note: For lots more on the realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.


Why Is the UBS Whistle-Blower Headed to Prison?
2009-10-06, Time Magazine
http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1928897,00.html

No one, including himself, would argue that Bradley Birkenfeld, 44, is a saint. But at the same time, almost no one in the U.S. government would deny that Birkenfeld was absolutely essential to its landmark tax-evasion case against Swiss banking giant UBS. The former UBS employee turned whistle-blower exposed the previously hidden world of offshore tax shelters, which cheats the Treasury out of about $100 billion a year. Thanks to his insider information, UBS was fined $780 million, and it promised to "exit entirely" from the U.S. tax-shelter business and to provide the names of thousands of American tax dodgers, from which hundreds of millions of dollars still might be collected. It also led to new tax treaties with the Swiss that should provide unprecedented tax information in civil cases and better access to such data in criminal cases. Considering Birkenfeld's help, many observers wonder why the Justice Department decided to arrest and prosecute him. Many critics believe the decision to prosecute Birkenfeld, whom some consider the most important whistle-blower in years, sends the worst possible message to other financial-industry insiders who might be considering coming forward. The Government Accountability Project (GAP), a Washington watchdog organization that has extensive whistle-blower experience, says a chilling effect is already apparent: a senior executive at a European bank that offers similar U.S. tax shelters is having second thoughts about going public because of the Birkenfeld case.

Note: For lots more, including Obama's tight ties with UBS, see the New York Daily News article here.


Government Watchdog Says Treasury and Fed Knew Bailed-Out Banks Were Not Healthy
2009-10-05, ABC News
http://abcnews.go.com/Business/lied-watchdog-treasury-fed-knew-bailed-banks-h...

The Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve lied to the American public last fall when they said that the first nine banks to receive government bailout funds were healthy, a government watchdog states in a new report released today. Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP), says that despite multiple statements on Oct. 14 of last year that these nine banks were healthy and only receiving government funds for the good of the country's economy, federal officials knew otherwise. "Contemporaneous reports and officials' statements to SIGTARP during this audit indicate that there were concerns about the health of several of the nine institutions at that time and, as detailed in this report, that their overall selection was far more a result of the officials' belief in their importance to a system that was viewed as being vulnerable to collapse than concerns about their individual health and viability," Barofsky says. In announcing the initial $125 billion provided to these banks, former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson on Oct. 14 said, "These are healthy institutions. As these healthy institutions increase their capital base, they will be able to increase their funding to U.S. consumers and businesses." That same day, the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve and the FDIC also released a joint statement reiterating that "these healthy institutions are taking these steps to ... enhance the overall performance of the US economy." Barofsky finds, however, senior officials at the Treasury and the Fed had serious concerns about the health of some of these banks.

Note: For a comprehensive overview of the realities underlying the government's bailout of the biggest financial institutions, click here.


Michael Moore blames capitalism for meltdown
2009-09-18, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/09/18/MN0V19OTKP.DTL

Two weeks before his movie "Capitalism: A Love Story" opens nationwide, filmmaker Michael Moore swept through San Francisco ... with a rally, a Commonwealth Club appearance and an unlikely new antagonist: Democrats. When Moore criticized Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., this week on NBC's "The Jay Leno Show" for getting "sweetheart loans" from a mortgage company he was charged with overseeing, Moore said he got a call from a top Democratic Party official telling him to "back off." But Moore, a longtime supporter of a single-payer health plan, didn't back off. In an interview with The Chronicle, he chided House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for not being aggressive enough in pushing health care reform and ripped President Obama's financial team as "the foxes guarding the henhouse." There is plenty of conservative-bashing in the film, which focuses on capitalism as the "evil" at the root of the financial crisis, but the film also refers to Democratic leaders as the "deliverymen" of the government bailouts for financially troubled Wall Street firms. In his new film, Moore focuses on the investment house Goldman Sachs as a main beneficiary of capitalism's largesse. He notes that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and senior White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers are proteges of Robert Rubin, longtime Goldman executive and President Bill Clinton's Treasury secretary. "The fact that Geithner and Summers are part of this administration makes everything that happens open to question and needs our vigilance," Moore said, "because, literally now, the foxes are guarding the henhouse."

Note: For a review of Michael Moore's new film, "Capitalism: a Love Story," click here.


But Who Is Watching Regulators?
2009-09-13, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/13/business/13gret.html

Nothing succeeds like failure, as the saying goes. And nowhere is this dismal truth more evident than in our financial regulatory system, one year after the bankruptcy filing of Lehman Brothers. Even though calamitous lending practices laid waste to the nation’s economy, surprisingly little has changed about how the financial arena operates and is supervised. Sure, a couple of venerable brokerage firms have vanished, but many of the same players remain on the scene, in the same positions of power. Senior regulators who stood idly by for years as financial firms built their houses of cards have been rewarded with even bigger jobs or are jockeying for increased responsibilities. The Federal Reserve Board, for example, wants to become the financial system’s uber-regulator, even though its officials did nothing as banks made deadly decisions to lend recklessly and leverage themselves to the max. Awarding increased power to those who failed in their oversight duties flies in the face of all notions of accountability. Yet those in the public sector ask us to believe that regulators who snoozed during the credit bubble will be alert to emerging problems on their beats when the next mania begins. That’s asking a lot, isn’t it? Here’s a novel thought. Instead of creating more regulations to try to prevent this kind of mess from recurring, why not figure out how to hold regulators accountable when they perform as poorly as they did in recent years? Taxpayers must protect themselves against two things: the corrupting influence of bureaucratic self-interest among regulators and the political clout wielded by the large institutions they are supposed to police. [And] taxpayers must demand that the government publicize the costs of efforts taken to save the financial system from itself.

Note: For lots more from reliable sources on the realities of the Wall Street crash and bailout, click here.


A Year After a Cataclysm, Little Change on Wall St.
2009-09-12, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/12/business/12change.html

Wall Street lives on. One year after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the surprise is not how much has changed in the financial industry, but how little. Backstopped by huge federal guarantees, the biggest banks have restructured only around the edges. Employment in the industry has fallen just 8 percent since last September. Only a handful of big hedge funds have closed. Pay is already returning to precrash levels, topped by the 30,000 employees of Goldman Sachs, who are on track to earn an average of $700,000 this year. Nor are major pay cuts likely, according to a report last week from J.P. Morgan Securities. Executives at most big banks have kept their jobs. Financial stocks have soared since their winter lows. Banks still sell and trade unregulated derivatives, despite their role in last fall’s chaos. Radical changes like pay caps or restrictions on bank size face overwhelming resistance. Even minor changes, like requiring banks to disclose more about the derivatives they own, are far from certain. Regulators and lawmakers have spent most of the last year trying to save the financial industry, rather than transform it. In the short run, their efforts have succeeded. Citigroup and other wounded banks have avoided bankruptcy, and the economy has sidestepped a depression. But the same investors and economists who predicted, and in some cases profited from, the collapse last fall say the rescue has come at an extraordinary cost. They warn that if the industry’s systemic risks are not addressed, they could cause an even bigger crisis — in years, not decades. Next time, they say, the credit of the United States government may be at risk.

Note: For a treasure trove of reports from reliable sources on the realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.


A ‘Little Judge’ Who Rejects Foreclosures, Brooklyn Style
2009-08-31, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/31/nyregion/31judge.html

Every week, the nation’s mightiest banks come to his court seeking to take the homes of New Yorkers who cannot pay their mortgages. And nearly as often, the judge says, they file foreclosure papers speckled with errors. He plucks out one motion and leafs through: a Deutsche Bank representative signed an affidavit claiming to be the vice president of two different banks. His office was in Kansas City, Mo., but the signature was notarized in Texas. And the bank did not even own the mortgage when it began to foreclose on the homeowner. “I’m a little guy in Brooklyn who doesn’t belong to their country clubs, what can I tell you?” he says, adding a shrug for punctuation. “I won’t accept their comedy of errors.” The judge, Arthur M. Schack, 64, fashions himself a judicial Don Quixote, tilting at the phalanxes of bankers, foreclosure facilitators and lawyers who file motions by the bale. He has tossed out 46 of the 102 foreclosure motions that have come before him in the last two years. And his often scathing decisions, peppered with allusions to the Croesus-like wealth of bank presidents, have attracted the respectful attention of judges and lawyers from Florida to Ohio to California. At recent judicial conferences in Chicago and Arizona, several panelists praised his rulings as a possible national model. Justice Schack, like a handful of state and federal judges, has taken a magnifying glass to the mortgage industry. Justice Schack’s take is straightforward, and sends a tremor through some bank suites: If a bank cannot prove ownership, it cannot foreclose. “If you are going to take away someone’s house, everything should be legal and correct,” he said. “I’m a strange guy — I don’t want to put a family on the street unless it’s legitimate.”


Banks 'Too Big to Fail' Have Grown Even Bigger
2009-08-28, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2009/08/28/ST2009082800437...

When the credit crisis struck last year, federal regulators pumped tens of billions of dollars into the nation's leading financial institutions because the banks were so big that officials feared their failure would ruin the entire financial system. Today, the biggest of those banks are even bigger. The crisis may be turning out very well for many of the behemoths that dominate U.S. finance. A series of federally arranged mergers safely landed troubled banks on the decks of more stable firms. And it allowed the survivors to emerge from the turmoil with strengthened market positions, giving them even greater control over consumer lending and more potential to profit. J.P. Morgan Chase ... now holds more than $1 of every $10 on deposit in this country. So does Bank of America, scarred by its acquisition of Merrill Lynch and partly government-owned as a result of the crisis, as does Wells Fargo, the biggest West Coast bank. Those three banks, plus government-rescued and -owned Citigroup, now issue one of every two mortgages and about two of every three credit cards, federal data show. Concerns are twofold: that consumers will wind up with fewer choices for services and that big banks will assume they always have the government's backing if things go wrong. That presumed guarantee means large companies could return to the risky behavior that led to the crisis if they figure federal officials will clean up their mess. The worry for consumers is that the bailouts skewed the financial industry in favor of the big and powerful. Fresh data from the FDIC show that big banks have the ability to borrow more cheaply than their peers because creditors assume these large companies are not at risk of failing.

Note: For lots more from reliable sources on the realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.


Bankers Reaped Lavish Bonuses During Bailouts
2009-07-31, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/31/business/31pay.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&pag...

Thousands of top traders and bankers on Wall Street were awarded huge bonuses and pay packages last year, even as their employers were battered by the financial crisis. Nine of the financial firms that were among the largest recipients of federal bailout money paid about 5,000 of their traders and bankers bonuses of more than $1 million apiece for 2008, according to a report released Thursday by Andrew M. Cuomo, the New York attorney general. At Goldman Sachs, for example, bonuses of more than $1 million went to 953 traders and bankers, and Morgan Stanley awarded seven-figure bonuses to 428 employees. Even at weaker banks like Citigroup and Bank of America, million-dollar awards were distributed to hundreds of workers. Mr. Cuomo, who for months has criticized the companies over pay, said the bonuses were particularly galling because the banks survived the crisis with the government’s support. “If the bank lost money, where do you get the money to pay the bonus?” he said. All the banks named in the report declined to comment. Incentives that led to large bonuses on Wall Street are often cited as a cause of the financial crisis. Though it has been known for months that billions of dollars were spent on bonuses last year, it was unclear whether that money was spread widely or concentrated among a few workers. The report suggests that those roughly 5,000 people — a small subset of the industry — accounted for more than $5 billion in bonuses. At Goldman, just 200 people collectively were paid nearly $1 billion in total, and at Morgan Stanley, $577 million was shared by 101 people. All told, the bonus pools at the nine banks that received bailout money was $32.6 billion, while those banks lost $81 billion.

Note: How can this happen? Corruption abounds, yet the fact that you are reading this shows we can change it all. For lots more on the realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.


Stock Traders Find Speed Pays, in Milliseconds
2009-07-24, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/24/business/24trading.html

It is the hot new thing on Wall Street, a way for a handful of traders to master the stock market, peek at investors’ orders and, critics say, even subtly manipulate share prices. It is called high-frequency trading — and it is suddenly one of the most talked-about and mysterious forces in the markets. Powerful computers, some housed right next to the machines that drive marketplaces like the New York Stock Exchange, enable high-frequency traders to transmit millions of orders at lightning speed and, their detractors contend, reap billions at everyone else’s expense. These systems are so fast they can outsmart or outrun other investors, humans and computers alike. And after growing in the shadows for years, they are generating lots of talk. Nearly everyone on Wall Street is wondering how hedge funds and large banks like Goldman Sachs are making so much money so soon after the financial system nearly collapsed. High-frequency trading is one answer. And when a former Goldman Sachs programmer was accused this month of stealing secret computer codes — software that a federal prosecutor said could “manipulate markets in unfair ways” — it only added to the mystery. Goldman acknowledges that it profits from high-frequency trading, but disputes that it has an unfair advantage. Yet high-frequency specialists clearly have an edge over typical traders, let alone ordinary investors.

Note: For a wealth of deep reporting on the hidden realities of Wall Street's shadowy operations, click here.


With Big Profit, Goldman Sees Big Payday Ahead
2009-07-15, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/15/business/15goldman.html?partner=rss&emc=rss...

After all that federal aid, a resurgent Goldman Sachs is on course to dole out bonuses that could rival the record paydays of the heady bull-market years. Goldman posted the richest quarterly profit in its 140-year history and, to the envy of its rivals, announced that it had earmarked $11.4 billion so far this year to compensate its workers. At that rate, Goldman employees could, on average, earn roughly $770,000 each this year — or nearly what they did at the height of the boom. Senior Goldman executives and bankers would be paid considerably more. Only three years ago, Goldman paid more than 50 employees above $20 million each. In 2007, its chief executive, Lloyd C. Blankfein, collected one of the biggest bonuses in corporate history. The latest headline results — $3.44 billion in profits — were powered by earnings from the bank’s secretive trading operations and exceeded even the most optimistic predictions. But Goldman’s sudden good fortune, coming only a month after the bank repaid billions of bailout dollars, raises questions for Washington policy makers. In Washington, some lawmakers warned on Tuesday that a quick return to such high pay would stoke public anger as the Obama administration tried to overhaul financial regulation. They warned that Wall Street lobbyists were already trying to block financial reforms. “People all over this country feel an incredible frustration that they are seeing their neighbors lose their jobs and the government is helping companies like A.I.G. and Goldman Sachs and then the next thing they are reporting huge profits and huge compensation,” said Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio and a member of the banking committee. “I think people are incredulous that this system is working this way.”

Note: For a treasure trove of revelations from reliable sources on the hidden realities behind the Wall Street bailout, click here.


Lawmaker accuses Fed of "cover-up" in BofA deal
2009-06-25, Boston Globe/Reuters News
http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2009/06/25/lawmaker_accuses_fed_of_co...

The Federal Reserve sought to hide its involvement in Bank of America Corp's acquisition of Merrill Lynch as Merrill's financial condition worsened, the top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said on Wednesday. The Fed "engaged in a cover-up and deliberately hid concerns and pertinent details regarding the merger from other federal regulatory agencies," Representative Darrell Issa said in a statement released to Reuters. Bernanke has in the past denied any inappropriate pressure on Bank of America. Fed spokeswoman Michelle Smith on Wednesday referred to a letter Bernanke sent Representative Dennis Kucinich on April 30 and later testimony in which he offered an "unconditional assertion" that he did not ask Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis to withhold information regarding Merrill. The Democrat who heads the committee, Edolphus Towns of New York, has called Bernanke to testify on Thursday. Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has also been called to testify before Congress next month about the Bank of America-Merrill Lynch transaction. After rescuing Bank of America in January, U.S. regulators tightened their grip on the bank with a secret agreement that contributed to the ongoing shakeup of its directors and executives, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter. The paper, citing internal documents, added that Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair wrote to Bernanke before the aid to the bank was unveiled to express the FDIC's "discomfort" with the deal..

Note: For a treasure trove on the hidden realities of the governmental bailout of Wall Street, click here.


Top Chinese banker Guo Shuqing calls for wider use of yuan
2009-06-08, The Telegraph (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/financialcrisis/5473491/Top-...

The head of China's second-largest bank has said the United States government should start issuing bonds in yuan, rather than dollars, in the latest indication of the increasing importance of the Chinese currency. Guo Shuqing, the chairman of state-controlled China Construction Bank (CCB), also said he is exploring the possibility of issuing loans to trading companies in yuan, allowing Chinese and foreign companies to settle their bills in yuan rather than in dollars. Mr Guo said the issuing of yuan bonds in Hong Kong and Shanghai would help to develop the debt markets in China and promote the yuan as a major international currency. It was the first time the head of a major Chinese bank has called for the wider use of the yuan, although a chorus of senior government officials have already voiced their concerns about the stability of the dollar and have said the yuan should be used more widely. "I think the US government and the World Bank can consider the issuing of [yuan] bonds," he said, asking for a "mutual cooperation" between the US and China to promote Chinese financial services. Mr Guo is a former head of China's foreign-exchange administration, which manages the country's $1.9 trillion foreign exchange reserves. He said he was confident the yuan would become a major currency in the medium-to-long term. Two months ago, before the G20 meeting in London, Zhou Xiaochuan, the head of the People's Bank of China, the central bank, published a personal paper proposing to replace the dollar as the international reserve currency. His call came after Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, asked the US to guarantee the safety of China's huge pile of US debt.

Note: For many more important reports shedding light on the hidden realities of the US and world economic crisis, click here.


We're really sorry about that $650 billion. Here's a lollipop.
2009-05-01, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/05/01/DDLO17BB2Q.DTL

Like most of us, I guess, I was caught absolutely flat-footed by the economic crisis. I got the part about subprime loans, and why they were both stupid and greedy, but I did not get how that bit of banker's nonsense instantly spread to the national economy and the world economy. Finally I read an article that actually put the thing together in a coherent way. It's in the May 14 issue of the New York Review of Books, and it's by Robert M. Solow, who won the Nobel Prize for economics, so presumably he's not just pulling ideas out of his nose. He starts by talking about leverage, and how very tempting it is as long as prices continue to rise. In the 1990s, it was typical for brokerages (or banks - the difference between the two became blurred) to use a 10-1 model; they used $100,000 to borrow $1 million, and everything was rosy. But it was rosier still at 20-1, and even rosier at 30-1. I am summarizing here - the whole article can be found [here]. [In Solow's words,] "According to data compiled by the Federal Reserve, household wealth in the U.S. peaked at $64.4 trillion in mid-2007, and had plummeted to $51.5 trillion at the end of 2008. Something like $13 trillion of perceived wealth vanished in not much more than a year. Nothing concrete had changed. Buildings still stood; factories were still just as capable of functioning; people had not lost their ability to work or their skills or their knowledge of technology. But a population that thought in 2007 that they had $64.4 trillion with which to plan their lives discovered in 2008 that they had lost 20 percent of that."

Note: Think about it. Simply because of financial manipulations, hundreds of thousands of homes and factory workplaces are now empty, while the numbers living on the street and in camps along rivers has increased dramatically. Yet many of the richest have only grown richer as a result of mergers and more. For lots more on the Wall Street bailout, click here.


Revelations of the wholesale greed and blatant transgressions of Wall Street
2009-04-03, PBS Bill Moyers Journal
http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/04032009/transcript1.html

BILL MOYERS: For months now, revelations of the wholesale greed and blatant transgressions of Wall Street have reminded us that "The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One." In fact, the man you're about to meet wrote a book with just that title. Bill Black, ... what's your definition of fraud? WILLIAM K. BLACK: Fraud is deceit. And the essence of fraud is, "I create trust in you, and then I betray that trust, and get you to give me something of value." And as a result, there's no more effective acid against trust than fraud, especially fraud by top elites, and that's what we have. Well, The way that you do it is to make really bad loans, because they pay better. Then you grow extremely rapidly, in other words, you're a Ponzi-like scheme. And the third thing you do is we call it leverage. That just means borrowing a lot of money, and the combination creates a situation where you have guaranteed record profits in the early years. That makes you rich, through the bonuses that modern executive compensation has produced. It also makes it inevitable that there's going to be a disaster down the road. BILL MOYERS: So you're ... saying that CEOs of some of these banks and mortgage firms in order to increase their own personal income, deliberately set out to make bad loans? WILLIAM K. BLACK: Yes. BILL MOYERS: If I wanted to go looking for the parties to this, with a good bird dog, where would you send me? WILLIAM K. BLACK: Well, that's exactly what hasn't happened. We haven't looked, all right? You'd look at the specialty lenders. The lenders that did almost all of their work in the sub-prime and what's called Alt-A, liars' loans.

Note: William K. Black is the former senior regulator who cracked down on banks during the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s. He is now an Associate Professor of Economics and Law at the University of Missouri. The video of this fascinating interview is available here. For a powerfully revealing archive of reports from reliable sources on the hidden realities of the financial bailout, click here.


Hidden Pension Fiasco May Foment Another $1 Trillion Bailout
2009-03-03, Bloomberg News
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=alwTE0Z5.1EA

Public pension funds across the U.S. are hiding the size of a crisis that’s been looming for years. Retirement plans play accounting games with numbers, giving the illusion that the funds are healthy. The paper alchemy gives governors and legislators the easy choice to contribute too little or nothing to the funds, year after year. The misleading numbers posted by retirement fund administrators help mask this reality: Public pensions in the U.S. had total liabilities of $2.9 trillion as of Dec. 16, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. Their total assets are about 30 percent less than that, at $2 trillion. With stock market losses this year, public pensions in the U.S. are now underfunded by more than $1 trillion. That lack of funds explains why dozens of retirement plans in the U.S. have issued more than $50 billion in pension obligation bonds during the past 25 years -- more than half of them since 1997 -- public records show. The quick fix for pension funds becomes a future albatross for taxpayers. The public gets nothing from pension bonds -- other than a chance to at least temporarily avoid paying for higher pension fund contributions. Pension bonds portend the possibility of steep tax increases. By law, states must guarantee public pension fund debts. “What appears to be a riskless strategy is actually very risky,” says David Zion, director of accounting research for New York-based Credit Suisse Holdings USA Inc. “If the returns on the pension bond-financed assets don’t exceed the cost of servicing the debt, the taxpayers bear the brunt.”

Note: The risks to pension funds may require yet another huge public bailout. Where will the money come from? For lots more on the realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.


Stimulus Plan Places New Limits on Wall St. Bonuses
2009-02-14, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/14/business/economy/14pay.html?partner=rss&emc...

Buried deep inside the ... economic stimulus bill ... is some bitter medicine for companies that have received financial bailout funds. Over staunch objections from the Obama administration, Senate Democrats inserted a provision that would impose restrictions on executive bonuses at financial institutions that are much tougher than those proposed 10 days ago by the Treasury Department. The provisions would prohibit cash bonuses and almost all other incentive compensation for the five most-senior officers and the 20 highest-paid executives at large companies that receive money under TARP. The restriction with the most bite would bar top executives from receiving bonuses that exceed one-third of their annual pay. The provision, written by Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., highlighted the growing wrath ... over the lavish compensation that top Wall Street firms and big banks awarded to senior executives at the same time that many of the companies, teetering on the brink of insolvency, received taxpayer-paid bailouts. "The decisions of certain Wall Street executives to enrich themselves at the expense of taxpayers have seriously undermined public confidence," Dodd said Friday. "These tough new rules will help ensure that taxpayer dollars no longer effectively subsidize lavish Wall Street bonuses." Top economic advisers to President Obama adamantly opposed the pay restrictions, according to congressional officials.

Note: For powerfully revealing reports on the realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.


Bad bank + toxic debts = moral hazard x10
2009-02-02, MarketWatch.com
http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/Bad-bank-toxic-debt-one/story.aspx?guid...

BusinessWeek says Paulson/Bush & Co. wasted $350 billion in TARP money ... the Congressional Budget Office and GOP say Obama & Co. will waste another $800 billion on "non-stimulus" programs ... Nobel economist [Joseph Stiglitz] calls [the Bad Bank] plan "cash for trash" ... Warning, you are entering a bizarre space-time continuum ... where Wall Street makes random quantum leaps between metaphoric realities. In the "Lost" television series we're transported into a parallel reality, a perfect metaphor for today's global economic meltdown, which is misunderstood and grossly mismanaged. Wall Street crashed ... on the "Lost Island ... of Manhattan," the former center of world banking. The collateral damage has been enormous: Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, global trade, Iceland. [Wall Street's] clueless leaders ... are "Lost" with no bottom, no recovery, no strategy in sight. A new president, a secretive Fed and an old Congress are throwing around taxpayer trillions like free candy ... on top of Bush's "$10 Trillion Hangover" ...after a clueless Wall Street wrote off trillions in toxic debt, then wasted $350 billion in TARP bailout money, buying $50 million private jets, attending golf outings at exclusive resorts, spending millions on CEO's office renovations and paying $18 billion in year-end bonuses. Hope masks denial: Even President Obama's consultant [Warren] Buffett acknowledges that the proposed stimulus plan "might not work." The stimulus might not work? What if this last bullet is a blank? Should you prepare for the worst-case scenario?

Note: For many revealing reports on the realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.


What Red Ink? Wall Street Paid Hefty Bonuses
2009-01-29, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/29/business/29bonus.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&p...

By almost any measure, 2008 was a complete disaster for Wall Street — except, that is, when the bonuses arrived. Despite crippling losses, multibillion-dollar bailouts and the passing of some of the most prominent names in the business, employees at financial companies in New York, the now-diminished world capital of capital, collected an estimated $18.4 billion in bonuses for the year. That was the sixth-largest haul on record, according to a report released Wednesday by the New York State comptroller. Some bankers took home millions last year even as their employers lost billions. The comptroller’s estimate, a closely watched guidepost of the annual December-January bonus season, is based largely on personal income tax collections. It excludes stock option awards that could push the figures even higher. The state comptroller, Thomas P. DiNapoli, said it was unclear if banks had used taxpayer money for the bonuses, a possibility that strikes corporate governance experts, and indeed many ordinary Americans, as outrageous. He urged the Obama administration to examine the issue closely. “The issue of transparency is a significant one, and there needs to be an accounting about whether there was any taxpayer money used to pay bonuses or to pay for corporate jets or dividends or anything else,” Mr. DiNapoli said in an interview.

Note: For many reports from reliable sources on the realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.


U.S. moving toward czarism, away from democracy
2009-01-18, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/01/18/INGP158S4G.DTL

Every patriot should be concerned about the intensifying efforts to supplant democracy with something far more authoritarian. Call it American czarism. Czars - i.e., policymakers granted extralegal, cross-agency powers - have become increasingly prevalent in our government over the past century. Until now, this slow lurch toward czarism has primarily reflected the ancient, almost innate human desire for power and paternalistic leadership. In recent years, this culture of "presidentialism," as Vanderbilt Professor Dana Nelson calls it, has justified the Patriot Act, warrantless wiretaps and a radical theory of the "unitary executive" that aims to provide a jurisprudential rationale for total White House supremacy over all government. But only in the past three months has American czarism metastasized from a troubling slow-growth tumor to a potentially deadly cancer. In October, Congress relinquished its most basic oversight powers and gave Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson sole authority to dole out billions of bailout dollars to Wall Street. At the same time, it did nothing when Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke used fiats to commit $5 trillion worth of new money, loan guarantees and loosened lending requirements ... all while he refused to tell the public who is receiving the largesse. Indeed, the Economist magazine's prediction that the "economic crisis may increase the attractiveness of the Chinese model of authoritarian capitalism" is coming true right here at home, as we seem ever more intent on replicating - rather than resisting - that model.

Note: For many revealing reports on the realities underlying the Wall Street bailout, click here.


Madoff's fund may not have made a single trade
2009-01-15, Reuters News
http://www.forbes.com/afxnewslimited/feeds/afx/2009/01/15/afx5928915.html

Bernie Madoff's investment fund may never have executed a single trade, industry officials say, suggesting detailed statements mailed to investors each month may have been an elaborate mirage in a $50 billion fraud. An industry-run regulator for brokerage firms said ... there was no record of Madoff's investment fund placing trades through his brokerage operation. That means Madoff either placed trades through other brokerage firms, a move industry officials consider unlikely, or he was not executing trades at all. 'Our exams showed no evidence of trading on behalf of the investment advisor, no evidence of any customer statements being generated by the broker-dealer,' said Herb Perone, spokesman for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Each month, Madoff sent out elaborate statements of trades conducted by his broker-dealer. There also appear to be discrepancies between monthly statements sent to investors and the actual prices at which the stocks traded on Wall Street. To some, the numbers did not add up. About 10 years ago, Harry Markopolos, then chief investment officer at Rampart Investment Management Co in Boston, asked risk management consultant Daniel diBartolomeo to run Madoff's numbers after Markopolos tried to emulate Madoff's strategy. DiBartolomeo ran regression analyses and various calculations, but failed to reconcile them. For a decade, Markopolos raised the issue with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which has come under fire in Congress in recent weeks for failing to act on Markopolos's warnings.

Note: For lots more on corporate corruption from reliable, verifiable sources, click here.


Investors dump $89B in U.S. securities in historic fire sale
2009-01-04, USA Today
http://www.usatoday.com/money/markets/2009-01-04-foreign-investors-us-securit...

The deep river of private money that helped knit together the global economy has abruptly dried up, new government figures show. As the global financial crisis grew more severe this summer, foreigners sold almost $90 billion of U.S. securities — the greatest quarterly fire sale by overseas investors since the government began keeping track in 1960. U.S. investors also are retrenching; they unloaded about $85 billion worth of foreign holdings in the quarter, says the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis. "We've had a global panic. Everyone is pulling their money home," says economist Adam Posen of the Peterson Institute in Washington, D.C. That's bad for economic growth in the U.S. because it threatens to starve capital-hungry companies and entrepreneurs. But it's especially serious for emerging-market countries that rely heavily on outside financing. Capital flows into countries such as South Korea, Turkey and Brazil were evaporating even before the mid-September Lehman Bros. bankruptcy made things worse. The reversal of private capital flows signals an abrupt end to a nearly two-decades-long era of financial globalization, says economist Brad Setser of the Council on Foreign Relations. Private flows into and out of the U.S. for purchases of stocks, corporate bonds and federal agency bonds have dropped from around 18% of economic output to near zero "in a remarkably short period of time," Setser says.

Note: For many revealing reports on the realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.


Credit-card industry may cut $2 trillion lines: analyst
2008-12-01, Reuters News
http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSTRE4B01HI20081201

The U.S. credit-card industry may pull back well over $2 trillion of lines over the next 18 months due to risk aversion and regulatory changes, leading to sharp declines in consumer spending, prominent banking analyst Meredith Whitney said. The credit card is the second key source of consumer liquidity, the first being jobs, the Oppenheimer & Co analyst noted. "In other words, we expect available consumer liquidity in the form of credit-card lines to decline by 45 percent." Closing millions of accounts, cutting credit lines and raising interest rates are just some of the moves credit card issuers are using to try to inoculate themselves from a tsunami of expected consumer defaults. A consolidated U.S. lending market that is pulling back on credit is also posing a risk to the overall consumer liquidity, Whitney said. Mortgages and credit cards are now dominated by five players who are all pulling back liquidity, making reductions in consumer liquidity seem unavoidable, she said. "We are now beginning to see evidence of broad-based declines in overall consumer liquidity. Already, we have witnessed the entire mortgage market hit a wall, and we believe it will, for the first time ever, show actual shrinkage over the next few months," she wrote. "In a country that offers hundreds of cereal and soda pop choices, the banking industry has become one that offers very few choices", Whitney wrote in a note dated November 30. "Pulling credit when job losses are increasing by over 50 percent year-over-year in most key states is a dangerous and unprecedented combination, in our view," the analyst said.

Note: This article, in pointing out that the banking industry offers few choices for consumers, fails to mention that the industry is rapidly becoming extremely concentrated, with major bank failures and takeovers accelerating due to the financial crisis on Wall Street. And the bailout from the Fed and Treasury has encouraged this concentration through huge tax breaks and risk protections. For many revealing reports on the Wall Street bailout from reliable sources, click here.


Economic rescue could cost $8.5 trillion
2008-11-30, Los Angeles Times
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-pricetag30-2008nov30,0,7549258.story

With its decision last week to pump an additional $1 trillion into the financial crisis, the government eliminated any doubt that [it has] no hesitation in pledging to spend previously almost unimaginable sums of money and running up federal budget deficits on a scale not seen since World War II. Indeed, analysts warn that the nation's next financial crisis could come from the staggering cost of battling the current one. Just last week, new initiatives added $600 billion to lower mortgage rates, $200 billion to stimulate consumer loans and nearly $300 billion to steady Citigroup, the banking conglomerate. That pushed the potential long-term cost of the government's varied economic rescue initiatives, including direct loans and loan guarantees, to an estimated total of $8.5 trillion -- half of the entire economic output of the U.S. this year. The spending already has had a dramatic effect on the federal budget deficit, which soared to a record $455 billion last year and began the 2009 fiscal year with an amazing $237-billion deficit for October alone. Analysts say next year's budget deficit could easily bust the $1-trillion barrier. "I didn't think we'd see that for a long time," said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. "There's a huge risk of another economic crisis, a debt crisis, once we get on the other side of this one." Once the financial crisis eases, higher interest rates and soaring inflation will be risks.

Note: For many revealing reports on the Wall Street bailout from reliable sources, click here.


Citigroup gets a monetary lifeline from feds
2008-11-25, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/11/24/BUST14B71M.DTL

The bailouts keep coming, and they seem to be getting worse for taxpayers. The deal worked out over the weekend to prevent the collapse of Citigroup "is a terrible deal for taxpayers," says Campbell Harvey, a Duke University global finance professor. "Some intervention was necessary. But the terms of the intervention basically shafted the U.S. taxpayer." Under the deal, the U.S. government will invest $20 billion in Citigroup preferred stock (on top of its previous $25 billion capital injection from the Troubled Asset Relief Program) and guarantee up to $306 billion in mortgage and other assets. Citigroup would absorb the first $29 billion in losses on that asset pool. Losses exceeding $29 billion would be shared 90 percent by the government and 10 percent by Citigroup. What do taxpayers get for taking on this risk? Citigroup will pay an 8 percent dividend on the preferred stock or $560 million a year. By comparison, when Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway recently invested $5 billion in Goldman Sachs and $3 billion in General Electric, it got preferred stock that pays a 10 percent dividend. The government also gets warrants to purchase about $2.7 billion worth of Citigroup common stock at $10.61 per share. Citigroup's shares closed at $5.95 per share Monday, up $2.18 from Friday. For the warrants to become profitable, the common shares would have to nearly double.

Note: The answer to the question of what taxpayers get should be essentially nothing. Only Citigroup shareholders will see the benefits mentioned, and very few taxpayers are shareholders. Money is being thrown around like never before. For many revealing reports on the realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.


Financial Crisis Tab Already In The Trillions
2008-11-18, CNBC
http://www.cnbc.com/id/27719011

Given the speed at which the federal government is throwing money at the financial crisis, the average taxpayer, never mind member of Congress, might not be faulted for losing track. CNBC, however, has been paying very close attention and keeping a running tally of actual spending as well as the commitments involved. Try $4.28 trillion dollars. That's $4,284,500,000,000 and more than what was spent on WW II, if adjusted for inflation, based on our computations from a variety of estimates and sources. Not only is it an astronomical amount of money, it's a complicated cocktail of budgeted dollars, actual spending, guarantees, loans, swaps and other market mechanisms by the Federal Reserve, the Treasury and other offices of government taken over roughly the last year, based on government data and news releases. Strictly speaking, not every cent is a direct result of what's called the financial crisis, but it is arguably related to it. Some 68-percent of the sum falls under the Federal Reserve's umbrella, while another 16 percent is the under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, TARP, as defined under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, signed into law in early October. The TARP alone is bigger than virtually any other US government endeavor dating back to the Louisiana Purchase.

Note: That's over $10,000 per man, woman, and child in the U.S. Click on the link above to view a highly informative slideshow, the "Biggest Budget Items in US History," comparing the Wall Street bailout to famous historic government expenditures, and a chart, the "Financial Crisis Balance Sheet," detailing the many components of the bailout. For many key articles revealing the hidden realities of the bailout, click here.


Banks Owe Billions to Executives
2008-10-31, The Wall Street Journal/wealthbulletin.com
http://www.wealth-bulletin.com/home/content/3352363539/

Financial giants getting injections of federal cash owed their executives more than $40 billion for past years' pay and pensions as of the end of 2007, a Wall Street Journal analysis shows. The government is seeking to rein in executive pay at banks getting federal money. But overlooked in these efforts is the total size of debts that financial firms receiving taxpayer assistance previously incurred to their executives, which at some firms exceed what they owe in pensions to their entire work forces. The sums are mostly for special executive pensions and deferred compensation, including bonuses, for prior years. Some examples: $11.8 billion at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., $8.5 billion at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., and $10 billion to $12 billion at Morgan Stanley. Few firms report the size of these debts to their executives. In most cases, the Journal calculated them by extrapolating from figures that the firms do have to disclose. Most firms haven't set aside cash or stock for these IOUs. They are a drag on current earnings and when the executives depart, employers have to pay them out of corporate coffers. [Such] liabilities grew especially high in the financial industry, with its tradition of lavish pay. The liabilities are an essentially hidden obligation. Even when the debts to their executives total in the billions, most companies lump them into "other liabilities"; only a few then identify amounts attributable to deferred pay.

Note: For extensive coverage of continuing revelations about the Wall Street bailout, click here.


No curbs on Wall Street pay despite meltdown
2008-10-24, San Francisco Chronicle/Associated Press
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2008/10/24/national/a143651D...

Despite the Wall Street meltdown, the nation's biggest banks are preparing to pay their workers as much as last year or more, including bonuses tied to personal and company performance. So far this year, nine of the largest U.S. banks, including some that have cut thousands of jobs, have seen total costs for salaries, benefits and bonuses grow by an average of 3 percent from a year ago, according to an Associated Press review. "Taxpayers have lost their life savings, and now they are being asked to bail out corporations," New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said of the AP findings. "It's adding insult to injury to continue to pay outsized bonuses and exorbitant compensation." That there is a rise in pay, or at least not a pronounced dropoff, from 2007 is surprising because many of the same companies were doing some of their best business ever, at least in the first half of last year. In 2008, each quarter has been weaker than the last. "There are, of course, expectations that the payouts should be going down," David Schmidt, a senior compensation consultant at James F. Reda & Associates. "But we haven't seen that show up yet." Some banks are setting aside large amounts. At Citigroup, which has cut 23,000 jobs this year amid the crisis, pay expenses for the first nine months of this year came to $25.9 billion, 4 percent more than the same period last year. Typically, about 60 percent of Wall Street pay goes to salary and benefits, while about 40 percent goes to end-of-the-year cash and stock bonuses that hinge on performance, both for the individual and the company.

Note: For lots more on the Wall Street bailout, click here.


U.S. Is Said to Be Urging New Mergers in Banking
2008-10-21, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/21/business/21plan.html?partner=rssuserland&em...

In a step that could accelerate a shakeout of the nation’s banks, the Treasury Department hopes to spur a new round of mergers by steering some of the money in its $250 billion rescue package to banks that are willing to buy weaker rivals, according to government officials. As the Treasury embarks on its unprecedented recapitalization, it is becoming clear that the government wants not only to stabilize the industry, but also to reshape it. Two senior officials said the selection criteria would include banks that need more capital to finance acquisitions. “Treasury doesn’t want to prop up weak banks,” said an official who spoke on condition of anonymity, because of the sensitivity of the matter. “One purpose of this plan is to drive consolidation.” With bankers traumatized by the credit crisis and the loss of investor confidence, officials said, there are plenty of banks open to selling themselves. The hurdle is a lack of well-capitalized buyers. Stable national players like Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo are already digesting acquisitions. A second group of so-called super-regional banks are well positioned to take over their competitors, officials said, but have been reluctant to undertake or unable to complete deals. By offering capital at a favorable rate, the government may encourage them to expand.

Note: So the U.S. government is using billions of taxpayer dollars to support megamergers which create less competition and more monopolistic conditions. Hmmmm. Is that what the taxpayers really want? For lots more highly revealing reports on the Wall Street bailout, click here.


Banks Are Likely to Hold Tight to Bailout Money
2008-10-17, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/17/business/17bank.html?partner=rssuserland&em...

All of the combined profits that major banks earned in recent years have vanished. Since mid-2007, when the credit crisis erupted, the country’s nine largest banks have written down the value of their troubled assets by a combined $323 billion. The problems that began with home mortgages, analysts say, are migrating to auto, credit card and commercial real estate loans. The deepening red ink underscores a crucial question about the government’s plan: Will lenders deploy their new-found capital quickly, as the Treasury hopes, and unlock the flow of credit through the economy? Or will they hoard the money to protect themselves? John A. Thain, the chief executive of Merrill Lynch, said on Thursday that banks were unlikely to act swiftly. “We will have the opportunity to redeploy that,” Mr. Thain said of the new capital. “But at least for the next quarter, it’s just going to be a cushion." For every dollar the banks earned during the industry’s most prosperous years, they have now wiped out $1.06. [Treasury Secretary Henry M.] Paulson unveiled plans to provide $125 billion to nine banks on terms that were more favorable than they would have received in the marketplace. The government, however, has offered no written requirements about how or when the banks must use the money. “There is no express statutory requirement that says you must make this amount of loans,” said John C. Dugan, the comptroller of the currency. The banks could use the money from the government for any number of things. Some analysts say the banks may use it to acquire weaker competitors. Others say they might use it to avoid painful cost-cutting. And still others say the banks may sit on the capital.

Note: With no requirements placed on how the bailout money is to be used, what is to stop the banks from using taxpayers's money to inflate the bonuses to top executives, or to increase political campaign contributions to Congress members in return for future favorable legislation?


Outrage Leads AIG To Cancel Second Luxury Retreat
2008-10-09, ABC News
http://www.abcnews.go.com/Blotter/story?id=5994567

Battered by outrage over the $440,000 it spent on a luxury retreat less than a week after the federal government loaned it $85 billion dollars, the giant AIG Insurance Company says it has called off plans to hold a second retreat next week at the exclusive Ritz-Carlton Resort in Half Moon Bay, California. The Ritz-Carlton outing, like the earlier one, was to reward top independent insurance agents, which the company called a "standard industry practice." "I am somewhat relieved to hear that AIG has canceled their Ritz-Carlton conference, which was nothing less than a slap in the face of the American people," said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD). "I cannot fathom how in the same day -- the very same day -- that AIG asked the government for another $37.8 billion loan, the company would even consider moving forward with plans to host another large conference at another luxury resort." Critics ... have denounced AIG for holding an expensive retreat at a time of economic crisis. The criticism has been "demoralizing" within AIG said Nicholas Ashooh, a spokesperson for AIG, "but we have to recognize that we're in a different environment and we have to adjust to that." AIG says it has instructed its worldwide managers to re-scrutinize how money is being spent. "We're certainly reviewing all our expenditures in light of financial circumstances and the fact that taxpayer dollars are helping to support AIG as we get through this difficult credit crisis," said Ashooh.

Note: For many reports of corporate corruption from reliable sources, click here.


After Bailout, AIG Execs Head to California Resort
2008-10-07, ABC News
http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/story?id=5973452&page=1

Less than a week after the federal government committed $85 billion to bail out AIG, executives of the giant AIG insurance company headed for a week-long retreat at a luxury resort and spa, the St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach, California, Congressional investigators revealed today. "Rooms at this resort can cost over $1,000 a night," Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) said. AIG documents obtained by Waxman's investigators show the company paid more than $440,000 for the retreat, including nearly $200,000 for rooms, $150,000 for meals and $23,000 in spa charges. "They're getting their pedicures and their manicures and the American people are paying for that," said Cong. Elijah Cummings (D-MD). Appearing before the committee, Martin Sullivan, the AIG CEO until June, said the company was overwhelmed by a "financial global tsunami," and that "no simple or single cause" was to blame. "I am heartbroken at what has happened," Sullivan said. Robert Willumstad, the CEO from June to September, 2008, maintained AIG was a victim of a "crisis in confidence" and an "unprecedented global catastrophe." But Congressional investigators raised questions of "mismanagement" and whether AIG executives sought to "cook the books" and hide negative information from outside auditors. Waxman also said there is evidence the two men changed the bonus schedule once the company began to post losses, so that executives under the "Senior Partners Plan" would continue to make multi-million dollar salaries. Sullivan was given a $15 million "golden parachute" payment after being replaced as CEO in June.

Note: For lots more on corporate corruption from reliable sources, click here.


Buffett warns on investment 'time bomb'
2003-03-04, BBC News
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/2817995.stm

The rapidly growing trade in derivatives poses a "mega-catastrophic risk" for the economy and most shares are still "too expensive", ... investor Warren Buffett has warned. The derivatives market has exploded in recent years, with investment banks selling billions of dollars worth of these investments to clients as a way to off-load or manage market risk. But Mr Buffett argues that such highly complex financial instruments are time bombs and "financial weapons of mass destruction" that could harm not only their buyers and sellers, but the whole economic system. Derivatives are financial instruments that allow investors to speculate on the future price of, for example, commodities or shares - without buying the underlying investment. Outstanding derivatives contracts - excluding those traded on exchanges such as the International Petroleum Exchange - are worth close to $85 trillion, according to the International Swaps and Derivatives Association. Some derivatives contracts, Mr Buffett says, appear to have been devised by "madmen". He warns that derivatives can push companies onto a "spiral that can lead to a corporate meltdown", like the demise of the notorious hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management in 1998.

Note: Though written in 2003, this excellent article reveals the incredible risk of creating derivatives that have more value than the entire GDP of the world. The risk has increased tremendously since then.


Newly Released Documents Show Government Misled Public on Fannie/Freddie Takeover
2017-07-25, Rolling Stone
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/taibbi-government-misled-public...

In August 2012, [the US] unilaterally changed the terms of the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The government originally insisted on a 10 percent annual dividend in exchange for what ultimately became a $187 billion rescue. In 2012, the government quietly changed that 10 percent deal to one in which the state simply seized all profits. The press paid almost no attention to this event, [even though] it was one of the most important decisions of the bailout era. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were two of the biggest companies on earth, and held about $5 trillion in mortgage debt. They had gone bust during the crash years. But by the summer of 2012 ... they were about to start making [enormous piles of] money again. The government has always insisted it didn't know this. Officials have insisted that they needed 100 percent of Fannie and Freddie's profits because ... Fannie and Freddie would otherwise be unable to pay back what they owed. But documents just released in a court case show that the government privately believed just the opposite before it made its historic decision. [One key document] concluded that the government would end up getting more through the "revenue sweep" than it would ... if "the 10% [dividend] was still in effect." The documents that came out this week were released in a lawsuit brought by Fannie and Freddie shareholders who believe that the government stole billions of dollars in profits from them.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the financial industry.


Why Is the Obama Administration Trying to Keep 11,000 Documents Sealed?
2016-04-18, Rolling Stone
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/why-is-the-obama-administration-try...

The federal government has been quietly fighting to keep a lid on an 11,000-document cache of government communications relating to financial policy. The Obama administration ... insisted that their release would negatively impact global financial markets. Unsealing some of these materials last week, a federal judge named Margaret Sweeney said the government's sole motivation was avoiding embarrassment. So what's so embarrassing? A sordid history of the government's seizure of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, also known as the government-sponsored enterprises, or GSEs. Bailout-era Fannie and Freddie was turned into a kind of garbage facility for other Wall Street institutions, buying up toxic mortgages that private banks were suddenly desperate to unload. Even after the state took over the companies ... Fannie and Freddie continued to buy as much as $40 billion in bad assets per month from the private sector. Fannie and Freddie weren't just bailed out, they were themselves a bailout, used to sponge up the sins of private firms. The government ended up pumping about $187 billion into the companies. Within a few years ... Fannie and Freddie started to make money again. The GSEs went on to pay the government $228 billion over the next three years, or $40 billion more than they owed, [but] none of that money went to paying off Fannie and Freddie's debt. This ... prompted a series of lawsuits. In these suits, the government's pleas for secrecy were so extreme that it asked for, and received, "attorneys' eyes only" status for the documents in question.

Note: Why is no other media covering this important news?  For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the financial industry.


U.K. Bankers Face Decade Bonus Delay and Criminal Sanctions
2013-06-19, Bloomberg/Washington Post
http://washpost.bloomberg.com/Story?docId=1376-MOLK2O07SXL101-0E799136C7JHEP4...

Senior employees at U.K. banks may face a 10-year wait for bonuses under proposals put forward by a committee investigating the failures of the industry, which also recommended making “reckless” management of lenders a crime. The Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards' ... proposal to introduce a criminal offence for mismanagement, which could see executives of failed firms facing jail time, was endorsed by Prime Minister David Cameron. “The potential rewards for fleeting short-term success have sometimes been huge, but the penalties for failure, often manifest only later, have been much smaller or negligible,” the authors of the report said. "Performance should be assessed using a range of measures rather than just return on equity, which creates “perverse incentives,” the committee said. "Taxpayers have bailed out the banks. The public have the sense that advantage has been taken of them, that bankers have received huge rewards, that some of those rewards have not been properly earned, and in some cases have been obtained through dishonesty, and that these huge rewards are excessive, bearing little or no relationship to the value of the work done.” The committee recommended introducing an offence for “reckless misconduct” and potential prison time for bankers found responsible for the worst mismanagement, the first such sanctions."

Note: For a related article in the London Review of Books, which starts "the blame in Spain falls mainly on the banks – as it does in Ireland, in Greece, in the US, and pretty much everywhere else too," click here. For more on financial corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


The 1% aren't like the rest of us
2013-03-22, Los Angeles Times
http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-page-wealth-and-politics...

Over the last two years, President Obama and Congress have put the country on track to reduce projected federal budget deficits by nearly $4 trillion. Yet when that process began, in early 2011, only about 12% of Americans in Gallup polls cited federal debt as the nation's most important problem. Two to three times as many cited unemployment and jobs as the biggest challenge facing the country. So why did policymakers focus so intently on the deficit issue? One reason may be that the small minority that saw the deficit as the nation's priority had more clout than the majority that didn't. We recently conducted a survey of top wealth-holders (with an average net worth of $14 million) in the Chicago area, one of the first studies to systematically examine the political attitudes of wealthy Americans. Our research found that the biggest concern of this top 1% of wealth-holders was curbing budget deficits and government spending. When surveyed, they ranked those things as priorities three times as often as they did unemployment — and far more often than any other issue. Our Survey of Economically Successful Americans [found that] two-thirds of the respondents had contributed money (averaging $4,633) in the most recent presidential election, and fully one-fifth of them "bundled" contributions from others. About half recently initiated contact with a U.S. senator or representative, and nearly half (44%) of those contacts concerned matters of relatively narrow economic self-interest rather than broader national concerns. This kind of access to elected officials suggests an outsized influence in Washington.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the collusion between the US government and corrupt financial corporations, click here.


The rotten heart of finance
2012-07-07, The Economist Magazine
http://www.economist.com/node/21558281

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.


Dimon's Unshakable Hubris
2012-05-16, MSNBC
http://powerwall.msnbc.msn.com/politics/dimons-unshakable-hubris-1718428.story

Jamie Dimon was reelected chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase yesterday afternoon. He got to keep his $23 million pay package, too. This means that at ... three of the top five bank holding companies dominating U.S. derivatives exposure, loans, assets, and deposits, the same man holds the chairman and CEO positions -— at Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, and JPM Chase. At the shareholders meeting there was no mention of the details behind the “mistake” that cost the bank $2 billion, just that it “should never have happened.” The fact that after a formal announcement, a friendly Meet the Press chat, and a face-to-face with the firm's shareholders, Dimon can still call it a mistaken hedge is ludicrous. It was a directional bet on the health of North American corporate bonds that the firm got wrong, enacted via the synthetic derivatives market, to worsen the blow. To the extent that it's betting wrong, it's a mistake, but it's not a hedge. Included in the proxy materials in the shareholder package that went out before the vote was ... a wealth of negativity about regulations. The letter stressed that ... two regulations would actively hurt the bank's “competitive ability, the Volker Rule and the derivatives rules.” JPM Chase holds nearly $70 trillion of derivatives exposure on $1.8 trillion of assets. Bank chairmen, like Jamie Dimon ... claim that regulation is too complex, too anti-competitive, and too un-American (putting U.S. banks at a disadvantage against other global banks). [Yet] pretending that it's okay to allow dormant volcanoes of risk to remain embedded in big bank balance sheets, supported by customer money and taxpayer guarantees is not sensible.

Note: For a treasure trove of revealing reports from reliable sources on the criminality and corruption of major financial corporations and their "regulators" in government, click here. For disturbing news articles on the derivatives market time bomb, click here.


Greek debt nightmare laid bare
2012-02-21, CNN/Financial Times
http://edition.cnn.com/2012/02/20/business/greece-debt-report/index.html

A "strictly confidential" report on Greece's debt projections prepared for eurozone finance ministers reveals Athens' rescue programme is way off track. The ... debt sustainability analysis ... found that even under the most optimistic scenario, the austerity measures being imposed on Athens risk a recession so deep that Greece will not be able to climb out of the debt hole over the course of a new three-year, €170bn bail-out. It warned that two of the new bail-out's main principles might be self-defeating. Forcing austerity on Greece could cause debt levels to rise by severely weakening the economy. The report made clear why the fight over the new Greek bail-out has been so intense. A German-led group of creditor countries -- including the Netherlands and Finland -- has expressed extreme reluctance to go through with the deal since they received the report. A "tailored downside scenario" in the report suggests Greek debt could fall far more slowly than hoped, to only 160 per cent of economic output by 2020 -- well below the target of 120 per cent set by the International Monetary Fund. Under such a scenario, Greece would need about €245bn in bail-out aid, far more than the €170bn under the "baseline" projections eurozone ministers were using in all-night negotiations in Brussels on Monday.

Note: For key reports from major media sources exposing the interests served by the imposition of austerity on Greece and other countries, click here.


Secret Fed Loans Gave Banks $13 Billion Undisclosed to Congress
2011-11-27, Bloomberg/Businessweek
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-28/secret-fed-loans-undisclosed-to-cong...

The Federal Reserve and the big banks fought for more than two years to keep details of the largest bailout in U.S. history a secret. Now, the rest of the world can see what it was missing. The Fed didn’t tell anyone which banks were in trouble so deep they required a combined $1.2 trillion on Dec. 5, 2008, their single neediest day. Bankers didn’t mention that they took tens of billions of dollars in emergency loans at the same time they were assuring investors their firms were healthy. And no one calculated until now that banks reaped an estimated $13 billion of income by taking advantage of the Fed’s below-market rates. Saved by the bailout, bankers lobbied against government regulations, a job made easier by the Fed, which never disclosed the details of the rescue to lawmakers even as Congress doled out more money and debated new rules aimed at preventing the next collapse. Details suggest taxpayers paid a price beyond dollars as the secret funding helped preserve a broken status quo and enabled the biggest banks to grow even bigger. “When you see the dollars the banks got, it’s hard to make the case these were successful institutions,” says Sherrod Brown, a Democratic Senator from Ohio who in 2010 introduced an unsuccessful bill to limit bank size. “This is an issue that can unite the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street.”

Note: For a treasure trove of reports from reliable sources on corruption and collusion between government officials and the largest financial firms, click here.


Retired Police Captain Arrested At OWS
2011-11-17, Fox News (Philadelphia Fox affiliate)
http://www.myfoxphilly.com/dpp/news/local_news/Retired_Police_Captain_Ray_Lew...

A retired Philadelphia police captain has been arrested in New York at an Occupy Wall Street demonstration. Ray Lewis retired from the Philadelphia Police Department in 2004. It was Philadelphia police who confirmed Lewis' arrest in New York on Thursday morning. Any additional details, they said, would have to come from NYPD. First news of the arrest was broadcast over Twitter around 9:15 a.m. by the protest group ... stating, "Philly Police Captain (Retired) has just been ARRESTED!" The group then tweeted, "The arrested retired police captain's name is Captain Ray Lewis. Immense cheers and music as he is taken away." Video posted to YouTube by RT America and linked to by Occupy Wall Street appears to show Lewis' arrest. There were messages online stating that Lewis had joined the protesters, including a photo of him holding a sign that read "NYPD Don't Be Wall Street Mercenaries," and talking with a helmeted New York police officer at Zuccotti Park.

Note: For a four-minute video interview with Officer Lewis, click here. For a treasure trove of reports from reliable sources on the reasons why protestors worldwide are occupying their city centers to protest against the "1 percent", click here.


JPMorgan Joins Goldman Keeping Italy Derivatives Risk in Dark
2011-11-16, Bloomberg/Businessweek
http://news.businessweek.com/article.asp?documentKey=1376-LURLN51A1I4K01-4BQL...

JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., among the world's biggest traders of credit derivatives, disclosed to shareholders that they have sold protection on more than $5 trillion of debt globally. Just don't ask them how much of that was issued by Greece, Italy, Ireland, Portugal and Spain, known as the GIIPS. As concerns mount that those countries may not be creditworthy, investors are being kept in the dark about how much risk U.S. banks face from a default. Firms including Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan don't provide a full picture of potential losses and gains in such a scenario, giving only net numbers or excluding some derivatives altogether. Goldman Sachs discloses only what it calls “funded” exposure to GIIPS debt -- $4.16 billion before hedges and $2.46 billion after, as of Sept. 30. Those amounts exclude commitments or contingent payments, such as credit-default swaps. JPMorgan said ... its net exposure was no more than $1.5 billion, with a portion coming from debt and equity securities. The company didn't disclose gross numbers or how much of the $1.5 billion came from swaps, leaving investors wondering whether the notional value of CDS sold could be as high as $150 billion.

Note: For a treasure trove of reports from reliable sources on the reasons why protestors worldwide are occupying their city centers to protest against the "1 percent", click here.


Occupy Wall Street rediscovers the radical imagination
2011-09-25, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/sep/25/occupy-wall-st...

Why are people occupying Wall Street? Why has the occupation – despite the latest police crackdown – sent out sparks across America, within days, inspiring hundreds of people to send pizzas, money, equipment and, now, to start their own movements called OccupyChicago, OccupyFlorida, in OccupyDenver or OccupyLA? We are watching the beginnings of the defiant self-assertion of a new generation of Americans, a generation who are looking forward to finishing their education with no jobs, no future, but still saddled with enormous and unforgivable debt. Is it really surprising they would like to have a word with the financial magnates who stole their future? Just as in Europe, we are seeing the results of colossal social failure. The occupiers are the very sort of people, brimming with ideas, whose energies a healthy society would be marshaling to improve life for everyone. Instead, they are using it to envision ways to bring the whole system down. But the ultimate failure here is of imagination. If the occupiers finally manage to break the 30-year stranglehold that has been placed on the human imagination ... everything will once again be on the table – and the occupiers of Wall Street and other cities around the US will have done us the greatest favour anyone possibly can.

Note: A post on the JP Morgan Chase website confirms an unprecedented $4.6 million gift to the New York City Police Foundation. The money was donated ostensibly as a "gift ... to strengthen security in the Big Apple." Now why would this huge bank be donating millions for security in New York City? For key insights from major media sources into the reasons why so many are protesting worldwide, click here.


Foreign Banks Tapped Fed’s Secret Lifeline Most at Crisis Peak
2011-04-01, Bloomberg
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-04-01/foreign-banks-tapped-fed-s-lifeline-...

Dexia SA (DEXB), based in Brussels and Paris, borrowed as much as $33.5 billion through its New York branch from the Fed’s “discount window” lending program, according to Fed documents released yesterday in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. Dublin-based Depfa Bank Plc, taken over in 2007 by a German real-estate lender later seized by the German government, drew $24.5 billion. The biggest borrowers from the ... discount window as the program reached its crisis-era peak were foreign banks, accounting for at least 70 percent of the $110.7 billion borrowed during the week in October 2008 when use of the program surged to a record. The disclosures may stoke a reexamination of the risks posed to U.S. taxpayers by the central bank’s role in global financial markets. Separate data disclosed in December on temporary emergency-lending programs set up by the Fed also showed big foreign banks as borrowers. Six European banks were among the top 11 companies that sold the most debt overall -- a combined $274.1 billion -- to the Commercial Paper Funding Facility. Those programs also loaned hundreds of billions of dollars to the biggest U.S. banks, including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc. and Morgan Stanley.

Note: For a treasure trove of reports from reliable sources on the bailout of banks worldwide by the US taxpayer, click here.


IMF blueprint for a global currency – yes really
2010-08-04, Financial Times
http://ftalphaville.ft.com/blog/2010/08/04/306346/imf-blueprint-for-a-global-...

[An] IMF paper [that] first came out in April, 2010, [a]uthored by Reza Moghadam, director of the IMF’s strategy, policy and review department, ... discusses how the IMF sees the International Monetary System evolving after the financial crisis. In the eyes of the IMF ... the best way to ensure the stability of the international monetary system (post crisis) is actually by launching a global currency. And that, the IMF says, is largely because [sovereign nations] cannot be trusted to redistribute surplus reserves, or battle their deficits, themselves. The ongoing buildup of such imbalances, meanwhile, only makes the system increasingly vulnerable to shocks. It’s also a process that’s ultimately unsustainable for all, says the IMF. All in all, the IMF believes there has simply been too much reserve hoarding going on. A global currency makes the most sense, the paper concludes — especially since the SDR [Special Drawing Rights] is currently just an accounting tool that draws on the freely usable currencies of member states, not an actual currency itself.

Note: For key news articles on the global financial crisis to which this IMF report is responding, click here.


Fed dodges bullet as House drops audit idea
2010-06-15, Reuters News
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN1527338120100615

The Federal Reserve scored a political victory ... as Democrats mulling financial reform backed off measures that would expose monetary policy to audits and make the head of the New York Fed a political appointee. The U.S. House of Representatives had approved a bill in December that included a provision, championed by Texas Representative Ron Paul, that would have opened the Fed's interest rate policy to congressional audits. But in a statement on Tuesday, House Democrats participating in negotiations over a final financial reform bill signaled a willingness to live with a narrower Senate audit provision that does not cover monetary policy. The Fed, which has admitted it was too complacent about regulatory oversight in the run-up to the global financial crisis, has come under heavy fire for being too close to the banks it regulates. The House Democrats also said they would try to defeat a plan contained in the Senate bill under debate that would allow the U.S. president to name the head of the New York Fed, a step that Fed officials have argued would undercut the central bank's political independence. The U.S. central bank appears to be emerging largely unscathed by the regulatory reform efforts. It successfully fought off a Senate push last month that would have stripped it of its oversight of smaller banks, and is poised to emerge as the most powerful financial regulator when reforms are complete.

Note: A news search on both Google and Yahoo revealed that MSNBC was the only media to pick up this Reuters story, yet MSNBC then removed the story. Why might that be?


'Sorry' still seems to be the hardest word on Wall Street
2010-01-14, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/13/AR20100113041...

Goldman Sachs Chairman Lloyd Blankfein still doesn't get it. Unemployment is at 10 percent and Americans are suffering because of the meltdown he and his colleagues helped create. But Blankfein's firm, generously bailed out by taxpayers, has already returned to its ways of greed. Blankfein, called to Washington on Wednesday to testify before the federal Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, made it plain that he was done apologizing. "Would you look back on some of the financings as negligent or improper?" asked the commission chairman, former California state treasurer Phil Angelides. "I think those were very typical behaviors in the context that we were in," Blankfein replied. Angelides pointed out that others regarded Goldman's behavior -- in which the firm sold mortgage securities to customers and then placed bets against those same securities -- was "the most cynical" of practices. "That's what a market is," the CEO explained. Angelides ... tried again to get Blankfein to acknowledge that "excessive risk was being taken." "Look, how would you look at the risk of a hurricane?" the man from Goldman retorted. "Acts of God we'll exempt," Angelides said. "These were acts of men and women." But Blankfein seems to exempt himself from the rules of man.

Note: For many key reports on the corruption underlying the financial crisis and the government bailout of Wall Street, click here.


Goldman Fueled AIG Gambles
2009-12-12, Wall Street Journal
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704201404574590453176996032.html

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. played a bigger role than has been publicly disclosed in fueling the mortgage bets that nearly felled American International Group Inc. Goldman was one of 16 banks paid off when the U.S. government last year spent billions closing out soured trades that AIG made with the financial firms. A Wall Street Journal analysis of AIG's trades, which were on pools of mortgage debt, shows that Goldman was a key player in many of them, even the ones involving other banks. Goldman originated or bought protection from AIG on about $33 billion of the $80 billion of U.S. mortgage assets that AIG insured during the housing boom. That is roughly twice as much as Société Générale and Merrill Lynch, the banks with the biggest exposure to AIG after Goldman. In Goldman's biggest deal, it acted as a middleman between AIG and banks, taking on the risk of as much as $14 billion of mortgage-related investments. Then Goldman insured that risk with one trading partner – AIG. When the federal government bailed out the insurer, Goldman avoided losses on its trades with AIG covering a total of $22 billion in assets.

Note: For many revealing reports from reliable, verifiable sources on the hidden realities behind the Wall Street bailout, click here.


Fannie, Freddie Can Now Get Unlimited Aid
2009-11-25, CBS News/Associated Press
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/12/25/politics/main6021668.shtml

The government has handed its ATM card to beleaguered mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The Treasury Department said [it had] removed the $400 billion financial cap on the money it will provide to keep the companies afloat. Already, taxpayers have shelled out $111 billion to the pair. By making the change before year-end, Treasury sidestepped the need for an OK from a bailout-weary Congress. "The companies are nowhere close to using the $400 billion they had before, so why do this now?" said Bert Ely, a banking consultant in Alexandria, Va. The news followed an announcement Thursday that the CEOs of Fannie and Freddie could get paid as much as $6 million for 2009, despite the companies' dismal performances this year.

Note: For many reliable reports on the government bailout of Wall Street and the financial industry, click here.


Wall St. Finds Profits by Reducing Mortgages
2009-11-22, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/22/business/22loans.html

Wall Street has found a way to make money from the mortgage mess. Investment funds are buying billions of dollars’ worth of home loans, discounted from the loans’ original value. Then, in what might seem an act of charity, the funds are helping homeowners by reducing the size of the loans. But as part of these deals, the mortgages are being refinanced through lenders that work with government agencies like the Federal Housing Administration. This enables the funds to pocket sizable profits by reselling new, government-insured loans to other federal agencies, which then bundle the mortgages into securities for sale to investors. While homeowners save money, the arrangement shifts nearly all the risk for the loans to the federal government — and, ultimately, taxpayers — at a time when Americans are falling behind on their mortgage payments in record numbers. The trick is to persuade the homeowners to refinance those mortgages, by offering to reduce the amounts the homeowners owe. The profit comes when the refinancings reach more than the [amount] that the fund paid for the block of loans. The strategy has created an unusual alliance between Wall Street funds that specialize in troubled investments — the industry calls them “vulture” funds — and American homeowners. But the transactions also add to the potential burden on government agencies, particularly the F.H.A., which has lately taken on an outsize role in the housing market and, some fear, may eventually need to be bailed out at taxpayer expense.

Note: For many revealing reports from reliable sources on the realities behind the Wall Street bailout, click here.


Investors Beware
2009-11-07, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/07/opinion/07sat2.html

Things turned Orwellian in the House Financial Services Committee this week when members — with the backing of the White House — passed an investor protection bill that would make it all too easy for thousands of publicly traded companies to cook their books. While the bill offers investors important protections ... an amendment was added to permanently exempt smaller public companies (worth less than $75 million) from a post-Enron auditing requirement. It passed with votes from 28 of the committee’s 29 Republicans (one was absent) and 9 Democrats. All clearly were more interested in pleasing corporate constituents than protecting investors who, last time we checked, are also constituents. While President Obama and Democratic leaders say they are committed to more transparency and regulation over derivatives — the complex instruments that were at the heart of the financial crisis — they are supporting a dangerous exemption for big businesses in the derivative reform bill pending in the House. Another House bill to protect consumers of financial products has concessions for big and small banks alike. It appears that the administration will support those concessions, too. Mr. Obama and his aides have said repeatedly that they are committed to closing the regulatory gaps that allowed the financial system to spin so dangerously out of control. They need to do a lot more.

Note: For many revealing reports from reliable sources on the realities behind the Wall Street bailout, click here.


Goodbye to Reforms of 2002
2009-11-06, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/06/business/06norris.html

It took just five weeks after the WorldCom accounting scandal erupted in 2002 for Congress to pass ... the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. That law required public companies to make sure their internal controls against fraud were not full of holes. Sarbanes-Oxley was passed, almost unanimously, by a Republican-controlled House and a Democratic-controlled Senate. Now a Democratic Congress is gutting it with the apparent approval of the Obama administration. The House Financial Services Committee this week approved an amendment to the Investor Protection Act of 2009 — a name George Orwell would appreciate — to allow most companies to never comply with the law, and mandating a study to see whether it would be a good idea to exempt additional ones as well. Some veterans of past reform efforts were left sputtering with rage. “That the Democratic Party is the vehicle for overturning the most pro-investor legislation in the past 25 years is deeply disturbing,” said Arthur Levitt, a Democrat who was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission under President Bill Clinton. There are other threats to Sarbanes-Oxley as well. The law set up a long-overdue system of regulating the accounting industry, which had proved time and again that it was incapable of effective self-regulation. The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board has done a credible job, but a month from now the Supreme Court will hear a case that could drive it out of existence.

Note: For a treasure trove of revealing reports from reliable sources on the realities behind the Wall Street collapse and bailout, click here.


N.Y. Fed pushed AIG on contracts
2009-10-28, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/27/AR20091027039...

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York said ... that it had no choice but to instruct American International Group last November to reimburse the full amount of what it owed to big banks on derivatives contracts, a move that ended months of effort by the insurance giant to negotiate lower payments. The New York Fed, led at the time by then-President Timothy F. Geithner, directed AIG to make the payments after it received a massive government bailout. The officials said AIG lost its leverage in demanding a better deal once the company had been saved from bankruptcy. Lawmakers and financial analysts critical of the payouts say it amounted to a back-door bailout for big banks. AIG, the recipient of a $180 billion federal rescue package, ended up paying $14 billion to Goldman Sachs over months and $8.5 billion to Deutsche Bank, among others. Before the New York Fed intervened, AIG had been trying to persuade the firms to take discounts. [A Bloomberg] report concluded that the government needlessly overpaid $13 billion. The Federal Reserve has declined to detail the terms of the deals and specifics about negotiations with creditors. The Bloomberg report quoted an unnamed AIG executive who said he was pressured by New York Fed officials to refrain from filing any documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission that would divulge the deals' details.

Note: For many revealing reports from reliable sources on the realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.


Goldman Sachs defends dark pools, short selling
2009-10-27, Wall Street Journal
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125665689267210559.html

Goldman Sachs defended a range of trading practices currently under regulatory scrutiny, including dark pools and short selling, in a report to the Securities and Exchange Commission and a series of postings on its Web site. In defending dark pools, private venues where large blocks of securities are traded anonymously, Goldman said they are simply the result of technology improving on the kind of non-displayed liquidity that has always existed in the market. Dark pools have been criticized by lawmakers and targeted by regulators seeking a better idea of how much trading takes place away from exchanges. While it reiterated its support for regulation of abusive, or "naked" short selling, Goldman said further regulation isn't necessary and could actually hurt the market. As for high-frequency trading, SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro at a Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association conference ... reiterated that she has asked SEC staff to propose ways the agency can collect more information about high frequency traders, noting that lightning speed trading now represents more than 50% of trading volume.

Note: To read this article without a subscription to the WSJ, click here. Is it a surprise that Goldman Sachs wants to keep its secret deals hidden? Full transparency for the banks would almost certainly reveal major manipulations.


Judge upholds three-word foreclosure strategy
2009-05-29, KGO-TV (San Francisco ABC-TV affiliate)
http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/7_on_your_side&id=6839404

A Bay Area couple has successfully blocked their lender from taking their home. A federal judge in San Jose brought the foreclosure process to a stop after the couple invoked a three-word strategy first outlined last month by 7 On Your Side's Michael Finney. A home could be saved with three words: "produce the note." Facing foreclosure, owners Isabel and Richard Caporale are using a novel legal strategy to hang on to their home. The couple went to federal court and basically said just three words. "They claim they have it, but I have no proof that they have this note, and you would think by now it's been almost three months," says attorney Marc Voisenat. The "they" Voisenat is referring to is the loan servicing company and "the note" is the legal document proving money is owed. Without it, the strategy goes, money can't be collected and there can be no foreclosure. On Thursday, a federal judge agreed, stopping the foreclosure in its tracks and for now, the Caporales can stay in their home. "It's wonderful because I'm almost positive the next time we come back to court the house will be ours," says Isabel Caporale. Thousands could use this strategy and it all comes down to sloppy paperwork. Mortgages are chopped up, bundled and resold around the world as complicated financial vehicles. Often the paperwork doesn't follow the loan and if there's no paperwork and no proof, the foreclosure is a no-go. "We've never seen a company produce the original note yet," says Attorney Chris Hoyer. Hoyer set up a website offering consumers advice and paperwork to pursue a "produce the note" strategy. In Florida "produce the note" is gaining momentum as a safety net for homeowners.

Note: For more information on how to use this strategy, see the Consumer Warning Network's excellent information available here. More information is also available in this article.


Thriving Norway Provides an Economics Lesson
2009-05-14, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/14/business/global/14frugal.html

When capitalism seemed on the verge of collapse last fall, Kristin Halvorsen, Norway’s Socialist finance minister and a longtime free market skeptic, did more than crow. As investors the world over sold in a panic, she bucked the tide, authorizing Norway’s $300 billion sovereign wealth fund to ramp up its stock buying program by $60 billion — or about 23 percent of Norway's economic output. "The timing was not that bad," Ms. Halvorsen said, smiling with satisfaction over the broad worldwide market rally that began in early March. The global financial crisis has brought low the economies of just about every country on earth. But not Norway. With a quirky contrariness as deeply etched in the national character as the fjords carved into its rugged landscape, Norway has thrived by going its own way. When others splurged, it saved. When others sought to limit the role of government, Norway strengthened its cradle-to-grave welfare state. And in the midst of the worst global downturn since the Depression, Norway’s economy grew last year by just under 3 percent. The government enjoys a budget surplus of 11 percent. Norway is a relatively small country with a ... population of 4.6 million and the advantages of being a major oil exporter. Even though prices have sharply declined, the government is not particularly worried. That is because Norway avoided the usual trap that plagues many energy-rich countries. Instead of spending its riches lavishly, it passed legislation ensuring that oil revenue went straight into its sovereign wealth fund, state money that is used to make investments around the world. Now its sovereign wealth fund is close to being the largest in the world.

Note: For lots more on the global economic and financial crisis from reliable sources, click here.


Chrysler rejects new loan over exec pay limits
2009-04-21, CNN
http://www.cnn.com/2009/BUSINESS/04/21/chrysler.loan/

Chrysler turned down additional government funding this month because executives at the troubled auto manufacturer could not agree to new government-mandated limits on executive pay, according to a source familiar with the matter. An official with Chrysler Financial told CNN that the loan was turned down because the company "has determined that it has adequate private capital funding to cover the short-term needs of our dealers and customers and as such, no additional TARP funding is necessary at this time." The official also said that company executives "have not been presented with any new demands with regard to executive compensation." Chrysler already borrowed $1.5 billion from the Treasury under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, but those loans were made under less strict regulations pertaining to executive compensation. The Washington Post, which first reported the story online Monday, said the amount of the loan Chrysler rejected was $750 million. A Treasury department spokesman declined to confirm the loan rejection, but told CNN that the administration's Auto Task Force continues to monitor the financing situations for Chrysler and General Motors. "This is an issue that Chrysler and its stakeholders will need to address as part of this process," the spokesman said.

Note: The reason many banks are giving back government loans is very likely also because of executive pay limits. The limits were reported in a NY Times article on Feb. 14, 2009. Not long after came the first news that banks were considering returning the bailout money. Do you think these top execs are more interested in their own paychecks or the health of the company? For a highly revealing archive of reports on the hidden realities underlying the Wall Street bailout, click here.


The G20 moves the world a step closer to a global currency
2009-04-03, The Telegraph (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/ambroseevans_pritchard/5096524/The...

The world is a step closer to a global currency, backed by a global central bank, running monetary policy for all humanity. A single clause in Point 19 of the communiqué issued by the G20 leaders amounts to revolution in the global financial order. "We have agreed to support a general SDR allocation which will inject $250bn (Ł170bn) into the world economy and increase global liquidity," it said. SDRs are Special Drawing Rights, a synthetic paper currency issued by the International Monetary Fund that has lain dormant for half a century.In effect, the G20 leaders have activated the IMF's power to create money and begin global "quantitative easing". In doing so, they are putting a de facto world currency into play. It is outside the control of any sovereign body. Conspiracy theorists will love it. There is now a world currency in waiting. In time, SDRs are likely evolve into a parking place for the foreign holdings of central banks, led by the People's Bank of China. Beijing's moves this week to offer $95bn in yuan currency swaps to developing economies show how fast China aims to break dollar dependence.

Note: For an extensive archive of key reports on the hidden realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.


Banks Get New Leeway in Valuing Their Assets
2009-04-03, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/03/business/03fasb.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&pa...

A once-obscure accounting rule that infuriated banks ... was changed Thursday to give banks more discretion in reporting the value of mortgage securities. The change seems likely to allow banks to report higher profits by assuming that the securities are worth more than anyone is now willing to pay for them. But critics objected that the change could further damage the credibility of financial institutions by enabling them to avoid recognizing losses from bad loans they have made. Critics also said that since the rules were changed under heavy political pressure, the move compromised the independence of the organization that did it, the Financial Accounting Standards Board. During the financial crisis, the market prices of many securities, particularly those backed by subprime home mortgages, have plunged to fractions of their original prices. That has forced banks to report hundreds of billions of dollars in losses over the last year, because some of those securities must be reported at market value each three months, with the bank showing a profit or loss based on the change. At first FASB ... resisted making changes, but that changed within a few days of a Congressional hearing at which legislators from both parties demanded the board act. “There is a perception that we are yielding to political pressure,” one board member, Lawrence W. Smith, said as he voted for the changes. A group headed by two former chairmen of the Securities and Exchange Commission, one who served under President Bill Clinton and one who was appointed by President George W. Bush, said that it feared that politicization of accounting standards would destroy the credibility of the board.

Note: For many revealing reports on the realities behind the Wall Street bailouts, click here.


AIG - the biggest shark of all
2009-03-19, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/03/18/ED0316IQ82.DTL

There must be a criminal investigation of the AIG debacle, and it looks as if New York's top lawman is on the case. The collusion to save this toxic company in order to salvage the rogue financiers who conspired to enrich themselves by impoverishing millions is being revealed as the greatest financial scandal in U.S. history. Instead of taking bonuses, the culprits should be taking perp walks. The real culprits are the AIG leaders who, as New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo revealed Tuesday, signed those bonus contracts a year ago to reward the very people "principally responsible for the firm's meltdown." As Cuomo noted in a letter to Rep. Barney Frank: "The contracts shockingly contain a provision that required most individuals' bonuses to be 100 percent of their 2007 bonuses. Eleven of the individuals who received 'retention' bonuses of $1 million or more are no longer working at AIG, including one who received $4.6 million." But the $165 million in taxpayer funds used to reward them is but a sideshow in a far larger drama of moral decay swirling around the banking bailout. It should not distract from the many billions, not paltry millions, of our dollars being diverted to reward the very folks who brought us such misery. Consider the $12.8 billion of the $170 billion that taxpayers gave AIG in bailout funds that AIG then secretly diverted to Goldman Sachs, a company that evidently has a lock on both the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve no matter which political party is in power.

Note: For an excellent analysis of "the real AIG conspiracy", click here. For lots more on the hidden realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.


Spitzer Takes Aim at ‘Real Disgrace’ at A.I.G.
2009-03-17, New York Times blog
http://dealbook.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/17/spitzer-takes-aim-at-real-disgra...

Eliot Spitzer must miss his glory days when he was the scourge of Wall Street as New York’s attorney general. With the bonus battle exploding at the American International Group, Mr. Spitzer has jumped into the fray — and dismissed the bonus scandal, arguing that it is obscuring the “real disgrace” at A.I.G. “Why are A.I.G.’s counterparties getting paid back in full, to the tune of tens of billions of taxpayer dollars?” he asks in an article on Slate. Mr. Spitzer notes that A.I.G.’s trading parties were all the big banks including Goldman Sachs, many of which received billions of dollars from the government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program. “So now we know for sure what we already surmised: The A.I.G. bailout has been a way to hide an enormous second round of cash to the same group that had received TARP money already,” he writes. “It all appears, once again, to be the same insiders protecting themselves against sharing the pain and risk of their own bad adventure,” Mr. Spitzer writes. Recounting how the economic crisis is affecting workers, with tax increases, pay cuts and layoffs, Mr. Spitzer asks: “Why can’t Wall Street royalty shoulder some of the burden? Why did Goldman have to get back 100 cents on the dollar? Didn’t we already give Goldman a $25 billion capital infusion, and aren’t they sitting on more than $100 billion in cash? What is the deeper relationship between Goldman and A.I.G.?”

Note: For the article written in 2008 by former NY Governor Spitzer which likely caused him to be targeted for a takedown just weeks later, click here. For lots more on the hidden realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.


Curtailing executives' pay? Good luck with that
2009-02-05, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/02/05/BUHF15NF2U.DTL

Will President Obama's new plan to rein in executive compensation at companies receiving taxpayer money be more successful than previous attempts? Not if history is any guide. Since at least 1984, Congress and accounting authorities have enacted measures designed in whole or part to stem runaway pay. Yet compensation for top executives has continued to climb in both dollar terms and as a multiple of average worker pay. In 1992, the average chief executive earned $5 million, or 126 times the average hourly worker. By 2007, the average CEO was earning $12.3 million, or 275 times the average worker. No matter what Congress cooks up, it seems like executives, companies and their consultants find a way over, under or through the rules. "It's like putting up a dam for a river. The water tries very hard to find a way around it," says John Olson, a partner with Gibson Dunn & Crutcher who advises corporate boards on compensation and other matters. Obama's plan will apply only to companies taking bailout money in the future and has escape hatches of its own. "You can try all these different reforms," [says Corey Rosen, executive director of the National Center for Employee Ownership,] but none will be truly effective "unless the board of directors, the media and public stop thinking of executives as superstars and that if we just get the right CEO, everything will be OK."

Note: For many revealing reports from reliable sources on the realities behind the Wall Street bailout, click here.


U.N. crime chief says drug money flowed into banks
2009-01-25, International Herald Tribune/Reuters News
http://www.iht.com/articles/reuters/2009/01/25/europe/OUKWD-UK-FINANCIAL-UN-D...

The United Nations' crime and drug watchdog has indications that money made in illicit drug trade has been used to keep banks afloat in the global financial crisis, its head was quoted as saying on Sunday. Vienna-based UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa said in an interview released by Austrian weekly Profil that drug money often became the only available capital when the crisis spiralled out of control last year. "In many instances, drug money is currently the only liquid investment capital," Costa was quoted as saying by Profil. "In the second half of 2008, liquidity was the banking system's main problem and hence liquid capital became an important factor." The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime had found evidence that "interbank loans were funded by money that originated from drug trade and other illegal activities," Costa was quoted as saying. There were "signs that some banks were rescued in that way." Profil said Costa declined to identify countries or banks which may have received drug money and gave no indication how much cash might be involved.

Note:. For powerful evidence that corporations and even rogue elements of government are involved in the huge amounts of cash generated in the drug trade, click here. For lots more on corporate corruption, click here.


U.S. Debt Expected To Soar This Year
2009-01-03, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/02/AR20090102023...

With President-elect Barack Obama and congressional Democrats considering a massive spending package aimed at pulling the nation out of recession, the national debt is projected to jump by as much as $2 trillion this year, an unprecedented increase that could test the world's appetite for financing U.S. government spending. For now, investors are frantically stuffing money into the relative safety of the U.S. Treasury, which has come to serve as the world's mattress in troubled times. Interest rates on Treasury bills have plummeted to historic lows, with some short-term investors literally giving the government money for free. But about 40 percent of the debt held by private investors will mature in a year or less, according to Treasury officials. When those loans come due, the Treasury will have to borrow more money to repay them, even as it launches perhaps the most aggressive expansion of U.S. debt in modern history. With the government planning to roll over its short-term loans into more stable, long-term securities, experts say investors are likely to demand a greater return on their money, saddling taxpayers with huge new interest payments for years to come. Some analysts also worry that foreign investors, the largest U.S. creditors, may prove unable to absorb the skyrocketing debt, undermining confidence in the United States as the bedrock of the global financial system.

Note: For many revealing reports on the realities of the Wall Street bailout and its impacts on the national debt, click here.


UAW busting, Southern style
2008-12-18, Los Angeles Times
http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-raynor18-2008dec18,0,406...

The foreign nonunion auto companies located in the South have a plan to reduce wages and benefits at their factories in the United States. And to do it, they need to destroy the United Auto Workers. Last week, Senate Republicans from some Southern states went to work trying to do just that, on the foreign car companies' behalf. [Republican] representatives from states that subsidize companies such as Honda, Volkswagen, Toyota and Nissan first tried to force the UAW to take reductions in wages and benefits as a condition for supporting the auto industry bailout bill. When the UAW refused, those senators torpedoed the bill. They claimed that they couldn't support the bill without specifics about how wages would be "restructured." They didn't, however, require such specificity when it came to bailing out the financial sector. Their grandstanding, and the government's generally lackluster response to the auto crisis, highlight many of the problems that have caused our current economic mess: the lack of concern about manufacturing, the privileged way our government treats the financial sector, and political support given to companies that attempt to slash worker's wages. When one compares how the auto industry and the financial sector are being treated by Congress, the double standard is staggering. At Goldman Sachs ... employee compensation made up 71% of total operating expenses in 2007. In the auto industry, by contrast, autoworker compensation makes up less than 10% of the cost of manufacturing a car. Hundreds of billions were given to the financial-services industry with barely a question about compensation; the auto bailout, however, was sunk on this issue alone.

Note: For highly revealing reports from reliable sources on the realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.


Jim Rogers calls most big U.S. banks "bankrupt"
2008-12-11, Reuters News
http://www.reuters.com/article/InvestmentOutlook09/idUSTRE4BA5CO20081211

Jim Rogers, one of the world's most prominent international investors, ... called most of the largest U.S. banks "totally bankrupt," and said government efforts to fix the sector are wrongheaded. Co-founder with George Soros of the Quantum Fund, [Rogers] said the government's $700 billion rescue package for the sector doesn't address how banks manage their balance sheets, and instead rewards weaker lenders with new capital. "Without giving specific names, most of the significant American banks, the larger banks, are bankrupt, totally bankrupt," said Rogers. "What is outrageous economically and is outrageous morally is that normally in times like this, people who are competent and who saw it coming and who kept their powder dry go and take over the assets from the incompetent," he said. "What's happening this time is that the government is taking the assets from the competent people and giving them to the incompetent people and saying, now you can compete with the competent people. It is horrible economics." While not saying how long the U.S. economic recession will last, he said conditions could ultimately mirror those of Japan in the 1990s. "The way things are going, we're going to have a lost decade too, just like the 1970s," he said. "Governments are making mistakes," he said. "They're saying to all the banks, you don't have to tell us your situation. You can continue to use your balance sheet that is phony.... All these guys are bankrupt, they're still worrying about their bonuses, they're still trying to pay their dividends, and the whole system is weakened."

Note: For a treasure trove of reliable reports exposing the realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.


Ditch the smooth transition. The people voted for change
2008-11-14, The Guardian (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/nov/14/obama-white-house-wall-st...

The more details emerge, the clearer it becomes that Washington's handling of the Wall Street bail-out is not merely incompetent: it is borderline criminal. In a moment of high panic in September, the US treasury pushed through a radical change in how bank mergers are taxed - a change long sought by the industry. Despite the fact that this move will deprive the government of as much as $140bn in tax revenue, legislators found out only after the fact. According to the Washington Post, more than a dozen tax attorneys agree that "[the] treasury had no authority to issue the [tax change] notice". Of equally dubious legality are the equity deals the treasury has negotiated with many of the banks. According to Congressman Barney Frank, one of the architects of the legislation that enables the deals: "Any use of these funds for any purpose other than lending - for bonuses, for severance pay, for dividends, for acquisitions of other institutions ... is a violation of the act." Yet this is exactly how the funds are being used. Then there is the nearly $2 trillion that America's central bank, the Federal Reserve, has handed out in emergency loans. Incredibly, the Fed will not reveal which corporations have received these loans or what it has accepted as collateral. Bloomberg news service believes this secrecy violates the law and has filed a federal suit demanding full disclosure. Yet the Democrats are either openly defending the administration or refusing to intervene. Obama owes it to the people who elected him to call this what it is: an attempt to undermine the electoral process by stealth.

Note: For many key articles revealing the hidden realities of the bailout, click here.


Lobbyists Swarm the Treasury for Piece of Bailout Pie
2008-11-12, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/12/business/economy/12lobbying.html?partner=rs...

When the government said it would spend $700 billion to rescue the nation’s financial industry, it seemed to be an ocean of money. But after one of the biggest lobbying free-for-alls in memory, it suddenly looks like a dwindling pool. Many new supplicants are lining up for an infusion of capital as billions of dollars are channeled to other beneficiaries like the American International Group, and possibly soon American Express. Of the initial $350 billion that Congress freed up, out of the $700 billion in bailout money contained in the law that passed last month, the Treasury Department has committed all but $60 billion. The shrinking pie — and the growing uncertainty over who qualifies — has thrown Washington’s legal and lobbying establishment into a mad scramble. The Treasury Department is under siege by an army of hired guns for banks, savings and loan associations and insurers — as well as for [other more] improbable candidates. The lobbying frenzy worries many traditional bankers — the original targets of the rescue program — who fear that it could blur, or even undermine, the government’s effort to stabilize the financial system after its worst crisis since the 1930s. Adding to the frenzy is the possibility that the next Congress and White House could change the rules further. President-elect Barack Obama has added his voice by proposing that the struggling automakers get federal aid, which could mean giving them access to the fund. Meanwhile, the list of candidates for a piece of the bailout keeps growing. American Express won approval Monday to transform itself into a bank holding company, making the giant marketer of credit cards eligible for an infusion.

Note: American Express is a credit-card company; if it failed due to losses on its risky, predatory lending, its failure would present no "systemic risk" to the financial system as a whole. But by turning itself into a "bank holding company," as it just won approval to do, it can scoop up billions of easy money from the government anyway! For many revealing and reliable reports on the Wall Street bailout, click here.


Effectiveness of AIG's $143 Billion Rescue Questioned
2008-11-03, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/02/AR20081102021...

A number of financial experts now fear that the federal government's $143 billion attempt to rescue troubled insurance giant American International Group may not work, and some argue that company shareholders and taxpayers would have been better served by a bankruptcy filing. The Treasury Department leapt to keep AIG from going bankrupt on Sept. 16, and in the past seven weeks, AIG has drawn down $90 billion in federal bailout loans. But some key AIG players argue that bankruptcy would have offered more structure and greater protections during a time of intense market volatility. Echoing some other experts, Ann Rutledge, a credit derivatives expert, ... said she ... fears that the government is papering over the problem with a quick fix that was not well planned. "What we see now are a lot of games by the government to keep these institutions going with a lot of cash," she said. "This is to fill holes in companies' balance sheets, and they're trying to hold at bay the charges that our financial system is insolvent." As AIG has rapidly eaten through the loan money, the Fed has twice expanded its original $85 billion bailout -- which itself was the largest government bailout of a private company in U.S. history. Earlier last month, the Fed ... gave AIG $38 billion more in credit for securities lending to try to keep the firm from drawing down its first Fed loan too quickly. Then on Thursday, the Fed agreed to let AIG borrow $20 billion from a larger commercial paper bailout fund it had set up days earlier for all institutions that lend money to each other. If the company had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, AIG could have frozen the crippling collateral calls.

Note: For extensive coverage of continuing revelations about the Wall Street bailout, click here.


F.B.I. Struggles to Handle Financial Fraud Cases
2008-10-19, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/19/washington/19fbi.html?partner=rssuserland&e...

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is struggling to find enough agents and resources to investigate criminal wrongdoing tied to the country’s economic crisis, according to current and former bureau officials. The bureau slashed its criminal investigative work force to expand its national security role after the Sept. 11 attacks, shifting more than 1,800 agents, or nearly one-third of all agents in criminal programs, to terrorism and intelligence duties. The cutbacks have left the bureau seriously exposed in investigating areas like white-collar crime, which has taken on urgent importance in recent weeks because of the nation’s economic woes. So depleted are the ranks of the F.B.I.’s white-collar investigators that executives in the private sector say they have had difficulty attracting the bureau’s attention in cases involving possible frauds of millions of dollars. Since 2004, F.B.I. officials have warned that mortgage fraud posed a looming threat, and the bureau has repeatedly asked the Bush administration for more money to replenish the ranks of agents handling nonterrorism investigations. But each year, the requests have been denied, with no new agents approved for financial crimes, as policy makers focused on counterterrorism. According to previously undisclosed internal F.B.I. data, the cutbacks have been particularly severe in staffing for investigations into white-collar crimes like mortgage fraud, with a loss of 625 agents, or 36 percent of its 2001 levels.

Note: How fortunate for the financial fraudsters that the FBI doesn't have the resources to investigate them! Was it just a coincidence that first the "war on terror" and then the Wall Street bailout both have resulted in trillions of dollars going to a few well-positioned corporations? For more on government corruption from reliable sources, click here.


Bailout tests how much the American public will tolerate theft
2008-09-23, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/09/23/ED0J132MOV.DTL

Treasury Secretary Paulson's edict to create a $700 billion fund to buy worthless mortgage securities from agitated wealthy bond investors is nothing short of a final step on the path to the end of the republic. The secretary claims he can only be effective if his decisions are beyond judicial review. Our government and its owners appear to be testing how much the American public will tolerate. A few years ago, no one could have imagined that the silent majority would quietly accept thefts of this magnitude from a government that stopped tiny payments to single mothers with poor children in the name of welfare reform because the program's $10 billion cost was breaking the federal budget. If the public allows this theft, then it will signal to powerful forces that they can essentially do anything, because the American public has become so mushy-headed that it will stand up for nothing. When power discovers that those from whom it would exact payment are powerless, its viciousness increases infinitely. Our enemy has revealed itself, and it is our own government. Because the American public has not been introduced to methods for controlling its government for generations, I will suggest one called a general strike. This fundamental democratic power is where everyone decides to send a message to the government by not going to work, to school, shopping, nowhere. This is the critical time when charlatans among us will promise they can save us from the inevitable if we only allow them the power they need to save us. They are lying.

Note: This article's author Sean Olender is an attorney in San Mateo, California. Mr. Oleander predicted the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac months before it happened based on clearly disempowering moves by the government. To see his prescient article on this from Feb. 2008, click here.


Almost Armageddon: Markets were 500 Trades from a Meltdown
2008-09-21, New York Post
http://www.nypost.com/seven/09212008/business/almost_armageddon_130110.htm

The market was 500 trades away from Armageddon on Thursday [September 18], traders inside two large custodial banks tell The Post. Had the Treasury and Fed not quickly stepped into the fray that morning with a quick $105 billion injection of liquidity, the Dow could have collapsed. According to traders, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, money market funds were inundated with $500 billion in sell orders prior to the opening. The Fed's dramatic $105 billion liquidity injection on Thursday (pre-market) was just enough to keep key institutional accounts from following through on the sell orders and starting a stampede of cash that could have brought large tracts of the US economy to a halt. Cracks started to show in money market accounts late Tuesday when shares in one fund, the Reserve Primary Fund - which touted itself as super safe - fell below the golden $1 a share level. By Wednesday, banks sensed a run on their accounts. They started stockpiling cash in anticipation of withdrawals. Banks, which usually keep an average of $2 billion in excess reserves earmarked for withdrawals, pumped that up to an astounding $90 billion, Lou Crandall, chief economist at Wrighton ICAP, told The [Wall Street] Journal. And for good reason. By the close of business on Wednesday, $144.5 billion - a record - had been withdrawn. How much money was taken out of money market funds the prior week? Roughly $7.1 billion, according to AMG Data Services. By Thursday, that level ... had grown to $100 billion.

Note: For insight into the banking and financial powers that runs today's governments, click here.


Congress Passes Wide-Ranging Bill Easing Bank Laws
1999-11-05, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/1999/11/05/business/congress-passes-wide-ranging-bill-...

Congress approved landmark legislation today that opens the door for a new era on Wall Street in which commercial banks, securities houses and insurers will find it easier and cheaper to enter one another's businesses. The measure, considered by many the most important banking legislation in 66 years, was approved in the Senate by a vote of 90 to 8 and in the House tonight by 362 to 57. The bill will now be sent to the president, who is expected to sign it, aides said. ''Today Congress voted to update the rules that have governed financial services since the Great Depression and replace them with a system for the 21st century,'' Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers said. ''This historic legislation will better enable American companies to compete in the new economy.'' The decision to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 provoked dire warnings from a handful of dissenters that the deregulation of Wall Street would someday wreak havoc on the nation's financial system. The original idea behind Glass-Steagall was that separation between bankers and brokers would reduce the potential conflicts of interest that were thought to have contributed to the speculative stock frenzy before the Depression. Consumer groups and civil rights advocates criticized the legislation for being a sop to the nation's biggest financial institutions. The opponents of the measure ... predicted that by unshackling banks and enabling them to move more freely into new kinds of financial activities, the new law could lead to an economic crisis down the road when the marketplace is no longer growing briskly.

Note: Clearly these critics of the elimination of Glass-Steagall have been proven right by the financial crisis which has unfolded less than 10 years later. Note the key role played by President Obama's top economic advisor, Larry Summers. If the players haven't changed, how likely is it that the game has?


Authorities have reached a $3.2 billion settlement with Morgan Stanley over bank practices that contributed to the 2008 financial crisis
2016-02-11, US News & World Report/Associated Press
http://www.usnews.com/news/business/articles/2016-02-11/authorities-reach-32b...

Morgan Stanley will pay $3.2 billion in a settlement over bank practices that contributed to the 2008 financial crisis, including misrepresentations about the value of mortgage-backed securities, authorities announced Thursday. The nationwide settlement, negotiated by the working group appointed by President Barack Obama in 2012, says the bank acknowledges that it increased the acceptable risk levels for mortgage loans pooled and sold to investors without telling them. Loans with material defects were included, packaged into the securities and sold. The Justice Department said the $2.6 billion federal penalty to resolve claims about the bank's marketing, sale and issuance of those securities is the largest piece of settlements with the working group that have totaled approximately $5 billion. "Our work is far from over," said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who co-chairs the group. "Communities across the country have not gotten back to where they were before the crash." Total settlements so far are about $64 billion, Schneiderman said. The working group previously reached major settlements with Citigroup for $7 billion, JPMorgan for $13 billion and Bank of America for $16.65 billion. The New York-based investment bank reported a fourth-quarter profit of $908 million.

Note: Since the bailout in 2008, the percentage of US banking assets held by the big banks has almost doubled. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and in the financial industry.


Bernanke would have jailed Wall Street execs
2015-10-05, CBS/Associated Press
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/bernanke-would-have-jailed-wall-street-execs/

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says some Wall Street executives should have gone to jail for their roles in the financial crisis that gripped the country in 2008 and triggered the Great Recession. Billions of dollars in fines have been levied against major banks and brokerage firms in the wake of the economic meltdown that was in large part triggered by reckless lending and shady securities dealings that blew up a housing bubble. But in an interview with USA Today published Sunday, Bernanke said he thinks that in addition to the corporations, individuals should have been held more accountable. "It would have been my preference to have more investigations of individual actions because obviously everything that went wrong or was illegal was done by some individual, not by an abstract firm," Bernanke said. Asked if someone should have gone to jail, the former Fed chairman replied, "Yeah, I think so." He did not, however, name any individual he thought should have been prosecuted and noted that the Federal Reserve is not a law-enforcement agency. Bernanke is promoting his new 600-page memoir, "The Courage to Act: A Memoir of a Crisis and Its Aftermath."

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about the US government's massive bank bailout of the corrupt financial industry.


Goldman to Pay $3.15 Billion to Settle Mortgage Claims
2014-08-22, New York Times
http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/08/22/goldman-to-pay-3-15-billion-to-settle-...

Goldman Sachs is paying its largest bill yet to resolve a government lawsuit related to the financial crisis. The bank said ... that it had agreed to buy back $3.15 billion in mortgage bonds from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to end a lawsuit filed in 2011 by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the federal regulator that oversees the two mortgage companies. The agency had accused Goldman of unloading low-quality mortgage bonds onto Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the run-up to the financial crisis. It estimates that Goldman is paying $1.2 billion more than the bonds are now worth. Most of the other 18 banks that faced similar suits from the housing agency have already reached settlements. The previous settlements have included penalties, which Goldman avoided. But Goldman had been hoping to avoid settling the suit altogether, contending as recently as last month that many of the government’s claims should be dismissed. The $1.2 billion figure carries a sting because it is double the $550 million payment that Goldman made in 2010 to settle the most prominent crisis-era case it has faced — the so-called Abacus case. Since then, Goldman has largely avoided the billion-dollar penalties paid by other banks for wrongdoing before the 2008 crisis. This week, Bank of America reached a $16.65 billion settlement with the Justice Department related to the bank’s handling of shoddy mortgages. In a separate deal this year, Bank of America agreed to pay $9.5 billion to settle its part of the housing finance agency’s lawsuit. Some of that money was a penalty and the rest was used to buy back mortgage bonds.

Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing financial corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.


The Unemployment Puzzle: Where Have All the Workers Gone?
2014-04-04, Wall Street Journal
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304441304579477341062142388

A big puzzle looms over the U.S. economy: Only 63.2% of Americans 16 or older are participating in the labor force, which ... is down substantially since 2000. As recently as the late 1990s, the U.S. was a nation in which employment, job creation and labor force participation went hand in hand. That is no longer the case. The unemployment rate, the figure that dominates reporting on the economy, is the fraction of the labor force (those working or seeking work) that is unemployed. This rate has declined slowly since the end of the Great Recession. What hasn't recovered over that same period is the labor force participation rate, which today stands roughly where it did in 1977. Labor force participation rates increased from the mid-1960s through the 1990s, driven by more women entering the workforce, baby boomers entering prime working years in the 1970s and 1980s, and increasing pay for skilled laborers. But over the past decade, these trends have leveled off. At the same time, the participation rate has fallen, particularly in the aftermath of the recession. The drop is a function of various factors, including simple discouragement, poor work incentives created by public policies, inadequate schooling and training, and a greater propensity to seek disability insurance. Globalization and technological change have also reduced employment and wage growth for low-skilled workers—which raises questions about whether current policy is focused enough on helping workers to achieve the skills necessary to work productively and earn decent incomes.

Note: For more on the devastating impact of financial power and government policy on US workers, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


For the Love of Money
2014-01-19, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/19/opinion/sunday/for-the-love-of-money.html

In my last year on Wall Street my bonus was $3.6 million — and I was angry because it wasn’t big enough. I was 30 years old, had no children to raise, no debts to pay, no philanthropic goal in mind. I wanted more money for exactly the same reason an alcoholic needs another drink: I was addicted. It was actually my absurdly wealthy bosses who helped me see the limitations of unlimited wealth. I was in a meeting with one of them, and a few other traders, and they were talking about the new hedge-fund regulations. Most everyone on Wall Street thought they were a bad idea. “But isn’t it better for the system as a whole?” I asked. The room went quiet, and my boss shot me a withering look. I remember his saying, “I don’t have the brain capacity to think about the system as a whole. All I’m concerned with is how this affects our company.” I felt as if I’d been punched in the gut. He was afraid of losing money, despite all that he had. From that moment on, I started to see Wall Street with new eyes. I noticed the vitriol that traders directed at the government for limiting bonuses after the crash. I heard the fury in their voices at the mention of higher taxes. These traders despised anything or anyone that threatened their bonuses. Wealth addiction was described by the late sociologist and playwright Philip Slater in a 1980 book, but addiction researchers have paid the concept little attention. Like alcoholics driving drunk, wealth addiction imperils everyone. Wealth addicts are, more than anybody, specifically responsible for the ever widening rift that is tearing apart our once great country.

Note: For more on financial corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Fed’s Dudley: ‘Deep Seated’ Cultural, Ethical Lapses at Many Financial Firms
2013-11-07, Wall Street Journal blog
http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2013/11/07/feds-dudley-sees-deep-seated-cultur...

Federal Reserve Bank of New York President William Dudley said [that] any effort to reduce the threat to financial stability posed by massive financial firms also must include compelling banking executives to have more respect for the law and the broader impact on society of their actions. “There is evidence of deep-seated cultural and ethical failures at many large financial institutions,” Mr. Dudley said. “Whether this is due to size and complexity, bad incentives or some other issues is difficult to judge, but it is another critical problem that needs to be addressed” as regulators seek to deal with the problem of banks that are considered too big to fail, the official said. Mr. Dudley [added] that “ending too big to fail and shifting the emphasis to longer-term sustainability will encourage the needed cultural shift necessary to restore public trust in the industry.” His comments on banking issues come in the wake of last week’s decision by the Fed to stay the course on its $85-billion-a-month bond-buying program. Mr. Dudley has been a steadfast supporter of the aggressively easy-money policies pursued by the central bank.

Note: For more on the banking bailout, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Don’t Blink, or You’ll Miss Another Bailout
2013-02-17, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/17/business/dont-blink-or-youll-miss-another-b...

Many people became rightfully upset about bailouts given to big banks during the mortgage crisis. But it turns out that they are still going on, if more quietly, through the back door. The existence of one such secret deal, struck in July between the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Bank of America, came to light just last week in court filings. Not only do the filings show the New York Fed helping to thwart another institution’s fraud case against the bank, they also reveal that the New York Fed agreed to give away what may be billions of dollars in potential legal claims. The New York Fed said in a court filing that in July it had released Bank of America from all legal claims arising from losses in some mortgage-backed securities the Fed received when the government bailed out the American International Group in 2008. One surprise in the filing, which was part of a case brought by A.I.G., was that the New York Fed let Bank of America off the hook even as A.I.G. was seeking to recover $7 billion in losses on those very mortgage securities. What did the New York Fed get from Bank of America in this settlement? Some $43 million, it seems, from a small dispute the New York Fed had with the bank on two of the mortgage securities. At the same time, and for no compensation, it released Bank of America from all other legal claims. For zero compensation, the New York Fed released Bank of America from what may be sizable legal claims, knowing that A.I.G. was trying to recover on those claims.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the collusion between regulators and financial corporations, click here.


'Who knew' mortgage defense falling apart
2013-02-07, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/business/bottomline/article/Who-knew-mortgage-defense-f...

The "who knew?" defense [was] thrown down by financial institutions and their senior executives to ward off accusations that they were somehow responsible for the disaster that befell the country. That defense is now crumbling by the day, thanks in part to their own employees' admissions. Citing internal e-mails, California joined the federal government and 15 other states this week in filing multibillion-dollar civil fraud lawsuits against the nation's leading credit ratings agency, Standard & Poor's, for allegedly deliberately "downplaying and disregarding the true extent of the credit risks" of the financial instruments it had rated as rock-solid. S&P says the charges are "without factual or legal merit," while adding that it, "like everyone else, did not predict the speed and severity of the coming crisis and how credit quality would ultimately be affected." Stack that up against an S&P executive who warned in an internal memo in December 2006, "This market is a wildly spinning top which is going to end badly." Or the 2007 e-mail from an analyst that read, "Job's going great, aside from the fact that the MBS (residential mortgage-backed securities) is crashing." Foreknowledge seemed to be apparent at JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley as well. Internal documents in a lawsuit filed by Dexia SA, a French-Belgian bank, alleging "egregious fraud" by JPMorgan in the sale of $1.7 billion of mortgage-backed bonds, suggested executives at JPMorgan, Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual ... intentionally covered up the unworthiness of the securities they were selling.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the criminal practices of the financial industry, click here.


'Shadow Banking' Still Thrives, System Hits $67 Trillion
2012-11-18, CNBC/Reuters
http://www.cnbc.com/id/49877573

The system of so-called "shadow banking" ... grew to a new high of $67 trillion globally last year, a top regulatory group said, calling for tighter control of the sector. A report by the Financial Stability Board (FSB) [states] that shadow banking is set to thrive, beyond the reach of a regulatory net tightening around traditional banks and banking activities. The FSB, a task force from the world's top 20 economies, also called for greater regulatory control of shadow banking. The study by the FSB said shadow banking around the world more than doubled to $62 trillion in the five years to 2007 before the crisis struck. But the size of the total system had grown to $67 trillion in 2011 — more than the total economic output of all the countries in the study. The multitrillion-dollar activities of hedge funds and private equity companies are often cited as examples of shadow banking. But the term also covers investment funds, money market funds and even cash-rich firms that lend government bonds to banks, which in turn use them as security when taking credit from the European Central Bank. The United States had the largest shadow banking system, said the FSB, with assets of $23 trillion in 2011, followed by the euro area — with $22 trillion — and the United Kingdom — at $9 trillion.

Note: That's $10,000 for every man, woman, and child on the planet. Do you think the bankers are somehow manipulating the system? For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on financial corruption, click here.


A Startling Gap Between Us And Them In 'Plutocrats'
2012-10-15, NPR
http://www.npr.org/2012/10/15/162799512/a-startling-gap-between-us-and-them-i...

Journalist Chrystia Freeland has spent years reporting on the people who've reached the pinnacle of the business world. For her new book, Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else, she traveled the world, interviewing the multimillionaires — and billionaires — who make up the world's elite super-rich. Those at the very top, Freeland says, have told her that American workers are the most overpaid in the world, and that they need to be more productive if they want to have better lives. "It is a sense of, you know, 'I deserve this,' " she says. "I do think that there is both a very powerful sense of entitlement and a kind of bubble of wealth which makes it hard for the people at the very top to understand the travails of the middle class." How are the super-rich ... different from the super-rich of the past — say, 1955? Well, there are many more of them, and they're a lot richer than they used to be. "One of the things which is really astonishing is how much bigger the gap is than it was before," she says. "In the 1950s, America was relatively egalitarian, much more so than compared to now." CEOs earn exponentially more now, compared with their workers, than they did 60 years ago. Freeland says she's worried about what she calls an inevitable human temptation — that people who've benefited from a mobile society, like America, will get to the top and then rig the rules to benefit themselves." You don't do this in a kind of chortling, smoking your cigar, conspiratorial thinking way," she says. "You do it by persuading yourself that what is in your own personal self-interest is in the interests of everybody else.

Note: For a fascinating excerpt from this book, click here. For revealing major media articles showing the stark gap between the uber-rich and the rest of us, click here.


The Self-Destruction of the 1 Percent
2012-10-14, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/opinion/sunday/the-self-destruction-of-the-...

In the early 14th century, Venice was one of the richest cities in Europe. By 1500, Venice’s population was smaller than it had been in 1330. In the 17th and 18th centuries, as the rest of Europe grew, the city continued to shrink. The story of Venice’s rise and fall is told by the scholars Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, in their book Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty, as an illustration of their thesis that what separates successful states from failed ones is whether their governing institutions are inclusive or extractive. Extractive states are controlled by ruling elites whose objective is to extract as much wealth as they can from the rest of society. Inclusive states give everyone access to economic opportunity; often, greater inclusiveness creates more prosperity, which creates an incentive for ever greater inclusiveness. The history of the United States can be read as one such virtuous circle. But as the story of Venice shows, virtuous circles can be broken. Elites that have prospered from inclusive systems can be tempted to pull up the ladder they climbed to the top. Eventually, their societies become extractive and their economies languish. That ... is the danger America faces today, as the 1 percent pulls away from everyone else and pursues an economic, political and social agenda that will increase that gap even further — ultimately destroying the open system that made America rich and allowed its 1 percent to thrive in the first place.

Note: The author of this article, Chrystia Freeland, wrote the book Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else, from which this essay is adapted. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on income inequality, click here.


SEC whistle-blower program starts paying off for agency, tipsters
2012-08-22, Los Angeles Times
http://articles.latimes.com/2012/aug/22/business/la-fi-sec-whistleblower-2012...

For the last year, whistle-blowers deep inside corporate America have been dishing dirt on their employers under a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission program that could give them a cut of multimillion-dollar penalties won by financial regulators. A new bounty program has been an intelligence boon to the securities industry regulator, which has struggled to redeem itself after failing to stop Bernard Madoff's epic Ponzi scheme and rein in Wall Street before the 2008 financial crisis. Motivated by cash and the chance to rat out wrongdoers, tipsters are dropping more than names. Whistle-blowers and their attorneys are turning over boxes of documents, copies of emails and even audio recordings of alleged fraud or illegal overseas bribery. "We are getting very, very high-quality information from whistle-blowers," said Sean McKessy, director of the SEC's whistle-blower office. In the program's first year, 2,870 tips — or about eight a day — rolled in as of Aug. 12. And on Tuesday, one of them finally led to the agency's first payout: $50,000 to an informant who alerted regulators to an investment fraud. They declined to specify the case, careful to avoid identifying the whistle-blower. Some say shielding identities could pose a challenge for publicizing the program, but the anonymity probably will yield more information. The flood of new information doesn't necessarily mean the SEC will be more effective. In the case of Madoff, one whistle-blower repeatedly sounded the alarm years before the scheme blew up — to no avail.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the collusion between government and the big banks, click here.


CNBC Reports Financial System Changeover: “They’re Going to Put the Old System In a Coma”
2012-08-10, CNBC
http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000108212

Kevin Ferry: There are Libor subpoenas raining down on the New York branches of these foreign banks today. So I think you really have to watch it. The [British Bankers' Association] is now saying they are going to go into ‘overhaul’ mode. So as if we don’t have enough things going on, you’re going to start opening up a Pandora’s Box here in the Libor sector of the market. I think what they’re going to do ... is basically put the old system in a coma, and work to devise something that’s a little bit better, and it’s going to be tricky. Doug Dachille: So what are they going to do with the euro/dollar futures and all the outstanding notion of principal of contracts linked to Libor? I mean is everybody going to convert their Libor interest rate swaps to cost of fund funds or Fed fund basis swaps or some other index? KF: Are you asking me? I’ve asked that question as high as I could ask it and I get blank stares. DD: It’s not clear that every bank has exactly the same Libor exposure, so it’s not clear that that cartel, in setting Libor and manipulating it, actually is as powerful as the cartel that manages oil prices. Yet I don’t hear any outrage of people routinely trading commodity derivatives and commodity futures, as much as I hear the outrage over euro/dollar futures and Libor-based interest rate swaps. Everybody assumes that’s what goes on when you trade commodity futures, but nobody ever really thought that was going on when you were trading euro/dollar futures.

Note: The text above is an excerpt from a CNBC news video. Click on the link above for the full report. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on corruption in the financial sector, click here.


The Austerity Agenda
2012-06-01, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/01/opinion/krugman-the-austerity-agenda.html

Slashing spending while the economy is deeply depressed is a self-defeating strategy, because it just deepens the depression. So why is Britain doing exactly what it shouldn’t? Unlike the governments of, say, Spain or California, the British government can borrow freely, at historically low interest rates. So why is that government sharply reducing investment and eliminating hundreds of thousands of public-sector jobs, rather than waiting until the economy is stronger? The great American economist Irving Fisher explained it all the way back in 1933, summarizing what he called “debt deflation” with the pithy slogan “the more the debtors pay, the more they owe.” Recent events, above all the austerity death spiral in Europe, have dramatically illustrated the truth of Fisher’s insight. So why have so many politicians insisted on pursuing austerity in [the] slump? And why won’t they change course even as experience confirms the lessons of theory and history? When you push “austerians” ... they almost always retreat to assertions along the lines of: “But it’s essential that we shrink the size of the state.” These assertions often go along with claims that the economic crisis itself demonstrates the need to shrink government. So the austerity drive in Britain isn’t really about debt and deficits at all; it’s about using deficit panic as an excuse to dismantle social programs. And this is, of course, exactly the same thing that has been happening in America.

Note: For lots more on the devastating impacts created by the corruption of governments and financial corporations, click here.


Wall Street - a raw deal for the 100 percent
2011-12-29, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/12/28/EDQN1MHHJI.DTL

The stunning reality is that five years into the financial meltdown, it's business as usual on Wall Street - outlandish rewards for insiders with downside for almost everyone else. Occupy Wall Street protesters are right - something is wrong - but they're not sure what. Let's revisit the latest debacle - the implosion of yet another Wall Street darling, MF Global. The fallout of its bad bets on European bonds is hitting home hard, even in rural America, where many of its agricultural customers work. As the eighth-largest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history, MF Global represents just about everything that is wrong on Wall Street. 1. The cult of a Wall Street superstar. 2. Gambling disguised as investing. 3. The bail-me-out syndrome. 4. Enormous conflicts of interest. 5. Leverage on a grand scale. 6. Failure of regulators and the reform law. 7. Misappropriation of client funds. 8. Worthless rating agencies. 9. Golden parachutes soaring high. 10. Breakdown of morality. Wall Street will keep sucking huge sums out of our economy and putting 100 percent of us at risk unless the rules change. Most important, we must stop gambling and start investing again to build valuable companies. The next crisis will make 2008 look like a warm-up. Imagine how big the Occupy camps will be if that happens.

Note: For a treasure trove of reports from reliable sources which provide detailed information on all the problematic dimensions of Wall Street's operations described in the article above, click here.


Person of the Year Introduction
2011-12-14, Time Magazine
http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2101745_2102139_21...

No one could have known that when a Tunisian fruit vendor set himself on fire in a public square in a town barely on a map, he would spark protests that would bring down dictators in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya and rattle regimes in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain. Or that that spirit of dissent would spur Mexicans to rise up against the terror of drug cartels, Greeks to march against unaccountable leaders, Americans to occupy public spaces to protest income inequality, and Russians to marshal themselves against a corrupt autocracy. Protests have now occurred in countries whose populations total at least 3 billion people, and the word protest has appeared in newspapers and online exponentially more this past year than at any other time in history. Everywhere, it seems, people said they'd had enough. They dissented; they demanded; they did not despair, even when the answers came back in a cloud of tear gas or a hail of bullets. The root of the word democracy is demos, "the people," and the meaning of democracy is "the people rule." And they did, if not at the ballot box, then in the streets. Protest is in some ways the source code for democracy — and evidence of the lack of it. For steering the planet on a more democratic though sometimes more dangerous path for the 21st century, the Protester is TIME's 2011 Person of the Year.

Note: For a treasure trove of reports from major media sources that explain why protestors worldwide have been occupying their cities, click here.


Think Occupy Wall St. is a phase? You don't get it
2011-10-05, CNN
http://edition.cnn.com/2011/10/05/opinion/rushkoff-occupy-wall-street/index.html

Yes, there are a wide array of complaints, demands, and goals from the Wall Street protesters: the collapsing environment, labor standards, housing policy, government corruption, ... and so on. Different people have been affected by different aspects of the same system -- and they believe they are symptoms of the same core problem. I witnessed [many cogent conversations] as I strolled by Occupy Wall Street's many teach-ins this morning. There were young people teaching one another about, among other things, how the economy works, ... the history of centralized interest-bearing currency, the creation and growth of the derivatives industry, and about the Obama administration deciding to settle with, rather than investigate and prosecute the investment banking industry for housing fraud. Anyone who says he has no idea what these folks are protesting is not being truthful. We all know that there are investment bankers working on Wall Street getting richer while things for most of the rest of us are getting tougher. Occupy Wall Street is meant more as a way of life that spreads through contagion, creates as many questions as it answers, aims to force a reconsideration of the way the nation does business and offers hope to those of us who previously felt alone in our belief that the current economic system is broken.

Note: For insights into the reasons why people have decided they must occupy their cities in protest of the predations of financial corporations, check out our extensive "Banking Bailout" news articles.


While Wall St. flourishes, Main St. flounders
2011-08-29, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/08/28/EDKO1KRVJM.DTL

What if we stood up for Main Street? Corporations and elected officials are making decisions that are impacting our lives, and we are at their mercy. Americans, many [of] whose lives have been destroyed by the 2008 subprime mortgage market disaster, resent the lack of accountability on the part of Wall Street for its role in this scandal. Few have been indicted for the market collapse and resulting meltdown of the global economy. After the federal government bailed out the financial institutions, it is back to business as usual. Corporate profits are accumulating and bonuses are raining down on the very players who created the bubble and crash in the first place. On the other hand, the taxpayers who bailed out Wall Street aren't doing so well. Instead of bonuses, we are suffering from unemployment and underemployment of epic proportions. Homeowners continue to lose their homes to foreclosure, and homelessness is on the rise. Public services, public safety and public welfare funding is being cut back or cut out. Public education has been decimated. American corporations have lost all sense of responsibility for U.S. citizens. While the U.S. economy fights to survive, corporations have turned their backs on those whose tax dollars kept our ship of state from sinking. Sending jobs overseas might improve corporate profit margins, but at what expense to the workforce and U.S. economy? These decisions have devastated American workers' lives. So, what needs to be done? What if we begin to stand up for Main Street?

Note: For a treasure trove of reports detailing the criminal collusion between the federal government and Wall Street financial corporations, click here.


Inside Job: how bankers caused the financial crisis
2011-02-17, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/feb/17/inside-job-financial-crisis-banker...

Charles Ferguson's film Inside Job ... explains why so little has been done to reform the financial world or bring criminal prosecutions against the main protagonists [of the financial crash that began in 2008]. His villainous lineup includes bankers, politicians (many of whom were previously bankers), regulators, the credit ratings agencies and academics. In Inside Job, the name that keeps cropping up is Larry Summers, a friend of President Bill Clinton and more recently Barack Obama. Summers exemplifies the links between cheerleaders in academia, Wall Street, supine regulators and an ignorant Capitol Hill that Ferguson stresses were at the root of the problem. Still, no matter how much it is explained, the general public is not going to understand. How does one go into battle yelling slogans about credit default swaps? The bankers know ignorance is their trump card. Maybe Inside Job will make us more savvy in time for the next crash.

Note: For a treasure trove of reports from reliable souces on the criminality of the major financial firms, regulatory agencies and politicians which led to the global financial crisis and Greater Depression, click here.


The little red book that swept France
2011-01-03, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/the-little-red-book-that-swept...

Take a book of just 13 pages, written by a relatively obscure 93-year-old man, which contains no sex, no jokes, no fine writing and no startlingly original message. A publishing disaster? No, a publishing phenomenon. Indignez vous! (Cry out!), a slim pamphlet by a wartime French resistance hero, Stéphane Hessel, is smashing all publishing records in France. The book urges the French, and everyone else, to recapture the wartime spirit of resistance to the Nazis by rejecting the "insolent, selfish" power of money and markets and by defending the social "values of modern democracy". The book, which costs €3, has sold 600,000 copies in three months and another 200,000 have just been printed. Its original print run was 8,000. In the run-up to Christmas, Mr Hessel's call for a "peaceful insurrection" not only topped the French bestsellers list, it sold eight times more copies than the second most popular book. Mr Hessel, who survived Nazi concentration camps to become a French diplomat, said he was "profoundly touched" by the success of his book. Just as he "cried out" against Nazism in the 1940s, he said, young people today should "cry out against the complicity between politicians and economic and financial powers" and "defend our democratic rights acquired over two centuries".

Note: For lots more from major media sources on the "complicity between politicians and economic and financial powers", click here.


BofA halts foreclosures in 50 states
2010-10-08, Salt Lake Tribune/Associated Press
http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/money/50440207-79/bank-foreclosures-documents-fo...

A mushrooming crisis over potential flaws in foreclosure documents is threatening to throw the real estate industry into chaos as Bank of America [today] became the first bank to stop taking back tens of thousands of foreclosed homes in all 50 states. The move ... adds to growing concerns that mortgage lenders have been evicting home­owners using flawed court papers, without verifying the information in them. Bank of America Corp., the nation’s largest bank, said [its decision] applies to homes that the bank takes back itself and those that it transfers to investors such as mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The bank did so in reaction to mounting pressure from public officials inquiring about the accuracy of foreclosure documents. A document obtained last week by The Associated Press showed a Bank of America official acknowledging in a legal proceeding that she signed thousands of foreclosure documents a month and typically didn’t read them. The official, Renee Hertzler, said in a February deposition that she signed up to 8,000 such documents a month.

Note: For any who might be facing home foreclosure, don't miss the CNN News clip with important advice from a courageous congresswoman available here. For many key reports from reliable sources on the corrupt practices of major banks, click here.


Goldman Sachs exec to advise central bank
2010-06-29, Businessweek/Associated Press
http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9GLB2AO3.htm

The chief executive of Goldman Sachs Canada has been named a special adviser to the head of Canada's central bank. The Bank of Canada said [on June 29] that Timothy Hodgson will advise central bank head Mark Carney, a former Goldman Sachs executive, on financial reform. Carney says Hodgson is one of Canada's top investment bankers. Hodgson is leaving Goldman Sachs. The company has come under sharp criticism over civil fraud charges brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and because of the high pay its executives and traders received during the financial crisis. Hodgson joined Goldman Sachs in 1990 and became CEO of its Canadian operations in 2005.

Note: So Canada's central bank head, a former Goldman Sachs exec, will now be advised by the chief executive of Goldman Sachs Canada. Hmmmmm.


Sticking the public with the bill for the bankers’ crisis
2010-06-27, Globe and Mail (One of Toronto's leading newspapers)
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/g8-g20/opinion/sticking-the-public-...

My city feels like a crime scene and the criminals are all melting into the night, fleeing the scene. No, I’m not talking about the kids in black who smashed windows and burned cop cars on Saturday. I’m talking about the heads of state who, on Sunday night, smashed social safety nets and burned good jobs in the middle of a recession. Faced with the effects of a crisis created by the world’s wealthiest and most privileged strata, they decided to stick the poorest and most vulnerable people in their countries with the bill. How else can we interpret the G20’s final communiqué, which includes not even a measly tax on banks or financial transactions, yet instructs governments to slash their deficits in half by 2013. This is a huge and shocking cut, and we should be very clear who will pay the price: students who will see their public educations further deteriorate as their fees go up; pensioners who will lose hard-earned benefits; public-sector workers whose jobs will be eliminated. And the list goes on. These types of cuts have already begun in many G20 countries including Canada, and they are about to get a lot worse. But there is nothing to say that citizens of G20 countries need to take orders from this hand-picked club. Already, workers, pensioners and students have taken to the streets against austerity measures in Italy, Germany, France, Spain and Greece, often marching under the slogan: “We won’t pay for your crisis.” And they have plenty of suggestions for how to raise revenues to meet their respective budget shortfalls. Many are calling for a financial transaction tax that would slow down hot money and raise new money for social programs.

Note: This report from Toronto is by Naomi Klein, the author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. For powerful evidence that the violence at the recent G20 meeting was largely instigated by undercover police, click here.


Bankers jailed, sued as Iceland seeks culprits for crisis
2010-05-13, Daily Telegraph (Australia)/AFP
http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/business/breaking-news/bankers-jailed-sued-a...

More than a year and a half after Iceland's major banks failed, all but sinking the country's economy, police have begun rounding up a number of top bankers while other former executives and owners face a $US2 billion ($2.24 billion) lawsuit. Since Iceland's three largest banks - Kaupthing, Landsbanki and Glitnir - collapsed in late 2008, their former executives and owners have largely been living untroubled lives abroad. But the publication last month of a parliamentary inquiry into the island nation's profound financial and economic crisis signalled a turning of the tide, laying much of the blame for the downfall on the former bank heads who had taken "inappropriate loans from the banks" they worked for. Overnight, the administrators of Glitnir's liquidation announced they had filed a $US2 billion lawsuit in a New York court against former large shareholders and executives for alleged fraud. "I think this lawsuit is without precedence in Iceland," Steinunn Gudbjartsdottir, who chairs Glitnir's so-called winding-up board, told reporters in Reykjavik. The bank also said it was "taking action against its former auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) for facilitating and helping to conceal the fraudulent transactions engineered by [its principal shareholder] and his associates, which ultimately led to the bank's collapse in October 2008."

Note: Yet American and British bankers who played a major role in the economic collapse are getting record pay. For an incisive article in Rolling Stone titled "Why Isn't Wall Street in Jail?" click here. For key reports on financial fraud from major media sources, click here.


GM repays federal loan with government money
2010-04-27, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/04/26/BUS91D55HR.DTL

You'd think that General Motors Co., having been rescued by U.S. taxpayers, would be more up-front with them. In an ad that has been blanketing the airwaves since last week, General Motors Chairman and chief executive Ed Whitacre boasts that "we have repaid our government loan, in full, with interest, five years ahead of the original schedule." In a press release, Whitacre said GM was able to repay the loans "because more customers are buying vehicles like the Chevrolet Malibu and Buick LaCrosse." Neither the ad nor the press release mentioned that GM repaid its government loan with other government money, or that U.S. taxpayers could lose money on the roughly $50 billion they still have invested in General Motors. In a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner last week, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said the repayment "appears to be nothing more than an elaborate TARP money shuffle."

Note: For lots more on the bailout shell game from reliable sources, click here.


Goldman Sachs denies 'betting against clients'
2010-04-07, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/apr/07/goldman-sachs-letter-shareholders

Nine months after being labelled "a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity", Goldman Sachs has issued a wide-ranging justification of its conduct before, during and after the financial crisis. In a letter to shareholders issued alongside Goldman's 2009 annual report, the Wall Street bank denied that it "bet against its clients" when it changed its position in the housing market in 2007, shortly before prices began to collapse. The eight-page letter, signed by chief executive Lloyd Blankfein and president Gary Cohn, also contained a detailed defence of the $12.9bn (Ł8.5bn) payout which Goldman received from AIG after the failed insurance giant was bailed out by the US government. The letter appears to be a detailed response to some of the allegations made nine months ago by Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi. His article, which argued that Goldman had repeatedly profited by inflating unsustainable financial bubbles ... included the claim that the company [is] "a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money". Goldman ... actually profited from the fiasco by short-selling the market before the credit crunch struck in summer 2007.

Note: Read Matt Taibbi's article on Goldman Sachs here.


Mark Pittman, Reporter Who Challenged Fed Secrecy, Dies at 52
2009-11-30, Bloomberg News
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601109&sid=af7QohP8YdRo&pos=12

Mark Pittman, the award-winning reporter whose fight to make the Federal Reserve more accountable to taxpayers led Bloomberg News to sue the central bank and win, died Nov. 25 in Yonkers, New York. He was 52. Pittman suffered from heart-related illnesses. “He was one of the great financial journalists of our time,” said Joseph Stiglitz, a professor at Columbia University in New York and the winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize for economics. “His death is shocking.” A former police-beat reporter who joined Bloomberg News in 1997, Pittman wrote stories in 2007 predicting the collapse of the banking system. That year, he won the Gerald Loeb Award from the UCLA Anderson School of Management, the highest accolade in financial journalism, for "Wall Street’s Faustian Bargain," a series of articles on the breakdown of the U.S. mortgage industry. Pittman’s push to open the Fed to more scrutiny resulted in an Aug. 24 victory in Manhattan Federal Court affirming the public’s right to know about the central bank’s more than $2 trillion in assistance to financial firms.

Note: To see a one-minute video of mind-blowing US Congressional testimony on a CIA dart gun which can easily cause a heart attack, click here. The poison from this gun is undetectable on autopsy. Could such a weapon be used by the rich and powerful bankers who might want to silence someone who threatens literally billions of dollars of profits, someone like Mark Pittman?


Société Générale tells clients how to prepare for potential 'global collapse'
2009-11-18, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/6599281/Societe-Generale-tells-c...

Société Générale has advised clients to be ready for a possible "global economic collapse" over the next two years, mapping a strategy of defensive investments to avoid wealth destruction. In a report entitled "Worst-case debt scenario", the bank's asset team said state rescue packages over the last year have merely transferred private liabilities onto sagging sovereign shoulders, creating a fresh set of problems. Overall debt is still far too high in almost all rich economies as a share of GDP (350pc in the US), whether public or private. It must be reduced by the hard slog of "deleveraging", for years. "As yet, nobody can say with any certainty whether we have in fact escaped the prospect of a global economic collapse," said the 68-page report, headed by asset chief Daniel Fermon. It is an exploration of the dangers, not a forecast. Governments have already shot their fiscal bolts. Even without fresh spending, public debt would explode within two years to 105pc of GDP in the UK, 125pc in the US and the eurozone, and 270pc in Japan. Worldwide state debt would reach $45 trillion, up two-and-a-half times in a decade. "High public debt looks entirely unsustainable in the long run. We have almost reached a point of no return for government debt," it said.

Note: For many revealing reports from major media sources on the realities of the government-financed bank bailouts, click here.


Derivatives: Don’t Let Exceptions Kill the Rule
2009-10-18, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/18/business/economy/18gret.html

Congress began the work of reforming our troubled financial system last week, and a bill aimed at regulating derivatives passed the House Financial Services Committee on Thursday. Derivatives — contracts that theoretically protect buyers from unforeseen financial calamities but more often are used to fuel raw speculation — were ... at the heart of the banking crisis. Credit default swaps ... propelled the American International Group off the cliff. Those swaps also linked millions of trading partners, creating a web in which one default threatened to produce a chain of corporate and economic failures worldwide. And derivatives aren’t going away. So reforming the $42 trillion market for credit swaps is crucial if taxpayers are to be protected from future rescues of institutions deemed not only too big but also too interconnected to fail. The best aspect of the House bill is that it requires many swaps to be traded on exchanges just like stocks, subjecting them for the first time to the light of day. But elsewhere in the bill, ... exceptions to this exchange-trading rule undermine its regulatory power. Big banks dealing in swaps don’t want exchange trading, where pricing and the identities of participants would be more publicly transparent. Michael Greenberger, a University of Maryland law professor and an expert in derivatives, criticized the House bill. “The plain language of the legislation can only be read as a Christmas tree of decorative gifts to the banking industry,” he said. “And this is being done when people acknowledge the unregulated O.T.C. derivatives market was a principal reason for the meltdown.”

Note: For lots more on the realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.


Fed Rejects Geithner Request for Study of Governance, Structure
2009-09-21, Bloomberg News
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601068&sid=adjvXg1zP.zY

The Federal Reserve Board has rejected a request by U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner for a public review of the central bank’s structure and governance, three people familiar with the matter said. U.S. lawmakers have also called for a review of the Fed’s power and structure, saying Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke overstepped his authority as he bailed out creditors of Bear Stearns Cos. and American International Group Inc. while battling a crisis that led to $1.62 trillion in writedowns and losses at financial firms. While the report requested by the Treasury hasn’t been formally scrapped, no work has been done on the project, which was due Oct. 1. Treasury spokesman Andrew Williams declined to comment, as did Fed spokeswoman Michelle Smith. Congressional leaders have balked at the notion of giving the Fed more power and are leaning toward vesting authority over capital, liquidity and risk-management practices of big banks in a council of regulators.

Note: To understand how business corrupts politicians watch the heated MSNBC News clip at this link.


Where did that bank bailout go? Watchdogs aren't sure
2009-08-09, Sacramento Bee/McClatchy News
http://www.sacbee.com/838/story/2094756.html

Although hundreds of well-trained eyes are watching over the $700 billion that Congress last year decided to spend bailing out the nation's financial sector, it's still difficult to answer some of the most basic questions about where the money went. Despite a new oversight panel, a new special inspector general, the existing Government Accountability Office and eight other inspectors general, those charged with minding the store say they don't have all the weapons they need. Ten months into the Troubled Asset Relief Program, some members of Congress say that some oversight of bailout dollars has been so lacking that it's essentially worthless. "TARP has become a program in which taxpayers are not being told what most of the TARP recipients are doing with their money, have still not been told how much their substantial investments are worth, and will not be told the full details of how their money is being invested," a special inspector general over the program reported last month. The "very credibility" of the program is at stake, it said. The program was controversial from the start. Critics say it's unfairly rewarded the big banks and Wall Street firms that pushed the economy to the brink.

Note: For many revealing reports from reliable sources on the hidden realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.


Reported Suicide Is Latest Shock at Freddie Mac
2009-04-23, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/23/business/23freddie.html?partner=rss&emc=rss...

The pressures were already immense when David B. Kellermann was promoted to the top financial position at the mortgage giant Freddie Mac last September. Mr. Kellermann's boss and other top executives were ousted when the Treasury secretary seized Freddie Mac and its sibling company, Fannie Mae; others left on their own and were not replaced. Early on Wednesday, Mr. Kellermann went to the basement of his brick home and hanged himself, according to people familiar with the situation who were not authorized to speak. His body was removed five hours later, through a throng of neighbors, television crews and others. "David was such an honest and humble person," said Tim Bitsberger, Freddie Mac"s treasurer until he left in December. "It just doesn't make sense," Mr. Bitsberger said. The roots and causes of suicide are often unclear. It is not known if Mr. Kellermann succumbed to the pressures of his job. But in the aftermath of his death, it is plain that at Freddie Mac, as at many of the companies in the center of this economic storm, there are forces so strong they can overwhelm almost anyone. Mr. Kellermann ... was at the intersection of some of the most difficult issues facing the company. Mr. Kellermann was also working in a poisonous political atmosphere. He was recently involved in tense conversations with the company's federal regulator over its routine financial disclosures. Freddie Mac executives wanted to emphasize to investors that they believed the company was being run to benefit the government, rather than shareholders.

Note: For a revealing archive of reports on the hidden realities underlying the Wall Street bailout, click here.


Restrain the credit card industry
2009-04-23, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/04/22/EDK817761J.DTL

While American consumers have been struggling, credit card companies have been enjoying a field day. Not only are most of them receiving federal bailout money, but they've been jacking up interest rates (there were rate hikes on nearly 25 percent of accounts between 2007 and 2008) and switching the terms of agreements with consumers. Why the rush to gouge consumers in the depths of a recession? In July 2010, the Federal Reserve will impose new, consumer-friendly disclosure and administrative restrictions on the credit card industry. Scrambling to get ahead of the deadline, the card companies have been raising interest rates, slicing credit lines and, in too many cases, simply dumping customers with little rhyme or reason. Defaults and delinquencies have skyrocketed - and consumers are livid. "It's off the charts in terms of their ire about paying higher interest rates, particularly when their money, as they see it, is being given to the banks to prop them up," said Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough. Speier's staff says her office has been "flooded" with calls from furious constituents. Speier is ... a co-sponsor of HR627, better known as "The Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights." The bill - which has the support of the Obama administration - would prevent card issuers from raising interest rates without advance notice and end the practice of "double-cycle billing" so that consumers do not have to pay interest on debts they've already paid.

Note: For a highly revealing archive of reports on the hidden realities underlying the Wall Street bailout, click here.


The U.S. Financial System Is Effectively Insolvent
2009-03-05, Forbes Magazine
http://www.forbes.com/2009/03/04/global-recession-insolvent-opinions-columnis...

With economic activity contracting in 2009's first quarter at the same rate as in 2008's fourth quarter, a nasty U-shaped recession could turn into a more severe L-shaped near-depression (or stag-deflation). The scale and speed of synchronized global economic contraction is really unprecedented (at least since the Great Depression), with a free fall of GDP, income, consumption, industrial production, employment, exports, imports, residential investment and, more ominously, capital expenditures around the world. And now many emerging-market economies are on the verge of a fully fledged financial crisis, starting with emerging Europe. In the meantime, the massacre in financial markets and among financial firms is continuing. The debate on "bank nationalization" is borderline surreal, with the U.S. government having already committed--between guarantees, investment, recapitalization and liquidity provision--about $9 trillion of government financial resources to the financial system (and having already spent $2 trillion of this staggering $9 trillion figure). Thus, the U.S. financial system is de facto nationalized, as the Federal Reserve has become the lender of first and only resort rather than the lender of last resort, and the U.S. Treasury is the spender and guarantor of first and only resort. And even with the $2 trillion of government support, most of these financial institutions are insolvent, as delinquency and charge-off rates are now rising at a rate ... that means expected credit losses for U.S. financial firms will peak at $3.6 trillion. So, in simple words, the U.S. financial system is effectively insolvent.

Note: The author of this insightful analysis, Nouriel Roubini, has a very informative blog, available here.


The Death of 'Rational Man'
2009-02-08, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/06/AR20090206027...

What allowed some people to see the financial crash coming while so many others missed its gathering force? I put that question recently to Nouriel Roubini, who has come to be known as "Dr. Doom" because of his insistent warnings starting in 2006 that we were heading into a global firestorm. Roubini gave two kinds of answers. The first involves standard number-crunching of the sort that economists routinely do -- and that Roubini just did better and sooner. It's his second answer that's more interesting, because it goes to the heart of what we should take away from this crisis: Roubini decided to discard the assumption of market rationality that underlies most economics and to embrace the psychological insights of what's known as "behavioral economics." Everyone else had those same numbers. Why did Roubini act? The answer is that he decided to trust his gut, which told him there was trouble ahead, rather than Wall Street's "wisdom of the crowd," which -- as reflected in stock prices -- said everything was rosy. He concluded that the markets were not pricing in the degree of risk that was actually present in housing. "The rational man theory of economics has not worked," Roubini said last month at a session of the World Economic Forum at Davos. That's why he and other prominent economists are paying more attention to behavioral economics, which starts from the premise that economic decisions, like other aspects of human behavior, are influenced by irrational psychological factors.

Note: To visit Nouriel Roubini's highly informative blog, click here. For lots more on the financial crisis and bailout, click here.


US Treasury overpaid $78 bln under TARP-watchdog
2009-02-06, CNN News/Reuters
http://money.cnn.com/news/newsfeeds/articles/reuters/MTFH29185_2009-02-06_01-...

The U.S. Treasury looks to have overpaid financial institutions to the tune of $78 billion in carrying out capital injections last year, the head of a congressional oversight panel for the government's $700 billion bailout program told lawmakers. Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard law professor, said her group estimated the Treasury paid $254 billion in 2008 in return for stocks and warrants worth about $176 billion under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. Warren said the Treasury, under then-Secretary Henry Paulson, misled the public about how it would price them. "Treasury simply did not do what it said it was doing ... They described the program one way, and they priced it another," Warren said at a hearing before the Senate Banking Committee. She added that Paulson "was not entirely candid" in describing TARP's bank capital injection program. Neil Barofsky, another watchdog for the TARP program, told the Senate committee his office is turning to criminal investigations. "That's going to be a large focus of my office," he said. Warren told the banking committee that after three months on the job, her panel is still not getting enough answers from Treasury. She described the bailout as "an opaque process at best." Barofsky raised concerns about potential fraud in one of several programs funded by bailout money -- the Federal Reserve's Term Asset-Backed Loan Facility (TALF).

Note: Was the overpayment by Treasury to Wall Street banks for nearly-worthless assets they created a mistake? Or was it the real, hidden purpose of TARP to pay the banks more for the assets than they are worth? For many revealing reports from reliable sources on the realities behind the Wall Street bailout, click here.


U.S. Pledges Top $7.7 Trillion to Ease Frozen Credit
2008-11-24, Bloomberg News
http://bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601109&sid=arEE1iClqDrk

The U.S. government is prepared to provide more than $7.76 trillion on behalf of American taxpayers after guaranteeing $306 billion of Citigroup Inc. debt yesterday. The unprecedented pledge of funds includes $3.18 trillion already tapped by financial institutions in the biggest response to an economic emergency since the New Deal of the 1930s, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The commitment dwarfs the plan approved by lawmakers, the Treasury Department’s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. Federal Reserve lending last week was 1,900 times the weekly average for the three years before the crisis. When Congress approved the TARP on Oct. 3, Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson acknowledged the need for transparency and oversight. Now, as regulators commit far more money while refusing to disclose loan recipients or reveal the collateral they are taking in return, some Congress members are calling for the Fed to be reined in. “Whether it’s lending or spending, it’s tax dollars that are going out the window and we end up holding collateral we don’t know anything about,” said Congressman Scott Garrett, a New Jersey Republican who serves on the House Financial Services Committee. “The time has come that we consider what sort of limitations we should be placing on the Fed so that authority returns to elected officials as opposed to appointed ones.”

Note: How is it possible that trillions of taxpayer dollars are being thrown around, yet Congress is not being told where the money is going? For revealing information on how the Fed manipulates government, click here.


Bailout Expands to Insurers
2008-10-25, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/24/AR20081024017...

The Treasury Department is dramatically expanding the scope of its bailout of the financial system with a plan to take ownership stakes in the nation's insurance companies, signaling new concerns about a sector of the economy whose troubles until now have been overshadowed by the banking industry, government and industry sources said. Insurers, including The Hartford, Prudential and MetLife, have pushed the Bush administration to include them in the plan. Many firms have taken losses from mortgage-related securities and other investments and are struggling to replenish their coffers. The new initiative underscores the growing range of problems that Treasury is scrambling to address with the $700 billion allocated by Congress this month. The shape of the plan has changed repeatedly since Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. introduced it last month as an effort to rescue banks by buying their troubled mortgage-related assets. That original mandate has now been pushed aside by a plan to take equity stakes in banks and insurance companies, and other businesses are lobbying to be included. The government has been forced to expand the plan partly because the federal guarantees previously given some institutions, such as banks, have put other companies and financial sectors at a disadvantage, making them less attractive to uneasy investors. The cost of saving the country's largest insurer continues to rise. Senior managers at troubled insurance giant American International Group warned the Federal Reserve yesterday that the company would probably need more taxpayer money than the $123 billion in rescue loans the government has provided.

Note: For lots more highly revealing reports on the Wall Street bailout, click here.


Warren Says U.S. Political System ‘Rigged’ by Special Interests
2013-11-11, Bloomberg News
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-07/warren-says-u-s-political-system-rig...

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren said the political system is still “rigged” by lobbyists and special interests who work to keep the public “in the dark.” “I’ve been in the Senate for nearly a year and believe as strongly as ever that the system is rigged for powerful interests and against working families,” Warren said. Warren, a critic of Wall Street, rose to prominence by highlighting “tricks and traps” of credit-card disclosures and creating [the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)] as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. Warren said despite progress by the consumer bureau and confirmation of its director after a two-year delay, lobbyists for the financial industry continue to fight it and consumer groups shouldn’t let down their guard. “We all know that the fight isn’t over and that the lobbyists are still working to undercut the agency’s work,” Warren said. She compared the CFPB to government agencies that test the safety of physical products like cribs and paint, and said the bureau’s work on the safety of financial products will become just as valued by the public. “You tell me: When was the last time you heard someone call for regulators to go easier on companies that want to use lead paint on our children’s toys or leave the safety switches off toasters?” Warren asked. “The CFPB was designed from the very beginning to cut out tricks and traps in consumer finance and add transparency to the marketplace.”

Note: For an excellent video showing the courage and forthrightness of Elizabeth Warren, click here. For more on government corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Sean FitzPatrick is third ex-Anglo Irish Bank executive to be arrested in 24 hours
2012-07-24, BBC News
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-18965510

The former head of Anglo Irish Bank, Sean FitzPatrick, has been arrested by Irish police in connection with alleged financial irregularities at the bank. He is the third former senior executive from Anglo Irish Bank to appear in court within the past 24 hours. All three men face 16 charges in relation to an alleged failed attempt to prop up Anglo's share price after a stock market collapse. Anglo was nationalised at a cost of about 30bn euros (Ł23.4bn) to Irish taxpayers. Anglo was badly exposed by the bursting of the Irish property bubble and suffered the largest corporate loss in the history of the Republic of Ireland. It is the third time Mr FitzPatrick has been arrested as part of the three-and-a-half year long investigation into the collapse of Anglo Irish Bank. Willie McAteer - the second in command at the bank before his resignation in January 2009 - appeared in court alongside Pat Whelan, a former head of lending and operations at the bank. The former bank is being wound down and is currently being run by the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation Limited (IBRC).

Note: For deeply revealing and reliable major media reports on corruption and criminality in the operations and regulation of the financial sector, click here.


Feds must probe banks further over mortgage crisis
2011-03-21, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/03/20/EDFL1IEOFE.DTL

Anonymous, an online hacker group, released a string of e-mails last week that purportedly show mortgage document fraud at Bank of America. Many people yawned. After all, there have been well-documented cases of mortgage fraud and illegal foreclosures, and little has been done to punish Bank of America or any of the banks for their behavior. But just because the federal government has been slow to act on the mortgage crisis doesn't mean that these e-mails are any less valuable. The e-mails are a chain showing requests for Balboa Insurance employees to remove document tracking numbers from the system of record. Balboa Insurance became a division of Bank of America after the bank bought the bankrupt home loan company Countrywide Financial. The idea suggested in the e-mails was to misplace individual documents away from matching loans. This would make it harder for federal auditors to investigate individual loans. It would also make it far more difficult for individual homeowners to dispute or question bank action on their loans - and therefore obtain mortgage modifications or a stay on bank foreclosure. The Anonymous e-mails are serious indeed. They're a snapshot into why the mortgage mess spiraled out of control. While they don't tell the whole story, they point to the need for further investigation and possible action on behalf of the federal government. When people are losing their homes, the banks shouldn't be allowed to get away with deception.

Note: For a treasure trove of reports by major media sources on the collusion between government and banks against the public interest, click here.


Super-Rich Investors Buy Gold by Ton
2010-10-04, ABC News/Reuters
http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory?id=11793612

The world's wealthiest people have responded to economic worries by buying gold by the bar -- and sometimes by the ton -- and by moving assets out of the financial system, bankers catering to the very rich said [today]. Fears of a double-dip downturn have boosted the appetite for physical bullion as well as for mining company shares and exchange-traded funds, UBS executive Josef Stadler told the Reuters Global Private Banking Summit. "They don't only buy ETFs or futures; they buy physical gold," said Stadler, who runs the Swiss bank's services for clients with assets of at least $50 million to invest. UBS is recommending top-tier clients hold 7-10 percent of their assets in precious metals like gold, which is on course for its tenth consecutive yearly gain and traded at around $1,314.50 an ounce [today], near the record level reached last week. Julius Baer's chief investment officer for Asia is also recommending that wealthy investors park some of their assets in gold as a defensive stance following a string of lackluster U.S. data and amid concerns about currency weakness.

Note: Gold has increased from under $300/oz at the time of 9/11 to over $1,300 in Oct. 2010. Is it a bubble, or a sign that our economy could be collapsing?


Police powers expanded for G20
2010-06-25, CBC News
http://www.cbc.ca/canada/toronto/story/2010/06/25/g20-new-powers.html

Police forces in charge of security at the G20 summit in Toronto have been granted special powers for the duration of the summit. The new powers took effect [on June 21] and apply along the border of the G20 security fence that encircles a portion of the downtown core. This area — the so-called red zone — includes the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, where delegates will meet. Under the new regulations, anyone who comes within five metres of the security area is obliged to give police their name and state the purpose of their visit on request. Anyone who fails to provide identification or explain why they are near the security zone can be searched and arrested. The new powers are designed specifically for the G20, CBC's Colin Butler reported Friday. Ontario's cabinet quietly passed the new rules on June 2 without legislature debate. Civil liberties groups are concerned about the new regulations. Anyone who refuses to identify themselves or refuses to provide a reason for their visit can be fined up to $500 and face up to two months in jail. The regulation also says that if someone has a dispute with an officer and it goes to court "the police officer's statement under oath is considered conclusive evidence under the act."


Report Says SEC Missed Many Shots at Stanford
2010-04-17, Wall Street Journal
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303491304575188220570802084.html

The Securities and Exchange Commission suspected Texas financier R. Allen Stanford of running a Ponzi scheme as early as 1997 but took more than a decade to pursue him seriously. The report by the SEC's inspector general says SEC examiners concluded four times between 1997 and 2004 that Mr. Stanford's businesses were fraudulent, but each time decided not to go further. It singles out the former head of the SEC's enforcement office in Fort Worth, Texas, accusing him of repeatedly quashing Stanford probes and then trying to represent Mr. Stanford as a lawyer in private practice. The former SEC official, Spencer Barasch, is now a partner at law firm Andrews Kurth LLP. The inspector general referred Mr. Barasch for possible disbarment from practicing law. Mr. Stanford was indicted last June and accused of orchestrating a Ponzi scheme that swindled investors out of $7 billion. SEC Inspector General David Kotz's report suggests the agency's mistakes in the Stanford case were in part the result of a culture that favored easily resolved cases over messier ones. Cases such as the alleged Stanford fraud weren't considered "quick-hit" and "slam-dunk," and examiners were discouraged from pursuing them, Mr. Kotz found.

Note: For many more examples from major media sources of the astonishing performance of the SEC in the runup to the Wall Street crisis, click here.


U.S. FDIC chief: 'too big to fail' must end for all
2009-10-04, International Business Times/Reuters News
http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/20091004/too-big-to-fail-must-end-for-all-fdi...

The head of the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said on Sunday that she wanted to end the "too big to fail" doctrine and shrink the shadow banking system that operates outside the reach of regulators. FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair ... said a U.S. proposal to create the authority to shut down failing systemically important financial firms may need to be extended to insurers and hedge funds. "We need to end 'too big to fail' and this needs to be an overarching policy that applies to everyone," Bair said. Bair said she believed that bank holding companies with subsidiaries that are shut down by regulators also should be made to pay the price of failure by being subject to the same wind-down process. "I believe that the new regime should apply to all bank holding companies that are more than just shells and their affiliates regardless or not whether they are considered to be systemic risks," she said, adding that including only systemically important firms in the shut-down regime could reinforce the 'too big to fail' doctrine. Financial firms subject to systemic risk shutdown authority should likely also be required to publish "living wills" -- details on how an orderly wind-down would play out -- on their websites to provide more clarity to shareholders and customers. And by applying the resolution authority more broadly outside of normal regulated bank holding companies, it would help shrink the shadow banking system by discouraging regulatory arbitrage under which financial firms shop for the most lenient supervisors. "If you tighten regulation of the banks even more without dealing with the shadow sector you could make the problem even worse," she said.

Note: For a comprehensive overview of the realities underlying the government's bailout of the biggest financial institutions, click here.


Wall Street Pursues Profit in Bundles of Life Insurance
2009-09-06, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/06/business/06insurance.html

After the mortgage business imploded last year, Wall Street investment banks began searching for another big idea to make money. They think they may have found one. The bankers plan to buy “life settlements,” life insurance policies that ill and elderly people sell for cash — $400,000 for a $1 million policy, say, depending on the life expectancy of the insured person. Then they plan to “securitize” these policies, in Wall Street jargon, by packaging hundreds or thousands together into bonds. They will then resell those bonds to investors, like big pension funds, who will receive the payouts when people with the insurance die. The earlier the policyholder dies, the bigger the return — though if people live longer than expected, investors could get poor returns or even lose money. Either way, Wall Street would profit by pocketing sizable fees for creating the bonds, reselling them and subsequently trading them. But some who have studied life settlements warn that insurers might have to raise premiums in the short term if they end up having to pay out more death claims than they had anticipated. In the aftermath of the financial meltdown, exotic investments dreamed up by Wall Street got much of the blame. It was not just subprime mortgage securities but an array of products ... that proved far riskier than anticipated. The debacle gave financial wizardry a bad name generally, but not on Wall Street. Even as Washington debates increased financial regulation, bankers are scurrying to concoct new products. In addition to securitizing life settlements, for example, some banks are repackaging their money-losing securities into higher-rated ones.

Note: As this article reveals, Wall Street will make a killing on these new securitized investments if American life expectancy should drop. Can you think of any ways in which powerful corporations could bring this about? Say an increase in sugar content or genetically modified components in foods? Perhaps lower standards for chemical toxicity? More time watching TV, or other changes leading to increased obesity? Swine flu vaccinations? For lots more from reliable sources on the realities of the Wall Street crash and bailout, click here.


Only a Hint of Roosevelt in Financial Overhaul
2009-06-18, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/18/business/18nocera.html

Three quarters of a century ago, President Franklin Roosevelt earned the undying enmity of Wall Street when he used his enormous popularity to push through a series of radical regulatory reforms that completely changed the norms of the financial industry. Wall Street hated the reforms, of course, but Roosevelt didn’t care. Wall Street and the financial industry had engaged in practices they shouldn’t have, and had helped lead the country into the Great Depression. Those practices had to be stopped. To the president, that’s all that mattered. On Wednesday, President Obama unveiled what he described as “a sweeping overhaul of the financial regulatory system, a transformation on a scale not seen since the reforms that followed the Great Depression.” In terms of the sheer number of proposals, outlined in an 88-page document the administration released on Tuesday, that is undoubtedly true. But in terms of the scope and breadth of the Obama plan — and more important, in terms of its overall effect on Wall Street’s modus operandi — it’s not even close to what Roosevelt accomplished during the Great Depression. Rather, the Obama plan is little more than an attempt to stick some new regulatory fingers into a very leaky financial dam rather than rebuild the dam itself. Everywhere you look in the plan, you see the same thing: additional regulation on the margin, but nothing that amounts to a true overhaul. The plan places enormous trust in the judgment of the Federal Reserve — trust that critics say has not really been borne out by its actions during the Internet and housing bubbles. Firms will have to put up a little more capital, and deal with a little more oversight, but once the financial crisis is over, it will, in all likelihood, be back to business as usual.

Note: To watch the Inspector General of the Federal Reserve testify to Congress that she knows pracitcally nothing of trillions of dollars that are unaccounted for, click here. For many revealing reports from reliable sources on the hidden realities of the continuing taxpayer bailout of the biggest financial corporations, click here.


Piggish capitalism endangers us all
2009-05-08, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/05/07/ED1117GOT8.DTL

Even if you don't dig on swine, it has become impossible to avoid them. If you're not pummeled by television reports about Wall Street oinkers, you're bombarded by talk-radio rants about congressional pork and newspaper dispatches about swine flu. They are each part of what might be called piggish capitalism - an economic theory that mixes subsidization, consolidation and deregulation - and it endangers us all. In 1999 ... President Bill Clinton signed a landmark deregulation measure that "ushered in an era of aggressive bank mergers," as Reuters reports. The result was what critics like Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., predicted at the time: Wall Street created "a group of institutions which are too big to fail" and that "taxpayers are going to be called upon to cure." Mass producing mortgage-backed securities that were quickly infected with subprime mutations, these financial factory farms became so enormous and unregulated that they spread toxic assets throughout the entire economy. And when losses mounted, the government made banks whole with trillion-dollar bailouts. Incredibly, our government hasn't learned from these crises. Regulation-wise ...new financial rules have yet to move in Congress. Additionally, the much-vaunted bank "stress tests" have been shrouded in secrecy, which experts say created the potential for rampant insider trading. Meanwhile, the White House seems loath to break up financial firms, preferring instead another bank bailout - even as analysts warn that such bailouts fuel merger mania. Pigs may, in fact, be the smartest domestic animal. But when charged with managing capitalism, they clearly have trouble comprehending the simplest lessons.

Note: For a clear example of the lack of concern about trillions of dollars unaccounted for by the Federal Reserve, listen to a five-minute video testimony of the inspector general of the Fed being question by a Congressman at this link. Then learn more about the major manipulations of the Fed on our highly banking and financial revealing summary available here.


Inquiry Asks Why A.I.G. Paid Banks
2009-03-27, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/27/business/27cuomo.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&p...

Members of Congress and the New York State attorney general demanded detailed information Thursday on how tens of billions of taxpayer dollars flowed through the American International Group during its crisis last fall and ended up in the coffers of several dozen big banks, shielding them from losses. The new inquiries shine a spotlight on a question that is exponentially bigger, in dollars, than the $165 million in bonuses that A.I.G. paid out this month, but which has been overshadowed until now by the uproar over the bonuses. “We would like to know if the A.I.G. counterparty payments, as made, were in the best interests of the taxpayers who provided the funding,” said Representative Elijah E. Cummings, Democrat of Maryland, in a letter to Neil M. Barofsky, the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program. The banks and investment firms that ended up with A.I.G.’s bailout money last fall were, in many cases, counterparties to derivatives contracts it had sold, known as credit-default swaps, which guaranteed the value of assets in their investment portfolios. They included Wall Street firms, like Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Merrill Lynch, that have successfully resisted efforts to regulate credit derivatives in the past. In several hearings this month, members of Congress said they believed the derivatives had often been used to speculate, not to manage risk. They have expressed outrage that A.I.G.’s trading partners got 100 cents on the dollar for their money-losing trades when ordinary Americans paying for the bailout have suffered big losses in their 401(k) accounts and other investments.

Note: For many revealing reports on the realities behind the Wall Street bailouts, click here.


IRS defends drop in audits of millionaires
2009-03-22, MSNBC/Associated Press
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29831158

The Internal Revenue Service is not living up to its pledge to crack down on wealthy tax cheats, an IRS watchdog group says, citing a drop in audits of millionaires last year. Those with incomes of $1 million and above had a 5.6 percent chance of getting audited in fiscal year 2008, which ended last September, down from 6.8 percent the previous year, according to IRS figures. The actual number of millionaires audited fell from 23,200 to 21,874; the number of millionaires filing tax returns grew from 339,138 to 392,776. "In the face of growing federal deficits and public calls to lower the tax gap — the amount of taxes due but not reported and paid — the drop in millionaire audits is surprising," said the Syracuse University-based Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse in a report Monday. It said the significant drop in audits of richer Americans contrasted with IRS statements last year that it was making strong progress in enforcement, especially of those with incomes of more than $1 million. The TRAC report said focus on high earner returns is critical because of the huge rewards. Among those millionaire audit cases where additional taxes were recommended, the average was $198,000 after face-to-face audits and $137,000 for audits done through correspondence. In total, the IRS collected $56.4 billion in enforcement revenues last year, down from $59.2 billion in 2007 and the first decline in collections in a decade.

Note: The highly important statistic only mentioned in passing here is "the number of millionaires filing tax returns grew from 339,138 to 392,776." That's an over-15% increase in the number of millionaires in one year, while most everyone else seems to be losing money. Hmmmm. Makes you wonder.


Bailout Oversight Lacking, GAO Says
2008-12-03, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/02/AR20081202022...

The Bush administration has failed to adequately oversee its $700 billion bailout program and must move rapidly to guarantee that banks are complying with the plan's limits on conflicts of interest and lavish executive compensation, congressional investigators said yesterday. The new report by the Government Accountability Office, the nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress, said the Treasury Department has yet to impose necessary safeguards or decide how to determine whether the program is achieving its goals. The auditors said it was too soon for them to tell whether the bailout was working. "The rapid pace of implementation and evolving nature of the program have hampered efforts to put a comprehensive system of internal control in place," the report said. "Until such a system is fully developed and implemented, there is heightened risk that the interests of the government and taxpayers may not be adequately protected and that the program objectives may not be achieved in an efficient and effective manner." So far, the rescue package has provided at least $150 billion in capital infusions to 52 financial institutions, the auditors said. They added that no applications for funding were denied by the Treasury. The congressional auditors urged Treasury officials to determine how each bank receiving bailout money is using the money and whether they are using it in a way consistent with the intent of the law. Several congressional leaders have criticized financial firms for hoarding the money instead of using it to lend to borrowers.

Note: For many revealing reports on the Wall Street bailout from reliable sources, click here.


Treasury could bail out any industry
2008-10-30, San Francisco Chronicle/Associated Press
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/10/30/BU1D13QM6S.DTL

As the list of ailing companies seeking government help grows, it is anybody's guess where the Treasury Department's largesse will stop. The $700 billion bailout bill is so vague that virtually any U.S. company could be eligible for government help. While the capital infusions announced this month will be directed only to banks, Treasury spokeswoman Brookly McLaughlin confirmed that the law allows the department to create other rescue programs "open to a broader set of financial institutions." As the bill is written, "financial institutions" don't have to be banks or financial entities. In theory, any company could declare itself a financial institution and ask the Treasury Department to grant it temporary aid if its rescue is deemed "necessary to promote financial market stability." "Talk about the barn doors being left open - it's like they left off the walls and roof, too," said Bert Ely, an independent banking consultant. He suggested that under the bill, an airline could transfer future revenue streams into a subsidiary and ask the government to buy shares in that new "financial institution." Representatives of the auto, insurance and other industries are already seeking government help, indicating they think they qualify because of their financing units. Airlines and home builders are lobbying for government help to prop them up through the economic downturn - either under the bailout bill or some other legislation. And if insurance and auto lobbyists succeed in their efforts to tap the bailout money, experts said other industries will probably follow.

Note: For extensive coverage of continuing revelations about the Wall Street bailout, click here.


Waxman Seeks Bank Data On Use of Bailout Funds
2008-10-29, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/28/AR20081028034...

Congressional investigators yesterday demanded that the nation's nine largest banks prove they are not using an emergency infusion of $125 billion in taxpayer funds to lavish their executives with wealthy bonuses. "I question the appropriateness of depleting the capital that taxpayers just injected into the banks through the payment of billions of dollars in bonuses, especially after one of the financial industry's worst years on record," [Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform,] wrote in a letter to the banks. Lawmakers across the political spectrum want to ensure that the government's bailout program results in increased lending, not bigger paydays for executives. But a new study suggests that financiers are still bullish about their bonuses. More than two-thirds of Wall Street professionals are expecting a bonus this year, and 36 percent are anticipating a larger bonus than last year, according to a survey by eFinancialCareers, a career networking company. "Some experts have suggested that a significant percentage of this compensation could come in year-end bonuses and that the size of the bonuses will be significantly enhanced as a result of the infusion of taxpayer funds," Waxman said. In his letter to the banks, Waxman asked them to provide detailed data on compensation packages since 2006, as well as the projected salaries and bonuses for the rest of the year. The request was sent to Bank of America, Bank of New York Mellon, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan Chase, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, State Street, and Wells Fargo.

Note: For extensive coverage of continuing revelations about the Wall Street bailout, click here.


A Donor Who Had Big Allies
2006-01-08, Los Angeles Times
http://web.archive.org/web/20080228192833/www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/na...

In a case that echoes the Jack Abramoff influence-peddling scandal, two Northern California Republican congressmen used their official positions to try to stop a federal investigation of a wealthy Texas businessman who provided them with political contributions. Reps. John T. Doolittle and Richard W. Pombo joined forces with former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas to oppose an investigation by federal banking regulators into the affairs of Houston millionaire Charles Hurwitz, documents recently obtained by The Times show. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was seeking $300 million from Hurwitz for his role in the collapse of a Texas savings and loan that cost taxpayers $1.6 billion. The investigation was ultimately dropped. Doolittle and Pombo — both considered protégés of DeLay — used their power as members of the House Resources Committee to subpoena the agency's confidential records on the case, including details of the evidence FDIC investigators had compiled on Hurwitz. Then, in 2001, the two congressmen inserted many of the sensitive documents into the Congressional Record, making them public and accessible to Hurwitz's lawyers, a move that FDIC officials said damaged the government's ability to pursue the banker. The FDIC's chief spokesman characterized what Doolittle and Pombo did as "a seamy abuse of the legislative process."


Four Kaupthing bankers sentenced to prison for market abuses in 2008
2013-12-12, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/dec/12/kaupthing-bankers-prison-mark...

An Icelandic court has sentenced four former Kaupthing bankers to jail for market abuses related to a large stake taken in the bank by a Qatari sheikh just before it went under in late 2008. Weeks before the country's top three banks collapsed under huge debts as the global credit crunch struck, Kaupthing announced that Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani had bought 5 of its shares in a confidence-boosting move. A parliamentary commission later said the shares had been bought with a loan from Kaupthing itself. A Reykjavik district court sentenced Hreidar Mar Sigurdsson, Kaupthing's former chief executive, to five and a half years in prison while former chairman Sigurdur Einarsson received a five-year sentence. Magnus Gudmundsson, former chief executive of Kaupthing Luxembourg, was given a three-year sentence and Olafur Olafsson – the bank's second largest shareholder at the time – received three and a half years. None of the bankers, now based in London and Luxembourg, were present [at the sentencing].

Note: Yet not a single executive of US or multinational banks has been jailed for funneling billions of dollars into their own pockets and crashing the entire global economy. For more on this, click here. For more on financial corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Rate-Rigging Investigation Rolls On
2013-02-07, New York Times
http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/02/07/rate-rigging-investigation-rolls-on/

The global investigation into interest-rate manipulation has emboldened prosecutors to crack down on banks, and the settlement with the Royal Bank of Scotland on [Feb. 6] underscored that strategy. As part of the $612 million deal that American and British authorities reached with R.B.S., the bank’s Japanese unit was required to plead guilty to criminal wrongdoing, echoing an earlier action taken against a subsidiary of UBS. The cases announced so far give other banks some idea of what to expect. Three questions come into play: how much it will cost, whether a guilty plea will be required and whether embarrassing e-mails will be released. The winners in all this may be the lawyers and other advisers. The trove of internal e-mails and employee interviews, filed as part of a lawsuit by one of the investors in the securities, offers a fresh glimpse into Wall Street’s mortgage machine, which churned out billions of dollars of securities that later imploded. The documents reveal that JPMorgan, as well as two firms the bank acquired during the credit crisis, Washington Mutual and Bear Stearns, flouted quality controls and ignored problems, sometimes hiding them entirely, in a quest for profit.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the criminal practices of the financial industry, click here.


Doubt Is Cast on Firms Hired to Help Banks
2013-01-31, New York Times
http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/01/31/doubt-is-cast-on-firms-hired-to-help-b...

Federal authorities are scrutinizing private consultants hired to clean up financial misdeeds like money laundering and foreclosure abuses, taking aim at an industry that is paid billions of dollars by the same banks it is expected to police. The consultants operate with scant supervision and produce mixed results, according to government documents and interviews with prosecutors and regulators. In one case, the consulting firms enabled the wrongdoing. The deficiencies, officials say, can leave consumers vulnerable and allow tainted money to flow through the financial system. The pitfalls were exposed last month when federal regulators halted a broad effort to help millions of homeowners in foreclosure. The regulators reached an $8.5 billion settlement with banks, scuttling a flawed foreclosure review run by eight consulting firms. In the end, borrowers hurt by shoddy practices are likely to receive less money than they deserve, regulators said. Critics concede that regulators have little choice but to hire outsiders for certain responsibilities after they find problems at the banks. The government does not have the resources to ensure that banks follow the rules. Some banks that work with consultants continue to run afoul of the law. At other times, consultants underestimate the extent of the misdeeds or facilitate them, preventing regulators from holding institutions accountable.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the criminal practices of the financial industry, click here.


How Paulson Gave Hedge Funds Advance Word of Fannie Rescue
2011-11-29, Bloomberg/Businessweek
http://news.businessweek.com/article.asp?documentKey=1376-LVDZC507SXKX01-21E0...

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson stepped off the elevator into the Third Avenue offices of hedge fund Eton Park Capital Management LP in Manhattan. It was July 21, 2008, and market fears were mounting. Amid tumbling home prices and near-record foreclosures, attention was focused on a new source of contagion: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which together had more than $5 trillion in mortgage-backed securities and other debt outstanding. Around the conference room table were a dozen or so hedge-fund managers and other Wall Street executives -- at least five of them alumni of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., of which Paulson was chief executive officer and chairman from 1999 to 2006. After a perfunctory discussion of the market turmoil ... the discussion turned to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The secretary [desribed] a possible scenario for placing Fannie and Freddie into “conservatorship” -- a government seizure designed to allow the firms to continue operations despite heavy losses in the mortgage markets. Paulson explained that under this scenario, the common stock of the two government-sponsored enterprises, or GSEs, would be effectively wiped out. So too would the various classes of preferred stock, he said ... leaving little doubt that the Treasury Department would carry out the plan. The managers attending the meeting were thus given a choice opportunity to trade on that information.

Note: For a treasure trove of reports from reliable sources on corruption and collusion between government officials and the largest financial firms, click here.


Confronting the Malefactors
2011-10-07, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/07/opinion/krugman-confronting-the-malefactors...

When the Occupy Wall Street protests began three weeks ago, most news organizations were derisive if they deigned to mention the events at all. For example, nine days into the protests, National Public Radio had provided no coverage whatsoever. It is, therefore, a testament to the passion of those involved that the protests not only continued but grew, eventually becoming too big to ignore. Occupy Wall Street is starting to look like an important event that might even eventually be seen as a turning point. The protesters’ indictment of Wall Street as a destructive force, economically and politically, is completely right. Bankers took advantage of deregulation to run wild (and pay themselves princely sums), inflating huge bubbles through reckless lending. The bubbles burst — but bankers were bailed out by taxpayers, with remarkably few strings attached, even as ordinary workers continued to suffer the consequences of the bankers’ sins. Bankers showed their gratitude by turning on the people who had saved them, throwing their support — and the wealth they still possessed thanks to the bailouts — behind politicians who promised to keep their taxes low and dismantle the mild regulations erected in the aftermath of the crisis. Given this history, how can you not applaud the protesters for finally taking a stand?

Note: For insights into the reasons why people have decided they must occupy their cities in protest of the predations of financial corporations, check out our extensive "Banking Bailout" news articles.


China rating agency condemns rivals
2010-07-21, Financial Times
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/5632a0b8-94b7-11df-b90e-00144feab49a.html

The head of China’s largest credit rating agency has slammed his western counterparts for causing the global financial crisis and said that as the world’s largest creditor nation China should have a bigger say in how governments and their debt are rated. “The western rating agencies are politicised and highly ideological and they do not adhere to objective standards,” Guan Jianzhong, chairman of Dagong Global Credit Rating, told the Financial Times. “China is the biggest creditor nation in the world and with the rise and national rejuvenation of China we should have our say in how the credit risks of states are judged.” On the corporate side, Mr Guan argues Moody’s Investors Service, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings – the three companies that dominate the global credit rating industry – have become too close to the clients they are supposed to be objectively assessing. He specifically criticised the practice of “rating shopping” by companies who offer their business to the agency that provides the most favourable rating. In the aftermath of the financial crisis “rating shopping” has been one of the key complaints from western regulators , who have heavily criticised the big three agencies for handing top ratings to mortgage-linked securities that turned toxic when the US housing market collapsed in 2007.

Note: For key news articles on the global financial crisis, click here.


U.S. May Enlist Small Investors in Bank Bailout
2009-04-09, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/09/business/09fund.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&pa...

During World War I, Americans were exhorted to buy Liberty Bonds to help their soldiers on the front. Now, it seems, they will be asked to come to the aid of their banks — with the added inducement of possibly making some money for themselves. As part of its sweeping plan to purge banks of troublesome assets, the Obama administration is encouraging several large investment companies to create the financial-crisis equivalent of war bonds: bailout funds. The idea is that these investments, akin to mutual funds that buy stocks and bonds, would give ordinary Americans a chance to profit from the bailouts that are being financed by their tax dollars. But there is another, deeply political motivation as well: to quiet accusations that all of these giant bailouts will benefit only Wall Street plutocrats. If, as some analysts suspect, the banks’ assets are worth even less than believed, the funds’ investors could suffer significant losses. Nonetheless, the administration and executives in the financial industry are pushing to establish the investment funds, in part to counter swelling hostility against the financial industry. The embrace of smaller investors underscores the concern in Washington and on Wall Street that Americans’ anger could imperil further efforts to stimulate the economy with vast amounts of government spending. Many Americans say they believe the bailout programs ... will benefit only a golden few, including some of the institutions that helped push the economy to the brink. Critics like Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, argue that the bailouts merely privatize profits and socialize losses.

Note: For a powerfully revealing archive of reports from reliable sources on the hidden realities of the financial bailout, click here.


Financial Industry Paid Millions to Obama Aide
2009-04-04, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/04/us/politics/04disclose.html?partner=rss&emc...

Lawrence H. Summers, the top economic adviser to President Obama, earned more than $5 million last year from the hedge fund D. E. Shaw and collected $2.7 million in speaking fees from Wall Street companies that received government bailout money, the White House disclosed. Mr. Summers, the director of the National Economic Council, wields important influence over Mr. Obama’s policy decisions for the troubled financial industry, including firms from which he recently received payments. Last year, he reported making 40 paid appearances, including a $135,000 speech to the investment firm Goldman Sachs, in addition to his earnings from the hedge fund, a sector the administration is trying to regulate. Mr. Summers’s role at the White House includes advising Mr. Obama on whether — and how — to tighten regulation of hedge funds, which engage in highly sophisticated financial trading that many analysts have said contributed to the economic collapse. Mr. Summers ... appeared before large Wall Street companies like Citigroup ($45,000), J. P. Morgan ($67,500) and the now defunct Lehman Brothers ($67,500), according to his disclosure report. While Mr. Obama campaigned on a pledge to restrict lobbyists from working in the White House, a step intended to reduce any influence between the administration and corporations, the ban did not apply to former executives like Mr. Summers, who was not a registered lobbyist. In 2006, he became a managing director of D. E. Shaw, a firm that manages about $30 billion in assets, making it one of the biggest hedge funds in the world.

Note: For many revealing reports on the realities behind the Wall Street bailouts, click here.


Whitney Sees Credit Cards as the Next Crunch: Report
2009-03-10, CNBC
http://www.cnbc.com/id/29611789/

Prominent banking analyst Meredith Whitney warned that "credit cards are the next credit crunch," as contracting credit lines will lower consumer spending and hurt the U.S. economy. "Few doubt the importance of consumer spending to the U.S. economy and its multiplier effect on the global economy, but what is under-appreciated is the role of credit-card availability in that spending," Whitney wrote in the Wall Street Journal. Although credit was extended "too freely over the past 15 years" and rationalization of lending is unavoidable, what needs to be avoided was "taking credit away from people who have the ability to pay their bills," said Whitney, CEO of Meredith Whitney Advisory Group. Whitney said available lines were reduced by nearly $500 billion in the fourth quarter of 2008 alone, and she estimates over $2 trillion of credit-card lines will be cut within 2009, and $2.7 trillion by the end of 2010. "Inevitably, credit lines will continue to be reduced across the system, but the velocity at which it is already occurring and will continue to occur will result in unintended consequences for consumer confidence, spending and the overall economy," Whitney said. There is roughly $5 trillion in credit-card lines outstanding in the U.S., and a little more than $800 billion is currently drawn upon, she said. "Lenders, regulators and politicians need to show thoughtful leadership now on this issue in order to derail what I believe will be at least a 57 percent contraction in credit-card lines," she said.

Note: Some believe that rising defaults on credit card debt could cause yet another financial shock to the system. For many more revelations of the amazing realites of the Wall Street bailout and the now world-wide financial and credit crises, click here.


Executive Pay Limits May Prove Toothless
2008-12-15, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/14/AR20081214026...

Congress wanted to guarantee that the $700 billion financial bailout would limit the eye-popping pay of Wall Street executives, so lawmakers included a mechanism for reviewing executive compensation and penalizing firms that break the rules. But at the last minute, the Bush administration insisted on a one-sentence change to the provision. The change stipulated that the penalty would apply only to firms that received bailout funds by selling troubled assets to the government in an auction, which was the way the Treasury Department had said it planned to use the money. Now, however, the small change looks more like a giant loophole, according to lawmakers and legal experts. In a reversal, the Bush administration has not used auctions for any of the $335 billion committed so far from the rescue package, nor does it plan to use them in the future. Lawmakers and legal experts say the change has effectively repealed the only enforcement mechanism in the law dealing with lavish pay for top executives. "The flimsy executive-compensation restrictions in the original bill are now all but gone," said Sen. Charles E. Grassley (Iowa), ranking Republican on of the Senate Finance Committee. Senators on the Finance Committee have expressed concern to Paulson and are now considering whether they should amend the law to apply the enforcement mechanism to all firms participating in the bailout.

Note: For a treasure trove of reliable reports exposing the realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.


A Second Mortgage Disaster On The Horizon?
2008-12-14, CBS 60 Minutes
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/12/12/60minutes/main4666112.shtml

When it comes to bailouts of American business, Barney Frank and the Congress may be just getting started. It turns out the abyss is deeper than most people think because there is a second mortgage shock heading for the economy. If you thought sub-primes were insanely reckless wait until you hear what's coming. One of the best guides to the danger ahead is [investment fund manager] Whitney Tilson. "We had the greatest asset bubble in history and now that bubble is bursting. The single biggest piece of the bubble is the U.S. mortgage market and we're probably about halfway through the unwinding and bursting of the bubble," Tilson explains. "It may seem like all the carnage out there, we must be almost finished. But there's still a lot of pain to come in terms of write-downs and losses that have yet to be recognized." The trouble now is that the insanity didn't end with sub-primes. There were two other kinds of exotic mortgages that became popular, called "Alt-A" and "option ARM." The option ARMs, in particular, lured borrowers in with low initial interest rates - so-called teaser rates - sometimes as low as one percent. But after two, three or five years those rates "reset." They went up. And so did the monthly payment. A mortgage of $800 dollars a month could easily jump to $1,500. Now the Alt-A and option ARM loans made back in the heyday are starting to reset, causing the mortgage payments to go up and homeowners to default.

Note: For a six-minute video of this revealing article, click here. For lots more on the realities of the financial crisis, click here.


Idled workers occupy factory in Chicago
2008-12-06, Chicago Tribune/Associated Press
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-ap-il-workersoccupyfact,0,1928458.story

Outraged and determined Chicago factory workers who were abruptly laid off this week have occupied their former workplace and say they won't leave until they get the severance and vacation pay they say they're owed. The employees say they received three days notice their plant was closing. In the second day of a sit-in on the factory floor Saturday, about 250 union workers occupied the building in shifts while union leaders outside criticized a Wall Street bailout they say is leaving laborers behind. Leah Fried, an organizer with the United Electrical Workers, said the Chicago-based vinyl window manufacturer failed to give its 300 employees the 60 days' notice required by law before shutting. She said the company can't pay employees because its creditor, Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America, won't let them. Bank of America received $25 billion from the government's financial bailout package. The company said in a statement to news outlets Saturday that it isn't responsible for Republic's financial obligations to its employees. "Across cultures, religions, union and nonunion, we all say this bailout was a shame," said Richard Berg, president of Teamsters Local 743. "If this bailout should go to anything, it should go to the workers of this country." Outside the plant, protesters wore stickers and carried signs that said, "You got bailed out, we got sold out."

Note: For many revealing reports on the Wall Street bailout from major media sources, click here.


Congress Wants Details On Bailout Firms' Bonus Plans
2008-10-30, CNBC
http://www.cnbc.com/id/27423117

The hot-button issues of CEO pay and the Wall Street bailout may soon collide with the real world of Wall Street bonuses, taxpayer and shareholder anger over the financial crisis, and a Treasury secretary with deep roots on Wall Street. And that collision could be loud and ugly. Though what's commonly known as the Wall Street bailout package includes modest restrictions on CEO pay, it hardly prevents participating financial firms from paying bonuses to top executives and others. And in an environment of beaten-down stock prices, rising layoffs, recession and huge government bailouts, experts and legislators say big end-of-year bonuses will cause a firestorm of public outrage and likely provoke a Congressional backlash. "The corporate community doesn't seem to get it," says a seething Nell Minow, founder of the Corporate Library, which focuses on corporate governance issues. "If the corporate leaders don't come to the American people with some accountability, they are going to find themselves in a world of pain. Congress will set CEO pay." "People are going to be demanding that someone go to jail," say Rep. Peter DeFazio (D.-Ore), who says his constituents have applauded him for voting against the legislation. "It will require Democrats to revisit restrictions [on CEO pay]. " DeFazio says he would also recommend Congress "empower a division in the FBI and Justice Department to investigate the fraud and misdeeds that went on."

Note: For many revealing reports on the realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.


U.S. Criticized for Lack of Action on Mortgage Fraud
2014-03-13, New York Times
http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/03/13/u-s-overstates-efforts-to-prosecute-mo...

Four years after President Obama promised to crack down on mortgage fraud, his administration has quietly made the crime its lowest priority and has closed hundreds of cases after little or no investigation, the Justice Department’s internal watchdog said on [March 13]. The report by the department’s inspector general undercuts the president’s contentions that the government is holding people responsible for the collapse of the financial and housing markets. The administration has been criticized, in particular, for not pursuing large banks and their executives. The inspector general’s report ... shows that the F.B.I. considered mortgage fraud to be its lowest-ranked national criminal priority. In several large cities, including New York and Los Angeles, F.B.I. agents either ranked mortgage fraud as a low priority or did not rank it at all. The F.B.I. received $196 million from the 2009 to 2011 fiscal years to investigate mortgage fraud, the report said, but the number of pending cases and agents investigating them dropped in 2011. Mortgage fraud was one of the causes of the 2008 financial collapse. Mortgage brokers and lenders falsified documents, sometimes to make mortgages look safer, other times to make the property look more valuable.

Note: For more on government collusion with the banking industry, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Justice Department sues S&P over mortgage bond ratings
2013-02-04, Los Angeles Times
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-sandp-justice-20130205,0,1104883.story

The federal government is ... going after Wall Street's biggest credit rating firm for its role in pumping up the housing bubble. The Justice Department filed a lawsuit [on Feb. 4] against Standard & Poor's Corp. The suit accuses the company's analysts of issuing glowing reviews on troubled mortgage securities whose subsequent failure helped cause the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. The action marks the first federal crackdown against a major credit rater, and it signals an untested legal tack after limited success in holding the nation's banks accountable for the part they played in the crisis. The government selected Los Angeles as the venue to file the lawsuit in part because it was one of the regions hardest hit when the bottom fell out of the housing market. Hundreds of thousands of California residents lost their homes to foreclosure, and others saw their wealth evaporate as properties plummeted in value. In addition to the Justice Department, several state attorneys general are investigating the ratings agency. States such as California and New York are expected to pursue their own investigations and legal action, people familiar with the matter said. The federal action does not involve any criminal allegations. Critics have complained that the government has yet to send any senior bankers or Wall Street executives to jail for potential illegal behavior that led to the crisis. But civil actions typically require a much lower burden of proof.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the criminal practices of the financial industry, click here.


Top Bank of England director admits Occupy movement had a point
2012-10-29, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/top-bank-of-england-director-ad...

The Occupy movement received vindication from an unlikely source tonight, as a senior executive at the Bank of England credited it with stirring a “reformation of finance”. Andrew Haldane, executive director of financial stability, said Occupy protesters had been “both loud and persuasive”, and had attracted public support because “they are right”. “Some have suggested … that Occupy’s voice has been loud but vague, long on problems, short on solutions. Others have argued that the fault-lines in the global financial system, which chasmed during the crisis, are essentially unaltered, that reform has failed,” Mr Haldane said. “I wish to argue that both are wrong – that Occupy’s voice has been both loud and persuasive and that policymakers have listened and are acting in ways which will close those fault-lines. In fact, I want to argue that we are in the early stages of a reformation of finance, a reformation which Occupy has helped stir.” Speaking at an Occupy Economics event in central London, Mr Haldane said that Occupy had been “successful in its efforts to popularise the problems of the global financial system for one very simple reason: they are right.” He added that protesters ... “touched a moral nerve in pointing to growing inequities in the allocation of wealth”. Mr Haldane ended with a direct appeal to activists to continue putting pressure on governments and regulators. He said: “You have put the arguments. You have helped win the debate. And policymakers, like me, will need your continuing support in delivering that radical change.”

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on financial corruption, click here.


Protesters air grievances at Wells Fargo meeting
2012-04-25, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/04/24/MN881O8BCL.DTL

Protesters enraged about the country's economic miasma disrupted Wells Fargo's annual summit [on April 24], as shareholders celebrated the bank's record profit and awarded its chief executive a pay package of nearly $20 million. Hundreds of activists - including union members, Occupy activists and people whose homes have been foreclosed - surrounded the Merchants Exchange Building in downtown San Francisco, where about 250 shareholders gathered on the 15th floor to hear details of the bank's 28 percent profit increase last year. Fifteen protesters, allowed into the meeting because they own stock in Wells Fargo, shouted over CEO John Stumpf as he presented a PowerPoint slide show about the bank's $15.9 billion profit last year. Police escorted out the protesters, who were cited for disrupting the meeting and released. It was the bank's involvement in foreclosures ... that brought hundreds of protesters to the meeting. Some came from as far away as Minnesota. They filled the air with lively chants, led by people using loudspeakers set up on a flatbed truck alongside an 8-foot-high, inflated rat smoking a cigar. A protester-built, 10-foot-high mockup of Wells Fargo's signature stagecoach stood in the street, covered with slogans denouncing the bank.

Note: For key reports from reliable sources on Occupy and other protests against the criminal profiteering of banks and other financial corporations, click here.


Goldman’s Tax-Free Building Loan Makes Liberty Bonds Tough Sell
2012-01-11, Bloomberg Businessweek
http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-01-11/goldman-s-tax-free-building-loan-...

A tax-free bond program that provided below-market financing to build Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s headquarters is expiring while New York developers say the city’s commercial real estate market still needs support. Congress created the Liberty Bond program in March 2002 with $8 billion in tax-exempt funds to rebuild lower Manhattan after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The allocation ran out last month, and the tax exemption ended on Dec. 31 along with dozens of other breaks for manufacturers, energy companies and transit commuters. Critics that include affordable housing advocates say the bonds were little more than a subsidy for fancy Manhattan apartments and office towers for Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Corp. Developers counter that, more than a decade after the attacks, low-cost financing remains necessary to help lower Manhattan’s commercial market recover. “The Liberty Bonds made available to the World Trade Center site are only enough to support rebuilding a little less than 60 percent of the office space lost on 9/11,” Larry Silverstein, the World Trade Center’s developer, said in an e- mail. “In an ideal world, more such resources would be made available to help jump-start construction of the remaining 40 percent of the office space that was destroyed by terrorists.” His company, Silverstein Properties Inc., received almost $3 billion through the Liberty Bond pro